Saturday, May 31, 2008

What she said

Today's post is courtesy of PEZmama, who is blogless for the moment. I'm trying to convince her to take it up again. Help me out, y'all.


Humor Writing Part I: The Emphatic “Yo.”

I know the story. I was a blogger myself. You’ve got something to say, and you want your readers to laugh, but you’re just not sure you can pull off the humor. Before you resort to using bad puns and too. many. periods. may I make a suggestion?

The emphatic “yo” might be your answer.

But be warned: the emphatic “yo” isn’t for everyone.

I hear you out there: How do I know if the emphatic “yo” is right for me?

Well, I’m glad you asked because I have developed a simple test to help you determine that very thing. All you have to do is read the following sentence out loud:

What are you talking about?

Now. How many T’s did you just pronounce?

If you said three, then the emphatic “yo” is for you.

Why? Because humor at it’s best isn’t just about saying something funny. It's also something unexpected. It doesn’t surprise anyone to hear “yo” from a person who would normally say “wud’r you talking abou(-uh)?” That kind of person is casual with her language. “Yo,” also a casual word, isn’t funny when she says it, because no one is surprised to hear it.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, I write. On a blog. My readers can’t hear me pronouncing my T’s.

So let’s look at this metaphorically, okay?

If you’ve written any statement akin to it’s Monday, my day to clean out the refrigerator, then your readers know that you pronounce your T’s.

If you’ve told your readers about the elaborate, color-coded Excel chart that you use for scheduling your family’s activities, and encouraged them to make one of their own, then you pronounce your T’s.

If the menu plan that you are (likely) posting every week contains entrees with more than two words in their names, then you pronounce your T’s. (You know who you are, all you “braised chicken with mango-pineapple salsa” freaks.)

If you have already determined what unit studies you will be doing with your children over the summer, then you pronounce your T’s. (And probably your ING’s as well.)

So, if you have done (or secretly wish to) any of those things, then I think you could really pull off the emphatic “yo” and get the laugh you were looking for. But you have to do it carefully. You can’t just throw it in there all willy-nilly.

Here are a few tips:
1. For heaven’s sake, don’t use a stupid pun: I bought a Duncan yo-yo, yo! Believe me, this is not funny.

2. Don’t go overboard. Use the “yo” only once. More than that and it’s like listening to your kid tell a knock-knock joke for the twelfth time. It makes people want to poke out their eyeballs.

3. Don’t go all homey on us. None of that word to y’ motha’ garbage.

4. Nine times out of ten, it’s funniest at the END of a sentence. What gives it the extra punch is when it comes at the end of something that you really would say: Tonight I am making braised chicken with mango-pineapple salsa, yo! (Did you catch it? Totally unexpected = funny.)

So, try the emphatic “yo” the next time you want to say something funny. And, because I live to serve, I’m going to give you this final tip, free of charge. Throw this one at your readers and they’re going to crown you the queen of comedy. When your readers (inevitably) start making comments like “LOL! Did you just say ‘yo’?” you just tell them,

What can I say? ‘Das how I roll.

I guarantee they'll be falling off their chairs. Yo.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Laughter is good

Why did that chicken cross the road?

There are more answers than you ever realized!



Now, time to tell about the vacation!

While Bowling Green, Kentucky doesn't exactly sound like the most exciting place for a vacation, it was absolutely a blast, and I definitely recommend it.

Skeeter and I chose it because it fit all of the criteria that we discussed before we started exploring options:
  • We had never been to that state before (crossing another one off the life list).
  • Drive time was less than 8 hours each way.
  • There was stuff to see that we definitely couldn't see near home.
  • We could stay at a Drury Inn.
You laugh at that last one, but it's true. It was on the list, although (confession!) I didn't even tell Julie that at the time. We've stayed there before, and it's good for a relatively inexpensive hotel (less than $100 a night). Free breakfast every morning, free snacks and cocktails every evening. No complaints here. I highly recommend it.

Day One: Arrival

Julie and family had a much longer drive, so we got there quite a bit earlier than they did. We took advantage of the empty hotel pool and let the children swim for several hours. We also did a bit of exploring around the hotel, including Target. I'm a Targetoholic. I always have to check out the Target.

Day Two: The Lost River Cave

The river is actually in Ripley's Believe It or Not for being the deepest and shortest river in the world, but it's been found to be untrue since then. As the guide said, it is "believe it or not."

The guide did an excellent job in explaining the history of the area, including using the cave as a dance club in the early 20th century. It was closed at one point because a law was passed that forbade selling drinks below street level. (??) It has been reopened though, and it is now a popular spot for weddings and proms.

The grounds are lovely, and there is a butterfly garden as well. Our zoo had a butterfly garden at one time, but it's been closed. Spyder remembers it vaguely, and Sass doesn't remember it at all, so the butterfly garden was a fun experience for them.

After the Lost River Cave, we decided to hit the thrift shops. I am all about a thrift shop, and Julie found a good one for us. She came away with loads of stuff, and I found a hot pink bowling bag (Von Dutch, a new brand for me). People were making fun of my bag, but hey, I like it.

Day Three: Kentucky Down Under

If you do only one thing in that area, Kentucky Down Under is it. Absolutely, hands down. It really is an interactive, hands-on zoo featuring Australian animals that we can't see anywhere around here. And really, how many places can you actually pet a kangaroo?

At Kentucky Down Under we also
  • milked a cow
  • fed a lamb
  • fed the lorikeets and other birds
  • toured a cave
Seriously, Kentucky Down Under was awesome.

Day Four: National Corvette Museum, L&N Train Museum

I admit -- I was reluctant to go to the Corvette Museum. It's not really my thing. But the museum was really well done, in such a way that the history of the brand is just as interesting as the mechanics. And there are just some fun-looking cars. My favorite? The police car called the "Crimefighter Corvette."

The L&N Museum was one that Skeeter and I enjoyed, but I don't think anyone else did. The museum has both the traditional museum in the train depot and a tour of four different train cars. The museum part is first, then the rail cars. In retrospect, I think it would have been better to tour the cars first, simply because it gives a better perspective of what is showcased in the museum. The rail cars are absolutely the model of efficiency, simply because of necessity. One of the most interesting things we discovered -- Bisquick was invented by a train cook. After having toured the kitchen rail car, I can completely understand why. It's just another example of required efficiency.

Day Five: Leaving

So sad. We had so much fun, and it was even more wonderful that we got to spend time with good friends. I think we're going to take another shared vacation like this. Julie gets to choose the destination next time though.


Sweet kitty

Sweet kitty doesn't have a name (that I know), but he's still safe at the neighbor's house. Thanks for making me feel better about crawling around in the rain to find him.

Oh, to give you an idea how hard it was raining? I hung my clothes over the bathtub to dry, since it was late and I didn't want to wash that night. The next morning when I went to get them to wash, they were still wet. Not damp. WET.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008


So, where was I? Why, vacationing, of course!

We spent several days in and around Bowling Green, Kentucky. Why Kentucky? Well, why not? Skeeter had been there many years ago for work, but the children and I had never been. There was no deep thought put into it, just a new place to explore.

And we had oodles of fun. Plus my friend Julie and her family were able to join us, so it was even more fun because we were with friends.

That whole kitten escapade has left me exhausted, so the details will follow tomorrow.


How do I get myself into these things?

Today I heard a kitty outside the bedroom window.

Skeeter and I went out to find him, and he was sitting under the holly bushes, shaking with fear and mewling like mad. He was a cute little grey and white kitty, definitely old enough to be weaned, but not much older than that.

We checked on him several times during the day, and he was always right next to the house under the holly bushes. We set out water for him, and I went to the store for kitty food.

He disappeared for a while, but he showed up again later, during a big and unexpected storm that came up at sunset. The poor little guy was mewling again, so Skeeter and I decided to see if we could find him, just to give him some shelter from the storm. The next door neighbors heard him as well, and they came to help.

So it ended up with the six of us (Skeeter, me, and the four neighbors) crawling in the holly bushes, then through the privet hedge, for nearly an hour in the pouring rain to rescue the kitty. The neighbors finally caught him in their back yard and were able to dry him off and put him safely in the garage. A bit later I took the bag of kitty food over for him, and one of the neighbors told me that we had scared away a raccoon that had been stalking the little guy since nightfall.

The children were so disappointed that we didn't bring the kitty home with us. That was never really an option though, since we're all horribly allergic.

During the middle of the search and rescue, I had to laugh about it. Skeeter and I were out in the dark, in the rain, crawling through the holly bushes to rescue a homeless kitty that couldn't stay with us anyway.

No, it doesn't exactly sound sane to me either, but I'm still glad we did.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A whole lot of nothing

Well, this blog has been empty for a while. We've had so much going on elsewhere that I just haven't had time. I haven't even had time to read many blogs! And truly, I can't say that's going to change until, oh, Monday or so.

In the meantime, enjoy the following:

My friend Julie's experience with Merle.

Postcards from yo momma (it's hit-or-miss; some are unintentionally funny, some aren't.)

An excellent two-part article on understanding how an individual processes information and how it relates to organizing. Part 1. Part 2.

Skeeter's company is using a big ol' machine called a RubbleMaster on their site for crushing concrete. A few days ago he was researching information and came across a theme song for it on the UK site. It's pretty catchy. But it cracks me up that they have a theme song.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thursday Night Trivia

The ringtones on my cell phone:

Main ring: Let's Get It Started -- Black Eyed Peas

Skeeter: Crazy Train -- Ozzy Osbourne

Mom & Dad: Parents Just Don't Understand -- DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince

Lisa (my sister): We Are Family -- Sister Sledge

Brenda (friend): Eye of the Tiger -- Survivor

Yeah, I'm not really hip on the latest music.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Happy Birthday, Spyder!

Today is Spyder's 10th birthday. ("Mom! It's the most important one EVER! I'm double digits! The only one bigger is TRIPLE DIGITS, and who knows whether I'll make that!")

My sweet son is 10! So hard for me to believe. Anyway, time has been spent readying for the birthday, then celebrating the birthday.

Spyder and Sass decided that Spyder needed a "birthday tree" for his gifts, so we cut a big branch off of the oak tree in the back (one that needed to be trimmed, truthfully). After I cleared it of six-legged hitchhikers, we brought it inside and put it in a vase on the fireplace. Sass made ornaments.

Because I like to tease the children, the only present under it was the one from Julie. Until last night, of course. So I spent quite a while last night wrapping his presents and setting them all out, along with the balloon that Sass chose for him. We bought it last night at the dollar store, and the lady there couldn't believe we were buying a balloon for a boy. Oh, horrors! Since when do boys not like balloons? Honestly. Spyder loves them.

Anyway, in our usual birthday tradition, Spyder had full control of the day. We spent the morning doing science experiments in the yard, anxiously looking up to see if the rain clouds were upon us. We opened presents at lunchtime, when Skeeter could join us. We spent part of the afternoon studying the world map (partly because of the Explorer book from Julie), then playing Super Mario Galaxy. Dinner -- also Spyder's choice -- was at his favorite Chinese place, and afterward we had a big game of Clue.

I think it was a good way to spend a 10th birthday.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Meme for Monday

Y'all. Today was so busy. Not only did Miss Lucinda get a squirrel, but she got a bird as well. I suppose she was busy too. The children and I also went to the Scholastic Warehouse sale and spent FOUR HOURS there. Four hours! Lawzy, we were all ready to get out of there.

Thankfully, Yvette tagged me for a meme, so no original thought required.

Now on the the meme.....Here are the rules (post these first).
  1. Each player answers questions about themselves.
  2. At the end of the post, tag 5 people by posting their names.
  3. Go to their site/blog and leave a comment telling them they've been tagged. Invite them to your site/blog so they can read the tagged post.
  4. Let the person who tagged you know when you've completed your tagged post.


1. What were you doing 10 years ago?

Nesting. I was two days from giving birth to Spyder. *sniff*

2. What are 5 things on your "To Do" list?

a) Ship several packages

b) Send back two Netflix movies

c) Finish Skeeter's passport renewal

d) Return books to the library

e) Have the car cleaned

3. What are 5 snacks you enjoy?

a) Ice cream

b) Chips and salsa

c) Triscuits

d) Divinity

e) Party Mix

4. Name some things you would do if you were a millionaire.

Travel. That's a big one for me. New places, new experiences. Love it! I'd also do the practical things, like paying off the house, investing . . . . But for the fun stuff, travel all the way.

5. Name some places where you've lived.

The Pink House, the house where I was born. When I was about a year old we moved to

Third Street, where I lived until I was 18. The we moved to

The New Place, the house my dad built himself. I only lived there for about a year and a half though, then I moved away to live in

The Dorm at college. I didn't stay in the dorm long though. My roommates and I didn't get along (putting it mildly) and I moved out. I moved into

The Apartment with my four new roommates, and oh lawzy day, it was fun! Seriously, when I think of my college experience, I think of that apartment and my roommates.

6. Name some bad habits you have.

a) Moving on before a project is completed.

b) Staying up far too late.

c) Talking far too much.

d) Teasing when I probably shouldn't.

e) Getting easily distracted. (That may have something to do with the first confession . . . .)

7. Name some jobs you've had.

a) Typesetter at a printing company

b) Clerk at a lawyer's office

c) Clerk at a collection agency

d) Grant writer

e) Hospital switchboard operator

8. Name those whom you are tagging.

I'm going to break the rules (gasp!) and only officially tag two people: Stephanie and Heather. If you want to join in though, please do! And let me know so I can come and read!


The winner

No one got the reference to Garrison Keillor's "How the Mind Really Works" skits that always begin "a series of a series of a series of ::pop:: timely educational features . . . "

I am just as nerdy as I suspected.

So onto the winner.

We did the selecting of the winner the old fashioned way. I printed the comments and cut them apart into strips to make the individual entries. Spyder and I folded them and put them into a big container.

Then there was a whole lotta creative shakin' going on.

And the winner is

WindyCindy! Congratulations!


Be glad you're not me

Well, Miss Lucinda did it. She killed one of the squirrels. I woke up to the sounds of her murderous rampage.

And upon waking, I realized that my left eye is swollen because of some allergen.


Winner of the giveaway is coming later. I told the urchins they could do the old draw-the-name-from-the-hat method of choosing.

But first, I have to relieve Lucy of her prize.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Small Town Mom recently spotlighted some of her "issues"

I like patterns. For example, I prefer to wash dishes in a certain order. You can't just hand me things and expect me to wash them randomly. I have a system. And it works. Everything fits in the dishrack that way. (Although I prefer the dishwasher!)

Seems reasonable to me. Also, the earplugs that started the topic? Again, completely reasonable. I wouldn't have been able to sit through the concert with two different colors though. That's just wrong.

Lately I'm realizing that I have far more hang-ups than I ever thought, especially since I consider myself a pretty easy-going kind of person. Here is only a partial list:
  • The toilet paper must be placed in the holder with the loose tissue hanging down the front. What is up with this nonsense that some people believe it must hang down the back? They are wrong.
  • The bed is a whole issue in itself.
  • I eat one thing at a time, usually working clockwise around the plate. I've gotten a little bit less intense about that over the years, but it's still there.
  • Clothing must be put in the closet with the shirt opening facing left, pants and shirts separated.
  • I also have a certain pattern for the dishes in the dishwasher, but it's too complicated to explain.
  • I do not drink milk out of plastic cups. Milk is a glass-only beverage.
  • I alphabetize our DVD collection. I used to do this with books and CDs too, separated by genre, but our CD and book collections have outgrown the shelves. I'm working on that though.
  • I hate wearing shoes without socks. Except my Birks.
  • When I'm searching the bookshelves, I have to "look" with my left hand. I can't see the books properly if I'm not touching them with my left hand.
  • I count syllables when I'm listening to someone speak.
  • When I pay the bills I always leave the bank balance on an even whole dollar amount, even if I have to overpay a little bit to do so.
And I'll just leave it there. So now make me feel better and list a few of your hang-ups.


Friday, May 09, 2008

New places

Skeeter and I tried a relatively new Indian restaurant tonight.

Good stuff, people. Good stuff.

We were one of only two couples in the restaurant though, and that made me rather sad.

The place has been open for about five months. I didn't realize it had been that long. We pass by it about twice a week, but it's never at the right time for us to eat. And usually we're passing by because we're on the way to some activity.

The owner came to talk to us several times, asking if we were familiar with Indian food and how we liked everything. (Not in the creepy, hovering way, but in the friendly I-really-want-you-to-like-it way. There's a huge difference.) We talked for quite a while, eventually moving on to the topic of running the business when (obviously) it wasn't exactly a hoppin' place.

He told us that he doesn't have a lot of customers, but the ones he does have are all regulars. Overall he's found that most of the people in our area aren't interested in trying new things. It's just too different from what is considered "normal" here.

Skeeter and I love to try new places, off-the-beaten path places. It's just part of what we do, and normally I don't even talk about it to others. I think I'll change that though.


Don't forget!

The contest ends this weekend, but there is still time to enter! Winner will be announced on Monday morning!


EMP: Extra-Momensory Perception

Extra-Momensory Perception (EMP) comes with the birth of a child, like a "free with purchase" offer. Like most moms, I can usually tell what my children are doing -- and whether or not they should be -- if they're in another room or even outside. When Sass and Spyder play together, they have the usual shouts and laughs that give me clues as to what's going on.

My EMP doesn't work on everyone though.

Sass has had her friend Olivia over to play today. Olivia is, er, high maintenance in a way that even Sass never has been. With Olivia, my EMP is completely shot. Olivia's happy shouts often resemble blood-curdling screams, sounds that make me drop whatever I'm doing and rush to see if an emergency room visit is in order.

So far, so good. But I'm going to keep rushing over just in case.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Clearing the cobwebs

Since we know that we'll be moving, I'm trying to take the time now to go through our things, weeding out those that are just taking up space. One of my latest projects was my old college notebooks. In them I found notes and papers and poems and stories, all things that I had created in a time long before I became who I am now.

Some of them have no real meaning for me. The statistics notes? Ha! Gone! Happily tossed into the trash. But some . . . some still resonate. They help me remember who I was and how I got to where I am now.

Remembering seems to be a running theme for my thoughts lately. I find myself revisiting books, even if it's just a favorite passage or chapter. Julie gave me a signed first edition of Fair and Tender Ladies as a gift several years ago, and the book now falls open to my favorite part.

Heather loves to make fun of me for it, but I love Empire Records. I watched it again recently, and it brought back memories. Great art? No, definitely not. Certainly few people who haven't actually worked in a record store would have such an affection for it. But if you have been in that environment, you can see that the characterizations are absolutely perfect, and it's yet another way for me to remember where I've been.

Of course, the story isn't anything like my experience. I never had an assistant manager who stole $9000 to gamble. Never had a massive concert on the roof. But we did have people like Warren, who thought working at the store was the coolest thing ever and wanted to be like us. I think Warren is my favorite character because of that.

Even my new read is following the remembering theme. The Film Club has so many parts that make me think about my life, where it's been and how that affects the progress, both as an individual and a family.

I never talk about a book while I'm reading it. If I'm asked, I'll give a vague, "Oh, it's decent so far," but rarely more than that. My opinion and perception change throughout, and as a result I'm reluctant to talk about it until I can see it as a whole work. For The Film Club -- unlike any other -- I really wish that I had someone reading right alongside with me so that we could discuss it as we go.

All of that is heavy handed and convoluted, but it's where my thoughts are these days.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Crafts for everyone

Randi from I Have to Say also authors a crafting blog, Me and My Girl.

Today's craft: making paper doll chains. Sass and I are going to have so much fun with that!

Definitely check out Me and My Girl if someone in your house has a crafty or artistic leaning. We've had good times with several of her ideas. They're easy enough for children without too much stress on Mom, and most can be adapted so that everyone in the house can enjoy them.


Oh dear

The whole family is completely and utterly hooked.

Games at - Hangaroo

Guess the hidden phrase to complete a level.

Play this free game now!!


For those who use a feed reader, saw the post on the book giveaway, then clicked over to find it wasn't really there.

I wasn't just taunting you. I swear.

It's back!


Sharing the love

Ever wondered what I do with those advance reader books? Some of them stay on my shelves, fewer than you might imagine, actually. But most of them I pass along to friends.

And with that brief introduction, welcome to the world of free books, my friends. The first in a series of a series of a series of ::pop::* book giveaways.

First up: Secrets of a Shoe Addict by Beth Harbison. This is meant to be a sequel to Shoe Addicts Anonymous, but it's a stand-alone read. Truly, it has very little to do with the first book, plot-wise.

The novel follows three women -- Tiffany, Abbey, and Loreen -- each with her own need to make fast cash. They band together to form an unconventional business that ultimately helps each woman see the limitations she has placed upon herself. Publishers Weekly gives a more thorough review here near the middle of the page.

What to do? Leave a comment on this post -- anything from "Hey, pick me!" to mentioning, oh, how fabulous I am -- from now until midnight Sunday, 11 May. Winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Monday, 12 May.

Spread the word! Or don't, so your odds for winning will be better. It's up to you.

Go forth and comment!

*Props to anyone who gets the reference. And maybe a special prize. If I can think of something.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

First lines

Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera begins

It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.

That is my favorite first line of a novel. It's not my favorite novel, but that opening sentence is just perfection. I didn't realize it until after I'd finished the book, but it so succinctly summarizes the whole work that even now it astounds me.


Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday Five: Books Edition

Shamelessly lifted from Tammy at Just Enough, And Nothing More. Because I can't resist a book list.

How many of you have a to-be-read pile a mile high next to your bed? What are the top 5 books?

Just finished Jen Lancaster's Such a Pretty Fat and am almost finished with Beth Harbison's Secrets of a Shoe Addict. Up next in my to-be-read pile:

1. The Film Club by David Gilmour

2. Love The One You're With by Emily Giffin

3. Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another by Philip Ball

4. Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper by Diablo Cody

5. A Charmed Life: Growing Up in Macbeth's Castle by Liza Campbell


Avoiding the littles

My urchins have art class one day a week. Until this semester they have taken different classes, requiring a four hour commitment on art day. The class is half an hour away, and their classes were on the same day, but not back-to-back. So I was always entertaining one or both of them. The urchins love art class, so I managed, but lawzy day . . . it was a pain!

This semester though, they opted to take the same class, watercolor painting. Thank heavens! Not only does that take my time commitment from four hours to two hours, but it allows me one whole blessed hour to myself!

I know it doesn't sound like much, but homeschooling doesn't exactly allow a whole lot of down-time for me. I've been looking forward to my little one hour a week, just sitting in the car reading a book. Until recently.

About six weeks ago, the art teacher's 10 year old decided that he'd like to spend that hour -- my hour -- chatting with me. The first time, I decided to forgo the book and chat. Perhaps that was a bad idea because now he shows up at my window every time.

And chats.

And chats.

Even when I'm a bit rude and only move the window down just a bit, obviously wanting to get back to my book.

The last two weeks I've dropped the children off at art class and driven off to another part of the neighborhood. And I can't say that I feel the least bit bad about it. At least there I can have my hour once again and read my book in peace.


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Monster Camp

I must see this film. I don't know anyone in this particular group, but I know several people in SCA who go on retreats exactly like this.