Life... Health... Reviews...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Birthday gifts

My birthday is this month and every year I treat myself to a little something. It could be a $30 shirt that I find on sale for about $5 (deals like that excite me!) or purchasing a novel that I've always wanted to read. This year I thought I would do something a little different and treat myself like I would someone else who is having a birthday. I'm going to do a little research.

There are gift guides that give you some ideas for people on your gift-giving list and a birthday is a perfect time to use one. ShopWiki UK Gift Buying Guides lists 30,000 stores, but you don't have to worry about the information being overwhelming. All of it is organized into categories to give an easy shopping experience.

So, I test it out for myself to make sure. Now since this is a site specific for UK customers (yes, I have friends in the UK that read my blog), I could only get an idea of what it would pull u as a suggestion for a gift for a woman and I was pleased with what the site found. There were purses, perfumes and personalized gifts that I would love to purchase for myself as well as someone else.

Now I have an idea of what I'm going to get myself for my birthday, but the question is: What are you going to get me? :)

Me and my living room

I just got up from sitting on my couch with my feet propped up. That wouldn't seem like a big deal if I could remember the last time I sat on my couch. It's been so long that I'd forgotten that I actually like sitting on the couch. I forgot how comfortable it is.

My teenager (who made it home for the long weekend! YIPPEE!) bought me a salad from Chick-fil-A and I enjoyed it while I read a magazine. It was such a relaxing experience that I am going to have to do it again really soon.

Because there isn't a television in the living room anymore (the dead one that sits in there doesn't count), I rarely spend time in that room. Today I realized that I can still sit in there to read or lounge. I guess, in my head, it was a "television room" and not a "living room."

Guess I should get off of here and start living.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Direct TV

I am sure you have seen the advertisements on television or heard them on the radio about Direct TV, which has more than 130 of the best high definition channels. Now that's really something because I remember when I was growing up we had a black and white television that received about six channels and they came through the antenna that was sitting on top of the television. The result was an often fuzzy or static-filled station.

That's a big difference from television of today and specifically DirectTV. A lot of television viewers prefer Directv because it offers a higher sound quality and a picture that is more clear than what one would normally see from regular television or even paid cable.

Now, I must admit that although I like the way that a clear picture looks I really can't tell the different. However, it would be a thrill to be able to scan through about 130 channels of programming.

If you like better - and more! - options from your television then you should check out the Direct TV specials. You wouldn't want to miss out.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A killer read

On the Woman's Bookshelf

There's nothing like murders, secret rooms and good guys turned bad in disguise to keep me interested in a book. Those things kept me rapidly turning the pages of Hothouse Orchid by Stuart Woods.

Hothouse Orchid is the latest Holly Barker thriller (I'll have to go back and read the others) and it will be released this month. Barker is a CIA special agent that let an international terrorist get away from her for the second time and now she's on a long vacation until the case is resolved. She takes her hiatus in Orchid Beach, Florida, her home town, where there's a surprise waiting for her.

Will the local police solve the murder/rape cases? Who's hacking into the CIA computer system? And will anyone, including a smitten police officer who Holly has something tragic in common with, figure out where and who the terrorist really is?

Although I enjoyed this novel I found the dialogue between characters a little tedious, but Woods is the author of more than 30 novels including having his Stone Barrington and Holly Barker series on the New York Times bestselling list. So, what do I know?

Take a look at my other book reviews; I'm sure you'll see something that interests you.


Low back exercises

For some reason my back has been hurting more than it normally does. I know that sitting at my desk for extended periods of time makes it worse, but lately I have been getting up more and still haven't found relief. It's not just my lower back, which I think is aggravated by some pending monthly "issues." There is also pain between my shoulder blades, the middle of my back and right under my neck.

I've been stretching everyday to try to relieve it, but since it hasn't worked I need to do some low back exercises. includes detailed information about exercises for back relief along with pictures to illustrate. There's free access to exercise pages and subscribers get reminders to exercise. The program includes daily video instructions and a multitude of other features. A good way to treat your own back pain... and I'll have to test it out to treat mine.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Fallen, abandoned

More Wordless Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Mom

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

To-Do Tuesday, Week 30

There are several weekly posts that I would like to do, but I don't often get around to each of them. Instead of beating myself up about not participating, I'm just going to do the best I can.

One of the ones I love to check out is at Crazy Adventures in Parenting where Lisa encourages us to tackle our to-do list. We don't have to get it all done today and you don't even have to post it today, just share it to get support and accountability for what's on your list for the week.

Those are all of my words; not hers. So if you want the real down low on To Do Tuesday you'll have to pop on over to her place to check it out. While you're there see what she, and everyone else, is up to.

Here's my list...
  1. Posting on SAS
  2. Updating my From Toddlers2Teens blog
  3. Investigating more grad schools
  4. Apply to some grad schools (???)
  5. Review SAR & FAFSA
  6. Paid posts
  7. Opportunity seeking (that's jobs & freelancing)
  8. Update my agent cover letter
  9. Clear desk/process papers/filing
I just realized there are a lot of things on my weekly to-do list and I'm not sure how to classify them so I've sort of thrown them up there. There's also some things on there I don't know if I want to or should put on here. It shouldn't be this complicated, should it?

Of course, you know there's the weekly housework and whatnot. Lisa includes a handy dandy, fancy HTML check-off thingy, but I don't think I am going to tackle that this time. Well, there you have it - a peep at my to-do list. Are you going to join in?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Zhu Zhu Pet Party

My kids keep asking me for a pet. A dog. A cat. But I keep saying no. I was going to give in and get them a hamster, but someone - I can't remember who - convinced me that hamsters weren't a good idea either. Maybe I convinced myself.

It doesn't matter either way because they still got a hamster. Thanks to Maria Bailey and MomSelect my kids, and several of their friends, got a chance to play with and keep Zhu Zhu Pets, which are fun, interactive hamsters that talk, move and navigate around their own habitat. They're pets without the mess and they're extra cute to boot.

I had forgotten all about the Zhu Zhu Pets until I stepped out of my door last week and saw a box sitting in front of my door. I quickly moved into action to host a little gathering of children at our daycare provider's house. I took the loot to her house to set up for the children. Zhu Zhu Pets come with dozens of add-on sets so children can create a custom world for their little hamster friend. The set I had included a complete hamster "habitrail" including kitchen, hamster wheel and a few other tiny hamster amenities.

I set about putting the contraption together and discovered that it was the most difficult part. I didn't allow enough time to put it together, the children started arriving and hoovering around me. After awhile we decided to let them start playing with their hamsters and we all became entranced at the cute little things skittering across the floor. The children oohed and aahed over them while the hamsters squeaked, turned and spun around.

Once the habitrail was constructed the race was on to see who could get their hamster to the end of the trail first. Unfortunately, the trail didn't stand up to the test. Several of us tried to get it clicked together properly, but some parts didn't quite fit. The children didn't seem to notice as they let their hamsters explore.

They rolled through the fun house, went up and down the spiral slide, rode the waves on a surf board and explored under couches and tables in the little blue car. The children chased, ran and jumped, which accounts for the lack of faces in the pictures. :) One of the most popular hamster features was the Go Go Adventure Ball that captured everyone's attention at the same time.

The one below scooted across part of the directions that were forgotten on the floor. His name is Chunk. Yup, they all have names and this particular "family" also came with Pipsqueak, Squiggles and Numnums.

This trio, which includes my daughter and my son (in the center), watched the hamsters go this way and that. Don't be fooled by their blank expressions, they were just waiting for their turn to race their hamsters through the habitrail.

Zhu Zhu pets are recommended for ages four and older, but if there are younger siblings who want to play along I think they are fine with supervision. My youngest (below) and her two friends (twins who aren't pictured) would not be left out of the fun.

The toy is available now at Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and as well as other retailers. Check out their site for more information. You'll get a chance to see the cute commercial, if you haven't already, and the hamsters in action. My middle daughter saw the commercial while waiting in the pediatrician's office and she almost fell over herself in excitement trying to point it out.

I donated the habitrail to the daycare provider (my youngest daughter attends daily and the other two go on breaks and holidays) so that she can share it with other children. My kids happily took the hamsters home and haven't stopped playing with them since Friday. (My son discovered that they're strong enough to push some of his toys around!)

Want a pet for your kid that only eats AAA batteries (they last days!) and doesn't make a mess? Then pick up a couple of Zhu Zhu pets and their habitrail; it'll keep them busy for hours!

Monday's Muse: Un-muse-ness

I'm not feeling very creative today and I suspect that it may be this way for the entire week. Although I hope that's not true. But let's focus on today - the beginning of the week. What is fueling me creatively this week? Not one thing. It seems as if I'm being fueled in the opposite direction.

My attitude today - mostly this afternoon - is somewhat... well, uh, stank! My two youngest daughters have been with me all day (they had doctor's appointments) and my son came home from school all too quickly. He was filled with the wiggles and his loud button was turned on. It only served to further my grumpiness.

I'm tired, drowsy, sore and just downright needing to concentrate without the background noise of children. My head is hurting and there are tons of things I need to do, think about and deal with. As most of you know, doing so with children around can be trying. When you're not in the best of health or feeling under the weather it makes tasks a little difficult.

The whining, crying, talking, noisiness, repeating myself, asking for stuff - it is all distracting me from what I'm trying to concentrate on. It's tough getting past thoughts of my recent diagnosis and the way I feel mentally and physically to get anything done, but add to that three children 5 and under and it seems nearly impossible.

So, as I sat down to attempt to write what's fueling me this week the only thing I could think of was that my life is fueling me. Although I want to - and often must - stop and rest; even though the floor still needs to be mopped and the laundry put away (tasks I just haven't had the strength for) I still want to blog, write and make money. There are times every single day that I want to give up, but my desire to do this and to do more is pushing me.

I guess if I didn't care it wouldn't be necessary to be irritated about it. It wouldn't make a big deal if the children kept distracting me 'cause I would just get down on the floor or focus all of my attention on what they're doing instead of trying to get anything done. If my life wasn't pushing me to do something different so I can have something different then I wouldn't worry about trying to organize, straighten, clean, do homework, fix dinner and the one million trillion bazillion things that need to be done.

That must mean that although I'm feeling so far removed from creativity that I can still dig somewhere deep down inside and find something that keeps me going. There must be a glimmer, a spark (Maternal Spark? :D) or something simmering. If I could only reach it then maybe my irritation would pass. As soon as I get my fingers on it the doggone little thing just slips right on by. It passes through my fingers like the fine grains of white sand. It seems as distance as the furthest star.

But I guess I have to go after it. My closest friends keep telling me to go after. My wonderful blogging family keeps pushing me to go after it. And, as I focus on that distance goal I think I want to keep going. For a moment, the irritation lifts and I get a clarity that only peace can bring. Now, if only my youngest child would stop whining to eat (it's not my fault she refused to finish her lunch!) then maybe I could grasp - for just a second - what I'm longing for.

Don't let her cute face and darling smile fool you; it's tough to catch her on
camera being naughty. She smiles automatically regardless of what
she's doing or how she's acting. It's a conspiracy against her mother!


Satellite TV

When moving from state to state there are a lot of services that have to be canceled where you're leaving and activated where you're going. Finding a company that gives you the best information on DIRECTV vs. Dish Network, if that's the type of service you prefer, is a part of comparison shopping.

Kaptain Satellite is a good resource for discovering your satellite television options and it offers deals as well as information to help customers make the right decisions. If you're a new customer, you don't have to worry about being confused about all of the objects. New subscribers receive free equipment and installation. All you have to do now is visit the site, select your state and find all the information that is relevant for you.

Yesterday's brunch

I didn't venture out of bed until later than I normally would. I gave the children some fruit and put together this quick breakfast bake that I saw in Food & Family magazine.

It didn't take long to make and it was really good. Just take a Pillsbury crescent roll, unfold and put at the bottom of your dish. Sprinkle with 6 ounces of turkey ham. It said, "ham," but I used turkey ham. Next time I'll use something different because I prefer not to use processed meat. Whisk six eggs with some milk (I used 1/2 cup of soy milk) and add pepper. The next time I make this I'm going to add spinach or something else that I like. Pour the mixture on top of the crust and the meat then sprinkle with cheese. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until center is set.

Oh so yummy!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Inside my head

Everyone has their own way of doing things, their own way of feeling and their own way of reacting, but not everyone understands another person's ways. That misunderstanding can be painful. I mean, it's not that they have to agree but can they at least say, "I understand." Is it just me who yearns for... I guess it's acceptance in all areas? As a matter of fact, I think there's some Facebook quiz that I took recently, which said that I long for acceptance. Unfortunately, that's true.

There's one thing that I've learned about creative people - of which I am one. And it is that we're a sensitive bunch. We feel stuff deeply, often uniquely from the average person. An overly logical person (and those who are judgemental, critical or no nonsense) will often frown in confusion at our thought patterns. A lot of creative people fight the urge to express something and they search for the words to get it right. To speak it in an English that everyone will understand. If you don't ask them they may not tell you. It'll just simmer inside and burst out in the form of a poem, prose, a drawing, painting, model, mold, photo... or whatever medium they're favoring at the time.

Years ago I composed poetry that would often hint at my innermost thoughts. It was my outlet of choice. Now, for some reason, my poetry muse has moved on. Maybe because I have more words to use and more confidence to use them (sometimes). But there are some thoughts and feelings that I keep to myself because they're birthed of fear, uncertainty and the lack of confidence in myself, my abilities, my future and my world.

I try to bury the feelings where no one can find them, but they come out at the most inopportune times. I fear that those feelings, if I don't find a cure for them or come to terms with them, will cause me to lose something that is important to me. And, I don't think I can lose anything else. I just want to come up with some idea, some solution that will make a lose of this thing impossible.

Being unwell is so affecting my emotions. It's so uncontrollable that it makes understanding me difficult. It makes the thoughts that ramble around in my head difficult to share and explain. I have my own way of doing things, my own way of feeling and my own way of reacting... In all of my creative, misunderstood idiosyncrasies and thoughts. I just hope that I and all that comes with me is accepted. Simply embraced, respected and loved. Right now, I think that's all that I need.

Memories from 1993

I'm Falling Into Memories by `smashmethod

I have been a bit random this weekend and I know it has to do with me not feeling well, but at least I have gotten a little bit done. In one of my random moments (in between introducing the kids to School House Rock and trying to figure out one I'm going to snack on), I was getting some other VHS tapes out of the closet.

I came across one labeled 1993 and saw my oldest daughter Amber, now 18, in all of her 2 year old glory. Amazingly my youngest daughter looks a lot like her now. And as I sat watching my young daughter - and a young me - it was as if I was back in time. She was singing, playing, taking a bath and being the inquisitive and smart little person she was known to be.

Then I watched a tape of her 3rd birthday party. All of her friends back then that are obviously grown now, and all of my friends from back then that I lost touch with. Her babysitter at the time has since been killed (yea, that's a long story) and I heard her younger sister took the news so hard that she was really mentally affected. But that was years ago.

A friend of mine and my downstairs neighbor quietly videotaped everything and now I am looking for him on Facebook. During a weekend when I've felt lonely, alone and abandoned, I am now feeling nostalgic. It's funny the different feelings that can be evoked by a thought, a memory or an experience. My 1993 life was so much different than my life is now. Makes me think, ya know?
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