Friday, September 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, Google!

Google turns 10 years old! You don't look a day over nine, I swear.

More Free Straitjacket Friday, Bonus Round

Funny how good rest and good antibiotics can put a new spin on your perspective. In reviewing my previous post on neti pots, I have come to the conclusion that the post, while informative and interesting to some, might not be considered entertaining. (Although in my defense, I consider the video a real treasure.)

So today I introduce you to Butchering the English language has never been so much fun! I'm sure you've all seen the T-shirts worn by foreign tourists that bear words that appear to be English but don't make much sense. If you enjoy those, you'll enjoy Engrish.

Please to click on this link and enjoy refreshing! Don't forget to vote this erection year!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Free Straitjacket Friday ... Neti Pots

Welcome to another Free Straitjacket Friday. Today, anyone who has bronchitis and is getting cold symptoms gets first pick of fashion colors. Wait a minute, that would be me.

Today's weird topic is neti pots, which have been used in India for centuries for nasal irrigation. A few years back, a friend told me about using it to relieve her severe allergy symptoms and I thought she was finally ready for her own straitjacket. Of course, the fact that she described it as "a small teapot you put salt water in and then stick into your nostrils" didn't really help convert me.

Last year, after another friend recommended it, I started using a little plastic neti pot that I picked up at Walgreens and I absolutely love it. I can breathe much easier and my nasal passages no longer feel dry during the winter. I used to wake up on cold mornings barely able to breathe, despite having a humidifier in my room, and I no longer have this problem. I use it every night and after I've been in dusty or pollen-filled environments. When I have a bad cold (such as now) I also use it in the mornings. Let's just say it clears out and soothes the tubes.

Here's a video that shows you how it works. If you're squeamish about fluids coming out of your nose, you might want to put that snack down before viewing it. I found it very helpful when I was first getting started.

Does anyone have a neti pot story to share? Did it work for you?

Monday, September 22, 2008

'Tis the Season for Germs

You know it's bad when I have to resort to posting cute photos of dogs that aren't even mine.

When the kids return to school each fall, it's like sending them off to germ-incubation factories. Then these Junior Typhoid Marys come home and breathe on me. Now I have bronchitis and the coughing is driving me nuts. Lying in bed with some hot tea and watching a movie would be very nice right now, but I have too much to do and not enough energy to do it. (And the fact that I have energy to blog is an irony that does not escape me.)

Fortunately, I have my cough drops for day and, for evening, that lovely prescription codeine cough syrup, the one that quiets your cough and knocks you out for a full night of snoozy-poo. I kept my love of the codeine syrup under wraps until I cautiously talked to a few friends about it and discovered that they are big fans, too. I also have a prescription for antibiotics, but since my bronchitis seems to be viral instead of bacterial, I don't need to fill it.

One thing that mystifies me is why I crave the most unhealthy foods when I'm sick. Burger-like products from the Golden Arches. Instant MSG-filled ramen noodles. Fat- and salt-filled Hawaiian plate lunches. My only theory is that these warm, gooey, salty, and greasy items represent comfort foods for me, and when I'm sick, I need all the comforting I can get.

Gotta go now and get some rest. And eat a frozen burrito.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Free Straitjacket Friday ... Now With Cake!

Welcome to another Free Straitjacket Friday. Today, anyone who has ever had a bad experience waiting in line at the DMV or Wal-Mart gets first pick of fashion colors. Queue up, please.

Today's topic includes three of my favorite things in life:
  1. Good cake
  2. Laughing my head off
  3. Laughing my head off at bad misspellings, bad punctuation and "inappropriate use" of "quotation marks."
The good folks at Cake Wrecks have combined all three for me! It's motto: When professional cakes go horribly, hilariously wrong. I think that pretty much says it all.

The following are some of my favorites from Cake Wrecks, which provides wonderfully snarky commentary with each cake. I have other favorites, but these are some of the, um, cleaner ones.

Please to enjoy!

(All images courtesy Cake Wrecks)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Spamalot Lately?

This morning my friend Peggy sent out an e-mail informing a small number of friends about Dish Up Literacy. This is a very cool program that encourages people to eat out at participating area restaurants this Thursday. The restaurants then donate 20 percent of their receipts that day towards an effort to buy more books for our schools.

What I found interesting was the fact that Peggy prefaced her e-mail by explaining that she was sending it out because it's for a good cause but we don't have to worry she will start spamming us. She had received the e-mail from another friend who also explained that she wasn't trying to spam anyone.

I hadn't really thought of this e-mail as spam and so I found the disclaimers curious. I can only guess that someone out there had received one too many e-mails about worthy causes and declared war on them.

The Mirriam-Webster's Online Dictionary describes spam as "unsolicited usually commercial e-mail sent to a large number of addresses." I just describe it as delicious, especially fried and slapped between two slices of white bread. Sorry, couldn't help myself.

For the record, I welcome any e-mails from my friends regarding good causes. I also welcome jokes that are particularly raunchy, family photos and any personal updates. What I don't care to receive are e-mails containing the following:
  • Offers to enlarge my penis or make me fabulously wealthy by assisting some Nigerian prince
  • Any dire warnings about Internet viruses, diseases or upcoming gang initiations that have not been checked for accuracy. Really, is Snopes THAT hard to use?
  • Sentimental, heartwarming messages about (friendship, kittens, angels, old people who say profound things, etc.) that come with instructions to send it to seven friends.
  • Anything that has been forwarded so many times I have to keep opening new messages to get to the original message. If a message isn't important enough for you to copy and paste into a new e-mail, it's probably not something I need to read.
And now for some humor! Recently I DID send an unsolicited video link to a friend of mine because I knew she would find it funny. Now I share it (unsolicited) with you! And the subject is religion! I can do this because it's my blog, but, no matter what your religious beliefs may be, please tell me if this video doesn't have you rolling on the floor with tears in your eyes.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Free Straitjacket Friday!

Straitjackets are free every Friday around here! Moms with young kids get first pick of fashion colors, followed by anyone who has to work in customer service.

This morning I am putting on my straitjacket, sitting in my padded cell, and thinking of deep and profound topics ... such as my butt.

I blame it on calling dr. bombay, this fun new blog I just discovered and will now have to add to my lengthy list of favorites. In an entry titled baby got back our new friend talks about her posterior:

There was a time when I was in high school that I was obsessed with my ass.

I was sure that it was too big.

I wore long sweaters and big shirts to disguise it.

Every day in the cafeteria I took the long way round a table of upperclassmen boys because I was sure that Corey Hoffman would be staring at my ginormous rear-end and could never ever love me!!!

Over time, my obsession faded away and I never really worried about my body again.

But this morning prior to getting dressed, I was looking at myself in all my naked splendor in the mirror and it suddenly occurred to me that my 9th grade self would be positively mortified and quite possibly incapacitated if she could see the sheer size and magnitude of her ass now!!!

Raise your hands if you can relate! I was so self-conscious about my body in high school and college. Had I only known that one day my metabolism would slow down and I would have two kids and a Costco snack habit, I would have celebrated my perfect body back then. I would have strutted around and worn a bikini every day. To school. To the supermarket. To church, if I ever did go. Rest assure that I would have worn flats instead of heels with my bikini, because I do have a sense of propriety, after all.

My butt/arse/okole isn't big; I have the opposite problem: There is nothing back there anymore but when I jump up and down I feel something jiggling. Someone please explain this to me. Are they mystery buttocks? Is it like the phantom pains people get after their limbs are amputated?

In the big scheme of life I know it's not a big deal. My butt and the rest of my body may not look as good as it once did but I'm working out, trying ("trying" being the operative word) to eat healthy and usually maintaining a positive attitude, so I feel healthy and strong most of the time.

And I can still wear a two-piece bathing suit! Well, actually it's a huge tankini. Does that count?
photo Nikki Levine for

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Little Patience

This week I began a temporary assignment for a little girl who just started in our school's Special Education classes. "Kathy" (not her real name, to protect her privacy) is sweet and adorable. She also suffers from a condition that results in muscular degeneration. As a result, she is unable to speak, wears braces to walk, and has limited use of her arms, which will flail around uncontrollably. She also needs assistance going to the bathroom. She gets very excited around other children but tends to scare them because she shrieks, shoves her hand in her mouth and then tries to reach out with her wet hands.

While Kathy's arm movements are limited, she is still able to grab things, lightening-quick, and shove them in her mouth. Plastic play coins, toilet water, other people's food, she doesn't discriminate. I have to watch her every second and be ready to remove her hand from things she shouldn't grab. I have to dodge the drooly hand, which has slapped me and pulled my hair several times. This is not an easy task considering that I need to be close by to assist her.

I have never worked with a kid with such special needs before and I have realized several things this week:
  • People who work with Special Ed kids are saints. They are there for the kids every day, all day, and they persevere and celebrate the little victories. I, on the other hand, am there for just the afternoon, and I'm physically and emotionally drained at the end of the day.

  • I am not a saint, but I have more patience than I originally thought. Despite that, I could NOT do this on a full-time basis.

  • Once you've changed a Pull-Up on a child, you never forgot how to do it.
My initial reaction when offered this assignment was, "Hell, no!" (I didn't actually say it out loud, of course.) I can barely stand it when my own, highly functioning, kids are moving slowly, so how was I going to do with a special-needs child?

What made me agree to do it, albeit on a trial basis, was my realization that I was scared to do this, and I do not like to be scared. I also do not like to turn down a new opportunity just because I've never done it before. Experience, be it good or bad, make you a better person, and I want to be a better person. So I said "yes."

It's been a long couple of days. This afternoon I found myself losing patience with Kathy when she refused to cooperate and kept trying to bite my hand. If it had been one of my own kids I would have tried to reason with them, threaten them, read them the riot act, or all of the above. I couldn't do this with Kathy. And then I realized she was probably exhausted from all her efforts in walking, eating, learning, just being. So I took a deep breath, gave up on trying to get her to follow my game plan, and sat her down in her special chair. Once seated, she turned to me and gave me an adorable little smile and my impatience left me, at least for a while. I guess sometimes that's all we can ask for.

photo © Zbigniew Twardowski for

Monday, September 1, 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

There is much celebrating in our home, for school begins in two days. Actually, I should specify that I am the one in a joyful mood; my kids, not so much.

It has been a very fun and busy summer. So busy that I just realized it's been nearly a month since my last post. There were many times that I thought of posting but couldn't find the energy to compose a thought or lift a finger to the keyboard. That's the kind of summer it's been.

We've gone to the zoo, the aquarium, the science center, the parks, the outdoor movies and many other fun and enriching venues. We stayed at home and did crafts, ran through the sprinklers and had backyard picnics. My kids participated in theater camps, basketball camps, sleep-away camps, swim lessons and every other fun summer activity you can think of. I provided transportation for all of it.

My little cherubs started the summer with very ambitious goals: physical fitness, art projects, playdates, reading Moby Dick, etc. For the most part, they have been well-behaved and helpful. However, for the past three weeks they have been whiny, argumentative and constantly begging to play video games. When they began to complain about not having any good snacks right after a Costco run, I realized: It is time for them to return to school.

I consider it a wonderful sign that I did not get sick of my children during this summer vacation until three weeks ago; it seemed like only yesterday that I was begging to be put out of my misery after the first week of having them home. Progress, indeed!

After they return to school, I will grab a cup of coffee, put my feet up and listen to the sounds of ... ripping and hammering, for we are having our house completely re-sided. For the past several days, two very efficient workmen have been showing up bright and early to rip off old, warped siding and put up fresh, new siding. This requires the placement of a dumpster and Honey Bucket on our driveway (see photo above). The little boy across the street is very impressed and has asked to use our Honey Bucket, which I believe his mother forbade.

The project will probably take another two weeks, during which time I will put my feet up at the local coffee shop, run many errands and try to pick up as many jobs as possible. However, if I choose to stay at home, I can try to drown out the sounds of construction. The workmen may be noisy, but they have not once sassed me or complained that they are bored.

Progress, indeed!