29 June 2010

Lessons From Bagwine



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So yeah ... some of you are going to get tired of the Matt-Man and Schmoop love fest here, but I walked (drove) away from this weekend with quite a bit of insight into some things I wasn't expecting to gain any insight on, and I think there are some really good life lessons to share.

You spend most of your life at work - love what you do
Many of you "know" Matt-Man only by what he writes. You know he works at the beer mine. You know he's a smart ass. What you may not know is that he has held some pretty phenomenal jobs - jobs that came with HUGE amounts of responsibility and "corporate politicking." Matt-Man does what he does because he loves doing what he's doing. He made a conscientious decision to work in an environment that he enjoys being in.

How many of us go to a job every day that we really don't like, allowing it to negatively impact the parts of our life we do like because we limit our views of what "successful" means?

No matter what you do, do your best
I watched Matt-Man in action at the beer mine. His performance was as well choreographed as the Bolshoi Ballet. Customers came in, were helped promptly and efficiently, then pulled out and were on their way. The beer mine could just as easily be a cluster-fuck if it weren't for the fact that Matt-Man takes pride in what he does.

How many of us do what we have to do and nothing more, or expect to be recognized in some grandiose way when we actually do go above and beyond?

Everyone wants to feel special
I don't care if you are eating dinner at a fancy-schmancy restaurant, or driving through the beer mine, you want to feel special. There is nothing like knowing that someone remembers you or is going out of their way to offer you great service. Matt-Man sees his customers coming before they ever drive in, often having their "regular" order ready for them before they even stop inside.

How many of us wait for someone to ask us for something even when we know what they want or need instead of being proactive and allowing them to feel special because we were thinking of only them in that moment?

Nice is a choice
There was a customer who came into the beer mine while I was there who wanted a bag of ice. He asked what was available - 8 lb and 25 lb bags. He asked for an 8 lb bag convinced the 25 lb wouldn't fit in his cooler. Matt-Man brought him an 8 lb bag and gave him his total. The man then decides he needs a second 8 lb bag. I'd have rolled my eyes while mumbling some "mother-fucker"'s under my breath, but not Matt-Man - he chose to be nice.

How many of us make a situation worse for all involved by making the choice to to be nasty instead of making the choice to be nice?

It doesn't matter how much you've got if you're not willing to share
I spent less than two days at the Bagwine abode, but felt like I belonged there from the minute I walked through the door. Matt-Man and Schmoop shared their home with me - nothing was off limits - not even Kelly.


How many of us find ourselves holding on so tightly to what we have that we miss the opportunity to feel gratitude and appreciation from others?

It doesn't matter how fast you want to go, there is always road construction
There
were a few times during my trip that I found myself with my foot on the brake pedal more often than it was on the gas pedal (What the hell are they doing in Indianapolis? Building another bridge to nowhere??) Life is kind of like that some times - we want to go fast - reach the goal - but something we hadn't planned on stops us dead in our tracks. We can either spend that time looking at things we would have missed had we sped by, or we can wallow in the fact that it is taking too much time to reach our destination.

How many of us get so caught up in how fast we think we should be going that we neglect to appreciate where we are right now?

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28 June 2010

This One Time, At Bagwine ...



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I started my Saturday morning early ... a little too early. Sleep escaped me Friday night. Seems the anxiety of sending Cam off to camp, coupled with the anxiety associated with meeting "new" people was a recipe for restlessness. I sucked it up ('cause I'm "tough" like that) and was waiting in line at 8:00 AM to check in Cam for camp.

Thirty minutes later, this was the view as I left the church parking lot


Then it was home for a shower, "packing" (does a backpack count as packing?) and 30 minutes of studying the map and directions to Bagwine. Yes, I really did, and as it turned out it was a good thing. See, I have a color printer that was running low on cyan ink, but had plenty of black ink. Silly me thought if I wanted to print something in black ink the printer would obey my commands. Clearly my printer didn't know I was the boss. I resorted to writing out the directions by hand.

What I didn't realize, because I didn't have a MAP, was that I would spend about an hour driving in Illinois, an hour driving in Ohio, and FOUR AND A HALF hours driving in Indiana. About four hours into my drive through Indiana I tweeted:

Where the FUCK is Ohio?

In fact, I had been in Indiana so long I considered making a quick stop here for a little relief ...


I was certain I had somehow missed Ohio. That, or they had extended the eastern border of Indiana all the way to Maryland. But then I saw it ...


That's when I called Schmoop and broke down in fits of frustration asked how much farther it was. Fortunately, I was less than an hour away!!

I drove straight to the beer mine and look who I found ...


Thank goodness he gave me the right address to the beer mine. That could have been embarrassing!

For those of you who are like me and have lived somewhat "sheltered" lives, this concept of a drive through micro-convenience store that sells beer is pretty amazing. And if you could see it in action you'd be even more impressed. It was full of awesome.


I spent the last two hours of Matt-Man's shift hanging out at the beer mine and getting over those first few minutes of awkward. It's a little odd meeting someone you've "known" for three years for the first time - especially when that person knows more about you than people you've known your entire life and yet you've never touched them. Fortunately, awkward eased quite rapidly.

Then it was time to head to the Bagwine abode with a 30-pack of these ...


And a pint of this ...


Oh yes I did! I chose the Wild Berry vintage. Matt-Man insisted on the traditional Red, and Schmoop (probably the smartest one in the bunch) stayed with the Milwaukee's Best.


For the record, if any of you are really my friends, you won't let me drink Wild Irish Rose ever again. Seriously! The headache was beyond description. I actually spent half of the night squishing my head between my hands in hopes that I could actually physically stop the throbbing.

And then morning came ... VERY early. Seems Matt-Man and Schmoop have no concept of sleep being a key factor in the drinking recovery process.

Sunday morning started off with the grand tour. Having lived in Podunk for four years now, touring Bagwine was like going to Disneyland! They have a museum, parks and TWO WalMarts! Oh, and we picked up breakfast from a Bagwine icon.


No, the bakery didn't sell beer - that was round two - but they did give me a free doughnut when Matt-Man told them I was visiting from out of town. The temptress behind the counter found a "broken" whole wheat doughnut that, of course, they couldn't sell, and included in the box. I have to say that I have never eaten such lard laden perfection in my life.

And what visit to Bagwine would be complete without a home-cooked meal of Loosemeat and Lima beans? One of the best meals I've had in a long time ...


There was more beer, a phone call to Jay, some drunk tweeting and tons of great gossip conversation. And yes, as a matter of fact we did talk about you, you and even you!

If you've read Matt-Man's blog, you know that this was all that was left of me Monday morning ...


Those of you who have met bloggers know what a wonderful experience it is, and this was no exception. Matt-Man and Schmoop are both amazing people and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to spend some time with them.

Now, if someone would please tell me what the hell I did to my thumb last night. The tip of it has been all tingly since I woke up this morning ...

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25 June 2010

Friday Wrap-Up

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Remember last week when I mentioned my car was all fixed and all it needed was an oil change, tire rotation and front end alignment? Famous last words.

I took it in to Firestone only to learn the lower right tie rod was loose. What does that mean? I don't have a clue, but I'm told that if it lets go when you're driving at 70 mph, it's a very, VERY bad thing ... as in the one wheel will turn completely sideways while the other three stay straight. Not something I want to experience.

Husband has been EXTREMELY helpful with these car repairs and offered to help with this one too. Cavy is in the shop as we speak and should be ready to go around lunch time today. The shop gave her a complete once-over (I'm sure she's feeling quite violated) and deemed her road worthy!

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Tomorrow is the day I send Cam off to church camp for a week in Northern Wisconsin. He had such a wonderful time last year that he's been looking forward to this for the last 364 days.

Tonight Cam and I will be making a trip to the laundromat and packing his suitcase for the week. I'm hoping they have much better weather this year than last year - last year they had temps in the low 60's all week and a few days of torrential downpours.

I will be enjoying the break as well, and even have a couple of my own excursions planned.

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OK, maybe my first excursion would be better described as a death wish. I will be leaving the creature comforts of Podunk Saturday for this creature:


I think I just heard an audible *GASP* when y'all read that! Yes, it's true, I will be driving down to Bagwine for for a taste of Matt-Man ... errrrrr ... Loose Meat. Wait! That just sounds wrong, doesn't it?

I'm a little afraid, which is why I'm letting you all know where I'm headed so that if I don't return you know where to start looking for me.

In all seriousness, I'm actually looking forward to the trip. Matt-Man and Schmoop have been around my blog almost from the beginning, and it will be great to actually spend a little bit of time with them!

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Favorite photo from Dana Does Digital this week? Hands down it has to be the "After the Storm" photo that was downloaded straight from my camera to the computer. Yes, the sky really was this color!


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24 June 2010

Confession of a Love Affair



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It happened on Twitter, and without much fanfare. Before I knew it I was professing my love. I'm sure it stunned some, confused others, and was missed by most, but there it was ... a tweet for all the world to see ...

"Abrogate" isn't too bad either ... I *HEART* words!

It's true ... I love words. I love to write them. I love to read them. I love to say them. I love the way they make my mouth feel when I repeat them. I especially like it when a word challenges me and I am forced to look up its meaning.

Words on paper are far more sexy than words on a screen, especially hand-written words on paper. Yes, the paper - the feel, sound and smell of it - only adds to my infatuation with words. I cannot imagine a day where I caress a Kindle with the same enthusiasm that I bear hug a book.

Since my affair is now public, I thought I'd share a few of my most cherished utterances. I find it fitting to start with the word that finally exposed my lust ...

Abrogate - We cannot, nor should not, abrogate that responsibility.

Xeric - I couldn't hear anything above the hissing of the scorpions and rattlesnakes in his painfully xeric humor.

Wamble - By mid-morning, my stomach began to wamble, complaining loudly in response to my lack of breakfast.

Sycophant - He was not a sycophant in any sense of the word, but a shrewd, cold business man, far shrewder than his brother gave him credit for.

Esculent - Trying to “spice things up a bit,” Jackie decided to use edible body paints to tempt her husband; unfortunately, the latter was by nature paranoid, and refused to believe that the paint was indeed esculent.

Prosaic - But underneath, a dense maze of melodic and gestural underpinnings paddle furiously to prevent the material from sounding prosaic.

Hemidemisemiquaver - Sometimes called a black bit, a hemidemisemiquaver is not often used in musical scores.

Do you, my dear readers, have a love affair with words too? Would you be willing to share those words that make your tummy do flip-flops just thinking about them??

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23 June 2010

McDonald's Not-So-Happy Meals



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The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is at it again, this time they've set their sights on an American icon - the McDonald's Happy Meal.

The Washington-based consumer advocacy group says McDonald's is like the stranger on the playground handing out candy - it's predatory marketing.

Michael Jacobson, Executive Director for CSPI says packaging food with your favorite "Shrek" toy puts parents in a tough position.

"We contend that tempting kids with toys is unfair and deceptive both to kids who don't understand the concept of advertising and to their parents who have to put up with their nagging children," said Jacobson.

Really? I contend that if you are a parent who gives in to the nagging of a 6-year old, McDonald's Happy Meals are NOT your problem.

The CSPI says dangling toys with meals violates state consumer protection laws. The CSPI is offering to postpone filing the suit if McDonald's stops using toys to market Happy Meals.

McDonald's responded with the following statement:"We couldn't disagree more with the misrepresentation of our food and marketing...Happy Meals are right-sized for kids."

The CSPI, which has filed dozens of lawsuits against food companies in recent years, is hoping the publicity and the threat of a lawsuit will force McDonald's to negotiate with them on the issue.

I don't know about you, but it sounds to me like CSPI is little more that the McDonald's Playland bully - throwing out all of the balls from the ball pit so no one can have any fun.

For the record, McDonald's does offer two types of Happy Meals that contain less than 600 calories, and no more than 35 percent of calories from fat, 10 percent of calories from saturated fat or 35 percent total sugar by weight - the Chicken McNuggets, apple dippers with caramel dip and low-fat white milk meal and the hamburger, apple dippers and milk meal. Not by any means healthy, but not quite as unhealthy.

CSPI's argument is that even though it's the healthier Happy Meals that appear in advertising, kids order the unhealthier meals most of the time.

I am just baffled by this. Seriously. First of all, McDonald's will sell the toy only - if you can't tell your toddler "no" to a toy, you can still get the toy without the fat and calories.

Secondly, kids order the unhealthier meals most of the time?? KIDS?? No, the adults - the ones with the money and the vehicle to drive to McDonald's - they place the order. I have yet to see a McDonald's Happy Meal dealer on the street corner, luring kids with his, "Just try this once" ploy.

CSPI is way out of line here, but that isn't what bothers me most about all of this. What I find most disturbing is this idea that parents cannot (do not) tell their toddlers and tweens "no" to a McDonald's Happy Meal. If you can't "deny" your child a Happy Meal when they nag, what the hell are you going to do when they start nagging about things like going to a prom party where alcohol is being served?

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22 June 2010

To Wear Or Not To Wear


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I've got a guest post up - To Wear Or Not To Wear

Click the pic to find me today and every Tuesday ...



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21 June 2010

Don't You Hate It When



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... the channel you're watching doesn’t regulate the audio, so the commercials end up being startlingly LOUD?

... someone calls your phone and when you say, "Hello" says, “Who’s this”?

... the bridge over troubled waters crumbles beneath your feet?

... your hand is misaligned on the keyboard and every letter you type is wrong?

... your cat puts his cold wet nose on your warm dry nose when you are sound asleep?

... people under 30 complain about how old they are? And you are almost twice their age?

... women wear low cut tops then complain because men keep looking at their boobs?

... the batteries in your wall clock go bad and you don't realize it's been 6:30 AM for over an hour?

... you are trying out a new recipe for a special event and you read 2 tsp salt as 2 Tbls salt?

... your doctor asks if you mind if an intern watches your pelvic exam?

... you order the special at a restaurant and the waitress returns 5 minutes later letting you know they just ran out?

... a new register opens at the market and the person at the end of your line runs over to be first in the new line?

... the muscles in your eyelid twitch?

... PeOPlE tyPe LiKE ThIS?

It's Monday! Get it off your chest! What would you add to this list?? And if you say, "Don't you hate it when people blog a list of 'Don't you hate it whens ...' I'm going to hijack your computer and send porn spam to all of your church contacts!

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20 June 2010

Sunday Secret



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18 June 2010

Friday Wrap-Up (Freedom Edition)


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Ooohhhh! Looky here! It's a change to the blog layout! *GASP* Can you believe it?? Almost FOUR years of the same blog template and just like that I jump in and make the change. If you only know what a HUGE issue that was for me!

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The countdown begins! One week from tomorrow I will be dropping Cam off at the church for a week of church camp in Wisconsin. That's right, seven glorious days of freedom - freedom from the phrases, "I'm Bored," "Can I buy another song from iTunes?" and the droning of "We don't have anything to eat." *For the record, we have food, it just require some sort of preparation and is not loaded with sugar and other non-nutrients!*

I'm actually considering taking that first Monday off that he is gone (June 28th if anyone is wondering) and heading out on a road trip Saturday right after slowing down and kicking him out of the car dropping him off at the church and walking in with him to insure he is well taken care of.

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Speaking of road trips ... MY CAR IS FIXED!! There were two HUGE concerns with my car: the brakes (or lack there of) and the rear suspension (or lack there of).

This week, husband footed the $440 repair bill to have the rear suspension replaced. Seriously people, driving my car had become akin to driving into turn four of Talladega loose - very loose (I just lost a few of you non-NASCAR fans, didn't I?).


I hadn't realized just how much I was fighting the car in my everyday driving until everything was fixed. Now I can even go 75 mph without the rear end sliding out from under me!
I've got an appointment Saturday at Firestone for a front-end alignment, tire rotation and an oil change and Cavy will be ready to hit the road!

Ahhhh! I was so completely isolated and now I am FREE!!

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I want to thank you all for the support on the decision to make amends with Alan's suicide. I received an email from a reader who congratulated me on moving forward. My response to him was that this really isn't moving forward, but rather finding closure so that I have a better shot at moving forward.

I have contacted a local Chicago tattoo artist, sharing my story with her, sending her pics of Alan's rose along with components of what I want and am allowing her complete artistic freedom to design the tat for me. This morning I paid my $50 deposit to hold my September 13th appointment. No ... I didn't delay that appointment ... she is *that* in demand that 12-14 week waits are the norm.

Just to give you an idea of how good this artist is, here is the tat she did for Aunt Becky of Mommy Wants Vodka. Just try to tell me this isn't freakin' awesome work! Now, I need one of you to volunteer to go with me ... seriously!!


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I haven't included a "my favorite" from my Project 365 photo blog in quite some time, so thought I should get on that this week. Anyone surprised I'm still keeping up with that one? Let me just say that it really is difficult to keep two "creative" blogs interesting and current. Yet another one of those tasks that - had I known how difficult it would be - I probably wouldn't have done it!


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17 June 2010

Boycot the BP Boycott

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When the Boycott BP facebook page first reared it's ugly head, and many of my facebook friends "liked" it, I posted a "Have you lost your minds by joining the Boycott BP facebook page?" status. Not surprisingly, it went over like a turd in a punchbowl.

I have remained strong in my Boycott the BP Boycott convictions. So much so that I am actually stopping at my local BP station even more these days - filling up with their fuel - purchasing snacks, milk and eggs at their convenience stores. That's right, I am giving the BP station in Podunk more of my business than I ever did before.

Why? Because the BP boycott doesn't hurt BP - it hurts the small business owners who purchased a BP franchise. BP (the corporation) owns less than 7% of all BP stations in the U.S. and gains very little from the 11,000 franchised stations throughout the U.S.

Did you know that the gas you pump at a BP station may not be extracted, refined or stored by BP, but getting just a spritz of BP additives right before it ends up at the service station? And the gas you are buying when you fill up elsewhere - from independent gas stations, grocery chains and big-box wholesale clubs? It sometimes comes directly from refineries or wholesalers that BP owns outright.

It's always good to understand how distribution works before making a rash decision based on an emotional response. Here in the U.S., once companies make an oil discovery, it comes out of the ground and ends up at a refinery. There, it is often mixed with oil that a variety of companies have poured into the tanks. Once refined, the gasoline makes at least one stop at what is essentially a wholesale warehouse. BP owns some of these tank farms, but so do other gas companies.

Eventually, a truck pulls up to collect and deliver the gasoline to stations. It is often only then that the ingredients that make it BP fuel get added. In other words, it doesn't become BP fuel when the oil is pumped from the ground or when it goes through the refining process. It's not until the very end of the delivery chain - when the gas actually becomes BP gas, and the only thing that differentiates BP gas from Shell or Exxon gas is the additives. Shell and Exxon get their gas from the same oil wells, from the same refineries and from the same tank farms as BP does.

I’m sure many of you see boycotting BP as a good thing, a way to give a voice to your (justifiable) outrage at BP. But you, just like the people who boycotted Arizona Iced tea to protest the Arizona immigration law only to discover Arizona Iced Tea is made in New York, are screaming at the wrong people.

I will say here what I said on facebook - the best way to express outrage and inflict pain on oil companies is to use less fuel thus lowering demand. This isn't easy. It means walking more, wearing sweaters indoors in the winter with your thermostat set at 64 degrees and supporting alternative energy funding.

Go ahead, boycott fuel sold at BP gas stations. Your short-sighted righteousness will make you feel all warm and fuzzy. But it would be really nice if you would pick up a couple gallons of milk, or a case of soda from the BP mini-mart on your way home from work. That way, the station owners don’t suffer as much.

Then? This weekend? Shop for a hybrid, pick up reusable grocery bags and purchase a Britta filter so that you can get away from bottled water. Those are the kinds of changes we all need to make to truly see an impact on the petroleum industry - BP included.

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16 June 2010

A Rose and a Yellow Ribbon

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Those of you who have been reading me for some time are aware of the "history" behind my tattoos, specifically the history behind the rose on my right breast, but I'm going to give you the Reader's Digest condensed version of the story once again anyway.

My second husband, Alan, whom I married in September of 1989, used to give me "Thursday Presents." It was a relationship tradition passed on to him from his father. Each Thursday, throughout our relationship, he would give me a present. Most often it was something small; cooking dinner and cleaning up afterward, a handful of wildflowers picked from the side of the road, a bag full of prizes from a 25-cent vending machine. One time it was my rose tattoo.

On January 16th, 1990, Alan's pain exceeded his coping skills and he decided a 22-caliber pistol to his head was his only solution (if you want to read the entire story you can find it [HERE]). On January 18th, 1990, I made the decision to take the shell of what was left of the man I loved off of life support. He died quickly and peacefully, and my life was forever changed.

I've gotten several tattoos since then - all on my back. I've never had Alan's rose touched up nor altered in any way. I was sacred. After 20+ years, it no longer exhibits the glory that it once did, but changing it in any way seemed ... well ... like I wasn't honoring Alan's memory.

But now, I'm having a change of heart. I am starting to see my need to hold on to "what was" as detrimental. OK ... so it took 20 years, but grief is an odd creature - holding on to some of us much longer than others.

It was just recently that I realized that I forgave Alan years ago, but I never forgave myself. You see, some (large) part of me feels a great deal of responsibility for his suicide. Logically, I know this isn't true, but I've been stuck in fear for so long - fear that if I ever let my guard down with a loved one again, this will be the result - that it became comfortable just not to love.

It's time to let go and move forward. I'm thinking that a physical symbol of that change will go a long way in healing that 20 year old gaping wound.

I'm considering trying to integrate the rose with something like this (and for all of you smart-asses, I'll use Alan's name rather than "Mom"):



... but instead of the pink ribbon, I want to use this yellow, suicide prevention ribbon used by YellowRibbon.org


Since moving out of "Satan's Lair" I've had plenty of time to keep my brain occupied - to sort through those things that brought me to where I am today - and it was somewhat disturbing to realize that my emotional growth really STOPPED on that January 16th, 20 years ago. It's time to grow-up ...

Anyone know of a great tattoo artist? And who wants to come with me when I get this done??

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15 June 2010

Oh To Be A Fashionista!


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I've got a guest post up - Oh To Be A Fashionista!

Click the pic to find me today and every Tuesday ...



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14 June 2010

Dana's 10 Pearls of Snarky Wisdom



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Once in a while, you just need to get things off your chest, and what better way to do that than to call a passive-aggressive rant "Pearls of Snarky Wisdom"??

*DISCLAIMER* Before anyone becomes convinced that I am talking about them - or has a moment of "pot calling the kettle black" - I've been on the doing end of every single one of these (including the peanut butter and jelly) at one time in my life ... thus the reason they get under my skin.


1. There is no such thing as anonymity in life - not in the "real" world and not in the "cyber" world. You might get away with your shit for a while, but not forever. Being sneaky will always catch up with you.

2. Peanut butter and jelly will never run out at the same time, even if you always use them together.

3. You can justify it as much as you want, *EDIT* but if your significant other doesn't know about it (... Matt-Man) it's still cheating, even if it only happens on Twitter.

4. Never have sex with someone that you wouldn't want to be the mother or father of your child. Drunken hook-ups, friend's with benefits and birth control failures can cost you a lifetime of angst and have far greater repercussions than you can ever imagine.

5. It's always critical to remember that we are all far less important than we think we are - yet at times, far more important than we should be.

6. The small stuff counts, often times more than the big stuff.

7. At 45 you realize just how wrong you were when you thought you had it all figured out at 25, and you've got enough figured out to know at 65 you'll have even more figured out.

8. People might say they want to hear the truth, but they really don't, and if you dare tell them the truth they will devise 26.9 reasons why what you told them is your problem and not theirs.

9. You never really know someone until you've spent a week with them, in a 2-man tent, eating meals with a 20-year shelf life, and without shower facilities.

10. You can take the girl out of the trailer park, but you can't take the trailer park out of the girl. People get comfortable in their situations - good or bad - and few are able to make the drastic moves for real change.

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13 June 2010

Sunday Secret



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12 June 2010

Friday Wrap-Up (Saturday Edition)



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Summer break is officially in full swing! One of the residual side effects of the Cam and "Rhonda" break-up has been that Cam's circle of friends has changed ... for the better! Although I continue my constant vigilance, I'm really hoping this summer has a much different outcome than last summer *crosses fingers*

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Now that school is out - and Cam actually passed the 8th grade (by the hair of his chinny-chin-chin) - I'm planting the seed on his attendance at the Therapeutic Day School this fall. His reaction has been cautiously receptive.

One of the discussions Cam and I recently had went something like this ...

ME: I really think you just didn't give a shit (and yes, I did say that) about school because you were convinced school didn't give a shit about you.

CAM: EXACTLY!!

I really do believe that if Cam has the opportunity to feel that people care about him, his motivation to please them will drastically improve. I know I've seen a great deal of that since moving us out of "Satan's lair."

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I received the following comment Friday on my Questions and More Questions post from Thursday:

I'm Judd Corizan from the blog Sunday Stealing. Every week we rip a meme off someone's blog. Today we chose yours. We give you full credit and link back to your blog. In the same spirit of this meme, we added 10 more questions of our own! The great thing is that a lot of previous "victims" such as yourself have become regular players! We usually publish the blog between 3 and 6 PM EDT Saturday. We usually get between 50 to 80 people who play and comment on each other's responses. And a lot of our players are previous victims of our theft like you! We hope you play along in the weeks to come! Thank you and have a great day...

Judd
I'm not sure if I should take this as a compliment or a booby prize! Seriously? I spend hours a lot of time on my posts and the one that gets "recognized" is a meme?!?!?

Oh well ...

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I'm not one to ask my readers to vote for things, but I'm going to make an exception here and hope it helps!

Northern Illinois Food Bank - the food bank where Cam and I regularly volunteer - is breaking ground on a new food distribution center, and they need money to do this. They have submitted an application for a $50,000 grant through the Pepsi Refresh Project. If they finish in the top 10 for their category, Pepsi will award them $50,000 to help in the building process.

They are currently 113th ...

If you click on the Pepsi Refresh Project logo, it will take you directly to the Northern Illinois Food Bank grant proposal where you can vote - once a day - through the month of June.

In order to vote, you will need to either take a few seconds to set up a Pepsi account, or log on via your Facebook account. Y'all know this is something near and dear to my heart. I'd love to be able to give back to them by helping them reach this goal!


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10 June 2010

Questions And More Questions

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Let's see, this started out as Jay doing Savannah's “Questions” meme - a meme with a twist. This meme is constantly evolving - I answer the 10 questions that Jay posted and then post 10 questions of my own for anyone to answer on their blog or in comments. Jay asked some great questions - I couldn't resist the pull to the "dark side."


1. You’re building your dream house. What’s the one thing that this house absolutely, positively MUST HAVE? (other than the obvious basics of course)

A library. One constructed with warm, dark woods. One with comfy chairs and sofas. One with an espresso bar in the corner. One that looks like this:


2. What is your dream car?

Can we talk? I don't have nice car envy. I'm a functional, practical kind of gal. Not in a minivan or "crossover SUV" (i.e. minivans for people who don't want to admit they drive a minivan) kind of way, but in an I want a vehicle that gets me from point A to point B efficiently , comfortably and dependably.

Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate the beauty and quality of a Bentley, I just am not attracted to that kind of vehicle.

So, if I went "dream car" I'd have to go with a sentimental favorite, a 1969-1/2 Dodge Super Bee. And yes, it does have to be green! Give me the muscle!


And if I had to choose a modern day dream car? I'd go with the 2010 Dodge Challenger. And since I'm dreaming, I'd have it painted 1969-1/2 Super Bee Green *wink*


3. What is your favorite website that isn’t a blog.

The Google search page?? I don't have a website that I spend a great deal of time on. I flutter through all of the blogs in my reader, I glance at Facebook (and play hours of Bejewelled), and I keep TweetDeck running in the background ... always ...

4. iPhone 4 or Droid, which do you want?

Neither. I need a phone that I can make and receive phone calls on and that I can send and receive text messages on. A decent camera would be a bonus. Seriously, I wouldn't use much else on an iPhone or a Droid, so why bather paying some ridiculous amount for a data package?? And let's be honest here, would the internets come crashing down if I were away from twitter for a few days? Ha! I think not!

5. When you’re feeling down or lonely or just generally out of sorts, what do you do to cheer yourself up?

Drive. Preferably a nice, long road-trip. Some of that open road, 75 mph driving. Driving relaxes me and focuses me, as long as it's not rush hour Chicago traffic. I won't tell you what that does to me.

6. Tell me about something or someone that you love that most people seem to hate.

Lima Beans. I love lima beans and they seem to be an ignore legume. It takes a special person to appreciate the joy of lima beans ... like Matt Man!

7. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Crud ... I don't know ...

The problem with this question is that it changes as events in my life change. Recently I've been looking in to Special Education Advocacy. I have a strong desire to spend my work day making a difference, and if there is one thing this past year has taught me it's that there isn't an even playing field for parents of kids with special needs. I'd love to spend my working day changing that.

8. Would you go on a reality show if given the chance?

Ummmm ... maybe?? I don't know that I would want the media attention that comes with being on a reality show, but I sure would enjoy the opportunity to see if I could make it through a season of Survivor or The Amazing Race.

9. Who was your favorite teacher when you were growing up. (Grade school, Middle School, Jr. High or High School only.)

Mr. Elsworth, my 6th grade teacher. He was AMAZING. He made my feel OK being me during a time when my home life was chaotic and when puberty had really done a number on me (I was a 5'-8", 180 pound, 11 year old 6th grade girl - awkward anyone?).

And few years ago, I took the opportunity to send him an email telling him just that.

10. You get one pass to do something illegal or immoral. What are you gonna do?

Is it just a "Get out of jail" pass, or a moral pass that will erase my mind of any guilt?? My issue with illegal and/or immoral is the subsequent guilt and self-loathing that follows.

On second thought ... I think I'll take a pass on that on that pass ...

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Now it's your turn! Here are 10 random questions for YOU to answer, either in the comments or on your own blog. Play if you'd like, but please let me know if you do!

1. What were you doing 10 years ago?

2. By this time next year, I ...

3. Do you think the United States will elect a female President in your lifetime? Do you think this would be a good thing?

4. Which fictional, TV show character you would shag anytime?

5. What is your greatest pet peeve?

6. Tell me about your most recent trip of more than 100 miles?

7. Which do you use more often, the dictionary or the thesaurus?

8. Do you have a nickname? What is it?

9. What are you dreading at the moment?

10. Do you worry that others will judge you from reading some of your answers?

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08 June 2010

Who's Raising the Kids


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I've got a guest post up - Who's Raising the Kids.

Click the pic to find me today and every Tuesday ...



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07 June 2010

One More Day

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Cam has ONE MORE DAY of middle school. I am relieved (to say the least) that we will no longer be required to be part of a school that has mishandled Cam's education on a grand scale.

I cannot begin to describe the anger and frustration I have towards the administrators AND staff who allowed Cam's 3rd grade reading comprehension level to go unnoticed for THREE years, choosing instead to believe Cam's behavior was due to environmental issues outside of the education environment.

To this day, Cam has NEVER been evaluated by the school district for learning disabilities. No, it was my gut feeling that although environmental factors might be contributing to Cam's school issues, they were not the only factor, that eventually gave us a clear picture of what was really going on with Cam.

It was thousands of dollars paid by out by my insurance company to a pediatric neuro-psychiatrist, and a month of countless unpaid work hours to transport Cam to twice weekly appointments that proved Cam had very real neurological issues that were the root cause of his inability to perform to expectations in the educational environment.

I cannot even imagine where Cam would be today - physically and emotionally - had I listened to the educators when my gut told me different. Had I not fought so hard for him on so many occasions. I often wonder what happens to kids like Cam whose parents don't have the financial resources nor the understanding of Special Education law that I have. It hurts my heart to consider it.

In these last few weeks of middle school, I've had to deal with the unfounded accusations of a very spiteful, and hateful, young girl made against Cam. I've had to face - head on - the rumors spread throughout this small, tight-knit community by this young girl, rumors that found their way to my workplace. I've had to stand by and watch this young girl's actions go unpunished, while I fought to give Cam the opportunity to finish out his middle school days with his peers.

I've had to compromise what I knew was right, for what I (and Cam) could live with these final eight days.

I've fought a Principal's attempt to "administratively remove" Cam - without documentation - from the middle school environment because it was easier than addressing the bullying issue of an 8th grade girl whose family is a prominent Podunk fixture.

I've complained endlessly about Cam's school on this blog, but there was one bright spot. A teacher who "got" Cam. A teacher who stepped up to the plate when no one else would and made a positive difference in Cam's life. A teacher I sent the following email to:

Dear Mr. [teacher's name],

I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for you for your patience, understanding and dedication to Cam this year. I know that Cam isn't always an easy kid and I wanted you to know that I recognize and value the time you've spent working with him.

It would have been much easier to label him as a troublemaker - constantly battling his weaknesses and ignoring his strengths - but instead, you have dealt with the issues as they arise directly and fairly.


In an environment where Cam continually feels like a failure, you have stepped up not only as a teacher, but as a role model, counselor and confidant. You have become Cam's "safe haven" during a very difficult time.
Thank you for all that you have done!

As often as I complain about what isn't right, I also attempt to acknowledge the efforts of someone who goes above and beyond what is expected. I did not anticipate hearing back from this teacher - I just wanted him to know what a difference he made for Cam, yet I received the following response:

I appreciate your email. Your son throughout this entire schoolyear has been nothing but respectful toward me. Although we both know he needs to do the work (one area where I have failed with him), he is always participating in my classroom and has always enjoyed being there. I wish you the best of luck with him next fall. Don't give up. Continue to push him to be his very best. Sometimes that light bulb will turn on in a student when you least expect it. Sometimes something like a new girlfriend or friend will light a fire up a kids butt. Sometimes maturity will do that. As he gets older, he will come to realize just how much his mother has done for him. It took me a long time to figure that out with my mom (I think I was about 21 when I really began to appreciate my mom). I am confident that in the future, all your hard work will pay off. Take care and good luck to you. Thanks again for the email. It does mean a lot to me.

... and I cried ...

I often wonder if advocating for Cam is doing more harm than good. I hear from some of my readers that they believe I am making excuses for him - teaching him there are no consequences for his actions - and I take that feedback in just as I do the feedback from the majority of you who have been supportive of my actions.

It was reassuring to receive validation from an educator who has had contact with Cam the entire school year. The only educator who took the time to allow Cam to be Cam and worked within that framework rather than insisting that if Cam "just tried harder" he'd fit that elusive neuro-typical mold.

One more day ...

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06 June 2010

Sunday Secret



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04 June 2010

Friday Wrap-Up


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My co-worker Norm (think Milton from Office Space only without the red stapler) is participating in The American Cancer Society Relay For Life. I do my best to support my co-workers (and their kids ... and their grand kids ... and ...) when they participate in fundraising for anything outside of school fundraising (don't judge me - I pay taxes). But Norm? Well, Norm decided to hold a BAKE SALE at work.

Actually, his "team" held a bake sale at a local grocery store on Sunday to raise funds. Tuesday he brought the leftovers to work. Picture 20 or so ZipLoc bags with food items inside and white stickers on the outside listing suggested donation amounts. Well, no one bought any, so what does Norm do? He brings everything back on Wednesday.

... and I thought my social skills were bad ...

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, this would be the same co-worker who said to me - quite sarcastically - "You are just a frail flower of femininity, aren't you?" Grrrr ...

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On Wednesday's post I mentioned my daily activity of checking airline fares on SkyScanner. Well! A Twit, Tweeterer, someone on Twitter alerted me to MegaBus. Now, I'm not exactly a fan of buses. My experience - limited to Greyhound - is that what should be a 2-hour bus ride turns into a 6-hour small town travel fest. Not only does the trip take FOREVER, but it's still a little pricey. For example, Chicago to ... say Columbus OH is a 9+ hour trip on Greyhound, costing $102 each way. The same trip on MegaBus is $15 each way and less than a 7 hour trip. Hello?? No brainer!

The only down side is that MegaBus has a limited service area, but with Chicago centrally located, MegaBus travels about as far as I would want to travel on a bus!


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It's official! Cam and Rhonda have broken up! I had to wait it out 6 months, but the cougar-in-training is gone! Now, in addition to the things I mentioned in THIS POST, there was one thing Rhonda did that really, REALLY bothered me ... she called me "Mom."

Now, maybe I should be flattered that she felt that comfortable with me, but instead it felt creepy - like she honestly believed I was going to be her mother-in-law some day. Hello?? Cam is 14!!

Rhonda's last Facebook update?

its been hard dealin.. hope he comes around sometime.. i still love him.. although he hurt me bad
Well, let me just say that his momma isn't bringing him anywhere near your neck of the woods ... EVER!

Rhonda
really is a nice girl ... for a 17 or 18-year old young man. She just had no business with a 14-year old!

Did I mention she texted me, wanting to talk about the break-up?? I know her mom is her friend, but I am a mom, and have no business (IMHO) getting involved in this one! Besides, she wouldn't want to hear what I had to say ...

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I am having a heck of a time keeping up with my Project 365 blog. The problem isn't in taking the pictures - I am quite diligent with that part - it's getting them downloaded and posted that seems to be the challenge. What's odd is I have the time, just not the desire. UGH! I need to work on that attitude.

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A sad thing happened last night. It was Cam's middle school promotion ceremony (they can't call it a "graduation") and Cam didn't want to go. As a mom, I wanted the opportunity to take pictures, to enjoy the moment of (relative) success, but Cam had no interest.

I think that speaks volumes to where he is with school right now ...

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03 June 2010

Christ Followers Are Human Too

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Probably not the title many of you are expecting to see attached to a post on my blog, but it is something I have been struggling with for months.

When Cam and I found "our" church I was thrilled. It was a place that offered contemporary Christian music, a multi-media sermon presentation that was applicable to everyday life, a middle school youth program that engaged Cam, and opportunities for Cam and I to regularly serve within the community. It was unlike any church we had ever attended and it was a great fit for us.

Then things started happening ... in the span of just two short months ...

Cam was removed from his small group bible study one Wednesday night. Why? During discussions, Cam's small group leader insisted that homosexuality was a sin. Cam spoke up saying, "Doesn't God love everyone?"

His small group leader became flustered and couldn't quite come up with an explanation. Cam then looked at him and said, "That's what I thought. The Bible doesn't say it's a sin to love. God loves all people and doesn't care who they love. In fact, he wants all people to love each other. THAT is what the Bible says."

He was promptly asked to leave the group for the remainder of the night. As a side note, I was very proud of him!

There was the job I applied for within the church (and which I discussed - generally - on the blog). It was a wonderful opportunity - for both me and for the church. The position was an administrative/budgeting specialist for the Adult Ministries group - my skills were an amazing match.

The position of the church is that there are only TWO situations where divorce is acceptable; physical abandonment and physical infidelity. Anyone notice something missing?? Like emotional, verbal and/or physical abuse?? One of the reasons I decided to handle things with husband the way that I did (moving to a safe place but remaining married) was due to the influence of the church's position.

During the job interview I was completely upfront about my personal situation. I knew it was something that would eventually surface anyway and I felt transparency was prudent.

I didn't get the job. I was told that I possessed the best match in skill set for the position, but that the elders were concerned about my personal situation - that people (generally) going through turmoil in their personal lives create disruption in the work environment.

What?? Really?? You're going to stand up on Sundays preaching that the only acceptable reasons for divorce are abandonment and infidelity, then tell me that staying in a marriage because it doesn't meet the church's criteria for divorce creates disruption in the workplace?? Those sure don't seem like supportive actions of the church's position.

Lastly, there was the incident during the second to last Wednesday of the 2009-2010 middle school youth group session involving one of the kids I transport each week (it's Cam plus three of his friends that attend weekly). Understand that we average 300 6th-8th graders each Wednesday night, and we are lucky to have 30 adults on any given night. This age group can be confrontational, physical and unpredictable.

There was an altercation between "Sam" (one of "my" kids) and a 6th grader at the end of the evening (the kids have socializing time between 8:30-9:00). On THREE occasions, a different adult leader saw what was going on - told the boys to stop - then walked away. The boys didn't stop. Both "Sam" and the 6th grader took the situation way to far and the 6th grader got the brunt of it. Neither boy was seriously injured, unless you count the injury to their man-child pride.

The boys' stories were quite different, and no one saw the entire incident, so later in the week security tapes were reviewed (security is quite stringent at the church - for every one's safety). It was determined that "Sam" initiated the incident and then continued to antagonize the 6th grader each time they were separated by an adult. There needed to be consequences.

I received a call from the middle school pastor at 5:15PM the following Wednesday. "Sam" was being suspended from the middle school youth program for the entire summer, including the week-long summer camp he was scheduled to attend (at a cost to his parents of $365). I was crushed.

Call me crazy, but when I see a "bad" child I want to attempt to help them. I want to offer structure and disciple coupled with unconditional love. What did the church offer "Sam"? The reinforcement that he wasn't "good enough" for those things - he would be excluded from the program for three months.

It didn't sit well with me. Since when do we - as the body of Christ - take God away from those who need it most? Where is mercy if it can't be found in the church?

I am struggling. Struggling with the hypocrisy I see between the teachings of the church and the actions of the church. Struggling with my realization that Christ Followers aren't perfect, even when they are leaders of the church. Struggling with teachings that I believe are bordering on archaic at times. Struggling with wanting to belong but feeling very much an outsider. Struggling with holding the church to a higher standard than I would anyone else.

I am guessing much of this is why those of you who don't dabble in organized religion ... well ... DON'T. For those of you who do dabble in it, how do you resolve this conflict in a rational and logical way (i.e. not in a "It's God's will" way)?

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02 June 2010

A Moment of Self Indulgence

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As if I'm not self indulgent on this blog every day! Isn't that the definition of blogging? Self indulgence??

Last week Jay posted his But Enough About You, Let's Talk About Me and this morning Another Suburban Mom posted Six Things About Another Suburban Mom. I'm not one to do lists of things about me - especially not one of those 100 things about me blogger right of passage lists - but I figured I'd throw a handful of things out here for your amusement.

And no, of course this has nothing to do with the fact that I didn't do any "blog prep" yesterday and have nothing to write about today.

1. Almost daily, I visit SkyScanner to see what the best fares are from Chicago to all destinations in the United States. For example, my search this morning found round trip fare to Omaha for $187.00, Nashville for $200, and New York (JFK) for $213. I imagine choosing one destination every 3-4 months and systematically meeting up with all of my blogger (and Twitter) friends.

2. I am VERY competitive - so much so that if I feel I might be embarrassed by my performance I'll choose not to participate. I don't need to win, but I have severe anxiety about finishing last.

3. I wear a dress or skirt to work every day, even during Chicago winters. It's not required (dress code is business casual), but I feel I look more feminine, in a linebacker wearing a dress sort of way. During the summer months it's not unusual for me to wear a skort or casual sun dress every day of the week.

4. I have several RSS feeds set up for various news agencies. Every day I read between 40-50 news stories, adding about 5 of those to my saved reading list for future blog posts. When I get 30 or so saved links, I go back through the stories and delete those I no longer find interesting. When all is said and done, I'm lucky if I actually blog about any of the saved news stories.

5. I have had discussions with two different people about doing a politically themed Blog Talk Radio show. It's something I have a great deal of interest in, but I worry about my ability to communicate my ideas and positions verbally (see #2) and I know that both of these people are smarter and far more well versed regarding the current political climate . These fears might very well keep the idea from coming to fruition.

6. One of my (many) nervous habits is pulling out my eyebrows.

7. I am terrible with entertainment trivia. I may be able to sing every lyric of 100's of songs, but I likely won't be able to tell you the name of the song and I definitely won't know who sings the song. I have similar challenges with most actors and actresses - I may know their face but seldom do I know their name or what TV show(s)/movie(s) they are well known for.

So do tell, what's one thing about you, dear reader, that is just a wee bit quirky?

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01 June 2010

There's No Such Thing As Free Rent


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I've got a guest post up on free rent.

Just click the pic to find me today and every Tuesday ...



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