June 30: A car for the average family

For the entire two miles to Vic's parents' house in the Passat this afternoon, Katie and Jack screamed non-stop at each other over completely ridiculous matters. Vic and I were reminded of our upcoming road trip to Northern California and why we probably won't want to drive the Passat, where their bickering goes directly from the back seat right into our ears. We probably won't want to drive the MPV either because even if we banish them to the back row we'd still be able to hear them. In fact, it seems that our ideal car is the one Homer Simpson designed in a Simpsons episode from 1991. It features:

  • rack-and-peanut steering
  • a place to put drinks; not little cups, but those super-slurpers at the Kwik-E-Mart
  • tail fins
  • shag carpeting
  • a horn "here, here, and here. You can never find a horn when you're mad. And they should all play La Cucaracha."
  • a separate soundproof bubble-dome for the kids with optional restraints and muzzles
  • a little ball on the antenna so you can find it in a parking lot (standard on all vehicles)
  • ... and it cost $82,000 in 1991, so that'd make it about a million today, hm?

Yeah, if you have a better idea, we'd love to hear it.

--Jen

June 29: Call me "science idiot"

Here's a quiz that'll make you feel like a big dummy. I certainly did not do well.

Science Quiz

(Yes, I know this takes you to an online dating site but it has some fun quizzes so check it out even if you're not ISO someone.)

June 29: Call me "Reverend"

As of June 24, I am an ordained minister. I can perform legal wedding ceremonies. No really, it's true! I can also park in clergy parking spaces. I saw a clergy space at a hospital once, and if I ever go back I'll totally think about parking there.

You, too, can be an ordained minister. It's free. Go to Universal Life Church Monastery and answer some questions, and that's it. For a fee, you can order press passes, ordination credentials certificates, parking hangers and all sorts of other stuff. I want a collar, but they don't offer them. Maybe I'll check eBay.

Here's how it works:

In existence since 1959, the Universal Life Church Monastery is headquartered in Seattle, and has congregations around the world. The sun never sets on the Universal Life Church. ULC ministers come from all walks of life and spiritual traditions. Our common thread is our adherence to the universal doctrine:

"Do only that which is right."

Since every person has the inherent right and responsibility to determine what is "right", all beliefs and practices which do not interfere with the rights of others are embraced.

Make good choices!

--Reverend Jen
(dead Rev. Falwell, you can KMA)

June 29: Stamping and shouting

The other day my car visited Lori and came back with a new butt ornament:


(BTW, Lori, it took me about 18 hours to see it. Vic noticed it within one, but assumed I came home from Mom's with it.)

It reminded me of a few things. One, George W. Bush is a freakin' jackass and a liar whose pants are most likely on fire. But it also reminded me of a way-cool magnetic bumper sticker store that Lori told me about last year. (One of the coolest things about magnetic bumper stickers is that you really don't have to commit to a point of view. Heh heh.) The magnets I have already purchased:





And a few others on which I have my eye (click for larger versions):









The rumor is that Lori has a trunk overflowing with these stickers and switches them out often on her Prius. You're gonna have to get a new one, though, because I'm totally keeping my “no W,” Lori! ...though I might sneak it onto my father-in-law's car as a super duper funny prank...

Anyone with half a brain knows that if cars covered with bumper stickers didn't look so trashy there'd be a lot more political statements on the road (mostly anti-Bush because, as I may have mentioned, he's a jackass and everybody knows it including you even if you're afraid to admit it and yes, in case you've missed it, I'm incredibly open-minded and willing to hear all sides of a debate and would never roll my eyes over someone's stupid opinions. Never.).

And lastly, the political statement on my car's arse reminded me that I have been asked to solicit suggestions for the non-proverbial writing on my mom's wall. Y'see, Kathy and I want her to have a pithy statement written artistically on her new living room wall and we have not yet found the perfect one. So far Mom has nixed our best ideas:

  • “OK, who am I givin' the finger to today?”
  • “A friend will bail you out of jail. A true friend will be sitting there beside you saying, “DAMN, that was fun!”
  • “A friend gives you an alibi. A good friend helps you hide the body.”
  • “Why is there more horse's asses than there is horses?”
  • “Well-behaved women rarely make history”
  • “Jen's my favorite”

It can't be political because we don't want Mom to look like those ninnies that are still driving around with John Kerry stickers on their cars. Please submit your ideas!

Many lovies and thanks, Lori!

--Jen

June 27: My Uncle Maestro

My uncle, Paul Jenny, used to be in a band and performed frequently in the Ashland area. Now it's nearly 30 years later and four of the five band members reunited this week for three shows. I went on Monday, and it was the first time I had seen Uncle Paul in a show outside of our living room. It was amazing and I was proud as could be. I was most surprised at how similar he was to Jimmy Buffett (I remembered him being a more jazzy-, folksy-, old standards-type). The band performs a great variety of music and the genre is almost indefinable, which is what I love most about their sound. All five members are incredible entertainers. You can tell they're having a blast and absolutely love what they do.

The PJQ reunion "tour" was a pretty big deal around town, and the shows sold out quickly. Here's a write-up about them from the Medford Mail Tribune last week and another from the Ashland Daily Tidings.

This brush with greatness makes me more fascinating than ever, don't you think? Autographs are $5. Don't forget the SASE. Lovies!

--Jen

June 19: Homing hamsters

June 19: You are hereby damned

When you're really, truly angry for a perfectly justifiable reason ... when there are so few people who know how to properly punctuate their writing no matter how much you complain and mock ... when the Xanax bottle is empty ... when that bitch keeps taking the good parking spot ... when you're ready to sic a ninja on anyone who dares speak to you ... when you just don't want to take it out on the dog again ... when you think you'll die if you have to hear the "High School Musical" soundtrack one more time ... when your Internet connection is so @^#$*#% slow ... when sending a dead possum in the mail again just seems a bit too much ... when people continue to put two spaces between sentences ... when you have to push "mute" every time you hear that jackass of a president try to speak ... when flames are shooting out your ears because the phone won't stop ringing ... when Taco Bell just can't get your order right ...

Don't just sit there. Do something. Visit You Are Damned to damn a soul or twelve. It's one of the most valuable services available on the web, it's free, and you'll feel better.

Your dog will thank you.

--Jen
P.S. By having shared this brilliant web site with you, I am immune from all damning. Don't even think about it.

June 18: Camping sucks

I hate tomatoes. I may have mentioned that earlier today. But I also hate camping. This hatred can easily be traced back to the way I had to camp when I was a teen. The jackass that took us refused to pay for a camp site, so he would park on the side of a gravel road. Anywhere. There were no facilities, no fire pits, no running water, no hookups of any kind. Got the picture? That was how we camped, and it was a nightmare from start. To. Finish.

Showers? Who needs 'em?

Toilets? Find a stump.

I know! You're probably saying, "That is not camping! That is something homeless people do because they don't have a choice! It is not fun! It is not an adventure! It is not anything but you being cheap and filthy and cheap!"

I bet you're jealous you didn't grow up with that jackass. (He was not my father, by the way. This guy didn't give a $#!+ about me or Kathy, and we felt just about the same toward him. Not that I'm bitter or anything... )

Anyway, whenever the subject of camping has come up in the past 15 years or so, I do whatever is necessary to get out of the potential outing. My friends think I'm crazy because many of them love camping. But they are clearly idiots. "Camping" to me and Kathy, now that we can be bossy and control our environment somewhat, is a hotel with no room service. Blame the jackass for making us "camp" in hellish conditions, and blame our mom and dad for being ultra-clean bathing-type folk. Those things really just don't go together.

Unless you go camping with Carolyn Neil. She sweeps her camp sites. She makes delicious food that most people would not dare attempt while camping. She's a delightful camping hostess. I'll bet she even showers.

... and I have forgotten the point I was trying to make.

.
.
.

Oh yes. I read this frightening article online and it just adds fuel to my non-camping fire. Read this tragic and horrific news item.

To sum up, I shall paraphrase the title of my favorite Charlie & Lola book: I will never not ever go camping.

I may hate camping, but it doesn't change my feelings for you one bit. Lovies!

--Jen

June 18: You, "tomato." Me, "yuck!"


These are my tomato-hating friends:
  • Jim
  • April
  • Ed

Apparently, that is all. My husband used to be on that list, but I don't know who he is anymore. A couple weeks ago I caught him eating a sandwich with a big slice of tomato on it. And yesterday he came home with two tomatoes because he "was craving them" while grocery shopping. I shoulda been suspicious when he walked in the door and said, "Jen, honey-Fräulein, I am home."

Um, has anyone seen that guy I married? He looks a lot like the dude that snores next to me all night but he's got a worse German accent. Also, he hates tomatoes.

--Jen
P.S. I only hates me the fresh ones.

June 17: B-E-A-utiful

I've been a Steve Carell fan since his days as a reporter on The Daily Show. I'm not sure I'm going to see his new movie, Evan Almighty (wasn't a big fan of Bruce Almighty, though he was hilarious in it). Nevertheless, the movie poster made me laugh, probably harder than it really should have. I had to share.

June 17: Rats

Katie and I went to a sneak preview of the new Disney/Pixar movie Ratatouille last night. We give it four thumbs up!

The story was sweet and funny and entertaining, but it was the animation that was absolutely stunning. What have they done with their software? It's like they have a pastel filter on it, but it makes things look amazing instead of blurry. Being set in Paris certainly didn't hurt.

All the rats are cute, but you should know there are at least two scenes where they're scurrying all through the old lady's house and the restaurant kitchen. It might be a bit unsettling if you're bothered by that sort of thing (if they were spiders I'da been outta there faster than you can say, "Hey lady, that's not an exit!"). Ye be warned.

Disney's Ratatouille web site has lots of pictures, downloadable wallpapers, movie clips, and a cool 19-page PDF activity book.

The animated short they showed before the movie was Lifted. It was good, definitely better than the last one (I thought One Man Band was a little high-brow, especially to be shown before Cars, even though the animation style was quite beautiful).

As this was a sneak preview, and every other sneak preview I've ever gone to has sold out long before showtime, I bought our tickets at Fandango earlier in the day. I'd never actually used the service before, and it was so easy I didn't mind paying the $1/ticket convenience charge. The best part, of course, was knowing that we wouldn't have to wait in line forever just to find out the movie was sold out. I will totally use Fandango again.

The only bummer of the evening was that this was going to be the first movie all four of us would see together in the theater. However, Jack was naughty naughty naughty earlier in the day and we're trying to teach him about consequences. He does not like learning about consequences, especially when it means staying home and missing Ratatouille. Vic wasn't so thrilled about staying home either.

So that's my not very critical critique of Ratatouille. It's really a great feel-good movie and we liked it very much. It opens everywhere June 29. Just be sure to check out the IMDB site before you go so you know who does the voices and then it won't drive you crazy the whole movie long like it did me. (Ohhhh! Peter O'Toole! Of course!!)

June 14: Cartoon exit obstacle course

Usually these weird Japanese "sports" shows drive me crazy, but I thought this one was pretty clever even though it ends with a "funniest home videos" moment. Ah, getting hit in the 'nads... that old chest"nut"... it works on so many levels. Hope you enjoy it anyway.

June 14: Happy birthday, Mom!

What a perfect day for my fabulous mom to be celebrating her birthday! This week she moved into her new home and today the big burly mover dudes will arrive with all her things, all undamaged (or they'll have to answer to me--heh heh). She's surrounded by family and friends and embracing her new life--no one deserves it more or has worked for it as hard as she has. Congrats, Mom, and happy day! Many lovies from your favorite daughter--

Jen
P.S. That thing I said about you going to hell? Kathy made me.

June 11: One more foot in hell

She finally did it. Mother Mary got her ears pierced at the ripe young age of 39+. Pretty sure they're getting her room in Hades all ready right now. Click for a larger version of the pics.


Betty, Janet, Karen and Mary


June 10: Look out below

June 10: Foppatoffels "R" Us

Crocs. You love 'em or hate 'em, but just about anyone who tries them on will admit they're incredibly comfortable. When I walked around in a pair of Crocs in Nordstrom's shoe department the first time, they felt neither fabulous nor unfabulous, but Mother Mary had her credit card out so I thought I'd give them a try. Plus Kathy said she liked hers and I sorta trust her. I got the boring white-ish ones because I thought they were the least obnoxious and would match the most stuff.

The next day Victor and I tackled our very messy garage. I spent the whole day standing on that hard cement floor in my new Crocs, and although I was tired at the end of the day, my back wasn't killing me and neither were my feet. The next day we were out there again, and I credit the shoes for making me able to do that (cuz my brain sure wasn't very excited about it).

I thought they would make my feet sweat (they don't), or rub the top of my high arches (they don't), or fall off (they don't). I was sold. I got another pair--black this time--soon after.

I suggested Vic try a pair for work, since he's on his feet a lot during the day. He had to get the style with no vents on the top (Professionals) so's he won't drop a syringe and inadvertently give himself an enema or something (oh, fine, I don't know exactly why). He said they're "fine," not any more comfortable than the cross-trainers he usually wears. I think he just won't get excited about them because I suggested he get them and that would be like admitting I might be right about something. I think he loves them. I think he loves them more than he loves me.

Then they came out with Disney Crocs. The little cut-outs are Mickey Mouse heads instead of boring round holes. Santa brought black ones for Jack and pink ones for Katie last Christmas. Santa did not bring me any more because apparently he thought I had enough. He's kooky that way.


When Vic and I were in Disney World and on the cruise in February, we saw Disney Crocs everywhere. Y'know how when you're at these places that suddenly everything looks so cool that you have to have it and you convince yourself you will totally wear it at home so you buy it? Well, Vic had a hard time finding the black Mickey Crocs in the parks in his size (big feet = big... shoes) but finally found a ginormous pair in the store on the ship. When we got home Jack was more thrilled to see Daddy had shoes just like his than he was with most the souvenirs we got him.

But then I had to curse Disney, because they came out with Pirates of the Caribbean Crocs. Jack got these during one of Mommy's guilt trips last week. I have to admit, the Pirates theme is cool.

Crocs continues to expand their Disney line; next they're coming out with Princess ones, and eventually will be making them with Fairies, Pooh, Mickey & Friends, Toy Story and Cars. They also have licenses with Warner Bros., Nickelodeon, NASCAR, NFL, NHL and some colleges. They're coming out with a lot more styles now too, so even people that have shunned the clogs might now find a tolerable style to try out.

But wait, there's more! You can decorate your Crocs. People paint, be-dazzle, and adorn them with charms (Jibbitz, Shoe Charms, ClubCharm, Charmz) and ribbons. Check eBay for tons of hand-decorated shoes for sale.



There are also several favored methods for cleaning your Crocs. A lot of times I just run water over the kids' shoes. Some people recommend baby wipes. You can shine them up with Armor-All. And then there's Crocs Butter.

There are lots of places that sell these silly shoes. Besides Nordstrom, Journeys usually has a lot of styles in stock. And some online stores are Shoebuy (usually has some great discounts), Zappos, Shoes.com, Surf & Dirt, Dick's Sporting Goods and REI.

Other related sites: Wikipedia, Crocs Shoes Fans, the very amusing I Hate Crocs, and another one about accidents with Crocs (while I won't deny there have been some serious injuries, I won't link to the site because it's got icky pictures. Google it.).

So far I really only have one complaint about my Crocs, and that is that I get slivers in my arches all the time from the crap that gets in through the holes. Otherwise I love them even though they are quite possibly the least attractive shoes ever. 'Course, I wore Birkenstocks and Simple clogs, so... don't go by me. Oh, and I'm going to start calling them by their Swedish name, Foppatoffels, because that's much funnier and it reminds me of stroopwafels and I loooooove stroopwafels. Yum.

--Jen

June 9: Marketing wizards?

So, if it was your job to sell a toilet, how would you do it? I'm not suggesting that I have any brilliant ideas, but I'm not sure I'd go for what Kohler has done. They created an interactive "flush this!" site. It's just kind of an unusual idea, that's all I'm saying. But I bet no guy's gonna complain about that plumber's crack, hm?

Either way, I'm blocking the site on the kids' computer; I don't want Jack getting any ideas.

--Jen

June 9: Death by puppy

You're just gonna die from all the preciousness, I guarantee it.

You rely on Cute Overload for a regular dose of critter cuteness. But have you checked out The Daily Puppy? You should. Jen says.

Now go.

--Jen

June 8: Shop at Sears

This e-mail is making the rounds, but it's one that's actually been verified to be true. Pretty cool.

How does Sears treat its employees who are called up for military duty? By law, they are required to hold their jobs open and available, but nothing more. Usually, people take a big pay cut and lose benefits as a result of being called up. Sears is voluntarily paying the difference in salaries and maintaining all benefits, including medical insurance and bonus programs, for all called up reservist employees for up to two years. I submit that Sears is an exemplary corporate citizen and should be recognized for its contribution. I suggest we all shop at Sears, and be sure to find a manager to tell them why we are there so the company gets the positive reinforcement it well deserves. Pass it on.

Verified at snopes, the web site that investigates urban legends and circulating e-mails for truth.

June 7: Another anniversary

It’s been two years now. It was the worst day of my life thus far, and I hate the changes that have come about since Dad’s been gone. I always have extra pictures now when we distribute the kids’ school pictures or copies of studio portraits. Our family buys far fewer Father’s Day cards. There’s one less thing to stress over when it comes to gee-what-do-I-get-the-dads-for-Christmas—but what I wouldn’t give to still have that stress.

I don’t know how else to explain it except to say I feel broken. It’s like the place in my heart that was reserved just for Dad burst when he died. But that’s life now—and no, it’s not the same without him, and I doubt we will ever completely get used to him being gone. I still think “I need to call Dad...” way too often. He’s missed out on so many things, so many birthday parties and holiday dinners and school functions and those infamous advice-offering phone conversations he loved. Bugging me about my remodeling projects. The annual selection of his new car. He's missed a James Bond movie, and watching “Pirates” with Jack. He’s missed so many Yankees games.

He has missed out. But most of all, we have missed him.

Kathy’s and my best friends have both lost their fathers since we lost ours. Unfortunately, we have learned very little about how a daughter is supposed to survive this painful phase; in fact, two years later we still often feel like the news is brand new. I found this quote recently that gives us a tiny bit of simple hope that we are not suffering in vain (though we're still struggling to find a lesson in our grief).

“If you learn from your suffering,
and really come to understand the lessons you were taught,
you might be able to help someone else
who is now in the phase you may have just completed.
Maybe that’s what it’s all about after all.”
--Source Unknown


One of the other things Kathy and I discovered in the past two years is that everyone grieves in very different ways and often on very different timelines. More than anything, we now know that there’s no such thing as a “normal” grief process. Really, whatever we feel is “normal.” And so I close with this piece from Bereavement Magazine (that must be a joyful subscription, hm?), in the hope that it might possibly be some comfort to Lori and April over the next few anniversaries that pass for them.

When Does Grief End?
Grief hits us like a ton of bricks,
Flattens us like a steamroller,
Hurls us into the depths of despair.
We know in a flash when grief hits,
But when does it end?
Like the month of March,
Grief rushes in like a lion,
And tiptoes out like a lamb.
Sometimes, we don’t know when grief leaves,
Because we don’t let go of the lion’s tail.
Why do we hold on so long?
Grief offers us safety,
Protection from the world.
We don’t want to let go
Because we secretly fear
That we’ll forget our loved ones,
And we don’t want to forget—ever.
We don’t want to let go
Because we fear the future
And having to face life without our loved ones.
We don’t want to let go
Because we make the mistake
Of measuring our grief with the depth of our love—
When neither has anything to do with the other.
How do we know when grief has run its course?
How do we know when we’ve grieved enough?
Cried enough?
“Died” enough?
How do we know when it’s time to let go of the tail?
We know when we feel joy again, in something or someone.
Joy in living. Joy in life.
We know when we wake up in the morning
And our first thought is on something other than our loss.
We know when we look ahead with a smile
And back with fond memories,
And when we no longer dread the nights.
We know when our life starts filling up with new interests and people,
And we start reaching for the stars.
Grief ends when we let go of the tail.

--Margaret Brownley, Bereavement Magazine, Jan/Feb 2002


Kathy, I'm thinking of you a whole bunch today. And I speak for us both when I say we're thinking of you a whole bunch today, too, Lori and April.

With love,

Jen

June 6: POTC-AWE end credits

I finally got to see Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. I thought it was great--I liked how all those loose ends from Dead Man's Chest got tied up. Not sure how someone could fall asleep in such a loud and action-filled flick, unless they're just really old or 47½.

I found out after I got home that I should've stayed until the credits were done, because there was a bonus scene at the end. This was no bonus scene like in the previous two movies--which were really not bonus-y at all, just pointless extra scenes--it was actually a big plot thingie.

Here be spoilers. Do NOT watch this if you have not yet, but plan to, see the movie. Because remember... it is actually a big plot thingie.



If the clip is missing, search youtube for "pirates credits end" (or something similar, no quotes) and you'll probably find another.

And finally, I just can't resist sharing a cute kid story...

There's a part in the movie where Jack Sparrow has miniature selves talking to him. Last night (our) Jack came into our room with a Jack Sparrow action figure on each shoulder and said, "Look, I'm just like the movie!"

Alright now, to the depths with ye--

Jen

June 6: WWBBD?

If you've never read the great stuff at Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian, set aside some time so you don't miss a thing. It's hilarious. Specifically, I enjoyed her "eulogy" for Jerry Falwell, found here.

My favorite part of the piece: ...it takes admirable courage and nimble logic to devote your life to issues Jesus completely ignored (abortion, global warming, tax breaks and homosexuality) while completely ignoring issues Jesus told you to devote your life to (love, charity, nonmaterialism -- and not getting divorced or devoting your entire life to being judgmental...

Just remember, I love you more than Betty does.

--Jen

June 6: Must... wake... up...

Now, here's an idea from those eggheads over at the very cool web site, ThinkGeek: take a look at The SnūzNLūz - Wifi Donation Alarm Clock. Every time you hit the snooze button the clock** connects to your bank and donates $$ to your most hated charitable organization.

I'm a big fan of the snooze button, so I'm pretty sure I'd go broke in a few days and suddenly the Rush Limbaugh Foundation would be rollin' in Ding Dongs® and Viagra®. Damn my poor sleeping habits!

**"Presumably" available... someday

June 5: Apostrophe abuse

It's not just me, okay?

I ran across a great blog today. I do not yet know the author, but I love him and/or her. I do. Check out Apostrophe Abuse. On this fine site there was also a list of related links; one of them led me to the National Punctuation Day web site. It's a good'n, except for the picture of a guy (the founder!) on the front page with very hairy shoulders. I mean, geez! Even perfect apostrophe usage can't make up for a lack of much-needed sleeves.

Another link I found was to the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks. Although unnecessary quoting doesn't bother me nearly as much as other bad punctuation does, it probably will now. Other people's annoyances very easily become my own.

Join me in my punctuation snobbery, won't you? Please? I feel a little lonely sometimes.

--Jen
P.S. My goodness, I am a bitchy wench. Proof: two of my earlier punctuation-related rants can be found at Bite Me, Jackass (follow the "Best Idea Ever" link) and A Word to the Unwise.

June 5: My day in first grade

Today was a pretty great day. We parents were invited to Katie's classroom to watch the class perform six different plays. Katie was in Three Cheers for Tacky and The Little Red Hen. The kids did an amazing job and it was a lot of fun for all of us proud parents to watch them. Even Jack enjoyed the show, and Jack usually hates anything not involving pirates.

After a short recess they also had a quick little graduation ceremony (just don't tell them they still have a week left of school). Each of the kids introduced themselves and said what they liked best about first grade and/or what they wanted to be when they grow up. Katie said she wants to be a veterinarian. Of course, my response was, "An evil veterinarian?"

I absolutely adore her teacher. She's been doing this for, like, a hundred years but you'd never know it judging by her energy level. She's spectacular. The kids all think so too.


I'm not ashamed to admit that I stole something from those little cherubs today. They have a fabulous conflict resolution system in the classroom; Kelso the Frog offers a wheel of choices when problems arise:

  • Go to another game
  • Share and take turns
  • Talk it out
  • Walk away
  • Ignore it
  • Tell them to stop
  • Apologize
  • Make a deal
  • Wait and cool off


Probably wouldn't be a bad idea to keep a list like that handy at all times for all family members, hm?

First grade is the coolest. I'll miss it.

--Jen

June 3: Cute or weird?

Time for something different.

Courtesy of Cute Overload, here's a baby stingray. Did you have any idea they look like this???
Click to see a little larger version.

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