Sunday, February 28, 2010

End of Month Update

It is time for my monthly update on my New Years Goals:

1) Adopt a child. (Become foster parent as part of process(?))
No progress.  Seriously, the husband needs a job so we can stop taking money out of savings (or adding onto the already outrageous credit cars) every month for things like food and gas.  We are getting a twin bed and a chest-and (eventually getting all the junk out) turning the spare (storage, former "office" overall catch-all)  room into an official bedroom.

2) Exercise regularly
Some progress.  I asked my sister, who lives up the street, if I can use the treadmill.  Since her spare key is awol-she said she'd leave the door open for me since she leaves for work not too long before I get off. So-days 1-3 she forgot to leave it open. It is such an automatic process-to lock the door.  It would take me awhile to remember, too.  Day 4 she left it open-and I met with the Possessed Treadmill.  It's older and well used by the parents.  It is truly possessed.  It doesn't like me (and considering Sis and her Mom are half my size I am probably the heaviest person (because I'm taller and no where close to being in shape like they are) it has met-unless Dad stepped on it).  Let's just say that I have to hold onto the rails the entire time because it feel like it goes backwards just a tiny bit every so many steps.  It tried to throw me into her saltwater tank more than once.  I seriously catalogued each piece of furniture and where my head would hit when it manages to succeed in its mission to eject me (notice I said when, not if.)   It also just flat out stopped after 10 minutes-then 12-then 16 minutes and I gave up at .90 (that's not even a mile-but it was something).  A powwow with sis revealed that the Possessed Treadmill overheats in the summer and it is now sitting on a heater vent (fyi-I think it's the exchange vent but it isn't my house so what do I know).  I tried again yesterday-drug the Possessed Treadmill into the living room (and that is not easy to do) so it wasn't by the heater vent-hung on and got about 1.5 miles out of it-it did stop 3 times but I popped the lid on it and that seemed to at least get me going for half a mile each time.  Also, it only half-heartedly tried to throw me off. Probably because there wasn't any furniture behind me to crack my head on.

3) Eat healthier
I have been cutting down my portion size and paying attention to breakfast, lunch and dinner most of the time.  I bought some healthy snacks.  I still need to do much more.  I am drinking water-except my morning coffee(s) for most liquid intake.

4) Minimize the clutter in my house
2 steps forward, 3 steps back.  Husband and I sorted through some storage in the house during the snow storm.  We went through the knick-knacky things and put away for a spring yardsale the things that we have outgrown.  We went through together the "trunk I avoided like the plague" to dust it and took out everything but the John Lennon baby stuff we bought when we actually thought we would have a baby one day.  I cried the entire time.  That's why I avoid the trunk.  And I can't bring myself to give it away.  I still hope.  I went through my work stuff again and came up with another stack of books to sell-emptied an entire file cabinet (recycled all the paper) and refilled the filing cabinet with books-which emptied an entire 4 shelf bookshelf.  We are not even 1/4 way through everything-the basement is the big area and we need a yard sale and to sell some furniture-which we will do as soon as Spring gets here.
One of the obstacles of the whole "cleaning out the basement is My husband.  He is the ultimate pack Rat.  At least half the basement is "his stuff" and the other half is a combination of stuff in this order: Christmas, gardening/lawn, tools, stuff for yard sale, my stuff, washer/dryer, cat.  Not even exaggerating one bit.  I didn't even count his tools in his half.  He just giving me lip service when I ask him to go through it and thin it out.  No action.  He has, in plain sight, a bag of clothes he will never fit in again-and if he does he should never wear in public again.  Yet, he refuses to donate it.  I have offered to make a T-Shirt Quilt for him of the (mosty sports) t-shirts in the bag. He just thinks "one day" he will be the size he was at 17.  I hope not.
 Here is where we go backward in the endeavor to de-clutter: we added furniture and other stuff this week.  My elderly grandfather has given up his apartment and resides full time in the nursing part of his retirement village.  My grandmother has been in the nursing area for a couple years.  All of us picked out a few things to keep.  We absolutely don't have the room right now-but this is something I must do if I want the furniture. 

5) Grow out my nails
Nope not even close.  I recall the most success I have had is when I was on medication for fatigue.  My current doctor won't prescribe it.  It was some mild antidepressant but truly prescribed for fatigue (caused by stress).  I dieted, exercised, lost weight and grew out my nails on it-something I have not done since I stopped taking it.  hmmm  food for thought)

6) Pay off my own credit cards.
I didn't pay off a credit card-but I did take the money gifted to me at Christmas-combined with some money I had from a job I did-and paid off my car!  Yay!  Now if only I could pay off the truck with the big payment-we would be on easy street! Yeah-not gonna happen unless I hit the lottery.  My husband payed off one of his very small cards-and because they made him angry-he will cancel it.  Yes!
We continue to pay for everything except gas with cash.  I think it is helping me not spend money-but husband just gets more cash out when he runs out.  Baby steps.

I am not even sure how to categorize this months progress.  The snowiest month ever has fogged my brain.  Also adding stuff seems to impede out progress since we had to move things around to make room-and it's all piles and tight fitting around here now.  I cannot wait for yard sales and to put the furniture on Craig's List.

Any one need a computer desk or a recliner (dark green)?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


This weeks bloggography challenge was to learn about aperture. You can read about it here.

We were asked to take 2 pictures=one with a large aperture and the same picture with a small aperture. For added fun-we were asked to take a picture of something red or pink because it's February and Valentines day is this month.

I played around with this for a long time. It took me awhile to see the difference in the pictures (of course, I was relying on that tiny 2 inch screen on the camera-when I loaded the pictures I saw the difference a little clearer.)

My first attempt was just to get the feel of this challenge.  I took about 100 pictures of various items-this set clearly shows the difference aperture setting make.  The background is clear with the smaller aperture setting while it is blurry with the large aperture.  If you click on the pictures they will get bigger.

ISO 800, f/5.6 

ISO 800, f/32.0

My husband and I went to Erie, PA to see the frozen lake (Parts of Lake Erie are ice).  I saw this red life saving box and knew I had to try different aperture settings in a landscape.  Although not as crisp-I can definitely see that the background is sharper with the small aperture and blurred with the large aperture:
ISO 100, f/29.0


ISO 100, f/5.3

I was so happy to find something red outside!  It is funny that we have so many colors around us-but when you start looking for something "perfect" to use for an photo challenge how hard it is to find what you need!

Want to join the fun?

Manic Mother

Monday, February 22, 2010

All About MEme Monday

So today's topic is AS SEEN ON TV
  • Share with us your favorite AS SEEN ON TV products ... ones you've actually purchased ... make it like your very own testimonial.
  • Make a Wish List of AS SEEN ON TV products that you'd buy for yourself ... or for that someone special in your life.
  • Or tell us a funny story about an informercial product gone wrong.
 I recently purchased the Emery Cat.  OK-I bought it at my husband's insistent requests.
This product boasts "Now your cat can trim their own claws."  Read all about it here.

So basically what arrived is one of those paper scratching posts**dipped in sand**and contained in a flimsy plastic shell.  My cat LOVES his rope tower scratching post.  He LOVES his paper round scratching thing with the ball that goes round and round.  He IGNORES the Emery Cat.  I poured the catnip that came with it on it after a few hours of him walking past it with barely a sniff or glance.  He rolled on it-the rolled across the floor.  We have hidden his former scratching instruments.  He is continuing to ignore the Emory Cat-hopefully he will continue to ignore the furniture, too.

The Emery Cat isn't the worst thing I have purchased "As seen on TV".  That title falls to some wax product of years past.  My husband wanted some type of hair removal-it was wax/sugar...something.  I can't remember the name-but the commercial showed people removing hair from arms, legs, backs, etc.-PAINLESSLY.
Have you ever seen the 40 Year Old Virgin-where they wax his chest and draw blood?  That would be his experience.  And the No Pain thing?  FALSE!

What's the best thing Purchased "As seen on TV"?  My Dyson.  My shark.  Both have made vacuumming in my past-my husband LOVES them-so much I hardly ever touch them.

Want to join the fun?  Click here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Winter Hope

This weekend my husband and I drove up to Erie, PA because we heard the lake (at least parts) was frozen. It was. The pictures just don't so it justice. It was a sunny-blue sky day. The ice sparkled in places. It was cold. It was windy. It made us feel like we were looking at Alaska or the North Pole (Thankfully, it wasn't as cold as those places-but it was cold enough to make both of us wish we had worn long underwear.)

As we were leaving we walked by this tree:

I looked and looked again. I had my husband double check what I was seeing. I started laughing-and smiling. Why, you ask? Look a little closer:

That's a bud-on the tree. A healthy new bud. The tree is full of them! In the middle of the snow!

After the snowiest month ever there is HOPE! Spring is still coming.

Monday, February 15, 2010

All about Me Monday: Favorite Quote

One of my favorite quotes:

"Not being able to talk is not the same as having nothing to say."

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist -- so this quote stays with me in my head every work day. It is very true and I am constantly amazed (and not in a good way) how many times I have to point this out to people. Usually I am very subtle--LOOK! Johnny is_______he is trying to say______when he does ______.

Children (and grown-ups, too) all communicate-we just have to "listen" with more than our ears.

I love my career choice. I love working with young children. I love giving them a way to communicate-by speaking or some other way. It is a joyful moment when a child communicates something new.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Flamingo

Several years ago I decided to start making all of my Christmas cards by hand. One year, when we lived in Florida, I made a tropical Christmas card. It has Christmas lights on a palm tree, snowflakes and a flamingo. I sent it out to family and friends. My dad and step-mom loved it so much they decided to frame it and display it every year. Fast-Forward a couple of years and I finally make it home for Christmas to find this:

Notice anything missing?

Me: What happened to the flamingo's head?
Dad: It arrived that way.
Me: In the mail?
Dad: Yes, When we opened it-it was headless.
Me: Why didn't you tell me?
Dad: I don't know.
Dad: Well, we really like it.
Dad: Yeah, well we looked for the head in the envelope.
Me: and yet, you framed it and have it out EVERY YEAR?

It has taken a couple of years to find the replacement flamingo-especially since I now live in Pittsburgh. Today (after 5 or more years on display) I finally was able to fix it.

You can't see it-but there was a "Merry Christmas from Florida" sign on this card which completed the theme.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Photography Challenge 3-Shutter Speed

For years I have been complaining how my camera does not take action pictures well. All of my husband's graduation pictures have blurry morphed faces. I have deleted countless action pictures because they are blurry and unfocused. That is the main reason I wanted an SLR camera--since my old Olympus (regular) digital took wonderful pictures-as long as everything was still. However, using my Nikon on "Auto" has not yielded the expected results. I started the challenge taking pictures of the snow-since here in PA we were experiencing Snowmageddon 2010. They are not the best pictures-I tried various versions (night and day) to get pictures with slow and fast shutter speeds-I got some good experience but the pictures are not great-it was hard to find something dark to contrast the white flakes in a world completely covered in snow. Here are the best of them, taken at the onset of the snow-it was "raining" snow:

Shutter 1/6 ISO 1600

Shutter 1/25 ISO 1600

Shutter1/60 ISO 1600

The next day we were completely snowed under by 2 feet of the pretty white stuff-so I took pictures from the window of the birds at the feeder. I got some better pictures that day-but it completely emphasized how much I miss having a Zoom Lens. (My husband also heard me whine (hint hint dear hubby) for a long time because he couldn't go anywhere-snowed in).

Shutter 1/100 ISO 400

Shutter 1/800 ISO 400

Shutter 1/1250 ISO 200

Shutter 1/800 ISO 400

See Honey, that last pic would have been fabulous if I had a Zoom!

I still wanted a better handle on this shutter speed so I dug a path to may car, uncovered it and found my box of wind-ups I use during speech therapy with my students for motivation. I experimented with a few at different speeds-a bunny that does a complete flip and a butterfly that goes forward fast, flapping her wings.

Shutter 1/1.3 ISO 400

Shutter 1/800, ISO 800

Shutter 1/1.3 ISO 400

Shutter 1/500 ISO 400

Shutter 1/320 ISO 400

Shutter 1/800 ISO 800

The bunny ended up being my favorite.

Want to join the photography fun? Go here.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Proven Theory

The last few days Pittsburgh has been dealing with SnOMG, Snowpocolypse or Snowmageddon-depending on who you talk to. Let's just say that it's been unreal. We got 2 feet of snow in 18 hours (it was predicted 4-12 inches before it started.)
My husband and I have "weathered" the storm fairly well. Better than some who have been without power for days because well-2 feet of snow seriously weighs down trees, which in turn fall and snap power lines.
Our heat went off the first night-just the heat-not the power. The next afternoon we sweet-talked our ancient furnace into relighting since it was "just" a gas air bubble issue. Problem Solved.

But here in our house we have a theory-or curse. It goes like this:

If a good football game is on-and there is the possibility of a power outage-the power will go out. It is a proven fact in out household:

My husband watches college football Saturdays from noon until it goes off-midnight usually. I am a football Saturday widow. He watches the NFL on Sunday-mostly the Steelers-but there are other teams he loves to watch, too.

In 2004, also known as the year of "Charlie, Frances, Jeanne and Ivan" in our house we lived in Florida.

First there was Charlie-we had a bullseye on our house so our city turned off the power-so we were evacuated to a friend's rental apartment-but the tv didn't work. No football for my husband who watches college football from noon until 2am. No worries-we thought-it was the beginning of the college season and he missed maybe 2 games.

Then came Frances-this is where you want to pay attention: We had power ALL Night during the hurricane. At 11:59 AM (not making this up) our power went out (remember, college football starts at noon). We were without power all day and the power came on after midnight. Literally 5 minutes AFTER the games were last game was over. No worries, right? Football Sunday will restore sanity. Nope. At 12:43 (Football starts at 1pm) the power went out. again. and guess what? It came on just after the Steeler/Miami game (the classic one where they played knee-deep in water) ended that night.

So 1 weekend does not prove a theory, right? Fast-Forward to Hurricane Jeanne. Exact same scenario: Power on at night, off just before college football, on at night, off before NFL-on sometime after midnight. Seriously. We could forecast whether a hurricane would hit our area based on the football schedule-and we.were.never.wrong.

So now we live in PA-and a full 36 hours after the SnOMG occurred we found ourselves watching the SuperBowl-until Half time when WE LOST POWER. Guess when it came on.