Monday, October 29, 2007

Virtual Pumpkin Carving

I stole this from Alice Bunnie. It's Virtual Pumpkin Carving. It takes a little practice to get the hang of it, but I think it's pretty cool. Try it!

I'm Having An Allergy Attack - Someone Alert Homeland Security!

First of all, I've changed the name of my blog. I liked the title of my previous post, "I Miss My Sanity" so much, that that's my new title. I don't really think I'm a Bad Mommy, anyway. Well, not always. So, to the 2 or 3 of you that have me on your blogroll, just thought I'd let you know about the change.

I'm having an allergy attack today. It doesn't happen often, but right now my eyes and nose are watering and I constantly have that feeling of having to sneeze. I had to go to Target this morning anyway know, other stuff, so I was definitely picking up some Drixoral while I was there. Drixoral is my allergy wonder-drug. Sudafed doesn't work worth a crap, and I know that Drixoral will dry me right up. Only problem is, when I asked the pharmacist, he said they didn't carry it. Drat. Asked him if he knew anywhere that did carry it. He said he saw it at Wal Mart a couple of months ago. Wal Mart. Drat, again. I hate that store. But if that is where I must go to get the one allergy med that I know will work for me, then I'll brave the unwashed masses and do what I have to do.

Thankfully, I don't really have Wal Mart experiences like this (although my blog might be funnier if I attracted the crazy like Crystal does), but nonetheless, I hate the place. Little did I know though, that I'd be signing my life away just to purchase my beloved Drixoral. I had to go to the pharmacy counter, of course. They don't have it on the shelf anymore, because it's got that Pseudoimgonnamakemethouttathisephedrine in it. But now, not only do you have to get it from the pharmacist, but you have to show a government-issued ID (driver's license), give them your phone number, and verify that the address on said government-issued ID is correct. I can only assume this is because "Homeland Security" wants to send me a card, wishing me well and hoping that I am over my allergy attack soon. Frankly, I'm touched by their concern. I didn't know they cared. Compassionate conservatism, indeed.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I Miss My Sanity

Ok, honestly I'm about ready to snap. Anytime that one of my two older kids has a friend over, Kylie has to act like a baboon. I mean, more than she normally does. Yes, she's showing off for attention. But it's the worst when Danni's boyfriend is here. She's acting like a freaking lunatic (Lunatic Fringe, anyone? Because it's playing in my head right now.) Finally, I'd had enough, it's 8pm, we bring her up to our room. She starts screaming that she doesn't want to go to bed. Screaming. My head hurts. I'm still sore and tired from last night. Isn't five a bit old for this?

Since she needs an excuse to keep crying, she starts wailing, "BUT I MISS GRAAANNNNTTTT!!!"

Grant is her "boyfriend" in her preschool class. She saw him at school on Friday, and will see him again tomorrow. She is as full of crap as a constipated cow. I point out to her that she will see Grant tomorrow, because apparently I still haven't learned not to try and reason with this behavior. So then she shrieks, "BUT I MISS SOPHIE AND PHILLIP!!!!!" More crying. Ok, Sophie and Phillip are the twin niece and nephew of my friend Kati. They are more or less Kylie's age. They live in Germany, and Kylie met them ONCE, when they were here visiting about two years ago. This is totally fake, I know it and she knows's just an excuse to keep up the crocodile tears. Seriously kid...shut it. Does anyone else's kid besides mine INVENT reasons to be upset? Like, if there's no real reason to be upset, she/he will pull something totally random out of thin air?

One of these days I'm going to completely lose it, and run around my house shrieking "I miss my SANITYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!" I wonder if it lives in Germany? Oh no, I know where it lives: 1990. You know, before I had kids.

ASU vs. Cal, Homecoming 2007

Yesterday was homecoming for ASU. Since I used to be in the band, I decided to go and play in the alumni band this year. I haven't done this since BK (Before Kylie), so the last time I went was 6 years ago. The alumni band not only goes to the game and plays in the stands but we march (yes, MARCH) the pre-game show. Fight song, national anthem, alma mater, etc, while MARCHING on the football field. Ok, sometimes standing still and sometimes marching. I have had so many people say to me, "You mean you guys actually march, on the field?" Yes, we do! And let me tell you, that marching-and-playing-at-the-same-time stuff is easy to do when you're 19, but let's just say I am sore this morning! I'm really glad I went though, because I saw a few old friends and had a great time, and the game was AMAZING!

We had a marching rehearsal in the morning at 9am yesterday that lasted until 11:30am, where we learned the show. Yes, we're so good, we can learn a whole show in 2 1/2 hours. I met three sax players that were about 10 years younger than me, who had attended the same high school my daughter now goes to! That was fun, and they were cool kids. After marching practice was over, we pretty much had the afternoon to ourselves, as the game was in the evening. Here are some of the people that I partied with all afternoon had lunch with (read: the "older" crowd, were in the band in the 80s, like me. People I actually knew back then.)

Here is the entire alumni band warming up on the steps of the Student Services building before heading over to the stadium. We had 230 people playing this year! There weren't too many people from my four years in band there, most were more recent (within the last 10 years) grads, but there were some of us older folks there too. One guy in the sax section was in the band from '69-'73. He didn't look that old! There was one sax player, some girl that was only out a couple of years, graduated in '05, or something. She was all snotty and trying to tell us all what to do. She was one of those band geeks (unlike me, who was a cool person who just happened to be in the band) who take this kind of stuff way too seriously. Shut up kid, you bother me.

That's me in the sunglasses, playing my sax:

After we marched our show, we were waiting on the field for the team to come running out. We were standing there for a bit, while they were playing video, cheerleaders were running everywhere, music, fireworks, etc. There's my best band-buddy, Debbie, holding the piccolo. Hi Debbie! We were in the same class at ASU, so we both had the pleasure of turning the big Four Oh this year. Ha!

This is what it looks like to be standing on the field as the team comes running right past you. It's blurry, yeah..those guys were running fast, plus there were lots of fireworks and smoke! I was probably supposed to be playing the fight song at that point, but I was taking a picture instead. Hee.

The game started out a little slowly, and we were trailing 20-14 at halftime. But as usual with this particular team, they kick it into high gear for the second half! I didn't take any pictures during the game, but at the end, after we beat Cal 31-20, the students poured out onto the field. I remember doing that, back in the day.

ASU is now 8-0, baby! We're ranked like #4 (or #6, depending which poll you look at) in the country! Next week is an even bigger challenge, playing Oregon, who beat USC yesterday. That's gonna be a good one too, I wish it was a home game!. We also get to play USC on Thanksgiving day. This season is so exciting, I can't wait for next Saturday. Go Devils!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

You Lying S.O.B - But Now I Don't Care

This post was going to be a rant about something that happened to me this morning when I was dropping Kylie off at preschool. Long story short...I was backing out of my parking space, and my back bumper bumped into the back bumper of another car. No damage to my car... paint came off the bumper on the other person's car. He decided to be real dick about it though, and I found out later that he's even filed an effing MEDICAL CLAIM with my insurance company. Dude, I was going like 3 mph when I bumped you. You are SO LYING. And I've been pissed off about it all day, and I may tell the story later. However, I was interupted by my phone just now, and some much more important news:

Shannon made the 7th grade soccer team!!!!!! I'm so happy for her, because I know she's been struggling a bit to figure out where she fits in at the jr high. The thing is, she has never played organized soccer before. She's definitely an athlete, and an awesome softball player, but has never been on a soccer team. They had about 35 girls trying out, and they only took 18...and she made it!! I am so proud of her. Wtg, Shay Shay!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Purell is Trying to Kill Us

I was just sitting here, clicking away, reading some other mom-type blogs, because it's a good way to kill time and avoid folding the laundry. I came across one lady who said something very interesting. She said she was sick, and that she feels like she's always getting sick, and can catch anyone's germs. Then in the next sentence, she said,

"The thing that is bizarre is that I'm very much a clean freak. I wash my hands in scalding hot water many times daily. Lysol is my friend on all kitchen and bath surfaces."

Well, I have some news for you. I don't think Lysol is your friend at all. In fact, I've been meaning to talk about this very subject. All you obsessive users of the hand-sanitizer and the Lysol just need to stop. Really. You're going to kill us all.

You may think you're keeping yourself and your kids healthier by trying to maintain a germ-free environment, but what you're really doing is sanitizing yourselves right out of an immune system. Your body needs to be exposed to germs to build its defenses and immunities. That's the way our bodies are designed.

Case in point: I had this friend (actually, she was a friend of a friend, she was too full of crazy to hang out with for any sustained period of time) who cleaned her house with bleach. Every surface in her house was sanitized, and she obsessively washed her own hands and those of her two small daughters. She disinfected every shopping cart, every fast-food restaurant table, and anything else that might have those nasty germs on it. The girls were pretty healthy, until guess what? They went to school, and they were sick constantly. They had never been exposed to...anything, and therefore their little bodies had no immunity to anything.

I have a confession to make: I don't use hand sanitizer. Ever. I don't make my kids wash their hands every time they have a cracker. If there is visible dirt, then yes, we wash. We wash our hands after using the toilet. I don't wipe down the shopping cart handle before I touch it. I didn't use one of those shopping cart cover things for the babies to sit in. I *gasp* don't use paper toilet seat covers in public restrooms. In other words, I'm really not concerned about coming in contact with germs in everyday life. None of us has ever had a flu shot, and coincidentally (or not), none of us has ever had the flu, either.

Guess how often I get sick? Never. Guess how often my kids get sick? Hardly ever. Kylie had strep this past June, but other than that, I can't remember the last time any of the three of them were sick. Oh, and just to add insult to injury, I didn't breastfeed any of them. So according to the "research", they should be less healthy than their breastfed, hand-sanitizing, Lysol-mom-spraying counterparts, right? Only that's definitely not the case.

I'm not saying that occasionally washing your hands with soap is a bad thing. It's probably a good thing. But the quest to have our kids living in a germ-free environment is not doing them any favors. Let 'em eat dirt once in a's not going to kill them, I promise. It'll probably make them healthier. ;)

Monday, October 22, 2007

You're Lucky I Didn't Kick Your Ass

Dear Dirty Middle-Aged Pervert with the Beard and the Horse Racing Forms at Starbucks,

That girl that you are so obviously looking up and down is my daughter. She is FIFTEEN. Do you happen to see me, her mother, standing right next to her as you are so blatently ogling her? I let it go the first time I saw you do it, when she was ordering her drink. But the second time, as you walked by her as she was waiting for her drink, and holding her five year-old sister on her hip, you did it again. And you weren't subtle about it either. Again, I suppose you didn't happen to see me, her mother, STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO HER? I hope you were just a little bit embarrassed when I told you, loudly, that she was fifteen and to stop staring at her. Skeevy bastard. It's a good thing I'm not Matt Parkman, because I don't even want to know what you were thinking.

You're disgusting,
Bad Pissed-Off Mommy

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Response from Mickey D's

You may recall this post in which I emailed McDonald's, letting them know that I was not happy about their decision to include skanky, crotch-flashing, tube-top wearing roller derby hos My Scene dolls in their Happy Meals. I'm not sure what I was expecting, exactly. Probably a company form letter thanking me for my opinion, which is pretty much what I got:

Hello Shelley:
Thank you for contacting McDonald's to share your comments about our recent Happy Meal toys. I'm sorry you were disappointed with the theme of this Happy Meal.

You may be interested to know that our Marketing staff reviews several different criteria when designing toys -- playability, durability, safety, quality and popularity with children just to name a few. The latter is always a challenge given the number of Happy Meal toys we offer every year. We often offer toys from kids' favorite television shows, retail toy lines and movie or television characters.

Please know that we would never intentionally upset our customers. Your comments are important and have been shared with our Marketing staff for their review. They've assured me they will consider your feedback when planning future Happy Meal offers.

Once again, thank you for letting us know how you feel. We hope you'll enjoy our future Happy Meal promotions.

McDonald's Customer Response Center

Well, Chris...thanks. I feel better now that I realize that McDonald's offers so many toys per year (which all wind up in my garbage can sooner or later) that they had no choice but to offer a line of roller-derby skank dolls. By the way, I was in Target the other day and I saw about a thousand toys. I saw a Kelly (Barbie's little sister) doll in an extremely cute little witch costume for Halloween. I also saw some My Little Ponys in adorable Halloween costumes. But perhaps Mattel has had enough of you. I also had the TV on the other day, and I think there are about 942 TV shows for kids that don't involve whores on skates. I can certainly see the difficulty that you face many toys to offer, so few choices for themes. I wonder what toys Burger King is offering right now? Oh look: Little piñatas with a tiny surprise inside each one. Now that's really cute, not to mention age-appropriate. No micro-mini skirt, tube-top wearing skanks over there. However, I am pretty excited that McDonald's is going to "consider (my) feedback when planning future Happy Meal offers." Call me.

Edited to add: After a very nice lady commented on this post, saying she found my blog by Googling to find out what other moms thought of this toy in the Happy Meals, I did a little Googling myself. I discovered two things: First, if you Google the words "My Scene McDonald's moms", my blog comes up as one of the results! Cool! Another thing I found out is that I'm not the only one that is unhappy with this particular promotion. Apparently, the folks over at The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood aren't too pleased either.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The One Where We (Attempted To) Play Racquetball

I have a gym membership. I'm not sure what possessed me to do this again, because to get the really good price, you have to sign a year contract. I only got the membership because I wanted to start exercising and it was too freaking hot at the time to do anything outside. (Phoenix in June, yeah.)

So, got the membership. Never mind that I HATE the treadmill, and gyms are full of treadmills. A veritable farm of treadmills. Any exercise involving the words "tread" and/or "mill" has no place in my life. I would rather walk outside for an hour than spend 5 minutes on a treadmill. Even if the most interesting TV show or the best movie in the world is playing in front of me, it doesn't matter. Treadmills make me want to tear my hair out, because they're just that boring. No, music doesn't help. The stationary bike isn't much better. It's a tiny bit better because I can read, sort of, while doing that, but it still bores the ever-living crap out of me.

I had a goal of going to the gym 4 days a week, so I wouldn't get burned out. Well, occasionally I made it three days a week. For the past month or so though, it's been not at all. We went on vacation, you see...and the kids had a school break...and truth be told, I'm lazy and I hate exercising. But...they have racquetball courts there! Racquetball isn't exercising, it's playing a game! Huge difference to me. I used to play in high school, and I was actually pretty good. So this morning I asked husband to join me at the gym and play some racquetball. He was up for it.

After strapping on his knee brace (he had knee-replacement surgery about 6 years ago), we went. Have I mentioned that he also has M.S.? This might be important later when I talk about how he kicked my ass. Have you ever been in an indoor racquetball court? There is an extremely LOUD echo in those places.

I know this probably won't be funny to anyone else. It's probably one of those "you had to be there" things. But he started announcing: "Now batting for the Diamondbacks...Eric Byrnes!" (Byrnes, Byrnes, Byrnes) The echo was killing me. He also did some Bill Cosby:

Zooba, zooba, zooba....ding!


"Somebody call me?"

Zooba, zooba, zooba....ding!


"What? Who is that?"

"It's the Lord, Noah!"


This probably isn't funny without being able to hear it with the echo. But there were times when I was laughing so hard, I could barely swing my racquet. There's nothing funnier than hitting the ball, having it sail behind you, then hearing a big echoing "Oooofffffffffffffffffff!" Turning around, seeing husband with one hand between his legs.

"What happened?"

"I think I broke my left nut."

Or him announcing the score before he served: "Person with extremely limited range of motion, FIVE" (fiveeee iveee iveee iveee) "Perfectly healthy woman, TWO!! (twooooo ooooo oooo oooo ooo)

Or him diving for balls. He's such a guy. I said "Do not dive for shots! Is that point in a pickup racquetball game with your wife really worth hurting yourself?" Did he stop diving? Of course not.

So yeah, he beat me. 25-10 the first game, and 15-9 the second game. I lost to a guy with a replaced knee, another bad knee, and M.S. Oh yeah, and he smokes. Next time, I'll give him the beating he deserves. I'm going to practice behind his back.

The cool thing is that we actually had FUN. I don't even remember the last time we did something and had fun together. We've had kids for way too long. At least with his left nut being broken, we won't be having any more.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

McDonald's, You Got Some Splainin' To Do

Kylie and I were at McDonald's this morning for the Moms' Weekly Sit and Bitch (™ Toby) with two friends and their kids. Three moms, three kids. Kids, go play...Mommy needs to rant gossip talk.

Of course, all this talking requires food. Kylie gets a Happy Meal with pancakes. The new My Scene toy they're giving out with girls' Happy Meals, or at least the one we got, looks like this:

Dear McDonald's,

The new toy you're giving out with Happy Meals for girls is just lovely. I see you have special toddler toys for children under three. I assume that this means the above toy is appropriate for children ages 3 and above? Will you kindly explain to me how a skanky-looking ho on roller-skates, wearing a skirt up to her crotch and a tiny tube top covering her anatomically-incorrect boobs is appropriate for my 5 year-old little girl? Or any little girl, for that matter? Because if that doll also had anatomically-correct short curly ones, they'd be visible under that skirt. Just saying.

Yours truly,
Bad Mommy

ETA: Yes, I submitted the exact wording above to McDonald's in an email, except instead of "toy above", I put My Scene toy, and I signed my real name. I'll let you know if I receive a response.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hot Damn, It Really IS Crazy Face Day!

In my previous post, there was a nice little story about how my child colored her face with red marker, claiming it was for "crazy face day." Well, little did I know. You see, last week at Awana (which I know nothing about because I'm at work and my mom takes her, it's at my mom's church), it was crazy hat night. She wore the flamingo hat she got at Sea World. Well, it turns out that tonight at Awana is crazy face night, and she was just practicing by coloring her entire face red! At the time of the red face incident, I had no idea about Awana's crazy face night.

Of course, I had to help her color her face for tonight and take pictures before I went to work. She told me what to draw. I am most definitely not an artist, so in case you are wondering: On her left cheek is a ladybug, and on her right cheek is a butterfly. All that green? Why, it's grass, of course.

Oh yes...the pink on her forehead is supposed to be a dolphin. I suppose some blue around it for water would have made that completely obvious. Art has never been my strong suit.

The below picture is especially for my friend Pam at Bubble Writes. It seems my daughter and her son share a love of writing with Sharpie markers. You know, everywhere but on paper. This is Kylie's rendition of Spongebob, in black Sharpie. On her bedroom door, of course.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

You'd Think I Would Know Better By Now

The girls and I decided to visit a new discount store that opened up near us. It turned out to be brought to you by the same people that own Ross. Danni found some cheap sunglasses (cue ZZ Top), Shannon a pair of jeans, and Kylie came out with this Strawberry Shortcake travel desk thing with paper that rolls across the flat part you can write on, and six smelly Shortcake markers. Markers. You would think by the time a child is five, the issue with the markers would be over. But not my child.

Yesterday afternoon, we're just kind of hanging out. Danni had to be back at school at 4pm to go to the away football game. I got back from taking her over to school, and Shannon was going to go to the mall for a bit and meet some friends. Into my room walks Kylie, her face covered...and I do mean covered, with red. I wish I had thought to take a picture, but imagine someone who had taken the time to cover every inch of her little face with red marker.

"Kylie! What is that? Why did you color your face?"

"'s for crazy face day."

She's thinking about the kids who paint their faces for the football games, I think. Or, they just had crazy hat night at Awana last Wednesday, so maybe that's where this is coming from.

" far as I know, there's been no official Congressional declaration of Crazy Face Day on October 12th."


The markers came with a kid's toy, so they must be washable, right? Right??

Turning to dear husband, I say, "Can you throw her in the tub while I run Shannon over to the mall? can take the mall trip, and I'll throw her in the tub."

Hubby, knowing a break when he sees one, quickly says, "I'll take Shannon to the mall."


I looked at my small, red-faced child. "Get your clothes off while I start the water, ok?"

I get her in the tub, and tell her to close her eyes tightly, and I start scrubbing her face, along with arms and legs which have also received a few stray marks. After scrubbing and rinsing a few times, her face is still slightly red-tinged, but it's barely noticeable. I can live with that.

She wants to play in the tub, and we still have some time, so I let her. She is five now, and a good swimmer, so since I'm past the point of worrying about her drowning in 12 inches of water, I decided to go downstairs, get some laundry out of the dryer, check on dinner, etc. I'm gone for about 10 minutes. I should know better than this. Not because she's in any danger, but because of some sort of mess that always ensues whenever she's left alone for any amount of time, anywhere.

I go back upstairs to get her out of the tub. Pull the plug, get a towel, and wrap her up in it. There was a hand towel lying on the counter, so I picked that up to dry off her hair. I immediately noticed that it was quite wet. Upon further inspection, my entire bathroom counter is covered with water, and Kylie is quietly trying to sneak out of the bathroom.

"Kylie!!", I said sharply. "Why is there water all over the counter?"

She looked back at me over her shoulder, and just shook her head. "Mom, it's a long story," she said solemnly. "A long story."

Friday, October 12, 2007

In The Blink Of An Eye

Normally I like to keep things rather light, or at least sarcastic, when I'm writing here. But this has been on my mind, so I needed to write about it.

Anyone who knows me or has read my blog probably knows that hubby and I are huge football fans. Now that we have a daughter in high school and she is part of the band, we attend all their games and cheer mightily for our beloved Wolves.

Last Friday night, all was normal. They played their first divisional game of the season, and squeaked out a 14-13 win. It was exciting. We cheered, we celebrated.

Then early on Sunday morning, on my way to work, I stopped at the coffee shop that my parents hang out at every morning, to visit with them before I headed to work. As I sat down, my mom was already pushing a section of the newspaper at me, saying "Did you know about this?"

The "this" she was referring to, was this article: Chandler High Star Hospitalized

I read with disbelief about how on Saturday afternoon, our star player had been at a teammate's house, when the group of boys had decided to siphon some gasoline out of a non-running vehicle in teammate's garage, presumably to put the gas into a functioning vehicle. The boys decided to siphon the gas with a vacuum cleaner. Yes, a vacuum cleaner. The vacuum caused a spark, setting off a small explosion that left Dion Jordan with third degree burns covering his arms, hands, lower legs and feet. He will spend a month in the hospital before he can even begin rehab.

Of course, the first reaction upon reading this (or at least mine was) is really? A vacuum cleaner? What were they thinking?? The answer, of course, is that they weren't thinking. They are 16 and 17 year old boys. As anyone who has a teenager knows, they quite often don't think before they do things. How many of us did dumb things when we were teenagers? Things that could've gotten us badly hurt or even killed? I know I did. And not just once, but several times. The only difference is, I was lucky. Dion Jordan was not so lucky.

And now, I am sad beyond words for this boy that I only know because I have watched him catch touchdown passes on the football field. My heart aches for his mother, for his whole family. I want to cry because tonight, while we are at the game, he will be sitting in his hospital bed, when he should be out on that field. I am crushed for a boy whose future held so much promise, and in the blink of an eye, his whole life changed. No one knows yet if he will ever be able to play football again. He was considered one of the top high school prospects in the state of Arizona. At this point, I'm sure his family is just praying that he will be able to walk again.

You can't help but compare someone else's situation to your own. All of us who have children either have had, have now, or will someday have teenagers. Teenagers do dumb things. They always have, and they always will. Parenting teenagers is like trying to guide someone through a minefield with a minefield map...only not all of the mines are marked on the map. You can warn them of certain areas, you can preach, and you can talk, talk, talk with them about sex and drugs and drinking and driving and all kinds of big and small dangers that teenagers may face. But no matter how much you warn and talk, things happen. Things that no one ever expects. Things that happen in the blink of an eye, and change people's lives forever. Things from which there is no going back.

I will be at the game tonight, cheering for the Wolves. The boys who are the team captains for this game will head out to midfield for the coin toss, carrying Dion's jersey with them. I'm sure I will cry. And I'm sure I won't be alone. I will be thinking of you tonight, Dion. We all will.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's My Bill in a Box

As soon as I thought of this title, I immediately thought of this: Dick in a Box. I'm sure most people have seen this Justin Timberlake skit from Saturday Night Live this past Christmas, but if you haven't, and you're not offended by off-color language, it's really hilarious.

Anyway...this post isn't about an Emmy-winning Saturday Night Live digital short, it's about my cell phone bill. My cell phone bill from AT&T, that came to me in not an envelope, but a BOX. A Priority Mail box no less. It cost them $4.60 to send me my bill, which I find a little bit ridiculous. So here's a little lesson for everyone:

Here is a cell phone bill:

Here is a cell phone bill on steroids. Any questions?

Well, maybe just a couple. The first one being, is it really necessary to spend $4.60 and kill three trees just to send me my cell phone bill? Why is it so big, you ask? Well, because they insist on listing every single incoming and outgoing phone call AND text message individually, of course. I have a teenager, and an almost-teenager. Although I must admit, the almost-teenager doesn't have much to do with the size of this bill. I will say, thank goodness since Cingular has been taken over by AT&T, they've come up with a family unlimited texting plan, where we all get unlimited texting for $29.99 a month. In my house, this is a bargain. How many text messages did Danielle have last month? *Drumroll* 9,091!! Yes, almost 10,000 text messages in one month! I realize those are both incoming and outgoing texts, but holy crap.

So me being me, I decided to do some math. I like math actually, as long as it's not geometry. Just keep your damn triangles away from me, and we'll all be fine.

Basing my calculations on a 30-day month, there are 720 hours in one month. Subtract 7 hours a day (this is an average, a little less on weekdays, more on weekends) for sleeping, which is 210 hours, bringing our total down to 510 hours. I also subtracted the hours a day she spends at school (5 days a week x 4 weeks), which is 140 hours a month, bringing the total hours down to 370. 370 hours a month when she is not sleeping or in class. 370 hours is 22,200 minutes. Divide that number by 9091, and you get 2.44197558. Yes, that's an average of one incoming or outgoing text message every 2.44 minutes that she's awake or not in class. Is it just me, or does that seem insane? I realize that a lot of them are just "ok" or "lol" or whatever, and that she can send about 30 one-word messages in 60 seconds, but come on.

In any case, I called customer service and said that I didn't want them killing three trees every month just to send me my bill. I already pay the bill online, I can see it online, and I see no point in getting a big box of paper every month. The idiot lovely customer service rep stammered that I should go to my account online, and check some box to opt out of the paper bill. I hung up the phone, went straight to the computer, and did just that. I feel like calling Al Gore now and telling him that I've just done my part to save the environment.

Panda Bears, Koalas, and the Sunset That Wasn't

So, are you all sick of reading about my vacation yet? Because honestly, I'm pretty sick of writing about it. Thank goodness we are on the fourth and final day, so this will be my last vacation post. I'm really going to try and make it a Reader's Digest condensed version.

Thursday morning, we load up all our stuff, check out of hotel and head to the zoo around 11am. We did the guided tour bus thing, and also rode on the skytram. That was fun!

I'm putting in this picture just because I think it's cute:

We saw panda bears, koalas and we petted goats. We saw a lot more actually, which you can see by clicking the picture link at the bottom, if you really want to.

Panda Bear!

Isn't he cute? Koalas aren't bears, they're actually marsupials. Did you know that? I didn't. See, this trip was educational!

We spent some time in the Childrens' Zoo, and Kylie made friends with a goat. I think we spent about 6 hours total at the zoo, and I doubt if we even saw half of it. Place is friggin' HUGE! The zoo closed at 5pm, and the original plan was to grab a fast food dinner and head directly home. I figured if we were lucky, we'd make it home before midnight. But then I got this bright idea. We're on the west coast right? And really, there's nothing more beautiful than seeing the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. I had planned do that while we were here, and we just never got around to it. So in my brilliance, I said,

"Hey, since we're not that far from the Coronado Bridge, why don't we go over to Coronado Island (or as Kylie would say, Corndogo Island) and watch the sunset on the beach before we head home."

Everybody was on board with this idea, especially if it meant one last trip to the beach, so we headed in that direction. There was only one problem with my brilliant plan. Well, two problems but first things first. The first problem is that the sky looked like this:

This is a view from the Coronado Bridge. As you can see, it's totally overcast. Doubt we'll be seeing much of a sunset, but we decided to go see the beach one last time. So we crossed the bridge onto the island, and headed for the beach. Parked the car, grabbed a sweatshirt for everyone (because it was windy and cold, y'all!) and walked out towards the water. Steve brought the football. He and Danni tossed the ball around, Kylie and Shannon played down by the water, and I sat up under a lifeguard tower and covered my legs with sand, took pictures, and tried to stay warm. Ok seriously, it was COLD!

My feeble attempt at staying warm was to pull my hoodie totally around my face. Attractive, no? Here's a picture of the famous Hotel Del Coronado (or Hotel Del Corndogo)

So we goofed around for a while, and decided yeah, we won't be seeing any sunset tonight. We trudged up to the car, and after changing Kylie into some dry, non-sandy clothes, we reluctantly left San Diego. We grabbed a fast food dinner in El Cajon (your mom), and then got on the highway. The second problem with my brilliant "let's see the sunset" plan was that it was around 8:30pm by the time we finally got going. Steve drove to Yuma, which is just on the Arizona side of the CA/AZ border. By that time it was probably about 11:30 or closer to midnight, and we had to decide: Do we grab a cheap motel room in Yuma, of all places, or do we just keep going? I did NOT want to stay in Yuma, wake the kids up early and still have another three hours of driving in the morning to get home. Not to mention the money for another motel room. Well, Steve had had enough driving, so I'm all "I can drive!" I downed a couple of bottles of my liquid crack (ok, Diet Coke), and booked it down I-8 like a woman possessed at about 85 mph. Steve was totally snoring. Stopped about 100 miles later in Gila Bend (I had to pee, all that Diet Coke, you know), grabbed another bottle of the stuff and I was off again. Everyone even slept through my pitstop. I pulled into our driveway at about 2:15am. And thus endeth the tale of our vacation.

I wish I was still there. I would so much rather be on the beach right now. I miss it.

For all the pictures of the zoo and our trek to Corndogo Island, click here:

THE END. Whew.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Joys of Boogie Boarding and Reasonably Priced Wetsuit Rentals

Day 3 of our vacation, and our only firm plan was a two hour harbor cruise that was set to leave the dock at 3pm. The rest of the day was open. We decided to leave the room early (9am) and head to Mission Beach. Shannon had some money she had saved up, and what she really wanted to do was go boogie boarding, and we had promised her that she could. So we loaded up towels, sunscreen and sand toys and headed off. We got to Mission Beach and got all set up on our little patch of sand, and Steve and Shannon went here and rented a boogie board.

I had no idea how much it was going to cost, but I figured ok, tourists are the only ones who rent this stuff, people who live here have their own stuff, this place is right on the beach, it's going to be expensive. Steve and Shannon came out with the board, and since she was spending her own money, I didn't even ask how much it was. Shannon took her board and went out, in the 60 degree water. That kid is nuts, but she was having a great time.

After about a half hour, she got pretty cold and came and asked me if she could please rent a wetsuit. She was having so much fun and I really wanted her be able to keep at it, so I said yes, thinking yet again that this would probably cost a lot. But, how often do they ever get to do something like this? Steve and Shannon went back to the surf rental place to get her a wetsuit. Steve called me from his cellphone from the rental shop to ask me something, I forget what, but I finally asked the price. I about dropped the phone in shock when he told me it was only $7 an hour for the board, and another $7 an hour for the wetsuit. I thought it would be so much more. So I told him for that price, I was sending Danni up to the shop too to get her outfitted with a board and wetsuit. In the meantime, Kylie had found friends. There was a family of four boys, I'm guessing their ages at about 2, 4, 6 and 8. She had fun playing with them.

Back from the surf shop, Danni and Shannon are now outfitted in proper boogie boarding gear:

And they hit the waves. They had such a great time. I think if you asked either one of them what the best part of the vacation was, they would both say this was it. Here are a couple of short video clips of them riding the waves:

They stayed out for two hours, and when they went to return the boards and wetsuits to the surf shop, the owner of the shop only charged us for the first hour, and not the second. So, two boogie boards and two wetsuits for two hours? $28. Watching my kids ride the waves? Priceless. I know this wouldn't be a big deal to anyone that lives anywhere near an ocean, but since we live in the desert, this was heaven for them.

The kids also wanted to browse the shops near the beach, and they wanted to ride on the roller coaster. So we packed up our stuff, and got a quick lunch on the beach, shopped a little bit, and headed over to the roller coaster. Danni and Shannon took a ride on the coaster:

While Kylie went for a spin on the merry-go-round.

After that, we headed back to the room so the girls could change. We got over to the harbor downtown in plenty of time for our cruise. On the cruise you see a lot of navy ships and other things I couldn't even begin to identify. I had to have Steve help me make captions for all those pictures, because if left up to me, they would all say "Navy Ship", or "Another Navy Ship". Shannon took most of the pictures from the boat, so there are a lot of ships. I did take a beautiful picture of the San Diego skyline though:

After our cruise, we went to dinner at ... Outback of course, because we had that gift card. It was actually a $200 gift card, and somehow I thought the five of us would get three meals out of that. I'm not sure what I was thinking, but we did get two nice meals. :) We also watched the first part of the first NLDS game, Diamondbacks v. Cubs, since Outback has TVs in the restaurant. After dinner, we went back to our room to continue watching our Dbacks beat the the Cubs. Woohoo! Once again, no fighting with Kylie to go to sleep, as she crashed soon after we got back to the hotel.

For all the pictures from the beach and the cruise, click here:

Mission Beach and Harbor Cruise

Up Next: The San Diego Zoo and Coronado Island
Panda Bears, Koalas and the Sunset That Wasn't

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Don't Sit In the Soak Zone If You Don't Want To Get Wet!

Day 2 of our vacation was a trip to Sea World. The weather was perfect: Sunny and warm, but not blistering hot (you know, like Arizona). We got there when the park opened at 10am, got our map and list of showtimes, and saw that the first show was the dolphin show, at 11am. We decided to head first to the dolphin feeding tank, which is neat because you get to see the dolphins very close up. They sometimes swim close enough to the edge that you can put your hand out and touch them, but they didn't seem to be in the mood to be touched when we were there, as they were swimming around the tank a few feet from the edge, just out of reach.

After this, Kylie wanted to go to the tidepools where you can pick up the starfish. Luckily it was near, so we went, and she picked up starfish:

Right next to the tidepools was an indoor aquarium. We walked inside there and saw all manner of sea turtles, small sharks, groupers, etc. When we came out of there, we headed over to the dolphin stadium to get a good seat for the show. My older children, in their infinite wisdom, decided to take their 5 year old sister and sit with her in the third row, which is clearly marked "soak zone."

I've been here before, and is it me, or did those signs used to say "splash zone?" Hmmm. If you look up at the top of the picture, you can see Steve's knees and Dbacks t-shirt a few rows up. That's where he and I were sitting. Still in the "soak zone", but I've been here before and I know that the odds of getting wet up there are slim. (Ha ha) So the show starts, and they have dolphins and pilot whales performing. There is one trick in the show that I think is particularly cool, which is when they have a dolphin jump really high, and I had to mention this just so I could show you my amazing camera work: (Yes, I really did take this picture)

So they do a few dolphin tricks and a couple of pilot whale tricks, and then they set about getting the audience wet. The dolphins swim around, whipping water out of the tank with their tails, and not surprisingly, the people in the first few rows, including my children, got soaked. Kylie didn't think this was fun at all, and quickly ran up to where we were sitting. I was smugly sitting in my seat, holding my wet daughter, because the dolphin splashes didn't reach to where we were sitting. But then, they send the pilot whales around to do the same maneuver. Apparently, pilot whales' tails are a bit stronger than dolphins' tails, because those whales were able to send giant waves of water up where we were sitting, and we got soaked as well. After they went around a couple of times, I was as wet as if I had jumped into a swimming pool. While I didn't really mind being wet, because the sun was right on top of us and I had been kind of hot up until that point, Kylie was NOT happy. She was shaking and shivering and she wanted to get out of that stadium! Luckily that was pretty much the end of the show. I just want to say right here that I was a little disappointed in this show and the Shamu show, which we saw later. It seems that a few years ago, the shows used to be primarily focused on the animals and their neat tricks. The focus now seems to have shifted so that the main point of the shows is to get people wet. I'm not upset that we got wet, because the "soak zone" was clearly marked and we chose to sit there. But, when did the shows become all about getting people wet, and not on the animals themselves? I remember that they used to have a whale that would jump up out of the water with a trainer on its nose and send the guy flying into the air, which was really cool. They don't do that anymore. But, I digress.

After the dolphin show, we headed directly to the sea lion show. We told Kylie we would sit in the sun and she'd dry and it'd be fine. This is Danni and Kylie at the sea lion show:

As you can probably tell, they are both quite wet, and Kylie is not very happy. The sea lion show was funny and cute, and we made sure to sit way up near the top, to alleviate Kylie's fears that she might get wet again. They had two sea lions named Seamore (yes, that's how they spell it, I looked it up, because I'm sort of anal retentive about spelling things correctly, and Seymour didn't look right to me, although that's probably the most conventional spelling) and Clyde, and a little otter. This picture is the otter running out with a can of Pepsi. Nice product placement, Sea World! In fact, I'm convinced that the whole city of San Diego is sponsored by Pepsi. Just saying.

After the sea lion show, the Shipwreck Rapids ride (which didn't open until noon) was finally open, so we headed over there. On the way, we stopped at a gift shop and got Kylie a Sea World t-shirt that she could change into. They didn't sell shorts or anything, so her pants were still really wet, but at least her top half was dry. I was worried that Kylie was going to feel left out at the rapids ride, because there is a 42" height requirement, and she is about 41 1/2". However, she had no desire to go on the ride, saving me from feeling badly, because the rest of us really did want to go. So, Steve and Shannon went first, while Danni and I waited with Kylie at the water cannons where you can shoot people as they go by. Of course, I got some quarters and we nailed their tube when they came by. Here are Steve and Shannon on Shipwreck Rapids:

Steve's in the white hat, and Shannon is next to him on his right. After they got done and gave us the what-for for spraying them with the water cannons (hee, they were really wet, again), Danni and I went. It was great because there was absolutely no line at all. On this ride, what happens is that water splashes into the part where you are sitting, totally soaking your shorts and socks and shoes. Awesome! I was expecting to be blasted by revenge water cannons, but luckily, Steve didn't have any quarters on him. That's ok, because Danni and I were thoroughly drenched by the time the ride was over. At this point, we had a family meeting and decided that maybe it would be best if we went back to the hotel, changed clothes, grabbed some lunch outside of the park (thus saving us from paying $70 for lunch inside the park), and then heading back.

We went back to our room, quickly got everyone dried off and changed into dry clothes, and we were off to find some lunch. We ended up at a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint called Rolberto's that Steve remembered from his days of living there. It had no air conditioning, only a few tables, and totally awesome food! It's right up there with Elmer's Taco Shop in my book. Reasonable prices (I think all 5 of us ate for $25) and HUGE portions. So, all dry and stuffed with Mexican food, we headed back to Sea World.

During the afternoon, we visited the Shark Encounter, the Penguin Encounter, and saw a really cute show called Pets Rule!, which has a lot of dogs and cats doing tricks, some ducks and a pig. Kylie LOVED this show, and even Shannon said it was cute. We also rode up the skytower, which gives you a great view of the bay, the city, and the ocean.

We ended the day with the last Shamu show. When we got into the stadium, Kylie kind of freaked because she was really afraid of getting wet again. The stadium has two tiers, and we made sure to sit on the top tier, so there was absolutely no chance of us getting wet. I know she was really tired by this point, because she kept wanting to leave because she didn't want to get wet. I was trying to explain that we were way too high to get wet, and see all those people down there? Those people might get wet, but we won't. I promise. Well, as you probably know, trying to reason with a tired 5 year old is a bit like banging your head against a wall, but heck, that never stops me from trying. She sat in my lap, and every 5 minutes or so she said, "I want to get out of here!" And this was before the show even started. When the show did start, every time Shamu jumped or splashed, I said to her, "Did you get wet that time?" She said, "No.." I was trying to show her that she wasn't going to get wet, but she's no dummy...she knew there'd be a part of the show where Shamu goes around whipping his tail to drench people. After he went around and did that the first time, and she saw the water was nowhere near us, she finally relaxed.

The Shamu show they have now is called "Believe", and it's about this boy who supposedly had an encounter with a killer whale when he was young, and so he grew up dreaming of being a trainer. The main trainer in the show was supposed to be this young boy, grown up now working at Sea World, his dream has been realized. When he was a kid he had carved this whale tail from wood and he wore it as a necklace. During the show they bring up some kid who's about 12 or so, and supposedly this kid came to Sea World today just to meet Shamu and he also has a dream of being a whale trainer. The show ends with the trainer giving the boy this carved wooden whale tail necklace. Awwwww. If you ask me, the whole thing was incredibly staged and corny, but maybe that's just me. Kylie kept asking me if that boy with the necklace was going to grow up and work at Sea World, and I was trying to explain to her that he was just an actor, part of the show. She didn't seem to grasp that, until she said "Oh, an actor, like on Drake and Josh?" Yeah baby...just like that. lol So here's Shamu:

After the Shamu show, we had about an hour until the park closed, but there wasn't anything else we really wanted to do, so we headed toward the exit, buying Kylie some promised cotton candy on the way out. Nobody was really hungry for dinner after that huge late lunch we had, so we went back to the room. Shannon took Kylie to the pool for a little while, but they were back within about 20 minutes. The nice part is that after the busy day we had, there was no fighting with Kylie to go to sleep. We turned on the TV, she laid down on one of the beds and she was out in about a minute and a half. Ah...a bit of peace for the rest of us.

If you want to see all the Sea World pictures, click here:
Sea World
(And believe me, I totally understand if you don't, that's why they're behind a link)

Next up: Mission Beach and a Harbor Cruise
The Joys of Boogie Boarding and Reasonably Priced Wetsuit Rentals

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Our Vacation to San Diego

Hi, we're back! This trip was a big deal for us, since we don't get to go on vacation very often. I want to write kind of a detailed log of the trip, for my own memories. I have lots of pictures and lots to talk about, and for my own sanity as well as you that read this, I'm going to divide up each day of the trip into a different post. If I didn't, I think it would be way too long to read.

So, day one. A six hour drive (approximately) to San Diego. We had a laptop for Kylie to watch movies, which was a tremendous help. Shannon and Danni slept a good deal of the way, as we roused them at the ungodly hour of 6am and we were on the road by 7am.

I was worried that Kylie was going to be a pain the whole trip, and she did have her moments, but the person who really got on my nerves that first day was...Steve. I wasn't sure why he was in such a crabby mood...I was the one dealing with all of Kylie's requests. I found out later that he hadn't taken his meds that day, because he didn't want to get sleepy while driving. While I found that noble, I think I would rather have him be sort of tired, and heck, I can drive...than be an asshole. I mean, seriously. There, I've said it. If he doesn't take his Xanax, he is just not a very nice person. With it, he's mostly fine. The girls were even texting me from the back seat, asking what the heck his problem was. When we got near the outskirts of San Diego, there's a suburb called El Cajon, where Steve lived for a few months, a long time ago. Because he lived there, he likes to show off pretty much the only Spanish he knows. So he said to no one in particular, "Hey, do you guys know what El Cajon means in English?" Well, because we've had this conversation before, I know it means "the box." No one said anything though. So he asked again. This time, the exchange goes like this:

Steve - "Do you guys know what El Cajon means?"

Shannon - "Your mom?"

Ok, call me bad, but I cracked up at this. I mean, I laughed for like 10 minutes and I couldn't stop. I think what made it so funny for me was her tone, which was not snotty or sarcastic, but very offhand, in the same tone you would ask someone if they wanted a snack or something. However, my laughing, and the subsequent laughing from the girls made Steve more crabby, because he thought we were laughing at him. Anyway, I discreetly suggested that maybe he should take his meds, and that he'd probably be fine. He did, and after they kicked in, we were all much happier. In fact, the whole "your mom" thing became kind of a joke the rest of the trip, someone would just say it in response to something, and we'd all laugh.

Anyway...we get to the hotel, which I guess is actually a motel, the Days Inn Hotel Circle. We got the room with a package that included the Sea World passes and tickets for a two hour harbor cruise. I'm not exactly sure what the price per night was, but it was a pretty good deal. We had one room with two queen beds, and we had borrowed an Aerobed (Thanks Jen!) With Danni and Kylie on the Aerobed and Shannon and me in one bed and Steve in the other, we were all very comfortable. It was a great room for the price, I think. It had a fridge and a microwave, and we had brought some food, so eating breakfast in the room every morning probably saved us at least $100. I would totally recommend this place...the beds were comfy and the staff was really nice.

After we checked in and got settled, we decided to go down to Mission Beach, which was only a few miles away.

We played around on the beach for about an hour, then went out for an early dinner. We went to Outback, because we had a gift card that Steve won at work that we had been saving for the trip. The restaurant was part of this really cool outdoor mall that the kids loved. It was called Westfield Mission Valley. It was like a regular mall with your basic mall stores, except the open part where you walk around was outside instead of inside. It was really cool, and the weather being what it was that time of day, which was about 5pm, I could have just stayed out there forever. The breeze felt wonderful. It also had a two-story Target (!) with an escalator that had a thing in the middle where you put your cart, and the cart goes up or down with you. Hard to explain, but Shannon was totally captivated by it. We finally were able to peel everyone away from this spectacular mall after a couple of hours, and we headed back to the room. We watched the end of the Padres/Rockies game, then tried to persuade Kylie to go to sleep. Trying to get a 5 year-old who knows she's going to Sea World tomorrow to go to sleep is not easy. She was kind of nuts, running and bouncing around, but eventually she finally did settle down and go to sleep.

Here are all the pictures from Monday, if you want to look: Mission Beach Pictures.

Up Next: Day 2 - Sea World
Don't Sit in the Soak Zone If You Don't Want To Get Wet.

Edited to add: Would you believe I did a Google image search for the Target cart escalator thing, and people have taken pictures of it! (Ok, I would have too, if I had thought about it) I found out the official name for it is a "cartveyor."
Am I a total geek for being fascinated by this?

Target Cartveyor