Thursday, January 24, 2008

Too Far ... WAY TOO FAR!!

Okay ... just so you know ... THIS is a rant.
I'm serious. I'm writing a sternly worded letter to the morons who encompass the developing and producing of programming at NBC.
I'll be honest. I have never been a fan of reality television - whether it's about surviving, singing, dancing, losing weight, blah-blah blah-blah. There is only one that I have ever voluntarily watched and that is Extreme Make-Over: Home Edition. I have glanced at the nanny programs and the switching wives programs and each time I've wished that people really didn't feel the need to air their dirty laundry just to get their 15 minutes of fame. I'm not even a really big fan of the "funniest video" programs because after those first few years with Bob Saget, all they truly seem to show are videos of people crashing, falling, hurting themselves and I'm not a fan of that.
Still ... people watch these programs and that is their individual right. I respect that. I leave it alone.
However there comes a point. THIS is my point.
NBC has a new program that they are bringing to television. I heard about it last night as I was getting ready for bed. It's called "Baby Borrowers". Here's the premise - teenage couples are given the opportunity to take care of children because they feel committed to each other and they know they will be good parents. They have the opportunity to test this as children are "given" to their care for a set period of time. I believe it was three days for each age group but to be honest, I was so flustered at what I was being shown in the news story about the program to get all the complete facts. I do know that they are "given" the children by age groups - infants, toddlers (ie. 2 year olds), school age, teenage, and then ... further boggling my mind ... seniors.
They are "on their own" taking responsibility for the care of these children and seniors. They will have a "sponsor or coach" to help "guide" them, but the parents leave the house (to watch on close circuit tv). From what I understand (and I could be wrong on a few facts - I was simply too flabbergasted to believe the premise I was being shown) these teenagers have "little to none" experience with caring for children and not much more with actually working with seniors.
Okay ... who the heck thinks up this drivel and crap???? Seriously!!
I mean honestly ... I'm watching part of the "promo" and one of the teenagers says the "f" word as she's trying to feed an infant and then withholds the infants meals all day because he's being stubborn about eating. She finally screws up to the point that the mother watching has to march herself over to the house and take matters into her own hands.
Like the stupid woman should have ever let the matter AND HER CHILD go out of her hands!!
I'm terrified to think how these young people will handle the older kids, not to mention the seniors and their medication - oh yes - let's get that one screwed up for national television. Nothing spells ratings better than a senior citizen who's meds are forgotten or messed up.
I am simply and completely in awe of the scope of idiocy that allows even the notion of a program such as this to occur, let alone actually produce and air on national television. Thank goodness it is my choice as to whether or not to view such inanity. I just pray that the American viewing public will have the sense to understand this is not entertainment. It's just a situation where NBC moguls have determined to give stupid people their chance at being on television.
Meanwhile ... the writers strike goes on.
Heaven forbid we give the television public something of quality and substance to view.
Final word? NBC putting on a show like this and expecting the television viewers to accept it as entertainment is like a designer such as Armani to design a line of trashbag dresses and expect women to accept them as the latest fashion.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Kitchen Confession

Come closer.

I have a confession to make.

Are you listening?

I absolutely adore getting new kitchen gadgets. New kitchen appliances can make my head spin with happiness.

Last year my delight was extreme when I discovered my Hamilton Beach toaster. I couldn't get home fast enough to toss my little Rival toaster out to the garage sale box and plug in my new beauty.

She's red!

Can it get any better? Oh yes, it can. This beautiful toaster has a little tray underneath to clean out those pesky crumbs, she does bagels and english muffins, and the uniqueness of her angled top is simply beautiful to behold.

Yes, appliances are such fun to use. My breadmaker is my weekend treat. My Mickey Mouse sandwich maker is guaranteed to bring a smile to anyone eating a grilled cheese sandwich. My little Sunbeam Oskar is old but still chops and dices like the pro that it has always been.

A journey to my parents house brings a smile when it includes a trip to The Kitchen Collection outlet shop. My paper thin chopping surface, decorated in apples is such fun. My spoonulas are tested to 450 degrees and I use them religiously. My small metal colander (in red!!) is so cunning and useful.

The problem with my little obession is that I don't always have the funds to allow myself to go crazy. Probably a good thing. I have my list going though ... a new griddle to replace the one that finally died for usage last year (it was only 20 years old - it had a good life) ... and electric skillet to replace the one that has decided it no longer wishes to be non-stick (an unpardonable appliance offense) ... a standing mixer (Kitchen Aid - if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it right) ... I could continue but I don't wish to appear too overly obsessive.

Anyhow ... always being on the outlook for something new to add to my kitchen fun ... imagine my delight when this morning I sit down to watch America's Test Kitchens. Not only have I now learned how to make the perfect scrambled egg, I have also added the Calphalon Large Nylon Slotted Spatula to my list of things that I "simply have to have". At $4.99, it should easily fit into my budget. Now ... about that Kitchen Aid standing mixer ... do I get it in red to match the toaster and colander or should I get it in green as an accent?

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Good-bye Old Friend, Hello New!

You know ... one of the things I love about the show Supernatural is Dean's love for his car and the fact that that vehicle is more of a home for him and Sam than anything else. It was passed to him from his father and it has faithfully taken him on his journey. She has been his companion for many years, including the years Sam was at Stanford.

*mumblemumble* years ago ... I learned to drive while my family was living in Minnesota. To commemorate my newly licensed status, I was given the keys to our family's 1965 Pontiac Starchief. All metal (real metal - no plastic of any kind on this baby), pale yellow with gold interior, this baby had 4 doors and enough room inside to carry 8 high schoolers comfortably - and frequently did. She also had a heater that could melt the Alaskan tundra and a steering wheel that seemed to have come from a semi-truck, it was so huge. As for the trunk, well, let me just say that Dean & Sam would love that trunk - if you Supernaturally know what I mean.

I loved that car.

That car began my journey through my *mumblemumble* years of driving and my pleasure of being behind the wheel.

In addition to loving my car, I really love to drive.

(Before I go further, I'd just like to point out - I love my cars and I love to drive. That's as far as it goes. What happens under the hood belongs to someone else, because aside from "the basics", I have no clue.)

Unfortunately, my time with my beloved Starchief didn't last too long. She was old when I received her keys and after a year of faithful service we found out she was too ill (cracked frame) and unable to make the journey when our family had to move from Minnesota to Texas.

I didn't even get to say good-bye properly.

After arriving in Texas, I became the proud owner of a zippy little Pontiac Ventura - two door. Cherry red with a white vinyl roof, white seats and black carpet and panel, this little car took me everywhere a high school senior and a freshman in college would want to go. She didn't carry as many friends, but she was faithful and I loved her. She was also very protective - keeping me safe when we were hit on the side and thrown into a yard across a busy street. After a bit of time in the shop, she was returned to me and we resumed our travels together for a bit.

However, time came for me to leave home and go away to college my sophmore year. While she was pretty and zippy, my parents wanted me to have something more reliable for traveling those long roads to and from college and home. So, my little Ventura was traded in for a sleek burgandy red Chevrolet Monte Carlo - inside and out. I hated giving up my Ventura, but I spent alot of years (10 to be exact) with my Monte and I have to tell you - she was a treasure to drive. We traveled everywhere, together constantly. My favorite place to study while I was away at school was at a park some distance from campus. I would drive there and either sit inside my car or on the trunk, enjoying the quiet and ready texts. There was also the fact that I could fit my entire dorm (and later apartment) room inside her at the beginning and the end of each semester I was away.

After leaving school, I became a nanny for a wonderful 3 years and my little one and I traveled the roads of Texas - Dallas, Austin, San Antonio with regularity and safety - enjoying the freedom that being in a car brings. My Monte was swift and always filled with music and laughter during those times.

Leaving my little one, and Texas, my Monte and I moved onward to Springfield, MO. It was late in her life and she had a few growing pains by now - the crank to roll her window up and down had broken off and had to be held on each time I wanted to use it. The door handle was broken and required shifting across the seat. The cushions were worn and the engine was tired, but still, we managed to have some good times going to the lake and around town, as well as making a couple of trips back to Texas.

However, when the time came for me to move yet again, she just wasn't up to it. My father surprised me (on my birthday, no less) by taking my keys and giving me another set to a little gray Pontiac Sunbird. My little bird and I flew together for 7 years. Over the roads of Oklahoma, with trips to Missouri and to Texas. I loved driving her. She didn't have the larger engine, but she was cute and quick and trusty. She was also the car that my girlies, all three, first traveled in with me. Adventures to parks, back and forth to home and around town. Her four doors made it easier to get two squiggly little girls and their big sister in and out.

I have to admit though, I was a bit unfaithful to my little bird. I ashamed to admit it. However, at the time, I was working for a car rental company and one of the "perks" was the ability to rent cars (like convertibles) for employee rates. During one of these rentals, I fell in love with another car ... a Pontiac Grand Prix. Oh. My! So sleek, so pretty and soooo incredibly fun to drive. I loved my little Sunbird, but ... oy!

The opportunity came when our employee owned company sold and we received payment for our employee stock options. I was able to use that money to buy the car of my dreams. My little Sunbird was 11 years old and had been my faithful companion for the last 7 years of it's life. It was time. After searching car lots all day, my friends and I tried "just one more" lot. It was late, we were all tired, the girlies were hungry. We pulled into this lot and there she was ...

White with grey interior, the bucket seats shot through with rainbow thread, giving them a muted multi tone. Center console gear shift, cassette player, four doors, roomy trunk and an engine under the hood that my friend's husband pronounced in "good shape". She was a dream come true. Everything was the same as the rental I fell in love with, right down to the color - inside and out. I drove her off the lot that night. It was November 1, 1997.

The adventures we had were many. She took me everywhere. Few and far between were the days we weren't together in some capacity, for some distance. She traveled with car seats & booster seats. She lived through spills and toys and happy meals. She traveled to the lake, to Texas, to where ever I needed to go. She provided music and happy times.

And in the end ... 10 years, 1 month, 17 days later, she protected me and kept me safe on a dark winter night during my accident with a jeep.

Over the *mumblemumble* years, I have enjoyed driving. The memory of each car holds a range of emotions. The laughter of 3 teenage girls sitting in the front seat, heading to the mall. The nervous anticipation of a freshman going to college for the first day of classes. The tears of sorrow at leaving my "original girlie" and moving far away from her. The exhilaration of rushing to the hospital for the birth of later girlies. The frustration of job hunting after being laid off. Each car became more than just a vehicle of transportation, they became a companion in my daily life ... a place where I could have a few moments of solitude in the morning before starting work, a place where I could relax and unwind on my way home. They provided me with opportunities to visit family and friends and I reveled in the travel time - where I could sing at the top of my lungs and no one would care, or I could drive quietly without music - simply one with my thoughts.

So ... here I am ... reminiscing and saying good bye to my old friends, faithful companions.

And saying hello to someone new ...

Meet "Baby". My new companion, my new car. Appropriately named by my mother (who, ironically doesn't know anything about the fact that Dean calls the Metallicar his baby) she is sleek and sweet. A 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix - smaller and more compact that her older sister - with a sunroof and CD player and something even sweeter ... a control panel that lets me know when she needs oil and fluids and air in her tires, etc. I'll admit, we're still getting to know each other ... but so far ...

... the drive has been smooth. What more could I ask for?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

To Breathe or Not To Breathe

During a normal year, I experience difficulties with my allergies in the spring, generally beginning somewhere in March and ending in June. Then, after the heat of the summer passes, but before the chill of winter sets in, I might experience some difficulties between September and November. Since I am a confirmed "fresh air" junkie, I keep these times in mind and I am usually able to prepare and get ahead of any problems that might arise, thanks to my good doctor.

Unfortunately, 2007 was most definitely NOT a normal year weather-wise, and 2008 seems to be starting out a bit wonky as well. Evidently "allergy season" has become a year round activity. Thus it is that I cannot quite get a grip on or get ahead of those pesky problems of itchy, watery eyes, drippy nose, scratchy throat, headaches and so on and so forth.

For those that don't have allergies, I say "Bless you" and hope that you don't get them as time passes. For those that do, well ... you have my sympathy.

Yesterday, I was asked the question ... "How do you know when you have allergies?" This amused me no end as I was standing there, talking with this individual, trying desperately not to sneeze in their face and praying I had tucked a kleenex somewhere on my person. How do I respond?

On the outside, I smiled and simply told the person a few basic symptoms and advised them to contact their doctor. On the inside, however, my brain immediately began plotting a list of the ways with my inner snark set to ON.

Here's what I came up with:

10 Ways to Know You Have Allergies

1) You find yourself wishing you could pop your eyeballs in and out, like the guy in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, because they itch so badly.

2) Wearing mascara means looking like a raccoon after the first hour of watery eyes. (No, waterproof mascara doesn't work for allergy eyes, only for taking showers or swimming. Trust me on this.)

3) You frequently find yourself wishing for stock in either Kleenex or Visine.

4) You wake up in the morning with a mouth so dry that you feel like you slept with a pair of white cotton socks in your mouth.

5) Sneezing is not a one time thing. You find yourself asking people to save their responses of "Gesundheit" until you are finished - usually after 5 or 6 sneezes in a row.

6) You decide to stop wearing make-up on your nose. What's the point? It comes off on the kleenex the first time you blow your nose and re-applying simply becomes wasteful.

7) You open the washer to find your load of black pants and shirts and find you now have black pants and shirts with white polka dots because you forgot to remove a tissue you had stashed in a pocket.

8) You find yourself wishing for a way to glue your contacts to your eyeballs because they keep popping out when you rub your itchy eyes.

9) You experience "morning sickness" and have to keep a supply of crackers available, not because you're pregnant but because you have allergy drainage that makes you nauseous.

10) You realize that breathing while inside the house is a standard feature. Breathing while you are outside the house is optional.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2008 Begins - Bickersons, Buffy, and Folding Towels

12:00 am

A bright start to a new year, right?

Oh. Yeah.

Fireworks sounding outside, glasses clinking and wishes for a new year joyfully shared inside. The ending to a fun evening.

12:30 am

Kitchen is cleaned up, friends have gone home, girlies are in jammies ... I'm in my jammies. A perfect time to close down the house and begin the new year with a good night's sleep, right?

Oh. Yeah.

12:45 am

Realization has set in that girlies will not be settling down any time soon. I've told you about the Bickersons before, right?

Oh. Yeah.

This time it was the twins ... plus the added bonus of their older sister. The back and forth sensations went something like this:

Oldest one vs. middle one.

Middle one vs youngest one.

Youngest one vs. oldest one.

It was a round robin of laughter and bickering ... one girlie is busy with a Christmas present of scrapbooking - seemingly peaceful, but with small comments egging one or the other of her sisters on. There's another one who is busy replaying (and replaying ... and replaying ... oh! and did I mention replaying?) a single song from the High School Musical 2 to the delight (and I use the word sarcastically) of her oldest sister. Then there is the oldest sister, who has decided on a late night snack and sitting next to me chattering (while I am attempting to pull a moment of quiet around me by reading a few emails & responding) and begging me to make the one stop the constant replays. I suggest other songs. Soon we are replaying all of the songs from HSM2 ... ALL OF THEM. And the bickering resumes.

"She's driving me nuts."

"She won't leave me alone."

"She took my place."

"She's making rude noises."

I won't go on. Let's just say that after an hour of this, exhaustion is setting in and I've decided to take a more active ... ie. assertive ... role in herding the Bickerson's to bed.

However, before I have the strength to do so ... a moment alone is needed.

I head back to my bedroom and begin to fold some towels, enjoying the quiet of my room and the mundane routine of simply folding towels. Unfortunately, I forgot that I have this internal magnet that doesn't attract just one girl, it attracts them all. This magnet works whether I'm in the kitchen, the living room, the bedroom, or the bathroom. Ah ... the joys!

Shortly after a couple of towels are folded, one girlie arrives and plunks herself behind me on the bed. Another towel, another girlie arrives singing along with a song on her MP3 player. This is always interesting, because ... of course ... all those around are hearing is the sound of her voice, not the background music. This particular song is a popular one at our house ... it is a song from that critically acclaimed, wildly popular show - Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Musical. My girlies know the episode and music by heart and now, they have the songs on their MP3 players.

Another towel and enter the third girlie, who ... upon hearing what her sister is singing ... doesn't just chime in, but goes to get her MP3 player so they can time it to listen and sing at the same time.

My new year began with friends ... had a bout of The Bickersons ... and soon became a seranade of "I've Got a Feeling" (without background music) by my three girlies as I folded towels and realized it was almost two in the morning.

2008 ... It began with the end of a party and the continuation of our every day life - the Bickersons, Buffy, and folding towels. More than that it began with all of us being healthy and happy.

What better way to begin?