Apr. 30: Month in summary

I know the month is over, but I’m not done writing my summary. Sorry.

Soon, my loyal followers Mom. Soon.


Apr. 23: Apps that work

appsIf you don’t have an iPhone and/or iPad and/or iPod, then scroll to the bottom because I have something special for you there.

So, I’ve hesitated sharing this info because my brother-in-law makes fun of my blog posts that have to do with iPhone apps, but I just can’t help it. I am in looooove with things that make my life easier. Ted, mock away.

But first, a little background. From the time I first purchased an iPhone, I’ve worked hard to make sure my iPhone calendar, contacts, notes, and email always match what’s on Outlook on my PC; Outlook has always run my life. Keeping it sync-ed with my phone was easy-ish until Victor got an iPhone, and then I had to get his sync-ed even though he had a different Apple ID and that might be when I started getting super curse-y. Add in a couple iPads, upgraded phones, and WiFi syncing, and you’ve got yourself one very stressed-out Jen.

A few weeks ago I gave up trying to get all our devices to have accurate information; it was seriously affecting my blood pressure. Giving up was kinda cool, actually, because I could get yell-y at Victor when he “forgot” about something on our calendar. I could be all IF YOU BROUGHT YOUR DEVICES TO ME TO SYNC REGULARLY MAYBE THIS WOULD NOT HAPPEN AND ALSO THIS IS NOT SCREECHING THIS IS QUIET GENTLE REMINDING AND WHATEVER JUST GO SIT IN THE SHAME CORNER RIGHT NOW.

So I went about finding another way to get the important info that we both need regularly to always be accurate. It took more missteps than I care to admit, so I’m just gonna tell you what I landed on.

outlookOUTLOOK.COM. It has email (POP and IMAP for my manullang.com address—yay!), contacts, and calendar. Changes made on either the iDevices or outlook.com are fed almost immediately to all linked devices. I love that part. There’s really no need to plug our devices into my laptop anymore, and that was my goal. Happy Jen. My only complaint is that delivery times for my test messages have a significant delay; of course, with real messages I don’t notice.

Is outlook.com better than Google or Yahoo mail? It is for me. Your results may vary.

evernoteFinding the right app for notes was trickier. Our notes contain important but random things like lists of our physicians, the kids’ school IDs, exterior and interior house paint colors, account number, login IDs, recipes, gift ideas, etc. What I ended up using to handle our notes is Evernote. Here are several reasons that I love love love Evernote:

  1. There’s a web version, which I can sync to all our devices. If I have a lot of typing to do, it’s much easier to do on my laptop than tapping out on my phone or tablet.
  2. Notes can contain photos, links, and formatting. They’re pretty.
  3. Notes can be organized into notebooks, which means Vic doesn’t have to scroll through my jewelry design ideas to find the login info for Comcast.
  4. They’re perfect for recipes, and I love having those recipes handy when I’m at the grocery store and forgot to bring my shopping list.
  5. Evernote notes can be used a bit like Pinterest, but-cept I can add detail, put several pictures in one note, etc. I like that I don’t have to dig through my Pinterest boards to find stuff I vaguely remember pinning. I especially like the way Evernote looks on the iPad:


Here’s the same page on the iPhone:


Verdict: Evernote is fab.you.luss.

flipboardFlipboard. Jim M. told me about this “social magazine” and I immediately downloaded it, but haven’t completely committed yet. It’s definitely better on a tablet, IMO, but no matter the size of the device, here are things I like a lot:

  1. The interface is really slick.
  2. Google Reader feeds can be added. I like the way you scroll through the items, almost more than I like Feedly (which I am still adjusting to and am not yet in love with).
  3. Twitter feeds can be added too. I have a tough time remembering to read Twitter because I haven’t been using it much, and I like the idea of my feed appearing with other stuff I am in the habit of reading. A Facebook news feed can be added too, but I haven’t tried that.
  4. It’s very swipe-y. That’s fun.
  5. My favorite part is how important my friends sometimes look on the front page:

flipboardfrontThat’s a pic Sherilee posted of her golden beets, which is not a euphemism for anything of which I’m aware.

Can I share one of my many not-even-slightly-related pet peeves? I bet some of you share it too, and I bet others of you are guilty of committing this pet peeve of mine, which I’m pretty sure you do just to peeve me. That’s a thing, right? Peeving?

Email addresses. Why do people gotta make them weird? Like, don’t make them all cryptic or cutesy, or put weird characters in them, or stuff like that… it’s just confusing. Make your email address some form of your name (or nickname) and BE DONE WITH IT. Sheesh.

Sorry for getting’ screechy there. To make up for it, well, I got nothin’.

Oh, and for you non-iDevice users, here’s a cute bunny to disguise my disappointment in you and the 20th century in which you apparently still live:





Apr. 17: Spreading more joy

Wherever there is a human in need, there is an opportunity for kindness and to make a difference.

I wrote the other day about spreading joy to others. In light of the bombing in Boston this week, I’m feeling even more that spreading joy needs to become a much bigger focus of my life. I’ve found a gazillion web sites dedicated to this, and I’ll share just a few of the ideas that I think could be totally do-able for me.

  • Smile at people. I have no problem making eye contact and smiling at strangers, but when I’m on the receiving end of a stranger’s smile I sometimes feel kinda creeped out. Proceed with caution—that’s all I’m saying.
  • Give genuine compliments
  • Be thoughtful
  • Donate to worthy causes that align with your values. This is more of a good deed thing than spreading joy—it is to me, anyway; I think of spreading joy as being more immediate and personal than making a donation to Goodwill or American Cancer Society. Still, donating is good good good.
  • Give a handwritten note of encouragement or appreciation
  • Pick flowers from your garden and give them awaykindness
  • Seek out a store manager and let them know when a clerk has been particularly helpful
  • Comment on a blog. Facebook comments are delightful to receive, but the ones left directly on the blog are really special.
  • Let your kids pick out your clothes for work one day (yikes!)
  • Invite a friend out for coffee
  • Text a friend you haven’t contacted in a while, just to let them know they’re on your mind
  • Surprise your spouse and kids with a COOKED breakfast on a busy weekday
  • Write a note to your kids to tell them you’re proud they belong to you
  • Help your kids spread joy too!
  • Make up “care bags” and give them to homeless people (fill a large Zip-loc bag with things like a bar of soap, shampoo, sunscreen, toothbrush, flossers, toothpaste, razor, comb, Band-aids, Chapstick, emery boards, hand sanitizer, deodorant, pack of wet wipes, Kleenex, gum, mints, nuts, energy bars, socks)
  • “Like” a small business on Facebook
  • Leave a dollar in a library book
  • Put a birdfeeder on the ground, just for the squirrels (I bet they’ll be suspicious)
  • Tape change to a vending machine
  • Tip 100%
  • Hand out free popsicles to the neighborhood kids

The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion and compassion and humor and style and generosity and kindness. ~Maya Angelou

Now, go be nice. Let’s make the goodness in the world bigger than the evil.


Apr. 14: Chuckles

My “save this crap to share on blog” folder is overflowing. Here ya go.


New Picture (2)


This really, really makes me throw up a little:
photo 1a




I showed this to Jack and now he won’t stop asking when we’re going to do it to our kitchen.
If we ever make a secret hide-out, it’s gonna be secret from the kids. Why else would we have one???




This might be the funniest photo re-creation I’ve seen:
photo 2a


Every. Single. Day.
photo 4b




photo 5b






Just ignore these last ones if you know nothing about Les Mis…

photo 1b





Have a good week, friends.


Apr. 13: Is this racism? I don’t know.

On my way out of the school yesterday, the principal pulled me aside to tell me about an incident with which Jack was involved. I immediately started to apologize—it’s a habit—but this time it wasn’t Jack’s fault… because he can’t help his ethnicity.

Seems one of the instructional assistants heard another fifth grade boy calling Jack “Asian.” Not referring to him as Asian, but actually calling him “Asian,” like a name. I was kinda “meh” about it until the principal said the same boy calls another kid “Little Mexican.” Together, these things made me super-prickly. I was glad the IA reported it and the principal gave this situation the attention it deserved: the kid was reminded of the rules about name-calling at school and asked to apologize. (For those of you familiar with our PBIS program, I don’t know if he was given a warning or referral, or spoken to only.)

kidsI don’t know if I should be angry or sad or mama-bear-protective. My boy knows his ethnicity doesn’t make him better or worse than anyone else, so I’m not worried he’ll be scarred by this incident (it helps that he doesn’t like the kid much anyway). I think the whole thing mostly just makes me sad. What makes me prickly about it is that a kid—any kid in 2013—thinks it’s OK to talk to others this way. Have these racist attitudes been taught at home? Or could it be that the school staff and I are all overreacting because it’s typical at this age to be unintentionally insensitive?

When my nephews were in high school, I remember my sister being shocked to hear them and their friends call each other the n-word. To them, though, that was just a silly name that meant “friend.” It seems like many of the racist attitudes we were exposed to while growing up in the 70’s are mostly history, at least in this part of the world. This makes me very happy. The idea that people who grew up then might not only still be hanging on to those attitudes, but teaching them to their kids, makes me very unhappy.

We all have biases, some so much a part of us that we don’t even remember where they came from. I am only slightly embarrassed to admit that I am biased against ignorant and/or mean people, bad drivers, and jackasses who walk slowly in crowds. But when it comes to the biggies—gender, race, religion, age, sexual orientation, etc.—it is so, so important that we point our children in the right direction, discrimination-wise. 

Stepping off my soapbox now. Nyah-Nyah


Apr. 6: “We must try”

joyWow. I just wrote a very long and totally depressing post about cancer, prompted by the recent death of Roger Ebert. I walked away from it for several hours and then came back, read it over several times, edited it heavily, and finally decided it was best to delete the whole thing. Instead, I will share these Ebert-related items:

Fans admired his courage, but Ebert told The Associated Press that bravery had “little to do with it.” … “You play the cards you’re dealt,” Ebert wrote in an email in January 2011. “What’s your choice? I have no pain. I enjoy life, and why should I complain?”

I love that, rather than accepting credit for a courageous fight (which, of course, he has the right to do), he says anyone else would do the same thing under the same circumstances. And yet, there are people who would complain, spread their misery, and bum everybody out… which is part of the reason I deleted my original post.

Here’s the thing:

We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.

I am inspired to find new ways to contribute joy, even in the toughest times. That’s really all that I’m trying to say.



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