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Friday, June 30, 2006

A Weather Fairy?

Sometimes, just sometimes I think LatteGirl is something of a Weather Fairy. As I sit her, I am reading about news that from D.C. though Maine, people are suffering from hiddeous rainfall lately, having their basements filled with water, finding 4-foot alligators, and more.

But with all this terrible weather, over the last week LatteGirl has taken two trips to the lake with camp, and today her and TheWife made a trip down to the Jersey Shore. Somehow all the rain, all the problems, seem to manage to find a way to work their way right around us, and not even put a damper on her plans. No flooding here, and the rains even seem to find a way to stop long enough for her activities to take place.

With more rain expected, and talks that the Mid-Atlantic region is more likely to receive a direct hit than in any time since 1938. I hope her fairy magic doesn't run out.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Whoa, slow down will ya'?

Of course like every parent, I feel like LatteGirl is growing up WAY TO FAST. I can often be heard uttering the universally understood, "Where did the time go?" But this already hyper-accelerated pace seems to have been given an additional kick recently, and seemingly according to her, being six changes everything.

When we were deciding how to handle summer vacation, we decided to split up her time. Three days at camp and two days home with mom, figuring that at least she would be spending a majority of her time with her peers, enable her to join up with some of her old friends who are also attending this camp, and hopefully make some new friends. Since she is often shy in new surroundings, and new people coupled with the fact that last summer we basically did the same thing with her last months at Pre-K this seemed like a good mix. The two days "off" from camp would allow her to do other things with mom, and give her a break from the stresses of camp.

Well Day 1 we were informed of just how wrong we were. Our shy little girl made a couple of new friends right away, and wanted to know "Why?" she couldn't go to camp 5 days a week, and why were we "making" her stay home two days a week. Now some of this of course is exacerbated by some friends that she had from Pre-K, who she simply adores and their teaming up again has her thrilled. I know full well a week or two from now, that euphoria would wear off.

But the changes have not stopped there. By Day 2, once inside the meeting place, my shy little princess, yelled "By Mom" and bolted off to be with her friends, and get online so they could board the bus (they were heading up to the lake - Do I need to say how thrilled I am that we got her into swimming lessons this past winter/spring?). TheWife was devastated. No more big good-bye hugs and "smooches." Since she started Kindergarten LatteGirl has had a tradition. So that she "would not be lonely or miss us too much," when I leave for work in the morning I give her a kiss on her right hand, TheWife kisses the left. This way when she is missing us she can "put the smooch" on her cheek to feel loved and no longer lonely. Well is seems that she still likes the idea, but at six years old, that it is too silly to do in front of her friends (already appearances are SOOOOOO important). My part of things was safe, because she is still in bed when I am leaving for work, but TheWife was informed that if she wanted her smooches and hugs, it had to be done in the car, before they were in sight of everyone else.

Of course not everything is all about the camp. When we inquired as to whether she would want to take another dance class for the summer (her "regular" classes run similar to the school year), she was hesitant but decided to check out what the summer class was about. She returned back, thrilled and ready to go. Why? Because it wasn't just another "Tap and Ballet" class as her regular one is. No. She was taking a class to learn... Hip Hop and Jazz.

And of course, no discussion of how fast children grow up is complete without stating... in complete whiny parent sounds, "She is growing like a weed!" I swear she has grown at least a couple of inches since her birthday at the end of May. How could this be? It is going to be fun watching her blossom this summer. I just need to find a way to accept that for every new first, there will probably also be the end of some other part of her as my little baby girl.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Columbine: Just give up the ghost!

Oh my freakin' gosh... has every school official and PTAnal (as opposed to those that just participate in the PTA for the benefit of their students), just lost their minds?

I know I am not the only parent in the world taking on a school board over school uniforms, and certainly I am not the only one that thinks the banning of cupcakes is a bit over the top. But I must admit, I have small battles to fight compared to parents that have School Administrators that do things such as (thanks to Doug Reality Me , and BusyMom for the links, and take a look at his take, as he has put much more work into the finding the source of FACTS than I have, and/or BusyMom with her humorous but telling crotchedy old lady take), ban recess it in the "name of safety", Ban Recess in favor of Sensitivity Training , or ban Pizza Parties.

Now some things I can take in better stride and almost understand (I said almost). The whole banning of cupcakes and Pizza is just taking a good idea and taking it to an illogical conclusion. We all make mistakes of this type in our lives, we take what starts out as a good idea and run with it until we finally reach a point of saying, "What the hell am I doing?" The only unfortunate point with something that is political (and don't kid yourself, if you think that just because they do not run on "party tickets" that politics are not involved), it takes a long time to correct things when they go off course.

But now let us look at the Draconian schemes. School Uniforms and this latest stupidity banning Recess. I have found one common thread, that I find frightening alarming, but at the same time a perfect clue that an idea is based on stupidity rather than anything that resembles a reasonable fact. The commonality, is administrators "selling" their idea by trying to frighten parents with visions of the Columbine Massacre.

Now I was annoyed when my local school board did it, citing certain types of clothing would make it easier to smuggle weapons into school. But I could almost see the argument that they were trying to make (not agree with it, but at least understand it). Of course that fell apart, first when it was pointed out that at Columbine, they carried in their weapons in duffel bags, and second when the kid they showed with all those concealed weapons in the film, was wearing a shirt very similar to the one being proposed for the uniform shirt (hmmm... maybe they should have reviewed the tape before the public hearing). But, I could not be annoyed, because I was too stunned when I read in the "justification" for banning recess when P.A.T. (I assume that is the same as a PTA or PTO) member Pat Kirputnik stated:

Did you know that every single grade school feeding into Columbine High School had recess?

"And here's the most shocking part," continued Kirputnik, "The school board continued the practice even after the tragedy there, as if they didn't see a connection at all. I would characterize that as criminally negligent."

Wow! How did we ever survive as a society? I mean Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went there that day and shot 12 fellow students and a teacher because they had recess in Grammar School? Obviously Ms. Kirputnik has some serious information that she should share with the world here since she found that link so obvious.

Please people don't forget the lesson's from Columbine, but let us put it to rest as an excuse whenever we decide to justify squeezing kids under your thumbs a little more. Video games didn't lead these individuals to do what they did. Neither did recess, or their not wearing a school uniform (hell they were NOT a member of the Trenchcoat Mafia, as was originally widely reported). A Zero-Tolerance policy where good student gets expelled under questionable circumstances, will not "prevent it." Let Columbine rest in peace, and stop using it as an excuse for everything you wish to do.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Denying my inner child

I am a tech geek. I like all the newest and latest gadgets. I have PCs running Windows XP, 2000, Redhat Linux, Suse Linux, Xandros. My cell phone is powered by Windows PocketPC software. I love my tech toys.


I am not touching the HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray debacle. I refuse to wind up like those that in the past wound up with lame duck BetaMax or LaserDisc players. And even when the market finally decides a winner, I am not buying another player until somebody swears to me in blood that this is the last format that they are going to come out with!!!

And I seriously hope that the MPAA and its members do not expect me to buy all five (so far) seasons of of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation again just to get the "High Definition Experience." I love the show... I just don't need to see Sara in such high resolution that I can see whether or not she has clogged pores.

My favorite Quote from a blog this week

Gerah from Baby Poop and Business Suits, wins hands down for my new Blog Quote of the Week, and unless something amazing comes up, will be an easy winner for Blog Quote of the Month. Actually she has to give credit for the actual quote to her daughter Kyra, who is busy learning about being a big siser:

Kyra: "You've got MILK in your boobies mom? I've got milk in my sippy cup!"

I never stop being amazed (and entertained) by what comes out of kids mouths. It is one of those things that you just have to be a parent to appreciate. To read the full post, go here.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Guilty as charged

Wanting to do "the right thing" sometimes like (for me anyway) "being green" is far easier in plan than in action. I have already admitted, that as a green person, I am I guess only a very light shade of green. My other "flaw" can be found in the names Target and Wal-Mart.

I admit it, I love shopping at Target and Wal-Mart. Now between the two, I prefer Target because it is far more upscale in design, merchandise quality and is less likely (outside of the Holiday Season of course) to not have lines that take as long as your shopping to get through. Of course Wal-Mart has the best prices on virtually everything they carry (although not all I have noticed), and has far more items than Target.

However, I do not condone the employment practices used at either of these chains (and others as well). They pay sub-standard wages, provide virtually no benefits or security to their workers, play the part-time game of hiring plenty of part-timers in order to avoid having to provide raises and/or benefits to employees, and so on, and so on.

I have written letters of support of lesgislation (in "committee" here in NJ, but already approved in Del.) that force big companies such as these to improve their benefits and such for employees. I support the increasing of the Federal Miniumum wage so that these companies are forced to pay a livable wage to their employees.

But at the same time, I can't stop shopping in these locations. I LIKE to save money. I want to do what is best for my family as well. So, rather than doing what would be the most honorable thing, and that would be not shop there, I continue to do so. I rationalize it by realizing that there are few options that I have that do not fit into these categories. Sears, K-Mart, Toys R Us, and far too many others also use these abysmal tactics on their employees as well. But since they are not as big as Wal-Mart they do not share the focus of the problem with Wal-Mart. So where do I shop?

Yes, I know I am rationalizing, but without a viable alternative, I am at least going to take care of my family first. And to save money that means shopping at places like Target and Wal-Mart.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Movie Night - A Sad One

Well, LatteGirl and I have our plans set. Tonight is our movie night. We will kick Mom out of the house for the evening, get some junk food, and prepare for... The End. The end of Lilo and Stitch that is.

Tonight will be the premiere of Leroy and Stitch on Disney Channel. This final show is intended to end the series (In case you haven't noticed, Disney Shows ALL seem to end with a movie now, Lizzie McGuire, The Even Steven Movie, Kim Possible (except this show was saved and will now have a fourth season) and now Lilo and Stitch.

I haven't given up hope that the show can be saved (if you haven't yet, could you PLEASE click on the banner over on the right, and fill out the easy to use e-mail form and tell the Powers that be at Disney that they should scrap Michael Eisners stupid 65 episode rule), but even if they bring the show back, because of this movie it will have to be different, which may not be a bad thing, but I will mourn the passing of this show.

And I am sure there will be plenty of sad touching momments in the film, I better stop and get some extra boxes of tissue for me and the little one.

My Little Budding Entrepreneur

When LatteGirl was small we used to have to keep her away, either entertained in the back yard, or ship her off to grandma's when we had a yard sale. The reason being that she never wanted to part with ANYTHING! Rational explainations didn't help, becuase she always had a counter. Like if we would say, "But honey, these are BABY clothes and you are too big for them" she would reply, "But I want to save them for MY daughter." This of course made it difficult to get rid of anything, along with bringing on the anxiety of my (at the time) 3 year old thinking about when SHE would have a baby.

But apparently times have changed. This spring we instituted an allowance. Along with it came some rules as we attempt to teach her better money management than most people have today. We decided on 6 dollars a week. Now this may sound like a lot for a small child, but like I said, with the money came rules. $2 per week goes to her LONG TERM savings (in the bank). $2 per week goes to her "short term" savings, a bank which I bought for her from INGDirect which acts like an ATM (it even has a little ATM Card), and keeps totals for her of how much she puts in and withdraws. This short term is for things like toys she may wish to purchase or accessories for her bike, etc. The last $2 is her "pocket" money... lolipops, snacks, Ice Tea from the store (as opposed to what we have in the house) anything that is not part of the "normal" shopping comes from this fund.

She has thus far taken to this quite well. She understand that she has to save for things, and has at times passed on things that she wanted from her "pocket money" so that she could add it to her "short term" to get a toy or something else a bit quicker. Now don't get me wrong, she is still a bit impulsive, and as soon as she thinks she has enough for something she wants to go spend it, so there is still work to be done, but I think for six she is quite controlled... so far.

But now, her entrepreneurial spirit is also kicking in, along with the desire for more cash. First she decided that she wanted to have a yard sale, and sell off some of the toys and clothes she either no longer wants or need, in order to turn it into "more money for the things I want."

She did not stop there however. In one of the catalogs of "Summer Stuff" that we had gotten in the mail she spotted a lemonade stand, and the wheels started to turn. She asked Mommy if she had enough in her short term to purchase the stand. While pointing out that she did, but that it would be virtually depleting her "account," she let us in on her plan. "But it will be hot out when we have our yard sale. People will be thirsty. And when they come to buy our stuff we can also sell them lemonade."

I am not sure if I should be proud... or scared.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

It has been an educational week

I have learned a lot of things I was blissfully unaware of before, and thought I would share some of my newly acquired nuggets of wisdom with you.

1. If you write a post that is worthy of being linked to by blogs that actually have a readership (like Crouching Mommy Hidden Laundry and I am the Goober Queen) , you really should have something interesting to follow it up with.

2. No matter how bad (0-1-1 so far) the U.S. may stink on the World Cup Stage, we will apparently always hold out hope, and put the best spin on it we can.

3. I can't help but wonder what the Religious Right will say about the vaccine for Cervical Cancer now that a new study was published stating that Condom Use Reduces Women's HPV Risk.

4. That when Corporations like AT&T are caught breaking the law, all they need to do is change the rules, so that it becomes "legal." According to the article, besides revealing customer informtion, only to "respond to subpoenas, court orders or other legal process, to the extent required and/or permitted by law," it now covers "protect its legitimate business interests" or to be more blunt about it, "whenever they want to." So if they are looking for a new cherry contract from the government it would thus be legal to divulge any customer data they wish, because doing so would be a "legitimate" business interest. Any chance AT&T had of winning me back as a customer is clearly now gone.

5. It turns out I am not the only person in the world that is sick of hearing about Angelina Jolie and Family.

6. I find it amazing that Senators can sleep at night, when since the last Federal increase in the Minimum Wage, they have increased their own salaries nine times, increasing by more than $35,000, but can still vote down a mimimum wage increase to $7.25 OVER almost TWO YEARS, a whopping increase of $1.10/hour. Apparently they do not want low income workers to take part in this "growing economy" they keep telling us is there.

7. I learned that although today is her last real day of school (tomorrow is a Pizza Party), that I am not quite ready to call my daughter a "1st Grader." As far as I am concerned, she doesn't move up until September. This will at least stall some of the "she's growing up so fast" whining until then.

Hey, I never said this was earth-shattering stuff. So tell me, what have you learned lately?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

When will they wise up?

I feel good (in a sad sort of way) that the blind insanity and knuckle-headed, knee jerk reactions to something they nothing about is not limited to those in charge of my hometown. But when I read this article (kudos as always to CMHL, even if she never heard of a Fluffernutter ;) ), I now know that opportunistic lawmakers from all over are quick to make an idiot of themselves, by taking a stand without anything that could resemble facts in front of them. In the story it states,

Sen. Jarrett Barrios was outraged that his son Nathaniel, a third-grader,
was given a Fluffernutter sandwich at the King Open School in Cambridge. He said
he plans to file legislation that would ban schools from offering the local
delicacy more than once a week as the main meal of the day.

The Democrat said that his amendment to a bill on junk food in schools
may seem "a little silly" - but that school nutrition is serious.

What the story does not mention, and Sen. Barrios is apparently unaware of, is that while a Tablespoon of Jelly has 53 calorires, a tablespoon of Fluff has 30 Calories.

I fully support increasing nutrition for our kids in schools, but can just one of these clowns get the facts before they start one of their crusades?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Taking Chances with Vacation

I must admit, when it comes to vacations, TheWife and I have a less than steallar track record. It is kind of funny (or is it "sad") that we have time and again, selected a vacation based on the information in brochures, on web sites, etc.

It really struck a chord with me when Busy Mom, in her post on the Mondo Condo said,
"So, armed with my established set of unrealistic expectations (our previously
mentioned accomodations were very, very nice), I set out to find us a new place
to go. It was weird having to fork over money for a place I'd never seen

I was struck because, despite liking to think myself an intelligent consumer, that this is exactly what we had been doing, and yet I never really thought twice about it. I had always based out disappointments on our "unrealistic expectations" rather than really considering the fact that perhaps the proprietors had "puffed up" our expectations with claims in their brochures that less than accurate.

So, have a learned a lesson through this? Ummm... sort of. I have learned to really pay attention to what a brochure is saying, and be wary appropriately. But other than that, I guess not. Because this year, if only in my own mind, we are taking what is the biggest "risk" on a vacation/resort being exactly what it claims to be.

They say (whomever "They" are), "You can never go home again." But what I am wondering is if you can vacation there. Back when I was a lad (you know in the days when Maxwell House was the king of coffee challenged only by Folgers which had "Flavor Crystals" and "Mountain Grown Aroma", watching a highly technical cop show meant Columbo, and Tuesdays were owned by "Happy Days", and wood panelling apparently belonged EVERYWHERE!), back in those days, the family would once a year escape the NY/NJ Metro area for a vacation in the Pocono Mountains at a resort called Sunset Hill. For a city boy like me, it was (oddly enough) a week in heaven. A week without television or newspapers or virtually any contact with the "outside world." It was a self-contained entertainment vacation with everything to keep the entire family busy on 100 acres of pristine land. As a kid you never wanted to leave, and since there were enough activities and the place was self-contained the parents were free to relax as the kids when from activity to activity and were actually rested by the end of the week. Sadly, when the proprietors retired, the place was shuttered.

Well, in looking for a vacation spot this year, and looking for something "different" from the usual trips down the Jersey Shore, I decided to look towards the Poconos once again for a vacation. In the barage of information I was subsequently sent from seemingly every spot in PA., I spied Chestnut Grove. And while once again forking over money without having seen the place, this is a bit different (I hope). You see the expectations they set here are not as sky high as some others. Take a look a the pictures of the rooms on their site. They are not promising some huge 5 star hotel kind of accomodations, what they are showing you is a simple room (with that same 70's style Wood panelling I mentioned earlier) where you can sleep at night. Nothing more, nothing less. The schedule of activities is virtually identical to those that I did way back when, right down to the resort softball game against a "rival" resort.

Emotionally, I am betting a LOT on this vacation. Financially not so much. Besides being quiet, it is actually far less expensive than many options within driving distance. But, I am hoping that this place can not only deliver on what they promise, but that it can live up to memories of vacations from my youth. I guess that qualifies as "unrealistic expectations" but I am willing to take that chance.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A little late but...

For those people that had ... um... less than stellar father's and the typical Father's Day cards, don't fit the bill, you can always try these less honoring Free Father's Day Cards!

Medical advances?

Much of medicine has improved greatly in the past 20 or so years. Technologies in pain management, laser surgery, etc. have reduced the down time and pain involved in many things dramatically over what it used to be.

So when then, can anybody tell me, is a shot of novacaine and a pair of pliers still the Modus Operandi for the extraction of a tooth?

Wouldn't you think by now they would have something that would enable the tooth to be loosened and removed with a minimal amount of pain? Or at least reduce the amount of pain you feel hours later when the novacaine wears off.

But that is just me whining about having to have a tooth removed. What I really can't fathom today, is when reading about vaccine specifically designed to prevent (cervical) cancer, that there can actually be a controversy about it. I guess I will just never understand what goes on in the minds of these people. While I have no problem with the promotion of abstinence, to decide that this is a "viable alternative" to a vaccine, is not only mis-guided, it is downright irresponsible.

Let us be completely honest here for a momment. Focus on the Family (oh and just so I do not appear to be picking on one group, Family Research Council also fits into this class of irresponsible organizations) opposes making it mandatory, saying the decision to vaccinate should rest with a child's parents or guardians. First of all, since when has Focus on the Family ever let anything resst with the decision of the parents or guardians? Second, the reason for making vaccines mandatory is becuase it is acknowledged by experts that if we left innoculation up to the choice of parents, far too few children would actually be vaccinated.

It is a matter of health. Let the message be, vaccination PLUS abstinence, not absinence and hope for the best. There is no reason to leave the risks of Cervical cancer to pliers and novacaine, when it can be eliminated. Take the medical advances we have made.

Friday, June 16, 2006

But I'm not ready yet to fill those shoes.

With father's day rapidly approaching, of course the question comes up, "What do you want for Father's Day?" I just want one thing. From now until the end of time.

I want to be half the man my father was. I want to learn to be the caring, wise, thrifty, smart, family man he was. And I want to learn how he made it all look so easy.

Is that too much to ask?

It is just shy of two years since his heart gave up on him... and the void he has left is too huge to fill.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Reminders of Summers long since past

We try very hard to ensure that LatteGirl has as much as we can to ensure fun in the sun at summertime. TheWife and I both love to work outdoors on the flowers, the lawn, etc. Plus the fact that as summer comes we want to spend as little time in front of the "idiot box" as possible.

Sometimes with a short attention span it can be difficult to try and accomplish the tasks at hand when you have a child around that is "bored" and looking to be entertained. So we have enough stuff, to generally keep that from happening.

However, as I discovered (or more properly - was reminded) by LatteGirl yesterday. "Entertainment" does not always require money, toys or a "plan." Sometimes all it takes is a garden hose and a lawn sprinkler.

She was playing on her swingset yesterday as I put on the sprinkler in the back of the yard. I started tending to another task when I heard a scream. Not a bad scream. A scream of joy, of elation, a scream that brought me back to the days when cooling off mean either going to the park where a large pipe and sprinkler head was the hit of the neighborhood, or a fire hydrant sprayed down the kids on the street. No particular game or agenda. Just run around like crazy, into the water enough to get cooled off, and then out again because the water was freezing cold.

As I turned around to look, I saw her running through and over and even under the streams of water going back and forth. For a brief moment, I was not pleased as I realized that she was still in her school clothes, and I briefly entertained the thought of stopping her... at least to go and put on her bathing suit. But I didn't. She was already wet, so what good would it do? The spontaneity and reckless joy would be sucked out, because I had become too old to just understand the fun of being a kid. So I just sat down for a while, and watched. Reminded of the reckless abandon of my own youth, reminisced a bit, but more importantly watched as she enjoyed the moment, and hopefully built a piece of her own memory, a memory she will be able to look back on with fondness years from now.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tips on Gifts for Father's Day

Much has already been said, written and expounded upon about buying a woman a gift for a woman, whether it be for Mother's Day, her birthday, Christmas or some other event that a man will often even with the best of intentions buy the wrong gift. Now I do not question the wisdom of helping spread this knowledge far and wide, because giving the wrong gift to a woman, besides being wrong, can have a severe impact on their relationship for years to come. Men, even when faced with a gift so painfully wrong as to offend (which is usually not the case in all fairness), will get annoyed, then move on.

This is NOT to say that men are better in any way shape or form on this matter, it is just one of those "Mars/Venus" things. However, it does leave one misperception that I would like to point out and at the same time try and help correct. That misperception is that women alway know just the right gift to purchase for their spouse/mate/significant other. This myth is perpetuated by a few factors. Which one is applicable is based on the type on man in question. Please note that these factors may also be in play with some gifts for women as well, I will be happy to concede, but that is not our topic today.

The first is the man that does not wish to upset his wife or cause a fight. Since most people that read my site, and the people I read are relatively intelligent individuals, I would like to assume that most fit into this category. These wrong gifts appear "right" because in an effort to "keep the peace" the man smiles, and goes on about how nice the gift is, and will usually use adjectives to describe it such as "thoughtful" or "needed." The second group of include the stereotypical male (which may in fact include some of those in the first group), who while absolutely hating the gift is too lazy to make the "effort" to return the item, and instead throw it on a shelf to collect dust, until the next garage sale when somebody (usually the wife) says, "You never use this" and off it goes.

Well, in an effort to help improve relations, and save some greif (as well as reduce the number of new items as your next yard sale), I have decided to compile a short list of tips for purchasing a Father's Day gift. It should be noted that despite being done in time for Father's Day, this can be easily applied to any gift giving situation. And as always, these are guidelines, and as such are very general and broad in their application, so every rule may not fit "him" exactly, but is a good starting point.

And now without further adeui:

1. Put down that tie. I shouldn't even need to say this one, it is so cliche and should be (but apparently isn't) obvious. Unless he has made specific mention of a specific tie that he would like, don't do it. First of all, he probably has more ties than he will ever need. Second, even if he "really needs" a tie, you remove the one opportunity a "Suit" has to accessorize. Men who wear suits (in general) do not have the options women have in selecting a wardrobe. Solid Shirt, either white,blue, or cream. Suit that is either Black, Gray or Navy Blue and black shoes, either ties or loafer. The only chance he has to play with some color is the tie. The other problem with a tie is, if you pick something he hates. Either it will sit on the tie rack, and it will be a painful reminder everytime he looks at it, or an even more painful reminder when you ask, "Why don't you ever wear the tie I bought you?" He will automatically hate you each and every time he wears the tie.

2. Leave him alone with the cologne. The second most cliche of Father's Day gifts after "The Tie" is cologne/after shave. Now if you know what he likes, and he actually needs some (not as likely as you may think) this may very well be a nice gift. But only in those circumstances, and never buy the "Gift Set" with the matching items unless he actually already uses those products. Because, while he may like Drakkar Noir cologne, unless he is already using the skin conditioner, body wash, etc. they will only wind up taking up space in the medicine cabinet.

3. Don't buy a gift that will 'help.' This is nothing but a thinly veiled attack wrapped with a bow. While you may not "mean it" that way, giving a gift that will, "Help you get organized," or "Help you keep your papers (CDs/DVDs/Video Games/whatever) together" and so on, clearly fits into the category of gifts given to another but really meant as a "gift" to the giver. You know you hate it when he gives you a gift that is more for him than for you, so then why would you do it to him?

4. Don't give him a gift he 'needs.' He may very well need new underwear, or t-shirts or socks. Women's complaints about men that wear these items until they are barely recognizable, are legendary (and true). The solution, replace those items in his drawer. DO NOT give them to him as a gift. First it conjures up the disappointments at holiday time, when he opened a brightly wrapped present, only to find "practical" gifts. Second, they are telling him emphatically that you just don't care enough about him to get him something that is not already on the shopping list. To help drive the point home, this sort of a gift would be like him giving you a package of vacuum cleaner bags for Mother's Day.

OK, so the with the basic "Don'ts" out of the way, beware a few other pitfalls that may not be obvious.

5. Yes, sometimes brand does matter to him. All too often because when it is something he does not care about, men have a tendency to scoff at "brand names" it is assumed that they NEVER care about it. This is actually really not true. One thing advertisers know about men, is WHEN they eventually do decide a brand is "it" that they will very often become fiercely loyal to it, and due to men's inherit lack of communication skills expect you to KNOW what they are loyal to. So if he hints at, let's say a Makita Drill, do not go and buy a Craftsman. If he is a "Webber Man" when it comes to "his" grill, then Char-broil is not a satisfactory replacement. Because everything being equal, it is wrong because he is loyal to Makita, or Webber, or whatever that particular brand is.

6. Be very careful around, "The Grill." I don't know why this is, but men love to bar-b-que. But just as the indoor cook (whether it be male or female) have their preferences, such as Calaphon, or Kitchen-Aid, the man that is the "Grillmaster" (and go ahead and snicker, I do realize that there are far more "outdoor cooks" that regardless of what they think should probably never do any sort of cooking) wants things set up the way he wants, and to use the tools that he wants. So going and buying him that cute little set of Grill utensils that comes in the neat little organizing box (see above about organizing) is not going to make him give up "his tools of the grill" (even if they are "ugly" or "mismatched"). This is a territorial issue. Leave him be with what he wants to use. (And just keep the fire extinguisher near by).

7. Gift Cards ARE appreciated. Not sure where this little ditty got started, but men do like getting gift cards. It gives him the opportunity to shop for him without guilt. But don't buy into the silliness offered by some women in gift guides that you need to "spruce up" a gift card to make it a more "personal" gift. He could not care less about the "dressing" and to be honest won't even notice it (OK, this may not be true if he is a colorful gay man, or even a metrosexual, who MAY at least notice that you decorated it. But is still not important.)

and finally...

8. Listen to men when it comes to gifts for men. While looking for articles on this subject, I came across an article, Frugal Gifts for Men from I am not knocking this article for it's frugal theme. I think it is quite useless, because while Pat Veretto certainly has some good tips for Frugal living, her gift ideas for men work their way don't the list from bad ideas to just outrageously stupid.

So there you have it, a starting point (I never claimed it to be all encompassing now did I). Feel free to let me know what I missed, what you think I have wrong, or to ask my opinion on any sort of a gift.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Sometimes things just can't go right

LatteGirl's kindergarten class was scheduled to go to the Land of Make Believe today. Due to the constant rain that has plagued the Northeast for almost a week now, the trip was postponed until Tuesday. Of course since they did this, today it is absolutely gorgeous here, and how much would you like to bet it will probably rain on Tuesday.

I must say that I am THRILLED to have "nothing" on the calendar this weekend. LatteGirl on the other hand will be out and about a birthday party. The party is at a movie theater, and they will be seeing the new Disney/Pixar film Cars, which means that if I want to see the film, I am now going to have to go see it by myself, without the excuse of child. My lack of events of course means that the trusty "honey-do" list will be the priority. Oddly though... after the past few weekends. I am OK with that.

We are starting to look at making a big splurge and take our vacation NEXT year at Walt Disney World. Based on my inital estimates for this vacation, I need to start saving $500/month from now until next summer for it. Ouch.


I mentioned in yesterday's rant about uniforms and made sure I pointed out that not all careers that involve uniforms are "less choice" than others. I intentionally avoided making a list of those careers for fear of omitting one (or a few) from a "list" and making it seem as if I was slighting that particular one. But just to put the issue to rest, yes there are other professions besides nursing that may certainly be on a "chosen" career path, and not one that you got stuck with because life did not work out as planned. (I am still not going to try and list them all however).

Nor did I try to implicate that wearing school uniforms equate to "blue collar" work. Quite the opposite. I was trying to point out that there is absolutely NO correlation and that it is silly to suggest that wearing a uniform to school in any way "prepares" you for the real world.


If she wasn't a tall blonde female, would anybody actually pay attention to that hate mongering bitch that has published yet another book full of venom, or would she just be lumped in with other loons like Pat Robertson? I mean look up and down my blogroll. Every single person on that list is more intelligent and a better writer than that...that... whatever you wish to call her. What I guess frightens me most is that people actually BUY her books which means there are more sickos like her out there.

The town in which I live has a huge English, Irish and Portugese and Brazilian populace. National flags will be seen everywhere this weekend with the World Cup in progess. I would have liked to have seen this many American Flags being flown for Memorial Day.

I have just about had it with Blogger, and am starting to look elsewhere. Suggestions? I am looking at WordPress and possibly Expression Engine. I will NOT use MoveableType or any of its variants (LiveJournal, Typad)... let's just chalk it up to philosophical differences, OK? OK. Am I missing any good ones?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Taking Responsibility

Sometimes this is a very good thing and people amaze me in great ways. More times however, it is the exact opposite. Case in point, as I listened to parents speak at the meeting last week about school uniforms, I was completely stunned by many of the things I heard.

Now I of course expected there to be people that had opposing points of view. I also expected those that were pro-uniform to cite the fear-mongering reasons that the Board of Education used to push for the uniforms, things like safety, savings, etc. After all, those who are pro-uniform are quick to call up the specter of the Columbine Massacre, claiming that if they had uniforms this incident would not have occurred. Of course there is nothing to justify this, no empirical evidence at all. But the fear helps justify the pro-uniform stance. This is of course expected from those that do not bother with looking for facts, and are pro-choice by emotion.

What did however stun me were some of the other assertions. Several parents complained that it takes "hours" to get their children dressed in the morning for school. Others stated they were tired of "fighting" with their kids about the clothes they wore. Then there was the complaint (mostly of high school kids) of the inappropriate attire that some kids (predominantly female) wore to school. The "inappropriate attire" problem did not stun me, as I happen to agree that there is far too much of that in schools. What stunned me, was the lack of accountability. These parents do not wish to take any responsibility. It is never "their kid" that is a problem (even when they admit that they have to "fight" with their kids about what to wear).

Rather than working on their parenting skills, or putting forth the effort to work with their children to get them to understand what is an isn't appropriate for schools, they would rather abdicate this responsibility to the state run agencies such as the BoE. Parenting requires effort. There is no arguing that fact. But the rewards are so great. According to the Supreme Court, the 14th amendment says that you have the right to raise your child without interference. Why would you turn this over to an agency that does not know your child? To whom your child is simply a number, one of the masses rather than making the effort. It just flies in the face of everything I think parenting should be. Only YOU know what is best for your child (assuming you are a reasonably responsible parent).

The dumbest argument I heard is "uniforms prepares children for later in life." How dumb is THAT? With a few notable professional examples (i.e. Nurses), if you are wearing a uniform to work, chances are life didn't turn out quite as well as you planned. Some even compared to having to wear "professional attire' in the work place. First of all, you have chosen the career you have, and have the ability to change it. That choice is yours. Second, even if you believe you "can't" change jobs for whatever reason, you still have choices that you can make within "professional attire." You choose the shirt, or blouse, or power tie or slacks that you wear. You have choices.

Now I admit, that I have hopes and dreams for LatteGirl that do not involve a uniform shirt, name tag, and the phrase "Do you want fries with that?" So perhaps I am projecting too much, but being a individual and giving my child every opportunity to grow is far more important to me than giving up my parenting responsibilities because a few parents are too lazy to make the effort to ensure their children know what is appropriate to wear to school.

I chose to be parent. I like being a parent. Including when it is difficult, or maybe even more when it is difficult. Because, I have a wonderful child that I want to grow up to be whatever it is she wants to be and not suffer because of the inabilities of others. Taking responsibility for your child's development. Is there anything more important for a parent?

Monday, June 05, 2006

TFIM (Ok, it is Tuesday already but...)

Thank FSM it is Monday. I did it! I survived. The overscheduled madness that has been my life for the past couple of weekends is behind me.

Now I can fully concentrate on fighting the school board over uniforms, my quest to get rBGH (growth hormones) banned from milk, my diet, raising a baby tree, tending to the evil pool and the omnipresent "honey-do" list.

And I wonder why I am always tired.

Vacation plans are in the works, but dates and locations are yet to be determined. I could use one right about now, but I guess I will have to wait.

That is not necessarily a bad thing though. One week on the Shangri-La diet and I am down 5 pounds. Now that by itself may garner a "pffft" as "everybody loses 5 pounds the first week of a diet. " And I would think the same thing. But now I need to add. Over this week I have attend 2 bar-b-ques, 2 birthday parties and a confirmation party. At no time did I "deny" myself anything. I didn't stop eating any particular food, or drink (excessively) more water than I had before (more... But not a lot more). And at no time did I feel hungry. So when I tie that in with the 5 pound loss. I am quite happy, and if my success continues, maybe I won't mind people seeing me in a bathing suit. (OK, if things continue may NEXT summer, I won't mind people seeing me in a bathing suit).

I was reading A Peek Into My Insanity, in particular her "winner" of Idiot of the Week. It seems that this jerk put a baby in a dryer! I don't think "idiot" quite does this "thing" justice. Indulge me for a moment will you? Thanks. First of all, just the fact that this clown put a 13 month old baby in a tumble for "a couple of minutes" is enough in my book to classify you (in my ever so elegant terms) a Seriously Demented Nutbag (or SDN). Now, let us carry this to its illogical conclusion. Not only did he put an infant in the dryer. Upon removing the child from the dryer which caused "horrific injuries" to the child, he did... Nothing. It was not until the mother (who I certainly think is questioning her own judgment at this point... Or at least I hope she is), returned from going to the gym was the child taken to the hospital. Now they do not specify in the article how long a period of time it was between how long it was between the dryer and being taken to the hospital, but even if it is "just a couple of minutes," you can only assume that the child was screaming in pain (if not unconscious from it), and that SDN was oblivious to this. Can somebody explain to me, what can possible affect a persons Critical Thinking abilities so badly that something like putting a baby in a dryer can actually be rationalized in their heads? If you are that seriously brain damaged, you really should be removed from society.

The other one that has my head spinning, I found (I think because I can not find the post) over at Inn of the Last Home , in which a 3-year-old apparently walked out of his house and into the family car and died of (presumably) heat in the mid-day sun. It has been ruled an accident by police in Knoxville, TN. So the parents will get away with it. Now, I will admit to watching one too many episode of CSI (and in particular this episode immediately came to mind), and probably jumped to some conclusions that I perhaps shouldn't have. Putting those thoughts aside, I am sorry, that I still believe that there should be a law against criminal stupidity, and if you are not aware that at 1PM in the afternoon that your child is missing, that at the very least they are criminally negligent. But that of course is just my opinion.

I think I will take some extra time this evening to play with LatteGirl.

The War on Breastfeeding?

I wrote about this sometime back on another blog, and many others have as well, but in case you were under a rock around September of last year, neoconservative, pseudo-opEd pundit Christine Flowers first spewed her venom (the original article is not longer on the website, but you can see a reprint here.), equated breastfeeding to urinating in public, smoking, and blaring hip-hop music and suggests that women who breastfeed should use the bathroom.

Now comes the stupidity over at LiveJournal that is banning or suspending users who have a depiction of breastfeeding. There are (were plenty of links), but apparently some of the users have already been banned and their Journals deleted. (Thanks to Doug over at Reality Me for this working link). While not quite as overtly evil as Ms. Flowers, The folks over at Six Apart did a poor job in handling the situation and ensuing complaints. Their fist mistake was calling an picture of a breastfeeding woman "offensive." Second their indignation at the complaints of users only showed their contempt for what their users think.

Of course since right wing nuts like, Focus on Family's Dr. Dobson believe a woman's place is in the home, perhaps as soon as they get done trying to ban gay marriage, they could sponsor a Constitutional Ammendment banning breastfeeding in public.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Frazzled Friday

Did you ever wish that you could just close you eye, and forget everything?

The School Uniforms Debate

After the meeting with the Board of Education, I was nothing short of amazed. First by the number of people that were there, like me, fully against the idea of school uniforms. Second by the arguments put forth by the parents that were FOR the uniforms.

Now, I could easily filter out the ones that argue the factors of "safety", "improved scores", etc. because there is ZERO, not little, ZERO empircal evidence to back these claims, and this is nothing but fear mongering. But then there were the others. Parents that wanted uniforms because it is "easy", they don't have to think or fight with their kids over what they are going to wear to school. Apparently, they need school board policy to gain any control over their kids. Yet others complained about the older kids (7th, 8th and High School) kids, that dressed inappropriately for school. Of course it was never THEIR child that was dress like a "bum" or a "slut" but that "other" parents allowed their children to dress that way. Again. I can't understand how parents want to give up their ability to raise their children and abdicate the responsibility of the legislators. I can see no good coming from that. But apparently some parents can't be bothered with actual parenting once the kid is school age. For these folks, it would seem that the kids are in charge. And then people wonder why kids aren't respectful to teachers and authority figures. Well they have never had to be, because with parents like these they assume they can just walk all over any adult the way they do their parents.

It is really sad, and makes me wish I could be one of those parents that just sits back witout caring what goes on and say, "What are ya' gonna do? That's the way things are." It must be so much less stressful to go through life that way. But, I have taken my head out of the sand and looked around, and I'm afraid I am just not able to go back to being oblivious.

Getting Ready for Family

Well this weekend is LatteGirl's Birthday Party - Family Edition. Which of course means cleaning the house, getting everything ready, baking a cake, all the things that I could have been working on this week if I wasn't busy as hell in work, and "wasting" my "free" time on things like prepping for the meeting above.

Top it off. We ordered new end tables for the house. They arrived yesterday evening. Of course TheWife wants them built and ready in time for the party. These things are broken down into about 800 bazillion pieces that need to be be assembled in just the right order. Of course the first of the pieces as always are at the bottom of the box, so you need to remove the first 799.9 bazillion other pieces first and spread them out. I guess I am going to try and do that while I am baking the cake. With any luck, I should be able to finish them just before sunrise.

The Boss

You know, sometimes it can really put a kink in your plans when you employer gets the crazy notion that you should be dedicated to working when you are in the office. What is that all about? Deadlines and proposals all needed to be completed this week. Good new though is that it appears that my proposal part was a sucess, and not only will I be extended well past my original end date of Aug 1, but got the pot sweetened by another $100 a week as well. Not enough to send me and the family to the Riviera, but certainly nothing to sneeze at either.

So despite feeling pulled in a million directions with too much to do in too little time, overall things I guess are pretty good, if I can just survive the next 36 hours or so.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Missing Pieces

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On Tuesday, for her birthday, LatteGirl and TheWife went to the beach and had a fantastic time. It seemed that the best "present" LatteGirl got this year, was that since they were situated so close to the shoreline, that TheWife allowed her to wander freely back and forth from the shore to scoop up wet sand and water and carry it back to their location. She started out doing t his under the guise of building a sand castle. But as she continued her romps down to the water, it became clear that she was more interested in her new found independance and ability to run up and down "by herself" more than the prospect of building the sand castle.

I met up with my girls at home, and we went out to dinner. Plans changed along the way, because LatteGirl decided that she wanted to bypass her original choice (Applebee's) for a local (chain) Italian Restaurant called Bensi's. Tell me something. What six year old selects an Italian Restaurant as their choice of places to go out to eat when the have (almost) total freedom of choice? Oh, and one of the reasons she decided to bypass Applebee's? Because she remembered seeing somebody getting cake and all the waiters and waitresses singing happy birthday, and she "did NOT want to be embarassed like that" (her exact words - she truly is her mother's daughter).

At dinner, things got somber for awhile. We were discussing who would be attending the "family party" this weekend. When it was mentioned that "grandma" (my mother) would be attending. Her smile went away, she stopped talking about the party and her eyes started to well up with water. When we asked her what was wrong (the conversation had continued on briefly before we noticed she was no longer participating, and did not immediately make the connection), she pointed out to us that there would be one person not attending that was going to ruin the whole thing (there are several people who could not attend). "Who?" She looked at us like we had three green heads for not immediately knowing the answer. "Poppi," she emphatically stressed before breaking down into tears.

My father passed away in 2004. He adored LatteGirl and she adored him. I always wanted to make sure that LatteGirl would get to know them, and from a very early age, we used to spend at least once a week there. The good thing is, that they are strong enough a presence that she will at least always have some sort of memory of Poppi. The drawback, (at least in the short term) is the severe greif she feels, even a little less than 2 years after his passing, and I feel powerless to her feeling that without him here, there is always going to be "missing pieces" that can not be replaced.

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