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Preview: Thoughts from the Toilet Bowl

Thoughts from the Toilet Bowl

I am almost certain that when most people are cleaning their bathrooms, they are paying attention to what they are doing. That would not be me. I think deep thoughts as I stare into the swirling depths of the blue water in the procelain bowl. Perhaps I

Updated: 2018-03-19T15:09:18.514-04:00


Ahhhh, Butt Sniffing!


Guess who ended up coming home after all.

Guess who isn't fixed. 

(image) Guess who spent the whole evening last evening sniffing butts. (And trying to "make friends and influence other 'male' dogs.")

Guess who had to explain the joys of butt sniffing (and other male dog behaviors) to her children. 

Guess whose children think butt sniffing is a great way to go. (They're undecided on the other behaviors.)

Guess who drinks out of the toilet.

Guess whose children think drinking out of the toilet is a great way to go.

Guess who is about to go swirly herself to make it all stop.

(For the rest of Walter's story you can visit the Zoo later today.  I'm sure there will be plenty to write about!)



I've been having some interesting conversations this week.

Yesterday hubs and I were sitting in the living room flipping channels and I asked him what was wrong.  He just looked...well...bored.

"I'm bored.  With everything."

I've been whining about that for two weeks now but I was blaming my boredom on the fact that the kids are going back to school 11 days later than usual this year. 

Then Neighbor came over for dinner and he asked me why hubs was sitting on the couch like a zombie. 

(image) "Because he's bored.  With everything."

"Yeah?!  Me too!  I go to work; I go to the gym; I eat at your house; I go to bed.  I'm bored too!"

Today, I visited with the other half of The Jammin' Divas to make mint and onion-garlic jelly - which by the way does not taste like garbage breath wrapped in a sweaty gym sock - and guess what?  She's bored too!

Did I mention that even while I'm typing this my children are fussing abot being bored?

So here are the theories we have right now.  Our summer from release to restart is 11 days longer.  Ooor...The widespread intense heat has been just beating people down and sucking all ambition out of folks.  Ooor...The economic tide has REALLY caught up and no one is doing anything because they just don't want to spend the money.  Oooor...It's just that time of year.  Ooor...(Insert your reasoning here.)

In the meantime, I've found a solution for Neighbor's boredom.  He can cook dinner for me!

Grapes and Golightly


Ok, I'm going to throw it out there.  These are just books I have always wanted to read.  I didn't know jack about them before I opened them except for their main theme.  And of course anyone who lives on this planet has seen Breakfast at Tiffany's.  But let me tell you something else.  These two were WEIRD!  I don't mean that the were thinkers weird.  They just ended oddly or in the case of The Grapes of Wrath didn't end at all, really.Book #34 The Grapes of Wrath.I guess it's because I didn't know anything about John Steinbeck or maybe it's because I kept seeing Henry Fonda in my head as the lead character.  But whatever caused it, I really expected to be more satisfied.  The imagery of the tale once again carried me away.  I would look up from the pages to say something to one of the wee people running the house and I would hear a strange drawl come out of my mouth.  It was as if I had actually digested the vernacular of the book and it was coming back out in my words.Each character bent into me and pried out a little space for him or herself always revealing little bits of me and making me wonder if I would have been as tenacious.  But that's the point of a great book isn't it?  To make you reflect on yourself and try to measure your own perspective and sometimes to even defend your own stance.Well done Mr. Steinbeck.  You certainly provoked thought with that one.  But I would have appreciated one or two more chapters.Book #35 Breakfast at Tiffany's (and three other short stories)What can you say about Mr. Capote?  Twisted, angry, sad, pessimistic little man?  I mean how can one have such a great start on a story and then end it in a dark or distressing way every time?  I'll say this for him.  The modifications he allowed or blessed or raged against for the making of the movie probably saved this for him.  I cannot imagine how anyone who had read the book before the movie would have recommended it.That's not to say that it's a bad story.  It's a fantastic story with vivid characters and plenty of emotion.  But without our great Ms. Hepburn and Moon River it's just not the same.Of the other three stories in the copy I procured, all I can say is that there was a dark and almost morbid side to Mr. Capote.  I have always understood that he wasn't a mainstream author, but this was not at all what I was expecting.So more progress has been made toward the finish line of this marathon.  I still don't think I can slice out 17 more books before my 30 days are up but then again Breakfast at Tiffany's only took me 24 hours.  What do you suppose are my chances with The Canterbury Tales?  Of those 17 I only have seven on hand anyway but Barnes and Noble is just a hop skip and a jump away so that isn't a huge issue.  And with that I press on.  One page at a time.[...]

Brain Junk and Tidbits.


Ok so here are a few crumbs I have collected this morning as I have speed cleaned my house.  Why I'm in a hurry, I have no idea because I have pretty much nada to do for the rest of the day.I guess I could sew some.  I have some lunch bags to make.  See, I'm taking (and issuing) a zero waste lunch challenge.  Can you pack lunch for your children (and yourself) this coming school year without using things that have to be thrown away?  My pal Fer the wonder seamstress shared a link with me way back in April for nylon reusable sandwich bags.  I'm going to try this.  I think if I combine the nylon lunch bags and the refillable juice box shaped water bottles I should be REALLY close to the zero waste lunch.  My only glitch is the daily yogurt and cheese stick.And speaking of going back to school...We are only 3 weeks away!  Can I just tell you how stoked my kids are?  Tuck is crossing off days on the calendar to count down.  Mo is just ready to see her friends again.  And Munch?  She is ready for some peace and quiet.  I'm ready for the grocery bill to drop again.  Holy Smokes!!  These kids have been vacuum cleaners this summer!  And they've grown about two feet collectively.  But the back to school means time to go shopping and I think we all know how I feel about shopping.  Thankfully shopping for my children is not nearly as devastating for me as shopping for myself so it won't be that bad.  And who doesn't love new crayons?  This year we are filling a third backpack for a local charity.  With the economy being what it is, I'm sure there are some kids staring down the calendar wondering how they are going to face that first day of school.  I hope we can help at least one of them. I strongly encourage you to search out your own area for a charity that may need the same kind of help.Which leads us to the concept of "new."  Remember way back when I chopped off all my hair in a fit of "I'm so sick of this being in my face!"? Yeah well, now I'm ready for the bangs to grow back out because they are in my face.  I have that dorky split down the middle flipped up thing going on and it's driving me bajonkers.And I tried a new swimsuit top yesterday.  A bikini for the first time in my life.  I've had two pieces but they have been tankinis so there was no tummy showing.  I'll be going back to that, thank you very much.  My stomach is resembling a cooked lobster right now.  You know how people say they look like a lobster?  Well when you consider that a lobster is brown, that's not such a bad idea.  It's the cooked ones that get ya.While we're talking about cooking, I'm going to brag a little.  My Christmas presents for my teachers are almost done.  My tag teaming pal and I have been working the last few weeks on mini jars of various jellies to create neat little assortment baskets for our teachers for the holiday.  You can be jealous because so far we have blueberry, strawberry, peach, blackberry and cherry and we have tasted them all and they are FABULOSO!!  We are still adding some mint, grape, fig and savory onion garlic to our repertoire along with some apple and pumpkin butter.  Tell me you don't wish you were a neighbor or a teacher right now and I will call you a big ole fibber.Which leads me to my last little snippet.  What is up with the fibbing?!  Mo has entered the fibber phase and I am really not "down" with that.  Will someone please tell me that it is a phase and that I am not raising a criminal here?By the way, it looks like the other Max will not be joining us after all.  I believe that he has found a new home without our help so I may have dodged a bullet there.  The kids have joined Daddy's dog campaign though so I have probably already been out voted.  I might as well start looking at breeds I will tolerate. [...]

Bizarre News Wrap Up!


What would my triumphant return week be without a little T.B. Maid reporting?  Again if you have just joined us since my hiatus, this is the part of the blog where I go in search of all the absolutely absurd news I can find and make fun of it.  Brace yourself - this is when it gets (not so) good!

Here's a little tidbit I found today - Wacky crimes: The best of police blotters from Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast
This is perfect!  It's an end of the month round up of all the loonies and their antics.  And the paper does it EVERY month.  How great is that paper!  You have to read through a few of these blurbs.  I think my personal favorite is the guy who ratted out his own weed operation - IN THE BUFF!

Here's a reason to clean out the car. - Bear crashes in runaway car
How do you explain that to your parents?  "I swear Mom! I parked the car right there!  Oh, look!  There it is...and a bear is eating the interior."  Better yet, how would you like to be the adjuster assigned to that claim?

This just strikes me as a bit gross. Churchill's dentures fetch nearly $24,000
Why in the name of dental floss would anyone want a pair of 60+ year old dentures?  Yes, Mr. Churchill was a fantastic man.  Sure World War II artifacts are cool.  Not sure this one is one of the cool ones.  But the bigger question is, how exactly does a pair of dentures correct a lisp?

And this one gives me some inspiration to keep working out.  Florida great-grandma takes a bite out of crime
She is 73 years old!  Not only does she have the gumption to bite the bad guy but she hangs on to a (I have to assume) speeding truck as it tears down the highway.  The last line got me - she almost lost a tooth.  Take that Churchill!  You're fancy pants bajillion dollar dentures can't do THAT!

And let's wrap up with one from right here in the neighborhood (ok, across town but when you read this you'll know why I'm ready to let them STAY across town).   Armored escort for Snellville's snail ornament
First we protest the snail as a mascot.  Then we buy Sunday liquor sales by telling folks they can have their snail if they pass the ordinance.  Now we will be providing an armored transport for snail ornaments to get to a...farmer's market?  Look at that Es Car Go!

So there you have it..all the news that SHOULDN'T have been reported!  But before I go, let's get a photo of the week, shall we?
Yes, those are safety pins but don't worry.  They're just glued on.  I have yet to figure out why but if anyone knows Lucy McRae of Australia, perhaps they could ask and get back to me.

This is T.B. Maid reporting.  May your water stay blue and always go down!

And the Point is...What, Exactly?


Ya'll are going to have to help me with this one.  It's truly beyond even my imagination.

Organic.  The point is to eat foods that are free of chemicals and in their purest form, right?  I mean, no pesticides, no steroids, nothing that the Creator didn't put here to begin with.  In turn providing a healthier diet and, in the end, promoting over all physical wellness.  Did I miss the point?

So explain this to me.


I live in the 'burbs of Atlanta, home of Pemberton Place, The World of Coke, the biggest Coke bottle on the planet, the headquarters of this marketing giant.  And I understand that it is total sacrilege to speak against an American institution like this.


Really?  Does it rot your teeth slower?  Does it make your weight gain more attractive?  Does it make your caffeine buzz a little more mellow?

Organic sodas.  Can I get in on the organically fried french fries?  I bet those are cooked in organic lard which comes from the super healthy organic hog that also provides the fantastic organic fat back for my organic collards wallerin' in some organic butter that are playing vegetable side to my slab of organically basted baby back ribs. 

That meal definitely calls for a wash down with some Organic Coke!

And my Beliefs are Justified


I do not believe in garage and yard sales.  I don't have them; I don't frequent them.  I don't see the point of moving my stuff around the neighborhood or moving my neighbor's stuff into my house.  I'm sure I'm wrong and that there are probably plenty of things at other homes that I could use.  Like those mason jars I've been stalking the entire metro area for...anyway...

A few weeks ago there was a story about a LeBron pendant that a lady found at a flea market and bought for $5.  Then she had it appraised and found out that it was worth $10,000.  And when the news hit the LeBron camp, they started bullying her until they could got it back and now it's all tied up in legalities.

Yesterday the news hit that a fellow used $45 to pick up a collection of glass negatives that are believed to be part of Ansel Adams early work.  Now the family is disputing that they are authentic and again we have legal issues surrounding a garage sale find. 

I just don't see how a "great find" at a garage sale is panning out for these people.  Sure, they found something that may or may not have great value, but by the time they wade through all this legal nonsense, will they really have anything to show for it?

The way I see it, garage/yard sales are really just a way for folks to get money for their unwanted stuff and turn your life into one big legal struggle to find value in that same stuff.

So I stand by my conclusion - garage sales are a big pain in the tuckus.  But if you have some Mason jars?  Call me!
Or Not!

The Siren's Call.


You know how I just went and made an "investment" in a top of the line vacuum yesterday?  Well, today I started taking measurements and pricing flooring for hardwoods.  There is a very good chance my hubby's head could explode this week.  That's what he gets for trying to take over my kitchen!

(image) On the upside, the vacuum handles all floor types so it won't be a complete loss.  And we're not doing the whole house; just the main rooms and the hall.

Anyway, looking at the hardwoods online got me started again.  It's all tongue and groove.  Couldn't I tackle one room at a time and install it myself?  I can wield a hammer and I got power tools for my birthday.  I don't think this is beyond me.

But then I realized that there is no way hubs is going to let me tackle that project.  So what is my counter project that I use to still be allowed to do home improvement?  The boy's room is in need of some real work.  Here's the plan.  I tell him he has two choices; I can take on the hardwoods or I can paint Tuck's room.  I figure Tuck's room will get done because it's definitely less expensive and there won't be power tools involved.

If all else fails I'll put re tiling the kitchen on the list.  At least then he'll have to stay out of the kitchen!

On a side note, we are not the proud parents of Max the poodle yet.  We're still waiting to see if the dog is officially up for adoption.  I have also learned that Max has a mohawk.  You can only imagine my delight at that information.  Maybe making my hubby's head explode isn't such a bad idea after all.

Oh For the love of the Vacuum!


(image) Lil' Red (our vacuum) blew up.  I mean smoke belching, dirt flying, sparks crackling blew up.  That was a month ago.  Today I finally went out and replaced her.  No, I have NOT been letting my house go "Hoarders" on us or anything but I am tired of traipsing over to Neighbor's to borrow his. 

And if you have to buy a vacuum, why not just bite it and go for the Dyson, right?  So I did.  Hubs is not a fan - but then he didn't realize that Red was kablooie either.  So after much discussion we have made peace with a new vacuum.

But somewhere in there between frustration over having or borrowing, or getting something cheaper that may or may not handle that death trap that is the playroom, he slipped in, "So if I could bring home a year and a half old standard poodle, would you be ok with that?"

(image) You know that point in a "discussion" where you just surrender and say "yeah, sure" to just about anything?  Man, does he have timing.  On top of that, do you know what this dog's name is?  Max.  As in the same name as the Jack Russel that is already in residence.  And it's still in puppy phase.  And it's a poodle.  A big, black poodle.

I need to have my head examined.  The only saving grace in this right now is that we are coming to the end of summer so it would give the children something to do for the last four weeks before school returns and I would have time to work with it in training when they go back.

But it's a poodle.

All I wanted was a new vacuum!

And Another Book Down.


I was sitting by the pool today listening to my children protest the rumbling thunder that was keeping them out of the pool and somehow I managed to read the last 15 pages of my book.  That makes 33.

I have learned something about myself through this process.  I am drawn to books that are full of imagery.  Under the Tuscan Sun (yes the Diane Lane movie) was one of these books.  By the way, the movie was not at all "based" on the book.  The story line is not even remotely the same except for the fact that it was a newly divorced woman renovating a Tuscan villa while learning to cook authentically Italian.  As for all the romance?  Yeah, not so much.

(image) The book is more of a memoir of the renovations and life in Tuscany but what drew me in and stole my heart was the language of the imagery.  The colors of the sun rising against the house.  The hues of roses planted along the front walk.  The depiction of the vines rambling over abandoned wells and terrace walls. 

And then the food!  Oh, to be able to cook with olives pressed from your own trees!  To have such a diverse collection of cheeses and pastas and varieties of vegetables to grace your table.  Did I mention that it was a rustic "fixer upper"  in Tuscany? 

If we have learned nothing about me in the two on and off years I have been blogging, we have established that I love home improvement and cooking.  And she is a professor of the written word as well?  This book was written for me!

So I guess if I was reviewing a book this would be a five star, but I don't review books because I really feel that every book has to be read with your eyes only.  No one knows your likes, dislikes and passions.  No one knows your story and back story.  How can they say that the book they adored would be perfect for you?  No.  Every book and every recipe in life must be tried and tested by individuals without the coloring of other people.

Books and recipes are not paint with water books.  They colors aren't already there.  You have use your own paints and brushes.

(Coming soon: The Grapes of Wrath)

High Five for Eloping!


My hubs and I have a tradition.  At some point during every wedding we attend, we look at each other and share a high five.  We eloped so we didn't have to deal with all the lunacy that goes with planning a wedding.  This week's news story about "Lois" has me high fiving him daily.

Surely you've heard about Lois!  The Texas corpse flower that is about to burst forth any minute?  That's right people.  This is a gigantic (apparently gorgeous) flower that smells like a rotting corpse.  And it is about to bloom in the middle of the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
And what does that have to do with weddings, you ask?  Well, a darling couple booked a small, intimate wedding amidst the delights and beauty of the butterfly garden.  Which is...?  Right next door to Lois.  So not only is the museum open 24-7 so that people can witness this "magnificent" bloomin' event (so much for small) but they get to deal with the stench of a rotting body at the same time (how's that for intimacy?). 

I know that you all think I make these things up sometimes but here is your proof.  I am linking you up to the WEBCAM of Lois.  That's right people!  They have a webcam so we can watch Lois show her stuff.  And if you really want to see the original news story you can check my facts on that too.

So now; you tell me.  Don't you think I owe it to the world to give my hubby a high five right now?

The BTB Fad


The notion of "from scratch" yesterday started my wheels turning (imagine that).A friend and I tag team teacher gifts every year so that we can do something creative without breaking our banks.  The past two years we have done jar mixes in baskets - a neat little collection of breakfast breads, soup mixes or snack mixes.  last year we even threw in some hot cocoa mix.  It struck me as odd because everyone said, "Oh how creative!" but I found the recipe book at the supermarket checkout line.  So how is that something that is so incredibly creative?This year we knew we weren't going to be able to pull of the jar mixes for another year so we started brainstorming for something new.  Then I went on vacation and made raspberry jam with my mom.  Ah Hah moment!  We decided that we would but fruits in season and make mini jars of jam and give collections.  Now in the process of doing this I have of course made jam and jelly for our home and have given away a few jars to neighbors and friends.  Everyone is astounded that I can do this.  But I don't understand why it is such a big deal.Between the "organic movement," the recession, and the rise in home gardening, I'm wondering why it's such a shocker that someone would want to put up their own food.  I mean isn't it logical that one would lead to the other?  Or are you just growing it for now and letting the rest rot?I grew up this way.  If I had space I would live this way all the time.  I remember picking how many billions of acres of potatoes, beans, zucchini, cabbages, tomatoes, strawberries, peppers and peas every year.  I sacrificed many tomatoes and apples to my mother's Victoria food mill for the sake of homemade tomato juice, spaghetti sauce, and applesauce.  We trampled miles of trails to gather raspberries and blackberries.  It's just the way life was.  So I wonder why all of a sudden it's a great novelty to get "Back to Basics."  I have a theory.  I think people are just sick of running.  People don't want to rush and scurry and be constantly convenient.  I think deep down folks are starting to realize that maybe taking a little time to work for their own creates a much more satisfying meal; a deeper apreciation for the earth that everyone is so frantic to save.  I think perhaps the world is finally starting to notice that maybe there is a fuller life available outside of the almighty dollar and "stuff."I can't say I'm disappointed.  I think getting Back to Basics might lead to some more friendly communities, more caring neighbors, and maybe even a kinder world in general.  But then I also think I should take off these pink shades and give them back to Hollywood.[...]

From Scratch


If you had the opportunity to start over, right where you are; I mean simply stop everything, pivot and go again, would you? Would you change your system, your method, your thinking, your approach? Would you embark on something entirely new? Would you continue your course with a new outlook?

This is where I sit with blogging. I have left it for almost a full year and while there have been days when I have thought, "Gosh that would be a pretty funny post if I could put it down" I can't say that I have missed it.

Blogging is a beast. Some people (ok, me) become addicted to the comments and the numbers and the "potential to influence." Some people (ok, me, again) feel the need to perform at their peak and put out the best they can produce as often as they possibly can. Some people - who am I kidding? - I have, and probably will again, burn myself out to the point of ashes blowing in the wind.

But as I have said before. I need to write. I need to take the insanity that is my swirling brain and sort it out. You get to watch the swirling water from the sidelines and maybe laugh at it from time to time. For me it is essential to staying balanced.

If you are concerned, I have made it through 32 books on my reading list. I only have 42 days so the chances of me reading a book every two days is slim (not that I won't give it a good run!). But I had fun. And I read a lot of books that I might have never even looked at twice (Sense and Sensibility being one at the top of that list!).

And as for news commentary, I'm sure you will understand when I say, "Bleah!" The ridiculousness just keeps churning out not the least of which is Lindsay and the recent Agriculture debacle.

The kitchen has exploded twice since I last talked to all of you so I've logged more hours under my sink and behind my fridge than I care to recount. But my hubs is loving the ability to call his friends and say things like, "Did I tell you that Sarah fixed two leaks in the irrigation system, diagnosed a burnt cellinoid in the back of the fridge, replaced the garbage disposal and still had a delightful full baked chicken dinner on the table when I came home?! Oh, and here. Have a jar of her homemade peach preserves."

The children have kept it together and have actually made progress in spite of me as far as education is concerned this summer. Mo is reading at a mid-term first grade level (per her Grammy's assessment). Tuck is reading at a late kindergarten level. And Munch...well, she has lived up to both her Hollywood and Munch nicknames by donning her shades and eating me out of house and home. They have completely reaffirmed by belief that I will be the shortest person in the house within the next 6 years.

And with that you are caught up. And I am starting from scratch. Sometimes from scratch is the best way to go. The ingredients are there waiting to be mixed. It's up to me to do it right this time.

The P.P.P. Has Taken Over my Life!


And I feel bad because I haven't updated you all on my progress but I'll explain and hopefully you'll get it when I done. My last update was at the end of September and since then I have jumped into the deep end of the ocean. When we last talked I was venturing into the 600 pages of Mr. Dumas' The Count of Montecristo which once again did not dissapoint me. This has to be on my list of favorite books of all time because it's so much more than a tale of revenge. Revenge, justice, despair, insanity, love, devotion, and culture. I ate it whole. But it's a bit of a dark tale too so I thought I would follow it up with a nice lighthearted read.I had read about Traveling with Pomegranates on The Housewife Diaries when she was giving a copy away and I thought it would be a fascinating read. A mother daughter team traveling through Greece and France together on a journey to reestablish their relationship in the later years of life. What I failed to grasp when I fell in love with the concept was the deeper side of the book. The mother is venturing through menopause and a spiritual journey. The daughter is coming to grips with depression and finding her "necessary fire" - that one thing that she must do with her life to become whole. Again I devoured the book but I was left in a place that kept me from my keyboard. What was going to come out of my fingers the next time I sat down? The confused rumblings of my brain or something that was better left on the pages of a personal journal rather than an open letter to the web? My choices could have been better when creating my book lineup because no sooner had the brain pool settled than I jumped into The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. Yes, dark waters indeed in this pool that I have been swimming in. On a side note, as I was getting ready to read I scanned the back cover of the Ya Ya's and found I was just goofing off when I asked for my Ya Ya name through the generator but my jaw fell open when it came back as Duchess Shedding her Fears. Now do you understand why I say The P.P.P. has taken over my life?Most people have seen the movie by now I'm sure, but the book takes the time to go places that weren't allowed in the movie. The greater reach into Vivi's brain; the deeper impact on Sidda's relationships; the real love between the Ya Ya's. I saw parts of myself again in The Divine Secrets and wished that my own Ya Ya's were closer to me. And now I sit at my desk and stare at A Tale of Two Cities. I'm almost afraid to open it because even though it's about the French Revolution and Paris and London and a pair of lovers, what's to say I won't find myself again? I have to tell you that I'm 15 pages in and finding the rythm and getting familiar with the book language that it is written in has taken some serious work.So the grand tally: I have read 8 books which leaves 42 more in 45 weeks. I am definitely on track but the real challenge will be keeping it up during the holiday season which for us has already started. October always kicks it off with a parade of birthdays, pumpkin patching, Halloween and then right into November with more birthday and my all time favorite - Thanksgiving.Thank you to my fans who have been checking up on me. I'm still here even if I am a bit worse for the wear mentally. Happy reading gang![...]

The P.P.P!


And don't blame me! Ya'll voted and that's the verdict! You can see it for yourself right up there on the left.The Potty Pages won the "Name the Project" poll and so now you are stuck with The Potty Pages Project - or The P.P.P as I like to call it. Which by the way also works for the children because usually right after our reading, they all have to cycle through the bathroom on their way to bed. But how will I differentiate? That's easy! Over here it's The P.P.P - over there the p.p.p. See how that works? The big one and the little one!Anyway here's your most recent update. At The P.P.P (this makes me giggle - a lot!) I have finished The Lost Symbol and have moved on to Erma's Family: The Ties that Bind and Gag. How's that for some whiplash? Serious, dark, mysterious, faith crunching read followed by a completely hysterical, gut busting, LOL-ing, "where are the hidden cameras" read.So that brings our grand total to: Julie Julia; Marley & Me; Pygmalion and two other plays; The Lost Symbol and Erma. I have 45 books left to read in 48 weeks. This is looking very reasonable. But I definitely need a trip to B&N. The Count of Montecristo is up next and it's a bit of a cheat because I've read it once before but it's the next classic I have on hand. Unless of course I could do Pride and Prejudice and I'm just not feeling that yet. After The Count, I don't have anymore fluff books on hand so I think I'll be headed to my little slice of literacy heaven this weekend. Anyone feel like sending gift cards?In other random ramblings...I think I learned how to get my way on the home improvement projects. I just price out a much bigger version of whatever it is I want to do and then Hubs tells me to go do what I wanted to in the first place. Example? Sure! I wanted to paint the bathroom. Hubs said no, he wanted to redo the vanity and the lighting and the floor before we did that. If we were going to do it we needed to do it all. So yesterday I took about 2 hours of my day and priced out the whole project down to the toilet paper holder. He looked at my plan and my pricing and said, "Why can't you just paint it? If you really feel like you need to do something just paint for now!"I win! Next up, pricing out the playroom! You may all refer to me as The Supreme Evil Genius now.What else? Oh yeah! I know you all probably don't pay a lot of attention to my blog roll over there, but today you should. There are some absolutely wonderful thought provoking posts out there today and I am loving all of them. As in I even commented! I've been in a serious writer's block funk lately (you may have noticed) and these posts today have been provoking enough to get the old creaky wheels turning again. I'm open to reading a few more so if you think you have something I need to read, leave it in my comments and I'll try to pop over today or in the next couple of days to read. I'm not a big giveaway person so you may want to avoid sending me those unless they involve a B&N gift card or awesome book.I think that's all the rambling for today. I'm sure I'll be back with some more thoughts later though. Like I said the wheels are a creakin'. In the meantime, how's YOUR P.P.P. going?[...]

Answering Life's Mysteries!


I haven't taken you on a tour of the news in a while so I decided to see if there was anything worth while to share. Hooo Doggie! (And yes I DID just type that!)

Want to know why there's always a line at the ladies room and NOT at the mens room? It's because the majority of them are right handed and now the line on their side is going to get even shorter.

I had no idea. But now that there is equality in men's underpants, I know I will sleep better tonight!

Want to know why hiking is so popular in Europe? It's the scenery. Definitely the scenery - or maybe not.

Because handing the bears their food already naked relieves the flossing issues that the furry fellows have.

Want to know why it's cooler to work in Australia? Because you get to wear honest to goodness powered ties!

And The Man thought he won when he took Solitaire off the computer. Hah!

Want to know why your milk tastes different? Because it's chilled! Or at least coming from a chilling cow.

Now if you read that article all the way through you noticed that these cows in padded pens have an issue. They now will be needing regular hoof-icures. Hate to tell you but the Happy Cows aren't in Cali anymore!
(image) I'm going to this next year just so I can shake this dude's hand. World Beard and Moustache Championships

Some days I wish I could make this stuff up. And then other days (like today) I look at Reuters and wonder how I can get a job. Odd news ROCKS!

Musings from the Mud.


God bless Noah's wife. That poor woman must have been just about out of her gourd when the 40 days were up. A - she had to live on a boat. B - that boat was filled to the rafters with critters of every shape and size. C - she was locked in with her family and with 3 boys I'm sure there were some fights going on.(Our downspout beside the garage)*Editorial note - I apologize for the quality of the pictures. I took them with the Crackberry and it was during the torrential downpour phase so they are blurred from rain and grainy from the camera.*I'm just sayin'. We've had 10 days of steady rain and I'm about out of my gourd; 4 times that?! She should be sainted. Here at Zoo Suburbia we managed to avoid any severe impact from the disaster that is Georgia right now. We had a little water in our garage where the footer drains got overwhelmed but that was it. Our neighbors? About 4 inches of water in their basement. (The water that ran around the neighbor's basement)Yes, these are the neighbors who just bought the house. We called the old neighbors and they lamented the fact but were eternally grateful that they weren't there. The neighbors two doors down? Watched as two feet of water poured into their basement. Their front yard sits right over the storm drain so they were the lowest point on our side of the street and were bound to get something. (The water that was headed to the storm drain in front of Neighbor #2)But while we are on the subject...My hubby is a nut job. Love him but he's a total nut job. All day yesterday I was checking in with him and he kept saying, "It's just rain!" Like I was some kind of over reacting basket case who needed to be committed. (Pass on that if you know what's good for you!!) Then he came home and was just amazed by the pictures on the news and was gushing about how the river was swollen to the bottom of the bridge and how there were trees down on side streets around our area. Did I act like he was an over reacting basket case who needed to be committed? No. I did not. But I DID give in to the temptation to say, "It's just rain!" The wee ones are home from school today while folks try to clean up and the waters recede some. And as a result I have decided that Gilbert Godfrey will forever be banned from this house. They were chilling out watching Thumbelina and of course he does the voice of some beetle in the movie. A - that's grating enough. But then B came down. Everything they said had that shrill nasaly whine of his even if they weren't trying to. It was like some subliminal something crawled into their voice box and MADE them talk like that. I wanted to stab my ears with the potato peeler. No more Mr. Godfrey. Even typing his name makes my head throb.And of course with everyone home, I'm all out of whack. I walked around in a circle in the kitchen this morning completely unable to even think about what I was doing much less get anything accomplished. That definitely added to the headache factor.The sun has finally decided to let us know that it didn't burn out completely so I might try to venture to the grocery store to get some brown sugar for some caramel crunch mix. But that would involve getting out of my jammies. Hmmmm...I wonder if it's worth it.[...]

Update on The Project (and The Poll)


I know you have been waiting for it all week so let me put an end to the suspense. (Don't you love how optimistic I am that you all really care?!)

Yes, I finally finished Pygmalion (and the two penance reads) (image) last night. The two penance reads were Major Barbara and The Doctor's Dillema (original George Bernard Shaw plays). I never realized that Mr. Shaw wrote morality plays. You know the ones that are supposed to make you question right and wrong? Well, these two plays were very fraught with questions. Major Barbara posed questions about war and business (timely wouldn't you say?) and The Doctor's Dillema came around to the power of the medical profession (also a timely read). At least for me they did. I'm sure other people would read them and find something completely different. But that's the beauty of books, don't you think? Everyone can get something completely different from the same pages.

So now I get to move on to a fluffer. And since The Today Show has been taunting me with clues about The Lost Symbol all week and Dan Brown has been on every entertainment show for the last week and since I saw the awesome poster at B&N a few weeks ago, I think we know what book is up next. It's sitting on my end table daring me to neglect my children all day so that I can get started. But I will not! I will be steadfast and stick to my plan of reading before bed. I will. I will.

This is going to be tough!

I will say though that having a really great fluffer in the wings is good motivation for wading through the classics. And I have to say that I did actually enjoy G.B. Shaw's plays. They were rough but I enjoyed them.

And now...The Poll. We need to name The Projects. I think we have a few good titles in the hopper so it's up to you to vote on the best one. I'll be putting the poll for The Zoo Project up (image) over there so make sure you hit that up and express your opinion there too.

So without further ado...(drum roll please)...your choices are...
Lavatory Library
The Potty Pages
Blue Water Book Challenge
The Reading Bowl
The Bathroom Bookshelf

Told you they were good! So pop up to the poll at the top of the left column and vote. I'll let you know the outcome during next weekend's update!

How to Feed Mom Guilt


I'm pregnant with Mom Guilt this evening. Ha! You thought I was announcing that I was pregnant?! You ain't from these parts are ya?No, I'm just being over run with Mom Guilt tonight and I need to vent it.I sit and watch my friends' children excel in literacy and extracurriculars and pretty much everything they put their little hands to. And then I look at my first month of school.Weeks one and two: had almost daily e-mails and phone conferences with boy's teachers to deal with behavior issues.Week three: get the letter that #1 girl needs to be referred for help with literacy because she may be demonstrating signs of dyslexia and they want to get her help as quickly as possible.Week three: also get referral paperwork to get boy into speech therapy which we knew was coming but still...Week four (that's this week): realize hours after the children have gone to bed that I have completely forgotten to work with #1 girl on her site words for this week and her address which she is supposed to have memorized in the next two weeks. Parent conferences are two weeks away and I feel like a big old flop.But then I sat on my bed and I read books with them and they hugged me super close and didn't want to stop. They crawled in their beds and we all said it together:Good night.I love you!And when you wake up in the morningI'll love you even more.I have to keep reminding myself that I have to give to them from every area. I have to play as much as I work. I have to listen as much as I talk. And I have to get some sleep.Mom Guilt sucks up exhaustion like a dog following behind a cookie eating toddler. She'll be fine. She may have to work harder and I'll have to be more patient; but she'll be fine. And eventually he'll meet someone who speaks his language, right? In the meantime, I'm looking forward to morning.*************It's morning and I think the boy hacked my blogger and read this post.Two hours into school and the school murse called to ask me to come get him. He has had another potty accident and is having a melt down about cleaning himself up.I got there and he looked up at me from red ringed teary eyes and a drippy nose and gasped out, "I missed you Mommy. Did you miss me?"What do you do? You know that he acted inappropriately and that he needs to have some kind of punishment. You waver because you SHOULD send him back to class and not give him what he wanted in the first place. And then he melts down at the very thought and you see the exhaustion in his face. He slept a full night last night but he was just "off" this morning when you got him up.I resigned myself to bringing him home and he is spending the day in his room in "solitary." But we had a long talk about how I DO miss him when he's at school but that just makes me that much happier to see him when he gets home. And I want him to get smart and learn all kinds of stuff so he can teach me and he can't do that from home. He needs to go to school. He cried because he could see my dissapointment which of course ripped my heart out.And Mom Guilt gorged on the whole scenario because now I am questioning AGAIN if I sent him to school too soon. Maybe he just wasn't ready yet. Jane, stop this crazy thing called ...... Parenting. (Bonus points if you can name that movie.)[...]

Just How Long are you Going to be In There?


If you read along with the Naming of the Project Post comments, you saw that "Lavatory Library" has some support. And I'm not against the idea per se. But I need to explain a little quirk that I have. Yes, another one! Get over it; it's my blog. I can be as quirky as I want!

I can't read in the bathroom.

And yes, I meant "can't;" not "won't."

There are several reasons. The first is pretty straight forward. I'm a mom. IF I get to use the bathroom by myself ever, I am only uninterrupted for a maximum of 45 seconds. I can squeeze out 15 minutes uninterrupted in the shower, but how am I supposed to read a book in there? Something tells me that I'm not going to even get a full paragraph read in 45 seconds.

And then you get to my real problem with reading in the bathroom. I don't like the bathroom. I(image) don't stay in there any longer than I have to which makes the title of this blog incredibly hysterical if you really think about it. I don't do baths because I hate the bathtub. And I'm not being specific to MY bathroom or my particular bathtub. I don't like to soak. Gives me the willies just thinking about it.

I certainly don't understand the notion of reading while on the throne! What in the world are you doing that you can sit there that long?! And remind me not to come in behind you when you've been at it for a full chapter or more. Nope! Sorry. Gotta get in there; do my thing and get out.

I'm lava-phobic (I made that up. Isn't it a cool word?) to the point that I have a problem reading books to my children when they are trying to potty. Which may explain why potty training has been such an issue for our house. Mom hates the loo. I love the loo. I must be a freak. Therefore I should develop some outlandish unfounded fear of the porcelain alter and avoid it at all costs.

Geeze. There are so many ways available to a mother to scar her children now a days.

But I digress. So again, I'm not against the Lavatory Library but don't expect me to actually read "on location." Can't do it. Can't even carry a book BY the bathroom door. Makes me get a little gaggy.

Keep brainstorming people! It doesn't have to have any link to the blog if that helps at all. In the meantime I'll be wrestling with Mr. George Bernard Shaw and his plays. This is definitely doing penance for not reading the original Pygmalion.

I Can't just Keep Calling it "The Project"


I just (sniff, sniff) finished Marley & Me (honk and snots). I'll admit that even before seeing the movie, you know how the book is going to end. It doesn't make it any less emotional or gut wrenching. And I still love the story and relive my own life with a faithful dog while reading it.

So now it is on to Pygmalion. Which by the way may be my first cheat, but in my defense I didn't know I was cheating. George Bernard Shaw is definitely a classic author, right? So how was I to know that he pilfered Pygmalion from a guy named Ovid? Maybe eventually I'll get back to the "real" Pygmalion but for now I'll do penance for my cheat by reading two more of Mr. Shaw's plays right after Pygmalion (which is only 137 pages long).

In the meantime, I need some help. I can't just keep calling this "The Project." It has no flair. No ring. And now that I'm ready to launch the child friendly version, I really feel impressed to have a nice catchy name for "The Project." Hopefully one that can be tweaked to fit a family version too.

Leave me your ideas in the comments. Beg your friends for help. Pimp my post anywhere you can. I'll pick my faves and then we'll poll. Perhaps I'll even put a copy of a book from "The Project" on the line and the winning name will get a little present in the mail. Maybe Julie & Julia since it kicked the whole thing off? We'll see. Start brainstorming people because I can't work with "The Project" - it's just not going to keep me going for a year.

It Goes by Many Names


Certain people call it Blog Fart Friday. The really classy ones anyway. I think The Mom, Jen at Cheaper than Therapy calls it Friday Fragments (but what does she know about class?). I should probably call my Car Rider Crumbs since all this stuff came up while I was sitting in the car rider line reminding Munch 4,862,973 times that we can't go home until we pick up the big guys.

Anyway, what ever you call it, the concept is simple. This is the randomness that couldn't be stretched into a full post even by me - the self proclaimed Queen of Fluffy Filler.

There is something about finding a recipe online or in some obscure cookbook and having the courage to tweak it to your own signature. Almost like vandalizing a neighbor's house on Halloween (not that I would know). There's always the chance that something will go wrong or someone will drive by and catch you. But in cooking it's the chance that a spice will go sideways on you or will be one of those "strengthens as it cooks" or "dried and ground is not the same as fresh grated" spices. And the whole world suddenly knows that you were the one who messed with the standard. And they never eat at your house again.

More proof that I am NOT a good person. I will not flash my headlights to warn people of the cop who is about to catch them blatantly speeding in a school zone. Call it tough love or discipline. But for the sake of my children, their classmates, and the school bus drivers, I want their happy lead feet to get busted.

I'm thinking that a lifestyle tweaking may be in order. Writing and reading into the wee hours of the night is leading to a disastrous home and a heavy dependence on caffeine and Hershey bars. At my current investment level, I should own Pennsylvania and Brazil by Christmas but they'll be buried under unfolded laundry and dirty mugs with coffee reheat rings.

As if having Facebook and e-mail on my Crackberry wasn't bad enough. Dummy me decided that I should add Twitter Berry to my repertoire. Stupid little blinking red light.

I forgot how much I love NPR. The music makes me feel smart; the personalities have sweet mellow voices and the news is actually pretty close to neutral in its politics. It's like a soothing oasis in the middle of media gone mad.

Perhaps I've Found my Project


But don't fret Fer and Sissy. I know you love the quirky randomness of The Bowl and the Project won't impact it too terribly much.

See Sissy turned me on to Goodreads, and since I managed to work my way through Julie & Julia fairly easily I thought I might put the two together. It's important for an aspiring writer to expose themselves to different styles of writing, right? So I am going to start reading for myself more.
I know. It sounds like it should be easy. But I'm setting some rules for myself. I only get to have 2 "fluff" books before I dive into a classic. And when I say classic I mean those books that my English teachers always wanted me to read but that I couldn't force myself to wade through.

Now with Julie & Julia past me I am moving on to "fluff" #2 - Marley & Me. I expect it to be a pretty short read since I've already seen the movie. I'm one chapter into the book and is proving to be pretty easy reading. Part of me is delighted about this but the other half of me is dreading it. If Marley & Me goes too quickly I'll be staring down Pygmalion sometime next week. Why do I feel like it's not going to be My Fair Lady at all? Why do I feel like the horse race scene is going to be like wading through mud even though Audrey Hepburn carried it off like lightning? And I have a feeling there will be no Rex Harrison singing in the background.

In any case I'm sure I'm going to need your help. I only have 49 books on my "to read" list and those are almost entirely "fluff." So I need to know what your favorite classics are. I'll let all of you play by the opposite rules. If you can share 2 classics that you think I should read, I'll let you throw a fluff recommendation at me.

My goal? I'm not sure. I want to see how many books I can read by my next blogoversary. I think I can average ABOUT a book a week (depending on how long and dry they are) so that would put me at about 50 books. Anybody else up for the challenge? I might even start a second challenge over at The Zoo to help promote families reading together. But let's see if I can get this one underway first.

So here is your mission: 1) Suggest some great classics that I just HAVE to read. 2)Take the challenge!

Do you accept?!

So Now What?!


Last week when I ventured out on my "Why" posts I was really just trying to sort out my brain and determine what my motivations really were for writing and obsessing about writing and losing sleep over writing. And I think I came to the conclusion that it is one thing that I am very passionate about.

But what do you do with a passion when you find it? Of course you exercise it but if it is to turn into anything you have to focus it, right? Which brings me to the next step in my journey. How do I want to focus my writing? Do I stick to social and political commentary and hope for an lifestyle and opinion slot in a newspaper one day down the road? Do I take a twist to the inspirational and start tailoring my bits and baubles into a devotional for the harried mother - a thought that flitted into my head randomly in the middle of church last week. Do I steer it full speed into humor and hope that there are people who get me?

This is where I envy Julie. She may have picked up her project on a whim but she had a goal in mind. She knew that when she got to the end of the cookbook she would have completed her project.

I don't have a goal. I don't have a target. I'm a little lost here and I'm not sure exactly what to do about it. So I turn to you, my 6 loyal readers (yeah! I think we added two recently!). Of the pieces I have written, which ones resonate? Which do you prefer?

Don't think that just because you weigh in on one, I'm going to turn the whole boat to your shore. I need a little more whimsy than that. I'm just wondering what works.

Oh and good news for all of you. I am almost finished with Julie and Julia so hopefully this whole soul searching phase will be over soon. I should probably warn you that Marley and Me is up next and I'm thinking that that one could go any number of ways.

A Respectful Counterpost: Reflections on High School


Kadi (aka The Innkeeper) from Womb at the Innsane just put up a post that got my wheels going. Instead of hijacking her comments and starting a great feud with anyone I thought I would attempt a respectful counter post here. I know! A respectful counterpost?! Who knew that could happen in the blogosphere!!

Kadi is reflecting on high school today and posed a lot of questions. The one that is sticking with me is the question of why administrators and teachers aren't doing more to foster character and encourage grades and the bigger picture over the popularity contests and cliques.

(image) I was the Invisible Girl in high school. I kept my nose to the grindstone and I really couldn't have cared less if the popular people noticed me or not. When you are popular in history class because you actually prepared for the current events quiz, you really don't expect to be popular for much else. I had friends and I dated. It wasn't like I was completely invisible. But the rest wasn't important to me.

My parents made sure that I knew that my grades were what was going to get me through college. My parents made sure that they fostered civic responsibility in me and showed me that it would be as much fun for me as it was for the people I was serving. It wasn't important because my parents reminded me at home that there was life after high school.

In today's day and age, I think teachers and administrators have enough on their plates with shrinking budgets and metal detectors at the doors. I think they have enough disengaged parents who expect them to teach their children proper manners and behavior standards, that they really couldn't care less who is popular and who is a geek.

So I guess my response to Kadi's post is this. It's time for parents to be parents. The garbage in high school is going to happen. But if we as parents show our children where the true worth is and if we push them to rise above it (even if it means being an "outcast"), perhaps our children will not be the high schoolers of the adult world who have to put others down to lift themselves up. Perhaps they will be the civic servants of tomorrow who don't need people to look at them and give them ovations for them to make the world a better place.