Sep. 30: September recap

I'm going to try something new, being that it's the last day of September. I'm summarizing my month's activities and will try to do that here every 30-31 days.

Books I read this month:

No books, really, at least nothing cover-to-cover. But I did read about some books in magazines like People, Real Simple, Family Fun, Lucky and Allure. I'm pathetic, huh?

Movies and TV shows worth mentioning:

No movies in theaters. I watched the season premieres of The Office, CSI: Miami, CSI, My Name is Earl, CSI: NY. Lots of the usual other shows too.

Special days I celebrated and how:

My birthday! I went grocery shopping, did the school runs, took a nap, enjoyed a lovely dinner prepared by Vic and the kids and opened gifts. Just the way birthdays are supposed to be spent.

Gifts I gave and/or received:

I gave a few Amazon gift certificates. I received a beautiful ring and balloon/floral bouquet from my sister. Sally's family sent me some turquoise beads and silver spacers with a beautiful clasp so I can make something fun for myself. Sonya's family sent me The Office Season 3 on DVD. The kids gave me a cool Disney jigsaw puzzle (I know it makes me a total nerd girl to admit this, but I love puzzles) and the new Simpsons CD, Testify. My in-laws took me out for dinner at Stanfords. I also received a couple checks to be used for "Jen" things--a mani/pedi or two, I think--and a few cards and e-cards. I felt very loved. 'Cept by my grandmother. She didn't acknowledge my birthday in any way. But I'm sure it's hard for her to keep up with all TWO of her grandchildren. I love how she shows her dislike for me in such ridiculous/meaningless passive-aggressive ways. Boo-friggidy-hoo! (FYI, Mom, if you ever pull that $#!+ with YOUR grandchildren, you're getting rat poison in your coffee.)

I was a sickie:

Two headaches in September, both lasting several days each. Totally sucked. I think I need to have my wisdom teeth pulled. The dentist has been telling me that for a few years but I'm a-scared so I stopped going to him.

New recipes or restaurants I tried:

Nothing out of the ordinary. Maybe I should tally the number of days I ate mac & cheese. Or maybe I don't want to tell.

Special or unusual purchases I made:

Ordered things from K&J's school fundraiser, bought K&J's Halloween costumes. I don't do that every month.

This month’s disappointments:

After waiting two years, Jack finally got to start playing on a soccer team. After the first game he announced he hates soccer. As much as we encourage him to channel that hatred into his game, he has simply lost all interest. His cruel parents are making him finish out the season anyway.

My accomplishments:

I delivered a project I've been working on for nearly a year. Yay me. I also got TiVo hooked up to our new cable boxes (read below)--which took about nine hours longer than it should have--but the kids aren't yelling at me anymore because they have many new channels to watch. Mommy and Daddy ♥ Noggin and Sprout.

Anything else noteworthy:

We changed our Internet access from DSL to cable broadband, and our telephone service to digital. We also got a new home phone number. We upgraded our cable TV to digital cable, which means now we get BBC America and Bravo. We get a lot of other new channels too, but those are the ones I care about most.

Sep. 30: Smoke in comfort

Don't you hate it when you want a smoke break but it's cold outside? And NOT taking a break isn't an option because you're just dying (literally) for a sweet, sweet lung dart? Well, if gloves are just way too pedestrian for your brilliant, carcinogen craving brain, here's your answer.

Ha! Finally!

App. $30 at link from picture.

Sep. 29: Must-see Letterman

David Letterman is a god. I almost feel bad for Paris Hilton in this video but she's an idiot if she thinks she can get away without answering questions about prison. The clip is about eight minutes long and worth every second to see her squirm.

Sep. 29: Cheerleaders in my backyard

Shut the door and lock and latch it
Here comes Lizzie with a brand new hatchet!

I've mentioned many times that I love (most of) our neighbors. I do. I well up with joy every time we all congregate outside and yell at our kids together.

The neighbors directly behind us, I don't know well. Vic has had a little more contact with them, but not much. Their sons mowed our lawn for a few years. They had a puppy when our kids were toddlers, and K&J loved to talk to her through the fence. They're a perfectly nice family, they take good care of their yard, and we have no complaints.

Some time ago they got one of those fire pits that can be set up on a patio. There were many summer nights I could smell smoke wafting in our open windows and worried briefly that our house was on fire (if it ever is on fire, I will assume it's the neighbors' fire pit and will surely not get out in time). Once I got used to it, it was actually quite pleasant, almost as if we were enjoying the fire right along with them. They sit outside and chat until late at night and although we can sometimes hear them talking, it's rarely very loud and doesn't bother me. We keep our windows closed most of the time because of the A/C, so we don't even hear them some evenings.

They must have run out of firewood in the last few weeks because lately I've heard them chopping wood in their backyard almost every day. And the strange thing--the impetus for this post, in fact--is that the others root the chopper on. Every couple minutes I hear a big THWACK and then "OH!" or "YEA!" or "GOOD ONE!" or guffaws. Sometimes there's applause. After several chops I can tell that more people have joined the praise band. And when the THWACK-ing stops they all sit down to enjoy their fire.

Is my confusion over chopping firewood being an exciting spectator sport just because I simply do not understand? Because I do not understand.

I'm not complaining. I just don't get it. But I do know that I'm going to be veeery nice to these people. They have sharp things.

Sep. 29: Three things

Three things that scare me:

  1. Spiders
  2. Middle-of-the-night phone calls
  3. George W. Bush

Three people who make me laugh:

  1. Victor
  2. Kathy
  3. Sally

Three things I love:

  1. Butter
  2. Those kids I made
  3. Watching team mascots fight, ‘specially when one gets his head turned around

Three things I hate:

  1. Margarine
  2. Scout’s clicking nails on the floors
  3. Loud TV

Three things I don’t understand:

  1. How anyone can listen to George W. Bush speak without wanting to shove a sharp #2 pencil in their ear
  2. How the hell gay marriage makes heterosexual marriage less meaningful
  3. Why good things happen to bad people

Three things on my desk:

  1. Crumbs
  2. A scrapbooking layout
  3. The book I promised to send to Lori

Three things I’m doing right now:

  1. Enjoying the peace of being the only one awake
  2. Drinking coffee
  3. Trying to get rid of the migraine I’ve had for three days

Three things I want to do before I die:

  1. See my sister become a grandmother
  2. Have a housekeeper (Agador Spartacus, please)
  3. Lose my pregnancy weight

Three things I can do:

  1. Write HTML
  2. Detect bad drivers
  3. Punctuate (mostly) correctly

Three things I have never done:

  1. Mowed the lawn
  2. Smoked anything
  3. Been to Canada

Three things I will never do:

  1. Mow the lawn
  2. Drive across the country
  3. Get as drunk as I got that one time

Three ways to describe my personality:

  1. Friendly-ish
  2. Jokey
  3. Multiple

Three things I can’t do:

  1. Get rid of this friggin’ headache
  2. Decide what to make for dinner
  3. Stop lovin’ that man

Sep. 29: WWJLA? *

If, like me, you skipped church this morning (and every other Saturday morning for the past five years), this ought to make up for it. I'm a reverend, remember, so I know the rules.

*What Would Jesus Laugh At?
These bloopers, I think--they're funny.

Sep. 28: Where's my easy button?

Here's a quick quiz about office supplies.

What’s your favorite small office supply (like something that can fit in your top desk drawer)?
Post-its, definitely

What’s your favorite medium office supply (like something that can fit on your desktop)?
A little three-drawer Rubbermaid chest thingie. Whatever I need frequently can usually be found there.

What’s your favorite large office supply (like a furnishing or a large tool)?
My filing cabinet. I set up a great filing system last year. I don't use it, but I set it up.

To which specific office supply do you have a particular personal attachment?
I love sharp #2 pencils. Seems like no one else in the house does, so they don't get stolen.

Which office supply do you consider yourself something of an expert on?
Paper clips. Ask me anything.

One downside to working for oneself: stealing office supplies isn't nearly so satisfying.

Sep. 28: Updated "mix tape"

Who'd have thought tapes would be "retro" this soon? Not I.

This is kinda fun, if only for nostalgia's sake. It's an mp3 player that looks like a cassette tape. Just like a real cassette, there's no LCD screen. Click the image to see a large version and you can get an up close and personal view of the buttons. Nothing fancy, but it's got all the basics. The battery is built-in and rechargeable with a USB cable. There's no built-in memory but it holds SD cards, which is actually sorta cool because you could have a bunch of different types of music on different SD cards and switch them out all the time. Just like your old collection of tapes, but smaller.

It costs about $21 at the link above, and includes headphones and an A/C power adapter. You know you want it.

Lori, would Taylor stare at this/you like she did when you told her about records?

Sep. 28: But shipping is free!

If I can't occasionally help y'all with gift suggestions, what good am I? (That's a rhetorical question, BTW.)

Here's the perfect stocking stuffer for this Christmas: the Diamond Flower Mouse. It's a bargain at just $23,250 with free shipping. I know! It's available in white or yellow 18K gold and has 59 diamonds set in a flower shape. I think I'll order two so I have a backup. No piece-o-crap IntelliMice™ for me anymore.

See the whole line of fun mouse designs at MousEnvy.

Sep. 27: Things you don't need

The Lovely Deanna just e-mailed me about these little handmade items. She found them at Etsy. If you've never checked out that site, you should because it has some awesome stuff. It's like eBay for artists. Sorta.

I can't decide which of this seller's items is my favorite, but I think the Ron Burgundy doll made me laugh the hardest. Could be because we just watched Anchorman last week. Shouldn't there be a Brick doll that says "I love lamp" or "I ate a big, red candle" when you squeeze him?

Sep. 27: How'd I get here?

There's software plugged into Blogger that gives me site statistics. When I look at them, I get super happy to see how many hits my site gets. But then I look closer and see that for most visits, the average time on the site is 0:00:00. This means someone clicks on a link to get here and then sees nothing of interest and leaves immediately. I have special words for those people. They are words like, "Oh, so you think you're too good for me? You think I'm a bore? You have better things to do with your time than read what I write?" And then I sit in the dark and cry for an hour or two.

The statistics are quite general, such as referral sources. Most of my blog traffic comes from, which means people start at my home page and then click the "stuff jen says" link. Makes sense. The next highest referral source is Google. There are others too, but I find the Google thing veddy interesting. I can see what people were searching for that led them here, and this is a selection of what I found this morning. This data is from the past 30-some days. It's easy to see how some of these searches got people to, but there are a few head-scratchers:

  • "cities without starbucks"
  • amy krouse rosenthal's perfume
  • "charlotte summers" porn
  • "ever peed your pants"
  • pirates and ships wheel in his pants
  • can rice thrown at weddings make birds explode
  • buy a bumper sticker "camping sucks"
  • civil air patrol brazil
  • civil air patrol is evil
  • fred meyer annoying tomatoes
  • coloring pages from leviticus - wuh huh?
  • johnny and the sprites resume
  • munsters potion ingredients
  • photomama hamster
  • pictures of zac efron pantsless - they must have been really disappointed
  • siegfried and roid
  • "billy corgan" lasik
  • where is my old bullfrogs and butterflies cassette tape - great, now I have the song stuck in my head

I love the way people use Google. It makes me want to pepper my writing with odd words and phrases, just to see if it brings weirdies here.

I guess I could apologize if you got here and didn't find what you were looking for, but if you'd put quotes around your search terms you'd have better luck, dummy.

Sep. 26: Scary thought

Sometimes when I grab my towel after a shower it feels damp and I wonder, what if Vic and I have been using the same towel all these years? If you're thinking, well, at least he was clean when he was using it... then you obviously have forgotten that I married Prince Skidmark (my sister married the King).

Sep. 26: April is soooo old

Happy birthday, April!

I've been 39 for eight days already, so listen to my voice of experience, April, when I say that... um... it's not really very different from being 38.

So much for wisdom.

Sometime in the next 365 days there is going to be a big bash for April's and my 40th birthdays. There is also going to be a kid-less trip of some sort, possibly to Las Vegas. Watch your mailbox for an invitation to one or both of these events.

Today is also Lafe Bissell's birthday. I don't think he ever visits my site so he'll probably never read this but I wish him a happy day anyway.

Sep. 25: Fill in the blank

If it wasn’t for ________ , I would ________.

Fine, I’ll go first.

  • If it wasn’t for my mother-in-law, I would have lost my mind long ago (she takes Katie & Jack for me often!).
  • If it wasn’t for Alisa’s occasional text messages, I would get no others.
  • If it wasn’t for my sister, I would be an only child and very, very sad.
  • If it wasn’t for corned beef hash and southern gravy, I would be thin.
  • If it wasn’t for my children, I would have far less grey hair.
  • If it wasn’t for Lafe, I would not love fonts.
  • If it wasn’t for being so tired all the time, I would occasionally vacuum.
  • If it wasn’t for mean people, I would have nothing to complain about.
  • If it wasn’t for the poetry class I took in college, I would not appreciate literature so much.
  • If it wasn’t for my fabulous friends, I would smile much less.

Sep. 25: For The Baughman Trinity

The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is in every individual something which is inexpressible, peculiar to him alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost. ~Arthur Schopenhauer

Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes. ~Gloria Naylor

For Lori and her sisters, today is the one-year anniversary of a day that completely changed their world. I know this has been a difficult year for you and your families, and you have been on my mind and in my heart. I hope each of you is able to find a special and personal way to remember your dad every year on September 25. We who have lost our dads recently--me and Kathy, Lori and Cherie and Shelly, and April, Camille, Heather, Michael, Doug, and Julia--continue to learn that it is in keeping that man’s memory in our hearts, and allowing it to live on in its unique way, that we will never forget him.

There’s something like a line of gold thread running through a man’s words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. ~John Gregory Brown

That cloth may not be as long as we would have liked it to be, but we can still wrap ourselves up in it, and each others’. I love you, Lori--

Sep. 24: Scrabble score

If your name were spelled in Scrabble© tiles, how many points would it be worth?

Pholph's Scrabble© Generator

My Scrabble© Score is: 30.
What is your score? Get it here.

Two names only, please.

Sep. 24: Nat’l Punctuation Day

How cool is this? Today is National Punctuation Day.

I’ll let you explore the site on your own (I know you want to), but I have to recommend the punctuation error photos that readers have submitted. They’re great.

Sep. 24: Monday meme

I’m going to start making Monday my “Meme* Day.” You are invited to answer these questions for yourself in your own blog or in the comments section of mine. Here’s today’s meme:

When was the best time, or what was the best experience, you've had with a sibling?
When I think about memorable experiences I’ve shared with Kathy, most of them are the kinds that make us (and only us) laugh. But there’s not one single event that really stands out; I just have the memory of us having a lot of fun. As for what has been most meaningful, I would say that even though it is a horrible experience, working through our grief after losing Dad has made me more grateful than ever that I have her.

When do you feel the loneliest?
I rarely feel lonely anymore. I’m rarely alone anymore. If the kids and Vic aren’t around, I have the dogs, who don’t leave my side. I feel lonely for certain people sometimes. But because I have my husband and kids around, see my in-laws often, talk to my mom and sister just about every day, and e-mail my friends, I almost always feel connected to the people that are most important to me.

If a one-year period of your diary were to be published with your name attached, what year would you prefer?
I wrote in my journal regularly throughout high school and college, and that’s interesting to me to read now—even though I haven’t looked at it in a few years—because I can see myself maturing. But probably what would be more interesting to other people would be the journal I kept during Katie’s first year. I had debilitating postpartum depression for several months, and there were a lot of times that I really didn’t think I could handle being a mom. I wouldn’t have hurt myself or the baby, but I certainly considered running away from home. One thing I’ve told all of my friends who are becoming parents for the first time is that it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. I didn’t know who to talk to about all that stuff, and I really felt like I was a horrible person for not being completely in love with that newborn baby. Everyone kept telling me what a gift she was, and I desperately wanted to tell them to put their babysitting arms where their mouth was (I wanted to tell them other things too, but this is a family blog).

What has been the biggest accomplishment of your life (so far)?
I’m supposed to say “being a mom” here, aren’t I? I adore my children, and I no longer have regrets about choosing motherhood. But I have to say, I feel incredibly satisfied to have long ago chosen a career path that I have not only stuck with, but have thoroughly enjoyed. Going from full-time to contractor work has been a big change, but I have never been out of work because I have networked and made a good reputation for myself. As far as family goes, I do feel glad that my kids live in a home where mom and dad love each other and are both equally devoted to their family.

You’ve won $100,000 – but have to give it all away. To which charity or institution would you donate it?
If I thought it’d get a building named after me, I’d donate it to my alma mater, Walla Walla University. Unfortunately, I think $100K would only get me a Honey Bucket. The Jennifer Saltmarsh Manullang Honey Bucket. Woo. Seriously? I’d give it to the Olivia Medici Memorial Fund, a very worthy cause.

*Meme: In blogspeak, this is an idea that spreads across the Internet, typically a list of questions whose answers become blog entries. It is pronounced “meem” by most people. Outside of blogging, but still in the context of the Internet, memes are defined as those items that get e-mailed and linked until everyone in the world has seen them. Think “Dramatic Prairie Dog” or “Evolution of Dance.”

I encourage my other blogging friends to write/answer memes. They’re great writing exercises and can provide interesting insight, if only to you. Like you, Sheila... why don’t you have a blog? Just think of all the great Aiden stories you could share.

Have a great Monday!

Sep. 22: So NOT surprised

What Political Party Do Your Beliefs Put You In?
created with

You scored as Democrat

















Actually, I'm a little surprised to be so low on Republican because I do have some conservative-leaning views (but not about anything important!). It makes me wonder if maybe I don't know the real meaning of some of those terms in the quiz. Which makes me wonder if maybe I should even be voting...


Sep. 21: The ABC’s of moi

Accent: I would guess we all have accents, at least to people that don’t live around us. I have a hard time saying words with R sounds near each other (like Rory, Aurora, rural, etc.), but I think that’s a pronunciation problem, not an accent. British accents always sound made-up to me. A few days in London almost made me insane.

Booze: I’m a total girl-drink drunk; anything blended and sweet has my vote. The only beer I can tolerate is Hefeweizen, and I don’t really like it much. I desperately want to be able to perfect a meal by pairing the right wine with it. Wine is just so civilized. The fact that I mention wine under “booze” just shows how uncivilized I am!

Chore I hate: Cleaning the kitchen. Ask any roommate I ever had. In the ten years we’ve lived in our house, I’ve emptied the dishwasher three times, I think.

Dog or cat: Although we have dogs, I really do prefer cats. Vic’s allergic though.

Essential electronics: My laptop goes with me everywhere. I sometimes rely on my PDA (a Dell Axim) a lot. Love my MP3 player while traveling.

Favorite cologne: The last perfume I bought myself is Ralph Lauren Style. The scent is intoxicating.

Gold or silver: Silver or white gold. Yellow gold looks funny against my very pink skin.

Hometown: Born in Medford, Oregon, but consider my hometown Portland

Insomnia: Way too often. Sucks.

Job title: Mom. Wife. Outside the family, software consultant.

Kids: Two fabulous ones

Living arrangements: I live with my husband and two kids in the suburbs of Portland

Most admirable traits: I’m creative, have a good sense of humor. Gud spellar. Geez, I don’t know what people admire about me.

Number of siblings: One, the best seester ever

Overnight hospital stays: Only twice, both three nights at a time, and both after C-sections

Phobias: I hate spiders. I’m a little bit claustrophobic.

Quote: Never miss an opportunity to make others happy, even if you have to leave them alone in order to do it. ~author unknown

Religion: Raised Seventh-day Adventist. Not anymore.

Season: Spring is probably my favorite because it’s not usually too hot yet but everything is green and fresh—very welcome after Oregon’s dreary winters

Time I wake up: 7 a.m., later if possible

Unusual talent or skill: I can unscramble most words in just a few seconds

Vegetable I love: Broccoli

Worst habit: Procrastination

X-rays: I lost count a long time ago

Yummy foods I make: My favorite is tortilla soup

Zodiac sign: Virgo, but I’ve never followed astrological stuff

Now you go. You know who I’m talkin’ to...

Sep. 21: Say “cheese,” Ouch-face

Today is picture day for the kids. I searched and searched for something Katie could wear with a somewhat decorative neckline that’s not too busy or trendy or blah. I finally decided on this red sailor dress, which I think is adorable. And this morning when I dropped her off and watched her walk into the school, I thought, “There goes my little 80s girl...” Just wait until she realizes it. It’ll be like the time I figured out my mom was putting me in a poodle skirt every day because she was so fond of the 50s style.

OK, truthfully I don’t think I’ve ever worn a poodle skirt in my life. But I bet my mom suggested it a few times. And if I could remember, I bet it bugged me.

A former classmate of mine is a high school teacher now, and told me the kids planned an 80s day for their Spirit Week one year. She was horrified to see what some of them wore and kept trying to deny we ever dressed that way before she sadly remembered that we did wear the Madonna leggings and lace, the Jelly shoes, the big hair, the geometric patterns, the bright colors, the layers and layers and layers. And she was surprised at how many kids ended up looking like Gilligan. Ah, what memories.

But I digest.

My second thought after dropping Katie off this morning was, “I wonder how much of a mess she’ll get into before she sits in front of the camera.” I think it doesn’t matter how much we get our kids looking picture-perfect, they always find a way to look like themselves again.

Sometimes someone else helps. While Kathy was in line for pictures her junior year, some jackass who probably had a crush on her came over and messed up her hair. The pictures turned out fine, but her hair does look a little fuller in some places.

But sometimes you’re just doing what you do best. On picture day in third grade we had recess just before our class went to the gym for portraits. I was running across the playground, slipped on someone’s coat on the ground (damn satin-y 70s outerwear!) and skidded across the asphalt on my face. Now, if you’ve spent any time around me at all, you know that I am not the most graceful of people. Apparently I never have been. On any other day an injury like that would’ve fallen in the “Not again!” category, but on picture day, well, I was in my usual fine form with incredibly unfortunate timing. Needless to say, I didn’t get my pictures done with the rest of my class. Re-takes were a week later and I got to wear MAKEUP (cool!) to cover the many scabs.

I never ran across the playground again, and when I see Katie running outside, I cringe with the memory of that sunny fall day more than 30 years ago. We discovered early on that Katie inherited my level of grace. Poor girl. I fear she has many broken feet in her future.

Let’s just hope she doesn’t have a major rearrangement of her facial features before 10:00 this morning.


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