31 January 2009

When Eight Isn't Enough

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You can't turn on the news these days without hearing a little more trash talk about Nadya Doud, the single mom in California who gave birth to octuplets this week. What started out as the glamorization of multiple births has now morphed into condemnation of everyone from the fertility doctor who started this chaos, to the grandmother of the octuplets who filed for bankruptcy last year. I have so many issues with this story, but for now I'll try to focus just a bit.

It should come as no surprise that people might see multiple births as an opportunity to be famous. What with YouTube, American Idol and Survivor, just to name a few, we've raised a generation who not only strives to be famous at any cost (public humiliation seeming to be a favorite), but actually believes they are "entitled" fame. Add in a few shows like John and Kate Plus 8 and the new Duggar Family series, 17 Kids and Counting, and it becomes clear that our society financially rewards the "freak show."

Now, part of the problem stems from the fact that, with a rare exception, families cannot afford to raise 8 ... or 17 ... children. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new Cost of Raising a Child Calculator, the average family will spend $171,926 raising a single child from birth through high school graduation. Multiply that times 14 (the number of children it is now known the Californian mom has) and you've got a total cost of $2,406,964. That number doesn't include the anticipated $1.2 million in medical expenses projected just in the birth, delivery and hospital care (2 months) for these octuplets. Being that they were born 9 weeks prematurely, it's likely they will have additional medical expenses - above and beyond what a parent can "normally" expect.

In this era of women's reproductive rights (at the expense of anyone elses rights - father's, embryo's, child's, society's, etc.) is it any surprise that a woman just might attempt to use that "favor" for her financial gain?

I've known a handful of single mother's who have intentionally had multiple children from different fathers. You might call this slutty behavior - I call it a business. You see, having 3 children with the same father brings in substantially less (usually at least 35%) child support than having 3 children from 3 different fathers. Is it such a stretch to consider that having octuplets, when one already has 6 children, might be an opportunity for a better life for all children involved?

I know, children as a commodity isn't anything anyone wants to acknowledge, but ask any divorced, non-custodial parent if they feel access to their children is dictated by the amount and timeliness of child support payments, and you'll realize we have accepted children as a commodity in our society. Is this the case with Ms. Doud? Unless she actually comes out and admits it (highly unlikely), we'll never know. Should it matter? Oh, I think it does, and I think if one really analyzes the situation, it speaks volumes to where we are ethically as a society, not just in Ms. Doud's fertility choices, but in our support of a media system that glorifies, then judges those choices.

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30 January 2009

Friday Wrap-Up

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Cam’s school district made The Tonight Show this week! It would be wonderful if this was because they were celebrating science fair winners, but that wasn’t the case. The School District Board of Education had to hold a special session this week to vote on an exception to the 2009-2010 school year calendar. Why is this monologue-worthy? Well, they happen to be one of a growing number of public schools who believe Veteran’s Day should now be an attendance day for students and teachers.

What bothers me most about this is the history (and attempted justification) of the School Board's position. The District Superintendent was quoted as saying, “Upon further conversation, we felt that this is really something that we can do in (our district). It would be a very, very powerful day for our kids to actually learn the significance (of Veterans Day) and to honor our veterans by actually being in school and learning about the contributions veterans have made to (our district).” Sounds great, doesn’t it? Spending the day learning why we celebrate the holiday?


Ummmm … Hello? Does this imply the district wasn’t teaching about Veteran’s Day when it was a non-attendance day? Shouldn’t that already be part of the public school curriculum whether kids are in school on that day or not??? Are the contributions of our Veteran's only important if the students attend school on the actual holiday?

That aside (and it is difficult for me to put that aside), the “real” reason this exception was requested has absolutely NOTHING to do with teaching the kids “…the significance (of Veterans Day).” Nope! At our PTO meeting last week, the principal informed us that the teachers and administrators wanted to swap Veteran’s Day for the one attendance day scheduled for Thanksgiving week. Ahhhh … this is all starting to make sense, isn’t it?

Parent/teacher conferences are scheduled for two of the three attendance days of Thanksgiving week – that left just one attendance day (and two teacher work days) during the holiday week. Presto-chango, the district moves conferences from Tuesday and Wednesday to Monday and Tuesday, and makes Wednesday a non-attendance day. The kids get the entire week of Thanksgiving off, the teachers and administrators get to start their Thanksgiving holiday on Wednesday rather than Thursday, and we all live happily ever after … that is, unless you are a veteran …

*EDIT* These are the holidays currently observed by my school district: Labor Day, Columbus Day, Non-Student Attendance Day (November 25 - observed instead of Veteran's Day), Thanksgiving Recess (November 26 & 27), Winter Recess (2 weeks), Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, President’s Day, April District Holiday (Good Friday), Spring Recess (1 week), Memorial Day

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I think I had an anonymous commenter yesterday who mistakenly thought I was an advice columnist. Either that or she was way off when she typed in www.dearabby.com She wrote:

Ummmm lets see. Where do I start? I was shown your interesting but yet disgusting pics by a friend. She was expressing her concern because this is something that her husband finds interesting. Which we cannot for the life of us figure out. Do you have some sort of spell on the guys that open these up? How else would they even find this attractive? Being a woman myself, I have to tell you that what you are doing is a disgrace to women. Just one more loser giving us a bad name. THANKS!!! It is obvious that you are desperate for attention. Its too bad that you have to get it by showing of what you call "ART". Not sure but Im thinking you may need to go back to school or at least pull out a dictionary so that you can find the true meaning of the word. Cause girl...art is meant to be beautiful and you sure haven't shown us anything of the sort yet!!!

With deepest sincerity...

Disgusted


Well … I can’t just let anon be lost out here in cyberspace without answers, can I?


Dear Disgusted,

Where do you start? The best place would be at
www.blogger.com where you can sign yourself up for a Blogger profile. You don’t even have to start a blog, but we bloggers are a fickle bunch - we have far more respect for commenters who have the gonads (or, in your case, the lady bits) to stand up and be known when they have an adversarial opinion (i.e., at a minimum, set up a Blogger profile with an email address attached to it). In fact, most of us treat folks who take the time to do that with the utmost respect. But when you post anonymously, it just looks cowardly and petty. Anything you might have said that had an iota of value loses its mojo …

Secondly, yes! I do have magical powers! Things like mind reading, shape shifting, compassion, empathy, brains and a sense of humor. Believe it or not, these are things that most people (not just men) find … well … attractive. I know, it’s hard to believe, but really! It’s true! Most people read my blog in spite of my HNT’s, not because of them! Not only that, but the majority of people who do stop by on Thursdays (HNT day, just in case you want to visit again next week) actually read my blog every day of the week. Imagine! That means that my words are SIX times more magically powerful than my photos. Just call me She-Ra!


On the subject of art and beauty, maybe you are familiar with the words of the English dramatist John Lyly?

"...as neere is Fancie to Beautie, as the pricke to the Rose, as the stalke to the rynde, as the earth to the roote."


Shakespeare?


“Good Lord Boyet, my beauty, though but mean,

Needs not the painted flourish of your praise:

Beauty is bought by judgement of the eye,

Not utter'd by base sale of chapmen's tongues”


I know! Benjamin Franklin!

“Beauty, like supreme dominion, is but supported by opinion”


No? What about David Hume?

"Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them."


Certainly, a well educated and articulate person like yourself must be familiar with Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (née Hamilton), who, in Molly Bawn, (1878) penned the line,

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”


And lastly, I find your disgust with the human body … well … pathetic. You see, the human body – in its many shapes, sizes and colors – is truly a wonderful, amazing and beautiful thing! Holy smokes! Just the fact that it was designed - perfectly - to make reproduction of the human race not only possible, but enjoyable, is amazing in itself. Those *gasp* breasts that I had the audacity to show? They, all on their own, provided all of the nutrients my newborn son needed for the first 8 weeks of his life! Oh … wait … is that why you came to my blog instead of writing on walls in Facebook? You couldn’t find any more
breastfeeding photos to gripe about?

Let me help you out.
www.facebook.com Just search on the words “breast feeding”. I’m sure you’ll find a handful of “rebels” out there to keep you occupied while you wait for The Jerry Springer Show to start!


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28 January 2009

HNT - Baking Bread

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I love to bake. I believe that love came from growing up with a grandmother who poured extra helpings of love and kindness into every pie, every cake and every loaf of bread she made. I have vivid memories of going to visit grandma and grandpa (a 4-hour drive each way) and walking into their home and smelling her labors of love as I walked in the front door. The first stop was never the bathroom, but the kitchen.

Just this week, the need to bake - to create with my hands and my heart - smacked me up along side the head. I decided to dole out a bit of baking kindness to my co-workers and put together four loaves of "quick" bread - pumpkin, banana, cranberry and cinnamon streusel (from the top, clockwise).



I should probably invest in an apron though *CLICK*
*EDIT* No body parts were harmed in the shooting of this HNT

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Is Social Networking the New Playground?

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Recently, RockDog - one of my first readers and someone that I've read and followed since I started blogging - brought up that he might be leaving Blogger.

A moment of silence please ... OK ... I think I can continue now ...

In his recent post, Changes; are they coming or are they here?, he writes:

My theory on this is that with social networking being the new in thing, that people are still blogging, but doing it in one place ... the same place where you can view their pictures/videos, get status updates, etc.

A place like Facebook.
No! Please!! Say it isn't so!!

Jay, in his devious ways, introduced me to Twitter, and more recently Plinky.

For those of you living under a rock who might not be familiar with these two sites, Twitter allows you to announce every time you use the bathroom your daily activities. In other words, it allows people stalk you from afar. I tried to Twitter, but I just can't seem to get in the habit of updating with any regularity. Seriously! Who cares if I'm headed to the grocery store? And if you do care, why?

Plinky is a little different. I'm guessing this will be the new "thing" on Blogger *shudders in disgust* Plinky advertises itself as:

... a service that makes it easy for you to create inspired content on the web. Every day we provide a new prompt (like a question, or a challenge). Everyone gets a chance to answer. It’s simple to add photos, maps, playlists and more. You can easily share your Plinky answers on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and most major blogging services.

Really? Inspired content? Today's prompt was, "Describe superhero you." If that is inspiration, please don't inspire me!

Of course, there are literally hundreds of social networking sites. Wikipedia lists some of the major social networking sites HERE - most of them I've never even heard of!

I can't finish this rant discussion on social networking without mentioning Facebook and MySpace.

I have a MySpace account only because I need to keep tabs on my son's MySpace page. There have been a few times when someone that I want to follow moves over to MySpace. Y'all know what happens then, right? In order to view a MySpace page, you must create an account. Nothing irritates me more than being required to put my information out there so that I can access content.

Facebook? I actually attempted to set up a page and keep it updated, but I just don't see the draw. I logged in this morning and had the following "requests":

* 1 friend request
* 2 good karma from XXXX requests
* 1 XXXX circle of request
* 1 birthday request
* 3 drinking requests
* 1 XXXX request
* 1 XXXX has a invitation
* 3 xmas stocking requests
* 2 birthday requests
* 1 free gift (new) request
* 1 birthday request
* 1 christmas decoration request
* 1 (lil) green patch request
* 1 christmas ornament request
* 1 mob wars invitation
* 1 (lil) blue cove request
* 1 nicest person request

Really? Y'all want me to answer all of these things? You actually care? I don't ...

Maybe it's because I'm not attempting to market myself. I blog as a creative outlet - the bonus for me has been a bit of social networking. I read blogs to gain insight into people and subject matter, not to get my name out there so that I can increase readership.

Maybe it's that I really despise trends and wonder about the sanity of those that flitter from one thing to another without ever giving anything their full efforts.

Or maybe I thrive on content. Not content like "Describe Superhero You," but content that requires actual thought and cohesive writing - skills that social networking doesn't even come close to fostering.

Don't even get me started on the censorship aspect of the social networking sites. If I had to chose a single reason that I'll never go - exclusively - to the social networking dark side, it would be censorship.

Tell me what you think - is Blogger (and blogging in general) a dying art? Will I be eating my words 6 months from now and bestowing the virtues of Facebook and MySpace? Where do you think you'll land?

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27 January 2009

TMI Tuesday - Movie Edition

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TMI Tuesday


1. What was the last movie you saw in a theater?

We had a "date night" a couple of weeks ago and went to see Gran Torino. I am a huge Clint Eastwood fan, and an even bigger muscle car fan (I don't think I've shared my dream of owning, and restoring, a 1969 Dodge Super Bee), and as this was classic Eastwood, and classic muscle , I was happier than a seagull with a french fry!

Want to know what made it even better? We went to a new movie theater - one that has recliners instead of regular seats, has wait staff, and serves dinner as well as wine. I discovered that I will gladly pay 3x the amount of a "regular" movie ticket for the perks of this cinema. It seats just 32 (there were 9 people when we went). Tickets are pricey enough that parents don't drop their tweens off for movie theater babysitting. It was the most enjoyment I've ever experience while watching a new release. Of course the bottle of Merlot may have contributed to that!

2. What is your favorite movie theater snack?

Ohhh ... I love me some Raisinets! But not just by themselves. No, I need a small bag of HOT, buttered (and heavily salted) popcorn to dump the Raisinets in to. Nothing better that the melted chocolate, salty-sweet goodness of this concoction!

3. Have you ever snuck in 'outside' food into a theater?

You know, I never have! I know that movies are expensive these days, and the food so overpriced it makes one want to gouge their eyes out, but I'm there for the "experience" which includes disgustingly unhealthy, movie theater eats!

4. Have you ever made out in a theater?

I don't think I have. Back in the olden days, when I was a teenager, there were still ushers at all theaters, and there was only one movie showing at any given theater (I remember the first multiplex that was built in the Seattle area being a HUGE event). Theaters were usually packed and ushers poised to give a dose of public humility. We know how much I enjoy that!

Now? Nahhhh ... too many kids in theaters these days. I wouldn't want adults doing that if my son were at the movies - that means I had better not be participating!

5. What is the 'farthest' you have gone in a theater?

All the way to the back row? The front row? I've sat in both! I even sat against the wall once! *gigglesnort*

Bonus (as in optional): What is one of your favorite movie sex scene?

I went to the WAY BACK machine on this one. 1954, Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window, Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart. I can't even begin to describe how sexy and intimate this kiss is - you'll just have to watch!



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26 January 2009

And the winner of the 2009 Miss America Pageant is...

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Some of you can answer this because you actually watched. I know you did! Admit it! Actually, even I watched bits of it as I knew I wanted to do a post on why I consider Miss America (and pageants in general) an archaic way to determine scholarship worthiness.

If you are old like me, you might remember the days when Miss America was a prime-time TV event. In fact, in the peak viewing days of the pageant (1960's), three out of every four households watched in riveting anticipation. These were the days when Bert Parks was a household name and an entertainment icon.

But now, the idea of watching 52 young women (No, we didn't add two more states to the country - the extra two are for Miss District of Columbia and Miss U.S. Virgin Islands) between the ages of 17 and 24, prance around in bikinis and high heels (That's good scholarship criteria, don't you think?) and showing off their made-up "talents", isn't just bad television, but embarrassingly antiquated in today's "liberated" society.

Mario Lopez is the most recent replacement for Bert Parks. Yes, Mario Lopez who played A.C. Slater on Saved By The Bell. Of course, that was before he really redeemed himself - and his credibility - by finishing in second place on Dancing With The Stars (losing to Emmett Smith).

TLC began broadcasting Miss America last year, and although they attempted to modernize the pageant, they really did nothing more than produce yet another bad reality TV preview, with a lead-up series that had the gals fighting for wild card spots in the big event.

There was even an opportunity to score the swimsuit competition on the TLC web site (swimsuit photo poll) prior to the pageant. Of course, the scoring had no bearing on the results of the pageant, but instead was an opportunity for people to anonymously condemn people they don't know - yeah - we need more of that. The highest score? On a scale of 1-10, 6.4.

Amongst the big hair and troweled on make-up, there was one honest moment in the show. Miss District of Columbia admitted - on camera - that she was only in it for the scholarship money and to get out of debt. If honesty was one of the judging criteria, she'd have taken the crown.

So, who was the lucky recipient of an armful of long-stem roses, the rhinestone crown - oh - and the $50,000 scholarship? Miss Indiana! Go Hoosiers!

Now, I know some of you will tout the virtues of Miss America - it's promotion of community service, the attention it brings to a "platform" that may not be well known, and, of course, the scholarship opportunities. Some of you might even claim that Miss America promotes brains, and I guess if you feel more of the brain can be seen in a bikini, you'd have a point.

Personally, I think any competition that rewards swimsuit appearance, evening wear and "talent" as 70% of the criteria for winning is anything but a focus on brains.

Am I just pissy and jealous of beauty? Well, YES! I've always had to work a little harder, be a little better, know a little more than the pretty girls. Sure, it's made me a better person, but the fact that in 2009, we are still promoting beauty (defined by some obscure media/societal norm) as the thing that can, and does, get women ahead? It should concern us all!

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Mondays are great days to sit with Vinny on the Big Leather Couch! If you snuggle up real close and whisper obscenities sweet nothings in his ear - or just leave him a comment - you can win free music! Go! Now! Tell him I sent you!

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25 January 2009

Sunday Secret

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In my 24 years of legal drinking, and doing some truly obscene things in bars, I've never been asked to leave a drinking establishment. Yet recently, while using my laptop in a public venue, with what I thought was discretion and privacy, my internet usage was monitored and someone deemed my activity as "obscene". The police were called, my ID was run through the police database, and I was told to leave the establishment immediately - and to never return - or I would be arrested. Yes, I was embarrassed and ashamed. But more importantly, I am grateful that public humiliation was the only price I had to pay - the cost could have been much, much higher.

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22 January 2009

Friday Wrap-Up

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First things first! I don't get awards - all of those warm, fuzzy blogger awards with pictures of little kittens and heart shaped clouds never seem to find their way here (imagine that!). So, when I get an award - even if it is one that required nothing from me other than leaving a comment - I celebrate!

How many of you know Tink? My guess is that if you haven't been to her blog, you've seen pieces of her on other blogs. She hosts the Weekly Words Challenge - the weekly photo meme that generates some wonderful creativity. If for some silly reason you haven't visited, you need to get over to Pickled Beef and visit - I know you'll go back again and again!

Every year, for the past three years, Tink has given out Golden Spork Awards. This year, "nominations" were done on Delurking Day. Here is what is required to receive a nomination (read closely ... the requirements are pretty stringent)!

So comment here (there and everywhere), even if you don't normally. In fact, I'll make it easy on you.

Copy and paste the phrase below:

Hi, my name is (insert name here). I think you're very (adjective). My favorite animal is a (type of animal). My favorite movie is (movie title). When I grow up I want to be a (job title). I have a sick obsession with rubbing (first thing you see) on my (random body part). Please come visit me at (blog address).

Not only could you gain new friends, but you'll also receive a super awesome Golden Spork Award! Yup, it's that time of year again. Cutoff time for comments is 8am (Eastern Standard Time) tomorrow. If you don't comment, you won't get a spork, and everyone knows that shiny utensils ROCK. Awards will be handed out next Monday.

... and that's exactly what I did! And look! It's a shiny SPORKY! This year I found myself with a "Clever" Spork Award (Tink calls this category "The people that give me pause.") Go visit the list of winners and find yourself some new blogs to stalk read!



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How do men handle gas and ... well ... poop, #2, pinching a loaf, SHIT in public restrooms? Let me tell you how women's' public restroom etiquette for "gas and more" works.

First of all, under no circumstances should other women know that you fart and shit. Really! You must hold all gas and more inside as long as there is anyone else in the public restroom. This is even more critical should you be in a workplace restroom where everyone knows you.

Now, should you slip and make noise (fart or plop) you must remain locked in your stall until everyone who heard your blunder has left the restroom. It would be a double blunder should you let others hear your "gas and more" noise and then actually let them see who it came from!

Somehow, I can't imagine men having such stringent bathroom rules.

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Nicey in his HNT comment yesterday said, "Work it baby, cracking photo, so gotta ask this but who takes them for ya ??? Laters"

Some of you may not know that with the exception of THIS HNT, I've taken ever single photo myself. I've got a tripod and a 10-second delay timer on my Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W120. The lighting in yesterday's shot? A task light I bought at the dollar store.

In other words, nothing fancy in my photos. Just a regular point and shoot digital camera (under $150), a $10 tripod, household lighting and a lot of imagination. It's something I really enjoy doing from a creative standpoint, and it's been fun watching the progression from where I started.

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One more quick thing ... stop laughing ... I should be able to say this in less than 1000 words!

If you have a chance, go visit Siren today. Why you ask? Well, once in a while you come across a blogger with an amazing amount of integrity. One who could just as easily have created blogger drama on her first visit here, but instead chose to honor what I consider the "true spirit" of blogging and kept her mind open instead. She may never visit again, but just in case she does, I wanted to say, "Thank you!"

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21 January 2009

HNT - Morning

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Morning ...

It's my favorite part of the day. I begin mine earlier than most - usually sometime around 4:30. No, not because I have anything pressing to do at that hour, but because I enjoy the peace and serenity that early morning offers me. Everyone is asleep. My home - my town - my mind - all are placid and still, allowing me to begin my day ...
placid and still.




It's just not morning without a gentle stretch *CLICK*


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20 January 2009

... and the flowers and the trees ...

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There were quite a few opinionated well thought out comments on my Birds, Bees and Purity post on Monday - comments that really seemed to indicate (generally) quite a negative association with religion and sex - comments that indicated (to me) a place of judgment.

I need to touch on a few things that either made me feel defensive (as those are often the most important comments) or that hit a nerve because I already struggle with the conflict they bring up.


Let's start this with a bit of clarification on the Purity Promises. Cam and I decided to pick three that we wanted to work on - three that were important to us and our goals. I wrote out a Parenting Promise in partnership with his Purity Promise (not anything that was required by the conference, it just seemed to make sense) and signed my Parenting Promises.

In case you are curious, this is how it went ...


CAM: I strive to keep my thought life pure by developing a habit of prayer and Bible study
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ME: I strive to develop a habit of prayer and Bible study with my son.


CAM: I strive to watch only PG rated movies that honor God, genders and the gift of sex.


ME: I strive to set a good example by watching only movies that honor God, genders and the gift of sex and commit to communicating with parents who may have Cam at their home our family movie guidelines.

CAM: I commit to having an open and honest Internet accountability partnership with my parents.

ME: I commit to enforcing an open and honest Internet accountability partnership with Cam - monitoring chats and Internet usage, and enforcing consequences for misuse.


This isn't about me throwing Cam under the bus - setting him up for failure - or assuming Cam’s signature on a Purity Promise gives me immunity from parenting. No, this is about setting priorities and goals for my family (that make sense to us and may seem "silly" to you). This is about involving as many positive influences in Cam's life as I can possibly find.

Part of the weekend conference involved a panel discussion - three married couples who answered questions written by the kids. The three married couples included one couple on their second marriage with "checkered" sexual pasts, one couple who each had a handful of sexual partners prior to their marriage and one couple who remained virgins until they were married (and are currently in their mid-thirties, attractive and I'm guessing had many opportunities to lose their virginity prior to marriage).

Questions included things like, "What does sex feel like?" and "Shouldn't you get a test run to make sure you are sexually compatible?" What might surprise you is that these questions were answered honestly - even the ones that contradicted the purity concept. Sex was never said to be bad, evil or wrong - just something that was best saved for marriage. No one is claiming abstinence is the only way, or that you'll go to hell and be damned forever if you have sex before marriage, but rather giving examples of why abstinence should be the goal. Somehow, I don't think that is such a terrible thing.

Buff, one of my faithful commenters, mentioned yesterday that I might get myself in trouble with the "Do as I say, not as I do" lifestyle I have led. I wanted to reach out and strangle him attempt to explain my position. I answer TMI questions based on my past as they are most often “Have you ever …” questions, and it is just that - my past. Although I am open and honest with my thoughts and actions, that doesn’t mean I am always proud of the person I was and continue to sometimes be. I am often ashamed and embarrassed by my past, and for good reason. However, that doesn't mean that I will raise my son from the standpoint of setting expectations based on my past. I just can't. Hypocritical? I'm sure many of you would say yes, but I don't believe so. Hypocrites judge, and although I might set a high standard for my son, I will not pass judgment on his actions should he struggle – or fail - along the way.

Isn't that what healthy and responsible parenting is about? Setting goals, expectations and boundaries for your child(ren), determining (with them) how to achieve them, then "walking the talk" by their side, and with as many helpful hands as you can find? Being there to praise their success as well as to help them up should they stumble? Do I fail in my parenting goals on occasion? More than just on occasion! Do I resort to what is easy rather than what is “necessary and good” sometimes? That would get a yes too! But I each and every day I try to do better, and I expect the same from Cam.

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Anyone remember this song? I might have one or two readers that can recall the words. For some silly reason this song has become an earworm for me since I wrote Monday's post and I'm hoping that if I share, it will find a new home in someone elses head!


The Birds And The Bees - Sam Cooke




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TMI Tuesday

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TMI Tuesday

1. Have you ever dated/married purely for money?

Never purely for money. Is money one of the factors in selecting a long-term relationship? Absolutely! Anyone who claims that isn't the case is lying through their teeth. We all - especially as we get older - want a sense of financial security, and that's a little difficult to do when you are dating the guy who stands on the corner, playing his guitar for spare change.

**EDIT** I think I need to clarify this money answer. Does everyone ask for the previous year's tax returns before making a commitment? No, although they probably should. Are there minimum salary requirements for love? Absolutely not! But does money (oh, evil money) figure in to each and every relationship? Yes! Each one of us speaks of money (finances) in our long-term relationships - budgeting - how the bills will be paid - ways to increase earning potential - deciding to budget for just one income. A true partnership is one on all levels - emotional, financial - you cannot keep a roof over your head with love - the banks don't consider that viable currency.

2. What is your type?

12 pt Verdana *gigglesnort*

3. What is the best sex game you have ever played?

Sex games? Like strip poker? Or like She-Ra Princess of Power meets the Incredible Hulk? Damn! I have to tell the truth, don't I? I've not played any sex games - ever!

4. Have you ever given or received an orgasm from a person whose last name you did not know?

Ummmm ... just the last name? Well, yes! First and last name? *blushes* maybe ...

Yes, this response is coming from the mother who just spent a weekend with her son discussing sexual purity, and the fact that I answered this the way I did is exactly why I spent the weekend with my son discussing sexual purity.

5. Have you ever masturbated in front of a sexual partner?

When they were awake? I've masturbated with my husband snoring in bed next to me after a moment of unfulfilled sex. Does that count?

And yes, I've masturbated in front of a sexual partner who was awake too - both as part of a greater sexual experience and as the only sexual act (while my partner did the same).

Bonus (as in optional):At what age do you think men and women reach their sexual peak? Do you think you have hit yours yet?

I think sexual peak has far more to do with emotions than with physical age, but then I think sex is far more than a physical act *shrugs*

Have I hit mine yet? I hope not!

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19 January 2009

Birds, Bees and Purity

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Cam and I attended a conference at the church this weekend that addressed "God’s design for guys, girls and sexuality" (the text in quotes is from their flier). I've just lost about half of you with the mention of church and God in the first sentence of this post, didn't I?

Some of you might be familiar with church sponsored Purity Balls (daughters "dating," and pledging their sexual abstinence to, their fathers - creepy if you ask me) and Purity Pledges (signed oath to remain a virgin). I was concerned this was going to be along those lines and was hesitant to enroll. Although I encourage abstinence for Cam, I am also realistic enough to teach safe sex practices. I think both are extremely important.

The statistics are what first caught my attention - about 12% of middle school students (grades 6-8 and the target audience for this conference) have had sex - Over 1 in 5 middle school students are considered sexually active - by high school graduation, 3 out of 4 students have had sex or have been sexually active. Some of you will look at that and think it's no big deal - just the progression into adulthood. Honestly, I think it is a big deal and I want better for my son.

When I say I want better for Cam, understand what that means. In my world, it means that he will be "protected" (as much as he can be) from growing up too quickly. From having to make decisions/choices before his brain is developed enough to make those decisions and choices in the most efficient way. I know that he is bombarded - daily - with sexually charged images, songs, jokes, media, web sites, ads, education, and conversations. I also know that most of this is beyond his cognitive abilities. I know that I must allow my son to grow up, but I also know that he is not capable of making GOOD decisions regarding sex and relationships at this point.

My concern about this conference was how the information would be presented. Seriously, how many of you can imagine discussing lust, pornography, media choices, respect, modesty and self-image - in an age appropriate, informative way - while sitting in church? There was one moment where things got a little out of a hand. A doctor, who was also a parent, decided he wanted to elaborate on the medical risks associated with unprotected sex, bod piercings, etc. He went off on a scare tactic speech - not an approach I believe works well with kids who honestly believe they are invincible. Fortunately, he was not a scheduled part of the conference - all other topics were handled in a much more balanced way.

The kids did end the overnight conference by signing a list of Purity Promises and discussing why and how they can keep these promises. These are the promises they committed to:
  • I strive to keep my thought life pure by developing a habit of prayer and Bible study
  • I strive to watch only PG rated movies that honor God, genders and the gift of sex
  • I commit to having an open and honest internet accountability partnership with my parents
  • I will remove the temptations of TV and internet by removing my TV and computer from my room
  • I strive to avoid all late night TV
  • I commit to high 5's, handshakes and side hugs
  • I commit to dressing modestly and seeking my parents' approval in all I wear
  • I will not wear clothing with words on my butt or that calls attention to my sexuality
  • I will not use sexually explicit language
  • I will avoid the magazine aisle
  • I strive to avoid compromising situations with the opposite gender where adults are not present
So, what do you think? Is teaching abstinence, balanced with "realistic" (i.e. safe sex, etc.) information the way to go? What about abstinence only teaching? Or is it best to assume abstinence will not occur and teach safe sex practices only in preparation for the inevitable and to alleviate guilt for something "natural"?

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18 January 2009

Sunday Secret

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One of this week's Wednesday Weirdness questions hit a little too close to home.

"Pretend you spent a busy day running errands and come home in the afternoon when no one else is home. You come in, sit things down and head to the kitchen. You find a dead body laying in the kitchen floor. What would you do?"


A self-inflicted gunshot through his head. He wasn't quite dead, but I vividly remember that first moment I saw him - simultaneously knowing, and not knowing, what had happened. Nineteen years ago I did experienced that scenario. Today marks the anniversary of my decision to pull the plug and let him go. Most days, I still question my decision to live through it rather than to have just joined him - joining him would have been so much easier - so much less painful, in a very selfish way.

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16 January 2009

Friday Wrap-Up

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At 6:30 PM yesterday, it was 41 degrees F in Fairbanks, Alaska ... and -12 degrees F (-34 with wind chill) in NW Illinois. Hello? 53 degrees warmer (75 degrees if we figure in wind chill) in Fairbanks? Make up that guest bed Moose - I'm on my way!

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Yesterday, a few of you mentioned you'd like to learn how to do selective colorization (the B & W photo with a single - or multiple - items still in color). Well, way back when I did a post on open source programs (FREE) - programs like Mozilla Firefox, OpenOffice and Paint.net (go check them out after you finish reading).

Well, there is a great photo editing program out there called Gimp. It mirrors PhotoShop in many ways, except that it is FREE! Can you tell I like FREE?? Not only is it a great, FREE program, but the tutorials are straight forward and easy to follow, with screen shots for those of us who are instruction challenged like picture books! Yes, even the tutorial for selective colorization. I'll be honest - it takes some patience and some practice, but it isn't overly difficult and it's a lot of fun! Or am I just anal retentive? Rhetorical - no need to answer.

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Speaking of HNT, I am often amazed at the appreciation for some of the photos that actually make me cringe prior to posting. Yesterday was one of those times. I had an idea in my head that I just couldn't seem to capture on the camera, so I gave up and posted what I could salvage from what I was able to get. I've come to the conclusion that either most of you are full of shit extremely well mannered, or I am oblivious to what makes a good HNT. Whichever it is, I certainly do appreciate the positive feedback, even though I wasn't able to respond to the comments.

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Rhinitis medicamentosa. Ever heard of it? It's what happens when you use an over-the-counter nasal spray more than about 5 days. OTC nasal sprays are extremely affective, but they can also cause stuffiness to increase if used too long or in too high of a dose. Why do I mention this?

Husband has been dosing himself with Afrin 12-hour nasal spray 3-4 times a day (yes, he does have a college degree, why do you ask?) for the past two weeks and is now convinced that he has some terrible, nose eating virus because if he goes more than 6 hours without taking the Afrin, he becomes unbearably stuffed up. Not only that, but when he blows his nose, he gets blood every time (I know - it's not TMI Tuesday - but you'll see where this is going).

As I told him this morning, when nasal sprays are used more than three days, the blood vessels in the nasal lining become tolerant to the drugs' shrinking effects, causing the need for more frequent use to get the same level of relief. With continued overuse, the sprays choke off blood flow to the nasal membranes and damage them. Doctors say it's like getting a chemical burn inside your nose.

Now I've got to convince him that the two weeks of stuffiness he is going to suffer when I hide every bottle I find and duct tape his nose shut when he stops using the spray isn't really due to some mysterious nose eating virus, but to his own abuse of the dreaded Afrin. And I've got to find a more secluded couch - I can hear him snoring even though we aren't on the same floor of the house.

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14 January 2009

HNT - Tea Time

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Some of you might remember that I am a huge coffee fan, but I don't think I've ever shared my teapot collection. I have just under 30 teapots - some have been gifts - some I've purchased myself. They perch upon the top of my kitchen cabinets like friends ready to greet me. They make me smile ...

Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time
the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company.

~Author Unknown


Care to join me for a cup? *CLICK*

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Legislating Common Sense ... Again

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Ahhhh ... thank goodness the government can save me from myself. You've heard the latest, right? The National Safety Council is calling for a NATIONAL ban on cell phone use while driving. Those of you living in my neck of the woods are aware that Chicago has a cell phone law in place. You cannot use a hand-held phone while driving, but hands free devices are encouraged. And text messaging while driving? Not covered in the law.

There are six states - California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Utah and Washington - and the District of Columbia - that currently ban the use of hand-held cell phones behind the wheel. Seventeen states - and the District of Columbia - restrict or ban cell phone use by newly licensed drivers (click [HERE] if you are unsure about laws in your state). I'm good with this, but a national ban? I don't think so!

I had this discussion with husband this weekend, mentioning that I felt it was ridiculous there was even consideration for this ban at a national level. Husband reminded me that we have a national seat belt law. I reminded husband that helmet use, while riding a motorcycle, is determined by state law and not nationally mandated.

I have no doubt that cell phone use while driving increases the likelihood of being involved in an accident, whether the use is on a hand held or hands free device. Laboratory experiments using simulators, real-world road studies and accident statistics all confirm driving is compromised when talking on a cell phone. In fact, studies show that drivers talking on a cellphone are four times as likely to have an accident as drivers who are not - the same level of risk posed by a driver who is legally drunk.

Anyone who commutes in a fairly large city can recite tales of driver distraction. We've all seen it - women putting on makeup while driving - men shaving while driving - people reading the newspaper while caught up in traffic. Do we begin legislating these? Even better, kids in a car are EXTREMELY distracting - let's ban children in vehicles. I'm sure that would save lives (and parental sanity).

Here's the deal. This should be a state/local municipality issue. Again, this country seems to have forgotten the principals of our founding fathers. The reason this country is composed of fifty states is not so that we can collect all of the quarters, it's so that we could allow states to govern themselves and make our own residential choices based on what is best for us as individuals.

Hold on ... my cell phone is ringing and I can't type, drive and talk on the phone at the same time.

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12 January 2009

TMI Tuesday - Back to TMI Basics

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TMI Tuesday

1. On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with your sex life?

My fantasy/cyber sex life, or the one that sits in the chair in the living room, falling asleep while watching "The Bourne Identity" for the 4,764th time? I'd give fantasy/cyber sex life a solid 7 (it is difficult to reach out and touch anyone through that damn monitor) - the chair warmer? I know some of you are bothered by me saying "negative" things without him having the opportunity to defend himself, but seriously, sex once every 3 or 4 months? He gets a 1.

2. If someone shoves you up against a wall while kissing you, your reaction is?

Is that all you've got? You had better be prepared to follow through, or it will be me shoving you up against the wall and I *will* follow through!

3. What is the most romantic thing anyone has ever done or said to you?

Hmmmm ...

I think I talked about the Thursday gifts that Alan used to give me each week. Sometimes they were silly (something from the dollar store wrapped quite pretty, a handful of wild flowers picked on his way home) and sometimes they were were more substantial (my first tattoo), but they were always thoughtful and chosen specifically with my needs and desires in mind.

4. Where is the most unusual place you have ever had sex?

Sex sex, or Bill Clinton sex? The Army offered many opportunities for clandestine sex - sex sex in a GP medium (Hubman might be the only one who knows what that is), on a cot, with about 25 other soldiers sleeping near by.

Bill Clinton Sex? The bars in Korea were ... well ... let's say accommodating to deviant behavior. Yes, I gave a blow job while seated in a corner booth in a bar. Remember, I was *much* younger and SINGLE!


5. How do you liked to be kissed?

Right this moment I can't seem to get my mind off being slammed up against the wall and kissed passionately and "hard." But sometimes, a gentle nibble kiss is just what this body needs.

Kissing turn offs? please do something with your mouth, lips and tongue other than just letting them sit there like bologna waiting for bread and cheese. And sloppy, drool-y kisses? EEEUW!

Bonus (as in optional):Most embarrassing sexual moment?

I had a recent embarrassing moment that involved a sexual act that I think I'll keep under wraps until I'm ready to give it a spot on the Sunday Secret list, however, I did have a sexual escapade that involved tequila many years ago that resulted in a bruise about the size of a baseball on my forehead. Yeah ... that one was pretty embarrassing - for the entire 9 days it took for the bruise to heal!

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Did I Miss National Delurking Week?

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Or is today really National Delurking Day? I was fantasizing about reading Jay last night and he announced that today is National Delurking Day, as proclaimed by Rude Cactus (I've got to get him back on my Google Reader - the guy is brilliant). Anyway, you know me - quite the geek - I needed to do a little research to make sure I was giving proper credit for the occasion.

You know that saying, "Ignorance is bliss?" Yeah ... well ... I should have never started poking around on this one. I am far more confused now than I was before.

You see, there seem to be those who decide to have a delurking day once a month (kind of like a blog feature). I found too many bloggers to link to handfulls of bloggers who seem to run the delurking day feature on their blogs quite regularly trying to boost those comment numbers. I'm guessing there is a reason for this - maybe advertising $$? Who knows ... anyway ...

I then found this other group of blogging women consisting of Schmutzie, Sweetney and Jen and Tonic (I confess, I made only brief visits to these blogs - I've not read any of them in depth - but they do look promising and I wanted to make sure I gave out props where props were due).

Now, where was I? Oh yes! This other group of women were frustrated with the drop in comments on their blogs and decided to make some buttons and celebrate The Great Mofo Delurk. They advertised it as:

It is time that all you lurking mofos delurked, and we have given you six days to prepare yourselves (and ourselves, ahem). On October 3rd, delurk you mofos! Say hello! Share who you are! Put an end to your m*th*rf*ck*ng lurking and leave a comment!
Nothing like a gentle nudge to get your readers to comment, right?? Well, I can tell you that it worked for Schmutzie - she generated 241 comments that day! But ... they only did this one time (no repeat in 2008). I'm still leaning toward Rude Cactus as the founder ... but wait ...

A little more research finds that there is a celebrated Delurking Week - traditionally celebrated the first full week of January (meaning I missed it). It looks like this celebration may have been started by Paper Napkin in 2005. Yes, 2005!!

But ... but ... a glimpse into Rude Cactus' archives finds that he participated in that first Delurking Day in 2005 as well. So? Who gets credit? I don't know - it's Monday and all of this research made my head hurt! All I can tell you is that I like this delurking icon the best:


If you are a lurker here, please accept this invitation to expose yourself - I do it every Thursday! EDIT - Everyone is welcome to expose themselves today - even those of you who are regular flashers! Thank you Ro, for being a pain in my ass reminding me of the importance of taking care of my loyal commentors as well *wink* If y'all promise to play nice, I'll even change my comments settings to allow anyone and everyone who wants to comment the opportunity. Take a chance - say "Hello" - I promise not to bite unless you give me explicit permission to do so!

Oh, and when you are done submitting that comment, go visit Jay over at Cynical Bastard and wish him a happy blogiversary/blog birthday. He turned THREE today (doesn't he look good for his age?)!


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11 January 2009

Sunday Secret

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I understand the need to contribute to your retirement plan, but increasing your contribution percentages, without any discussion, and shorting the household budget by the amount spent on groceries each month, is simply selfish. I understand it is YOUR paycheck and you'll do with it what YOU want (you made that clear), but understand that I cannot just "make it work" as you insisted I do - I am saving for my own "rainy day."

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09 January 2009

Friday Wrap-Up

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I've got so many irons in the fire right now I don't know if I'm coming, going or just staring at a huge pile of wrinkled white shirts!

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I've got two blog-business items to take care of - both require a vlog drawing. There were several of you who showed a baffling desire to be interviewed by me, and in the interest of my lack of creativity sanity, I'll be drawing two names from the bunch. If anyone is still interested and missed the first call for the interview opportunity, feel free to throw your name in the hat!

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Then there is the issue of "The Fourth Turning" Back in September, Jay (Cynical Bastard) did a drawing for a book giveaway. I won the drawing and Jay sent me the book, and a few extra surprises too! This has morphed into somewhat of a pay it forward thing as Jay received the book from Fortune Cookies, who suggested it would be cool if he passed the book along to another blogger who would enjoy it and promise to pass it along to another blogger and so on and so on.

If you have any interest in the book (and understand, this is not "light" reading, but is an excellent book) let me know in the comments. I will, of course, vlog that drawing as well! Just remember, if you win the book drawing, it will mean that you will have to give me your name and address. If you are concerned that I might show up on your doorstep to steal your husband, don't be - it's the wives I am after *wink* Just something to take that into consideration.

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Work is NUTS! Seriously, the end of the year is a nightmare in accounting, especially in the midst of a financial "down turn" where everyone is looking really, really closely at the numbers. This expense gets moved here - this one there - did we really spend that much on freight?

Anyway, I thought it was time to show y'all where I spend the majority of my waking hours.

This is an aerial view of the complex. That concrete building in the upper left hand corner of the pic? The one that looks similar to a prison? That's where the office is housed.


My cubicle is shaped in a giant U, so I'll start on the left hand side and move around for you. Paper, paper everywhere! The bear was sent with some flowers that husband had delivered to the office last year (Yes, the ones I paid half of because he paid for them out of the joint checking account.)

Here is a closer look at the bulletin board. Two pics of Cam, a calendar, and the beautiful dollie my good friend Librarian Lee made for me. She is really crafty and makes some amazingly fun things!

The "back" side of the U. Nothing too exciting here, but I want to make sure you are developing an appreciation for the teal desktop. There was a fire here in the late 80's and they "redecorated" the offices. Clearly the person who made the furniture choices was a bit partial to trendy colors.

And now the right side of the U. More papers - my handy-dandy container of Clorox disinfecting wipes (it's how I keep the office cooties at bay). And that box full of paper on the floor? Headed to the shredder later today. We do a LOT of shredding in accounting!

The tour wouldn't be complete without a few pics of the lunch room. Nicely decorated for the holidays with plastic table cloths!


The vending area, and more lovely teal counter tops! This is the first office I have worked in where they do not provide coffee for the employees. That machine on the left is the coffee, $0.35 for 8 oz. of sludge that even I - a known coffee addict - will not allow to touch my lips!


I have no doubt that Matt-Man wanted to see the women's restroom. Yes, more teal (Hey! At least it all matches!) That sign on the mirror is the infamous "Flush the toilet you disgusting pigs" sign.


Yes, this is an odd picture, but I thought you should see how they decided to deal with the toilet flushing. When I started working here a year ago, we had two-ply toilet paper. I took this pic of the toilet through the one-ply scratch-your-ass toilet paper that is serving as a reminder of our flushing sins.

We end today's tour with a look at the floor (does this carpet make you want to hurl?) ...



If not, a quick glimpse of the ceiling might. If you click on the fluorescent light, you'll see that all of those little black spots are CRITTERS! Now, the office is in the middle of a corn field, but it sure would be nice if someone could empty the bugs out on occasion!


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07 January 2009

HNT - Shades of Grey

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Shades of grey wherever I go
The more I find out the less that I know
Black and white is how it should be
But shades of grey are the colors I see

~ Billy Joel

*CLICK*


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