Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thursday Rant - Your Turn!

Okay, so I'm really really busy today. But I've made a commitment to myself to be a better blogger, so I've been trying to post more regularly and do more fun and interactive things on here (BTW - gift card winners, your cards are coming, I promise!) So, since it's Rant Thursday, and I don't have much time, I thought I'd take this opportunity to let you rant. Go on, vent a little. Post in the comments something that's been bugging you lately.

Is it crappy parents who go on vacation to Florida for a week and leave their 11 year olds at home to fend for themselves?

Is it people who are supposed to serve and protect their cities who instead abuse their power and wind up killing innocent people?

Or is it whiny bloggers who make up Rant Thursdays and then blog about everything they think is wrong with the world? :-)

Please, leave a comment and rant away! I want to know I'm not the only one ranting and raving.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Announcement, Apologies and Awards

Mrs. Allroro has graciously declined the $25 gift card I was giving away (I still think it's weird how Jamie picked the exact same numbers the random number picker picked!) I didn't have my oracle handy, so I used again and got the number 3... Jessi! Please contact me at stinkbumps (at) satx (dot) rr (dot) com so I can e-mail you your prize!

I owe Suze and Jessi an apology. A month ago, they both gave me an award, and I never acknowledged it. Bad, Jenn, bad! I wasn't trying to be mean or anything. I was quite flattered and kept meaning to continue the awards, but.... This thing called life and rants about life got in the way, and next thing I knew, a month had gone by and I hadn't done anything about the awards. Sorry, ladies!

Since I think it is better to be late than never, here's the rules and such of the awards, and my nominees...

1) List 10 things that make you happy, and try to do at least one of them today.

2) Tag 10 bloggers that brighten your day.

3) If you are one of those 10 lucky (happy) bloggers who get the award, link back to my blog and create your happy list!

Ten things that make me happy:

1. Having a freshly brewed pot of coffee waiting for me when I wake up (done! LURVE having a coffee pot with a timer!)

2. Those 30 minutes in the morning between when Jamie leaves for the bus stop and when I have to start getting ready for work. It's a great time to relax and allow myself to slowly wake up. (Done!)

3. Having a brand new, I've-never-read-it-before book by a favorite author to dive into when I get the first opportunity (done! I've got a stack of about four or five books waiting for me! Whee!)

4. Shooting hoops with my son

5. Singing

6. Listening to my boy play his violin.

7. Cooking (but I hate the cleaning up afterwards!)

8. Spending time with loved ones

9. Being silly

10. Chocolate

Bloggers who brighten my day (Okay, there's more than 10. So sue me):

1. Suze (love your kids, love your rants, love your thoughts)

2. Jessi (ditto! love your kids, love your rants, love your thoughts)

3. Tooz (Always make me smile. Love you to pieces)

4. Becca (even if she doesn't post very often and hasn't in months)

5. Everett (even if he doesn't post very often and hasn't in a while)

6. Ann (I especially love her posts about the cute things the kids she teaches do or say)

7. Lydia and Geron (love those babies, even if I haven't met them yet!)

8. Animal (You most of the time make me laugh, and always make me think)

9. The Pioneer Woman (Ree, you crack me up!)

10. AnnaMarie (I love getting little glimpses into your life, and your daughter and stepson are precious)

11. Strangeite (AKA Roy; Always thought provoking)

12. Steph (You've been busy with grad school, I know. I love to read your posts, so I'll wait patiently for the next one)

13. Jamie (Your blog is relatively new, and you don't post often, but I love to read it when you do)

14. Tara (your kids crack me up, and I enjoy reading your outlook on things)

So, those of you I've tagged above, get busy making your own awards. Whose blog brightens your day? What makes you happy?

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Okay, let me preface this by saying, my random number selection was creepy. My first means of randomly selecting two entrants was to ask my son to pick a number between 1 and 7 (there were seven of you who actually left comments. A lot of of familiar looking locations on my visitor's map still didn't leave a comment!) Jamie's first pick was "7" and his second pick was "5". I didn't tell Jamie what the random number picks were for, nor did I tell him who all had commented or what order in which they did so. By this not-so-scientific method, "Mrs. Allroro" and "Sage" are my winners.

But then I thought, "well, that wasn't very scientific." So I went to and used the random number generator to select two commenters between one and seven. The first click on the randomizer gave me...... "7".......... the second click on the randomizer gave me........"5". I find that kind of creepy, don't you?

So, Sage and Mrs. Allroro, please contact me at stinkbumps (at) satx (dot) rr (dot) com to let me know to what e-mail address I should send your gift cards. If either person declines their gift card, I'll consult my personal oracle, Jamie, and he'll pick a different number (without knowing what comment number corresponds with which person) and I'll post it on here. Thanks for playing, everyone!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Please De-Lurk Yourself (You Might Win Something Groovy)

UPDATE 2/19/10 7:44 PM - I think I've fixed the comments issues. Sorry! If you tried to leave a comment before, please try again!

I irregularly peruse my stats on a separate website. This site calculates how many visitors I've had, if they are unique or returning visitors, and pinpoints what area their ISP address is from. This gives me a general idea of who looks at my site, when, how often, and from what town/country. I can also look up what keywords people use to find my site, if any, and if someone came to my blog from a search engine, another blog/website, or if they have my site bookmarked or knew my URL well enough to type it straight in. There's a whole lot of people out there looking at my blog, people! And some of you I know right off the bat who it is. Others - I have no frickin' clue! Could be aunts/uncles/cousins, could be friends of friends, could be coming to me from facebook, could be some stranger who clicked the "next blog" link in the blogger taskbar. I just don't know. And it's impossible to know, because anytime anyone whom I don't regularly talk to leaves a comment, they invariably do so as "anonymous" and don't write their name.

So, since I'm a nosy brat person with an inquiring mind, I wanna know who you are! Leave a comment below identifying yourself and stating whether you are a frequent reader, sometime reader, or new reader of my blog. Also, let me know how you found me. Are you related to me? Are you a friend of mine? Did we go to elementary school, middle school, high school or college together? Did you used to work with me? Or did you find me some other way? Let me know how! Even if you are a frequent reader and commenter of my blog, go ahead and leave me a comment and enter the contest. Of those who participate, I'll randomly choose two winners to receive straight to their e-mail inboxes a $25 gift card each. One entry per household. Contest ends Sunday, February 21, at 2 p.m. Central Time. Winners will be announced Monday by 8 p.m Central Time.

So, go forth and comment! Let me know who the heck you are!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rant Thursday - Funkily Spelled Names

My friend Julie and I have an on-going text series. Whenever one of us is out in public and encounters someone with a screwily-spelled name, we'll text it to the other. As in, WTF were this person's parents thinking? Now, don't get me wrong, I feel freedom of expression is a wonderful thing. But saddling a kid with a moniker it will be nearly impossible for them to learn to spell until they are in high school is just doing that kid a major disservice. Before you get all up in arms, let me give a few examples of the names we've texted back and forth:

In the category of traditional names that have been given a totally jacked-up spelling:
"Krysstahl, Christyll, Chrysstle" instead of "Crystal".
"Shelsie, Chillsee, Chylsie" instead of "Chelsea"
"Mikyl, Myckel, Mykal" instead of "Michael"
"Geramee, Jyramie" instead of "Jeremy"
"Stifenie, Steffannee" instead of "Stephanie"
"Vinnyssa" instead of "Vanessa"
"Jazzmyn" instead of "Jasmine"
"Mireya" instead of "Maria"

In the category of names that were jacked-up to begin with and then given a screwed up spelling, to boot:
"Jagguire, Jagwuire" - as in they named their child after the luxury car brand "Jaguar" but didn't know how to spell it.
"Dymond" - as in they named their daughter after a "Diamond". Personally, this sounds more like an exotic dancer's stage name to me than the proper name to give your little girl. But that could just be me.
"Jermeakah" - I have no idea how to pronounce it. I just noticed it on the name tag at McD's the other day, and my immediate impulse was to ask her if she was going to change it when she turns 18.

I firmly believe in people being unique individuals and having the right to name their kids whatever they want... BUT, c'mon parents, have some common sense here! So, what's your opinion?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Digital Parenting

I'm a firm believer in using technology to aid in parenting. I'm a "Big Brother is watching you" kind of mom. My son is a tech savvy kid; he has a cell phone, he now has his own computer, he's in a program that will teach him computer animation, website design, how to write mobile phone apps, digital photography, digital movie making/editing, and he's on the computer a lot for both educational and recreational purposes. We are a "techie" family. So it just makes sense to me to use that technology to keep an eye on my kid and make sure he's not getting into something he shouldn't be before it's too late.

For example, as those of you who read my blog know, I recently used the GPS tracking feature on my son's cell phone to track it down when it was stolen from his school. Within 20 minutes of its being stolen, it had been recovered (thanks again, Xena*!). This feature is also great to use for me to know exactly where Jamie is at all times. I know some parents may find this a little extreme of me. But, I remember what it was like to be just a little older than Jamie is now. I frequently lied about where I was and what I was doing. If my mom had ever had this kind of technology to bust me for lying about where I was and what I was doing, I wouldn't have gotten into nearly as many bad things as I did as a kid. Jamie is my child. Lying comes very (too!) easily to him. Not only do I like the fact that I can look on either the computer or my cell phone at any time and know exactly where he is - via his cell phone, I also like the fact that he knows I can do this. This means he is much less likely to lie about where he is. Also, he knows I can and will call him at any moment to ask him a question or clarify instructions about when to be home. This means he can't just turn his cell phone off or pass it off to someone else to make it look like he was somewhere other than he was. He knows if he fails to answer, he's in deep doo-doo, so he better take the phone with him. He also knows if he takes the phone with him and I "ping" his location (as I often do) and he isn't where he's supposed to be, he's in even deeper doo-doo.

The new computer I got for him has a similar feature, called "Lojack for Laptops." Through it, if his computer is ever stolen, I can put a trace on it and track it down within minutes. That information is then conveyed to the police, who can retrieve it. This feature came free for the first year, but I am sure I will renew it yearly after that. I don't know how much it costs, but I think it will be worth it.

Because Jamie is on the computer so much, I also have parental controls enacted on all computers he uses. I limit what sites he can go to, what he can download, and how long he is allowed to be online. If he's doing homework and needs more time on the Internet for research, it's very simple for me to grant him more time. If he's just playing around, he doesn't need to be on "Club Penguin" more than 30 minutes, anyway. I don't want him to turn into one of those kids who spend all day playing some online game. If the sun is shining and the air quality is good that day, he should be outside. If it's raining or the air quality is bad, he can read a book/build LEGOs/do chores inside or whatever.

I also don't want him nosing his way onto sites where he'll see stuff he shouldn't. There's a lot of nasty stuff on the web - some have URLs that are remarkably similar to that of kid-friendly sites. For my spelling-challenged son, it is too easy for him to accidentally mistype a URL and get somewhere I really don't want him to be. It is much easier for me to just have a list of approved websites he can visit, and block all others. If he finds a new site he wants to visit, he has to tell me the URL and I'll go look at it myself on my computer. If it's harmless and has features set up to limit the amount of pervs who will have access to my child, then I'll add it to his list. If you don't know what I mean about limiting perverts/pedophiles' access to kids, I'll explain a bit. Club Penguin, NeoPets and several other kid-oriented sites have a delay chat feature. Basically, when members try to chat, there's a delay between when the person types a message and when the other members can see it. During this delay, a filter is applied to the message to make sure there's no objectionable content. Sexually suggestive comments, invitations to meet, and personal information (address, phone number, real name, etc.) are blocked from being seen by others. This is a wonderful thing!

Many of my regular readers have children who are still too young for such measures, or your children are grown up and you have grandchildren who are still too young. Some of you have children about the same age as Jamie. Tell me, what do you think about digital parenting? Is it something you'll do when your child(ren) gets old enough to regularly use technology? Is it something you use now for your child(ren)? To what degree? Do you think any of it goes too far? Not far enough? Please leave me a comment in the comments section. I'd like to hear your thoughts on the subject!

*name changed to protect the innocent

Monday, February 15, 2010


I've had a dream in the back of my mind for quite a while - move to a tiny town that's eager to revitalize its population and gain more businesses. Get a small business loan from an entity that's willing to take a chance on a woman-owned small business and purchase (or construct) a quaint building in the heart of town that has room for a business on the ground floor and living quarters above, with a small plot of land in the rear on which raised garden beds can be installed. Then, I'd open a bookstore/bistro/craft store. I'd offer both used and new books, CDs and DVDs (with a purchase and resell system in place), as well as a small bistro with homecooked eats (some of the produce used would come from my raised garden beds), and yarns, knitting books/needles, crochet and sewing supplies. I'd also have a consignment system in place for local producers to sell their crafts, canned goods, etc. I'd even look into having an online presence, if needed. In the afternoons and evenings, I'd have storytime for the school kids, book discussion groups, invite local residents to host classes on handcrafts and hobbies, host writing workshops, blogging basics, and the like. Ideally, this town would be far enough away from a big city that it's a hassle for the surrounding communities to drive all the way to the city when they want a book, movie or to socialize, but close enough that getting supplies wouldn't be an issue, either, and it would be possible for Jamie to continue with his violin lessons. And I'd love it to be in a place that gets cold enough to snow. Is this a silly dream that can just stay up on the shelf in my mind, or is it something I should pursue? What do you all think?

Update (2/16/10): Thanks for the comments and suggestions. One question, though. Do you all think this is a viable plan, or is this type of business pretty obsolete in this day of Internet bookstores, etsy accounts and "free shipping right to your door"? Is this type of business doomed to failure? Or would the draw of a place to congregate and socialize, as well as participate in commerce, in a relatively-isolated community be enough to keep the business going?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Milestones and Technology

Today, my baby is going to his first middle school dance. He has assured me that he has several girls in mind he wants to dance with. This blatant confirmation that he isn't a baby anymore and is *gasp!* growing up makes me feel like my head is going to implode. He isn't supposed to look at girls yet. Girls are still icky, aren't they? He isn't supposed to get all moony-eyed when talking about that one particular girl who sits three rows across from him in 7th period, is he? Since when is a girlfriend a requirement for coolness instead of a cause for ridicule from his friends? Aaack! I can't think about this anymore! Time to change the subject!

After the dance that I don't want to think about anymore, Jamie is going to middle school madness at church. He will eat pizza, watch movies, play video games, and goof off to his heart's content while I have some much needed alone time. My big plans? Grocery shopping, and picking up a few things I ordered for Jamie. See, I'm tired of fighting him for the computer. His magnet program requires him to spend a lot of time doing assignments on the computer - making movies, taking digital photographs and editing them, he even gets to learn how to write iPhone apps (next year), design web pages and create computer animation shorts. Now, some of the stuff he can do on the iBook laptop Joel gave me a few years ago for my birthday. But a lot of the other stuff he can't because his school uses Windows-based programs (kind of stupid of them, but whatever). That's when we wind up fighting over the big computer. So, after I got my tax refund and paid off the credit card, a small student loan, paid off the rest of my car insurance premiums for the rest of the year and paid a crap-load of other bills, I ordered him this:

It's the Dell Slimed/Nickelodeon edition inspiron mini (photo source: Dell stock photos). It comes preloaded with a bunch of Nickelodeon content, as well as a lot of the programs he uses for school. It also has a built-in media card reader and - get this - a SPILL PROOF KEYBOARD! That was the major selling point for me. Jamie is a klutz like his momma. Spills are a frequent occurrence at our house. I figured if he was going to have a computer of his own, it might as well be one that can resist spillage. I've read many reviews that this computer is good for kids - has more memory and functionality than most netbooks, the kiddie-content can be removed as he gets older, and it's a small size that doesn't take up much room. Many of the reviews I read were from college students who bought it to take to class! So, while Jamie is at Middle School Madness, I'll be setting up the parental controls on the computer and playing with it testing it out.

Now, for you computer people out there - I know a Mac would have been better. But, quite frankly, I didn't want to spend a lot of money on his first computer that was his alone. Better that he trash a $300 computer (if he does trash it) than a $1,000 one, y'know what I mean? This is a good starter for him to be able to basic assignments in his room and I can have my computer back. After all, I (hopefully) will be starting grad school soon. I'll need access to my own computer.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rant Thursday

I've noticed that my last few ranting and raving posts (i.e., the cell phone incident) have been posted on Thursdays. This led me to start a new tradition here on my blog - "Rant Thursday". I'll post something that tees me off, perplexes me, hurts my feelings, etc. Then you, my loyal readers - the whole handful of you ;-) - can make comments of your own either agreeing, adding to, or disagreeing with that particular rant. If I get lots of feedback, I'll continue this tradition... well, as long as I remember it, anyway. If not, I'll find something else to post.

So, this week's rant - parents who do horrific things to their children in the name of 'discipline'. I'm not talking about spanking. I am a firm believer that sometimes a smack to the hind-end is the best way to get a child's attention that something they did is wrong and to ensure they never do it again. My parents spanked me a lot; I was such a rotten brat I deserved all that I got. But sometimes, you hear in the news about someone who does something so horrific to a child for such a lame "offense" that you hope the person burns in hell for it ..... forever. Case in point: Did you hear this week about Joshua Tabor, the Washington-state soldier who waterboarded his 4 year-old daughter because she wouldn't say the alphabet? No, that isn't a typo. His daughter is only four years old and he felt holding her head down in water was an appropriate punishment for not being able to say her ABC's. According to several news articles, he chose this punishment because the girl is terrified of water, AND it wasn't the first time he'd done it, either. The article link above states he got frustrated because he'd been drilling her on her alphabet for three hours and she still couldn't say it. Why on earth did he think trying to work with a 4 year-old for three hours on the same subject was an appropriate way to make her learn? This man appears to know nothing about effective parenting or teaching. I hope this poor girl is in intensive therapy and that she never sees her father again. Some of the news articles on this incident mention that Tabor might have PTSD, and that is a defense of what he did. While I can see that PTSD could potentially drive someone to do something this horrible to a child, that doesn't mean the child should have to be subjected to it again. Regardless of what "caused" him to do it, it is a terrible thing to do to a child and he has no business being around her ever again for the girl's own safety. I get that he may have a sickness that caused him to do it, but that doesn't mean the girl should have to be subjected to it or him.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Saga of the Cell Phone, Pt. 2 (or... EPIC Parenting FAIL!)

You know, I was going to tell you all in great detail the rest of the story. But the more I thought about it, I realized that this whole saga has already sucked up enough of my time and energy, and that the players involved are not worth me devoting any more time and brain cells to thinking about them. To that end, I’ll provide the following short summary of the whole sad, sordid affair:

  • Jamie’s cell phone was stolen out of his locker. I used GPS tracking to find it. When neither the school nor city police were willing to help me get it back, I called my friend Xena* (name changed to protect the innocent) and she retrieved it for me.
  • The thief memorized Jamie’s cell phone number, then went home and told his momma a whopper of a lie that Xena* had “smacked” it out of his hand and cussed him out. I know this isn’t true because 1) I was on the phone with Xena* the whole time and heard the entire exchange and it didn’t include any cursing or smacking. It did include a stern warning not to screw his life up by embarking on a life of crime at such a young age (the kid is a fellow 6th grader); and 2) Xena* isn’t that type of person. The thief’s momma then started calling and texting and leaving harassing/threatening voice mails and text messages on both Jamie’s and my cell phones.
  • While talking with the thief, Xena* asked him where he got the phone, and he stated someone gave it to him at school. Then he went home and told his momma that someone brought it to him at their house (even though he hadn’t reached his home yet when he was tracked by GPS). But the momma also commented in her texts and voice mails how easy it was for her kid to get into Jamie’s locker to steal it. Here’s part of the EPIC parenting fail I mentioned…. Not only was she calling and threatening/harassing me and Jamie over the whole thing (which is bad enough), she was LAUGHING at how easy it was for him to do it AND lying through her teeth about several things which I won’t go into here. Suffice it to say this woman will NEVER win “parent of the year” for the example she has set for her children.
  • The next morning I went in person to the school to file a report on the theft and the subsequent harassment and threats. Xena* gave a description of the kid. Luckily, Jamie’s locker has a video surveillance camera pointed almost directly at it, so school administrators were able to watch the video and bust the kid who broke into the locker and stole the phone. Big surprise here: It was the same kid who was found with the phone later!
  • The kid is now suspended from school and facing legal repercussions for his stupidity. The mother is also facing some legal action for her harassment and terroristic threatening for HER stupidity.

So, that's it. That's the whole story in a nutshell. I could have gone into more detail, but I didn't want to grant these people any more attention than I had already given them. I'd much rather turn my mind to more pleasant things, such as the superior rating Jamie recently got at a violin solo competition. Yeah, that is so much nicer a thing to think about!