Friday Fun, Life

Fleeting Thoughts

MK is mad at me.

Which he really doesn’t have a right to be because he only brought this on himself.

MK is grounded – sort of.

We have a “retain privileges” policy in our home, and it’s tied directly to their “job”, i.e. school and their grades. If the boys keep in the A to C+ range, they get to keep their unlimited video/computer play time. If their grade drops to a C or a C-, then their play time is reduced to three hours, but still unlimited time on the weekends. If their grades drop in the D+ to F range, they lose all play time, period. They will get it back when they raise their grades.

Simple, right?

MK has been blowing school off. He’s now a solid “C” student. This is very disappointing because MK is not an average kid – he’s definitely above average. He’s a smart kid – he’s just being a turdwad right now. I’ve been warning the boy for weeks now that his grades were dropping, that if he didn’t buckle down and get serious, he was going to lose that precious play time. He blew me off and would not take any suggestions I gave him to get more organized (his excuse being that he “forgot” – I hate that excuse). So, now we’re at the stage where his play time has been reduced and he has no one to blame but himself.

This is especially bad because today? Friday? The kids are out of school – it’s a teacher workday. This means that MK only has three hours to play all day today. Bummer. On top of that, I promised the boys that the next short break they could purchase a new game for the Xbox (with their own money), so GD purchased it. And MK is DYING to play it. But I told him no, because it’s just another distraction from his “work.” He needs to quit blowing school off and get his work done. We don’t reward mediocre work, ESPECIALLY when I know the boy is more than capable of doing better, he’s just choosing not to. (His attitude has been SUCKING lately – but that’s a post for another time).

He’s furious and I say TOUGH. However, before you think I’m too cruel, consider this.: MK wasn’t all that interested in bringing his grades up UNTIL GD bought this new game and he couldn’t play it. Suddenly, he’s taking an active interest in bringing his grades back up. It’s all about motivation in our household.

We’re going to a high school football game tonight. And I’m really looking forward to it. I haven’t been to a high school football game since … well, high school. GD’s school is playing my husband’s Alma Mater – that should be fun. 😀 MK is playing with the high school band to give him a little glimpse about what it will be like to be part of a high school band. (They’re prepping the kids because so many kids lose interest in playing music and drop out of band by the time they get to be in high school).

It’s supposed to be a chilly evening – perfect weather to cozy up with my husband in a blanket and drink hot cocoa. GD is not really looking forward to going, but he’s not exactly being a jerk about it, either. I think he’s curious, quite frankly. He’s not thrilled about hanging out with his parents, though. We did offer him to invite one of his buds along and they could sit somewhere else, but he just shrugged and said, “Nah.” So, I’m thinking it’s not embarrassing him that much. I’ll try to take some pictures to share with you all.

We canceled MK’s music lessons. And we have vetoed the black saxophone purchase – it’s just too freaking expensive, folks. Though we are using the money that would have gone to lessons and putting that aside to save for an intermediate saxophone – a compromise, if you will. The saxophones we were looking at were professional grade – hence the price. This way, we’ll build more equity in his rental and then that, paired with our savings, we’ll be able to buy MK a better saxophone without having to take out a loan. And, if it gets a bit banged up, we won’t freak out quite as much as we would if it was professional quality.

MK was pretty bummed about not getting a black saxophone, but he’s okay with this compromise. I think he might be just a tad relieved that he won’t be responsible for carrying a $3,000 saxophone around. That’s just too much pressure for a 13-year old boy.

I’ve started my Christmas shopping. The husband and I ran into some little candy mushroom containers (from the Mario series) at Hallmark. So I bought a couple to put into the boys’ stockings. I also found something for the husband’s stocking, but I can’t tell you because he reads my blog. (Hi honey!)

I’ve asked the boys and my folks to make a wish list. October is generally when I start my shopping because I like to stretch it out so we can pay our credit card bill off as we go along as opposed to being slapped in the face with a huge debt in January.

Here’s a tip if you’re shopping online: if you find yourself shopping at a store that you haven’t shopped at before or you don’t quite trust (you know the shops I’m talking about), then check to see if your credit card company has some sort of “virtual” account number program.

For example, we use a Citibank credit card. We use it for everything – we don’t carry cash and we don’t write checks. This way, we’re earning frequent flyer points so we can cash them in every few years and fly for virtually nothing (we went to Washington D.C. this past summer for $40.00 – for all four of us!!). One of their benefits is their virtual account number program. So, for example, when I bought the husband’s stocking stuffer the other day, I went through a website I wasn’t familiar with. To be on the safe side, I obtained an alternative credit card number from Citibank so I didn’t have to use our regular number. It’s a temporary number they assign you that’s only good for one purchase before it expires. So, if someone tries to steal it, it won’t work. And by using a temporary number, thieves won’t have access to our account.

This happened last year. We bought something for GD on a questionable website and before we knew it, someone tried to use our card. Our credit card company, being on the ball, caught the unusual transactions and notified us immediately. We shut the number down and was re-issued another one. Now, to prevent that from happening to us in the future (because we do a lot of online shopping), we use a temporary card number.

I highly recommend it.

I bought a funky pink notebook to put my NaNoWriMo project in at Staples yesterday. It’s called a “hybrid” notebook – it’s half notebook, half binder. (Have you noticed “hybrid” is the new buzzword?) It’s pretty cool and I’m really looking forward to filling it. Speaking of NaNoWriMo, I’ll be posting excerpts from my prologue every Thursday in November. Hopefully, it’ll make you want to read more!

Banned Books Week runs through Monday. I found this little gem on BoingBoing just now.

Adrienne sez, “We’ve created a ‘live’ Banned Book Display at our library [Twin Hickory Public Library, Glen Allen, VA]. We have volunteer readers who sit in the display and read (silently) banned and challenged books. So far it’s gotten a lot of attention – we hear a lot of ‘Mom, what are those people doing in there?’ The best part has been hearing parents explain to their kids what the display is all about which is exactly what we wanted to happen!”

HAHA! Isn’t that awesome!! I love the “See Live Humans Read” caption. Too funny!! And I love how it’s prompting questions from our young people – the minute you make something a big deal, it is. It’s better to talk about these things and educate our children correctly than leaving it up to them to find erroneous answers.

THE OCTOBER PHOTO CONTEST STARTS TOMORROW!! You can check out the details here.

I just ate three donuts – I have to do Turbo Jam now.




Debating the “Facts”

I’m sorry, I don’t mean to turn this blog into a political forum, but don’t you find all of these misquotes and incorrect assumptions, from both parties, just fascinating? If checking teaches you anything it should be this – politicians like to twist, turn, stretch, distort and exaggerate the truth all in order to make themselves look good – NO ONE is being completely straight with you – remember that.

It’s amazing that we can believe anything they say at all. Isn’t it sad that we’ve been reduced to vote for the lesser of two evils? I know that 98% of all political campaigns are like this, but now, right now, it’s more important than ever, with our economy on the edge of a cliff, flailing it’s arms in a desperate attempt to find its balance once again, to get an administration in there that will champion the people.

Is that even possible?

Did you watch the Vice Presidential debate last night? I wasn’t going to – I honestly wasn’t. But the husband turned it on and the voices lured me in. I think both candidates did very well. I disagreed with Biden on everything but what we should do in Iraq and Afganistan – I definitely think we need to issue a timeline and give the people a chance to govern their own countries for a change. I don’t know what channel you watched the debates on, but we watched it on a channel that kept track of the audience’s reaction and it was really interesting to see how it would fluctuate over the candidates’ spiel on different issues.

Here is a summary of the debate from

Biden and Palin debated, and both mangled some facts.

* Palin mistakenly claimed that troop levels in Iraq had returned to “pre-surge” levels. Levels are gradually coming down but current plans would have levels higher than pre-surge numbers through early next year, at least.

* Biden incorrectly said “John McCain voted the exact same way” as Obama on a controversial troop funding bill. The two were actually on opposite sides.

* Palin repeated a false claim that Obama once voted in favor of higher taxes on “families” making as little as $42,000 a year. He did not. The budget bill in question called for an increase only on singles making that amount, but a family of four would not have been affected unless they made at least $90,000 a year.

* Biden wrongly claimed that McCain “voted the exact same way” as Obama on the budget bill that contained an increase on singles making as little as $42,000 a year. McCain voted against it. Biden was referring to an amendment that didn’t address taxes at that income level.

* Palin claimed McCain’s health care plan would be “budget neutral,” costing the government nothing. Independent budget experts estimate McCain’s plan would cost tens of billions each year, though details are too fuzzy to allow for exact estimates.

* Biden wrongly claimed that McCain had said “he wouldn’t even sit down” with the president of Spain. Actually, McCain didn’t reject a meeting, but simply refused to commit himself one way or the other during an interview.

* Palin wrongly claimed that “millions of small businesses” would see tax increases under Obama’s tax proposals. At most, several hundred thousand business owners would see increases.

For full details on these misstatements, and on additional factual disputes and dubious claims, please read on to the Analysis section.

All I know is … given the fact that no one in the political arena ever really tells us the truth, how can we possibly entertain the fact that we need MORE government in our lives? That just seems so counter-productive to me.

Oh, and a quick sidenote: I LOVED what Palin said about the media: “I like being able to answer these tough questions without the filter, even, of the mainstream media kind of telling viewers what they’ve just heard. I’d rather be able to just speak to the American people like we just did”.

Amen. Wouldn’t that be refreshing great? If the media would just report the facts and keep their snotty, biased opinions to themselves? The media just steams my broccoli.

In conclusion, here are some of my favorite quotes from their closing statements:

Palin: I’ve been there. I know what the hurts are. I know what the challenges are. And, thank God, I know what the joys are, too, of living in America. We are so blessed. And I’ve always been proud to be an American.

Biden: You know, in the neighborhood I grew up in, it was all about dignity and respect. A neighborhood like most of you grew up in. And in that neighborhood, it was filled with women and men, mothers and fathers who taught their children if they believed in themselves, if they were honest, if they worked hard, if they loved their country, they could accomplish anything. We believed it, and we did.

If they only practiced what they preached – think what a better country we’d live in!