This is me...

This is me...
I'm having a mom moment....

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why Do I Do This?

I have gotten about 4 emails this past week asking me why I write this blog. They want to know what is my niche. What is the point of this blog. "Counting Caballeros" is not a very descriptive title. I don't do reviews. I don't share recipes. I don't offer advice (at least not any that I expect anyone to take). And I don't talk that much about current events, entertainment, or politics. People have asked "What's the point? Why do it? What are you contributing?" Well, I dunno what the point is. I write it because I NEED to. I am not trying to contribute anything most days except to say that if I didn't write it, I'd be crankier. I guess I write it as much for me as I do for all of you. My blog is more mine as a result. It's all about whatever I want to write about on any given day and I guess I put it out there for everyone to read because I need to somehow be validated.

Most of the time, I think we, as humans, just need to be heard. Acknowledged. We need the rough spots to be smoothed over with words that say I know your struggle. I hear you. I get it.  Through this blog, I hope that I have made some of you feel understood.  I know that you have done that for me by reading.
for me, words are a form of action - capable of influencing change.
- ingrid bengis
Words are powerful. Words are not simply sounds caused by air passing through our larynx or flowing from our brains down to our fingertips to be transferred onto the keyboard. They have the power to build someone up, or tear someone down. As a writer, I am able to wield words like a sword at times. I apply them like a compress when I can. I can use them to tickle a reader into hysterical laughter or to smack them upside the head and make them think. Words can be a weapon of mass destruction. They can be the foundation for great change. They can comfort, control, destroy, dismiss, acknowledge, validate, and a whole host of other things. I do not know if my words have done any of these things for anyone besides me, but I hope that they have.

So why do it? Why write this blog, or the host of children's stories that I have yet to be able to get published, or the countless articles and commentaries that I have penned, or the novel that I have started and yet it sits all but abandoned on my hard drive? What is the point? Well, as much as I wish it weren't true: EGO. Yep. The desire to be heard and thought relevant. I found this quote from George Orwell on why he wrote that is so very fitting:
Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen -- in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all -- and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money .
As a mother, I find this to be more true than it should be: "After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all -- and simply live for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery." Yes. I don't want to succumb to the drudgery. I don't want to drown in anonymity. I want to be my own person. I want to believe that what I think, feel, and say MATTER -- not just to me, but to the 150 or so of you that read what I write.

I have always wanted to write. I won my first poetry contest at 8. I wrote my first play and my first song lyrics at 10. In high school, I made up my own sources (even their publishers, dates published, and addresses) because I knew what I wanted to say about whatever subject I was researching and didn't want to comb through obscure books to find someone who had thought of it first (apologies to Ms. Spencer, but not one source on my "Invisible Man" research paper was real). I have always loved to create something from nothing and that is what words do. They can spin an entire world in your imagination. I have found nothing besides writing that gives me the high of creativity that I have found that I NEED. Even when recounting actual events, the creative way that it can be told fascinates me. Instead of the "Who, What, Why, When, and Where" of journalism, I can relay all of those facts while focusing on the HOW.

And as a mother, the most diverse and complicated career ever, I am consistently faced with new material. Being a mother, while shortening my writing sessions, has not dampened my desire to write, but has given me more to say. It has changed my perspective on so many issues. I find that when I am faced with a new parenting challenge, just coming here and writing about it will clear my head, help me to organize my thoughts, or help me to recognize the real issue that I was blind to before.

So, I guess to answer those who wonder why, I'd have to say because writing is as comfortable for me as breathing. It is almost a compulsion. Regurgitating my random and seemingly incoherent thoughts out here with the knowledge that a few other people might see them helps me to find the patterns and to identify that what I thought was chaos makes much more sense than I thought it did. And because writing makes me accountable. Although many of you don't know me personally, some of you do. Writing out what I am thinking, feeling, dealing with, etc. keeps my head where it needs to be. After sharing so much of who I am and what I think, I have welcomed all of you into the chaos. Most of you have stuck around. Thanks for that. Writing for myself and having you even a little interested in what I have to say, makes me feel a little important. Relevant. Sane. Even a bit normal at times.

That's why I do it. For me.

And FYI -- I may never get published. That doesn't mean that I will ever stop trying or that I will ever stop writing. So thanks for sharing in the crazy, random, thoughts that I post here. And just remember, if I fail, I will tell you all about it.

"A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood." -- Leo Rosten
Never underestimate what words can do.

**Oh, and I write for votes. So please vote for me at either or both of the sites I am listed on. Just click and you're done. Thanks.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chicago, Day Two, Saturday, Part Two

So the restaurant that provided lunch was "Truffleberry Market" in Chicago, and it was really good.  After a little lunch, we had a smoothie demo from Cassie at The Green Grocer in Chicago.  (I may be getting the exact order of these things mixed up, but y'all don't really care, right?)  And, I don't know if y'all know this about me, but I am NOT what you might call a "health nut."  So when Cassie says she's gonna make this smoothie....with Kale in it....using "Hemp Milk" and Maca Powder, and Chia Seeds, I almost just tune it out.  Luckily I didn't.  She gave us the standard smoothie recipe which is:

2 Cups of fruit (frozen)
1 Cup of leafy greens (Kale, Spinach, Lettuce, etc.)
1 Cup of liquid
1/2 Cup of ice

It was okay.  I doubt I will be making any Kale smoothies, and I had never even heard of Hemp Milk, Maca Powder, or Chia Seeds.  But if you want to make it, you can now since I have given you the recipe. 

We were broken off into our groups again and given 20 minutes to learn about a vacuum, script a 30 second promo ad, and film it.  Big shock, I was convinced to be the on-camera person for our ad.  I sucked.  This is how it was supposed to go:

"I get it, you're busy -- your 2 year old just dumped a box of Cheerios in the kitchen and your 4 year old has spent the last 10 minutes shredding a Kleenex in the hallway.  You don't have time to listen to how awesome my life is since I got this vacuum.  This is the Kenmore Progressive Canister Vacuum.  This thing can handle the Cheerios and get the tissue bits without slowing down.  The soft horse hair brush means that you can get your 8 year old's glitter off of Grandma's antique dining table without worrying about scratches, the swivel means that you can maneuver around the dog, the kids, and the husband with ease.  The crossover wand extends to get the cobwebs from the corners before your mother-in-law shows up.  The crevice tool is stored in the handle where you can get to it easily and the retractable cord means that when you're done, you're DONE.  Trust me -- do yourself a favor and get this vacuum and make your life easier.  Now go take care of those Cheerios before he adds the milk."
That, unfortunately, is not how it went.  Nope.  Not even close.  I started out just fine.  Then I forgot the name of the vacuum.  So I cursed and started over.  Then I couldn't get the features that I was describing as super easy to BE super easy.  So I cursed and started over.   Then I got about halfway done, and the person filming interrupts me and says "That was 30 seconds."  Which resulted in me saying "Dammit!  Are you serious?!  How could that have been 30 seconds??!"  They were all laughing (because they were on the other side of the camera), and said to just wrap it up.  So I did this:
"Look at your vacuum.  Now look at this one.  Now look at your vacuum.  And look at this one.  You need this vacuum."
When they showed the films at the end of the day, the crowd was laughing hysterically at all of the bloopers.  Another team won.  We came in second place.  If I hadn't cursed, we probably would have won.  Oh well.

The best part of the day was when Evan Hansen from Wired spoke to us.  He talked about how blogger's are often the best and fastest source for news and current events -- surpassing trained journalists because they don't have to follow the same rules. They don't have editors.  They don't have to wait for approval from anyone.  And they use language that their readers can better relate to and add personal opinions into their writing giving the topics a distinct voice.  Blogging is faster and more responsive than old-style journalism. There is a real connection with the audience.  "Niche blogging" is what is winning on the web (FYI -- I have no niche....).   Companies love to work with bloggers, particularly those niche bloggers with dedicated followings.  One quote that really stuck with me was "We are no longer in the culture of the book, we're in the culture of the screen."  This is both exciting and sad to me because I love to write.  I have always felt confined to my screen since I have been unable to find a publisher.  I would love to get my name "in print" -- on the cover of an actual book.  I learned so much from Evan -- both at dinner Friday night and from listening to him speak on Saturday.  (When he asked what I wrote about, and I told him "Whatever the hell I want" he smiled and said "Good answer.")

So on that note, let me assure you all that I am still me.  I am still full of snark, sarcasm, and I will continue to share my stories.  I am not going to change my blog in order to court companies into begging me to sell their products for them.  Kenmore did an awesome job of making certain that we WANTED to talk about this weekend, and believe me, I got home and couldn't wait to tell you all about the stuff I saw.  But I am not a food or travel blog.  I am not a contest, a review or consumer reports-like blog and I don't want to be.  My blog is about me and my life and the things that effect me in ways that the writer in me just has to get them all out.  That is what it will continue to be.

I have no idea how one is "supposed to" blog about these type of events because this was my first one.  I may never get invited to another one of these types of things.  I don't know, I probably did it wrong.  I am certain that I stepped on a few toes when I received my gift for attending.  Kenmore had sent out an email before the summit asking us to rank 5 small appliances in the order we'd most like to have them, then at the end of the day on Saturday they let us know that we'd all be receiving our first choice from that list as a thank you from Kenmore.  I was thrilled.  The item in the number one spot on my list was a stand mixer.  I couldn't wait to get it.  It was the only item on the list that I didn't already have, and it was also the one thing that I would never buy for myself.  Yesterday, I got my gift.  It wasn't the mixer I was expecting.  It was a vacuum.  I know that this was a free gift, but I was crushed.  I knew from Twitter that everyone that I followed from last weekend all got their first choice.  For whatever reason, I didn't get mine.  I felt, once again, like I was not as important as the other bloggers.  So I sent an email to the organizers of the event and asked if I could return it to a local Sears for store credit that I could then put towards the mixer that I wanted.  It was probably a mistake to express displeasure with a free gift, but I couldn't help it.  I wanted that mixer.  It was the only thing on the list I wanted that I didn't already have.

I haven't heard back yet, but I am certain that it will be the one thing that will get me kicked off the list for the next Blogger's Summit.  I hope not.  I think that kenmore is an awesome company with awesome products and they put on one heck of a weekend summit.  Oh well.  if I don't get invited back I'll just have to go back to blogging about teachers that piss me off, treadmill Barbies that should hold their tongues, and my adorably insane kids.  Y'all don't mind, do you?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chicago, Day Two, Saturday, Part One

Okay, this is gonna be a LOOOOOOONG post.   I know that this may seem like a big commercial for Kenmore and that it might scare some of you off, but I hope that it won't.  The Kenmore products were amazing.  I WANT to talk about them because this was a very cool experience for me but this is (and always will be) MY blog -- where I talk about what I want to talk about.  I promise that I am not changing my blog format to morph into a review, contest, or give-away blog.  I may do some of those things from time to time if I think I have a product you guys might want to hear about, or if someone offers me a free product to give away or have a contest for or something, but I was chosen by Kenmore because of who I AM.  I am honest, brutally so.  If they read even ONE of my posts, they knew that.  I can honestly say that if I had the money I would totally buy these.  Y'all can do whatever you want when you need to buy a new appliance, these are just my opinions and impressions about the Kenmore products I saw.

My AMAZING bed that I wish I'd had
more time in at The Sofitel Chicago

So, day one ended with me, Lolo from Crazy About My Baybah, and Tricia from The Night Owl Mama hanging out in Tricia's room being silly for a few hours -- sharing about our blogs, our kids, and them giving me a real education about blog-marketing. Then we all went back to our rooms to crash since breakfast was at 8ish the next morning.
At breakfast the next morning, I sat with Janice from Mealtime Makeover Moms and Bobbie from One Scrappy Mom, before Lolo, Tricia, Wendy, and a few others (that I mentioned in the Day One post) joined us.  (Side note here: Bobbie was there with her family, and after the summit they had a bad wreck. Her family is okay, but Bobbie has some pretty serious injuries to her leg and her face after being thrown from the car. Please keep her and her family in your prayers!)  
I'll be honest, I was fully prepared to not like all of these women.  I (as a general rule) don't get along real well with other women because they are not big fans of my brutal honesty.  But I REALLY was enjoying their company (and I think they enjoyed mine).  The previous evening at dinner, when Janice introduced herself, she won me over at once by walking up and feeling my pants to make sure they weren't jersey knit. As you can see from the pictures, we had a selection of croissants, fruit, yogurt and granola, and coffee, tea, and juice.  
This was a bit of a change for me since I usually don't eat much breakfast, and when I do it's when we go somewhere super classy like IHOP where my kids nearly get us kicked out for trying to lick the waiter. (Oh, you don't know that story? Go HERE and read all about it!) I would have loved some cheese, meat, or, eggs, but those Kenmore people know what they are doing -- in retrospect, a heavy breakfast would have made me pretty sleepy, and we were about to have a very busy day. I selected one of everything, ate half of each one (except the yogurt and granola, scarfed that whole thing) and drank about 3 cups of coffee, and had some juice. The only thing I would have changed was the size of my coffee cup -- I usually drink 3-4 32 ounce cups of coffee every morning and I think these might have been 8 ounce cups. But for a breakfast that I didn't have to make and didn't have to clean up it was awesome. After I finished eating I had to run upstairs and put on real clothes (I wore my yoga pants to breakfast), and then it was off to catch our ride to the Kenmore Live Studio.

No comments about how puffy my face looks
after a day of travel and 4 hours of sleep, please.
We arrived at the studio and dove right in.  Suzy Singh (yes, the one from Master Chef on Fox) did a cooking demo for us using the latest and greatest slow cooker from Kenmore.  This thing makes the one I own look like something from Little House On The Prairie.  And Suzy had some great tips for cooking in this (or any other) slow cooker.  From now on, I know that when I use a slow cooker, I should set it and forget it -- I am horrible about lifting the lid to stir, taste, add, taste, stir, taste....Suzy let us know that one of the reasons slow cooker infuses so much flavor is because of the steam trapped inside.
NOT a crock pot

  • 7 quart capacity 

  • 4 adjustable temperature settings

  • Ceramic pan

  • Brushed stainless steel housing and handles for transporting

  • Glass lid for easy checking

  • After watching Suzy cook, it was our turn.  We were divided up into groups, led upstairs to cooking stations, and given a "mystery basket" of ingredients along with 20 minutes to decide what to make and get everything into the pot.   I tasted every teams dish, and although they were all good...I personally thought ours was the best, but at the end of the day, we did not win.  (Congrats to the Fox Force Five Team -- they all got a free crock pot, um, I mean SLOW COOKER.) 

    Okay, after we came downstairs, we had another guest speaker.  Mark BeierTanis from Chicago Fit Club showed Redneck Mommy and Whitney from Rookie Moms how to do dips on the chair while vacuuming your drapes, but honestly, cleaning in my house is an aerobic exercise -- as in "Oh crap, my parents will be here in 6 hours and I have been on Facebook pretending that I don't care what they think and now I must move like a squirrel on speed to get the house even close to being presentable."  And I do not know people that vacuum their drapes.  Heck, I am doing good if I can vacuum my floor.  This was a nice little break for us and Mark is super-fit and funny.  IF you exercise and clean, then you can email me and I'll send you the details about all of the exercises he shared. (And if you do those things, why are you reading my blog??  Kidding...)

    The Kenmore Elite 50/50 Oven that I didn't win.
    (Congrats to Michelle over at
    Mommy Confessions, though.  She got one!)
    After our little "Clean-Yourself-Fit" demo, we got back on track with the Kenmore products.  Samuel Monnie, Kenmore's Director of Marketing, started things off with this oven. (Another side note -- Samuel is British.  I could listen to this man read the phone book because I love British accents.  Luckily, what he had to say was much more interesting.)  This is a true double, convection oven that they call the 50/50 oven. BOTH compartments can hold up to a 28 - pound turkey. I don't know who you're having for your Thanksgiving dinner that you'd need to make 2 - 28 pounds turkeys, but should you need it, this thing has the room.  It also has a setting called "Warm and Ready" -- it holds your cooked food at the right temperature while you finish everything else (like that 28-pound turkey).  The range on top has a rapid-boil feature that I wish that I had.  I don't remember the speed, but it was FAST.  I know it was designed for gourmet cooks, but all I kept thinking was how fast I could bang out a box of Kraft Mac-N-Cheese with hot dogs in it for my kids.  I'm sure I could use it for other things, but seriously, the choruses of "Is it ready yet?" would be greatly reduced with that feature.
    NOW, after the range, which was impressive, Tom DeSalvo, Kenmore;s Divisional VP, took the mic to  showcase another appliance that just about made us fall off of our very high chairs.  I know what you're thinking -- ""What kind of freaks were at this thing that get excited about appliances?!"  Well, trust me, if you had seen this fridge that is in the video, you would have flipped OUT.  I NEED this.  It would make my life SO much easier.  (And once again, congrats to Kim at Accidental Mommies who was selected as an in-home tester/reviewer for this awesome fridge!)

    I made my own 14 second video, but it is nowhere as cool as this 2 minute version.  I really don't know which feature I like best -- those retractable, adjustable shelves, or that oh-so-cool outer door.  Or maybe it's just the fact that the thing has 31-cu. feet of storage in a normal sized fridge.  Seriously, if any of you are interested in getting on my very good side, you can send me one of these. 

    While we were still reeling from the fridge demo, Marty Olson took over to talk about Kenmore's latest and greatest laundry pair.  I'll be honest, I was still interested in the fridge, but I tried very hard to listen to how woefully inadequate and out of date my current washer and dryer are. 
    This laundry pair are awesome. They do everything except fold the laundry for you. There are settings for just about everything -- even a steam setting that can handle some dry-clean items. (Kenmore didn't say that -- they said that "In only 20 minutes, the Steam Refresh™ technology in the dryer only gently refreshes clothes by relaxing wrinkles and reducing odors, eliminating the need for ironing or re-washing." What I HEARD was "Less Dry Cleaning.")  They also have an accelerated wash and dry setting that speeds up the cycle so that you can wash and dry a complete 8 pound load in just under an hour.  My washer and dryer are also from Kenmore, but from around 1984 -- that's how sturdy these suckers are.  My dryer takes approximately 90 minutes to dry a load....I asked about this, and apparently I need a new one (duh).

    One of the coolest things about the appliances that we saw was this new feature that they have called Kenmore Connect.  Let me tell you one of my biggest pet peeves about having something repaired:  the guy (or girl, although it's always a guy with me), gets to my house, takes whatever is broken apart, then tells me after hours of staring at the parts on the floor that it needs part X and he'll have to order it.  This feature -- the Kenmore Connect thingy -- there is a panel that you can hold your phone up to and it uses tone capture technology to diagnose the problem before they even come to your house!  Not only that, but sometimes, the problem can be fixed by following the operators instructions (changing a setting or whatever) which eliminates the need for the technician to come out at all!  How cool is that?

    After the guys from Sears gave us all appliance envy, we had a quick question and answer period and we broke for lunch.  Lunch was A-MAZING and provided by an awesome Chicago Restarunt that had the word "Truffle" in its name but I cannot for the life of me remember what it was.  I will find out though, and lead with it tomorrow (or the next day, or whenever my kids leave me alone long enough for me to actually string more than 2 sentences together.)

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    Chicago, Day One, Friday

    The Chicago trip to the Kenmore Blogger's Summit is going to take a while to recount.  This first post has no information on all of the awesome Kenmore products that I saw last weekend.  So think of these posts as a play-by-play.  I am still so very pumped from all of the amazing people I met, products I saw, and things I learned, that I don't want to skip anything. 

    I was so excited to be invited by The Zeno Group and Kenmore to attend their 2012 Blogger's Summit in Chicago.  I woke up full of energy and anxiety Friday morning and ready to head to Chicago.  Of course, I had heard that there was probably going to be some snow, but I wasn't worried -- it was Chicago.  They deal with snow all the time.  When I got to the airport and through security, I had a seat at my gate and looked up at the ticker-like board thing and saw the departure time listed as "Pending."  Hmmmm.... 

    We got pushed back a few times, but finally took off and I was headed to Chicago.  I was anxious that we might not be able to land.  I had heard all morning that flights had been diverted, turned around, etc.  So I didn't breathe easy until we were on the ground; even though we had to sit on the runway for more than 30 minutes before getting to the gate to deplane.  Luckily, I had spent the entire flight laughing and talking with the man seated next to me.   I was fortunate enough to sit next to a guy that wasn't 400 pounds, had a sense of humor, talked to me about his family, and listened as I blathered on about mine.  We swapped cards and he gave me some good tips on touring Chicago.  (Oh, and side note here: If you remember my post about US Air, United was 10 times better.)

    Once off the plane, I found the Zeno Group girls (Carson, bless her heart, was amazing under all the pressure of the logistics nightmare that was unfolding with the weather wreaking havoc on their meticulous plans for the perfect weekend), and a few of the other bloggers began showing up shortly after.  I was really thrilled to see that most of them were very much like me -- moms who enjoy writing and sharing, and just really normal and down to earth.  There were a few dads too.  At the airport I met Heather, from Our Kids Mom, Wendy, from Around My Family Table, Lolo, from Crazy About My Baybah, Jessica, from, Mike, from, and Jim, from The Busy Dad Blog.  It was about 4 PM when we all gathered in the terminal, 18 degrees, and snowing hard.  After about an hour, Jessica, Mike, and Jim left on their own to take a train into downtown.  The rest of us were content to wait for the car, but by 6:30, we discovered that the last car that had left the airport had taken nearly 4 hours to reach the hotel and that the car that was supposed to be coming for us was MIA because he had been involved in an accident.  Luckily, since Jessica, mike, and Jim had left, Ellen from Love That Max had arrived.  Since she was a New yorker, the rest of us jumped on her coat tails and followed her to the train.  We arrived unscathed but about 2 hours late to the hotel after a 3 block walk through a snowy downtown Chicago from the train station, and our Blogger's Summit weekend was finally underway!

    NOT flip-flops or slip-on tennis shoes.  And I didn't stumble once.
    (A very special thanks to Janice from Meal Makeover Moms for this AWESOME shot of the shoes!)

    After running up to my room to change into the grown up clothes I had brought (including these killer leopard print heels that I had bought specifically for that evening), we slipped into the banquet hall just in time for dessert (they still fed us dinner).  We missed the keynote speaker from Google+ that evening, but I was lucky enough to sit with Evan Hansen, the Editor in Chief from (luckily, I did not know who he was until 10 minutes into the conversation, so I was not intimidated at all before that).  Honestly, I enjoyed speaking with Evan so much that it almost made up for missing the Google + speaker.  Dinner was fancy and pretty good (I didn't know there was even such a thing as purple broccoli...), and I was having a blast.

    At this point, the best thing about the Kenmore Blogger's Summit was the other bloggers.  I was learning so much from them.  For example, did you know I have a "Page Rank?"  Neither did I.  (FYI, mine isn't that bad.  It's a 2 out of 10.  It's not great, but since I have never done a give away and I don't have ads, that's actually pretty good).  I also got some great tips on increasing traffic, building my own site (or having my site built) and I FINALLY understand Twitter (thanks to Rob from Look What Mom Found And Dad Too).

    After dinner I hung out with some of these amazing bloggers until after 2 am and then went to my room and collapsed into my amazing bed.  (I am working on trying to get Sofitel to give me a bed to far, no luck.)  Come back tomorrow for the ACTUAL summit details!  It may take me more than one post to tell you everything -- SUCH. COOL. STUFF.

    FULL DISCLOSURE:  Kenmore paid for this trip, and I received a free small appliance for attending.  The opinions that I share about them, Chicago, and the products they showcased however, are all mine and 100% honest (as always).

    Saturday, January 21, 2012

    Quick Post From Chicago

    So far, so good here in Chicago.  I've met quite a few of the other bloggers attending and (almost) everyone is really nice.  (Not sure if there will be more later on the "almost" part of that or not....)

    So I am off to spend the day with everyone looking at the latest and greatest, but Kenmore wanted to pass along this coupon to you guys.  It is 30% off a regular-price Kenmore small appliance, cookware, or gadget.  It is only good at or, so you'll have to order onlinen, and the coupon is good until 2/4/2012, but here's the link and code for check out:

    Link:  COUPON LINK

    Code:     30KENMORE

    More on the happenings here later -- I'm haveing fun despite the snow and travel hiccups it caused!

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    This Is Why I Usually Just Stay Home

    So this is how my day has gone so far:

    1)  Woke up 15 minutes late and rushed around to get the kids off to school.
    2)   Made coffee, logged into computer.
    3)   Posted about having a lot to do today on my Facebook page. (Are you a "fan" on Facebook yet?)
    4)   Someone commented "Are you excited?!" on aforementioned status, and anxiety began hitting me in waves.
    5)   Spent next hour surfing the Internet for pictures referencing "anxiety" to post on my page.
    6)   Got suitcase out and stared at it's empty shell on my bed for 5 minutes, completely paralyzed by the knowledge that I will forget at least one crucially important thing.
    7)   Put on American Idol that I DVRed from last night to watch while I packed.
    8)   Began placing items into suitcase after trying them on obsessively one at a time, being judgemental of what I saw in the mirror, and running through worst case scenarios in my head for each outfit.
    9)   Got frustrated with packing process and moved suitcase off the bed to lay down.
    10)  Got up and went to the desktop to print out flight info, itinerary for the weekend, list of attendees, and readers questions/suggestions to pass along to Kenmore.
    11)  Printer locked up and I spent 2 hours troubleshooting, rebooting, etc. before finally getting it to work.
    12)   Completed online check-in for tomorrow's flight and printed boarding pass.
    13)   Plugged big camera in to charge, decided to take small camera instead, changed my mind again and opted for big camera, had internal debate, plugged them both in to charge and decided to decide later.
    14)   Checked email and received new info to be added to itinerary document, copied and pasted, and reprinted.
    15)   Found blogger cards and started obsessively counting them out to be sure I had enough.
    16)  Spent 15 minutes searching for a rubber band to hold the stack of cards together, abandoned search and used a hair elastic.
    17)   Gave sick kid a breathing treatment.
    18)   Spent 20 minutes convincing 3 and 5 year olds that I would not STAY in Chicago, but would, indeed, return late Sunday night.
    19)   Started debating about what exactly constitutes a "liquid" to avoid issues at airport security (still working this one out....lip gloss?  Facial cream?  Caramex?  What are the guidelines for a liquid as TSA sees it?  Ugh.)
    20)   Decided I had earned a break and sat down and typed this brief and pointless blog post for no other reason than to further prove that I am the world's biggest procrastinator, a computer idjit, a little OCD, and completely nuts.

    And this, dear readers, is why I never go anywhere.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    SOPA? PIPA? What?

    Have you heard of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that is before Congress?  Do you have any idea what it is? 

    I have seen the links to articles, the pictures posted, and the hashtag updates (#Don'tBreakTheInternet) -- but honestly, I had no idea what all the fuss was about.  How bad could it be?  This doesn't really effect ME, I am not some corporation, I don't 'steal' music, I don't download movies, I don't do anything that could be considered piracy.  Besides piracy is bad and it SHOULD be stopped, right?

    Piracy picture that I did not create, but found via Google Images.

    Well, here is what I discovered:  SOPA will not stop piracy.  Oh, and that picture up there that I just added?  Yeah, the way this thing is written right now, I could have my blog virtually erased from the Internet because I didn't make it.  I found it on the Internet. 

    Now, the guys that wrote the bill had good intentions.  Internet Piracy, as you and I (average Internet users) understand it, is a very bad thing.  It is people -- very bad, shady characters, mind you -- stealing music and movies and such and profiting from it and not crediting the source or presenting it as their own.  And I agree that it should be stopped.

    SOPA, however, and it's best friend PIPA (Protect IP Act) don't really do that.  What they do, in a nutshell, is censorship.  The language of the bill, as is the norm with EVERY proposed bill that I have ever read, is full of legalese and vague, ambiguous language that could easily be misinterpreted to mean sites like Pinterest, Wikipedia, reddit, and even my beloved Facebook could be liable for everything their users post.  Heck, the way it is written now, I could be held liable for something a reader posts in the comments on one of my blogs. 

    Who would want this?!!  This is OUTRAGEOUS!  Well, turns out, lots of Hollywood types would like this to pass.  They are afraid that they are being taken advantage of.  Really?  Did any of those people on the Golden Globes look victimized to you?  Also big supporters of the bill are huge corporations.  See, the way the bill is written, they could put a stop to all these little start-up companies who do what they do better, faster, cheaper, or whatever.  They don't even have to prove anything -- just accuse them to get their site shut down and their funds frozen.  SOPA puts a stranglehold on innovation.

    Want clarification on that?  Check out this video that I got from Youtube, or these 2 articles that I found while researching this post:

    The authors above have already addressed and explained SOPA and PIPA much better than I ever could.  I am a computer idiot.  I researched "memes" today because I read an article about how they can increase blog traffic.  I am still not sure that I know exactly what a meme is, but I am pretty sure that under SOPA they'd be illegal.

    Youtube would be drastically different if SOPA and PIPA were passed.

    That is why Wikipedia, reddit, and other sites (including one of my favorites -- Failbook) are going dark on January 18th in protest.  A protest that the bill's author's say is "a publicity stunt."  Maybe.  But they don't want SOPA opponents to get anymore publicity.  Wikipedia going down for 24 hours?  I wonder how much homework will go uncompleted as a result of that.  One thing is certain, it WILL garner publicity.  Not for Wikipedia or the other sites though.  Just for the anti-SOPA movement.

    This article lists the sites that are participating in the blackout, and some of their thoughts on it:

    And this one, where the authors of the bill address the global blackout scheduled as a "Publicity stunt":

    And, it should be pointed out that the congress that this bill is going to be presented to has NO IDEA what the bill says, what it means, how it will effect the Internet, or their constituents.  Even for themselves.  They don't use the Internet.  They have staff and aides and kids and grand kids that use the Internet, but they themselves don't have to search online for articles, or content of any kind -- they don't do anything besides Tweet and update their Facebook status.  They instruct those working for them to gather and compile information, but they have no idea what that actually involves.  I searched and read and compiled the information just in this little blog post for HOURS.

    Sadly, this is sorta what happened when they were faced with this bill.

    In fact, one opponent to the bill found that one of the bill's authors, Lamar Smith, is a copyright violator.  Here's the link to THAT article:

    Can I ask a question?  WHY does government feel the need to make every, single, piece of legislation  full of language that no one understands?  I am a fairly intelligent person, and I have looked at the actual bills -- they are almost impossible to decipher.  Why can't the language be simple?  Here is my example of an effective SOPA bill:

    "Profiting from any content that is not of your own creation without permission from this day forward is ILLEGAL -- as in a FEDERAL crime -- and you could be arrested, go to jail, be sued, tarred and feathered, strung up by your toenails, and unfriended on Facebook."

    Boom. Done. Maybe I SHOULD go into politics. This could be my poster:

    Oops.  I guess SOMEONE doesn't want me in politics.....

    Seriously though:

    Saturday, January 14, 2012

    You Could Win!!!!

    No, not really. You can't come with me. Sorry. That is what is known as a hook to us writers. I use it to hook you in and keep you reading. And look at that, it's working! You are still reading.

    Although you can't come with me, there is a way that you can cash in on this whole summit thing. Kenmore and Zeno Group (the marketing team putting on this shindig) have a contest you can enter.
    Here are the details:

    Blogger Homework (optional but strongly encouraged):

    Engage Your Readers!

    - The Challenge: As the Kenmore Blogger Summit will focus on innovation, we’d like to open this to your readers with a special assignment and chance to win prizes. When tasked with the overwhelming demands of day-to-day chores, a little creativity goes a long way – and helps stretch our resources a bit. What is your most unusual, yet practical, use of a common household appliance?

    - The Ask: Please ask your readers to submit videos demonstrating their answer!  You can then select and submit up to 5 of your favorites for a chance for you and your readers to win great Kenmore prizes.

    - Due: Wednesday, January 18 at 9p.m. CT
    - Rule: No branding visible other than Kenmore. To avoid, simple cover other brand names with tape.

    - Format: Uncompressed Quicktime files at 1920x1080 16:9 are preferred. Any uncompressed file would be best, and the bigger the format the better.

    - To Submit: You'll have to send it to me and I will upload it. I have to narrow it to the top 5 and then send those in.

    - This contest if for US readers only

    - Prizes will consist of Sears gift cards ($100, $50 and $25)

    - Submissions are due Wednesday, January 18

    - Video entries are the only valid submissions

    I don't know about the rest of you, but my husband could go through a $100 Sears gift card before I could get the car parked outside the mall. Unfortunately, my problem lies in the fact that I don't use the household appliances in any unconventional way. Actually, I don't use them often enough in their conventional way. But maybe you do. And if you do, you could win a gift card to go buy another appliance to use unconventionally....or you could save it for Father's Day and avoid shopping for that special guy in your life.

    More importantly, you'd be helping me out. See, I kind of think this is a veiled attempt to see if any of my readers use kenmore appliances. Or maybe they just want to make sure that i actually HAVE readers. Either way, it would help me out. 

    So if you could, send me a video submission of you doing something weird with your appliances. Wait....that came out wrong. Send me a video of an UNCONVENTIONAL yet PRACTICAL use of your appliance. And be sure that you cover any non-Kenmore logos with tape.

    You can email your submissions to me at countingcaballeros@hotmail .com

    Friday, January 13, 2012

    I CAN DO THIS! (Can't I??!)

    So after the initial shock and excitement wore off from being invited to Chicago, I realized something.  I probably cannot wear yoga pants all weekend.  Crap.  I. Own. Nothing. Else.

    At least nothing else worth mentioning.  I was going to have to go shopping.  I HATE shopping.  It sucks.  I also was going to have to do something about the gray roots that are slowly making their way to my ears.  (Seriously, I had my hair done in October when I was in Huntsville for dad's surgery, and I haven't touched it since.  It's BAD.)  And then there's the whole thing about my waistline that is expanding instead of contracting. 

    Great.  I was all excited, and now I am a 13 year old girl about to start a new school.  I really do struggle with self-esteem.  See, its very easy to be snarky and self-confident when you are sitting on the couch typing blissfully away on a laptop, but when you are face to face, it's a little harder to pull off.  I could envision in my head the horror stories that would unfold in the Windy City -- me being a loud obnoxious freak in an attempt to appear "fun,"  me being all awkward and goofy in an attempt to be "quirky," me being all manic because I am not usually around other get the idea.  On the one hand, none of these people know me so I can be whatever and whoever I want (which appeals greatly to my theatrical side and makes me want to show up with an English accent or something equally as juvenile).  But on the other hand, this is what I want to DO.  I want to write.  I want to be so damned good that Kenmore isn't the only company vieing for my attention or to attend their event.  So I need to be taken seriously.  I need to be seen as the mature, intelligent, educated person that I know I can be.  I used to work in sales.  I could do this.  Deep breath, formulate a plan.

    So standing in front of the mirror, I said (yes, out loud) "Okay.  Let's see what we can do."  I took note of the hair first.  I was for sure going to have to do something there.  Since Christy, my go-to-gal for all things hair was 800 miles away in Huntsville, I called her and asked for help.  She said, "You can do this.  Go buy this product and do X-Y-Z."  Crisis (possibly) averted.  I haven't actually used said product yet, so this step could still go horribly wrong, but I was taking action.

    Now there was also the issue with the weight I mentioned.  Since dropping 25 pounds in a week was not possible without cutting off a limb, I added "Buy Spanx" to my to-do list.  Also need to buy a new bra.  After I had established that my undergarments needed to be seriously upgraded, I moved onto the more obvious.

    My wardrobe has deteriorated dramatically in the past 10 years.  When I was in sales, I had power-suits and heels.  As a part-time photographer, I had nice jeans and shirts.  As a stay-at-home mom to 4 kids under 10 and a blogger and Facebook addict, I have 16 pairs of yoga pants and a plethora of t-shirts -- both long and short sleeved.  Seriously, I know that there are shoes in my closet.....somewhere. But the only shoes I really ever wear are my slip on Skechers or flip-flops. I do have a dedicated drawer for Yoga pants and one for t-shirts. My wardrobe is a lot like Garanimals -- everything matches. I just grab a pair of Yoga pants (either black or charcoal gray) and a t-shirt and voila! I match and I'm ready to go anywhere -- the couch, the carpool line, the gym, the grocery store -- pretty much everywhere that I ever go. Day to day this is awesome. It really sucks when I need to get dressed up for something.  Like a trip to Chicago that has the potential to jump-start my career.

    I bit the bullet and went shopping.  Of course, not to an actual store in a mall or anything, because I didn't want to spend the money.  I still have to buy Spanx and a bra, both rather pricey items by themselves.  And then there was the potential hair disaster from my do-it-yourself hair dye in a box that might require a small fortune to repair.  So I went to a re-sale shop.  I found a few pieces that I think will be acceptable and I was feeling like a million bucks.  I was ready to take on Chicago!

    Or so I thought.

    Then TODAY happened.

    I got the list of attendees for the Blogger's Summit in Chicago next week, and let me just say that as I perused this list and stalked their blogs and Facebook fan pages, I felt the excitement and anticipation slowly drain out of me like a leaky balloon.  These people are REAL.  I mean, they write about stuff that matters.  They are often PAID to write (a lovely idea that I wish I could accomplish) and some of them are paid to speak.  They are editors, contributing editors, published authors, etc. -- in a nutshell, they are basically everything that I aspire to be but have not been able to accomplish, and I cannot for the life of me figure out how I got placed in with them.  If you think I am exaggerating, go through the list below and visit some of their sites.  That guy Mike, down near the bottom of the list?  Yeah, he was co-host on a show on the Science Channel. 

    2012 Kenmore Blogger's Summit Attendees

    A Busy Crockpot Mom

    Accidental Mommies

    Adventures in Baby Wearing

    Around My Family Table

    Blissfully Domestic

    Busy Dad Blog

    Cash or Check Only

    Chambana Moms

    Crazy About My Baybah

    Creative Kitchen Adventures

    Digital Dads

    Dr. Goddess

    Formula Mom

    Frosted Fingers

    Jessica Gottlieb

    Just Another Mommy Blog

    Just Short of Crazy

    Look What Mom Found… and Dad Too!

    Love That Max

    Macaroni Kid

    Mama NYC

    Meal Makeover Moms

    Mike Senese

    Mom Advice

    Mom and More

    Mom Start

    Mommies Playground

    Mommies with Cents

    Mommy Confessions

    One Scrappy Mom

    Our Kids Mom

    Rookie Moms

    Sensibly Sara

    The Divine Miss Mommy

    The Mommy Insider

    The Night Owl Mama

    The Other Side of the Tortilla

    The Red Neck Mommy

    Whiskey in My Sippy Cup

    No, I didn't link them all here. Do you have any idea how long that would take??! I only have a week to dye my hair, buy a bra, and find my self confidence that is hiding somewhere under layers of baby fat and jersey knits! Use this opportunity to hone your Google skills.

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    I KNEW it! I MATTER!!!

    In a very exciting turn of events, I have been invited by Kenmore to participate in the 2012 Blogger's Summit in Chicago next weekend. 

    When I first got the email, I thought "This cannot be real.  Did they send this to the wrong person, or is this a cruel joke?"  The email said that they wanted to fly me to Chicago, put me up in a hotel, feed me, and show me all kinds of amazing new Kenmore appliances and get my opinion on them.  Seriously?  Little ole' me??  But a little Google research informed me that, yes, it is real.  They did this last year.  I found several bloggers who had participated in 2011.  So I responded to the email with an enthusiastic"YES!!" and I finally got my flight info yesterday.  I am more than a little excited about this.

    Anyone who reads my blog knows that I have an opinion about almost everything, so sharing my opinion will NOT be an issue.  Now, you might think that spending a weekend looking at washers, dryers, and refrigerators might not sound like much fun.  You would be wrong.  At least for me.  See, I am addicted to the "Expo" type shows on Food Network and other channels where they showcase all of the latest products.  I love the shows that show prototypes of new appliances, new products, all of it.  AND it's not like I will be the only one there. 

    They are flying in about 20 other bloggers from all over the country.  (Squee!!)  So I will get to meet and rub elbows with a bunch of other bloggers/writers, trade secrets about generating more blog traffic, getting more followers, etc.  I may even be able to get some pointers about breaking into the publishing world (something that I would very much like to do), depending on who these other bloggers are. (I am hoping that they will send out a list of those attending so that I can get to know their blogs before I go).  And they are going to have presenters from Google+ and Wired, so there will be more good info there. 

    I realized something else -- most of my favorite bloggesses are in Chicago. Moms Who Drink And Swear, I Want A Dumpster Baby, and Mary Tyler Mom among others. I think I follow about 10 Chicago Bloggers. The city and surrounding suburbs are FILLED with the wittiest, snarkiest, funniest, women I wish I knew. I find that I am thinking about the city as some kind of Mecca where all of the blogging gurus live. It is almost like this is my pilgrimage and I fully expect to come back enlightened to some blogging secrets that only those who have been to "The Windy City" are privy to.  It will me make me so much better just to be in their general vicinity, surely.

    Seriously -- this is a BIG deal for me.  I never get to go anywhere.  I do not have a day-planner or a schedule app on my phone because, let's face it, what would I write in it?  "Tuesday -- wash whites & make dinner.  Wednesday -- wash towels and make dinner.  Everyday -- get up way too early, make school lunches, try to blog, act as chauffeur, referee, and tutor to all 4 kids, and make dinner..."  The husband is taking off 2 days from work so that I can do this.  I will get to go to Chicago -- somewhere I have never been -- and spend time with other bloggers hearing about and seeing things that are very interesting to me.  My degree is in English and Marketing -- this is right up my alley.

    And they want my input!  Finally, someone is getting the hint that us mom-bloggers (and dad-bloggers, too) are not just people who get on the Internet and regurgitate our day.  We are intelligent, contributing members of society.  (Are you seeing this, Brian Grobman from "Anderson?")  We MATTER.  We are the ones who will research these products when it is time to get a new appliance, and we are the ones who will use them day in and day out.  So yeah, our opinions are pretty freakin' important.  And I am already working on my list of questions.

    1)     When can we expect a washer that will automatically transfer the wet clothes into the dryer and turn it on?

    2)     When will they invent a dryer that actually FOLDS the clothes for us?

    3)     How about making a fridge that has a lock on it to keep my thieving kids out of it? (or me, when I'm on a diet?)

    4)     How hard would it be to develop a line of real, working, kid-sized appliances so I could put my kids to work?

    This is just a start, and reflect my general sarcastic nature, but I am sure that over the next week I will come up with a few more, even a couple of serious questions. 

    I am also interested in hearing from you guys -- what would YOU like me to find out from Kenmore?  What questions or ideas do YOU have for them?  Comment here or send me a message, I promise I will do my best to come back with the answers. 

    I can hardly wait until next Friday when I will board a flight bound for Chicago.  I am STOKED!

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    The Silver Fox Just Ain't What He Used To Be

    So a few of you may remember that a few months ago I got an email from a producer at Anderson -- Anderson Cooper's Daytime talk show.  I got another one.  This is it:


    Hope all is well! Right now we were are working on a show about prenuptial agreements. We would love to hear back from you if you or someone you know has stories about these questions.

    Do you have an opinion about pre-nuptial agreements, either for or against?

    Do you have an opinion about couples who sign them and then regret it during their divorce?

    Do you know someone whose life was impacted by a pre-nup?

    We would love to hear from anyone and everyone! Please feel free to email me or call me at 212 275 8939. I hope to hear from you soon.

    Brian Grobman
    1271 Avenue of the Americas // 16th Floor
    New York, NY 10020

    This is my response:

    Hey Brian,
    I do not know anyone who has a pre-nup. However, I have an opinion about
    just about everything. I may try to blog about this subject. Since
    opinions are never in short supply, you no doubt have a plethora of opinions
    already. Should you be interested in mine, you can feel free to call me or
    email me back. Good luck!
    Ginger Caballero
    Author, Counting Caballeros

    First off, let me just say that unless you are an heiress or a prince or something, a pre-nup is a bad idea in my opinion.  I mean, what you are basically doing is saying that you expect to fail at married life; that either you or your chosen spouse isn't worthy.  I could see a pre-nup being a good idea if you were married, amassed vast wealth with your spouse and had kids, then were widowed and wanted to remarry.  A pre-nup would ensure that the wealth you and your late spouse had accrued would stay where you most likely intended it to go -- with your children.  But if you and your spouse are getting married and there are no children, there is no vast fortune, and there is not a throne involved, then you do not need a pre-nup.  Most pre-nups allow for each person to leave the marriage with what they brought into it and some division of the property or wealth that was earned together.  There are always exceptions or clauses that will make the agreement null and void, that will cause one person to forfeit their share, etc. 

    At least that is what I have learned from watching lots and lots of television.

    See, there is a huge gap in my friends list where all of the heiresses and royalty are supposed to go, so I don't really have any specific experience with pre-nups. 

    Secondly, and more importantly, WHY is this a show topic?  Is this the same Anderson Cooper who has won awards for his reporting?  The same one known as "The Silver Fox?"  The winner of 5 Emmy Awards for outstanding journalism??  Why is he turning into Jerry Springer?

    Seriously, I am curious why this highly intellegent, hard-hitting journalist who has covered stories from Beirut to the tsunami in Sri Lanka to hurricane Katrina, feels the need to "dumb it down" now that he is on daytime television.  I honestly do not know why networks believe that stay-at-home parents only want to see paternity tests, cheating spouses, and messy divorces.  I, for one, would love to see some useful stories about current events.  See, when the news is on in the evening, I am helping with homework, making dinner, and getting 4 kids in the bath and into bed.  So when I am folding laundry during the day (hey, I do that sometimes), I'd love to see a respected journalist like Anderson Cooper cover stories about the presidential candidates and their platforms (not about their sex scandal and drug abuse), or about controversial bills before congress, or about anything that I might hear about on CNN, Headline News, or MSNBC, but with more real opinions from other people just like me -- parents.  Sprinkle in a crock-pot recipe here and there, a story on how and where to do a family vacation on a budget, and an organizational tip or 2 and you'd have daytime television gold!  The sensational crap will still be there for those who want it -- Judge Joe Brown, and Jerry Springer aren't going anywhere. 

    So if you are reading this Brian Grobman from "Anderson" -- fire your creative team.  Hire a few stay-at-home moms and dads to advise you and Anderson on acceptable and interesting show topics.  I told you last time you asked for my opinion that you need a panel of parent-bloggers to be on your show and that I could help you find some.  That offer still stands.

    Sunday, January 8, 2012

    The Eye Of The Storm

    Friday night I had some friends over.  Just a couple of my mom friends and their kids.  We shared some laughs, the kids were insane -- just a normal Friday night at our house.  One by one the moms went home, the last one leaving around 2am.  All the kids slept over.  Which means that I had 8 kids 10 and under spending the night.  At 4am I finally made the boys turn off the video games and go to bed.  They were all up before 9 Saturday morning.  I seriously do not know where kids get their energy, but I sure would like some.  I needed massive amounts of coffee.  And a few tranquilizer darts.  And a Valium. 

    I love being the house that all the kids want to be at.  I love the noise, the laughter, the banging of feet on the stairs, the whole thing.  However, every time we do this, I am also incredibly thankful that we only have 4 kids.  Seriously, I am half nuts most of the time and I am quite certain that 4 more kids of my own would have pushed me over the edge.  It is great to have these kids, that I love like my own, to come and spend time here, but I am also very grateful when they all go home. 

    That night while us moms were all sitting around the table, laughing and talking, there was bedlam going on all around us.  It became painfully clear who the moms were who only had one kid.  There were 3 of us:  me, one mom with 2 kids, and 2 moms with one kid each.  The light fixture above us, directly under the playroom, was literally jumping.  I was amused by the way the two moms of only children were freaked out by all of this while me and the other mom were completely oblivious to the noise.  We could tune it out.  The screaming, the banging, the thumping of feet on the stairs -- all of it.  We were able to carry on a conversation while the other 2 moms looked nervous, yelled up to the kids like "Calm down!" or "What's going on??!" 

    It was sort of liberating, actually.  Knowing that as "easy" as I often think the moms of just one kid have it day to day, they were all keyed up by the crazy and I was able to completely relax in the midst of all of the noise and the eye of the storm.  I think that is an excellent metaphor for a mother; specifically a mother of many.  I tried to compose a poem about mothers as the eye of the storm, but I only completed a little of it and I really needed a nap now after all of the extra kids went home.  I may try to finish it someday, but I'll share what I've done so far:

    The Eye Of The Storm

    The eye of the storm is a place of refuge

    The eye of the storm is calm

    The eye of the storm is still in the deluge

    The eye of the storm is warm

    In the eye of the storm is a place of comfort

    In the eye of the storm you rest

    The eye of the storm is in the arms of your mother

    The embrace of the one who loves you best

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Confessions Of A Snark Queen

    I have had blog envy over the past week or so -- where everything that I have read (and I read a lot) is better than what I have written.  I am trying to remember that my blog is MY therapy.  It is supposed to be for ME.  I love to write for all of you, but this began as my outlet from the everyday grind of Nick Jr. and Pop Tarts.  I keep expecting it to be "perfect" and that is the one thing that it can never be because for good or bad, this blog is a reflection of ME.  And I am far from perfect.  So remember that...
    This post is actually 3 posts that were very similar that I attempted to edit into one cohesive post. I am afraid that I have fallen short because I am quite certain that you can see the seams....apologies.  Regardless of how incoherent it may be, I hope it makes you think.

    I have a confession to make. Apparently, I am a bully.

    No, I don't follow people smaller than me and beat them up, and I don't belittle the smart people, or make fun of the people with weight problems, or those with less money, or any of that. I call a spade a spade, so to speak, and I have a lot of opinions. Some of my opinions are widely accepted by others, some are not. Some of them are based on commonly accepted social norms, some on religious preferences, and some on the fact that I am not just like every one else.  I am educated and I express myself extremely well (most of the time).  My verbal filter sometimes has holes that allow my random thoughts to escape my lips (or flow through to my typing hands). This is what makes me a bully.

    We talk a lot in our society about honesty. 

    Be true to yourself. 

    Speak the truth -- even if your voice shakes. 

    Don't be fake. 

    Don't let others define who you are. 

    But then as soon as someone says what is on their mind or speaks the truth, we call them a bully.  Or, as I was recently referred to -- the "Snark Queen." 

    I am blessed with a quick wit.  When I was a teenager, this made me a popular, yet rather mean kid.  It almost always started out as a defensive weapon -- either as a way to defend myself, my friends, or someone that I thought was being unjustly picked on.  I could use my words like a razor -- they would cut down the person they were directed towards with brutal efficiency.  But the more I used my sarcasm and wit, the quicker the retorts would pop into my head.  By the time I was well into my teens, I did not have to be provoked to start spewing the sarcasm.   I would not say that I was exactly malicious it was more like I was clumsy with the use of my words.  I would think that something was funny and I would blurt it out.  Thankfully, as I matured, I learned more about the power of my words -- how they could hurt -- and I learned a little self control.  As an adult, I am able to look back on some of the things that I said to people and see how hurtful they were to an awkward teen who was still trying to discover who they were.  I have apologized to some friends that I verbally bullied and let them know that I now see what I didn't see then -- that although I wasn't trying to be, I was a bully.  I am now equally capable of using my words to wrap hurting friends in comfort, or to tickle them into hysterics.  I still have that razor sharp wit and it whirls and dances around in my head with all of the things I COULD say but know I shouldn't.  (Which is why I blog anonymously here all of the snark that I think, but do not use....)

    Although there are acts that are most definitively bullying, there is no clear or definite definition for what constitutes "verbal or emotional bullying" so everyone uses this ambiguity to their advantage.  Speaking the truth, without malice has become bullying. Stating an opinion is bullying. Giving someone a mean look -- intentional or not -- has been called bullying. It has gotten a little ridiculous. Bullying is very hard to define absolutely because it is not an absolute. It is dependant upon so many intangibles like human emotions, intentions, and perceptions. What you PERCEIVE may be in direct conflict with what I INTEND.   Am I saying that bullying is okay?   Not at all. There are many instances of when it gets out of hand -- it is not recognized or it is purposefully ignored and the outcome can be tragic.   

    The problem is, bullying has become a "cause," a buzz-word, a catalyst -- it has become a weapon of bullying in and of itself.  Politicians use it to bolster their campaign platforms, social advocates use it to silence the opposition, and parents use it to excuse their kids' behaviors. 

    I think that as a society, we have become so focused on making everyone feel good that we have become a bunch of liars. I do not mean that I think that we should go around just blurting out every random thought that pops into our head, but I think that there is a point where "tact" becomes a "lie" and people don't seem to know what that is anymore. When I ASK for an opinion, it means that I really want your opinion -- I don't want you to lie to me. It bothers me when people say "Do you want the truth?" because it makes it seem like there are only certain times that the truth is given. Like when I ask for it.  We have become so concerned about not offending anyone, that we cannot speak the truth without fear of the repercussions.  Having an opinion that differs from the socially accepted norm and voicing that opinion out loud gets you labeled as a bully.  Saying that someone is being an idiot when they are actually being an idiot, can get you in trouble for bullying.

    I hope that I am not really a bully.  But if society wants to define bullying as being honest or standing up for what YOU believe is true and right, for speaking your mind, or for openly being who you are, then I guess I am a bully.  Sometimes it is hard to hold my tongue even when I know I should.  Being a smart and educated woman with a sharp tongue that I must constantly keep in check is an easy burden to bear as long as I can dump all of the snark here.  I try to reserve my snark for those who deserve it -- teachers who pick on my kids, politicians, those who think that they're better than everyone else and need to be knocked off their pedestals. 

    And yes, sometimes I proudly wear the crown of the "Snark Queen."