Monday, October 13, 2008

Me Gusta, No Me Gusta Part-o Dos

No Me Gusta: Not Knowing Where My Money Is
The husband and I bank with Wachovia. Or should I say we banked with Wachovia? Am I still banking with Wachovia? The sign says Wachovia, but when we performed a balance transfer from our Wachovia card to a card with a lower interest rate, the woman on the phone said, "Oh - you mean you'd like to transfer funds from your Bank of America card to your Discover card." "Umm ... no - we hate Bank of America. We're with Wachovia. That's the card number we just gave you." "Well, yes, but Wachovia has been bought by Bank of America." "Oh crap - I don't want to go back to banking with them! They were AWFUL!!!" Fast forward to the following morning, at which time I saw a piece on the Today Show about how Citibank has actually bought Wachovia. "Uh ... wait a minute. The woman on the phone yesterday said Discover was making their check out to Bank of America. Should they have made it out to Citibank? I am so confused." Not as confused as I was about to get. Later that afternoon, I saw another piece online talking about how some other corporation had bought up Wachovia and several other failing banks and it was now in the top three biggest banking corporations, alongside Citibank and Bank of America. Okay, hold on. Where is my money??? Honestly, I have no idea. All I know is that the balance transfer went through just fine, my paycheck gets direct deposited right on schedule, and my checks to pay the bills are clearing with no problem. As Shakespeare would say, "What's in a name? A Wachovia by any other name is still FDIC insured ... I think."

Me Gusta: Katamari Damacy
What's not to love about this video game? The ridiculously bad Engrish subtitles. The awesome music. The hilarious song lyrics. The adorableness of your avatar. As the Prince of the Universe, not only can you wear a giraffe on your head, and save the red pandas, but you can carry around entire cities, nay, even continents in your quest to help your impulsive father, the King of the Universe, recreate what he has destroyed in a fit of anger. The game is simple, really. You start out with a small ball, which you roll around in order to collect objects by rolling over them to get them to stick to said ball. Some levels require you to reach a certain diameter in a certain time limit. Others require you to pick up a certain dollar's worth of items or a certain number of a specific object. All of them are really crazy, completely random, and totally awesome. My husband and I have seriously considered purchasing a PS2 if for no other reason than to play this game. The main thing holding us back: We would never turn it off, and our children would starve.

No Me Gusta: Election Campaigning
Was it me, or were campaign ads particularly awful this year? "He's too young!" "Well, he's too old!" "She's too pretty!" "Who the heck is Joe Biden, anyway?" "I'm a Maverick, looking out for Joe the Plumber!" "I'd like to take a page from the Kennedys' book and pull a Marilyn Monroe on Joe the Plumber ASAP." "Barack Obama isn't even a US citizen!" "You can't prove that, and I'm really going to help my case by absolutely refusing to let anyone see my birth certificate until after the election, at which time you'll hopefully have forgotten all about it. Besides, John McCain had cancer 20 years ago! We all know how common it is to get random cancer back after 20 years of remission! Why don't you just vote for plastic Sarah Palin?" "Are you insinuating I'm too dumb to lead America when - I mean, if - John McCain croaks? I'm not dumb, I just - I mean to say, America is like a pot pie, and without you plumbers as peas and you teachers and soldiers as the meat and potatoes we'd just not be anything to stand and fight against the forces of evil against this glorious country! I have the most excellent structure in my sentences, you know? Go Alaska Tech Women's Hockey!" Oy vey. On and on and on it went. I thought it would never end. It wasn't bad enough that the presidential ads were awful - the local representatives' all looked like they'd been put together in a high school design class, and none of them really talked about anything of importance. "He's actually from NY, so why should he be a representative in VA?" "Well, I'd make a better representative than him. All he's ever voted in favor of is to erect a crappy statue on Capitol Hill." Even allergy medications were going at it full steam. "Claritin takes a long time to kick in. Zyrtec works two whole hours faster than all the other leading brands." "Oh yeah? Well Zyrtec isn't telling you that you'll spend those two hours asleep because it causes drowsiness and Claritin doesn't!" Ugh. Never have I looked forward to an election more, not for the historicity of the event or because I was super eager to vote for a candidate I loved, but because I wanted nothing more than to stop those crazy ads.

Me Gusta: The Year After an Election
No campaign ads. No slander. The new guy is getting to know the ropes, so he isn't really making big decisions to screw up my life (yet). The old guy is making appearances on SNL and Conan and deciding which university he'll give the commencement speech at this year. It's so quiet. And did I mention there are no campaign ads? Ah, what a glorious year.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Me Gusta No Me Gusta Part-o Uno

Taking a page from MJ's book, I've decided to put together a Me Gusta, No Me Gusta List for those of you who care to know what me gustas and what me doesn't gusta. Over the course of the next week or so, I will make several entries telling you about some things I like and some things of which I am not a big fan. Without further ado, I bring you today's portion ...

Me Gusta: The Funeral by Band of Horses
Ever since this song first apeared on my radar in the Ford Edge ads last year, it's been a veritable love affair. (The irony of a car commercial featuring a song that is about death and whose actual music video revolves around a car crash is inescapable.) I had a great time trying to figure out what the song was, too, with no lyrics to Google and nothing but an insanely catchy guitar riff to go by, but I eventually worked my search engine magic and came out successful. The main guitar line of this song is, without a doubt, one of the catchiest you'll ever hear. I'd just gotten it out of my head from those Ford ads a few months ago, and then CSI started using it for their Season 9 premiere marketing. Looks like it's hear (bad pun intended) to stay.

No Me Gusta: The Ocean
It's up to no good, I tell you. Thousands of pounds of pressure. Trillions of gallons of undrinkable water. Sharks. Jellyfish. Fire coral. Shipwrecks. Barricuda. How could Quint, Captain Smith, or Coral stand a chance? Look, but don't touch. I love the beach, but I am terrified of the ocean. I don't typically go out past my knees, and even then, I often end up screaming and yelping as I bound back up the shore, "Something touched my leg!!!"

Monday, August 25, 2008

In for a long one...

Today is Schuyler's nine-month doctor appointment (you know, a few days after she turned 10 months old). I'm pretty sure this means we're in for more shots, which never makes for a fun afternoon to start with, but to top it off, she's already been kind of fussy all morning, and she's been incredibly verbal as of late. I'm really looking to an afternoon of screaming baby gibberish in which Scout "goy"s and "baba"s to me about exactly where I rank on her crap list for subjecting her to freezing cold baby scales and painful injections. With any luck, she'll exact her revenge by pulling my hair or peeing on me while I carry her to the bath tonight. I'm going to try to make today the happiest day ever (until 2:00) in the hopes that she decides not to be mad at me after all.

I was recently discussing with a friend of mine about how Scout gets mad at me and ignores me when I do things she doesn't like or don't let her do things she wants to. We were also talking about how she has the ability to say "mama" (she's done it a few times) but won't when prompted. (Instead, she says similar sounding things like "Nonna" and "baba" with a smirk) My friend gave me this heartwarming encouragement: "She's your daughter. This is how it's going to be for the rest of your lives. I speak from experience; just get used to it."

What a joy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I think I have a problem

Michael Phelps' finals schedule is written on Post-its and stuck to my TV.

Last night, I literally ran through Walmart and begged my husband to drive over the speed limit on the way home so that we wouldn't miss the 200m freestyle finals.

I ignored my friends at their house for a full 30 minutes while I read the cover story about Phelps in Sports Illustrated.

I have joined a Michael Phelps facebook group and have Phelps Phan flair.

I have spent too much time on the internet reading stats and bios and checking his times against people like Basson and Cseh.

In spite of his large ears and the fact that he kind of looks like a cross between the ugly New Kid on the Block and a friend of ours with cerebral palsy, I find him strangely attractive.

Brendan's been making fun of me for days because of my new "boyfriend." He asks me if he should start lifting again, learn to swim, and run around in a tiny speedo all day to keep my attention. I promise, this will all go away in ten days, when the Olympics are over, and Brendan will have my undivided attention ... for the next 206 weeks.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Enjoy your smallpox blankets!

Brendan and I had a conversation last night about going green, the global economy, and what "good things" America has contributed to the world. It all started when we were reading the LifeWay magazine that our church distributes, and I was pleasantly surprised to find an article called "10 Simple Ways to Go Green." As many of you may have noticed, the Christian community isn't so big on the idea of going green, mainly (I submit) because it is an idea that predominately was started by the Democrats, and most Christians seem to think that God is Ronald Reagan - I mean, a conservative Republican. I don't know if we're just jealous that we didn't think of it first or if we just really like clear-cutting forests to make way for more LifeWay warehouses, but Christian and environmentalist don't seem to be two words that you find in the same sentence very often, unless, of course, that sentence is, "Wow - that Christian is very vocal about how strongly he opposes that environmentalist's perspective." So, when I saw that headline on the cover of a Christian publication, I was totally stoked.

"Brendan!" I said. "Look!" I said. "An article on going green! In a Christian magazine!" So we flipped to it, and I have to say I was a little disappointed. It started off well enough, citing the verse that says, "The earth is the Lord's and everything in it," and talking about Biblical stewardship of the planet God has placed us on... but then it made it's mistake: The author suddenly changed from talking about how God has called us to take care of the earth and started talking about how good it is for the global economy to be environmentally conscious.

"Umm ... should Christians really be all about investing in the global economy?" I asked (because I really wasn't sure).

"Why not?" asked Brendan.

"Well, you know, global economy becomes one-world currency becomes one-world government becomes that creepy 'coexist' symbol ..." I trailed off.

"Do you think that a Christian's job is warding off the coming of the Anti-Christ?" he asked.

"Well, no. I mean, it's going to happen, regardless, but I'm not saying we should stop it. I'm just wondering if we should invest in it."

"Well, why not?" Brendan asked.

"Umm, yeah, sure. I'll take the mark of the beast if it'll save me $50 a year!" I said sarcastically.

"Will it really save me $50?"

"Come on; you know what I mean."

There seemed to be no clear-cut answer. Brendan figured that on the one hand, a man's got to eat, and there's money to buy food in the global market. On the other hand, the Euro is to be avoided at all costs.

We got back to the article and its talking about why we should go green because it'll save us so much money. "Money?" I asked. "Why does it have to be about money? Why can't it just be about the biblical principle? Why can't it be about caring for your children enough to try to make the world a little less disgusting for them? Why does it have to be about money and what's convenient for us? Why can't it just be about taking care of things for God's glory and respecting Him by respecting the stuff He gave us?" Then I remembered:

We are Americans.

If it isn't convenient and/or turning a huge profit margin, we don't want to do it. I mean, yes, it is nice that buying produce at the farmer's market saves me money, but it's nicer to think that locally-grown fruits and vegetables don't require several gallons of (Venezuelan or Iraqi) gas and oil to transport them to the area. Lowering my electric bill is nice, but not as nice as thinking that I'm one of many who are conserving fossil fuels. It's nice to save money by not buying disposable diapers, but it's nicer to think that I'm not dumping metric tons of non-biodegradable waste in landfills. All that to say, the money should be a nice side effect - but not the motivation. When money is your motivator, there's a problem.

"But what about my job?" you ask. "I don't like my job. I do it because I have to get paid. Doesn't that mean that money is my motivation for doing my job?" Well, yes and no. Your short-term motivation is to get paid, but what about the long term? Are you working just for the sake of the money? I doubt it. At least, I hope not. The end goal probably isn't more money: It's a roof over your head, food, health insurance, a reliable car to take your kids to school, things for your family's safety and provision. I'll amend the above statement: When money is your main motivator, there's a problem.

That being said, I actually pay to recycle. That's right: I pay to recycle. I don't have curbside pickup. I have to sort my own recyclables and make a special trip to a collection site in order to dispose of them. "Isn't that oxymoronic?" you ask. "You are wasting your precious fossil fuels just to make sure your tuna cans and cereal boxes don't get thrown away." Fair enough. However, I only take out recycling once a week, and I only drop it off when I know I'm already going to be driving near a collection site. That way, I don't waste a lot of extra gas to do it. However, I do have to use my time and some gas to dispose of it. It is not convenient to have an extra storage bin taking up space in my already-crowded, tiny kitchen, but there it sits. It takes extra time to rinse out every container we use and make sure it gets put in the right drawer of said bin. It's not fun to haul bags of garbage to my car and try to cram them into my trunk around all of the baby gear. The collection sites don't smell good, especially when it's over 100 degrees outside, but I go anyway. Why? Not because it's saving me money. Like I said - it's costing me in the form of time and driving a little bit out of my way. I do it because there's no good reason not to. Laziness just isn't a very good excuse. Convenience is for "ugly Americans," and I don't want to be one of those.

I'm so sick and tired of hearing about why we need to be "proud" to be American. There. I said it. Disown me if you must, but hear me out first: Why are you proud of something you didn't accomplish? Did you choose to be born here? No. It was by God's providence that you ended up here instead of El Salvador, Zimbabwe, or, God forbid, the dreaded France. Pride is for accomplishments, not chance happenings. I'm not proud to be a brunette; I'm not proud to be a woman; I'm not proud to be a Pennsylvanian because I didn't have a choice in any of those things. Those are not accomplishments, They just happened. Now then, I am proud to be a well-read individual. I am proud that I can utilize comma rules and parallel sentence structure. I am proud of my ability to play the flute (even though it's kind of lame), and I'm proud that I successfully ejected a human being from my body. Those are things I can be proud of. Those are things I actually did. "Okay," Brendan said, "maybe I can't be proud to be an American, but I can be proud of what my country has done, of what my people have done."

Thus began the next phase of our conversation: What "good things" has America done? Now, I'm a firm believer that we need to mind our own business and stop telling other people how to live. If other countries want to become communists, let them. We have no right to be the democracy police. (PS: Regardless of what your government school told you, we're not a democracy - that would mean the people were truly empowered. You have no power. The government just wants you to think you do so you don't go trying to get any.) We cannot (okay, we can and we do, but we shouldn't) just go around telling people that they must adhere to the same set of rules we do and build their government around our ideology (much of which we actually stole from Scotland when we wrote the Declaration of Independence). When Brendan made me stop and think about what America has done for the world, I honestly had a hard time thinking of things besides meddling in the affairs of the Vietnamese and our bad habits of overspending and making friends with other countries only so that we can take their oil.

"You can't think of anything?" he asked incredulously.

"Well, I guess we played a pretty big part in ending World War II," I admitted.

"That's it?" he asked, even more incredulously.

"Ummm ... yeah," I said. "I was going to say that we helped end slavery, but let's admit it: We only jumped on that bandwagon after England and a bunch of other countries had already abolished it; we did it reluctantly, and half of us wanted so badly to keep it that we went to war within ourselves. Not exactly a big plus for us."

"What about medicine?" he asked.

"Enjoy your smallpox blankets!"

In the end, he pointed out that we provide tons of grain for third world countries and give it to them free of charge. We also ship crates of AZT to AIDS-ridden countries like Uganda and Rwanda (and other places that end in "anda") without asking for anything in return. I'll admit, those are big things. They are good things. I was wrong. We do some nice stuff. I still don't think our nice things outweigh our ridiculous bad things (by ridiculous I mean both "for no good reason" and "based on sheer size"). However, when I really think about it, neither do my own. For every "good deed" I've done, I can think of about ten things I've done wrong.

As Brendan so sagely remarked, "Take your average individual. If you sat down and listed all of the bad things they've done, you could write a novel. That doesn't mean they have no redeeming qualities, that they're completely unlovable."

Then we had a great laugh at the thought of America being described as "lovable" because we both agreed that was a stretch. Tolerable, I suppose. Somewhat likeable on good days. But clearly flawed, just like the rest of us. I don't hate America. I wish we were less selfish. I wish we had better spending habits. I wish we'd go to foreign oil rehab and stop being a bossy younger sister. However, when I'm honest, I wish most of those things about me too. So, I guess I'm more "American" than I thought ... and maybe there are worse things to be.

Monday, July 14, 2008

In the Interest of Full Disclosure...

I just saw an interesting challenge on another blog I read from time to time. Basically, the long and short of it is this: Bare your privates, so to speak. Tell the truth. Expose your realities. So, here they are:

1. I am such an excellent housekeeper that my infant daughter is not permitted to go into the kitchen or bathrooms (unless she's in the tub) for fear she will consume something inedible from the floor and have to be rushed to the emergency room.

2. I read more books designed for teens (YA lit) than I do books for grown-ups (not to be mistaken with "adult" books).

3. While I am a stickler about making sure it gets done in the mornings, I very rarely brush my teeth before going to bed.

4. I have let a friend wash my dishes for no other reason than that I was just too lazy to do it.

5. I lied to four babysitters about why I was firing them because I was too chicken to tell them the truth. I told every single one of them that I got a new, work-from-home job (technically true, but it didn't start for a few weeks after letting them go) or found a friend who needed some extra money instead of telling them: they were keeping so many kids it was illegal, I could tell they weren't feeding/changing my kid properly, I was sick of them lying to me ... Good help is hard to find. Apparently, so is bravado and/or honesty.

6. Shortly after I became a Christian, I decided to get rid of my "really bad" secular music (Korn, Limp Bizkit, Orgy, Eminem). Did I dispose of them by throwing them in the garbage or setting them on fire to make sure no one else was ever subjected to such angry and filthy lyrics? Of course not. I took them to the local record exchange and sold them. As if profiting from sinfulness wasn't bad enough, a few months later, I bought new copies of half of those albums.

7. I've told my husband I was staying up late to catch up on work, and then ended up watching lonelygirl15 until two in the morning.

8. I haven't printed any pictures of my daughter since Christmas, partly because I never seem to have the money to do so, and partly because I'm just plain lazy.

9. My first ever C in a class was in keyboarding. To this day, I can't really type without looking at my hands.

10. My wedding dress has never been cleaned and is still hanging out in the ripped garment bag I stuffed it into in November of 2005. I keep saying that I'll get to it eventually, but let's be honest: I won't. This is the same reason my winter coat is still hanging by the door and hasn't been dry cleaned in two years.

Okay, I feel better now. Of course, none of you will ever come to my house again because you'll be afraid of catching botulism, but now at least you know what you're getting into.

And knowing is half the battle.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I Just Saw a Commercial with Ed McMahon

It appears the Prize Patrol Van is headed out tomorrow to deliver one of those giant, million-dollar checks.

If Ed McMahon is declaring bankruptcy and forclosing on his house and all that, why doesn't he stop handing out those giant checks? What if you win, and you go to cash the check, and it bounces? What do you do then?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cloth Diaper Saga: Day One Summary

As some of you may know (but you probably don't), we made the switch to cloth diapers this week. I know some of you are shaking your heads and asking, "Why on earth would you want to do that?" Allow me to be honest (because what else is a blog for other than to tell your deepest, darkest secrets through the anonymity of the interwebs?). I am sort of a crunchy. "Crunchy?" some of you are asking, "What the heck is a crunchy??? Is she a breakfast cereal? An autumn leaf? Bacon?" As amazing as the experience would be, bacon I am not. A crunchy is a hip, new term for an environmentalist. One who has "gone green," so to speak. I admit it: I recycle pretty much everything that is recyclable. I got a small thrill when I realized that my WalMart and Kroger both put up bag return boxes. I drive a Hyundai because it gets great gas mileage (and, admittedly, because I had severely limited options at the dealership I bought it from, and it was the best-looking car on the lot). I've bought some of those eco totes and have even taken them with me to the mall on occassion. Please don't think I'm some hippy-dippy "trees are people too" fruitcake. It's more like this: In Genesis 1, God told man to rule over the earth and take care of it and its creatures. He only gave us one planet, and it's disrespect to Him to treat it like a garbage heap. Thus, I do what little I can to help take care of it: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I'm not a nut. I don't condemn people for not recycling, and I'm not a vegan or anything like that. I understand that some people don't have recycling facilities in their area and for them to drive far enough to get to one would be a bigger waste in fuel than it would be a gain in reusable goods. I figure that if God told Peter to "rise up and eat," that He also meant, "Go ahead and have a cheeseburger, Hannah." Maybe this is a "stonger/weaker brother" issue, and I am the weaker brother. Some people feel morally compelled to never take a drink of alcohol; others feel okay with exercising their Christian liberty to have an occassional glass of wine with dinner or go out once in a while with some friends and have a margarita (emphasis on A - the Bible clearly warns against drinking to excess). Whatever. Some people think that Christians = Republicans = Big Businessmen = Cut down all of the trees, destroy the rainforests and make more money because God wants us to have the desires of our hearts and I desire a Lambourghini. Some people think Christians should be vegans because God told us to take care of the earth and the animals and that means that we have no business using them for food, whether it means we kill them or cage them, because animals have basic civil rights, just like people. Then there's me: I think Christians should take some environmental responsibility, but I also think Al Gore is full of crap and that Earth has been running through cycles of global warming and cooling for millenia. It's just the way things work. The hole in the O-zone is on the mend, it's been an unusually cool June in the hometowns of several people I know, and, if anything, California's wildfires could use that giant glacial-melting tidal wave that's allegedly been coming for decades. Anyways, you asked a question (why?) and I still haven't answered it (sorry about the soap box, but I think that's really the only other reason to keep a blog). I actually have two answers to your question, "Why on earth would you want to do that?" #1. Disposable diapers aren't biodegradable. They sit in landfills and rot, which is both a waste of valuable space and not good for the land/water that they are sitting in or the plants and animals that live nearby. I personally feel that I'm being a poor steward of the Earth God has charged us to care for. #2. Disposable diapers are expensive and wasteful. I pay something like a quarter a piece for them, and then I throw them away. At the end of the day, I've literally thrown two dollars or more in the garbage, which is poor stewardship of my financial resources. Think of what you could do with an extra $15 a week (Brendan and I could go see a dollar movie and get coffee afterwards). Now that we've switched to cloth, we can do that.

I've been doing research about it for a couple of months now, comparing types and brands and prices online, trying to find the best deal in terms of quality, ease-of-use, and overall value. Up until about two weeks ago, I had thought we were going to go with It's this fabulous place where you can save money on all-in-one (AIO) diapers (basically, they look and work just like disposables, but they've got a vinyl coating and are machine washable) by buying kits from them and sewing the diapers together yourself. They send you the elastic, fabric, liners, velcro/snaps in whatever colors you choose, and you can pay as little as $6 a piece for the convenience of AIOs. "Six dollars a diaper!?!!?" some of you are screaming. "But I can buy a package of 40 Target brand diapers for $7!!!" Well, this much is true, but you will have to keep buying Target brand diapers over and over and over until your kid is two (or older, if you end up potty training at two and a half or three). That adds up. Let's say a 40-pack lasts you about five days (which is probably being generous, if you're changing every two hours during your kid's waking moments, or if you have a newborn). Seven dollars a week for two years at 52 weeks in a year comes out to ...[getting a calculator to figure the sum]... $728, and that's not including tax or kids like mine that sometimes like to pee in the diaper as you are fastening it, causing you to use two in one go. Let's say I go through about 12 cloth diapers in two days and plan to wash them every other day. Six dollars times 12 diapers is $72. Let's say tax and shipping come out to an astronomical $35, and you're still looking at a mere $107. (Hooray for not using a calculator on that one! Although, chances are, this means that number is incorrect.) That's a pretty excellent deal, no? Then, about two weeks ago, I learned something that made me feel a little happy and a little sad all at once. I learned that Gerber actually makes cloth diapering supplies that can be bought at WalMart for about $23 a dozen (including the vinyl covers, diaper pins, and 5% VA sales tax - I'm going to miss 5% sales tax when I move back to PA). Obviously, this makes me happy because 23 is a significantly smaller number than 107. However, this also makes me just a little sad for two, admittedly-silly, reasons: #1. I wasted however much time choosing colors and patterns and budgeting an extra $107. #2. I was really looking forward to the convenience of an AIO diaper ... which brings us to what today's headline promised: The Day One Summary of the Allison Family Cloth Diaper Saga.

So far, this whole thing has been surprisingly easier than I expected. I actually picked up seven extra diapers at a consignment shop/baby boutique down here for a mere $8 last weekend, so I have enough diapers to last me three days now (we're still using disposables at night because our kid is a urinating machine. She just started sleeping the whole way through the night about ten or twelve days ago, and I am not about to ruin my full eight hours of slumber by changing up to three wet diapers each night), so I haven't had the joy of washing them yet to see how clean they come out (I do have a lovely laundry basket filled with "skid marked" diapers waiting to be tested that are cracking me up in the meantime, though). However, I have learned a few things:
#1. While AIOs are more convenient (I assume), using the flat-folds and covers only adds maybe one minute to diaper changing time.
#2. My laughably thin baby looks more than a little humorous with a giant faux ghetto booty. Seriously, it's like an olive on a toothpick.
#3. I should buy a second diaper pail because most of my house is starting to smell like ... well, you know.
#4. There is no feeling more undignified than that of dumping someone else's poo into your toilet.
#5. While rinsing and wringing the diapers before putting them in the laundry is a great way to control the smell/stain factor, it wreaks havoc on your sinks and may get poop on your hand.
#6. A baby washcloth folded in half can make a great added layer for naptime diapering.
#7. Gerber diapers don't hold as much as the thicker ones I bought at the boutique, and I'd be interested in purchasing some more of those (or trying a few AIOs that my friend Brittany is making).
#8. Vaseline is more expensive than I expected (you can't use diaper rash cream with cloth diapers).

I think that's about it. I'll keep you posted on how this whole thing progresses, but suffice it to say, this is far less gross, smelly, and time-consuming than I expected. Of course, I haven't been at this for very long, so I may change my tune in just a few days. I think it's a lasting decision though. It's more than worth the inconvenience when you think of all the money you can save (especially since Scout will hopefully be the first of five offspring) and the feeling you get from being a good steward of the resources God has blessed you with.

Well, speaking of diapers, I hear a baby waking up from her nap, and I'm guessing I should go change one! Have a great day, all!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Come On, Feel the Joy!

So, as promised after the ridiculously long and most-likely boring introduction post below, here is one of the awesome things I've read lately. What I've been doing to spice up this reading plan is taking the passages of Scripture that really jump out at me and rewriting them to be more personal and to make sure I get the full meaning out of some of the more symbolic stuff.

Today's passage: Psalm 1:1-3
"Oh the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do."

Personal rewrite:
Hannah, you will be joyful if you don't take advice from people with impure motives and wicked ideas, if you don't hang out with those who choose to live in sin, or join in with the people who have nothing good to say about anything. You will be filled with joy if you take delight in God's commands - in the Bible - continually thinking about it and memorizing Scripture, letting it infiltrate your life from morning to noon to nightfall. Do this, and you will be as strong as a tree that is planted by a river - with a deep network of roots that thrive on all the good water and nutrients. Do this, and you will bear the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) regardless of season or circumstance. The leaves of your faith will always be strong and green, and you will experience true success - a life that is pleasing to God.

The New Kid in the Book (or, A Not-So-Brief Introduction to Today's Actual Post)

I've been doing this new "read through the Bible in a year" plan that a friend passed on to me. Normally, I'm not a super-strict, Bible reading plan kind of person. I don't make sure I read the whole Bible every year; I don't make myself read all four Gospels during Lent or read Proverbs every month. I'm typically more of a "read where the Lord leads" kind of gal. For instance, a certain fantastic woman at a particularly awesome church in PA recently talked in her Sunday school class about Ephesians 4, and she gave everyone handouts with lots of cross references on them. So, I spent some time checking those things out. The next time I went to PA, that same woman was teaching again (lucky me!), this time on the importance of Biblical submission and Ephesians 5. Guess what I focused on that week?

Another approach I sometimes take is the, "What haven't I read a) ever or b) in a really long time?" approach. This is where I look through the table of contents in my Bible to find something new and different (or old and dusty in the Rolodex of my brain), and read that. For instance, I just finished reading through Chronicles for the first time ever. Yep. Six years saved on April 5th, and I only spent the last four months reading Chronicles (it took forever because it is SOOOO boring that I just couldn't do it every day).

Anyway, all of that being said, I don't typically have a forced reading schedule. I just read what sounds interesting or what I know will apply to my life at the moment. (Having a backsliding phase? Romans will kick you back into shape every time! Feeling envious and judgmental? Try James on for size! He'll guilt you out of that faster than a cheetah chasing a three-legged baby gazelle!) This time, however, I thought I'd try something new. With the conclusion of Chronicles, I have officially read every book of the Bible at least once. (I started checking them off in the table of contents of one of my Bibles back in the day because my Old Testament professor sophomore year gave us an awesome guilt trip: "What would you feel like if you went to heaven and met Habbakuk [he pronounced it 'hob-ba-KOOK' which always made me laugh] and had no idea who he was and had to admit to him that you had never taken the time to read his book? 'You weren't as important as James or Matthew,' you'll say, and you'll hurt his feelings and offend God because He considers each book of the Bible to be equally important and relevant, so you have to read them all, even Chronicles.") So now that I know I've done them all in six years, I am ready for a challenge. The reason I chose the plan I did is because it splits everything up so you aren't stuck in Jeremiah (if there were Bible superlatives, this would win "Most Repetetive," hands down) for days or weeks on end. Instead, on Sundays you read through the epistles, Mondays you go through the books of the law, Tuesdays are history books, Wednesdays are for Psalms, Thursdays you read poetry books, Fridays are prophets, and Saturdays are Gospels. This way, every day you're reading a different type of book, which, for someone with a short attention span concerning law, history, and some of the prophets, is a great plan and helps me to focus more on the little pieces instead of tuning them out because I read yesterday that "Woe be unto [some town with a funky name] because they have disobeyed their God and [some nation with another funky name] is going to invade them from [pick a direction], and all they have to do to repent is slaughter [insert number here] of fattened claves, rams, bulls (don't forget something about the horns being ground or burned or whatever), doves, and pour out so many drink and grain offerings, too" (entire book of Jeremiah, paraphrased - repeat about 64 times or however many chapters there are). All that being said, I've only been doing this for about four days now, but I am really enjoying it and have already gotten a few great nuggets, one of which I will share in a separate post because it is awesome, and I don't want it to get lost/drowned out by the methodology segment above about how I read the Bible. Anyway, enjoy!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Super Powers

Last week, I finished reading a pretty good book by MJ. In said book, Clio (the heroine, not to be mistaken with this drug) attests that everyone has at least one random, seemingly useless superpower. For instance, said character has a knack for finding things and people. Like, say she was looking for a number two pencil in her SAT testing room. She would somehow be able to discern which person in the room had a spare they could lend her.

So, you wanna know what my bizarro super power is? Well, if you don't, you should stop reading right about now. Seriously. Stop reading unless you really want to find out what my trivial superpower is. Here - I'll even provide you with a distracting link to a shiny, happy website that will make you forget you ever read this blog (this may not be the best idea I've ever had, considering my current lack of readers, but it's too late now). Are you gone, non-nosy, disinterested people? Okay, (sad, small number of) devoted readers. The coast is clear. I can now tell you, without any reservations, that my bizarre and impractical superpower is ...

finding four leaf clovers.

No joke. I've found at least a dozen since I left for college about six years ago. Now, 12-ish in the course of nearly six years sounds kind of small and lame, right? But let's consider these facts:

1. Around 12 in six years puts us at about one every six months. Take into consideration that the grass/clover is dead and covered in ice, snow, or frost for about three months of the year and that makes one every 4.5 months, or roughly every 18 weeks. (12 months - 3 = 9 9/2=4.5 On average, there are four weeks in a month, so 4x4.5=18 weeks. There's some fancy math for ya, eh? Those who know me well are "ooh"ing and "aah"ing in their office chairs right now because those were some shockingly complex equations for me that turned out correctly - I think. This is sad, but probably true.)
2. A lot of people have NEVER found one. Ever.
3. This is the real kicker ... I don't really look for them that hard. Seriously. I basically glance at beds of clover while I'm walking and go, "Oh! A four-leaf!" and pick it up. End of story. If I do go out searching for one, I will usually find it within the hour. For instance, just this morning, I walked around the block with Scout, and every so often, I would glance into a patch of clover by the sidewalk. No stopping, just glancing while walking. As I walked up the path to come back into our building, I definitely spotted one out of the corner of my eye, right by our mail box. So make that about 13 in the last six years (please don't ask me to do that math. The-opposite-of-whole numbers don't play nicely with me).

So, thanks for giving me that freakish ability, God. Only You know if/when it'll ever come in handy in a practical situation, but it makes for an interesting quirk, regardless.

What about you (six*) faithful readers? Do some soul searching. Do you have a freakish super power that serves no real purpose except to break the ice at lame-o parties? I'd love to hear that I'm not alone. Maybe we could start a school like Professor Xavier and the X-Men, but instead of being for awesome mutants who could either save or destroy the world with the (un)timely use of their mutant abilities, it could be for slightly-less-awesome non-mutant people who could either save or destroy social situations with the (un)timely use of their quirks. Let me know what you think.

*I sometimes think I am overly-generous with my estimate of six whole readers. Most days, I feel like it's probably two. Or none.

Monday, April 7, 2008

I told you to expect some surveys ...

...and here's another dandy for ya. In light of the fact that I have NOTHING to do right now at work, I've ripped off yet another survey from the archives of someone's blog and decided to bore you with it. (Look on the bright side, all six of my readers: you will know me way better when all of this is done and will possibly have fodder for future mockery.)

Single or Taken: Married

Happy about that: Sure am! When outside forces get rough (finances, work, etc.) it's nice to know there's someone waiting at home to help you through it. Even when we're in foul moods and are being jerks to each other, it's nice to have someone to be a jerk with, and (I'm not gonna lie) sex is definitely a plus. (I apologize to my unmarried readers and anyone related to my husband.)

Siblings: one sister (whom I haven't seen in over a year ... that could be construed as a problem...)

Eye color: blue/green/gray hazel

shoe size: 8 1/2 to 10, depending on the style and shoemaker (whatever happened to the word "cobbler"? we need to bring that back.)

Height: my driver's license says 5'1", though i believe i'm technically only about 5' 1/2"

What are you wearing right now: white v-neck, camel hooded sweater, brown trousers, my sassy brown boots, and an awesome pair of brown/purple/orange argyle socks

Best place to go for a date: i'm a big fan of the barnes and noble - it has all the essential elements:
a) good coffee
b) fodder for great conversation (people watching, magazine headlines, reading bits of books to one another, talking about new cds together while sharing those GIANT headphones...)
c) a plethora of reading material to kill an appropriate amount of time before departing, if the date SUCKS.


Kind of pants: well-worn jeans (preferably from the gap - they're the only jeans that effectively hide my thunder)

Number: 17

Animal: giraffe

Drink(non alcoholic): java chip frap from starbucks

Sport: FOOTBALL AMERICAN (Go Packers!!!)

Month: October (I'm so glad my baby was born a little early so she could be an October)

Juice: I'm a big fan of the cran-apple

Favorite cartoon character: i like Cheese ... but I'm also a big fan of Daria

Given anyone a bath: my daughter, just yesterday morning.

Bungee Jumped?: heck no at all. i choose life!

Made yourself throw-up?: sadly, yes.

Gone skinny dipping?: yes.

Eaten a dog?: not as far as i know ... i do eat a lot of Chinese food though ...

Loved someone so much it made you cry? of course (who doesn't AT LEAST tear up at their wedding vows?)

Broken a bone?: collarbone, age 9(ish). let this be a lesson to you all: never play football on a sloped, rocky surface.

Played truth or dare?: who hasn't done this?

Been on a plane?: a few times

Been in a sauna?: not a bad way to lost weight, if you like frizzy hair and hate actual exercise.

Been in a hotub?: of course

Swam in the ocean?: a few times, but truth be told, i don't like going out past my knees much. i have seen these classic films one too many times and am TERRIFIED of being eaten.

Fallen asleep in school?: a few times, yeah

Ran away?: once, when i was a very small child, my mother was watching Lord of the Flies, and when it got to the part where they killed Simon, I was so afraid that I ran away. (my sister was up the street at a friend's house and i ran there because i didn't know what else to do. i was probably about six.)

Broken someone's heart?: Yes. I was technically engaged to this guy in high school, and he wasn't always the awesomest of people, so, after dating him for about two and a half years, I broke up with him .... right after he showed up at my house with flowers for no reason. He handed me this bouquet and a copy of The Princess Bride, and my response was, "We need to talk." Whereupon we went to my room, and all I could really say was, "This isn't working..." and he sat there with tears in his eyes saying nothing, so I said, "Ummm ... are you okay?" and he said, "No, Hannah. I'm pretty f***ing far from okay," and I basically proceeded to tell him I had plans to go to a girl friend's for the evening and needed him to become okay and leave so I that could I go. Then, about two weeks later, he called my house, and I talked to him for about 15 minutes before I told him I had to go get ready because I was going on a date with another guy. Ryan, if you are reading this (very doubtful), I was a jerk, and I'm sorry.

Cried when someone died?: seriously? heck! i cry when people i don't even know die!

Cried in school?: sadly yes - this is never a good move if you strive to be seen as either hardcore or remotely cool

Sat by the phone all night waiting for someone to call?: not sat up all night, but i have stayed up until 2am and gone to sleep with my phone under my pillow in the hopes that someone would call.

Saved IM conversations?: yeah - if someone says something particularly spectacular, i'll save it for potential book fodder (man! the word of the day today must be fodder or something!)

Saved e-mails?: see above. i also have to save a bunch of emails from work in case of future issues with students, professors, documents getting lost, etc.

Made out with JUST a friend?: made out, no. kissed, once.

Used someone?: of course - we all use people in some way or another. it is a sad inevitability in this world.


Your good luck charm?: i don't have one

New fav. song?: i was a pretty huge fan of the random, quirky, awkward, nerdy love songs in Juno (which I finally saw this weekend).

Last thing you ate?: a mint (promptly after having mexican for lunch)

What kind of shampoo/conditioner do you use?: i alternate b/t bath and body works moisturizing shampoo and Dove


Believe in love at first sight?: lust, sure. serious, hyperventilation-inducing attraction, of course. tongue-tied, knees get weak, i really like you feelings, absolutely. real, true love, not at all.

Long distant relationships?: things could be worse

Who was the last person you slow danced with?: brendan at joel & shannon's wedding last summer (with my fat, preggo belly in the middle)

Who makes you smile the most?: Brendan ... or maybe Jenn ... and Scout.

Who knows you the best?: Brendan and Kristi.


What did you do yesterday?: drank coffee, read my Bible, bathed Scout, went to church, got a lecture from Steve Martin about my "moderate" political views on facebook, went home, read a great book, went to the movies with kristi, made a big scene at the drive-thru about which happy meal toy i wanted, went to small groups, watched a hilariously bad classic movie, had an encounter with the premiere item, and went to sleep.

Have you ever hated someone in your family?: i'm sure i thought so on many occassions in my adolescence.

Gotten any awards?: yep. graduated with honors in high school, won a scholarship or two, graduated magna cum laude from college, and won an "excellence in poetry" award from my English dept at college.

What car/truck do you wish to have?: dodge durango. it's the cool mom's version of the mini-van. i only wish they made it in a hybrid so i could feel less guilty about it.

Good Singer?: i'd say above average, but i'm not gonna win competitions or anything

Have a lava lamp?: nope - i went through a 'dirty hippy, led zeppelin, and black velvet posters' phase in high school where i wanted one, but it never came to pass.

When you last showered?: this morning

Coffee or tea?: coffee (though tea will do in a pinch).

Are you oldest, middle or youngest?: baby

Ever been in a fight with your pet?: no - that would be insane.

Been to Mexico?: nope

Been to Canada?: no, but i've seen it (from niagra falls)

Been to Europe?: Ireland, Wales, and England

What book(s) are you reading now?: Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

24. Future KIDS names?: not sure what we'll name any more girls. i mean, i like tons of girls' names, but they either don't go with our last name (aurora 'rory' allison anyone?) or brendan thinks they're too 'frilly' (lorelai) or 'progressive' (finn, fallon, hollis, etc.). for boys, however, we're fans of Julian Michael, Connor Justice, Benjamin, Tobias, and a variety of others (here's hoping the remaining four in our brood all have Y chromosomes)

29. Piercing/Tattoos?: no, but i would still like to get one of those tiny diamond nose studs (much to the husband's chagrin).

30. What are you most scared of right now?: zombie invasion. hands-down.

31. Who do you really hate?: satan. that's pretty much it.

32. Do you have a job?: sure do (technically, of course, there's nothing to DO at said job right now, so ...)

33. Have you ever liked someone you didn't have a chance with?: three letters for you:J T T

34. Are you lonely right now?: sort of - i feel kind of out of place here at the new job, especially now that a certain attention-commanding person has arrived for the afternoon.

Song that's stuck in your head right now?: the michael cera and ellen page version of "anyone else but you" and the party blower solo from hank's song mantioned in last week's post.

Have you ever gotten beat up? only by my sister.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Reader's Block

We've all heard of writer's block. It's that (real or imaginary, depending on which writer you speak to) wall that writer's hit sometimes when they have been writing for some time and just can't seem to think of anything else to write. Maybe they get lost in their own composition. Maybe they're just burned out and have no more ideas. Or maybe (like me, at this present moment) they have a squirming infant in their lap who keeps kicking their arm, refuses to take her evening nap, won't consent to playing quietly (or even not-so-quietly) by herself beside the desk, and will not be happy unless she has successfully wiggled out of their lap and pressed every key on the keyboard at least twice.

In short, we've all heard of writers who just can't write anymore, due to any number of reasons. What (I am assuming) is a far less common phenomenon is that of readers block. Well, trust me: I can attest to its existece because I currently have it. There are just so many hundreds of pages you can read on spirituality and education before the eyes gloss over and you realize that you haven't retained a word of the last three pages. Having found myself in that predicament at least twice in the past hour (and subsequently re-reading roughly six to nine pages of one dissertation in the past hour), I have decided to do something a little mind-numbing to cleanse the palate. And what is more mind-numbing than an internet survey? Nothing comes to my mind (although my husband would argue that VH1's Best Week Ever comes close). So, without further ado (mainly because I really need to gt back to reading that dissertation so that I can finish it before Pushing Daisies comes on), I bring you what will probably be the first of many surveys to come in the following weeks:

1. Favorite Beatles song: tough call ... I've narrowed it down to "Hey Jude," "Let It Be" and "Revolution" ... I think we'll go with "Hey Jude" on this one since I want to get a dog and name it Jude and because John wrote it for Julian, which is what I also want to name our first son (you don't name a child and a household pet after a song unless it's favorite).

2. Favorite Rolling Stones song: either "Sympathy for the Devil" or "Can't Always Get What You Want"

3. Favorite Doors song: hmmm ... "Riders on the Storm" isn't necessarily favorite, but it is the first one that came to mind, so I'll roll with it.

4. Favorite Bob Dylan song: I'm just gonna go ahead and be stereotypical and say "Like a Rolling Stone" (I blame it on the montage set to this song in the TV-movie I saw in high school, The 60s, featuring Julia Stiles).

5. Favorite Led Zeppelin song: "All of My Love" ... or maybe "Misty Mountain Hop" ... or maybe "Kashmir" ... dangit

6. Favorite TV theme song: I'm going with the O.C. on this one (big shocker there, I know) - "California" by Phantom Planet, in all of its lyrically-challenged glory.

7. Favorite Prince song: "Raspberry Beret"

8. Favorite Madonna song: "Cherish"

9. Favorite Michael Jackson song: "Thriller" (Can anyone legitimately choose another?)

10. Favorite Queen song: "Killer Queen"

11. Favorite N*Sync song: "Bye, Bye, Bye" (thankfully, this is where they - and my affinity for them - went [though not in that order]).

12. Favorite Al Green song: "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You"

13. Favorite Bruce Springsteen song: "The River"

14. Favorite Cure song: I honestly don't know if I've ever listened to the Cure ... for someone who claims to be such a music afficianado, that seems terrible. I kind of feel a little bad about that.

15. Favorite song that most of your friends haven't heard yet: Considering most of my friends haven't heard of the majority of the music I listen to, I'm going to go with "Transatlanticism" by Death Cab for Cutie OR "Lover I Don't Have to Love" by Bright Eyes.

16. Favorite Beastie Boys song: "Intergalactic"

17. Favorite Clash song: "Should I Stay or Should I Go?"

18. Favorite Beach Boys song: "Wouldn't It Be Nice?"

19. Favorite Cyndi Lauper song: "Time After Time"

20. Favorite song from a movie: Air's "Playground Love" from The Virgin Suicides or Beck's "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime" from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

21. Favcorite Jeff Buckley song: I know it's a cover, but I don't knwo any others, so "Hallelujah"

22. Favorite Johnny Cash song: I have to admit, that as much as I enjoy his voice, I'm not familiar enough with his repertoire that I could go very far beyond "Ring of Fire" (again, I hang my head in shame).

23. Favorite song from and 80s one-hit wonder: A-ha's "Take On Me" (at least, I don't think they had anything else that could be considered a "hit")

24.Favorite Pink Floyd song: "Comfortably Numb"

25. Last song you heard: Hank Green's "The Man Who Throws the Tetris Piece" (that party blower solo makes me laugh every. single. time.)

Okay ... back to Dissertationland.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Decreasing World Suck Levels ... In My Pants

A wise (and if not wise, then at least well-read and highly entertaining) man once pointed out that pretty much any book title can be improved by adding the phrase (in my pants) to the end of it. Being giant nerds, Brendan and I spent a large portion of yesterday evening scouring our home library in search of the best (in my pants) titles. Here are some of the awesome ones we came up with:

What to Expect the First Year (in my pants) by Heidi Murkoff
Love and Respect (in my pants) by Emerson Eggerichs
Intimacy Ignited (in my pants) by the couples Dillow and Pintus
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (in my pants) by Roald Dahl (primarily funny for the 12-year-old age bracket, but we still laughed for quite a while)
Extras (in my pants) by Scott Westerfeld
Peeps (in my pants)by Scott Westerfeld (Brendan didn't think the Westerfeld ones were as funny as I did ... maybe they're just funnier in my head)
Guess How Much I Love You (in my pants) by Sam McBratney
The Life You've Always Wanted (in my pants) by John Ortberg
And the World Came His Way (in my pants): A Biography of Jesse Helms (Also very dirty. As a sidenote, we apologize for owning this book - we all got a free copy in chapel at LU one time.)
An Arrow Pointing to Heaven (in my pants) by James Bryan Smith (I think some of the best ones are our Christian books, which is sad and awful, but also hilariously true.)

I'm sure we're going to hell for this, but neither of us could stop laughing at 7 Minutes with Jesus (in my pants) by Th1nk books

I think we were both in cahoots that these are the top five (in my pants) titles of all time though (or at least until someone comes along and shows us something better):

5. Welcome to the Monkey House (in my pants) by Kurt Vonnegut
4. The Lovely Bones (in my pants) by Alice Sebold (yes, we know, that's dirty and we're going to heck)
3. Victory Over the Darkness (in my pants) by Neil Anderson
2. Good Faeries (in my pants)/Bad Faeries (in my pants) by Brian Froud

and the best (in my pants) title of all time is ...

1. I Like You (in my pants) by Sandol Stoddard and Jacqueline Chwast

I seem to recall there being more (and possibly even better) ones, but I have forgotten them between then and now. I'll take another look tonight and maybe post a couple in each entry for the next few weeks.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Things I've Learned Since I Last Posted

1. I do not like Meatball & Mozzarella Lean Pockets.
2. Just when you think the world has offered up its entire repertoire of uneducated, overzealous jerks, it proves you wrong.
3. I am so terribly and irrationally afraid of zombies that even humorous tales and pictures of them can freak me out for days.
4. Bright Eyes and Sufjan Stevens make pretty awesome music.
5. Giving up tv for Lent sucks.
6. Sudoku is addicting.
7. I like making lists more than actually completing the things on the lists.
8. Now that I'm on a diet, my coffee order is longer and more complicated than the Gettysburg address ... in Dutch.
9. Andy Stanley is a smart cookie, and I like what he's talking about.
10. I suck at updating this thing. (I promise to decrease those suck levels.)