Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mom's email fix - heartbreak leave

Today's email fix is about a company that offers "heartbreak leave" to it's employees. These are days off to be used in the event of a bad break up or divorce. Should these be given to American workers?

I'm of 2 minds on this question. Partly, I'm with the lady who said "you have personal days for a reason and this is a perfect use of those days" On the other hand, American workers have next to no time off compared to the rest of the world. We are sadly lacking in everything from vacations to maternity leave. A few extra personal days wouldn't kill anyone.

I think if you title something "heartbreak leave" you leave yourself open to many problems. First of all, what about people like my parents who have been married 30 and likely aren't getting divorced, ever. They lose out on this benefit. Calling it personal days lets anyone have access to it for any reason. "Heartbreak leave" would also have to come with stipulations. How long have they been together? 2 weeks? Doubtful that you are heartbroken, you just want a day off. What was the state of the relationship? Had they been seperated for a year and both had already started dating other people when the divorce was final? Probably already moved on and are just looking for a day off. All of that stuff is so SUBJECTIVE that it would be impossible to say and you would have people trying to get out of work all the time because they were "heartbroken"

It also raises all kinds of questions. What is the limit per year? Do longer relationships get more days? Who determines how long it would take each person to get over something? Too much subjectivity. Add some extra personal or vacation or whatever days each year and call it good.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Seriously, we have a VERY PRETTY new library. I desperately want to like it but everytime I go in, there is another problem and it makes it hard for me to appreciate it. My orignal complaint, before it even opened, was the book drop being a pain. It is automated and you have to put things on the belt one at a time and if anyone on the other side (inside if you are out and outside if you are in) is using that belt, your belt stops for up to several seconds. I thought make this was a small kink in the system but it appears to be a perpetual problem, although I'm the only one that seems to have a real problem with it (possibly that is my type A++ personality that can't stand to wait for anything but whatever). Other people notice it but I'm the only that it makes want to scream and throw my stuff at the damn slot before stomping off in a huff. When I'm outside, I just put all my stuff on the belt at once and forget about it. Inside, I let the kids load the belt and they operate at about the speed of the belt so it is all ok.

My next problem is the parking issue. Parking as been a joke since they started construction on the new building. The parking lot is too small, the drive is too narrow and no one can seem to figure out that the parking lot is one way in a counter clockwise pattern. To compound that problem, now you have to park in this awful lot and walk all the way around where the old building used to be. When it is 70 and sunny or I'm by myself, it wouldn't be the end of the world. When I'm dragging 2 kids along and it is 13 degrees or raining, it is a huge PITA. Add to the fact that the corridor between the new building and place the old building was is the worlds fastest wind tunnel, I almost don't like going to the library anymore because it so difficult. I've been parking across the street in the scrapbook store lot because it is a little closer, but then I have to cross the street with 2 kids so it is far from an ideal option.

My dad has decided to go to the other library because he objects to the idea of self checkout. I'm seriously considering following in his footsteps because I object to the reality of the self check out. Typically, I don't mind it. At most places, I actually prefer it. Not so at the library. The scanners don't work half the time and even when the do, a lot of the books aren't tagged to be read by it. Why do we need those pad scanner things anyway? Why can't we have the mounted barcode scanners like they used to use at the old building? We can figure them out at grocery store, what makes them think that library patrons can't figure them out. No, they give us these janky pads and books that aren't tagged so not only do you have to wait in line to USE the self check out, then you have to wait in line AGAIN to see a librarian to check out half o your books. I fully understand the people that refuse to use the self check out and I think I'm going to become one of them. Unfortunately, they have like 1 person working the counter at any given time trying to check out all the people that won't use the self check and helping all the people brave (or dumb) enough to try.

My final complaint deals with the automatic check in again. When things are put in the drop box, they are automatically checked in. When things are checked in and you have it on hold, a notice is automatically generated telling you your item is in. It matters not that your item is actually sitting in a hold bin somewhere waiting to be tagged with your name and card number (another thing I don't like. Put my name on, don't make me rifle through everyone's stuff looking for mine because I can't remember the last four digits of my card unless I'm sitting at the computer and then I don't really remember it, I just know the keystroke sequence). They've gone from a 7 day hold to a 3 day hold (yet another complaint of mine, although I understand that it is because the hold room is tiny, yet another problem, you build a whoel new building and you can't make a hold room big enough to hold all the holds, and they can't keep everyone's junk for a week at a time) and when you book scans in, it starts your hold time. Nevermind the fact that it could be 2 days before your hold actually makes it to the shelf. So I get my email, I deal with the bad parking to go get it, only to find out it is no where to be found and I have make another trip a day or so later and deal with the hassle of getting there all over again. I'm going to start being a PITA. When I get my email, I'm going to call and have someone confirm that my holds are on the shelf before I go in.

All of this automation is supposed to make less work for the library staff and makes things easier for patrons. What has actually happened it has probably doubled the work for the staff because they are running all over looking for stuff that isn't where it is supposed to be and fixing the self check outs all the time. And it has made the library completely user UNfriendly and down right unpleasant for the people forced to deal with it. I completely freaked today while trying to use the self check out. I slammed the CD on the pad, snarled at the computer and yelled at my mother (who was with me) that I "would most certainly not calm down. This was the biggest piece of crap that I had ever been forced to endure and I was freaking done" Then she suggested that maybe I should go to the other library for awhile and responded loudly, right in front of the children's librians desk that "I fully intend to use Urbana exclusively because Champaign was like a supermodel, pretty but completely freaking useless besides that"

I just want this stuff fixed. I LOVE the library. After all, where else can I get my minions? I love all the stuff it has to offer, I really like the new building and it has so much potential, and the children's department is super. I HATE that I'm having such issues with a place that should be so much better than this. However, I do think that for the time being I will be using Urbana. I'll have to be strong and refuse the coffee (Lizzie calls them "the coffee library" and "the regular library", I haven't mentioned they will both be coffee libraries eventually) and I'll have to get over my objection to paying for parking but that is a minor annoyance compared to all the issues I have with Champaign right now. Maybe, in a couple of months they will have some of the kinks worked out and I can go back to enjoying the library again. :(

Friday, January 25, 2008

Look out, here comes Darth Vader

I go out walking..

Best Lasagna?

Pioneer woman's lasagna

I made this today. It is ok, but I would hardly classify it as the best lasagna ever (I'm quite fond of the 9 layer lazagna at the Macaroni Grill). You use sausage, hamburger, dried basil, sliced mozzerella, Kraft Parmesian cheese, etc. Basically, I picked it because of the availablity of the items. There was no fresh grated buffalo cheese or sunlight grown organic basil or anything else "wierd" I made it. It wasn't hard, but it was time consuming. You have to brown the beef and the sausage and then mix it with tomatoes and spices and then let simmer for 45 minutes. Then you mix all the inside stuff and layer it all together. I specifically bought the no boil noodles, which I'm quite happy with. Then you bake it for 30 minutes until everything is all bubbly and golden. I took it out just in time to go get C from school so I didn't get to try it while it was hot. Might make a difference, might not.

A couple of things I will change for the future. I will use MORE MORE MORE cheese. I've already called my mom and asked her to pick up some more cheese on her way home from work because one pound is NO WHERE NEAR ENOUGH. I'm having her bring another half pound and next time I might kick it up to 2. There is no such thing as too much cheese so I figure I can't go wrong with that. Also, I think it has too much of something else. Either basil or parsley, I'm not sure which. I'm going to experiment with different amounts going foward. Finally, it tastes slightly sweet. Probably from the tomatoes. I think I will add a little extra salt to counter act the sweetness or I'll not buy the no salt added tomato paste.

Domestic and stuff

To address a comment to a previous post: Yes, but when I make the cookies at home, I can control what goes in them. Whole wheat flour? Organic butter? Sure, if I wanted to (I don't so don't worry LOL)

Here is the recipe for the cookies I make most often
3/4 cup of butter softened (I used margarine)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs (I used egg replacer)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups of flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 - 2 cups of cranberries (I really don't measure, I just throw them in until it looks like there are lots in each cookie) You can also use any dried fruit that you like. Archer Farms (Target) has a berry mixture that is cherries, cranberries and blueberries and that was really good. We've also done cherry oatmeal cookies, which I thought was too sweet. If I did those again, I would probably reduce the amount of sugar used.

1. In a large bowl beat butter on high speed 30 sec.
Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda, and
cinnamon. Beat until combined, scraping bowl
occasionally. Beat in as much of the flour as you can.
Stir in any remaining flour. Stir in the rolled oats.
Stir in one cup ( I used about 1 1/4 cups)

2. Roll into balls and place on ungreased cookie
sheets. Bake in preheated 375 oven for 8-12 minutes or
until edges are golden. Cool on cookie sheet for 1
minute then transfer to wire rack. Enjoy!

I'm currently hunting for unsweetened dried cranberries that aren't too expensive. I found a place online that sells cases of them for $75, which is way too much to spend for berries. I also found a recipe to dry my own (in my almost never used food dehydrator) but they are out of season right now so I will have to wait until fall to try that. They apparently keep for years in the freezer so if it works, I'm going to be making pounds and pounds of dried cranberries.

I've been cooking crazy the last couple of days. Yesterday, I made chili for the first time and it was tasty! Evan and I had it left over for lunch today. Then today, I made lasagna (which comes out of the oven in like 2 minutes) and homemade mac and cheese (with the mac leftover from last nights chili mac). Real italians will have a cow when I post the recipe but it was stuff that is easy to keep on hand and let's face it, not everyone can be Mario Batali!

I'm thinking about making biscuits and gravy sometime over the weekend. I don't know when because I don't know how so I need my mom to help me. I thought about tomorrow morning before Evan goes to work but that means yet another trip to the grocery store today to get stuff and I'm just not feeling that. I also want to make ham and beans. I haven't had it homemade since my dad left the guard (he hates it so my mom would make it for the rest of us on his guard weekends, probably when I was in junior high). There was a place in town (it is Chief's now but it used to be Tommy something or other) that used to have all you could eat ham and beans on like Tuesdays and my mom and I used to go there for lunch sometimes, but that has been at least 5 years, probably longer.

I'm not sure what is prompting this surge in cooking. Probably that it is cold and I'm tired of tacos and french toast and the other stuff that I make inside. I'm ready for spring when I can cook on the grill all the time.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New theories on food

My new theory on food is that anything bad for you (cookies, cake, candy, etc) should be DIY. If you want a chocolate, chocolate chunk cookie, you need to fire up your oven. Anything that is good for you should be pre-done. You want some strawberries, open the fridge and eat one, no cleaning required. Alternately, all food should have to be worked for. While that wouldn't deter hard core eaters, I knwo I would eat a crap load less if I had to cook everything all the time. Open a bag, eat cookie? Yeah, I can manage that. Stand over the garbage can for 20 minutes shelling walnuts? Doubtful, I might eat one or two and then either find something to distract me so I wouldn't eat or move on to something easier.

I also think that healthy foods should be cheaper or at least equally priced to unhealthy alternatives. We buy poptarts, milk and cereal bars, etc because to buy a whole box of them is cheaper than a dozen eggs. We buy plain jelly because it is cheaper than the smashed fruit stuff. I could make a million examples but it seems to me that a start toward winning the war on obesity would be to make foods that are good for you easily accesable to everyone.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Child of the 80s


1.How old were you in 1980?
I was born in 1980

2. How old were you in 1989?

3. Were you a Toys R' US Kid?
We didn't have Toys R Us - we had Children's Palace and my dad worked there for awhile :)

4. Did you watch Transformers?

5. Did you see E.T. on the big screen?
Yes and most every other movie that came out between 83 and 89 since my parents managed a theater and we lived in the apartment upstairs

6. Did you own a Lite Bright?

7. Who is your Favorite Golden Girl?
The old one. Yes, I know they were all old, I mean the really old one, the mom.

8. When someone says " Who you gonna call? "
Ghost Busters

9.What was your favorite toy(S)?
Tonka Trucks, army men

10. Did you have a Pogo Ball?
Yes, I think it was green and black

11. Did you listen to New Kids on the Block?
Only at other people's houses because they made me. It wasn't until I was older that I listen on my own

12. What New Kid did you have a crush on?
None. By the time I "discovered" them I was sort of over boy band crushes

13. Did you play M.A.S.H?
Yep on the school bus and sometimes at sleep overs. Sunee really liked it so I had to play it anytime I went to her house.

14. Did you watch The Care Bears?
Yes and now Lizzie watches them and they are highly disappointing.

15. Did you have a Jelly bracelet?
A?? I had like 50

16. Did you have a charm necklace and/or bracelet?
Yes. I recently saw someone that was wearing one of plastic ones with the HUGE charms and I really miss mine!

17. Did you have a Glo Worm?
I did. I seem to remember that it played a song but it might be an association with some cartoon show instead.

18. Did you ever own a slap bracelet?
Yes! And I remember when they got "banned" because they had real metal inside and would cut people. Now they are lame with broken janky plastic inside and vinyl on the outside

19. The Breakfast Club or Sixteen Candles?
Breakfast Club, all the way!

20. Did you have a crazy hair style?
It wasn't as bad as some. Mostly my hair was short although I know I did some strange junk to it.

21. What was your first bike?
Probably nothing special, since I don't remember it.

22. Name one thing you still own from your childhood?
All my Care Bears (which I will say again are WAY better than the new ones), my My Little Ponies (also better than the new ones), possibly my Rainbow Bright and maybe my Strawberry Shortcakes

23. Did you have a Cabbage Patch Kid?
No a real one. They were too expensive and hard to find so I got the flea market knock off. My grandma had one and now Lizzie has it

24. Did you dress like Madonna?
No, I was too young by the time she was over.

25. Rainbow Brite or Strawberry Shortcake?

26. Did you watch Miami Vice?

27. Did you own a pair of Jelly Shoes?
Oh yes! I had purple ones and a silver sparkly pair.

28. Did you own a Trapper Keeper?
Yep it had Garfield on it

29. Atari or Nintendo?
Nintendo. You can't get Super Mario or Zelda on Atarti (but you can, and I did, get them for the Wii LOL )

30. Did you play Pac-Man?

31. Which was better: Jem or Barbie and the Rockers?
Jem. Barbie is lame in any form

32. He-Man or She-Ra?

33. What movie scared you the most?
I wasn't allowed to watch scary movies (except Children of Corn) until I was teenager because they TERRIFIED my mom.

34. Did you try to dance like Michael Jackson?
I wasn't really a pop music fan so I never really listened to or liked MJ

35. What Is The First Thing That Comes To Mind When You Hear "Flux Compositor"?
1.21 gigawatts!!

36. What other colors did Pepsi come in?

37. Roger Rabbit Or Howard The Duck?
Roger Rabbit. Howard the Duck was kind of scary and, I found out later, more mature than I should have been watching

38. Did you ever beg your parents to have your school picture taken with the 'LASER' background?
There were background choices for school pictures? We got hauled to gym, sat in front of the same background while the photographer waited for us to make the stupidest expression that we possibly could.

39. Do you know what the Ninja Rap is?
Vanilla Ice's rap from the Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles movie. Go ninja, go ninja, go!! LOL

40. Do you know why people cringe when they hear the word BUCKNER?
No idea, someone clue me in.

41. Can you name the family members from National Lampoons Vacation movies?
Before seeing someone else's answers I couldn't, except for Clark, so I'll go with no.

42. Wally-World or Europe?
Wally World! Europe was just stupid

43. What was your favorite movie from the 80's?
Dirty Dancing, FTW.

44. Will you repost this to any of your friends that were in the 80's?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Old School

I was listening to the radio the other day and heard an old Garth Brooks' song. Hearing it made me remember how much I used to like Garth Brooks, although I don't generally like country music as a rule. For years, a friend of mine got me each tape for my birthday so I had a full set. Then I upgraded to CD and had to re-buy the whole collection. By that time, greatest hits had come out and then shortly there after the live CD. So I have most of his CDs. I decided that I wanted those songs on my mp3 player so I started ripping the CDs to my computer. In the process of ripping those songs, I started looking back at other CDs (of which I have several, although none from the last decade) and I am totally nostalgic now. Instead of just ripping Garth Brooks, I've decided that most my CDs need to be on my MP2 player because they are AWESOME (in that lame, decade old kind of way). We are talking MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Meridith Brooks, Genesis, Firehouse, Ben Folds Five, CCR, the Lion King soundtrack, Soul Asylum, Forest Gump, American Graffeti, etc. Awesomely lame and I can't wait to have them all in my MP3 player so I can listen to all the stuff in my car without dragging the whole huge CD case around with me :)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Boy, the things you can get at the library

Some of my local readers know that we have a new library and it is BEAUTIFUL. I've always thought we had a pretty decent library system, getting me nearly anything my heart desires. Now we have a shiny new building to go along with it. Side note, they are tearing down the old building and you can hang out on the second floor of the new building and watch the destruction. According to my sources, they are recycling everything so they tear down a hunk and then sort the piles according to material. With the opening of the new library, now not only can you get books, movies, and music, you can also rent video games. They have a fairly small collections (about 35 games for each system) but it is a new thing so I'm sure they will get more as time goes on.

This morning, dropping C off at school, I found out another service the library offers. The conversation went something like this.

Me: come along minions

C: we aren't minions. Moms don't get minions, only queens get to have minions.

Me: Well if you aren't my minion, how am I supposed to take over the world?

C: I don't know, maybe you could do it by yourself

Me: Nah, that will never work. Where could I get minions if you two won't do it?

Lizzie: The library!

Me: but those would be borrowed minions and I would have to take them back so someone else could use them

C: Guess you would have to work fast then, huh?


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Morning walks

Some of you might remember my goals for the year. Towards that end, I'm going to start going to this program, anyone want to join me:

Early Bird Walks
All Ages
Come in from the cold. Here’s your chance
to keep moving! Stop by the Leonhard
Recreation Center for an early morning
walk around the gym.
Date Day Time
1/2-3/28 M/W/F 7:30am-8:30am
Location: Leonhard Recreation Center
Questions: Paul, 352-6044

It is perfect for us because school starts at 7:45 and we can go right from dropping off to the gym. Lizzie likes to ride in her stroller and will probably do that it fairly happily for 20 or 30 minutes. I'm also considering joining the "Healthy Striders" at the mall, that way I can walk the other 2 days a week as well. I need to find out the times on it because I like to do my stuff all at once. Once I come home, I don't like to leave again until time to pick up after school. I also need to find out if there is a cost on it since paying to walk sort of goes against the second goal of "not being poor" :)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Comic promotion

Many of you know how much I like puns. Case in point, C was making a nest with a friend at school and the boy was using sticks and leaves and C said "Hey I'm going to use rocks in my nest" and I responded with "hey, that rocks" LOL

Ryan Sias writes a 3 times a week comic called Silent Kimbly that is nothing but puns. Family friendly, cute, generally funny. I suggest if you need a chuckle you check him out here

This is one of my favorite comics of his for you to enjoy :)


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Mom's email fix

A radio station I listen to does a segment called the "Mix Email Fix" Something with our phones doesn't agree with the radio station and we can't call them, for anything. So I never get to give my opinion on these or win call in contest or anything like that. Since I can't give my opinion on the radio (and we all know I have one, about everything), you, my faithful and loyal readers, get to read about it here. Feel free to weigh in if you have an opinion as well :)

Today's problem was a woman recently got married but had been lying to her fiance about her age all along. She has been claiming to be 28, when in reality she is 38! Big difference there. She wanted to know what she should do now that things were going to be long term.

My opinion is that she needs to tell him, like yesterday about it, but needs to be prepared for the possibility that he might leave because of it. If you have lied the entire you have been together about something as basic as age (and not just a year or two, but 10 years!), what else have you been lying about? The world may never know.

Stay tuned for further installments, as the topic interests me :)

Monday, January 7, 2008

The things you learn

C lost his Legend of Zelda game for his ds :( He is trying to replace it with his own money but doesn't have a ton to spend. I've been looking around eBay for something that is in his price range, but I'm not having much luck. I posted to CUBUYSELLTRADE asking if anyone had one for sale since that would mean we wouldn't have to pay shipping. I also decided to take a look at Craig's List and see if I could find anything. Nothing was there, but I decided to post a wanted ad for it and see if we get anything. Never hurts to try. While I was posting the wanted ad, I saw a link for posting "gigs" little odd jobs and things that people have around the area. That got me curious about what kinds of things people wanted done so I found the area of the site and was looking around at it. One of the catagories for gigs was "adult" Well know I was really curious. It is about what you would expect, "models" stippers, escorts, etc. There was also an area for "adult movie stars" Call me naive, but I always wondered how people get into the porn industry. I generally assumed that it was people who desperately wanted to act and failed in traditional Hollywood movies. I always assumed it was a last resort type thing, not something people actually sought out as a job. Interesting.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Potty Progress

I know, everyone is sick of hearing about potty training. Hopefully, this will be the last post on the subject. Several weeks ago, I told Lizzie that if she would go potty in the potty all the time, I would buy her some neat Dora or Brabie or Princess underpants. She wasn't really impressed but we kept talking it up, hoping she would get the idea. A few weeks ago, I decided to just buy some plain, boring underwear to see how it when (side note: why oh why can't you find little girl underwear in plain white? I wanted the most boring thing I could find and finally had to settle on the multi pack with some white and some prints) I started by enticing her with the sparkly butterfly underwear and each morning asked her if she wanted to be a baby or a big girl that day. Some days she picked baby and we put a diaper on. Some days she picked big girl and we put underwear on. Whenever she wore the underwear, we would remind her that big girls go pee in the potty all the time. Eventually, it got to the point of picking underwear every day and her saying "I'm a big girl, I go pee pee in the potty all the time" For the first week she was in underwear, we were the ones who were being trained. Every hour, I would flat insist that she had to use the potty and she always did. She didn't ask and if I let her go past, she had an accident. For the last couple of weeks now, she has been asking on her own and only had minor accidents (like when she told my mom "nonni I need to go potty" several times and my mom didn't hear her and she peed on the floor). Still diapers at night, but I imagine that will be a while yet. C was in diapers at night until he was 4. And honestly, that is one diaper, sometimes 2 if she wakes up and has to go in the middle of the night.

So now, that she has pottying pretty well down, I can start looking at preschools. I was afraid to even start looking seriously since she had to be potty trained and I didn't want to hassle with it if she wasn't going to be. Also, now I need to go get her some neat underpants since I promised. :)