30 November 2009

The Truth in Laundry


Been trying to decide what to blog about this week. I've got a few "business" posts in the hopper - like the story of Spc. Alexis Hutchinson who claims the Army forced her to make an agonizing choice between serving her country and taking care of her son - a story that was *gasp* sensationalized my the media. Or there is the post on BMI's - specifically the Illustrated BMI Categories I found on Flickr. It's interesting to see what BMI's translate into and why that really shouldn't be the only determination of health and fitness.

The problem? My head is filled with thoughts surrounding the move - it's only 4 days away. There were a few moments this holiday weekend where I stepped out of my comfort zone and told the truth knowing the truth would have a price. Like when husband asked if I'd rented a truck for the move and I told him that no, I hadn't. When he asked how I was planning on getting things out of the house I told him that I had arranged to use B & G's truck (friends of ours in town - G is our family hair stylist). He was NOT happy.

"Of all the people to tell you tell G? Now the entire town will know!" I reminded him that we live in a town of 3,500 - that the neighbors will see furniture leaving the house on Friday whether it's B & G who help move or someone else - that I've had to change our address with the school and with my employer. The town knows already. Anonymity is impossible here.

I'll admit it. I've been testing the "Dana" waters this past week. The reality of just who I had become (a doormat afraid of never being loved) and what I gave up to live up to that expectation has hit me hard. I am looking forward to being able to do things like go to PTO meetings and volunteer at church without being mocked and belittled. It wasn't until I had the strength to step away from the fear that I was able to see just how bad it had gotten.

Yesterday, as I was doing laundry, clarity smacked me up along side the head. Funny what dirty socks can do for you! I headed up to the bedroom to gather the clothes and husband said, "I threw a load in earlier. They are in the washer."

This was disturbing on several levels. You see, husband has NEVER done a load of laundry in the 7 years we've been together. My first overly hopeful thought was that he was attempting to do something nice - to show his appreciation. Ha! Silly me!

I asked him if he had thrown in any of my clothes with his load. He assured me he had a full load and couldn't possibly have added anything else. But when I moved the clothes from the washer to the drier (so that I could start mine and Cam's laundry) I found a very small load of clothes.

Part of me thought it was best to just let it go - with less than a week remaining here, why make waves? But there was a stronger part of me that said, "Screw this! I'm calling him on his crap!" ... and I did.

Not only had he done only his clothes when there was plenty of room to add mine, but he had intentionally picked my clothes out of the dirty laundry so as NOT to wash them. Anyone for a BIG helping of passive aggressive?

Initially he claimed he didn't know if my clothes required special washing instructions *cough*bullshit*cough* When I didn't buy that, he claimed it was that he needed to start doing things to make sure they got done because I might just stop doing anything for him now that I was leaving (I have not changed - AT.ALL - the way I do things these past few weeks) *cough*bullshit*cough* Then he finally admitted that he did it to show me he didn't need me. At which point I sincerely thanked him for being honest and went back upstairs to do my laundry. And yes, I did finish his clothes as well - folding them and putting them away.

Why? Because I am taking the high road in all of this. I will not stoop to his level and do things out of spite in an attempt to "hurt" him or "teach him a lesson." I will not allow him to drag me down into the kind of person he's become. I am better than that.


29 November 2009

Sunday Secret



27 November 2009

Friday Wrap-Up


T (or is that M?) minus 7 days ...

This week has had its moments. There was a knock-down, drag out (figuratively) Tuesday night. Fortunately Cam wasn't home to hear it because, as has always been the case, Cam was blamed for all of husband's marriage woes. It's an excuse I am so very tired of hearing. Accept the responsibility of being a jackass and we might get somewhere.

There has been some discussion surrounding what I'll be taking. That has gone surprisingly well now that husband realizes I won't attempt to "clean him out" I'm not taking much. One of the biggest issues in this marriage has been the stuff. The need to keep accumulating more and more stuff. The value placed on stuff being higher than the value placed on family relationships. It looks like I'll need to pick up just a few things to make the apartment functional ... like curtains and curtain rods. Since when do apartments not have curtains and curtain rods??

I'll be taking next Friday off. I've got moving help for the big stuff. The remainder of the stuff I can just throw in the back of the car and move without packing it - the beauty of moving just a few blocks away.


Woke up Thanksgiving morning to this:

I was NOT dreaming of a white Thanksgiving! Thank goodness we are early enough in the snow season that it just looked scary then melted.


Speaking of Thanksgiving, although there was no celebration in this house, Cam and I did celebrate. We were invited to one of my co-worker's homes (whose husband just happens to be one of Cam's football coaches) and I actually accepted the invitation!

This move has required I find my "humble" again. By nature, I'm a proud person. I don't ask for help because I don't want to "owe" people, nor do I want to look like a charity case. I want to be able to take care of myself and Cam, but this process has required that I ask for help - financial help (I had to request an interest free loan from my employer to cover the apartment deposit and I had to turn in an application for free/reduced price school lunch for Cam) and emotional help when I feel like I just can't muddle through things alone any longer (like spending the Thanksgiving holiday with people who care about Cam and me).

It's not been easy asking for help, but it's been a gift - realizing the limitations of pride - acknowledging that allowing people to help us is a strength, not a weakness. It's given me a perspective like nothing else could!


25 November 2009

HNT - Home (Retro)


“A house is made of walls and beams;
a home is built with love and dreams.”

*clicking only makes the picture bigger*

Every morning, as I walk downstairs, I see this wall mural. For far too long, I've been ignoring the chapters being written in my story and, more importantly, in Cam's story. In just one week, Cam and I will have the opportunity to edit a few chapters and start writing a few more. I am an odd mix of excited, terrified, apprehensive and confident ... and I'm attempting to enjoy every minute of it!



24 November 2009

No! Really! I Am ...



Where's Dick Clark When You Need Him?


Abraham Harold Maslow. Fascinating guy. His parents were uneducated Jewish immigrants from Russia who pushed their children academically. I'm not sure if that "pushing" became isolation, but Abraham ended up marrying his first cousin. Although his education began in law, he is best known for his final destination - Psychology.

A friend reintroduced me to the concept of Maslow's hierarchy of needs about three months ago. She seemed to realize how stuck I was and that I was one of those visual learners. When I saw that pyramid, I wondered where my $10,000 question was I finally realized that not only was I stuck, but there was actually a logical, and overcomable (Is that a word? Blogger spell check doesn't think so) reason I was stuck.

Blame it on Maslow. Maslow was a monkey guy, and what he learned while observing the Ateles geoffroyi was that some needs take precedence over others. How profound, no? *said dripping in sarcasm*

Maslow took this idea and created his now famous (at least in high school psych class) hierarchy of needs. At the base of the pyramid are the physiological needs (food water, air, SEX, etc.) and at the top, self-actualization.

It took me looking at that silly pyramid to grasp what so many of you had said over and over again. This wasn't about the fact that you thought I was an idiot (well, at least some of you), but rather that I needed to be in a place where I could find safe circumstances, stability and protection in order to be all that I could be (I think I'll always be an Army commercial).

It wasn't until I found a place where my safety needs were being met (in a room full of 300+ middle schoolers, of all places) that I really started to feel the need for friends, affectionate relationships and a sense of community. I didn't realize how isolated I had become until I wasn't so isolated any more.

The apprehension of the move continues to cause anxiety. I did forced myself to tell my parents about it this weekend so that I couldn't "chicken out" at the last minute. Husband is in denial - he didn't even mention to D that the next time she comes for visitation Cam and I won't be here. It's really a rather bizarre time.

I know very little these days, but I do know what I'm doing is right. I know that getting my and Cam's safety back is critical. After all, how ever will we achieve Self-Actualization without satisfying Maslow's D-Needs?? *smirk*


23 November 2009

How's The Weather Up There?


Y'all know I'm tall. Not that piddly 5'-8" tall, but a full 6' tall. That means that, when wearing my new fall boots, I'm over 6'-2" - a height most men dream of hitting.

I often hear women say they are envious of my height, but I think if they knew the reality of being this tall, they might change their minds.

Anyone want to guess on some of the idiotic comments usually said by (unfortunately) short men?

"Do you play basketball?" (Because we know every woman over 5'-8" plays either basketball or volleyball) "What's the weather like up there?" (It was warm and sunny but it just got a bit icy) And my favorite, "I'd like to climb you." (Really? Do you have your carabiners and helmet handy because my motto is, "safety first.")

No, being tall isn't the end of the world, but it can be a little overwhelming at times. I can reach the highest shelves in the grocery store - just ask any of the senior citizens who regularly shop at my market who look longingly at the top shelf then smile when they see me coming, but I'll never blend into the crowd.

Guys? Girls? Got a tall woman fetish? Ever wondered how to woo an Amazon?

1. Stay away from the cheesy lines. We know we're tall. "Gee, you're tall," "How tall are you?" and "Do you play basketball/volleyball?" will likely get you nothing more than an eye roll.

Some of us even suffer from Tall Woman Syndrome. I love being tall, but standing head-and-shoulders above the rest (including most men) doesn't always feel so ... well ... girly. Tell me I'm smart, tell me I'm sexy, compliment my style, but please don't let the first words out of you mouth be, "Wow! You're tall!"

2. Get over it. Maybe you're a little intimidated. Here's the deal. I'm really OK with being tall. Please let it be OK for you too.

Intimidating men (and women) is not my favorite past-time. If you feel intimidated by my height, that's on you. Get over it! I don't care how tall you are, I care what kind of person you are.

3. Treat me like a lady. Yes, as a matter of fact, I can look Lindsey Hunter in the eye when wearing "low" heels, but I'm like every other woman on the inside.

Please don't ask me to hold my hand up to yours and exclaim over how big mine is or request to breed a basketball team with me.

My height is not an indicator of my character. As a kid, I was tormented for my stature. Not everyone was 6' tall in the eighth grade. If you love my height, let me know, but don't make a spectacle out of it. I'm no where near freak show status.

And guys? If you worry about what other men will think if your dating a woman who's taller than you are, my guess is it will be one of two things. They'll assume that you have a lot of money, or that your built like Ron Jeremy. Bagging a six-footer is big-game hunting.



22 November 2009

Sunday Secret



21 November 2009

Ch - Ch - Ch - Changes


It's been a while, hasn't it? I think I've gone through every emotion on the spectrum ... and then a few ... in the last week.

For some of you, this is old news (it pays to be a Twit) but entertain me and pretend like you're excited to hear it again, OK?

After last week's events (you can read about them [HERE] if you missed it), I knew I couldn't keep Cam in this environment any longer. The realization that Cam's head could have just as easily looked like his bedroom wall was just too much. Apartment hunting in a small town is a daunting task. When your population is 3500, there just aren't a lot of available rental units, and not a single multi-building apartment complex.

I found three apartments to look at - one in the town just east of us but still within Cam's school attendance boundaries and the other two here in town - just blocks away from where we live now. The third one I looked at was a keeper. Ground floor, 2 BIG bedrooms, a remodeled kitchen with a microwave over the stove. This is our new home!

See the window in the center? The one with the tree trunk running through it? That's our living room window! It's a six-plex and the landlords live in one of the units. I always feel a little better knowing that the owner of the building is willing to live there too!

After having a civil discussion with husband Wednesday night surrounding how we were living and the lack of doing anything to change it, I let him know I was signing a lease the next day. He's not happy - he'll have to alter his lifestyle a bit to stay in the house - but he agreed that it was the best thing.

Much to the dismay of some of you, there is no talk of divorce. Sure, he might be contacting a high-falutin' attorney behind my back, but honestly, I don't think so. And I just can't operate from a "must get him before he gets me" mode. I'm ready to move out - I'm clear that we cannot work on making a marriage any better when Cam and my safety and security is at risk daily - but I'm not willing to throw in the towel. Not yet.

Husband and I will likely date each other and both have the freedom to date others if we choose (NOT anywhere on my radar thank-you-very-much) He has mentioned going back to counseling. I hope he does - not for us but for him. In one of our discussions he mentioned that he didn't think counseling helped much. I reminded him that counseling requires participation from ALL parties involved to actually "work".

I'm in a prepare for the worse, expect the best mode for these next two weeks (Cam and I move in December 4th). I think emotions are going to be quite raw for everyone involved and it will take a lot of work to keep those in check. I've got a back-up plan in place should Cam and I need to get out of here sooner, but I'm hoping we won't need it.

This is much harder than I expected ... and much harder than it probably should be given the history of the relationship ... but I'm moving forward.


17 November 2009

Separation of Church and Plate


Personalized license plates. Specialty license plates. Vanity plates. Call them what you want, but they've become a means of self expression.

I've got one on my car. It let's people know that they should run into me should their family member need a kidney.

Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled that South Carolina can't issue this license plate:

U.S. District Judge Cameron Currie said in her ruling that the license plates was unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment ban on establishment of religion.

"Such a law amounts to a state endorsement not only of religion in general, but of a specific sect in particular," Currie wrote.

OK, I get the whole First Amendment thing, but here's what I find interesting. South Carolina offers this plate:

So, it's OK to say, "In God We Trust," but you had better not believe? Trusting is good. Believing is bad?

And you know, it isn't like South Carolina doesn't have any other plates with religious symbols. You can run down to the South Carolina DMV and pick this one up for your 4 x 4!

What do you think? Is "In God We Trust" different than "I Believe"? Is a flag associated with God somehow less offensive than a cross associated with God?


16 November 2009

Who's Got The Power?


C & C Music Factory claims to have it, but I don't! Either my power cord went bad (hopefully) or ... well ... it's something else, but the bottom line is that I am without a laptop until I mug a little old lady I find a little extra cash.

Yes, we do have a desktop system too, but it lacks privacy and it's loaded with "kid" stuff, making me crazy!

Not sure when I'll be back, but I'm sure y'all will be able to keep yourselves amused while I'm gone! Carry on!

*EDIT* A few of you have asked, so just in case someone has been hording power cords started a power cord collection and is willing to donate (I'll gladly pay for shipping), Rhonda is a HP Pavilion dv2600 Special Edition.


15 November 2009

Sunday Secret



13 November 2009

Friday Wrap-Up


I need to apologize. Some of you might remember that I had a blogiversary two months ago and drew four lucky winners from all of the commenters. What did Hubman, "She Who Shall Not Be Named" (nor linked), Vixen, Bina and Emmy win? Well don't ask them because they haven't seen a darn thing arrive in their mailboxes! Why? Because I haven't done it yet.

All that I can say is you will get your just (or maybe even unjust) reward. It might be Christmas, it might be Martin Luther King Day, it might even be Valentine's Day, but I will honor my word. I just don't want any of you to think I've forgotten you!


Speaking of forgetting, some of you might be wondering why I haven't been leaving comments on your blog lately. Well ... as you'll see, I've been just a tad bit busy. I've been quite loyal to my Google reader, but not loyal at all to commenting. Just know that I'm keeping up with you all and will be back when things calm down a bit.


What a week! Cam and I had something going on every night beginning Monday and it continues through Saturday.

Monday night was counseling (for Cam) and the phone event (more on that later)

Tuesday night was a PTO meeting (that's a post in itself) and the view of two (related to the phone event)

Wednesday night was middle school youth group.

Thursday morning was the "Dear Jane" moment (many moments this week) and then the band "Step-UP" night where Cam attempted to justify his need of a $5200 oboe.

Tonight is Cam's Football Banquet. I just finished making a batch of spinach balls (a recipe that Jay's sister sent me - I might just have to post it with her permission) that smell absolutely wonderful.

Saturday Cam and I are back at the Northern Illinois Food Bank in the morning and then church Saturday night.


So, the phone event ... a little background first ...

Cam has a cell phone. He has been EXTREMELY responsible with it. In fact, it's one of the areas where he has exceeded my expectations. At 13, I think he needs to start learning how to make decisions and learn to live with the consequences of those decisions. My part, as a parent, it to give him opportunities to do this within the realm of what a 13 year old brain can process. His phone is one of the areas I choose to do that with.

Cam has no time restrictions (other than during the school day) on his phone. He has been maintaining his grades, getting up in the morning to go to school, so I don't worry too much about how late he is on his phone. He is aware that if either of those things start being an issue, I will put time restrictions back on the phone.

Monday night, Cam was on the phone at 10PM. Now husband never checks on Cam at night, but Monday night he decided he was going to make Cam get off the phone (because he was upset about a decision I made over the weekend). He went into Cam's room and told him to get off the phone. Three minutes later he went back into Cam's room, saw that Cam was not off the phone and told him to get off now. Cam got off the phone, tossed it on to his bed and said to husband, "Take it" This was deemed as significant attitude (and I'm sure it was said with attitude) and husband demanded, "Pick it up and hand it to me!" Cam picked it up and - in husband's words - "He picked it up and with BLATANT disrespect and attitude 'pimped' his way to the door where I was standing while making a smacking noise with his mouth." At that point husband grabbed it out of Cam's hand and threw it at him. Cam ducked, but this is where the phone landed.

Ummmm .... yeah ...

Nothing else was said about it until the phone call I got Wednesday morning. Husband called and said, "I heard Cam on the phone last night. Whose phone was he using?" I replied, "His." Husband asked in an accusatory tone, "Did you go out and buy him a new one?" I replied (quite calmly), "No. The one you threw at him. If you were trying to break it you didn't throw it hard enough," at which point I was hung up on.

Now, we do not have a land line phone any longer. I will not have Cam without access to a phone, and the cell phones are in husband's name. I decided I had better pull mine and Cam's phones off his plan so that he couldn't cancel them and then sent husband the following email:

I have put Cam and I on a separate plan through Verizon and will begin (first billing is in December) paying that bill from my personal account. The October billing (Due in November) will be the last one paid through the joint account.

I got no response ... or so I thought. Apparently husband did send an email ... to my work email account ... but used "inappropriate" language and it was blocked. When he asked me Thursday morning if I got his response I told him I hadn't. He resent it yesterday morning. I'm not going to reprint the entire message, but the last two lines read:

I'm tired of working myself to death for you and Cameron only to be disrespected and ignored at every turn.

We need to talk about how to bring this marriage to an end without destroying either of our credit.

... and you guys thought I was the one who was all about the money!

I did reply to his email in a calm, non-accusatory tone, and he came back with personal attacks seeing my lack of aggressiveness as a weakness (not surprisingly). I again responded with:

Just wanted you to know that I got this and read it. I agree with much of what you've said and disagree with some of it, but I'm sure that comes as no surprise.

I'd love to respond to some of it but can't get the words to come out right in email and am concerned I'll make the first reasonable discussion we've had in a long time escalate into an email argument, and I don't want that to happen.

I'm sorry I've failed you. I don't know that I could ever become the person you hoped I would be. More than anything I want you to be happy and hope that you are able to find that happiness.

... and then I went to look at a 2-bedroom apartment here in town that becomes available December 1st. It is *perfect* for Cam and I and the rent includes utilities (with the exception of cable and phone) which is a nice bonus. I've got to come up with a significant deposit ($840) but should be able to get a no-interest personal loan through my employer to cover that.

Last night, when Cam and I got back from the "Step-Up" event, I sat down across from husband and said, "Have you come up with a plan yet?" to which he mumbled "Not yet." I replied, "Well, as I see it we have three options, either you live here for 6 months to give the economy a chance to rebound and to give us the opportunity to get the house ready to put on the market (he interrupted by shouting, 'I am NOT living in this house by myself') and Cam and I leave, or Cam and I stay here and you pay the mortgage for a house that you're not living in which is a terrible solution for both of us, or we all three stay here until spring ... which is probably the worst idea of all."

Silence ...

This morning he acted as if nothing - NOTHING had occurred all week. What? I finally call you on your shit - I'm ready to get out of this quagmire - and you back down? Ummm ... now what?


11 November 2009

What Americans Owe to Those Who Serve


I read this editorial yesterday in hopes of finding inspiration for a Veteran's Day post. Instead, I found that Bob Greene was able to speak my feelings so well that it would be an injustice to do anything other than share his views with all of you.

By Bob Greene, CNN Contributor

Editor's Note
: CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a bestselling author whose new book is "Late Edition: A Love Story."

(CNN) -- The woman's Halloween costume featured a Third Reich motif.

This was last weekend in a sprawling bar-and-restaurant complex near U.S. 41 on the west coast of Florida. I had made the miscalculation of stopping by in pursuit of a quiet cheeseburger, not realizing that adults in trick-or-treat costumes were making the rounds on this sultry evening.

The woman (or the costume shop from where she had purchased her uniform) at least had the good sense to omit the actual swastikas, but that was the only bit of subtlety. The Heinrich Himmler high-fronted military cap, the boots, the swagger stick she kept slapping against her palm. . .some of the customers, playing along, did little comic goose steps as they passed her.

I looked up from my newspaper and tried to surmise if anyone was going to be offended enough by this odious display to leave. She beat them to it; she and her friends made a few quick passes through the aisles of the place, then returned to the night, ready to continue their revelry elsewhere.

Halloween in the United States is an increasingly odd holiday, no longer child's play, but on this evening I was thinking about another holiday, this one official, that is coming up this week: Veterans Day.

And, having unexpectedly encountered the woman in her getup, I found myself wondering what, six and seven decades ago, they would have made of it: what the 16 million Americans who served in the armed forces during World War II, who were sent across the ocean to defeat a brutal enemy, would have thought about this scene.

They're old men now, the soldiers who remain; many are frail and in ill health. It can be easy for us to forget that, when they were uprooted from their daily lives in the 1940s, no one knew what the history books would eventually say. No one knew the outcome. They were little more than kids, many of them; they were in effect told by our country:

Are you in school? You'll have to leave it. Have a new wife? You'll have to say goodbye to her. Working at a job you like? Tell your boss that you have to quit.

We need you to go halfway across the world, because we need you to save the world.

And they did it. Some 292,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines were killed in battle during World War II; another 114,000 died from noncombat causes. Some 671,000 U.S. troops were injured, many of them grievously.

The uniforms they put on were not Halloween getups; neither were the uniforms of the enemies they confronted across the oceans. On their way to fight the war, it's a pretty fair guess that they were scared and lonely. They understood that there was no guarantee they would ever be coming home.

Each November we are asked to pause and honor them, which is, or should be, an honor in itself. After the events of the last week at Fort Hood in Texas, with their reminder of the sacrifices that the men and women of the military make for us, Veterans Day will hold special meaning this year.

This November also marks the second anniversary of the death, at age 92, of my friend Paul Tibbets, who I got to know extraordinarily well during the last years of his life. I'd like to say a few words about him here.

At the age of 29, out of all the men and women in the U.S. military, he was selected for a task of almost unfathomable importance. He was told to recruit, organize, supervise and command a group of soldiers and airmen who were to train in absolute secrecy. If he succeeded, he was told, then the war could be won.

Someone had started a terrible fight; he was asked to finish it.

He did. He got his unit ready. And on an August day in 1945, he flew a B-29 he had named for his mother, Enola Gay, to Japan, where he and his crew dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. It was the single most violent act in the history of mankind, and he carried it out without flinching because he believed, in the deepest part of his heart, one thing above all others:

He could end the long war. He could stop the killing. All of the American soldiers who were on their way to the shores of Japan for a land invasion could turn around and go home, could raise families, could live again in a world at peace.

He understood the controversy, and the anger, with which his mission would be received by some. He understood that there were people who would forever hate him. He and I talked about it many times before he died. After the war, he told me, President Harry Truman asked him if people were saying unpleasant things to him because of the bomb. Paul Tibbets told the president that, yes, some people indeed were.

And Truman said:

"You tell them that if they have anything to say, they should call me. I'm the one who sent you."

So it's November again. Veterans Day is upon us.

There is a quotation variously attributed to Winston Churchill or George Orwell. Regardless of our individual politics, regardless of our beliefs about the rightness or wrongness of a particular war, the words are worth reflecting upon anew this week:

"We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."

And so, to all who have served us, then, now, and in the future, a word of somber thanks, from those of us here at home.


10 November 2009

WWC - Fold and People


You, too, can join WWC. You'll find information over at Jay's place, on Facebook or on Flickr.

This week’s words are Fold and People. I had a bit of an issue with the cell phone this week. I inadvertently changed the settings on the size of the pic from my usual 1280 x 960 resolution to the wimpy 320 x 240 resolution. Oops!


It seems there is always laundry to fold

My Pepto Bismol folders. Every year we change the color of the folders we use at work. These make me need Pepto Bismol every time I look at them.

The proper way to fold a towel (and yes, there is a proper way!)

A wall full of people I know

... and a wall full of people I don't know

Where the little people slave away


09 November 2009

It's Not *Really* Stealing, Or Is It?


In these tough economic times people are attempting to save money any way they can. At some point, we may find ourselves faced with an ethically questionable opportunity to safe a few bucks. Frugal ideas can often stretch the bounds of ethical behavior, and can even cross the line into breaking the law.

I've actually done some of these things, others I've read about on frugality blogs. Some I think are frugal, some I think are cheap (different than frugal) and some I think are down right theft.

Bringing outside food/drink into the movies: Sure, it’s a way to save money, but the last time I checked it was strictly against the rules in all of our local theaters. Are you stealing from the movie theater? Or are you just making a statement against their outrageous prices and lack of healthy food options?

Ordering hot/cold water at a restaurant then flavoring it with a drink mix or a tea bag you've brought along: If you’re making your own tea or punch type drink at the table, is that stealing from the restaurant? Or is it a frugal way to cut the cost of a meal?

Lying about the age of your kids, or their student status, in order to get free/discounted admissions. If your kid is 12, and there is a reduction in admission for kids under 12, is it wrong to claim your child is 11? Does the cost to the facility really increase just because a kid turns 12? Is this stealing? Or is it just bending the truth a bit to save a little money?

Lying about your anniversary at a restaurant to get preferential treatment and/or free food. Is this wrong? Or, since you have an anniversary every year, does it not really matter when you "celebrate" it or if you "celebrate" it more than once year?

Laying claim to discounts that you’re not entitled to. If you book a hotel room online and select that you are eligible for the AAA discount, or the AARP discount, even thought you're not an AAA member or quite 50, is it stealing? Or is it acceptable to think "Hey, if they can’t be bothered to check, it must not mean that much to them and they don’t care if I get the discount"?

Reusing coupons in the self check line of the grocery store. Apparently people are rescanning coupons in grocery store self check lines, then inserting blank pieces of paper in the slot when requested, saving the coupons for additional purchases at a later date. Is this stealing from the store? Or is it just a way to maximize your dollar?

Reusing the jumbo plastic cup on multiple visits to a fast food restaurant. Sure, we know the intent is unlimited refills within the same visit, but is it really stealing from the restaurant? Or is it nothing more than making the most of the "unlimited refill" offer?

Using Barnes & Noble like a library. All of the chain bookstores now have comfy seating and most of them have coffee bars. Isn't that an invitation to sit down with a book or magazine for a few hours? Or is it stealing profits from the bookstore to read their books and magazines without any intent of ever purchasing them?

Taking home a few supplies, or running your personal bills through the postage machine at work. Would these things qualify as employee theft? Or does the employer just expect a certain amount of this and include it when figuring out your total compensation?

As J.C. Watts said:

"Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that's right is to get by, and the only thing that's wrong is to get caught."

I think many of us have a two sets of ethics - one for individuals and local companies, and one for faceless, capitalistic corporations. We’ll do things to a big company in a heartbeat that we’d never consider doing to an individual.

In the end, we each have to make peace with our own moral compass, but I think we seldom think about how the short-term, money saving "opportunities" might cost us in the long run. Will restaurants start charging for water? Will self-serve drink machines go the way of the dinosaur? Will manufacturers stop producing coupons due to fraud? Will amusement parks and museums start charging the same (higher) price for everyone to stop people from taking advantage of discounts? What about the hit to our personal integrity and conscience? Is it stealing not only from society, but from our soul?


08 November 2009

Sunday Secret


*EDIT* When I read this this morning I realized just how bad it sounds. In reality, my "confession" in church was about me - about my repentance - about my guilt - in doing nothing to protect Cam, but I knew husband would make it all about him.


06 November 2009

Friday Wrap-Up Photo Style


Some of you noticed that I didn't play in the Weekly Words Challenge this week. It was, of course, because I felt my post on DADT was far more entertaining the words were Fair and Night Life and ... well ... we don't have a night life in Podunk and the fair was over back in September!

I had pictures like this ...

... this ...

... and this ...

Not exactly within any realm of the weekly words, although I probably could have wrangled night life into that second shot!


Something really cool happened yesterday. Someone who I admire as an accomplished author, Aspergers advocate and *tries to think of another "A" "A" pairing of words 'cause I'm like that* all-around neat person (all-around counts, right?) stopped by my blog yesterday and left a comment.

I wrote a little about John Elder Robison's book, Look Me in the Eye, [HERE] way back in 2007, and have been reading his blog, and now following him on Twitter, ever since.

If you have a child on the autism spectrum, John's story is an inspirational and honest one and is worthy of the read. He talks about his struggles as well as his successes and gives invaluable insight.

Anyway, it was cool to have him stop by, even though - as Jay so thoughtfully reminded me - "I bet that author has Google alerts and followed that to your blog" - then followed up with, "Wait. Scratch that wild early speculation on my part. He probably reads your blog everyday and finally delurked. ;-)" in an attempt to save my oh-so fragile ego.


We went to a Halloween/Surprise Birthday party for our friend Bob on Saturday (shown here with his wife Kim).

It was kind of a cool set-up. Bob's parents do a big Halloween shin-dig every year, so Bob knew he was going to a party. What he didn't know was that his parents had invited a bunch of other people (there were at least 50 people there) to help celebrate Bob turning 40.

Did I mention Kim has really nice legs? And her costume included fishnet stockings and high heels? I think these guys noticed!

In addition to the gam-oogling men, there was Jell-O ... in a brain mold ... EEUUWWW ...

... there was a pumpkin carving contest for the kids ...

... there was birthday cake ...

... and the house was all decked out! Does anyone else think it's a bit odd to see a skeleton paired up with a gaggle of Precious Moments figurines?

Oh! And have I mentioned that glow sticks are never safe around Cam? He was dressed as MC Hammer (he refused to let me get a good shot of him), but everyone was calling him MC Blingmaster by the end of the night.


Just two more pictures ... I promise ...

Remember my Friday Wrap Up story regarding adults driving the football players around to TP the cheerleaders houses? This was what the cheerleaders did for the football players before playoffs. I thought this was much better than TP-ing.

... and Cam's school pictures came in last week. I am amazed how much he has changed since 6th grade. In two years he's grown from a little boy to a man child!


04 November 2009



Emmy, over at Right Turn Without Signaling, shared her Warning Label post the other day, and in a fit of life has been too serious the past couple of days true admiration, I copied her! You can find the link to make your very own personalized WARNING labels at the bottom of this post.

Let's start with this one, shall we?

You know how sometimes you don't realize how odd some part of your life is until you read about someone else identifying it as odd? You know ... what you do every day seems normal because that's what you do!

I have always hated pictures of myself but could never really put into words why that was until I read a recent post by John Elder Robison (author of Look Me In The Eye) where he talks about noticing how different he looks in photos when compared to others and not having a sense of when posing is OK, what kind of pose is OK and how to get a natural smile on command. It's a fascinating read - one of those where I read and said to myself, "Self? That's EXACTLY why you don't like yourself in pictures. They remind you that you don't fit in."

For people new to my blog or who give me too little credit, there is this one:

I have said it before, I will say it again - sometimes I blog (or comment) an opinion that isn't completely in line with my own opinion in an attempt to argue - and better understand - the other side of the story. It's something I've always done (too bad we didn't have a debate team in school) and honestly I think it makes me a better person!

Next up?

Don't know what it is about my writing, but I have often been accused of being "holier than thou" or of attempting to "belittle" others. If you could crawl inside my brain and heart, you'd know how far from the truth that is, yet the accusation seems to linger like flies on poop. I've tried to alter how I write in order to communicate more effectively, but it just doesn't work. This label is for all of you who think I believe I'm better than you. I'm not, but I might be more like you than you'd want to admit!

And finally ...

I think many of you would be surprised to learn that most days something said on my blog, or something said on another blog, touches me so deeply it brings me to tears. Sometimes those are tears of joy and sometimes they are tears of pain, but the tears are frequently welled up in my eyes, just waiting to spill over. I've got the walls of Fort Knox on the exterior, but it really takes very little to knock them down.

Anyone else want to generate some warning labels? You can get your very own here!


03 November 2009

And You Better Not Ask!


Although not really the topic, yesterday's post elicited much discussion on the validity and necessity of the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. Most of you feel it is an unfair practice and one that should be made obsolete. I'm not quite there ...

Let's start this with a few presumptions:

1. I am anything but homophobic. Anyone who has read my blog for any period of time knows that my sexual orientation is best summed up as "none." Although my relationship preference is monogamy, I honestly have no gender preference in relationships. I am attracted to the person, not their gender.

2. The military is not a job, it's an adventure a lifestyle. It is not realistic to say that sexual orientation plays no role in your 9-5 job, therefor it plays no role in the military. The only correlation between a 9-5 job and enlistment in the military is that they both generated a paycheck.

3. Sexual orientation has no impact on the ability to serve one's country.

Let me say that again. Sexual orientation has no impact on the ability to serve one's country. It's not the individual's ability to serve - their ability to perform military tasks - that is impacted by sexual orientation. No ... sexual orientation can, and does, disrupt unit cohesiveness.

Should it? No, it really shouldn't. As a society, we should be beyond that. We shouldn't be living in fear of things we don't understand. We shouldn't find fault in sexual orientation any more than we do with the color of one's hair or eyes. We shouldn't, but we do.

Unit cohesiveness is probably the most critical element required for the military to operate efficiently. Although many (most?) of you who read this blog are in the 30+ age range, the military is loaded with the under 25 crowd. These are people who come from all backgrounds. College educated. Home schooled. Big cities. Suburban communities. Po-dunk in the middle of no where. The military is a microcosm of society and being that it is much smaller than the general population, differences between people are magnified. There isn't a sense of safety in numbers. Communities of "like" people are much smaller ... and much more judgmental.

Imagine for a moment that an openly gay soldier is serving in a combat unit. The majority of that unit will likely have a heterosexual orientation. A few of those military members feel threatened by the sexual orientation of their comrade. They have access to weapons. It becomes either a "friendly fire" incident, a "fragging" incident or worse yet, apathy. An injured soldier is allowed to die because of his/her sexual orientation rather than being given the same treatment of his/her heterosexual counterpart.

Sure, if the acts are intentional the military members will be prosecuted - assuming it can be proven that they were intentional. In the mean time, we've lost a human life and we've impacted the performance of a military that fights daily to protect your freedoms and, ironically, the freedoms of all people without regard to sexual orientation.

Do I think it's fair that gays/lesbians/bisexuals (yes, they fall under DADT too!) have to "hide" their sexual orientation in the military? No, but I did that very thing for five years. Do I know, without a doubt, that sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with one's dedication to, and ability to, serve their country? Yes I do! Do I believe that serving with openly gay/lesbian/bisexual military members will negatively impact unit cohesiveness. Absolutely! Like it or not (and I don't like it), DADT works for the military.


02 November 2009

Just Don't Tell!


There has been a lot of hoopla lately regarding the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy of the U.S. Armed Forces. President Obama made a campaign promise to repeal (is that the right word?) the policy and is now getting much pressure to follow through on that promise.

What I find even more interesting than the prospect of gays and lesbians serving "openly" in the military (which, for the record, I have conflicting emotions on) is a study that came out about a month ago regarding the gender disparity shown in the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy.

For those of you not familiar with this policy, it states that gays and lesbians in the military cannot be investigated or punished as long as they keep their sexual orientation to themselves. In the 16 years this policy has been in effect, about 13,000 service members have been discharged under its provisions - on average, about 800 people each year. Really not a significant portion of the Armed Forces.

Back to the study. The study found that women are far more likely than men to be kicked out of the military under the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. Women, who account for 15% of all active-duty and reserve members of the military, accounted for more than a third of the 619 people discharged last year because of their sexual orientation.

This disparity was even more evident in the Air Force where women represent 20% of personnel, but 61% of those discharged in 2008. This was the first time women in any branch of the military constituted a majority of those dismissed under "Don't ask, don't tell."

Critics of the policy say the disparity reflects deep-seated sexism in the Armed Forces, although one researcher believes the gap could also be a result of "lesbian-baiting" rumors and investigations that arise when women rebuff sexual overtures from male colleagues. Really?

I have quite a different idea of why this is happening, and it has nothing to do with the military being sexist. No ... in fact, I believe this is more likely a case of women manipulating the system to get what they want - out of the military.

See, there is a segment of new military recruits who discover the military isn't what they thought it would be. It's physically demanding. There are a lot of frivolous rules. It's dangerous. For some silly reason, there are people who don't take this into consideration until after they arrive in basic training.

Now, once you've made the commitment, it is difficult to get out of that commitment - really difficult. However, there are a few loopholes. As a female, you can get pregnant and make a lifetime commitment rather than a 2-5 year commitment, or you can "out" yourself as a lesbian.

Society - generally - has become a bit more accepting of lesbians. In fact, there are women who use the guise of bi-sexuality to lure in men (just being honest here). Kissing a girl isn't the "bad" thing that it once was.

My guess? This study does nothing more than point out the fact that women in the military now have another "out" - a way to leave the military without a dishonorable discharge on their record. And then they can go back to their heterosexual lifestyle outside of the military.

Unfortunately, I think this scenario is far more likely that the sexism claims some are making. This isn't a case of the "good ol' boys" picking on women. No, this is more likely a short-term lifestyle change being used as a ploy to get out of a long-term commitment. It's a disservice to the military and a disservice to gays and lesbians who struggle to serve their country in secret.


01 November 2009

Sunday Secret