follow me on Twitter

    Wednesday, April 30, 2008

    Thoughts on Thirty-Five

    Thirty-five. 35. Three and a half decades.

    On Monday I will turn 35. Seems nearly impossible that I am somewhere in that gray category where "middle-aged" becomes a term I can use to describe myself. I feel much more comfortable inside my own little non-reality, where I am still young, and hip, and in the know about all things hot and current in the world. That's how I still see me.

    Then the grocery bagger calls me "Ma'am" and he's not the first this week, or I get yet another AARP flyer in the mail (I'm SURE I'm still too young for that, right?), or I hear another creak or pop in my bones when I trek up and down the stairs.


    Then I am reminded of the years that have come and gone, by various things - that I have been out of school longer than I was IN school. That my next high school reunion (a rousing good time at a hog farm, or some other equally classy venue) will be my 20 year reunion in just three years. I still wake up most mornings thinking I AM 20 for cripe's sake (until I take my first steps out of bed and catch a glimpse of my so-not-20-year-old body in the mirror).

    And so here comes 35. Seems impossible. I know, I already said that. But it really does. My BIL (now ex-BIL but whatever) turns 40 next week - I remember when I used to think he was WAY older than me. My dad will turn 60 two days later. That seems even MORE impossible.

    We all seem to be aging, as is the way of it, but then I consider how much more we've to go, God willing. Greg and I won't "retire" for ANOTHER 30 years, almost as long as we've been alive already! That's reassuring! I still have at least 14 years with Samantha at home (hopefully longer, although I reserve the right to change my mind about that in about 12), at least 17 with Mr Jackson, and while I know they will fly by, they seem like a lot of years right now. And that's good news. This life is pretty good most days and I relish the idea of having forty or so more years of it to come.

    So come on, 35, I'm ready. Bring whatever you will this year for me - I can take it. I think. Just let me get some sleep and take my vitamins first.

    Has it been two weeks?

    Seems impossible that I haven't blogged since the 14th! Weird!

    All is well here, except for this spring cold we are all sharing. Hope it passes quickly!

    Today it's 70 outside at 2:00. So when Greg gets home we'll be venturing outside for yardwork and playing in the newly-barked play area with the swing set (OK, so we still have to move that), and maybe even a picnic outside. I am SO freaking stoked about having a nice, non-windy day.

    I'm down 21 pounds in 2+ months - hallelujah for South Beach, baby! It's all good, and I know the next 20 are going to come off if I do what I'm supposed to do, and that keeps me going. The new South Beach updated book came out, I want to get that and see what new discoveries Dr. A has made. Updates on that to come!

    Mrs M and I had a FABULOUS garage sale last weekend, and pulled in close to $600 in total! We kick ASS at garage sales, and hope to one again in the future. The hubbys both took each of our two kids and took care of them for the duration, so MAJOR kudos to Greg and to Mr M, you guys are the two best hubbies I know!

    Gotta go for now, but I wanted to post a short BLOG so you didn't think I fell of the planet! More later!

    Monday, April 14, 2008

    New Blog Feature: Fast Food Follies

    I cannot remember the last time we ate out and got everything we asked for, got good quality food, and/or didn't wait a week and a half for it. The gene pool is getting so damn shallow that apparently finding people who are smart enough to serve food without botching the job is becoming next to impossible. How it's possible to be incapable of performing such simple duties, I do not know. This is the first in what I am SURE will be a series, because I don't see it improving any time soon.

    Having done my time in the job trenches at McDonalds (where I met my fabulous, then crew-chief husband, BTW - see, there ARE good things under the Golden Arches), I know this one thing to be true of the fast food industry: It's NOT THAT HARD to get it right. It's just not. Read the order, fill the order, move your ass. Those are the three requirements. That's it.

    And yet, Greg and I seem to be cursed in this area, as if our past hard work in the food service industry has been karmically turned around on us and the fast food gods are now shitting on us for kicks. We do not EVER seem to have an entirely pleasant experience encompassing the whole package one desires when dining out.

    Today it was Sonic. A rare treat these days, we ate out during the week, and Samantha wanted Sonic, declaring "It's the BEST place to go eat." So we went. We placed our order, spoken to a girl who interrupted me approximately 412 times. Two plain cheeseburger kids' meals, one combo with fries, one salad, one dessert - that was our order. She read it back, and said our food would be out "shortly". We paid using the automatic debit card reader.

    And we waited.

    And we waited.

    Two cars who arrived after us, plus countless drive-thru customers, came and went.

    And still we waited.

    Finally, as I was putting on my mad face and getting ready to make Greg push the button again, the LCD screen flashed "your food is being delivered". And several minutes later, out it came. Three bags, one salad, five cups. Looked OK. They apologized for the wait, we accepted, and came on home.

    But the fun's just beginning. We get home and settle in at the table to enjoy our long-awaited meal together.

    Greg took his cheeseburger out of his bag, and reached for his fr...wait...what the....

    Do YOU see any fries?


    No fries. And the kids ordered tots, which Greg does not care for, so no spuds for Greg. That's strike 2 (strike 1 was us waiting 19 weeks for it to begin with).

    So Greg gets the kids' cheeseburgers out, halves them as is our method of serving to the kids, and notices that, uh...hmmmm...these aren't .....

    Do these cheeseburgers look plain to YOU? Strike 3.


    Sigh. Now we're just irritated, verging on pissed off. To top it off, THIS is the kind of lettuce that they saw fit to put in my salad - how about Strike Four:


    Slimy and/or actually rotting? No. But good and "rusty", a quality which may not affect the taste, but it speaks to the age, and air exposure time this lettuce has seen. Grosses me out. Oh, and the chicken (already gone in this pic) was nice and grissly on three sides. Mmmm. Grissle.

    I have given up on calling and complaining by now. The idiot managers who answer the phone aren't any smarter than the jackasses they manage, NOR do they care any more than said jackasses. Mostly we are just reminded by these experiences of why we generally eat at HOME.

    So Sonic Drive-Inn at 72nd and Military, you sucked ASS today. That it took you THAT long to then SCREW up our food ANYWAY is mind-boggling. Thanks for nothing.

    Circle A Ranch: Shout Out To My Old Camping Buddies

    So I wanted to get this out there. I'll blog more about it later, and this may mean almost nothing to some of my readers, but some of you know that as a teenager I spent five incredible summers at a place called Circle A Ranch in Rockford, MI. I don't have time to explain it all right now, but you can check out their website here:

    Seriously the coolest place ever. Changed my life, and meant the world to me.

    NOW they have a website built and up and running for us alums. It's just beginning, and I think it's so great, and would love to help it grow!!! It was designed and is run by the director's (now grown) kids, Melody and Steven. They were just wee things when I was there!

    I am hoping that anyone searching for any of us (and I KNOW we are out there...) will find this BLOG and know where to go if you're a former or even current "Circle A-er". I will be blogging more on Circle A shortly, but in the mean time, if you read this, and you went there and are looking for more of us, get over to HERE:

    Visit DLXNation

    And for pete's sake if you are in touch with other former campers, let them know, too! I have found a couple of people on myspace who were campers, but I haven't had the nerve to contact them, but I may now! Thanks!

    Sunday, April 13, 2008

    Sally Field Can Kiss My Butt

    I watched Steel Magnolias last night. Ugh. I haven't cried that much in months. No one should be able to strike such deep chords in my heart with a movie, so Sally*, bend over and smooch it.

    Because now that I'm getting old, that kind of shit really screws me up in the head. Everything like that I see gets internalized, personalized, and rips my guts out. I watch stuff like that, and then I get to picture not Shelby, but a grown-up brilliant, stunning, funny, witty Samantha laying there, dying as I hold her hand, and watch her take her last breath, knowing that her baby will "never know what his mother went through for him".

    OR I picture MY Jackson (yeah, them having the same name wasn't a twist of the knife), a strapping grown man, who has to sign papers that say "Yes, please let my wife die so I have to raise my child by myself and put up with my MIL thinking I can't do it on my own", or whatever those sick DNR forms say.

    Either way, the pain is almost incomprehensible to me, and I fail to understand how anyone endures burying their child and then continues to live with any measure of joy. Which again makes me think of William, and weep for his mommy and daddy and his sister, who have lived M'Lynn's and Drum's nightmare in full-blown reality, and then I weep for my own weakness at not having dealt with the movie version as well as they have dealt with the real one, for cripe's sake.

    Morbid, weird, sick, right? Not to mention "for fuck's sake it's just a movie, Cathy". Greg thinks I'm nuts that I even think about this stuff at all. I know, but it happens. I am the queen of the worst-case scenario. And for whatever reason, the bad things in my life that happen to me always seem to be the things I never considered could happen. So if I think about it, it'll never happen, right? God, I hope so.

    I was planning to watch Legends of the Fall after that, but dang, I'd have probably shot myself when THAT was over, so I watched Jeff Dunham instead. Nothing like a little Walter and Peanut to cheer you up on a Saturday night. This free Netflix viewer is the shit. Except when I watch Steel Magnolias and get screwed up in the head for the night, and then have to stay up till 1:00 watching a man play with dolls just to get calmed down enough to sleep.

    *Sally, if you're reading, I don't really want you to kiss my butt. I think you are a super-talented actress, and pretty hot for someone my mom's age. Hell, you're hot for someone MY age, and your talent has moved me to my core in so many films. The whole "kiss my butt" thing was just a catchy title. Nothin' but love, ma'am...

    Stimulus Checks: A Screw Job in 2009 or a True Rebate?

    Look, I don't pretend to know everything about this whole issue, and don't even really want to, it gives me a headache. But what gives me MORE of a headache are the online forums which allow message posting - not in general, just right now, and here's why. They are FULL of speculation on the part of every Joe Blow with a keyboard about whether or not you will have to "pay back" what you get this summer as part of the upcoming stimulus package, whether or not it's taxable income, blah, blah, BLAH...

    Let's start with a definition. Rebate: A deduction from an amount to be paid or a return of part of an amount given in payment. (obtained from here)

    That's what this upcoming check is. It's a rebate, folks. Listen closely: reeeeeebate. They are "returning" money that we will pay during 2008 when we pay our taxes. You don't pay back rebates. If you go to Menards and buy paint, and it has a rebate coupon, and you send it in, the money they send you back is yours to keep*, right? They give you a discount for doing something - sending in the coupon. In much the same way, the government is giving you money, "discounting" your taxes to come, in effect, hoping that you'll do something - go spend it.

    Ok, granted, I concede that it's only in theory they are returning "our money", since A) the money we actually pay in taxes will be loooong gone before it ever hit the IRS's bank account, and B) we haven't actually paid it all in yet. And I get that the government will obviously be borrowing more money to make these payments since they are in debt up to their eyeballs, and that in the scope of the government's financial picture, that may not be a great choice.

    But that doesn't change what they are. They're rebates, despite the fact that they are being given BEFORE we pay the money in. Seriously, look up "rebate". Go ahead, I'll wait. OK, you don't need to, I put the definition up there. But they are rebate checks - that's why they are called "rebate checks".

    Sooo, since I kept reading that the checks were everything BUT a rebate, I thought, just for kicks, I'd see what the people handing out the CHECKS had to say about this particular aspect of the happy money we're getting in May. To that end, I give you, dear reader, a few questions and answers from our "friends" at the IRS, straight from the horse's mouth, all the way in fabulous Washington D.C.** ...

    Q. Is my Stimulus Payment taxable?
    A. No. You will not owe tax on your payment when you file your 2008 federal income tax return. But you should keep a copy of the IRS letter you receive later this year listing the amount of your payment.

    Q. If my Stimulus Payment is not going to affect my 2008 tax refund or increase the tax I owe next year, why is it I need to retain the letter that lists how much I received?
    In the event you do not qualify for the full amount on your 2007 return but you do on your 2008 return, you will need to have the letter as a record of the amount you previously received. [Added 4/11/08]

    Q. Will the payment I receive in 2008 reduce my 2008 refund or increase the amount I owe for 2008?
    A. No, the Stimulus Payment will not reduce your refund or increase the amount you owe when you file your 2008 return.

    This info came from,,id=179181,00.html . Feel free to click to read ALL the FAQs for more information on the rebate checks.

    Then I found this information, which better explains WHY it won't affect your 2008 return that you'll file in 2009, from

    Updated March 18, 2008.
    First of all, there will be no effect to 2007 tax returns. The “rebate” that will be signed into law next week is actually an “advance” on a new credit that will be presented on 2008 tax returns.

    In April 2009 or thereabouts, when you file your taxes for 2008, the IRS will run the calculation for the stimulus rebate again.

    If the results show that you would have received more (due to an additional child, for instance), you will be sent the difference (or owe less on your final tax bill).

    If your results show that you would have received a smaller rebate, then you get to keep the difference.

    To summarize, the rebate that will be sent out in May 2008 is a credit to the taxes you’ll owe on 2008 income, but it is a new credit, so you don’t have to “pay it back.”

    Here two important things to remember:
    In order to receive the rebate in approximately May 2008, you need to file your 2007 tax return.

    The amount of the rebate is calculated using your earned income; if you earned over $3,000 in 2007, you’ll be eligible, but if you had an adjusted gross income of over $75,000, then the rebate will be reduced by 5% of your overage.

    Somebody said the other day "What, so it's just free money? Like I'm supposed to believe that?!?!" No, it's not free--it's costing the government their usual rate to borrow it from China, or whoever, but to you, it's "free" by definition. You get it, you don't owe it, and you'll never have to pay it back. Sounds too good to be true, which I think is part of the confusion, especially when people look at the government's current financial situation; but I can't find anything that says you'll have to pay back one dime of it, even if it turns out you weren't entitled to as much as you got.

    So rest easy, and relax about next year's taxes. They'll be a pain in the ass, all on their own, soon enough. Aren't they always?

    OH! One more note on this topic. Be careful. Please, please, please use your head. This is one last tidbit from the IRS website:

    Warning — Scam Artists Are Calling Taxpayers about the Stimulus Payments
    If someone claiming to be from the IRS calls or e-mails you about the payments and asks you for a Social Security, bank account or credit card number, it's a scam. The scammers are trying to get your personal and financial information so they can empty your bank account, run up charges on your credit card and more. Find out more — see
    IR-2008-11, IRS Warns of New E-Mail and Telephone Scams Using the IRS Name; Advance Payment Scams Starting.

    *OK, granted, Menards' rebates suck - you get "Menards money" and you have to spend it there, and that sucks. But it's still free money, you just have to spend it there. So look at it that way - at least you don't have to spend your money in the IRS's gift shop or some shit...

    **I am aware that not all, or possibly even ANY, IRS offices may actually exist in Washington D.C., I have no clue, if you want the truth. But I use it as a symbolic statement representing the idea that the IRS is a part of our federal government, which rests its head in fabulous Washington D.C. Don't get hung up in the little stuff, man, you'll get a headache, too.

    Saturday, April 5, 2008

    Happy Anniversary to Us

    Five years ago, right now, we had just been married. We were probably in the receiving line by now, being congratulated by our loved ones...not thinking directly about, but knowing in our hearts, that this day would come. Our first "milestone" anniversary.

    I am so deeply blessed to have Greg has my husband, moreso with each passing day. I woke up to roses this morning, the most beautiful ever. They pale in comparison to how beautiful the bond is that we share, he and I.

    My gosh - these five years have brought so many changes to our life. Two precious children, a move to a wonderful city, a home of our own in that city (a humble home, but ours all the same), and for me, the opportunity to do that which I dreamt of but never believed would happen: the opportunity to raise my kids full-time. For that, I can never repay my dear husband. His hard work and sacrifices have made the last five years of our life the joy that it has been for us.

    Tonight we will celebrate together (thanks B, for watching the kids), and toast our love, our marriage, and our friendship.

    When were dating, we once shared a long, loving gaze, and for whatever reason, I could see my reflection in his eyes, and said to him "Hey - I can see myself in your eyes." He smiled, and replied "Maybe that's because you're in my soul."

    And so you are in mine, my love. And you still make my heart smile, and I hope I make yours smile, too. And there still will be no road too long.

    Even now, five years later, and ten years after we began, you are still the best man I know, Greg.

    And so I will share with you, dear readers, the vows we declared to each other five years ago...

    ...As we stand before God and our loved ones, I realize how blessed I am.
    I promise to spend my life in pursuit of your happiness.
    I will nourish our friendship and faithfully support you in all things.
    I will share your laughter and tears, and pray FOR you and WITH you.
    As time passes and our family grows, I will respect, love and honor you above all others.
    There will be no road too long, regardless of what our future brings.
    Nothing and no one will separate me from you--not time, tragedy, poverty nor sickness, and not even death.
    Because it is God’s will, I will cherish and follow the path He has chosen for us, today and always.

    I still mean every word.


    Friday, April 4, 2008

    The Whole Grain Campaign: Inception BLOG

    I have been pondering this for months and months, and after a great talk with my good friend Peg last night, I am renewed in my passion to get this off the ground.

    The premise is simple. Whole grains are better for you. 100% whole grain products are proven to be leaps and bounds above any "enriched" products, and have significantly different impact on your health, your weight, and your well-being. Restaurants need to offer at least ONE whole grain alternative to white, enriched bread products.

    Making those choices at home is relatively simple. You stock your pantry, you make your meals, and you decide what you have available to you when it's time to eat. But when you are dining out, the good options often become nearly impossible to find when one desires a whole grain choice. While I understand that not everyone has this concern, there is a significant movement in our society where people are educating themselves about, and choosing to seek out, sources of whole grain in their diets. To have that option even when eating out would be a significant benefit to anyone for whom that is the case.

    A good example - last night we ate at Valentino's "Grand Italian Buffet". And grand it is. More food, and more variety than anyone could ask for. And five or six types of pasta. White pasta, all of it. I had none, knowing what white pasta does for me, which is exactly nothing good. But had their been just ONE whole grain option, I would have been ecstatic! Don't get rid of all the white pasta (although that really would be BEST), that's not what I'm suggesting - but offer one or two options that ARE whole grain. An exciting side effect of this - some people, who might not think to try it at home, might even try a whole grain pasta, (or bread stick, or pizza crust), and find they like it just fine! What a great opportunity for a restaurant to contribute positively to someone's health for once!

    So soon you will start seeing more on The Whole Grain Campaign (which I am stating now is copyrighted by ME, Cathy, and cannot be used without permission...don't make me call my lawyer, folks). Eventually I hope to approach the large chain restaurants and ask them to make a change for the better, but I'll need support and backing to help them see the importance of this campaign. And I'll be asking you to read, and to consider signing and passing it on. I'm not trying to take any one's white flour options away, I'd just like to see there be some whole grain options thrown in along the way. Thanks for reading!