YouTube Round Up

27 07 2010

If you’ve seen this…

And you’ve seen this…

Then you have to see this:

On another note, I live under a rock, so I’ve completely missed out on all the double rainbow fun. No longer my friend!

And what’s overly-emotional rainbow tripping if you don’t Auto-Tune it?


A Day at the River

24 07 2010

(I hope this doesn’t mean I have to go to the ocean next, it’s cold and sandy and host to an unusual number of stingrays and jelly fish lately.)

While The Husband was away at Comic Con for 600 days in a row (well, that’s how it feels, anyway), and since I’d just spent $500 on a new radiator, I decided to take advantage of my newly safe car and take the kids into the mountains for a picnic and a hike. It has been at least nine years and two massive fires since I visited Green Valley in Cuyamaca, but it was just as beautiful as always. Because I am me, and because Me is generally unprepared in some really important way, I did not think to bring the kids’ bathing suits. So I left with two very wet and muddy – but happy! – children. We saw dead trees, manzanita (both living and dead), water skippers (only alive, thankfully), and the usual other local plants and animals. The day was warm, the water was deliciously icy (cold is fine with me when the weather is hot and only my feet have to be wet), and I felt emotionally refilled after a difficult week. We are considering going back in a couple of days.

picnic lunch


flowers above a sparkling river


My Bank Doesn’t Know Basic Math

21 07 2010

I am so busy and have roughly 400 things that need to be done TODAY but I think I’d much rather sit here with my late afternoon coffee and talk shit about people. Also, I am thinking that purging this from my brain might make my mind less discombobulated and therefore more productive in the long run! Right? Right!

Last week I screwed up and spent more money than was in my checking account. I don’t worry about that too much, though, because I had signed up for overdraft protection and even received the confirmation letter in the mail. However, when I checked my account, I saw two charges for $34 each so I called the bank to complain. This is roughly the conversation that followed:

Me: Hi, I’m calling to ask why I was charged overdraft fees when I have overdraft protection on my account.
Bank: You don’t have overdraft protection.
Me: Yes, I do.
Bank: No. You have debit protection. It’s different.
Me: What? How is it different?
Bank: It’s debit protection. Not overdraft protection.
Me: But what’s debit protection.
Bank: I already told you. (Seriously! They said that!)
Me: Um. What?
Bank: Don’t worry, I’ll waive the fees for you. And you can sign up for overdraft protection if you want. It’s totally free.

So they signed me up and and then told me:

Bank: Your overdraft protection will take effect immediately. And I’ve waived your fees, but now you are not eligible to have overdraft fees waived for one full year.

I am going to choose to assume they are playing a joke on me.

Another complaint I had – which I ALWAYS have about banks – is that they didn’t bother to send me any insufficient funds notices. In the past I’ve had banks send me the letter up to a full week after going short. In this case, the bank doesn’t send me paper statements anymore, they conduct everything by e-mail. So I am uncertain as to why the computer can’t shoot me a quick e-mail the moment I go negative. It doesn’t even take an employee to do it. True to form, several days after speaking with the phone teller, I got my e-mail warning me that I might want to go check my account. Thanks, dudes.

But it doesn’t end there.

Today I logged in and found several hundred EXTRA dollars in my account. Which is lovely. But definitely too good to be true. So I called to ask about it, secretly hoping I’d won some fantastic contest or something. No dice.

Me: Um, yes, I have too much money in my account.
Bank: I’m so sorry about that. (Seriously! They said that!) Let me figure it out for you. … Ah, I see it’s because you were overdrafted so those are transfers coming from your savings to cover your purchases.
Me: Um. No. I wasn’t short.
Bank: Yes you were.
Me: No. I wasn’t.
Bank: Yes you were.

Just wait. It gets better. Here is where the bank teller TRIED TO DO MATH AND FAILED.

Bank: See, your balance was for $1,000. And then you spent $500.
Me: Yeah. And that is WELL BELOW $1,000.
Bank: And then you spent $6, $10, and $5.
Me: Yes. Um. Still well below $1,000.
Bank: Oh. Um. (pause)

Eventually, it was discovered that the check hadn’t cleared yet and, apparently, this bank’s overdraft protection is just really, really excitable. I am assured the funds will walk themselves soberly back to where they belong in a day or so. In the mean time, I’ve only lost complete faith in this bank’s tellers. Add that to the librarian who didn’t know who Madeleine L’Engle was and consider me finished with humanity. I am thinking that since I have no qualifications, I should be a doctor or something. At least my overdraft protection would get a break with that salary.

Now that July is halfway gone, how about some June Tweets?

20 07 2010

ZebraBelly is at the container store and Margie is telling me I don’t NEED the entire store but I am pretty sure she’s wrong.
1:40 PM Jun 1st via Twitter for iPhone

My internet at home isn’t working and I am not really certain of how life happens without it.
8:51 AM Jun 2nd via Twitter for iPhone

ZebraBelly has used up every bit of patience on waitresses who don’t understand what is and isn’t dairy. Every bit. Gone. Forever.
Sun Jun 06 2010 12:04:51 (Pacific Daylight Time) via Twitter for iPhone

Waitress: is the food OK? Me: Actually, no. Waitress: OK! *walks away* Me: WTF? Alex: *giggles*
Sun Jun 06 2010 12:34:00 (Pacific Daylight Time) via Twitter for iPhone

Turns out retail therapy and sugar really do make the happy happen.
Sun Jun 06 2010 16:01:01 (Pacific Daylight Time) via Twitter for iPhone

Just opened my camera bag and found a BIG GIANT BLACK SPIDER (not a widow). Now he’s missing. Commence panic attack.
Mon Jun 07 2010 10:39:09 (Pacific Daylight Time) via web

In Hot Topic, where they blast the music, I finally discovered the appeal: Lady Gaga must be loud to be enjoyed.
Mon Jun 07 2010 18:29:49 (Pacific Daylight Time) via Twitter for iPhone

ZebraBelly’s kids have been reading together for nearly an hour now.
Wed Jun 09 2010 09:11:07 (Pacific Daylight Time) via Twitter for iPhone

Elliott just informed us that this year, instead of Santa, Indiana Jones is bringing us presents! God bless us, everyone!
Thu Jun 10 2010 19:22:01 (Pacific Daylight Time) via web

ZebraBelly thinks frosting is a fine breakfast as long as it’s homemade and organic.
Fri Jun 11 2010 08:47:49 (Pacific Daylight Time) via web

Elliott, yelling at me: Don’t be angry with me! Or else I’ll give you a kiss!
Tue Jun 15 2010 12:27:48 (Pacific Daylight Time) via web

The best part about Shakespeare is Godzilla. Hands down.
Sat Jun 19 2010 23:17:54 (Pacific Daylight Time) via web

I hear all the cool kids are trying detergent in their laundry these days. Must remember that next time.
Sun Jun 20 2010 09:46:24 (Pacific Daylight Time) via web

Following fake people/corps on Twitter is maybe even better than REAL people. @jesus @darthvader @BPGlobalPR @DeathStarPR (No offense, real people.)
Sun Jun 20 2010 13:15:34 (Pacific Daylight Time) via web

Off to the beach to say goodbye to the Sun on his journey back to Winter. Happy Solstice!
Sun Jun 20 2010 17:32:11 (Pacific Daylight Time) via Twitter for iPhone

Margie is asserting her feminist power these days with a deep hatred of princesses and a less deep (and oft inconsistent) dislike of pink.
Mon Jun 21 2010 10:21:11 (Pacific Daylight Time) via web

Outside the bank my son saw a man in sunglasses, pointed, and said, “Look! Evil guy!”
Wed Jun 23 2010 13:07:20 (Pacific Daylight Time) via Twitter for iPhone

ZebraBelly’s kids are controlling the car with The Force today.
Wed Jun 23 2010 14:42:20 (Pacific Daylight Time) via Twitter for iPhone

Brand New Camping Stove=$30, used Camelbak=$5, 15+ kickass kids’ books=$4.50, glass pitcher=$1, VW tin=$.50 Garage Sailing Success!
Sat Jun 26 2010 10:12:16 (Pacific Daylight Time) via web

ZebraBelly needs the Pop Up Video version of the World Cup.
Sat Jun 26 2010 14:02:39 (Pacific Daylight Time) via Twitter for iPhone

If anyone saw a little boy without pants at Mission Trails, I don’t know anything about it!
Sat Jun 26 2010 16:55:53 (Pacific Daylight Time) via Twitter for iPhone

So excited about @cakewrecks book signing today I can’t sleep past 8am. What am I? 5?
Sun Jun 27 2010 08:14:07 (Pacific Daylight Time) via Twitter for iPhone

ZebraBelly is meeting famous bloggers. OMG starstruck…! *squee*
Sun Jun 27 2010 13:42:43 (Pacific Daylight Time) via Twitter for iPhone

ZebraBelly made a batch of pesto and is going to go make out with it.
Mon Jun 28 2010 19:37:13 (Pacific Daylight Time) via web

ZebraBelly feels very worried when librarians don’t know who Madeleine L’Engle is. And no, she didn’t write _Madeline_. *sigh*
Wed Jun 30 2010 12:34:37 (Pacific Daylight Time) via web

Meeting Sonja

18 07 2010

Shortly after I started SOAM, Elaine informed me that when we went to BlogHer together we could share a hotel room with Sonja.  I thought that sounded fabulous. So I decided to go figure out who Sonja was.

Over the years we’ve gotten to know each other through our blogs and on Flickr and, more recently, on Facebook.  When Bethany moved here, she met Sonja in person several times, but for some reason Sonja and I were never able to make it to the same place at the same time.  She began to wonder if we lived in alternate universes.

i am still in denial

Undaunted by Fate’s attempts to keep us apart, she invited my kids and I up to visit her and attend a Holistic Moms Network meeting about homeschooling. We jumped at the chance and last Thursday I loaded my kids into the car and drove two hours northish to where the temperatures exceeded 100 degrees (I didn’t believe such a temperature could exist in nature, but there it was, existing).

We showed up while Noah was napping and so Elliott took the chance to retell to Sonja the entire original Star Wars trilogy and then he raided her game cabinet, first playing checkers, then Scrabble.  There was a time when that child was shy, but it’s all gone now.

three kids in a van

After joining Sonja’s husband for a quick dinner of sandwiches (and during which my son bossed everyone around – at least he’s cute) we headed out to the homeschooling meeting.  The sky was heavy with clouds, thunder was rumbling in the distance, and there was almost rain, even.  The drops felt so refreshing in the heavy heat of the evening.  I don’t mind humidity, and despite all my claims of how I don’t do heat, I wasn’t overly uncomfortable while we were there.  But, as Sonja pointed out, that might be because I got to go home the following day (and, sure enough, I sit here in the chilly sea breeze with temps in the 60’s. but I’m not bragging).

After what felt like far too short of a night, we woke up to hot coffee and pancakes that Sonja made herself, like, actually on the stove, and not in a toaster like the frozen ones I “make”.  It was possibly the best breakfast ever.  And my kids have been begging me for pancakes ever since.

sand box

two boys read a book

The kids played for awhile (Elliott insisted on the other Scrabble this time, which turned out to be German and had, according to him, “weird letters”).  Margie and Noah played in the back yard, and after awhile Elliott joined them.  At some point (I think it was shortly after the Dead Lizard Incident) all the kids came inside and became increasingly nutty so Sonja declared it Time To Leave for the playground.

spinning requires concentration


boys who splash

Her town has these very cool playgrounds that have little wading pools, just ankle deep.  So we put the kids in swimsuits, slathered them in sunscreen, and played on the merry-go-round until the lifeguard came to fill the pool.  We had migrated back to the picnic blanket when Margie sat down next to me and very calmly told me the lifeguard would not let her in because she was too old.  Once it was out of her mouth the reality of it seemed to hit her and she started crying (and if you know my daughter, she cries loudly).  Most rules for playgrounds and pools I understand – I never allow my kids to run or get overly silly around pools, for instance.  But this one was a load of shit.  There were three small children in the pool and Margie and one other boy (both of whom had younger siblings playing in the water) were the only older kids wanting to get in.  We were all pretty irritated by this, but the lifeguard refused to budge on her rule. Margie asked me if I’d allow her to go in anyway, and, frankly, I really couldn’t see the point in saying no, although I pointed out that she may get reprimanded by the lifeguard.  And so she practiced a little civil disobedience.  The lifeguard was watching her but never said anything.  I’m not sure if it’s because it was obvious I’d given permission, or if it’s because she was starting to rethink the rule, or maybe just because she saw us packing up and figured we’d be gone soon anyway.

It was getting late for us so we grabbed a quick lunch at In-n-Out (thank God my kids both like hamburgers now – I do believe this completes my life) before packing up to head back home.  We took one group shot before we left.  And by “one” I mean “about twenty with each camera”.  My kids were pretty pissed to have to leave and as we pulled out of the driveway, they both literally broke out in loud wails.  The got along so well with Noah, and Sonja is such an easy person to be around (even though I’m shy and generally nervous around other humans, I felt comfortable with her) that I hope we get to see them again soon.  At least before four more years have gone by.

all of us ♥

Switzerland, Where I Became a Hooker

17 07 2010

And here it is. Finally. After nearly a year (!?) of waiting, this blog is about to become extremely anti-climactic. So before you disappoint yourself by reading further, you may want to refresh your memory of the earlier parts of my 1996 trip to Europe. I just did and turns out I’m really frickin’ funny.

Episode I
Episode II
Episode III
Episode IV

At every new country we had to stop at the border, some countries had more security than others – England, for instance, had to stamp our passports several times per airport; upon arrival in Italy, we had to get off the bus for inspections. But Switzerland simply waved and smiled as we drove right on through. Awesome.

The first city we hit in Switzerland was Lugano. Here’s what we did there:

me being cute

Oh, it wasn’t all standing oddly on fountains while wearing too-small sweaters that probably belonged to Hanna. We also ate veggie burgers at Burger King. But that was all we had the chance for before we were on the bus on the way to Lucerne.

A word here about blue Chucks. Back in high school, during a Saturday rehearsal for some play, Summer and a couple of classmates and I walked to Jack in the Box for lunch and noticed that three of us were wearing blue high-top Converse. While there, Dominic ran out of money to pay for his lunch and a nice man made up the difference. Shortly afterward, something similar happened – we wore blue Chucks and someone gave us money for some reason. We began to understand the magic of these shoes. True enough, on the very last leg of our Europe trip, at the Chicago airport, someone paid for my Starbucks. Behold the wonder of the Blue Chucks!


Lucerne was one of my favorite cities on the trip (they were all one of my favorite cities, weren’t they?). Beautiful geography, beautiful art, more pigeons, what’s not to like? A year or so later, two Swiss boys who often visited the move theater I worked at asked me how I’d liked it there and when I replied, “It was cool,” they nodded emphatically and responded, “Yes, it is cold there.” Rimshot! No, but they really did say that.

Our hotel there, was, according to my memory, a large, white box. The dining room was upstairs and had the same staff no matter the hour of the day and the coffee stank (this could have been a ploy to get us to enjoy their Swiss hot chocolate. if so, it worked). On the ground floor was a large statue of the Winged Victory. The windows were heavy and opened uptwards* as you can see in the picture of Sarah and Denise here (but don’t click yet! Spoilers!). Also, they were trying to murder me. The windows, I mean. Not Sarah and Denise.


me, sat upon by more mangy birds

We stayed two or three nights here in Lucerne. We did some sightseeing (I think this is where we took one of those sideways trains up the mountain, although I cannot remember what we saw there), saw the lion, got a tour of the older part of town where the buildings are covered in murals, walked across the medieval wooden bridge, climbed the city walls (which involved over one hundred stairs! in a row!), became a pigeon perch, and played on a little playground that was tucked away in a little neighborhood. We had been warned by Dolly of Mad Cow rampant in Switzerland, however true or untrue that might have been, it became a running joke and since many shops had life-size colorful cow sculptures outside the doors we did, indeed, see a lot of mad cows.

Enough beating around the bush. One evening, as we were waiting for dinner, I was sitting in the window enjoying the evening air and playing someone’s electronic blackjack game. I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I want to clarify that. At some point I noticed a man down on the street below, waving to me. I tried to ignore him, but he only became more persistent, and motioned for me to come down. I shook my head HELL NO. But did that stop him? Hardly. Instead he pulled out money and waved it at me. Needless to say, I got the hell out of the window.

There was other excitement in the hotel, too. One evening the girls from the other high school had been out dancing again, this time the dance club, in the form of assholes who won’t take no for an answer, followed them back and, apparently, harassed them until some of the guys from the school came out and made them leave. Another time, I was leaning my head out the window (you’d think I’d learn…) and just as I pulled it back in, it came crashing closed with a loud bang that freaked us all out. Downstairs the next morning, Sofia pointed to the Winged Victory and told me I nearly ended up with a head like hers. While a concussion, technically, would have been more likely than a beheading, the latter certainly makes for the better story.

The day before we left Sofia and I wandered around the city together (this is when the 100+ stairs happened).  We hit the three-story toy store where I bought my little cousins some toys and another small shop where we thought we might buy some cheap clothes (she may have, I didn’t – but the zipper pull on the pants I tried on came off so I kept it.  I have a rule – if I touch it lightly and it breaks in my hand, that means it must want me to own it).

On our final morning we woke to bad news.  TWA Flight 800 had exploded and crashed on its way to Paris.  Since we were heading to Paris the next day, and since the crash killed a French school group, we weren’t very sure of what to expect in terms of emotions there, and feelings about Americans in general.  Also, there were my own personal feelings about planes crashing on trans-continental journeys to contend with.  But the Parisians were nothing but wonderful to us** and our plane didn’t crash.***  Perhaps caused by the flustered feelings of that morning, or perhaps it was simply inevitable on a trip like this, but I left some things behind in that Swiss hotel.  The toys I’d bought for my cousins, for one thing, but also a journal I was keeping on this trip, with every moment documented in silly teenager-style notes.  Which would be very helpful (and rather amusing) at this particular moment.

And then we were off to Gay Purr-ee****. Stay tuned for bitter rantings about missed skeleton caves and the price of Coca-Cola. I’ll probably get to it before next July.

*That was a typo, but actually expresses the action quite well so I’ve made it an actual word now. Go forth and use it.
**Spoiler alert!
***And now you know how the 1996 Tour of Europe ends.  Sorry about that.  Hope you enjoy the bits about London that I haven’t spoiled you on yet.  Except for Sonja who got to hear in person about how I fell asleep on a toilet.
****But with fewer cats.

A Day at the Lake

12 07 2010

For years we have wanted to begin camping and recently we have been working to make that happen. Gathering supplies at thrift stores, garage sales and the odd thing at Target, we’re just about ready. This weekend we were supposed to join Melissa and Chad for our first weekend out, but Margie’s got a head cold and, while she’s not suffering for it in the energy department, I didn’t want her sleeping out in the cold until she was better. So we decided to go and just practice camping instead, setting up the tent to make sure it had all it’s parts (it sort of doesn’t, actually) and enjoying a nice day outside.

Melissa suggested Santee Lakes which is a little more manicured than the camp grounds we are likely to stay at often, but it was a fabulous place to spend the day. We spent a grand total of $20 for entry ($5), a chance to ride a pedal boat ($11), and the sprayground ($2 each kid). We set up the tent, fed some ducks, played ladderball (a.k.a. “The Testicle Game”), sat under an oak tree (where Margie picked a handful of baby acorns before I realized what she was doing), and grilled hot dogs and corn. The kids played on a playground, got creative with sticks, and ran up and down hills. It was a long day, but hardly exhausting at all since we got to relax so much. I can’t wait until we get to go back.

in the tent

the menfolk