Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Global Connection On A Local Level

The beauty of the Internet is that we make connections. Family a thousand miles away can catch up in the time that it takes to download an email and a couple of digital images. We find friends from long ago and regain what we may have lost forever in decades past. The journey along the path finds hidden treasures, and forms bonds with those across one ocean or another.

What many of us lack these days is the local network. Our lives are chaotic, trying to fit 60 hours of work in 40 hours of schedule, spend quality time with our families and enrich our children's lives with activities. It doesn't leave a lot of time for friends on a local scale. Let's just say that I'm not the only Mom at those two nights of scouts each week who looks forward to that hour or ninety minutes to forge friendships with like minded women-because we ALL have that insanity called life in the digital age.

For me, enter Twitter. When I joined up, a simple tweet about something happening here in Lakeland and I got a new follower, Chuck. At that time, I had something like 30 people following me and they were either real life friends or blogging pals. Chuck was different. @ChuckWelch was local.

Now, in addition to catching witticisms from far and wide, I was getting tweets more local in scope. It wasn't just blathering about local stuff, it was GOOD stuff. Somehow, I had a writer friend in my new hometown.

Over time, the nature of Twitter brought more local people into that follow file, thanks to Chuck's lead. Soon after I started chatting with Chuck pretty much daily, one of his friends, Barry, started following me, too. That's the nature of Twitter-you check out the feeds of those you follow to see if there are others that they follow that look interesting. Thus, @BIF followed and I followed back.

These two guys rank as among the smartest follows I probably have on Twitter, because they brought me closer to this town that is now my home. They understood the job market, the closure of a local supermarket made an impact and could also tell me where a newbie could find good BBQ (and verify that yes, we'd found the best in town). They make this town a HOMEtown.

Between Chuck and Barry, I've picked up a couple of other people to follow, a few have followed me. The friendships put my words in print besides the pixels before you. I have felt more connected to Lakeland in the past six months than I did in the four years in the last town. Thanks to these two guys.

Tonight, Barry hosted a Tweetup at the Lakeland Ledger. Forty bloggers, Tweeps and Ledger staff came together to mix and mingle, find out about each other and further the connections made electronically.

I'll post the videos later, but it was very cool to finally meet face to face those met on a global social networking site that live right down the road.

Thanks to Barry for hosting, Chuck for coordinating and all those who we met that already seemed familiar because their faces are in their avatars or on their websites. (Links to follow, too) I'm looking forward to the next one.

You Will Tell Me If I Am Guilty of This, Right?


Hello? Are you there?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

Friday, I began working again. It's a job that looks very interesting. Fun coworkers. Training, depending on traffic, is 30 to 45 minutes from home. Weird, considering everyone lives near me, but hey, I don't make the rules (or pay the mileage).

Today, the boss said no overtime, which meant that we should have left at 4:15. Works for me, I had to drive home, grab the boys, then drive another 30 miles to Chef's Cub Scout meeting. I wasn't sweating things, because I walked in the front door Friday afternoon at 5:35. Plenty of time to go get the kids from the friend's house, go home, change, grab a snack and then be on the road. Make or break to be at scouts on time is to be starting the car at 6:15.

4:35 rolls around and we're still working. I'm getting a bit antsy, but not too bad. 4:50, done with that section-but the trainer starts ANOTHER one that he says will take about 45 minutes. OH NO!!!!! I can see the look on the faces of the two people flanking me-they had that same panicked "We were HOME before 6 Friday and I made plans for my real estate appointment/day care/whatever based on the fact that Friday included one hour of overtime!" look.

You know the look, right? Most days, I'm the type who doesn't mind sticking around until the job gets done (much to Ed's consternation). I'm used to having those looks and the "Oh please, oh please, won't YOU stick around so I don't have to?" type directed at me. Yep, I'm dedicated. Or a sucker. Probably both.

So, it's 5:15, we're still working on this unit and I'm slowly freaking inside and my phone chirps that I've got a message, kicking up the frenzy another notch. How the heck am I going to get to Lakeland, get the food, gas and the kids and make it to Scouts by 7pm? Anyone?

It's 5:30. We're at the end of the unit. I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe, I might get to the neighbor's by 6pm and out the door by 6:10. Then he says "Next unit is 45 minutes long, I think we can bang it out in less than that."

Inwardly, I'm screaming NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooOOOOOOOOOOO!
You might have heard it, on a subconscious level. I'm thinking all the moms on a tight schedule shuddered at 5:32 and didn't know why. It was me. Sorry.

The guy next to me looks stricken (real estate appointment) and I mutter "so much for my son's pack meeting". Fate smiles on us in the guise of the head boss, who says that he's pretty sure we've got places to go, things to do and people to see. Can I tell you I wanted to bow down to him right then?

Out the door I went (shut up bladder, you'll have to take a ticket and stand in line). Somehow, I pulled into our community at 6:05, got back to our house at 6:12 and got on the road at 6:19-and still made it to scouts with five minutes to spare. Without speeding. Well, no more than 5 miles over the limit.

Please don't ask me to do it again next week. There was so much gray that erupted this afternoon that I had to resort to coloring my hair tonight!

So, yeah, we're back in a routine. Routine insanity, don't you think?

(For the record, the bosses are very cool-I really don't think one of them was really thinking through what time it was, though!)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hmm, Wonder What My House Smells Like?

I see flour in the pantry
I see yeast chillin away
I see sugar oil and water
I see a dough on the way

Don't dial out tonight
It's better here at home
There's a pizza on the rise.

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

Last week, in honor of 5 Minutes for Mom's Ultimate Blog Party, I featured a playlist of songs guaranteed to keep the party grooving.

This week, a list of awesome songs, with a twist. They're great songs that you DON'T want to play at a party because they'll kill the mood lickety split.

In no particular order, some party killers:
Wishing You Were Here-Chicago
Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word- Elton John
Alone Again, Naturally-Gilbert O'Sullivan
All By Myself-Eric Carmen
Bridge Over Troubled Waters-Simon and Garfunkel
Elinor Rigby-Beatles
Without You-Harry Nillson
Brick-Ben Folds Five
That's The Way I Always Heard It Should Be-Carly Simon

And songs that will kill a party because they are awful:
I Will Always Love You-Whitney Houston
Seasons in the Sun-Terry Jacks
Nothings Gonna Change My Love For You-Glenn Medieros
I Miss You-Klymaxx
When A Man Loves a Woman-Michael Bolton
Always-Atlantic Starr
Havin' My Baby-Paul Anka

Obviously, I'm just scratching the surface here. What are some great songs that you think are party killers? Or are crappy songs and shouldn't be put into a party mix?

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I've had some dental issues of late. When I bite down on the right side of the mouth, it felt weird, like a tooth wasn't quite right. Then last week, I realized "dammit, it's an abscess!". Yep, on the gum line, under the tongue. I hadn't noticed it until it puffed up a bit.

No insurance and no money means no dentist. I'm in the process of seeing if I can get in at the health department. In the meantime, I'm doing a better job of flossing and using an antiseptic mouthwash.

Today, I realized that crap, one of the teeth on that side is LOOSE! CRAP!!!! I'm afraid that it's going to be a goner. Other than the tenderness from the abscess, it just feels weird, not painful.

I'm no stranger to dental work. My mouth is small, and I had extensive orthdontia (six years), and several teeth rotted out under those metal bands. I've had a cap in my mouth since I was sixteen, because one of those teeth disintegrated a week after the braces came off when I bit into an ice cream sandwich. (My PSA to you-order the orthodontist to take the bands off every six months for your dentist to do a proper cleaning).

The 18 months prior to moving to Florida, I spent six hours a month in a chair at the dental school clinic at UMBC. (Dad did the same at NYU-you get top notch care for a fraction of the price). I started going there because I suspected that the filling on a molar I'd had a prior root canal on had a pinhole in it. It did. In between the initial consult, x rays and reviewing the treatment plan (a span of six weeks, what with the Christmas break happening), it was not salvageable. I have a gold crown in my mouth, which I like to say is proof that I am royalty.

The small mouth presents several problems. Prior to being fitted with braces, I had twelve teeth removed from my mouth. Yes, I only have 20-same as your child. My dentist in New York was a God-he did all the fixing up post braces without incident. The dental student I got in Maryland learned quickly and was sure to point out to the endodontist that did the root canal I needed before the crown "make sure you use the pediatric stuff with her!" Xrays, instruments, mold for impressions-my mouth is kid sized.

So, losing a tooth worries me, since I'm short a dozen healthy ones that just didn't fit. I'm off to do some research to see if the wiggly tooth means it's too far gone to save. I hope not, because 20 is such a nice number-I'd like to keep twenty teeth in the mouth...

Friday, March 27, 2009

A New Chapter Begins

I started the new job today. On no sleep. Thanks to yesterday's headache, my sleep cycle was out of whack. You're wondering when I got tired? 4:45. When did I need to be up? 7am. At that point, I decided that sleep would be bad and I visited some of the other participants of the blog party.

The day was chock a block with paperwork and being read to from a manual the size of the Tampa Yellow Pages. It could have been boring, but the trainer had a very dry wit. Unfortunately, there was a lot of down time and reading ahead in the training manuals. We were all fingerprinted, a very time consuming process. I was caught up on the assigned reading and even way ahead and we still had over an hour and a half of waiting, so I read my Educational Psychology text.

Monday is when we get into the nuts and bolts. Finally.

And with that, I am going to bed. Finally.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Headache Inducing Day

It didn't start off well. One son has a bad habit of blowing off his homework, and despite numerous requests yesterday, he didn't do his spelling word sentencess OR his his graphs for his science project. Of course, at 7am, it's my fault that he doesn't know what these words mean or that he hasn't done the graphs.

The ensuing argument and crying (him) or yelling (me, because I feel that ignoring me is disrespectful), I was left with a migraine headache. It's the last day of unemployment, so I had a list of things to do, hair to color and a meeting to attend. Instead, I needed sleep.

I woke up a half hour before I needed to be at the school. Scrambling to get ready, I got to the school right at the appointed time. This meeting was a follow up to last week's pow wow. I need to detail it for Aspergersville, but last week, we had eight people around the table that all agreed that Gameboy's placement is not working.

In the interim, he was suspended yesterday and had some issues today. Today's meeting was to put in place a new Behavior Intervention Plan, rather, to put in writing what has been happening all along. If all goes well, by the time his birthday rolls around, he'll be in a more suitable environment.

At least the school understands that I can't come and collect my child when he's being a handful. In a few weeks, it may be a thing of the past. The new placement is in a school that deals with kids with mental issues and has 50 students total, instead of the 1,000 plus that he deals with now.

To be honest, the return to the workforce has been met with some trepidation. I know I can do the job, but I worry that the school will STILL call me. Worse, I fear that when they can't reach me, they'll call Ed-and his employer does not tolerate departing work to get a disruptive child from school.

So, the last day of a life of leisure (ha) didn't quite end up the way I wanted it to be. However, it was completely typical.

At least one headache will be going away...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What's For Dinner Wednesday

Like many working folks, our crockpot gets a workout on a regular basis. Nothing beats coming home and finding dinner ready to eat-except for a trip to a restaurant where someone else is going to do the dishes, too. With a return to work later this week, it's time to crank out some of the meals that have minimum fuss but maximum flavor.

My plan of attack with any crockpot meal is to get at least two meals out of it. If I'm lucky, I can get three or four. Like tonight's.

Anyone who knows us can tell you we LOVE Tex-Mex. I got so excited to hear that our favorite local chain, Tijuana Flats, is opening in Lakeland soon. Of course, I heard this and started thinking of all the things on their menu that I enjoy-tacos, enchiladas, and flautas.

The meal ideas swirling in my head, I made a batch of Tex Mex shredded Chicken. This is one of my own concoctions that is a base for many different meals in that genre. Tonight, it made Enchiladas:

They were tricky little suckers! As far as I'm concerned, they HAVE to be made with corn tortillas. Problem is, you have to handle them with care-I didn't. We had some that were broken heading into the oven, which you can see above.

However, once you add a lot of sauce and cheese, then bake for a half hour, it really doesn't matter.

Then, it becomes a huge mess on the plate. That's okay, because some of the tastiest meals are the messy ones.

Now I'm wondering if the leftovers are making more enchiladas or a big batch of flautas...

(Oh, and you'll want to head over to MomDot for the recipe tomorrow if you're in the mood for Tex Mex, too!)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Few Things Soothe the Ouch

I attempted to scratch one item off that list today. Halfway done.

See, I had my Measles Mumps Rubella shot back in 4th or 5th grade. That was a second time getting them, because the doctor that did the first one retired-we had no records for school. NOW, the doctor that did the second one (thirty plus years ago!) retired, so I had to get round three today.

The ouch isn't for the shot, it's for the unexpected hit to my wallet. $59.00! And that's only for part one-I have to have another one in thirty days. I am hoping the new job comes with some health insurance.

Thus far, the financial impact is $95.00. I'm not one to throw away that kind of money, so those of you wondering whether I'll be in classes this summer, you can bet on it!

In good news, I've been on a winning streak of sorts!

I recently helped a fellow blogger, Miranda, celebrate her first blogoversary a couple of weeks ago by breaking in my webcam and won this:

Isn't it cool? Thanks for having the party and for the cool shirt (it is SOOO soft).

Then, I won a Hip T at Stephanie's blog. This has been one of those things I've wanted, because long torso-ed girls have shirts in the drawers that are too short. Yay, now I can pull a few shirts out of retirement.

Then, I wrote a post on my review blog, and as soon as I published it, I saw that there were comments on the last post. Once again, I've won something that I'd wanted~ Tena at Punky Monkeys recently had a beautiful blog redesign done by Sara at Subjective Beauty. Take a look at Sara's portfolio, I'm very excited that she'll be making my home on the net pretty really soon. (And there's a new name coming with the redesign, too, but you'll have to wait to see that!)

Thanks to Miranda, Stefanie and Tena for the great prizes, to ProMom Couture, Hip T and Sara at Subjective Beauty for being generous with the blog gifts!

I'm hoping that my lucky run isn't quite done yet, because I want to win the Keurig Platinum Coffee System that Kim is giving away!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The ToDo List is Piling Up

With the college acceptance, there's a checklist of things I need to do-and only a few days before I return to work! Let's see:
1. Get new immunizations, since the doctor that did all mine retired when I still lived on LI-I've got no proof of shots!
2. Fill out all the admissions paperwork.
3. Get my HS transcript and other college's transcripts sent to USF to get all my classes credited.
4. See if I can take that Stats class online from my old college/find out if the FAFSA funds will cover me attending both schools this summer. (I really think that based on what FAFSA paperwork I got, I'll take the Stats class and then two classes here at USF)
5. Schedule my orientation (weird to be the one GETTING the orientation)
6. Take some test to prove I know how to learn.
7. Register for classes.

Should be interesting!

There's a First Time For Everything

Two firsts in one:
1. I went to the drive in for the very first time last night.
2. The picture has notes on it!

Yes, we went to the drive in Saturday night. We borrowed a van and loaded up our two and Chef Jr's best friend in the back seat to go see "Race To Witch Mountain." It was a double feature, but let's be honest, does "Confessions of a Shopaholic" sound like a good follow up to the movie we chose? We didn't think so, either.


We arrived early and Ed parked us right behind the projection building and in front of the snack bar. Once situated, we grabbed some dinner-pizza for the kids, a corn dog for me and a sausage dog for Ed, some popcorn and drinks. It reminded me of years ago trips to the roller and ice rinks with what snacks were available. Just before show time, we grabbed another drink and the best movie candy ever, Raisinettes.

I have to say that Race to Witch Mountain was a good follow up to Escape and Return. It was suspenseful and good characterizations and had us on the edge of our seats at a few points. Even better, the original stars, Kim Richards and Iake Eissenmann had roles in this one.

It was rather pleasant to see a movie in this manner, and trust me-we will go back.

Maybe even as soon as this Friday night.

BTW, if you're not sure if there is a drive in nearby, check out this website to find out.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday-Party Time!

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

We can't have a party without good tunes, and I'm here for the job. In my past life, I was a radio station and club DJ and know what songs will get everybody grooving. Believe it or not, last year's SSS didn't feature my favorites. You get those this year.

So, let's plug the iPod in and get going, shall we? In no particular order, great party tunes...

Just Can't Get Enough-Depeche Mode
Rock Lobster-B52's
Hot Hot Hot-Buster Poindexter and the Bashees of Blue
What I Like About You-Romantics
Walking on the Sun-Smashmouth
Whip It-Devo
Devil With a Blue Dress/Good Golly, Miss Molly-Mitch Ryder
Good Lovin'-The Rascals
In the Summertime-Mungo Jerry
Time Warp-Rocky Horror Picture Show
Last Train To Clarksville-Monkees
What Do All the People Know-Monroes
I Wanna Be a Lifeguard-Blotto
Cool Jerk-The Capitals
Shout-Otis Day and the Knights
Grazin In the Grass-Hugh Masekela (or the Friends of Distinction)
Build Me Up Buttercup-The Foundations
88 Lines About 44 Women-The Nails
You're Sixteen-Ringo Starr
Our Lips Are Sealed-The GoGos
Rock and Roll All Night-Kiss
Under the Boardwalk
Joy to the World-Three Dog Night
Love the One You're With-CSN
Never Can Say Goodbye-Gloria Gaynor
Tainted Love-Soft Cell
Brandy-Looking Glass
Kodachrome-Paul Simon
Saturday In the Park-Chicago
500 Miles-The Proclaimers
Rebel Yell-Billy Idol
Oh, Yeah-Yello
Wild, Wild West-Escape Club
Need You Tonight-INXS
Iko Iko-Belle Stars
Rock the Casbah-The Clash
Super Freak-Rick James
Sir Duke-Stevie Wonder

There's enough upbeat tunes for a few hours, don't you think? Next week, we list some great songs that are definitely not meant for playing at a party.

Enjoy the tunes, folks!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

It's Official, Part Two


Yep, they've accepted all the credits (I didn't realize that I have to have HCC send a transcript, too), and I am truly a second semester junior. Sometime this week, I will sit down with someone from Admissions to hammer out what exactly I need to earn the degree (and whether the previous Psych classes count towards the degree requirements). Other than 8-10 credits of a language, it looks like everything left to take is within my major.

I'm pretty excited right now!

The Ultimate Blog Party

Last year, amidst all the boxes and moving, I participated in 5 Minutes For Mom's 2008 Ultimate Blog Party. I made some food, served some drinks and made a few new friends. That's what a party should be, right?

So here it is, 2009 and once again, 5 Minutes for Mom is having another party!
Ultimate Blog Party 2009

It's a party, so we have to introduce ourselves, mix and mingle and have a good time, right? Well, there's a lot of mingling to do, so I'll get on with it.

Hi, I'm Suzanne. I've been writing this blog since September 2005, but I have other blogs and write about food and give out recipes at MomDot each Thursday and I'm about to embark on a new writing adventure soon. This week marks my return to the workforce after a long hiatus. (Yay and Boo, depending on my mood).

SuzanneSez chronicles my life in such a way that you can't help but notice I have ADHD! I write about food, music, family, health and anything else that strikes my fancy, and I'll throw in a picture or twenty. Now that I've got a Flip, there will be some vlogging (maybe even about food).

The cast of characters here at SuzanneSez:
Gameboy(soon to become GameTeen)
My nearly teenage older son. He keeps us on our toes. He's my 'alphabet soup' kid, because he's got Aspergers Syndrome and a host of related issues. He likes video games, fantasy movies, reading game strategy guides and listening to movie soundtracks. If he used his obsessions for good, there is nothing that could stop this child.

Chef Jr.

My nine year old comedian, cook and all around hyper, happy kid. He lives to make people laugh and is a budding gourmet.

(the picture is from a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Chicago, 1995**) My other half, partner in crime and the person who puts up with the insanity that I dish out. It's rare to find a picture of Ed where he's serious-I guess I should have had a clue that the kids would be the same way.

Since you're new, I'll show you around. On Wednesdays, there are pictures of dinner in What's For Dinner Wednesday (now with vlogs, too). I write about music every Soundtrack Sunday. Every day, there's at least one entry.

Yes, I write every day. It's a habit that sprung out of participating in NaBloPoMo 16 months ago. In fact, if someone wanted to give me an iPhone, so I can blog on the fly, I'd be very appreciative.

Besides the above mentioned, I write about what we do here in Florida, my boys adventures with Scouting and school, family, put up a lot of pictures and I talk about my health issues. There's a meme or two thrown in. If we get to enjoy a new wine or a good meal, I'm going to talk about it, because I have a big mouth.

Recently, I started doing reviews, but I'm keeping that on a separate blog.

Feel free to stick around. I make a mighty good sangria, and I love to feed people. If you think we could be bloggy friends, be sure to follow or put me in your feed reader). Leave me a comment, so I can come visit you, too!

If you just happen to be one of the regulars around here and didn't know about the blog party, you can head over to 5 Minutes For Mom and join in the fun. This year, there are PRIZES!!!!

The prizes I would love to win (links bring you to the giver of the prize's site-they deserve the love for donating prizes!)
prize 8, Stuck on You Labels.
prize 15, ChicBuds
Prize 19, $50 Target Gift Card
Prize 21, $50 Target Gift Card
Prize 22, $50 Target Gift Card
Prize 26, $30 Target Gift Card
Prize 37, Omron Pedometer
Prize 41, Simply Precious Photo Locket
Prize 58, KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer
Prize 69, Case of assorted Dei Fratelli mixed products
Prize 88, $40 Carrabba's Gift Certificate
But the thing I prize most is making the new friends that come out of all these events.

Thanks for stopping by. If you'll excuse me, I have to get going, because a Chef Monster is about to attack.

**Donna and Ed caught the wrong year on that picture taken in Chicago, it was 1995. (I thought Donna was asking about the blog year!)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Rita's FREE Ice For the First Day of Spring!

When we lived in Frederick, early March meant Rita's. Two years running, I was the SECOND customer in line when they opened for business on March 12th or 13th (First person got a prize pack). Then, each year, on the first day of spring, we'd load up the car and head over for our free ices.

One of the things we bummed about when we moved here is that there isn't a nearby Rita's. In fact, I think I went gaga when we were in Clearwater last fall, because we were able to get Rita's on the way home from the beach.

A couple of months ago, we got one locally. So, Ed and I resumed the tradition today. If you've got one near you, enjoy one on Rita's, the ices are free and the Gelati's are a buck. Sweet!

Would You Help My Friend Out? Pretty Please?

One of my friends from MomDot, Trisha (aka Red Trisha over there because there's the blog/board owner Trisha, two)is a finalist in a contest to win an Electrolux washer and dryer over at MomCentral.

Anway, Trisha is giving away 4500 EntreCard credits to those who register at Mom Centra, vote(for #8, Strawberry Red) and then Twitter about it. I'm not an EntreCard member, but I wanted to make sure you all knew and voted for her. She is an absolute sweetheart and I'd love to see her have front loaders.

Mom Central
will announce the winner on Monday.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Anonymity and the World Wide Web

Those who have been readers for a long time may have wondered a few things, like why do the kids have noms de blog, why my last name isn't on here and why sometimes, I can be really, really vague when talking about past situations when there is no need to be. It's really for my comfort, though you could really find these things out if you wanted to discover them.

At one time, the URL of the blog was the same as a screen name used in many places. Part of the change was because the name wasn't a good fit anymore, part of it was that I didn't want the blog to be easily discovered by anyone Googling that name. Funny how that played out back then-I wanted to control who had the knowledge that this was my blog. Blogging was not done by many people and was considered a 'geeky' activity, so it remained a hidden pursuit.

The Google thing is a big part of it, though. I've mentioned before that computers and the World Wide Web aren't new things in our house. My first computer? It was a 12 megahertz machine with a HUGE 40 megabite hard drive. The best part was that 2400 baud modem, so I could access Prodigy. (and it had DOS 3.1 as the operating system.) Several years later, a new computer, a 14.4 US Robotics modem and AOL, message boards and the Internet arrived. Thanks to Babbages, free accounts with *P, CompuServe and GEnie. My friend Henry and his computer store got me a free ISP account.

Being an inquisitive sort, I found the search engines. Dogpile was my favoritem because I could search for anything on it. This was mainly spurred on by employees who would bring in articles about Flaming Pop Tarts. It was fun finding the tales of the weird. Oh, the stories I could tell of what those guys would bring into work-consider them geek 'fishing expeditions'!

The World Wide Web wasn't commonly used as such, but the search engines proved their use with a newborn and his parents with questions about normal baby behavior.

At the same time, having your information out there might not be good. I bore the scars of a failed marriage and was still having the occasional anxiety attack as a result. I didn't want to be found in my new home. In real life, there were very few traceable items in my name, an unlisted phone number and a Switchboard account that listed 'knock knock' where the address and phone number should be. If anyone wanted to find me, they could, but on my terms.

In twelve short years, technology has come so far. Thanks to Google, it's easier to find people. Just three years ago, if you Googled my full name, you'd find three articles I wrote for a parenting site and a couple of trip reports. Now, you can find hundreds. Thank you, social networking. Most of those are links to me from the friends I have on Facebook.

If you don't want to be found, the answer is simple. Don't put yourself out there. There was a time where I didn't. I know those who think they are well hidden, but one simple Google search and boom, your information is available to anyone who wants it. For a long time, you couldn't do that for me.

That said, the more I've been blogging, the more I have been relaxing about my information. The main purpose for hiding myself really doesn't matter. It hasn't for many years, to be honest. My anxieties have mellowed and the further in the rear view my demons are, the more I ponder why I still feel the need to cloak myself.

I've got one steady writing gig beyond the blog and am about to embark on another soon. If not before, the question of why I keep myself partially anonymous has entered my thoughts lately, especially since there is so little that isn't discussed on the blog.

I'm proud of what I write. It's always been a hobby, but now writing is turning into something more than just what I do here at this one little homestead on the world wide web. Why wouldn't I want someone who knew me years ago or worked with me to be able to find it? Why should I keep them from doing so, all because of something that has no control over me anymore?

There is a purpose to this rambling. My promise to myself was that once the blog garnered 50 regular hits daily, I'd go to self hosted or pay for hosting with Wordpress or another similar service. That number has been exceeded since the first of the year.

I've been trying to figure out the right URL for the new home. Along with that, I'm wondering if it's time to 'reveal' myself, too. Should I really continue to keep my last name out of what I do?

Many things in life don't have easy answers, but for me, this one does.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What's For Dinner Wednesday

When the ides of March appears, this meal makes its way into the brain In this house, though, its corned beef and RED cabbage. Now, my house doesn't reek!

As far as the corned beef, I've done it in the crock pot before and it didn't taste quite right, the seasoning was missing something. This year, I realized that it was the allspice berries. Ding ding ding! It tasted right.

Now I've got leftovers-and a hearty corned beef hash is in the future. Yum.

Wordless Wednesday

Or my St.Patty's Day pot of gold came a day late. Can you figure out the gold I got?


More Wordless Wednesday posts can be found here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fun with the Webcam

This afternoon found Chef Jr and I out on the lanai, working on his science project. Lucky him, for we now have two methods with which to record his efforts on that front that he can review to write up his report that accompanies his project. (the Flip Ultra should market this product to the parents of kids with ADHD.)

Anyway, one of the methods employed was the web cam. After we'd finished recording the material we needed for the day, Chef and I had some fun and as soon as Gameboy got home, he joined in. So, enjoy some pictures of the SuzanneSez family as we sport our Irish by wearing green and/or shamrocks.**
I really think Chef is the spitting image of Ed when I look at pictures from when he was a kid, but looking at this, he's got a lot of my DNA, too.
The ham in him cannot resist something recording his performances, especially since he can see what's going on! Exhibit A.
Exhibit B, as if we needed more proof of what he's doing. This so needs to be my avatar somewhere!
Cracking me up, which is his goal in life. (and the display of the single, very cute dimple)
No, we don't joke around here!
Chef Jr is trying to give me rabbit ears, and Gameboy does NOT like that idea, hence the fighting hands behind me.
Awwww, I finally get a picture of the three of us. Pay no attention to the attempted rabbit ears behind me-that's what photoshop is for.
There is NEVER a dull moment around these parts when the boys are in the picture.

As for the St. Patrick's Day festivities, we'll put them on hold. Tomorrow's meal will be the traditional fare, because I won't be running to scouts and Ed will be home for dinner. Hope you all are enjoying your green beer, colcannon or other traditional St Patty's day meal.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sertoma Youth Ranch Camping

This past week's pack camping trip was to Sertoma Youth Ranch in Dade City, Florida. It was a nice, relaxing weekend-one where I only left the group campsite to visit the restrooms (A+ on those, btw)

The drive up US Highway 98. I was hoping the Jacob's Ladders would show up and it appears they did come out in digital form.
The entrance to the ranch. On the left, a horse retirement farm and to the right, the next county. Literally. We camped about 50 feet into Hernando County.

Friday the 13th night sky

The next morning, same field.

The requisite picture of our campsite

The requisite picture of the SuzanneSez family official camping breakfast.

Chef Jr making his paper boat for the Rain Gutter Regatta

The boats drying after a coat of acryllic.

Legend states that after you race the boats in a Rain Gutter Regatta, you are supposed to eat a HUGE sundae from it. Chef was the almost the last man standing.

Dinner that night was pouch meals.

My pouch after cooking.

The contents of my pouch. Next time, I'll do hot dogs-steamed hamburger, even with italian dressing, is bleh.

Saturday night, the kids were treated to movies and popcorn. Alvin and the Chipmunks and ET were the double feature.

Yes, you did see the Beetle. Ed had requested the weekend off, but someone else was on vacation. It was just me and the boys. The car wasn't packed as full as last time, even though I brought the same amount of stuff!

The field pictured had cows grazing, and they came over to the fence and were quite vocal at one point-guess they're used to people feeding them.

I enjoyed relaxing with another mom the majority of the time. Her two boys are very much like my two, so neither of us have to make apologies for having spirited children! Her boys are fascinated with our huge tent, and Friday night found one falling asleep in mine with Gameboy! We had an extra air mattress and blanket, he could have stayed.

Chef's boat fell apart after his first race, but he was fine with that. He knew there would be ice cream in his future-in fact, it ended up being lunch! That's because we'd been told there would be vendors there for the Florida Old Time Country Music championships. I decided that I'd get lunch from them. However, the batteries in my air pump decided to die Friday night, so I spent money earmarked for lunch on batteries.

The regatta and sundae following it kept getting pushed back, preventing me from hopping into town really quick with the boys. When I asked if they wanted the ice cream for lunch, both were quick to say "YES!". Thus, no trip into town and a decadent sundae as the mid afternoon meal.

Saturday night, movies were broadcast on a blue tarp and one of the leaders made loads of popcorn on a camp stove. It was a HUGE hit, and I suspect the boys will be asking for that again and again.

The campsite was extremely nice-wooded, with great shower and restroom facilities. They've got a playground and a few pavilions. I think this was a location that I'd love to visit again for family camping, the four of us and another family or two.

Next month brings a campsite even closer to home for us. Close enough that if Ed doesn't get the day off, I may head over and set up the tent early in the day, then bring the boys and the rest of the gear later.

I'm Honored As a Stalker

Grandy over at Functional Schmunctional has been a regular read of mine since last year's NaBloPoMo She's always funny and just a cool person to be hanging around with in the Blogosphere.

Grandy is a Success Story, which she shared with her audience last week. We all knew that Grandy is a diabetic (something she wrote about on World Diabetes Day ). Grandy does not sit down quietly and allow the disease to conquer her. No, she's a fighter. One that fights with humor.

So, why am I telling you all this about Grandy? Well, because if you're not already reading her blog, you should be. The cure for a crappy day is some good laughs, and she should be a stop on your 'get rid of my crappy day' tour.

Also, because she honored me with her Sunday Stalker Spotlight . This is her way of honoring her loyal readers and to get us all to check out some new blogs, too. (and comment. Heavy on the comment, please. We bloggy types can NEVER get enough of those!)

So go on over to Grandy's, settle in and enjoy the laughs that she has in store. You'll be glad you did.

I know I am!

(and without noticing, 1100 crept up on me!)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Evening Space Shuttle Launch

It is still pretty darn cool to stand in our driveway and watch a shuttle go up. I doubt that Ed or I will ever watch one and not be amazed at the sight. Meanwhile, the kids have grown up with the shuttle program always being there.

Tonight, I had the ability to record the event. The original plan was for me to set up the gorilla pod and prep ahead of time. Alas, I forgot, so this is hand held and twitchy, but it IS my first YouTube video upload.


Soundtrack Sunday-The Sounds of Camping

We just returned from a weekend of camping at the Sertoma Youth Ranch in Brooksville, Florida.

In addition to our cub scout pack, there were several other groups there and a country/bluegrass music festival. The campgrounds were filled with the sounds of fiddles, bass and banjos. Friday night, the music played until about 1 am, Saturday it was still going when I packed it in about 12:30.

I have a soft spot for bluegrass, ever since my Dad insisted on taking Giggles and I to the Grand Ole Opry in 1982 during our first 'Southern Exposure' vacation to the Knoxville World's Fair. It surprised my dad to hear some rebel yells coming out of me at the fine playing going on up on that stage. We all enjoyed it so much that when we decided to attend the New Orlean's World's Fair in 1984, Dad got tickets again and back to Nashville we went.

This weekend, we heard this song from a few of the groups that would have impromptu jams beside their RVs-ten or twelve people, all playing in perfect synchronization at a rapid fire pace. Good Old Rocky Top!

More about camping later.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Small Talk Six

This week's Small Talk Six is to "Name six things you love that are Green." I'm interpreting this one literally, rather than the 'green' moniker for things that are environmentally friendly. I hope you all don't mind.

1. Kermit.

If you're of my generation, as soon as you think of green things, this song inevitably comes to mind. Poor Kermie, he's not happy with being green-but I love him anyway.
2. M&M's

Yes, the legend isn't true about their abilities as an aphrodisiac, but I still love my peanut M&M's. It's a rare treat, because I don't keep anything with food dye in the house.
3. Asparagus.

I prefer it roasted in olive oil, with a sprinkling of garlic, kosher salt and pepper, but serve it any way and I'll eat it. Yum.
4.Mike Wazowski.

The neurotic, no respect partner to the warm and fuzzy Sully has a lot of charm beneath that frantic exterior. Any guy who'd allow his girlfriend to call him "Googly Bear" in public deserves some love!
6.Basil It makes italian food so much tastier, and is the reason why I love Insalata Caprese so much. Now, I just need to plant some in the yard so that I'm not paying through the nose at the grocery store!
6. Broccoli

Can I tell you how often someone sings "chopping Broccoli" to me, because I make it often. I prefer cooked and dipped into a tasty fondue, but I'll pretty much eat it any way it's served, and my Broccoli Bake gets raves from many.

Did you like my list? If so, why don't you join in? Head over to MomDot today and find the linky list for participants. I'd put it here, but this post is actually scheduled today, since I am camping with the kids. (If I get bandwidth where I'm going, I'll put the link in sometime Saturday-if not, it'll go up Sunday)

Friday, March 13, 2009

What Happens to your Pets if Something Happens to YOU?

Last week, my best friend Donna called me with some upsetting news. One of her friends, Susan, died suddenly at a young age (I believe Susan was younger than both of us, but I could be wrong.) It truly was a shock for Donna, a mutual friend and everyone who knew Susan.

I can't tell you how many times I'd call Donna on her 'weekend off' from work and find her with Susan or about to meet Susan for coffee at Starbucks. In fact, Donna usually had to clarify, because she had two friends in Jacksonville named Susan, both met through work-this Susan was "coffee Susan".

Donna is a HUGE animal lover. To the point that for a time, she worked as a part time pet sitter. She still does this for many of her friend's animals, Susan's two cats included. It is a given that if any of her fellow travel agent friends are doing FAM trips or taking advantage of one of the benefits of their career, Donna is offering to care for their pets.

And so it was with Susan. She had two loveable cats, one very social, the other a bit more timid. The cats were both showered with love and affection and pampered as pet lovers are known to do. While Donna is in shock and still processing the fact that Susan is gone, she has worried for these two cats. What will happen to them?

A coworker had assumed Susan's mother would take the cats and return to Pittsburgh with them. This was not the case. Developing a rapport with the cats over the years, Donna was trying to figure out what to do. Her apartment is small, she has an older (very loveable) dog who is accustomed to being the only animal. Donna is the type of owner who brings her animal to the vet for the slightest injury or illness-two more are not in the already tight budget. (not to mention the lease stipulations).

She tried to figure out solutions, who could take these cats? Someplace where they would be kept together, as they already were traumatized by their owner dying in their home. Donna asked around, a coworker offered to pay for the food if Donna would take them in.

As Donna shared the updates, I wished that I could help out. Our lease doesn't specifically state no pets, but our landlord has verbally expressed his preference that we not have any. With Gameboy and I having pretty severe cat allergies, it wouldn't be a good idea. I racked MY brain, trying to think of anyone I knew who could take them in, that would be the kind of owner they were accustomed to having. I came up blank.

Susan's family ultimately found a solution, after contacting every no kill shelter and rescue they could find. A gentleman running the Caboodle Ranch came to pick up the two cats the other night. This video shows their new home.

I am in awe of what Craig Grant does, but I can't help but mourn for these two cats. They were used to being the only two, lavished with love and affection from their human parent. Now, they'll be in an outdoor environment, two of many. Yes, they'll have food and shelter, but this is a huge adjustment for them. Thankfully, they are being cared for and weren't sent to a shelter that is probably full of animals who may or may not be put to sleep.

Today, I ask you a few things:

1. Do you have plans for your animals in the event that something happens to you? Have you put these plans in writing or discussed them with those you'd like to care for them? (Yes, Donna and I have discussed what would happen to Comet if something happened to her-he's like my dog by proxy already)

2. When getting a pet, do you consider what will happen to them if something happens to you? We do for our offspring, but the four legged should be given similar attention?

3. Would you consider donating money, time or resources to Caboodle Ranch or a similar facility in your area?

Those who know me know how much I love dogs. Part of the reason why I don't is because of the answers I give myself to questions one and two.

If you have pets, please give them a big hug today and consider it a hug from Donna and Susan.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tasty Thursday Time!

Head over to MomDot and you'll find recipes for Au Gratin Potatoes, Home Fries and Rosemary Oven Fries.

Wondering what I'm talking about?

Technical Difficulties

Three weeks in, the jury is still out on Vista. Oh, I love having the Toshiba laptop, especially one that doesn't have to be plugged into the wall at all times. The rundown is as follows:

-Battery that lasts for two hours
-fast start up
-the chimes at start up and shut down are pleasant
-the amount of shovelware was minimal
-it has a web cam
-it has a pcmcia slot (I just need to get the software installed to use my N card)
-it charges really fast

-If my cursor lands on a button or a hyperlink, it automatically launches it, whether I've clicked on it or not
-When I upload pictures, (which is pretty much daily), it uploads EVERY picture on the card and doesn't give me the option of selecting what to upload
-It is difficult to create folders of pictures the way I did in XP (see above), especially when each folder has an extra 300 pictures. Vista defaults to uploading all into folders by date. Sorry, I am NOT going to remember I took that picture of fajitas on March 11th, but I will remember that I featured fajitas in WFDW
-the speakers sound tinny. I'm used to decent speakers
-I don't have a simple on/off for the speakers. It's a potentiometer that doesn't even have a stop point.
-This is dumb, but I can't hide my web cam control bar. The first couple of days, it was a bumpout if I put the cursor in the top left corner of the monitor-now, it's always there and in the way!
-it didn't see my old laptop on the network, so porting over pictures, iTunes and documents was a pain in the butt.

All in all, it's a good machine and I'm happy with it. Not thrilled with Vista, but I'll figure out all the quirks designed for people who don't know crap about computers and are a pain for anyone who does.

Now, the Flip. I bought it to record Gameboy's meltdowns for his psychiatrist. If this meant I had it to vlog, well consider that a bonus. (Now that I'm doing review blogging, it's kind of needed anyway).

So far, I've made three movies and have been really pleased, BUT there are some things that new Flip Ultra owners should know:
1.As soon as you take the Flip out of the box, plug it in and install the firmware updates. Trust me on this.
2. It uses 2 AA batteries. You may want to stockpile them if you plan on doing a lot of recording.
3. When you make movies, it doesn't like segments shorter than 3 seconds. This is because it does wipes from one segment to another, so it needs a buffer of each.
4. A five second video (such as Earthquake!) takes 25 MINUTES to load on Blogger. A movie I'm trying to load on Launchpad still isn't on there after 5 hours of fiddling with it. Part of the problem may be on Ning's end, since this is the first video that ever has been uploaded (or attempted) on the site.

I'll expand on these further and put them on the review blog, but most of the day has been spent working with the things I don't like about either gadget, so it's fresh in my head.

**once I verify how exactly to get my data files off the iPod, whether I need to do it with the old machine or the new one, the hard drive will get clipped on the HP and we will finally have 4 machines for 4 members of the household.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What's For Dinner Wednesday, Now with Vlog!

Around here, Wednesday isn't Prince Spaghetti day. No, for a while when our fortunes were better and we lived near Cody's Roadhouse, Wednesday night was FAJITA night!!!!

They had two for one Fajitas every Wednesday. The whole family could have dinner and drinks and walk out the door spending 25 bucks (and that's with a good tip, too). If we hadn't prepared dinner, Ed or I would ask "Fajita night?"

And so, when I woke up this morning, this lovely meal popped into my brain. Sweetbay must have known I didn't have anything defrosted, too, because boneless chicken was on sale. We're in like flint.

Since we construct these individually, the kids love having them. To me, the best part is that there's plenty for us to have another meal of it.

Woohoo, it worked! Here's my first What's For Dinner Wednesday Vlog!