Dec. 31: Potty mouth

It might be time to re-think allowing Katie to watch her new Hairspray DVD over and over and over. She's talked about nothing else, and is now starting to quote it. Here's what went down during lunch at Applebee's today:

Katie, coloring in her kids' menu/fun book: Mom, what should I write here?

Me, seeing an empty balloon in which the drawn character is supposed to be saying something: Um, how about "Happy New Year!" That'd be nice.

Katie: Nah. How about "Kiss my ass"?

Now, I'm assuming she learned this phrase from Hairspray. She might have learned it from Jack.

(Mother of the Year)

Dec. 30: Christmas pics

'Scuse the lack of posts recently. I'm finally home again and getting back to normal life. Christmas 2007 was a big success. Here are some of my favorite pictures from last week. All are clickable for larger versions.

My dear but suspicious friend, The Lovely Deanna, didn't believe me when I told her our Saltmarsh family Christmas Eve celebration would be at the Teamsters headquarters in Medford and demanded photographic proof. Here you go.

Two of my most fun cousins, Deanna and Lori, with me and my sister. Kathy and I had a great time catching up with our extended family members.

My very tall nephew Stephen played Santa on Christmas morning

Jack and Katie loved every minute, especially the minutes that involved opening gifts

Stephen's first tattoo was new and still healing (ouchie)

Sean (20), Jack (6), Stephen (19)

... and Katie (7

One of many beverages that helped the holidays become just a little blurry for some of us

Uncle Paul, Grandma, Mom
Note the lack of Photoshopped horns; Grandma was actually very well-behaved on Christmas Day, and there was a lot less need for people to keep her from being strangled than we expected. Yay.

Katie and Jack with their Appie
(See the Turbo Rig in the background? That's the truck my grandma gave Jack even though I told her he never plays with them. While it does not play Who Let the Dogs Out?, it is just as loud and annoying and therefore stayed in Medford. She's lucky I didn't carry out my threat...)

It's a big bummer that everyone has returned to their respective homes, but we had a splendid holiday together and are all still un-murdered. What could make a better Christmas than that? I hope yours was just as lovely.

Dec. 24: Bad Santa manners

Here's a heartfelt Christmas Eve message, courtesy of Savage Chickens.

Many happy wishes for a very merry Christmas from all of us Manullangs, Saltmarshes, Jennys and Vosses!

Dec. 21: Ring-y ding-y

I was looking for some ringtones for my mom's new cell phone today. After a bit of searching, I gave up and made my own, but I did find this Davezilla list first. It's a good'n.

Worst ringtones ever

  1. Car alarm going off
  2. Hyenas fighting over bones
  3. Blender full of silverware
  4. Angry baby
  5. Chiropractor adjusting a spine
  6. Dentist’s drill
  7. Nails on chalkboard
  8. Garbage disposal with a spoon in it
  9. Air horn
  10. Celine Dion

Dec. 21: Christmas spirit

Y'know, it's easy to criticize. Fun, too.

Sometimes I hate the way I view the world. Not that I'm way off from reality, necessarily. But you spend a little time in traffic, or in line at the post office, or pretty much anywhere and you can easily get the feeling that nobody cares about anyone but themselves. And it rubs off; you start feeling like if you don't look out for yourself, no one else will. It's just an icky-ness that can consume you before you notice. Yikes.

So it's this kind of thing that I find heart-warming; it reassures me that the world is a decent place and sometimes people are good to each other just to be nice people (or at least coffee drinkers are...). From KOIN News 6 today:

1,000+ Starbucks Patrons Treat Next In Line

MARYSVILLE, Wash. - One woman's kindness to a fellow Starbucks customer has resulted in more than a thousand others spreading holiday generosity in Marysville.

The regular customer paid for the person in line behind her a few times before, according to The Everett Herald. When she did the same thing Wednesday, though, that good deed set off a chain of 1,013 customers who each paid for the next person's drink.

Many even tacked on an extra ten or twenty dollars, and shift manager Sarah Nix says Starbucks Corporation will donate to that money to the company's holiday toy drive.

A store employee says the seemingly spontaneous pay-it-forward run ended at 6:20 a.m. today.

The name of the iced-tea drinker who started it remains unknown.

Knowing how airheaded I am sometimes, I'd probably be that 1,014th person that says, "Wow, thanks!" and drives off without paying for the next guy's coffee, and then everyone that works at Starbucks thinks I'm an a-hole.

Merry Christmas!

Dec. 19: Santa, schmanta?

For a kid that was pretty much scared of everything, Santa didn’t freak me out when I was young. The idea of some strange, sweaty fat guy breaking into my home during the night was fascinating, not frightening. I didn’t care too much about sitting on his lap every year, but you can bet I was writing him letters and trying my best to be on his nice list.

The first time I remember experiencing Santa-related skepticism was after seeing toys hidden under our parents’ bed. When those same toys turned up wrapped and under the tree Christmas morning, I started wondering about where these things came from. I think I was five or six. Within a couple years I confronted my mom about Santa’s identity and got the truth, and that was that. I don’t remember being disappointed. I think I felt more like “Ah, now it all makes sense.”

For my sister, the truth came later and more traumatically. That’s one of my favorite family stories, and worth a whole ‘nother blog. But I will say that Kathy was scarred enough by the whole Santa conspiracy that she didn’t “do” Santa with her boys. Sean and Stephen learned from the very beginning that Santa Claus is “a nice guy who likes kids.” Which is not at all creepy...

When Katie was a toddler we decided to give the Santa thing a try. We also do the tooth fairy and Easter bunny. There’s a magic in these characters for children and we wanted our kids to experience that. It’s just been recently that I’ve had second thoughts about it.

When I wrap the kids’ gifts from Santa, I use different gift wrap than those gifts from and for others, and I keep that paper separate from the rest of the Christmas wrap. I also print out to/from labels from the computer so they don’t detect the similarity of Mom’s and Santa’s handwriting. Once wrapped, I put all the gifts in big black trash bags and store them around the garage so’s not to raise suspicion. After the kids have gone to bed on Christmas Eve we bring these into the house and arrange everything under the tree, assemble the big stuff, and smile at the thought of Katie and Jack’s expressions in a few hours. It’s the only time I feel like all that extra effort I put into keeping the Santa thing going is worthwhile.

When we decided we’d be at my mom’s for Christmas this year, one of the kids’ first questions was how Santa would know to bring their gifts to her house instead of ours. They were satisfied with our answer: “He’ll just know.” Last night Jack asked how Santa would get into Grandma’s house because she doesn’t have a chimney. Katie said he’d come through the front door. I said I wasn’t sure, since I’ve always lived in a house with a chimney. Vic said Santa is like Davy Jones and he’d just move through the walls. Vic is a dork.

Last week Vic found Jack in tears because he’d gone through the gifts I’ve wrapped and didn’t see any with his name (... because they’re all in black trash bags in the garage). Jack asked, “Why isn’t there anything for me? I’ve been good.” Apparently he forgot that Santa doesn’t deliver until Christmas Eve, but it was still so sad to us that the little guy was so upset.

It’s just that now it feels like we really are lying to the kids, not just telling a little fairy tale. I mean, SANTA WALKS THROUGH WALLS??? And all the secretive stuff is exhausting, not to mention occasionally heartbreaking. Although maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if they start thinking Santa Claus is a jackass...

Jack lost a tooth last night. I didn’t have anything for the tooth fairy to leave him (we usually do a toy instead of $$), so I opened up one of his Christmas gifts and put it in his room this morning. Is that horrible? I don’t know. I’m in a fog of made-up characters that are supposed to keep kids on their toes and make the big occasions in their lives magical and I can’t tell what’s real anymore and I think I want out.

Jack is six years old, and Katie is nearly eight. Can this be their last Santa Claus Christmas? Aren’t they old enough to be told the truth? And if so, will they react like I did (meh) or like my sister (OH MY GOD THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING)?

Dec. 17: Another Monday meme

Chris tagged me on this birthday month meme. Here we go:

First, the rules for those of you who have blogs:

  1. Mention the person who tagged you and create a link back to them.
  2. Copy-paste the traits for all the twelve months (see below).
  3. Pick your month of birth (see below).
  4. Highlight the traits that apply to you.
  5. Tag 12 people and let them know by visiting their blogs and leaving a comment for them.
  6. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve done it!

I'm a September babe, so I'm highlighting the September traits that I think apply to me:

SEPTEMBER: Suave and compromising. Careful, cautious and organized. Likes to point out people’s mistakes. Likes to criticize. Stubborn. Quiet but able to talk well. Calm and cool. Kind and sympathetic. Concerned and detailed. Loyal but not always honest. Does work well. Very confident. Sensitive. Good memory. Clever and knowledgeable. Loves to look for information. Must control oneself when criticizing. Able to motivate oneself. Understanding. Fun to be around. Secretive. Loves leisure and traveling. Hardly shows emotions. Tends to bottle up feelings. Very choosy, especially in relationships. Systematic.

Seems like it would make more sense for other people to tell us what applies, but... whatever. Here ya go:


JANUARY: Stubborn and hard-hearted. Ambitious and serious. Loves to teach and be taught. Always looking at people’s flaws and weaknesses. Likes to criticize. Hardworking and productive. Smart, neat and organized. Sensitive and has deep thoughts. Knows how to make others happy. Quiet unless excited or tensed. Rather reserved. Highly attentive. Resistant to illnesses but prone to colds. Romantic but has difficulties expressing love. Loves children. Loyal. Has great social abilities yet easily jealous. Very stubborn and money cautious.

FEBRUARY: Abstract thoughts. Loves reality and abstract. Intelligent and clever. Changing personality. Attractive. Sexy. Temperamental. Quiet, shy and humble. Honest and loyal. Determined to reach goals. Loves freedom. Rebellious when restricted. Loves aggressiveness. Too sensitive and easily hurt. Gets angry really easily but does not show it. Dislikes unnecessary things. Loves making friends but rarely shows it. Daring and stubborn. Ambitious. Realizes dreams and hopes. Sharp. Loves entertainment and leisure. Romantic on the inside not outside. Superstitious and ludicrous. Spendthrift. Tries to learn to show emotions.

MARCH: Attractive personality. Sexy. Affectionate. Shy and reserved. Secretive. Naturally honest, generous and sympathetic. Loves peace and serenity. Sensitive to others. Loves to serve others. Easily angered. Trustworthy. Appreciative and returns kindness. Observant and assesses others. Revengeful. Loves to dream and fantasize. Loves traveling. Loves attention. Hasty decisions in choosing partners. Loves home decors. Musically talented. Loves special things. Moody.

APRIL: Active and dynamic. Decisive and hasty but tends to regret. Attractive and affectionate to oneself. Strong mentality. Loves attention. Diplomatic. Consoling, friendly and solves people’s problems. Brave and fearless. Adventurous. Loving and caring. Suave and generous. Emotional. Aggressive. Hasty. Good memory. Moving. Motivates oneself and others. Sickness usually of the head and chest. Sexy in a way that only their lover can see.

MAY: Stubborn and hard-hearted. Strong-willed and highly motivated. Sharp thoughts. Easily angered. Attracts others and loves attention. Deep feelings. Beautiful physically and mentally. Firm Standpoint. Needs no motivation. Easily consoled. Systematic (left brain). Loves to dream. Strong clairvoyance. Understanding. Sickness usually in the ear and neck. Good imagination. Good physical. Weak breathing. Loves literature and the arts. Loves traveling. Dislike being at home. Restless. Not having many children. Hardworking. High spirited. Spendthrift.

JUNE: Thinks far with vision. Easily influenced by kindness. Polite and soft-spoken. Having ideas. Sensitive. Active mind. Hesitating, tends to delay. Choosy and always wants the best. Temperamental. Funny and humorous. Loves to joke. Good debating skills. Talkative. Daydreamer. Friendly. Knows how to make friends. Able to show character. Easily hurt. Prone to getting colds. Loves to dress up. Easily bored. Fussy. Seldom shows emotions. Takes time to recover when hurt. Brand conscious. Executive. Stubborn.

JULY: Fun to be with. Secretive. Difficult to fathom and to be understood. Quiet unless excited or tensed. Takes pride in oneself. Has reputation. Easily consoled. Honest. Concerned about people’s feelings. Tactful. Friendly. Approachable. Emotional temperamental and unpredictable. Moody and easily hurt. Witty and sparkly. Not revengeful. Forgiving but never forgets. Dislikes nonsensical and unnecessary things. Guides others physically and mentally. Sensitive and forms impressions carefully. Caring and loving. Treats others equally. Strong sense of sympathy. Wary and sharp. Judges people through observations. Hardworking. No difficulties in studying. Loves to be alone. Always broods about the past and the old friends. Likes to be quiet. Homely person. Waits for friends. Never looks for friends. Not aggressive unless provoked. Prone to having stomach and dieting problems. Loves to be loved. Easily hurt but takes long to recover.

AUGUST: Loves to joke. Attractive. Suave and caring. Brave and fearless. Firm and has leadership qualities. Knows how to console others. Too generous and egoistic. Takes high pride in oneself. Thirsty for praises. Extraordinary spirit. Easily angered. Angry when provoked. Easily jealous. Observant. Careful and cautious. Thinks quickly. Independent thoughts. Loves to lead and to be led. Loves to dream. Talented in the arts, music and defense. Sensitive but not petty. Poor resistance against illnesses. Learns to relax. Hasty and trusty. Romantic. Loving and caring. Loves to make friends.

SEPTEMBER: Suave and compromising. Careful, cautious and organized. Likes to point out people’s mistakes. Likes to criticize. Stubborn. Quiet but able to talk well. Calm and cool. Kind and sympathetic. Concerned and detailed. Loyal but not always honest. Does work well. Very confident. Sensitive. Good memory. Clever and knowledgeable. Loves to look for information. Must control oneself when criticizing. Able to motivate oneself. Understanding. Fun to be around. Secretive. Loves leisure and traveling. Hardly shows emotions. Tends to bottle up feelings. Very choosy, especially in relationships. Systematic.

OCTOBER: Loves to chat. Loves those who loves them. Loves to take things at the center. Inner and physical beauty. Lies but doesn’t pretend. Gets angry often. Treats friends importantly. Always making friends. Easily hurt but recovers easily. Daydreamer. Opinionated. Does not care of what others think. Emotional. Decisive. Strong clairvoyance. Loves to travel, the arts and literature. Touchy and easily jealous. Concerned. Loves outdoors. Just and fair. Spendthrift. Easily influenced. Easily loses confidence. Loves children.

NOVEMBER: Has a lot of ideas. Difficult to fathom. Thinks forward. Unique and brilliant. Extraordinary ideas. Sharp thinking. Fine and strong clairvoyance. Can become good doctors. Dynamic in personality. Secretive. Inquisitive. Knows how to dig secrets. Always thinking. Less talkative but amiable. Brave and generous. Patient. Stubborn and hard-hearted. If there is a will, there is a way. Determined. Never give up. Hardly becomes angry unless provoked. Loves to be alone. Thinks differently from others. Sharp-minded. Motivates oneself. Does not appreciate praises. High-spirited. Well-built and tough. Deep love and emotions. Romantic. Uncertain in relationships. Homely. Hardworking. High abilities. Trustworthy. Honest and keeps secrets. Not able to control emotions. Unpredictable.

DECEMBER: Loyal and generous. Sexy. Patriotic. Active in games and interactions. Impatient and hasty. Ambitious. Influential in organizations. Fun to be with. Loves to socialize. Loves praises. Loves attention. Loves to be loved. Honest and trustworthy. Not pretending. Short tempered. Changing personality. Not egotistic. Take high pride in oneself. Hates restrictions. Loves to joke. Good sense of humor. Logical.

Kath, I'd love for you to play along. Kirsten? Bob? Non-bloggers may answer in a comment like the loser-y non-bloggers they are.

Dec. 17: No-mess gingerbread

Lookie here! Let your kids make the gingerbread house they're dying to make, and you won't have to clean up a thing. True, it doesn't smell quite as good, but didn't you hear me? NO MESS!!

Virtual gingerbread cottage

There's a lot of cute kids' stuff on the site if you have time to look around a little.

Dec. 17: Monday meme

Today’s meme is all about Christmas.

Tinsel or garland? Garland
Flashing or non-flashing lights? Twinkling, actually
Cookies and milk for Santa? Of course!
Carrots for the reindeer? If we remember
Tastiest holiday treat? Kringles!
Tree is artificial or real? I prefer real, but we got a decent artificial tree this year
If you have a real tree, do you go out and cut it yourself or buy it from a tree stand? We cut it ourselves, ever since that one we bought at a lot had to be replaced before Christmas
Tree is taller or shorter than four feet? Usually 6-7’
House/entire yard decorated? Usually. Not this year.
Santa or Jesus or neither? I like the fun holiday stuff—snowmen, Santas, etc.
Homemade or delivered/takeout Christmas dinner? Homemade on Christmas Day (Chinese take-out on Christmas Eve!)
Bedtime before midnight? We always try… depends on how many gifts need to be assembled
Wake up before 7 a.m.? The kids still sleep in, but that’ll probably end soon
Go to church on Christmas? Nope.

Yay or nay?

Christmas shopping? Meh
Carolers? I love the music, but I can’t remember the last time we ever had carolers come to our door.
Mall Santas? Waiting in line to see them? Nay.
Salvation Army Santas? Nay
24/7 holiday radio? Yay
Setting up the tree? Yay
Wrapping gifts? Yay
Visiting/seeing family? Yay
Ad-lib on Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (“like Monopoly!”)? Nay, usually.
Chocolate Advent calendars? Yay. K&J love ‘em.
Decorated houses? Yay, yay yay!!
Extreme decorated houses? As long as it ain’t mine

First thought that comes to mind when you hear...

Snowflake: Oh geez, the roads are going to get icy.
Elves: Elf bowling
Sleigh: “Jingle Bells”
Presents: Fun to buy, fun to git
Cookies: Hope they’re frosted
Mistletoe: Gettin’ lucky
Rudolph: Big baby! “Oh, everyone calls me names… they won’t let me play their reindeer games...” Wa.
Blizzard: Bad roads
School’s canceled: Fun, cold day outside
Ice skating: One of the Lloyd Center traditions that just isn’t the same since the mall was roofed
Santa’s lap: Scared kids
Black Friday: I am sooooo not leaving the house today

Grade holiday movies and TV specials A - F

A Charlie Brown Christmas: A
A Christmas Carol (any version): D (too preachy!)
A Christmas Story (Peter Billingsley): A
A Very Brady Christmas (Brady Bunch): F for story, B for fun to see everyone old!
Bad Santa (Billy Bob Thornton): haven’t seen it
Beauty & The Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (Tim Curry): C
Christmas with the Kranks (Tim Allen): haven’t seen it
Deck the Halls (Matthew Broderick): haven’t seen it
Eight Crazy Nights (Adam Sandler): haven’t seen it
Elf (Will Ferrell): A+
Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn): haven’t seen it
Ernest Saves Christmas (Jim Varney): haven’t seen it
Frosty the Snowman (Jimmy Durante): B
Holiday Inn (Bing & Friends): D, but only compared to the superior White Christmas
Home Alone (Macaulay Culkin): B (“The old man got to me!”)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey): haven’t seen it, don’t want to
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the original): B
It’s a Wonderful Life (Jimmy Stewart): C (I know, it’s terrible of a Christmas fanatic like myself, but I don’t love that movie)
Jack Frost (Michael Keaton): haven’t seen it
Jingle All the Way (Arnold Schwarzenegger): haven’t seen it
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas: C
Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas: B+
Miracle on 34th Street (Natalie Wood): C
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Chevy Chase): A
Olive, the Other Reindeer (Drew Barrymore): A (Michael Stipe? Dan Castellaneta? There’s a great combo!)
Prancer (Sam Elliott): haven’t seen it
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Burl Ives): B (is that the one with the mean snow monster? I hate that guy!)
Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (Fred Astaire): B
Santa Claus: The Movie (Dudley Moore): haven’t seen it
Scrooged! (Bill Murray): B
Shrek the Halls: After I see Shrek the Third I think I’ll enjoy it more
Surviving Christmas (Ben Affleck): haven’t seen it
The Polar Express (Tom Hanks): C—liked the music, the animation was good, but the story was a yawner
The Santa Clause (Tim Allen): Not a Tim Allen fan unless he’s Buzz Lightyear
The Year without a Santa Claus (Mickey Rooney): B
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas: B
Veggie Tales: The Star of Christmas: D
Veggie Tales: The Toy that Saved Christmas: B
White Christmas (Bing & Friends): A+

Would it still be Christmas without...

Candy canes? No
Snow? Yes, unfortunately
Stores opening at 5 a.m.? Totally
Vacation? No
Visiting family and friends? No way!
Fake Santas? Yep
Christmas trees? No
New holiday movies? Yep
Sending/receiving Christmas cards/e-mail? Lord, no
Holiday tunes? Lord, no
Overeating? Unfortunately, no

Three best things about Christmas?

1. The music
2. The family/friends stuff
3. Driving around looking at light displays

Post your answers in a comment, please!

Dec. 14: Pugliness

Attention, McBrowneys and Castañedas! This little guy is all sorts o’ pug funny. You must get working on Lucy and Eddie to operate the blinds (instead of peeing on my mom on command, which, while incredibly amusing to me, is not quite YouTube material)...

Dec. 13: Christmas CD 2007

As we do every year, Vic and I had a lot of fun choosing the songs for our Christmas CD over the past few months. Here is the final order, with a few comments.

1 - The Man With the Bag — Jane Monheit
2 - Santa Claus is Back in Town — Elvis Presley
3 - I Love the Winter Weather Medley — Tony Bennett
4 - Blue Christmas — Dean Martin
5 - Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer — Jack Johnson. I love Jack Johnson, but I do not love that he says “reindeers” in this song. Shouldn’t he know better?
6 - Someday at Christmas — Stevie Wonder
7 - Winter Wonderland — Louis Armstrong
8 - Last Christmas — Darren Hayes. This guy is in Savage Garden. I love the part at the end when he sings “Guilty feet have got no rhythm, guilty feet have got no rhythm...” Quotes from Careless Whisper toooootally belong in a Christmas song, huh?
9 - Buon Natale (Means Merry Christmas to You) — Nat “King” Cole
10 - My Christmas Prayer — Bebe Winans & Rob Thomas. In four CDs, this is the first time we’ve ever had a re-run; we put this song on our first CD in 2004. But it’s so beautiful, and I thought it was worth hearing again. The past twelve months were tough for some people I care about, and I wanted to honor them a little this year. It is included here especially for Annalee, Mark, Eva, Cassie, Erika, Alec, Nelda, and all of the Knudsons.
11 - Frosty the Snowman — Bing Crosby. A Christmas CD without Bing Crosby? That’s un-possible!
12 - Step Into Christmas — Elton John
13 - All Alone on Christmas — Darlene Love
14 - It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year — Johnny Mathis
15 - Please Come Home for Christmas — The Eagles
16 - Santa Claus is Coming to Town — Lena Horne. I had never heard this arrangement and loved it immediately.
17 - Happy Xmas (War is Over) — John Lennon
18 - The Man With All the Toys — The Beach Boys
19 - O Holy Night — Al Green
20 - Sleigh Ride — The Carpenters. I grew up listening to The Carpenters, and until I met Kim (Felkley) Nelson, I never knew anyone who loved them as much as Kathy and I did. So nowadays when I hear The Carpenters I think of my sister AND my dear friend Kim. I try not to think about how Debi suggests I am insane for loving The Carpenters.
21 - Run Rudolph Run — Chuck Berry
22 - Happy Holiday — Peggy Lee
23 - Jingle Bells Cha Cha Cha — Pearl Bailey. I was torn on this song; I had a different arrangement by Frank Sinatra that I really liked too. But this was just too good to leave off this year. NEXT year you’ll hear Frank’s version.
24 - Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree — Brenda Lee
25 - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas — Mel Tormé. Gotta love the Velvet Fog.
26 - Peace — Norah Jones

If I didn’t send you a CD and you’d like one, let me know. We made lots of extras this year and I’ll toss one in the mail to you right away.

Previous years’ playlists can be found here: 2004, 2005, 2006.

Dec. 11: Catalog overload

If this really works, this is my new favorite site. Catalog Choice cancels catalog deliveries for you. Simply put in the information on the mailing label, and they'll take care of the rest. Since I do most of my shopping on the Internet, I've gotten on just about every mailing list out there and get several catalogs a day in the mail. The service this site offers could be a real lifesaver.

I'll let you know if things slow down over the next couple months.

Dec. 11: Quotes from the 'net

I've been searching web sites for fonts most the morning. Most web sites show fonts using the font name as the display text. I prefer when the fonts are shown with a clever quote as the display text. Here are a bunch that I found in today's search (apologies if any have shown up in earlier posts; I'm too lazy to check).

  • Sometimes I think I'm a genius. Then I realize I've already seen this episode of Jeopardy.

  • For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong. (H.L. Mencken)

  • A conscience does not prevent sin. It only prevents you from enjoying it.

  • Honesty is the best policy, but insanity is a better defense.

  • To vacillate or not to vacillate, that is the question... ... or is it?

  • What's the greatest worldwide use of cowhide? To hold cows together.

  • It's all fun and games until someone opens a portal into Hell.

  • Give me the strength to change the things I can, the grace to accept the things I cannot, and a great big bag of money.

  • Your mind is like a taco: the more you try to cram into it, the more that will fall out.

  • We have enough youth, how about a fountain of smart?

  • Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day, but set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life.

  • On the other hand, the early worm gets eaten.

  • Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.

  • Carpe diem - seize the day; carp in denim - there's a fish in my pants!

  • Join the Army, see the world, meet interesting people, kill them.

  • "Happiness is a warm puppy," said the anaconda.

  • The first piece of luggage out of the chute does not belong to anyone, ever.

  • If it's true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?

  • Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.

  • It's your god. They're your rules. *You* go to hell.

  • You can go anywhere you want if you look serious and carry a clipboard.

  • Evolutionists have proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof.

  • An American's a person who isn't afraid to criticize the president but is always polite to traffic cops.

  • The new childcare-screening legislation sends a powerful message to Americans: If you want to harass children, get your own, as no parent-screening legislation will be in the works anytime soon.

  • If my calculations are correct, SLINKY + ESCALATOR = EVERLASTING FUN

  • I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder.

  • Politicians, like diapers, have to be changed frequently - and for the very same reason.

  • How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

  • A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing.

  • Go into a store's fitting room and announce loudly "there's no toilet paper in here!"

  • Caution: I drive like you do.

  • I used to wonder what was so holy about a silent night, now I have a child.

  • "Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer." - Dave Barry

  • Give me ambiguity or give me something else.

Dec. 11: Monday meme on Tuesday

Yep, I forgot to post this yesterday. Again.

What are your five favorite Christmas songs?

It's very hard for me to limit myself to five, but...

  1. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
  2. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
  3. Last Christmas (I'm embarrassed to admit it, but it's true)
  4. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  5. All I Want for Christmas is You (unless Mariah Carey is singing/wailing)

What are your five LEAST favorite Christmas songs?

  1. Little Drummer Boy (too many "pa rum pum pum pums" - shut up already!)
  2. Feliz Navidad
  3. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day/I Saw Three Ships (these are the same song, right?)
  4. We Three Kings
  5. Go Tell it on the Mountain

I could go on and on, I think, on BOTH lists.

Dec. 9: 2007 in review

If you received a Christmas card from us, you probably also received a letter. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that it was full of lies and exaggerations. This is the real and very boring story of our actual 2007.


Kathy visited for a couple weeks in January and split her time between Portland, Walla Walla and Salem. She got me interested in beading again, and I spent the rest of the year making jewelry and other beaded items for myself and gifts. I did some research in gemstone therapy and learned interesting things about the metaphysical properties of different gemstones. It’s definitely given a bit of purpose to my beading projects.

Vic and I spent a few days in Disney World and went on a week-long Disney Cruise in the western Caribbean in February/March. Ports of call were Key West (fun, dirty, chicken-y), Grand Cayman (hot, beautiful, hot), and Cozumel (hot, filthy, stinky). It was a much different experience than our cruise in 2003 (in which the kids were along) and we felt frequent guilt, knowing how much Katie and Jack would love being there with us. Our dining companions were absolutely delightful; we were often among the last tables to clear out of the restaurant each night. Overall Vic and I had a lovely, relaxing time and enjoyed ourselves immensely. It was the perfect way to celebrate ten years of marriage.

My mom retired from WWC and moved to Medford in June. We made several trips there during the summer to visit with Mom and help her get settled into her new home. She is very, very happy there.

All Vic’s siblings visited at different times over the summer. Katie and Jack loved having their cousins around so much. We loved spending time with their parents too.

I went to Boise in July to visit with my girlfriends from high school, Deanna and Debi.

Debi, April and I had our semi-occasional Girls’ Weekend in Ashland in July. We met in Portland and set off on a road trip adventure with stops along the way (OK, pretty much just the one stop in Woodburn). We stayed at Mary’s B&B in Medford but spent most of our days at the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. We saw The Tempest in the Elizabethan theater and The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (abridged) and went to the movie musical Hairspray. Lots of shopping, fun restaurants, great companionship... just what a girls’ weekend is supposed to be.

Vic took a week off at the end of the summer and we headed to Medford again. We took a day to drive up to Crater Lake and back. The weather was perfect—clear and sunny—and the kids were fascinated by the scenery.

Entertainment and celebrations

Katie had her seventh birthday party at Build-a-Bear Workshop. Jack’s sixth birthday was at JJ Jump, an indoor “bounce house” arena, the newest big thing in Clackamas. I’ve decided I like having the kids’ birthday parties away from home; no clean-up before OR after the parties! And, as mentioned above, Victor and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary.

Victor and I are subscribers to the Broadway in Portland series again this year. Shows we saw in 2007: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (surprisingly funny and full of charm), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (silly, loved the music), Spamalot (hilarious), Camelot (Wellington went in my place). There were a couple other shows for which we gave our tickets away. This is a fabulous deal, and if you don’t subscribe in your city, look into it at Broadway Across America. It’s a great excuse for date night and there are some wonderful shows to see!

We also spent an evening with Jim Gaffigan, one of the most hilarious stand-up comedians working today. Katie and I saw the very magical Disney on Ice Princess Wishes in November.

Other celebrations were held to honor a new Manullang cousin (Ted and Jocelyn welcomed Adeline in April), and friends’ new daughters Brooke (Alisa & Tom Gillett’s youngest) and Sage (Lisa & Cam Nicholson’s first).


Ralph Forrest Knudson, my friend April’s dad, died May 26. Besides bringing back a lot of memories of losing my own dad, it was horrible to see April’s family deal with this unexpected loss. He is greatly missed. My friend Nelda lost her son, who was my age, in June. Alec and Erika, Katie and Jack’s classmates, lost their dad in February.

Family Stuff

Katie and Jack had a very active year.

  • They both had their training wheels taken off their bikes and now zip up and down our street with the neighbor kids.
  • Katie graduated from first grade and Jack graduated from preschool.
  • Jack attended a two-week program on safety during the summer.
  • Both kids had a week on their own at Grandma Mary’s and got to ride horses at Lainie’s, swim at Auntie Donna’s, play at Lithia Park, and check out the children’s museums and city parks in Medford—all things I did as a kid in the early 70’s!
  • Jack didn’t want to do swimming lessons this summer—he still has a thing about forcibly getting his face wet—but we made a deal that he couldn’t go to Safety Town if he didn’t take at least one session of swimming lessons. He went, and he did surprisingly well, but he opted not to continue to the next level. I guess we need to come up with a deal that will encourage him to stay in lessons longer next summer.
  • We couldn’t keep Katie out of the pool, and she passed all three levels she attended. She’s already determined to be a swim instructor when she gets older.
  • Just before school started, Jack attended a week-long Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten class, in which he learned about the structure of a typical kindergarten environment. It’s quite a bit different from preschool, but he has adapted well this year and made a lot of friends. He loves to ride the school bus, and waits with four other boys (and their five protective moms) at the stop each day. The kids are all so funny together—Vic and I call them The Bus Stop Boys.
  • Jack also played on a soccer team this fall. On the way home after every game he’d talk about how much he didn’t like soccer, but during the games he had a blast. He actually did well and was a more aggressive player than Katie ever was, but we’re still not sure if he’ll play again next year. Right now he can’t stop talking about karate, which we’re planning to enroll him in after Christmas break.
  • Katie is doing well in her piano lessons and loves duets with her teacher. She proudly entertains us on a regular basis playing Christmas carols and Für Elise.
  • She’s enjoying second grade.
  • Jack lost his first tooth while in Medford this summer and is just about to lose his second.

Katie has a great love for most animals. She likes reading but hates when Jack listens in. I’m excited for her to read the Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume books she’s getting for Christmas. High School Musical, anything on the Disney Channel, Littlest Pet Shop, and Disney princesses—especially Ariel—are her big favorites these days.

Jack is still a huge Pirates of the Caribbean fan. He’s also fascinated by Star Wars since his cousin Jacob told him all about it this past summer. He likes anything to do with bad guys and reminds us constantly that he wants to be one when he grows up. Why wait? He’s definitely inherited some artistic talents from Auntie Sonya—he draws the most detailed pirate ships! After our trip to Crater Lake he started drawing amazing volcano landscapes.

Vic is still working at AMC. He got to go on some of the kids’ school field trips this past year and is already looking forward to Jack joining him at the auto show in February. He loves having his little Mini-Me at his side to watch movies and work in the yard.

I worked quite a bit this year teaching and designing databases and web sites. I also am a co-room parent for Katie’s class and help out once a week in the classroom. I’m having a great time getting to know Katie’s friends, teacher, and Commodore Puddles II (the classroom hamster). I still try to do scrapbooking when I have the chance, and I work a lot on beading projects too. I try to keep my blog up to date as much as possible.

Ze Dogs

Scout is more than ten years old now and is definitely showing signs of her age. Besides moving a little slower these days, she’s also getting quite cranky! We thought she was losing her hearing but now are pretty sure she’s just stubborn.

Casey has been with us more than two years now, and has finally settled in to our routine. She still gets irritated with Scout and would prefer to be the only dog in the house, but loves attention from the kids and neighbors.


Well, 2007 marks a huge change in our holiday celebrations: we got an artificial tree. I already hate it. Actually, the tree itself is quite nice and looks surprisingly realistic. But it smells like plastic and that’s just wrong! It’s the most practical way to decorate when we’re not going to be home much for the holidays, though. As for celebrations, there’s a big Manullang family thing planned for a few days before Christmas this year. All Vic’s siblings, their spouses and kids will be together at Darlene and Wellington’s for the first time ever. We’re visiting a photographer that day to document the event. There’s a big Saltmarsh thing at my mom’s on Christmas—Kathy and her family will be there, as well as my grandma and uncle. We’ll be attending the Saltmarsh family Christmas Eve gathering, which we haven’t done since I was in junior high. It’ll be a fun time, I’m sure.


As of right now, we don’t have any big vacations planned for next year. We’ll probably end up going to San Francisco at some point, though, as we had hoped to go last summer and never made it that far south. The kids are excited to see the city. Katie’s planning her eighth birthday party in February; as of today (it changes regularly) it will be at JJ Jump. Jack is excited to start karate. Vic is looking forward to researching a new car purchase, which will happen sometime this spring. But as far as I’m concerned, the biggest event in 2008 is in September, when I will be turning 40! April (who turns 40 a few days after I do) and I are planning a big celebration for ourselves and anyone else born in 1968. Check your mailbox for details.

I think I’ve covered just about everything, so I sign off the absolutely true story of our 2007 adventures with our wishes for you:

May this holiday be a happy one for you and those you love, and may 2008 be a year filled with unexpected pleasures, as well as cherished moments of peace and reflection. Have yourself a merry little Christmas and a fabulous new year!

Dec. 7: Splotch be cute

Y'know those commercials where someone is just about to deliver a speech in front of thousands of people and something gets spilled on her shirt so she quickly uses one of those Tide to Go® things and just like magic, it's gone? Well, if you've ever actually tried a Tide to Go® in that kind of situation, then you've probably not had quite the same results. You end up going out in front of all those people with a big 'ol stain on your left boob and no one pays any attention to what you say because they're all wondering about the stain on your left boob.

I would be wise to wear bibs when I eat, because I almost never go away from a meal without some part of it on my shirt front and/or lap. At home I often wear an apron at dinner, but I can get away with it because it looks like I simply forgot to take it off after cooking (never mind that I didn't cook and we're having take-out). I'm a mess.

So you can imagine my thrill at finding Puke Pets! Pin one of these little guys near that marinara splotch and the splotch is suddenly a fashion statement.

I'm not a slob! I have a sick pet! Isn't that sad?

Puke Pets are about 1½ inches wide (not as big as they appear in the pic). They're available for purchase at Lazybone, a UK store. I hope Santa recognizes the perfection of such a gift in my stocking...

Dec. 7: Happy birthday, Presley!

So hey, did you happen to see
The most beautiful girl in the world?

She's my niece! Her name is Presley, and today's her birthday! She's four years old and adorable, as you can clearly see.

Dec. 6: Happy birthday, Dorothy!

I was in front of my computer for a total of ten minutes today, which makes these birthday greetings way overdue.

Happy birthday to Dorothy Frances Gutierrez, who turned two years old today! She is the sweetest little girl; I absolutely fell in love with her this past summer.

She's undoubtedly asleep by now, tired out by the festivities, I'm sure. I hope it was a fun day for all involved!

Dec. 5: Booze test

Stolen from Chris.

Geez, I sucked at this quiz. But given my upbringing and the fact that girl drinks are my alcoholic beverages of choice and that I rarely drink at all, I'm surprised I did this well. Luck, I guess.


Dec. 4: Christmas quiz

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
The invention of gift bags eased gift-wrapping for everyone, but not when stacking gifts under the tree. You can’t stack gift bags.

2. Tree: real or artificial?
There’s nothing like the smell of a real tree

3. When do you put up your Christmas tree?

4. When do you take your Christmas tree down?
Unless we have more gatherings coming, I usually do it Dec. 26. I can’t stand the idea of a dry tree in my living room any longer than necessary.

5. Do you like eggnog?
I overdid it one year and haven’t liked it much since

6. Do you have a Nativity scene?
We have a Little People nativity set. I lost one of the wise men so I replaced him with a circus monkey. It totally works.

7. Favorite gift received as a child?
Anything my Grandma Saltmarsh gave me because it was handmade with love

8. Hardest person to buy for?
My brother-in-law

9. Easiest person to buy for?
His wife (my sister)

10. Christmas shopping in the stores or on the Internet?
Internet whenever possible

11. Mail or e-mail your Christmas cards?
IMHO, e-mailing Christmas cards is insensitive and cheap, unless you only have an Internet relationship with the recipient; then they’re perfectly acceptable.

12. Favorite Christmas movie?
White Christmas, which is also my favorite movie of all-time

13. When do you start your Christmas shopping?

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
The gifts people get you that show they put absolutely zero thought into it... THOSE are the ones I have re-gifted. Otherwise just duplicates.

15. Favorite food to eat on Christmas?
Mashed potatoes. Don’t you know me???

16. Colored or clear lights?
They both have their place

17. Favorite Christmas song?
So many… but probably “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

18. Travel during Christmas or stay home?
I don’t mind either, as long as we have family and/or friends around

19. Can you name Santa’s reindeers?
First of all, it’s reindeer, not reindeers. And here they are: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen, Rudolph, Mary-Kate, Ashley...

20. Angel or star on tree top?

21. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning?

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
Stupid people in parking lots

Please share your answers in a comment or your own blog!

Dec. 3: Monday meme

Again, this week I take today’s meme from Every, Every Minute. Please respond for yourself in the comments or your own blog.

YourTurn: Do you have any special items of holiday decor that you treasure?

When I was little, I remember our Christmas tree having a pretty wide variety of ornaments. There were some old ones that had probably been in our family for years, but a lot of them were ornaments Kathy or I had made. Decorating the tree every year was always an event involving the whole family. We’d get Andy Williams on the stereo and go through the ornaments one by one to load the tree, then turn off all the other lights in the house and lay in front of the tree for the evening. Happy memories.

When I lived with my dad for a few years in high school, our tree was done in white lights, white pearl garland, red satin balls and red velvet bows. This was all Dad’s decision; I don’t remember Kathy or I being allowed any input, even though we did all the work. (He was such an unusual combination of quirks. Someday I’ll tell the needlepointing stories to solidify that rep.)

When I had my own place—well, the apartments I shared with a roommate or two for six years—I had a more stylish tree. Karen and I bought or made beautiful coordinating ornaments and the whole thing was very “matchy” and Martha Stewart-like. They were the kinds of trees you pose in front of for pictures.

Victor and I have always traveled a lot, and we decided early on that one of the souvenirs we would collect would be Christmas ornaments. I think this started in San Francisco when I found a corny little cable car ornament with holly and garland around it. The other thing we started doing is accumulating ornaments that have special meaning; something to mark a milestone (the purchase of our first home together) or accomplishment (Katie’s first year of soccer) or to commemorate a hobby. I try to find ornaments that have the year on them and we have several with photos too. There’s only one thing we put on our tree that doesn’t have sentimental value of some kind: three strings of small multi-colored satin ball garland. It’s really pretty and kind of ties together the mish-mash of everything else on the tree (tall order!).

The oldest ornament we have on our tree is a wooden stocking I painted in first grade. I love it even though it’s really quite hideous; it usually finds itself on the back side of the tree but I just can’t NOT hang it! One of my favorites is the puppy ornament we purchased in honor of Scout joining our family in 1997. It was the first in Hallmark’s puppy series and, coincidentally, a beagle. I also love the “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments we have from 2000 and 2001.

We have a lot to add to the tree this year. We got Disney Cruise Line 2007 and Walt Disney World 2007 ornaments in February to mark the celebration of our tenth anniversary. I got an Oregon Shakespeare Festival thing when my girlfriends and I went in July. Jack will have his 2007 soccer ornament (his first and probably last) and Katie will have a new one in honor of starting piano lessons this year. We also have several relating to interests of the kids’ that they’ll open Christmas morning. Shhhhh... can’t yet share the details of those.

Nowadays decorating the tree is a family event and involves Andy Williams, as it should and always will. As I unwrap each ornament we see who can remember its significance, and then Katie and Jack fight over where it should go. After they’ve gone to bed, Vic and I usually rearrange things. Our tree is far from stylish anymore, but I love it. It’s ours. It makes me all warm inside when I sit in front of it and watch the lights twinkle (not blinkhorror of horrors, blinking lights!) and illuminate different ornaments, each of which brings back memories of 10+ years gone by. It’s definitely my favorite part of the holiday season’s traditions.

Dec. 3: Here's yer $%@*# countdown

'Scuse the ads.

Note that my invitation to this trip has still not arrived... my hostility as such shall be revealed in subtle and vindictive ways, i.e., poorly Photoshopping certain people in family pictures.

Dec. 2: VERY real fake tree?

My grandma wants a new Christmas tree. Apparently the artificial one she's been using for years is getting dried out and brown. Hm.

Mom thinks she probably just wants a new one. Here's an idea: instead of buying a new POS fake tree, maybe she could get gifts for her oldest great-grandchildren. She thinks she doesn't need to give them gifts. They're "too old." They're 19 and 20 and two of her four great-grandchildren, so you can understand why she would just completely write them off.

I still love Christmas, I just don't love all the Scroogey people associated with it right now.

Dec. 2: A Very Brady result

Y'know, I can understand why this is a depressing time of year for some people. Fortunately, I've almost always been with friends and/or family at Christmastime, so it's usually a happy occasion. And now, with kids, Christmas is more fun than ever. I love this time of year, even with the stress of buying gifts and weather and getting cards in the mail and standing in lines and traffic. Of course, I do most my shopping on the Internet so that helps.

Y'all need to take this quiz and report on your results. That means you. 'Cept Chris, who had the same results as I did.

Your Christmas is Most Like:
A Very Brady Christmas

For you, it's all about sharing times with family.
Even if you all get a bit cheesy at times.

Dec. 1: Phonics are off the hook

I hate telephones sometimes. Among many, many other things.

I just had to call customer service for a web site I have shopped from several times. There was a problem with my last order and I e-mailed them twice about it but hadn't heard anything back. It's one of my pet peeves about ordering over the Internet; if you tell customers to contact you via e-mail and then don't respond for a week, you should not have an Internet business.

And sometimes you have no idea what that Internet business is actually like. I mean, they could have a snazzy web site and appear to be a huge and very busy company. But in reality they could have hamsters running the show. I guess expecting a response within the 24 hours they promise might be a high expectation.

So, I dialed 'em this morning... and I think I woke someone up. Actually, the guy was probably using a headset because it sounded a little fuzzy (like a hamster) or underwater. He said something like, "Thank you for calling ****, please give me your e-mail address frajergoijly."

I replied, "I'm sorry, can you repeat that?"

He said, in the same tone and volume and hamster-fuzziness, "Please give me your e-mail address forgetically."

HUH??? I chuckled a little and said, "I'm sorry... I can barely hear you." What I meant was "I can barely understand you," but I didn't want to be mean.

He actually said, and I quote (hence the quote marks), "Oh, PLEASE."

Picture me doing something like this:

(There were also a few f-words going through my head but I couldn't find a good graphic for that.)

I could hear him messing around with something and then said, "Can you hear me now?"

I said, "Sort of..." because NO, I COULDN'T and was also still making that face above.

And he said again, "Please give me your e-mail address traumatically."

WHAT did he say? He didn't have an accent, so besides speaking a little fast there was no reason for me not to understand him. Grammatically? Last time I checked, it didn't start with an "F" but maybe the rules have changed. Frenetically? Frogmatically? Fergie-licious? I had thought at first he was saying phonetically, which made no sense if he was using that to look up my account, not to mention the fact that there is no "R" in phonetically.

Alas, I shall never know. I hung up. I'll call back later and hope the guy's on lunch break and another hamster is answering his phone.

Stupid Internet companies. If they'd train their employees to answer their e-mails they wouldn't HAVE to teach them fancy words to use on the phone.

Nov. 29: Happy birthday, Sheila

I'm a big dummy. Sheila, I meant to post this earlier today and completely forgot. But the wishes are no less sincere: HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I tried to find food you'd like instead of cake, just like I did for Ed yesterday, but the only thing I could think of was Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. So here ya go. Mac & Cheese.

I hope you weren't too nauseous to partake in celebratory birthday food. What'd you do today?

Many lovies--

Nov. 29: I might need an eye exam

I swear, I just saw Chuck Norris getting his mail in my neighborhood. Who knew he lived in Clackamas?

Nov. 29: nibble nibble CHOMP

Posted on Cute Overload the other day:

What a patient kitty! Gotta love how it sets the pup all straight in the end.

Nov. 28: For your Christmas list...

Thank you to The Lovely Deanna™ for alerting me to the new Larry Craig talking action figure, available at His limbs are bendable, so you can give him a "wide stance." Press a button and he says, "I am not gay. I never have been gay." Whew, glad we got that cleared up. Seriously, don't you need to mention this in your letter to Santa this year?

I also ♥ the Ann Coulter doll, 'specially the idea of her making out with the Albert Einstein action figure (as if someone as smart as that guy would go for an a-hole like her). Unfortunately, she speaks. Why doesn't the doll come with a lighter and set of sharp objects? It is supposed to be a voodoo doll, isn't it?


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