Monday, June 30, 2008

The Spaz on Buddhism - The Basics in a Nutshell

It's time I talked a bit about my spirituality. :)


When I really discovered Buddhism less than a year ago something inside of me just clicked. It made sense to me in a way that no religion ever had. The teachings of the Buddha aren't based on mysticism, but on doing the right thing and making the right decisions in all aspects of life.

So I've decided to share my new interpretation of the basics of Buddhism here for any and all to read and maybe understand a little more about a way of life that has given me such a sense of peace.

First, a little history... The Buddha was born as Siddhartha Guatama around 500 B.C. He was born as a prince and lived a life of luxury. At some point in his young adulthood Siddhartha desired to understand the world around him and he left his privileged life. In his travels he saw an old man, a sick man, a dead man, and an ascetic. Seeing these sights led Siddhartha to the conclusion that all life included suffering. He decided to give up his royal life and searched the truth of the world. At the end of his travels, he sat beneath a bodhi tree to meditate. After a long period of time, Siddhartha's meditation led him to the answer to how to be free of suffering. This is what gave Siddhartha the title of the Buddha which means "Enlightened One." He spent the rest of his life teaching others how to become enlightened.

The Buddha is not a god. He was born a mortal man and died a mortal man at an old age from eating spoiled food. His followers do not worship him in the same sense that Christians worship God. Buddhists pay respect to the Buddha and express gratitude for his teachings.

There are two main components of Buddhism that the belief system is based upon; the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.

The Four Noble Truths

1. Life includes suffering

There's just no way to get around it. All life includes suffering and we will all encounter suffering. We will stub our toes, we will get the flu, we will lose our grandparents and our parents and our pet cat. We will get picked on in middle school. It will happen because our world is not perfect and it is not permanent. Though there are plenty of good and happy moments in our lives, all of these moments will pass and be replaced by other moments - some "good" and some "bad".

2. Suffering is caused by attachment.

Because we fall in love with our new couch, because we desire so intensely to be rich or popular or beautiful, because we attach ourselves to these objects, people, and desires we continue to suffer. We attach ourselves to these transient things and we lose them. We gain 10 pounds, our best friend moves to Hong Kong and loses contact, someone breaks in and steals our priceless jewelry. We are attached to these things and ideas and they cause us suffering.

Side note - this part of the Four Noble Truths is difficult for me. In part I understand it but it also seems to me that some suffering is not cause by attachment. If I fall down a flight of stairs and break my leg I am suffering. I suppose I have attached myself to the idea that I should feel comfortable and I am suffering because I feel pain. I struggle with this.

3. It is possible to stop suffering.

Buddhists use a word called nirodha to describe the cessation of suffering. Wikipedia defines nirodha as "the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, nonreliance of it." Basically, this is obtained by giving up attachment. It is attained by curbing the intense desire for that new handbag at Neiman Marcus. Easier said than done. :)

4. There is a path to stop suffering.

This path is the "middle way" between extremes and is known as the Eightfold Path. It is the balance of hedonism and asceticism. This is a journey that may take lifetimes to complete so there's no point in trying to rush it. No one is going to be able to wake up tomorrow and be enlightened. It's gradual and takes focus. Heck, I've been working on it for a year and I'm not even close!

The Eightfold Path

There is no particular order for this. These are not steps along the journey that should be taken one at a time. The Eightfold Path is more like a guidebook and should be worked at all at once. The whole "path" description sort of muddies that up for us, I know. A lot of times the different parts sort of flow into one another and seem to fall back on one another.

1. Right View or Right Perception

Keeping an open mind and trying to perceive all of the aspects of the world around, without attaching ourselves to preconceived notions. Just because you were raised to believe that women shouldn't play football doesn't mean that your daughter wouldn't make a fantastic kicker. If she wants to try out, keep an open mind and encourage her. Know that you can't always see all the sides to a story and remember that.

This is always hard for me because I tend to jump to conclusions. For example - if I listen to my friend tell me how her boyfriend is being a complete jerk, not listening to her, not treating her right, I'm the first one to say "Scrap that butthead! You're worth so much MORE than that!" Unfortunately, I'm not opening my mind, am I? For all I know my friend has been grating on poor boyfriend's nerves for three weeks now and griping and moaning about every little thing that boyfriend hasn't gotten around to doing yet. Do I have the whole story? Absolutely not... and I need to realize that.

2. Right Intention or Right Thought

Buddha taught 3 types of right intentions which I will attempt to explain here.

*The intention of renunciation or the resistance to desire. This is in opposition to intention based on desire. The intention to make pineapple upside down cake on your mother in law's birthday because she loves it even though you think it's disgusting is right intention. Your desire may have been to make chocolate and maybe she would have been happy enough with the chocolate, but you did not make your choice based on your desire.

*The intention of good will, or the resistance to feelings of anger. This describes a sort of selfless love that the Buddha taught. Perhaps you have a co-worker that drives you crazy. Maybe she talks behind your back, sleeps with the boss, drinks your Diet Coke out of the office fridge, whatever. Expressing anger and ill will about your co-worker may make you feel better in the short term, but in the long run it breeds resentment and more anger. Teachers of Buddhism advise followers to try to picture someone they love to help dilute feelings of anger toward this person. Thinking positively dilutes the negative thoughts that come naturally in this type of situation. This can be tough to do and definitely takes practice. Buddhists define this sort of loving-kindness as metta.

*The intention of harmlessness, meaning not to think or act cruelly, violently, or aggressively, and to develop compassion. Sort of similar to the "turn the other cheek" mentality, this is based on making decisions and actions based on good will. If someone cuts you off in traffic and you're forced to slam on your brakes to avoid hitting him this can make you angry. I usually yell off some ridiculous insult like "DILLWEED!" when this happens to me and I'm half inclined to race up to where he's driving and flip him off. Occasionally I can check these feelings and think "Maybe he just made a mistake, maybe he didn't see me, or maybe he's just really had a hard day and his mind is elsewhere." It's those times that I'm so proud of myself for letting it go and feeding my intention of harmlessness. I can feel compassion for this person instead of anger.

3. Right Speech or Right Communication

Don't lie. Super simple, right? Sort of. This is about being honest with yourself and the world. No justifications, no rationalizations - just honesty.

We've all been in the situation where someone asks us a question and the truth hurts. Your best friend is trying on clothes and comes out of the dressing room and says "Do these jeans make me look fat?"

Our automatic friendly response is "No! You're not fat! You look great!"

In the back of your head you might be thinking "Gee Shelly, you have put on a few pounds over the past few months and you're sporting a major muffin top in those low rise designer jeans. Peel those babies off and we'll head over to Lane Bryant to grab you something with an elastic waist."

Ouch! The truth hurts. Fortunately, our language is just filled with awesome ways to say the same thing. :) "Those jeans aren't really flattering, Shelly. Why don't you let me get you another style?"

Right Speech applies to so many areas of our lives. Just say what you mean and mean what you say. If someone asks you how you're doing and you're feeling terrible, just say so! They didn't ask you to give them a detailed description of your ailments, but it's perfectly acceptable to say something like "I've had better days, how are you doing?" Just be honest. If someone asks you a question that you don't want to answer it's perfectly fine to tell them to mind their own business.

Another aspect of Right Speech is a common tactic of spouses everywhere. Tell me if you've done this lately when speaking to your hubby. "The car sure is a mess."

Hubby most likely agrees and goes on about his merry way. Little does he know that what you meant was "Please, darling husband of mine, our vehicle is in need of a cleaning. It would be ever so kind of you to take care of that for us."

So now you're irritated that he doesn't do anything and he's oblivious until you finally explode. "Clean the car out you lazy S.O.B!" Or something to that effect.

Now he's mad and you're mad and this could have all been avoided if you had just said what you meant in the beginning.

Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don't lie, don't mislead, don't exaggerate.

4. Right Action or Right Choice

Life is full of choices all the time and they're not always easy. Choices are always there. Sometimes the choices are all bad choices, but they're still there. Sometimes they're obvious choices, but you still take a choice. Sometimes choices are made for you by just not taking any action at all. For example if you choose to ignore your bills, your credit goes down the tubes. You chose to ignore the bills, you chose to have a 400 credit score.

This also applies to your beliefs, your opinions, everything. If you're backing Obama for this election is it because all your friends are backing Obama? Or is it because you really believe in what he has to say. Have you read his book? Do you understand what he believes in? Have you taken the time to make up your mind?

Here's another example: Say you have a party to go to next weekend. It's a funky retro party and you've found the perfect dress.

Rockabilly Red Rose Dress

I know, adorable, right? OK, so you have some cute little red sandals in your closet and you're really stretching your budget so you shouldn't spend another dime. You're walking out of the mall and you see these...

Red Peep Toe Pumps

They match perfectly! They're so cute! You really can't be expected to wear boring sandals with a dress like that, can you? I mean, you need these pumps and look at that, they're on sale and you've been so good with money lately so you deserve a little splurge, right?

Justification much? So no one is saying you shouldn't buy the shoes, but you definitely need to be honest about why you're buying them. You want them. That's it. It's not because you deserve a treat, it's not because they're such a great deal... you want them. That's why. Any other reason is just there to make you feel better about your decision to buy them, not the real reason. Be honest with yourself and allow yourself to practice Right Choice.

Make honest choices and take honest actions. Make the right choices because they're the right choices, not because you're going to get something in return. Your future is based on the choices you make so if you make the right choices your reward is inevitable.

5. Right Livelihood

This one is fairly simple. Everyone has to make a living but it's important that we choose a job or a career that is right for us. If you hate going to work, maybe it's time to rethink your career path. Perhaps you're making a good amount of money, but it's important to be sure it's worth it.

Of course you have to provide for your family. It's important, though, to make sure what you're doing is right for your family. I'm not saying you should quit your job as a high powered CEO to go flip burgers. However, if you're a high powered CEO at a company that is doing something that you don't agree with - maybe a change in focus would be good for you. Back to Right Choice with this one, it's all about making the right decision for you and your family. Sometimes it's not easy to make the right decision and sometimes the right decision isn't clear. Sometimes other people in your life will pressure you to make a decision that you're not sure is right for you. No one said it was a walk in the park, sister.

6. Right Effort

This is all about doing a good job in whatever you do. If you're going to do a job, do it to the best of your ability. We say this all the time to our kids, but we ourselves cut corners all the time. Buying McDonald's for dinner instead of cooking something healthy, speeding because we left the house late and are late to get to an appointment, procrastinating with work until we're so stressed we start snapping at everyone we love. If we just worked with Right Effort in the first place, we'd all live much calmer and more peaceful enjoyable lives.

This also pertains to Right Effort in following the Eightfold Path. :) Buddha taught Right Effort with four points: (Buddhism is all about lists, isn't it?)

*To avoid the arising of unwholesome states that have not yet arisen. In other words, avoiding situations which may steer you from the Eightfold Path. Maybe not going to the mall if you don't have any money so you aren't faced with a choice that may be difficult for you. That sort of thing.

*To abandon unholy states that have already arisen. Work on quitting smoking, losing weight, whatever it is that you feel is keeping you from following the path.

*To arouse wholesome states that have not yet arisen. Become involved in a cause you believe in, start going to the gym and training for a marathon, visit your aging parents more often.

*To maintain and perfect wholesome states that have already arisen. Keep up the good work, Sparky! I think you get the picture.

7. Right Awareness or Right Mindfulness

Be aware of your surroundings. If you're driving, pay attention to the road. If you're having a conversation, listen to the other person talking. It's hard to do this all the time. We're always multi-tasking, trying to get a billion things done at once, and we don't feel we have time to pay attention to one thing at a time. It's so simple to call our friend who we never have time to talk to on the 20 minute drive home because once we walk in the house we know that the kids will take over and we'll need to cook dinner or whatever. Is that the right choice, though? Do we have to stop paying attention to the road to find her number in your contact list? I know, I know... voice dialing. Whatever, you get what I'm saying.

Right Mindfulness is just about being aware of your surroundings and your life without attaching preconceived notions, taking in the whole environment and not becoming distracted by one thing.

Buddha taught that there were four foundations of Right Mindfulness:

*Body awareness - keeping in mind where your body is in your environment and how your body feels. Are you in someone else's personal space? Are you hungry? Are you tired?

*Emotional awareness - being aware of your emotional state at all times. Are you really angry? Are you really sad? When you are looking to accomplish a goal or make a decision it is important to be aware of whether your current emotions will negatively effect your result. If you're dealing with a terrible case of PMS, it might not be the time to decide to pack up the kids and walk out on your husband. Just sayin.

*Thought awareness - know what you're thinking and where your thoughts are leading you. Are you having negative thoughts? Are you letting your mind run away with you? Sometimes we let our minds wander and we lose focus of what we're trying to accomplish.

*Event awareness - keep in mind what is going on around you. What do you see, smell, hear, and feel?

Awareness can often be obtained through meditation. You don't have to sit in the lotus position chanting "ohm" to achieve meditation either, just quiet your mind and let the awareness flood in. You might find yourself amazed at what you perceive when you truly quiet your mind. Can you hear a bird chirping outside? Can you smell that the trash needs to be taken out? Can you feel the cushion underneath you mold itself to your form? All these things are senses we normally let pass us by. Right Awareness is all about letting those things in.

8. Right Concentration

Right Concentration is very centered on meditation in most Buddhist teachings. To me, it's sort of the opposite of Right Awareness in that Right Concentration is about focusing on one thing. It is about focusing on those wholesome thoughts and actions that make up the Eightfold Path. This concentration is developed through meditation.

Meditation, as I said before, does not always have to be done in front of an incense burner to be effective. A few minutes in the car before heading into the office can be effective. You may find some time on a park bench while waiting to pick up your child from baseball practice. I tend to find time in the bathtub at the end of the night. Calming the mind, focusing on the breath, letting go of all the worries and noise that constantly crowd our heads, and concentrating on those wholesome thoughts and actions is all that needs to be done.

I find that sometimes, if I find the time, a more "formal" meditation environment can help me. I have a simple set up with a statue of the Buddha, a candle, and an incense burner on a nice cabinet and I place my meditation cushions (called a Zafu and Zabuton - this is the store where I got mine and they are wonderful!) in front of the cabinet, light a soothing stick of incense and my candle and enjoy a long quiet meditation. I've found a great resource here about meditation that may help if anyone needs.

So that wraps up our lesson on Buddhism ala Domestic Spaz. Whew! That was a lot!

If you've got questions I'll do my best to answer them or point you in the direction of someone who can answer them. I hope you've enjoyed it. :)

Resources that have helped me along the way:
Buddha Mind
The Big View
Zen Guide
Palm Beach Dharma Center
Bad Buddhist Radio

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I'd like to thank the academy...

OMGOSH I'm so flattered... really! I got an AWARD!!

No, really! Look! I did!
See how pretty and shiny it is??! Mah-meeee at Raising A & C gave it to me and I love her for it. It's the Arte y Pico award! Mah-meeee, who received the pretty before me, is super deserving. She has excellent taste (loves my spice cake!) and is doing a fantabulous job being a great mom to her two little girls. Go visit her and give her some bloggy love. :)

Now to pass on this lovely award to five other bloggers. This step is EASY for me and I know just who to give them to.

1. Robin from Around The Island. Robin shares her life in Israel raising two amazing children on her blog. She also shares her incredible ability to put pen to paper and create fiction you'll be craving. I'm always so impressed with her stories. You will be, too!

2. Karen at For the Love of Pete makes me laugh nearly every day. As a fellow Floridian, she understands what it's like to survive a summer with kids in the swamp. Reading her blog always makes me feel like I'm sitting across from a girlfriend drinking a glass of wine.

3. Manic at Manic Mommy for her absolute love to the blogosphere. Manic is always hosting a giveaway and handing out the love. When she's not spreading goodies about, she's promoting blood donation, sharing snippets of her life, and otherwise spreading the GOOD.

4. Valarie Lea From Tennessee, now from Alabama because she has the longest blog name ever. No really, because you just can't read her blog without feeling the fun. Every time I read her and share in her life, I can just tell she's having a great time with her family. Anyone who reads her would have to agree... and feel lucky to have found her. :)

5. Last, but definitely not least, is Michelle at Life with Three. Michelle exudes love for her three little munchkins and, being a mom of three myself, I can relate. I'm glad to have her as a bloggy friend. :)

Hurry up and go read all of these wonderful ladies if you don't already know them. You'll be sure to find some great reads.

Here are the rules for those that were nominated:

  1. Pick five (5) blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also for contributing to the blogging community, no matter what language.
  2. Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.
  3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.
  4. Award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of “Arte y Pico” blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award (

WALL-E, Watermelon, & Wet Tissues

We saw WALL-E last night at the drive in and I have to tell you, it was great. It made me cry. It's the first time Pixar has ever made me cry.

Before I get to how beautiful the film was, I'd like to speak of our drive-in experience.

drive in marquee

I've talked about the drive-in before and of my love of the drive in. Last night was a little different. I guess they expected a HUGE turnout for WALL-E so we were packed in a little more than usual.

When I first pulled in I parked a comfortable distance away from the truck next to us. A "Security Man" with a big red light-up stick thing asked if I could park about a foot closer to the truck. So I pulled closer with a smile. Then he asked if I could get even closer, which I grumbled a bit about, but did. THEN HE ASKED IF I COULD PULL CLOSER!!! I was already close enough to reach out of the window and pet their kids on their heads if I wanted to. Security Man said "We're going to be really packed in tonight!"

"Fine," I snapped "I'll give you another half inch."

I pulled out and pulled back in exactly where I was before.

"That's all you get."

The Man thinks I was being nasty. I think I was standing up for myself. The poor woman in the blue truck had to squeeze out of her truck to get out because we were parked so close to her. They were friendly people, though, and Munchkin made friends with their daughter and was invited to climb up and sit in chairs in the back of their truck for the movie which was a BIG HIT!

The people who pulled in on the other side of us also parked a comfortable distance away from us until Mr. Security came over and barked at them, too.

Just before this, Goober had climbed up into our close neighbor's truck to follow Munchkin and had fallen out of the big 4x4 and scraped his forehead up on the gravel below. I was busy cleaning him up (he didn't even cry... such a tough kid) when Mr. Security came over to tell me to move my chair. I had our chairs put out so we could all see the movie and Mr. Security informed me that our chairs weren't supposed to be out past the end of our car and that I would have to move my chair. I literally moved the chair 1/4 inch and gave him a look that dared him to say another word.

I'm cleaning blood off of my 4 year old's face for goodness sakes! Timing, Mr. Security, timing is everything.

Anyhow, once we were all packed in and parked and chairs and coolers were out the fun began. We dished out the pizza, the 4x4 neighbors ate burgers, and the people on the other side of us ate watermelon. We know they ate watermelon because the adult female figure of the bunch loudly exclaimed to her children that she had watermelon. I think she said it twelve times.



This woman had a volume control issue. Throughout the movie, seemingly especially at quiet points of the movie she would yell back at her kids "ARE YOU SHARING? HAVE YOU SHARED WITH HER!?!"

It was like watching the movie with a day care employee.

WALL-E, however, was beautiful. For a good portion of the movie there are no words... just the sounds of WALL-E, the robot. The sounds, though, are so endearing and full of emotion that you just fall in love with the little guy. I'm no movie critic and I'm not going to go into a solid review (you can find glowing ones all over the Internet), but I will say that it was a great movie. It would have been hard not to love WALL-E and hard not to feel emotion watching him experience his own emotions. Pack up the kiddos and go see it. Seriously.


I just have to admit it. I just have to realize it's just too much for me to handle on a daily basis. In fact, even today on a Sunday it's too much. I just can't do it.

I have too many blogs to read. I just keep adding them over there in Bloglines and thinking "It's just one more... I can handle it!"

Now I know... I just can't. My house is a disaster, my kids forgot what I look like, and I haven't listed a new thing on eBay in close to a week.

So... assuming you can't just spend your entire day perusing the blogosphere, how do you manage it?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday Quickie

I didn't have much to blog about today. We're planning on packing up the kids and heading out to the drive in for an evening of fun so I'll leave you with this:

"Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway."

goober eats ice cream

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fighting the Frump with Drink Mixes

I am perpetually on some sort of diet. You see, my problem is with food. I like to feel full and I like sweet stuff. It's tough. Recently, though, I discovered a little product that is helping to take the edge off. Actually, I discovered two of them.

There's the South Beach Diet Tide Me Over Drink Mix and Kellogg's Special K20 Drink Mix.

These mixes come in little packets that are easy to throw in your purse and are added to a standard 20 ounce bottle of water to make a yummilicious protein drink. They really do taste great, though they are a little thicker than the typical Crystal Light type of drink. The best part is that they really do fill me up! They contain 5 grams of fiber per serving and either 3 or 5 grams of protein per serving (the South Beach stuff has 3 grams and the Special K stuff has 5) so they help keep me from wanting to grab a cookie in between meals.

That's how I'm fighting the frump this week! For more frump fighting tips, check out Mrs. Fussypants!

PS - Book Giveaway Here!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


So I totally FUBARed the last post and then left for the day so I had no idea it was not showing pictures. All fixed now. That's what I get for trying to host pictures on my own server. Geesh. :)

Some Things Never Change

dad and me 1980

This is me and my dad circa 1980. This photo is capturing perhaps my happiest childhood memory - being loved and adored by the man in my life. To say I was Daddy's Little Girl is an understatement. He was my savior, my hero, the man who could do anything. Moments like these were the cherry on top of my carefree 3 year old day.

As a selfish 3 year old back then I really didn't think much of how my dad felt about those moments. He was tired, he had worked a long day, he probably wanted to get out of that collared button down shirt. Who would think he'd want a kid to pounce on him the moment he got through the door?

He did. These moments weren't just the highlight of my day, they were the highlight of his, too. After all the stress he felt all day building a business, when he got home this was just where he wanted to be.

Things haven't changed much, either.


This is my first entry for the Sincerely 'Fro Me To You blog carnival held over at We Are That Family.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How To Feed a Family of 5 Quickly and Cheaply

I've been trying to cut our food budget down a bit lately. I don't even want to go through our grocery bills but I wouldn't be surprised if we've been spending close to $1000 a month at assorted grocery stores and take out enterprises. I've tried using coupons and I think I end up spending more with the coupons than I ever was without so I'm starting to take a different approach.

Lately I've been mega busy with eBay and as much as I'd like to cook three nutritious meals every day for my family it's just not practical. My previous solution to that problem was to pick up takeout but it seems there's no way to order anything halfway decent without dropping at least $30 (usually more) and that was getting ridiculous.

I had to look at things differently.

A couple of weeks ago Stop and Smell the Chocolates posted a WFMW post about an instant oatmeal mix and I did not hesitate to make up a batch. I threw in a handful of chocolate chips to the batch and now even the kids are asking for it! Way less expensive and so much healthier than the sugary cereals they love to eat. I eat it, too, every morning and it's delicious. It even keeps me from being hungry all the way until lunch time! I sacrificed a 1/2 cup measuring cup that just stays in the container so it's so easy in the morning when I can barely think.

The kids are home for the summer and it seems they always want to eat. Previously I would have stocked the pantry with individually packaged snacks that they could just grab so I wouldn't have to stop working every 20 minutes to fix them something. Instead of doing that I've changed things up a bit. I bought bananas and apples. They're already individually packaged and so much healthier. :) I also washed grapes and put them in snack bags in the fridge. Not only that, but I've learned that my kids are not inept. They can do a lot of stuff for themselves and with enough training they even might stop making messes while doing it. I've learned that they can make themselves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They can even pour themselves a drink. In fact, if I truly want to neglect them they'll feed themselves successfully all day long. Today Bug heated up a leftover casserole in the microwave for himself and his brother. Amazing!

Which leads me to my next way we're being more frugal with food. The kids are eating leftovers. It sounds so simple, I know.... but it's something we just didn't do before. They ate sandwiches and chips for lunch and the leftover casseroles and baked ziti went bad in the fridge. Now my kids are learning that leftovers make a great lunch and they're happy to have them.

Today I was so busy with work and our cupboards were practically bare. I thought I was going to have to run to the store where I would have probably grabbed an already fried 8 piece box of chicken, some cole slaw, and baked beans and thrown it at my family in my haste to get work done. Instead I forced myself to be resourceful. Instead of spending a half hour running to the store and back, I made hot dogs for dinner. I cut up an onion and opened a jar of relish to dress them up a little more than we usually do and I served some macaroni and cheese from the pantry as a side. For a little bit of nutrition I opened a can of peaches, a can of pineapple, and a jar of cherries and mixed up a delicious fruit salad. Perhaps it wasn't the healthiest of dinners but neither is fried chicken. :) It costs us less than $7, made my kids smile, and was done in about 10 minutes.

So that's what works for me. :) For more WFMW tips, check out Rocks in My Dryer!

PS - Why not check out the rest of my blog while you're here? Grab a diet coke or a coffee (or a bourbon) and sit a while. :) I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me!

Jenny, Jenny who can I turn to?

I met Jenny in 6th grade. We were both in our middle school's "gifted" program which ensured we'd be seeing a lot of each other over the next few years. There were only a handful of girls in the program so we stuck together pretty tightly but Jenny and I didn't really cement a solid strong friendship until high school.

I'd have to say it started when my best friend at the time, Brian, got himself a bit of crush on her. She got herself a bit of a crush on him back and the next thing I knew I was being a third wheel to their summer romance. Until he somehow convinced me to break up with her because he was too chicken to do it himself.

Every time I think back on that I want to find him and smack him for convincing me to do it. Then I want to smack myself for actually doing it.

Somehow, though, Jenny and I were always close after that. Even when we got our first "real" boyfriends and cars and had different classes, Jenny was always someone I could turn to when crisis struck.

We decided to lose weight together and ate fruits and veggies and alfalfa sprouts and ran miles together. When I wrecked my mom's car she was the first person I called in a panic. When I was sure I couldn't stand living at home one more second, it was to Jenny's house I ran, even though I had friends who lived much closer. We were co-editor in chief's of our high school newspaper together, formed our own literary magazine, and banded together against injustice at all costs.

When we graduated from high school we went off to the University of Florida together and moved into dorms right across the street from each other. Before long, we moved into an apartment together.
Here we are in that apartment. It was the 90's and we were rebels. She's the one in the amazingly cool Goth purple cross dress. I'm the one in the fishnets.

Here we are in Boston. I'm the one hugging the snowman. She's the one sitting on him. It's my first. In fact, this was the first time I had ever seen snow and getting to Boston was the first time I'd ever been on a plane. Jenny's the one who convinced me it was alright to just buy a plane ticket and go somewhere. I remember feeling like such an adult... though maybe not at this exact moment.

Jenny and I have changed so much since that first day of 6th grade. I was the perpetual rebel and she was the good girl back then. Somewhere along the way it's almost like we switched. I settled down and had kids and Jenny did stuff.

She went to Europe... many times. At some point she decided to move to Oregon. From Florida. I'm not even really sure why, and back then I protested. I mean, really, could she PICK a farther state to live in (little did I know)? Why did she insist on being so FAR AWAY?

But that's Jenny. When Jenny decides to do something she does it. Nothing seems to stand in her way. I am in awe of her. I remember when she packed up her little car and drove across the country with her dad. Clear across America they drove stopping to see the Grand Canyon on the way. Jenny arrived in Portland and decided that wasn't far enough. She moved to Juneau, Alaska.

She met her soon-to-be husband and they were married in Vegas on Halloween. Because that's what Jenny would do. I can't picture her in the white dress with the big veil with bridesmaids and a DJ. That's just NOT her.

After she decided she'd had enough of Alaska, Jenny tried Portland again but again it didn't stick. She's found herself a home in Braddock, PA where she and her husband are renovating a 100 year old house.

Her bravery and sense of adventure always amazes me. Her life is a journey and I don't think she knows what her destination is. I can't imagine it being any other way. I live vicariously through her so if she stops being adventurous I guess I'll have to pick up the slack.

Book a Week! Week 6!

Congratulations to Hil'Lesha on winning Bookends!
I'm off to contact you now. :) I've just checked our her blogs as well and I just have to say what a resource for awesome coupon codes!

This week's giveaway will be an oldie... but SUCH a goodie. I think everyone and their mother (literally) has read this book but if you haven't you absolutely MUST comment so you can read it. If you have read it, you should read it again.

This week's giveaway is for my pre loved copy of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. This book is the reason my friends and I started a book club back in 1999. It made us want to get together and drink wine and giggle. It's absolutely wonderful.

So comment here and I'll pick a winner next Tuesday. :)

***And the winner is Dolls123! By default. :)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Zoo Days

Friday The Man and I were blessed with the privilege of having his cousin's three kids for the day. So what does one do when they have the responsibility of entertaining six children for the day? We took them all to the zoo.

In South Florida in the summer the humidity is so thick sometimes you actually feel like you're swimming through the air. Tropical zone much? By the time we herded all the kids from the car to the zoo entrance we were already damp and sticky. Still, I was determined to make this a happy occasion.

The first attraction we stumbled upon at the zoo was the carousel. We paid the man $2 a kid and let the monsters climb aboard (except for the oldest who is 11... the carousel is below him). The carousel man then told us that the adults had to go, too.

"No really, Sir. These kids are troopers, they'll hold on tight for sure."
Please don't make me get on that thing, please?
"They need to be strapped in."

Since when are there straps on a carousel? What sort of Nerf world are we living in? When I was a kid we scrambled like musical chairs for the biggest or prettiest horse, crashing into each other along the way. I have a distinct memory of literally being pushed off of a particularly pink flowery carousel unicorn when I was about 7 by a bigger and tougher girl. I got up, dusted myself off, and settled for a less ornate ride. I did not cry to mommy or to the man who ran the ride... they would have laughed and told me to suck it up. Once on the horse we simply hung on to that pole for dear life. I want my kids to experience the thrill that is self-preservation. Straps on the carousel... PLEASE.

Kids these days are ultra protected. Playground equipment no longer requires a tetanus shot, your thighs will never be singed by going down a shiny silver metal slide after it has been frying in the sun all morning. Even the ground at the playground is cushioned these days. No dirt to be thrown in your face by some meaner kid, no wood chips for your mom to force you to empty out of your shoes before you get in the car. I don't even remember the last time I saw a kid jump from a swing. What is going on with the world?

But I digress.

So The Man and I climbed aboard the carousel and strapped (insert eye roll) five kids in. Then we were trapped. The thing was going... around and around and around. I busied myself by taking pictures of all the smiling faces. Still going around... and around... and around...

I think it was the longest carousel ride ever.

When it was over the man who ran the ride asked if we'd like to go again for free.

No thanks.

Then it was on to ogle poor animals that probably have done nothing to deserve a life in captivity.
Am I ready for my career in wildlife photography?

This is a Florida Panther. This particular one hates The Man. Every time we go to the zoo she growls at him. At first I thought she just growled at everyone... but no one else I've talked to has ever seen her growl. It's just him. She hates him.

Jaguar lounging in the sun.

This is the bat cave. It smelled as bad in there as it looks. Though I know these are fruit bats and they're not at all scary and are actually kind gentle little creatures, they still creep me out hanging there all scrunched up together.

Our National bird... in a cage. I'm sure someone can find some satirical irony to this picture.

This is a typical Florida deer. She was acting quite nervous and panicked.


The Man took this picture. I think this frog is amazingly cute... but if it jumped on me I'd scream like a banshee and take off running.

We liked this little caged animal so much we took him home.

After we ate lunch and saw the rest of the animals we decided to let the monsters play in the squirty water park thing. Another modern convenience for the comfort of children that wasn't available when I was a kid. I remember leaving the same zoo as a kid, sweaty and sticky from the heat. My legs would stick to the vinyl seat in the car and I would pass out from heat exhaustion on the way home. Now kids get this at the end of their zoo trip:



The End.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's Facial Day! Fight the Frump!

I've talked about how great I think Biore Pore Perfect strips are at unclogging nose pores and I still think they're super. However, I don't know about you, but I have pores all OVER my face. Not just on my nose. Sometimes those other pores could use a little work.

There's nothing like a little steam to work wonders on your pores. Not only will a nice facial steam make your skin look nice and glowy, but it will also clear your sinuses up and get rid of a headache.

Don't just stick your head over a pot of boiling water, though. It's simple to make the steam even more effective and much more pleasant with essential oils.

Personally, I like to use tea tree oil because it's invigorating but evidently the word around town is that you should use different oils for different skin types.

For normal skin types, mandarin or lavender essential oils are recommended. For oily skin, lemon and eucalyptus oils are recommended. For dry skin, choose rose or chamomile oils.

To do the steam, boil 1 gallon of water to a rapid boil. Take it off the burner and once it stops boiling add 6 to 8 drops of oil to the water. Lean over the steaming pot with a towel over your head for 10 minutes. Fabulous!

Once you're done with the steam a quick once over with toner will close your pores up but if you feel like being more involved here are some quick and easy masks that you can probably whip up with what you have at home. :)

For more fight the frump tips, check out Mrs. Fussypants!

P.S. Have you commented on my book giveaway yet? I'll draw a name on Tuesday and you could win it. ;)

I can't WAIT until January 2009!

I miss Big Love so much it hurts. Now I have to wait another SIX MONTHS?! It's been FOREVER.


Bliss is an empty house

I can hear my air conditioning vent. I can hear that the toilet in the kids bathroom is dripping a little bit. I think I just heard a bird chirping outside.

I do not hear any screaming, yelling, toys dropping, televisions, annoying beepie sounds, or Munchkin's newfound love of singing Disney songs.

They're all gone. All of them. The Man took them away. I love him so.

His cousin is in a bit of a crisis this week. The person who committed to watching her 3 kids this summer went on vacation and she was in a bit of a pinch. Since The Man is a super techie wonder man and she had a bunch of stuff she needed him to do he volunteered himself to go over and sit at her house all day so she could go to work. He took our kids, too.

I know, I think he might be crazy... but I didn't tell him that. Today he's baby sitting four boys aged 11, 8, 7, and 4 and two 6 year old girls.

All by himself.

It's quarter to 11 and I haven't received any desperate phone calls from him yet so he's either duct taped them to the furniture or he's managing. I'm hoping for the latter.

Me? I think I'll go take a nap.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Someday they'll be gone and I'll miss this...

Every morning the kids wake up before I do now that I don't set my alarm clock to get them ready for school. They're up playing little games in their rooms. Every morning I sneak out as quiet as I can be, hoping to get just a little bit of coffee in me before they hear me. It never works. Their hearing is super-sonic. They hear me open the cabinet to get out the coffee and their little ears perk up.

"Mommy's awake!!!" They say it with such glee you'd think I had slept until noon. I hear them drop whatever they are doing and scamper out to see me, six little bare feet pattering along the pergo floor. They absolutely must touch me, hug me, kiss me, tell me everything they have done this morning so far.

Bug tells me how he has started a pet store. He is selling fish tanks for $10.99, $12.99, and $30. He shows them to me. They are his plastic school boxes from this year with the prices written on top in Sharpie. Before I have a chance to wonder where he got the Sharpie, Goober is hugging my legs so tightly together that I can't move.

"I'm SUPERMAN!" he tells me with a grin so large it literally covers his face. He then "flies" all over our kitchen at speeds only a four year old can muster while making flying sounds only a boy can muster.

Munchkin, my only girl, pouts and holds her little body like she's already a teenager filled with angst, though she's only six. She wants to go to Grandma's house and I am the meanest mother EVER because we aren't going to Grandma's house today and why can't we go to Grandma's house today and she MISSES Grandma!

I look expectantly at the coffee pot as it takes a full eternity to drip just one cup of coffee into the pot. I wait, mug in hand, bleary eyed, while Goober crashes into Munchkin. Munchkin erupts a loud, completely fake, cry and yells at him before stomping off to her room to ponder the injustice that is her family.

Drip... drip... drip...

Finally the coffee is made and I can savor the warm sweetness that will turn me from a mere shell of a woman to a real living and breathing mom.


I feel I can take on the world again.

10 Giveaways You Want To Win!

I love giveaways. Who doesn't? I mean, SERIOUSLY... you get to WIN something! Who doesn't want to be a winner?! (You're all winners, really. I love you all.) I love giveaways so much I host one myself every week. My giveaway isn't as exciting as some of the other ones that are sweeping around the blogosphere, though. I mean, I give away a pre-loved book off of my own book shelf. These other bloggers are giving away real new STUFF.

So after you go comment to win the book I'm giving away this week, maybe you'll want to check out some of these other giveaways. :)

Musings of a Housewife is giving away a Nintendo DS. We bought Bug a DS last year for his 7th birthday and he broke it within a month. I fell in love with it during that month and I think I may have cried when it broke. He has a Gameboy now that is proving to be much more durable but I really miss that DS! So don't go comment and make more competition for me. :)

JivaFit is giving away a set of all 5 Skin Appetit products. They're paraben FREE and each product includes natural whole food extracts from 8 super foods! Who doesn't want to put super food on their skin? Just comment with which of the 8 super foods you love the most and you could win.

An Island Life is giving away an incredibly adorable onesie or tee in pink or blue for your little monster from Uncommonly Cute. All you have to do is go to the Uncommonly Cute site, pick your favorite item, and then go comment saying which one you like best!

My Mom Shops is giving away the most adorable "What's Up?" kids' place setting by designer Emily Green. Comment there by 11:59 tonight (June 18th) and you might win. She's also offering a bonus free shipping coupon code for Pure and Honest Kids until June 30th.

Viva La Feminista is giving away a book! I love book giveaways, didn't you know? The book is Writing Motherhood and it's about making yourself a better writer... don't all "mommy bloggers" need a book like this?

Neato Stuff is giving away a tee shirt from Mamaisms! If you haven't checked out the tees from them, you should go right now and look. Every mom should have one... or five.

Modeco Kids is giving away a pair of Isla Booties. OMGOSH CUTE!

Myersville is giving away some yummy Bath & Body Works stuff. Cool melon scented, neato containers, and FREE! Go comment. :)

Little Bugs Boutique is giving away an Organic World Appliqué Tee Shirt! It's a sweet child size shirt from 10 One World. All you have to do is visit 10 One World and then comment back at the blog suggesting a new product idea. Sweet!

aPARENTly Speaking is giving away a DVD of The Jungle Book 2! That could save you at least one afternoon this summer with the kids. ;)

Go win stuff!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

WFMW - Hypermiling

So gas prices are THROUGH THE ROOF nowadays. It's ridiculous. When we bought our house out here in the sticks gas was hovering around $2.00 a gallon and we thought THAT was insane. Now, a mere 5 years later we've doubled that and then some.

We're a family of 5 and we're always carting a ton of stuff around so the super cute smart and the super fuel economic Prius just aren't an option for us right now. I drive a Chrysler Town & Country and we use just about every inch of space it has. Downsizing is not an option at this point in our lives. It gets relatively decent gas mileage under normal around town driving - about 17 to 18 miles per gallon.

Until recently.

Lately I've been fuel obsessed. I click reset on our little dash thing every time I go anywhere so I can see exactly how many miles it takes me to get everywhere I go on a regular basis. Then I can figure out exactly how much is COSTS to go everywhere. At 18 miles per gallon it costs $5 to go to my mom and dad's house and back. It costs about $8 to go to my mother-in-law's house and my favorite thrift store. My best friend's house is a whopping $14 there and back and my parents beach condo cost us $32 this weekend.

Something's got to give! So I've been learning about hypermiling. You can read more about it all over the Internet but the basics are as follows:

1. Keep your tires at least properly inflated if not overinflated to reduce drag.
2. Accelerate slowly.
3. Coast up to red lights. Let off the gas as far back as you can when you see a red light. If the light turns green before you get to it you'll save gas by not having to accelerate as much to get back up to speed.
4. Drive the speed limit. Use cruise control if possible.
5. Drive in the lane of least resistance. If you can, use lanes that people are less likely to put their brakes on in. If you have to slow down to wait for someone to turn, you're going to have to use gas to get back up to speed.
6. Take less crowded roads with less stop lights even if the speed limit is slower.
7. Leave early to give yourself more time.
8. Keep your vehicle's oil changed and keep it tuned up.
9. If you're doing a bunch of errands (and you should be planning to do as many as you can at a time), go to the furthest one first to help your car warm up as much as possible. Your car performs more efficiently when it's warm and you'll save gas.
10. Don't haul a bunch of stuff around. It takes gas to move that stuff.

There's a lot more tips out there if you want to spend the time reading. I've upped our gas mileage in the van to close to 22 and I've just started doing it. I'm positive with more practice and a tune up on the van I can get that mileage closer to 25. That's 112 MORE miles I can go on the same tank of gas.

That totally works for me.

For more Works for me Wednesday tips, check out Rocks In My Dryer!

Have you commented on my giveaway this week? I'm giving away a copy of Jane Green's novel, Bookends, this week. Go comment and maybe you'll win!

I was not tagged for this meme

Karen did this little book meme over at her blog and I thought I'd do it, too. Without even being tagged. :) Why? Well, because I happen to have my copy of Bookends sitting right next to my computer that also happens to be this week's giveaway book and it happens to HAVE a page 123 (it has a whole 358 pages!) so I figured, what the heck?


1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

"Why, despite the designer-type furnishings, it is a house in which I feel immediately comfortable. The mess. Piles of papers dotted around, just out of sight, but nevertheless there."
I won't be tagging anyone because I wasn't tagged and cause I don't want to. :) Play if you'd like!

Book A Week Give Away! Week FIVE

Congratulations to Michelle at Life with Three for winning Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil in last week's giveaway! Email me your address and I'll have it right out to you. :) spaz AT domesticspaz DOT com

This week's giveaway is much more lighthearted. This week we have Bookends by Jane Green. This book is the epitomy of a summer read. For the most part it's an easy, fun, sweet read but it'll make you feel a bit, too. It's the kind of book you can read in a couple of trips to the beach or pick up here and there whenever you get a chance. Besides, if you've ever read anything by Jane Green, you know just what you're getting into and you know you'll love it.

So comment and win it! I'll pick a name next Tuesday when I announce next week's book. :)

*Book A Week books are used copies of books I have pre loved. They are not new. :)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Update to the Girls Night Out

Here is Munchkin and me the other night at the dance recital we got all dolled up for. Do you ever see a picture of yourself and just have the most insane desire to run a brush through your hair? This is how I am feeling about this picture. I realize I'm in desperate need of a good stylist. It looks great when I leave the bathroom after using the flat iron... but somewhere along the road the Florida humidity catches up with me and I end up with this sort of flat mess. The Man will die if I chop it all off so I'm sort of stuck with the long look. What to do, what to do....

The recital was for my best friend's daughter who is the best little 8 year old dancer I ever did see. :) I was thoroughly impressed with the recital and didn't get bored even once! Munchkin was equally impressed and though she doesn't want to actually perform on stage (the girl has wicked stage fright) she loved watching and was dancing in her seat. After 3 hours of performance she was disappointed when it was over!

My friend and I proved our bad mom status and took our little girls to IHOP after the performance was over at 11:00 at night. Both girls ordered the fresh and fruity breakfast and had ice cream sundaes at midnight. It was like Munchkin's dream come true.... a GIRL to talk to, no brothers around, up WAY past her bedtime, pancakes and ICE CREAM! She passed out gloriously overcooked in the back of the van on the way home.

In other news - I think I'm in love with this site.

The Fifteen Years Meme

Karen tagged me and I don't really feel like posting about my current life today so I'm super thankful. :)

Here's the deal. Think back on the last 15 years of your life. What would you tell someone that you hadn't seen or talked to for 15 years? How would you sum up your life?

You get 10 bullet points. A list of 10 things to summarize you. At the end of your list, tag 5 more people and send on the love.

The summer of 1993 I was 16 years old... wowza.
* After getting my first car at 17 I had freedom to meet boys who did not go to my high school! At this time I met my first love and all of his friends, one of them being The Man.
* Graduated from High School in 1995 and rushed almost immediately to University of Florida, dragging my older boyfriend along with me.
* Discovered the keg party some time in my sophomore year which caused me to start missing classes which caused me to withdraw from the semester altogether and attempt to hide this from my father. He found out.
*Attempted to take care of myself in Gainesville by conducting phone surveys and selling vacuum cleaners to pay the bills. Broke up with boyfriend, moved home, and started at FAU when I realized I hated the real world.
* Got pregnant at 22 and subsequently got married. Got pregnant again at 23 and left husband (maybe someday I'll post about him... maybe not, though)
* Reconnected with The Man after the birth of Munchkin and it was love at first reunited sight for me.
* OMGOSH Got pregnant at 25 with Goober! (I had an IUD and YES I know how babies are made!) This is how our little family was cemented.
* Bought our house in the sticks and built our life here among dirt roads and livestock.
* Watched as lots and lots of other people joined suit until there were less pickup trucks around and more Hondas.
* Got into a 70 mph I95 accident when our tire blew out that totaled our Mitsubishi Montero with The Man, Goober, and me in the truck. The truck hit the wall dividing oncoming traffic and no other cars (miraculously). I was treated for a concussion and Goober wasn't hurt at all. The Man still deals with whiplash pain occasionally. We got our minivan after that and I love it.

There ya go! Now for the tagging of 5 people....

I'm tagging Michelle at Life with Three first because she's the last person who tagged me for a meme. :) Then I'm tagging June Cleaver Nirvana because I just found her blog and it made me giggle. Anyone who uses the word "Swell" in their header gets a thumbs up in my book. Okay, three more...

Bahama Shores Mama gets my next tag and Karla at Looking Towards Heaven. Finally we'll top it all off with a fellow South Floridian, Red at It's All About Me... Sometimes.

No pressure, of course. :)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Girls Night Out

This evening Munchkin and I are going to a semi-formal affair. It's been a loooooong time since Mama's been out somewhere where denim wasn't acceptable so I had to go shopping. That's right, I've been FRUMPY. So last night the whole family went out to the mall where we purchased me a nice pair of black pants and this cute little top to go with.

I already have the cutest little pair of black and white heels to complete my ensemble.

I want to interject here... on our way out of the mall we stopped for dinner at P.F Chang's. Has anyone ever been to this place before? I hadn't. I'd seen it before and it intrigued me but we'd just never tried it and I really didn't know what to expect. I've heard these great things about the food being so good and it being such a different experience so I was interested to try it. I encountered a restaurant that seemed to take the ethnicity out of average Chinese food. I'm not really sure what the point of that was. They threw in a little Asian decor but other than that I wouldn't have known it from the Cheesecake Factory. They serve dishes somewhat family style which is fine (not my favorite, but fine), have really no real kid friendly dishes even though there were plenty of kids there, and the food was pretty much meh. Overall, I don't think I care if we ever go there again. I'd rather order take out from the restaurant down the street from our house where I can't understand the guy who takes my order. He's super friendly and gives my kids extra fortune cookies.

Munchkin is wearing a sweet little silk dress by Monkey Wear that I purchased at my local thrift store for less than $2. Shhh... don't tell her. She has her own heels as well and she is SUPER excited to get to wear them! The last time she wore them was Christmas and I literally had to hide them in my own closet to get her to stop BEGGING me to wear them everywhere.

On top of our pretty clothes I've gone ahead and done a quick self-dye on my hair this morning since the last time I made it to the salon was in October. (Yes, October... I know... you wouldn't have believed the gray.) I never seem to have the HOURS it takes to go to the salon and get my hair done appropriately. I don't have one of those salons where everyone there is your best friend and you talk the whole time so for me it's just 3 hours of boredom. Ugh.

So the L'Oreal dye I picked up today in Medium Ash Blonde was just going to have to do... and it did. The dye, rinse, blow dry, and flat ironing took me less than an hour. How's that for fighting the frump?!

I also bought some pretty dark red polish for our toes. She's so excited!

I can't think of anything that fights the frump more than getting all dolled up with my little doll.

Check out Mrs. Fussypants for more ways to fight the frump!

PS - Have you signed up for my book giveaway yet? Go comment to win! :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Garden Dreams

I want to do this. I think I could, too. No point in doing it now when the South Florida sun would scorch all my baby plants... but I think I could try this next year. Yep.

Hello?? Anyone out there?

Really? No comments at all?

Was it something I said? Was it something Mr. Berendt said? It's a good book, really! I wouldn't offer it if it wasn't.

Overheard in my house

Munchkin: EEEWW! You got your URINE on me!
Bug: Goober peed on you?
Munchkin: You peed on me once.
Bug: Yeah, but that was a long time ago.

Where do I even start with that?

***evidently no urine exchange took place at this time... they were pretending... why someone would pretend that someone was peeing on them, I have no idea...***

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Works for me Wednesday - The Drive In

The kids have been dying to see Kung Fu Panda. Being that it's summer and we feel somewhat obligated to do some stuff with the little guys we considered going to see it Sunday afternoon at the bargain matinée price. So around 2:30 Sunday afternoon I checked the movie times and prices and discovered that matinée prices are for movies starting before 3 pm. What the...?? Didn't that used to be 6? What the heck is THAT all about?

I did a calculation on exactly how much it would cost us to take the family to the movie:
Two adults @ $9.50 each = $19.00
Three kids @ $6.00 each = $18.00
Two popcorns @ $4.50 each = $9.00
Five drinks @ $3.00 each = $15.00
Total = $61.00

HELLO!??!? Does anyone else think this is ridiculous?

Lucky for us, we have a local Drive In theater and whaddayanno they were playing Kung Fu Panda at 8:30. Rock on.

It costs $6 per adult and $2 per kid between the ages of 5 and 11 to get into the Drive In. Once you're in you can stay all night and watch as many movies as they're playing. We decided to make a night of it. We packed a cooler with some drinks, grabbed a bag full of Wise popcorn from the chip section of the grocery store, and ordered $17 worth of pizza from Dominos on our way to the Drive In. We arrived around quarter to 8, got a great spot, and had dinner in our camping chairs while waiting for the movie to start.

When Kung Fu Panda was over, Goober and Munchkin were sleepy so they curled up in their pillows and blankets brought from home and fell asleep in the van while The Man, Bug, and I stayed to watch Indiana Jones. I only watched the first part of Indiana Jones because the other screen (our drive in is fancy and has two of them) was playing Sex and the City! I kissed The Man, picked up my chair and carried it over to the other screen to watch my old friends reunite for the last time. Positioning myself between a couple of cars so I could hear their radios clearly I settled in to watch while my family enjoyed their action packed adventure movie.

It was definitely a good idea and it costs us less than $40 for dinner and all the movies we wanted to watch.

There are a few things you should know about the drive in.

1. If you have a van or SUV bring it. All the cool drive in goers have them.
2. It is super important to get there early. It's a little nerve wracking to park after it gets dark and there are people everywhere. Definitely make sure you're there before the movie starts... headlights and movies don't mix.
3. Our drive in requires you tune into a radio station to hear the movie. Bring a boom box radio if you have one to sit outside. Then the kiddos can fall asleep in the car without Indiana Jones blasting in their heads.
4. Pack a cooler with drinks and snacks!
5. Be prepared to jump in the car if it rains or at least be able to tuck under your open hatch. We had a few sprinkles while waiting but nothing major.
6. Bring a jacket in case it gets chilly. can give you a list of drive in theaters near you. The site even lists the old drive ins that have closed and gives history for them. Have fun!

For more Works for me Wednesday tips, check out Rocks In My Dryer!

PS - This week I'm giving away my hardcover copy of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil ! Go comment to win! :)

Book A Week! Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

This week's give away is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.

I read this book years ago and am giving away my hardcover copy. This book is haunting and beautiful and will make you want to jump in the car and drive to Savannah to see it all for yourself. In fact, this book DID make my mom jump in the car to go visit Savannah. She almost got there, too... but that's another story for another post. :)

Comment away and I'll randomly pick a name next Tuesday!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I'm the fatty at the gym. :)

My sister and I are not thin. Really... we're not... Our mother is not thin and our other sister is not thin, either. My sister's daughters who are 12 and 13 are also not thin. For any of us to be thin we would have to have a gastrointestinal bug that lasted approximately 2 years. Then we might be thin... maybe... but we'd gain it all back within a month of becoming unsick. Women in my family just aren't thin. Ever.

I'm not sure how much of it is genes and how much of it is the fact that my mother taught us all that baked goods should be made frequently and can solve any problem. We love chocolate and cake and chocolate cake. Cookies, brownies, and pies, OH MY! Our husbands are happy men, though.

I won't say anything for my sister but I could safely lose 100 pounds. It would not land me in the hospital, either. It would not cause anorexic teenagers to envy me.

My sister and my niece's and I have all started going to the gym together. We've been going pretty regularly, too. Three times a week we've gone and kept it up going on our third week now. Are you proud? I realize I'll have to step it up for my AT goal but for now I think we're doing pretty well.

We all line up on a row of treadmills and walk away the pounds together. We talk and laugh and have a great time doing it at our different paces.

Then we venture over to this circuit training section that our gym has where we do a Curves like workout together.

We cool down on the stationary bikes.

I catch people staring occasionally. Younger, blonder, thinner women stare sometimes. Men who wear shorts so tight it makes me want to cover my niece's eyes if she dares to look their way stare sometimes, too. I can't be sure what they're thinking but it's probably not positive.

When we all started going together I was pretty self-conscious of these stares. Now I really can't wait to get to the gym and laugh along with my sister and my nieces. I'm truly starting to look forward to the gym. Crazy, huh?

I urge everyone who is having a hard time making it to the gym to grab a buddy and go together. For once I think I'll stick to a workout regimen and actually meet a goal or two. Rock on.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Book a Week Results - Week 3

Results for this week's Book Giveaway!

The Boleyn Inheritance goes to....

Bahama Shores Mama!

Congratulations. :) I'm off to let you know you're the winner now!