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2626. I Want to Know …

Is there a food that you hated as a child but now love?

Here’s a little game to amuse you while you think about the question. :D

Hangman


3 Comments on I Want to Know …, last added: 9/29/2007
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2627. Saturday Photo Hunt - Original

PSHunt
This week’s theme: Original

This is an original business card I came up with for my blog. I haven’t ordered any yet - I’m still toying with the idea of even handing out blog cards at all. What about you? Would any of you hand out cards advertising your blog?

Blog Business Card 1
Grab the Scavenger Hunt code.
Photo Theme. Join the blogroll. Visit participants.


Win a FREE book at writefromkaren.com
NOW!!

5 Comments on Saturday Photo Hunt - Original, last added: 9/29/2007
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2628. Technology: A Mom’s Best Friend.

I’m on the road 45 minutes every afternoon. I leave the house at about 2:50 every day and head up to MK’s school. We have a great system worked out – he exits the school, walks down the sidewalk and I usually arrive before he hits the end of the school property. I flip on my hazard lights, stop, pick him up, and then we’re off to pick up GD and his friend, J. This works out great because I never have to spend time being stuck in the school parking lot. We then head out to pick up GD and J.

We usually arrive at GD’s school at about 3:02. I have just enough time to pull into the tennis court parking lot and park before I see GD and J. walking toward me. There hasn’t been a day go by that I haven’t been a bit surprised to see GD – that boy seems to grow another inch every time I see him. And I’m often thinking to myself, “Exactly WHEN did my oldest child become a man again?”

It usually takes me about five (sometimes ten!) minutes to navigate away from GD’s school. And it makes me extremely nervous to drive around GD’s school. For those of you that don’t know, GD is in high school. Which means we’re surrounded by hotshot kids who pull daredevil stunts and spinouts to impress their peers. This also means, these kids aren’t really paying attention to the other drivers around them, which means that adults like me, REALLY have to pay attention to everything and everyone around them. In addition to these crazy kid drivers, there are hundreds of other kids walking down sidewalks, crossing the street, and generally goofing off and not paying attention to the traffic around them. Considering this kid circus, I’m not sure, quite frankly, if I will even allow the boys TO drive to school whenever they get their licenses because of the insane, and crazy, traffic/kids/distractions.

I usually breathe a sigh of relief when we exit the school property and we’ve cleared the bottleneck traffic. We then head to J’s house to drop him off. The kids are usually pretty quiet during this ride – decompressing after a long day, I suppose. But when they do talk, I find myself surprised, and a little shocked, by the persona they put on whenever they’re around this friend, or other friends. I understand that they are boys and have to slip into “male, macho mode” but I can’t say I’m always happy about it.

As a result of this “attitude”, I find myself assuming a certain air, too – the cool mom persona. I ask the right questions, I talk the right talk and this usually opens the boys up a bit and they start joking around and being, well, boys.

I have to admit though, that I am always a bit relieved when we drop J. off. I can almost feel the atmosphere dissipate as they once again turn into the boys I know, love, and feel comfortable around.

This is when we really start to talk. This is when it’s safe for me to ask about their days and of course ask THE DREADED question that every teenager hates to hear. The “H” question.

“So, do you guys have any homework tonight?”

MK is usually very good at telling me everything. He’ll go in-depth about what he needs to do and often times even gives me commentaries on his thoughts about said homework. You know, adjectives like, “dumb, stupid, hard, easy,” etc, etc.

But GD. He’s a different strand of testosterone. His answers usually consist of, “Yes,” “No,” “I don’t know,” “I don’t care,” or my personal favorite, “I don’t want to talk about school. I was just there for six hours. No more.”

Poor guy. His life is so tough. *rolls eyes*

And last night wasn’t any different. We dropped J. off, we breathed a sigh of relief and assumed the roles I’m comfortable with.

“So, how was your day?”

MK: “Good.” His standard answer for everything these days.

GD: *grunt*

“Do you guys have any homework?”

MK: “Social Studies.”

“And that’s it?”

“Yeah.”

“GD, what about you?”

“Actually, no. I don’t have any homework tonight.”

I actually blinked. Whoa. Back up. Did the boy say more than one word? My first thought was, “I need to blog this.” And yes, that’s a pretty pathetic first thought. *grin* My second thought was, “Great. Things should be quiet this evening.”

*sigh* I counted my peace moments before they happened, I’m afraid.

So, we get home. The boys immediately raid the cupboards, looking for their mid-afternoon, before dinner snacks. They each eat a bowl of cereal, surf the kitchen computer a bit, laugh about some stupid YouTube videos and then head off to their rooms to relax and unwind.

MK gets his stuff out of his backpack and starts working on his homework.

Excellent. Mom is pleased with her youngest son.

GD turns on his computer and begins catching up on his gaming forum that he haunts, er, visits quite a bit.

Me? I catch up on emails, put a flash window together of a school’s construction process, update some scholarship information on a high school website and then settle in to check the boys grades online.

I click over to the STI Home + website, put in my sons’ student ID’s and passwords and look at their grades.

Hold up. What’s this? I’m looking at MK’s grades.

Health: C-
Band: A
Reading: C+
English: C+
Social Studies: B
Science: A-
Math: A-

Everything looks great. But what the heck happened to his Health grade? He was making an A in that class. So, I click on the handy-dandy little Grade Book link and discover, to my horror, that MK did not turn in his vocabulary assignment, worth 29 points, and flunked his chapter test.

*blink*

WTF?

“MK!” I yelled. “Could you come here for a minute?”

The boys have learned to dread this question.

“What.”

“Can you tell me what happened in Health?” I point to the screen, specifically the Health grade drop.

His eyes bug and then his cheeks turn a bright red.

“What happened to the Ch. 4 vocab assignment? Why is it showing a big, fat zero?”

“Um …” long pause, “because I didn’t do it?”

“I’m sorry. But that’s a question. Did you, or did you not, do the assignment?”

“Uh …” long pause, “no.”

“And why not?”

“Because I was feeling overwhelmed, okay??”

I studied him for long moments. I know this child and I know him well. “How long have you known about this vocab assignment, MK?”

“Uh …” long pause, “a week.” This last said in a tiny, humble voice.

I simply nodded. I told you I knew the boy. “So, let me get this straight. All of those times you told me you did not have homework, you actually had this vocab assignment hanging over your head?”

He nodded.

“I see. So, you chose not to do it. You chose to blow off 29 points. And apparently,” I pointed to his test score, “you chose not to read the chapter and flunked the test. You went from an A, all the way to a C-. This means, that if you blow off the next assignment, or if you bomb it, you’ll sink into the D range. And you know what that means, right?”

He nodded. Our agreement with the boys is this: If they get even one D, or God forbid, one F on their grade card, they lose their computers, video games AND TV. They go technology cold turkey.

“Why did you blow off this 29 point assignment?”

“I told you, I was feeling overwhelmed.”

“I understand you’re under a lot of stress, MK, but guess what dude. This is real life. And this is what you have to learn – there will be times when you’re stressed and running out of time. And that’s when you really have to start thinking ahead and managing your time more wisely.”

He nodded.

“This is exactly what happened last semester. You know this, right?”

Again, he nodded.

“And your dad and I made it ABUNDANTLY CLEAR what our expectations for this school year was, right?”

Nod.

“Okay. Then because you chose to blow this assignment off and your grade dropped into the C range as a result, your play time has been reduced to three hours a night. Got it?”

Nod.

Okay, end of lecture. Though I could have gone on and on. This is something I’m learning as a parent – to shut the heck up and move on.

Next, I check GD’s grades.

Health: B+
Science: B-
English: A
Art: C-

WTF? Wait a sec, back up a minute. Why did GD’s Art grade drop from an A to a C-?

Again, the dreaded question, “GD!” I yelled. “Could you come here for a minute?”

He slinks into the room. The boy doesn’t walk anymore, he slinks.

“What the heck happened to your art grade?” I pointed to the C-. And then I clicked on the handy-dandy Grade Book link. Have I mentioned I LOVE this new technology the district implemented this year?

“Whoa, dude. Where are the points for your Mona Lisa project? It says it was worth 100 points and I’m seeing, wait, is that right?” I leaned in closer to the monitor. “Is that a ZERO I see for your points??”

GD’s face paled.

“Why didn’t you do the Mona Lisa project?”

“I’m not finished with it yet.”

“I see. When was it due?”

“She said she would take it tomorrow.”

“So, it’s not due until tomorrow?”

“Yeah.”

“Sorry Charlie, but I don’t believe you.”
“What?! Why?” And of course, he starts getting defensive.

“Because I have a hard time believing that your teacher would record something in the grade book if it wasn’t even due yet. Now the truth. Was it due today?”

He shrugged and finally admitted that yes, it was due today. I’m not sure what made me more angry, that he lied to me, yet again, or that he blew off a 100 point assignment.

“Were you planning on doing something about this?”

Again, he shrugged. And his apparent disinterest starts to tick me off.

“I’m disappointed, GD. You were doing so well. I thought this year was going to be different.”

“It will be!” His shout is so loud that I actually blink.

“Really? Not from where I’m sitting.”

“It’s hard, okay? I hate art. I suck at it.”

“So, you’re giving up?”

He shrugged again.

“Life is hard, GD. Get used to it. Have you even started the assignment?”

“Yeah, but I hate it.”

“She doesn’t expect you to be Picasso.”

“Huh?”

“Never mind. She doesn’t expect you to be really good, son. Just your best effort. Well, hey. If you choose to blow this off, then you’ll suffer the consequences. So, it’s either wimp out of a hard assignment or lose your stuff. Your choice.”

And then I simply shut up. Which is a MONUMENTAL thing for me. Trust me on this.

He ended up finishing the assignment. He did start over, several times, and he ended up with a very nice project, if I say so myself. The assignment was to draw something in the same pose as Mona Lisa. First, he attempted to draw a Jesus Mona Lisa. Which I thought was rather clever, quite frankly. Why? Because given some manly characteristics, it COULD look like Jesus (or what we think Jesus might look like). But he scratched that idea because he thought that was a cop-out – it would have been too easy to do something like that and he didn’t feel 100% comfortable poking a little fun at Jesus. I was very proud of his decision, and told him so. His next attempt was to draw Homer Simpson. Which he did a nice job of doing, but he wasn’t happy with it. So then he drew the character from Metroid Prime. When I questioned his choice of subjects, he assured me the art teacher said it was okay to draw video game characters. Hey, I have to trust the boy’s judgment at some point, so I patted him on the back, told him I was proud of him for making the effort and reminded him to please turn in his assignment today.

So, we’ll see how the boys’ grades change after they turn in their late assignments. And I hope they remember this lesson and stay on top of things.

In the meantime, I have the handy-dandy technology database to keep tabs on them.

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3 Comments on Technology: A Mom’s Best Friend., last added: 9/30/2007
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2629. Friday Craft - Corn Husk Dolls

Next time you’re shucking corn for dinner, don’t throw away the husks — dry them in the sun for one to three days, and you’ll have the makings for a corn-husk doll.

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CRAFT MATERIALS:
Dried corn husks or tamale wrappers (available at grocery stores)
Twine or string
Scissors
Pipecleaners

Time needed: Under 1 Hour
1. Soak the dried corn husks (approximately 20 per doll) in warm water for about 10 minutes to soften them, then blot them dry. Next, gather twenty 10-inch lengths of twine and tie an overhand knot at one end.

2. Trim the husks so that they are each about 8 inches long. Then sandwich the knotted twine between 4 or so husks and tightly tie another piece of twine around the bundle just above the overhand knot.

3. Make the doll’s arms by rolling up a pipe cleaner in a husk (this will make the arms posable). Roll up 2 more husks (without pipe cleaners). Then braid the three together and tie the ends with twine.

4. Take the bundle from Step 2 and peel down the husks (as you would a banana) to create a head and expose the hair. Tightly tie the bundle where the neck should be, then insert the arms.

5. Braid together 3 rolled husks (without a pipecleaner) for each leg. Then use 2 of the inner husk ends to tie the tops of the legs to the dolls. Trim the remaining husk ends an inch below where the legs are attached.

6. Snugly wrap a single husk around the doll’s hips, tying the ends together to secure it. Trim the knot tails.

7. Now it’s time to dress the doll. If making a girl, go right to Step 8. For a boy, create leggings by wrapping a single husk around each leg and tightly tying twine around the very top. Then fringe the leggings by making a series of short snips along the outer sides.

8. For a skirt, sandwich the doll’s body from the hips up with a few husks and secure them to the waist with twine. Then peel down the husks. For a girl doll, leave the skirt long; for a boy, trim 1 1/2 inches from the waist. Finally, drape husks over the shoulders. Crisscross the ends in front and in back of the doll and sash them around the waist with twine.

2 Comments on Friday Craft - Corn Husk Dolls, last added: 9/30/2007
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2630. Flash From the Past - Pass the Floppy Hat

Floppy Hat Collage

Me, the boys, my mom, sister and her boys, and my brother and his new wife all went to Silver Dollar City several years ago. My mom doesn’t sweat. So, she has to be very careful when she’s out in the heat so she doesn’t get too hot. This particular day, she opted to wear her floppy hat. And everyone else HAD to try it on. I have no idea what the fascination was with this hat, but there you have it.

And notice MK has a whistle around his neck. There’s a reason for that - he doesn’t pay attention and doesn’t know a stranger.

And personally? I think my brother looks like a drag queen.

S’ok bro, I love you anyway. *wink*

0 Comments on Flash From the Past - Pass the Floppy Hat as of 9/28/2007 1:16:00 AM
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2631. Deadline: October 4th

This is a sticky note - please scroll down for current entries. Thanks!

Listen to my audio explanation.

(Click on the arrow to play)

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Yep, it’s that time once again - time to give a book away for no good reason!

So how does this work, you ask? Here’s the short version, I’m participating in the program and would love to buy someone a book of their choice ($15 max). If you would like to put your name into the pot and win a free book, please enter your name in the comment section below. If I draw your name October 4th, then I’ll buy you a book!

Winner will be announced on Write From Karen after 11:00 a.m. (U.S. central time) October 4th.

And … if any of you are feeling generous and would like to buy ME a book, I’ve included a link to my Amazon.com wish list to make it easy for you. :D

Easy-smeasy, right?

Want to learn more? Read the long version.

Please help spread the word! Copy the code below and paste it into your blog today!

Banner Code:

Win a FREE book at writefromkaren.com

To include this banner (130 pixels wide) in your post or sidebar, copy and paste this code:

<a href="http://take2max.com/blog/?page_id=760"><img
src="http://take2max.com/blog/wp-images/bafab-badge.jpg" alt="Win a FREE book at writefromkaren.com" /></a>

5 Comments on Deadline: October 4th, last added: 9/28/2007
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2632. On the Road


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2 Comments on On the Road, last added: 9/27/2007
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2633. A Mom’s Revenge

Will Work for Food

Don’t even think I won’t do this with my boys.

Boys, you know me. I’ll do it. And I’ll do it with camera in hand. So do your homework. You’ve been warned.

3 Comments on A Mom’s Revenge, last added: 9/28/2007
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2634. Thursday Thirteen - Expanding Your Vocabulary #2

Thirteen Words I Learned This Week

Maybe I should have titled this entry: Words that Make me Feel Smart. :D

1. diablerie • \dee-AH-bluh-ree\ • noun
: black magic : sorcery
: a representation in words or pictures of black magic or of dealings with the devil b : demon lore
: mischievous conduct or manner

Example Sentence:
“Gekic can be a dazzling pianist full of diablerie when he’s in the mood….” (James Roos, The Miami Herald, March 24, 2002)

2. boondoggle • \BOON-dah-gul\ • noun
: a braided cord worn by Boy Scouts as a neckerchief slide, hatband, or ornament
: a wasteful or impractical project or activity often involving graft

Example Sentence:
The editorial claims that the new multimillion-dollar sports complex is a boondoggle and a frivolous waste of tax dollars.

3. rococo • \ruh-KOH-koh\ • adjective
: of or relating to an artistic style especially of the 18th century characterized by fanciful curved asymmetrical forms and elaborate ornamentation
: excessively ornate or intricate

Example Sentence:
“While the lobby appears almost rococo, rooms are a study in spare, clean elegance. . ..” (Jeff Morgan, Wine Spectator, October 15, 1996)

4. milieu • \meel-YUR\ • noun
: the physical or social setting in which something occurs or develops : environment

Example Sentence:
The quiet suburban neighborhood was within walking distance of the elementary school and provided the perfect milieu for raising a family.

5. ablution • \uh-BLOO-shun\ • noun
: a the washing of one’s body or part of it (as in a religious rite) b plural : the act or action of bathing
2 plural, British : a building housing bathing and toilet facilities on a military base

Example Sentence:
The river that flowed past the campsite had a secluded nook where we could take care of our ablutions in privacy.

6. sidereal • \sye-DEER-ee-ul\ • adjective
*1 : of or relating to stars or constellations
2 : measured by the apparent motion of the stars

Example Sentence:
Few astronomers have witnessed the sidereal phenomenon of a supernova.

7. augur • \AW-gur\ • verb
1 : to foretell especially from omens
*2 : to give promise of : presage

Example Sentence:
California’s unusually cold winter does not augur well for the citrus crop.

8. panoply • \PAN-uh-plee\ • noun
1 : a full suit of armor
2 : something forming a protective covering
*3 : a magnificent or impressive array

Example Sentence:
Jeff’s house was furnished with a panoply of up-to-date home entertainment devices.

9. corrigendum • \kor-uh-JEN-dum\ • noun
: an error in a printed work discovered after printing and shown with its correction on a separate sheet

Example Sentence:
Not only was the document itself full of errors, but the corrigenda included with it had mistakes as well!

10. inveigh • \in-VAY\ • verb
: to protest or complain bitterly or vehemently : rail

Example Sentence:
The senator inveighed against the new FDA regulations, claiming they allow loopholes for manufacturers.

11. bucolic • \byoo-KAH-lik\ • adjective
1 : of or relating to shepherds or herdsmen : pastoral
*2 : relating to or typical of rural life

Example Sentence:
While sitting in rush hour traffic, Cecilia often daydreamed about living in a little house in a quiet, bucolic setting.

12. interstice • \in-TER-stus\ • noun
*1 : space that intervenes between things; especially : one between closely spaced things
2 : short space of time between events

Example Sentence:
Paula found a bundle of love letters tucked in an interstice in the wall, where they must have been hidden by one of the house’s former occupants.

13. whammy • \WAM-ee\ • noun
1 a : a supernatural power bringing bad luck b : a magic curse or spell : jinx, hex
*2 : a potent force or attack; specifically : a paralyzing or lethal blow

Example Sentence:
“The nation’s working poor have been hit by another whammy,” said the senator, referring to a recent tax hike.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

tags: thursday thirteen

5 Comments on Thursday Thirteen - Expanding Your Vocabulary #2, last added: 9/27/2007
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2635. Three Word Wednesday - A Smell to Remember

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Bone, at If You Only Read One Blog This Year, has challenged us to write a story using these three words: Caught, Eager, Perfume

Here’s what I came up with:

______________________________________

A Smell to Remember

Listen to the audio version

(Click the arrow to play)

He pressed his ear to the door and listened to the cackle of various girls as they walked by the doom room. He licked his lips in anticipation as he pictured all sorts of females, tall, short, black, white, blondes, brunettes and redheads, walk down the hallway. He allowed his imagination to run wild and conjured up various modes of dress, or undress. Those visuals caused his breathing to quicken. It really didn’t matter to him what they looked like, not really – he loved them all.

But there was one in particular that he continued to dream about at night. He held her scarf up to his nose and breathed deeply. Her scent was simply intoxicating. Her smell went beyond the sexy, musky scent of perfume, there was something more, something he couldn’t quite put his finger on, but it drove him mad. He had to get closer. He had to define, and analyze, her very essence.

His grip tightened on the expensive silk scarf and he held his breath as he sensed a presence just on the other side of that thin, wooden door.

“Is Julia back from class yet?”

He jumped at the girl’s voice. She was close, so very close. He could open the door and simply touch her. The thought excited him and he clamped his lips shut to quell his heavy breathing.

“I don’t think so. But she should be back any time. I think her class gets out at 8:00.”

He glanced at the monster clock on Julia’s bedside table. The blood red digits read 7:56.

“Crap.”

“What’s wrong?”

He heard the other girl pause just outside the door. Though he didn’t recognize the voices, he pictured what the girls might look like in his mind.

“I need to borrow her algebra notes.”

“Why weren’t you in class?”

The first girl giggled. Her voice came out low, mischievous. “Carl.”

“Ah. Say no more.”

He had no idea who the girls were talking about and suddenly, he didn’t care to hear anymore. He felt a surge of impatience tickle the back of his throat and he glanced at the clock once more.

7:57.

“Well anyway … if you catch Julia, tell her I’m looking for her?”

“Will do.”

“Cool. See you later.”

The girls separated and he exhaled in relief. He didn’t wish an audience when he talked to Julia.

He wound Julia’s scarf around his neck and leaned back against the door. He crossed his arms and idly looked around her room. He had been in Julia’s room so many times he knew the place blindfolded. Her closet was to his left. He had spent countless hours touching, and sniffing her clothing. In some far back corner of his mind, he knew his obsession with Julia was wrong, but he couldn’t help himself. There was something about her.

He smiled as he pictured her long reddish-brown hair. He loved the way the sunlight caressed the strands in late afternoon. He loved how it almost appeared copper in the early morning fog. He didn’t like it when she tied her hair back. It somehow felt wrong to harness all of that free-flowing beauty.

She had her hair tied back when they bumped into each other. It really had been a total accident. He had just left the Powell building and was thinking about how he would break into her dorm room that night to borrow her scarf when he turned a corner and there she had been. His fingers tightened around material at the memory.

“Oh!” She had exclaimed in surprise.

He had been so taken aback at actually being that close to her that he had been unable to say anything.

She had stood there, reshuffling her books and notebooks while waiting for him to say something.

He had nothing to say. He simply breathed her in.

She had begun to frown as the silence stretched into long, awkward seconds.

He could nothing but stare at her. He had never been this close to her before. Her skin … was perfect. Her lips were neither too thick, nor too thin. He had guessed her eyes were green, but he was wrong. They were light brown, with dark green flecks sprinkled around her iris.

“Um, excuse you.” Her voice was harsh, almost abrasive, and he had frowned because the voice didn’t match her outward beauty.

She had brushed past him. And he simply allowed her to escape.

She would not escape this time.

He glanced at the clock. 8:02. She would arrive any time. She always left class right on time. She would hurry back to her room, unload her books, change clothes, brush her long, beautiful hair, freshen her makeup and hurry back out to party with her friends.

He knew her routine. He had watched her many times from under her bed.

8:03 Where was she? He was eager to see her, to be around her, soak up her presence. He grasped both ends of the scarf and pulled. The thin material stretched and released more of Julia’s scent. He inhaled to appreciate the smell, and froze.

The hairs on the back of his neck stood straight up as he listened to a voice, a faint voice, in the hallway. He knew that voice.

He quickly moved to the other side of the room and plopped down on the pink and purple beanbag chair. He would act nonchalant. He would act like he belonged in her room. Indeed, after she got to know him, he WOULD belong in her room.

He crossed his ankles, assumed a casual pose and waited to be caught.

______________________________________

This short story was inspired by the movie “Perfume.” It’s a dark, rather disturbing, movie about obsession, murder, and the power of scent. Here’s a link to the movie trailer if you’re interested.

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5 Comments on Three Word Wednesday - A Smell to Remember, last added: 9/27/2007
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2636. More Awards

It never ceases to amaze me the blogger caliber that exists in bloggerland. There are some truly amazing people out there and I never would have known they existed if it wasn’t for blogging. Even though this might make me sound pathetic, I honestly DO view other bloggers as my friends - I simply don’t have anyone else in my life that I can attach that label to.

So, whenever someone nominates me for an award, I feel humbled and quite flabbergasted that one, anyone reads my blog to begin with and two, that anyone LIKES what I write.

THANK YOU to Laura for nominating me for the Blogging Star award.

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Laura is a new blogger, please welcome her to the world of blogging! This award was originated by a long-time blogger and friend, Skittles.

I didn’t know about this award until Musing pointed it out in a comment. It’s the Popular Parent Blogger award.

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And not only did I make it once, but I’m on the list again. Here are the ranking factors for a popular parent blogger award:

Ranking factors
The Popular Parent Bloggers ranking is based on:

* Technorati ranking
* Number of blogs linking to your blog
* Number of MyBlogLog community members
* Number of Bloglines subscribers
* Google PageRank (just for the heck of it)
* The number of comments received in a week (weighted most heavily; I picked the last week in August 2007 to make it all equal).

A huge thank you to Deb for the Out of this World award.

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Deb has three girls and her blog is full of interesting stories about her adorable girls. I enjoy Deb’s voice and I truly appreciate all of her visits and comments. Thanks Deb!!

I’m not sure thank you fully expresses what I’m feeling about all of this. Just know that I write from my heart and I try to be honest about my life, and with myself, as much as I can safely allow on the Internet. I truly appreciate each and every one of you and thank you from the bottom of my heart for expressing an interest in my world.

2 Comments on More Awards, last added: 9/26/2007
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2637. Wordless Wednesday - #41

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Want to play?

IMG_4128.jpg

I have to explain this photo. I took this picture in the parking lot during a library book sale. I have no idea what this trucker was thinking, but personally? I think the man has been on the road too long.

Poor little stuffed froggy.

5 Comments on Wordless Wednesday - #41, last added: 9/26/2007
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2638. Pick a Book, Any Book

Did you notice the BAFAB (Buy a Friend a Book) banner in the corner?

It’s time for another Buy A Friend a Book week! *points to corner banner* Are you hyperventilating!? I bet the bookworms are.

Yep, I’m going to randomly pick a reader out of a hat and send him/her a book of his/her choice from Amazon. No, no, not right now. The first week of October.

Okay wait, instead of explaining it all over again, just click over here and read more about it.

In the meantime, mark your calendars and be sure to come back September 28th and put your name in the comment “pot”. It’s not everyday someone offers to buy you a book for no good reason!

Please help spread the word! Copy the code below and paste it into your blog today!

Banner Code:

Win a FREE book at writefromkaren.com

To include this button (130 pixels wide) in your post or sidebar, copy and paste this code:

<a href="http://take2max.com/blog/?page_id=760"><img
src="http://take2max.com/blog/wp-images/bafab-badge.jpg" alt="Win a FREE book at writefromkaren.com" /></a>

1 Comments on Pick a Book, Any Book, last added: 9/25/2007
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2639. A Sample of the Hubs Playing

This is an example of some of my husband’s original music. Every instrument you hear in this song was generated by him. Most of them are from his keyboard, the drums are from him playing a small drum set, and of course, the guitar is all him. Listen carefully, there are a lot of neat chords from the string section. And don’t forget to listen to his guitar solo toward the end.

Can you tell I’m very proud of him?

This is called “Feel the Rain.”


(Click the arrow to play song)

You can find more of his original songs here.

2 Comments on A Sample of the Hubs Playing, last added: 9/25/2007
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2640. Home Late, Again?

Home Late

2 Comments on Home Late, Again?, last added: 9/25/2007
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2641. Reflections

From time to time, I’ll be recording thoughts and events from my childhood. These memories are prompted from the Reflections from a Mother’s Heart - Your Life Story in Your Own Words. I plan on filling this book out one of these days to pass onto my children. I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds the lives of our parents fascinating. It’s weird to think of my parents as children and it’s really fun to hear stories about their past, how they met, etc. If my children read about my past, perhaps they will understand me just a little better.

___________________________________

Describe your grandparents’ houses. Did you visit them often? Why or why not?

My grandparents consisted of my mom’s mom, and my dad’s parents. My mom’s father passed away when she was quite little and she never really knew him. My mom’s mom never remarried. (Which, growing up, I thought was sweet. That told me that she really loved my grandpa. And they are buried together today).

My mom’s mom, Grandma J., was a simple woman. I can only recall a few times she wore makeup and she lived in a small, humble home on the north side of town. Grandma J. always had hard candy lying around her house and I remember eating a lot of butterscotch candy disks over there. Grandma J.’s breath always smelled like coffee. And I sometimes wonder, to this day, if that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy coffee so much.

Grandma J.’s house consisted of three bedrooms, one bath, one living area and a dining/kitchen area. The front room was the guest room, the second bedroom also had a bed, but I seem to recall there being a lot of knick knacks and material in this room. Later, it housed my great-aunt L (who was a teacher in Ash Grove for many years). The back bedroom was where Grandma J. slept. I remember going through her costume jewelry and peeking behind the hanging curtain that served as her closet door. I don’t remember Grandma J.’s house having any carpet, but I could be wrong there. I do remember her living room though. The floors were extremely slick and me and my sister and brother used to slide across the floors in our socks.

Grandma J.’s backyard bled into the Christian college behind her and I remember sneaking onto the college campus and dreaming of someday graduating. I would stare at the students lugging numerous books around and wishing I could be as mature as they appeared to be. And they all looked so smart. I was not an overly smart child, I had to work very hard for all of my good grades, so I envied their confidence and apparent intelligence.

We visited Grandma J. quite a bit growing up. We used to hang out at her house and play with my cousins. I used to love to listen to my mom, Grandma J. and my aunt S. talk about sewing and crafts. I remember Grandma J. smiled a lot and had the warmest eyes. She passed away about five years ago. It was unexpected and I’ve never felt more sorry for my own mom during that time period. It was really tough seeing her go through that.

Grandma and Grandpa H. (G&G) are still very much with us. They are in their late 80’s, still living on their own together, and in the same house I remember from when I was a child. G&G have a funny relationship - my grandpa is very ornery and is constantly teasing my grandma. This in turn makes my grandma blush and wave him away in mock-impatience. I always get a kick out of watching them together.

G&G’s house consists of three bedrooms, living room, kitchen, one bath, and a basement that my grandpa blasted out himself AFTER the house was already there. He worked in demolition for years before retiring so he knew what he was doing. I still can’t imagine what poor grandma must have been thinking as various BOOMS went off beneath her feet.

We also visited G&G quite a bit while growing up. We spent a lot of time in the basement or in their back yard playing with toys that grandpa never failed to pull out for us whenever we visited. I remember spending every Christmas Eve over there, exchanging gifts, playing with my cousins, and snacking on delicious “goodies.”

Grandpa also has an interesting garage in the backyard where he has stored all of his tools and inventions. I remember playing in that garage a few times, but I didn’t like the greasy, mechanic smell of it, so avoided it most times.

As the years wore on, I visited my grandparents less and less. And now, I’m lucky if I see them once a year. Which is so sad considering I just live on the other side of town. I can’t really tell you why I haven’t seen them more, not because it’s a big secret or anything, but simply because I honestly don’t know why. I’ve always been a little standoffish with my family and I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps I was afraid of getting too close, too attached, because I knew they wouldn’t live forever and I wouldn’t be able to handle the loss. I don’t handle emotional grief very well - I never have.

I know I will (and do) regret not seeing my grandparents more. This lack of initiative, on my part, is one of the biggest regrets of my life.

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4 Comments on Reflections, last added: 9/25/2007
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2642. The Next Survivor Series

Six married men will be dropped on an island with one car and 3 kids each for six weeks. Each kid will play two sports and either take music or dance classes.

There is no fast food.

Each man must take care of his 3 kids; keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, complete science projects, cook, do laundry, and pay a list of “pretend” bills with not enough money.

In addition, each man will have to budget in money for groceries each week.

Each man must remember the birthdays of all their friends and relatives, and send cards out on time.

Each man must also take each child to a doctor’s appointment, a dentist appointment and a haircut appointment. He must make one unscheduled and inconvenient visit per child to the Urgent Care (weekend, evening, on a holiday or right when they’re about to leave for vacation). He must also make cookies or cupcakes for a social function.

Each man will be responsible for decorating his own assigned house,planting flowers outside and keeping it presentable at all times. The men will only have access to television when the kids are asleep and all chores are done.

Each father will be required to know all of the words to every stupid song that comes on TV and the name of each and every character on cartoons.

Each man will have to make an Indian hut model with six toothpicks, a tortilla and one marker; and get a 4 year old to eat a serving of peas.

Each man must adorn himself with jewellery, wear uncomfortable yet stylish shoes, keep their nails polished and eyebrows groomed. The men must try to get through each day without snot, spit-up or barf on their clothing.

During one of the six weeks, the men will have to endure severe abdominal cramps, back aches, and have extreme, unexplained mood swings but never once complain or slow down from other duties.

They must try to explain what a tampon is for when the 6-yr old boy finds it in the purse.

They must attend weekly school meetings, church, and find time at least once to spend the afternoon at the park or a similar setting.

He will need to read a book to the children each night without falling asleep, and then feed them, dress them, brush their teeth and comb their hair each morning by 7:00. They must leave the home with no food on their face or clothes.

A test will be given at the end of the six weeks, and each father will be required to know all of the following information: each child’s birthday, height, weight, shoe size, clothes size and doctor’s name.

Also the child’s weight at birth, length, time of birth, and length of labour, each child’s favourite colour, middle name, favourite snack, favourite song, favourite drink, favourite toy, biggest fear and what they want to be when they grow up.

They must clean up after their sick children at 2:00 a.m. and then spend the remainder of the day tending to that child and waiting on them hand and foot until they are better.

They must have a loving, age appropriate reply to, “You’re not the boss of me”.

The kids vote them off the island based on performance. The last man wins only if…he still has enough energy to be intimate with his spouse at a moment’s notice.

5 Comments on The Next Survivor Series, last added: 9/29/2007
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2643. Cheers

Three Cheers for Write From Karen!

What.

I totally did NOT promise her a new Barbie if she said that.

*koff*

2 Comments on Cheers, last added: 9/25/2007
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2644. Flash from the Past - A Boy and His Dog

A Boy and His Dog

This is MK and our dog, Skip. The boys wanted to name him Skip after watching this movie.

Skip was a full-blooded Jack Russell Terrier. And he was a handful. We were not prepared for that dog. The boys absolutely loved him, though.

We were going out for my birthday dinner when Skip got away from us, ran out into the road and got run over. The boys saw everything. It was terrible. And the jerks didn’t even stop, they just kept on driving. It was a very sad night and the boys learned, early on, what it was like to experience death and sadness.

We never got another dog.

2 Comments on Flash from the Past - A Boy and His Dog, last added: 9/22/2007
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2645. Preserve the Right to Read

Next week is important. Do you know why?

It’s Banned Book Week: September 24 - October 6

free-to-read

Banned Books Week (BBW) emphasizes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them.

BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom received a total of 546 challenges last year. A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. According to Judith F. Krug, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, the number of challenges reflects only incidents reported, and for each reported, four or five remain unreported.

The “10 Most Challenged Books of 2006” reflect a range of themes, and consist of the following titles:

* “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, for homosexuality, anti-family, and unsuited to age group;

* “Gossip Girls” series by Cecily Von Ziegesar for homosexuality, sexual content, drugs, unsuited to age group, and offensive language;

* “Alice” series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor for sexual content and offensive language;

* “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things” by Carolyn Mackler for sexual content, anti-family, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;

* “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison for sexual content, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;

* “Scary Stories” series by Alvin Schwartz for occult/Satanism, unsuited to age group, violence, and insensitivity;

* “Athletic Shorts” by Chris Crutcher for homosexuality and offensive language;

* “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky for homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;

* “Beloved” by Toni Morrison for offensive language, sexual content, and unsuited to age group; and

* “The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier for sexual content, offensive language, and violence.

Off the list this year, but on for several years past, are the “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain.

I’m proud to say that GD just finished “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee for his English class. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of the top 100 books challenged between 1990 - 2000. He didn’t particularly care for the book, but the mere fact that he had the freedom to read it is what makes this significant.

And that’s the point. Even though you may not agree with a book’s theme, plot, etc., doesn’t mean you have the right to ban it from other readers who may not feel the same way you do. And quite frankly? I wouldn’t have known about 3/4 of these books if it hadn’t been for the Banned Book list. So thank you - I now have more books to add to my TBR.

Censorship, in any form, is wrong.

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them. ”
— Joseph Alexandrovitch Brodsky

“Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.”—Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

0 Comments on Preserve the Right to Read as of 9/21/2007 3:49:00 AM
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2646. Friday’s Feast - #22

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Friday’s Feast: A Buffet for Your Brain

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Appetizer
What is your favorite type of art?

I like art like this; the subtle colors, the lone subject, the simple beauty … oh, who am I kidding, I have no idea what I’m talking about. I just like it, okay? :)

And that’s something that is sorely missing in our house - art. And not because we can’t find anything we like, oh contraire, it’s because we’re too cheap to pay a couple of hundred dollars for something. I love the stretched canvas but geez louise, it’s expensive stuff. And I realize artists need to be paid and it’s probably not all that expensive (again, what do I know about art), but we’re cheap and parting with our money is like pulling an abscessed molar - it’s tight and painful.

We currently don’t have anything on our walls. How pathetic, right? We (I) plan on hanging family pictures in the family room (duh), but I’m looking for something to hang in the living and dining rooms. Any suggestions? I really like art.com a lot and will most likely end up buying some posters from them and framing them (unless I come across a canvas I simply cannot live without.)

Where did you find the art for your walls? And do you have a lot of art hanging in your home?

Soup
When was the last time you got a free lunch (or breakfast or dinner)? Who paid for it?

Let’s see … free lunch, is there such a thing? *grin* Actually, the last time I received a free lunch was when my mom went back-to-school shopping with us. I had invited her along to dilute the boys’ whole “I HATE SHOPPING” mentality. And it worked. Their grumbles were muted and their complaints were mumbled under their breath as opposed to screamed at every person who walked by.

It was Chick-Fil-A and the boys had talked grandma into buying them a milkshake. Aren’t grandmas the coolest?

Salad
On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how emotional are you?

Nine. Whoa Nelly, does that surprise you? Tis true, I’m a very emotional being. However, I’m pretty good at keeping those emotions under wraps *koffkoff* Okay, so I TELL myself I’m pretty good at keeping things under wraps so that I don’t appear like a typical, simpy female. I pretty much run hot and cold - one minute I’m cool as a cucumber, the next, I’m spewing lava from every orifice of my body.

And yes, you have the visual right - it’s NOT a pretty sight.

Main Course
Approximately how long do you spend each day responding to emails?

On average, I receive 50 emails each day. Average (and that’s not counting emails from family and blogs). Why? Because I maintain ten websites (plus three blogs) for a living. So I’m constantly answering requests for changes/updates. So I answer emails all day, every day, and sometimes into the night. But it’s what I do - it’s what I LOVE to do.

Dessert
To what temperature do you usually set your home’s thermostat?

We keep our house at 78 degrees during the hot/warm months and 65 degrees during the cold months. And yes, it’s always too hot, or too cold in our house, but we’re too cheap to adjust it otherwise. Hey, the way I look at it? I’ll run fans in the summer and put on an extra sweater in the winter. It’s worth being able to redirect that money that would be going toward utilities into more productive things - like electronics.

Never say I don’t have my priorities straight. ;)

6 Comments on Friday’s Feast - #22, last added: 9/21/2007
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2647. Saturday Photo Hunt - Paper

PSHunt
This week’s theme: Paper

This is a real paper sign in my husband’s office. He works with some really mean people. No wonder he comes home grouchy and defensive. Wouldn’t you be defensive if you had to read this hostile sign everyday?

Okay, so I added the last part, but still! They’re mean, I tell ya! :D

Threatening Sign
Grab the Scavenger Hunt code.
Photo Theme. Join the blogroll. Visit participants.

5 Comments on Saturday Photo Hunt - Paper, last added: 9/22/2007
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2648. It’s a Question of Scruples - #15


View results here.

Care to elaborate? Why did you vote the way you did?

Me? Thanks for asking. I voted no. I just can’t imagine myself being able to have a good time knowing that everyone is looking at me and whispering behind their hands, “Gads, look at Karen. Look how much weight she’s put on! And her face! Her wrinkles are so deep I can actually see bone. Poor thing. She must have had a rough life since high school.” Um, no. I’m too vain to put myself under the microscope like that. Thank God for email. :D

2 Comments on It’s a Question of Scruples - #15, last added: 9/22/2007
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2649. My First Video (Test)


Could they have captured a more unflattering look? LOL

Trying out some video options here on the old blog. Hopefully, it won’t scare you away. :D

Stay tuned for more video blog entries.

I started a Viddler.com group for writers. Check it out!

5 Comments on My First Video (Test), last added: 9/22/2007
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2650. Song of the Week #8

The hubs’ first gig didn’t go as expected. About half of the songs they played, they were spot on. The other half? Not so much. They also had some problems with their sound system - it crackled and generally sounded bad. He came home feeling both excited and disappointed. But it was good the band had this opportunity to practice in front of a live crowd. Now they have a better idea of what they need to work on and will be more prepared for their next gig.

I admire his courage. It’s not easy entertaining people.

I love music. I love unknown musicians. I post a song from an unknown musician every week. Support your local musicians, won’t you?

Song of the Week:


I also post a daily comic strip from Baby Blues. Life is tough - take a moment and laugh, won’t you? :D

1 Comments on Song of the Week #8, last added: 9/24/2007
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