Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Academy Awards


First of all, let me just say, "YES! TRENT REZNOR WON!!!" Not that anyone really cares, but the three things that made me enjoy The Social Network as much as I did was direction by David Fincher (Fight Club), screenplay by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing), and music by Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails). I take great delight in saying that I'm terrible at guessing who's going to win, and my husband is almost perfectly dead-on every time. I have found that if I pretend like I'm paying no attention to the screen and just cross my fingers, then the one I want to win will win. This has worked 1 out of 1 times that I have tried it. You can't disagree with 100% accuracy.

Church today was lovely, as it has been this entire series. I'm looking forward to First Wednesday this week (anyone who wants to come is invited... we're moving all the chairs out of the auditorium and having a picnic, so bring blankets and food! :) This afternoon, we picked Michael up from work, and I made dinner of sorts -- chicken caesar salad and a lot of leftover Italian food. Snackies have abounded this evening as we're all together watching THE OSCARS. It's so rare that the five of us are in the same room, enjoying the same thing together, and I cherish it when it does happen.

Some shopping tips for those of you I haven't yet persuaded: GO. TO. ALDI. I got a heaping cart full of groceries this week for $95, including some of the best knock-off Chex Mix I've ever had. Honey nut version, which would put both my mom and my sister's boyfriend Brad out of commission if they ate it. One's allergic to honey, one's allergic to peanuts.

The new phones are working out well. I haven't had any problem with connection, coverage, or dropped calls yet. Granted, it's only been a few days, but I'm greatly pleased that we'll be spending $45 less every month for more minutes. Huzzah, Straight Talk. Huzzah.

Another work week starts tomorrow. And there was much rejoicing. Yaayyy...

This week, I will not be as strict with the exercise and such. I will, however, continue to cut down on sugar, leave Mountain Dew out of my life *sad, sad, sadness*, and get a moderate amount of cardio each day so it at least keeps my metabolism going. If I can lose another pound or two this week, that would be great.

Anyone who knows of any freelance writing to be done in the general vicinity, please throw the info my way, if you would be so kind.

Off to finish the Academy Awards!

Stephanie Jean

Friday, February 25, 2011

Booty Camp Day 6


All right, I've finally reached the day that I cannot wait until this stupid Bootie Camp idea of mine has ended. Yesterday, I failed. I did not walk. I still did my jumping jacks and crunches, I still avoided sugar (yes, Bill, I even avoided Slim Fast), and I had a Mexican fiesta dinner of ground turkey and fat free refried beans with taco seasoning made into a Mexican pizza in the oven, and some chicken and rice as well. I've been drinking a lot of water this week, and I'm feeling much lighter than I have in recent days. I didn't get to the gym yesterday, either, and that was the upsetting part. I only made it to the gym one day out of the two that I said I'd go. Today I had a cup of Steve's homemade four-cheese macaroni and cheese because, for the love of God, I cannot pass it up. I would've eaten a massive plateful of it if I had not been on this diet. If it's still there on Monday, I can't make any promises.

Zachary is house- and dog-sitting for a friend of ours this weekend. Hopefully nothing alive will die and nothing expensive will get broken.

P.S. Dump Your Boyfriend is playing at Rulli's tonight, and I don't even have the urge to go. For one thing, I'll have a few drinks and that is definitely NOT a part of my Bootie Camp, but for another thing, I'll want to dance and it's not fun to dance if no one's dancing with you. Then it's just "look at the crazy girl out there dancing by herself". Me no likey.

We finally dropped Verizon Wireless. The reason? Ridiculous prices. I was paying $104 a month for two lines, 1400 minutes of talking. No texts, no picture messaging, no ringtones, no 411, no internet, no fancy-schmancy touch-screen bling. Now I am paying $60/month for 2000 minutes between two lines. Do the math. And the kicker? It's on a Verizon network. Which means I get the exact same coverage nationwide. Verizon Wireless = Big Fat Jerks. (This is my phrase of the week.)

Can I just say that there's something to be said for beautiful snow, but there is much more to be said for getting it the heck out of my life now that it's almost March?

I got to talk to my little sister today for awhile, which is awesome because it feels like forever since I had a conversation with her. I just adore her. She reminds me a lot of myself in so many ways, but yet she is so very much herself and I admire her for that. She's not afraid to be who she is, which is much more than I can say for myself at that age. Or until I was probably in my late 20s. Sometimes I still hesitate to be myself.

We got our tax returns back today! I'm doing little happy dances because now I can eliminate almost all of our debt. We'll pay our tithes, then get rid of our air conditioning loan, Steve's credit card balance, and most of mine. Maybe when Bootie Camp is over I'll treat the fam to B-dubs, too... w...i...n...g...s....

wingsandmountaindewandchocolateandbaconandbleucheeseandhamandpotatochipsandpepperonipizzawithstuffedcrustandbreadsticksand...

That's enough of that. It's counter-productive.

Have a nice sandwich. I mean, day.

Stephanie Jean

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bootie Camp, Day #4

Yep, still working on it. Today I did my jumping jacks, 40 minutes of step-aerobics, crunches, oatmeal for breakfast, Slim Fast for lunch, and I'm debating what to do about dinner. I'm hungry, yes, but I don't want to overdo it. Steve already ate, so I don't have to make a big meal for everyone, which is nice while I'm dieting. It helps to be able to individualize my meal from the others, and not be responsible for theirs as well. If I make a pasta dish for everyone else, I can either eat two spoons full of it, or eat something entirely different. So it's nice when I don't have to worry about others during diet time.

There's really not a lot of news to report, which is why blogging at this particular point is counter-intuitive. I could be writing something "real" somewhere (no offense to you, my reader. I appreciate you reading this, and all.) I edited a very long story down to about 800 words for my monthly newspaper article, and read a story my friend is working on which is quite good. I'm reading two good books right now, one I've read before (The Politically Incorrect Wife) and one I haven't (The Me I Want To Be). I liked the first one a lot, but read it a few years ago so I want to remind myself why I liked it so much. The second is one that they just got done with a series about at church, and Steve read it during the series so I'm reading it now. It's sort of repetitive in places, but it's pretty good so far.

At this point, I would like to describe what I would like to eat right now:

A triple bacon cheeseburger with ketchup, sweet potato fries, fried potatoes, nachos with meat, beans, spicy cheese, and sour cream, a baked potato with butter, cheese, and bacon, and french silk pie with peanut butter and chocolate ice cream, chocolate fudge magic shell, hot fudge, and whipped cream.

I would like to eat all of that. Right. Now.

But I won't.

*sigh*

All right, I'm even boring myself now. It's time to feed my face with something... healthy.

*double sigh*

Stephanie Jean

Monday, February 21, 2011

S.... NO!.....W


Okay, first off, let me just say that whoever ordered this weather is a big fat jerkface. I was done with Winter, thank you very much. This displeases me greatly. Icy roads, freezing cold wind, and snow, snow, S N O W. (The word "NO" is right in the middle of 'snow'. You'd think Mother Nature would get the hint.) Although I was lamenting that I didn't get to go sledding this year. So maybe this is my fault.

Well, I can't really walk a mile in this ridiculous weather, once again, so I'll have to bust out the Wii Fit and do some more step aerobics with Aria, and then our jumping jacks and crunches and cool-down. I've been so busy all day, I haven't even had a glass of water, so I need to get cracking on that before I do anything else.

I began a quest for a literary agent last evening. I'm not sure what the protocol is, but I queried two agents about my book, Women I've Been. I should hear something within a couple of weeks, it says.

I was supposed to meet with Brenda and Monica today, but due to horrendous weather, a death in one of their families, and uncertainty as to what time I'd be getting off work today, we canceled the appointment (This is the wonderful woman at The Good Neighbor News who so lovingly publishes my column "Salisbury's Stake" each month.)

I guess this leaves me with a free evening. The roads are too bad for me to attempt the exercise class, so perhaps I'll give that a shot next week. Unless it unexpectedly melts in the next five hours. Which would be awesome.

I should bid you adieu so I can begin my exercise regimen and start mentally planning dinner for the fam. Stay warm, stay inside, and think Spring. Or Summer. Or Autumn. Or More-Melty-End-of-Winter. (BTW -- stupid, stupid groundhog. Grumble.)

Stephanie Jean

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bootie Camp, Day 1


It's 12:41 p.m. I am ready for bed. My arms and legs feel like Jell-o and, contrary to popular belief and a great marketing scheme, there is NOT always room for Jell-o. I'm suffering from the aftermath of the beginning of my own personal boot camp which I have lovingly dubbed, "Bootie Camp".

This morning, I set my alarm for 7:00 a.m. with the very best of intentions to begin my exercise at that time. Unlike real boot camp, I turned my alarm off and fell back asleep until 9:00-something. My daughter had expressed some interest in joining Bootie Camp with me, so I woke her up after I got out of bed, and we did step aerobics for 40 minutes, 200 jumping jacks, 50 crunches, and a cool down. Then we had water, and oatmeal with skim milk for breakfast, and I am having a cup of coffee with no sugar. I'm keeping a separate Bootie Camp journal to write about my progress and how my body feels each day so that, at the end of the week, I can see what I've accomplished. Part of this camp is giving up Facebook for the week as well, since I waste a tremendous amount of time on there accomplishing absolutely nothing.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping this ridiculous snow will melt once again, and I can go walking after the meeting I have with my newspaper publisher in Middlebury, then Aria and I are going to try an exercise class at the Dance Academy which is only $5 in the evening. That is, if I can get everything else accomplished and make a sensible dinner as well. (Oatmeal for breakfast each day of Bootie Camp, Slim Fast for lunch, and a "sensible dinner" which is really difficult for me, since I don't eat fruit or raw vegetables).

Today is a catch-up day for me. I'm working on laundry, and Zachary's planning on having me help him with his taxes, and there is some serious deep cleaning that needs to happen. I have lists of projects that I want to start working on around the house, and lists of more lists I want to write to get more things accomplished. (I tell you, when I am in list-writing mode, I am unstoppable!!! Until I stop.)

I'm still enjoying the aroma of fresh roses and baby's breath from this gorgeous bouquet that my husband got me for Valentine's Day, right here on my desk. In fact, I usually do my blogging from the bedroom, but I brought the laptop into the office so I could sit at my desk and smell the flowers while I typed. It's lovely.

I'm going to try to post a new blog each day of Bootie Camp, especially since I'm not on Facebook, so you can be a part of the weight-loss shenanigans, too. Stay tuned...

Stephanie Jean

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I'm Baaaaaack


Hey, peeps. So, I was gone for a couple of days. I know you may or may not have noticed, since sometimes I don't write for a few days even though I have no good reason. I had a good reason this time. But I'm back. I know, you missed me terribly and your life wasn't the same.

I'm catching up on some shows that I missed while I was gone. Harry's Law, which is pretty awesome thus far (I really like anything David E. Kelley does), Glee (can't miss it!), Parenthood (which I'm still waiting to watch) and American Idol (which I'm having to sit through right now because it was also taped, though I despise group week... it's at least nice to sit here together as a family).

Next week is going to be my personal boot camp. I'm going to kick my own behind back in gear. No Facebook, no junk food, no lolling about. I'm exercising, eating right, drinking water, staying active, and losing some stinking weight because let me just say that sometime over the last couple of days, I put a bathing suit on my body... and I am not going to do that again until this summer, when I no longer look like a heifer. I was hoping that for last summer, but instead of trying harder to lose the weight, I just avoided the beach. That's pathetic, and I have no good excuse for that. I need to get this excess weight off of my body, and I need to do it sooner rather than later. So... my own personal boot camp.

I need to get back into writing, as well. Not just on here, but working on articles and such. I'm caught up with everything that's expected of me thus far, but I still have some things I could be doing. I started making lists again (soooo helpful!) of things I need to accomplish. That normally gets me cranking along, so hopefully next week will be a good start.

Can I also just say that God's been answering a lot of prayers lately, and I sure do appreciate it. As Marla would say, "big ups to J.C." Thanks, Big Guy.

By the way, check out my friend Andie's blog:
Ours+His+Mine=Nine!
I have a chance to win something cool by posting her blog on my blog, but I'm not just doing it for that reason -- Andie's one of the most fantastic people I've ever met, and I love her lots! She and her husband have nine children between the two of them, and her blog, "Ours+His+Mine=Nine" should totally be the prelude to her own reality show!

Off to my lists...

Stephanie Jean

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sleepy Sunday

I know I mentioned this yesterday, but it bears repeating: I love sleeping in. I think I love it as much as my husband loves reading. Don't get me wrong, I love reading, too. I read more last year than I have in a decade, but I'm working so much lately it seems like all I want to do when I'm not at work is sleep, sleep, sleep. It makes me smile just thinking about it, which makes me wonder if I'm in love with sleep. You know that goofy feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you're first in love with someone? You get a little dizzy when you're not with them? You smile a hundred times an hour just wishing you could be with them? Yep. I'm in love with sleep. Don't worry, soon I'll be blaming sleep for all of my problems, like lack of enthusiasm or ambition or accomplishments, and telling sleep that it's greedy and selfish and territorial and won't let me be with any of my friends or family. I have enough foresight to know that this love affair won't last forever, but for now I just want to revel in it on the weekends, thank you.

Joking aside, however, I am feeling the urge to get out my best friend 'fresh pad of paper' and start writing to-do lists. I haven't gotten around to that yet this year, but there are things in and out of the house that need to be accomplished, errands that need to be run, projects waiting to be started, and all of that needs to begin on a fresh pad of paper. I write lists. I write lists of lists that I need to write, that's how much of a list-maker I am. Part of it is so I can plan ahead, but another part of it is that I need that small sense of accomplishment by crossing something off the list to boost me into the next level of ambition. Lately, I've felt an utter lack of ambition and I don't want to allow myself to wallow in that rut. I haven't been able to lose any weight because each time I try, I fall right back into the "I'm going to drink this glass of Mountain Dew and eat this bag of tortilla chips with this jar of cheese for dinner" pit. I haven't been able to properly clean the house because I get stuck on how much laundry there is to do on an almost daily basis. I haven't been able to save hardly any money towards anything because of the debt that's been accumulating since last year. I avoided resolutions this year in January... maybe I shouldn't have. Maybe I should've embraced it as another list to get my butt in gear.

I wrote a book, I put it up online, and I haven't done anything to try and market it besides posting it on Facebook over and over. I've sold 16 copies, which isn't terrible, but I was certainly hoping I'd sell much more than that in the first month. Hoping and lack of ambition will get me 16 copies. Hoping and lighting a fire under my butt will get me a few more. Jumping up because of the fire and actually doing something about it might sell enough for me to gain the ambition to keep trying. I have this habit of starting out great and then slowing down and doing something else when it's not working out the way I want it to, instead of honing my focus and pouring in the amount of effort necessary to make something really happen. It's like with this article-writing thing. I'm writing for two magazines and a newspaper right now, but I need to put together a resume and send some sample articles to big name magazines, whether they're women's magazines, parenting magazines, or whatever. I just need to do it. But I get so overwhelmed by all of the things that I have to do, that this stuff never gets done. Unless I start writing lists.

You know what helps with lists? Coffee.

Here's my list for the day, then:

1. Put on robe
2. Get coffee
3. Get fresh notebook
4. Break it off with sleep.
5. Write lists.

Oh, my goodness, I feel better already.

Stephanie Jean

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Winter Wars


I launched an attack on the frozen snowdrift in my driveway yesterday after work. Well, let me start earlier. I opened the coffee shop (wake: 5am, open 6am) then stayed after I got off at 1pm to help Steve close (close 4pm, left 4:40pm). Went to the bank, then drove home. I remembered that I had a very difficult time getting out of the drive because I had to back around Zachary's car and the snowdrift at the end of the driveway had been plowed into the drive, then had frozen over, and I had to pull in and back out again before I could get around it. So, with a 'digging a hole' shovel (you know, the pointy kind that has some other name besides a 'digging a hole' shovel), I attacked the frozen drift with a forceful, downward motion. While I'm doing this, Steve comes home and tells me that the mailman refuses to deliver our mail unless we also forcefully attack the plowed, frozen drift in front of the mailbox as well. (This is where I interjected that if he could deliver the piece of paper into our mailbox that said he can't deliver mail, he could very easily also deliver the mail.) However, I attacked this drift as well. We'll see if it made enough of a difference to the mailman by whether or not we receive any mail today. By the way, I am so utterly sick of this subzero temperature and these icy shenanigans from above that I am more than ready to take my hairdryer and an extension cord and melt my entire lawn. If it weren't my day of rest, I would do just that.

Last night we took the kids to the Opera House to see Music Man Jr. Since I bought the last five seats in the house, we didn't get to sit together, but I think everyone enjoyed it anyway. I sat a couple of rows behind Steve and I could tell he was really enjoying it. He loves the Music Man. I know this because every single time, without fail, that someone mentions the Music Man, he turns to me and asks me if I've seen it. When I say 'no' (as I do every single time, without fail) he tells me it's a classic and then asks me to watch it with him. Part of why I haven't is just to see if he will continue to do this for the rest of our lives, or if someday he will remember that I have not seen the Music Man.

Today consists of some wonderful sleeping in which has, in my old age, become my favorite past-time. Grocery shopping and church later, and probably dinner here at home with whatever goodies I bought while grocery shopping. Then tomorrow, some more sweet sleeping-in. I have to catch up on the weekends since I don't get much during the week.

Monday is Valentine's Day. I'm slightly more prepared than I usually am. At least I've purchased a card and a small gift to go along with the larger gift that I want to buy. I love cards. LOVE them. Not just picking them out and giving them, but receiving them, too. I know it's stupid, but just knowing that someone took the time to find a card that reminds them of me, that they know me well enough to know what will make me laugh or touch my heart... I guess there's a little of that girly stuff in me after all. Right after one of our first couple of dates was my birthday, years and years ago, and I woke up and opened my apartment door to go down to Amberly's apartment, or something, and there in front of my door was a small package with a card in it from Steve. (I didn't know it was from him until I read all the way through the card. Before I opened the card, I thought it was from Amberly because we lived in the same apartment complex, and when I started reading it I thought it was from another friend because the handwriting was so similar.) But anyhow, it was so thoughtful and perfect, and the fact that he knew me that well after just having gone on one or two dates, well... that was fate, I suppose. He wrote a whole letter inside the card, too. (Maybe HE's the reason I always look forward to cards, now? That just occurred to me. Looks like he's set his own bar, haha!)

I'm taking a day off of work next week for a much-needed mini-vacation. I'll be leaving on Tuesday from work and getting back on Thursday (which I switched around my houses to clean so that I had availability that day, too) so I only had to take one day off of work. Not sure if I'm taking the laptop to blog and write with, or just unplugging myself completely. Decisions, decisions.

My mind is always restless when it's stressed, and I've been under a tremendous amount of pressure lately. At least, it feels like that when things are tense at work. It spills over into the rest of my life, and I've always hated it when that happens. I don't want to take out my anxieties on other people, especially my family. I want to come home and have it be a safe haven for everyone, and I certainly don't want to be the one who makes it otherwise. There've been a lot of prayers going up (from me) to just keep my cool, be calm, be patient. It's difficult, though, because by the time I get home I feel like any little thing can set me off.

I want to be a writer when I grow up.

Time for my shower so the 'real day' can begin. Noon seems like a good time to start a day.

Stephanie Jean

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rumble, Rumble, Rumble.


When I was at the church school, our teacher, Roger Mann, would play these funny 'history' audio tapes while we worked on homework or had free time. In one of them, I remember two guys on a boat having a conversation, and one said, "I'm hearing rumblings of mutiny from the crew'. Then, in the background, you'd hear in low voices, several men muttering, "Rumble, rumble, rumble. Mutiny, mutiny, mutiny." I have no idea what these tapes were called, or why I found them so hilarious that I still remember them from middle school, but when it popped into my head tonight I posted it on my old teacher's Facebook page because I know he'll get a kick out of it when he reads it.

I say all that to say this: in the midst of my soul, I'm hearing rumblings of mutiny.

All our lives, we're programmed to be selfish. To want what we want, when we want it. It's almost as if we have a constant necessity to be right, to be the smartest, the prettiest, the best. Society has raised us. Our parents might have given it their best effort, but we're molded by all of our surroundings. Television and magazines tell us that women have to be curvy in just the right places, ooze sexuality, and be controlling and manipulative so that they can always get what they want, which is very obviously chocolate, lattes, and happy-fun-girls'-nights according to the same television and magazines. We have to smell right, smile right, wear the right makeup, use the right fourteen step facial cleanser, and be exactly a size 2 or starve ourselves until we are. We have to be smart enough to get into college and get a good job, but not let on that we are smart or have a good job because then men won't be interested. All of this is programming us to be selfish. Sounds incongruous, doesn't it? How about I make my point now? Get to it, woman!

It's selfish because none of this matters. We're trained to do all of this so other people will like us. Specifically, so men will like us. But the problem with that is, they aren't liking us. They're liking the facade of what we think we have to be like so they will like us! And what's happening in the process? How are we changing the world? How are we helping others around us? How are we shaping our children? How are we feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, making things right in our community? How are we serving God? How are we exploring the world? How are we having any effect on anything around us?

We're not. We're simply too self-involved to bother with all of that.

There are rumblings of mutiny in my spirit. This can't be right. Where is the justice? What is the point? Where is the impact?

In my search for peace, I'm only getting more stirred up. There are rumblings of mutiny in my heart, I tell you! In my bones! I want to do more, help more, heal more, pray more, forgive more, love more.

I find that I don't just want to be.

I want to be MORE.

Rumble, rumble, rumble. Mutiny, mutiny, mutiny.

*deep breath*

There, I got all that out for now, and maybe I can sleep tonight.

This evening, I took my mother out to dinner at the Emporium restaurant in South Bend for her birthday and then we went to a seminar at the South Bend Clinic together, and for dessert at the South Bend Chocolate Factory. (It was a SouthBendaPalooza!) It was a wonderful time. I always enjoy being with her no matter what we're doing.

I'm missing Charlene a lot. I sent her another package yesterday. If anyone wants to send a package or letter or card to help cheer a soldier, even if you don't know her, just let me know and I'll give you her address. She'd be so pleased. Mail is so important to them while they're away.

Tomorrow I open the coffee shop, then I have to grocery shop after work (whee). I'll probably help Steve, too, since he has to close... or maybe I'll just grocery shop on Saturday and take Aria with me to help. That sounds like a better plan. Now I'm at the point where I'm just thinking out loud, so I'm probably boring you. I apologize profusely, and I'm shutting this bad boy down and going to sleep.

Stephanie Jean

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Half Over


Wednesdays are a mixed bag. I usually work early, it's always busy for some random reason, but I do well in tips and get out relatively early. Today I called my best friend after work to see if we could have an impromptu 'Kitty date' as we call them (it's our goofball nickname for each other since we first met, and if I explained it to you, you'd just think we were crazy which we are.) Our Kitty date consisted of chatting, getting haircuts for her boys, mini-grocery shopping, eating Pez, making baked oatmeal in a roundabout way, and running up and down the halls of her house with kids on my back while they hollered, "THREE MORE TIMES!!!!" (Why? Because one or two more times is simply not enough when you are five and two, I say!) And I had a blast. Why? Because it doesn't matter how long it's been since we talked, or what's happened in between. We always pick up where we left off. It's great to have someone like that, and she's my someone like that.

After waking up at 5:30, working, and running with the monkeys, you'd think I'd be tired at 11pm. (You'd also think that the plural of 'monkey' would be 'monkies', because the plural of 'money' is 'monies'. But you'd be wrong.) I'm not sure why I'm so vividly awake right now, but here I am. The week is more than half over now, to be precise. At least, the work week is. Tomorrow I clean two houses and do my own grocery shopping, then spend the evening with my mom. Her birthday is this weekend. She will, once again, be 39. In a few short years, I'll be older than she is, and I'll have to go back to being a teenager (a thing which I would never do in a million years if I had the chance.)

I'm feeling... something. I can't quite put my finger on it, though. Believe me, I've tried -- there's something nagging at me that won't let go. It's not physical. I think it's a combination of emotional and spiritual. It's like an itch somewhere in my soul. It's not unpleasant, or uncomfortable. It's not depression, or sadness, or anger. It's not bitterness or resentment. It's not even really a drive to do anything in particular. Something's just ... well, it feels like there's a very small chicken in my heart trying to peck its way out. I don't hate the feeling. I'm mildly intrigued by it, to be honest.

Could this be some kind of growth? (Not the lumpy kind, I mean 'growth' in a more intangible sort of way.) Normally, at this juncture in my life I would feel a desperation for more. Being more, making more money, doing more with my life. And sure, those things are always lingering inside, but I don't feel compelled. I feel much more content than discontent. (And let me tell you, this winter is so awful that if any time were the time to say it's the 'winter of our discontent', THIS would be the winter!) Maybe, for once, I'm not allowing myself to get overwhelmed by everything negative, and I'm focusing on the blessings. Maybe this is what it feels like to just live each day, to just be.

Hmm.

I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Let's move on.

...

Hmm.

Nope, I can't move on because I have nothing more to say in a public forum. So many thoughts are traveling through the murky pod that is my brain, I can't even catch one and put it into words. So much for being a writer when I grow up.

Hmm.

Stephanie Jean

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Isn't That Special?

Can I just tell you how excited I am that Dana Carvey is hosting Saturday Night Live? Because, in my estimation (and as his opening monologue might have told you) SNL was the best when he was on it! So tonight's been worth staying awake for, even though I feel like a zombie. Oh, and Linkin Park is just awesome. There's a book from our church (at least I think it's one from ours...) that has a chapter called, "When Linkin Park Sings, God Speaks".

Oh, and SPEAKING of our church (can you see I'm in the middle of a total stream of consciousness here?) I've been going to Granger Community Church for almost seven years now, but had today been my first day, they had me from 'hello'. I walked in, I sat down, and when the 'prelude' music started playing, it was THE CURE. My favorite band ever. I'm pretty sure I was the most excited person there, but even my son recognized it because he knows how much I love The Cure. The service was pretty good, too, of course. They usually post the services early in the week online, so you might want to check out the link this week and watch. THE CURE, I tell you! My cup truly runneth over.

Well, sort of. The flat tire on my car that we drove around trying to get fixed sort of put a damper on my day, but only because the roads really stunk and it took a long time to attempt to get something done about it with no real accomplishment in the end. First, I filled the tire completely with air and drove to Discount Tire in Dunlap, where the tire was half flat when I arrived. Instead of assisting me in any way with my problem, the kid at the counter proceeded to try and sell me four brand new tires, and then two brand new tires, while telling me they had no used tires in stock which is baloney, because I've never been to a Discount Tire that didn't have used tires in stock. I asked if he could call another Discount Tire, and he seemed reluctant, then ticked off when he actually did call. He also said they couldn't patch the tire because the tires needed to be replaced. I question the veracity of his statements. I then tried two Walmarts, and Monteith Tire was closed as was Tire Star (which was my first choice, by the way). In the end, after driving all over Timbuktu, with my wonderfully patient husband following me to each place to see that I got there safely, I parked it at the Tire Star (which apparently just recently changed their hours and are no longer open on Saturdays, sadly) and left a note and the keys, but that means I have to ride in with Steve again on Monday to work. Won't be too bad since I get to clock back out at 1. Hopefully, the tire will be either fixed or replaced by the time I get home.

Is there some way to remove a small, sleeping dog from the crevice between my husband and myself? He weighs 14 pounds, but I'm positive that while he's asleep his weight quadruples, so he's basically a 56 pound wet noodle. Then he begins snoring, then he begins dreaming, then he begins twitching. Which is precisely what he's doing right now. And for those of you who say that the dog should not be sleeping in the bed, I cannot say that I disagree with you. However, if he's not sleeping in the bed, he will continue to jump onto the bed regardless of how many times you shove him off the bed. And if you put him outside the door, he will scratch at the door or throw himself at it until you open it, or it opens itself. If you put him in another room or a cage, he will whine and bark until you let him out. Therefore, he sleeps in our bed. A 56 pound wet noodle lying between my husband and I as we sleep is better than a 14 pound whining, scratching dog which we would continue to hear because we CAN'T sleep.

Is it just me, or do Dana Carvey and Mike Myers look much older while Jon Lovitz looks exactly the same?

So, tomorrow the Superbowl that I don't really care about at all. If I were to be forced at gunpoint to root for one of the two teams, it would be the Packers ONLY BECAUSE I HAVE FAMILY IN WISCONSIN. I have no ties to the Steelers and despise Ruthless-berger. But you will not, in any way, hear me say such things as "Go Pack Go". The closest thing you might hear to me actually rooting for them is to say something positive about a dairy product.

We are now at the point in the evening where the infomercials have begun. I'm watching John Schneider, alias BO DUKE from the Dukes of Hazzard, plugging old school country music CDs. And I must admit, I want to buy them. Not just because my old flame is plugging them, but because this is the country music I actually enjoyed. Crystal Gale, Conway Twitty, Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings. "Country music speaks to us about what's really important: love and relationships" is what Bo Duke just said. Ahhh, such truths. I must kick back and watch this cheese. (That was not a cheer for the Packers...)

Have a fine evening, and gear up for the commercials tomorrow -- they're bound to be better than the game.

OH! RONNIE MILSAP!

Stephanie Jean

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What if the Groundhog Disappears in a Snowdrift?


Here we are, February 2nd, amidst a massive pile of snow. Had I any tolerance for the cold, I would've bundled up and tunneled through my back yard after Steve shoveled the porch path for the dogs. It looks really fun... there are about four feet of snow on each side of the path because of the drifts! I'm pretty sure I could dig some snow out, enough for the little dog to tunnel through. As much as he likes to burrow, you'd think he'd be in Heaven. Then I remember he's a total wussy when it comes to rain or snow. He's a big fan of being warm. Hence the snoring lump on my feet as I type this.

As you might have read yesterday, we had a snow day today. Our place of employment was closed, and Elkhart was declared to be in a "State of Emergency" so you could actually get ticketed if you were randomly driving with no plow on your vehicle. We left the house to try the bank, only to find out it was closed. The hardware store downtown in Middlebury was open, so we got a snow brush for Zach (who, despite being told several times he needs one in the last week or so, still had not purchased his own), and we needed salt for our water softener and a furnace filter. My husband is quite methodical about the furnace filter, which is great. This one is a 90-day one so that'll save him a couple of trips down to the basement.

We do need more softener salt. Apparently we go through a tremendous amount of water in this house, and I really wish we would consume less. With five showers each day, an average of six loads of laundry a week, and a dishwasher full every night, plus toilet-flushing and hand-washing... well, if water cost as much as gas does right now, we'd be have smelly clothes and smelly bodies, let me tell you. I just don't know how to get the kids to understand the concept of reducing the usage. I realize it doesn't make sense, as water should be free... but our water bill has been between $75 and $125 every month, and I just feel like that's ridiculous. I remember taking showers in the Upper Peninsula when we'd deer hunt -- we had five minutes. One second more, and someone would shut the water valve off. If you didn't rinse enough, that was your own problem.

We watched "'Salem's Lot" today. I cannot believe how totally campy that movie was! I'm sure I watched it when I was very young, because I remembered bits and pieces. I'm also sure that the book must have been better. We also watched the rest of the first season of "V" (the new one, not the old mini-series... "mouuuuuuuuusyyyyy...."), and we got to watch Jeopardy together which is always nice. I'm catching up on my reading here and there, my writing here and there, and trying to think of a genius way to sell more of these Kindle books. I'm thinking of doing a short story each week at like, $2.99 or something, and just uploading and publishing like crazy. The more I have on there, the more chances I have to sell.

A bad thing happened today, though, too. My friend Frances, for whom I have cleaned house for about nine years now, called to tell me that her son had passed away. He was in his forties, lived alone, and had sleep apnea which is what they think happened. The viewing is next Monday and I'm going to try to be there. She and her husband are such wonderful people. If you could please keep Frances and Weldon in your prayers, that would be greatly appreciated.

On a lighter note, I had a great talk with my sister-in-law Beth this morning, and I just adore her. She always makes me laugh! I keep trying to get her and Dan to go to Vegas and elope, since it's soooooo much easier than planning a big wedding. I might just kidnap them and throw them on a plane. But since we have to go through so many hoops just to get on a plane these days, that probably won't work, either.

Back to 'real life', at least somewhat, tomorrow. The kids already have a two-hour delay, and I'm not sure if my car will make it out of our subdivision to go clean some houses, but I hope so because I could sure use the money! I'm thinking of putting out my housecleaning cards again and just taking a bunch of jobs whenever I can get them, to save up for when I inevitably lose more hours at the coffee shop.

Hope everyone stayed safe during the storm, and dug themselves out properly! Stay warm, stay inside if you can, and drink hot cocoa with marshmallows. (That last one is an order.)

Stephanie Jean

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

SNOW DAY!!!!


Oh. My. Goodness.

Let me tell you the last time I had a snow day: high school. I am so excited, I'm posting it on Facebook and, yes, I just called my mother. To tell her I have a snow day. It hasn't yet sunk in that I do not get paid for snow days, nor will my husband. I'm just a bit ecstatic right now. That'll wear off, I'm sure. Especially when it hits me sometime tomorrow that I can't leave the house because the roads are horrible, the kids have a snow day too so they're at each other's throats, and the little dog refuses to poo outside because the snow is up to his back. Right now... right this moment... I'm reveling in it. (The ecstasy, not the poo.)

My first month of book sales are up. I sold 14 books, the royalties are 70%, and I need to sell approximately 1,000,000 more of them before I can retire. If you would be so kind as to post this link on your own blog, or your website, or your Facebook, or in a mass email to everyone you know, that would be fantastic. Besides, everyone is stuck inside for the next day or so, they can't go anywhere, they might as well download the free Kindle software onto their computer and then download my book. I have 48 followers -- if each of you has 1 friend who buys a book, I will have almost tripled my sales for this month. :)

WOMEN I'VE BEEN by S. J. STOWE

That's the link... isn't it pretty?

Today was baking day at work. I made three dozen mini-scones for a catering on Friday for a 100th birthday party, two quiche, six dozen chocolate chip cookies, three and a half dozen banana nut muffins, two dozen strawberry cream cheese streudel sticks, and set up a huge brown sugar cinnamon french toast casserole. Oh, and cinnamon rolls. Those are a real pain in the butt to make, let me tell you, but so, so good. It *so* seems like I made more than that, but I was there for a long time. I came in around nine, and clocked out around three or three-thirty, but then I stayed and helped Steve close off the clock because I was concerned about him being there after dark if he had to close alone, and the blizzard (yes, I used the word 'blizzard'!) was beginning. That way, I could follow him home and in case the roads were bad, at least we were right next to each other. Safety in numbers. That, and I think he's cute.

Parenthood tonight. I love that show. It seems very realistic most of the time, which is more than I can say for all the ridiculous 'reality' shows out there.

The little dog dislikes this storm, but not as much as he dislikes the rain storms in the spring. Hopefully, he'll let us sleep through the night!

Bring on the freeze! I could get used to this sleeping in thing.

Be careful out there, everyone. Bundle up, wear layers, keep some snacks and a blanket or two in your car just in case.

Stephanie Jean