Tuesday, October 25, 2011

As seen on other blogs and facebook.

A great post on Pagan Household titled Death sits next to us at supper.  Thought provoking and short. The best kind of stuff.


How True.


Oldie but still Goldie!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Culture of Rudeness

I am fed up of rude people. Lately that includes my children (at times anyway). And I can't fault them really. They are surrounded by a culture that approves of rude behavior. Just watch a few episodes of shows on Disney Channel and your head will reel. 

Except Phineas and Ferb.
Don't knock that show. It's hilarious and I love it.

Our children are raised watching shows where exceptionally rude behaviour is met, not with shock and disdain by the audience, but with laughter.  We teach our kids that it's cool and funny to be rude, selfish, mean and dumb.


Let's look at what we adults watch and laugh at/with. There is an abundance of shows with rude actors, reality TV stars, anchors and other TV personalities. For those of you who watched Ricky Gervais during Oscar night... were you disgusted or amused?   Be honest now.  America has become a country that lauds mediocrity, rudeness and downright insulting behavior. We confuse rudeness and maliciousness with honesty and straightforwardness.

Half the adult shows we watch are based on making fun of others, being rude and obnoxious. And we gobble it up. I notice an uptick in my children's rudeness depending on what they watch and I firmly believe that adults are just as susceptible to it.

When my son or daughter is rude or mouthy I call them on their bad behavior. Unfortunately we let adults get away with it. How often have we been faced with a rude person and said something? I bet most of us just seethe inside but keep our mouths shut.
I own a business and my staff and I have seen a considerable increase in our customers' rudeness over the years. And since we need their business we suck it up. I've even had my receptionist have to dodge a pen being thrown at her. That was you Mr. Durrant !!!!!  And guess what, we were dumb enough to let you use our services again. In fact you are a customer right now.  What kind of manners did your mother teach you? But your money is just as green and we have to pay our bills. So, we suck it up.

Entitlement Society At sometime, in the last 80 years or so, we have become increasingly demanding. The customer is king. Now, over the last few years, this entitlement notion, has been coupled with rudeness. We see it all around us. It's cool to be demanding and rude.  We often we have customers come at us with an aggressive stance regarding some demands they have. I wish they would understand that a polite and sweet demeanor would be so much more effective.  Be polite, be appreciative and you'll have a much better chance to get what you want and get it a lot faster than by being obnoxious and manipulative.  Man, I wish I could tell them that.

Internet Society The anonymity afforded us by the Internet has greatly contributed to the general tone we find among people. People are downright vicious, rude and malicious behind that perceived veil of privacy and anonymity called the Internet.

I've been accused of being rude. So has my staff. Surprisingly the people who call us rude are invariably the ones who come at us with unreasonable demands and then are surprised when we stand firmly by our policy. And I stand firmly by my staff. I've seen them stay calm and polite even when they had someone scream at them and call them names (and later complain to me that my staff had been rude to them).

I had three customers scream at me. I asked one to leave the building when she started to throw things around, denied another one service (incidentally she came back the next year much better behaved and a pleasure to deal with), and I hung up on the third. The one I hung up on called back and was incredulous.

"Did you hang up on me just now?"

"Yes, I did. And if you yell at me again I'll hang up again."

"Oh? Well, it was on a speakerphone so you probably thought I was shouting."

" No sir, you were shouting  at me and when you do that I cannot hear your words, only your voice."


"Well, I am sorry."

" Good, apology accepted. Let's discuss this like adults now."

And we did. And it worked out so much better that way.

Being polite does not mean being a push-over, or a floor mat. I've seen parents shrug their shoulders when their little darling was rude or selfish and pass it off with a 'Oh, she's is so strong willed' or some other excuse of similar nature. We do not give our children the tools to maintain their position in an educated and polite way and so they become rude and obnoxious and we wonder what happened. 'Gee, I have no idea where he gets it from?' Have you looked in a mirror lately? Watch your kids. Our mirror is right there.

(And since we are talking about rude...when you go into a business or store and ask the employee questions could you please not talk on your cellphone at the same time and later on claim that your questions weren't properly answered?)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Taking my HEALTH for granted... a wake-up call.

I am forty-two. Yep, 42. There I said it. I am forty-two and overweight.  I was forty-one and overweight last year and this year I am forty-two and ten pounds more overweight. My yearly visit to our family doctor was a wake-up call this year. As I sat in the waiting room I observed the other patients coming in an out and what I saw was a lot of old folks with a LOT of health issues, many preventable. Like diabetes. And that, kiddos, is written in the stars for me. Diabetes is something I find on both sides of my family. Anyway, to stay on track.  As I was eventually whisked into the examination room (after the hated weigh-in) the nurse whipped out a full size piece of paper, sat down at the doctors desk and asked me for my list of medication.

'Wow, well, that makes my life easier then.'

We proceeded onto the next step, the blood pressure check.

'One-hundred-eight over sixty-six! That is marvelous'

I took that for granted. After all, I never have high blood pressure.

Eventually (and it was a looong eventually) the doctor came in and we talked. He told me that I had been gaining between eight and ten pounds every year  since he started seeing me.


He also told me my cholesterol has been on the high side for the last two years, but since I don't have any other risk factors he didn't put me on statins. But now I am in my forties and that's when researchers believe plaque starts accumulating. You know, the kind of arterial plaque which sends us to the hospital or the morgue when we are in our fifties and sixties.


I don't want to sit every three months in a doctors waiting room when I am in my fifties or sixties. But it was clear that I would, unless I examine my life and change a few things.

'So, what do I do?'

'You are really asking me?'

'Who else should I ask? You are my doctor!'

The good doctor sat down, pulled out a calorie and weight calculator and discussed things with me and gave me some plans. He also cautioned me to go slowly and change things a little at a time rather than crash and burn.

Good advice.

So, here is:

Change #1 - Eat smaller portions.
Change #2 - Prepare snacks in controlled portion ahead of time and eat only those.

I was a skinny kid. My nickname in highschool was 'Ribs' because I was so bony. Now its more akin to 'Beluga' whale. But the problem is that my parents never stopped my snacking. I was always eating, what-ever, when-ever, where-ever. It didn't matter. If it was within reach and fit side-ways in my maw it was gone. Now I seem to gain weight reading anything printed in bold. I love to snack and it has been a life-long habit. So the smart thing here would be for me to cut down on my meal intake and have healthier snack options available rather than eat whatever the kids are eating.

It sucks and I don't like these kind of changes. But these kind of changes are probably a whole lot better than the drastic changes which would accompany a serious and long term health crisis.

I informed my husband about these changes and told him that there are two things I will not compromise on until the bitter end.

My cup of tea and two cups of coffee in the morning


my glass of red wine in the evening.

You can try and pry them out of my cold, stiff, and dead fingers.

Atheists are right!


A dear family friend of my parents passed away a weeks days ago. He and my mother loved to have philosophical and theological discussions. Incidentally one of my favorite discourses as well.

He was an atheist and so is my mother.

What differentiated the two of them was the fact that he would practically shove his beliefs down anyones throat. My mother is private about it. And the two of them would have the biggest squabbles about that. Her take on the whole thing was that personal beliefs are just that, personal. And whether it is a deep belief in God of what ever flavor you choose, atheism or the spaghetti monster, it isn't something that is meant to be forced upon people. She used to tell him that he was just as bad as the Jehova's witnesses and Evangelists who would come pounding on our door with regularity. His response was irate to say the least. And he could be irate at great length and with gusto.  >Grin<

I completely agreed with my mother. As much as I disliked it when complete strangers felt it necessary to try and convert me (and there was something about my mother and me that attracted religious nuts) I felt that it was just as bad when our family friend ambushed people with his particular brand of religion. It was inconsiderate and rude and for some reason atheists have lately delighted in shoving their convictions into peoples faces.

My children are raised in an agnostic home. My husband believes in God. I am purely agnostic but make sure that my children understand that this is merely my point of view and that they are welcome to build their own. I tell them about different religions and encourage them to be respectful and considerate but not ever be scared or bullied into any sort of faith or belief. I cannot stand some of the atheist activities I've been reading about over the years. What bothers me is that they can be so incredibly intolerant towards people and symbols of faith. Why do they feel so threatened I wonder? 

Do you really need to be a person of the same  faith or at least any kind of faith to reply in kind when someone wishes you something like 'God be with you?' What do you think?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A day at the Zoo!

Not many words but mostly some pictures of a recent outing/Fieldtrip to the zoo. It's a dinky little zoo but it's better than nothing. For us it was a big event as it is the first time in 5 years that we were able to go. Missy's allergies handled it fairly well with an extra Benadryl for good measure and a puff or two of the rescue inhaler.

We had no idea how windy and cold it was at the zoo and poor Bear was freezing. Missy had two layers on but Bear only one. After taking this picture it was clear we weren't going to enjoy this day with Bears teeth chattering and so we went to the souvenir shop and purchased an overpriced but warm sweatshirt hoodie for the boy.

A gibbon. We saw this chap and a black Gibbon in this enclosure.

By a large pond we saw all kinds of water fowl.

Here in the USA these fellows are a big deal, in Europe they are pretty common.

Feeding frenzy.

And this strange beastie was found petrified by the water's edge. Did Medusa get it, we wondered?

Born at the zoo, this little fellow is quite the star. It's a girl actually.

Mom and Dad keeping a close eye.

This interesting beastie is called a Rock Hyrax.

One of a pair of Fennec Foxes. Native to Northern Africa, they are the smallest foxes in the world. They live in an extremely hot and arid desert and even have fur on their paws to keep them from getting burned. Their large ears allow body heat to dissipate and keep them cooler.

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree, Merry, merry king of the bush is he...

Presenting Mr. and Mrs. Hornbill

Nigel's better looking cousin.

I wuvvvv you.....

Yep, that's the spot.... thaaat's the spot, now a little to the left, my left, not your left....

Where'd she go? Where'd she go?=
Mountain goats

What is pink and has black stripes? A Zebra with sunburn, of course...

A cotton tamarin enjoying lunch.

A wallaby

Spot the red wolf.

Nagini's cousin, twice removed.

Llama at the petting zoo. Except they make sure you can't pet these cantankerous animals.

King of the jungle.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I love reading homeschool blogs. That being said, many that I like are Christian. I am not a Christian. But I have nothing against Christians. But then I have nothing against Buddhists, Wiccans, Hindus or Muslims. I furthermore am neutral towards Unitarian Universalists, the Baha'i, the Taoist, Animists and just about any other form of worship.  But what gets me hot under the collar is the Christian arrogance to think that a person is lacking if they are not reached, AKA converted. So, today in reading one of the blogs I visit about once a month or so, I noticed a button in the corner called 'Unreached People of the Day' staring at me. Featured on the button is an Indian village woman. And some stats were given on the button as well. It encouraged people to pray for these people because there is no evangelical presence in their area.

At the risk of stepping on all kinds of Christian piggies here and loosing who knows how many 'friends' on my blog I must say this: Leave non-Christians alone. Please! They are doing just fine! Please take the time and familiarize yourselves with other religions and realize that the core messages on all of them is the same. They have a faith that is as dear to them as yours is to you. Hinduism is much older than most other current faiths. And I say current faiths because they come and they go. A faith may hang around for thousands of years but eventually it changes as new prophets come along and new religions evolve!

Converting a people removes a deep root from them. A link to their history, their land, their culture and their ancestors. And this is worst for rural people who must have that link as it merges their lives with the rhythm of the land.

Pray for them if it makes you happy, but let them be who they are, just much as you would want to be allowed to remain who you are.

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. [Matthew 7:12]

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lots to do and I am making it public!

I have much planned to do today, but like many of us, I tend to go off with the faeries and don't get nearly as much done as I planned or could. So, in an order to hold myself accountable I am posting my 'to-do today' list here.

1. Cut up two chickens and cook them  - done cutting them.
2. Finish Bear's room - done
3. Plan next week's menu -done - sort of
4. Clean out the refrigerator
5. Plan my to-do list for Saturdays dinner invite
6. Vacuum house - done one room >grin<

Friday, September 30, 2011

Designed Homes

I have a notebook I am slowly filling up with pictures of homes, rooms, design details etc. The home I live in was mostly 'decorated'  by my husband. While the furniture is all a high quality it does not reflect our life-style or taste anymore. My dream is to slowly change our home, one room at a time into a reflection of us as a family.  I enjoy clipping and pasting the pictures into the notebook and then writing my thoughts about the picture in the margins.

Another nice resource is dwellinggawker. Here are some images that grabbed my attention. I hope you enjoy them.

I love the vibrant colors in the Morrocan style decor in the first picture. The Tuscan style home in the subsequent pictures appeals very much to me but I find the colors scheme inside too monochromatic. Aside from that the house is too big for my liking but I love the limestone-stucco combinaton and view of the vineyards.

Skulls for All Hallows Eve or Dia de los Muertos

A recent foray into Michael's Craft Store yielded some wonderful paper mache skull masks. The kids and I had a wonderful time decorating them.

Ant Swarm in our Front Yard!

Two weeks ago we found hundreds of ants in our front yard. To see a better image click on the pictures. These ants were getting ready to swarm.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Into the lion's den....or... how to organize a kid's room.

My poor son. His room is a disaster. The way I see it, there are several causative agents and they will be addressed today!

a) he has a hard time letting go of things.  This means I need to go with him piece by piece through his possessions and help him evaluate what can go and what means enough to keep.

b) lots of stuff and not enough storage. Once we evaluate what stays we will decide what storage he needs.

c) his clothes closet is a small walk-in and the floor is so strewn he can barely get in. Time to clean up.

d) the shelves are too high and he has a hard time getting to them to hang things back up again.

e) he has no place to keep worn clothes he will wear again.  It's time to get a peg rack and let him hang his stuff.

f) a hamper for dirty clothes. We have a chute just a few steps between his and his sister's room but for some reason my kids and their dad find it nigh impossible to utilize.

g) due all these problems he has trouble maintaining a habit of tidying up effectively ever day. Hopefully this will be remedied once we are done fixing his room today.

Unfortunately the kids went to bed late last night and then Bear woke me up at 3 AM crying that he couldn't sleep. So I tucked him into my bed to sleep alongside his dad while I went to sleep in his bed. Sounds awful, huh? Not really. His twin bed without headboard and very firm mattress reminds me of the bed of my childhood. So I sleep really well on it. I got up at eight (yes, I did sleep in too) because Archie needed to go potty. Besides, I so love my quiet mornings.  Yes, at nine am everyone is still being a slug while I am itching to get at my son's room and start. I will take before and after pictures to document the proceedings.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Must-Read-Blog Entry at Parentatthehelm.com


I found a link to this post on the current CoH. I strongly recommend you take the time to read this well worded and thought-out response to Disney's Teacher of the Year article.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Rhythms and Routines

As many of the nights are starting to get cool and translate into crisp mornings, the rhythms of the world around us change. Birds are beginning  to seek each others' company and flock. Overhead we hear the call of the geese which brings to mind the changing seasons. Tomorrow is Labor day, our unofficial end of summer here in the US. Early risers will notice that the morning hugs its dark cloak just a little longer, reminding us that we will rise in the dark in not too long a time. Children are seen running, back-packs bouncing, to school and we too have started our new school year.

This will be our third and possibly final homeschooling year (more on that some other time). Our first year was fairly regimented and strict and I wasn't much into lesson planning, unsure on how to proceed.  The second year was laissez-faire and while satisfying in a creative way, not very satisfying in an academic sense. This year I have our academic day planned out with the help of a free, academic software called Skedtrack.

Click on this image for a screenshot of Missy's Math Lesson Plans
What we all love about the year (so far) is the predictability of the day. We can run school pretty much on auto-pilot. Each morning, when we log in we can see at a glance what is on that day's menu (so to say) for both children. Having a clear visual has had another benefit. The kids take ownership of their learning and love to click the completed button when they have completed a lesson. I am able to plug in our school year, include vacation and holidays and personal days, as well as sick days. The time it took to customize it and enter the lesson plans for two children was labor intensive for sure, but what I spent in time and labor then, I save now when I most need it.

I have left my blog to it's own devices these past months having been very busy with a multitude of responsibilities. Summer came, a new puppy came. Then, mid August my husband left on a month long trip. He is expected back in a few days. In his absence (and he took off from work in July) I had to increase my presence at work. All of this left me little time for blogging. But looking at all my favorite blogs many of you took a hiatus of sorts as well. I look forward to blogging more in the coming months. I have also started a small cooking blog. My little food blog is more designed to be a record of my recipes and fiascos for my children some day (I pdf the files),  than something that would ever make it to foodgawker.  But I am having fun with it and that is what counts. My biggest challenge is the photography aspect of it. I borrow my daughter's dinky point and shoot and I don't have good light in the house either. Yet another challenge to overcome. 

One of nature's  rhythms is calling right now.... time to walk the pup. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Archie Revisited.

This is Archie. He is a 4½ month old Airedale puppy. His favorite activities include playing, eating, playing, eating, bugging us for food, eating paper products, goosing people in the rear, jumping and play biting (which still hurts).


Big teeth and these are just the milk teeth.


Trying hard to sit still for a nano second.

Airedales have classic large noses.

It's hard work to drive Mommy nuts.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Swimsuits shrink when exposed to water - HONESTLY!

So, in a moment of insanity I decided to take the kids to the pool today. We diligently applied sunscreen and wriggled into our swim attire. That is, the kids wriggled. I on the other hand wrestled. I hadn't worn my suit in 2 years and the last time I handled it I sent it through the washing machine. And even though I followed the manufacturers directions explicitly (I think) the darn thing shrunk. It must have. There couldn't be an other reason (stop snickering!). Of course we got ready just to find out the pool wouldn't open for another hour. I decided I needed a lengthy visit to the bathroom. After all, bloating was most likely the reason I looked and felt like a overstuffed pork sausage in its casing. After my visit to the porcelain temple I felt I could actually breathe a little (stop laughing. OK, really.... stop laughing!!!!). Thankfully we are not going to a club pool but a little, dinky community pool. I am sure I'll look just fine.

See? I told you it would work out....

Oh, well, fine.... this isn't really me. It's close though. Really close. Honestly. We could be twins.

A woman can dream right, even if she is a mother...