"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." ~ Benjamin Franklin

Myths about Katrina and New Orleans

>> Friday, August 31, 2007

Reason has put together a very well organized description of the problems facing New Orleans and the myths that the media gleefully repeat.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Read them all.

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Go On, Add Some Spark To Your Life

Fall is in the air here in central Iowa. We took the girls for a bike ride last night and it was actually a bit chilly as we headed home. My morning walks require a jacket for me and a sweatshirt and socks for Caelan.

Soon it will be time to light the fireplace and drink cocoa.

What? You have no fireplace? Well, let me help you remedy that problem. Just visit DESAtech for vent free fireplaces; the look and heat of a wood burning fireplace without the mess. You can built you own fireplace from the inside out to make it match any room.

You know you’re imagining a warm fire and cuddling in front of it with the one you love.

Go on... See how easy an affordable it is to put a fireplace in your home. Add a little "spark" to your life.

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Fab Food Friday

OK, everyone, it's the last big weekend before the cold weather sets in (if you have actual seasons. Those of you in the south, well, you'll enjoy this well into December.) Probably the last big family gathering with food (preferably cooked over flames) and outdoor fun. Probably the last family event that you could bring this as a dessert until next summer.

Today I offer you the Oreo Fudge and Ice Cream Cake.

My sister-in-law made this a couple of months ago and I didn't think to take a picture of it. Why would I? I didn't make it. And since I want you to be able to make everyone think you are a dessert genius and the weekend falls after tomorrow I am just going to share the photo from Kraftfoods.com, the designers of this tasty dessert.




Prep Time: 10 min
Total Time: 4 hr 10 min
Makes: 12 servings


1/2 cup hot fudge ice cream topping, warmed
1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed, divided
1 pkg. (4-serving size) JELL-O Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
8 OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, chopped (about 1 cup)
12 vanilla ice cream sandwiches, unwrapped



POUR fudge topping into medium bowl. Add 1 cup of the whipped topping; stir with wire whisk until well blended. Add dry pudding mix; stir 2 min. or until well blended. Gently stir in chopped cookies; set aside.
ARRANGE 4 of the ice cream sandwiches, side-by-side, on 24-inch-long piece of foil; top with half of the whipped topping mixture. Repeat layers. Top with remaining 4 ice cream sandwiches. Frost top and sides of dessert with remaining whipped topping. Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and ends to loosely seal packet.
FREEZE at least 4 hours before serving. Store leftover dessert in freezer.

**Note: if the fudge topping you use is too thick to spread easily stir in up to 1/4 cup milk.
** Go crazy and try Neopolitan Ice Cream Sandwiches!
** Or experiment with mint Oreo cookies! MMMM!

Check out the cooking school video to see it being made.

Now, tell everyone you are bringing the dessert and accept all the compliments.

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Curb Appeal

>> Thursday, August 30, 2007

Our house has really nice curb appeal. The front of the house is nicely landscaped and I don't let it get weedy. The paint isn't chipping and the screens on our windows aren't full of holes. Well, no holes that shouldn't be there... They are screens, after all.

So, although it looks nice, I feel like it lacks whimsy. I'm not talking the fake deer in the yard or flamingos. I'm talking about tasteful lawn decorations.

I told you about this store a couple of months ago while planning my garden for next spring. In fact, my little gnome is on sale (hint, hint).

Actually lots of great stuff is on sale. lawn decorations for next year, for fall, for Halloween... Indoor decor (I really like this BABY picture frame)...

Didn't you see what I said? Let me say it again... SALE!!! GO!!!

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It's 2:30pm

Is it too early for a drink?

Or 6?

I must be PMSing....

BTW... this stuff is great...

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stuff







http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2007/05/paul-belien-in-washington-times.html









































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How Early?

Brenna begins preschool next week. Two days a week, 2 1/2 hours each day. That's 5 hours of Mommy & Caelan time! Five hours of time to do shopping with only one "helper". Five hours of time to run other errands. Honestly, I don't know what we'll do with all that free time!

Brenna's school day will be beginning at 9am. Usually at 9am we are still in pajamas and Caelan is having a pre-nap yogurt. In an effort to be mobile and clothed by 9am I have begun gtting up at 6:30, walking for half an hour and cleaning and dressing before everyone else is awake.

Well, that was the plan. And it worked one day. My littlest munchkin loves a walk. And the last few days she has made it very obvious that she is awake- before I want to get up. So she has been bundled into her stroller and "walked" with me. Which is nice. She babbles and gurgles and points as we stroll. But then, when we get home, I have to take care of her; which completely ruins the rest of my "be presentable" plan. Bah!

Thankfully it's only two days a week. Maybe I can pull it off... I could certainly start getting up at 6am, but Caelan was awake at 5:43 this morning. And I really don't want to be up before that.

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Go Ahead, Let It Out

I’ve always been a big fan of journaling. Of course, when I began it was a “Dear Diary” kind of thing. It then progressed into a place to keep my secrets, my wishes and what boy I liked. I did stop for a while when my mom read my diary and found out that I had tried pot. (I remember to this day what I wrote: “I smoked pot today. I didn’t feel any different. I don’t get it”) She was angry and I felt violated.

I actually didn’t journal again until I was out of the house. I had a rotten boyfriend and needed a place to empty all the pain. I still have those journals. It makes me sad to see how I allowed myself to be treated. But it’s also empowering to know that I was able to overcome some really bad stuff.

I was really good at journaling until I began blogging. Why write in two places? Except that there are things that you just don’t pour out to a blog. Too many people we know (like family) read it. I try to journal my prayers now. It makes me think and keeps me from falling asleep while praying at night.

Journaling has helped me through a lot of transitions. Moving, job choices, bad boyfriends, good boyfriend (now great husband), babies… The only problem with pen and paper is seeing your progress.

Now there is MyTerapyJournal.com. It’s interactive, allowing you to save your entries or share them, if you wish, and add photos. You can also track your progress, if you are working toward a goal, by using their Personal Progress graph.


This is a great alternative to pen and paper journaling and you can get a free 14 day trial now to see if MyTherapyJournal.com is right for you. To visit MyTherapyJournal.com, please click here >

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Back In Time

>> Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Last weekend our little faerie wisked us away to a time past for merriment and revelry.
She made sure we were dressed for the occasion.

Once we arrived our faerie was greeted by a piper who announced her arrival for all to hear.
She then demonstrated her artistic ability for the local peasants...
While the littlest princess looked on from her carriage.
Our faerie then demonstrated her flying abilities.
And worked magic with her wand.
Soon it was time for a refreshing treat. Faeries and princesses both like orange icees.
Later the princess tried her hand at making magic with the faerie wand.

All this fun took place at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. I'll be doing a post soon on my travel blog.

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What $320 Looks Like

>> Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Yep, that's it. Four bras and 3 panties. I have to commend Doug for not fainting when the very sweet girl at Nordstrom -who spent a very long time fitting me and helping me- presented him with the total.

I know what you're thinking, those of you who can actually buy your bras from Victoria's Secret, or even Target. You're thinking, "There is no way in God's green earth that I would spend an average of $72 on a bra!"

Well, my friend, you would if you were a size G or H. Which is what I am. Difficult to imagine, isn't it? Especially considering that my ribcage is 34 inches. If I were 8 inches taller with my same proportions I would be built like a Barbie doll.

BQQbs like mine make shopping for everything very difficult. Swimsuits? Beyond painful. One piece suits are not really an option because if they fit on the top they are about 6 sizes too big on the bottom. Button down shirts must be tailored. T-shirts have to be cut just right or they hang straight down and I look wide (and no woman wants that). They are a constant trial. And my poor daughters will probably not escape the annoyance. Women in Doug's family aren't exactly small breasted, either. Poor Doug- he may have to get a second job to pay for bras.

Thank your lucky stars if you can get by with spending under $30 on a bra. Guys, get your girl a VS gift card and thank her for being able to buy her bras there. You didn't know how lucky you were, did you?

And if you have a problem finding a bra that fits let me suggest a visit to Nordstrom. They have an amazing selection. And fitters who really work with you until you're satisfied. And, in case you're wondering, my bras are various Fayreform and Le Mystere Dream Tisha aka "Oprah's Bra". Both terrific for those of us who can't shop just anywhere.

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Fab Food Friday

>> Friday, August 24, 2007

I made this last night and it was YUMMY! And easy!

Herbed Chicken in Pastry






Thaw Time: 30 minutes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes
Chill Time: 15 minutes


Serves: 4

Ingredients:
4 boneless chicken breast halves
2 tbsp. butter OR margarine
1/2 pkg. Pepperidge Farm® Frozen Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet)
1 egg
1 tbsp. water
1 container (4 oz.) garlic & herb spreadable cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions:
SEASON chicken with salt and pepper if desired. Melt butter in skillet. Add chicken and cook until browned. Remove chicken. Cover and refrigerate 15 min. or up to 24 hours.

THAW pastry sheet at room temperature 30 min. Mix egg and water. Preheat oven to 400°F.

UNFOLD pastry on lightly floured surface. Roll into 14" square and cut into 4 (7") squares. Spread about 2 tbsp. of the cheese spread in center of each square. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. parsley and top with cooled chicken. Brush edges of squares with egg mixture. Fold each corner to center on top of chicken and seal edges. Place seam-side down on baking sheet. Brush with egg mixture.

BAKE 25 min. or until golden.

If my photos don't whet your appetite here's the photo from puffpastry.com.

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You Can Make A Difference

>> Thursday, August 23, 2007




By now you’ve probably seen the commercials or the advertisements by the Alzheimer's Association about the annual Alzheimer’s Walk. This event raises awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Since 1989 over $225 million has been raised.

I’ve done charity events before and you really get a sense of satisfaction and camaraderie as you join so many others for a common cause.

“But no one has asked me to join a team, “you say. Why wait for some one else? You can be a Team Captain. Because maybe some one you know is just waiting to be asked. As team captain you can hand-pick you team. Friends, family, work associates, church groups… You only need nine people to form a team. Once your team is formed, gather everyone together and have a fundraising party! The Alzheimer’s Association is always by your side offering tips and support. Being a Team Captain couldn’t be easier. Or more rewarding.

Now, I have been very blessed that no one I know has suffered from this terrible disease. The closest I've come to "knowing" someone was seeing Ronald Raegan's family discuss their ordeal. I truly believe this is a disease worse than death for the families. I cannot imagine the helplessness you must feel knowing that your loved one has no idea who you are.

Every little bit helps. Why not make a difference today?





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I Don't Have Much Worth Saying Today

So I'll just share this little story I got from my grandmother. I know it's been around but it always makes me smile...

A United States Marine was attending some college courses between assignments. He had completed missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the courses had a professor who was an avowed atheist and a member of the ACLU.

One day the professor shocked the class when he came in. He looked to the ceiling and flatly stated, 'God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I'll give you exactly 15 minutes.'
The lecture room fell silent. You could hear a pin drop. Ten minutes went by and the professor proclaimed, 'Here I am God. I'm still waiting.' It got down to the last couple of minutes when the Marine got out of his chair, went up to the professor, and cold-cocked him; knocking him off the platform. The professor was out cold.

The Marine went back to his seat and sat there, silently. The other students were shocked and stunned and sat there looking on in silence.

The professor eventually came to, noticeably shaken, looked at the Marine and
asked, 'What the hell is the matter with you? Why did you do that?'

The Marine calmly replied, 'God was too busy today protecting America's soldiers who are protecting your right to say stupid shit and act like an asshole. So, He sent me.'

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An Offer So Good, It's Mint

Around our house credit card offers flood our mailbox daily. Brenna enjoys "buying" with the "credit cards" that come with the applications and our paper shredder enjoys the fine letterhead the offers are sent on.

Often these offers are worse than our current rates, but I do keep my eyes open for offers that may be better. So this credit card offer from Mint caught my eye.

I really love their "extra" services:

We'll send you a host of very special offers all through the year. In the past cardholders have enjoyed huge savings on Easter Eggs from Chocolate Express, London breaks and West End shows as well as high street retailer discounts. (London breaks, huh? I could go to London.)

This is a free travel service with money-saving deals on all types of holidays. From skiing to scuba, weekend breaks, to longer-haul destinations. We'll send you regular news about how you can make big savings. And if you use your MINT Card to book anything, we'll drop the usual 2% fee. So dive in. (A credit card company waiving a fee? Unheard of!)

Shop online with the MINT+ Wine Club in association with Laithwaites. Enjoy fine wines from around the world direct to your door. Once you join you'll receive regular updates of wine lists and special offers, including exclusive tasting events. (Wine direct to our door... Doug likes wine.)
It won't hurt you to check it out. And, since it's backed by The Royal Bank of Scotland, you can say that you have an "overseas account".

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Mommy, Daddy, KITTY!!!

>> Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Caelan has three words she uses with regularity which can be completely understood. Otherwise she communicates with what is (to me) nonsensical garble and pointing. Which actually gets her needs across quite well.

The first thing she said, of course, was "da-da", but as she was just saying it and not meaning Daddy, I don't really consider it her first word. However,"Daddy", when she wanted Doug, soon followed. "Mommy" arrived a couple of days later, when she wanted out of her crib.

But, by far, her favorite word is "KITTY!!!" She screeches it when she sees the cat. Or when she sees a picture of a cat. Or when she sees a fuzzy creature that doesn't resemble a cat in any way.

And, though "uh-oh" gets a lot of use and "duckie" is being learned, I think the sheer joy of "KITTY!!" makes me smile the most.

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Watch your pocketbook

The Polk County Supervisors recently heard consultants (from out of state no less) say that the Polk County taxpayers need to build a new hotel in downtown Des Moines.

This brings up several points:

  • First, why are the supervisors even considering this? If Des Moines needs another hotel, there are plenty of companies out there perfectly willing to build one. Guess what happens then? They generate tax revenue rather than spend it.

  • Second, what's up with bringing in consultants from Chicago and Dallas? Iowa firms not good enough for you?

  • Third, the best way to protect the investment in the Iowa Events Center is to sell it to someone who has an interest in making it profitable.

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Blogger Meets Blogger- IRL

>> Tuesday, August 21, 2007

You know how it is... You think you know someone from how they portray themselves online. You get to read their likes and dislikes, you "go through" their pregnancy with them, you know all sorts of things about them.

And then you get "the email". You know, the one that says "Why don't we meet?"

I got one of those the other day from Tamara, a fellow Iowan, mommy of 2 and wife to a guy who enjoys talking politics.

Her husband had work stuff in Des Moines so she and the kids (Scott and Bethany) were along. We met at the Science Center this morning for a couple of hours.

Caelan is actually standing on her own. Very exciting.
Brenna plays peek-a-boo with her sister.
Brenna was really big on holding Scott's hand. Except she kept calling him Skylar. Which is weird because although a friend of mine has a dughter named Skylar we don't see her very often. I'm not sure why she was latched on to that name.
The floating ball was fascinating.
Brenna & Calean share a treat after lunch.

The kids had fun and I really enjoyed meeting Tamara. She is absolutely adorable and looks great for just having had a baby. (Sorry, no pics of the baby- she was having a bad day. Being away from home can do that to a person.) Of course, you don't really get to talk much when you have one eye on wandering kids. Nevertheless I had a good time. And I hope that the next time they are in town we can all get together. I think Doug and Ryan would have plenty to talk about...

AND Brenna asked me, "Mommy, where did they put the bathroom?" YES! She asked to use the potty while we were out!! WooHoo!!!!

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She Thinks I'm Nice

>> Monday, August 20, 2007

HA! I just put on my good face for everyone here...

But, seriously, Fantastagirl likes me and bestowed upon me this award. (I would give it back but then it would be this whole "tag-you're it" thing and I think that could just get annoying.) Honestly, if I keep gtting these awards I'm gonna get a big head...


“This award is for those bloggers who are nice people, good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence in our blogging world. Once you’ve been awarded, please pass it on to 7 people who you feel are deserving.”


The award say that I have to pass it on to seven others. My blog list is much longer than 7 and I think every one of them is nice. Well, there are a couple are are naughty, but in such a funny way that I count them as nice as I like the laugh they never fail to give me.

OK, so who can I pass this on to...

An Iowa Mom because she is brave enough to put a photo of herself on her blog looking like I feel almost every day.

Jodi at Organized Chaos because I think she probably has the biggest heart or anyone I read. Or maybe she's just crazy. Probably a bit of both...

Practigal who's shared potty training led me to try the "potty party" and put an end to the purchase of Easy Ups.

Tamara who has a new baby and a new puppy. And a two year old. She's busy.

TKW who makes me laugh. And she makes some durn cute tutus.

Jill who makes me think- probably more than I want to.

And Meritt, blog friend, FRL, and the most frugal woman I know who can still drive a Land Rover and dress her kids so they look like an ad.

So, now you have my list. If you're on it, pass it on. If you're not, well, bribe me and I'll make up a special award just for you.

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Scrap Bribing- "Something's A Foot"

C'mon, it's a great pun!

As promised, this month's scrap bribing! Adornment stickers, magnet and mini-album:

Ready for photos!


It's oh-so-easy to get in the drawing to win these! Just leave me a comment! Yep, that's it, just a comment.

BUT if you want to double your chances to win write a tiny post on your blog and link to this post. Let me know you did that and I'll enter your name twice.

'Cuz it's all about the love.

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You Can Take Them Everywhere

As a proud mom I am always on the look out for the newest ways to show off my beautiful daughters. They are all over both of my blogs and I carry photos where ever I go.

As a female I also love jewelry. Yes, I know there are some out there who don’t, but I think that accessories can really change an outfit from blah to chic.

So you can imagine my excitement when I saw that I have three dimensional photos of the girls made into charms!

www.BabyFaces.com will take that favorite photo and cast it in 14k gold or sterling silver. What a great gift idea for a proud mom or grandmother!


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Heading to the Iowa State Fair?

>> Friday, August 17, 2007

I just finished a new post on my travel blog about the Iowa State Fair. Lots of great tips and kid friendly stuff you are sure to enjoy!

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John Edwards, don't look behind the curtain

This is worse than the "Do what I say, not what I do" syndrome. This is actively helping the company foreclosing on someones' home, then touring the neighborhood and crying about how awful companies are to do that.

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If It Comes To It I Would...

I am very fortunate. Although I am not thin I am also not fat. I would probably be termed as overweight if you went by my weight alone, but I think my BMI is in the normal range. Maybe the high side of normal, but still normal. And, hopefully, with a continued active lifestyle I won't have a problem with my weight as I get older.

However, if I were to become obese I could certainly see myself looking into lap-band surgery. It is far less invasive than gastric bypass and doesn't involve cutting any organs or repositioning your intestines. It just seems safer...

If lap-band seems like an option for you JoyrneyLite has facilities in Los Angeles, Houston and Tampa. You could make a nice vacation out of it.

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Fab Food Friday

>> Thursday, August 16, 2007

This is my absolute favorite comfort food. If I am craving something chocolately and chewy this is what I make. Honestly,I used to make these so much that I had the recipe memorized!



1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts, optional (I opt out of the nuts- I'm a brownie purist!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a medium pan over very low heat. Stir together and remove from the heat. Add sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in the flour and salt. Add nuts. Spread the mixture into a buttered 8-inch square pan. Bake until set, about 40 minutes. Cool before cutting.

The recipe and photo re both from Food Network.

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6:46 am. What Am I Doing Here?

My plan was to get up around 6:15 and walk the dog before my day had to begin. I enjoy being up early and being alone with the dog is really a great way for me to focus on the day to come, reflect on the days past and pray. It's relaxing and invigorating at the same time.

Well, for that little plan to work I need to be asleep by 11pm. HA! I think the only time I get into bed before 11pm is if I'm sick. You know the joke; when a woman says she's going to bed she folds the last load of clothes from the dryer, she gets the coffee ready for the next morning, she loads and starts the dishwasher, etc. When a man says he's going to bed, he goes to bed.

Yeah, the funniest jokes are the true ones. So when my alarm shattered my sleep this morning I turned it off and rolled over. Unfortunately the dog must have heard it because 15 minutes later I heard his collar jingling up the stairs, then his nails clicking across the hard wood floor, then his cold, wet nose was in my face.

So I'm up. And he's out. But I'm not walking. The humidity outside feels like 98%- it might as well be raining. Heck, rain would be welcome if I were outside.

I see kids outside waiting for their school bus. 7am- there it is. School begins today in our little hamlet. It seems too early. But then, I am a proponent of year-round school. Not that it really matters, either way. I probably won't begin to find my way back to the marketplace until the girls are in high school... If then.

Caelan is awake and playing with the musical fish aquarium in her crib. She's happily babbling, ok, it really sounds like she was just calling "Momma, Momma, Momma". I don't really want to get her yet. I just want a little more solitude before my day has to begin...

Maybe I need to start getting up at 5am. Yeah, like that's gonna happen.

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What To Do First?

>> Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The in-laws are gone until Friday and I have so much to catch up on! Lots of paperwork, cleaning, laundry, cleaning, bills to pay... You get the idea.

I'm impatiently awaiting my new business cards from MOO. They call them "calling cards" as they are half the size of a typical business card. I had them printed with assorted travel pictures and will be using them to promote my travel blog when we are out & about. I have two new posts about airports (navigating the airport with a toddler and kid friendly airports) and am working on a post about the Iowa State Fair.

I added a couple of new links (<--- look left): one is Goodyblog from Parent's Magazine. Fun site with fun stuff. The other is MOMdotCOM a blog about where to find freebies and how to sae and make $$ online. Good stuff there. Speaking of free stuff and Parent's mag check out all the free stickers and stuff to print. And for more cool fun stuff check out these photocubes you can make on your printer. Maybe I have an idea for Caelan's birthday invites...

Have fun while I get to work!

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You Do What You Can

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that I used to live in the Twin Cities and have many friends with, shall we say, questionable lifestyles. While I was blessed to find someone who loved me in spite of my past and saw me for who I was and could be, most of the people I left behind are still struggling.

There are many of you who read of my friend E’s addiction to heroin and offered condolences when she died. Her death made me more determined to help my remaining friends- even if they resisted. And I’ll be quite honest- they are resisting plenty. Sadly, you can’t force adults into treatment if you are not direct family.

So I do what I can, like telling them about this michigan addiction treatment center. I tell them about Stone Hawk because it is a residential facility. I don’t think you can really treat an addiction unless you remove yourself from everything and really concentrate on getting well. I also appreciate that they offer life skills and a post-program job referral. When my friends completed previous treatments they didn’t have anywhere to go but back to the job that provided the constant contacts to feed their addictions. It was a vicious circle.

Life is too precious to waste. If you love someone who needs help contact this michigan addiction treatment center today. Do what you can.

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Hey! I Got A Raise!

According to MSN Money a stay-at-home mom is worth $138,095.

I'm sure that's about 5x what I would earn if I were actually working somewhere. So, where do I pick up my check?

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NASA fixes a Y2K bug

>> Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The bug is fixed and the data has been updated, but for some reason, Global Warming theorists are not changing their story. It's almost like it is all for political gain, instead of science. Or something....

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A Ride Through the Country

Midwestern fall days were made for bicycling. Coasting down long country hills, the wind in your face and the smell of freshly mown hay wafting through the air makes you thank God that so many refer to us as “fly-over country”. The leaves slowly change color from green to red, orange and sienna. The animals begin to scurry through the fields searching for corn or beans to store away for winter. A small roadside park becomes a destination unto itself, perfect for a picnic lunch while you watch the clouds change from fluffy puffs of white to fanciful creatures.

Although Iowa isn’t known for it’s beaches I look at these beach bicycles and can’t help but think they would fit right into this beautiful day. Vanilla with flowers makes me want to attach a wicker basket to the front for picking daisies. The classic yellow just calls for sparkly streamers from the handles. And on the light blue you could blend into the sky and fly.

And right now all beach bicycles are only $88.

Which leaves you no excuse. Unless, of course, you don’t live in the Midwest. But then, I guess, you may actually be near a beach. So I suppose you could ride there…

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Tea and Bagels... Join Me

I have Irish Breakfast tea and bagels. Sit down. Chat with me.

******************************************************
My in-laws arrived yesterday afternoon. I thought they would be here all week but it turns out they will be heading up to spend a couple of days with Doug's grandmother so they will be here two nights and stopping through to see us one final time before heading back to Doug's aunt's home on Friday. It's a shorter visit than I had anticipated, which is actually nice as I wasn't sure just what to do with them while Doug was working. But it also means that we won't be making a return visit to the fair. No butter Harry Potter. And no photos seem to be appearing anywhere online. (Awww...)

*******************************************************
Recently I have been noticing the traits the girls have gotten from Doug & I. Brenna and Doug can sleep in. Caelan and I tend toward waking early. Brenna and Caelan both have my lack of patience. Both have Doug's eyes. Brenna is the image of me at that age. I see more of Doug in Caelan's features.

********************************************************
Tonight is "meet the teacher" night at Brenna's preschool. Parents only, so the girls will be home with grandma and grandpa. They won't even notice we're gone. Beginning the Wednesday after Labor Day Brenna will be in school twice a week for two hours each time.

********************************************************
And now my house is beginning to stir. I know I had something to actually say but, as usual, my mind and my hands are on different wavelengths.

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It Was Electrifying

>> Monday, August 13, 2007

Last night ended with a stroll around our neighborhood. About half way through our walk we were noticing lightning in the distance. Because the thunder was not far behind we picked up our pace. A few seconds later Doug said,"Hon, your hair is standing on end." And a couple of seconds after that Brenna's was straight up, as well. It was like we had rubbed balloons on our heads to create static electricity- minus the balloons. Not really a good sign when you are out walking as there is a current path "open" for the lightening.

Since we were close to the home of one of our pastor's we decided to see if the girls and I could take shelter there while Doug ran home to get the car. Better safe than sorry, you know. Gracious people that they are, we were invited in, given a ride home- and a plate of cookies.

After the girls were put to bed Doug and I retired to the office to catch up on everything we hadn't done in the past couple of days. And our internet connection was out. So, while the lightening didn't get us, it did get our internet.

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And Nothing on a Stick...

>> Saturday, August 11, 2007

Yesterday the girls and I ventured to the Iowa State Fair with my mom. It was a hot, muggy day but we were prepared. Lots of sunscreen, bottles of water in a cooler in the stroller and a blanket to place on the ground under a tree...

We parked about 5 blocks away so when we finally got onto the fairgrounds we were hot and thirsty. We found a root beer float stand, bought one and found a tree with plenty of shade. Brenna drank the root beer while Caelan enjoyed the ice cream. She also enjoyed watching the skygliders crossing above us.
Then we were off to see animals. Brenna thought the calf's ear was incredibly soft.
She really liked petting the cows. Fearless little monkey just walked right up to them. We had to steer her away from the big ones to smaller calves that wouldn't accidentally stomp her.
The fair just isn't as fun when you're confined...
Here's the biggest bull this year. 3,322 pounds. He's a Limosin, but I think he looks like he could have some bison with the curly fur around his head...
Brenna liked holding the fuzzy baby chick.
Caelan even touched one. Here's the big pig. A 1203 pound Duroc. Honestly, you can't breed these huge animals- they would crush a normal sized female. What do you do with them?

Ahhh, time to cool off in the Pella fountains. Yes, we planned for this and brought extra clothes.

As I said, Brenna is fearless. She touched this snake 3 or 4 times. The "rocker chicks" in the background were all "ooohh, I can't touch it. I'm gonna cry if you make me get closer". Then get away. Honestly, anything for attention. (Alice Cooper was playing the stadium later- I'm assuming that's why they were done up in the 80's attire)
When Doug joined us it was time to eat. As Brenna works the straw into her milk carton Caelan decides that lemonade is the better drink.
Brenna is still working on the straw but Caelan has moved on to roasted corn on the cob.
We toured the (air conditioned) varied industries building. Every year we stop at this display because they have beautiful Victorian Lights. They also have an elephant and pig for the kids to play on. (and a shameless plug for them: Chick-A-Pen Hill: Victorian Exterior Lighting, Elkhart, IA 800-535-2959. They have gorgeous stuff)
I didn't see the butter Harry Potter. But, never fear, we will return to the fair next week with Doug's dad...


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Fab (Fair) Food Friday

>> Friday, August 10, 2007

Today we venture out for our first visit to the Iowa State Fair. So, in honor of the occasion I offer:

Funnel Cakes


Recipe from Alton Brown on Good Eats


1 cup water
3/4 stick butter (6 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1 cup eggs, about 4 large eggs and 2 whites
Vegetable oil, for frying
Powdered sugar, for topping

Boil water, butter, sugar, and salt together in a saucepan. Add flour and work it in until it is all incorporated and dough forms a ball. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer and let cool for 3 to 4 minutes. With mixer lowest speed, add eggs, 1 at a time, making sure the first egg is completely incorporated before continuing. Once all eggs have been added and mixture is smooth, put dough in a piping bag fitted with a number 12 tip. Heat about 1 1/2 inches of oil in a heavy pan. Pipe dough into oil, making a free-form lattice pattern; cook until browned, flipping once. Remove cake from oil, drain on paper towels, and top with powdered sugar.

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SSDD

>> Thursday, August 09, 2007

The thing about staying at home is the days run together. If I don't look at a calendar I honestly don't know- or really care- what day it is.

Well, I didn't, during the summer. Things are changing this fall as Brenna begins pre-school two days a week. Monday and Wednesday from 9 to 11 am I will have ONE KID! That may not sound like a lot but it's a perfect mental break. It will allow me to get stuff done without *quite* so much "help". And it will give Caelan and I some one-on-one time.

Today I know is Tuesday because CoffeeGirl comes to play. No, wait, she had a party to attend on Tuesday... Today is Thursday. Yes, Thursday.

Right?

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Where Would You Stay?

That time is coming again. The time when Doug and I try to decide if we are going to visit his family this year. We don’t do it every year but I feel like we should as they all live around Dallas. I’m not sure why but a trip to Dallas just doesn’t give me the same feeling as a trip to, oh, Ireland or the UK.

So begins the search. Do we fly or drive? If we drive do we attempt to go straight through (with a newly potty trained toddler and a baby who is getting ready to toddle) or do we break it up into two days? And is that logical considering a two day driv there and back really only leaves us two days there?

And then there are the hotel choices. We need more than a “regular” hotel room but we don’t want to pay for it. So I turn to a new Hotel Reservations website. I type in “Dallas” and here come my options… Lots of options. And the rates seem to be lower than the competitors. I’m seeing a 4 star hotel for $99 a night- with the 5th night free. And since I’ve actually stayed at this brand before –and paid over $250 a night- I’m almost giddy.

Another option, I’m thinking, could be meeting on “neutral ground”. Branson is almost 6 hours from all of us. HotelReservations.com has vacation rentals, as well. Now that would be handy. Everyone in their own condo or cabin. We could do our own thing and then get together for meals or shows. Good “together” time without having too much of it.

With the handy destination guide I can begin planning things to entertain the girls. Let’s see… I’m thinking animals, puppets, a show with lots of dancing and sparkly costumes (probably not hard to find…), mini golf could be a possibility…

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Word of the Day

>> Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I saw this onMerriam-Webster's online site and it made me think of Doug. So for all you consultants and other self employed people, here is a new word for your vocabulary:

Doabillable: Possible to do, but as a billable service.

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How Wize Are You?

Like so many people we have investment “working” for us. And, like most people who have investments, we tend to rely on our investment broker to take care of us. Yes, we’re sheep. Yes, I know we should be handling more of it ourselves. But with life going on all around us it’s hard to find the time.


Recently The Wizetrade Blog came to my attention. Content on this blog comes from the professionals at Wizetrade, a tool for researching and trading stocks.

The Wizetrade Blog promises to be full information about securities and the Wizetrade product. After just a few minutes of reading I found these very handy tips:

10 Common Mistakes New Traders Make
1. Not using money management
2. Failure to set realistic expectations
3. Lack of patience
4. Trading against the trend
5. Let losers run too long/cut winners short
6. Failure to use consistent method
7. Following too many stocks
8. Getting too emotional
9. Not learning how to sell short
10. Not fixing mistakes made
Let’s see… I’m guilty of #’s 1, 3 and 8. What about you?

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