Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

We did the usual where Mamoo and Papa came over for pizza before trick or treating. Additionally, one of Mister C's friends from the army is in town working for a few months so he came over as well.

Mamoo and I ate our pizza in the driveway in case any little kids came by early. The boys all ate inside and then headed out on the candy trail. Mamoo and I enjoyed yet another Halloween passing out candy to the kids and talking.

Overall it was a pretty quiet year for kids. We usually have over a hundred kids. This year it was less than fifty. On the plus side, I got to talk with some of my neighbors for a few minutes since there wasn't a huge crush of kids constantly. After it became apparent that the numbers were down, I started putting a handful of treats in each kids bag. And offering it to the parents as well. I also gave some to the pizza guy (along with his tip) when he showed up. He laughed and said nobody ever offered them candy even though it's usually a really busy night for them. Made me wonder why I've never offered it before. Such a simply gesture.

So anyway, another fun Halloween.

Master J as clone trooper "Commander Fox"

Our front yard, this is the first year we've decorated.

Master J arranged Mr. Bones which got the most attention of anything. One little kid of about four walking by did a double take and then said "That guy is MESSED UP!" It cracked me up.

The severed heads were my contribution. I begged for them at the store. They are my new babies and I adore them.

Mister C went with a more ethereal vibe with the filmy phantom. The pumpkins were originally at this corner of the garage before he hung this guy up. I moved them since I thought a "flaming phantom" might be a bit much for the little kids. The teenagers probably would have loved it.

Master J showing how he carved his pumpkin. This was his first pumpkin carving ever. I was pleasantly surprised at how it came out.

Our pumpkins all lit up.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Waiting for the Great Pumpkin

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pioneer Village

Master J (and the rest of the fourth grade) went on a field trip to Pioneer Village today. I went along as a quasi-chaperon and mostly photographer. I only got two kids and one of them was Master J. Another mom and I mostly worked together so that an adult had full time eyes on the kids while I did my thing.

I ended up taking over three hundred photos and still managed to miss getting all of the kids. Bummer. It was a fun day and it's really a neat place. Anyway, here's a (very) few shots from the day.

The guys from the gunfight...

The local bank

The church

The kids favorite thing

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Car Show!

So, there was another car show this weekend and this time I had my camera. Master J and I met up with Mamoo, Miss Lee and Music Man to start off. We ended up dragging Mamoo with us to look at everything while Miss Lee hung out in vintage attire and had her photo taken with people. Mister C was unable to go with us as he got a work related phone call as we were heading out the door and ended up spending three hours on it trying to figure out some emergency.

Other than having to leave Mister C at home, I don't think it could have been a better day...sunny, a slight breeze and about 78 degrees. I took a ton of pictures and these are just a few. The biggest issue at any car show is maintaining my composure when I am on my knees in front of a car, lining up the perfect shot, only to have some half-wit walk into the frame as I'm pushing the button. I cannot tell you how many times I want to stab people at car shows. I really should work on that.

Anyway, here's some prettiness for you to view...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Music Man!

Mister C and I finally got a chance to see Music Man perform last night. Mamoo took Master J to spend the night at her house last night. Since we were free we decided to take advantage of the time and go out.

Music Man got us on the list of people to get into the show which was held at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix. Miss Lee saved us front row seats. It was wonderful. We've always known that Music Man is a talented musician, we just didn't know how talented. Seeing him play for over two hours solidified for us what an awesome musician he is. There was another gentleman in the front row that is a photographer/videographer (whatever the word is for that). When he puts out a video, I'll link to it in another post. I took 111 photos. Most of them weren't fantastic because I was avoiding using my flash since I was so close but a few came out.

Here's Music Man

Miss Lee joining in

Miss Lee & me (photo by Mister C)

If you're ever coming to the valley and looking to hang out in a dive bar listening to great music, here's a link to Music Man's myspace page Pat Roberts and The Heymakers. They update it with new gigs as they have them. It's worth sitting in the seedy bar to hear him.

Also, Miss Lee did a great job up there as well. As brash, blunt and loud as I am, I don't think I'd have the guts to stand up in front of a crowd and sing. Be grateful.

Friday, October 22, 2010


These are Vitatops...

I don't usually plug products on this blog, mostly because I think people should make their own decisions about what they eat or use in their daily life. But also because I'm not getting paid. Kidding. I wouldn't plug a product that sucked even if I got paid for doing so. But these are pretty good as far as health food goes.

Some back story...

On September 14th, I joined Weight Watchers. I have been struggling with excess weight for a few years now and doing nothing didn't seem to be helping it any so I decided to try something different. And that is "doing something". It's a concept.

The thing is, I absolutely refuse to eliminate entire food groups from my diet so most "diets" won't work for me. I can't eat carbs? Not gonna happen. Avoid all fat? Please, that's one of the five food groups (FYI, the other four are sugar, caffeine, chocolate and meat). So basically, I knew I needed to do something that would allow me to consume all of the five food groups and still lose weight. Which brought me to Weight Watcher's doorstep.

Using their point system, every food is assigned a number of points. Points are based on calories, fiber and fat. As you would imagine, higher calories or higher fat equates to higher points. Higher fiber means lower points. I have a set number of points I can use in any given day, plus an additional thirty five to use at my discretion over the week. All I need to do is stay within the total allotted points for the week and I'm good.

The important thing here is that they don't tell me how to use my points, that's entirely up to me. If I want to use all of my points for the day on a Starbucks coffee and a cheese danish, nobody will tell me I can't. They might raise an eyebrow and hope for my sake that I make a better choice, but they won't say the dreaded words "You can't have that!" Because I can. And because I can choose to have anything I want, I have found myself making better choices. Because knowing that I can have the cheesecake if I want to makes it less of a burning desire. I can choose to have a healthier breakfast and dinner if I know I'm going out to lunch with a friend. Mostly, I am making better decisions about what I put in my body because nobody is telling me what I can't. At some primitive level I am apparently a three year old who goes around saying "You're not the boss of me!"

Which brings me back to the Vitatops. These are basically low calorie, low fat, high fiber goodness that are only worth one point each. And they're not half bad. I only bought the two flavors in the picture because I wasn't sure if I was going to like them. But I really do. If I'm really craving chocolate, the double fudge takes the edge off. It's not as chewy or decadent as a brownie, but it seems to work. And because of the high fiber, I'm not starving fifteen minutes later. I tried the corn muffin a little bit ago and while it's not the same as real corn bread, it works. I will say I had to control the very strong urge to drown it in butter and/or honey but I made the right choice (for me) and abstained.

Oh, and as of two days ago, I've lost twelve pounds so "doing something" seems to be working for me.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Atomic Tom on the B Train

Cool use of iPhones by a band that's pretty set on getting noticed.

Take Me Out

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


We're confused idiots!

I don't even know what to say in response to the amazing amount of arrogance one man must possess to be able to say that the problem in this country is that it's citizens are too scared to be able to think properly. What's scarier to me is that I think he truly believes what comes out of his mouth. Never mind socialist, how about sociopath?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The one time I forget my camera at home

So on the way home from church today we needed to drop some mail at the post office. This brought us past the local Chevy dealership, which was having a corvette show. Of course we stopped in. There was probably about a hundred corvettes there, from a brand new model all the way back to a 1957 convertible. All shined up and beautiful, gleaming in the sun. A hundred or so cars, a hundred opportunities to get a great shot of a great car. And my camera is sitting at home on the kitchen counter. Sigh.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

ADHD and "Corn Sugar"

Do you know what this is?

It looks innocent enough doesn't it? It's just a single piece of candy out of a pack. It's actually quite small. It came in a pack with about a dozen other small candies that looked almost exactly like this one. I assume they looked like this one, I didn't actually see the rest of the pack. And I only saw this one at the end of several hours of pure chaos. It fell out the pocket on Master J's shirt. It explained a whole lot.

I knew about five minutes after he walked in the door from school that something wasn't right. He was about five times louder than usual (which is pretty damn loud in it's own right). He couldn't sit still at the island to do his homework, gyrating all over the place. He alternated between sliding off his chair and looking like he was levitating. But mostly it was the vocalization. Oh my lord the vocalizations.

For the record, Master J has an incredible range of noise making. If any of you are old enough to remember Michael Winslow from the Police Academy movies you'll have an understanding of what talent my child has. He can perfectly mimic most sounds. When he was younger he would mimic sirens so well on the playground that kids and teachers alike would look for the fire truck. Not only is the pitch perfect, the volume is incredible. I only wish I were kidding. More recently, he's started mimicking the sounds of light sabers, machine guns, phasers and other weaponry that shows up on Star Wars, Ironman and Star Trek.

So, there he sat (levitated) at the island, struggling to get through his homework while making a constant soundtrack of "fight" noises. Mister C walked in from work, took one listen to what was going on and said "What the heck is going on around here? What did he eat?" I had no answer, just that he'd been like that since arriving home. I couldn't figure out what had set him off.

It wasn't until he went to get ready for bed and that one piece of candy fell out of his shirt pocket that I realized what had happened. When I asked him he told me that his teacher had given him the choice between having a piece of his dark chocolate or the sweet tarts and he had chosen the sweet tarts. He had obviously chosen unwisely. He had eaten it before he got into my car. It hit him within ten minutes. And lasted for several hours.

As a complete (sort of) aside, I have had other parents of kids diagnosed with ADHD insist to me that I am wrong. That their kids don't react at all to hfcs. My response to that is that one of several things is happening 1) Their kid gets a steady enough diet of it that they never act any differently 2) Their kid consumes it and reacts to it, but is now on medication or 3)They're just really blessed that their kid doesn't react the same way mine does.

Which brings me back to the title of this post and it's reference to "corn sugar". Because the corn refiners association would have you believe that "sugar is sugar" and that there is no difference. They'll bring out lots of researchers and studies that "prove" that their product doesn't affect you any differently than sugar. That the two products are in fact "identical". They are not telling the whole truth.

Because I can tell you based strictly on behavior which product my child has recently had. Put it this way, if my kid is sort of loud, boisterous and full of energy, he may or may not have had sugar. But if he looks like an out of control meth addict who also suffers from Tourette's syndrome and is having trouble controlling his limbs and his mouth, he's ingested high fructose corn syrup. Call it "corn sugar" if the relabeling makes you feel better about the product, the end result is the same. A flailing, babbling, uncomfortable kid with two parents shaking their heads and asking "How the hell did he get a hold of that shit again?"

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Learning Continues

Master J's teacher went on vacation several weeks ago. She was gone for two full weeks. Two weeks where a substitute was in charge of her classroom. Now, Master J's teacher is awesome. She's been a teacher for several decades but more importantly, she's raised three boys to adulthood. So she's been around the block and doesn't get sucked in by boy antics. She's a sweetheart, but she has very high expectations of her students. They completely respect her because they know that she means what she says and will follow through. She has never, in several decades of teaching, had to send a kid out of her classroom for behavior problems. That right there tells me all I need to know, she's an awesome teacher. It's important to note that his teacher also left very specific instructions for her substitute and asked that I continue to come in to do my usual tutoring on Monday & Wednesday of both weeks.

The first day I showed up and asked the sub what she had for me. Usually when I show up, the teacher hands me work from several children and sends them out into the hall with me to work on what they aren't getting. The sub looked frantically around the desk before turning to the kids and asking them who needed help. Half the class threw their hands in the air and she picked six kids randomly. Whatever, I'll deal with it. But it's very obvious that she isn't nearly as organized as Master J's regular teacher. The rest of the days I showed up were repeats of the first day. Additionally, she seemed to have some trouble keeping the kids from talking during silent reading time (the time when I show up). In a nutshell, she wasn't his regular teacher. And Master J figured that out pretty quickly.

So, every day when I pick up Master J I ask him if he has his homework. Occasionally he'll look surprised and have to go back into the school to get it. Most of the time he has it. For the first few days with the substitute he had his homework. After about day three though, he started telling me he either didn't have any homework or that the substitute had allowed them to do it during class. Having met her by that point, it didn't surprise me that she would allow them to do their homework during school since she probably didn't know what else to do with them. It also wouldn't have surprised me if she forgot to assign the homework.

But he was not telling the complete truth.

Because at the end of week two, his Friday folder contained a small note from the sub saying he was missing several homework assignments. Hmmmmm. That sounds suspicious. So I read him the one line note and asked him what was up. He looked pretty sheepish and admitted that he hadn't turned in "some" homework. I told him I would write a note to his teacher so that she knew I had asked him about the assignments all week and been told he didn't have any. I would also let her deal with whether she was going to lower his grade or allow him to make it up.

Fast forward to yesterday when he came home from school with a folder full of missed assignments from the previous two weeks. Evidently he wasn't the only child missing work. His teacher had written each assignment on the board and underneath were the names of the kids that had not turned it in. Master J's name was under each assignment. When we walked in the door, he sat down at the kitchen island with a snack and started working his way through all the previously avoided homework.

As a side note, we still do the fifteen minutes of homework alternated with fifteen minutes of doing something else (due to his ADHD this method works much better).

He started at 4:00 and he stopped working a little after 6:30 to have dinner. He had gotten through at least a lot of the work so I told him he could start again today after school. He admitted it would have been easier to do his homework each day instead of trying to get through it all at once. I sent the finished work to school with him this morning. By the time I showed up at 9:00 to tutor his teacher had gone through the folder and erased his name off of all but three of the assignments.

I'm hoping that by the time he's done, he's learned an important lesson about avoiding work and tackling tasks head on.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Voting for zombies

Do you ever think to yourself "I just don't care what direction this state is going in"?

Or "Man I have so many more important things to do today, I just don't have time to read up about which candidates are most in line with my way of thinking. And come to think of it, I don't have time to look at each proposition that's going to be on the ballot either. I mean, there's thirteen of them, that's a lot!"

Or, are you the type of person who no longer has a brain with which to think or reason things out with? If so, come to Arizona!

No need to waste those precious few remaining brain cells on politics!

Nope, here in the Wild West, our local, totally unbiased newspaper, The Arizona Republic, takes the thinking right out of politics. They have thoughtfully taken the time to spell out for you how to vote. Not just on the candidates in each race either. No, they have actually printed out whether you should vote "yes" or "no" on each of the thirteen propositions. Because they know what's best for us. And they are totally unbiased. Totally.

Is it just me or is that just effed up?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Summer is over (hopefully)

Enjoying the first day of open windows in the desert. The best part of this shot is that there are nineteen windows in this house that were open and seventeen of them have better views than this one. I have no clue why they would choose to stare at the block wall out this one as opposed to checking out the many birds, butterflies and swaying trees and plants out of pretty much any other one.

Of course, as soon as they heard the shutter on my camera they had to jump down and come over to greet me. At least the Antagonizer was polite enough to pause long enough for me to take her picture.

Also, it should be noted that the little one (who still remains unnamed) managed to get his tail caught in the string of one of the blinds later on. We heard an unholy yowling and I ran into the dining room to find him dangling by his tail about six inches above the floor. I snagged him up and untied him and he didn't struggle or try to bite me while I did so. We had tried numerous times throughout the day to get him to quit messing with the strings. Since he has not touched them since, I guess a lesson was learned that could be learned no other way.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gasp! Pant! Ow!

So today I decided to get back on track and kick off my exercise regime. Yee haw! I am excited! I haven't done much more than walk lately so I decide that instead of going hiking, I will do a workout dvd. That should be pretty simply, right? Of course!

Let's see what I've got...Leslie Sansone walking dvd. Pshaw! I am far too advanced for that one! Leslie Sansone Muscle Mile (walking with weights!). Nope. Too easy. Ooh, what's this? The Biggest Loser Boot Camp. I could totally do that! Have you seen the morbidly obese people that are on that show? Jeez if they can do anything close to a workout I should have no problem at all. All that throwing up and passing out? Please. Ya babies!

Alright, pop in the dvd and set up my workout. I chose three parts: the warm up, the level 1 workout and the cool down. I figure if I breeze through it like I think I will I'll just add in the level 2 tomorrow.

I get out of my sweatpants and into some workout clothes and sneakers. Move the cat out of the way. Get my jug of water. Get my weights nearby. Move the chair. Move the cat again. I am READY!

Push play and listen to a quick pep talk by Bob. Alright Bob, I'm motivated. I'm ready. I'm excited. Annndd here we go!

First things first, a quick warm up. We'll probably do some deep breathing and wa....wait, what? Squats? I thought we were warming up? Okaaay, I'll squat but I'm not doing lun...shit! Lunges? What the hell? Who does lunges as a warm up? Holy crap, I'm going to die! There's no way this is a warm up. He's trying to kill me! I'm sweating. I'm struggling to breath. I've been doing this for less than three minutes. This does not bode well.

Eventually Bob declares us "warmed up". I want to die. But no, there's a real workout coming. I would like to point out that while I do have some weight to lose, I am not morbidly obese. I have no medical issues or hindrances other than just not being in shape. I would also like to point out that I am dying. Just so you know.

The real workout begins and it is (predictably) much worse than the warm up. I make it for less than five minutes. At which point I collapse in a sweaty, panting heap on the floor. Where I spend the next five minutes trying to recover and fending off the fat furry one that desperately wants to sprawl her hot girth across my chest.

When I can finally breath again, I get some water before admitting my defeat and switching dvds. Leslie, I love you! You don't make me want to die. As for you, Bob, we'll meet again.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Only 28 more days until elections

This showed up in my email today thanks to Mamoo...


T'was the night before elections
And all through the town
Tempers were flaring
Emotions all up and down

I, in my bathrobe
With a cat in my lap
Had cut off the TV
tired of political clap-trap

When all of a sudden
There arose such a noise
I peered out my window
Saw Obama and his boys

They had come for my wallet
They wanted my pay
To give to the others
Who had not worked a day!

He snatched up my money
And quick as a wink
Jumped back on his bandwagon
As I gagged from the stink

He then rallied his henchmen
Who were pulling his cart
I could tell they were out
To tear my country apart!

'On Fannie, on Freddie,
On Biden and Ayers!
On Acorn, On Pelosi'
He screamed at the pairs!

They took off for his cause
And as they flew out of sight
I heard him laugh at the nation
Who wouldn't stand up and fight!

So I leave you to think
On this one final note—