Friday, January 25, 2008

Are Kids and Good Food Mutually Exclusive!?!

Hey! Look what I started...

There was a recent article in KC Magazine called "Family Dining With Kids" (January 2008 - p. 57 of the link). Their suggestions for eating out well with your kids in Kansas City? Crayola Cafe, Rain Forest Cafe, T-Rex Cafe, Fritz's, Papa Keno's and Avelluto's Italian Delight.

This pissed me off.

I don't buy into the belief that your dining-out life ends when you have kids. I believe that you can still go out and eat some pretty darn good food, with kids in tow. We do it often.

Anyway, my full rant is here: Chowhound

And I think I've hit a nerve - I have quite a few comments to the post. Take a look and chime in with your thoughts!

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Day of Water Horses and Wills

Since we will be traveling to Russia again, someday, we have been needing to get our wills into place. Just in case.

I say "wills" (plural) because, yes, we BOTH need to do our own will. Seems strange, because I believe if one of us kicks the proverbial bucket and the other one is still around, all assets go to the surviving spouse. No questions asked. But maybe that's just a Kansas thing.

I signed up with Prepaid Legal about a year ago, with one of the main reasons being that they do your will for free. And your spouse's for $20, I found out later. Not a bad deal, I think.


Who wants to think about dying? Not me, buddy. We have procrastinated and procrastined. Then, when we got to the actual paperwork (a fairly easy 5 page form), there were Decisions.

Big Decisions.

Like who would take custody of Alex if we both go down in a fiery plane crash? Who would manage distributing the assets from our mondo estate (1 mortgaged house, 2 cars, and 3 iPods)? How about who makes the decision to continue life-supporting services, should one of us be unable to make that decision? Who gets Murphy (our dog)?

Gulp. Like I said, you just don't think (or WANT to think) about this stuff on a daily basis.

Anyway, I finally got the paperwork done today and in the mail. Now I'm prepared to die. EEK!

Water Horses:
Alex & I went to see Water Horse: Legend of the Deep tonight. What a great movie! And not just a kid movie either. It's about the legend of the Loch Ness Monster, and rated PG, so I was a bit concerned that Alex might have nightmares for the next 10 years if I took him. But the only other option was Enchanted, and, with or without Patrick Dempsey, I would have needed at least a bottle of wine before venturing to that piece of cinematic excellence.

Anyway, to test my Scaredy Cat theory, I went to the movie's website and showed him the movie trailer. He was not scared and wanted to see all the trailers. Dude, there were about 10 snippets of the movie available to watch! I felt like I saw the whole thing before even leaving the house. But there was more to the movie after all.

It was very well done, the scenery was amazingly beautiful - made me want to visit Scotland. And the effects related to the "monster" were superb. There were some perilous scenes and some gunfire, but Alex was pretty un-fazed by that. He enjoyed the cute monster parts (when the monster is small) and there's plenty of comedic parts in the movie.

I've always been intrigued by the legend of the Loch Ness Monster, and this movie attempts to put some explanation behind the legend. I thought it was very well done.

Although from the minute we sat down and someone rattled a popcorn bag, all Alex could say was "Mommy, I need a snack." (looking pointedly at the bag-rattler). I managed to put him off until we got home (I'm not buying a $10 bag of popcorn when we have popcorn in the fridge!), then he had two crackers and crashed.

Let's hope the monster stays out of his dreams. And mine too.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My Quarterly Mommy Post

Hold onto your hats, Dear Readers, it's a Mommy* Post!**

What kid-related and kid-created paperwork do you keep for posterity?

I'm talking about all the Daily Poop sheets from daycare. All the Good/Bad Kid Notes from preschool. The painted hand-prints on blue sheets of construction paper. And the footprints too.

I'm also talking about the kid-created stuff. The Picassoesque drawing of the family (giant stick kid, tiny stick parents, stick dog that looks like a tree). The coloring book sheets that are never colored "within the lines". *** The stickered, stamped, colored Masterpieces.

Do you keep it all? How do you decide what to keep and what to ditch?

Here's my thoughts to get things going:

I keep:
- Significant kid-related documents. Examples: Bad Notes from Preschool (these could be good for a laugh later), Good Notes from Preschool (stuff you feel proud about), and Milestone-related documents (first name-writing attempt)
- Size-related stuff: handprints, footprints (these will be fun to dig out in a few years and compare)
- Drawings that I like. I just don't think you can keep them all. And some are just doodling. That said, I still have a BUNCH. Goofy Junior is using a scissors like a fiend now and I showed him how to cut up pix in magazines and use glue to make a collage last weekend. And he knows how to use tape. Let's just say our entry hall looks like an art gallery installation right now. Or a daycare.
- Handmade cards. I'm a sucker for these. Hand-made Mother's Day cards, birthday cards, Just Because cards. I keep all of these.

I ditch:
- Most colored coloring book sheets.
- Stickered and stamped Masterpieces.
- Sheets that told me what GJ ate for lunch at daycare. Or when he pooped. Old news.

And....I totally get busted all the time for throwing these things away. You see, it seems that GJ does not approve of me throwing ANYTHING of his away. Here's how this conversation usually goes:

GJ (throwing something away in the trash can): Hey!!!
Me: What?
GJ (pulling the paper with the letter "e" stamped all over it): Who threw this away?
Me (totally acting dumb): Um, what? What is it?
GJ (gingerly pulling the e-stamped thing from the trash): This! My piece of paper. (makes sad face)
Me: Oh, that. Hmmm.... Wow. It must have gotten thrown away with some mail. Did you leave it lying around? Maybe Daddy threw it away. (note me shifting blame here to everyone but me. Ha!) Hey, what letter is that on there? (always teaching, I am...)

This usually results in having to keep the dreaded Masterpiece around for another day, until he's not looking, then putting it deeper in the trash can.

*This is really a Parent Post, since it applies to Mommies and Daddies. Always full disclosure here at Goofy Girl.

**Yes, I'm a Mommy. And no, I don't post a ton about being a Mommy. It's just one facet of who I am, so if it comes up, it comes up. Usually it is the LEAST goofy part of my world, so I just don't post a lot about it. You might think this is goofy. Well, did you notice the name of this blog? Okay then.

***Another side note (I'm into asterisks today): Does it bug you when you kid colors OUTSIDE the lines? This seems to drive some people crazy. I actually encourage it. There will be SO much time for conforming later, why pressure them with this now? Why stifle creative thinking at such a young age?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Goofy's Report on the State of Capitalism in America's Heartland

It's in trouble, folks.

I "walked the Maul" today. And it was downright BORING. Where are all the shoppers? It was like a frickin' ghost town!

FYI for fellow Kansas Citians - I went to the Oak Park Mall - once a booming mecca of all things shiny and new. Now...not so much.

It should have been an exciting time...most stores had 50-75% off sales! Of good stuff! But in many of the stores I visited, I was the sole shopper in the store. The clerks looked downright bored. I felt a little bad for not really "shopping".

A couple of snippets from my notes (yes, I took notes! I told you I would!):

- Dell had a kiosk in the Maul. Good idea. It was one of the few kiosks with more than one person lurking around it. I did a little laptop fondling while I was there. I had to give mine back to The Man.
- Sushi in the food court! Is this really necessary?
- Where are all the shoppers? Did the Rapture occur? Oops.
- If you need a job, check out the Maul. Almost every store was hiring. Hopefully that's not my destiny. Gulp. Maybe the sushi store is hiring....
- No Auntie Anne's Pretzel store anymore!? That was going to be my reward for making it out alive. Where is the pretzel store, dammit?!?!

Yeah...I didn't get a lot of good takeaways from the Maul. Not even a damn pretzel.

Tomorrow: Goofy visits the Temple of the Anti-Christ (aka Starbucks)

Odd Observation of the Day: The Borders store at 119th & Blackbob has a sign in the bathroom stating, "Staff Must Wash Hands." Underneath the text is a line of brail.
I wondered:
a) why would a bookstore hire a blind person? wouldn't all the books feel the same to them (no books I've ever seen at Borders have brail coded on them)
b) how would this blind employee know that the sign was in that spot, on that wall, in the bathroom, and that they should feel for it?
and further
c) does bookstore staff really NEED to wash their hands? it's not like they are serving food or anything. and it's not like all the other schmoes fondling the books have to wash their hands. Kinda makes me want to wash my hands after going there...

Forcing Creativity (aka Herding Cats)

As most of you know, I am working on My Next Big Thing. Most entrepreneurs discover a great idea, hone it, then run off to make it real. Not me. In typical Goofy fashion, I've quit my full-time, PAYING job first, to go work on the idea discovery phase. Backwards. As usual.

And I've been approaching this Idea Creation like work. Which is so wrong. And so not working.

I sit at my computer most days, surfing trend website, making notes, surfing business websites, making notes, surfing eBay, taking notes, etc.....looking for ideas that strike my fancy. Some days I rinse and repeat this process at the local library.

I have a notebook full of ideas that I don't love nor believe in.

I realized yesterday that I am going about entrepreneurship as if it was a corporate job. And (duh!) that won't work. Coming up with creative ideas is just like herding cats. You can't go about it in a systematic, organized way. The cats (or the ideas if you're following the analogy) simply look at you and yawn. "We are not playing that game," they say.

So how to get my brain to poop out a Creative Idea?

I think creatively in the shower. I could shower all day. But this makes it hard to take notes (they'd be all smudgey and stuff) and I'd be all pruney and I hate that. Bad idea.

I decided just now (yes, 2:00am Tuesday morning...what of it?) that I would take my husband's advice. He is of the Creative persuasion. He said, "Go walk the mall. You'll get a good idea of what's hot, what people are buying, etc."

While this is primo advice...I hate the Maul. I hate the pushy crowds, I hate the overpriced stores, I hate the People That Can't Park Right, I hate the whiny, spoiled kids, the indifferent store clerks, the stinky food court. Ugh. But I suppose it is just the bastion of capitalism that might steer me in the right direction, creativity wise.

Those cats better watch their asses. I'm comin' for 'em...

But I'm totally bringing a notebook and taking notes. Some habits die hard.

After the Maul, I will go haunt a local coffee house and do some people-watching. What are people frustrated by? What do they seem to want? World peace? A triple-mocha latte? A nap? Guess I will find out.

Those cats won't know what hit 'em. They will not only be herded, but in line in alphabetical order, before they even know what's going on.

I'll post about how this process goes for me.

In the meantime, do any right-brain-endowed readers have any ideas for me about creative-thinking strategies? Where do you get your best ideas? What else can I try?

I think I hear feline yawning!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Global Commerce, Traffic Court and Lemon Cake

What do these things have in common? Me. Today.

1. Global Commerce - My most recent eBay auction netted me a winner from Switzerland! Even though I specifically stated "US buyers" only (I had a feeling the item would have international interest), this Swiss Mister decided he would bid and win. Doh!

So I learned how to ship to Switzerland. Several visits to the local post office, a sextuple-copy customs form and $40 later...the final verdict is: This global commerce stuff is easy! Well...I suppose I should wait 6 - 10 days to decide. That's when the package should arrive. Should.

2. Traffic Courts - Remember the huge afternoon snowstorm we had back on December 15th? The one in the middle of the day, that came from nowhere? Yeah, that one. That day, as I was creeping back home through the snow-covered streets from a kidling birthday party, a friendly policelady pulled me over. There was no way I was speeding (remember the snowy streets?) and I hadn't done anything funky or illegal that I knew of (unless eating three pieces of birthday cake is a crime), but here she was, pulling me over.

My tags were expired! Eek! By two weeks. Yep, they had expired November 30th. On December 15th, in a snowstorm, she gives me a ticket for this. The ultimate irony? I had just bought the damn car off lease the DAY BEFORE (yes, Friday) and paid the damn sales tax, the damn personal property tax and the damn NEW TAGS. Yes, I told her this. The problem. I DIDN'T HAVE THE NEW PLATES ON THE CAR. Double dog DOH! She gave me the "yeah, right" look and wrote me up.

So, I went to traffic court today. I showed all my receipts to the kind judge. I gave her a wry smile. And had to pay $10 instead of $70. I call that a 'win'. And now I can add "traffic court" to my list of Life Experiences. Whee!

3. Lemon Cake. Never eat lemon cake then go do yoga. Never. Results are not pretty. Bleck.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

What the hell do I do now?!

My last day at Corporate America (aka "Working for The Man") was Monday.* Today was a holiday. Whee. I feel like I should get up early and join the ranks of the living, working class tomorrow. One thing wrong with that idea.

I quit that shit. what?! I am in total control of my future. Total Control. Total. How freeing! How liberating! How fucking scared to death am I?


And .....not.

I vary between not being able to quit smiling and being very worried about not being a income-producing member of the Goofy family.

Due to my industry of choice (tech), I've always been the higher-income producing member of the Goofy household. Willingly. No worries. I've always accepted this role proudly.

So now, I'm feeling a little weird about my new Zero Income status.

Hoping it's temporary. Hoping The Million Dollar Idea comes soon. Help me, Donny Deutsche!

I've been in this situation before. During the "Dot-Com Boom", I found myself working for a Dot-Com Dog, realized it, and decided to get out while the gettin' was good. I did so and quickly jumped into the Next Thing Available, which would have been excellent, but for the Dot-Com baloon bust during the first six months of my new found freedom.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? RIGHT?!?!?

So....this is a rambling, conflicted, post-holiday, pre-freedom post. Stay tuned for when I actually get some focus and start doing some wonderful (yet, inevitably Goofy) things.

...should make for some good reading! :-)

*I absolutely could NOT resist the symmetry and closure of my last day being 12/31. Anal. Retentive.