Sunday, November 30, 2008

Holiday shopping insanity

There was an article in my local paper on Saturday that has really stuck in my mind and upset me as we start another Holiday season.

In a town on Long Island...at a really big nationwide store... a man was trampled to death by early shoppers. He was a part time worker doing maintenance...all he was doing Friday was opening the doors to the crowd outside and they were so focused on getting the best holdiay shopping that they killed a man. WHY??? what reason do people have for being that heartless and uncaring? Isn't this the season of good will towards men? Do you really need that hot gift of the year so bad that someone DIES? Or that big screen plasma TV? will watching the news coverage of what happened make you feel ashamed if you were one of the ones that is responsible?

I refuse to add to that insanity. Now if you've followed my blog for any length of time you know how much I love a good bargain. However I don't participate in shopping like that. There is no bargain so great that I have to hurt another person physically. I know there will come a time when JP is determined to get such and such special gift.. and that I may be tempted to sit outside a store in the cold to get it at a particular bargain. I think I'd rather spend up to $100.00 more waiting or getting it online then risk what some believe is normal, human behavior during this time of year.

Yes, I'm also one of those people that has become sick of what Christmas shopping has become. Do we remember when it was to show someone how special they are to us? Or do we just remember that its to show off what we can get. Please understand that I KNOW not everyone is like this, and thats most of us. Even those that shop the Black Friday sales. However it's become apparent that there are people that are just out of control. People get injured every year at these special early shopping trips. Why? If you are not early enough on the lines in the cold then try again next year. Your child may be disappointed and sad.. and that's hard to watch. There were times when I was that child. I think I turned out pretty ok in the end and to tell you the truth I can't really recall what that special item was.. except for the time I wanted an electric alarm clock with the digital numbers...and got one that flipped little cards for the numbers. Trust me I have not ended up in therapy for this and I don't view my parents as horrible parents.

I stress out at this time of year with my IL's. Joe never helps me plan gifts. I know my SIL's always say they want gift cards. I prefer to do something special. yet I always have to wonder if its viewed as 'good enough'. I should just enjoy giving a gift to say thanks for being in our lives.. but instead always fear we are judged negatively. We tend to feel like tha black sheep of the family anyway for unknown reasons and the holiday's add to it. His family is large so I have to stretch the budget. I take time to handmake a lot. How sad that I feel its never appreciated for the true gift it is, with all the thought and effort put into it.

My office started something last year that I think is great fun. for our Christmas grab bag we have to make something for the person we are giving to. Total cost of supplies can be no more then $5.00. we had some great gifts last year. I think the winner was "Clammy Claus" made out of shells, lol. This put the focus on what was important... making something fun and a memory for those important to us... not on what to buy. I was also reminded this year of a simple gift I made a few years ago. I bought simple fabric picture frames and went online and found inspirational quotes for everyone. Made them look nice and that was that. I figured everyone could use a frame and the quote was researched with a lot of thought, but I figured they'd use it as a picture frame in the end. One coworker brought her frame in and put it on her desk. It has a meaningful quote about hard times and getting thru that. She had to remind me that 'I" gave those gifts and that she never changed the picture frame because the quote was that inspiring to her. That made me feel great and has stuck with me. Especially since several others also told me the same thing. It was a small price.. a lot of time finding the right quote.. and I made a lasting impression.

Maybe it's time to stop focusing on how much money we spend.. and go back to spending time. I have very generous baskets planned with food items that I am making and a few small other items tucked in. I'm tired of feeling like I'm competeing and not being generous enough when its my time and heart involved. And isn't time, love and appreciation what the Holiday's SHOULD be about? I think it's time to go back to old fashioned Christmas values and back to remember why we celebrate this time of year.

Christmas is a time for reaffirming and strengthening ties with family and loved ones; for many it has deep spiritual significance. We may need to dust off some old traditions, or create new traditions to replace excessive gift-giving. Some might like dinner by candlelight during the holidays. Others may enjoy reading out loud from spiritual or inspirational works. We can listen to Christmas music and cook, bake, or work together making original holiday cards and decorations. We can develop and rehearse creative family plays or presentations, to be "performed" for friends or relatives. We can bundle up for the cold and take special walks in nature together. Almost anything we do, especially if we do it together with loved ones, can become a deeply meaningful tradition.

Give a "voucher" for a week's worth of dishwashing (I'd be ecstatic for that, I hate washing dishes), a wax job on the car, an evening of babysitting, breakfast in bed, an hour's massage, help with preparing tax returns, or any other unique service you can provide. You can give someone a gift membership in an organization they like. Instead of buying anything, you can write a letter to a person listing 10 things you love, admire, appreciate, or respect about them. Your gift of time and thoughtfulness may be remembered long beyond a hundred knick-knacks collecting dust in their closet.

Some of these gifts may take time, but time can be freed from cancelled shopping chores and from the extra hours we'd have to work to pay for the shopping. We can remind ourselves that often what people most need is not more "stuff," but rather more forgiveness, love, communication, and fun.

These are just a few ideas; many more could be added. The important thing is to clarify for ourselves what are the most important parts of Christmas, and to spend our time and energy in harmony with those values.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Who's says Boppy's are just for babies?





JP has shown a definite preference for pillows lately. A week or so ago I was trying to get him settled for bed and tossed in the boppy pillow for him. He loves it as is evidenced by the pics, lol
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Snow Dog!

video

Peanut is a winter girl, she loves playing in snow! We had an early snow and I decided to take a video of Peanut being silly while chasing snow that I was kicking up for her. I'd have let her off leash if I wasn't leaving for work shortly after this was taken.

There was a morning about 3 years ago that I wish I'd had a video of. We had had a very heavy snowstorm the day before of about 12 inches. I was outside shoveling and I had Peanut out with me. It was so quiet and the schools were all closed. I had her off leash as the only thing moving was the blowing snow. Peanut was having a blast running in snow that was deeper then she was tall. At one point she was a few feet from the road and waiting for me to chase her. I didn't want to chase her as I was afraid she would run into the road. At that time I caught the sound of a snow plow coming down the road. This was one of those HUGE county trucks with the salt spreader attached and a double plow in the front.

Peanut just looked at me and hadn't noticed it yet. I kept eye contact with her so that she wouldn't run the wrong direction. At this point I was worried and afraid she run into the road if I took a step. I just talked to her to keep her attention.

All of a sudden she heard the truck and turned to see what it was.... it scared her and she started barking furiously at it for scaring her while running full out towards me. She would turn her head and bark while running. By the time she got to me I was laughing hysterically while leaning on the shovel. Poor Peanut, lol

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner - the easier way

I enjoy 2 Thanksgiving meals at this time of year. Believe it or not, one of them is a full meal at my office.

About 5 years ago we were in another building. This building was over 100 years old and had a full kitchen upstairs. One of our former coworkers had gotten an extra turkey that year and didn't need it. So she decided to see if any of us were interested in doing an office dinner. We all pitched in and brought something and a tradition was born.

Almost 4 years ago that building had a massive fuel spill disaster int he basement.. and we moved to a new office. Challenge here is that its a typical office with only a 2 foot square sink and a 3 foot counter for a kitchen. Our boss did buy a microwave and a convection oven though as the same former co-worker also enjoyed baking for the office.

That first Thanksgiving was....interesting. Imagine cooking and heating all the food needed in such a tiny space. The next year that original co-worker had moved on, but came for lunch with us. We got smarter by then as well. We bought a prepared meal from a deli.

This year my other co-worker and I had been dreading the lunch. Its a fun event and the food is always good. But so much effort in such a tiny kitchen to prepare was a nightmare. Several local gorcery stores were offering prepared meals. Silly me didn't read the fine print until MOnday. You had to order them 72 hours in advance, I only had 48 hours.

Now it wasn't a huge deal for me to cook a turkey. I've been making part or all of Thanksgiving Meals since I was in 8th grade... heck it was an extra credit assignment for me that year. However my boss didn't want me to have to do all that. WEll we had little choice at this time. I decided to see if I could find one of those fully cooked turkeys at the local grocery store. On Tuesday I went to see how good my luck would be. I asked an employee and they directed me to ask a butcher that was stocking other meats at the moment. I asked him if he had any of the brand I was looking for. He said he didn't have that brand, but he did have another one. I asked if it was fully cooked and he said yes. I told I didn't care waht brand it was and that he'd be saing me lots of work for the office luncheon. They only had one left and it was perfect. I made mashed potatoes and stuffing and my boss made green beans, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. The dishes we made were easy to make and took no time.

I get to work about 10am on Wednesdays. 2 other coworkers were there and hadn't heard the turkey story. They both thought I had brought in a raw turkey, still wrapped, to cook by noon, lol. It was the easiest lunch I think we've ever put together. Everything ran smoothly, the turkey was perfect and everyone was stuffed.

A fuly cooked turkey is on top of the list for next years Thanksgiving lunch already, lol

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The new hard drive.... the installation story

If you've been following the comments you'll already know a few things..

1 - i survived the wait
2 - ups.com and the live rep couldn't get on the same page.. the site said delviery yesterday, but never showed it on a truck and out for delivery. The live rep said there was an error and it was due in today, Tuesday. Not a big difference, but I was happy to see it on my doorstep last night, lol.
3- duh! I ordered the drive with the newer connection.. SATA instead of IDE. I figured this out on Saturday and picked up an adapter last night.

I tried to install last night but wasn't focusing properly and said it was better to wait till today. The adapter is in and I now need to learn about RAID as it keeps giving me a start page for settings. Not touching that until I know what I'm doing. Which is what I was advised by the computer person I go to locally when I need to.

I remembered this morning that I had to install something from Western Digital (hard drive brand) and that program was what made the installation a breeze. I downloaded and installed it a little while ago.

To be smarter today and on the safe side I'm copying all my photos onto a flash drive ... just in case. I have a picture file of 3.79G to fit onto a 4G flash drive. Hopefully I'll be able to squueze them on. That should be done by 3pm latest. Then I'll shut down and try to install again. With luck on my side I'll be able to install the drive with ease this time. It took the work computer an hour or so and I'm hopinh to report full success by 5pm today.

cross your usb cables for me :)

Update 4:27pm - I have successfully installed the new hard drive!. The old one is still in here, and I guess I'll need to eventually reformat that one to use as a back up disk. Or I may take it to work and use it in a computer that needs help there.

When I replaced the hard drive at work a few weeks ago it was my first attempt. I had pages and pages of instructions complete with pics that I'd found on the internet. I bought that hard drive based on a great sale price. It was also a Western Digital. After much hair pulling I went to their website for help and found the downloads that pretty much do all the work for you. That's why I was insistent on getting another Western Digital for home. Maybe all brands do this, but this company won me over with how easy it was to copy to the new drive. All I had to do was run the Data Lifeguard Tools that I downloaded from their site and it the rest was a matter of simple clicks and waiting for the hard drive to work. Last night I wasn't thinking clearly and forgot about the download. Oh and one other thing that made this drive nice was that since its a SATA hard drive it doesn't have to be installed while it's lying flat. Which is a good thing since I didn't have room to lie it on my computer and had it on end while it did all the work. There seems to be a bit of lag time, but I'm sure it will all work out in the end. I now have enough room to do the program updates I've been afraid to do.. plus the copying of DVD's which was prevented from not having enough room on the other hard drive. Yay!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I hate waiting

I admit it.
I like instant gratification.
I was a snooper when I was a kid... well ok I still am, I just have more self control now, lol. There are times I'm content to wait. Oddly enough I was in no hurry to have my son born before he was ready. I knew a lot of mom's that were looking to try anything several weeks early. I was fine waiting. Other times I have absolutely no patience. This has been made worse by the internet and the ability to see where things are during shipment.
I have been in dire need of a new hard drive for my computer for some time. My computer was custom built by my dad several years ago. Thru his faith in me and my innate desire to learn, I've made several upgrades. Never thought about the hard drive though. Dad installed an 18G hard drive when he gave me the computer. Back then it was fine and a lot more then I was used to. Technology being what it is though new programs take up a lot of space. 
Such is the case now and I only have 3G available. Which leads to issues from time to time. I've been worried about replacing it before I can't access it anymore and lose my pics. I do have them backed up onto CD's, but would hate to lose everything on the current hard drive. I've run a multitude of programs to determine whats eating up all my space and have uninstalled or deleted a lot to just keep it at status quo.
After warning Joe for several weeks I wandered over to Overstock.com based on the suggestion of a good friend of mine. It was there that I found a lovely 250G hard drive for a price I was willing to pay.
Instant gratification can easily take a back seat to saving money in my mind, lol.
On Friday I placed the order with it's whopping $1.00 shipping fee. Ran out to help my mom for a few hours and came back to sad news. Overstock.com had an inventory issue and the hard drive was not available. However they refunded me the entire price  including the $1.00 shipping AND gave me an additional $5.00 off my next purchase for the inconvenience. So what did I decide to do? 
well you know girls do think size is important right?  ;)
I found a 320G with a 16MB cache that in the end cost me only $4.00 more. Needless to say I purchased it. Now comes the waiting game.
UPS.com has it as a departure from some city in California on 11/18/08 @4:05am. 
it's 11/20/08 today and I want an update! LOL. I want to know what new city my box is traveling to on it's long way to New York state. Sure they give me a delivery date of 11/24. But being that I am trying to keep my impatience at bay, thats just not enough, lol.
4 more days until I have more room then I know what to do with.. but ohhhh the possibilities!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Franklin!

JP was enjoying a bath this evening. Among his many toys are some really adorable Amazing Animals by Fisher Price that are for bath time. Among these is a turtle.

JP loves watching Franklin on Noggin channel.

He was playing with the turtle toy and all of a sudden holds it up to eye level and says:

"Franklin!"

and then laughed and dropped the turtle back in the water, lol.

If you've ever watched the show, he said it just like Franklin's little sister on the show. JP either isn't a big talker as far as words... or I'm not catching them, lol. This was so cute and I'm glad I heard it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Parrot Parenting 101

This is a new technique of parenting that my husband is creating. I told him that I'm going to nickname him Polly. He repeats everything I say when JP is into something he shouldn't be.

The scene: JP quietly sneaking over to the VCR next to the TV with a handful of crayons. Joe sits on the couch mesmerized by whatever program or commercial is currently on.

Me: "JP - no, we don't put crayons into the VCR"
Joe - 2 second delay "JP - no crayons"

The scene: Out for a quick bite to eat at a local fast food place. Joe is in another world - gazing off at a wall while I attempt to eat and entertain and feed JP

Me: "JP - we don't throw food off the table even if you're tired and cranky"
Joe - 2 second delay: : " JP no throwing food"

I could list many scenes but you get the general idea. Joe laughs because it's so obvious that he repeats everything I say that even he has picked up on it. Because he repeats everything I started calling him the Parrot Parent, lol.

Last night he did one even better. I was showing him a youtube clip of this weeks episode of Ghost Hunters. There's a really cool scene where one of the investigators coats gets pulled down at the collar 3 times. The clip was about 4 minutes and JP started fussing in the other room (right next to the one we were in) about half way in. Joe watched the clip and went in, I thought he took care of JP and figured out what was bothering him. JP was still upset so I finally went in about a minute later.

Joe had walked into the living r0om and looked JP's way, but never LOOKED at him. JP had the pail over his head again with his arm in the pail. How the heck do you walk into a room and not notice a huge orange pail stuck on your child?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Those times you just HAVE to take a quick photo


Ever have one of "those" parenting moments? Where you know you just need to take a photo to explain it? I was taking a shower and as usual Peanut was right outside the door where I could see her. All of a sudden JP cries from the living room. Peanut got up to check on him which meant it was not a simple cry. It was a cry of distress.

I jumped out of the shower and went into the living room to see this:



He must have had it on his head and the pail slipped over his head and around his neck with his arm inside. I saw that he was ok and just had to get the camera.

Now the look on his face is NOT utter dismay and/or pain. It's actually of " I'm still not happy but the camera is here and I have to smile"

I only took the one pic as I wasn't going to leave him in long enough to get a happier looking picture. Poor kid... the pics i will be able to embarass him with later when he's dating, lol.
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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

9 DEC Police trucks......... and a hoof?

Today was a day of excitement at our office. Of course it started off with my coworker needing to be off, which left me working 6:30am -7pm. Even with a 2 hour break in the middle of the day it was long and tiring. Ehh it was just for today and the day eventually ended so that was no big deal.

At the end of our lunch break I was in the kitchen area. Think tiny sink and counter, with the microwave on a rolling cart next to the fridge on a rolling cart. It works, but it's small, lol. Out of the corner of my eye I see a DEC (environmental conservation) Police SUV come around the corner of the building... followed by another.

Being the curious soul (did someone say nosy?) that I am, I went to get a better look. It wasn't 2 vehicles. In the end there were 7 marked and 2 unmarked. We have no idea what was going on. It was right before the afternoon hours started so it was hard to find out. I'd love to know what was going on. Several people said it was a staging area, but then that was confirmed to not be true. They were there for something in our building and the grounds.

The day wore on and I don't know what time they all left. I finally left the office about 7pm, and as I walked out a dog and a woman were walking up the hill towards me. I stopped to pet the dog who had come over to me. The woman then came up and was talking about how the area where the dumpster is located is very dark. Which is true, its very poorly lit. We're used to it. I was joking around with her about the DEC and how we have no idea what was going on.

Then she told me another interesting tidbit. She was cleaning an office, on Sunday I think, and said she went to throw the trash out. We have new tenants downstairs that pack the garbage full on Saturdays because they won't break down their vacuum cleaner boxes. By Monday its always overflowing. This woman then tells me she went to the dumpster and in the back corner hanging over the edge...

was a hoof.

I asked her how big and she estimated the size of a deer although she didn't do an in depth look at it. Can't say I blame her.

Now you also have to understand something about one of our other neighbors in the building. They're a massage center that are:

kind enough to have very late hours.. typically up to or past 11pm
offers an assisted shower at the beginning of each massage
cater mostly to men
uses lovely Asian woman as the massage therapists

.........well you get the idea.

now the owner of this spa maintains that these girls do NOT live there. Uh huh. suuuuuure they don't. They have no cars.. never get dropped off...never get picked up. They constantly cook - and it smells like fish and garlic and permeates the building... they plant container gardens... do their shopping at the convenience store and gas stations near by, etc, etc. It's obvious that they live there.

so now we have these tennants that never leave the building to go to an actual home and a hoof in the dumpster... which did smell way more ripe then it ever has.

I could swear that one of the undercover DEC guys went into the spa with a notebook. Darn walls! How can I be nosy....errrrrrr curious if I can't see or hear anything.

I'm back!!!

I decided to take the plunge and make my blog have it's own custom domain. After three nail biting days where I thought I did something wrong... it's fine and I'm back!!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

20 times left and 20 times right!



Mom handed me my toothbrush and told me to take it to Dad. He was in charge of toothbrushing since he fed me Doritos tonight.

Silly mommy, I don't need Daddy.. I took my toothbrush and brushed my teeth just fine thank you!
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