Sunday, January 31, 2010

Couch to 5K: Week 1 Review

I thought I'd wrap up the week with a few thoughts about where I'm at.  The kids are hungry, but arguing over tonight's video is keeping them busy enough not to realize I'm not upstairs cooking dinner yet.  Yay for arguing!  (Never thought I'd say that.)

After one week of running, I'm still feeling like this goal may be bigger than me, but I see myself growing to keep pace with it.  To be honest, I'm amazed at what I've done.  I know running 30 seconds and walking 30 seconds for 20 minutes isn't much, but for me, it's more than I thought I could do.  I'm nervous and hopeful about my run on Tuesday, when I'll be bumping it up to a minute of running and a minute of walking.

Every time running day comes near, I start to think of all the reasons to not do this.  I know what they really are, though.  Excuses.  I choose not to make excuses that will rescue me from doing something amazing.  How silly it would be to do otherwise.

I've been wanting to write down a list of my obstacles and my blessings in the endeavor, to give honor to both and move forward realistically and knowledgeably. 

Obstacles
- Fatigue.  Getting home from work at midnight, blogging til one, and then jumping out of bed at 7 to run isn't fun.  I will run anyway.
- My ankles.  I'm working on the shoe situation.  I learned the hard way on Saturday that the soft running track with the wood chips is harder on my ankles than pavement, so I'm going back to pavement on Tuesday.  Really, I'm in the market for better shoes.  I will run anyway.
- My diet.  This needs to change. I'm working on it.  I will run anyway.
- 33 years of the false belief that I can't run.  I will run anyway.
- Fear.  I'm afraid of injury.  I'm afraid of failure.  I'm afraid of success.  I will run anyway.
- My weight.  My cushion...my protection...my shield...me.  I like who I am, and I fear that changing this body is to say I don't love this body.  I love this body.  I honor this body.  Running may change this body.  I will run anyway.

Blessings
- Phazes Fitness.  There's no way around it.  I could not do this without them.  My training calls are motivating, informative, and exactly what I need to keep going and succeed.  I will run because I have received this blessing.
- My family.  "You going running, mom?"  This motivates me.  I'm a running mom...a mom who is doing something good and healthy, and my kids are seeing it.  They cheer me on and inspire me to keep going.  "You're so awesome, love."  This motivates me.  My husband is my best friend, my greatest supporter, my loudest cheerleader.  I will run because I have received this blessing.
- My faith.  Don't think for a minute that I do this without prayer.  Once I hit the 17 minute mark, I pray with every footfall.  My Father in Heaven answers, and I find the strength to keep running.  I will run because I have received this blessing.
- My readers.  You're out there with me every time, and I thank you for it.  You provide support, accountability, and cheers.  Some of you are running with me, preparing to build your own teams to run as part of the Team Mother Load super team.  You inspire me with your stories and encourage me with your belief in what I'm doing.  I will run because I have received this blessing.
- Life, legs, opportunity.  Watching the news reports from Haiti over the last two weeks has reminded me of just how much I have.  There is no more room for whining in my life.  I will run because I have received this blessing.
- My friend, Heidi.  She is a breast cancer survivor and someone I admire more than I think she will ever know.  I am not facing biopsies, mastectomy, chemo, or reconstructive surgery and all the pain that goes with all of that.  I am getting off my fat butt to run a few times a week.  I do it in honor of Heidi who is stronger than I.  It's all I have to offer and I hope it's enough.  I will run because I have received this blessing.

It's getting kind of deep in here.  Also, the kids have stopped arguing and have realized I'm in my room instead of the kitchen.  Until next time...

This week's carnival is a bit bare.  The carnival promotors forgot to tell the vendors they were coming to town, so there aren't many posts to read.  What that really means is that I'm new to the carnival thing and didn't realize I had to update the carnival date weekly on the Blog Carnival website. It's updated now, so next week should be a larger post.

This is not to say that I'm not excited about the submissions I do have for Edition 2.  This is great stuff!

OnlineCollege presents Top 100 Blogs to Improve Your Writing in 2010 posted at Universities and Colleges.  And here you see the true reason I host a weekly blog carnival.  I want tips like this in my life!

We have more humor from Madeleine Begun Kane in A Valiant Guy’s Guide To Valentine’s Day posted at Mad Kane's Humor Blog.  Ladies, you'll want to share this link with the men in your life.

Pamela Jorrick offers a thought-provoking and insightful post in Arranged Marriage? posted at Blah, Blah, Blog.

That's all for today.  More to follow next week!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Nope...never seen that before.

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Mom, today I learned that bumper stickers like this never get old...in opposite world.

Friday, January 29, 2010

On Science Fairs and Slave Labor

Every person with the title of parent has several subtitles.  You might be a Soccer Parent or a Ballet Parent.  Some are Drama Club Parents or Odyssey of the Mind Parents.  I've been a Choir Parent, a Baseball Parent, and a Karate Parent.  These last couple of weeks, I have become a Science Fair Parent.

Before you jump to any conclusions, let me state for the record that I am a Science Fair Parent, but I'm not one of those Science Fair Parents.  Anyone who's ever participated in or attended a science fair knows what kind of parent I'm talking about.  Those Science Fair Parents are the ones who do the entire project for their children with visions of fame and glory fueling the fires of their homemade volcanoes.

You're thinking of that 8 year old with the mechanically orbiting solar system with real solar flares, moons that affect tides, space shuttles zipping in and out of planets against a backdrop or sparkling stars and set to a recording of Carl Sagan's "Cosmos."  You looked at that kid as she beamed and proclaimed, "I made it myself!" and wondered if the judges had taken crazy pills when they gave her first prize.

There was a kid in my school with one of those Science Fair Parents.  She and her partner did a project on the way in which rivers flow.  They had a display the size of a dining room table covered with a well-made, plastic landcape.  A switch under the display started the water works, and suddenly, that landscape, complete with a village, had water running through its vast array of riverbeds.  Children and adults swarmed the display and offered their rapt oohs and aahs.

My childhood friend, Andrea (Hi, Andrea! Isn't Facebook Friend Finder great?) and I stood next to our flood display and knew we were sunk (heh).  Our display consisted of a cake sized clear plastic container in which we'd flooded a much more modest town with lovely, clear water that made it look like we'd brought in a collection of very small bath toys and were offering a dip to any elves who might be in the room.

That's all I have to say about that.

So, there's a science fair coming up, and while I am firmly committed to not doing my daughter's project for her, I have become a Science Fair Parent.  My definition of Science Fair Parent is a parent who encourages and assists her child in completing a science fair project, not for the acquisition of fame and glory but for a much nobler purpose: to answer questions I need answered.

It's a wonderful moment when you realize you have a passel of mini scientists in the house just waiting for someone to turn their little brains in the direction of an experiment.  Ladies and gentlemen, I have stumbled upon a research goldmine.  Slave labor, thy name is science fair.

I don't know if Miriam knows I used her scientist skills for my own personal edification.  She had a lot of fun using them, anyway.  I bought a bag of ice melting salt at the beginning of the season and wanted to know if it was actually worth the price.  If table salt works just as well, I certainly won't be buying the pricey stuff again.  Miriam set to work on my question, I mean, her project, and the results were more than satisfactory for this mom.

When I think about it, my kids have always been employed in this way.  For instance, they helped me learn that 2 in 1 shampoos are complete garbage and result in dry, tangled hair that's impossible to comb.  I've learned the relative strength of cabinet doors in every type of wood, ie. not strong enough for my kids to swing on.  I once observed a chemical reaction on the floor of my son's room when he decided to make brownies on the carpet and then clean it up with Ajax.

The great news for me is that after seeing her sister's skills put to use, Cate has approached me with science fair dreams in her own head.  She's not required to enter a project like her sister is, but extra credit is more than enough motivation for her to put in the work.  Now my head is swimming with experiments I need her to do, and I'm again laughing softly to myself over my own good fortune.

Let the other parents do the grunt work for a ribbon.  I'm opening my own lab.

Further evidence...

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Mom, today I learned I'm another step closer to solving the mystery of the cat hair on my clothes.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I found this week's Awesome Product at the end of my first Couch to 5K run and took it as a sign from God that I was doing a good thing and should continue. This was fortuitous, since a moment or two before had found me with a string of words I try not to say aloud running through my exhausted head.

I was heading over to a drinking fountain for a much needed moment of hydration when I saw this woman and her three well behaved, canine friends.

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As I approached the fountain, I wondered how people get water for their dogs from a fountain like this.  Being a cat person by nature, I'd never thought of it.  I soon found my answer when I watched the woman, whose name I completely forgot to ask and whom I will refer to as Nice Woman with Dogs Who Didn't Run Away From the Crazy Blogger (NWDWDRAFCB), dump water out of this:

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The Outward Hound Port-a-Bowl is a water dish for dogs made of fabric, a design which allows it to be folded up and stored pretty much anywhere.  As you can see from the first picture, NWDWDRAFCB was out for a leisurely stroll with just a medium sized bag to carry what she needed.  Once the Port-a-Bowl had served its purpose, it went into that bag and she and the dogs were on their way.

There's a lot to love about this product.  First, there's the brand name.  I love all things punny, so "Outward Hound" has my stamp of approval from the get-go.  Along the same lines is the store where NWDWDRAFCB puchased the dish, The Dog's Meow.  Its name is too cute for words, so it's okay by me.

The whole concept of a portable, foldable water dish is, in my opinion, the work of a genius of practicality.  It really can be taken anywhere you take your dog.  It's something I'd like to think I would have thought of had I been a dog owner.  If my cats didn't mind leashes and walks, I'd buy one for them.  (I might buy one anyway and place it next to the toilet in my bathroom to discourage their usual drinking habits.)

Finally, I love the price.  I was willing to endorse this product up to $30 simply because I think it's awesome.  When I checked out the site and saw it was available for under $5, I was ready to buy one for every dog owner in my life.  I keep going back to the page to see if I'm mistaken.  Nope...$2.94.  Seriously,  if you're a dog owner, you need to buy this bowl.  Now.

(Thanks to NWDWDRAFCB for allowing me to accost you at the park and take your picture.  If you did, indeed, google the blog and are reading this now, shoot me an email so I can get your name.)

Couch to 5K: Day 6

A conversation between body parts, January 28, 2010.

Ankles: Ouch!  This hurts!  What is up?  Hey abs!  I thought we realized last time that if you guys tighten up, we ankles don't hurt so much.  What gives?
Abs: Sorry, ankles.  No can do today.  Stomach's still reeling from that late night trip to Denny's with Richard last night.
Stomach: Blaaaaarg.
Ankles: DENNY'S?!  She's training for a 5K and she goes to DENNY'S?!  What did she eat?
Stomach: Buuuuuuuhhhh hot wings and zesty nachos.
Ankles: Stomach! What were you thinking?
Stomach: Gaaaaah, don't blame me.  Mouth was more involved than I was.
Ankles: Mouth!  Explain yourself!
Mouth:  Oh, it was good. It was so very, very good.
Ankles: It figures.

Sarah: So today I learned that I should not eat a plateful of junk the night before a running day.
Ankles: That was TWO plates full, and you shouldn't eat it any day.  Are you trying to kill us?

Sarah: So today I learned that I should not eat junk.
Ankles: Yeah, and if you don't stop, so help us, we'll quit on you.  We MEAN it!
Sarah: No more junk as long as I'm training.  I promise.
Ankles: Not good enough.
Mouth: Give her a break.  Everyone needs to splurge every now and then...or every day...several times a day.
Ankles: Mouth, stay out of this.  You got us in this mess in the first place.
Sarah: How 'bout no more junk except for on special occasions not to exceed twice a month?
Ankles: It's not great, but it's probably more than you can handle anyway.  We'll take it.
Sarah:  Thanks.  Really, I'll do it.
Ankles: Yeah, yeah. 
Sarah: I love you.
Ankles: Don't push your luck.

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Mom, today I learned it's officially bikini season?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Stupid Product: The Cry Translator

All the parents in the room raise your hands. Do you remember the days when your kids were babies and cried? Do remember what it was like to look at that helpless, screaming baby and have no clue what she wanted?

Parents, you're in LUCK! Wait, wait...scratch that. Parents with iPhones, you're in LUCK! You can now purchase The Cry Translator App for iPhone and turn those tears into smiles as your phone translates your baby's cries for you! No need to spend time getting to know your infant. Let the phone do the parenting while you relax.

I had a cry translator when my kids were babies. It was called my brain. My brain learned every single cry. There was the "I'm hungry" cry. The "I'm in pain" cry. The "I'm bored" cry. The "I'm stuck" cry. The "My older brother is trying to sit on my head" cry (that one was more muffled). The "I'm just crying to see how many times you'll come back" cry. My favorite was the "I CAN'T FIND MY FINGERS! WHERE DID THEY GO?!" cry.

The FAQ at the Cry Translator site say that this product takes only 10 seconds to tell you why your child is crying...as long as there isn't much background noise. So, ixnay on the TV, the great outdoors, shopping malls, and older siblings.

When asked why anyone would need this, considering parents learn their babies' cries just fine without it, the FAQ state that there's a learning curve, and I guess you might as well prolong that with a machine that takes all the effort out of the learning process. (That's a paraphrase, of course.)

Even if it does tell anxiety ridden parents why their babies are crying, is it really that hard to check a diaper? Put a baby to breast? Do a little rocking and singing while you make up a bottle or restart a mobile?

I guess if they're not available on iPhone, they're just too difficult.


(Thanks to Jauna G. for the Stupid Product idea!)

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Mom, today I learned that extra bounce in my step wasn't a sudden enjoyment of running.  It was play dough.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ever since he got his current phone, my husband has developed the habit of watching youtube videos late at night when he should be sleeping. For awhile, he was addicted to Autotune the News. After that, it was Failblog.

I get home from work at close to midnight and often find him completely under the covers (because he had thought about going to sleep and then decided to watch "just one more video") in various states of laughter, from chuckle to guffaw. I'm then treated to a viewing of whatever he just watched. This continues until I pummel him with my pillow and remind him I need to BLOG ALREADY!

Two nights ago, no amount of pummeling, begging, or ignoring could stop his giggly outbursts and his frequent and excited cries of, "Watch this!" What was so amazing that it had to interrupt my work?  What was so funny I had to watch it right that very minute?

A math show.  He interrupted my blogging to show me a math show he used to watch when he was younger and just as math crazy as he is now.

I know what you're thinking.  How does this couple stay together?  How do two people so mathematically incompatible make it work?  Here's what I try to remember.

I love Richard.
Richard loves me.
I hate math.
Richard loves math.
I punish him with country music.
That makes us even.

I don't remember ever watching Square One TV, probably because I thought it was of the devil and that watching it would erase my name on the Heaven reservations list.  Watching it now makes me laugh out loud for various reasons.  a) The clothes and hair.  b) The excitement with which these people are singing about geometry.  c) The fact that on the day I met Richard (all the way back in 1994), he was wearing shorts like the guy on the left.  d) The memory of Richard's head bopping to the beat, his eyes alive with the wonder of the math lover. 

Don't cry for me, readers.  He's a really great guy in every other way.

Couch to 5K: Day 4

I'm back from my second attempt at running, having learned a bit from the first time out.  Saturday morning found me desperately wanting to give myself the out my trainer gave me and only run 10 minutes.  However, I knew if I didn't manage 20 minutes the first time, it would just be staring me in the face the second.  I made it through by the sheer force of my will, and a little help from God and the Winder Dairy man.  (I was trying to use a couple of slow walkers in front of me as an excuse to quit early. A Winder Dairy truck pulled up with a sign that said, "Free Samples," and the slow walkers were history.)

What I learned on my first walk/run is that my ankles don't like running, me, or life in general.  I powered through some pain and then shared my experience with my trainer during my weekly call yesterday.  She recommended going to a specialty store for actual running shoes and letting the sales associate take a look at my gait and find shoes that would correct it.  She also told me to pay attention to the way I was running and to learn a little bit about how to run correctly.

Since that call happened prior to my 8 hour workday, I didn't have time to beg Richard for shoe money or hit up any specialty stores before my run this morning, so I settled for a late night trip to Wal Mart for some gel insoles and ankle wraps.  I found the insoles below, which seemed PERFECT for running.

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Unfortunately for me and any other female, Wal Mart only carries these in the male variety.  Because, you know...girls don't play sports.  Boo.  I grabbed a pair of the non-sport insoles and began writing a disgruntled letter in my mind.

This morning, I strapped on the wraps and stepped into my newly gel-enhanced sneakers and felt ready to run with less pain.  I opened the door to this:

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I really need a treadmill.

I'm happy to say that I had less ankle pain today, though there was still some present.  I took Michelle's advice and paid attention to the way I walked and ran and found that my ankles bow outward at the end of each step.  When I asked my ankles for clarification on why they choose to do this, they said, "Hello!  We haven't gotten any bigger.  YOU have!"  Like a rickety table bowing under the weight of an outlandish Thanksgiving spread, my ankles are bearing the brunt of a fat woman who never considered how this weight might be affecting them.  Sorry, ankles.  I'll work on that.

The good news is that after experimenting a bit, I found that tightening my abs and standing up taller completely corrected the ankle problem.  I can either spend my in between days working on my core with pilates, or I can strap on a girdle while I run.  Though girdle is one of my favorite words (Just look at it!  Doesn't it give you the giggles?), I think I'd rather tone my muscles the hard way.

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Mom, today I learned that chocolate pudding works very well as finger paint.  I'm saving this piece of art for a rainy, chocolate deprived day.  What?  Don't act like you wouldn't do it too!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Outrageous News: Chimp Custody Battle

The first words that stand out in this story, for me, are "...judge ruled against a paternity test..."  I don't know about you, but I'm having all sorts of uncomfortable yet hilarious thoughts here.  ("Test results are in.  You're not the monkey's father.  You're the monkey's uncle.  I'm sorry.")

Sense of humor check: Did you miss the laughter above because you had to hurry and write me an email to tell me that chimps aren't monkeys?  You should read more of this blog and relax a little.  Just sayin'. 

The story of the custody fight for the chimpanzee is unfolding in Sarasota, FL, and is practically Dickensian in its details.  (Well, the details that don't involve an ape.)  James Mike Casey, the disgruntled "dad" of the chimp in question, says his ex-wife lied to him, telling him the chimp died shortly after being born and then sold the chimp illegally to a Hollywood company.  Little Oliver Chimp, no doubt, escaped and took up with a ragtag bunch of street chimps and started hustling for a gorilla named Fagin before being recaptured in time for the lawsuit.

Ah, but I joke.  Apparently, chimpanzees are big business and that's why this case landed in court.  For reasons completely unknown to me, chimps are worth $50,000.  Casey wants his chimp or he wants his money.  Unfortunately for him, he didn't bother having a birth certificate drawn up, fingerprints taken, or...I don't know...verifying that the chimp had actually died.  Since the judge in the case is not willing to trust human DNA testing to verify the identity of a chimpanzee, it looks like it will be an uphill battle for the plaintiff.

It's a shame.  The two gunchimps on the grassy knoll will never be brought to justice now.  However, the good news for Casey is that he'll probably never be sued for chimp support.

Do you think they meant Chaka Khan?

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Mom, today I learned that I don't know how to shock a cone, but I'm willing to learn!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Don't worry, Mom. I'll eat them!

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Mom, today I learned that letting Evelyn go to the refreshment table alone isn't the greatest idea.

Hello and welcome to the inaugural edition of The Mother Load Carnival of Writers!  For those not in the know (I wasn't until a few months ago), blog carnivals are regular round ups of the best blogging on the web.  I've been able to gain quite a bit of exposure for The Mother Load through blog carnivals (for instance, feminist carnivals LOVED the Pretty Pushers review).  Hosting my own carnival is my way of giving back to my fellow bloggers, so take some time every Sunday to experience the writing of others.  Since my carnival is open to all writers, both professional and aspiring, you'll find a wide variety of blog topics in these posts.

On to today's carnival!

BWL presents Should We Pay Off Our Home Early? posted at Christian Personal Finance.  This is a must read for anyone interested in getting out of debt.

Terence Gillespie offers inspiration for writers in 100 Movies for Writers & Creators posted at Your Optimal Blog.

Peta Jinnath Andersen presents Finding Your Voice: Reading Aloud posted at *Insert Literary Blog Name Here*  If you're a writer or want to be, this post contains excellent advice.  I will be using it myself.

Alex presents Free Printable Valentines Cards posted at Home Life Weekly just in time for the holiday.  If you get one of these cards from me, know that I only give the free ones to the people I really like.

Madeleine Begun Kane presents Vintage Wisdom posted at Mad Kane's Humor Blog.  This is funny stuff, even if you're a teetotaler like me!

Sam presents a thorough and informative post: How to Prepare for a Job Interview posted at Surfer Sam and Friends.

That's the carnival for today. Hope you enjoyed it.  Next week, maybe I'll bring some kettle corn and funnel cakes.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Day 1 down in spite of the weather.

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Mom, today I learned if you say "No Excuses" when you make a running goal, you'd better be ready for stuff like this.

Couch to 5K: Day 1

Ready or not (mostly not), here I come. Today is the day my training begins. I have until May 8 to become a runner. I don't know if I can do this.

My task today is to spend 50% of my 20 minute workout running and 50% walking. My Phazes Fitness trainer, having written down my lack o' health information ("Yeah...you're at level 3 obesity. That's really bad."), has encouraged me to take this run 30 seconds at a time. Run for 30 seconds and then walk for 30 seconds. If I can't make it to 20 minutes, I can shoot for 10.

Feelings check:  I'm overwhelmed and overcome by this goal.  It feels bigger than me.  I hear a voice in my head that says, "How do you eat an elephant?"  I know the answer the voice wants is "One bite at a time."  The only real response I have is, "Why would anyone want to eat an elephant?"

What I'm keeping in mind...what keeps me from turning tail and pretending I never made a 5K goal is the fact that this isn't for me.  I will not run for myself.  I will run for breast cancer research and awareness. The Salt Lake City Race for the Cure is May 8 this year, so I have until May 8 to train, prepare, and transform.  I hope it's enough time.  The people at Phazes think it is.

I know I can do this alone, but I am asking all of my readers and fans to not make me do this alone.  This is your notice.  I want you to race with me.  I already have readers ready and willing, but I want you (yes, YOU) to race with me too.  Whether you've run 20 marathons or you're like me, chubby, flabby, and terrified, I need to hear the echo of your feet against pavement to help me as I hear the echo of my own.

Today, I announce the creation of Team Mother Load.  Team Mother Load will be one enormous team of readers and fans made of up of smaller, local teams to run in Race for the Cure events.  If you're ready to make a difference in your life and in the life of someone else, please find a race in your area, spread the word, gather a team, and start training!  Report the names of your Team Mother Load members to me and share your obstacles, training tips, and triumphs.  If you want to run individually as part of Team Mother Load, that's okay too.  If you have a medical reason you can't run, or you can't find a race near you, support the Team Mother Load runners closest to you with your donations and pledges and find runners to run in your place.

For anyone worried they don't have the drive or motivation or know-how necessary to prepare for a 5K, I offer Phazes Fitness as the solution.  Their Remote Personal Training program is surprisingly inexpensive.  No matter where you live, you can take advantage of this service.  I haven't even started running, and I've already dropped a couple of pounds from following my trainer's advice to quit soda.  My mantra in this endeavor is "No excuses/Follow directions," so she could tell me to quit eating chocolate, and I would.  (Don't tell her that, okay?)

If you don't think you can fit race training into a busy life, I submit my life for your consideration.  I am a mother of five who works 40 hours a week and is enrolled in 4 classes at the University of Utah (with an A average).  I work 10+ hours a week on this blog and have two jobs at church.  If I can do it, you can do it.

So, what do you say?  Are you ready to do some good in the world?  Are you ready to get out of your comfort zone and make a change?  Join Team Mother Load now and get out there and run!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Do I have your attention now?

As I told you earlier, I went to Denver last weekend.  Let me rephrase.  I flew to Denver last weekend.  Those who have been my fans for awhile know how much I hate flying. 

So why in the world, if I hate flying as much as I do, would I willingly get on a giant tin can and hurtle through the air at ridiculous speeds?  Well, I went to Denver for something I used to hate almost as much as I hate flying!  I went to Denver for a seminar.

Seminar is italicized because that is how I used to feel about the word.  The italics denote an eyeroll, a sigh, and a firm set of the mouth.  Seminars were events that sucked away my money and time and left me with nothing more than a few trite phrases I could write on post-it notes and attach to my fridge.  Seminars  involved listening to someone with much more money than I had tell me I could make much more money than I was making, if only I believed.  No work required.  No skill required.  "If you can dream it, you can do it! Thanks for the cash!"

When I was invited to attend this seminar, I went quickly into defense mode, because I remembered well the last time I was invited to attend something similar back in 2007. I was a poor single mom with five kids and no sitter and about 900 other things to do that night. I sent a text to that effect to the person who had invited me and received the following response: “If you’re serious about change, you’ll find a way to be there.”

I wasn’t going to let anyone tell ME I wasn’t serious about change! You want to see serious about change? I’LL show YOU serious about change.

I spent the next 30 minutes on the phone with every friend I could think of, frantically copying down lists of their favorite sitters and calling every single one. I found one and deposited her and the kids at my home with minutes to spare before I needed to leave the house. I stepped out onto the front porch feeling accomplished and ready to take on whatever change my seriousness had earned me.

My phone vibrated in my pocket. “Never mind coming. This session is full. Catch you next week.”

You want to serious about anger? I’LL show YOU serious about anger.  I decided that evening that I would never, ever, but never even consider attending another seminar again.

So, the question remains.  Why would I, Sarah Clark, lover of all things earthbound, hater of all things airborne (except birds...we can keep the birds), get on a plane to fly to a seminar?

You know, I don't really even know.  It wasn't an easy decision.  I was like the kid who fell off a horse, got stomped on a few times, and then covered in a steaming pile of horsey goodness and was then being asked to not only get back on the horse, but give it a gracious kiss.  I don't know what possessed me to say to my husband, "Yeah.  Let's do that."

And you know?  It doesn't matter.  I jumped up onto the seminar saddle and found I wasn't at a seminar at all.  I had my moments of panic, thinking this would be the same as all the rest.  When you walk into a conference center full of nicely dressed people and see them start screaming and jumping up and down after an earsplitting dose of, "LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLLLLLLLLLLE!" If you're a seminar hater, it will take everything you've got to not run from the room.

Fortunately for me, I stayed put.  I stayed put and learned and wrote and learned and wrote and learned and wrote for two days of the most amazing education I have ever receieved.  The Seminar: First Steps to Success.  The teacher: Dani Johnson. 

People, I have been to events in which so-called millionaires taught me that success=excess.  I have been to events in which poor dreamers taught me if I believed hard enough, wealth would appear out of thin air.  Dani Johnson taught me that if I followed a proven plan of action, with FAITH, WORK, SKILLS, and WISDOM about money, I could succeed.

The results?  I have ten pages of furiously scribbled notes from the First Steps to Success seminar.  I flew home Sunday night and started implementing what is on those pages.  On Monday and Tuesday, I doubled my blog traffic.  By Wednesday, I had quadrupled it.  This didn't come from false belief in unsound, New Age concepts.  This came from a step by step training in how to get the job done.

Dani Johnson has given me nothing for these words but the training she agreed to give me when I registered for her seminar.  I will not benefit in any way if you decide to go to her next event.  If you're a blogger, you'll likely become my competition.  I don't care about that.  What I care about is getting the word out that this seminar is fantastic.  If you are a Realtor, a blogger, a business owner, an entrepreneur, an employee, a community activist, a parent, or just a person who wants to improve his/her life, you can benefit from the training you'll get at a Dani Johnson event.

I haven't even scratched the surface of what Dani Johnson has to offer.  I haven't mentioned the stage full of people who have paid off tens of thousands of dollars in debt in the last 12-18 months using Dani's War on Debt Program, something we brought home with us and will begin using this week.  I haven't mentioned the Building a Dynasty program for which we are now registered. If you want to know more, and you do, go to http://www.danijohnson.com/ and take the first steps I did.

You can even sit next to me on the plane...if you don't mind histrionics and incontinence.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Awesome Product: Unframed Art Bags

Today's Awesome Product, on its face, seems like a bit of a departure for me.  I am not a "bag" person.  I'm not really an accessory person either.  I own one purse, which I never use.  I can count the number of necklaces AND earrings I have on one hand.  I spend most of my life thinking I don't need things like this...until I need them. 

Case in point? My husband's company Christmas party last month.  It's a snazzy affair, one of only a handful of nights each year that find me in dressy clothes and sparkly jewelry.  I went to a favorite store, armed with birthday money from my dad, picked out a couple of dresses, a necklace, and some earrings.  As I was standing in line, I thought, "A clutch!  I need a clutch!"  After realizing that thought was actually in MY head and that I wasn't talking about a car, I had to admit I didn't have time for purse shopping and would have to attend the party without anything to hold my cell phone, lipstick, keys, or spare cash for parking.  All of that ended up staying in the car, and I went to the party clutchless.

You know what would have helped in that situation?  Owning a clutch.  I mean, if I know I'm going to dress up at least 2-3 nights of the year, I should probably have dressy accessories on hand.  These are things I don't realize until I have 30 minutes left to dress, primp, and fix my newly cut hair.  I think, "I really need to invest in something like that," and then promptly forget about it until the next desperate moment.

I think having had that experience recently helped as I took a look at this week's Awesome Product, Unframed Art Bags.  I found the site after Liz Krieger, one of the makers of the bags, became a Facebook fan of The Mother Load and enthusiastically offered to donate one of her creations for my next fan goal. 

People, I read that offer and in my mind I saw a sweet little grandma with her crochet hooks and knitting needles making kitschy sewing bags at home.  I thought, "Aw, that's sweet.  Someone crafty wants to help."

And then I looked at the site.

And then I fell in love.

I am not a bag person.  I am not an accessory person.  What I am, though, is an art person.  I looked at my computer screen and tried to describe what I was seeing.  When I realized I hadn't exhaled in several seconds, I settled on it.  These bags are breathtaking.  They are beautiful, colorful, unique, and breathtaking.

I looked at the price and the Frugal Mom in me thought, "I would never pay $350 for a bag."  But the Frugal Mom in me also knew she wasn't looking at bags.  She turned the meeting over to the Art Lover in me. Art Lover knew $350 for a piece of art this eye-catching was a steal.  She turned to Frugal Mom and said, "And it's art you can USE!  It's functional!  YOUR FAVORITE!"

The bags are handpainted and handsewn, signed by the artists, and available in custom designs.  The designs are so varied, any art lover can find a bag that works for her.  Personally, I'm more in love with the quieter designs and subdued colors.  My friend Becca?  She's probably drooling over the animal prints right now. 

This Christmas, when I'm standing at the checkout counter, birthday money and new dress in hand, I will not be worried about finding a clutch for the big party.  I'll have my custom made Leah clutch from Unframed Art Bags waiting at home.  It will be my gift to myself after I run the 5K for breast cancer.  Or maybe it will be my husband's gift to me.  (Hey, Richard!  You're buying me a clutch!  THANKS!)

The best news?  When you're preparing for your dressed up night out this year, one of you will have a FREE Leah clutch waiting at home too.  Liz is offering the clutch, a $120 value, for our next Mother Load giveaway!  The even better than best news?  I'm keeping track of fan referrals, and every fan you've already referred counts toward this giveaway as well as the Perfect Brownie Pan giveaway.  If you've already referred a bunch of fans, refer a bunch more and up your chances of winning the clutch when I reach my 1000 fan goal.

For the men in my readership:  Trust me.  You want to win this too.  Give your leading lady a $120 Unframed Art bag and you're on the "Best Husband/Boyfriend/Fiance/Son" list for the rest of the year.  Fill it with chocolate and you're set for life.

Death to inversion!

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Mom, today I learned the sky is blue.  It's been a while.  I'd forgotten.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Snark Fail

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Mom, today I learned that I just can't poke fun at this thing.  It's too cute. Sarah 0; Bumper Sticker 1.

Just when you thought it was safe to feel normal and attractive, you find someone has set a new beauty standard, and you've failed to achieve it.  You might as well join the freak show at the circus passing through your town.  Today's new beauty faux pas?  Dark underarms. 

You all just went to the bathroom to check out your armpits, didn't you?  Yeah, I did too.  I didn't notice any dark patches or discoloration.  Whew! I guess I dodged that bullet.

If you're not as fortunate as I am (and let's face it...who is?), and you're living with the daily curse of darkened armpits, you can use today's Stupid Product, South Beach Skin Solutions: Skin Lightening for Underarms.  Breathe easy, my freakish friends.  Help is on the way.  You need not suffer this scurge in silence any longer.

What, you say?  You're wondering if there are really people in the world so obsessed with their bodies that they'll spend money on a cream to lighten skin most people hardly ever see?  You're having a hard time believing someone would pay good money to correct such a meaningless problem?

Ah, the superiority of the naysayer.  Would you be so smug if it were your daughter with dark armpits?  Your wife?  Your mother?  Dark and discolored underarms are an epidemic in this country.  Countless people suffer alone, hedged in by the stigma of their condition while pasty pits like you laugh at them.  Laugh as long as you can.  You never know when the shadow will descend on your underarms.

Obviously, I'm having a lot of fun with this product and the entire concept of underarm whitening.  According to the product's manufacturer, "millions of women" suffer from the embarrassing problem of darkened underarms.  It's just not something people talked about until now.  It's kind of like alcoholism and domestic violence in that way.  The problem of discoloration of the armpit was swept under the rug.  (*cue awkward underarm hair visual*)

Maybe I'm just being insensitive to embarrassed millions out there because I was blessed with armpits that match the skin on the rest of my body.  Maybe if I had to live with this debilitating problem, I'd be the first in line to trade cash for cream.  I guess that's a fair suggestion.  I'll admit it's nice having naturally white underarms.

I get into the best parties...never have to pay for concert tickets...It's not bad.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mmmmm...gift card! My favorite!

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Mom, today I learned that I have vastly underestimated the tastiness of gift cards.

I made a very important, possibly life-changing phone call to my dear friend, Michelle, yesterday. Michelle is a personal trainer and co-owns Phazes Fitness in Southern Utah, where she and her fellow personal trainers whip people into shape with bootcamps, classes, and individual personal training. From the results I see posted on her blog and Facebook fan page, I'm sure there are lots of tears (of pain and joy).

When Michelle first opened this business, I thought I was safe, what with living way up here in Northern Utah. However, Phazes has an ingenius little program called "remote personal training" in which someone who lives outside the Southern Utah area receives a program tailored to their needs along with regular calls from the personal trainer to keep them accountable.

Dang.

There's no getting around this running goal. I have moments when I'm willing to give up this entire blog and fade into obscurity rather than run that stinking mile. You know how much I hate running. Well, people, that hasn't changed.

What has changed is my reason to run. I will run a mile for 1000 Facebook fans, but that goal has become secondary. My more important goal is to run a 5K to raise money for breast cancer research. In the coming weeks, I'll be inviting you to run with me. As I gather more information, I'll be posting the specific details. For now, I'll just say that it's time for this blog to do more, and you're all invited to do more with me.

So, I'm officially a Phazes remote client. Michelle will not be my trainer because she fears she'll be too easy on me. I'm glad, because I feared I would hate her for making me run. I'm going to be using a "couch potato to 5K" program to prepare to meet my goal. They could probably call that "blogger to 5K" with all the sitting and typing I do.

Am I excited about this? Did you READ how much I hate running?! I am not excited. I am determined. I am hopeful. I am making this about a worthy goal, and that's what will see me through it. I hate running and will probably hate running for the rest of my life. But I like giving, and if I can give through running, it's what I will do.

Now to the video you've gotta see. Maybe you've seen it before. People with no TV have a hard time knowing such things. Michelle suggested it for the blog, and I think it fits in nicely with this post.



I wonder why not running doesn't give me a bigger chest. Hmmmm...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Happy Martin Luther King Day. I can't help but wonder what he would say if he were alive to see an African American president in the White House. I'm sure he'd feel like his dream had finally come to pass.

That makes today's Outrageous News story all the more outrageous. Today of all days, someone decided to write up a story about how Obama has made presidential history AGAIN! He...wait for it...pushed...(it's so exciting!)...a button.

Mr. King, your dream has come true. Congratulations. We have a black man in the oval office, and we're celebrating his...button pushing skills. Now, that's progress.

The news story, in all its silliness, is here.  According to the site, the president and first lady arrived at a Red Cross operation center to check out the progress of the disaster relief for Haiti.  Some star-struck individual there typed up a tweet to that effect and then asked President Obama to push the button that sent the tweet out into cyberspace.  Since this was the president's first ever personally published tweet (and I must say, they're really stretching the definition there), we're all supposed to be excited that he made history yet again.

As if that weren't enough, now there are people up in arms about the fact that the Twitter friend they believed to be Obama himself during his campaign wasn't actually him at all.  If this was his first tweet ever (in the history of all presidents!), then all those campaign tweets came from some Obama staffer digitally posing as the future pres.  It's an OUTRAGE!  He LIED!  They thought he was their FRIEND!

Holy moly, I think this might be the silliest piece of news I've posted yet.  With Haiti in desperate need of support, the health care reform bill in the works, and the global economy limping and sputtering along its path, America's first black president "makes history" on Martin Luther King day with a button push.  Hallelujah.  Mr. King, I just don't know what to say.  Except...

Tweet at last! Tweet at last! Thank God, Almighty, he can tweet at last!

The New and the Exciting

Sounds like a soap opera, doesn't it?

As you saw in this post, I attended a seminar this weekend with the hubster, learned a ton, and came up with some great ideas on how to enhance and improve what I do here. I'm crazy excited (emphasis on the crazy, or course) to share with you some of the changes I'll be making to The Mother Load in coming weeks.

First, the Awesome Products feature will be going from monthly to weekly. I've had so many submissions for Awesome Products that they're stacking up, and once a month only comes around once a month. As much as everyone enjoys laughing at the Stupid Products, it seems like my readers enjoy learning about the awesome ones even more. I'm still working out the day Awesome Products will run, but I've got a pretty amazing product for my first weekly feature.

Stupid Products will keep its Wednesday slot, so keep those submissions coming. Outrageous News can stay or go. I don't feel strongly either way. If you love the feature or hate it, let me know. I think for me, it's sometimes hard to slog through all the petty "news" stories to find the one I'd like to feature. However, when I do find that one, I have a lot of fun writing it.

Beginning this Sunday, I'll be hosting a weekly blog carnival in which I'll feature the writing of other bloggers.  My aim here is to help fellow bloggers find success as I seek for it myself. If you're a blogger and would like my readers to read your work, submit your best post to The Mother Load Carnival of Writers by Saturday, 9:00 AM EDT each week. This carnival is open to all writers, both aspiring and professional, so send in those submissions and increase your site traffic!

Along the same lines, I'll be posting a new monthly feature in which I will profile a blogger I think people should be following.  I'll likely find many of these bloggers in my carnival submissions, but if you know of a blogger that should be highlighted, send a link to motherloadsubmissions@gmail.com.

I have another idea in the works that's still so deep in the early stages that I'm not sure how much I want to say.  It involves Race for the Cure, and I'm nearly bursting with hope and excitement over it.  I'll post more as I get more figured out.

Thanks so much for your continued support and commitment to The Mother Load.  I respect and admire all of you and am excited to keep writing more of what you like to read.  Keep sending in those submissions and inviting new fans.  Here's to a bigger, better Mother Load blog!

They're baaaaaa-aaaaack!

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Mom, today I learned that even though Miley Cyrus wasn't even born until 1992, she's now "designing" clothes we all wore in the 80s.  Here's to another generation of girls looking through photo albums and saying, "WHAT were we thinking?"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What I learned on a plane to Denver

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Mom, today I learned that if you're over the wing, you'll watch it obsessively for demented creatures who might want to tear it apart, a la, "The Twilight Zone."

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I learned that not all TSA security personnel are surly and mean.  This one was quite pleasant.

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I learned that planes have buttons you can push to make one arm freakishly longer than the other.

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I learned that the Denver Airport has exactly 800 Starbucks locations.

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And one of this guy.

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And finally, I learned that if you suffer terrible anxiety when flying, you won't need one of these...

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...if you have one of these.

Hello from Denver! My life has been all about the seminar I've attended this weekend, so the usual posts have been lacking. I'm excited to say I am now equipped with a laptop, so remote posts are more doable; however, I've been so busy with the training and the learning and the motivating and the flying in large metal objects and trying not die while doing so that I haven't had time to use my laptop!

Rest assured, I have been taking pictures of the funny things I've seen and I've had the blog on the brain nonstop. I'll talk more about the seminar in a future post. For now, I'll say I'm excited to use what I've learned to make this little place on the net better, funnier, more present, more pertinent, more phenomenal, more punctual, more deep-fried, more sweet-smelling, more...well, you get the idea.

On a very happy note, we've made it to 227 facebook fans. That's almost halfway to our goal, and we have nearly a month left to the deadline! Keep sending those invites! If you're a faithful reader and you haven't added yourself as a fan yet, get on over there and refer some fans for your chance at the free Perfect Brownie Pan!

(Whispered) K, seminar's back in session, so I should get off this phone. See you after my non screaming, non crying, and hopefully non dying flight home!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The upside of construction dust.

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Mom, today I learned that there's really no point in vacuuming while the contractor is putting in our new door.  Wooooooooohooooooooo!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

After you, Mr. MADDAWG.

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Mom, today I learned that I'm not going to mess with this guy.  I'll laugh at him quietly in my car, but I won't mess with him.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Stupid Products: Kidz Bop

Kidz Bop 17 is here!  Are you excited?  Are you gathering your kids around the cd player to rock out to developmentally inappropriate music riddled with adult themes and the "word" "shawty?"  You aren't?  Neither am I!

I loathe Kidz Bop.  I detest Kidz Bop.  Kidz Bop will likely be the most stupid Stupid Product I review this year, and I have some doozies in the works, let me tell you. 

My disdain for the Kidz Bop cds did not begin this year.  I've hated them from the start.  They came out about the same time a music video of popular tunes sung by kids was released to the general public.  I was babysitting a gaggle of impressionable kids when they popped the music video into the VCR (remember those?) and began dancing around to "I'm So Excited" along with the freshed-faced youths on the screen.

Have you heard the words to "I'm So Excited?"  I did that day and felt my stomach lurch as toddlers and preteens alike happily sang, "I want to love you, feel you, wrap myself around you."  Can I get a big "YIKES" from the mothers in the room?

I don't know if the company that made the video is also responsible for the Kidz Bop cds, but the problem inherent in the product is the same: Some of the songs are just not for kids.

Kidz Bop markets itself as a purveyor of popular music that has been cleaned up to make it appropriate for children.  Okay, yeah, the swear words and some of the more racy/disturbing/primal-mother-scream-induing lyrics have been taken out.  But did anyone take a moment to consider the themes? 

Case in point: Pink's "Please Don't Leave Me."  The song is about a woman who treats her relationship partner like dirt and then begs him not to leave her.  Awwwww...and raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens!  The Kidz Bop people took out the line in which Pink calls her love her "perfect little punching bag," but this is small comfort to a mom who thinks codependency should be taught after her kids learn to tie their shoes.

I mean, do kids even have a frame of reference for the theme in this song?  What relationships are they in?  Let's see...there's parent/child, sibling/sibling, teacher/student, friend/friend... To whom is this anthem directed in the mind of a child?  My imagination is full of distraught 7 year olds crying themselves to sleep, worrying mom will abandon them for giving her a hard time over doing homework.

Like the song above, a disturbing percentage of the songs featured on Kidz Bop cds deal with relationship angst appropriate to a much older demographic.  How many 9 year olds are lying in bed all day, pining for a lost love who did them wrong?  Please, tell me it's fewer than these cds suggest.

Maybe I'm behind the times or just haven't realized how "savvy" kids are today.  Somehow, I don't think that's the problem.  The makers of this product are in the business of making money.  That's the bottom line.  I'm in the business of keeping my kids kids, so Kidz Bop can take a flying leap.

Know 'm sayin,' shawty?

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Mom, today I learned that goofy attempts to impersonate Giordi LaForge are okay by me.  I will make a Trekker of him, yet!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

So, here I am with this week's Outrageous News story, and I'm a day late.  And why am I a day late?  Why, because of this week's Outrageous News story!  Northern Utah, where I happen to reside, has beat out the rest of the nation for bad air quality honors, a fact which caused me to spend yesterday in the doctor's office and at the pharmacy (and not blogging) with my 7 year old.  You can read the full story here

This is what the skies in Salt Lake City look like today.

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Those of you who live outside the Wasatch Front just took a deep, satisfying breath, didn't you?  Those of us who live within it just choked on particulate.

I know why the air is so bad. 

Sure, it's the inversion and the pollution, but lots of cities have those.  We have inversions and pollution all the time, but we're not usually the worst in the country.  So, why now?  How has Northern Utah managed to outpollute every other city in America? 

It's the Jell-O.

See, we Utahns (I can't believe I just said that...).  See, we people who live in Utah but may have grown up elsewhere, have had the distinction of being the highest consumers of Jell-O pretty much anywhere for most of our history.  We lost the title to Des Moines, IA back in 1999, but willpower and Bill Cosby (I'm not even kidding) helped us regain it and it's been ours ever since.  It's been common knowledge that Utah probably eats the most Jell-O in the world.  Until now.

According to the info on this site, which may or may not be true (just go with it), Utah is the leader in Jell-O consumption in the U.S., but the tiny Principality of Monaco eats the most Jell-O per capita in the world.  I know what you're thinking, Utahns.  They got Grace Kelly's DNA AND the Jell-O title?!  No fair!

Someone with some power looked at that site, realized Utah had just lost its worldwide Jell-O notoriety and thought, "We've got to DO something!"  Knowing it's extremely hard to beat a small population in a per capita challenge, the honcho knew he had to look elsewhere.  Discarding birth rate and Prozac use as "so five years ago," he look heavenward, saw nothing but smog, and had his answer. 

We're NUMBER ONE!  ALL RIGHT!  GO UTAH! (Excuse me while I wheeze for a minute.)

It may be that this pollution problem is an attempt to blackmail Utahns into eating more Jell-O.  I'm certain within the week we'll have our airwaves taken over by a masked man in a three piece suit telling us that once Utah regains it's place as the world's greatest Jell-O eating population, he'll turn off the smog machine he has hidden in his attic, and we can all breathe easy again.  You can call it a vast, jiggly-wiggly conspiracy if you want to.

I don't care what it is.  I'm just ready for my daughter to breathe again.  And for her eyes to stop swelling up.  And for my husband to stop signing his checks over to the emergency room.

Pass the jello, please.

It's not that they can't have any...

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Mom, today I learned that the cookie jar stays full much longer when you don't announce the presence of the cookies inside it.  Mmmmmmm...cookies.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I got my undies on!

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Mom, today I learned that Michael has mastered the art of literal humor.  That's very funny, Michael.  Now do what I asked.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

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Mom, today I learned that I'm willing to buy two more of these to hold in reserve so I never, ever have to hand wash the dishes again.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

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Mom, today I learned that the people at Netflix caved, and the people at Warner Brothers are poopy.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sarah and Running, a Hate Story

With new fans adding themselves to The Mother Load Facebook fan page, it looks like my hair will take on a decidedly blue tint about this time next month.  The thought has me excited...a little nervous about what the people at church will think...but mostly excited.

You know what doesn't make me excited?  My 1000 fan goal.  When I was trying to decide what to do if I reached 500 fans by the deadline, I whittled the possibilities down to two:  blue hair and running a mile.  I didn't have to get down on my knees and beg my boss to let me dye my hair an outrageous color, but I was perfectly willing to do it if I had to in order to avoid the second option.  I think I was so excited he said yes that some switch that controls judgment malfunctioned in my brain and I blurted out, "Cool! I'll run the mile when I make 1000."

Let me tell you a little about Sarah and Running.  They're not friends.  Sarah and Running knew each other in high school, and Running told everyone Sarah was saying mean things behind their backs and cheating off their test papers and things have been strained ever since.  Sarah gave up Running even when she knew she could fail P.E. if she didn't manage to run a mile in 20 minutes before the semester was over.  Sarah told the coach of her dilemma and the coach allowed her to skip the mile.  Not skip as in miss.  Skip as in "tra la la...skipping along the path...skipping is so fun...wheeeeeee!"  Sarah skipped the mile in 15 minutes and told Running it could stuff it.

Sarah and Running see each other every now and then, because they have many mutual friends, but they pretend they don't notice the presence of the other and focus on the friends, instead.  Things have worked well that way for years now.  Sarah never runs.  That's just the way it is.

Okay, saying I never run is a little bit of a lie.  I run at work from time to time when there's a crisis call to attend to, but there's usually a good amount of adrenaline fueling my feet when that happens.  And I don't consider that running.  That's "answering a code."  That's hurrying to help.  It's a short burst of faster-than-walking steps made in the call of duty. 

So, what would possess me to even consider running a mile when my antipathy for running is so strong?  That wasn't a rhetorical question, people.  I really hope one of you has an answer.  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Bueller?

The best explanation I have, other than short term mental illness, is that if I get 1000 fans, it will be because you all worked hard to get me 1000 fans, and I want to reward you for that.  It wouldn't be a reward if I did something easy or enjoyable.  I could eat a lot of chocolate or take a really long nap for 1000 fans, but that wouldn't be a challenge.  Running?  Well, let's just say it is a challenge so great I'm starting ro reconsider the eating bugs thing.

Perhaps I should say it poetically...
(My apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

Running: How Do I Hate Thee? Let Me Count the Ways.

I hate thee to the depth and breadth and width
My butt can reach when sitting on the couch
Eating take-out pizza and barbecue hot wings.
I hate thee to the level of every woman's most understandable need,
For Diet Coke and truffles.
I hate thee freely, as I strive for chips
I hate thee purely, as I turn from gym memberships
I hate thee with a passion put to use
In my fat pants, and with my childhood's hankering for butter
I hate thee with a hate I'll never lose
With my lost (and regained) pounds
I hate thee with the huffs, puffs, and strangled breaths of all my life!
And if you kill me,
I shall but hate you more after death.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not completely sedentary.  I walk.  I hike.  I dance around like a crazy person to entertain my kids and the girls at work.  I can exercise as well as the next gal when I feel the need.  I. Just. Don't. Like. Running.

If you're worried I'll back out on this one, you need not fear.  I made a goal and gave myself a challenge.  I will see it through.  I'm nothing if not stubborn.  When the time comes to make the 1000 fan goal and achieve it, I will face my old nemesis and find a way to leave the past behind.

I can see it now...

Running: Hello, Sarah.
Sarah: Running.
Running:  I have to say, I never thought I'd talk to you again.
Sarah: Well, the feeling's mutual.  Let's just get this over with and then we can go back to hating each other, okay?
Running: Sure. Hey, I wanted to tell you I'm sorry for spreading those lies about you back in high school.  I was just jealous because you were so smart and cute and spunky, and I was just, well, me.
Sarah:  Understandable.  I told everyone you had a secret baby the summer after Junior year and sold it to a carnival because it was so ugly, so I guess we're even.

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Mom, today I learned that someone has mistaken my children for the Marines.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Perfect Brownie Pan Giveaway!

Ever since I reviewed The Perfect Brownie Pan for my Awesome Products feature and received two for Christmas, I've been thinking more people need to experience the wonder that is the Perfect Brownie.  The makers of this product have given me nothing to say any of this.  They just made an excellent product that deserves every accolade I can give it.

And now?  I want to give that product to you! 

As I stated in this blog post, I have a new Facebook fan goal: 500 fans by Valentine's Day.  Since most new fans of The Mother Load find me because loyal readers share the blog with them through invitations, links, and their own facebook updates, all of my current fans will be essential in helping me reach this goal.

So...

Every time a new fan joins The Mother Load fan page on Facebook because of YOU, YOU will be entered in to the giveaway for the Perfect Brownie pan.  The more people you bring to the page, the more likely you are to win the pan. Fans who have already become fans because of you count too!  Just let me know which fans are on the page because of your invite.  (Gina, Melinda, Alicia, you guys are SO in the lead right now!)

In order to get credit for the new fans you refer, make sure to tell them about the giveaway.  They can either make a comment on the fan page telling me who referred them, or you or they can email motherloadsubmissions@gmail.com with the info.  My husband Richard will be creating a spreadsheet to keep track of all the new fans and their referrers.  (He'll probably also write a program to do the drawing and jump up and down excitedly when he reveals it to me.  I think I'll write a book...Richard and Spreadsheets: A Love Affair for the Ages.)

Even if you already have a Perfect Brownie pan, I am here to assure you that TWO Perfect Brownie Pans are even better than one.  If you're an edge hater and think the Perfect Brownie Pan is utter craziness (and you don't believe me that the center pieces are not really all edges), you can save the pan and give it to someone you love at a bridal shower, wedding, birthday, anniversary, or any other celebration.

The Giveaway starts now and ends on Valentine's Day!  Regardless of the number of fans I get by then, I WILL give the pan to the person who wins the drawing.  If I get the full 500 I'm hoping for, I will do the youtube stunt and post it on the blog.  I'll either be dying my hair blue or running a mile.  I'm really, really, really hoping my boss is okay with blue hair, because Sarah?  She doesn't run.  Ever.

Thanks to all of you for your support, loyalty, comments, and encouragement.  The Mother Load would not be here without you!

Cat Whisperer

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Mom, today I learned that my son is a cat magnet.  I'm very okay with that.  When he becomes a chick magnet, I'll probably cry.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I heard about this product earlier this year.  I had mixed feelings then, but time and weekly Stupid Product posts have slowly eaten away at my emotional ambiguity until the Bebe Gloton Breastfeeding Doll is now firmly in the Stupid Product category.  If you haven't seen it, take a look.



 
Before I review the Breastfeeding Doll I must disclaim lest ardent breastfeeding supporters misunderstand me:

I breastfed all of my babies. I believe breastfeeding is best for mom and baby.  I breastfed in public and consider myself a lactivist in supporting a woman's right to breastfeed anywhere she can legally be.  My children were all taught from a young age that breastfeeding is normal, natural, and in no way shameful or obscene.  I hope my daughters will go on to provide the best food to their babies. (The babies they have after they get their degrees and marry good husbands who've been screened for past criminal offenses, of course.)  Do you see that I'm your friend, nursing advocates?  Don't send hate mail! (Bottle feeders, I have no beef with you, either.)

So, with that in mind, let's talk about why this doll qualifies as a Stupid Product. 

1. The Halter  I understand that the doll works electronically, so the halter is there to facilitate that.  It just seems a little counterintuitive to teach kids about nursing by creating a doll that requires extra clothing to work. 

2. The Flowers  This might shock you, but contrary to what you may be thinking after watching that video, I don't have flowers on my chest.  (I know!)  For a doll that is supposed to raise awareness about the natural, uh, nature of breastfeeding, they really shot themselves in the foot with their nipple aversion.  As I said in the Make-the-Putt review, there's nothing wrong with nipples.  Girls have them.  Boys have them.  I scream! You scream! We all scream for...wait.  Sorry. 

3. The Creepy Suckling Sound  Babies make all sorts of noise when they nurse, so maybe the maker of this doll was just going for realism?  I don't know. It squigs me out.  I don't want to think about it anymore.

4. The Price The Bebe Gloton is advertised on the web for prices anywhere between $63 to $100.  That's not just stupid.  That's ridiculous.  Evelyn got a moving, crying, giggling, eating, peeing, and pooping doll from Santa for Christmas.  It was only $25.  Maybe the makers of the Bebe Gloton should call themselves the Dollmakers Gloton.

This is where I go back to my disclaimer paragraph and remind you that my children were taught about breastfeeding from a very young age.  Somehow, I did this without a doll that nurses from flower petals.  Actually, all of my girls had their own breastfeeding dolls.  We just called them dolls.  I'd snuggle on the couch with my nursing baby, and big sister would snuggle next to me with hers, lifting her shirt and putting doll to nipple (NIPPLES!) without the need for anything more than her imagination.

The fact that her doll didn't make a creepy suckling noise was just a bonus.

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Mom, today I learned that if I'm paying cash, it helps to have a credit card.

New Facebook Fan Goal

Now that the headstand is up on youtube, I'm ready for a new fan goal.  This time, I'm going for 500 fans by Valentine's Day.  I'm looking for suggestions on what I can do if I succeed.  Run a mile? (I don't run for anything...not even cake!)  Hold a tarantula?  Kiss a snake?

One fan suggested I eat a bug or dye my hair a crazy color.  I'm here to say that as much as I love you guys, bug eating is never going to be on the agenda.  If the end of the world is here and I have no other food, sure.  Just to get more readers?  Not so much.  I will, however, be talking to my boss at work to see if blue (or purple or pink) hair would be a problem.

The best way for me to acquire new fans is for you guys to tell people about The Mother Load and invite them to read it and be fans, as well.  So, if you like what I've posted so far, spread the word!  Let's make our goal!

(Let it be known that even if I don't make the goal, I will be kissing a snake on Valentine's day.  It's what happens when your husband is born in 1977.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Whales or Wales?

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Mom, today I learned that I just don't know...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Remember Rod Blagojevich? He was removed as governor of Illinois last year after he (allegedly) tried to auction off the Senate seat vacated by President Obama to the highest bidder. Yeah. That guy.

Not content to quietly wait for his court date, Blagojevich says his instinct is to "fight back." Somehow, that equates to a run on a reality television show with Donald Trump. Uh huh. You can read the whole story here.

Apparently, this is the second time Blagojevich has tried to hit the TV airwaves on a reality show.  Last spring, he was all set to head to Costa Rica and star on, "I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here," until a judge blocked him from it.  I imagine the gavel made a resounding, "DUH!" sound as he pounded it. 

There's a lot of "blah blah blah" and "yada yada yada" from the disgraced politician in the story, but any media savvy citizen can see a desperate play for image rehabilitation here.  From his never say die attitude to his chosen charity, Children's Cancer Center, this is the act of a man who knows he's in need of spin.  Never mind the scam artist behind the curtain.  Look at the cancer kids!

The show will air in March.  I won't be watching.

Whew! I needed one of those!

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Mom, today I learned if you're running low on ordinary girls, you should grab an extra.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

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Mom, today I learned that an emergency room thumbs up takes most of the stress away.

Here it is in all its 30-second glory! I made a deal with my fans and I have upheld my end. The video was shot in my bedroom with my husband's cell phone camcorder, so the quality is terrible. You can't see much, but I assure you, I'm the one singing on my head.

Richard's phone will only let him upload 30-second videos, so after one failed attempt (in which I sounded great, by the way), we did a practice video to see if I could compress the song into the time allowed.  It worked, so we went for it. 

I grabbed a couple of kids to keep my shirt from falling in front of my face, and managed to get through the whole song only to ruin the video by jumping down too soon and revealing more of my underwear (read: any) than I'm willing to let you see.  Took some deep breaths and did the whole thing again.  My favorite part is the end, when my goofy facade falls away and I shout for the camera to be turned off.  I'm just keeping it real, people.

(On a related note, my mom recently told me to "keep it real" on Facebook.  I think that's a sign of the end of the world.)

In case you wanted to know, this project required 8 headstands, three failed videos, one successful video, and the overall integrity of my neck.  Happy New Year!

I know what you're thinking.  Stupid Awesome product?  We've seen Stupid Products and Awesome Products.  What's a Stupid Awesome product?  That's a very good question

Folks, I'm stumped.  When I was first introduced to the product I'll review today, there was no doubt in my mind but that the P-Mate, a handheld, paper urinal for women, was a Stupid Product.  Then I hiked the Narrows in Zion National Park for four and half hours and wondered if I had it all wrong.  As of this writing, the jury's still out, so I'm forced to write the review both ways and let you decide which you think fits.

Before I ask you to click on the link, I should warn you there are illustrations and photographs on this page in which women (their heads mercifully left out of the pictures) "demonstrate" how to use the P-Mate.  There is no nudity to speak of, but there are visible underwear, awkward poses, and the idea that you're seeing someone else urinate.  If you're at all sensitive to any of that, don't look.  If you look anyway and get offended, don't complain to me.  You can see the P-Mate and the pics here.  Do note, though, that there is much more to the site than that, including testimonials, FAQ, and a history that includes a picture of the inventor demonstrating the use of this product on national TV.  I'm not kidding.

On to the review!

As a long distance hiker, I can definitely see where this product would come in handy.  It would have been wonderful during my Narrows hike to have the option of relieving myself without the inconvenience of squatting, or hanging my bare bottom over a log, so this product is Awesome.  However, despite the many photos on the site, using the P-Mate is still not something I would consider doing out in the open. Since many of the hikes I enjoy, especially in the Southern Utah area, consist of copious amounts of open space, and since this product requires me to stand to use it, this product is Stupid.

There's a picture of Ellen DeGeneres on the home page of the P-Mate site, suggesting to the mind that Ellen endorses this product.  Since I love Ellen, this product is Awesome by association.  Upon closer inspection, one realizes that all they can say about Ellen's connection to the P-Mate is that someone gave her a box of P-Mates as a gift at an award show, so this product is Stupid.  Come on, P-Mate.  I could accost Ellen backstage and give her a box of my used kleenex as a gift.  It wouldn't mean she was a fan of The Mother Load, you know?

The P-Mate adheres to the "pack it in/pack it out" philosophy of most conscientious hikers and backpackers.  It can be stored in a ziploc bag for later disposal or burned.  Awesome.  Of course, this would mean you're either stuck carrying a plastic bag that smells like urine or sitting next to a fire that smells like urine.  Stupid.

Men can stand and urinate.  The P-Mate puts women on equal footing (heh).  Awesome.  Using the P-Mate could cause someone to mistake me for a man...Stupid...or a man in drag...Scary Stupid.

The P-Mate is so discreet and easy to use that a woman could use it in front of a live TV audience without revealing anything.  Awesome.  A woman peed in front of a live TV audience.  Stupid.
I'll tell you now that I'm seriously considering buying a box of P-Mates for my hiking and camping needs.  I don't know if I'll ever have the guts to use one, but then again, I don't really think guts are what matter here.  When you have to go, you have to go, whether you're steps from your own bathroom or miles away from civilization.  P-Mate seems to give a woman the means to handle this situation discreetly without the worry of splashes or spills.

Knowing me, though, I'd do everything right and drop the sucker on my shoes the minute I was done.

(Thanks to Kadee for the Stupid Awesome Product idea.)

There are times in a blogger's life when something happens that causes an immediate and powerful reaction. A giddy euphoria comes over the blogger as she looks upon her section of the world and thinks, "This. Must. Be. Blogged."

I had that experience the other morning when my husband leaned over the side of our bed, retrieved a plastic bag, and said, "Oh, I spent some money yesterday." He said it matter-of-factly, almost as an afterthought, completely unaware of the magnitude of what he was about to show me. Pulling the item out of the bag, he simply said, "It's a really big universal remote."

There are not words to describe the abject delight I felt upon seeing this thing. It was pure, unadulterated, blog fodder. It was like God smiled down upon me, threw this product into my lap and said, "Here. I made this for you. Write about it."

You can see the Sentry Really Big Universal Remote at the Sentry website, but the pictures there won't give you a very accurate idea of how big this remote is. I submit the following:

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As you can see, it is exactly what it says it is.  It's a really big universal remote.  Quite a few of companies make universal remotes.  I'm sure most people have one.  But this universal remote?  It's really big.  REALLY BIG.  (Did I mention it's really big?)

This could easily have been a What I Learned Today post. That picture is worthy of it.  However, after my initial laughter at owning a remote the size of a skateboard, I realized that this product is awesome and must be blogged as such. 

I think this product is awesome for one really big reason.  I am a mother of five children whose collective goal in life is to lose every remote we bring home.  The average time from purchase to disappearance is about 30 minutes.  Most of the time, we don't even have a chance to program the remote before we lose it.  If losing remotes were a crime, we would be criminals of the serial variety.

I'm sure this product was designed and manufactured with a different segment of the population in mind.  I imagine those huge buttons were meant to aid those with arthritis and failing eyesight.  The fact that the same product allows me to keep a remote for longer than a day just adds to the awesomeness.

Moreover, in a world where electronic products continue to get smaller, it's nice to see something of the grande variety.  I have a keyboard on my cell phone with keys so small, I have to type with my fingernails.  Can you blame me for LOVING something with buttons I could push with my nose?  (Have you SEEN my nose?)

Finally, the name is awesome.  The makers of this product knew the remote would sell itself.  There was no need for silliness or grandiosity.  It's not the Ultra Huge Remotatron 2000 or other such nonsense.  It is what it is: a really big universal remote.  It's like the guys in marketing thought, "Why pander?"  Why, indeed?

(Thank you to Sentry for making a remote I can see from the moon.  Also, I can beat burglars over the head with it.  Bonus!)