Saturday, January 31, 2009

Beware of False Profits

photo from 2007 - Fox News

February 2nd is Groundhog Day and we will find out the forecast for the balance of winter. The city that I "Live-Work-Play" in sponsors an annual "Groundhog Day Economic Development Forecast Breakfast" held on the Friday morning before Groundhog Day.

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be able to attend this free breakfast for the 3rd year in a row. This was, as always, a first-class event. There was a speaker, Dr. Edmond Seifried, Chief Economist from m.rae resources inc. who was sponsored by Heartland Bank.

Dr. Seifried did his best to explain the Housing Bubble, Interest Rate fluctuations and their effect on the economy. His best advice for a rule of thumb to avoid future scams and disasters is the following:
"If it grows too fast, it's a weed."
Simple, yet profound words to live by. Similar to the old adage, " If it looks too good to be true, it probably is". In these troubling times, cooler heads need to prevail. We need to take charge of our finances and reclaim ownership of our choices (both good and bad). In the words of Agent Muldar in X-files "Trust No One". Don't rely on the advice of strangers and do your homework when making financial decisions.

We will weather this storm and things will get better if we avoid panicking and knee-jerk reactions. To quote my husband, whom I've nicknamed "Mr. Turtle".
" Slow and steady wins the race."
Have a great weekend and let's hope that Spring is on the way!!!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sum it up Sunday - when I've totally slacked off & missed Friday Fragments & Saturday Posting...

Good Reads:
My boys have discovered a great book series "Diary of A Wimpy Kid". The series chronicles the life of a middle-school kid, Greg Heffley. Pure comic gold! If I didn't know better, I would swear some of the entries were written by my boys!

The third book is just out : The Last Straw.
A must read!

Cast Off
Alex had his cast cut off this week and is getting back into "the swim" of things. Literally. He is now able to go back to swim practice and Dad is having him do a bit of weight training to regain strenth in his arm. We are also back to 2-handed piano playing!

Bills are starting to roll in from the December trip to the ER as well as from the follow-up visits to the orthopedic doctor, x-rays & radiologist's fees. Fun times for my hubby who is trying to decipher them. Amazing how many "extra" charges were found. It pays to review bills and make sure they were coded and charged properly!

Million Dollar Smile:

Colin had two teeth pulled on Monday. He was a model patient and has recovered nicely.

Wish I could say the same for our pocket book!

Surprise Package

A friend who was visiting a few weeks ago from Florida, sent us a package which arrived yesterday. Inside was a cool book, Pandora's Box. This is a box/book filled with activities, pop-up pictures, stories and games that are designed to make learning about Greek Mythology fun.

She had learned that my boys are "getting into" Greek Mythology and thought the boys would enjoy this book (Which they are!)

My oldest son has read the series of books, Percy Jackson & the Olympians. (Greek mythology for kids) The last book in the series is due out in May.

Perhaps I can borrow this book from the boys. I have some catching up to do. I'm definitely not smarter than my Fifth ( and Sixth) grader.
Thanks Glynis!

Fill'er Up!

Price of gas on Thursday,
January 22, with my 20 cent Kroger Fuel Perk.

Gas prices dropped the next day from $1.83 a gallon to $1.77.

Hard to believe that prices were double this amount just a few months earlier.

At least we're saving money somewhere!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Skin Deep / Deep Thought of the Day

I was commiserating out loud with Debbie on her Jan. 18th post about not recognizing the older person in the mirror. It seems like overnight gray patches of hair are sprouting, I am developing jowls and "laugh lines" are starting to make a case for Botox.

Fresh from hearing the Inaugural Address and Martin Luther King Speech, my wise son, Alex, reminded me that
" It doesn’t matter what your skin looks like; it’s what’s inside that counts!"

(I give that 2 LOLs & a big ;))

Monday, January 19, 2009

Putting Our Money Where His Mouth Is!

Word to the Toothfairy: Pay Up!!!

Today my youngest son (who will be 8 in March) had to go to the oral surgeon to get 2 teeth pulled. Colin had a supernumerary tooth which was creating a log jam in the gums and preventing his top-front baby tooth from falling out. When he smiled, he reminded me of Goofy Grape.

The orthodontist recommended immediate action: 1. Braces then 2. Get the baby tooth & extra adult tooth removed; attach a chain to the remaining adult tooth then 3. Go back to orthodontist and have the chain attached to the braces to guide the Adult Tooth into place.

We were a bit nervous. We were attempting to have the extraction done with only Novacaine. Most patients his age are "put under" which would require an anesthesiologist at the local Children's Hospital. Not only is the hospital visit much more costly, there is more risk involved with anesthesia.

When Push Comes to Shove
Last week Colin had braces put on his top teeth. He was a good patient for most of the visit until he grabbed the orthodontist's arms and pushed back, while the doctor was jamming metal bands on his teeth.

The orthodontist shot a look at my husband and issued a warning. If Colin put up even the smallest resistance next week with the Surgeon, he'll refuse to operate in his office and the procedure will be postponed and moved to the hospital. This did not bode well and we had a week to prepare.

The Bribe
My two younger boys are into Webkinz, which I would describe to the uninitiated as a cross between Beanie Babies and Second Life. For around $14 you get a bean-filled animal with a code to enter a virtual playground. This is like crack for elementary-school kids. My husband made an offer of FOUR WHOLE HOURS on the Webkinz virtual world in exchange for model patient behavior.

Game Day
The bribe worked! I have never in my life heard of anyone looking forward to getting teeth pulled. Yet my son was giddy with excitement. It also added to his glee that his brother was jealous.

In just under 30 minutes the deed was done and my son came bouncing though the door. With a gauze filled mouth and two teeth in hand, he couldn't wait to get home to his computer. I was told Colin did great and the doctor was impressed (pleasantly surprised).

We Need To Schedule The Toothfairy Visit.

My husband told me there would be a two day delay for the Toothfairy. We need to allow time for Show & Tell at school. I told my hubby that I will leave the logistics up to him. Lately due to "great minds thinking alike" the late-night tooth payout has been double. I think the only reason the gig isn't up is that my kids don't want to mess with a good thing!

These days we don't worry about our bank failing. We prefer to put our savings into the mouths of our babes. I used to call my baby "Mr. Jack-o-Lantern Smile".

Now I call him "Lil Bling-Bling Mouth"!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Stupid Human Trick: The Straw

In my family, I am the only person who can not roll their tongue. Two of my boys can even turn their tongues into straws. Not sure the "straw trick" is even that unusual ( my boys don't think so).

Unfortunately, this is the best "Stupid Human Trick" that I can come up with. If you can roll your tongue, do YOU ever make it into a straw?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Fragments - Out in the Cold

Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard.

Minority Report

I remember my first open house at my boys' school. I have always felt a bit "out of the loop" and like an "outsider". I was sure that I was labeled "One of Those Parents" - the bad mom who is totally clueless as to her children's school-life. I was so relieved to find out I was not alone and found many parents to commiserate with. We pooled our collective knowledge and shared tips on surviving the school year.

Nothing like a PTO meeting to bring back that "special feeling"! Thought I'd attend a PTO meeting to get a better handle on school fund raisers and to make a few suggestions. Quite the opposite of Open House. I sat in a room full of "In-The Know", "Uber-Volunteers" who would make the Stepford Wives look inferior. If you ever want to ruffle some feathers, go to your next PTO meeting and suggest some changes to procedures that have not changed in years.

I am now officially: "One of Those Parents"!

I have a "Smart Phone", Now I need a "Smart" Answering Machine

I keep getting messages at work from a bill collection agency for someone who must have previously had my phone number. They are left at night on my answering machine, when no one is here and start out the same way:
"This message is for "___________". If you are not "__________", please hang up. By continuing to listen to this message, you acknowledge you are "____________".......*brief pause*.... (message for "__________" continues)
"____________" is a person I do not know. How the heck can I hang up when I did not answer the call in the first place. Perhaps my voice mail system has a secret life and in off-hours is "___________"!

The Weather Outside is Frightful (and My Electric Space Heater is Quite Delightful)

So much for a "White Christmas"! We had unseasonably warm, wet weather when the kids were home on Christmas break. This week we have been having a cold snap with 6 inches of snow and sub-0 temps! The boys had a 2 hour delay yesterday and no school today, due to the deep freeze. How's that for irony?

I've Got Mail!

A short while back I wrote about a temporary reprieve from spam due to the shutdown of a host for major spam servers. Well that Junk EMail Holiday is over. My spam levels are back up to the daily, triple-digit, pre-take-down levels.

Let me know if you are looking for great deals on Swiss Watches, ED Drugs, Hot Girls, Discount Drugs or Hot Investment Tips...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Friday Fragments - What did you mean by that?

Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard.

Be Careful of What you Ask

We are creatures of habits and tend to ask questions that we don't really want an answer to.
We ask total strangers "How are you doing today?", a fellow parent: "How are your kids?"or a shop owner as we stroll through their establishment, "How's business?". Most time we are looking for a one-word, affirmative answer; "Great!" or "Fine" or "Okay". This is our awkward attempt at being friendly.

I've caught myself pontificating to the point of eyes glazing over when asked about my children, only to realize one syllable would have sufficed. The clerk at the store doesn't really want to hear about my litany of ailments. Many times it is unclear how much information is too much and whether my inquisitor really cares.

I've decided that my new tag-line / response to this line of questioning will be:
"Do you want the Director's Cut or the Cliff Notes version?"

Um....Thanks (I think)

Speaking of awkward conversation.... I was at a business networking luncheon yesterday. It was a delightful group of people exchanging polite conversation over a catered meal at a fine-dining establishment. As the event was breaking up and we were exchanging goodbyes, one of my table-mates wished me
"Good luck with your business!"

I've been in business for over 15 years and things are "going well"* (*Cliff Notes Version). I couldn't help but wonder if the parting comment was meant as a nicety, the same way someone would say " God Bless You!" to a sneeze. Or was it more snooty like " Good luck with your life" (I have no use for your kind)?

Perhaps I didn't sound sincere enough when I had said "It was nice meeting you." Come to think of it, I was just being polite.

I wonder what the world would be like if we all just said EXACTLY what we meant????

In other news (non-sequitur)

On Wednesday, we finally got some snow ( 2 weeks 2 late). We are supposed to have a bit more snowfall over the weekend. Glad we haven't put away our "Holiday Decorations". Macy's is having a kick-*** sale. Perhaps I'll recreate Christmas. I think I'll take a "Do-Over"!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Sum it up Saturday - Kind of like Friday Fragments but on Saturday

Forgive me fellow bloggers for I have sinned! I have been neglecting my blog. I have been called out by Weaselmomma and she is correct: I have been wrapped up in my new cell phone!

The Joys of Technology

The second half of 2008 brought new technology into my life that I never dreamed of owning and I almost feel like an Amish teen experiencing Rumspringa.
I had heard tale of cars that talk and fondly remember the television show "My Mother the Car" (60's t.v. show). I never dreamed that I would ever own a car that would give me directions (navigation system), tell me when I was going to back into something ( rear-view camera) and entertain my family (dual DVD system & satellite radio).

Thank you Stop-Sign-Crashing-Driver that totaled my old, inferior vehicle!

Talk to Me
Sometimes when I am driving by myself and get a bit lonely for company, even though I know where I am going, I have used my navigation system. The soothing voice reminds me where to exit and turn in a non-judgmental tone (unlike my hubby).

Now with my new "Smart Phone" and blue-tooth technology, I can make calls though my sound system using voice recognition software that is installed in my "Mother the Car". There are a few glitches to work out yet and I have accidentally called the Emergency Towing System and the wrong contact a few times.

I also noticed that the car's VRS (voice recognition system) seems to listen better to my husband than me. Just like at home with my boys! I thought it was because I am not speaking loudly or clearly enough. (Or perhaps not spanking hard enough!)

Turns out there is a bit of sexism in the VRS software! I ran into a friend at the bank yesterday who has a PhD in Speech Pathology and specializes in voice recognition systems. She told me that much of the programs in service are out-of-date and used mainly male voices for modeling speech patterns. Guess I'll have to lower my voice an octave....

Lucky 13

On New Year's Eve, my husband and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, we had reservations at one of our favorite restaurants that we have not been to in a few years.
My oldest son just turned 12 and we were able to leave the boys alone for a few hours.

We fed them an early dinner and let them watch t.v. They were able to call us with any questions or problems. Which they did twice.
1. When will you be back and can I go on Webkinz?
2. Can we have dessert?
We were home by 8:30 and brought back a chocolate cake. We watched Carson Daley who has the same cell-phone as me and posted photos he took as the night progressed. I haven't gotten around to mastering the camera function yet. ( I'm still working on not calling or sending text messages by accidentally bumping the wrong button)

Other Tidbits

Keep those Cards & Letters Coming!

Our kitchen wall is covered with Holiday Cards & Letters and we need to get started on writing ours. I heard from a long lost friend who is now living in sunny Florida at the beach. (I am sooo jealous)! We also found out that one of our friends had a new addition to their family via adoption and another couple who has been trying for years to conceive are expecting twins in a few months!

Looks like we'll be meeting our Insurance Deductible this year!
Alex went back to the Orthopedic Dr. and his arm is healing nicely. Just a few more weeks hopefully....
Colin, my 7.75 year old has been bouncing between the dentist, orthodontist and oral surgeon(s) getting x-rays, molds and second opinions. He currently has a "Pumpkin Smile" due to a "supernumerary tooth" or extra adult tooth that is creating a "pile-up" of adult teeth and will require tooth extraction and braces.

Better start playing the lottery! We are going to be needing some $$$ in 2009. I wonder if my new cell phone or my new car have any suggestions for numbers??????

Happy New Year !