Thursday, December 31

Bye, bye, '09; hello, '10!

Another year is coming to an end. That's it. Really. Another year is ending. Say bye-bye to 2009!
We've had our first glass of champagne, a huge and yummy dinner, and a slice of delicious cherry pie. Currently, I'm on the sofa watching my local 10 p.m. newscast. Brian is asleep next to me. Daisy is sacked out on the floor beneath my legs. Oliver is probably sleeping on the bed. Sydney is sleeping in her bed. It's all good. I'll wake up Brian by the time the ball falls, but the rest of them can just sleep through it.
And then the internal conversation, once again, rolls to resolutions. Of course, I've got some, but I just so hate it when I don't stick to them. I was telling Katy though, that I've got a couple little things, more like behavioral shifts, that I'd like to make, and roll them into the resolution game. 1. Take a moment to consider a situation before "bouncing bitchy." 2. Perhaps a bit more patience would be nice. 3. Start steaming some vegetables with our dinners. 4. Just like last year, in a promise that was broken when we moved, no more children's television after 6 p.m. 5. The American Express card goes back in the drawer. 6. Get the dogs to the dog park much more often. 7. Do better by my Netflix, and watch more of the movies that we get ... quicker. 8. Finish my writing course, within the first quarter of the year. 9. Get back on the birthday card-sending schedule. I hate it when I miss someone's big day! 10. Polish my fingernails more often, because naked fingers are boring! Never go weeks without polish again!
And the big-ticket items:
~ Let's try again to lose some weight, shall we? I am inspired to check out the gym's spinning class next week. I'm actually excited to try it!
~ Eat better! Today was the last hurrah for both my peppermint mochas and my bad McD's lunches. More tea, less sugary coffee drinks. Or get back into sipping on lattes. The mocha and whipped cream: while they are angels in my coffee, they are the devil to my ass.
~ Job. That's it. Get a job.
~ Less financial treading water. We have got to get these credit cards paid off! Honestly, if it means eating mac and cheese (and steamed vegetables) for a few months, we'll do it. This is ridiculous.
~ Read one new book each month. Back in the day, this would have been a no-brainer, and not even worth the time I took to type out that sentence. But these days, I'm having a tough time with the reading time. A goal of one book per month is doable, certainly, but disappointing to me in knowing that I'll still struggle with it.

Another year is beginning! Say hello to 2010!

Wednesday, December 30

KIMNSYD ... Thoughts?

So let me get this straight: Vanity plates in Kansas are so specific to the county and vehicle that there can be someone holding the plate, "Sully," in each county (there are 105), for each kind of vehicle (motorcycle, car, truck), bringing the most possible number of the same vanity license plate to more than 300. In Kansas, of the 85,000 vanity plates, there are 33,000 duplicates. The state has decided though, that this way of doing things is getting a bit too confusing. So, as of next year, the state will be eliminating the duplicate plates, allowing only the longest-holding plate owner to keep any particular moniker.
What makes this news? The story of the guy with the "Sully" plate, who is making a fuss. Even though he's had this particular license plate since the '70s, he's still the second-longest plate holder, and he's pissy about losing it. I would be, too, I guess, but really, this duplicate plate business is ludicrous. Doing away with it seems like such a no-brainer. And I'm thinking, "Duh, Kansas. This took too long to figure out."
Speaking of vanity license plates, the registration on the Jetta is up next month, and I'm thinking about getting a vanity plate. Brian and I have already vetoed my dearly departed "Such a Rebel," because really, there's not a single rebellious thing about my life right now. (There wasn't 20 years ago either, but let's roll with this.) So now I'm in the midst of a creative brainstorm, trying to come up with a current life-appropriate vanity plate. Arizona is now allowing seven characters on their plates, so that opens up the ideas a bit more than the state's former six-character plate. I'm certainly open to suggestions, if you have any!

Tuesday, December 29

Red looked Christmasier

I've spent the last two nights uploading Christmas music into my iTunes for both my, and Mom's, new holiday music iPods. The idea is something I've held close to my heart for a couple years as a fruitless and completely whimmish gift idea. Brian has rebuffed the idea as ridiculous for those couple years I've mentioned it. This year though, Mom happened to call me while I was driving around in the car thinking about two things: I would really like a Michael Buble Christmas CD; and I would really appreciate an iPod dedicated to my own favorite Christmas music so I could listen to it in the car, or through my iPod speakers at home. Mom, of course, came through in a bright lights fashion. I now have my very own red iPod Nano, completely and utterly dedicated to the music of the season. And it is AWESOME!! It'll be perfect for next year, when I can stomach listening to Christmas carols again...

Sunday, December 27

Time away from home = minimal blogging

I have no idea why I always imagine that I'll have time to blog regularly when I'm not in my own home. Honestly, when I'm at Mom's house, we always stay up too late snacking on cheesecake and drinking hot tea, watching the news and Facebooking, or catching a movie. My creativity, or time to foster it, is severely limited. I have decided, here and now, that this is a good thing. Of course, you all already know that when I take a vacation from Arizona, it usually involves some kind of vacation from the blog as well.
Today, we're back home, having spent what seems like about 12 hours in the car. I hate driving back from California this time of year. The time change adds an hour to the time traveling, and with the sun going down earlier, it just feels like an eternity has been spent in the front seat of the car.
As it stands right now, I've got all our Christmas trip accoutrement in the kitchen, perfectly stacked. I think I may take my time unpacking, except perhaps Sydney's stuff, because she's super eager, and more persistent, to get into the boxes. I'm in no rush to dig into that pile of projects.

Thursday, December 24


I'm too tired to post anything right now, so I'll just put up today's avatar!
I did not make cookies today though. Nor did I make the fudge. I did little to nothing. And now it's late.

Tuesday, December 22

She looks much fancier than I feel tonight!

And then they arrived in California ...
Myself and my entourage arrived at Mom's house late this afternoon, after a day full of desert driving, and more random weather patterns then I had ever seen in a single day. I'm so glad I had Daddy as my copilot. Coming over the mountain into Quartzsite, Ariz., I drove through a rain storm that had my hands glued to the steering wheel at 10 and two, and my eyes forever searching for the lane indicators. The rain fell so hard, there were times when the visibility was nil, reminding me of some Massachusetts snow storms. Daddy's weather anomaly, between Blythe and Indio, Calif., was a dust storm and wind that pushed the car hither and yon. In Palm Springs, the wind was such a force that Sydney was worried that she or the dogs would be blown away. And it was kind of cold everywhere!
But the main goal for the day was accomplished: we are now in California!

Monday, December 21

Today is the shortest sunny day of the year

So tomorrow we head off to California. Daddy came out today to be my copilot, and my stories about the day should be good ones. It'll be me, Daddy, Sydney, Oliver and Daisy in the car all day. The drive, I don't think, should be that awful. In fact, I think it'll be just fine. My humor lies in the craziness that will ensue at our stops for peeing and eating. It'll be pretty fantastic!
Now, once I make my way into the hometown tomorrow afternoon, I will still have three more people to buy presents for. I've got ideas for most of them, but come tomorrow or Wednesday, I'll have to come up with something more permanent than "ideas."
It is 9:38 p.m. right now, and I've got most everything packed in the car. Sydney's and Brian's bags are in the trunk, as is Christmas. All that's left is my own bag, which I haven't even started collecting for and organizing, and the dog's stuff, which can't be done until tomorrow anyway.
I also remembered to get gas this afternoon. Don't be too impressed by that though, the light went on sooner than I anticipated.

Sunday, December 20

Countdown to Camarillo: two days

I had thought about packing all the Christmas presents and stuff in the car's trunk tonight, just so I could get it out of the closet in my guest room. I pulled all the unnecessary extras from the trunk itself, and was pleased with the amount of workable space I've got going on in there. I fitted the few bags in their proper place, leaving space for the clothing bags, and any other sundry items. I thought, "Well, that's cool. This might actually work!" Then, I really noticed all the space in the trunk right now. And considered how that back portion, all perfectly packed, would probably go flying around and creating a disarray the first time I either gunned it, or slammed on the brakes. And then I thought, "Ugh, no. This is not going to wok." And then the game began: where do I put the bags, not in the guest room, and be sure no one three-feet-tall or six-feet-tall gets into them? The answer of course, is to put them in the kitchen, with the old queen-sized linens spread across them. No one in this house will get that nosy, if it looks like they might mess up the linens, and therefore have to fold them again.
Also, I need more time and money for Christmas shopping.

Saturday, December 19

No worries, peeps. It's only five days

I'm sitting in my office, which is a bit of a mess. I've got a pile of papers on my desk, slightly off-kilter; pillows on the floor; boxes in the corner; and Christmas presents strewn across the sofa. Also, it's too quiet without the iTunes playing on my computer right now.
I've got a lot to do within the next couple days, and only a couple days in which to do it. I'm beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed. ... Sing that sentence to the tune of "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas," and you'll get a good look into my head lately: loopy, busy, afraid of missing something, and yet, festive.
I still have some people I have yet to buy for. This is worrying me a bit. I hate "having to come up with something," yet this is the direction I'm heading for these few dears. I always love shopping for the easier ones. Don't we all? But I haven't been hit with the random epiphany for the last people on my list, and it's really beginning to bug me. Argh!! Still, there are five more days to shop until Christmas.

Friday, December 18

So, yes, I deleted them all

My DVR in the bedroom is a temperamental beast. It obviously got kinda pissy about having so much chick programming on it that it cut off the second half of tonight's Dollhouse due to there being "no more space." You see? Temperamental. I suppose having Gossip Girl and The Good Wife episodes, backed up from October, was a bad thing for the machine. Ack, whatever. There should be a buzzer. Or a big light or something.

Thursday, December 17

Happy Christmas! ... in a few days ...

It's the most wonderful time of the year: Christmas avatars!! I'm loving the fun collection, and discovered that I like the exact amount as to coincide with the amount of days remaining until Christmas itself. Fate? Perhaps! While this isn't the sassiest of the avatars, she is, I think, my favorite. The top and jeans together rock.
The days until the big day are, sadly, dwindling by the day (HA!), and I've still got some shopping to figure out. I need some ideas for some people, and am struggling with a couple of them. But the good in this is the knowledge that, even if I don't have everything I need for California, I'll be able to do some additional shopping once I'm in California. Christmas is kinda stressful. Not tear your hair out stressful, but heart-beat elevating stressful.
When, I wonder, will we all be able to relax? I'd say after the holiday, but then, that's when all the nasty bills converge. March? Is that what St. Patrick's Day is about? Drinking green beer because you finally can relax?

A little lift for your day

Here's a warm and fuzzy for you this Thursday morning.
Via The Washington Post:

Woman abandoned in Fairfax as a baby finds her rescuers
Christopher Astle and Emily Yanich were teenage pals strolling back from a 7-Eleven that afternoon in late summer -- two ordinary kids on an ordinary Wednesday after school -- when they found the abandoned baby.
It was Sept. 6, 1989. They discovered the newborn wrapped in towels at the front door of a townhouse in their Fairfax County complex and took the infant to Emily's, where her stepfather called police.
The whole thing was over pretty quickly. The authorities took the baby girl, who was later adopted. Chris and Emily, both 15, went on with their lives, although Emily often cried when she told people the story, and the two called each other every Sept. 6.
Twenty years passed.
Then, on Dec. 2, a college student named Mia Fleming sent them both a message via Facebook: Might they be the same Chris and Emily who had once found a baby left at a stranger's door?
If so, she just wanted to say thanks.
After all these years, the little girl they had found had found them.
The story of Mia, Chris and Emily, recounted by the three over the past few days, is a nativity narrative for modern times. There were no heavenly hosts that warm afternoon in 1989, just the distant ambulance sirens after the call to 911. But the event seemed blessed all the same.
Chris and Emily, both now 35, stayed close friends as they grew up, moved and married, bound by their rescue of the baby.
Mia, once she learned her story, never forgot them, and after numerous tries over several years managed at last, through the power of the Internet, to track them down. "I didn't know how they would feel," she said.
Emily said: "It's like a miracle. . . . My heart is filled now. There was always a little spot missing."
Chris said, "It's the best Christmas present I have ever gotten."

Wednesday, December 16

Background noise = "Hellboy II"

I am so committed to my movie channels that, as I sit here typing, I'm allowing my cable box to be all stop-and-go, pause-and-jump without changing to one of the lower cable channel numbers for smoother reception. I am not bothered by this because the movie playing (sort of) right now is not that important to me, and all I really require from my television right now is background noise.
Let's talk about Tiger Woods. Some things are going on in the news right now, and I have to say that I'm pleased with how this is rolling along. 1.) Tiger was declared the Associated Press's "Athlete of the Decade." I approve of this. After all, you really can't show me another athlete who has done as much for his sport as Tiger. And as an athlete, he deserves the accolades. 2.) Reports say that Elin Nordegren Woods will be filing for divorce soon. I approve of this development as well. No one should stay in a relationship where they feel disrespected, and where their value is so completely underrated. This is how I see Tiger and Elin's situation right now. He could say that he'll change, but the odds are slim. And she could say that she still loves him and is committed to a healthier marriage, but there's no trust anymore, and that's no way to live in a relationship. Her best bet is to remove herself, and her kids, from the unhealthy situation, and begin building a better life for herself, and maybe with someone who appreciates her more. Tiger wants to be the guy who messes around with every piece of ass that walks by? Congrats; do it on your own time, and without messing up your wife and kids. 3.) Tiger has decided to take an indefinite leave from playing golf professionally. This is a good thing to do, if you want to focus on your life and family. And I agree that laying low will give the media time to find something new to obsess over. So, what? See you next year?
I'm intrigued by this Tiger mess. I'm all for Elin's departure from Tiger's vicinity, and I'm certainly for her getting a healthy chunk of his earnings. Also though, it's hard to have appreciated Tiger, and watched him mature, without thinking that, in the end, there must be some kind of misunderstanding, because this just doesn't seem like the Tiger we all think we know.

Sunday, December 13

Why don't *you* dust it then?

Brian has decided that we need a bigger television in the living room. Please, do not get me started on the ridiculousness of this, as I can go on for minutes and minutes about the ridiculousness of this. Be that as it may, Brian continues to do his research. I continue to be indifferent to his arguments, reasons and one-sided debates on the necessity of the larger television.
Yesterday, this research included a visit to a store called Starpower in North Scottsdale. My lack of enthusiasm was obvious upon entering the establishment, and I made it more known to Brian, in my best passive-aggressive way, by not chatting much at all, taking a phone call while he was talking with the salesman, and "watching" the Elton John special playing on all the televisions instead of paying attention to the conversation. Our salesman was named Roy. He had a shark tail necklace worn tight like a choker. I wasn't too impressed with him when we met, and during the visit, I became less so. Let me tell you:
Sydney and I returned to the sales floor from the bathroom to find Brian and Roy discussing the pros and cons of these two too-big TVs on the back wall. They had finished one line of conversation, and sensing a break, or an opportunity, Roy turns to me.
"I was just showing your husband something, and I think you should see it, too," he says as he tries to lead me to the televisions. "You see here. On this TV," he says, while indicating the TV on the right, "these ridges here along the screen. What do they do for the television? Nothing. You know what they really do? They collect dust." He runs his finger along the bottom interior ridge of that television, and wipes it, playing up his illusion. "Now this TV here," he says, while pointing to the left TV, "it has a continuous smooth front screen cover that runs from top to bottom. The only place that dust can collect is the top of the television." He kind of nods at me confidently and then adds, "You don't find that on every television."
In person, I nod and smile, and blithely look to the right to pay attention to Elton John again. In my head, I'm kinda stunned. Really, Roy? Really? You think that the best way to sell me on the television is to tell me that it'll be easier to dust? What the hell? Really, Roy? "Here, little lady, this big TV for your rugged manly man is great for him, but for you ... for you ... the best part will be how you can dust it and keep it clean for him."
It's at that moment that, even if I did approve of this television purchase, it's for sure that Roy wasn't going to get the sale. I couldn't get out of that store soon enough. And Brian's thoughts during that in-store conversation when we talked about it?
"Dude. She's in charge, man. You have no idea what you've just done."

Friday, December 11

Because that's how he sleeps: horizontal

Tonight is our last night in a queen-sized bed. We're getting a king-sized bed for Christmas, and are very, very excited about it. It's become very crowded in our bed lately, and an extra several inches will really come in handy. Because, as Brian and I discussed tonight, for just Brian and I, a queen-sized bed is perfect and comfortable. It's when the dogs and Sydney are added to the sleeping arrangements that the bed gets much smaller. And before you say, "Well, kick the dogs off the bed," be aware that Oliver has never slept off the bed unless by his own choice, and that it's nearly impossible to allow one dog on a bed and not the other. While the Sydney situation in the bed is just a 6:30 a.m. thing, it is still super inconvenient when I want to be comfortable beyond that time. So, in deference to that, we will compromise with our children and get a bigger bed.
Of course, I make this sound like we're doing it for the family, but really, we're doing it entirely for us, and so we can be more comfortable. Also, it means I get to buy new bed linens.

Tuesday, December 8

What a great Tuesday!

Pearls of wisdom from today:
~ It's good karma to pick up your neighbor's trash can, even if no one knows you've done it.
~ If it sounds like the dog is barking at something from the front yard, check it out. It might mean that your pseudo-gate fell down in the wind last night, and that the dog actually is, in fact, barking at something from the front yard.
~ It's more entertaining to watch mothers deal with babies crying on Santa's lap when your own child is no longer one of those crying babies.
~ Live animals might be the best gift ever, but perhaps not the most practical. We'll see though!!
~ Christmas shopping while your mother is stuck in traffic and, in effect, a prisoner to your every phone call, is fun.
~ It's more difficult to get two dogs to pose well than dealing with only one.
~ Butt dialing is still possible with the iPhone.
~ No matter how strict and structured the list, and how you think that you couldn't possibly find anything that you'd like to get yourself, buying personal presents on a whim is still so fun.
~ Maybe I do need more Uggs in my closet.
~ The slightly neurotic woman in line who isn't paying any attention to what's happening at the coffee bar will always ... always ... flip out when they think that your whipped cream is being put on their drink.
~ The first trip to the mall for shopping is, what I call, the reconnaissance mission. It's like casing the joint, checking out the goods, and getting a feel for the place. You can't just walk in and start shopping straight off. It's imperative to take some time.
~ Popcorn makes children better shopping companions, though buying toys for other kids makes said companion a bit of a pain in the ass.
~ There should be some kind of voice mail message that can be put on a phone line, prohibiting the phone from even ringing in the home, when the kid is napping. It should say, "Hello. You've reached Sydney's house. She's sleeping right now, and if the phone rings, she'll wake up and make her mom's life miserable for the rest of the afternoon. Call back later."
~ Always look behind the frozen vegetables. There may be a pizza back there.

Monday, December 7

Rain, rain, stay today!!

What a weirdly wonderful weather day (alliteration intended). When we got up this morning, it was gray outside, and, in the immortal words of Christopher Robin, "Tut, tut. Smells like rain!" On days like this, Brian and I are almost giddy. Days like this remind us how much we enjoyed the weather in Boston for the four years we lived there. Rain, in Boston, is a regular occurrence. Rain in Phoenix is not. So when the rain arrives, it's hard to not celebrate the shake-up in the normal meteorological forecasting. It rained all afternoon straight, and there is enough rain and wind right now to be making something bang around outside my house. I'd like to know what the banging is, but the weather is too frightful to venture outside to investigate. Wow. The rain is really coming down right now. That's fantastic.

Sunday, December 6

Maybe tomorrow it'll be a photo of our tree

Writing the Sunday night blog post is always better when I can look at my weekend and see that I accomplished something. Even if it was only one big thing, still it was something that was undone Saturday morning, and tonight, it is done.
I speak of the Christmas tree, the last remaining bit of Christmas that needed to be installed in the home. Brian likes to give me a hard time about how I "hate real trees" and never let him "buy a real one," but this is where Brian fibs continually just to piss me off. I love a fresh Christmas tree (not at all a "green" philosophy, but some things just are what they are). They smell wonderful, and just look so pretty. This year's tree lot was not quite as convenient as last year's, but still, it was within a mile of the house, making it wicked convenient anyways, and a free delivery, which is good because this is our first year without an SUV at our disposal.
A Christmas tree timeline:
Tree and extra lights were purchased on Saturday morning.
Tree arrived Saturday at lunchtime.
Lights were finished early Saturday night.
Customary debating about whether we had the energy or motivation to hang the ornaments on the tree Saturday night and early Sunday morning.
Ornaments hung on the tree Sunday afternoon.
While Sydney was a participant in the lighting, we did all the ornaments while she napped. We did not need that kind of help with all the breakable ornaments and pokey hooks. Right now though, the tree is beautiful. And we're done with everything Christmas decorations-related.
What's next on the agenda is usually something I'm well into at this time of year: shopping. Sydney and I will hit the mall tomorrow to visit Santa, but also to start our canvassing of the preferred holiday shopping stores. She's a bit of an anchor on trips like this, which is why the majority of my shopping will actually be done on Tuesday and Thursday this week while she's at school. This subterfuge, I believe, does not make me a bad mother, instead it makes me a more efficient shopper. And that's what the holidays are about, right?

Friday, December 4

Tiger gets caught because of the tail

I'm kind of too tired to really weigh in on this, but I'll take a stab at it anyway.
Tiger Woods and his "transgressions." First of all, the media vultures need to get it out of their heads that Tiger is the first celebrity to cheat on his wife. Nor has he ever declared that he's squeaky clean, never would step out, or deserves to be sainted for his moral fortitude. There. So they need to stop acting like this is the most earth-shattering and big-ticket story of the year. Big deal, people, he cheated. Let's focus on something else more important, and let him and his wife figure out this mess.
Having said that, I also will pop off. I'm disappointed in him, as he's one of my favorite sports celebrities. I also thought he was smarter than this. To clarify: not too smart to cheat (because hardly any of these celebrity men are when they've got that much groupie-tail chasing them around), but too smart to get busted for it. And my goodness, why does anyone leave voice mails or send text messages when involved in something clandestine? Ridiculous! Every phone has a caller id function, and everyone can tell when they've got a missed call. Let that be your message, I say to those cheaters who are looking for some easy advice. A technological trail is as damning as a paper trail.
I'm all over Tiger's wife, Elin, redoing the prenuptial agreement, too. While getting paid to continue being someone's wife smells a bit like fancy prostitution, I'm on board with her getting some additional financial settlement to keep herself, and her kids, comfortable in the manner to which they have become accustomed, should Tiger decide to run off with his next "transgression."
And, having said that, it's no one's business but Tiger and Elin's, and no one outside of the two of them has any business talking about the intricacies of this relationship and its current issues.
You know who's bugging me about this "news story" today (and got me fired up enough to blog about it)? Gloria Allred's daughter, who, with no personal knowledge of the mistress or her mother's thought processes, talking up all the news programs, implying that the only reason her mother and the other woman would have canceled their scheduled news conference is because some kind of under-the-table financial settlement must have been promised. Total assumption from this woman, and every news outlet that reports to Yahoo!, CNN and has posted it like it's gospel.
I honestly can't wait for the next tabloid storm to land. I'm so over hearing about Tiger. Today's episode of Extra must have spent two-thirds of its programming on this. I kept switching away until the segment was over, but every time I switched back, something else was on or someone else was talking about it. Argh!

Wednesday, December 2

You know I had to find a red one anyway

I remember when Volkswagen released its New Beetle in 1998. I immediately fell in love with it. Howie and I wanted one so bad! Honestly, and Mom can attest to this, the only reason why we didn't get one in 1998 is because there was no place to park it. That, and we couldn't agree on a color. I wanted that yummy pale yellow. He did not. I can't remember what color Howie wanted, come to think about it. I'm sure that's just because I refuse to believe that he probably would have gotten his color since he would have, you know, paid for the car.
Anyway, the news today is that VW is stopping production of the New Beetle. The company is making 3,000 more "Final Edition" versions before halting the model indefinitely. And the company says that they'll have something "Beetle-ish" for the car-buying public in 2011.
Via, "Half of those 3,000 remaining New Beetles will be coupes. The other half will be convertibles. They will go on sale in the U.S. next spring. VW says they will have unique trim and upgrades to mark them as the last of the line."
I still want one.

Tuesday, December 1

It's also kind of "Firefly"

This month's avatar is indicative of my current love of the movie, "Star Trek," and its goodness. I haven't had a chance to see it since the first time last weekend, but it's on my radar, and I'm thinking about it a lot. I ended up spending my day putting up the Christmas decorations, and haven't had much of moment to sit, let alone watch a movie. I have spent the last two hours watching old episodes of Gossip Girl though, which has been remarkably relaxing after my day. I need to finish up the kitchen decorations (i.e., Christmas dishes and accessories) tomorrow.
I'm tired, but getting into the spirit!