Blogiversary 5.0

Holy crap, guys. Happy Earth Day! You know what this means, right?

Earth Day just coincidentally happens to be our blogiversary! Perfect, right?


I love that there’s a connection between our eco-friendly attempts and the ol’ blog. Wow. Now, it really IS old. Five years is forever in the world of the web.

Today, I thought I’d just chat a bit about this place that I call home. Meg, Acting Out. Meg Acts Out. Whatever.

I haven’t converted to WordPress. I haven’t linked the site up to a unique URL. I haven’t actively monetized.

I haven’t taken professional head shots. I haven’t glammed the place up. I’ve thought about getting a DSLR camera, but it’s just as much to get awesome pictures of my family as it would be to enhance the blog.

I’ve started posting a little less (I used to do MWF). I’ve even started to worry less about our number of hits (although I do find myself growing excited when I hit a certain modest number). I have no cares about whether we’re SEO-aligned or not.

It’s not that I don’t want to put the effort into all these things. As a matter of fact, it’s a dream of mine to focus on the blog and make it what it deserves to be.


But, instead, I’ve taken a small step back. I’m kind of taking after my husband, The Dorky Daddy, only posting about topics that I enjoy writing about, when I feel like doing so. We’re slowly but surely converting to WordPress (but, really, no hurry). I’m not accepting offers that simply sound like a commercial or don’t align to my values.

Ultimately, y’know what I’m doing? I’m enjoying it. I’m blogging when I feel like it. I’m not beating myself up when I decide to spend my night goofing around with my little boy or watching a great movie instead of getting that fluffy blog post set for the next morning. I’m valuing my outlet and using it just as that. And. It’s. Awesome.

Will I suddenly get a spark to organize the place into a more user-friendly, resource-based space? Will I start posting daily? Will I ever make a career out of sharing my ideas for living a simply fun life? I have no idea. If I don’t, it’s fine. If I do? Incredible!

But, in the meantime? It’s just fun.

So, on this fifth (!) blogiversary, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sticking around and stopping by. It means the world that you’re reading, whether you’ve followed for years, just check in from time to time, or you just found my small section of the world.

Now, who wants some birthday cake? 😉 

A Dog Named Jasper

I’m totally reminded of that horrible Nickelodeon show from back in the day when I say this, but it’s true. We totally have a cat that is part cat/part dog. Dogcat. Catdog. Weird but totally how he is.

Dave and I were dog people from the start. I had to give up a kitten as a little girl due to severe allergies (which, apparently, come out depending on the type of cat.) We both owned and adored our family dogs and always figured that we’d follow in the same footsteps. And we still may, some day.

But, then Beardslee came into our lives and it was a slippery slope from there. Winston was just begging to be our “second (in his mind ONLY) cat.” Then, Jasper just showed up on our doorstep on my birthday and our trio was complete.

The cool thing about Jasper is that I had always wanted a lap cat. Someone to snuggle with, to allow the use of my lap for a nap, who wouldn’t mind being picked up. He totally fit the bill, 100%. 

As time went on, though, I realized that he was so much more than just a snuggle buddy; he was the family dog.

Since it’ll probably (okay, definitely) be a challenge to handle Hadley + 3 very “unique” cats + any pups, it looks like the part of canine will be played by Jasper for the foreseeable future. And we’re totally fine with that. He’s freaking awesome. 

He’s got total dog tendencies. Here’s just a few:

– He chases his tail. Seriously. Catches it, then does it again. Falls down the stairs trying to catch that darn thing. (The sick joke? His tail is by far shorter than his two brethren. Winston stares at him like “That’s not hard. I could do that. I just don’t want to.”)

– He seems to think what Ricky Gervais (and many others, I’m sure) says that dogs think: Everything humans do is WONDERFUL. His huge eyes show a constant amazement at how awesome we are. The other two? Meh. Big deal, Mom. You made dinner. Whatever. Jasper? In awe.

– He lays underfoot. I’m sure other people have cats that do this, too, but Winston and Beardslee have a tendency to lay where they won’t be bothered; ie not in the middle of the room. JJ, however, tends to lay on his side, comfortably watching me put dishes away and prep food. He’s always nearby. Must. Know. Everything.

 Y’know that dumb stare? Totally a dog thing. The others have stares but they either mean that they’re juuuuuust about to doze off or are plotting evil revenge. Jasper’s stare is completely, utterly blank. Devoid of any thoughts whatsoever. Total “dumb dog.” (Remember: I love dogs! Dumb can be an awesome trait. And, no, not all dogs are dumb. But Jasper is totally a dumb dog.)

– He gets low grades for natural cat behavior. Jasper just isn’t great at BEING a cat, the poor thing. He has mastered going to the bathroom in the right spot (um, most of the time) and TRIES to cover it up, but he really…sucks at it. Beardslee used to sit by him as he went just so that he could hop in afterwards and give it a proper cleaning. And clawing at stuff? Definitely does it wrong. Oh, and he’s not skittish AT ALL. Two-year-old kid running straight at him? Doesn’t flinch. Doesn’t move. Just lets it happen.

– Food beggar. He doesn’t always do this, but when it’s a food item that he adores, he’s ON it. When my father-in-law comes, he always sits nearby in hopes that he’ll get some table scraps. No kidding. He’ll also eat pretty much anything you hand over. (That said, Winston loves Chinese. So, the one-to-two times a year we get it, he comes running.)

What about you? Do you have a pet that has some “weird” behavior? Does it make you love them all the more? Or just scratch your head?

Sorry I’m Sorry

The Dorky Daddy recently posted a heartfelt admission of an issue that he deals with, which is so admirable and awesome since a lot of guys don’t admit to it. I felt it was important to reiterate that it’s actually an issue for the whole family. Namely, I do it, too.


We’re uncontrollable apologizers. And we’re officially sorry about it.

You’ll see on his post the moment that the truth hit us, but let’s just say that our unnecessary apologizing has been passed on to our 2-year-old son. Yup. Show any sign of distress, and he immediately starts faux crying while saying “I sowwy, Mama. Sowwy, Mama.”

Lose something. “Sowwy, Mama!”

Spill something. “I sowwy, Mama! So sowwy!!”

Punish over something. “Sowwy!!” (Okay, that last one is awesome, but he doesn’t know to say “sorry” for doing something wrong; just because we’re upset.)

Some might say it’s not a big deal, or that it’s not a bad problem to have an apologetic kid.

To that I say, well, keep it to yourself. (Yeah. I went there.) You get to feel what’s best or worse for your kids. We get to use our (in this case shared) intuition to decide that this is a problem for us. He’s no off-the-wall, drug-abusing kid, of course, so it is all relative…but it still concerns us. And the fact that our apologetic ways allow people to discredit our feelings is something I’d rather Hadley not have to deal with, too.

Sorry for the blunt moment, but it was needed.

Wait. No. I’m not sorry. God, this is so damn difficult.

Taking the energy down for a moment *turns dial* let’s address the reasons that apologizing can be a negative thing. List time:

* Sometimes…just once in awhile…it’s a manifestation of passive aggressiveness. We all have frustrations on a daily basis. At work. At the grocery store. (I can’t COUNT how many times in one trip I’ll apologize to people at Hannaford for something I didn’t do.) Out clothes shopping. Heck, at home with your partner. If someone ticks you off, be it in a big or small way, sometimes “sorry” pops out when you’re actually upset about something…and aren’t REALLY sorry.

And, I’ll admit. When someone walks in my way or steals the spot in line or takes advantage of me at work…I will passive aggressively say, “Oh, I’m so sorry!” *raises hand* I do it. It’s been done.

* Insincere or overused apologies lose their meaning. The more you say “sorry”, the less you really mean it. The more I hear Dave say it, it simply blends into the conversation. Sure, it’s a word of kindness (usually), but we need to learn how to use our TONE of LANGUAGE to display our kindness rather than jumping around the kitchen apologizing for tripping over each other. 

* Apologizing without thought gives the other person the upper hand. Totally. I tend to apologize as a kindness tactic — regularly saying “Oops! So sorry you caught me eating my lunch. Sorry! What’s up?” Seriously. They interrupted MY lunchtime (which I was trying to get work done during) and I’m hoping, at the very least, to receive an acknowledgement that I’m being put out a bit before dropping my sandwich and helping them out.

Instead, I’ve often found that the person disregards it completely and continues on, like a bulldozer, with whatever their own needs are. My confidence issues ain’t gettin’ any better with crap like that goin’ down. It is what it is, and it’s not great.

So, yeah. There’s more, but that’s the general idea of the thing. Our goal is to raise a happy, healthy, kind, intelligent, confident young man. Part of confidence is being comfortable with yourself and knowing how to act in situations. Regardless of how we appear, Dave and I both have confidence and self-esteem issues. The last thing we want is to pass these on to our beautiful little man. Last thing.

Dave is doing great at trying to identify when “sorry!” is an acceptable response and when it’s probably not the best go-to. He’s not phasing it out completely; that’s not the point. It’s knowing when to say it and when it’s not necessary. That’s all.

I, actually, already started working on my sorryisms at work last year. It. Was. Hard. There was definitely a bit of acting needed to help me learn how to not get plowed over (I also used the sorries as a way to be kind, which often got me screwed over). And, y’know what? It kinda worked. There are still people who are just always going to be hard nuts to crack (which is fine), and I learned which people respect some confidence and some boundaries.

I didn’t start implementing it in other parts of my life. I didn’t think it seemed necessary. But, now it seems it is.

Here are a few of the ways that we’ve been addressing the issue:

* I’ve been talking to Hadley in a low-key, “it’s not a big deal” sort of way when he says it. We talk briefly about why he said it, and usually why it’s not needed. If it IS needed, I’ll say something like, “It was good of you to say you were sorry. When you *did such-and-such naughty act*, you were making bad choices and hurting our feelings, so it was a good thing to say ‘sorry’ about.” Or whatevs. I’ve seen a quick decrease in his use of the word. Sometimes a quick one or two sentence chat gets into his smart little brain better than a super big lecture or hitting him over the head with it.

* We’re not doing anything like a “Sorry Jar” or anything so drastic. Sometimes an apology is totally warranted, especially in marriage or in the day-to-day. But, we’ll gently remind each other, “Honey, you said ‘sorry’ and it’s totally cool, you didn’t do anything wrong.” While Dave likens it to quitting smoking (it’s definitely a habit), it’s not the sort of thing you need to kick yourself over when you accidentally let one slip. Sorry happens. It’s a process.

* If I’m truly sorry for something, I state why. I like to use “I’m sorry because…” any time I’m actually admitting a mistake or a poor wording or any number of reasons. Self realization is where it’s at. It also makes the apology carry so much more weight. It gives “sorry” back its importance.

* We’re having issues, but working on finding replacements for “sorry.” It’s difficult because there’s a sweetness attached to it that nothing can match. Again, it all depends on the situation. Sometimes it’s best just to cut it out. Other times, say someone’s having a bad day, just responding “Dude, that sucks” doesn’t show enough empathy. So, we’re feeling it out. Saying “I’m sorry your day is so terrible” might just have to be a replacement for the time being.

And just because I prefer to end on a positive note, and I hate that I was super harsh at the beginning of the post (I’m not sorry, but I don’t want it to be taken the wrong way), here are some of the awesome things about “sorry”:

* Sorry can melt your heart when it’s said at the right time…especially by someone who’s admitting a wrong or who happens to be an adorable 2-year-old who seems to be connecting to you while saying it.

* Sorry can hold so much power, when used sparingly. When you truly make a mistake and can own up to it (the hardest part), saying “I’m truly sorry” and owning the problem, then finding a way to fix it, it can earn you respect. Or not. But maybe!

Care to add anymore positive things about “I’m sorry”?

Being Kinda Productive For Once

I finally kickstarted my “get some $%&# done around the house” engine. Maybe the guilt of not doing stuff was hanging over my head. Maybe the fact that I purchased paint weeks ago and it was sitting, unused, on our deck. Maybe I finally got enough energy (or overcame the mental demons). Maybe I wanted to find “bursts”(remember those?)  of easier-to-manage tasks (or chunked-up tasks) to make it seem simpler.

Whatever it was, I got to work. And, slowly but surely, the trend continues. It even spilled into the nearest vicinity like a nasty plague (not to the neighbors; to Dave!).

I had already wire brushed a majority of the formerly invasive ivy plants which had attacked the side of our foundation. Seriously, the left caterpillar-esque tendrils of plant veins clinging with what looked like millions of legs ON the cement. There were areas that I just painted over them (uncool, I know), but for the most part those buggers were gone.

So a few quick tips for painting a foundation…

Use a crappy brush. This is actually one of my FAVORITE short rubber-handled angle brushes, but it had seen its day. Your brush will be ruined and will no longer be able to follow a straight line. It’s a drunk brush, but it works for this purpose.


Use horrible posture and wear the least supportive shoes on earth. Seriously. I know you want to take several minutes to get up then walk like you’re 90 when you’re done, right? Follow this example:

Show your toddler-toting guns. Seriously, I didn’t know I had those. Thanks for the awesome picture-taking, Dorky Daddy!

My actual advice is to use an old newspaper to not only catch drips but use as a guard. Yes, it’ll keep paint from getting onto your garden beds/driveway/etc (it actually works; the stuff you see is actually junk from when they put in our new window) BUT it keeps your brush from getting dirt/gravel/mulch/randomness stuck in its bristles.

Nothing to see here, really. Just enjoying the picture. I look badass. Painting. With a “Life is Good” (“Half Full” glass) hat and my too-big cast t-shirt from our high school production of “Once Upon a Mattress”. It’s my go-to painting shirt and has splatters from every set I’ve ever painted on it. It’s getting buried with me. But, of course.

 

The perfectionist-without-perfection will admit right here, right now, for all the world to read: I’m not a fan of the paint color. I’m not sure what I was thinking. I know I wanted a more charcoal color, and admittedly this one looked darker on the swatch (and in the can, which tells me it’s not mixed wrong). I’m positive it’s the combination of a super bright summer sun and the angle with which it hits the foundation. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

It also dries dark…er. Darker. Kinda.


Either way, it looks cleaner and brighter, so it’s fine. I’m not going to nitpick. S’all good.

I started the project late last week, then spent time with family on Saturday and got back to business on Sunday during naptime. Since there’s a chance of rain today, I’m not expecting to finish today (I’m about 2/3 done), but if I do, I do. And I kind of hope I do.

No worries, though. I’ve got another project halfway finished that will grab my attention if the “rain rain rain comes down down down…”

This. Damn. Ceiling. Okay. So…ahem. This spot had a super budget style light fixture installed…but it had been placed where the angled ceiling meets the straight part of the ceiling in our upstairs hallway. Like, a half circle was cut out of the angled ceiling. Crazy town.

 

(This is actually after I patched it for the LAST TIME.)

We’ve patched and sanded sporadically over the years, always putting it off longer. There were times we had thin little sheets of crappy patchwork hanging precariously. The cats had grown to ignore them, so used to the crapfest were they.

So, Sunday morning after we went out to breakfast (and I had discovered that my favorite antique center nearby wouldn’t open for another hour, egad), we returned home with one foul-moody, high-strung mama on board. I felt like I was spinning my wheels, so I checked my short list of house to-do’s, grabbed my sander and step stool and started the a-gypsum a-flyin’. (Not sure if it’s really gypsum in drywall…or whatever our house is made of…but work with me here.)

Of course, since I threw myself headlong into the project (happens. every. time.), I had failed to check on our spackle supply. D’oh. Very little, and all dried out.

Sooooo, Dave was good enough to watch Hadman while I ran to Lowe’s. Of course, $100-something later I also came home with a few super cheap window blinds and a handful of other do-dads for other projects…and my beloved Dap goes-on-pink/dries-white stuff.

I applied, then had lunch, put the munchkin down for a nap, and hit the outdoors (see: foundation painting). After Dave had gone inside and got the little guy up, I finished my painting for the day and headed indoors to sand, yet again.

I’m sure you already know this, but start with the lower grit number (it’s rougher); the higher, the gentler (finish with the gentler stuff).

Oh, and another word of advice. Don’t take selfies. Seriously, just don’t. But, if you MUST take a selfie, be sure to do it ONLY when you can embarrass yourself royally with it. 


And don’t lick your lips after sanding. Stupid idea.

So, today I hope to slap on a coat of ceiling paint (how do I have two gallons of THAT in the basement but am incessantly out of what I usually need?)

Oh, and I also took the cat tower’s rope scratching post from annihilated (spelled that on first try, woo to the hoo!) to looks-like-new —

RIP Monty Mouse. He squealed. #beardsleesourgodfather #jaspersourmuscle

Complete with massive amounts of help and support from Beardslee along the way. #notreally #heslept  He made some headway on reupholstering Daddy’s computer chair completely in cat fur, though.


And I thought I’d share a few pics of how the garden’s doing, along with its fashionable tulle attire (to keep cat poop out of our food…how’s THAT for fabulous?).

Last I knew, those things (to the left, to the left) weren’t trees. Too bad they turned into trees this summer ‘cuz they’re bogarting all the sun for my garden, man.

Oh, and the trellis near the garden in that picture? History. (It was being eaten by ants.) That was Dave’s huge project this weekend, and it’s awesome to finally have the thing down. Plus, a farmer helping neighbors move asked if he could take the posts and everything (ants and all), so it all got a second life. *warm fuzzies*

Summer squash lookin’ all growy and stuff…

Can you see what I see? Look closely…little neon green cuteness. (I don’t mind that they’re cute. I just mind the taste when they turn red and, y’know, “edible.” Ew. I love my husband enough to grow him two tomato plants, guys. That’s mad huge love.)

Right after I picked one handful of lettuce, right before I picked the rough-around-the-edges leaves. Keeping it real.

Our first “bounty.” Just a teensy strawberry (I moved those near the front of the garage and they’re doing “eh, okay”) that Hadley ate immediately, a couple of cherry tomaters and jalapenos, and a fistful of lettuce.

Whew! So! I know it’s a long one, but that’s how we’ve been productive lately. How about you? Getting anything checked off any lists — even if your list includes sitting on a sandy beach with something cold to drink? (I’d like to live vicariously.) Go ahead, tell! Or just post some horrific selfies in the comments to make me feel better about my lack of selfie skillz.

megactsout on instagram

Well, howdy there! Happy Friday to y’all! It’s supposed to be a super rainy one in our neck of the woods, but ’tis fine. We’ve had a gorgeous string of sunny, warm weather, so it’s all good. (Unless you’re one of the brave few who have to do a charity ride today; in which case, I am SO, SO SORRY!)

I’m excited because I have a half-work day followed by a half-meeting day, then hopefully a date night with the hubby. Mind you, a half-meeting day for me entails meeting up with some awesome librarians, getting a break from the craziness at my school library, and learning something new. Never a bad thing.

And that date night? Hopefully taking place at a local food-serving joint to celebrate Food Revolution Day.

See? What’s not to love about the day? (Don’t answer that. I totally just jinxed myself and SOMETHING horrific will happen. #karma)

I thought I’d put my feelers out there and see how many of you use Instagram. Random, I know.

I’m a fan, although during the school year I seem to use it far less. I started a year ago (June 2nd, to be exact, with a picture of us meeting former NY governor Patterson) when I got my iPhone and have enjoyed grabbing candids and using funky filters along the way. Nope, I’m no purist.


My favorite thing about Instagram is the protection. You can’t save or repost other people’s pictures…unlike naughty Facebook, where friends (or even Facebook) can use your likeness (or your son’s, grrrr) all they want. It’s also great to have all these awesome shots in one place.

I have realized recently that, although I’m a mama to an awesome almost 2-year-old (and have the pictures to prove it), I’m still a super proud kitty mom.

Yep.

And food. I’m totally a food-picture-taker, especially Hadley food.

With a few #TBTs thrown in for good measure.

Not a fan of the selfie. The fact that my mother, just this week, used the term “selfie” blew my mind. (At least she’s never taken one.) Regardless, still not a fan. None of my likeness was made to be photographed, particularly in an awkward self-induced angle. Just not built that way, I guess.

The funny thing is, I’ve overheard the exasperated conversation of “Who needs Facebook AND Instagram AND Twitter??” Well, um, me.

See, I don’t use Facebook religiously; we have a love/hate relationship, after all. When I do, I post a blog update (shout-out, FB checkers!) or see what’s up with friends. Once in awhile, I’ll re-post something…but it has to really hit me enough to do so. I’m not a huge fan.

So, when I feel like sharing a random thought or opinion or quote or something…I turn to Twitter. It feels like it’s less likely to be criticized or misconstrued when it goes off into the Twittersphere. Plus, the best part of tweeting? You can follow celebs. And, of course, by celebs I mean @iammrvandy (Dick Van Dyke!), @jamieoliver, or @PBSKids (yes, that’s one celebrity, in my book). There are a million more, but those are the ones that interest me. 😉

And Instagram is my safe little photo stash. I only follow a minimum amount of people so it doesn’t turn into an overwhelming Facebook-like crazy place, and I enjoy seeing what people come up with. Not to mention, my brother-in-law’s images are INSANE. Just awesome.

So, how about the rest of y’all? Any Instagrammers in the bunch? Do you like to tweet? I’m still getting the hang of all of them (and I know I haven’t discovered the full power of the hashtag), but I can see the value. I can, and it’s pretty cool.

What Women Want

{Wasn’t that a wonderfully atrocious movie? Or am I the only one who saw it? I don’t remember at what point Mel Gibson became unwatchable, but it was just around that time…}

Anyhoo, extra post this week!! This one is about gifting the ladies. Heck, this could be about gifting anybody, but around our house, ’tis the season for Mom. Er, me.

I have a tough time receiving gifts, mostly because a) I’m uncomfortable being the center of attention (yes, I’m an actress…why do you ask? ;-)) and b) I’m always concerned that I won’t like the thing, and I ALWAYS try to find the “isn’t that wonderful???” joy in gifts. I’m not picky, I’m just…um…exclusive about what I want to keep around my house. I can’t really put a percentage on what I don’t keep, but if I don’t really like it or if it doesn’t find use after a certain amount of time…out it goes. (Wow, I sound brutal. I’m really not!)

Since today’s my birthday (woohoo, I’m old! Like, the age my mom always told me to tell my teachers SHE was, old) and Mother’s Day is coming up, I thought I’d share a few items that you might not have thought of when perusing the shops for your lady friend/sister/mother/etc. These may not be every lady’s cup of tea, but they’re mine — the type of lady who’s into history, who doesn’t tend to let her bits and pieces hang out in public (ie dressing for “clubbing”…do the kids still call it that? “Clubbing”?), who’s equal parts simple yet highly particular.

My God. I’m my mother. And my grandmother.

– Speaking of “cup of tea”, tea. Definitely tea. If she’s into tea, hook her up with a basket of her faves. If she likes it loose (hee hee), hit up a quality store in the area and get her some nice supplies — like one of those ball thingies, a bag/box of loose, and a sweet little mug. (Check out Etsy for some Mom mugs that don’t suck. You know what I mean. ;-))

If she’s a coffee-drinker, get that same mug but hook her (I wrote that “hooker” the first time around…where am I today??) up with a gift card to her favorite cafe or, yes, even Dunkin Donuts if it’s more convenient for her. These things sound so simple, but they don’t take up a ton of space, they’re thoughtful, and she’ll USE them. That’s the main point here.

And, okay, okay. If she’s a wine drinker, a NICE (nice doesn’t always mean expensive) bottle of wine (and maybe the suggestion that you’ll cook or pick up dinner for the night)  

Sunglasses. Observe the style of glasses that your particular lady uses (that’s the important part; you don’t want to go getting aviators when she likes a John Lennon style) and get a pair as similar as you can find. These can be as cheap or expensive as you like, but buy them knowing that one can NEVER have enough pairs of sunglasses. I had a great pair at the end of fall last year and I have no idea where they ran to…so, I had to buy a new pair. (Kohl’s for around $8. Not too shabby.) Always great to have several, especially with kids around who mangle them and accident-prone folks who sit on them.

Flowers. This may sound traditional or cheesy or “duh, Meg”, but I tell you I’m always flattered by flowers. They add some joy to the house, tell you without having to TELL you that you’re loved, and they don’t clutter the joint up for too long (ahem). And if you’re like us and you have a slew of cats, you can either check out this site for some safe options (there are way too many non-safe ones to mention, and they’re unfortunately far too often the popular choices) or grab a potted plant or two for her to plant outside. (Hanging plants are cool, too.) Either way, flowers are a grand gesture of romanticism and even sweeter when you have your little one hand them over. *melt*

Something handmade. Speaking of little ones, what’s better than kiddie art?? This can be wicked simple: have your munchkin draw a picture (even the little kids can “make” something that turns out to be wickedly cool and abstract) on a sheet of computer paper. Then purchase a nice frame that’ll go with your house decor (can’t go wrong with a chic black or white one, but if she’s into traditional or rustic, buy a wood one). A beautiful frame really elevates the sketch into a work of art that she can hang anywhere in the house or at work, and the thought behind it will mean even more.

A magazine or bookmark. Okay, follow me here. I love reading. But, my time these days is either too full to do so or way too exhausted to follow a storyline (sad but true). So, if your lady is like me, check the magazine aisles at Barnes and Noble and grab a new one you think she might like. Put some thought into what her interests are, and I guarantee you there’s at least one magazine to suit those interests. By purchasing one, you’re seeing how she likes it; if she does, tell her you’ll get the full subscription. (If she doesn’t, at least you haven’t bought an entire wasteful subscription; offer to buy her one of her choosing, in this case.) And if she DOES have time to read, those funky bookmarks at B&N (or on Etsy) are wicked cool and way more fun to use than, say, a wayward receipt or (ahem) a few sheets of toilet paper. 

Cheesy coupons. While I know for a fact that my mom still has some of these leftover from when both my sister and I made some for her, I think I’d really appreciate a handmade (or computer-printed) stack of these coupons. You know what I’m talking about: “These coupon good for one night of washing dishes.” “This coupon good for one diaper change.” And so on. Think about what she really does a lot of around the house and what you and your kids could do. (Hadley couldn’t really do these, although he could “help.” This is more from Daddy in our case.) Right now a “This coupon good for one good, long hug” coupon isn’t really relevant (we do plenty of that all over the place at our house), but when Hadman’s a teenager, I’d probably kill for one of those. Ack. Don’t make me think about it!

A subscription to Ancestry.com. This is actually what I requested for my combination birthday/Mother’s Day. I had received a 6-month subscription for Christmas and I have absolutely LOVED digging into our family history — all the way back to the late 1400s, in some cases. Seeing that I’ll have a touch more time this summer to dig even more, I decided to ask for an “extension” when it runs out in June. It’s not cheap (hence asking for it for my birthday AND Mother’s Day), but I have to say it’s the best gift I think I’ve ever received. That good. 

So, what do you think? Would you want any of these things? What would you add to the list, ladies? (Notice I said ladies, ha.)   

Dick Van Fans

It’s no secret that we’re kinda…yeah, we’re a tad “different.” We listen to eclectic music selections; we watch vintage Sesame Street; we wish Hadley could grow up in Carville while we devour our Andy Hardy movies (rest in peace, Mickey!) and other classic, black-and-white films; I love history books and Dave loves comic books. We’ve got all sorts of quirky up in here.


So, it should come as little surprise that we have a new favorite.

Thanks, once again, to our super basic cable package and Netflix usage, we have stumbled upon The Dick Van Dyke Show in much the same way that he tended to stumble over a wayward toy or ottoman. With great zeal!

The weird thing is that I never watched this show as a kid, and I don’t think Dave did. I followed plenty of old shows (Mr. Ed, Dennis the Menace, Lassie, My Three Sons — horrible acting, great storyline, a bunch of the old cop shows, and two personal favorites — Batman and The Monkees), but I never saw “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” But, boy, are we wicked glad we have now!

Since the winter has kept us pretty much eating in front of the TV every night, we’ve gotten into the habit of dragging Hadley’s seat into the living room, firing up the ol’ Wii sensor, and continuing on with the next show. We’ve become familiar with every single character and their particular quirks, and Dave has read several “trivia” pieces from the interwebs when a question or an “I wonder if they…” idea pops up.

A few of our favorites?

– The show was the first of its kind to have a character like Sally (played by Rose Marie, who just happened to guest star in two Monkees episodes), a single, independent, working woman.

– Dick Van Dyke gave up his role on Broadway to star and was such a mess on the day they taped the first show that he missed out on Kennedy’s inauguration (which everyone else seemed to watch).

– He also seemed to think that Mary Tyler Moore was too young to portray his wife, and she was also meant to be a secondary character (with most of the action happening at the office). Her talent was quickly noticed and her character was given more storylines (Rose Marie didn’t get along with her very well for this reason), and Dick was won over. Side note: They were said to each have crushes on the other at certain points throughout the show. *blushes* So cute!

– The show was actually based on Carl Reiner’s time writing for “Your Show of Shows” with Sid Caesar. The character of Buddy was based on Mel Brooks.

– Buddy (friend and “co-writer” to Dick’s character) and Mel (the “show’s” producer) were actually great friends in real life despite having characters that are constantly at each other’s throats. As a matter of fact, they used to get together and have drinks after work to see what zingers they could come up with.

Ohhh, it just keeps going. Of course, my favorite bit of trivia happens in our very own living room. Hadley sometimes finds himself smitten with Laura, giving the TV doe eyes and getting shy. It’s these times when he decides to shout out to her — “Mama! Mama, mama, mama!” I could possibly be flattered, but I know that anyone who appears to be a) a woman or b) in pairs, he tends to refer to that way.

We also ADORE the fact that they tried very hard to keep slang out of conversation in order to make the show seem less timely. In other words, it has held up VERY well (for the most part) and we find ourselves laughing our butts off today.

What about your family? Do you have any quirky favorites?

Any Idears?

Since we all know what a relatively indecisive person I am (if not, well…now you know), it’s just about time to ask you lovely folks for your opinions again. Yay! This time, it’s with regards to my lap-lap-lappytop.

Ahem. Laptop.

My current model is a Dell Inspiron 1520 that’s over 5 years old. (Um, yep. It’s time.) The caps lock is missing and there’s a big ol’ line down the middle of the screen (video card issue, I assume). Clunky, kinda warmer than I’d like, as slow as a…very slow dinosaur. It’s pretty ghetto, and getting worse every time monkey spots it open.

So, I’ve finally decided that, for cost sake, I won’t be getting a Mac; it’s just not worth it to me right now when we’ve got other things we’re saving for — like a non-scratching post armchair for Mama to nest in every night. 😉 At least I’ve got ONE decision down.

Here are my wishes, oh fairy godmother:

– A good amount of storage and speed
– A slot for a USB port (and a DVD burner, if possible, but it’s not a deal breaker)
– Under $500
– Does it HAFTA have Windows 8??? Windows XP is and always will be my BFF.
– A good size screen (~13″ or more-ish) that’s not TOO heavy
– Photo editing (I love my PicMonkey, but I’m not sure I can live without my Photoshop and Publisher…but maybe I can be persuaded) — so I don’t think any Chromebooks would be viable. Right? (No, really, I’m asking. I’m no expert.) I’ve been searching around and know there are some Chrome apps that might replace this…but I’m apprehensive. I guess this could be another non-deal breaker but it reminds me of the time my husband opted for the pared down version of his car (meaning no car starter and no cruise control…wait, what? Yes. Cruise control. That’s just not safe NOT to have).

Anyhoo. Too unrealistic? I’m not a slave to brand names, necessarily, but a good review is kind of a must. And your opinions would help greatly, too!

A few that I’m stalking ogling researching…

Contestant #1, c’mon down!!! Toshiba Satellite (we’ll leave out the numbers ‘n stuff for anonymity) is a super-cheap date at around $400. While Toshy’s got some of our basic “turn ons” — such as two USB 2.0 ports (do I NEED a 3.0??), a 15.6″ screen without super heft, a DVD drive, good battery power — it’s got 3 GB of ram vs. competitor’s 4 and may be a bit sluggish. Ultimately, she’s what we call okay to look at, but not sure how much substance is lurking beneath. Is she shallow and ditzy? Is she witty and fun, worth taking a deeper look at? No idea! But, isn’t that half the fun of looking?

Toshy the Toshiba Satellite
All images from PCMag.com

Contestant #s 2 and 3 are twins who hale from sunny California (not really, I made that up). Let’s double our pleasure with Acer Aspire #1 and Acer Aspire #2!!! Our first twin is the less expensive of the two (at around $350, although I’m not a Walmart fan, so this may shift if we go with it) and comes with great ratings — an editor’s pick, actually. It’s got a 15.6″ screen with 4 GB of memory, and they have generally great (although sometimes backhanded) compliments for the machine, considering its price. It’s also lacking in a DVD drive (necessary? Probably not) and USB 3.0 (ditto), and I’m not sure if it can handle my kazillion-tabs-open-at-a-time habit. Maybe! It’s not like I’m a gamer.

Acer #1


For Acer #2, coming in at just around $500, seems to have the positive bells and whistles of her sister (along with an awesome review for the price), but with added awesomeness such as a DVD burner, a lighter weight (for the same size sceen), a USB 3.0, and greater storage. Hmm. Certainly enough to put us in a pickle, huh?

Acer #2

Just for fun, let’s meet a newbie in the bunch who’s known for her value (read: cheapness) with a “space, the final frontier” unknown quality about her — we have the Samsung Chromebook ($250). This one’s a challenge to compare since it doesn’t have a traditional operating system and calls for the Internet to get much of anything done, so there’d be a large learning curve, but for that price and adorable package, it needs to be considered.

Samsung Chromebook
Va va voom…
…yet so strange.

Wild card time!!! Since our guest (um, I) will be making QUITE the commitment at the end of today’s Dating Game, we’re going to throw a couple of “nicer options” out on the table just to see if anyone has experience with them or enjoys the brands.

‘Cuz it’s my game and I said so, that’s why. 😉

Here’s the infamously sexy HP (I almost came up with a horrific Dating Game name for that one…) Pavilion. There’s something to be said for looks, considering how much time you spend staring at your computer in a given day. (And let’s just say I’m sick of the view currently.) From an aluminum chassis to the ports to the storage…simply put, this has it all. The only thing I’m iffy on (and this is the thing that has me considering a higher price of $650 in the first place) is that its metal look has a navy blue hint to it. Very unique. And, of course, my current laptop is navy blue…and I’ve generally hated that it wasn’t silver (or black, if it has to be). I might be able to rationalize to myself that it’s become a wicked awesome neutral lately and be done with it.

HP Pavilion
You sexy thing
(You sexy thing you)
The last wildcard in our game is Sony Vaio. I’m 50/50 about this brand name, so if anyone has some super wonderful things to say, speak up or forever hold your peace. The fact that PC Mag can’t rave enough about it (even saying that they had to keep double-checking the price, $629.99, considering all that you get out of the machine) speaks volumes…but I’m still not sold.

Sony Vaio
Really?
Maybe…?
As Monty Hall once said…”Let’s pick Meg a computer!!!” (Clearly never said that.) And I’d love to hear what your favorite brands are in the comments. What do you swear by? Anything I’ve mentioned, or should I check out something I haven’t mentioned? Thanks so much for your help, guys!!!

Which laptop do you choose?
Toshiba Satellite
Acer Aspire #1
Acer Aspire #2
Samsung Chromebook
HP Pavillion
Sony Vaio
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Let’s Get Physical, Physical


It’s our last weekend for “Don’t Talk to the Actors,” folks! If you’re in the area and in the mood for some PG-13ish entertainment in a quaint historical setting, hit us up at 8 tonight…or 8 tomorrow night…or 2 on Sunday. Please and thanks! You won’t regret it, and neither will I!!

Yeah, no. I can’t do this.
It pains me to look.

Okay, on with the main event. (Thought y’all could use a non-theater post for one day. Happy Friday to YOU!)

I’ve mentioned a few times lately the fact that I’m going to physical therapy. Long story short, it seems that I had some extra wear-and-tear on my knees while pregnant (um, baby was big) and I did a lot more than I probably should have. When you have pregnancy pains, you tend to assume they’re just that — pregnancy pains — rather than an actual “thing.” I also didn’t adjust properly to walking/moving “normally” post-pregnancy.

So, I’ve got a couple of Baker’s cysts, which are just minute tears ([not min-it teers, but my-noot tares] in this case, on the back of both of my knees — nothing you can SEE, but you could feel them if you crawled into my achy body) that fill with the fluid that’s supposed to help my knee caps do their thang. There are a couple of other issues, but that’s generally the idea of the thing. I’ve been sore, and at times it’s been super difficult to move or squat, let alone shelve books at work.

The ultimate goal is to build up my thighs to support my knees better, as well as build up the strength again in my knees. Just call me “Thunder Thighs!!!” Not sure if those tears will ever heal on their own, but it’d be nice.

I’m going to a local place, Fitness Forum, which has been good for the most part. However, my biggest challenges are the facts that —

a) I just had a different doctor last week (filling in for my usual physical therapist) who gave me a completely different regiment of exercises,

b) I’m awkward as heck in “gym” situations, so I always feel like I’m doing it wrong (or just when I think I’m doing it right, the p/t tells me I’m not…embarrassing), and

c) I’ve had a very hard time finding the TIME to do my home exercises — the biggest challenge.

I’m trying to stay positive, but I’ve never been a super active person. Maybe that’s one reason my legs are so “surprisingly” tight for a “girl my age.” (Love that. Not.)

In high school, I played tennis and enjoyed it greatly (and attempted short stints with basketball and volleyball — not so great). Oh, and as a senior, I tried bowling, but that was a way to connect with my dad’s hobby and I wasn’t even close to good. I disliked gym; I was a music-English-history girl. Heck, I would’ve stayed with volleyball if my JV coach hadn’t been borderline abusive (verbally and physically pushing me to the point of throwing up every day; not the whole team) about not belonging there — she had gone to school with my siblings, who were band geeks like myself.

See? A bit of emotional soreness over athletics. Blah.

But, this is something else. This is to allow me to do my work again the way it needs to be done. This is to allow me to crawl around with my son and change his diaper and play with him without groaning in pain every time. This is to give me my energy and feeling of normalcy back.

It’ll be worth it, I know. I just have to jump some mental hurdles first — my own issues. Here’s how I hope to handle them:

a) Check in with my regular physical therapist to ensure that I’m doing the proper exercises…’cuz, yeah, they’re 100% different than what I was doing. (I have since done this, and while I have a million exercises, I’m adapting them to my needs. ie Not doing them all everyday.)

b) Get the heck over it. There are a TON of high school athletes around me doing exercises (and knowing full well how to do them) and a BUTTLOAD of older folks (dressed in Dockers and belts…? Here I was worried about my ratty sweatpants on the first day. I HAVE amended this situation that I blend in well enough, thanks to new sweats and new sneakers.), so I’m a rare creature. As with most things in life, I’ll just do my best and listen to what they tell me to do and deal with it. After all, it’s not forever. Just like gym class.

c) Um, yeah. This part sucks. I’m supposed to do them 2 times a day (they had mentioned 2-3, but we all know that ain’t happenin’). It seems that every time I go, the amount of exercises double — either in duration or just by changing what I’m doing — so it’s been confusing to LEARN the exercises as well as dig out the time to do them. (An assistant there that I LOVE has recently told me that once a day, especially with the busy life I’ve got goin’ on, is just fine. I love her.) SO, my attempt at a strategy here is to do them in the bedroom, when possible.

Wait, what? Yes, in the bedroom. If I get up early (5:30, people!!!! NO!), turn on the news, and do them while I don’t have any distractions (ahem, baby crawling on my stomach thinking it’s hysterical to sit on Mommy’s belly while she’s doing bridges, and, ahem, husband who doesn’t realize how much focus a grown woman needs to count to 20), I think I’m more apt to do them. Er, at least most of them. There are a couple of the exercises I’ve cut out on my own (probably breaking a cardinal rule, but…) because they’re painful. Like, direct knee contact that seems to be causing more issues than doing good type of stuff. (Don’t worry; I talk to my PT about it and we figure stuff out.)

Oh, and the same thing goes for the evenings (when I’m not into doing the 5:30 thing). When it’s time to chill out for the night, it seems that having one “zone” to do these exercises is half the battle. Plus, Dave zones out with his graphic novels (he is the Dorky Daddy, after all) and we can throw on The Big Bang Theory (or whatever, I’m not choosy…man, we are dorky) and I get the job done.

*sigh* I’ll get through it. And, y’know what? When I do, I hope to be pain-free enough to sign back up for some weekly yoga. Plus, when spring *finally* arrives (we have snow in the forecast…as long as that’s sitting on the 7-day outlook, it ain’t spring), we’ll be able to do family walking after work on a few days thanks to the hubby’s “new and improved” schedule.

See? Always a silver lining. 😉

Mixed Bag Monday

You know how you have so much that you want to tell a friend during a phone conversation that you’re thinking, “Well, that looks like a bipolar mix of topics if ever there was one.” Well, yeah. That’s my post today.

“Acting out” this weekend was awesome. While our opening night was lackluster (we later realized that the audience wasn’t great, which tends to batter already-sensitive actor egos), our Saturday and Sunday performances were stellar, hilarious, and incredibly fun. That high that can only be brought by appreciative audiences was better than I remember.

A side note of annoyance (to any of you who may be live audience members at any point in the future, please take note) occurred during yesterday’s performance. It was clear that, although it was a Sunday audience (historically known as consisting of the elderly and more religious types), they were thoroughly enjoying the show, bawdiness and all. We began our second act and they seemed to still be on the chatty side (like trying to teach kids right after they come in from recess), so while my “fiance” started his lines (in which he’s questioning himself, and me, about how his show’s first read-through went), a gentleman in the audience STARTED ANSWERING.

We heard him as clear as day. He wasn’t ignorant (well…) nor hard-of-hearing nor any other excuse I could fathom. He was just a wiseass. He even loudly replied to whomever sat near him, “I know, I’m bad. I cause trouble.” (Something like that; I was too busy trying not to glare into the audience.) Needless to say, he made it incredibly difficult to focus and my fellow actor got flustered trying to remember his line. (He didn’t appear that way to the audience and I thought he did a smashing job of not letting it get to him, but we were both PISSED in that moment.)

The fact that the show is called “Don’t Talk to the Actors” just added to the ridiculousness.

Similarly, we had someone’s cell phone go off THREE TIMES — and they didn’t turn it off or do anything. Just kept ringing one of those obnoxious songs. Our “stage manager” told people to turn them off, especially since we have cell phone rings (and even the sound of a vibrating phone) as part of the show, but apparently the request didn’t stick.

It didn’t sour the whole show, but such mistakes are just reprehensible to me. Why do folks feel they’re above rules and general common courtesy? So many people ask us how we remember so many lines, and I now think to myself, “If you knew how much work went into it, and were up there trying to remember them yourself, would you keep your yapping to yourself and turn off your phone??”

Of course, this wasn’t the majority of the audience, and we were ultimately SO grateful just to have an audience who enjoyed spending their time with us! 

Anyhoo, needless to say, I’m hoping for three more great audiences, and am bittersweet about it all ending…especially since I’m mentally planning on starting my spring cleaning when the end comes. Blech.

Still need to get a picture or two of the costumes I selected. I’d also like to grab one or two of “behind the scenes” stuff. We’ll see if I can remember. *wink, wink*

NEXT TOPIC!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I’m one of those super-proud (mostly) Irish folks that don’t full-on celebrate the day. Like, I don’t drink green beer (or any, really, for that matter…not just to celebrate the day), I don’t hit up the parade (Dave’s not a fan of the rowdiness; can’t blame him), and I don’t go to church to thank St. Patrick for being crazy enough to want to return to Ireland after being enslaved there for years, all for his passion of spreading his religion.

But, I’m wearing green, and I take plenty of time to appreciate my ancestry.

And, apparently, I depress children.

Yep, call me the “let’s learn about Ireland and St. Patrick!!!” Debbie Downer.

See, I decided to use the chance to show my fourth graders some of the databases we purchase, so I looked up “Irish” (on a couple of sites so they can see the difference), and man was I a tad too informative.

They learned about St. Patrick, and since they’ve been learning a lot about African-American history, I used it as a teachable moment to show that Africans weren’t the only slaves (and still aren’t). Okay, not TOO bad.

Then, we searched about the Irish Potato Famine. Oops. I had read it in advance, but the more I talked about it, the more I realized that I was probably…um…yeah. It wasn’t anything horrific, but it was far from the usual “they’re after me lucky charms” leprechaun festivities of a regular St. Patrick’s Day. “See the historical etching of this family? The father who’s crying? The mother holding her baby, with several kids laying around? Yeah, they’re gonna die.” Wop wop.

Maybe we should’ve just researched Irish music…?

So, that’s where I am today. How ’bout you?