Sticker Shock!

Been working our various paperwork through TurboTax in anticipation of filing our taxes.

For those unfamiliar with TurboTax, let me clarify a key point. As you work through the questions, a running tally in the corner lets you know how much your refund (in bright cheerful green text) or taxed due (in menacing deep scarlet) will be. Throughout the past few weeks, our refund has been hovering at around $2,000. Although it's varied plus or minus a coupla hundred bucks or so, it's always been there, staring me in the face.

Until this afternoon.

Joe brought home his W-2, and I rushed downstairs to enter it, eager to e-file our taxes and get our two grand.

What is it they say about counting one's chickens?

Apparently our various deductions (like mortgage and student loan interest) and our combined income increases (I'm now working .7 time not .5 time on the teacher salary scale.) have affected our tax situation more than I'd anticipated.

We now owe roughly $1,200, give or take a couple more pieces of data still outstanding.

Bummer. Guess we had the money all along throughout the year, rather than loaning it, interest-free, to George Bush. But still, I always did like me some tax refund.

TurboTax should hold your result in secret until you're all done and click "SHOW ME THE MONEY!" Then you aren't building up for something you're not really entitled to, yet.



Seeking Donations

All right, just about anyone who knows me already knows I'll be hitting them up (if I haven't already) for monetary donations in support of my repeat-walking the Breast Cancer 3-Day this October.

What you may or may not know is that I'm currently seeking actual donated items/gift certificates/gift baskets/autographed loot/etc. for use in a silent auction at the big Beef & Beer dinner my team is hosting in late April.

The Philadelphia Eagles donated a 75th Anniversary of the Eagles Donovan McNabb autographed football (wooo!) and that inspired me to randomly e-mail celebrities in search of donations. I was giddy with power! In any case, Bobby Flay's people and the Charm City Cakes people both declined.

So, if you know anyone famous. Or know anyone who might know anyone famous. Or know anyone...ad infinitum...please pass the word.

Or, if you just happen to want to put together something for us to silent auction, it would be most appreciated. I'm really hoping to get a local car dealer to give us a one-year car lease or something. Or to get a big TV. Looking for something big-ticket to catch people's attention.



Whooosh, the Weekend's Over

Some weekends go by faster than others. This one flew by. It was OK, though, I guess. We did a lot of good stuff.

Saturday morning we sort of chilled out a bit. I distributed cookies for two Saturday cookie booths around the area the night before. So I just had to get one more booth set up and checked out on Saturday morning. Then I got my own cases of cookies together and headed to the mall. We had a very cushy (and successful) cookie booth at Boscov's. Indoor cookie sales! Yeah! We sold 111 boxes of cookies in two hours. Wooo!

After the booth, I came home and recounted all the cookies and money I received from the morning's cookie booths. And from our own cookie booth. It took me a couple of hours to get everything tallied up and finished. Then the fourth of Saturday's booths check in. Another half an hour to tally up that one. Then a couple of moms came over to pick up cookies for Sunday cookie booths.

So, all told ... Saturday was pretty much swept up in dealing with cookies. Oh, and I made a giant pot of bean soup. Yum!

Sunday I just wasn't in the mood to go to church. I know that's a terrible thing to do. But, Saturday was so busy and I felt like we had to do a bunch of stuff and that I just didn't want to yank a few hours out of my morning right off the bat. Not a good plan, I know, but ...well. It's done now.

So, I went to Home Depot and got supplies for a Cub Scout project. Dropped the dog off to be groomed. Bought some new hiking shoes. $15. Yay! I bought some stuff at the Five-Below store. They had the coolest bin of novelty type socks for only a dollar. ("Can't go wrong for a dollar," as Jim Kiley used to say.) I bought way too many pairs. But fun socks are a treat I have trouble resisting.

Groceries at BJs (I avoided the food sample lady. Whew!). Then back to pick up the dog. I had fun watching her get all brushed out and combed. She was SUCH a good doggy. I was so proud to have the best-behaved dog in the joint.

Back home and we vegged awhile before our friends came over at 4. We went with them to a fundraising dinner, leaving all the kids with a sitter. Back to our house for pinochle. (Yeah, we live the high-life, I tell ya. We're pinochle fiends.)

In other news, Joe and I are quite hooked on 30 Rock lately. With the dearth of non-reality programming since the writers went on strike, we've been downloading other shows we never really watched the first time around. We have all the past episodes of 30 Rock and have just finished the first season. The show is brilliant. We regularly laugh out loud and skip back to re-watch bits. Who knew Alec Baldwin was capable of such comedic timing. And Tina Fey is just amazing. I'd love to have lunch with her. Except she already just about makes me pee, just watching her. I can't imagine how funny she is in person.

Actually got up at 6 this morning with no alarm clock mishaps or bad dreams. Even worked out before I headed to school. So far, the week is good.



Subconscious Stress

I started working full-time again yesterday for the first time in a couple of years. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but really overall I wasn't feeling too bonkers over it.

Or was I?

The Friday-morning alarm was set for 6a.m., an hour earlier than our rising time for the past three or more years. Whenever this happens, I go through the inevitable multiple wake-ups through the night.

"Was that the alarm?"

"Did I miss it?"

Or the ever-popular wake with a startle reflex, "Whaaa???" "Rrrrgghhhhhmpppphhh" (That second one was Joe's response.)

I was kind of prepared for this. It always happens to me when I know I have to get up extra-early from something important. I have a hard time falling asleep the night prior, and then I anxiously reawaken multiple times hoping I haven't screwed up.

Yeah, I have issues.

But this time I had an added bonus -- multiple-and-various-nightmares-and-not-quite-nightmares-but-still-awfully-
disturbing-dreams. And, just because I know you all have been waiting with bated breath for an opportunity to psychoanalyze me a la Freud or Jung, here are the abstracts.

Emily Death by Truck -- So I'm in my house, and for some reason I have this sort of prescient vision. I am indoors, but can clear-as-a-bell "see" what's happening outside as well. I'm not looking through a window. Anyhoo, various neighborhood children are running amuck in the yard and front ditch, which is flowing nicely after a recent rain. Emily, for some reason, is playing in the ditch on the opposite side of the dirt road (which has in reality been paved since 1991, but was dirt the whole time I lived at home). In my dream-mind, I see her clearly. And I dream-mind holler at her to "Get out of the ditch! Get back in the yard!" She immediately begins to climb out of the ditch and starts up onto the road. When I dream-mind-see a beat-up pickup truck heading down the hill. It's veering around and is quite unsteady and heading for my kid. I dream-mind scream at her, "Get down! Emily, get back down! Duck!!!" And just as the truck careens right at her...

I wake up. Breathing heavily. Joe wakes up, too, and I insist he go check on Emily to make sure she's breathing. I'm too terrified to move. She's fine of course. I slip back to sleep eventually and wind up with ...

Marvel X-Men Wanna-Be -- I'm some sort of mutant in the Marvel X-Men universe. I'm at Professor Xavier's school and everything. But apparently my mutation isn't quite useful and powerful enough to qualify me for impending X-Men-dom. I no longer remember what that ability was, but it was something along the lines of being able to smell really well, like 100-times a bloodhound. Or maybe it was something having to do with really remembering song lyrics. In any case, I kept bugging the actual X-Men and professors with unlikely scenarios in which my "powers" would be useful, if not indispensable.

I think I just sort of woke up with a "Wha?" and tossed around a bit before winding up in the next dream.

Saved from Gunpoint by the UPS Man -- Joe and I are coming home* one day. No children. Not sure if they're away, or this is meant to be pre-kids. We pull into the driveway in front of the house and start to go up the porch steps. A van pulls in behind us kind of diagonally, more than blocking the driveway behind the car. Some cliche' A-team style hillybilly-type Redneck hoodlums get out of the van (I think there were four of them.), and wave guns at us. They gun-gesture us to separate. Now I'm up on the porch with a guy, there are a couple of guys on the ground. And another guy has Joe over to the side. They're preparing to do their worst to me, while Joe watches helplessly, when a UPS truck pulls in. The guns are stowed quickly with muttered orders not to give anything away. So, the UPS guy comes up to us, a bit suspicious, but it's clear he's not sure what to do. Nothing built-up to any seriously about-to-die moment, but I did wake up while everyone sort of nervously dithered about and the gun guys got clearly more freaked.

Almost done ... only a couple more. I promise these all occurred between four and six a.m. yesterday.

Rude Awakening -- I wake up in my dream to the smell of breakfast cooking and voices downstairs.** Joe wakes up beside me (again with him in my dream, when I swear he's never in my dreams unless one of us is out of town). We head downstairs in our pajamas (which are generally pajama bottoms and a T-shirt for me, fleece pants and a long-sleeved T-shirt for Joe). Joe sees his brother. "John!" he calls, thrilled. They pound-the-back-man-hug. Then I see Joe's mom and his Aunt Rona sitting and talking. (I think Aunt Rona has set foot in my house in the 14+ years I've had my own household exactly once. She's not the type of person I'd want seeing me (or my house) in early-morning disarray. And then I come down and see my mom and dad (who live 8+ hours away and wouldn't really just pop in), in the kitchen making breakfast. Joe is completely nonplussed and greets everyone. I stand on the steps more than kind of horrified.

The alarm goes off at this point, and I'm so exhausted and wrung out, I do something I never do. Hit the snooze button and collapse briefly back to sleep.

The Birds -- Hitchcock references aside, I don't really have a bird fear. I find giant flocks of anything wheeling around in the sky absolutely fascinating in a fluid dynamics sort of way. My drive to work regularly passes feeding flocks of snow geese numbering in the many thousands. Astonishing numbers of rather-large birds. They're gorgeous. Back to the dream ... Joe (again!) and I are driving in a pickup truck and I sort of dream-muse that I could be in the same truck that earlier there-but-for-the-grace-of-waking-with-a-start ran down my first-born. We're driving down a dirt/gravel road when we see a bunch of birds ahead. They're sitting on and around the road and flying about a bit, trying to settle or something. The birds are definitely agitated a bit and not just feeding peacefully. They're everywhere and Joe is swerving a bit trying to avoid them. A few hit the windshield or are run under the truck. It's pretty scary and icky. All we can see are feathers and beaks and they're everywhere. At first they're snow geese, but then I dream-remember that snow geese don't live in Northwestern Pennsylvania*** and they instantly become seagulls. Hundreds and hundreds of seagulls. And we can't see and we're swerving, and I know there's a hill coming up and we're picking up speed, and the truck catches briefly in the looser gravel at the side of the road, by the ditch. And at this point I just know we're in the truck that's about to hit Emily.

And, I wake up.

By this point, I just get up and get ready for work. I'm shaken, and both mentally and physically wiped out. It was a horrible night (morning).

Work went well, though. I was supposed to be given a tour of the new school and getting to know the lay of the land, and I wound up teaching two classes cold. And I did fine. And I'm really not scared. Or stressed out. Really.

And during the commute home I saw a wheeling pair of bald eagles. They do live around here, but it's still a rare and beautiful sight.


* If by "my house" you mean my parents' house. In my dreams, I rarely, if ever, dream about the here-and-now. Joe is VERY seldom in my dreams unless we're apart by miles and miles. I don't dream about this house I live in. When I have a dreamland-house, it's my parents' house, where I grew up. Fly that one up the flagpole and see what happens, wanna-be shrinks!

** My parents house is a ranch, so no "downstairs." But, this still wasn't my actual house. I don't know whose house I commandeered for this dream setting. I don't recognize it. But it had a wrought iron stair rail, so there you go.

***Which is where my parents live. So, I guess it really is the same truck as before. I dream run-over my own child. Freud would be giving me a whole chapter in Die Traumdeutung at this point.


Flight of the Hamsters

Tip of the Hamster Wheel to Adrienne.

Shockingly adorable and addictive game. Makes me really wish my dad read my blog. He'd love this.



Williamsburg Pictures

I've uploaded these in a couple of ways .... the really brief Highlights Album and the I-Can't-Believe-I-Ate-the-Whole-Thing version. The Highlights are also Slide-showing here for your convenience. There are quite a few good shots in the big album, too. So stop on by for more Dugan family Christmas getaway to Virginia's Historic Triangle goodness.



Livin' in a Rock-n-Roll Fantasy*

Tip 'o the Fendercaster to Josette for this one (Go now and read her blog. A lot. Very funny and smart lady she is. And her post on this meme is too much.).

OK, I must have been just about the only young kid who never really fantasized about starting a rock band. Probably 'cause I didn't really know anyone who even had a guitar. Or drums. Or could sing.

But I've always enjoyed bits about rock bands. Like Spinal Tap. Or Walken needing "more cowbell." Or wondering what it would be like to be interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air after the release of my comeback album.

If you've wondered, too ... then this is the meme for you. Three steps.

First, click here. The first article title is the name of your band.
Second, click here. The last four words of the last quote are the name of your album.
Finally, click here. The third picture is your album cover.

So, to the world ... I present ...

L'Ultima Burba and our debut album Better Class of Enemy

Which was so successful that I decided to ditch those other arthouse losers so I could go bigtime with my new group and fitting awesome album...

999 presents Triumph in Every Adversity
Finally, after years off the radar (Terry Gross, if you're reading this, perk up and pay attention), I'll go acoustic, change my name and head out on the road with my comeback offering.

George Hunt, It Got Even Stronger


* Apologies to The Kinks for even vaguely associating them with this.


My Brother Used to Make Me Cry

... but, not in the way you might think.

I mean, sure Chris spent a certain portion of our childhood trying to torture me in those particular ways only a sibling can. He knew all my weak spots. He knew he could nail me to the wall with a comment about my weight, lack of a boyfriend, my nose (God, I hated my nose!). And he definitely knew how to make me cry.

And I gave it right back. I was downright cruel more than once.

My mom's philosophy on sibling dynamics was rather laissez-faire. (I don't really know dad's philosophy. He generally left that sort of thing to mom.) More than once I remember her telling me that I'd better treat Chris well, or I'd really get it once he "was bigger than [I]." She pretty much let me dig my own eventual grave through torturing him, figuring I'd get mine when he eventually hit a growth spurt.

Unfortunately for him (and for me ... and more so, for us), that didn't really happen until way, way too late. Through the flukeyness of genetics, Chris didn't hit his adult height until quite late. By then I was in college. We were both much, much too old to really haul off and clobber one another. And, even more than that ... we were really much too distant to really care so much what the other of us was doing. We had too little contact with each other to get all that worked up. We had our own worlds and they didn't revolve around our parents' yard or living room anymore.

But, back to the childhood part of this story.

Mom would pretty much let us haul off and clobber each other, even when it was very clear that I had reach and weight on Chris. I used to pound him (when I could catch him. Chris was, and I'm sure still is, way faster than I.). He used to fill me with such animal rage that I would just want to beat on him.

I have a very distinct recollection of what I think is the very last time I ever physically fought my brother. I don't know how old we were precisely, but I remember it was warm and sunny. Lots of light was coming in through the big front picture window. I was on top of Chris, holding him down on the floor and just shaking him and pinning him down. It was horrible. I'm appalled now. Must be twenty-five or so years later. I'm disgusted. I don't remember what I was mad about. But I was filled with rage. Then something inside me shifted. I remember exactly what went through my head. It was like a clear voice in the chaos of my emotion.

"This is my brother. I love him. What am I doing? How could I be doing this? What kind of horrible person does this?"

I burst into tears and ran to my room. I sobbed for a long time, I think. I remember still sitting in there when the sky was getting dark. I remember I'd had those sorts of gut reactions before, "What am I doing? I don't actually hate him." But nothing to this degree. I don't think I ever really laid a hand on him again.

We're not exactly bosom buddies now. I don't think either of us would necessarily call the other one up all that often just to talk. But, we have a better understanding, I think. We keep up with each others' lives through our blogs, and we do talk on the phone every now and then. I love my brother and I know he loves me, too. We've worked all that out.

But, does a child inherit the sins of a parent?

Matthew tried to sell out Emily tonight. He'd been punished for something and tried to get Emily in trouble, too. I don't think she'd done what he'd said. He just didn't want to suffer alone. And she heard the whole thing. She heard him working to convince me to punish her. It broke my heart.

I've always tried to raise the two of them to be a team, to be unified even if that unity is "against" Joe and I. Someday they won't have us anymore, but I want to make sure they have each other. Against the world, if necessary. It's working, mostly. They're way closer than Chris and I were at the same ages.

But when they face off against each other, or really deliberately try to hurt each other -- emotionally or physically -- it takes me right back to that moment on the living room floor in the sunshine. And my heart hurts.



Tag, I'm It

Well, Adrienne tagged me, so here goes.

Go back through your archives and post the links to your five favorite blog posts that you've written. But there is a catch:

  • Link 1 must be about family.
  • Link 2 must be about friends.
  • Link 3 must be about yourself, who you are... what you're all about.
  • Link 4 must be about something you love.
  • Link 5 can be about anything you choose.

Post your five links and then tag five other people. At least TWO of the people you tag must be newer acquaintances so that you get to know each other better.

My family. I still think of the pictures I took that day and smile, just thinking about them.
My friends. While, not much actually about friends, themselves. This is all about planning an event to hang with friends. I just love to have folks over here to the house for food and hanging out.
Me, me, me (ME!) I just can't resist redirecting back to this goofy cartoon.
What I love. Is naming my husband the thing I love too cliché? Well, then take this one. I just love Christmas Tree Day.
Anything and everything.

Tagging Chris, Kristin, Lisa. I don't really know who else ever reads my blog or blogs themselves. How sad is that? I need some stinkin' readership. ;)



DIY Inventions

Some of these are quite clever. And what's even more fun ... the German names for them.

I like "Sommerpedale."


Gang War

There have been six shootings in Millville so far in 2008. Six! In a city of under 30,000 (more data here). Apparently the Bloods and Crips are warring.

We don't hang out in downtown Millville, where these shootings are happening, too much. But, our church is right in the center of this area. It's one of those old downtown churches and the neighborhood around it has changed quite a bit in the last hundred years, even the last fifty.

It's scary. We have some decisions to make in the next year-ish, anyway. Now that I'll be working full-time, we can really start to look for the house (and school district) we want to settle into forever.



Stuff in My Life

So, there's not really a bunch of exciting stuff going on to blog about, but sometimes even the ordinary can be moderately interesting. Or at least I'll keep telling myself that.

This week on the calendar (besides work and school, or in my case (and Joe's) work at school) includes the following ...

Sunday - a Parents Meeting for Brownies. This was ostensibly to go over the upcoming Cookie Sale and get some ideas for the spring calendar. We were also supposed to go over the guidelines and policy changes.

Monday - I dashed out first thing in the morning to run over to LabCorp. It's always refreshing to have someone draw blood from your arm before you've even had a chance to eat anything. And before the sun's even up. Kind of makes those phlebotomist/vampire analogies all the more obvious. Monday night was Cub Scouts. Joe was available to come, so I convinced him to basically run the whole meeting. He did a great job with my Tiger Cub den. The boys earned their Mathematics beltloop. Fun! I only had my four die-hard scouts there -- (I kid you not) Matthew D., Matthew K., Matthew W., and Dylan.

Tuesday - I spent an hour browsing through the local Goodwill, and came away with 8 fabulous designer shirts and 2 skirts for about $30. Although now I'm trying on the shirts in less of a rush, and they seem a bit tight across the chest. Ick. Joe says they're OK, but I don't like them for work. Maybe in another 10 pounds. Then I had a meeting at church. I'm the secretary of the Board of Trustees (oooh, aaah) of the preschool. It should have been quick and simple, but it seems the staff is getting disgruntled and gossipy (again) and we're having to deal with immature and snipey complaints. Ick. So I got home just in time to scarf down tacos (thanks, Joe!) with the family, before Joe and Emily left for her community chorale practice. I typed up Board meeting minutes and hung up my "new" clothes.

Wednesday - Wednesday we had to go to Emily's Piano Party at 5pm. Her piano teacher used to have big recitals wat the end of the year (way before Emily started taking lessons), and found he wound up with way to many kids getting panicky and vomiting. So, every three months or so, he gets all the students together to play a few songs each for each other and share some snacks. He picks a composer each time and each student reads a fact. Then he usually plays a DVD of someone astounding playing something by said composer. It's casual and kind of fun. Only it wasn't on Wednesday. They're always on Wednesday. Em's been taking lessons for three years, and they're always on Wednesday. Except this week. We showed up at 5, and he told us it was moved to Thursday night. He'd forgotten to tell us, since Em missed her lesson last week while she was away at Grandma and Grandpa's. So, back home to make dinner (which was a very yummy honey-mustard glazed chicken).

Tonight - The aforementioned piano party is now tonight. I left my plate of chocolate chip cookies last night, so I just have to get the kids and myself there on-time. Then I have a Girl Scout Community Cookie Training Meeting at 6:30. In between, I have to whisk the kids to my friend Dana's house. We'll eat some pizza together and then take off for the meeting, while her nephew babysits the assorted kiddos. We have to go pick up the other troop leader and get to our meeting. (I'm not a troop leader, but I'm am reprising my role as the troop Cookie Mom. Since we've added girls to the troop, it will be substantially more cases of cookies than last year.) This is all complicated a bit by the resumption of Joe's Ph.D. classes tonight. He'll be home around 10pm.

Friday - I have my "annual" (read: when I've waited long enough that they will no longer phone-in sinusitis antibiotics for my when I fall ill each fall) physical (hence the bloodwork last Monday). I expect everything to be OK. In fact, as I'm 30+ pounds lighter than my last physical, they should be quite pleased. I'm hoping my cholesterol is still good. Joe will be picking the kids up from school about 15 minutes early to whisk them both to the Arts of the Dance studio. We're going to see if Matthew likes tap. So, he's going to meet half an hour with the instructor before the 4:30 class starts. Also, I asked a coworker to bring her family over for dinner tomorrow night, but their bi-weekly synagogue has been rescheduled for then, so we'll have to try another time.

Saturday - I'm hoping to get up and go to my early morning Weight Watchers meeting. I haven't been to a meeting since at least Thanksgiving. And it's not good. The scale is creeping. At first I didn't go because I thought I had a handle on finishing my weight loss on my own. Then I didn't go because early Saturdfay mornings is a rough time. Then I didn't go because it was the holidays and life got busier and more sleepless (making Saturday mornings an even rougher time). Then I just got ashamed of going back and weighin in with an additional 5-7 pounds on the scale. I'm back down to the additional 5, rather than the additional 7. And I need to get refocused. So, I really oughta return to the routine. My resolution is to hit goal by my birthday (April 21).

Upcoming - It looks like I'll be starting a full-time teaching schedule starting Tuesday after Martin Luther King Day. YAY! This us huge. Huger than this tiny mention at the bottom of a post really warrants. Stow Creek School will be hiring me full-time and sort of leasing me out four afternoons a week to a neighboring district. It's incredib;y flattering to be wanted this much by my principal. And it's very exciting to be getting full-time pay and benefits without the headaches involved in being back in my own classroom full-time.


Also, I need to clean out the garage to make room for cookies. The upstairs bathroom needs more than a lick and a promise. And, my fridge is getting a little bit strange inside. I have to do a dumping out weird containers of stuff session and scrub all the shelves (I wonder if they'll go in my dishwasher). Plus, I need another triup to Goodwill. This time for pants and jeans. And maybe more skirts. I kind of like skirts, lately, though freezing to death during recess duty haskind of shelved them for a few months.

I never know how to end this sort of post. It's a sort of "That's All Folks" sort of feeling. But I always feel like the writing should build to something, some sort of nifty and clever circular closure harkening back to my first or second paragraph. But, frankly, I got nothin'. I hope your own lives are scheduled and not overscheduled. Mine's walking that line right in between, atleast until Joe's spring semester starts on the 22nd.



Just for Chris

This link is just for Chris.


This is So True

Stolen openly from Television Without Pity's TWoPlopedia:

A-Team, Implied Combat Rules of
  1. The A-Team must be given ample lead time to create complex perimeter defenses and unorthodox traps.
  2. When employing vehicles, enemies are requested to secure open-top Jeeps so B.A. can pull them out easily and dramatically. All vehicles should be light enough to flip over when running over landmines.
  3. The A-Team must give combatants the opportunity to stop bothering the townspeople, impoverished ranch owner, or whistleblower before fighting begins. Hannibal (but only Hannibal) is allowed to fire a warning shot, but only in the air.
  4. When combat begins, one or more enemies are required to hide behind thin wood doors or walls so B.A. can smash through them and grab 'em. Positive consideration should be given to those who pick rooms with both thin walls and large multi-paned windows.
  5. The first combatant to encounter B.A. is allowed one free punch before he's tossed out a window.
  6. Machine gun fire must track 1.5 feet behind and to the left of the target.
  7. Grenades must land 5 feet behind the enemy so they can be launched into the air when it explodes.
  8. Murdock is to be left in reserve in case things go poorly and if called for should enter the scene dramatically and employ wacky methods.
  9. Enemy henchmen should feel free to run away, but the ringleader is not -- the memory of the A-Team's fighting prowess keeps the gangs from reforming.



Site Dump

Stumbled Upon this site, and found it rather amusing. Not sure if I'd be amused or kind of ticked off to receive one of these missives. Hard to say.

Also found this shirt which would be perfect for my brother.

Finally, because there are never enough math cartoons out there in circulation.



ps. Our free time and movie going is about to diminish radically (this week we've seen National Treasure 2, I am Legend, Sweeney Todd, and Charlie Wilson's War -- fun, excellent and creepy, excellent and really bloody and just plain excellent). We get the kids back from Grandma and Grandpa's house tomorrow.


Whoa, I Feel Old

An old boyfriend just sent me an interesting e-mail. Though, I think it's wonderful that he sent this and am always pleased to hear from him, the message was quite a surprise.

I went through some old stuff with my mom this
Christmas and came across this old love note
from you -- interestingly, 20 years ago to the
day. God I'm old.

Just thought you might enjoy the stroll down
memory lane. Four pages of JPGs attached.

Hope the holidays treated you well. All the
best in the new year.

And the letter ... well, I'm not going to post it here. But ... 20 years ago? Writing about how much I loved a guy and what I loved about him (I actually made a list of fifty specific things in the letter). I'm so awfully old.

And the stuff I was writing ... *blush* ... let's just say I'm going to advise my own kids never to put anything potentially embarrassing or incriminating down in writing. Ever.



Clever Yet Simple

I'm totally copping out on original blog content today and simply copying this idea from Paper Source.

And, I think it's such an awesomely cool (yet simple) idea, that I'm not even going to make you click over there to check it out.

Do-it-Yourself Custom Accordion Organizer
This is an easy-to-do handmade and personalized organizer for all of your small odds and ends. Coupons, receipts, to-do lists, business cards, tickets, etc. This would even be a nifty keeper for memorabilia (provided you used acid-free materials for archival purposes). You could save ticket stubs, postcards, whatever you pick up on a trip. Or ... with the right sized envelopes, a Brag Book. Label each section with a grandchild's name and carry along those precious pics (along with a crayon drawing by each child or other momentos).

Cast of Characters
Envelopes, ribbon, colorful pens, pretty labels, glue stick, scissors, and the ever-popular, but completely optional (read more on this later) bone burnisher.

Step One
Choose your envelopes. May I suggest something colorful and sturdy from the card or stationery department, rather than just plain ol' white business-type envelopes. They're prettier and tend to be made from heavier paper. Use an odd number of envelopes somewhere between five and ten (ish).

Step Two
Use a glue stick to adhere the envelopes together. I suppose you could use regular old Emler's, but be careful of using too much and having the paper get all wrinkly and soggy. I just hate it when the paper gets all wrinkly and soggy. Glue the inside of the flap of one envelope to the front of another envelope. Stick it down really well (craftsy people like to use a bone burnisher for jobs like this, but it's certainly not obligatory).

Step Three
Fold all the pages accordion style (again, the craftsy types use a burnisher for this part, which isn't necessary at all, but I must admit does help make a nice clean hard crease just where you want it). The pointy flap of the first envelope becomes sort of the cover for the whole little organizer. And the bottom envelope is itself the back of the book. Nifty so far, eh?

Step Four
Add a ribbon closure. Cut a small opening the width of the ribbon on both edges of the last envelope and feed the ribbon through. So you're running the ribbon through the bottom edge of the envelope (the end of your book) and up through the envelope and then out a slit at the top edge of the bottom envelope where its flap hooks on. I think. This seems to be one of those steps that will make more sense when you're actually doing it.

Step Five
Use nifty pens and stickers to label each section of the organizer. Categorize your contents. The it's just up to you to fill up the pockets an tie it up. Well, and remember where you've put it, or you've really rather defeated the purpose of tucking away everything in one safe-and-sound spot, haven't you?