Monday, November 26, 2007

foggy -- *ribbit *ribbit

[an inside joke between me and my daughter!]

Today we had some major wacky weather in the burbs of Philly: a torrential downpour followed by some seriously spooky fog that lasted ALL day. I felt like I was living in Monterey, CA again.

I really don't know how people manage to drive around in that visually impairing stuff -- it's like trying to navigate through a Lord of the Rings movie set. However, while driving around with my son, we noticed that the oncoming cars and their obscenely elongated headlight beams were like an optical illusion -- as they were coming up over the hills, and i
n a blink of an eye, it looked like they were driving into an underground tunnel and then quickly resurfacing again. It was made even eerier with the ethereal lighting effect originating from the dense fog. That feature of the fog was kinda cool.

Regardless of cool visual effects, I'll be happier with better driving conditions tomorrow.

Friday, November 23, 2007

interesting proposition

I found this link while surfing the internet and found it rather intriguing.

Has me thinking not only about holiday shopping but regular all-year-round consumerism as well.

Hmmm ... but could it work and/or make a difference?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Dear Santa

[Black Friday's almost upon us ... so here we go!]

Ok. I’ll stop stressing and get on with it.
I’ll make a list
and check it twice.
I know for a fact I’ve been more naughty than nice.

So being a friendly-like wife,
I try to oblige hubby
by giving him a Christmas wish list
which greatly helps him with his gift-giving process.

Now, don’t get me wrong,
I may be freaking out about how much money we tend to spend this time of year.
And I may go majorly berserko when I feel compelled to buy crap
and still more crap
when engaging in compulsory Christmas gift-giving practices.

But, hey, it’s the holidays and all the cool kids are consuming.

So without further ado, here’s Molly Gras’ Christmas Wish List for good ole’ Pos …

1) Black Mary Jane Crocs®, size 7 ½.
I know. It looks kind of funky. But I have a pair of Croc clogs and those bad boys rock!

2) New Microwave.
My current microwave is huge, looks like it belongs in a 1970’s kitchen, has disturbing burn marks on the inside edge, and has been making this alarming rattling sound when I microwave something for more than five minutes.

3) Pandora® Murano glass beads.
Bling! A magpie girl, such as myself, can never have enough of the sparkly stuff. For my birthday last year, many of my friends coordinated their gift-giving gestures and gave me a lovely, partially-filled Pandora bracelet. I love the thing! And it’s great because for every birthday, major holiday, anniversary, or any ole’ special occasion you can add a bead to your bracelet which becomes filled with special memories! So far, five of my best pals have bracelets, as well as my daughter, and it makes gift-giving a cinch.

4) Life is Good® pajamas.
I’m a sucker for comfy PJs. And I’m crazy for LIG merchandise – their little cartoon dog gets me every time! For some reason I always ask for pajamas for Christmas and for my birthday. I don’t know why. I guess it’s because I love to lounge around the house in appropriate and comfy sleepwear. Besides, the transfer to beddy-bye time is much more efficient if I’m already dressed for the occasion.

5) Nike or New Balance running shoes, size 7 ½.
I need new running shoes. The ones I have now have flattened toe and heel support – it’s like wearing pancakes. Ouch! Something you need to know about me is that I’ve never, ever been a part of the ‘marathon’ set, I’m more of a “jalker” – a lovely combination of walking and light jogging: just enough up and down momentum to reach maximum jiggle then a quick throttle back to minimum wiggle. It’s really a rather unattractive thing to witness which is why I prefer to “jalk” late evening (however I would rather be out in the dead of night – but unfortunately I can’t see the sidewalks then).

6) Long running pants (not the tight type – NO ONE wants to see what I’ve got in tight marathon pants!) and long-sleeved Under Armour® running shirts: pants – size not telling you and shirt –medium.
Because I insist on embarrassing myself in the neighborhood, I would like to camouflage my ample parts in strategically flattering active wear. And obviously I’ll need my active wear to have that subtle reflector striping to help stave off any unwanted car collisions.

7) Dansko® Risa suede boots, European size 38.
Boots. I’ve always wanted nice, comfortable, wear-to-work, wear-with-a-skirt-or-jeans boots. Every autumn, I always end up coveting the fashionable fall footwear of my working compadres. Coveting is a bad thing. I should do something about that. Therefore, I’ve decided to put this on my wish list!

8) Socks: in many colors, heights, and made of various soft materials.
Like PJs, I can never have enough pairs of yummy socks

9) This book from Amazon.

It looks rather geeky and bizarre, I know, but I’m in a bit of a research frenzy on this particular topic. I’m hoping to create a short curriculum based on this subject for the middle-school teachers I support as well as create a comprehensive PowerPoint presentation to educate the rest of the school’s faculty on it sometime in the spring. Therefore, I need relevant information; thus the need for this geeky book.

Well, Pos and blogger pals, here’s my attempt at listing my holiday wants and wishes. And although I abhor senseless consumerism and reckless consumption, I hope I’ve been able to justify to you all (but mostly to myself) what these material wishes may mean to me. Regardless of whether I receive one or all of my requests*, what’s really important is that I know that I am loved. I know that I have everything I need. And most importantly, I know that I don’t need stuff to make me happy.

*(Pos, please don’t even think about buying ALL of this stuff – we’re going to France next May! Have Santa fill my stocking with francs.)

$$$wishes: to be able to afford wonderful little gifts for each and every one of my friends
$$$sins: so far not one Christmas present has been purchased – it’s going to be light fare and a ‘cracker and ketchup’ December for this family
$$$goals: to have every well-thought-out and meaningful present purchased and wrapped before Christmas Eve – yeah, right!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

time to stuff some mattresses

The value of a dollar is totally tanking.
The current exchange rate is horrid.
The Chinese are rattling their multi-trillion dollar piggy bank,
and are contemplating a currency shake out.

My visions of spending dollars this holiday season,
and then next year abroad as francs,
appears at the present to be rather foolish.
What's a middle-class American to do?

Swim across the Pacific Ocean,
paddle along the South China Sea,
sneak across the Guangzhou border,
and lie in wait for them to begin their massive monetary dump.

I'll snatch it by the handfuls and stuff it in every crevice I possess
then I'll slink back home and fill my mattress to the seams.
In the hopes that it’ll last for more than a week,
or a day,
or even an hour,
as I attempt the impossible --
try living the American Dream.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

update on baby

Max loves his fluffy new bed. He practically carries it around with him (of course, he sort of thinks it's a glorified chew toy -- but we're working on that). He sleeps in it when he's in his crate. He sleeps in it when he's at my feet while I work at the computer. He sleeps in it when the boys want him with up on the couch next to them. And right now, as I type this, his body is half sprawled out of it, his bat-like ears are flipped back and away from his head and he has the silly thing partially tipped over. He's simply a crack up!

Max is playing nice, peeing nice, pooping nice, eating nice and really getting the hang of riding in the car nice (the howling has diminished to low-level whimpering when the car is in motion). The kids love him. The hubby loves him. And most importantly, I love that fuzzy little guy -- I'm absolutely ga-ga for him!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

big bucks but not for me

According to an Associated Press report that came out yesterday, the "economic costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are estimated to total $1.6 trillion ... for the period from 2002 to 2008".

1.6 trillion dollars!

A per family break down: it'll cost a family of four $20,900 to cover that bill.

20,900 dollars!

With that amount I could ...

pay for roughly two to three years of college for one of my kids.

pay off my van or car.

go home to Louisiana (with my entire family) at least a dozen times.

invest wisely and be set to retire.

buy nice shoes. Lots of nice shoes.

I really don't want to pay for bullets, or warplanes or for the burials of war casualties.

I am really not interested in footing that particular expense.

I certainly have enough of my own.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

middle class crunch

I’ve made a fabulous discovery and, from now on, will be reporting frequent finds based on it.

I’m a big time listener of National Public Radio and generally never make the distinction between one segment hosted by any particular individual (unless it’s Terry Gross – she’s always so, I don’t know, smooth, sharp and completely prepared) over another.

However, as I was driving my kids to school this morning, an American Public Media’s Marketplace segment--Priced out of the American Dream--came on and grabbed my attention. Really, I let my van idle for a couple more minutes--while employing a puny ploy of shifting and re-shifting piles of bags that I frequently haul into work each day--in order to listen the conclusion of that program.

I’m glad I idled.

The host, Doug Kritzner, was interviewing Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren—an academic associated with economics, personal spending and personal debt. She basically said that the America we now know and the standard of living we hold dear will cease to exist in the not-so-distant future.

“We’ve built this latest economic boom on borrowed money” she reported. “Consumers … have managed to stay afloat by using their credit cards and by taking out home-equity lines of credit.”

Ouch. This doesn’t sound good.

And by every account our consumption has gone up – way up. It has tripled in the last 20 years.

[One interesting note: American consumers are responsible for two thirds of the Gross National Product. That’s a hell of a lot of stuff we feel the need to have.]

“Have Americans been over-consuming?” inquired host Doug. “Surely a good chunk of that is discretionary spending”.

[You know … blowing their wad on big ticket items such as monstrous McMansions, gas-guzzling SUVs, expensive vacations and (to pick on a dear blogging pal) flat-screen Plasma TVs.]

No, reports Professor Warren, Americans are simply trying to keep a lid on those troublesome “fixed expenses” – mortgages, health insurance, car payments (in order to get to work—because it takes more than one income to makes ends meet), child care (because it takes more than one income to make ends meet) and, most importantly, taxes.

[Yeah taxes!! Goodness knows we can’t fund a gazillion-dollar war without them! *smile*]

And the scariest part is that a typical American family carries about two-months’ worth of income in credit card debt.

Ohhh ouch baby!

And because of all these money stresses and other financial aggravations, it’s quite possible that some people will delay getting married (or opt out altogether), and start families later (or opt out altogether) to avoid the above mentioned issues. And very soon some people may begin to employ that tried and true tightening-belt strategy and stop buying so much stuff for a while (or maybe forever) to lessen the above mentioned issues.

And because of such reactionary monetary thinking, many experts foresee an ugly set of consequences for our supply and demand type of economy.

Save and don’t spend = bad GNP. Spend and spend some more = obscene National Debt.

Either way, we’re all kinda screwed.

$$wishes: win “the big one”, invest wisely, and become a sage philanthropist
$$sins: Christmas is coming … I feel the sick urge to consume out of traditional necessity
$$goals: Christmas is coming … I want to start employing different and meaningful strategies of giving

Thursday, November 8, 2007

newest arrival

no, I am not pregnant (Thank the Lord)

But we are increasing the size of our family by one. I’m finally allowing our family to get a dog. I mean getting a dog -- this is huge! The fact that my children’s persistent begging, pleading and whining--pitted against my cast-iron will of resistance—winning out simply shocks me.

You should all know by now—via my sporadic, inconsistent, abbreviated, manic postings—that we’re crazy busy people. We are perpetual motion folks. I’m constantly donning the “Mom’s Taxi Cab’ hat in order to run the roads for my kids. I barely have time to scrub a bathroom much less scoop dog poop.

What the hell am I thinking!

I’m not thinking. That’s what.

Fatal error in judgment -- I held the puppy. That’s all it took. He is so cute, soft, fluffy, and adorable. He’s got the stubbiest little legs and the sweetest little face. He looks just like his mama and she’s such a lovely dog.

And my kids are to the moon with excitement over getting this puppy. The eight year old can barely contain himself.

But then the doubts and terrors start to take hold …

What about the vet costs?

What about the cost of accumulating stuff (i.e.: the crate, dishes, toys, leashes, collars, etc)?

What about the smell? The mess? The destruction of personal (and not so personal) property?

What about the HUGE lifestyle change that has to take place?


But then I remember. He is just so cute. I’m compelled to visit him everyday until we’re allowed to take him home. My kids are so happy. I’m pretty happy too. And he is just so cute.

This is very similar to what I went through before deciding to get pregnant.

And so far that’s turned out pretty good.

Maybe this will too.

We’ll see.

I’ll keep you posted!

$$wishes: to be able to budget for a professional pooper scooper
$$sins: slow down on new puppy purchases – he’s not even in residence yet!
$$goals: buy puppy chow in bulk – more economical

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

too much to say ... too little time

I had to work -- finish and coordinate reports.

I had to help a friend out -- put out some fires, as it were.

I had to make a side trip with my camera -- I'll report on my findings tomorrow.

I had to run -- literally, I had to get out and move my body.

I had to watch my little girl sing -- first High School Fall Choral performance, it was so cool!

I have to read to my baby now.

Good night

and I'll write tomorrow


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Criminals always come back to the scene of their crime

Appleton Township Police Log

2205 hours, Tuesday October 30, 2007 – Unrecognizable and strange covert activities occurring on the lawn of 1234 Ivydale Ave., Appleton Township. No calls were made to the police ... yet. Inhabitants of aforementioned abode – some: on the road, the rest: oblivious or abed.

2225 hours, same evening – Missing inhabitants: upon returning to abode, note strange apparatus lurking on front lawn in the vicinity of the front door. Apparatus approached with caution. Unidentifiable, therefore summarily dismissed as inhabitants enter the house.

0725 hours, Wednesday October 31, 2007 – Eldest female child reports to the rest of the household [with barely contained mirth] the proper identification of lurking apparatus on front lawn. A scuffle ensues and head of the household has to restore order before an official report can be made. After much deliberation, conjecturing and photo-taking, a sanctioned man-hunt is organized, lists of names are compiled and investigators are sent out to canvass the neighborhood and interview any acquaintances thought capable of perpetrating such a crime.

1730 hours, same day – Exhausted all possible leads. Seriously considering bringing in Scotland Yard. The trail is starting to turn cold …

1830 hours, same day – Inhabitants leave abode for annual pagan rites and rituals – disguises have been donned to discourage any more crimes being committed on their property.

2105 hours, Wednesday evening October 31, 2007 – The inhabitants of 1234 Ivydale Ave. return. They spot movement and suspicious activity next to “lurking apparatus” [see Exhibit A]. Cackling and witchy laughter is reported being heard near the scene of the crime.

Two unsuspecting culprits are apprehended attempting to complete their lewd acts of front lawn vandalism. Arrived at decision to not contact local police for handcuffing and reading of rights – the attempt would have been futile: all procedures would have been drowned out in gales of breathless giggles.

What follows is an abbreviated download of very long rap sheets on these repeat offenders:

Amelia “Don’t Call me Mutha” Snootz

[AKA - Rock’em Sock’em Snootz, Momma Lotsalove, Smack Mammy, to name a few]
~Serving a sentence of 8 to life for the unthinking crime of procreating
~Served time in Sing-Sing for flagrant Tupperware abuses
~Has been sighted lurking at automobile showrooms with decidedly possessive intents and has been known to toss small children aside in order to get at very good chocolate

Rayna “Will Steal for Good Shoes” Crumm
[AKA – Auntie Suga Mama, Origami Diva, Duchess Bad Ass, to name a few]
~Serving a life sentence for the outrageous crime of spoiling small children
~Served time in Alcatraz for flagrant moving box abuses
~Has been seen skulking behind the Stars Wars Lego displays at strategically-located ‘Toys or Us’ stores and has been known to hide her little white doggy in her purse to justify her cinnamon Scooby snack addiction.

1600 hours, Thursday November 1, 2007 – Upon further investigation, it has been determined that the two suspects held in custody would face the stiffest penalty: a well-established reputation as supreme mischief makers and the interminable consequence of having their infamous criminal records now accessible by the public.

The most unfortunate outcome is for the residents of 1234 Ivydale Ave. They are stuck with the realization that there is no way they can reconcile their genetic link to two such deviant offenders – they’ll continue to be tormented with the knowledge that genealogy is just one record that can’t be purged!

[Exhibit A]

Criminals always come back to the scene of their crime -- ALWAYS!

(Especially when they really like their work)