Friday, November 30, 2007

A Matter Of Taste?

For at least the second time this year, The Chicago Tribune has decided that a "Get Fuzzy "comic strip drawn by Darby Conley does not meet their "Standards of Taste" and have replaced it with an older strip of the same comic. As soon as I read this I immediately want to go get online and see the offending strip. As a regular reader of "Get Fuzzy", I'm both interested and a little outraged that the Trib would censor it.

So, here it is:

Not that bad in my opinion. Adults would get it, and most kids probably wouldn't. Also, it's not as if we aren't assaulted with worse four letter words on a daily basis on TV and other media outlets.

Although I have to admit I'm a little surprised at myself. I'm often decrying the ever coarsening of our culture, the fact that I can't turn on the TV without worrying that my kids will hear some obscene language, yet here I am feeling like "Get Fuzzy" shouldn't have been censored. I'm opposed to censorship. I feel people should let their feelings be known with their purses, because as we know in a consumer economy, if people don't buy it, producers and sellers of goods will change what they sell to entice those buyers back. It's good economic sense.

And while we're on the topic of the Tribune's comic strip choices, I'd like to throw my two cents in about the recent comic strip changes. The editors chose to get rid of "The Humble Stumble" and "Dog Eat Doug" to put in two new strips. While I'm all for new comic artists getting a chance in a large syndicated market, the editors got rid of two fun and entertaining strips but kept such crap as "Raising Hector," "Broom Hilda," "Shoe," and don't even get me started on "Cathy." Raising Hector is a poorly drawn strip with boring and to be quite honest puerile humor. The other three are just also ran strips that recycle the same tired jokes over and over again. "The Humble Stumble" offered a perspective not often shown in strips, a single dad raising a teen aged daughter. They also show how much they love each other without being overly sappy and with a lot of the trappings of a teen/ parent relationship. "Dog Eat Doug" was cute and fun, though not as good as "The Humble Stumble." I would be impressed if the Trib brought back HS and got rid of some old worn out strip, but I'm not holding my breath.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Guilty Pleasure

I love reality TV. Not the crappy "I Love New York" or "Big Brother" or shows like those. But the bulk of my TV watching has turned into reality show series. My absolute favorite is "Project Runway" on Bravo, but I also enjoy "Top Chef," "Ace of Cakes" (OK - almost anything on the Food Network), "American Idol," "Extreme Home Makeover," "Amazing Race," "Survivor," "Real World/ Road Rules Challenges," and my newest show, "Kid Nation."

I don't know what to say. I love "Kid Nation." Of all the reality shows I listed, maybe three warrant me not missing them. Most are ones I'll tune into if I can. But each week I come back to KN and find myself enjoying the kids triumphs and feeling sad when they cry over missing their parents. I love seeing the kids get the gold star and then having the opportunity to call their parents and tell them they just won a star worth $20,000. I enjoyed seeing them get somewhat grubby looking after a few weeks in Bonanza City. I love seeing them give each other another chance after someone has done something wrong or mean. I can't help but pull for them to win the reward for the town even after one team inevitably comes in last place and has to be the laborers, but still rejoices in the reward the whole town will get. I just plain like the show.

I don't know why I feel guilty. I mean, there is a lot of crap on TV today, yet I feel like I have to hide my devotion to reality shows. I think it is because everywhere I look, there are people saying how bad reality TV is and how it has taken away our creativity. Yet, I have a hard time finding a family friendly sitcom (or drama, for that matter) that I can sit down with my kids and feel safe to watch without worrying about coarse language, rude and sarcastic tones, and overt sexual innuendo. At least if I turn on "Dancing With The Stars" the worst my kids will be subjected to is skimpy dresses.

And I also read all the reviews of KN, including all of the controversy surrounding whether these kids were "abused" or not. The only one I found intelligent was the one about editing of a reality series in which certain people are made to look like a certain part, the villain or hero for example. It said that these kids may not understand how the editing of a series can change the way people see them, and that some of the kids may regret participating if they are portrayed in a less than positive light. I have also read the numerous reviews by people who simply find the show boring.

All of these things make me feel guilty for liking this show. But I do like it. And I'll keep watching it until the end.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's Not A Given

While I love the fact that the Buckeyes will be going to the Rose Bowl if the current standings in the BCS hold up, I love the possibility that they could be going to the National Championship even more if just one of the top two teams lose this Saturday.

I don't like the chances of 4-7 Pittsburgh beating West Virginia, though as we've seen this year anything is possible. However, at 7:00 PM, #1 Missouri takes on #9 Oklahoma. Either team could certainly win, and with a conference championship at stake they both want it bad. And if Oklahoma comes up with the win, my beloved Bucks would have to move up to #2, making them the other half of the two teams in the National Championship game.

Now, if I can only find a TV at the McKillip Christmas party for periodical updates I could have a great time this Saturday.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Girly Holiday Smorgasbord

I was firing up the DVD player this morning so my 3 year old could watch a show. As I was looking for the chosen DVD in the carousel, I realized that the DVD selections reflected the two youngest viewers in the household, a 5 year old female and a 3 1/2 year old female.

Here, in no particular order, is the five disc selections currenty cued up in our DVD player.

  • 1. Strawberry Shortcake - Berry Merry Christmas
  • 2. My Little Pony - A Very Minty Christmas
  • 3. Disney Princess - A Christmas of Enchantment
  • 4. Walt Disney's Classic Cartoon Favorites - Classic Holiday Stories
  • 5. Music from the TV Christmas Classics - A CD that the kids have been dancing to

We still have A Dora Christmas DVD and a Nick Jr. Christmas DVD, too. It's going to be a girly Christmas season this year!

Monday, November 26, 2007

I Wasn't Cold Last Night, But . . .

Yesterday at around lunch time Ian mentioned that he was cold. Brendan said he was cold, too. Now, I'm always cold, so for me to say something like that wouldn't have been surprising. But for my son and husband to say they were cold at essentially the same time was nothing short of amazing.

We ate our lunch, however and didn't give it much more thought until an hour later. Brendan was walking by the thermostat in the hallway and looked at it. It read 66 degrees F. Strange since we have it set at 68. So I came over to look at it and pressed "Run Program" figuring that would fix the problem. No dice. I decide to go down into the basement to look at the furnace. This of course was futile as I know absolutely nothing about how a furnace should run. I go back upstairs and tell Brendan the furnace is buzzing, but it doesn't sound too weird. He says, "Okay," and keeps checking the strands of Christmas lights for burnt out bulbs. I decide to try something new and I push the thermostat up to 70 degrees. I listen carefully and hear the familiar click of the thermostat, but no furnace running. I now go and report this to my Christmas light stringing husband and he finally decides to go down to the basement to look at the furnace. Through his dutiful inspection we discover that there is no flame coming on to heat the air that is to be blown through the house. Uh Oh.

Brendan calls the furnace guy (on a Sunday) and this is what I hear of Brendan's end of the conversation: "Well, we'll take a Monday appointment then. Between 8:00 and 10:00 AM, fine." Click. Uh Oh.

He informs me that an emergency appointment will cost us an extra $40 over a Monday appointment. So we inform the kids that if they get cold to put on an extra layer and sit under a blanket (preferably the brand new ones I got for them at Menard's the day after Thanksgiving for $1.85 each!)

So last night I wasn't cold sleeping. However, I did put two extra blankets on my bed and sleep in long johns under my winter pajamas. I also wore socks to bed. This morning the current temperature is 57 degrees F in the house as I wait for the furnace guy to come. I am still wearing long johns under my clothes and I also have my winter coat on (never took it off after taking my kids to school). I hope he gets here soon.

Update:The furnace guy was here and we have heat again!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Overheard At My Kitchen Table

"Mommy, it's hard making sunglasses with leafs. It's hard work. You don't use glue, you use tape."

It just made me smile.

Why Autumn Is Called Fall

I woke up this morning to a very cold and fairly gray looking morning. I went downstairs to make lunches for my two school aged kids and looked out the sliding glass doors to our backyard. We have two maples that have lovely yellow leaves that as of yesterday hadn't fallen off. Last night changed that. On the ground all around the trunk was a carpet of yellow leaves around both trees.

I then got back to my morning chores of pouring cereal into bowls, doling out vitamins, making sure morning snacks were packed into backpacks. After everyone was dressed, teeth brushed and coats put on and zipped up, we headed out the door to go to school. My kids school is in an older neighborhood with many beautiful and mature trees. Everywhere I looked I could see leaves fluttering calmly to the ground. Today must have been the days the leaves were supposed to fall, because they were falling all around me. It was really stunning to witness. What made it even more spectacular was that there was no wind blowing, so I knew these leaves were falling because it was time to fall, not because of some blustery weather.

I pointed out to Zoe some yards where I could not see one inch of grass, only yellow and brown leaves everywhere. She seemed fascinated and started to look at all the trees and yards with me. We watched as leaves floated to the ground at every corner. She told me it looked like it was "raining leaves." It was an apt description.

I just felt so blessed to have witnessed this beauty of nature. I was truly awed by God's amazing creation and so thankful to have gotten to witness it this morning.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Man I Love

Today is my husband's birthday. I've been around celebrating them with him since his 19th birthday. We've celebrated a lot of them together and I hope he knows how much I love him.

Happy Birthday, Brendan!

In recognition of this momentous day, I'm going to share with you all one of Brendan's favorite crock pot recipes (he doesn't like many of them, so this one is special!) It is also incidentally what we will be having for dinner tonight when we celebrate.

Sausage & Pepper Sandwiches

5 uncooked Italian sausages
1 medium green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium sweet red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1/8 tsp. pepper
5 hoagie or sausage buns

In a large skillet, brown sausage links on all sides over medium heat. (I find spraying the pan with cooking spray ahead of time useful to help the sausages not stick.) Place sausages in crock pot. Put in peppers and onion. Pour tomato sauce over mixture in crock pot. Stir in to mixture slightly. Sprinkle pepper over mixture. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until sausage is no longer pink. Serve on buns.
Yield: 5 servings

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween Round Up

Wow, the last part of October has been a whirlwind of activities and illnesses. Fortunately many of the colds/ flu bugs flying around our house seem to be on the way out.

A few weekends ago we decided to go to the same pumpkin farm we went to last year because we liked how it was simply a farm where you walked into the field and picked out your pumpkins. Brendan and I have been increasingly irritated with the "kidification" of all activities on earth. While there is a time and a place for slides and video games (like at Chucky Cheese), we are getting tired of shelling out extra money so our kids can go on a carny ride at the apple or pumpkin farm. It's not just the money, though. It's also the message that the activity (apple picking, pumpkin picking, etc.)in and of itself is not enough fun, there must be some kind of external goodies and rides that make the experience unforgettable. The thing is, my kids love the activity without the extras, but of course if we go somewhere with those extras, we are the ones saying "no." (And it is getting harder and harder to find places without these extraneous activities.)

Anyhow, as we approach the farm, we see a sign that reads "Farm moved 4 miles east down road." So, we decide to drive down the road four miles, assuming there will be signs showing us the new location of our pumpkin farm. No dice. At about the 5 1/2 mile mark, we decide to turn around
when I see a small wooden pumpkin sign up ahead on the side of the road. I tell Brendan to go see what it says. When we get close enough to read it, it says Pumpkins - 8 miles down Grove Road. It is not the pumpkin farm we had originally come to go to, but at this point we had few options so we decide to drive the eight miles down the road. Along the way there were several more homemade pumpkin signs and after six or seven minutes of driving we see the most amazing pumpkin farm ever. No rides, no caramel apples, just pumpkins everywhere you looked! Turns out we stumbled upon Heap's Giant Pumpkin Farm, where all they sell is pumpkins. They boasted of 30 varieties of pumpkin and truly, there were pumpkins I had never seen before, along with giant pumpkins that looked like a lot of fun. After checking out the many different pumpkins and the kids giving them the once over, we decided on two nice large orange ones and the girls got two "baby" pumpkins to take home. It was tons of fun, and not one ride in sight. Definitely a farm we will be visiting in the future.

On Tuesday night we carved the pumpkins, one with a traditional scary face, the other with our Martha Stewart drill method. The kids loved helping drill the holes all over the pumpkin and every person in the family drilled a few holes. It made for a fun and different pumpkin from the average jack o'lantern.

Wednesday was all about the candy and the costumes. Ian decided on an army guy, and wore his Grandpa's old army shirt and some olive green pants to round out the costume. Zoe was an absolutely adorable Scooby Doo. And then there was Emma. All October she talked about how she was going to be Princess Aurora or Cinderella for Halloween. We had both dresses in our dress up stock, so either choice would be easy. Then on Tuesday night she decided she wanted to be a fairy for school and wore a white angel outfit with purple wings. When she came home after school, Ian, Emma and Zoe went to the basement to retrieve their pumpkins for collecting candy. Emma found a witch's hat and asked if she could be a witch for trick-or-treating. It just so happens Emma has a black hand-me-down dress that I just put in her closet two or three days ago. We put a purple shirt underneath, some black tights, and the hat on top of her head completed the outfit. She was the cutest witch in Aurora.

At about 4:45, all the neighbor kids started ringing our bell and the natives were getting restless. Brendan got home at about 5:00 and the four of them took off for about an hour of candy gathering while I stayed home to pass out the goods to the other costumed kids. After a quick meal of mac and cheese, Ian and Emma headed out again for about 30 minutes to some other houses and came back with even more goodies. Grandpa made a Halloween appearance as Albert Einstein and passed out even more chocolatey goodness before everyone changed into jammies and got ready for bed. It was a fun night.