Monthly Archives: October 2007

The Grinch

Ok, we’re on the eve of what has becoming the second biggest freakin holiday of the year. Have you seen the latest figures on the economic impact of Halloween? Between 4 and 6 BILLION dollars. WTF?!? For costumes and candy? And of course all of the decorations and stuff. You should see my neighborhood…it’s crazy. Massive displays, some bigger than the stuff that gets put out at Christmas time.

I really dislike Halloween. I know, that makes me like the Halloween Grinch or something. But I just do. No, it has nothing to do with all of the Satanist/Pagan/Anti-Christian stuff. It just has to do with all of the profligate waste that surrounds this day. To be fair, I get just as annoyed when people go over the top for Easter, Christmas, or Thanksgiving. But Halloween has a special place in my book of Things That are Just Plain Wrong.

Have you tried to buy a costume for a child lately? Or God forbid, an adult? It is not difficult to shell out $100 for this thing. Whatever happened to being creative and making up your own? That is what my kids are doing. Don’t need to go to Target and spend a ton of money on a Zombie costume, you already have ripped up jeans and t-shirts. We’ll just put some paint and dirt on them to make them look like the undead, apply some cheapo make-up and VOILA! Zombie. The other child wants to be a Grunt character from the Halo game. I’m not even sure that you can buy that costume, but if you could, I’m sure that it would be really expensive as a result of all of the licensing fees. So, we figured out how to make one out of the things in our house. Not only were we really creative about it, but it was fun to spend the time with my kid in doing it.

So maybe I don’t hate Halloween. Maybe I just hate what it has become. Something fun and harmless for the kids gets all screwed up when the adults take over. Just like youth sports.

So tomorrow, when you are out there, remember the good ol’ days of homemade costumes and ersatz haunted houses with grapes for eyes and spaghetti for brains. Trick or Treat.

Second Steps

Well, I talked Spouse into the stock trading! I came up with a business plan and everything. I admit it was a little odd making a business plan for Spouse, but I figured it not only helpled convince him of my seriousness, but also focused my plans. So now is the next step of the follow through.

I am doing a course on technical analysis trading which is a little different approach from what I did before. This week, I have set up a mock portfolio using what I have learned. I’m keeping it realistic and only using the amount of money I would have actually invested. Should be interesting and I’ll update you at the close of business on Friday. I expect to keep practicing for a few weeks before I really get started. I’m also coming up with lots of ideas as to how I am going to make this work in the long run in regards to creating a cash flow. I’m keeping my mockfolio to myself for now, but once I gain a little confidence, I’ll share.

I’m pretty excited. It’s nice to be on the road to doing something like this again. Should be fun, and with luck, profitable!

It came from Planet Barbie

So I’m trying to get myself back into shape. Without going into too much detail, I recently had a bout with anti-depressants. Finally, it was decided that I didn’t have to choose between crazy and fat and I got off them. Sadly, entropy being what it is, it is much harder to get the weight off than on.

Anyway, I’m watching my diet (about to get much more serious about it, stay tuned), and I work out just about every day. Most of the trainers at the gym I go to (Wild Basin, you rock!) have seen me come in pretty faithfully for the past 8 months and help me and are cool.

Notice how I said most.

I tried a new class yesterday. I had a feeling that there might be a problem when the 40-ish trainer was wearing pig tails. No one over the age of 12 should wear pigtails. Then I noticed that she was wearing her mascara in such a way that she appeared to have four eyelashes on each eye. Nothing good would come of this.

This was a circiut class, which means that there are a bunch of stations for various forms of torture and you rotate around. When I walked in, she looked at me and gave me this look like “Oh God! I hope she doesn’t drop dead on me!”, which of course does wonders for my already fragile self esteem in this category. She then starts to name all of the equipment for me in this really condesending tone of voice (and if you can imagine it in a Texas Twang, all the better):

Pig Tail Trainer: “Have you seen one of these before?”

Me: “You mean a dumbbell?”

PTT: “Yeah! That’s right! And this here…?”

Me: “Is a balance ball…”

PTT: “And how about this one…”

Me: ” That’s a weight bench.”

And so on….

I understand that I am overweight, but I am in actually in good fitness, if that makes any sense. And I understand that since it was the first time I took the class, she might want to point a few things out to me. But her attitude really put me off. Most other trainers are really supportive. They have the attitude that if you are actually in there, then yippee for you. But this one made me feel like I was invading Planet Barbie. Like only the fit could be in there.

I’m glad I have such good experiences otherwise in the gym. The trainer I see on Fridays is really awesome and never makes me feel like I’m a slob. And the rest of the staff is really cool. But Pig Tail Trainer made me feel about six inches tall and that’s not cool.

Next week, maybe I’ll take the class again and sit on her.

Na na na na na na…..You say it’s your birthday……

No, it’s not my birthday, too. But it is my Elder Child’s 10th birthday. I guess it’s time to get rid of the baby fat. Hmmm….

But seriously. He’s 10 today. Wow. Even though I feel like I am screwing up at every turn, he’s turning out to be a great kid. He’s got a few issues, but what kid doesn’t? He is sweet (most days), thoughtful, hardworking (most days), and very intelligent. He loves soccer, video games, cats, scouts, and his family. So why do I harp on him so much? Makes me feel like a total shit.

The past two years at school have been really rough on him. We finally had him diagnosed with dysgraphia, and things are starting to turn around. His grades are sooo much better than they were and I should be proud. Instead, I’m frustrated because the reason they aren’t even better is because he does goofball things like not turn in the assignment, or put his name on the paper, or not turn the page over to see if there is a back side. Sigh. This too shall pass I suppose. I just want him to get his act together and not be like me and a lot of the people on my mom’s side of the family.

There are an amazing number of scary-smart people on my mom’s side, and maybe only two of them “did anything” with it. I include myself in that category as well (the “not doing anything with it category” unfortunately). I mean I can count four valedictorians, serveral concert quality musicians, and gallery quality artists among my twenty-some-odd cousins and second cousins. But we’re all missing something. I can’t put my finger on it, so I’ll have to revisit this topic later. It’s always kind of bugged me and I don’t want that to be EC’s fate as well.

So, back to the kiddo. I guess the best present I could give him is the wish that he can put it all together and live up to his potential. That, and a new video game. But he’ll have to settle for room redecoration from us and hope for the best when the Grandparents and Aunt/Uncle come in town this weekend.

So, Happy Birthday Elder Child. I love you. And when I lose it with you, it’s only because I know how awesome you are.

How my dad watched me do the same and didn’t cry every night, I’ll never know. Or maybe he did. Sorry, Dad. I still have time to get it together. And I’m trying real hard, too.

MacArthur Park and Chocolate Chip Cookies

You know that truly awful song “Mac Arthur Park” sung by Richard Harris and later Donna Summer? And the cake out in the rain? And not having that recipe again?

Had a similar experience today…..(no, not bad 70′s disco, but since I had to run to the grocery store, there was the risk of that…)

So I have to make an amazingly large amount of cookies for various and sundry functions. And I used to have this totally awesome cookie recipe that was on the back of an Imperial Margarine box. I had this thing for over ten years, then last time I needed to make cookies *poof* it was gone. A dark day at my house indeed.

Anyway, I’m getting ready to make the cookies and I remember that I’ve lost the recipe card and oh-whatever-shall-I-do and it finally occurs to me to check the net. Duh. And of course, there it is and there was much rejoicing.

The next thought that popped in my mind was that Richard Harris obviously didn’t have access to the internet, because if he did, then he wouldn’t have had to worry about not having that recipe a-gaiiiiiiiiii-n! Oh nooooooooooo!

But now I have that infernal song stuck in my head! Help!

So, what’s on your nightstand?

I’ve always wanted to know what is on someone’s nightstand. Not what is in your nightstand-TMI!!!- just on it. I think it gives a valuable insight into who you are.

So, I’ve added a list to show you what is on my nightstand. I’ll update it weekly, as some really odd things cross it from time to time.

The first steps

In my past life, I did real estate and property management. I enjoyed it, but was only marginally successful. I was actually starting to come around when a steady paycheck opportunity came up and I took it. Then I got pregnant, started the family, and then *poof* ten years go by. Now, my husband is trying to talk me into doing the property management again. I just don’t know. This really doesn’t seem like the right thing for me to do. I can’t say why, it just isn’t. Gut feeling. But there is a part of me that wonders if I’m just scared or lazy. I need to start contributing financially, but I’m scared of letting my family down in all the other areas. And I question whether or not I really have the discipline to make this work. So here I am, blogging instead (in my defense here, I’m waiting for my kids to be done with one of their activities). I’m not deluded enough to think I can actually make money by writing. I’m actually pretty good at picking stocks and trading, so I may start doing that more seriously. I’m just really concerned what my husband will say. The last thing I want to hear him say is that I’m just making an excuse for not doing something hard.

So I’m not sure how to approach this with him. I mean, I can’t exactly move the seed money over to do this without him noticing. I can tap some other investment so it doesn’t affect our liquidity and cash savings, so there goes that argument. But then it comes down to follow through and discipline.

Ouch.

But I’ve done it before. Back in 2000-01. Did pretty well, but then the markets started getting wonky and I got scared and cashed out. I can do it again. Not that the markets aren’t wonky now, but I actually understand them more and it doesn’t scare me this time.

So I guess it is decided. Back to the stock market. And blogging. And music (more on that one later).

About the title

Taking what is left.

What exactly does that mean, anyway? Ponder it. I’m not usually a morose person, but this actually got me down a bit. It all started when I was trying to find an available blog name. As predicted, most of the ones I might have wanted were long gone. Such is the state of the blogosphere. So I started goofing around and takingwhatisleft.blogspot.com was still open. I jumped on it.

And then I started thinking. I’ve been feeling that way a lot lately. Instead of just going out and doing and getting, I’ve been settling for the dregs. I do lots of things for lots of people, and when it comes to me, I take what is left. My husband works hard and is wonderful with our children and does many amazing things, but sometimes I feel that all I get is what is left. I want to start doing more to contribute to my family financially, but I try to make plans that will not take anything away from them at all, so I can only work with what is left. And I accept it, because I suppose it is better than nothing.

Or is it?

By taking what is left, I am selling myself short. I set myself up for resentment and disappointment. Instead of loving my husband and children, I wonder if they are holding me back instead of being my cheering section. This is not healthy.

Not to say that I should go out and be selfish and do whatever I want and damn the consequences. But maybe I need to reestablish my priorities. Maybe I need to recognize that I am important enough to not settle for what is left. Maybe, by taking the first cut every once in a while, I can actually do more for those around me.

So no more waiting around and taking what is left. I’m going to start pushing to the front of the line a bit. Starting now.

Joining the teeming masses

Well, here I am. Me and about a billion other people. Adding my thoughts and ideas to an already overcrowded place and adding to the deafening background noise that is modern life. So why should you make this a place to waste some of your precious time? What’s so freakin’ special about me that you would come here and see what I have to say?

Nothing. And everything. I’m pretty average, I would have to say. I’m married, with kids, cats, the SUV, mortgage, soccer, and all that stuff. I stay at home and tend to the chaos that is our life. But I’m constantly brooding about something. Whether it is the odd fact that I heard David Bowie’s “White Wedding” as MUZAK at the grocery store today (WTF?), or what about the underpaid woman in Pakistan who made the sippy cup that my children drank out of, or that soccer fans in the US really need to support Fulham in the EPL because there are a lot of American players on the team and it will boost the USA’s soccer cred if they do well, I have something to say about everything.

And I love reading blogs. Not all blogs mind you, but some. It’s a voyeuristic thing I guess. Reading these things about other peoples lives is strangely comforting. For me it is a pleasant reminder that these people you see out there, the author and the ubergeek for example, are just people. Regular people, with regular problems, and a regular life. Just. Like. Me. And you.

So welcome. I hope that we can get to know each other. I hope that I can bring something of value into your life. I hope that this doesn’t become just another blog out there that never gets read.

Until later,
Mel