Saturday, February 28, 2009

Consequences of clutter

My house is not perfect. I have some clutter. Mostly my clutter consists of books and Master J's school work but there are a few other things (such as toys) laying around. I really try to keep certain rooms clutter free. My guest room is clutter free. My bedroom is usually clutter free. My dining room and living room look pretty good as well. My kitchen however, is another story. My counters seem to collect growing piles of books and stray paper. I do go through Master J's school papers weekly and recycle about 95% of them but there's still a lot left. I think the schools could save millions of dollars just on paper if they quit sending every notice five times over. But that's a different story. The story today is about my kitchen clutter. The past two days at school, Master J has had an exceedingly difficult time being respectful. Yesterday he got to see the principal, which is never a good thing. Mister C decided that an appropriate course of action would entail Master J writing a sentence about being respectful multiple times. We had a bunch of running around to do yesterday and didn't get back until after 5:30 so Master J didn't get started on writing his sentences until almost 6:00. At first he did pretty well. He needed to do three pages (about 24 lines each) of writing and he got the first page done in about 15 minutes. He started the second page and got about 5 lines in when Mister C came home after getting new tires put on his truck. Of course Master J wanted to see those new tires and I made the mistake of letting him. He never got back on track. So by 7:30 when it was time for him to go to bed, he was exactly no further along in his task. So he had to start over this morning. And here's where it gets interesting. When he started working on it, he was very fidgety. He was talking, making noises, swinging his feet, etc. Since there's no point in leaving the room when he has a task if I want it to get done, I decided to start doing some cleaning. I put away the clean dishes, emptied the sink of the dirty ones, put some lotions back in my bathroom and recycled a bunch of papers. I noticed at this point that he was working diligently and better yet, quietly. I kept clearing and cleaning. I collected up his library books that were going back today and neatly stacked the remainder. I put away all of his toys that had been sitting around. It was when I was wiping down the counters that I realized he had been sitting quietly working for 45 minutes. He got done with his writing and calmly went to read a book. So I asked him about it. Did it help him to focus when there wasn't a bunch of stuff laying around. And he said he thought so. I think what's going on is that for him, every little thing in his line of sight is distracting. This is where I believe his ADHD kicks in. He hyper focuses on all the clutter that's around. It's kind of like if I were trying to concentrate on reading a book that I wasn't really interested in anyway and all around me people were talking loudly, with a lot of body animation. Only for him, the way his mind is wired is what makes those inanimate objects seem so distracting. So I guess the main point here is that I'm thinking that if I have less clutter around, I should have fewer problems with distraction. Which kind of sucks because I've spent a lot of years just to get my clutter down to the point it's at today.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Off the beaten path

Mister C and I try to take a walk every weekday that he's not traveling and today was no exception. Our walks are usually about an hour long and we spend the time talking. Some days we discuss our finances. Some days we talk about Master J. Sometimes we talk about where we'd like to be in 1 year, 5 years or 10 years. Whatever the discussion, it's generally a great time for us to connect.

The problem is that we tend to stick to our immediate neighborhood and a few that are connected to it. Which can get kind of boring. So today when we got to a main street we decided we wanted to see a neighborhood that we've never been in because it's hidden behind a wall. We had to walk a ways out of our way to find a way in and at first it seemed like it was just a small neighborhood that was pretty standard. But then, we decided to walk out a different way than we had walked in and instead of finding the main thoroughfare that we expected, we found a boulevard. That had a wide side walk, was well shaded and extremely well kept. That ran next to a huge golf course. And some small man made ponds with fountains. And there were huge trees and gorgeous flowers everywhere. It was like a different world. We live in the desert, but this community reminded me of something you might find in California. It was amazing. There were lots of people out doing various activities and when we got close to them, they were all very friendly. By the time we got all the way through this enjoyable enclave, we were a good distance from our home. We ended up walking back on a more main street than we usually like but even that wasn't that bad. When we finally got home, we had been out walking for over two hours. I was tired and yet I felt like it was totally worth it just to have been there. In fact, I've already gone on Google Earth and figured out how to stay in the neighborhood longer and come out closer to home while mostly avoiding the main streets. I think I've found my new stomping grounds.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Barely squeaking by

Included in my curriculum for real estate school were two pre-test practice exams. Each one is 320 questions and each covers half of the topics. The halves are broken down in to A1-A9 and B1-B9 where each number represents a chapter. So effectively, each practice test covers nine chapters of information. As of Monday, I have gone to school long enough to have covered all of the 'B' chapters. I decided to take the 'B' practice exam. Now, keeping in mind that I have actually gotten through real estate school previously, you would think I would ace these exams. But, alas, I did not. I did manage to pass the practice exam. With the minimum acceptable score. woo. hoo. When I went back over the questions I missed (which btw took a looooong time), there were three chapters that I failed miserably. The rest I passed with totally acceptable numbers. But those three. Those three dragged me down almost 20 points. I guess on the bright side at least I know which chapters to focus on. For that half of the exam.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More fun with words

Master J is nothing if not verbose. I'll be honest, I have no idea where he gets his gift of gab (ahem), but it makes for some entertaining moments.

We have three cats in this house. The oldest one is referred to by us as "the Idiot" and if you knew him, you wouldn't wonder why. But in reality, his name is Rex. So, after dinner, Master J started down the hall to brush his teeth and lay out his clothes for tomorrow. But then he stopped, came back and asked me "Do you know what you get when the Antagonizer runs in to the Hooligan?" I told him I had no idea. His response? "A Rex! Get it? Wrecks? Rex? Hahahahaha!"

Here's another good example...the other day, he was using his camera to make movies of interesting things around the house and in his life. After filming for over an hour outside, he came in and sat on the couch near me and announced "I just filmed the dog's butt." And then he tried to suppress a smile. I asked him why he would film the dog's butt and his response was "Because I was making a movie and it was (dramatic pause here) THE END!!!" And then he broke down into hysterics. And my inner 12 year old came out to play and I laughed with him. I know, great parenting right? Ah, well, if laughing at a good butt joke is my worst parenting mistake for the day, I'm probably having a pretty good day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


The minion wants to befriend me on Facebook. This is completely Mister C's fault. He didn't want to take the time to attach pictures to an email and send it to her. So instead, he turned her on to Facebook. And now she wants to be my friend. And if we're not careful, it will only be a matter of time before she finds out about this blog and wants to be directed to it. And that will not end well. So if you're reading this and you know her, shhhhh. And if you're a friend of mine on Facebook and you want to reference this, don't put it on my wall. Let's all practice a new game called "Sit very still and don't make a sound until the monster gets out of earshot." It's a fun game, trust me. Let's see how long we can hide from the dragon. We'll still have fun, I promise. It's just that if she gets a whiff of our fun and happiness, she'll feel compelled to crush it in her overpoweringly controlling insanity. And then it won't be any fun for anyone. So, shhhhh!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Does this Mac make my butt look fat?

So I got a Mac last night. Mister C has been feeling guilty for missing my last two birthdays and has decided to not only get me the camera he has been promising me, but a new laptop as well. All on his own. No help from me. I swear. No, really, I mean that.

I wasn't really sold on getting a Mac mostly because I've never had one and I was afraid it would be too difficult of a transition. Mister C insisted that we go to the Apple store and look at the one he thought would work best for me. My requirements are pretty simple. I need to be able to get to the Internet, work with my photos, and occasionally play Scrabble. That's it. I don't need the fancy graphics required for "Warcraft" or to be able to crunch numbers to the point of exhaustion. Just a simple machine that doesn't make me want to scream because the screen goes black at inopportune moments.

So I walk into the store and Mister C is standing at a machine with Master J next to him. He points to the laptop right next to them and says "See what you think of that." Okay, I'll click on a few icons and be on my way. Then I see the icon that says iPhoto and I think maybe I'll see what they have to offer. And oh. my. goodness. Do you know what you can do with iPhoto? Holy mother of all that is good, you can straighten, adjust, sort and even recognize the faces of the people in the photos. And this is standard. There's no adding of software to deal with. It's just a button on the screen. But even better, they have classes. Free classes. Just to teach you how to use it. Are you kidding me? Say no more because I am officially sold. Which worked out nicely because when I got home and logged into my old laptop, within five minutes I got hacked through Myspace. I shut it down and handed both laptops and all my passwords to Mister C to fix. Hey, he's got too many years of education and real world experience as a computer guru to not make himself useful in this situation. Anyway, the combination of getting the new laptop along with getting hacked is why I didn't blog last night. But I think I'm going to like this new laptop a whole bunch.

In other news, my clown loaches are on my bad list. I love clown loaches. Every time I move and have to give away all my fish, the first fish I get when my new tank is ready are clown loaches. They're cute little guys that are very active and fun to watch. They get pretty decent sized, but never seem to lose their goofy attitude. For a fish, that's saying a lot. But, part of their appeal is that they are curious about their surroundings. So they tend to get into trouble. I've had to back wash them out of an ornament in the tank in the past because they've swam full speed into a dark cave only to realize once they're in that there's not enough room to turn around and they can't swim backwards. Well, not me personally, Mister C really, but that's because my job is to watch the fish and his is to deal with any "hands on" stuff. It's a deal we have, it's in the marriage license. Anyway, so when I went to shut off the lights in the tank last night, I did my normal headcount. And my loaches weren't there. I looked in the tank from all directions. I poked through all the plants. I moved the rocks for goodness sakes (while praying none of my cichlids would decide they needed a snack). Nothing. No loaches. So I start looking for parts from what I am sure is some sort of fish carnage. Not an eyeball to be found. Hmmm. Now comes the fun part because all I'm left with are the pumps. There is a slight possibility that they could swim in to the outflow. The flow is pretty mild right now and they are still pretty small. It's not likely, but it is possible. And if there's any possibility that they got in there and they might be alive, I have to check. I hate to do it but I decide I need to take apart the pumps and check the hoses. There are two pumps and four hoses and I need to check them all.

I start by shutting off one of the pumps and detaching the hoses from it. Which went pretty well. Until I detached the hose from the attachment that connects it to the pump. The wrong hose. Water starts coming out the hose and at first I was thinking that it was just the water that was in the hose. But it kept coming. I filled up one 48 oz container without much thought. But it kept coming. As the second 48 oz container is getting full I'm thinking maybe something is wrong so I look up at the tank and realize that I've unplugged the intake hose. You know, the one that sucks water out of the tank. I start doing quick math in my head and realize that I have only one more 48 oz container within reach. And about 120 more gallons of water coming. So I put my thumb over the end of the hose to stop the flow and wait for Mister C to walk back through the room. So now, I'm sitting on the floor next to the tank, doing my Danish best, waiting. Finally, Mister C comes by and asks what I'm doing. I explain my predicament and he graciously removes the hose from the top of the tank so I can proceed. I emptied out the pump and the hoses into the (plugged) sink and find no loaches. I figured I may as well clean it while it's off so I do that as well. I put it all back together and get it working again. And then do the other one, this time making sure to unplug the correct hose from the pump. Again, I find no loaches. So now I'm resigned to the fact that my five loaches have been consumed by one or many of their tank mates. My carpet and the bottom of the tank stand are soaked with smelly water but my pumps are both clean so I guess that's something. I cleaned up my mess, turned off the lights and went to bed.

This morning, I had to drop Mister C off at the airport fairly early. When I got home, I went over and turned on the lights on the tank. And all five loaches swam up looking for food. Grrr!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Old Pueblo

Today Mister C, Master J & myself headed down to Tucson for the day. Mainly, we went to see San Xavier del Bac. This church, built in the late 1700s, is pretty well know and pretty well photographed. Even though I've lived less than three hours from it for most of the past 10 years, I've never visited it. Currently it's in the middle of a huge restoration. Which means that for the past five years there has been scaffolding surrounding the one side of the church. That was taken down about two weeks ago. The scaffolding is going back up on the other side in early March. Which meant there was only a finite amount of time available to take scaffolding free photos of this gorgeous old church. We wanted to go two weeks ago, but Master J was sick. Last weekend was out because it was Valentines day and we figured it would be swamped. So we went today. It was more gorgeous than I can even describe, the details in the architecture are amazing. The tourists are annoying (I don't count as I actually live around here) and the fact that there was a christening going on inside when we first arrived was kind of a bummer. But overall, gorgeous, well worth the drive and the pictures don't do it justice.

After we left San Xavier del Bac, we went to the Tucson Botanical Garden. This would have been worth the trip alone. It's not huge, maybe only five acres, but it is well laid out and just full of all sorts of plants and landscapes. They have a butterfly house that we went through that had tons of beautiful butterflies flying around. It's fairly hard to get decent pictures with them moving around and all the people jostling around but I got a few. Once we left there, we wandered down paths checking out all the different styles of gardens. It was interesting to me how peaceful Master J was the whole time we were there. He liked the zen garden and the worm bin especially well. Overall, it was a fantastic day and we decided on the way home that we need to do more of these day trips.

San Xavier del Bac - just ignore the aimless tourists and look at the cool building.

A shot of the side that has been restored (I liked the way it looked at this angle, not really sure why)

At the butterfly garden

Another one

An iris from the memorial garden, some sort of succulent (I think) and flowers on a cactus - I'm so informative, no?

Master J

Friday, February 20, 2009


I have struggled with my weight for a large portion of my adult life. It has run the gamut from one extreme to the other. When I was young and impressionable, a bad boyfriend spent his spare time making me feel bad about myself. I never dared to eat around him because he would be sure to mention something about getting fat or being fat. Consequently, I dropped to 112 pounds. I'm 5'8. I had big hair. It wasn't a good look for me.

I finally got away from him and gained a needed few pounds. Then, as is wont to happen in those of us with obsessive personalities, my weight swung the other way. Up to 181 pounds before I quit getting on the scale. It wasn't really all that gradual either, I would guess in under two years. Then I went through a bad break up. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep and I was broke. My bills stayed the same and my income was cut in half. Something had to give and it was the food budget. I dropped 50 pounds in about six weeks. The original Biggest Loser. Eventually I stabilized at a good weight for me, right around 140. It might fluctuate up or down by five pounds, but I pretty much stayed the same.

But then, I started getting pregnant. With Master J, I gained 57 pounds. No lie. I totally expected to give birth to a toddler because I just knew it had to be the baby and not all the food I was eating that caused that big gain. But, after having my (only) 9 lb, 3 oz baby I realized that a majority of the weight truly was just overeating. So I tried Weight Watchers. I counted points and walked every day and eventually got back down to my starting weight. I got pregnant again and then had a miscarriage. But I didn't lose the 5 pounds I had gained. I did this four times in a row before I gave up on having more children and got my tubes tied. But now I had an extra 20 pound on me. Which, honestly, I wasn't really trying to lose. In fact, for awhile there I continued to add on while I ate my way through the sadness I was feeling at no longer being able to have kids.

By the time I got to Nebraska last year, I was carrying an extra 40 pounds. So we joined a gym and I got a personal trainer. And he managed to get 20 pounds off of me before I decided I didn't like the gym anymore. And then we decided to move back to Sunshineville. The packing, moving, unpacking, stress had me eating poorly again and not doing any exercise. And the result was that I was back up almost to where I started before the gym experience. Not quite, but too close for comfort. But now, I have gotten serious again. I am tracking what I'm eating and trying to make better choices. Not a diet per se, but a lifestyle change. I'm also trying to get more exercise. This week, I have logged 4.5 hours on my treadmill. And I have dropped two pounds. Only 35 more to go.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The first lesson in becoming a real estate agent

Be able to find your way around.

I got lost leaving the mall after getting my hair cut tonight. Now to clarify, it's a mall I haven't been to since I was pregnant with Master J almost 8 years ago, in a part of town I'm not usually in and it was dark when I left. Not that that makes it any better. After driving for about 10 miles, I realized that I had somehow missed where I was supposed to go. I was able to figure this out because I knew that the mall is no more than three miles off the highway I was aiming for. In my defense, I did pull over to get out a map and try and figure out where I was. I have a compass in my car, and with a map and knowing the nearest major cross streets, I can always find my way around. The only problem was that the map was for Omaha. And I live over 1,000 miles away. So that wasn't very helpful. I finally gave up and asked some guy at an intersection how to get to the highway. It turns out I wasn't very far from it at all but I did need to continue driving the wrong way long enough to turn around and go back to it. Mister C offered to buy me a GPS with verbal, turn by turn directions so this doesn't happen again. But I really don't like those things barking at me while I'm trying to enjoy my drive. He's got his set up on some English woman's voice that sounds very cultured while she gets after him for missing turns. I think if I did get one, I would want it to fit my personality a little better than that. Do you think they have "Cabbie from Brooklyn - Uncensored" available?

Debt Diet -
1 coffee - .65
dinner @ Johnny Rockets - $7
Hair cut (tip only - yay for gift cards!) - $10
Birthday card - $2.48
Total - $20.13

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


About a month ago, I tivo'd (spelled?) and watched a show on PBS called "Documenting the Face of America", which was about the photographers during the 30s & 40s. I originally watched it while Mister C was in Oregon, but after doing so I thought maybe he might like to watch it. When he got back, he agreed that it sounded interesting and so we watched it together. Now tonight, I'm sitting here watching it again with Mamoo. This is such an interesting show to me. I love photography. I love the story that can be captured in a single shot. The possibilities. The things we'll never know. It captures one moment in a lifetime. I also love to take photographs. I have thousands of photos from our digital camera that I've taken over the years. A good portion of those are of Master J. But I've had the same camera for almost 9 years now. And after seeing all those incredible pictures, I am really starting to think I need a new, or at least better, camera. And here's the kicker...Mister C has told me for the past almost two years that he has a new one all picked out for me, but we just can't afford it. Two years. I originally heard about this for my birthday in 2007. I didn't get a birthday present because he was going to get this fantastic new camera for me. It never materialized. At Christmas that year, it was supposed to be under the tree (per Mister C). It wasn't there. It didn't show up for my birthday in 2008 nor for Christmas. And now we're coming around to my birthday again in just two short months. And I haven't seen any camera shop bags hanging around the closet. I may have to drop some big hints around here for the next few months. I really want to start taking some better pictures.

Debt Diet - 2 coffees @ school - $1.30

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Elvis is in the building!

Remember a long time ago, back when I set up my big fish tank? Remember how excited I was when I decided to go with cichlids because I'd never had them before and they are so pretty? Remember how very, very, very excited I was because I had gotten an electric blue that was going to be a bright, cobalt blue? I even named him Elvis, that's how excited I was. I don't remember if I ever updated the blogosphere as to how progressively disillusioned I became when Elvis refused to turn blue. I've waited for months now and nothing. Elvis has continued to stay a sad color of gray, with little blue lips. He kind of looks like he has heart problems now that I think about it. But I digress. I have been getting more and more disturbed by this issue. To the point that I have been on line searching desperately for when he's supposed to turn blue. Everything said "by now". But yet, he refused to get pretty. Finally, several days ago, a thought occurred to me that hadn't before. I checked on line. I checked my books. And today, I checked with the fish store. All were in agreement. Elvis had been misnamed. Because Elvis, was a girl. Whoops! So while I was at the fish store confirming my theory, I picked out a new Elvis to bring home. And the previous Elvis, well, she is now known as Priscilla.

Debt Diet -
3 coffees and a Snickers bar at school $2.60
Computer software to help me pass the exam $43.13

Cat food - $34.58
Plants for fish tank, 2 algae eaters & Elvis - $72.38

Total for both days - $152.69

Did you know...

There are over 107,000 licensed real estate agents in Arizona? The estimated population in 2006 (the latest I could find) was 6,166,318. Which means that for every agent, there are about 57 possible clients/customers. I couldn't tell you how many of those people rent their homes, but just based on the economics of owning a home, I would say at least half. Probably more. So let's just cut that number by slightly more than half to a round number of 28. Now, add to that information the fact that 10% of the agents sell 90% of the houses. So, of those 28 possible clients, approximately 25 of them are going to be sold by each of the top producing agents. Leaving 3 clients for each of the bottom producers. Assuming the median price of a home in Phoenix is currently just under $200,000 (and falling), and that there is a negotiated commission of 6%, that gives us a starting commission of $12,000. Sounds good, no? Now cut that in half. Because they need to pay the other broker's agent. So down to $6,000. Still, not so bad. Except, now they need to hand the money over to their broker. Their broker might be one that takes 50% and doesn't charge them any fees for working there. Or they may charge them less of a percentage, but take a bunch of fees. But let's assume, for easy math, that they do a 50/50 split with no fees. That leaves our agent with $3,000, per house. For the three houses they're going to sell. Which means they just made $9,000. For the year. And by the way, this also assumes that all the potential clients actually want to sell or buy a house, which of course is highly unlikely. But guess what? I'm not getting licensed to make big bucks. I'm getting licensed because I love real estate and I wanted to be a part of a community that has the ability to make a difference in people's lives. I'm not the best salesperson out there, far from it. But I love real estate and I'm pretty good with people so I'm thinking if I put those two things together, I'll be successful in life. And maybe, just maybe, the money will follow.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pictures by Master J

I've been going through photographs the last few days and trying to sort them into their appropriate folders on my laptop so that I can eventually have some organization. Mister C started the whole thing when he took his version of the pictures and got rid of all of the duplicates, of which there were over 3500. So I've got some work ahead of me. But while I was going through, I started going through the folder where I've been dumping all the photos that Master J has taken over the years. And while there are a whole lot of not great photos, there are some that are pretty good. Up until his birthday last year, Master J would take my camera whenever he got the chance and go take a ton of pictures. I would usually know he was doing this, but sometimes I would be surprised when I downloaded the memory card and find pictures that he had taken. For his birthday last year, Mamoo & Papa got him his own digital camera and he has used it avidly. Anyway, I thought I'd throw a few of the better ones out here.

Okay, so he cut my head off and the lighting's not great, but at least he got me smiling.

Our photographer Matt, who is fantastic with Master J even though he doesn't have kids of his own. I think he grew up with a lot of brothers and that he may have had a little ADHD himself.

An out of place tulip in our garden in Nebraska, most likely taken last summer.

One of the peacocks that wander around the park where we got our family pictures taken the last two years. This one was taken in April 2007, about a month after Master J turned 6.

A pigeon at the same park, the same day.

Debt Diet - $0

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sometimes, you just have to show up...

Mister C has been trying to plan a trip into the Grand Canyon with some friends for the last month. He probably should have tried to get the permits to camp back in November but, for whatever reason, he didn't. So he has been scrambling to put together the right dates, trails and camping spots. He has submitted his request three different times. Each submission included three different itineraries. Each itinerary on each submission was rejected. March is a pretty busy month for them apparently. He tried calling and speaking with the people in charge of permits repeatedly as well. Every time, he hung up the phone frustrated and without a planned trip. Thursday, after the last rejection arrived in the mail, he called yet again to try and straighten it out. He got nowhere. In fact the very kind (ahem) lady (ahem again) that he spoke to informed him that they would be able to get a lot more itineraries planned if people would QUIT CALLING. I kid you not. Mister C does not like rejection. He does not like not getting his way. And he most certainly wasn't going to be deterred by a not very helpful park ranger. So we drove up to there today. Now, it's about 3 1/2 hours from our house to the Canyon so we had to leave at the agonizingly early hour of 5:20 am, which is way out of my comfort zone. The things we do for the people we love. We hit some snow, sleet and fog on the way up, but once we got past the continental divide it miraculously cleared completely.

Once we got up there, Mister C spoke with one of the rangers in the permit office for over an hour before they hammered out a plan that would work. At the end of it, when he handed the guy his credit card to pay for the permits, the ranger looked at his name and said "Oh, I heard you might be coming up here. It sounded like you were going to be pretty upset." Apparently, the other gal (who was standing next to him looking nervous) had told him about Mister C's last phone call. Not sure what she said exactly but these people see the names of thousands of hikers a year and he recognized Mister C's. Interesting.

After we got all the permit chaos sorted out we had time to kill so we wandered over to the restaurant and had brunch. And then we went over to the top of one of the trails and walked a little ways down to get some photos. It is so gorgeous up there this time of year. There's snow all over, blue skies and very few visitors. That last one is the important one. The Canyon is an incredible destination and I strongly encourage everyone to make the trip up to it. But if you really want to experience it, don't go during the tourist season. All the rude people wandering around smoking and dropping trash and yelling at their kids kind of takes something away from the experience. That, and the heart attacks that I suffer every time I see some oblivious parent letting their toddler stumble ever closer to the edge while they snap photos. You have no clue how hard it is not to slap some people and go "Dude! Seriously? That's like a 10,000 foot drop and there is no way you are going to cover that 15 feet gap between you and little Johnny in time to stop his descent if he trips!"

Anyway, I've included some photos that we took throughout the day.

The road to the continental divide

The road beyond


Mirth :)

Mister C

A deer on the side of the road out. The people behind us were THRILLED!!! with us stopping 10 times to get pictures of the deer. Thrilled I tell you.

Humphreys Peak

Debt Diet - $0 (Mister C paid for everything so that doesn't count. Right?)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentines Day

There are two camps of people regarding Valentines Day. Those that love it. And those that hate it. If you are a member of the first group, you'll probably want to stop reading right about now. I'm sure there's a love story drama on the Lifetime channel you can watch. I'll wait. Are they gone yet? Okay, I am a member of the second group. I absolutely cannot stand Valentines Day. I think it's the dumbest thing ever made up as far as holidays go. The biggest benefactor of the "holiday" is the stores that hype up this day as a "must do". The pressure to perform on this day is unbelievable to me. And I find it appalling that so many women make such a big deal out of this day. Worse yet, some of those women are willing to give up the opportunity for a nice day if they don't get the "right" gift(s) and treatment. They compare what they got with what their friends or co-workers got and mete out punishment or rewards to their significant other based on that. I would rather get flowers or a card on any other day of the year. Any. Other. Day. Of. The. Year. Because as far as I can tell, about 90% of men out there only do something on Valentines because they feel obligated to do so. I want my husband to send me flowers because he wants to, because he suddenly realized how much he loves me, because it's Tuesday. Not because he's supposed to. Because that takes all of the romance out of it. Which is kind of interesting when you think about the fact that this is supposed to be the "most romantic day of the year".

Debt Diet - Yeah, tough day at the ranch. Started out at Fourbucks, continued to the gas station, had to pay some fines at the library, then the grocery store and finally ended up at Chipolte. I guess two of them are at least budgeted for.
Fourbucks - $8.51
Gas - $28.41
Library - $4.41
Grocery - $183.71
Chipolte - $15.82
Total - $240.86

Also, there's a slight chance my coffee addiction may have gotten out of control. Guess I'll be on the caffeine diet next. I'll warn you ahead of time on that one. Wouldn't want anyone to get hurt.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The mangling of the colloquialisms

I just got home from school and picking up Master J at Mamoo & Papa's house. Master J had a short day at school due to conferences and got to spend the remainder of his time with my mom, which he loves. He was already fed, bathed and in his pajamas when I picked him up, which I love. So once we got home all he needed to do before bed was brush his teeth. Once he was finished with that, he came out into the kitchen started playing with the Hooligan. He was letting the kitten play with a lego, which the goofy cat immediately pushed underneath the stove (of course). Master J went over to help the Hooligan retrieve his toy from under the stove and informed me that we had "dust mice" under it. What? I tried correcting him with the proper terminology of "dust bunnies", but he assured me that couldn't possibly be right. I mean who's ever heard of something as dumb as that? Seriously.

Debt diet: Remember how I said I wasn't going to rush right back out to Fourbucks for coffee again any time soon? I lied. This time I had coffee, but I didn't have any clean travel mugs. But I did at least stop at a different one and they were much more responsive. Not that that's any consolation for the complete waste of money.
$4.26 + .65 for vending machine coffee - $4.91
$12.90 for two steaks and a bag of potatoes since I forgot to have food in the house for Mister C to prepare for dinner with. Now I get to cook. Darn it!

Total spent for the day: $17.81

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


After tomorrow's class, I will be half way through my real estate school. So far, I'm enjoying it quite a bit. I do need to re test myself again this weekend on what I've learned so far to make sure I'm learning all I need to for the exam. But mostly, I'm enjoying it. I've sat with the same three people since I started the class. One of them is on a three week plan and the other two are on the six week plan, but they started in January. Tomorrow is the last day for all of them and I'm actually going to miss them. I've really had fun getting to know them. They're all interesting people, from different walks of life. I hope that we can work together at some future date. I'm not really sure what I'm going to do once I'm in there by myself next week. Obviously there are other people in there, but if Monday's "horse" response is any indication, most of them aren't going to be nearly as interesting as these three have been.

Debt Diet: 2 coffees & M&Ms at school - $1.95

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lesson in Geography

I almost forgot the best thing that happened yesterday. You might want to set your coffee down for this one.

In school yesterday we were discussing the concept of meridian lines & baselines, as established by Thomas Jefferson. It's kind of a long discussion, there are a lot of new people in the class, and it's not the most invigorating subject. So, I kind of get why this gal must not have been paying as much attention as perhaps she should have. However, sometimes it's just better to sit quietly and observe.

Teacher: So, in the 1770s what mode of transportation would Jefferson have used if he wanted to travel from the colonies to London?
Gal in the back, loudly: Horse!
Raucous laughter erupts.
Gal in the back, less loudly: Wagon?
More raucous laughter.

Yeah, sometimes it's better to just sit back and take notes.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Debt Diet

I had real estate class today and, per usual, had two cups of coffee from the vending machine. For the record, I did make a second pot of coffee at home this morning so I could take some with me to class and avoid going to the machines. However, I forgot that Mister C is home this week. So when I went to get my handy travel mug filled up, there was not enough coffee to put in it, and not enough time to make more. So I did attempt to be debt diet conscious. I just didn't plan for the Mister C contingency. On the way to class I had an insane urge to go to Fourbucks coffee shop (wink, wink). Worse yet, I gave in to it. Worst of all, I got a bagel with cream cheese while I was there. Luckily for me, the service was so slow, so unenthusiastic and so pathetic that it completely turned me off from them for the future. I'm not saying I'll never go there again, but the experience today certainly didn't make me want to rush back.

Debt Diet

Fourbucks - $5.48
Vending machine - $1.30
Total $6.78

Resolution, kaput!

So one of the unnamed resolutions I made this year was to blog every day. And I forgot to yesterday. One of Mister C's friends arrived Saturday night to visit for a few days on his way to work in California. The two of them went to visit another friend yesterday while I stayed home with Master J because we didn't want to contaminate anyone. Anyway, after they got home, I ended up going into our bedroom to watch tv. See, they sat down in the same room as me and started discussing "iron condors" or maybe it was "broken butterflies" or some other such goofy named financial transactions. Honestly, it's doesn't really matter because if you take out the word "mirth" from my blog title, that pretty much describes what I hear to a t. So I went into the bedroom. And I got all snuggled into bed and as I was sitting there watching CSI, I started thinking I was forgetting something. But I couldn't figure out what it was. Now normally, if I start thinking that I've forgotten something, I'll get up and wander around the house (usually the kitchen) and it will eventually come to me. But I have a guest in my home. And while I certainly could get up and wander around, it would require getting dressed. And I just didn't think that whatever I was forgetting could possibly be important enough to get dressed for. So there you have it. Ultimately, my resolution got broken because I was too lazy to put on pants.

Debt diet yesterday - $0

Saturday, February 7, 2009


As you can see, the citrus crop is in. Mister C went out today and picked all of the citrus from our trees. He did this partly because the trees are starting to get their flowers for next years crop and partly because the temps are supposed to drop again this weekend. These are the grapefruit. The remaining ones. There were almost 70 left on the tree. Considering that we have been picking and eating them off of the tree since the week before Christmas and that the tree is only about 8 feet tall, I'd say that's a pretty good crop. The lemon and orange trees were only put in this past November so there were only a few dozen lemons and one lonely orange. But both new trees are covered in blossoms so next year should be a good one. I love living in the southwest!

And an update on Master J. He started his day throwing up and has been lying around all day doing not a whole lot of anything. Remember how his vaporizer decided to quit working the night before last? Well, since his cough had gotten worse last night and I couldn't take him out, I had Mamoo go out and purchase a new one for me and bring it by last night. With the distilled water that I had her purchase for it, I managed to spend $40 without ever leaving the house. Considering that the last one lasted as long as it did I won't lose any sleep over it.

Debt Diet
Yesterday - $40 - vaporizer & distilled water
Today - $23.73 - I went to get egg drop soup for Master J and ended up ordering lunch for Mamoo, Mister C, Master J & I. I almost forgot to get the soup.
Total - $63.73

Friday, February 6, 2009

"and the bad mother of the year award goes to...."

Me?!?!? Really?!?!? Oh! wow!!! I don't know what to say!!! I haven't even prepared a speech!!! This is so, well, expected.

My child is sick. With a fever. And a cough. And general malaise. And 30 minutes ago I finished yelling at him and assigning him chores. So my fevered, sniffling, hacking, weeping child was walking around the back yard picking up dog waste. And then he cleaned his toilet and bathroom sink. And now he is soaking in the tub. Hacking even worse. Probably because of the weeping. And the yelling. And the general sadness.

I didn't start out this day intending to break my child's heart. I knew by 7:00 this morning that he was too sick to go to school and generally, we've had a really good day. He's read a bunch. I've made several light meals for him. We've had a pretty peaceful day overall. But then he asked to watch tv and I made the mistake of telling him he could. He watched an episode of "The Universe" and then two shows on PBS. Then I told him he could only watch one more show and I set the timer to go off when the show was done. Only, the show he said was on, actually wasn't. So when I came back through the family room five minutes later and saw that he was watching some show aimed at teenagers, I told him he needed to either find something else quickly or turn it off. And he ignored me. So I repeated myself. And he looked at me and then kept watching his show. So I told him that he was done and he needed to turn it off. And he picked up the remote, but continued to watch. So I told him that if I turned it off he would have no tv for the weekend. And that, is when it all went to Hell.

My loving, sweet child whom I adore, looked at me and KICKED my couch. Are you kidding me? I told him very firmly not to do that again. And. He. DID. And that is when he was assigned to pick up the dog waste. And at this point I was beyond firm and had resorted to yelling. The toilet and sink cleaning came when he refused to do the first task. There was no yelling for them. I was just very matter of fact. But by that point, the damage had been done.

So, in light of the wonderful use of punishment on a sick child, I sadly accept my award. And hope that I can hold it together a little better tomorrow.

Debt Diet - $0 (never escaped the house today)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A little of this, a little of that

Today's blog will be about playing catch up on what's going on. So here we go...

Today was my sixth real estate class, which makes me one third of the way through the entire course. Today's class was all about the relationship between the agent, the broker, the seller and the buyer. Bet you never thought that could take four and a half hours to sort out. You'll notice the extra coffee purchase in my debt diet summary at the bottom.

Master J did not get sent home from school today for being sick. He might have gotten close for his crappy attitude. Today was a tough day for him, and his teacher got the brunt of it unfortunately. His Mamoo (my mom) picked him up from school and got the remainder of his attitude. He was quite loving towards me by the time I got home so I guess I lucked out. His cough is no better and I figured out tonight just before putting him to bed that his humidifier has stopped working. I think we bought it when he was a baby, but since we've hardly ever used it I was kind of surprised at it's demise. I guess I'll be going out tomorrow and getting a new one.

The Hooligan needs to go back to the vet. The dissolving stitches they used don't seem to be dissolving. I checked the post op instructions again to see if I had screwed up by not bringing him back sooner and they very clearly say that there is no need to return for removal of stitches. It says that these stitches will dissolve on their own. Umm,no. No they won't. We're a week beyond the time frame where they should be gone and they are still hanging in there. At least there won't be a charge.

Debt Diet.

I forgot to put in yesterday's debt diet info. It was two cups of coffee at class: $1.30

Gas - $26.27
Coffee (x3) - $1.95
M&Ms - $.65

Total - $28.27 (today) + 1.30 (yest) = $30.17

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cough, cough, cough

I do believe Master J may just be coming down with something. They sent a note home Monday saying that the kids had been exposed to strep. Only they used the whole big word because they're not lazy like me. This morning, when I got up and stumbled to the kitchen in search of my morning wake up call, I noticed that his light was on. I didn't think too much of it as he usually gets up no later than 6:00 am and can usually be found reading in bed. I went about my normal routine of preparing my cup of coffee and collecting my newspaper from the driveway (I know, how quaint!) Now normally, once Master J hears me in the kitchen, he comes out to greet me. So far, no Master J. I emptied the dishwasher and put together his lunch and his backpack. No Master J. By this time it was 7:40 so I went ahead and made his breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese & ham and a bagel with cream cheese. I set it all out and went down to let him know it was ready. And when I looked in at him, he was in bed, completely passed out. And it took me almost a minute to wake him up. Which is highly unusual. Not only does he wake up early most days, he also has the curse of being a light sleeper like me. Normally if you look at him he wakes up. The most I ever have to do is say his name very quietly and he jumps up. So to have to go over to him, sit on the bed and shake him while talking to him is never a good sign. Anyway, he woke up and said his throat hurt. I checked but there wasn't any redness and he didn't have a fever so like a good mom, I sent him to school. He was fine in school as well. But when I got home from class, he was walking around the house dressed in his pajama bottoms and his bathrobe (looking a little too much like Hugh Hefner I might add) and telling me he thinks he sick. Still no temp and no redness in the throat but he has managed to cough a few times and it was enough to make me get out the humidifier. So, hopefully, we aren't being struck by illness. Hopefully he's just a little run down and will be feeling fine by tomorrow. He was pretty ornery before bed so that's usually a pretty good indicator that he's fine. But if he's overly quiet and compliant in the morning, it's going to be a long few days.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Testing, testing...

I tested myself today on the four chapters that have been covered in my real estate class. The school hands out a self quiz every class for us to use. So, without studying or looking at any of my notes beforehand, I took all four quizzes in one sitting. It was about 150 questions total. I scored an 83% overall. The chapter on contract law for commercial property dragged me down. Lucky for me I know that isn't a huge part of the exam but still a bummer that I basically didn't retain much from that chapter. Because that means I have to re read it. And it wasn't the most intriguing of chapters to begin with. Maybe if I could make it into a real bedtime story wherein the SBA is the kindly grandmother to little borrowers with higher than normal loan to value ratios. We could have the HUD department dancing through the woods with baskets of UDAGs & CDBGs and the Secretary of State would be searching for their UCC-1 and UCC-3 forms that were supposed to be filed, like, yesterday. Yeah, if I put some effort into this I might be able to retain it long enough to get through the exam. After that though, all bets are off.

Debt diet - $0 spent today

Monday, February 2, 2009

The reason I have trouble typing most nights...

This is actually fairly mild compared to most nights. Usually, he is passed out with at least 1/3 of his body draped across the keyboard.

Debt Diet:
Petco - 26.03 - food for guinea pig & fish
Vending Machine - 1.30 for two coffees during real estate school
Police Dept - 10.00 for fingerprinting (for real estate license)
Total - 37.33

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I still love you guys

Cardinals, that was one tough game. Nobody thought you could get as far as you did. Nobody thought you could even come close to winning the Superbowl. Everyone thought you would be wiped all over the field. But you weren't. You played your hearts out. You didn't resort to the dirty play of your opponents with late hits, throwing hits out of bounds and punching men while they were down. You played with integrity. You played well. You deserved to be there. And even though you didn't win, you didn't lose one ounce of my respect. Good game guys.

Side note: Day 1 of the debt diet - $0 spent.