Monday, April 16, 2007


I got this comment from lorib in regard to my "What would you ask for, if you knew you would get it?" post:

Follow-up: I forwarded this to D because he had a former, much-loved intern going through her first job search and getting low-ball offers. D encouraged her to ask for more money and also sent her this post. I have no idea if she read it, but she did ask for more money and got it. You may have helped put one young woman on the right track at the start of her career.

This just made my day. No, scratch that. This just made MY WEEK!

I love it!

Keep it up! If nothing else, we will all make more money. That can't be bad!

...and just so you know I "walk the walk"'s my tale:

Friday night we went to our favorite Italian restaurant. It was around 7:30pm and, of course, the place was crowded. We were told we had a 20 minute wait. After about 5 minutes, Alex starts getting restless. Since we are standing there looking at 2 empty tables in the bar, and a foursome eating at the third, I said, "let's ask if we can sit in the bar". Two minutes later, we walked past all the other poor (silent) suckers waiting for their table and sat in a nice, roomy table in the bar. And, no, no one was smoking...they were all just waiting for other tables! It was sweet!

Keep it up! I want MORE stories!

Friday, April 13, 2007

A Friday the 13th Story

I said something to a co-worker today about it being Friday the 13th, and they asked me, "Oh, are you superstition?". Hmmm... I didn't know how to answer!

I happily stand under ladders, I socialize with black cats (if they are nice), and I just plain try to stay out of graveyards, so there's no risk of me walking over someone's grave.


I do listen to the universe.

Okay you new age goofy freak, what does that mean?

I think there are signs around us that give us guidance about whether we are going in the right direction or not. You might call it "God", "karma", "Gaia" or even "shit happens".

Mr. Goofy and I grew up in the same city. But we did not meet until we were in high school. But after comparing notes over the years, we have come to realize that our paths intersected many, many times over the years. YMCA camp, field trips, common friends...we found a scary amount of examples that prove to me that we were meant to meet. [insert Twlight Zone theme here]

The best example of this was when we adopted our son. Regardless of what you might read, when you meet your adopted child for the first time, angels do not come down from the heavens and you do not hear trumpets, violins, nor kazoos playing. You just stare at each other and think, "Jeez, is this the one?"

So when we traveled to Russia for the first time to meet our new son, we were listening. For a sign. Anything. So we would know if were on the right track. There's a lot of of scaryness related to adopting internationally. You have no real medical history. It can be lied about. If the parents are not married, the dad is not put on the birth certificate, so you have no idea of his medical history. There is a big risk of fetal alcohol syndrome, especially with all the readily-accessible vodka. And sexually-transmitted diseases are pretty common and can be transferred to the child of a pregnant mom.

Unlike China, when you travel to Russia, you do not get many details regarding the child they have selected for you. The "expecting parents" for China get pictures, names, ages, and details. We got a hearty, "C'mon over, we have a boy selected for you". How old? Name? "Just c'mon over and meet him." Um...okay.

So, of course, one of the first question friends and family asked was, "Well, what are you going to name him?" We were very open to keeping his given name, provided it "worked" in America. Our comment was typically, "Well, if it's something like Vladamir, we will probably change it. But if it's something like Alexander, then that would work here and we will keep it."

The first details you get about your "referral" are in Russia. We met with the Director of the Ministry of Education. He had a file in his hand. He pulled out a picture of a bouncing baby boy. Obviously a boy, as the child was buck naked, all his boy parts showing, with a goofy grin on his face.

"His name is Alexander," the Director said. And that was all we needed to know.

The universe spoke.

We heard.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What would you ask for, if you knew you would get it?

Since moving to our new house, I have realized how much I missed our house cleaner. We fired her when we started doing open houses every Sunday at the old house, since we would scrub the place top-to-bottom Sunday morning, then she would come on Monday. We wondered what we were paying her for, so we fired her (nicely, and she refused to come clean on Friday, else we would have had her do that).

Anyway, I decided to reward the small business that left a nice, pleasing house cleaning flyer on our door. I'm becoming very jaded against large, franchised companies and starting to prefer working with small, locally-owned joints.

I called, we met at the house and walked through the house-cleaning procedure. She seemed nice and seemed willing to have her crew do WAY more than Previous Housecleaner. Change our sheets? Sweet! Dust our blinds? Rock n' Roll!

At the end, she said, "And I will call you the following day to find out how we did and see if you would like to get on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule." Wow! I was impressed. That seemed very professional and easy. I didn't have to call her back, and when she called, I could easily mention any tasks that we had forgotten to ask her to do (something that was always very ackward with Previous Housecleaner).

Then came. They cleaned. They did a great job. The house smelled good. It looked good. Mr. Goofy noticed.*

I took a few notes (very few) on some things that we forgot to tell them (we hide our bathroom trash cans under the sinks - something we got doing during the open house process and learned to love...who wants to SEE their bathroom trash all the time? Ugh. And they didn't know that and didn't empty those cans.).

And....she didn't call the next day.

Nor the next day.

The weekend came. Then went.

Monday came and I was started to get a bit peeved. All she had to do was call. And we were ready to sign up! We were even considering the weekly option, although with every minute ticking past, this option was going away. Also, over the weekend, we decided that, since they did such a good job, we would pay them to do a move-out cleaning on our old house. So whenever she called, I was ready to give her TWO PAYING JOBS!

[This is where I transition to a life lesson. Wait for it...wait for it....]

Then, last night I tripped across an interesting book called "Women Don't Ask". The premise of the book is that, by their nature, women don't like to negotiate. And it hurts them in the long term.

I could relate. I have a hard time asking for things sometime. Last time I bought a car, I negotiated the price, and I don't think I slept the night before. It was kinda painful....until you actually GET something that you are asking for, then it's wonderful!

Here's some interesting stats from the book: more here

-Men initiate negotiations about four times as often as women.

-When asked to pick metaphors for the process of negotiating, men picked "winning a ballgame" and a "wrestling match," while women picked "going to the dentist."

-Women will pay as much as $1,353 to avoid negotiating the price of a car, which may help explain why 63 percent of Saturn car buyers are women.

-20 percent of adult women (22 million people) say they never negotiate at all, even though they often recognize negotiation as appropriate and even necessary.

And I had a real-life example! All the housecleaner gal had to do was call me. A call that I was expecting. And she would have two cleaning jobs. This week!

Postscript: I finally relented and left her a message late Monday afternoon. She called me back mid-morning Tuesday, didn't ask at all about how the cleaning went (I volunteered). After the whole conversation, I think she still seemed pretty ambivalent about getting my business. Sigh.

So, Dear Readers, whether you are female or other, here is your Homework Assignment for this week: ASK SOMEONE FOR SOMETHING THAT THEY DON'T HAVE TO GIVE YOU.

This could be as simple as asking for a better table at a restaurant. Or as large as asking for a raise. Look for opportunities!

The worst you can do is get denied. Keep asking. If the first person says "No", try another person.

And....let me know how it went!

*NOTE: Mr. Goofy has a mom from Germany. They grew up in a spotlessly clean house. He is anal to the max about clean. This is why I don't even TRY to clean. I ain't never winning THAT game.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Letter to Daycare-Where-Goofy-Junior-Goes

Dear Idiots -
Why, oh why do you insist of selling Easter baskets ($10) and bunny ears ($5) in the main lobby of your daycare for an ENTIRE week?

Knock it off!

Pissed-Off Goofy Girl

Every day for the past week, Goofy Junior has bee-lined to the table, picked up a basket (or the ears) and said, "I want this." OF COURSE he wants it. It's like waving raw meat in front of a tiger. Or putting a mouse in a cage with cheese all over the place. OF COURSE the tiger and the mouse want the meat and cheese, respectively. They've been looking at it all day. It's pretty. It's colorful. It's bunny-ish. They want it. Now.

So every day this week, when I pick up Junior. He asks. I say, "No". No, scratch that. I don't just say "No". I explain too.

"Junior," I say, "you have no less than THREE pairs of bunny ears at home. In several days, you will have more Easter baskets and basket contents than you could ever dream"*

(here comes the whining) "But I WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANT it."


I have to explain to the wide-eyed dad walking in the door that we are having a "tough love day". "Been there," he grumbled, then walked briskly away.

After 15 minutes or so (no, you didn't read that wrong....FIFTEEN), Junior finally gets tired of crying. We get in the car and drive away. Three minutes later he's happily giggling and smiling, bunny ears and baskets no longer in his face.

In case you are curious, the same thing happens at Valentine's Day. I'm really glad we don't have another holiday coming any time soon.

*NOTE: Junior's grandparents are coming in this weekend, surely bearing tons of Easter, joy.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Glass is Half-Full, Dammit!

I attended a Real Estate Investing conference this past weekend...trying to get my motivation back for This Old House (and possibly some Other Old Houses...I'm not through yet!!!). I'm a stubborn cur sometimes. (my husband would scratch out the 'sometimes')

Here's what was funny. Kinda. Our speaker on Sunday had a short segment called, "Houses NOT to Buy". My rehab house met ALMOST ALL OF THE CRITERIA. Hello? No wonder it's not selling (well, other than a flaky realtor, recurring plumbing problems, no parking, blah, blah, blah).

It read like a laundry list: Avoid houses....
-on a busy street (check!),
-with steep front yards with stairs (check!),
-with no driveway (check!),
-no off-street parking (check!),
-bad neighborhood (check!),
-no garage (check!)
-over 30 minutes drive from your home or office (check!).

Jeez. I really know how to pick 'em, huh?

But, ever the eternal optimist, here's my take-away...

I'VE MADE ALL MY MISTAKES WITH THE FIRST HOUSE! Yee-ha! What an over-achiever, I am. Now I can relax.

I know...I'm goofy. Duh. Check out the name of this blog. It's named that way for a reason.