Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Song Blog Part 2: Songs I Never Get Tired Of

 So now that the songs I hate have been playing in my head for a few days, it's time to replace them with a list of the Christmas songs I really love. The ones I never get tired of hearing, usually because they don't get played once an hour LIKE THAT FRAKKING DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS, IF I HEAR THAT ONE MORE TIME....
 Sorry. Chocolate break. Better now.
 Here's the list of favorites, in no particular order, with my reasoning for their awesomeness. Check them out, maybe you'll find a new favorite too.

 "Welcome Christmas" - the Who song from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." (The cartoon, not the Jim Carrey monstrosity.) A sweet song of beautiful harmonies and a Christmassy message. Check out the Glee version from last year's Christmas episode, they do a great arrangement.

 Also from "Grinch" - "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch." How could anyone not love a song with lyrics like "Your heart is full of unwashed socks, your soul is full of gunk Mr. Grinch." Plus, it's sung by Thurl Ravenscroft,  who was also the voice of Tony the Tiger.

"What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)" - off the Star Wars Christmas album "Christmas In the Stars" - not to be confused with the Star Wars Holiday Special. The whole album is cheesy Star Wars goodness, but this is the best track, in my opinion. The album is also notable for lead vocals on several songs by a teenaged Jon Bon Jovi. (He's really, really bad.)

"The 12 Days of Christmas" by Straight No Chaser. The one exception to the "nobody should ever sing this song" rule. It's funny, it's short, and the last verse is to the tune of "Africa" by Toto. If you've never seen the video, look it up on You Tube, it's fantastic.

"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings" by The Barenaked Ladies with Sarah McLachlan. A jazzy, bouncy arrangement with wonderful harmonies. Impossible not to dance around like a lunatic when you hear it (unless, of course, you're in the car.)

"Carol of the Bells" by Mr. Mackey from the South Park Christmas album. This whole album is gold (as long as you're not easily offended) but I picked this one because a) I love any version of "Carol of the Bells" and b) it's the only song on the album you can listen to with kids in the car/room.

"Christmastime Is Here" from the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Instant nostalgia - nothing takes you back to childhood like A Charlie Brown Christmas. For something a bit different, check out Afro Blue's super-jazzy a cappella arrangement.

"Snoopy's Christmas" by The Royal Guardsmen. A strange little song from 1967 about Snoopy and the Red Baron and a World War I Christmas truce. I first heard this song as a child in the '70s, and it just mesmerized me. It gets very little radio play, which is too bad, because I could listen to it over and over.

Honorable mention: "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" - a controversial pick, since I know there is VIOLENT hatred for this song. I think it's hilarious. I first heard it in junior high, and it still appeals to that junior high sense of humor buried deep down. I can't say I NEVER get tired of it, but I can handle about four or five repetitions through December. But only if I'm somewhere I can sing along at the top of my lungs.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Christmas Song Blog, Part 1: Songs I Never Want to Hear Again

 So, I wasn't planning to blog again until the New Year, because one less thing to stress about over the holidays seemed like a good idea. But this has been in my head shrieking to get out for about a week, so I'm finally giving in.

I love Christmas songs. I love to sing them, play them on the piano, listen to them on the radio (thank you Star 104.5 for not going to all-Christmas programming until Thanksgiving week, by the way. Nov. 1 was just too early.) And there are songs I adore, songs I like, songs I don't care about much one way or the other...and then there are those other songs. The ones that get played over and over, that grate on you like fingernails on a chalkboard, and that if you hear ONE more time you're going to commit hari-kari with a sharpened candy cane...

So here's my list of Christmas songs I NEVER want to hear again, in no particular order:

"The Christmas Shoes" - About a kid buying shoes for his dying mother
sample lyric: And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight

I HATE this song. I know it's supposed to be heartwarming, and remind us of the true meaning of Christmas, but it's depressing as hell. If I'm in a happy Christmas mood and hear it at the mall, it never fails to bum me out.

"Same Old Lang Syne" - about a guy who runs into his ex on Christmas Eve
sample lyric: "We bought a six pack at the liquor store, and we drank it in her car."
Drinking and driving, how festive. Just because it mentions Christmas does not make it a Christmas song. I don't want to hear about these people's relationship issues, I have Facebook for that, but the tune is so catchy I can't get it out of my head.

"Santa Baby" - a greedy mistress trying to squeeze expensive gifts out of her Sugar Daddy
sample lyric: "Santa honey, there's one more thing, I really do need the deed to a platinum mine."
Really. That's the lyric. A platinum mine. I hope Santa fills her stocking with dog poo.

"My Favorite Things" - from "The Sound of Music," you know the lyrics.
Who decided this is a Christmas song? Neither the song nor the movie has anything to do with Christmas. You know what this song makes me think of? Nazis. Not my favorite thing.

"Do They Know It's Christmas?" - Band-Aid fundraiser song for Africa
sample lyric: "And the Christmas bells that ring there R the clanging chimes of doom
Well 2night thank God it's them instead of U"
It may not be PC to say so, but I've hated this song since the '80s. It's played waaaay to much, it's dated, the lyrics are mostly horrible...maybe I'm too cynical, but it seems to me this is just a bunch of self-absorbed, self-righteous rockers who recorded a charity song so they could feel good about their extravagant lifetstyles the rest of the year. Is the charity still getting royalities every time this is played or sold? Because that's the only excuse for continuing to hear this song year after year.

"The 12 Days of Christmas" - Everybody knows this one, though nobody knows all the lyrics
No one should sing this. Ever. There's no excuse for it. Just, no. *
(* OK, one exception, which I'll get to tomorrow.)

Dishonorable mention:
"Mistletoe" by Justin Bieber. I've already heard this forgettable pop song too many times. At least it is forgettable, and not likely to stick in my head. Won't still be playing five years from now.
"Shake Up Christmas" by Train. Also played too much. Repetitive, but not too horrible. One of those catchy songs that runs through your head, whether you like it or not. I'm afraid this one will be playing five years from now.

Tomorrow: Part 2, Songs I Can't Get Enough Of
All lyrics copied from

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Ghost Story

When it comes to the supernatural, I'm like Fox Mulder - I want to believe. But I've never actually experienced anything paranormal first hand. However...

 We don't live in an old house, it was built in the 1990s. And even though it had quite a few owners before us, none of them died here. (Believe me, I checked). So this is an unlikely haunted house. But according to paranormal experts (and "Ghost Whisperer") people can be haunted, so...

Some people claim to be sensitive to the paranormal - they can go somewhere and feel bad vibes, or something watching, or whatever...but...that's not me. I'm completely oblivious to the spirit world. There could be a ghost parade marching through my living room right now, I'd never know. Children, however, are supposed to be able to see things adults can't, which would explain some things I've observed around here in the past year.

 When the baby was about 3-4 months old, I played the smiling game with her a lot. I'd sit on the couch with her facing me on my lap. When I smiled, she'd smile back. When I stopped smiling, she stopped. Simple game. Except, sometimes, she would look up and over my shoulder, where someone standing behind me would be, and smile - at no one. Then stop smiling. Then smile again. She was playing the smiling game with someone standing behind me - someone I couldn't see.

A few weeks ago, I was sleeping in on a Sunday. The baby monitor was on, and I heard her starting to fuss, but I was really tired and just couldn't force myself out of bed. I was looking at the monitor and trying to get up, when I heard a man's voice say three words that I couldn't quite make out, then the baby giggled and cooed. I thought, good, Daddy's got her, and dozed off again. I woke up about 20 minutes later when she started to fuss again. I picked her up, and we went downstairs, where I asked Daddy if she had gone back to sleep after he went in to check on her. He hadn't checked on her - he'd been downstairs and hadn't heard her at all.

A few days ago, I was in the kitchen and the baby was in her play yard  in the next room. I heard her say "Hi" and peeked around the corner. She was standing, looking up at about the height where an adult's head would be, if someone was standing in front of the play yard looking down. She had her arm stretched out, pointing, and kept saying "Hi" - but no one was in the room. The TV wasn't even on.

So there it is. I've never felt anything, any tingling, or any "presence." And by the time the baby's old enough to question, she won't remember any of this, so we'll never know what, if anything, was here. Maybe a late relative checking in? But it's something to ponder. Happy Halloween.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Paranormal Activity 3 Review

Finally got a chance to get out to a movie. (It's been awhile - the last movie we saw in a theater was a double feature of Transformers 3 and Cowboys and Aliens.) Since it's Halloween weekend, we had to go to Paranormal Activity 3.

 I really liked the first one, but didn't see the second. I was pregnant when it came out, and with previews showing demonic activity around a baby...not something I wanted to see. Your dreams are weird enough when you're pregnant, I didn't want to add demon babies to the mix.

 I really liked Paranormal Activity 3, in fact, now I want to see 2. The first one was scarier -  It was new, you didn't know what to expect - but this one had some great spooky moments. A prequel to the first two movies, it had the main characters of 1 and 2 as little girls in 1988. Creepy little kids are always a plus in a horror movie, and the girls pull it off, they come across as really natural and believable. When the little one starts talking to her "imaginary friend" Toby, you just know it's not going to go well. And we get a little more explanation for what, exactly, is plaguing this family. Maybe too much explanation, much of the horror is in the mystery.

 I was a little worried that with all the previews I'd seen for this movie, I'd feel like I'd already seen it. (I hate it when the ads show all the good stuff.) Not a problem though, most of the stuff I remember from the ads wasn't actually in the movie. I suppose there will be a lot of extra footage on the DVD.

 So overall, it's not going to win any awards, but it's a nice little scare for Halloween. And as an aside, we went to Taste restaurant for after-movie munchies, and our waiter was named Toby - a nice creepy finish to the evening!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Just Say No To Kiddie Fundraising

The other day the boy brought home a fundraising flyer from school. Now, I know from friends with kids that the fundraising starts a lot earlier than when I was in school, but Kindergarten? Really? The more I thought about it, the more irritated I got. Because we all know kids this young are not going door-to-door to sell this stuff. Mommy and Daddy are expected to take it to work and guilt their co-workers into ordering overpriced whatevers, because after all, we bought from their kids.

 The school even gave us a quota - we're supposed to try to sell at least 20 boxes. When did we, as parents, let this fundraising stuff get so out of hand? And can we stop it? All we have to do is refuse to cooperate - but everyone has to refuse, or else I'm just that crazy mother who doesn't care about her kids' school.

 Here are my reasons for refusing to kowtow to school fundraisers:

1. Age. As I've stated, kids this young don't learn anything from this, Mom and Dad are doing all the selling and paperwork. When I was a kid, I didn't fund-raise in grade school, they had bake sales and carnivals. And I would be all over that, I love bake sales and carnivals, and would have no problem volunteering to help.

2. Useless stuff/overpriced food. There is a whole industry that revolves around selling schools and organizations on these "fundraisers." Why should I expect my friends to pay $11 for a box of frozen pastries that I wouldn't expect to spend more than $5.99 on in the grocery store? What is the product's actual cost, and how much of that $11 goes to the school? I checked the company's website, but that information isn't available there. (Surprise)

3. Why do they need the money? I don't mind buying expensive popcorn from the Boy Scouts, or cookies from the Girl Scouts - I know the organizations do good work, and let's face it, Thin Mints are a bargain at any price. But why is my kid's school doing this fundraiser anyway?  The boy goes to a private school, and while the tuition is not excessive, it is considerable. Plus, parents are expected to provide general school supplies at the beginning of the year, and provide snacks for the class once a month. So where is the money going? Tell me about a special need and I may be willing to make a donation, instead.

So, that was my rant.  If any friends who read this blog feel the need for an $11 box of individual frozen streudels (which I must admit, do look tasty, just not worth $11), let me know. But I'm not going to pressure anyone into buying.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Had a Blog Topic Planned...

...But the more I thought about it, the more it started turning into a rant in my mind, and I'm not sure I want to rant here. I usually try to keep this light and humorous. Plus, in my head it keeps getting longer and longer, and it's getting late, and I still have stuff I sold on eBay to box up for mailing tomorrow...

 I'm going to think about my rant for now, see if sleeping on it lightens it up a bit. I don't want an angry blog post that I regret later. I'm sure it will seem funnier tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Almost Halloween

 It's time to get Halloween costumes together. Costuming at our house is interesting, since around here, costumes aren't just for Halloween. Take the boy: he has a pirate costume for Renaissance Faires, and has had several cool sci-fi convention costumes (Yoda, X-Wing pilot, Captain Kirk). So you'd think Halloween would be easy, just pull something out of the closet. But he doesn't want to wear any of those, nor does he want to be like every other five-year-old boy and go as Spider-Man, Transformers, Power Rangers or Batman - he wants to be a ghost. And not some store-bought, bleeding-mask Ghost Face, he's going old-school: a white sheet with eye holes cut out.

 This isn't a total surprise, last year he wanted to be a witch. Not a wizard or a warlock, a witch. No matter how much someone (Daddy) tried to point him toward the male version, he knew that a warlock or wizard was not the same thing, and he wanted to be a witch. Which was fine with me: a pointed hat on clearance for $1 at Target and my old hip-length Renaissance Faire cloak (which on him drags the ground) and he was set to go. And he was a super-cute witch!

 So time to get out the sheet and measure where to cut the eye holes. Do ghosts need arm holes? I don't think the Charlie Brown Halloween cartoon ghost costumes had arm holes, but I don't know how he's going to hold the candy bag without them. Then I just have to dissuade him from turning the porch into a haunted house where he jumps out from behind the bushes to scare trick or treaters. (Our porch is too small.)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kiddie Basketball - Better Than a Comedy Club

The boy started basketball at the Y yesterday - Kindergarten league. This is his first organized team sport, and it shows. Luckily, most of the other kids are about at the same level. Practice was pretty funny, and the actual "game" even more so. Of course, at this level they don't keep score or call fouls or anything. Heck, not all the kids seemed to know they were actually playing a game!

 The parents are funny too. Our side was pretty quiet, but the other team's parents were yelling advice and encouragement: "Shoot it!" "Get the ball!" "Block him!" With the result that their kids were blocking and stealing the ball - from their own teammates, mostly. Because our team was still standing in a group under the other hoop, wondering where the ball went.

 It's going to be interesting to see how much the boy learns about basketball. (Let's face it, considering his genetic makeup, a sports scholarship is probably not in his future.) Passing, catching, dribbling, dribbling while moving, instead of picking up the ball and running down court with it - these all seem possible,  eventually, though I don't know if the season is long enough for the kids to figure out the rules of the game. Or that they're actually involved in a game. Against another team.

 But at the end of the hour, he said he had fun, and the baby and I were definitely entertained watching him, so I guess it's money well spent.

 Next spring, soccer.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book Review: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter

Once again, Seth Grahame-Smith is creating a new sub-genre in literature, though I don't know what to call it - maybe biographical horror fiction? Anyway, the author of "Pride and Prejucide and Zombies", which started a wave of literary horror mashups, has struck again with "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter".

 My college major was history, so I actually enjoy reading historical biographies, and this is an especially well-written biography of Lincoln - just with the added fictional element of him being the world's foremost vampire hunter. I feel like I learned a lot about Lincoln, while getting to play "What If."  (What if one of the underlying causes of the Civil War really was to keep vampires from taking over the country?)

 While I really enjoyed "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies", I think to get the most out of it, you have to be a big Jane Austen fan and a zombie fan. If you're not already familiar with the writing style of 19th century novels, the phrasing can be stilted and difficult to follow. That's not a problem with "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter". It's very accessible, even if you're not a history buff - in fact, it might make the average reader want to find out more about Lincoln and the Civil War.

One caveat, I found the ending a bit predictable. And not in a "Titanic" movie kind of way. (Spoiler alert: it hits an iceberg and sinks.) I mean, I know John Wilkes Booth assasinated Lincoln, the only question was how vampires were going to be worked in. But I predicted exactly how it was going to be done, and that's a bit disappointing. Not enough to spoil my enjoyment of the story, though. This book gets a spot in my permanent collection. The only question is where to shelve it - under sci-fi/horror, or historical biographies?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Unique Baby Names - Help or Hindrance?

  Have you noticed how baby names these days are getting more and more "out there?"  It's interesting how original, unique names have become the norm. When I was in grade school, it seemed like everybody was named Amy, Jennifer, Chris, Tracy, Kim...or Michael, Robbie, Matt, Jeff or Chris (again). There were always at least two of those names in every class. I guess that's why parents of my generation tend to go for originality. It doesn't matter where the name comes from -  books, movies, family tradition, religion - as long as it sounds new and different. My five-year-old's class of 17 has names like Blu, Ridley, Felix, Jasmina and Leora, and only one name is repeated (there are two Morgans).

 When I was a kid, the kid with the name that really stood out usually had problems. (I'm pretty sure that one girl named Hazel became a drug addict - not that the name was the reason, but...) But today, when so many names are unique, few really stand out. So I guess that's good. But few of these kids today are going to be able to find their names on a plastic license plate in a souvenir shop. (Do they even still make those?) I'm just saying.

(Personal disclaimer - both of my kids have "unusual" names. Not surprising, considering my name and my husband's were both in the top 10 most common names for the entire decade of the '70s. So for our kids,we picked traditional Irish names, reflecting my husband's and my ethnic heritage. The fact that they are also the names of Jedi Kights from Star Wars novels is a complete coincidence. Really.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Baby Is 1

My baby turned 1 yesterday - so I guess technically, she's not a baby anymore. She doesn't walk yet, though, so I can't call her a toddler until she begins to toddle. This year seemed to go so much faster than her older brother's first year. I would think it would be just the opposite, since I'm home all day with her, but when the boy was a baby I still worked full time. Maybe it seemed to go faster because we're not planning on having more kids, so each milestone she reaches is the last first milestone we'll see.

 Anyway, here's the cutest 1-year-old girl in the universe. Not that I'm biased or anything.

"What do you mean, the paper isn't the present?"

The boy took my new toy, but at least I have my hat

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Good Day to Be Undead

I said at least two things today I'm pretty sure I've never said before: 

 - "Stop throwing that severed hand! You're going to lose it!"
 - "As soon as we're done eating, I'll clean the blood off the baby."

Yep, it's October, which means Omaha Zombie Walk!

We first went to this event two years ago. There were a couple hundred zombies, and you could count the spectators on one hand - of course, the weather was cold and rainy. We didn't go last year - a six-day-old baby is sort of limiting at this kind of thing. So this year was a must-go. The 5-year-old wanted to be a zombie, the baby is old enough to enjoy it but small enough to confine to a stroller, and the weather was sunny and 70 degrees, which is pretty rare for Nebraska in October.

 We had a blast - I zombied up myself and the kids, and Daddy armed himself with a nerf gun and joined the zombie resistance. This event has really become family-friendly - I wasn't the only one pushing a zombie baby in a stroller, and there were tons of kids the boy's age. There were about 1800 zombies walking, about 80 militia, and spectators lined the streets for the whole route.

Happy zombie family (note severed hand in the baby's lap)

Zombie baby

Boy wants brainz!

Daddy's ready to fight the undead horde

 We didn't stay for the Rave or the Zombikini contest (that part's not so family-friendly) but it's still a great way to spend a Saturday night!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Today Is My Birthday!

   I love having a birthday on October 13. The leaves are changing, the weather is crisp, but still (usually) pretty nice, and sometimes my birthday is on Friday the 13th, which I think is pretty cool. Plus, I often get Halloween-themed stuff for my birthday, which I love, Halloween being my favorite holiday.

 I have been, and plan to keep celebrating all month. Here's a couponing hint: If you sign up for a newsletter or email list, and they ask for your birthday - give it. The business will send you coupons for free stuff good the whole month of your birthday. Here's a partial list of my b-day swag:

- A free dinner at Kobe Japanese Steakhouse, with puchase of a second entree
- A free coffee drink at Starbucks, any drink, any size
- Free $10 game play card at Dave & Busters
- $5 coupon from DSW shoes
- Free dessert with entree purchase at T.G.I. Fridays
- Free glass of wine or dessert at Taste restaurant

Now excuse me, I have to go get a latte to drink while I try on shoes to wear to my free dinner!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Extreme Couponing: Crazy Hoarders or Savvy Shoppers?

  I really like the TLC show "Extreme Couponing." I won't call it a guilty pleasure, because I don't feel guilty about it. ("Toddlers and Tiaras", now THAT'S a guilty pleasure)  The first time I saw this show I was hooked: How are these people getting hundreds of dollars of stuff for free? And  how can I do it, too?

 Every time I brought this show up with friends, though, the reaction was overwhelmingly negative - so much so, I started to think maybe I was the one that was off base for liking it. "Those people belong on "Hoarders." "Why would anyone turn their basement into a warehouse?" "Who needs 300 toothbrushes or 500 deodorants?"

 And it's true, some of these people do get a little carried away with the stockpiling. But some of them are collecting for their church, or for soldier care packages, or their local homeless shelter. Some of them have been laid off, but are still managing to feed large families by using their stockpiles. So I've decided I'm right, and my friends are wrong. This show is awesome!

 Now, I'm not an Extreme Couponer myself. I'm never going to be able to get $900 worth of groceries for 27 cents, and I just don't have the storage space for a stockpile. But in the last few months, I think I've become a Super Good Couponer. I pay a lot closer attention to my coupons and store sales, I compare prices for the best deals, I know when to stock up, and when to wait for a better far, I've managed to cut an average of $100 off my monthly grocery budget, for a family of four. And there's nothing quite like the rush of getting that really, REALLY good deal.

Like when Finish dishwasher tabs were on sale at Target 2 for $5, and I had four manufacturer's $2.25 off coupons, plus a Target .75 off coupon. I got a 6 month supply of dishwasher tabs for 25 cents. Plus, if you bought four at once, you got a $5 Target gift card - so really, I came out $4.75 ahead.

And that's how you get sucked in - that one really good score, that makes you want to keep trying for that next awesome bargain. You know, I could probably fit some shelves in the basement for a little extra storage space...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

So Tired

Didn't sleep well last night - had trouble falling asleep, and as soon as I did, the boy woke up with a bad dream. He went right back to sleep, I didn't. Then the baby woke up. Daddy fed her so I could go back to sleep, but the damage was done. I've been tired all day, with no opportunity to nap. So instead of my planned post, I'm going to take a hot shower, read a chapter of "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" then go to bed early.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Peter Kiewit Construction Totally Rocks!

  Kiewit Construction is building a large office tower for TD Ameritrade a few miles from our house. They're using two giant tower cranes, which are visible from quite a ways away. I know this because everywhere we go, the boy points them out. He really, REALLY, likes construction equipment.

 Daddy has been taking him to the construction site on the weekends every month or so, so he can watch the progress. One Saturday morning, a supervisor spotted them watching, (the boy in his toy construction helmet) and came over to talk. He gave the boy a real, official Kiewit hard hat, sized down to fit, and offered to set up a tour some Saturday. A few weeks later, Daddy called to set up the tour, and John from Kiewit took them all around the site. They got to go up in the office building (still mostly just framework), and the boy got to touch, and sit in, actual construction equipment.

 It's amazing to me how far out of their way the Kiewit staff went to make one construction-crazy boy's day. Every time Daddy and the boy go back, if the workers are there, they smile and wave, sometimes give him official stickers for his hard hat - last time, they even made him a name label for the helmet. They didn't have to do any of this - the boy was happy just to watch them work. But Kiewit really gets public relations.

 View of the tower crane from inside the TD Ameritrade building, under construction.
The boy inside a construction vehicle, complete with safety vest and hard hat.

 If the boy ends up a construction worker, or a structural engineer, or an architect, I think we'll know just where and when the seed was planted. Thanks Kiewit!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

How Long Should It Take To Lose the Baby Weight?

  I spent some time today trying on pre-pregnancy jeans. I ended up with three pairs that fit pretty well, two pairs that almost fit and were worth keeping around, and three pairs of "no way in hell am I ever getting into these again." (At least one pair of that last group were pre-first pregnancy.)

  Those results were a lot better than I expected, though I still have some weight left to lose, and not a lot of time to do it. Statistics show if a woman doesn't lose her baby weight within the first year, she has a 78% chance of never losing it. (No, not really, I just made that up. Sounds pretty plausible, doesn't it? That's why you shouldn't believe everything you read on the internet. But I digress.)

 So let's see: I have nine pounds left to lose and my baby turns one on October 17...nope, not going to make it. But I am starting a new exercise program this week. Of course, this is about the third new exercise program I've started in the last year, none of which lasted more than a week. But this time I have a more realistic workout schedule, and with a single digit goal and the incentive of pants that fit, I think this time I'll stick to it.

Now, if I can just face the Wii Fit after my long absence...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Football Saturday, Take 2

Just a short post today, getting ready to go to the Nebraska-Ohio State game. The first home Big 10 Conference game - hope it goes better than last week's farce at Wisconsin.

 We only go to one game a year, and last year I didn't go to any, since I was nine months pregnant at this time last year. So I'm hoping for good weather (no rain, please) and a good win for Nebraska. Just wish it wasn't a night game - it's going to be a late drive home from Lincoln.

Next day edit: Well, it rained off and on the whole game, but I got my good win! THAT was THE game to go to this year!  Down 27-6 in the third quarter, and Nebraska pulls out a comeback victory, 34-27. Biggest comeback in school history! Hello, Big Ten Conference, welcome to Lincoln! Didn't get back to Omaha until 12:30 a.m., and I feel hungover this morning without having had a drink, but it was totally worth it!

(Aside to my Hawkeye fan friends and relatives: Sorry about your trip to Penn State. I watched some of that game before we left, and I was rooting for Iowa - that was a tough loss. Even though NU is in the Big Ten now, I still plan to root for Iowa - right up until they play Nebraska!)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Is My Baby a Cat Reincarnated?

I'm not sure I believe in reincarnation, but I kind of want to. It just seems plausible - cosmic recycling.

Now, when I was about four months pregnant, our cat died. And since the baby was born, there have been some interesting similarities:
 - She dislikes the sound of rattling plastic bags - the cat hated plastic bags.
 - She sometimes puts her hand in her mouth, then wipes it along her face, just like a cat cleaning itself.
 - She chases cereal puffs around her highchair tray, capturing and releasing them a few times before eating, just like a cat with a bug.

It would make karmic sense for Buster to come back as the baby - he spent the last years of his life tolerating the boy from baby to age four. Now it's payback time as the baby does to big brother what he did to the cat. ;)

Something to think about, anyway...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Recipe Wednesday: Meatloaf That Doesn't Suck

  I've always hated meatloaf. Dry, greasy, full of soggy breadcrumb chunks...hated it growing up, planned never to eat it again. But other people in this family like meatloaf, and since I'm the family chef, I decided to try to create a meatloaf I liked. After much experimentation, this is it. The secret is the panko - superfine, crispy, Japanese breadcrumbs. It's so flavorful, you won't need ketchup, gravy, or any other condiment.

Meatloaf That Doesn't Suck

About 1 lb. ground beef
2 eggs (beaten)
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 T. seasoning salt
1 T. Worcestershire Sauce
1 small jar roasted red peppers, diced fine
About 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, diced fine
1 small container crumbled Feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a loaf pan or small baking dish with aluminum foil (makes cleanup easier). Mix everything together in a large mixing bowl - really goosh it around with your hands to make sure it's evenly mixed. Shape it into a loaf and bake for 1 hour. Let it set up for about 5 minutes, then remove from pan to a serving platter - most of the grease should stay on the foil.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

NaBloWriMo prompt - What hero from a favorite book would I want to be?

So, this was actually the prompt from Oct. 1, but I wasn't ready for it then. Now I am.

I thought about this a lot. It was harder than I expected. See, my favorite heroes/heroines, the ones from those books that are so well written you can feel yourself there, living everything with them? They go through a lot of pain, stress and hardship. And yeah, they end up wiser, more mature, there's a lot of personal growth...but really, some of these people go through hell first. I don't want to live their lives, I just want to read about them. I prefer to experience their pain vicariously, and I can still benefit from their life lessons.

That said, I'd want to be Hermione Granger. I was the brain in school, picked last for softball, first for spelling bee teams. How cool would it have been to be the brain who could also do magic? If these books had come out when I was a child, I would have been waiting for my letter from Hogwarts when I turned 11.

Monday, October 3, 2011

An Explanation of "Passing For Normal"

I'm a sci-fi nerd/geek. I like sci-fi in all its forms: books, movies, TV, art, comics...well, everything but Anime. (Sorry, I just don't get it.) I've been to Star Trek conventions, Star Wars conventions, I'm a volunteer staff member for OSFest, our local sci-fi convention...I'm pretty geeky.

Now, there's a common stereotype for the sci-fi geek: think Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons, or William Shatner hosting Saturday Night Live - you know, the skit where he laid into the fans at a Star Trek convention? "Have any of you ever kissed a girl? Move out of your parents' basements!" When most people think sci-fi, this is the image they get in their heads.

Well, I don't look like that. When I worked outside the home, my job did not involve technology or computers. I tried to dress as stylishly as possible, and I can converse on a variety of topics that are not sci-fi related. And so when someone outside my circle of geek friends would notice the Jabba the Hutt figure in my cubicle, or hear I took vacation days to wait in line for the midnight opening of "Revenge of the Sith," I'd get that LOOK, followed by a comment like, "I didn't know you were into that stuff - you seem so...normal." Usually followed by a conversation where the person tells me how they never liked that sci-fi stuff. The irritating thing is, some of these are the same people who would regularly discuss their favorite shows - like "Fringe," "Lost," and "Heroes." I wanted to shake them and say "But those are all SCIENCE FICTION!!" (In fact, sometimes I did do this.)

Now that I'm a stay at home mom, my wardrobe has gotten a lot more casual, and the geek T-shirts are creeping over into everyday wear. (My current favorite says "I had friends on Alderaan!") But most of the time I still look just like everyone else, so watch out - there could be a lot more of us undercover sci-fi geeks out there "Passing For Normal."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Restaurant Review - Mmmmmm, Sushi!

So, we went to Wasabi Sushi for dinner Friday night. This is an all-you-can-eat, made-to-order sushi restaurant in northwest Omaha.  When this place opened July 2010, my first thought was, "All-you-can eat sushi in my neighborhood? Awesome!"  My second thought was, "Dang! I'm six months pregnant - I hope they're still around by the time I can eat sushi again." See, Omaha is a big restaurant town, and with so many, it's hard for a new place to establish a toehold in the market. Plus, there are two really good sushi places in this part of town already, and how many can a steak town like Omaha support?

Luckily, this place is good enough, and different enough, to hold its own in the market. Yeah, it's pretty expensive at night, but hey, all-you-can-eat sashimi! The kid price is quite a bit higher than your average kids menu hamburger/chicken fingers place, but worth it if your kid is an open-minded eater. Of course, I may have the only non-Japanese five-year-old in the city who can eat his body weight in salmon sashimi, miso soup and edamame.

Besides the nummy sashimi, Wasabi offers a wide selection of rolls and sushi on rice, plus a wide selection of appetizers, many of them cooked, to appeal to the non-raw-fish crowd. The gyoza (fried dumplings) and tempura mushrooms are especially good - well seasoned with a light, crispy tempura coating.

The real stand-out at this place is the sushi pizza. My favorite is the spicy salmon variety. This is a round of sticky rice for the crust, coated in tempura and fried all hot and crunchy, then topped with a cool spicy salmon mixture and a drizzle of spicy-sweet sauce. The juxtaposition of hot and crunchy crust with cool spicy topping has won fans among sushi and non-sushi eaters alike.

If you want a cheaper way to try the place out, go for lunch - it's about half-price, but with a more limited menu than evenings. (No sashimi.) Though drinks aren't included in the all-you-can eat price at lunch or dinner, dessert is included - several varieties of homemade ice cream. My favorite is the green tea - sweet and creamy, and you can really taste the tea. The red bean is also good, reminds me of strawberry a bit.

One caveat to the all-you-can-eat, you are expected to eat all you order. To discourage waste, Wasabi charges by the piece for extras left on the plate. They're flexible, though, so don't worry if you just can't finish that last bite of a roll - they only charge if you've over-ordered to where there's a lot left over. So start slow, if you find something you like, there's always more where that came from!

Wasabi Sushi
14513 West Maple Rd.

Dinner: $22.99; kids 5-12: $11.99
Lunch: $12.99; kids 5-12: $7.99
Hours: Mon.-Sat. lunch 11am - 3:30 p.m.; dinner 3:30-11 p.m.
Sun. all day: Adult $20.99; kids $11.99

Saturday, October 1, 2011

NaBloWriMo and Football Saturday

Today is October 1st, and I have accepted the NaBloWriMo challenge of a blog post a day every day in October, so, here goes.

I thought I'd write about the most important thing happening in this country today: The Nebraska-Wisconsin college football game. OK, maybe it's only the most important thing going on if you live in Nebraska or Madison, Wisconsin. Anyway, local media has been telling us how important this game is over and over for the last few weeks because:
 1. It's the first conference game for Nebraska since they joined the Big Ten this year.
 2. Both teams wear red and white and chant "Go Big Red"
 3. Former Wisconsin coach, now A.D. Barry Alvarez has Nebraska ties (he played football at Nebraska in the '60s).
 4. Both teams are ranked in the Top 10.

This is all very interesting, so why am I not excited? Or, rather, why am I not as excited as I feel I should be?
When the old Big Eight conference became the Big 12 by adding four Texas schools, it was huge. I knew everything about it, couldn't wait for the first game against one of the new schools. Of course, I was working for the newspaper at the time - since I had to read the sports section in detail every day, it all just sort of soaked in.

I think because this is a move, not an expansion, it all just seems overwhelming. I spent 40 years absorbing the football lore and history of the Big Eight/Big 12, and now I have to start from scratch with 11 new schools to learn about?  Sorry Big Ten, I just can't switch gears that easily. (As a side note, the Big 12 lost two schools, and the Big Ten gained two - shouldn't they switch names?)

Well, the game starts in an hour and I'll be watching and rooting for a win for the Huskers (the pundits seem to consider them serious underdogs - I guess we'll see if they're overrated tonight), and I promise to try to gather some excitement for the Big Ten in general. (We've got a new rivalry with Iowa - that's going to be pretty cool). And a win tonight would go a long way toward building my enthusiasm. So Go Big Red! (Both of them. But mostly Nebraska.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beginning to Blog

So I'm finally starting a blog. I've been meaning to do this for a couple of years now, but never took the plunge. (I've never exactly been on the cutting edge of technology.) My inspiration was a post about NaBloWriMo, National Blog Writing Month, and a challenge to write a blog a day for the month of October. Maybe that's too ambitious for someone just starting out, but you have to start somewhere, right?

I don't know yet if this blog will have a consistent theme - there will definitely be sci-fi geek posts, and mommy posts. There might also be restaurant reviews, TV reviews, movie reviews...I like critiquing things. And maybe I'll talk about politics. Or sports. We'll see. So here's to my frustrated inner newspaper columnist. ;)