Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - In The Spirit Of Self-Improvement

My good blogfriend Jade and I have been having a little discussion about judgementalism and self-improvement, which stemmed initially from my discussion of "white trash" a few posts ago. (I have more respect for you every day, baby!)

So in the spirit of self-improvement, I will join Jade (and millions of others) in a quest to shed some excess pounds. (What is it now, day 3?) It's something I've needed to do for a long time, and I think it's time. I'll be leaving updates here on the blog, but I don't want to bore you, so I'll keep it to a minimum. I have also decided to take a karate class through the local community education program. It should be fun! It doesn't start up for a few weeks yet, but I'll let you know how it works out.

35 lbs. to go! (Ewww... that sounds scary...)

Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - Eeep!

Eeep! Thank you, Jade! Even after I deleted my internet temp files I still couldn't see it, so I refreshed the picture and bam!

My new baby dragon is so sweet! I have decided to name him Atraxl. I think I will have to reduce his picture though. It's not really acceptable as it is. Readers, feel free to leave him a tasty cow or some large sparkly jewels when you visit!

Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - Some Minor Blog Changes

Red Ring kicked me out because their automatic nav script checker says my script doesn't work. I pulled it from another ring site and only made tiny little changes! And all the links worked! I email the RingMaster about it a couple weeks ago and got no repsonse. Screw it. I'm done with them.

I'm getting rid of the chat function. It was too much hassle and nobody ever contacted me that way.

My egg from The Egg Agency was supposed to hatch today, and it didn't, and now the site says the hatch date is 9/30/04. Boo hoo hoo!

Monday, August 30, 2004

Monday, August 30, 2004 - Weekend Update

It's been a busy weekend. I've already discussed the Irish Festival; here's the rest of it.

Saturday the whole clan went to the Niagara Falls Air Show. It has returned to its full glory at the NF Air Force base after a couple off years because of the war. There was a couple dozen military aircraft on the ground, including several you can go inside, plus the flight show. F-16's are awesome! I want one when I grow up! Unfortunately, a few hours into the show, the rain suddenly came pouring down. The flights were cancelled and almost everyone made their way to the exits. We toughed it out for a little while, but when it seemed there would be no respite we left. We were drenched, and the boys were complaining (go figure). Oh, well, we still had a good time.

On Sunday I had responsibility for the music at church. I did a vocal solo, which went better than I expected. But I had also arranged for a flute trio. One of my fellow flautists didn't show up for rehearsal. And she continued to not show up. We called her house in a panic but got no answer. Finally 5 minutes before church started, she comes in the door, hair still wet from the shower. Whew! The flute piece went well too.

After church I had a bridal shower to attend. The shower was for a childhood friend of mine (actually our whole families are friends). It's been a couple years since I'd seen her, and I was happy to celebrate her upcoming wedding.

Now here's the thing though. These people, her family and friends, are, for lack of a better term, ummm... white trash. I hate saying it, but it's true. I spent the whole afternoon talking with these women about how they are expecting their 3rd kid, all with different fathers, of course, how they are having so much trouble making ends meet with their McDonald's jobs, how their 2nd divorce is progressing, how their parents are probably going to kick them out of the house soon. Not to mention seeing some of the kids - most of the women I'm writing about are my age and a few years younger - that are starting to learn to drive and are looking at colleges! You get the idea.

Aaaagh! Look, I know everyone makes mistakes, but sheesh, couldn't one person there be getting life right?

Ironwolf had the guys over that night too, so I pulled myself away from the Star Wars game and was sociable for a while. That was good - I've been neglecting my friends too much lately.

Busy busy busy!

Monday, August 30, 2004 - Turning To The Dark Side

I've been playing that damned Star Wars game too much. Way too much. My name is ShadowAngel, and I'm a Jediholic. Ironwolf is getting pissed at me about it, and with good reason. Fear not, honey, it will be all over with soon!

The best thing about the game is that the main character you are playing is a Jedi, and your actions and words matter in the game - if you do and say good things, you become more aligned with the Light Side; if you do and say bad things, you become more aligned with the Dark Side. I have been playing a goody-goody character, of course, but I can't wait to start a new game and play someone who is just despicably bad and see how the game turns out!

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Saturday, August 28, 2004 - Luck O' The Irish To Ye!

Last night I went out to the Buffalo Irish Festival with my mother, one of my sisters and her fiancee. Ah, what a marvelous time! Plenty of Guinness, good music, and good company.

We got there on the early side, so we snagged some really good seats at the main stage and didn't give them up the whole evening. I'm sad to say, dear readers, that most of you will never have the opportunity to see these amazing artists, as they do not perform in your area.

There was a couple local groups:

  • Rince ni Tiarna: a local children's Irish dance troupe of about 350 members that has international recognition. The name is Celtic for "Lord of the Dance", and they had the name first, dammit! There were about 20 of them at the festival, and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of their performance.
  • The McKrells: a band who describes themselves as "Celt-grass". I've heard most of the local Irish bands, but never these guys. They are just amazing. They are all incredible musicians in their own right, and I've never heard a sound like theirs before. Too bad the rest of my party didn't care for them...

Then there was my man from down Maryland way, Seamus Kennedy. He comes up to Buffalo a couple times a year, and we make an effort to see him when he is in town. His specialty is comedy, Celtic music style. He does some great drinking songs. Let me relate to you, as best as my memory will allow, his latest and greatest, "The Beer Song". The tune will be obvious:

Dough, I need to buy my beer
Ray, the guy who sells me beer
Me, the one who drinks my beer
Fa, a long way to the john
So, I'll have another beer
La - ger lager lager beer
Tea, no thanks I've got a beer
That will bring us back to Dough!

Saturday, August 28, 2004 - A Slight Update To 50 Things

Remember that drink concoction that I put down in "50 Things" a couple days ago? I've improved it. So here's the recipe now:

In an old-fashioned glass mix on the rocks:

1 oz. orange vodka
1 oz. blue curacao
1 oz. peach schnapps

Fill rest of glass with orange juice.

It's very good, very chuggable, and a lovely way to get smashed in a short period of time.!

Friday, August 27, 2004

Friday, August 27, 2004 - 9 Layers of Me

Stolen from Wendy who stole this from Luck of the Irish

Name: Jennifer
Birth date: October 9th
Birthplace: Gowanda, NY
Current Location: Tonawanda, NY
Eye Color: hazel
Hair Color: red (dyed, covering my mousy light brown)
Height: 5'4"
Righty or Lefty: Righty
Zodiac Sign: Libra

Your heritage: Irish, Italian, English, German
The shoes you wore today: sneakers
Your weakness: chocolate!
Your fears: crowds, large numbers of ants
Your perfect pizza: lots of cheese, lots of fresh veggies
Goal you'd like to achieve: start my own business

Your most overused phrase: I don't know - I'm afraid to ask someone else about it though.
Your first waking thoughts: No, not yet! I'm not ready!
Your best physical feature: my sensuous lips
Your most missed memory: my college friends

Pepsi or Coke: Coke
McDonald's or Burger King: Burger King
Single or group dates: single
Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea: Blech. Nasty fake stuff.
Chocolate or vanilla: Chocolate!!!
Cappuccino or coffee: Mmmm...a nice caramel latte...

Smoke: No
Cuss: Too damn much!
Sing: They trust me with solos in church.
Take a shower everyday: I wish.
Do you think you've been in love: Been in love a long time.
Want to go to college: I'd love to go back to grad school, but it's probably not happening.
Liked high school: Sometimes it sucked. Sometimes it was terrific.
Want to get married: Been married for 8 1/2 years.
Believe in yourself: Most of the time.
Get motion sickness: Now and then
Afraid of heights: I used to be terrified, but grew out of it
Think you're attractive: Eh, I'm fair-to-middlin'.
Think you're a health freak: I'd like to be, but somehow it never works out.
Get along with your parent(s): My folks are da bomb!
Like thunderstorms: I play outside in storms when I get a chance.
Play an instrument: flute, bass, and English handbells

LAYER SIX:In the past six months...
Drank alcohol: Sure.
Smoked: No.
Done a drug: No.
Made Out: Well, yeah, I'd hope so!
Gone on a date: Surprisingly, yes.
Gone to the mall: A couple times.
Eaten an entire box of Oreos: Nah.
Eaten sushi: Today!
Been on stage: Several times.
Been dumped: Ummm... not technically, because we weren't dating...
Gone skating: No. But I really should.
Made homemade cookies: Yup. Burned some too!
Dyed your hair: Duh, of course!
Stolen Anything: No.

Played a game that required removal of clothing: Nope.
If so, was it mixed company: n/a
Been trashed or extremely intoxicated: A few times.
Been caught "doing something": Yeah, but nothing too bad. I've caught others though!
Been called a tease: Yeah, a few times.
Gotten beaten up: Been in a few fights, but I won.
Shoplifted: Some really cheap crap when I was a kid.
Changed who you were to fit in: No, why would I?

Age you hope to be married: Married at 23.
Numbers and Names of Children: "Rascal" (Age 4) and "Zipper" (age 1)
Describe your Dream Wedding: just like mine
How do you want to die: In a big explosion! No, no, not really...
Where you want to go to college: Went to SUNY at Buffalo
What do you want to be when you grow up: a scientist, but I don't really plan on growing up
What continent would you most like to visit: Asia

Number of drugs taken illegally: Well, a couple if perscriptions count.
Number of people I could trust with my life: Maybe a dozen. But I'm pretty trusting.
Number of CDs that I own: about 250.
Number of piercings: 2. Ears. How dull.
Number of tattoos: 0 (might change that though)
Number of times my name has appeared in the newspaper: A couple times, I think...
Number of scars on my body: A few - knees, thumb, scalp.
Number of things in my past that I regret: 3. Didn't say I had to tell you what they are!

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Thursday August 26, 2004 - Child Abuse?

I'm rather troubled. Desiree has been writing recently of an incident where she witnessed a scene between a mother and child that could be construed as abusive. From the sound of things, the incident is escalating into something major (the authorities are investigating).

Desiree is outraged by what she has seen. I don't blame her - child abuse is unconscionable. I support the stand that she is taking on this.

But I also see the other side of the incident - the side of the frazzled mom who can't take one moment more of the misbehavior. I understand how it can happen because I've been at that point too many times - when it just seems better to smack the damn kid than to handle it reasonably.

I am very aware of my own tendencies towards this kind of behavior. That is why I am particularly conscious of my anger and frustration toward my children at times. Most of the time, when I get that angry, I succeed at being rational and adult. Rarely, I fail. And those few times that I have failed fill me with guilt.

But knowing is half the battle. I had to make an active decision to handle these situations better, and for the most part I have succeeded.

You probably think less of me now for admitting this to you. I understand. Please have no fear that I am abusing my children - that would be abhorrent. Please know that I am always trying to be a better parent every day.

Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 50 Things

Snagged from Desiree who in turn had snaggedfrom ASB who in turn had snagged from Jen.

1. Your name spelled backwards. refinnej ettenil
2. Where were your parents born? Dad was born in Buffalo, NY; Mom in Gowanda, NY
3. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer? Besides copious amounts of spam? An egg from The Egg Agency.
4. What's your favorite restaurant? O (a local Japanese joint).
5. Last time you swam in a pool? A couple weeks ago.
6. Have you ever been in a school play? Some bit parts in high school.
7. How many kids do you want? Always wanted 2, and that's what I've got.
8. Type of music you dislike most? Ummm... I pretty much like all kinds, but if I have to choose, I'd have to go with Latin.
9. Are you registered to vote? Yes, and I even vote too!
10. Do you have cable? No more cable, yay! DirecTV's the one for me!
11. Have you ever ridden on a moped? Nah, it's not for me.
12. Ever prank call anybody? No - it's so juvenile.
13. Ever get a parking ticket? Nope. Still have a clean record (which surprises me).
14. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving? Maybe I'll give it a go on one of those extreme carnival rides that's supposed to be like those activities, but I'm not terribly interested in the real thing.
15. Farthest place you ever traveled. Alaska (in the middle of winter!). But soon to be Hong Kong!
16. Do you have a garden? I have the loveliest weed patch you ever saw.
17. What's your favorite comic strip? Dilbert (even though I've been out of CubeWorld for 5 years already).
18. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem? And Canada's too!
19. Bath or Shower, morning or night? Shower, at night (when I can get some hot water).
20. Best movie you?ve seen in the past month? LOTR: The Two Towers (yet again!)
21. Favorite pizza topping? Onions! But it's nobody else's favorite...
22. Chips or popcorn? Mmmm...chips...
23. What color lipstick do you usually wear? Red baby! Fiery see it from 20 meters away red!
24. Have you ever smoked peanut shells? What the hell? Why would you do that?
25. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant? Ugh, no! Hideous creations!
26. Orange Juice or apple? OJ plus orange vodka plus blue curacao makes a yummy lime green creation!
27. Who was the last person you went out to dinner with and where did you dine? With the family at Bob Evans (oh, I hate to admit that!)
28. Favorite type chocolate bar? Lindh 70% (mmmm....)
29. When was the last time you voted at the polls? I vote every year, and for the school budgert too!
30. Last time you ate a homegrown tomato? Last week, and there's more in the fridge.
31. Have you ever won a trophy? Plenty of them, but it's been a long time.
32. Are you a good cook? Not bad. I like to try lots of new recipes and since I can pretty much follow a recipe, it usually turns out ok.
33. Do you know how to pump your own gas? Gee, I only know one place around here where you can get an attendant to pump it for you!
34. Ever order an article from an infomercial? Nope.
35. Sprite or 7-up? 7-up, definitely.
36. Have you ever had to wear a uniform to work? Yeah, it was kind of like a Catholic schoolgirl uniform though.
37. Last thing you bought at a pharmacy? Drugs, man! Drugs!
38. Ever throw up in public? Depends on what you call public.
39. Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love? I've got true love! If I had to make a choice, love wins out any day.
40. Do you believe in love at first sight? I believe in lust at first sight! Love takes a little longer.
41. Ever call a 1-900 number? I had to call a computer tech support 900 number once. Ugh! What a nightmare!
42. Can ex's be friends? It depends on the kind of ex-!
43. Who was the last person you visited in a hospital? My son (hernia surgery)
44. Did you have a lot of hair when you were a baby? Tons, and it stuck up in the air like Alfalfa!45. What message is on your answering machine? (In the most monotone voice you can imagine) Hel-lo. You have reached XXX-XXXX. (beep!)
46. What's your all time favorite Saturday Night Live Character? I stopped watching SNL ages ago.
47. What was the name of your first pet? Blackie, my kitty that was run over by the school bus on the first day of 1st grade!
48. What is in your purse? Wallet, coupons, lipstick, a toy for the baby.
49. Favorite thing to do before bedtime? Blog! (how sad...)
50. What is one thing you are grateful for today? My family.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - The Force Is Sucking My Life Away...

I swore it several months ago (before the start of this blog): no more non-social gaming - primarily meaning computer and console games. But no, I have succumbed. Ironwolf brought Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic home from his trip to CA, and I am hooked. Damn it all, he knows I'm a sucker for an RPG with a good storyline.

Well, it's time for me to go swing my lightsaber around some more!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - Sad Little Bunnies

On Monday we were playing outside and I noticed a furry little body at the edge of our patio. It was a dead baby bunny. How sad! I investigated further and discovered a small nest in our herb garden and another dead baby bunny inside.

Rascal was very curious. Can I hold the bunny? No, Rascal. Is it asleep? No, Rascal, I'm afraid it's dead. Oh, the bunny rabbit's dead.

I put the bodies into a plastic bag, and Rascal insisted on carrying the bag around for most of an hour until he was distracted and I disposed of it.

*sigh* I probably should have buried them; it would have sat on my conscience better.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - Keys, Keys, My Kingdom For My Car Keys!

I was going to take the boys to see Grandma D. today. Since it's a moderately long trip, Ironwolf was kind enough to leave me his car so I wouldn't have to drive the Crapmobile (a '92 Geo Prizm) there. This would have been great, except...

One of my keyrings broke a few weeks ago, and it had his car key on it. I didn't lose the key, but since it was an inconvenient time I threw the key into my purse. And then promptly forgot about it, of course. I look for the key this morning and it's not there!

I searched high and low, emptying out purses, checking drawers and jackets, to no avail. I had to postpone the trip until tomorrow. After Ironwolf got home I found the key though...in my purse.


Monday, August 23, 2004

Monday, August 23, 2004 - Emotional Manipulation For Dummies

I'd been compaining to Ironwolf last night about being down again (a fairly common emotional state for me), and he suggested an intriguing little game. It runs on the premise that you should be able to control your reactions to a given situation, and by doing so be able to change your overall "mood-set". There's nothing new about this idea - if you smile, you're more likely to feel happy, even if you don't start out that way.

We spent a little time coming up with different responses to a neutral statement with the responses being based on specific emotions. In this case the statement was: "I can't find my shoes."

Now here's some responses:

  • "Oh, no, your shoes are gone?! This is horrible!"
  • "Yeah, so go look for them."
  • "I can't believe you lost them again."
  • "And I suppose you want me to look for them?"
  • "Boo hoo. Too bad for you."
  • "Oh, dear, that's too bad. Do you need some help?"
  • "Fine, I'll go look for them."
  • "So what do you want me to do about it?"
  • "How could you be so stupid?"
  • "Hmmm... you look upstairs while I look downstairs."
  • "So find a different pair!"
  • "And I should care because..."
  • "I'm really sorry. I'll help you find them."

It really was a fascinating exercise, and it really opened my eyes as to how negative I am at times. So the point of the exercise is to put it into practice in everyday situations by choosing a positive response over a negative response. Over time, the resultant should be an improved overall attitude.

Ironwolf may have something here. I'll give it a try, and see what happens.

Monday, August 23, 2004 - Things Man Was Never Meant To Do

Axinar recently wrote of an interesting little contraption marketed in the U.S. by Spirit Partners called "AWOL", or Alcohol WithOut Liquid. This device mixes the vapor of a spirit with oxygen such that it can be breathed in, thus acting as a "reverse breathalyzer".

This is nuts. People are going to die using this gizmo. I don't know how it ever got approval by the FDA, or BTAF, or whomever else regulates this kind of thing.

You'd think that people would be happy just chugging down shots if they wanted rapid drunkenness!

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Saturday, August 21, 2004 - VBS Is All Done (Yay!)

Each day was more chaotic then the last, but now it is done. I really did end up having a good time. I hope my kids did too, but I'm not so sure they did. Oh well. Here's a photo of my class on the last day:

Hey, you never know, I might even do it again next year!

Saturday, August 21, 2004 - Friends Reading Blogs

It has come to my attention that some of my "real-life" friends are reading this blog without having apprised me. You're found out! (oooh, I'm gonna get you...)

Really, guys, I don't mind that you are reading this. It would have been nice to know, though, and not because I'm saying bad things about you :-), but because it does mean that I should really put another layer of self-edit in my writings here.

Or maybe I shouldn't. There's nothing here that I wouldn't care for you to know. My only concerns are:

  1. That you'll become thoroughly convinced that I have an unhappy marriage. It couldn't be further from the truth. But sometimes I really need to gripe, and this is a good forum for it.
  2. That you'll learn more about me than what you really wanted to know. Say, for example, the fact that I almost never shave my legs! (Oh, wait, you probably have been able to figure that one out over the years...)
  3. That I will no longer be quite as free to say what I really think, particularly about you guys. I would never intend to hurt anyone's feelings here, but it could happen.

Well, all of this is inconsequential. I love you all, and trust you all with the details of my life and my mind. So if you are going to read, at least bother to toss in a comment once in a while, ok?

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Thursday, August 19, 2004 - VBS Update

I know, it's Thursday already - there's only one more day of VBS. I've been neglecting to post about it.

VBS has been going better than expected. It's a good group of kids. Ok, every group of kids is a good group of kids. There's one boy that's rather too physical, and a girl who's a hypochondriac, but nothing too major. They've been having fun, and surprisingly, I have been having fun too! And yay, this class can sing! It leaves me absolutely exhausted though, so I've been conking out on the couch every afternoon (yes, I know, it's a bad idea with the little guys running around, but hey, they haven't burned the house down yet).

Rascal and Zipper haven't been doing so well though. Rascal separated himself from his class yesterday and wandered the halls of the church for a while until the pastor found him. They had a nice chat in her office before returning him to his class. She thinks that Rascal dislikes the chaos and large crowds of kids inherent to VBS. I can empathize with that. Rascal was also delivered to me in my classroom today because he wouldn't stop crying. So I had to deal with my class and him.

Zipper is being watched in the nursery this week. The girls in there are really nice - I think I am going to ask one of them to be my babysitter. But Zipper doesn't like to be away from his mommy. They brought him to me yesterday because he wouldn't stop crying Then today they tell me that he was cranky and that he slept part of the time. Klaxons sound in my head because Zipper doesn't nap...unless he's sick. I get him home and he takes a nap. He wakes up with a fever. He even went to bed early. Now I'm in this unfortunate position - I have to be at VBS to teach, but if my kid is sick I'm not going to take him. Ugh. My mother offered to come over tomorrow morning to take care of him, but she lives an hour away, and I don't really want to bug her that early in the morning. If I have to though, I will.

One more day...

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - Revelations On Old Friends

Also because I couldn't sleep last night, I started looking for a couple of my old friends online that I haven't heard from in years.

One of them is a college guy friend that I was very close to. I couldn't find much about him directly except for some old IT-related newsgroup posts. But then I saw his name and his wife's name connected with some Doggy Olympics-type dogs, and managed to follow that back to their personal site. There wasn't much there as far as content, but I could tell that they've moved from Boston to San Diego, have no children, and are really into their dogs and trains. They had a bunch of pictures up there - they look good. I don't know if I should get in touch - there was a point where I might have been seen as the "other woman" (which was never actually the case).

The other is a high school girl friend. She was valedictorian (I was 3rd in the class). She went to the U.S. Naval Academy, so I was a little disturbed by what I found. The first thing I found was a news article which featured a statement by a Major wiht her name (who seemed to be in the Marines, not the navy, but I am not sure). The article was only a couple days old, and apparently she was an official spokesperson in Najaf, Iraq for the military. I don't know if there is any way to confirm her identity. The strange thing is, I also found a page about 5 years old which showed her in a community theatre production in a suburb of San Diego. So I don't know what to think. I just hope she's ok.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - Duh, I'm Kinda Smart I Guess

I amused myself for a while last night, since I wasn't getting any sleep anyway, by taking a few IQ tests online. Well, not to sound like I'm bragging, got a 140 +/- 2 pts. on each of the tests. Nice to know that the ol' brain hasn't completely turned to mush yet. I don't really know what compelled me to give it a try, since I don't put much stock in these tests anyway.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - Annoyances of the Day

This morning I step out of the shower, and I hear the garbage truck rumbling around the neighborhood. So I quickly got dressed and got the garbage can out to the curb. Then I went to empty the cans about the house and the diaper pail. You'd just know it, I've just pulled the bag out of the diaper pail and the truck comes. I ended up putting the garbage can back in the garage with just as much garbage in it than when I had taken it out a few minutes before. Grrr...

This afternoon Rascal rushes off to the bathroom, and I hear him messing around with the toilet tank. I head in there and he's got the top off the tank and is playing inside. I get annoyed with him and we have a "discussion", during which he angrily knocks some items off a shelf down onto the floor. Angry myself, I drop the top of the toilet tank down too hard and break it into two pieces. I then proceed to impale my finger with a sliver fragment from the broken top. Aaagh! And it's a pink American Standard Toilet too! Where am I ever going to get a replacement top? Ah, well, it's not that bad really - I should be able to superglue the pieces together.

Minor annoyances, I know, but put PMS on top of it, and you've got yourself a situation.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - In A Bad, Bitchy Mood

I'm tired of PMS. I'm tired of the headaches. I'm tired of the week of being bitchy to everyone around me even when I don't want to be. I'm really tired of the mood swings that have me yelling one minute and crying the next.

If you value your skin, stay out of my way!

Monday, August 16, 2004

Monday, August 16, 2004 - VBS Begins

While many of my readers have children that have already headed off to school, we still have about 3 weeks before the kiddies head back here. But in the meantime, as I have mentioned several times already we have Vacation Bible School! Yay!

I ended up with 20 1st- and 2nd-graders in my class. It's a lot of kids to manage. With the daily schedule as it is, with no more than 20 minutes in any time block, it's very much like herding sheep. But it seems to be a good group, with no obviously psychologically damaged kids in it this time (I got a couple doozies 2 years ago).

I had this crazy idea that bowing up 64 balloons for a game that would last 10 minutes was a good idea. The balloons themselves: I was smart enough to get a little balloon hand pump so I wouldn't have to blow them up by hand. But then I transported them to church. I filled 7 garbage bags with the silly things and packed them into my car. The game setup was funny too - my helper and I took everything outside since the weather was nice and we dumped the balloons out. This would have been great except that there was the tiniest little breeze... I had to leave the helper there to be balloon wrangler until the kids came out. So we started the game, and the 1st half went ok, but then the second half just devolved. It was supposed to be a quiz game about the Bible story we had told the kids earlier that day. Nobody was getting the questions right. I think my co-teacher (who told today's story) must not have gotten their attention. Oh, well. We'll try to do better tomorrow.

Rascal is in one of the classes. I asked him if he had fun and he said, "Not really, but I want to go back tomorrow." He is such a hoot! Zipper is spending the week being looked after in the church nursery. From what I heard, sometimes he's happy, sometimes he isn't. I know he is in good hands though, so I'm not too worried.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Sunday, August 15, 2004 - Hong Kong Strange News

Boy, I can't wait to go to Hong Kong this fall with interesting stuff like this happening!


Sunday, August 15, 2004 - A Spam First

Today in my normal pile of junk email, most of which I don't even read, I found an ad for an anime porn site. Now, I like anime, and I know adult anime exists (really there's hardly any other kind, except Pokemon and their ilk), but this was just weird.

Come give us money so you can see cartoony drawings having sex!


Sunday, August 15, 2004- ShadowAngel's Quizziness Is Now Open To The Public!

Yeah, I've got a new blog full of all those results of those stupid yet strangely addictive internet quizzes at ShadowAngel's Quizziness. Be sure to visit if you are really bored.

Sunday, August 15, 2004 - A Welcome To...

Axinar, who has visited here at least once. I've taken quite a liking to his blog, so you will now find it on my list of favored blogs. Happy reading!

Sunday, August 15, 2004 - Nasty Tricksy False Husbandes!

Ironwolf owned up to it. He (still in CA) called up his mother strongly suggested to her that she surprise me by offering to watch the boys yesterday. I love them both so much - they're the best!

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Saturday, August 14, 2004 - Facemaking Fun

There's a fun little facemaker at http://flashface.ctapt.de. I couldn't resist trying to make a self-portrait. It's not quite right, but not too bad either.

Posted by Hello

But I couldn't resist having a little fun after that... hee hee hee!

Posted by Hello

Saturday, August 14, 2004 - Sometimes MILs Are The Best!

I was getting things ready to take over to church to set up for VBS when my mother-in-law called. She asked me if she could take the boys away from me for a couple hours and take them to lunch and the playground. I graciously accepted her offer, of course! What a terrific lady! It gave me the unencumbered time I needed to get things set at church, not to mention that it simply gave me some time away! I don't know what I'd do without her!

Saturday, August 14, 2004 - I Must Be An Addict...

because despite the fact that I am exhausted and up way too late again, I have looked at my favored blogs and composed the longest post that I have created to date.

Yes, I was up working on that stupid mural again for VBS. It did help that I had one eye on the Olympic opening ceremonies while working on it. The mural is almost done, and it goes up on the church wall tomorrow, so I won't have to worry about that for much longer.

Now, my dear friends, you must know, I am an Olympics junkie. When the Games are on, I can't get enough. Oh, I don't really care about all the melodramatic athlete profiles and similar drek, but I love to see the competition. Now NBC and its 6 sister stations are going to be offering 24-hour-a-day coverage of the Games. My hands are already twitching. Oh, I am going to lose so much of August in front of the television!

I am ticked about one thing though - no TV coverage of fencing! I love fencing! Boo hiss NBC!

All right, that's enough fun for this evening. TTFN!

Saturday, August 14, 2004 - A "Fair" Day

I took the little ones to the Erie County Fair today. For those readers who are not locals (most of you), the Erie County Fair is a big thing. It's not just a little hick thing starring vegetables and hogs (though they are there), but this huge spawling event that also includes lots of exhibit buildings, crafts, a Native American village,a large midway, lots of free entertainment, and plenty of non-free (but not too expensive) first-rate (ok, second-rate) concerts and motor events. Over 12 days the fair brings in about 1 million people, which also happens to be the approximate population of the county. But enough plugging the fair, you're not coming anyway.

We arrived in the late morning, making very good time after it occured to me that I could avoid the main route and sneak in through some back streets. Yee haw! It probably saved me 30 minutes, even with the extra 'drive time'.

Within minutes of arrival, Rascal was complaining. "No, I don't want to go in there!" "I don't want to see that!" "I don't want to see the horses. I don't like horses!" Ugh. Well, I forced him to go look at vegetables and then we went to look at all the animals.

Zipper loved the animals. Ok, he was a little scared of the horses, but if you're confronted with an animal whose head is bigger than all of you, wouldn't you be a little intimidated? He was so cute when he was walking through the rabbit barn, stopping at each cage, pointing and saying "Bunny Rabbit!". Both the boys really loved feeding the animals at the petting zoo. I'll admit it, I like to do it too.

They have a Moo-ternity Ward set up at the fair with cows due to deliver during the fair. We arrived at the barn to see a 1-hour-old calf, still wet from his recent birth. We also got to see some baby bunnies - they were just the cutest little puffballs!

Lunchtime rolled around pretty quickly, and we had just picked up something to eat when it started pouring. We ended up hiding in a pig barn to eat lunch (oh so sanitary of course). Then we just ran from barn to barn while the rain continued.

But then we ran out of barns, and the rain was still coming down hard. So I made a decision and we dashed off to Stroller Square, a little tented break area for the kiddies with nursing/diaper change facilities and lots of toys. We ended up spending 1 1/2 hours there until the rain finally let up enough to venture out again. I was annoyed - a few AM showers my ass!

I think the highlight for both the boys was the pony ride. They both really loved it. Wish I could have taken a picture, but I was too busy holding Zipper up on the pony.

After that we did a few other things, but the big highlight for me was seeing a free show by the Peking Acrobats. If they ever come to your town, do not miss them! They were just amazing! If I go back to the fair again this year I am definitely going to catch another show.

Anyway, we saw a lot of animals and tractors, ate a bunch of junk, got really wet, and had a good time!

Friday, August 13, 2004

Friday, August 13, 2004 - The Late-Night Blogging Continues

I'm still up at this ungodly hour. And why, you may ask? Because I have just spent the last 3 hours working on a wall mural for VBS. And I still have a couple more hours of work left on it! I'll save it for tomorrow night. Why do I do these crazy things? Why why why why?

It also helps that Ironwolf is not here to nag me about being up too late. If I had my druthers, I'd be up until 2AM every night and not get up until 11AM. But since I don't have my druthers, I'll be short of sleep yet another night, and another night tomorrow night too.

When Ironwolf went through security at the airport yesterday, he had his pocket knife in his pocket (duh). They were kind enough to suggest to him that he try to have it put into his checked baggage, rather than handing it over to them. They would have had to file a police report.

Ironwolf is doing fine. He tells me he had the honor of meeting the author of one of his college textbooks today. That's pretty cool.

Well, my mind is numb, and my corn-on-the-cob and my pillow and calling me, so that's enough fun for tonight.

Happy Friday the 13th!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Thursday, August 12, 2004 - Cacophony Update

I put a couple poems up on ShadowAngel's Cacophony. Not that anyone cares. But now you know.

Thursday, August 12, 2004 - I am J.E.N.N.I.F.E.R

Thanks to Wendy for pointing me towards this fun little activity at http://www.cyborgname.com

I think I make a very lovely cyborg!

Posted by Hello

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - VBS Is On The Way

And I haven't done a blasted thing about it yet. 4 days left to prepare for Vacation Bible School, and I haven't had the heart to do anything. I just have no enthusiasm left for this. Maybe it's just the prospect of having to deal with all those 1st and 2nd graders all week (18 of them at last known count - probably something more like 21 or 22 now).

Or maybe I'm having yet another of my constant religious crises. I hate cramming this stuff down kids' throats, especially since I'm not exactly comfortable myself with some of what I am supposed to be teaching.

I suppose this requires a quick primer on my beliefs. I am a Christian (duh) - baptized Catholic, raised Methodist, and now a member of the United Church of Christ. At one point in college I was an atheist, but recanted that in light of an honest-to-goodness religious experience I had (which will not be detailed here). I joined UCC primarily because it's my husband's church (and I was unchurched at the time), and because I found the community to be to my liking (it's a somewhat conservative congregation in a rather liberal faith, go figure), and, oh, yes, I'd been in the choir and handbell choir for 5 years already before I joined (chuckle).

OK, so I'm Christian. But I have some serious qualms and misgivings about certain aspects of the Christian faith (which, again, I won't go into here; it's not important to the discussion). But still...

I'm a Christian.


I'm not just a Christian. I believe that almost all religions and spiritual systems (I think Buddism isn't exactly a religion...) have something to teach us, and that most religions are mostly right. Not the details per se, but the overarching themes, such as the love of nature and respect for our fellow humans. I suppose if I really had to spell it all out I'd would come off as pagan. Nothing wrong with that - I spent a good block of time devouring readings on new-age paganism, and found it to be in general very sensible and very much in accordance with my own beliefs. Now some of the worshippers of those pagan beliefs (and I am not trying to insult my dear readers - I know some of their inclinations) tend to be all about the ceremony, and the mystery, and the "I'm a pagan, I'm so fascinating and so different from everyone else" and not about the substance - but this is no different than the worshippers of other religions, so I don't even know why I'm going on about it.

Anyway, I guess the point is that I am supposed to be selling the Truth of the Bible to these kids. And since I don't really buy into it myself, it's a little distasteful. Ah, well, the parents wouldn't be sending their kids to Vacation Bible School if they were against Christianity.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - All By My Little Lonesome

Ironwolf is off on an 8-day trip to sunny California (all business, he's assured me). It will be good for him to get away from Buffalo. The weather here the last 1 1/2 weeks has been really odd. It only gets up to the low 70's (if that), and we have to shut the windows at night because sometimes it's getting down to the low 50's. I shouldn't complain because I prefer it on the cooler side, but this time of year we should routinely be getting low 80's. This whole summer, it's been as though the summer is just going to pass us by - just go from spring right into fall.

I just spoke with my mother on the phone, and she says "Aw, all by your little lonesome, are you?" I just had to laugh, because I was sitting here with this blog entry title up on the screen.

So I am left here all alone. Yeah, that would be the day. Of course the little ones are here. Ah, if I could have 8 days with no kids...

I'd better stop that fantasizing now. I am going with Ironwolf to Hong Kong (another business trip) for 10 days some time in the next couple months. I'll get my time away from the kids, and it will be *horrible*.

But there is nothing keeping me from staying up all night blogging either, so maybe that's what I'll be doing. So, hey, dear readers, if you are up late at night, and you want to chat, go click that little button in my sidebar because I'll probably be there!

Monday, August 09, 2004

Monday, August 9, 2004 - So, Just How Mad Is The Slightly Mad Housewife?



-- Personality Disorder Test - Take It! --

Well, it looks like I'm just...

slightly mad!

Monday, August 9, 2004 - A Public Service Announcement

Here are some sites where you can click to give to charity:

Thanks to Jen S. for pointing these out in her own blog.

Monday, August 9, 2004 - Running Out Of Everything

Yesterday we ran out of:

  • milk
  • bread
  • juice
  • laundry detergent
  • potatoes
  • kitchen cleaner
  • kids' toothpaste

Needless to say, I'm headed to the grocery store now!

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Saturday, August 7, 2004 - Working On The Ol' HTML

I made some additions to ShadowAngel's Cacophony. I spent the day wrestling with code because I made a horrible mistake: I used both Netscape's Composer and Microsoft Word as HTML editors. This, folks, is a bad, bad idea. I would bring the completed page up in Netscape and have certain errors, then I would bring it up in IE and have entirely different errors. I ended up rebuilding the page from scratch. Never again, let me tell you...

Saturday, August 7, 2004 - Fireside Chat

Once every few weeks in the summer one of my friends hosts a campfire out at his very rural house. Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending one of these with Ironwolf (yes, a night out w/o kids!). It was a nice outing, as always, but it occurs to me that I contribute very little to the discussions. Some of it is my natural quiet, introverted state. But often it's the very fact that the topics are not necessarily in my realm of knowledge. It's always about movies, tv shows, sports, and politics. None of those are my strong suits. I don't seem to have much luck steering the conversation to other topics either. Ah, well. The company's good, and the talk's usually interesting...

After the fire, Ironwolf and I decided to go out. I wanted sushi bad, so we headed toward the only hip place near us - a really cool bar/restaurant that serves sushi, of course. We got there after midnight, so the kitchen was already closed. It's always a crapshoot there late at night. But I don't think we would have stayed anyway - the music was so loud that you couldn't hear yourself talk. Most of the patrons had retreated to the patio - you think these places would learn that it's important for people to be able to hear each other.

We ended up going a few blocks away to the mega-grocery store and getting sushi there. Quieter and cheaper too!

Saturday, August 7, 2004 - A Sad Occasion

Buffalo native and supreme funkmaster Rick James is dead. Let us all sing a chorus of "Superfreak" in his honor.

She's a superfreak, superfreak
She's superfreaky, yow!
She's a superfreak, superfreak
She's superfreaky, yow!


Friday, August 06, 2004

Friday, August 6, 2004 - Zoo Fun

I took the little ones to the zoo today. We had a blast. I did something there that I don't usually do - buy some of their crappy concession food. Oh, wait, that's true (it was nasty pizza), but that's not what I meant. The Buffalo Zoo has quite a few of their smaller animal exhibits indoors. It's not a pleasant place to be because it's dark, gloomy, and stinky, so I usually don't go in the buildings. Well, I did today, and boy, was I surprised! They redid almost everything in there. They got rid of the feline house entirely, moved the primates into larger, mostly outdoor exhibits, and replaced the tiny little displays of small mammals with several larger multi-species displays of certain ecosystems.

It made me really happy. So many of those animals were living in just awful conditions before. They weren't being mistreated or anything; their living space was horrid. The best thing about some of the new displays is that you can literally be a pane of glass away from an animal. Here, allow me to illustrate...

That's not through a zoom lens - it's from a few inches away. Cool, huh?

Thursday, August 5, 2004 - The Chat Room Is Open!

I have added some chat functionality to the site (just under the tagboard). If I'm online, you'll be able to open up a chat window and I will be able to send messages to you. Now the trick will just be finding me when I'm online!

Thursday, August 5, 2004 - Web Fun O' The Day!

Want a good laugh? Then go visit Bandwidth Theater! The site has short animated movies (that don't take too long to download). They are really funny!

Thursday, August 5, 2004 - Parental Update

I've spoken with my folks, and they seem to be doing well in South Carolina. Except for the heat, of course. My father is slugging it out at his new job - looks like he'll have a rough time at the factory for a while, but he should be able to straighten out the problems they are having there. My mother has essentially found a job - there was a new ambulatory surgery facility that just opened yesterday, and they are certain there is a place for her there.

They bought a new car yesterday, and they put a bid on a house today. So it looks like they really settling down to stay. They haven't gone so far as to say that they like the area, but things are looking good. I'm happy for them.

Thursday, August 5, 2004 - Introducing ShadowAngel's Cacophony

It is my great pleasure to introduce to you my new site, ShadowAngel's Cacophony! It will contain various artistic bric-a-brac, including my music, poetry, and scrapbook pages. There's nothing on there yet, but that will soon be rectified. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - Fun With Google (blast you, Wendy :-) )

I would like to announce that it is after 11 PM and I am drunk on Chardonnay.

My dear reader Wendy had a post up on her site today that she had googled her site and come up with rather favorable results. So I tried a similar thing with my site. Now of course, putting "mad" or "housewife" is simply too general. So here are the results:

  • "mad housewife" - gave up after page 13 of results
  • "slightly mad housewife" - #3 on the list (apparently there was a movie "Diary of a Mad Housewife"
  • "musings mad housewife" - # 5 and 6(my profile)
  • "musings slightly mad housewife" - #1,2, & 3! Yeah!

I hope you were mildly amused.

Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - Designing Diva

Today was another Vacation Bible School meeting. Blech. I hate meetings. At least they seem to know what they are doing this year.

I spent much of my afternoon designing a graphic for a new page I'm coding up. It's been a long time since I've broken out Photoshop, but I think I did a pretty good job with it. Anyway, the new site will be up in a couple days, and you'll be the first to know.

BTW, if the Weather In Hell doesn't change soon, I'm going to remove it. It was supposed to be updated daily. Owner's probably on vacation or something.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - The Patio, or Excuse Me...

My mother-in-law ("Grandma M.") and her sister ("Aunt D.") came over to visit yesterday so Aunt D. could see the new concrete work that we had done about a month ago. She liked it a lot. Oh, you probably want to see what was done! We had the front steps and half the driveway redone, and we added a colored, stamped patio.

The new patio, brick-colored and stamped with a random stone pattern. We still have lots of landscaping to do. Posted by Hello

Ah, but that's not the interesting part. The interesting part is Rascal. He was very excited to have visitors, especially Aunt D., who he doesn't see very often. Rascal proceeded to talk her ear off the entire time.

Rascal has this little quirk which I'm afraid is his parents' fault. We have taught him to be overly polite, so that he prefaces every statement he makes to relative strangers with "Excuse me...".
This is great, you'd think. You'd be wrong. After the 200th repetition of "excuse me" you start to go nuts. Here's some examples of Rascal:

"Excuse me, my daddy's car has four seats."
"Excuse me, I'm four years old, my baby is one years old, and Mommy is 31 years old."
"Excuse me, we have a patio."

Thankfully Aunt D. took it all in stride. I could see she was starting to find him a little tedious (thanks, Wendy, I can't get it out of my brain now...). When they left I made apologies for him. I just know that this episode will be the talk of the extended family for a while...

Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - A Small Revelation

I have always been the type to start a journal and then give it up within a few weeks. It never realy occurred to me to wonder why that was the case. It came to me out of the blue today - I just have too much to say! Writing my entries down in a typical journal simply takes too much time, and I would grow to resent that large time requirement pretty quickly.

The blog is taking too much of my time too, but that's because it's still novel and fun, not because the individual entries are taking up ridiculous amounts of time.

I like blogging. It's a happy place for me.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Monday, August 2, 2004 - Evil TopText

I found out what those yellow links were pretty easily. TopText turns out to be a program labeled by 3 different web sites as "foistware", "thiefware", and "scumware". Anyway, it was a simple matter to remove. So I guess I owe Blogger an apology.

I think I picked up the program when I visited the Kazaa web site. I didn't even download Kazaa itself! Sheesh.

BTW, the program I use to clean up all those sorts of programs is called Ad-Aware. There's a free version on the website.

Monday, August 2, 2004 - It's me!

Look, it's me! For real and for true! Posted by Hello

Well, now you know. I'm not hideously ugly after all (although I do have a big nose, ah well). I just changed the shade of my hair from red (fake) to really, really red (even more fake). What do you think?

Sunday, August 1, 2004 - What Is This Crap?

I've been making more code changes to the blog, and I noticed that there are these freakin' TopText links in my text linking to advertisers that I don't know anything about! I think it's some brand-new crap that Blogger is pulling. Ick! It's bad enough that I have to deal with that damned header. I'll have to seriously consider hosting this blog somewhere else. In the meantime, I'm going to find out what the hell is going on...

Sunday, August 1, 2004 - Beautiful Day

Today was really very lovely, especially since I got all of that crap off my chest last night. The weather was lovely. We all just relaxed at home. Ironwolf played cards with Rascal and kept an eye on the boys while I did a little housework. I threw a yummy steak on the grill and topped off dinner with a bottle of nice really cheap wine. No complaints today; just happy purrs.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Saturday, July 31, 2004 - And They're Off!

Today my folks left for South Carolina. I hope they like the area, find their dream house, enjoy the nicer weather and the lower taxes. I've generated a lot of angst about this topic, and I won't rehash it here. I just want them to be happy.

I'll be looking forward to their emails, calls, and visits. The distance really doesn't matter, only the love matters.

Saturday, July 31, 2004 - Anyone Want To Buy Some Rain?

My goodness, I do have a lot to say today, don't I?

This morning my mother-in-law (who only lives a few blocks away) had a garage sale. Naturally, it was pouring rain most of the time. Ironwolf dragged me and the boys along to help her, not that she needed all that help. I don't really understand why he wanted us to come and spend the whole morning there, but we didn't have a bad time. The kids always like going to Grandma's house anyway.

My mother-in-law's whole street was supposed to be doing a block sale (followed by a block party later in the afternoon). A quick stroll confirmed that almost no one else decided to go through with their garage sales because of the weather. Still, there was a quite a bit more traffic at her garage sale than what I had expected, so it wasn't a total wash. (Wash? Get it?)

BTW, by mid-afternoon, it was a lovely sunny day...

Saturday, July 31, 2004 - Substitute Girlfriend (A Message To My Dear Readers)

If you haven't done so already, please go read the post two before this one ("The Husband Factor"). Thank you.

One of the things that you need to know about me is that I have very few friends. The friends that I do have are extremely close, and I couldn't survive without them. But my close friends are all male. I have no close girlfriends at all now, and I haven't had one for a long time. I do have close relatives (my mother, sisters, and sister-in-law), but it's not the same - there's only so much you can say because you are family. And I do have female acquaintances, just nobody that I would call up just to talk.

I am so in need of someone to dish with that I started this blog as kind of a substitute girlfriend (ugh, that sounds so sad). Well, really, I intended it to be more of a journal. But nobody else reads a journal but the writer. Dear readers, I am glad that you are here to share my thoughts, my moods, and my life. It means more to me than you could know.

So a couple quick personal messages:

To Wendy: Sorry I haven't been in touch with you. I'm slowly going through your blog, so you will certainly hear from me there soon. I'm looking forward to it.

To Desired at Dawn and AZJade: I really envy you the friendship that you have. It is really wonderful to see best friends really capable of understanding the importance of and the love behind their friendship. May you keep these warm feelings for each other for the rest of your lives.

Saturday, July 31, 2004 - Got To Remember To Lock The Door!

Ironwolf will probably not be happy to see me relate this tale (see last post), but it was a notable happening so here goes:

The kids slept in this morning, so Ironwolf and I decided to have a little fun (ok, a lot of fun!). We had just, ahem, finished, when with about a half-second warning Rascal comes bursting into the room! It was close, folks, but we managed to be under covers before he saw anything.

*hee hee hee*

"Good morning, Rascal, did you sleep well?"
"Hi, Mommy. Hi, Daddy."
"Next time, remember to knock first, ok?"
"OK. I'm going downstairs now."

And so The Facts Of Life was once again put off until another day!

Saturday, July 31, 2004 - The Husband Factor

It was bound to happen sometime. I printed out a copy of the source code for this blog and Ironwolf got hold of it. He read it and was very unhappy about the content. He's not angry with me per se for saying these things about him, but he is very upset because he thinks (from what I gather) that I am not being honest with him and that I am not happy about my life with him.

This couldn't be further from the truth. Ironwolf is my soulmate and the love of my life. There is no one in this world that I would rather be with. Yes, it is true, I have not shown him in the best light so far in this blog, and for that I must apologize. Ironwolf is romantic, caring, smart, funny, thoughtful, a great father, and a wonderful husband.

Yes, he has his quirks. So does everyone. I am simply using this forum to vent my frustrations. Perhaps it's too public for him. I understand that completely, and that is why there is barely a trace of our identities here. I'd hoped that would be enough.

He thinks that I can't tell him everything. He is right. I don't care if you disagree, dear readers, but no one can tell another person everything. That's in part because most people don't understand everything about themselves, but also because there is a dark side to every relationship, and most of the time, thoughts about that dark side should remain unspoken to spare each other's feelings.

I am saying nothing here in this blog that I would not say to a girlfriend. (More on this topic in an upcoming post.) If he has a problem with it, well, I'm not sure what to do. I can't help what I feel. I'm always willing to talk about any issues we have, but I need a place to vent too.

Ironwolf, if you read this, I love you. Don't forget it.