Reflections from the Softer Side of Bad Weather

Over the past weeks, I've seen my Facebook and Twitter feeds nearly fill up with friends and family along the Eastern seaboard talking about first an earthquake, then Hurricane Irene, and now even more raining and flooding.  With the exception of the earthquake - weirdness, all around - the thoughts of the nasty weather than can hit the northeast and its after affects has me reflecing on my childhood.

Growing up on Price's Drive in Mountainhome, I remember losing power. A lot.  In the spring, in the summer, in the fall, and even occasionally in the winter.  While the rest of the Poconos - and even, sometimes, the rest of Barrett Township might be restored - we'd sometimes sit without power for days.

As an adult, I imagine this would be a large pain in the butt.  Especially with small children.  Who are as used to and spoiled by "modern conveniences" as I am - like a constantly-open refrigerator, satellite television, online games and flushable toilets.  (You can't get more than a flush or 2 out of a toilet when the power's out and no water is pumping - did you know that?  And you thought your mom was crazy for keeping buckets of water to use - it was to force flush the toilet.  Heh!  My mom would save every gallon jug on the planet and fill them all with water ahead of storms.  We'd have flushing ability for days.  Good stuff.)

What I remember, though, is the softer side of bad weather rolled in. 

Forget cooking on the stove - break out the sterno.  Something about cooking over sterno with it's flickering flame, while rain pounds down around, makes whatever food is being cooked taste all that much better.  And speaking of food, getting it was an adventure.  My mother stocked our basement like a nuclear attack was inevitable and would make our house the town food bank.  I'm. Not. Kidding. was the basement.  And with bad weather, there might be water accumulated on the floor, especially if the sump pump wasn't keeping up.  So going downstairs to retrieve some of the millions of cans of food could become an adventure. 

And the refrigerator!  And freezer!  Forget this worrying about food going bad after a day or so when the power was out.  Ours never did, even after several days.  We learned to pack the freezer tightly, so that the frozen foods insultated each other.  That thing would stay frozen for a week.  The fridge?  It became a game.  Ok.  What do we need for this meal?  Make a list.  Ok.  Remember which shelves those things are on?  Ok.  Now...3...2...1...GO!  And then we'd open the fridge and in 5 seconds or less gather all the necessary things.  If something was forgotten, too bad!  And hopefully you used up everything you took out, so another door-opening mission wasn't necessary.

And lights - I remember the softer side of lights.  My mother thought candles were dangerous.  And, considering the klutz that I am, that was probably a wise fear.  And flashlights were just plain clunky!  So we used hurricane lamps.  I. Love. Hurricane lamps!  In fact, I still have several in my house that I try to trot out a time or two a year, even though we've never needed them here.  A bottle of oil and a bit of wick would keep you lit for quite a long time.  You could read books, listen to the radio, or enjoy a game of cards, all by Hurricane lamp.

No video games.  No microwaves.  No generator - at least not at our house. 

Lots of radio listening - was another front coming?  Would power come back soon? 

Lots of talking - my mom and dad sharing their memories of storms long past.

Lots of reading - Lord knows, I've never had a shortage of books in my life.

Some games, some food, some sheer downtime.

Bad things happy when nasty weather rolls in...but sometimes, there are softer sides as well.

To those who endured or are enduring flooding and damage, those of us in drought-ridden Texas are thinking of you and hoping for the best!

Pool Time? Uh, no!

This afternoon, around 430 PM, when it was 700 degrees outside, Big Girl started begging me to go in the pool.

Now, a quick explanation. We have a $6 swimming pool. From the grocery store. Holds about a tablespoon of water and basically just lets the kids splash themselves and squirt the dog.

So I filled the pool with water...tepid water from the hose, but at least the spot where the pool is has afternoon shade.  Took 5 minutes to clean the pool out (dirt, leaves, etc., even though it was tipped on it's side!) and then another 5 to fill it.

Took 5 minutes to round up the kids' swimsuits and floaties (hey, gotta be safe in in a centimeter of water!) and then a combined 10 minutes to get the kids in their suits.

Turned them lose outside and drug a chair so I could supervise "poolside."

15 minutes later, they were done.

How's your math?

25 minutes to prep for something they were done with after 15.

But, oh! In those 15 minutes, they doused each other, the dog, their towels, me, and watered the dirt and cut firewood.

And I got a blood blister and a headache.

It's no wonder I have no interest in having a real pool in the backyard...we'd have to spend $40k and 3 months building something they'd lose interest in before it was finished filling.
Pool time? Uh, no!

A Terrible Toddler Malady! (Funny)

Big Girl just informed me that she has to go to the doctor right now so they can feel her tummy and tell her why she's so hungry...and then give her new stickers!

Almost. Died. Laughing!

What's your funniest toddler malady?

How bad is the economy? (Funny!)

(Hat tip to my Aunt Joan A.)

I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.
CEO's are now playing miniature golf.
Exxon-Mobil laid off 25 Congressmen.
I saw a Mormon with only one wife.
I bought a toaster oven and my free gift was a bank.
Angelina Jolie adopted a child from America.
Motel Six won't leave the light on anymore.
A picture is now only worth 200 words.
They renamed Wall Street " Wal-Mart Street ".
When Bill and Hillary travel together, they now have to share a room.

And, finally...

I was so depressed last night thinking about the economy, wars, jobs, my savings, Social Security, retirement funds, etc., I called the Suicide Hotline. I got a call center in Pakistan , and when I told them I was suicidal, they got all excited, and asked if I could drive a truck.

Eliminate Your Blind Spot!

Good Tuesday morning evening to everyone, and welcome to Tuesday Travel Tips with Tiffany! To read previous editions, you can find them here.

I drive between 15,000 and 20,000 miles a year - and I'm sure some of you drive many more. This is the best advice I've seen to-date on avoiding blind spots while driving, and I simply had to share!

Over on Car Talk, a site hosted by NPR, this thought is posted:

For years, we'd been setting our side-view mirrors so that they gave us a view of the back corner of our cars. This is the way it's been done for generations - from grandfather, to father, to us! But we finally discovered something very interesting. The back corner of the car never moves. It always stays in the same exact place. So there's really no reason to keep an eye on it.

By moving the side mirrors farther out, you can line up all three of your mirrors so they have minimal overlap -- and you can see everything behind you and beside you.

Here's how to do it.
For the full article and instructions, click here.

And until next time...

Safe Travels!

McDonald's PlayPlace in Pantego Review

Big Girl, Bubba Boy and I are out running errands today, and after 2 hours in the car shuttling between stops, they decided to exercise their majority vote and demand a stop. Where better than a McDOnald's with a PlayPlace?
We ended up at the McDonald's at 2422 W Pioneer Parkway in Pantego, just E of the intersection with Bowen. (Pantego is a small town entirely contained within Arlington. My backyard is bigger than their downtown. You get the idea.)
I was apprehensive when we first pulled in; parking on this Saturday afternoon was a challenge. After we located a spot in the back 9, we headed in. Great little setup between counter and seating space...but the entrance to the PlayPlace area was touch to negotiate with the SUV that is my tandem double stroller. So, to be fair, I'm a wide (er, long) load. But having a table right in front of the entrance with a tight turn to the left necessitated would probably be hard even with an umbrella stroller.
Next up: the bathroom. Unlike some PlayPlaces, this location doesn't have a kiddie potty contained inside. So we negotiated our way back down and navigated the tight walkway in the dining room to the bathrooms. If my right arm was back up to snuff, I would have ditched the stroller and carried Bubba Boy while making Big Girl walk. But I'm not quite there yet.
Headed into the ladies room and...Uh, yeah. Getting the stroller in there was akin to my first k-turn driving lesson 15 years ago. Not pretty. And the changing table was obstructed by the door. As in, when it's down, the door can only partially open. And to avoid being killed by said door, you have to stand at the narrow end of the table, instead of the long side. Plus, I hate to use the handicap stall, but it was the only place I could ditch the stoller. There was literally nowhere else it could go. So total fail on the bathroom design.
Back to the PlayPlace: cool setup. Toddler friendly (so long as the big kids play nice or their parents make them) and Big Girl is having a blast playing while Bubba Boy crawls around and people watches.
So a few design failures, but still a fun time. Hope it clears out a bit before we have to navigate out!

Carrot Induced Bulimia

Bubba Boy hates carrots.

With an unholy, fire-breathing passion.

Whenever I try to sneak little carrot bits or mashed carrots in with his other food, he makes the most awful face.  Then he retches and uses his tongue to push any food in his mouth back out.  In case I've missed the point, he follows that lovely scene by forcing himself to throw up.

My 9-month-old has carrot-induced bulimia.  Wow!


(I originally posted this to my old MySpace blog in mid-2007, after my husband forwarded to me with a note that said "this is YOU."  Aw, honey.  Too funny not to repost here!)

Recently, I was diagnosed with A.A.A.D.D. - Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder. This is how it manifests:

I decide to water my garden.

As I turn on the hose in the driveway, I look over at my car and decide it needs washing.

As I start toward the garage, I notice mail on the porch table that I brought up from the mail box earlier.

I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car.

I lay my car keys on the table, put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table, and notice that the can is full.

So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the garbage first.

But then I think, since I'm going to be near the mailbox when I take out the garbage anyway, I may as well pay the bills first.

I take my check book off the table, and see that there is only one check left.

My extra checks are in my desk in the study, so I go inside the house to my desk where I find the can of Coke I'd been drinking.

I'm going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the Coke aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over.

The Coke is getting warm, and I decide to put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold.

As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye--they need water.

I put the Coke on the counter and discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning.

I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I'm going to water the flowers.

I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote.

Someone left it on the kitchen table.

I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV, I'll be looking for the remote, but I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers.

I pour some water in the flowers, but quite a bit of it spills on the floor.So, I set the remote back on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill.

Then, I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day: the car isn't washed the bills aren't paid there is a warm can of Coke sitting on the counter the flowers don't have enough water, there is still only 1 check in my check book, I can't find the remote, I can't find my glasses, and I don't remember what I did with the car keys.

Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day, and I'm really tired.

I realize this is a serious problem, and I'll try to get some help for it, but first I'll check my e-mail....Do me a favor. Forward this message to everyone you know, because I don't remember who I've sent it to.

Don't laugh -- if this isn't you yet, your day is coming!!

Samsung 500 at TMS

I love me some NASCAR and one of my favorite track is Texas Motor virtue of the fact that it's only a few miles away and we used to be season ticket holders.  And hopefully future season ticket holders, once the kids are older!

Here are my thoughts on this week's Saturday NIGHT race:

  • How 'bout that wind???
  • Hey Jerry - did you have 160k at the Super Bowl?  Yeah, didn't think so.
  • Very classy National Anthem with the Armed Forces Brass Brigade.
  • Note to Fox: never ever ever again break away from a flyover to show Jimmy Johnson making out with his wife.
  • Note to Jimmy: Shave. That is all.
  • Note to Fox, again: Gee.  Cowboy hats in Texas.  That's original.
  • Note to Patti: thanks for letting me borrow .
  • "Boogity, boogity, boogity - let's go racing TEXAS style, boys!"  Yeehaw!
  • Lap 4: Husband asks Toddler for a beer.  Toddler obliges.  Husband remarks, "I knew I had a child for a good reason."  Mom rolls eyes.
  • Laps 5-119: Yaaaaaaaaaawn.
  • Lap 120: One word for this wreck: OUCH!
  • Lap 298: Ya'll might like Pit Stop Roulette, but I am not a fan.
  • Lap 300something: Can we go back to 2005 numbers and colors?  I just realized I was rooting for the wrong damn car.  *Sigh* It's late.
  • Lap 320: Get off the track, Kurt.  Just go.  I don't care who wins, just not you.
  • Lap 321: Kenseth.  Really?
  • Lap 331: Kenseth.  Really.
  • Lap 334: Kenseth.  Really!
Good race, guys.  Always glad to have ya'll in Texas.  And many, many congrats to Kenseth, one of the truly nice guys in racing!

See ya'll in 'Dega!

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

Welcome Ultimate Blog Partiers!!  I'm thrilled to participate in 2011 - my last Ultimate Blog Party was in 2009!

Here at 0 to Mom, we talk about parenting at the speed of life.  Frazzled Mommy and Funny Daddy aren't likely to be profiled by Parenting Magazine, but we have funny stories and the occasional tip, trick or technique to share to keep a family going strong even when the rest of life is in fast forward!

Welcome - please make yourself at home and stay awhile - and come back to visit again!


Frazzled Mommy

aka Tiffany

The Oxygen Mask Principle

I had to run a few errands after wrapping up the work week and brought the kids with me since Funny Daddy was headed to work. Errands done, and what's looming ahead? Why, Burger King with a playground. Score! I had promised Big Girl Mickey D's, but I love BK food so much more.

But tonight's post isn't about WHERE we're eating, but HOW.

I'm on my own with Big Girl and Bubba Boy many dinnertimes, since Funny Daddy works overnights. Sometimes, dinner takes eleventy billion hours. Gotta feed Bubba. Big Girl pretends to need help. Around midnight, I'm shoving food in my own face. Blech.

So I'm trying something new, using the Oxygen Mask Theory. It goes a little like this:

Inflight, passengers are advised to secure their own oxygen masks before helping others, in the event the cabin loses pressure. (Personally, I'd prefer a parachute, in the event the cain loses the capacity for sustained flight! But I digress.)

So tonight, I (BK) fed myself first. Let Big Girl hit the playground, had Bubba chilling with a toy, and I ate. And it was wonderful. Big Girl reappeared to begin eating before dashing back to play with her new 8-year-old boyfriend. And now Bubba's numbing down his pureed sweet potatoes and chicken.

And we've only been here 20 minutes.

Ahhhhhh. Like a breath of fresh air - or oxygen!

Family-Work-Life Balance

Hey, Moms! (And Dads!)

What is your favorite tip, trick or technique to balance all of what you've got going on in life?

In a future series of blog posts, I'll be exploring the good, the bad, and the insanity of what works best when you're parenting at the speed of life. Share your favorites - or your tips on what only looks good on paper but has zero practical application. I'll credit all ideas and link back to the site or post of your choice!

Share, share...And thanks!

Introducing...the Flashing Light

Good Tuesday morning to everyone, and welcome to Tuesday Travel Tips with Tiffany! To read previous editions, you can find them here.

The entrance to my neighborhood is guarded by a flashing red light.  Not stop signs; nope, those are too mundane.  Not a full traffic signal.  Too structured.  All four spokes of the intersection are governed by this flashing light.

And you would think people needed a PhD in Trafficology to figure out this modern-day Clash of the (Nissan) Titans!

Ok, people.  Let's break it down for you.

Basically...someone who wanted to make money off lightbulbs instead of sheet metal transformed the STOP SIGN into a FLASHING RED STOP LIGHT.

Beyond that, the principle is the same.  Exactly the same.  We take turns once we get to the intersection.  The first Eastbound/Westbound cars in the corresponding lanes go...and then the Northbound/Southbound cars go.

But most importantly, and why you people tick me off, is this point of driving etiquette:

If no one is currently at the intersection, and I get there before you do, I get to go through first.  Period.

Let's recap.

If my wheels have come to a stop and yours have not, I was there first.  And thus, I get to cross the intersection first.  Period.

Here's another scenario that gets my gall.

If you're the second car in line, you don't get to go through the intersection at the same time as the first car in line.

We take turns, Bozo.  My toddler is learning how to do that; why can't you?

I've heard the argument that some people might not realize that it's not an actual fully functional tri-color traffic light.  I'd be willing to accept that argument if it (a) didn't flash 24/7/365, (b) didn't blink on and off in 1 second intervals and (c) I lived near hamsters with less than 1 second attention spans instead of living, breathing, and supposedly attentive human beings.

I don't know about any of the rest of you purportedly sane drivers out there, but when I'm alone in my car (read: no kids), and someone goes through the blinking red light intersection out of turn, I actively try to hit them.

Calm down.  I'm not actually going to hit them.  But if they're trying to jump my turn, off goes my horn, out comes my middle phalanges, and I proceed to take my turn.  I definitely stop if they continue through the intersection; no numb-numb is worth wrecking my car (and in the area surrounding my neighborhood, they probably don't have insurance).  But I make 'em work for it.

But Tiffany, why don't you do the Christian thing and forgive?

Heck no.  This isn't a forgiveable offense, and they have no intention of atoning.  Forgetting your turn signal at an intersection is an oopsie.  Going out of turn is deliberate.  Failing to understand basic traffic signals is ignorance.  And ticking me off when I'm in my car is stupid.

How about you?  How do you deal with the Battle of the Stupids when it comes to flashing red lights?

Until next time,

Safe travels!

Famous Canadians

Too. Funny.  Apologies to my Canadian family and friends, but my husband shared this one with me, and it's too good not to pass along!

Get Fuzzy

Poopy Diaper or Free Ritas?

Bubba Boy just had such a violent diaper that the stitching to the stay-dry crystals busted open and came flooding out. For a second - ok, ten, until I could find the source - I thought he'd pooped ice crystals.

Free Ritas, anyone???

Diaper = FAIL!

You're Not That Important

Good Tuesday morning to everyone, and welcome to Tuesday Travel Tips with Tiffany! To read previous editions, you can find them here.

Hat tip to D for this timely tip:

"Put the cell phone down when boarding the plane! You can't put things in the overhead and hold a phone."

Sensible advice. Thanks, D!

Seriously, folks. You're. Not. That. Important.

When you were planning this particular trip, did you ask your secretary administrative assistant support staffer to schedule a meeting that would require you to be on the phone *just* as you were boarding?

I swear that people do this. You know. To make themselves look important to their fellow traveler. Mr. My Company Cannot Function Without Me. Ms. Corporate Ladder Climber Even While Midair.

And then there's Even Though I'm Gone I'm Still Your Mom.

"Jonathan. Jonathan. Put that down. What do you mean, how did I know you were holding it? I can hear your sister shrieking about it in the background. Plus, I'm your mother, aren't I?"

Yes, but I wish you weren't. Just for five minutes. If your kid's not on fire, put down the dang phone.

Here are the components for successfully loading an airplane:
  1. Get in line.
  2. Walk forward.
  3. Stow your luggage.
  4. Sit down.
The first, second and fourth steps were learned in preschool.  For those of you with stay-at-home-moms, maybe you didn't learn it until kindergarten.  Either way, let's be real - that was at least back in the Reagan administration.  You've surely repeated those motions enough times to master them by now, right?

So let's get back to that all important third step: stowing your luggage.

Ooooh.  Overhead bin.  In a Greyhound bus, it's just "the shelf above your seat."  Airlines spiffed it up.  Either way, you're likely going to need two arms to get the bag you snuck past the unsuspecting agent and loaded with 60 5-pound dumbbells up into this thing.  And no, it's not the stewardess's flight attendant's lady in the plane's (hat tip, George Carlin) problem to do this for you when you are too inconsiderate to put down your phone for 10 seconds.

I'll bet you're that same guy who won't shut down his phone when told so we can get this tin can with wings in the sky.

Seriously.  Have you considered Greyhound?

Until next time,

Safe travels!

Are We There Yet???

Funny comic over at Bizarro by Dan Piraro. (Hat tip to Funny Daddy for sharing!)

Unfortunately, they require you to buy the image just to display it on a website or blog.  They missed the memo that teaches about broader distribution and linking back to original sources and so forth.

I wonder how many people would actually pay a minimum of $125 for a 1-frame comic strip to display in 1 post on 1 blog.  Seriously?  I wouldn't.

And other than King Features Syndicate, most other comic distribution channels ENCOURAGE others to embed strips in their own sites, to BUILD exposure.  And let's be real here.  90% of what's reported by ANY source, including all of your major media sources, is a reference back to something put out by somebody else.  Without paying that somebody else.  But bringing them a bunch of exposure.

< / rant>. 

But, because it was a funny strip, I'll link to it and you can go laugh.  And after you get done checking out their licensing pricing, make sure to laugh at the comic as well!

"Are we there yet?"

Thursday Thirteen #23: Why PA is Cool

Join in the Thursday Thirteen fun here!

It's no secret that I have no intention of moving back to the area where I spent the first 21.5 years of my life: Scranton or Mountainhome, Pennsylvania. I'm perfectly happy here, where the west begins: Fort Worth, Texas. But I've got to give credit where credit is due and call out a few things that are just better there than here...or anywhere else, for that matter. Here we go...

13. Callie's Candy Kitchen, Mountainhome, PA
If you can better candy anywhere...well, you clearly haven't been to Callie's. I loved going here while growing up second to no other store. Between the yummiest chocolates (my mouth is watering this very moment thinking about their chocolate covered strawberries!) and the friendliest hospitality (no one can beat Mr. Callie himself!) this place is the A#1 best.

12. Yuengling Lager, Pottsville, PA
America's oldest brewery also produces America's best damn beer. Don't argue with me over this; I definitely know what I'm talking about. Only drawback: distribution basically limited to Eastern Seaboard states. Which Texas is not. *sob*

11. Delaware Water Gap, PA/NJ Border on I-80
Technically, Pennsylvania has to share this gem with New Jersey, but we'll claim the beauty for it, mkay?  A lot of people talk about visiting New England in the fall to revel in the beauty of the changing leaves.  Skip it!  Instead, simply make the drive across I-80 from PA to NJ through the 'Gap' and you'll see the prettiest view you could imagine.  Love it.  Lots.  I hate winter, not fond of fall, but I'll jump through blazing hoops to be there at season change!

10. Wings, NEPA
If you want wings, go to NEPA.  My own personal favorite is Kelly's, especially on "Wing Night," which occurs every Wednesday.  Pitcher of Yuengling, couple baskets of wings, and life is golden.  Yum!

9.  Pizza, Old Forge, PA
Some people like New York Pizza.  Others say Chicago is the way to go.  I saw pish tosh...go to Old Forge, PA.  Pick damn near to any of the pizzerias, and you'll find that your mouth is saying "New York what?" and "Chicago where?"

8.  Accents, Statewide
You can't really beat the plethora of accents found in the Keystone State.  Travel down to the Amish country and listen to the local dialects of the Plain people.  (Bring a German dictionary; it won't be the same, but it'll help!)  Then come back up to NEPA and attempt to answer the age old question of "hayna or no?"  Have no idea what the question queries?  May take a few more trips back east to learn.  Head west in PA and you can feel like you're in the Midwest without ever leaving the Northeast.

7.  St. Patrick's Day Parade, Scranton, PA
Parade Day is a bigger holiday in Scranton, PA than, well, any other.  But the trick to parade day isn't to find the best viewing location for the floats; it's to plot carefully where you'll start and end the day - and I'm talking bars here, folks.  Big deal stuff.  But ya have to be there to understand - so I highly encourage you to go!

6.  Italian Festival, Scranton, PA
Every Labor Day weekend, the Italians in 'The Valley' respond to the Irish day of drunken debauchery by staging a weekend long eating orgy featuring the best damn Italian food, drinks and desserts you can imagine.  Staged on Courthouse Square, it's an experience that can't be beat at a cost that will leave your tummy, kids and wallet feeling pleasantly pleased.

5.  The Pothole, Archbald, PA
Anywhere else in America, drivers complain to local Departments of Public Works or Departments of Transportation to fill in the annoying potholes that slow down cars and screw up alignments.  But in Archbald, PA, The Pothole is one that will never be filled (ok, that's most of 'em in PA) but will instead be visited both by bemused locals and curious visitors.  Basically just a deep hole in the ground, it's actually considered a park and, well, go see!

4.  Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Have you seen Rocky, or at least have you not lived under a rock at any point during the last 3 decades?  Then do I really need to say more.  Queue the music...and...STEPS!

3.  The Diner, Statewide
There are more diners in PA than residents.  Ok, that's not true, but if you want some truly yummy food anytime of day or night, head to a diner.  I grew up loving the Mountainhome Diner, Scotrun Diner, Glider Diner, and Chick's Diner.  What's your favorite?

2.  Barrett Friendly Library, Barrett Township, PA
This institution puts the friendly in reading.  Although no longer house in the most beautiful old stone building ever, this library should be duplicated all around the world, just to help people learn to love to read again.  I've been in many libraries in many places, folks.  Most remind me of an office building.  Or prison.  Not this one!  Feels like going home to a good book.  Oh, wait. You are.
(Full disclosure: I grew up going to this library, one of the librarians is the mom of my childhood best friend, and one of the others is a first cousin.  Just so ya know...)  

1.  Lewis' Supermarket, Mountainhome, PA
I spent a large part of my childhood and adolescence in this store, either hanging out in the back office, the break room, or  working at the front registers.  I've still never found another store laid out in as sensible a manner, with friendlier checkout clerks, more knowledgeable staff, and a size that says "we got what you need without needing to display 6 varieties of every item and causing you to spend longer grocery shopping than you sleep in a typical day."  If I could bottle this place and bring it to Texas, I would.  In a heartbeat!
(Full disclosure: my dad was a part owner of this store for more than 40 years, along with two of my uncles, and it is now owned by two of my cousins with two more cousins working in it.  Again, just so ya know...)

Happy Thursday Thirteen ya'll and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Recipe of the Day

This recipe is a tasty pie-in-the-face of "Mama said there'd be days like this" that will leave you asking "what next" while you pondering whipping it up for yourself next Groundhog's Day, or even on April Fool's.

(Editors Note: Folks, you can't make this stuff up.  This recipe really is how I lived my life between the evening of March 12th and the evening of March 13th.  Take caution when trying at home.)


Lower Crust
  • 1 Baby Bed Rail (preassembled)
  • 1 Mommy
  • 1 Daddy
  • 1 Good Arm
  • 1 Bad Arm
  • 1 Disposable Knee
  • 1 Cell Phone (disposable preferred; harder to trace)

  • 1 Scheming Toddler
  • 1/4 C Desitin
  • Several Elmo's (mixed variety)
  • 6 Gal Water
  • 1/2 C Baby Shampoo
  • 1 Washcloth
  • 1 Mommy
  • 1 Daddy
  • 1 Camera Phone (internet ready)
  • Facebook account

Upper Crust
  • 1 New DVD
  • 1 Old DVD Player
  • 1 Dish TV Remote
  • The Internet

  • 1 Scheming Toddler (can reuse from filling)
  • 1 Innocent Baby
  • 1/4 C Desitin (fresh; do not reuse from filling)
  • Toys (the more, the merrier)
  • Big Toy (needs a space large enough for 1 Innocent Baby to crawl through)
  • 1 Water Bottle with Pull Top (exercise variety)
  • 1 Tbsp Dawn
  • 2 C Water
  • 1/4 Roll Paper Towels
  • 1 Mommy
  • 1 Camera Phone (internet ready, can reuse from filling)
  • Facebook Account

Cherry On Top
  • 1 Loving Toddler (can reuse from filling if appropriate)
  • 1 Mommy
  • 1 Bad Arm

Dessert Drink
  • 1 Not-quite-potty-trained Toddler (can reuse from filling if appropriate)
  • 1 Used Diaper
  • No Warning
  • 1 Mommy
  • 3 Wipes
  • 1 New Diaper
  • 1 Mommy Blog


Lower Crust
  1. Send The Daddy to work.
  2. Have The Mommy struggle to set up the Baby Bed Rail with both the Good Arm and the Bad Arm for 4-5 minutes.
  3. Develop brilliant idea to have The Mommy lift the mattress with the Good Arm while pushing in the Baby Bed Rail with the Disposable Knee in order to shield the Bad Arm from further injury.
  4. Double over in pain as the Disposable Knee determines it was not meant to be a battering ram.
  5. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Send nastygram to The Daddy at work, complaining of sustaining another injury whilst setting up the Baby Bed Rail, using a Disposable Cell phone to avoid tracing if a loving rebuke is misinterpreted as a threat of imminent harm.
  7. Set aside The Mommy to cool.
  1. Have The Mommy begin prep work on future recipes while allowing ingredients such as The Scheming Toddler to age.
  2. Have The Scheming Toddler smear Desitin liberally on every exposed part of her body as well as on the red furry behinds of a variety of Elmo's.
  3. Have The Mommy glance up in utter shock when The Scheming Toddler announcings "Look at me, Mama".  Scream.  Use the camera phone to take a picture and send to the Facebook account.
  4. Set aside The Mommy to cool while counting to 10.
  5. Use The Mommy to herd The Scheming Toddler into the bathroom, allowing her vocal complaints to awaken The Daddy.
  6. Fill the bathtub with approximately 6 gallons of water, adjusting total volume as necessary.
  7. Alternate between The Mommy and The Daddy using the Washcloth to vigorously scrub The Scheming Toddler with Baby Shampoo.
  8. Rinse.
  9. Repeat.
  10. Dry and allow The Scheming Toddler to sit.
Upper Crust
  1. Begin weaving the upper crust by placing one new DVD in one old DVD player, ensuring that the remote control is removed beforehand.
  2. Look up the correct code on the Internet to enable the Dish TV Remote to connect with the old DVD player.
  3. Realize that when tools from different companies are used together, the controls may not be compatible.  Press every single button on the Dish TV Remote control in order to experiment with pushing play and weaving the upper crust.
  4. Note: it may take 11 or 12 restarts until the correct combination of buttons is determined.

  1. Allow 1 Scheming Toddler to sit with 1 Innocent Baby so their flavors can combine.
  2. Have the Scheming Toddler use Desitin to liberally baste herself and the Innocent Baby, ensuring nearly full coverage.
  3. Allow the Scheming Toddler to play with surrounding toys to ensure they are also covered with Desitin.
  4. Place Innocent Baby in the middle of a space in a large toy to ensure that he cannnot get away move until full coverage has been obtained.  Panicked screaming will help the process to move faster.
  5. Use the camera phone to take a picture and send to CPS Facebook account.
  6. Set aside Scheming Toddler to simmer.
  7. Combine 1 Tbsp Dawn and 2 C Water and mix well.  Wet a paper towel with solution and remove Desitin from Scheming Toddler and Innocent Baby at end of basting time.
Cherry on Top
  1. Mix 1 Loving Toddler and 1 Mommy vigorously.
  2. Use 1 Bad Arm to brace Mommy when Loving Toddler pushes her from the bed.
  3. Place Mommy in the freezer for 20 minutes to chill.
Dessert Drink
  1. Fill not-quite-potty-trained Toddler to the brim with a variety of liquids over an 8-12 hour period.
  2. Soak Used Diaper thoroughly.
  3. Drizzle fresh liquid on Used Diaper, allowing overflow to coat floor.
  4. Allow 1 Mommy to slide sideways through coated floor.
  5. Remove coating with 3 Baby Wipes.
  6. Cover Toddler in New Diaper.
  7. Write about it in Mommy Blog!

    Why Charlie Sheen is Right

    I was re-watching my favorite Two and a Half Men episode last night and reflecting on how sad I was that I wouldn't get to see Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer ham it up on the set of the show any longer.

    Have you seen the show? I love it. Have seen every single episode, most many times.

    If you've seen the show, you've surely met the character of Charlie Harper. Drunk, insensitive womanizer who makes his living in show business.

    Read that last sentence again.

    I was describing Charlie Harper.

    But  let's think seriously about this, folks.

    Didn't Charlie Sheen have a reputation for being a wild guy long before this show debuted?


    And hasn't Charlie Sheen played the hell out of Charlie Harper these last half dozen seasons?

    Isn't he all the more believable, because, well, he was pretty well typecast?

    "Television's number 1 comedy" didn't get to that position by using a choir boy to play a bad boy.

    Hasn't Charlie Sheen had other issues, particular to his drinking, prior to this?

    Hasn't he shot off his mouth in the past?

    Even gotten in trouble with the law?

    All while on the show.

    And yes, it is Chuck Lorre's story lines that the show is dependent upon...

    But it's Charlie Sheen's character, Charlie Harper, that carries the show to the heights it has attained.

    Asking Charlie to separate from Charlie is pure hypocrisy.  And it makes me angry.

    Is it ok to be a drunk, insensitive womanizer?

    Apparently only when you're Charlie Harper, not Charlie Sheen.

    What say you?

    NASCAR Wrapup: 2011 Kobalt 400 (Vegas)

    I always get nervous heading into Las Vegas, folks.  Everyone knows it's Busch territory.  Kurt and Kyle know that track inside out and routinely do well there.

    And I can't stand 'em.

    But Carl got a little retribution from last week's unlovely tap by Kyle Busch and drove away with today's checkered flag.  Yahoo!

    And how about Jr. with a second top-ten?  Maybe the curse gets broken this year and my man gets the wins he's worked so hard to chase.

    And poor Kyle's car flamed out.  Literally.  Boohoo.

    Speaking of boohoo, today's "Man Up" award goes to Tony Stewart.  His post race whining was ugly, man.  Get it together!

    What did you think?

    Talking About Potty Training

    Some of my discussions with my kiddos are about the tough issues in life...biting, sharing, and, of course, potty training. Here's a recent exchange with Big Girl.

    Mom: Do you have to go potty, honey?

    Big Girl: Nope. I'm busy asking you to put Dora on the TV.

    Mom: Are you sure? You haven't gone in awhile.

    Big Girl: Mo-om! No. I want to watch Dora, please.

    Mom: Ok, well let me know when you're ready.

    Big Girl: Duh. Dora! Now!

    Five minutes later...

    Big Girl: [Grunt]

    Mom: Are you going potty?

    Big Girl: Nope! I'm underwater basket weaving. With Dora!

    Mom: Come on. Let's go potty.

    Big Girl: Uh, ok. But you're not going to like this.

    Mom: Like what? Hey, why is there a great big green cloud of noxiousness wafting from your backside?


    [end scene]

    Explaining the People Mover

    Good Tuesday morning to everyone, and welcome to Tuesday Travel Tips with Tiffany! To read previous editions, you can find them here.

    I just love easy ways to get from one place to another, quickly. I don’t have much patience for slowness of any sort. (I’m sure that’s a shocker!)

    So you know I love me some people movers at the airport.

    It seems, however, like some of my fellow travelers are not as bought into their use as I am. So let’s spend today’s Tuesday Travels post explaining the people mover.

    You are familiar, I assume, with the concept of the escalator?

    Nifty thing. Ensures that you don’t have to walk up and down stairs on your own. Also ensures that a snagged scarf can lead to your untimely demise, but that’s another story…


    A people mover is a horizontal escalator. Phineas and Ferb dismantled an escalator, smoothed out the bumps, and spent their day installing it in an airport.

    What a cool concept – instead of sprinting wildly from one gate to the next in order to just miss my flight, I can get on the people mover and have it aid in my efforts.

    But only if you, fellow traveler, cooperate.



    When on a people mover, similarly to an escalator, similarly to a highway, slow traffic should stay to the right and allow passing on the left.

    If you’re going to let the people mover do all of the work to move you from point A to point B, that’s cool. No problem. But some of us want to do double duty here and enjoy the forward motion of the people mover while still motorizing on our own.

    And when you, or your gigantinormous luggage, are standing still, you become like a speedbump to me. And since I’m not a big fan of the slalom, it would be much appreciated if everyone standing still could do so on the same side, so I can speed my way in a straight line rather than running hurdles.

    Mmmkay? Thanks!

    And until next time,

    Safe Travels!

    NASCAR Wrapup: 2011 Subway 500 (Phoenix)

    I have to admit...I'm 4-days post-surgery and still relying pretty heavily on pain meds.  And towards the end of today's race, I found myself wondering if I'd accidentally taken too many.  Because this Jr. fan started rooting for the #24!  Teammate or not, um, ick!  But in a world where I definitely will root for anyone BUT Kyle Busch, well, GO JEFF GO!

    Really, I was pleased with most of the top ten - my Dale got in there, hubby's Harvick did well, and Jimmie Gordon got a break from the DNF gods.  But really, the best news here is the lack of a W for Kyle!

    But how about them wrecks, man?  What was Kenseth doing on lap 67?  A little contact is one thing, but he wiped out almost a third of the dang field!

    And of course, Kyle owns Carl Edwards a huge apology for that mess.

    But overall, a good race at a decent track!

    Talking About Sonic

    My kiddos are often held captive in the backseat of my car. Going all sorts of places they'd just as soon skip in favor of going home. But it's where some of our best conversations occur. Here's one about Sonic.

    Mom: We'll head home in just a few minutes after Mommy stops at Sonic for Happy Hour.

    Bubba: Happy Hour? Sis, that sound like Mom's taking us to a bar? Really, Mom?

    Big Girl: Maybe she'll get us something.

    Mom: I'm just going to get myself a nice big soda so I can stay awake long enough tonight to get everything done.

    Big Girl: Me, too! Soda, please!

    Bubba: Mmm. Yeah. Me, too. Or boobs.

    Big Girl: Gross. Knock it off. Soda, please!

    Mom: No, guys. We'll eat right after we get home. Mommy just needs to get a soda.

    Bubba: Needs? No, Mommy needs help.

    Big Girl: You're addicted, Mom.

    Bubba: Milk?

    Big Girl: No, to Sonic.

    Bubba: No, I want milk.

    Mom: Bubby, hang tight. We'll be home soon. Promise.

    Bubba: Sis, can you get online and Google “Sonic addiction?”

    Silent Courtesy

    Good Tuesday morning to everyone, and welcome to Tuesday Travel Tips with Tiffany! To read previous editions, you can find them here.

    We (us travelers, that is) have a purpose for being on a plane. We’re going somewhere. (Duh, right?) Maybe it’s for business. Maybe it’s a vacation. Maybe something is wrong and we have to get somewhere fast. Regardless, we’re going somewhere.

    And it ain’t to a Toastmasters meeting. (Unless you’re going to a convention. But that’s another story!)

    Now, please believe me when I say that I’m not knocking Toastmasters. I’m a Toastmaster. CC/CL. Current VP Education for my club, which is comprised mainly of airline employees. Have won a bunch of contests. Looooooooove talking. (There’s a surprise.)

    But being on a plane isn’t the same as being at a Toastmasters meeting. What’s I’m trying to say here is that we should all act courteously toward one another while in the air…but we don’t have to chat or soliloquize while 40,000 over the Midwest.

    I’m sure you’re a great person. I can see that you have fabulous hair, a pretty suit and a snazzy iSuck. But, as you can see from my notebook and poised pen, I’ve got plans for this flight that don’t include replaying the Q&A session from the Miss America competition. Plus, with my lack of fabulous hair, a pretty suit, and a snazzy iSuck, we all know I’ll just get Miss Congeniality.

    Ahem. Which brings me to…

    While I may not want to engage you in scintillating conversation while on the plane, I certainly am not going to be rude to you either. I can show courtesy…silently.

    When you say hi, I’m just going to smile. When you start off into a rambling monologue on the state of affairs in IndoChina (clearly, my flight is in 1968) I’m going to nod and look back to my notebook.

    I may not be feeling social on this flight, but I can show silent courtesy.

    Can you?

    Until next time…

    Safe travels!

    NASCAR Wrapup: 2011 Daytona 500

    This year's Great American Race is in the history - and record! - books.  What did you think of it?  Do you agree with some early reports that it was one of the most unpredictable Daytona 500s to date, or are you a bit puzzled by some of the changes and outcomes?

    Here are some of my thoughts:

    Dale Earnhardt 10th Anniversary Tributes

    By and large, I think the tributes prior to the race were very tastefully done.  Fox devoted an amount of time to the memory of Dale Earnhardt that seemed respectful and not over-the-top.

    I was floored by the depth of emotion that I felt during the 3rd lap when everyone had their three fingers up and the broadcast booth went silent.  This will sound silly, but the four deaths that have saddened me the most in my life are my Dad, Princess Diana, Dale Earnhardt, and Ronald Reagan.  In that order.  I'm still sad about The Intimidator ten years later and can't get through any of his biographies with dry eyes.  Forever #3.

    I loved the Chevy black and white #3 commercial that added in red at the end.  Wow!

    I was also glad to see that there was one last tribute at the end during the recap.  I cried.  Nuff said.

    The New Points System

    Do you get the new points system?  I've read the "rules" of it a few times and I'm still a bit puzzled on what happens after race 26 with points resets and numbers 11 and 12 and the whole Chase concept.  Throughout the rest of the year, I'm not puzzled at all; having simplified points makes sense all the way around.  But, uh, why do we suddenly go back to "Only An Actuary Would Understand Land" at the start of the Chase?  Or...maybe that's just me?'

    The Pre-Race and Fox

    The TMZ spoof was hilarious!!!  Loved it...and I've only seen TMZ like 3 times in my life!

    Female sportscasters annoy me.  Sexist?  Maybe.  but they'd be more believable if they looked like Coach Beast from Glee.

    But that man.  Boogity, boogity!  Best quote of the race: "Forget the gauges; run it 'til it blows!"


    Congratulations, Daytona International Raceway, on joining the rest of us in the 21st century.  I can't believe that the last time your track was resurfaced was THIRTY TWO YEARS AGO in 1979.  It looked beautiful - ya'll did a great job!

    I was far more impressed by the National Anthem, as sung by Martina McBride, at the Daytona 500 than the Christina Aguilera rendition at the Super Bowl.  And I loved seeing Michael Waltrip mouthing the words.  And then the USAF Thunderbirds flyover?  Yes, please.  Great job!

    On the flip side...the "Gentlemen, start your engines" was terible.  Not hating on the Transformers crew, but, well, stick to the big screen instead of the dashboard.  And the three Transformers cars in the parade lap was an...odd stunt.

    The Race

    I was thrilled to see Jr. get the pole...and sad that he wrecked in practice and had to go to the back.  Le sigh.  But on his 400th career start, he sure did a great job...until the end.  And even then, he wasn't the one not doing a good job.   I do love the concept the prerace chatter pointed to several times of Dale Jr. being the Pied Piper at times!

    Seeing Kevin Harvick in Budweiser gear throws my mind right the hell off.  See...I'm a Dale, Jr. fan.  And have a lot of his former Budweiser gear.  And my husband is a Kevin Harvick fan.  And has no Budweiser gear.  So does this mean I have to bequeath my Bud grubs to the husband?

    Can't believe the Big One hit on lap 29!  Nice to see the Hendrick cars had a team meeting there on the apron; glad Dale Jr. was late!

    Mark Martin is still racing?  Anyone else notice that he's beginning to resemble Yoda?

    I realize that it's for a bigger cause (hunger) but I love AARP sponsoring the #24.

    The drafting concept at play in Daytona today needs a lot of work.  The deal making seemed shaky, at best, at times.  The cars absolutely cannot go into turns three wide two deep and stacked up and expect to come out unscathed.  And if you're gonna bump, make sure the bumpee is aware and you're positioned square.  Yeesh!  To be honest, with all of the two-car hook-ups, it looked a little bit like Lego cars linked together.

    The spotter chatter sounded like auctioneers...although I can also see the comparison the announcers made between the spotters and air traffic controllers!

    The Winner

    This kid looks like someone signing up for driver's ed, not a professional racer.  But boy can he drive!  Heckuva 20th birthday present!  And happy Daytona Sunday!

    Talking About Bottles

    Talking to my kiddos when they have their mouths plugged just seems mean. But I have fun with it. Here's a talk with Bubba Boy about bottles.

    Mom: Here you go, Bubby. A nice bottle of juice.

    Bubba: Boobs.

    Mom: Come on now. This is apple juice. You need some so you're not all backed up.

    Bubba: Seriously, Mom?

    Mom: Down the hatch! Here we go!

    Bubba: Mmm. Oh. Yeah. This is good.

    Mom: That's a good boy. Drink it all down.

    Bubba: Are you trying to get me drunk?

    Mom: Look at you go. When you're done with the juice, I'll get you a bottle of milk if you're still thirsty.

    Bubba: Milk?

    Mom: You have to finish the juice first. Drink it aaaallllll down.

    Bubba: Ok. Slurp. All gone.

    Mom: Good for you! Here's a bottle of milk, like I promised.

    Bubba: What do I get when this is gone? Ma? Ma?

    [end scene]

    Love you, Mommy!

    At what age did your children realize that they, in fact, were in charge?

    Big Girl has had that realization already.


    Tonight, I came to understand the frustration my parents often had with me for the slow speed with which I attacked meals.

    After picking every pepperoni off her leftover piece of pizza, she began finding every excuse in the book to *not* eat.

    Cue Mom.

    Eat your dinner.

    EAT your dinner.



    Whereupon Big Girl wheels around and exclaims "LOVE YOU, MOMMY! Kiss?" while beelining over to me, lips puckered.

    I surrender.

    Big Girl 1, Mommy 0

    Want a cookie?

    Keep Your Shirt On!

    Good Tuesday morning to everyone, and welcome to Tuesday Travel Tips with Tiffany! To read previous editions, you can find them here.

    Hey! You! Yeah, you! The one undressing on my airplane.

    Let’s chat.

    I fly fairly often. Not a road warrior, but my family and I get on a half dozen or more flights a year, plus I fly periodically for work – which, for me, is an airline.

    But today, I’m talking to the people who apparently fly so infrequently that they may believe they’ve taken the right hand exit to the Red Door Spa instead of the left hand exit onto the MD80.

    Keep your shirt on. Please!

    When we get on the aircraft, I find it very appropriate to settle in and get comfortable for the flight, be it 45 minutes or 4.5 hours.

    I do not.not.not find it appropriate to strip on the plane.

    Have you ever seen the people who do this? They board the plane wearing about 17 layers – wanted to avoid those checked bag fees, right? – and by the time we’re taxiing for takeoff, they’re dressed appropriately for a sauna.

    And then there’s the kind folks who sit down and remove their shoes. Unless you’re planning to pass out clothes pins as well and provide pedicures for the entire group, please don’t! Wearing sandles on summer flights is one thing; deliberately disrobing is another.

    So let’s review, here. No shoes, no shirt, you should get no service. You will. The plane will still take off and we’ll still wing our way to our destination together. But you sure aren’t winning any friends.

    Until next time…

    Safe travels!

    Mommy Moments #2

    This week's theme is "Dear Baby" for Mommy Moments.

    Dear Bubba,

    You are a much loved baby.  I'll admit that you caught us off guard - while Big Girl was a planned baby, you were a complete surprise.  But we've loved you since the first moment we got to see you on ultrasound, and hear your heartbeat.

    You caused us a few worries along the way, especially when you started threatening to appear so early.  But then you fooled us all and stayed in weeks later than anyone thought you would!  And then fooled us again by coming out naturally on the day we planned to induce your exit.  A mind of your own - you're an independent one!

    We decided to do things a bit differently with your pregnancy, in keeping with the idea of a surprise, and didn't find out your gender.  Boy, every single person in that delivery room - and there were a few! - were so sure you were going to be a girl.  I think I was the only one who thought you'd be my little man...and I was right.  When the doctor announced "it's a boy," I can remember smiling my face off.  How happy I was to be the mom of a Big Girl and now my little man.

    When you started having issues with reflux at three weeks old, I worried by head off.  It's not easy for a mom to watch her little one throw up nearly everything he eats.  When you still thrived - albeit by eating round the clock to offset your tummy troubles - I started to relax again.  Here again, you fooled us all, achieving heights and lengths at the tops of the charts despite terrible reflux.  Good for you!

    You have many features that remind me of my dad, who died two months before your big sister was born.  Sometimes, that makes my heart very happy.  Other times, it hurts.  But when your face crinkles up into an adorable smile, you're the mini-me of Funny Daddy.  I love it!  And I love that smile.

    You're a vocal critter.  Right now, you're sitting just across the room from me and testing out a wide range of sounds, from grunts to squeals to happy little baby chatter.  No mamas or dadas yet, but you're definitely able to express yourself in other ways.  Hope you don't get overrun by your sister's chattiness...remember, you need to answer back instead of letter her talk for you!

    You have a ton of family, even though many live in other areas of the country, and you need to know that you are much loved by them as well as by all of us who you are forced to privileged to live with.  You also need to know that even though we may not see some of our family very frequently, they're thinking of you always.

    As you fly past your six-month birthday and speed on towards seven, I want you know to how much we're enjoying watching you grow from a cute and cuddly baby to a rough and ready little boy.  Seeing you and your sister sit together and giggle your heads off at each other makes my heart so happy.  Imagining how it will be when you can run around and terrorize amuse us together makes me smile.

    I love you, Jeffrey!


    Great Wolf Lodge Loves Police

    I recently came across a great deal for law enforcement families.  Great Wolf Lodge, which has locations all over the country, offers a "Howling Heroes" discount that takes around 10% off the price of a room when you book using offer code "HEROES."

    Here's the verbiage from the Great Wolf web site:
    Promotional Rate:  Howling Heroes - Rate for Armed Forces, Police, Fire, & EMS Workers. Must present valid ID at check-in. Limit 2 rooms per ID. Limited number of rooms available for each date. May not be valid during holiday and blackout periods. Multiple night minimum stay may apply.
    What a great offer!  And from the reviews I've read, what a great place to get away - can't wait until my own kids are old enough so we can go enjoy our local Great Wolf Lodge!

    Advice: take advantage of your police office spouse's quirky schedule and stay midweek.  Check a bunch of dates before you decide; prices can differ drastically over time.  Potentially save money by splitting a suite with another family.  And remember that this price includes tickets for four to their indoor waterpark.  And if the discount doesn't work online or you're having trouble with the site, pick up the phone and call - these people are wolfpack friendly!

    Talking About Nursing

    Sometimes, when I'm talking to my kids, I'm wondering exactly how big of an idiot I think they am. Here's a recent discussion I had with Bubba about nursing.

    Mom: Alright, Bubba. Careful now. Mom's a little sore.

    Bubba: Boobs.

    Mom: I'm glad we decided to give this another go even after I was sick. You're only six months old. No reason we can't get to 13 or 14 months like your sister.

    Bubba: Eight more months of boobs? Yee-haw!

    Mom: Hey! Did you just bite me? Be careful, Bubby.

    Bubba: Just got excited. Slurp.

    Mom: That's a good boy. You're such a hungry little bugger.

    Bubba: Yup. Definitely better than peas.

    Mom: Maybe I'll make you some rice and peas for dinner after this.

    Bubba: [crunch]

    Mom: Ye-ow. Be careful, little man.

    Bubba: No peas. No rice. Steak. Or boobs.

    Mom: Well, I guess we're about done here. I'd better get dinner made.

    Bubba: My dinner just walked away. Crap.

    [end scene]

    Exploring the Child Tax Credit

    I've been boning up on portions of tax law that are either new, changing, or of fresh relevance to me this year, and thought I'd post up some of my findings, in case they can help any of you.

    Let's talk about the child tax credit.

    Clearly, I've used this in the past for Catherine, and will use it this year for Jeffrey as well.

    But the focus of my research was claiming someone other than my son or daughter; namely, my nephew, who lived with us from May 2010 through January 2011.

    Here's what I've found:

    To claim the child tax credit, the child in question has to pass six tests: age, support, relationship, dependent, citizenship, residence.

    In detail:

    Age - The child must be under 17

    Support - The child can provide no more than 50% of his own support

    Relationship - Son, daughter, foster child, brother, sister, grandson, granddaugher, niece, nephew and step-children of all of the preceding varieties

    Dependent - The child must be claimed as a dependent on the filer's taxes during the year where the child tax credit is claimed for them (does this seem like a no-brainer to anyone else?)

    Citizenship - The child must be a legal US citizen, resident, or resident alien

    Residence - The child must reside with the filer for greater than 50% of the year for which the child tax credit is claimed

    Let's recap and see if we qualify:

    Age? 15...check!
    Support Himself? On video games.  But seriously, no.  Check!
    Relationship? Nephew...check!
    Dependent? Executed temporary guardianship documentation, enrolled in school here...check!
    Citizenship? Mars.  Nevermind.  USA-USA-USA!  Check!
    Residence? May-December = 8 months.  8/12 = 75%.  75% > 50%.  Check!

    Looks like we're good to go...hope this info is helpful to you as well!

    And remember: even if the child qualifies to be claimed on your taxes, always make sure no one else is claiming him as well; a child can be claimed only once, no matter how many people have a valid claim.

    For more details: Child Tax Credit (PDF)

    Talking About School

    I talk to my kiddos constantly. And even though Big Girl can answer back, I sometimes make up different answers from her in my head. Because I know that's what she's actually thinking. Consider this conversation on school.

    Mom: Did you have fun at school today?

    Big Girl: Preschool.

    Mom: Did you do anything interesting?

    Big Girl: It's preschool. I didn't exactly learn differential diagnosis techniques.

    Mom: That reminds me that a new episode of House is on tonight. Did you eat all of your lunch?

    Big Girl: Nope. Did you?

    Mom: Ah, I, no.

    Big Girl: Why not?

    Mom: I was just really busy.

    Big Girl: Too busy for lunch?

    Mom: Well, yeah. I mean, wait. Did you do any drawing at school today?

    Big Girl: I'm bored. Is House on yet?

    [end scene]

    Driving in Winter

    Good Tuesday morning to everyone, and welcome to Tuesday Travel Tips with Tiffany! To read previous editions, you can find them here.

    We've had what I would consider to be more than our fair share of winter weather in north Texas this year, and so we've experienced more than our fair share of drivers who could use a  Especially with more weather predicted later this week.

    So for today's Tuesday Travel Tips with Tiffany, I'd like to explore some ideas to make us all safer on the roads.

    1. Your SUV is worthless.  If you think it's going to protect you from ice, just do us all a favor and park until spring.
    2. Countersteering is king.  Think of your car on ice like a boat on water: sometimes, you need to do what's counterintuitive to keep from capsizing.
    3. Carry kitty litter in your trunk.  Not only will this give you some weight to make your car less of a deadly brick, you can also use it to spread under your tires to gain traction when if you get stuck on ice.
    4. Bridges = bad.  See, they have no land beneath them that can retain heat and ensure against unnecessary freezing.  That means you need to slow waythehell down before going across a bridge that might be is icy.
    5. Unless you have an emergency or a boss who was raised in Alaska, you might just want to stay home.  It's just not worth fooling around with other drivers who probably haven't read this post!
    Until next time...

    Safe travels!

    Scheduling for Success

    We all know that police officers work some of the toughest and most-oddly scheduled shifts, compared to nearly any other profession.  And we all know how optimistic we can be, as police spouses, about things magically "falling into place" around our other half's shifts.


    Hey, I got it out with a straight face!

    Dealing successfully with the realities of being a police family can often depend on how well you can schedule your time.  I've found and started using a FABULOUS tool I want to share with you all.

    The Cozi internet calendar has it all.  You can set up schedules for limitless numbers of household members, schedule with all of the rigidity of Outlook but all of the flexibility of a more user-friendly format, and sync with other calendars on the web, desktop and phone.  Plus, you can keep task lists there and access "been there done that" advice from their calendaring geniuses.

    I started using it back in August of 2010.  Cozi lets me put appointments on the calendar in a different color for everyone in my house - plus I can set up an additional "person" to represent the house and schedule our chores!  (There's an interface for FlyLady if you're into that routine.)  It keeps my shopping list...and then I can have it texted to me while I'm in the store.  And task list items can have a due date set and go right on the calendar.

    Another nifty part of Cozi is that you can sync it with multiple other calendars.  For instance, if you and your husband maintain separate Outlook programs, you can download *just* your appointments to yours, and *just* your husband's to his.  You can also take advantage of the recurring calendar function, which allows far more flexibility in choosing multiple days and patterns.  I have my husband's entire year plotted out so I can figure out the best weekends for us to go visit family...and the best weekends to stay home and do work around the house.

    Highly recommend.  You'd think they were paying me, I'm so enthusiastic.  (They're not.  But, uh, they could.  Email me!  Mwah!)  Go check it out and let me know what you think!

    Mommy is Busy Right Now

    I subscribe to Newsweek magazine.  I have since I was a freshman in college; before that, I just read my parent's subscription at home.  I've literally read this publication since I was old enough to read and reason.

    Sometimes, especially in the past 5 years, I find myself snorting over my perceived left-leanings of some of the columnists.  Most days I'm convinced that George Will is the only conservative writer in their employ.

    But some articles transcend politics, and one in particular recently caught my eye: Mommy is Busy Right Now.

    Boy, did the sentiments of writer Lisa Miller (with whom I often find myself disagreeing) ring true in this piece.

    The premise is basic.
    • 1: 77% of women work; for many, it's not a choice but a necessity.  
    • 2: Most household "administrative" functions are performed by women, i.e. travel planning, banking, managing health issues, etc.
    • 3: Neither corporate nor marital structures accommodate work+household administration.
    This. Is. My. Life.

    Now don't get me wrong.  Funny Daddy can outcook me any day of the week.  And he cleans a ton.  He's better at buckling down to physical types of chores than I am.

    But when it comes to budgeting, tax prep, vacation planning, doctors appointments, school forms, und so weiter...well, that's me.  But I want it that way; I love that kind of stuff.  But on the flip side, there ARE only 24 hours in a day.  And like my husband, I have multiple jobs: between the two of us, we police, engage employees, serve legal documentation, write, judge debate tournaments, provide security, and flip houses.  Two kids.  Four dogs.  Parents living in 3 different states.  By any measure, that's a busy life.

    I find myself falling into the guilt trap pretty consistently, too.  If I'm working, I feel like I ought to be with my kids.  If I'm with my kids, I wonder if I've accomplished enough work for the day.  If I'm on vacation, I want to check email so people aren't left waiting on me.  If I'm working on a writing project, I'm reminded that a project at my full-time job needs completing as well.

    So what say you, other busy mommies.  Do you just compartmentalize?  What's the split like in your world?

    Mommy is busy right now...

    Now I Lay Me Down...

    Dear Funny Daddy,

    Thanks for buying that cute little doll for Big Girl at church last know, the one that recites the "Now I lay me down to sleep..." prayer.  Big Girl has now pushed it's buttons (and mine!) for the 64th time in the last 3 minutes.  It's yammering on constantly and I'm fairly sure, having burned through God, Jesus, Yahweh, Jehovah, and Allah, we're now praying to deities of which I was previously unaware.

    Big Girl is enthralled.  Bubba Boy stood up in his crib to see if he could get in on the Hour of Power.

    And I'm wondering if the little doll, which is starting to remind me of Gospel Chuckie, could fit in a prayer or two for me.

    But not until after it prays to God # 65.

    Now I lay me down to sleep...


    Frazzled Mommy

    Favorite Part of Police Lifestyle

    After a few somber posts, let's cheer up a bit. What's your favorite part of the law enforcement lifestyle?

    My favorite part, hands down, are the stories my husband brings home of the idiots he see out in the big wide world.  You know who I mean...the people who even Jerry Springer would reject.  The people who, if they had a brain cell, it would be lonely.  Or the winners who believe they are entitled to act in a certain way for the most, uh, unique of reasons.

    What's your favorite part?  The floor is yours!

    McDonalds NEMall PlayPlace Review

    I took the kiddos to our favorite McDonald's for lunch today. Basically, I needed to run enough energy off Big Girl to prevent her from rending a tear in the fabric of the universe.

    Recently, the McDonalds at NorthEast Mall (Pipeline @ 820 in Hurst, TX) underwent major renovations. Here are my thoughts:

    1. Thank you for continuing to have a bathroom just for the little ones. It is hugely helpful.
    2. The flat screen against the back wall is not.  Can't see it, can't hear it, didn't come to McD's to watch TV.
    3. I understand the point of nailed down furniture.  But it's not practical.  If you are unable to change the configuration of the chairs/tables, many families can't easily be accomodated.
    4. Hey!  Some of us have strollers!  And mine doesn't fit very easily in the PlayPlace.  I'm limited in where I can sit, because of overly narrow aisles, and that means that if I get there after those tables are already taken, I either can't come in, or I have to hope someone takes pity on me and moves to a table only accessible for walkers, not riders.
    5. Safety, safety, safety - I can definitely see that a lot of thought for this was put into the redesign and it is much appreciated.  I know that when Big Girl goes into the hamster-trail-for-kids, she's going to be safe.
    6. But could we maybe have kept a few outlets?  Like on high-up non-reachable-by-mini-monsters areas?  One of the things I love best about McDonald's is your free WiFi...but if I want to work there while my little ones play, my battery is eventually going to go dead...
    7. Squooshy floors are cool and make running around without shoes by drunk-on-giddiness toddlers lots safer.  Love the new floors you put in.
    8. Napkins and condiments would be appreciated.  When you go to McD's with a million mini people, and have fifteen trays to balance with two hands, stopping to get napkins and condiments on the way past is sometimes out of the question.  But...I don't want to bring my squirts in just to abandon them there while I go on a napkin-and-ketchup retrieval mission.  Could we maybe have a napkin and ketchup station in the munchkin room?
    Overall, it's a great place.  Some of the redesign areas don't thrill me, but Big Girl loves it, Bubba looks on with envy (gotta walk first, dude), and I get some time to sit and relax while they have fun.

    Over-Under on Police Relationships

    My husband was a cop when I met him; it's all I've know him to be as a profession.  But not everyone marries into the law enforcement lifestyle.

    I'm curious.  How many of you were together with significant other before they became a police officer?  How many, like me, didn't meet your other half until he was already in law enforcement?

    I'm wondering what the over-under on these types of relationship is - is it harder to make the transition into being a police spouse, or is it harder to go into a relationship knowing that it may be challenging, both psychologically and logistically?

    I think that it must surely be harder if you suddenly transform into a police spouse.  Afterall, you knew a totally different life beforehand.  Whereas if you go into it with your eyes open to the realities of this life, you may be better prepared.

    But maybe that's just my opinion from my own experience.  What do you think?

    Talking About Dinner

    I talk to my little kids like they're big people. To the extent where it may be excessive. And I fill in their responses in my head...which is definitely excessive. But funny. Here's my discussion with Bubba about eating dinner.

    Mom: I made you a nice big bowl of rice, baby boy. It's yummy.

    Bubba: Boobs?

    Mom: I know you're angling for some mommy time, but we're going to eat dinner first, honey.

    Bubba: No boobs?

    Mom: Open wide, Bubs. Yum, yum, yums.

    Bubba: Are you sure no boobs?

    Mom: Come on baby. Open up. Yummy nummies for the boy.

    Bubba: Ok. Rice. Huh.

    Mom: That's a good boy. Niiiiice big bite. Good job!

    Bubba: Pbbbbbt.

    Mom: No, no, baby. You gotta keep it in your mouth.

    Bubba: Nope. Pbbbbt.

    Mom: Good lord, how much did you have in your mouth?

    Bubba: Lots. Pbbbbt.

    Mom: Let's try this again, honey. Oooooo-pen. There we go. Nice, big....

    Bubba: Pbbbbt. Haha.

    Mom: Clearly, this isn't working. Let's try a drink.

    Bubba: Finally. Boobs!

    Mom: Nope, I meant for me.

    [end scene]

    Dealing with Fear

    One of the biggest fears in being married to a law enforcement officer is injury or death.  For some police spouses, this fear can be debilitating.  Others learn how to compartmentalize this fear so that it doesn't overtake the non-scary portions of law enforcement relationships.

    Here are a few thoughts to help ease your fear:
    • Your husband or wife is superbly trained for the job that they are doing.  Being a police officer requires intense and lengthy learning, including role playing scenarios that have the potential to go badly.
    • Your husband or wife, as a police officer, is probably hyper aware of the world around them.  If there are signs availble that something bad is going down, they probably already know and are working out their response in their head.
    • Your husband or wife wants their job and in fact may feel called to that line of work as an avocation.
    • Your husband or wife also wants their life; they aren't going to do anything stupid and when they do put themselves in harm's way, it's done so in a calculated fashion.
    • Trust.  Trust, trust, trust.  Trust that you husband or wife will do what is necessary to stay safe.  Trust that whichever higher power you believe in will look out for him or her.  And trust that if something does go badly, you will have the strength to deal with it.

    Snow Days and Scheduling

    My husband works what I consider to be an odd schedule. It's on 2, off 2, on 3, off 2, on 2, off 3. Repeat. I guess it's nice, because it's a 14-day schedule, so it replicates every two weeks. His shifts are 12 hours each, which turn into 14 hours each when commuting time is added, plus that blanket time in arriving for shifts early and leaving shifts a few minutes late. But he has different days off different weeks, and that can make scheduling tricky. I don't work different days different weeks, and our daughter, who attends a Montessori preschool, doesn't go to school different days different weeks.

    We have a pretty delicately balanced work around, which I think is common to police families. Since we work opposite shifts, we cover for each other a lot. Which works great...until you factor in training classes, work trips, court dates, traded shifts...or snow days. Yes, even in north Texas we have the occasional snow day.

    Or 3!

    Screws up roads, cancels schools, kills schedules.

    So I'll be staying home today to watch kiddos while the hubby rests and gets ready for his next shift tonight. And I'll be thanking my lucky stars that I am able to work remotely for my job as needed...while digging deep for patience and creativity in balance kids and work.

    Other days, one of my husband's aunts saves us by watching the kids when our schedules collide. We wouldn't make it without that help, and our kids love having a surrogate grandma nearby since their own grandparents all live thousands of miles away.

    What are your coping techniques when schedules go haywire?

    Companion Pieces

    Breakfast at Tiffany's: Texans and Snow

    Kids and Snow Days

    Remember how exciting it used to be when a snow day was announced? We'd gather around the TV at 5 AM praying that our school name would scroll past next. In the average winter, we'd get 3-6 days off for snow...which would then be made up by deleting days from spring break or staying in school longer in June.

    Of course, I also grew up in the north, where a snow day required an actual appreciable snowfall or severely slick roads.

    Here in Texas, I wasn't quite expecting to deal with snow days for my kiddos. I mean, the thought of an inch of snow shutting anything down is just hilarious. But then you consider that there's like 3 snow plows in an area home to six million people...and the lack of services for slick roads makes sense.

    My daughter's preschool is closed for the third day in a row. This blows my mind. Especially since that means balancing kid duty and work-from-home duty today. Again. When my kid would actually rather head out the door to play with her friends and I would rather head out the door to work with mine.

    What's your kid-and-snow-day strategy? We're loading up on Dora, Play Doh, coloring books, and hiding anything with removable lids or copious amounts of fur. Do I really need to explain that part?

    And we're hoping for better weather next week. Because this mom is much less of a snow day fan as an adult than she was as a child!

    Companion Pieces

    Breakfast at Tiffany's: Texans and Snow

    The Officer's Wife: Snow Days and Scheduling

    Texans and Snow

    Before I moved to Texas almost nine years ago, I would have sworn to you that it didn't snow here. After all, I was moving to the area better known for 100+ degree days in the summer than lower-than-freezing in the winter.

    My first winter here, we had two days off from work for sleet. My mom hasn't yet stopped teasing me about that.

    Last Christmas, we had a foot of snow. A foot! Are you kidding me?

    And now, today, we're on our third day of iffy roads and cancelled activities. So I thought I'd offer up three reflections this morning on snow in Texas.

    1. Your SUV is worthless. I love that people think that because they have a big old honking truck or SUV, they can barrel down barely-cleared roads. First, it has to have four wheel drive to make a difference, and many of the SUVs and trucks in Texas do not. Second, the moron sitting up front has to know HOW to handle a four wheel drive for it to do a damn bit of good. Here's a hint: stay home.
    2. Buy out the entire grocery store. Please. Because in addition to being stuck in your house a whole half mile from the store for ohmygod three days, we may also then get hit by an inland typhoon and a category 15 tornado that rips the very ground from beneath our feet. Seriously. I'm not kidding. I saw it on YouTube.
    3. Post your plight to Facebook/Twitter/Your(my) Blog. Your friends up north in actual snow belts who are currently staring down 18 inches of fluff will definitely take pity on you and help you to plan out your survival strategy for the sleet that may come tomorrow. And they definitely won't make fun of you to other friends.
    Ah, snow. Ah, Texas. What a perfect storm of hilarity!

    Companion Pieces

    0 to Mom: Kids and Snow Days

    The Officer's Wife: Snow Days and Scheduling

    How to Say Good Night

    Good nights can be hard when Dad is at work instead of at home.  Toddlers aren't great at comprehending concepts like "work" or "see you in the morning."

    How do you deal with little kids who fuss at bedtime because their police parent is gone to work?

    In our house, we try to make everything routine.  We read one book with our little girl, say her prayers with her - listing out Dad first, and give kisses to the half dozen stuffed animals that live on her bed.  When I'm putting her to bed solo, I always tell her that her Mommy and Daddy love her and we'll both see her in the morning.

    Sometimes that doesn't work.

    On the nights when it's Fussvile instead of Sleeptown, we call Daddy on his cell phone.  Sometimes he can't answer; those darn traffic stops refuse to mold themselves to my schedule.  But even when he can't come to the phone, Cate can hear her dad's voice on his voicemail and can leave him a message to say "Hi, Daddy.  Miss you.  Love you."

    And then she usually feels calm enough to sleep...and to look forward to seeing Dad in the morning.

    What do you do when this happens?

    Police Pets in DFW

    If you are a police family and live in the Dallas Fort Worth area, check out this excellent resource:

    Vaccination Station, presenting Operation Vaccination, provides lower-cost veterinary services to the public on set dates at set non-clinic locations.  But what's of interest to law enforcement families is this:

    "Free rabies vaccinations for the pets of firemen, teachers & law enforcement officers with picture ID."

    What a nice thing to do!  Hurry over to Vaccination Station to check out where they'll be next so you can go get your pets vaccinated.

    And as always when participating in offers meant for law enforcement families, remember to say thank you!

    Sick While On Duty

    I had a S.W.O.D. weekend this past week - Sick While On Duty.  It sucked, but could have been much worse.  Here's how I coped:

    I was sick - had the flu plus an upper respiratory infection - and it was the hubby's on-weekend at work.  My kids - ages 27 months and 6 months - definitely weren't up for caring for themselves.  And the hubby was either at work or sleeping a majority of the weekend.  When you have 3 back-to-back 12-hour overnight shifts, it's hard to do anything BUT sleep when you're at home!

    The Setting:
    My youngest's bedroom, complete with crib for him, bed for me, and a TV.  My daughter's bedroom was next door.

    The Supplies:
    • Mask (so I didn't spread my germs)
    • Tray loaded with:
      • Water bottles
      • Water-filled baby bottles
      • Formula container
      • Empty container to store meds-contaminated breast milk for pump-and-dump
      • Several juice-filled sippy cups
      • Snacks for babies
      • Snacks for toddlers
      • More snacks for adults
      • Roll of paper towel
    • Kid-Friendly DVDs
    • Medicine
    • Tissues
    • Diapers, wipes, pull ups
    • Toys for a variety of ages
    • A gate to prevent escape-minded kiddos
    The Strategy:
    For three whole days, I was wary of going up and down stairs while sick and dizzy.  So I minimized my trips.  The first day, I only had to go back downstairs once.  The second and third days I made a total of 3 trips up/down per day.  And we hibernated.  By alternating movies, shows, and toys, the kids stayed occupied and I had time to lay down fairly often and rest.  Didn't get much sleep, but just the act of resting while sick is awesome.  I engaged the toddler in helping the infant with toys and holding his bottle, so I could minimize the spread of germs.  And although unhealthy, we ate junkier food that I didn't have to spend time preparing or get dizzy carrying up and down the stairs.

    While the hubby was home, he did some of the major clothing changes and meal preps.  Otherwise, we stayed out of his way to let him get some sleep and avoid passing him my germs.

    What are your strategies for coping when you're sick and have kids to care for, but your other half is on-duty instead of at home?

    Felled By a Sitcom

    I'm down with the flu, and TV is playing a big part in my "distract the kids so I don't contaminate them" plan for today.  I know, I know.  TV isn't a great choice for a babysitter, but when the doc tells you you're highly contagious and that you have to wear a mask if you "have" to be with them, and your husband works nights...well, it's a viable distractor.

    In any case, after multiples episodes of Dora, Mickey Mouse and other stuff my mind is conveniently deleting from its database, I decided it was time for a mom-centric show.

    Consult: DVR.  I don't get to watch many shows first-run, but the DVR captures them for viewing when the kids are already in bed, playing with dad, or succumbing to a milk- or sugar-coma.

    Select: the How I Met Your Mother episode from January 24th.

    Spoiler alert: if you haven't seen this episode but later intend to and don't want me to ruin it for you, quit reading now.

    In a nutshell, this episode deals with the funeral of Marshall's father, played by the goofy sidekick from Coach.  (Ya'll know who I mean, right? I'm bad with names.)  In it, Marshall's mom and brothers have touching last words to recount from his dad.  Marshall doesn't feel like he has a similar story to share...but then discovers a voicemail from his dad that a previously battery-drained phone didn't deliver earlier.  That message lets him hear his dad say that word "I love you" one last time.

    I don't remember my last words from my dad.  He died on August 5th, 2008, 2 months before Catherine was born.  During the last six months of his life, he was 100% unresponsive and uncommunicative, and considered to be in a terminal state.  Although I was able to see him several times during those six months (I live 1500 miles from where I grew up), our visits were comprised of holding hands or me feeding him various meals. The last meal I fed him, which was also the last time I saw him while he was living, was 2 days before his 75th birthday.  It was dinnertime and the very first time I'd visited him in his nursing home without my mom or husband tagging along.  He'd already entered hospice care, and we knew the end was near...although we didn't expect him to linger for another six weeks and then die just 18 hours before my flight back for my next visit was to land.  But I digress...

    I remember the last words I said to him.  I told him how much I loved him and how much I missed the man he had been before Alzheimers had robbed him of his mind, his personality, and his quality of life.  I told him I was going to enjoy telling my daughter all about the wonderful times I'd enjoyed with her grandfather while growing up but that I hated more than anything that she wasn't going to get to know him.  I told him I was glad that he was the first person we'd told about our coming baby, on the trip we made to Pennsylvania 3 months previous when it looked like the end was then - that's a picture of him and I and the baby's first stuffed animal.

    But I really wish I could remember the last words he said to me.  I know that we talked on the phone a few times after he broke his hip in November of the year prior and had to enter the nursing home for rehab.  I know, in fact, that we must have talked even just prior to the weeklong 105 degree temperature he suffered that landed him in the state he'd be in for the rest of his life.  And I also know that those talks were probably not about anything meaningful, since Alzheimers had reduced our chats to pleasantries instead of the long talks we used to share.  But for the life of me, I can't remember. 

    Maybe that's better.  Maybe the most pleasant memories to save are the ones of our long chats on current events, politics, family gossip, the Phillies and NASCAR.  But I don't know.

    So here is flu-ridden melodramatic me thinking about what last words I'd want my children to remember me saying to them.  "I love you" is a given.  "I'm proud of you" and "I want only the best for your life" aren't far behind.  But what insightful advice could I offer that they could look back on?

    I guess this is what I've come up with: "I want you to always be who you are.  Always say what you are thinking, but say it with respect.  Always think deeply and thoroughly, but act decisively.  Remember who your friends are and always have room in your life for more.  Take care of the people you call family, even when they've stolen your last nerve.  And never believe that there's anything you can't accomplish through sheer stubborn will."

    What do you think?  What last words do you remember, or do you want to be remembered by?

    SOTU Wrap Up

    Howdy, folks!  I struggled to decide this year upon the format for my State of the Union response - line by line responses, like last year, or topical thoughts, as I've done with prior political speeches?

    I've decided that topical is better than line by line - better use of my writing time; better use of your reading time.  Hope you agree!  Remember - comments are welcome, dissent is appreciated, but everything must be CIVIL!

    The Use of Victims

    In my opinion, it is appropriate to recognize victims of recent tragedies and send best wishes to them (if they are still living) or their families (if they are not).  I do not, however, find it appropriate to use it as a wait to paint a divided body as unified or as a rallying cry.  Obama seemed to prolong his Tucson-related comments, while Rep. Ryan mentioned it and moved on.

    Taxcuts, Paychecks, Healthcare and Jobs

    Obama trying to tell me that my paycheck is larger because of "his" tax cuts is like Greece saying it's a fiscally responsible country. (Apologies to Greek friends.)  It's just funny.  First, extending the BUSH tax cuts was a Republican prerogative.  Second, my paycheck isn't larger.


    Oh, yeah.  My healthcare premiums went UP.  So did my deductible, co-pays, and out-of-pocket maximum.  I don't blame my company for this.  I blame the government's so-called "reform." 

    Oh, and bringing up tort reform at this late date, Mr. President?  When that and auditing government entitlements for FRAUD (more lower) would have been better done before last year's "reform?"  Oy.

    Highlighting 250,000 jobs is almost funny.  Pointing to the success of a handful of "successful" small companies is sad.  We should have MANY examples to point to.  The absence of many and highlighting of few is indicative of the failure of the "bailout" of our country.

    And calling our workers the most productive?  Not when we enable laziness and limit innovation through over-governmentalizing EVERYTHING.

    Funniest phrase of the evening: "We're not just handing out money."

    Yes, you are.  Through many different avenues and at length.  Unchecked.

    But you can't handle cutbacks with grace, can you Mr. President?  At my company, employees gave back HUGE portions of their incomes after 9/11 and accepted little or no increases in pay for the following decade, in order to keep the company afloat.  Excuse me if my sympathy is not with government employees unwilling to make the same sacrifice.


    How can the same man who has so limited NASA draw an allusion to "the Apollo of our time?"  How can a man who is our Commander in Chief be ignorant that the innovations he mentioned (internet, etc.) had their basis in the military, not small business?  Sure, small business grew into Silicon Valley.  But its roots were vastly different.

    And how can a man flout the desirability of green energy, advanced by small business, and forget the roots of the oil industry, all the while making hardworking men and women in that industry into the devil?  Even as he knows their support of cleaner energy.  And complaining about government support going to them while ignoring the MASSIVE tax dollars coming back to the government as a result, both from the oil companies themselves as well as on the gas tax.

    Undocumented Workers

    It was hard for me to type that phrase.  I don't believe it.  At all.  Let's call a spade a spade: these are ILLEGAL aliens.  I don't care why they're here.  Almost all of us have touching tales of why our ancestors came to America: my mom's family was looking for new opportunity, 400 years ago; my dad's family was escaping religious persecution in the Middle East.  But either way, they came in the appropriate manner, not specifically flaunting the laws of our nation.

    And that's what it is.  It's not opportunity seeking when the chance to become legal is ignored.  It's a complete disregard and disrespect for our laws.

    Yes, let's not take it out on the kids of illegal aliens.  But let's not give illegal aliens a FREE PASS or an EXCUSE just because they have kids.


    Obama spent a few minutes on rail.  Studies have shown in this country that even areas with many opportunities for rail and other shared ride programs, they are underutilized.  Our culture is simply different than Europe and Asia.  More money spent on rail isn't better spending.  And first of all, we'd need to recapture MANY MANY DOLLARS from other fraud-fraught government programs to even afford this.


    (Please remember that even though I work for an airline, any thoughts posted here are MINE and MINE ALONE.  I represent no one else's ideas.  Period.)

    The joke on the patdowns was weak.  Um, it's YOUR government that came up with that idea, Mr. President.

    And the aircraft-sans-engine analogy was, uh, muddled.  An aircraft can't fly without an engine.  Decisions to take off weight are made before takeoff.  You didn't make sense.  Maybe this is simply a great example of your entire speech, though.  Cute words; no substance.

    Redistribution of Wealth

    I believe that a rose by any other still a rose.

    By challenging high income Americans to pay more in taxes (you do know, Mr. President, that they already pay a majority, right?) in order to "promote America's success", you're just encouraging the socialist idealogy of redistribution of wealth, right?

    The Government/The Country/The Rhetoric

    So you're against earmarks, now?  How many were necessary to get your healthcare law passed?

    "A government that lives within its means?"  Oh, please.

    "This is a place where you can make it if you try."  But how many people don't try and live off the government instead?  A lot.  Seen it.  A lot.  And it continues throughout generations.

    Representative Ryan's Response

    It felt like President Obama's speech was slick, and Representative Ryan's was sincere.  Anyone else get that vibe?

    I LOVED Rep. Ryan's point that the amount of confidence people have in the government is inversely proportionate with the size of the government.  Truer words could not be spoken.

    Of all of his remarks, I liked those centered on self-initative best.


    "Which allows able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency."  Isn't this what I scream all of the time about the problem with our welfare state and the lack of self-initative in many citizens?

    "Hold all of us accountable."  Certain quarters wouldn't like that; easier to have someone to blame.

    What say you, readers?