Thursday, March 30, 2006


Forget about autistic people, I could think of several people in my office who would benefit from this!

Device that picks up on people's emotions

Irregardless of what you think, words make an impression

Ever since I was little, spelling, grammar, and pronunciation has been pounded into my brain by my mother. Well, maybe not the grammar - she still doesn't know how to use the words "good" and "well" properly, apparently. (she admits this and I say this in the most good-natured way!) I guess from the very beginning I was destined to become an anal-retentive engineer.

Sidenote: my insistence on correct pronunciation actually caused me one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. When I was in fifth grade, we read a story in which there was a black boy from the south who was either poor or not well-educated, I can't remember which. Maybe poor - it makes this even more embarrassing. The teacher asked us all how we could know that he was poor and me, being the bright, young thing that I was, raised my hand and said, "You can tell by the way he talks."

Throughout the story, the spoken words from this boy were spelled as sounded in a southern black accent. (thing = thang, sure enough = sho nuff, etc.) Mine was actually not the correct answer (can you believe?!), but what made it even worse was that the split second after these words left my mouth, I realized what an incredible idiot I actually was. My teacher, even though she was teaching the heartland of America, was originally from, yes, you guessed it, the South. She had quite a strong southern accent. And I had just called her poor (or stupid) for her accent. I still have no idea what the correct answer was. I spent the rest of the class period so mortified by my own words that I have no idea what else took place. I don't think I looked her in the eye for the rest of the school year. Mrs. Enz, if you're reading this, I'm really, really sorry about that! It really is one of the most shameful experiences of my life.

(However, I still stand strong in the opinion that because Bush can't say the word "nuclear" correctly, he is an absolute idiot.)

Anyway, back to the real story... on NPR this morning (yes, I listen to NPR! If you had to live in Houston and put up with Houston radio, you would listen, too!!) Anyway, on NPR this morning there were a couple of different stories about people misusing words and how some meanings of words have kind of gotten lost by over-use. (Book that was profiled, Engines of our Ingenuity)

And then, lo and behold, I get to work and have a little time, so I check some of the blogs I read and over at A Curate's Egg, he's got an amusing take on different words in the English language.

So, I'm taking this as a sign that my post today should focus on the two words that annoy me the most. The first of which is the word "irregardless". This is not a word, people!!! The correct word is "regardless". By putting "ir" in front of the word, you're creating a double-negative in the same word. And as soon as you say this word in front of me, my mind goes into a tailspin of "double-negative - irregardless - regardful? - regarding? - regard... period? does not compute - aaarrrgh!!" My mind turns all Vulcan and I can't get past the illogic in that word.

The second word that causes my blood pressure to go soaring is "methodology". I'm quite certain this is a made-up word that some consultant created in order to make their work sound more important. "We use the Williams Methodology to make your company more efficient." Or "By using the Aaron Methodology to teach, we're expanding your child's horizons."

The thing that bugs me about this word is that there was already a word that covered this idea: Method. That's it. Don't add the -ology on to the end of it. When you add -ology on to the end of it, it's supposed to mean "the study of" something. Archaeology. Psychology. Biology.

The context in which this word is always used around me is the form where you could (and should) say "method" instead of "methodology" and it would be correct and more accurate. However, I'm fighting a losing battle on this one. Methodology has already somehow made it's way into Webster's Dictionary. And man, that pisses me off.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Going ahead with Darwin

Ok, I can see that neither of my two faithful readers know anything about gardening, so I've proceeded with my Darwinistic approach to horticulture. I planted some seeds and if they actually sprout and grow, I'll be amazed! (which reminds me, I need to try to remember to water them today - I forgot yesterday...)

I planted some peas and some cucumbers and a couple of different types of flowers. The herb seeds that I got (basil, rosemary, and oregano) actually require me to "start" them inside and then transplant them to outside after a few weeks. This should be interesting. Again, I just have to reiterate, I really will be amazed if anything grows.

I'm also considering getting one of those big half-barrel things and attempting to grow 2 or 3 stalks of corn. However, I can't get past the idea that if any of these plants grow and actually bear fruit (or vegetables, in this case), I'm guessing it's going to be only one or two pieces. Then what in the world am I going to do with them? Try to find some especially amazing recipe in which to cook them? Ha! I don't cook!

I have a feeling that in the end, I'm going to be stuck with these two little cucumbers, looking at me pathetically, telling me, "please don't eat us - we're special! we're the only things that actually grew in your little container garden" And then I would be forced to keep them until they shriveled up or got all moldy in our kitchen because I just couldn't bear to eat my only gardening progeny.

Well, I'll keep you informed of the progress. If something sprouts, I'll be sure to take a picture!!!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Gardening Tips?

Today I'm asking for your help! Can anyone give me some tips on gardening? More specifically, container gardening.

Ok, some background information may be in order. Almost a year ago, we met with a landscape architect and in October they finally started working on our landscaping. When it was finally finished in February, we got our fountain set up and are beginning to enjoy it! Check out these sweet before and after pictures:

Um, can you tell which one is before and which is after? :)

Anyway, now that we have this nice outdoor area, I'm inspired to finally try to grow some herbs and things in a window-box thing attached to our deck (directly above this patio).

When I was growing up, my brother, as all good Cornhuskers do, grew corn every summer. Then my dad caught the gardening fever sometime while I was in elementary school (I think?) and ever since then, my mom has been over-run with cucumbers, okra, peppers, tomatoes, and corn every summer.

Now, here's my question: What do you think I'll be able to grow in a container on our back deck, which only gets about 3-4 hours of direct sunlight every day? I would really like to grow some basil and maybe rosemary, although I'm not sure the rosemary will do OK with so little sunlight.

Generally, when faced with any type of plant that I'm supposed to keep alive, I tend to subscribe to the Darwinian method where if it survives without extra effort from me, then it gets to stay! I'm guessing I may have to give this little container garden a little more attention than I normally would, but I'm willing to make that sacrifice.

Given the fact that these containers are rather small, do you think there are any kinds of vegetables that may not need deep soil? I know that corn is out of the question, but what about cucumbers? Or maybe peas? Anything else?...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Three Days in One

I have no idea what day it is. Plus, I have no idea how many more days are left in my week!!

Yesterday I felt like I had lived three days in one day. It started off innocently enough by me hitting "snooze" on my phone (I now have my phone on "sound mode" on my bedside table and figured out the snooze feature on it after we moved the girl out of our room - you can't expect me to actually get my butt out of bed in the mornings, can you? Just ask my mom how hard it is to get me out of bed in the mornings...) Where was I? Ah yes, I hit snooze for about a half an hour, then turned off the alarm, and eventually woke up at 6:15. And I need to leave the house at 6:30 to get to work on time.

No big deal, as I said before, the project is winding down and even though I have a few things to accomplish before the end of the week, I don't need to kill myself to get to work exactly on time and get the documents issued right away. Or so I thought.

Since I was still at home at 6:45, I answered the phone when it rang. It was the babysitter saying that her daughter was sick so she wouldn't be able to come to work today. Uh-oh. There are two documents that I needed to get done yesterday and the husband had an appointment, which he couldn't reschedule, with a tax accountant.

I immediately switched into "super-fast mode". I could go to work for a little while, take care of the two things I needed to do, come home, let the husband go to his meeting, then go back to work, if necessary.

I fly out the door and down to work. Work, work, work. Get one thing done. Go back home at 9:00, the kids have been fed and diapers changed, I change their clothes, take them to the park. Play, play, play. Come home, feed them lunch, get them settled down, take them upstairs for naps. Hubby gets home. I kiss him as I'm headed out the door. Come back to work at 3:00. Work, work, work. Finish the second thing and I'm out the door at 5:00.

I feel like I just lived three days in one! And the funny thing is, I got just as much accomplished in my 3 hours of work yesterday as if I would have been here the whole day. That saying about how work expands to fill the allotted time? It's true.

So, I guess today is Wednesday, but I'm not sure if I'm going to have to work on Friday this week, so I still feel discombobulated. And maybe I've had too much caffeine. And on top of that, my muscles are rebelling against the fact that I've now worked out 6 of the last 8 days. I'm kind of a mess...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Weekend of Fun

So, this weekend turned out to be a good time for all!

It started out on Friday when I didn't have to go to work! That was nice. It allowed the husband and I to go out for a bike ride together without the kids - that was very nice!! Especially since the boy has decided recently that he wants to ride on my bike and not daddy's bike. "What could be wrong with that?" you might ask. Well, the boy weighs about 37 pounds and the girl only weighs around 22. That's 15 extra pounds. And when I've got a good 20 extra pounds of body weight on myself to haul around, PLUS one of the kids, going for a bike ride is turning into some serious strength training, instead of fun, aerobic activity!

Saturday we attended a 3-year-old's birthday party, complete with one of those inflatable moonwalk jumpy things. It was a little girl's party, so the theme was "Disney Princesses" with all things pink and frilly. The most fun thing for me at the party was when I asked the boy which plate he would like to eat off of: the butterfly one or the princess one? He immediately chose the princess one - I'm glad he hasn't yet figured out that, as a boy, he's not supposed to like princesses. :)

On Sunday, we went for a family bike ride and the boy wanted to ride on my bike again - ugh! But, one of the cool things about living in Houston is that quite frequently we end up getting some sort of unexpected treat during a bike ride. Sometimes we see baby ducklings at the park or sometimes we see big construction equipment. This time, we witnessed the Houston Humane Society K-9 Fun Run!

We had noticed that the police had one of the streets blocked off and assumed that some sort of "fun run" was taking place that morning. However, as we were riding along next to the closed street, all of a sudden a pack of people and dogs crested the hill and we were immediately provided with quite a sight! There must have been at least 300 people, each running with at least one dog. There were big dogs and little dogs, fat dogs and skinny dogs. It was amazing to see some of those little dogs running just as fast as dogs 10 times their size!

It was also fun to look at the owner/dog couplings. Some of them definitely belonged together: trim people generally had trim dogs and overweight people generally had overweight dogs. It made me happy that cats don't mirror their people as much as dogs mirror their people. I mean, if you were to look at our cat, you would think that his owners were fat and lazy and only wanted to sleep all day. (And you would be right.)

All in all, the weekend was quite good. I hope everyone else can say the same!!!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The sounds of packing tape

Well, the sounds of packing tape are echoing around our almost-empty floor here on the project. Yep, my project is winding down, but I still don't know when I get to leave.

Apparently my boss has "de-staffed" himself, but has left me here to take care of anything else that might come up. While this might sound nice, like he has so much faith in my abilities that he feels comfortable doing this, he really only wants out and wants to leave me behind. Ugh.

And since the project is winding down, that means I think I'm actually going to be able to take my Friday off tomorrow! My company works one of those 9-80 work schedules where you're supposed to get every-other Friday off. However, since I returned from maternity leave back in June, I think I've had a total of 4 Fridays off. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to tomorrow!!

Until then...

Monday, March 13, 2006

Look at the Fountain!

This past weekend the girl said her first full sentence! And since she's only 17 months old, I'm going to have to come right out and admit that she is truly a genius.

Anyway, her most favorite word for the last three or four months has been, "LOOK!!!" Said just like that, with all-caps. She relishes the ability to make you look at something. I suppose at some point we'll have to teach her that this is a quite juvenile way to engage in humor, but until she's old enough to understand the word juvenile, I assume we'll have to put up with this kind of thing!

I've gotten very used to her pointing at things and saying, "LOOK!!!" at which point, I will look in the general direction and say, "Yes, I see the kitty!" or whatever else I think she might be looking at until I guess the correct thing and she stops saying "LOOK!!!"

So, on Saturday, she was looking out the window at our finally finished back patio, saying, "LOOK!!!" I couldn't see anything she was looking at, so I asked her, "What? What do you see?" And she said, "Look at the fountain!" Just like that. Not "Look fountain" or "Look at fountain" but "Look at the fountain!"

Ok, ok, I suppose it's possible that her tongue just somehow stumbled over some sounds and made it sound like she said those specific words and I suppose that anyone who doesn't hear her on a day-to-day basis and knows how to decifer her language might not have actually heard those words, but I'm telling you, it was clear as day.

In fact, yesterday as we were walking over a bridge close to our house, she said, "Look at the truck!" and pointed at the construction trucks that were down below us.

Of course, hubby thinks I'm overexaggerating her volubility (yep, used a thesaurus to come up with that one) and doesn't seem to want to believe me. It doesn't help that when he asks her about it, she either looks at him with a blank expression or responds, "Dikuh badah kup."

But it was real and I'm marking it in her baby book.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Since both hubby's and my clothing has seemed to be shrinking lately, we've decided we'd really better get back into some kind of exercise routine. We're also hoping that adding exercise back into our lives will help us to stretch our patience a little further than the current 2-second breaking point.

Anyway, we prefer to do things all together as a family, so going for bike rides is a perfect way for us to get some exercise while the kids get to see all kinds of cool things like trains, ducks, bayous, and puppies. :)

Both kids like to go for bike rides and the girl has taken to expressing her excitement every time we mention going bicycling by raising her arms over her head and yelling, "Bakalah!" Which, obviously means, Bicycle!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


As I stated before, I became interested in curling during the Olympics and subjected the family to several hours worth of exciting curling coverage while we were on our vacation (and even after we got home!).

For those of you who didn't watch this riveting sport, one player slides a large "stone" down the ice and once they let go of it, it's up to the other members of the team to sweep the ice to make sure the rock goes where they want it to go. The person who initially throws the stone, watches it travel down the ice and yells to the other players whether or not they should sweep. They will yell things like, "Yes!" or "No, no..." or "Hard!", making anyone in an adjoining room, unable to see the TV, wonder what in the world you might be watching.

So, every once in a while now, the boy will go get his little broom that came with his Dirt Devil play set and start sweeping away at the floor, yelling, "HAAARRRRDDD!!"

I'm so proud.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Redundant Hdrs

About 10 times each day, when I walk down the hallway and past the piping group's aisle, I read this note on the wall of one of the piping engineers' cubicles: "Redundant Hdrs"

It refers to the client's insane idea that if we were to include two loops of piping (redundant headers) for each of the plant's utilities, then the plant would never have to stop production in case of required maintenance or a leak in one of these utility headers. They actually made us include these redundant headers in our design for several months until they finally got wise and determined that it was going to cost them way too much for all these extra one-mile-long pieces of piping (the plant is gigantic, I must say) and it really wouldn't make the plant be able to always be on-production, so then we had to delete them all out of our design.

Anyway, every time I walk past and see that note, I read in my head, "Redundant Hors d'Hoeurves" ......Huh?!!

Apparently I'm much more obsessed with food than I'd like to admit.

Pedicure results

Well, the pedicure on Friday went well. I managed to survive without somehow embarrassing myself completely.

However, I wouldn't say that I'm going to become a pedicure "junkie" anytime soon. It was fine and my toes look nice now, but I'm not sure they look nice enough to justify the $45 price tag for the "spa pedicure". I'm so cheap!!!

The woman (no men working in the pedicure area, by the way) who did my pedicure was very nice and didn't laugh at my feet. She even found my pinky toe toenail and was able to paint it. I was impressed.

The chairs had heating and massage capability built into them, so that was interesting to play around with. But to tell you the truth, I was so pre-0ccupied with watching what the woman was doing, I didn't really notice much about the chair until the very end.

I got a little worried when she brought out what appeared to be some wire-cutters and began cutting my cuticles and toenails with them. One wrong move with those things and you would be a world of hurt!!! Luckily, she seemed to be very familiar with the instruments of the trade and I survived unscathed.

I would post a picture of my toes, but I haven't figured out exactly how to do that yet. I'll check into it...

So, overall, it was fine. It wasn't earth-shattering or life-changing. Just fine. I can't see myself wanting to make it a habit. Maybe if there's some kind of really special occasion where I needed to have nice looking feet, like a... ummm..... well, I can't think of anything that would be so special I would need nice looking feet. Looks like I'm not getting another pedicure any time soon.


I think I may have figured out how to post a picture of my pretty toes...

Monday, March 06, 2006

Our Vacation

So, I never did post an update on how we spent our vacation back in February.

The vacation was horrible and relaxing, great fun and stressful. I guess it's what every vacation with small children is like!

The vacation was inaugurated by the boy deciding to not eat any of his normal foods for the first four days, existing only on that one toddler foodgroup: Goldfish.

This, of course, caused all kinds of annoyance to hubby and me, leaving us just as on-edge as the boy was. Once we finally decided "to hell with it, let him starve!!" the boy started eating again.

The boy also decided to begin using the one word, with which I'm pretty sure all parents have a love/hate relationship: "WHY?!" And he hasn't stopped saying it since then.

While I know that it's an important milestone in a child's development, I swear, every night as I'm going to bed that if I hear that word one more time, I'm going to go Van Gogh and cut off both my ears and then stick some crocheting needles in there just to finish off the deal.

To make matters worse, the girl has begun it too. Now all we hear around the house is a chorus of tiny voices saying, "Why? Why? Why? WHY?!...." I'm surprised the cat hasn't joined in.

Getting back to the vacation... We took the kids out sledding every day. It was difficult to get them out in the snow because the boy, of course, didn't want to wear his snow pants. He seemed to be generally freaked out by the entire vacation experience and forcing him to wear these weird things was just too much.

But once we actually got outside and in the snow, he had a lot of fun. And the girl enjoyed it, too. Every time we asked her if she wanted to go out sledding, she would raise both arms over her head and exclaim, "Woo hoo!!!" Very cute.

Hubby and I took turns skiing. One of us would go in the morning while the other was sledding with the kids, then the other would go during "naptime" and get in a couple of hours.

Ah, "naptime". Notice I didn't say during "naps". Neither of the kids took naps the entire time we were there. That was both good and bad. On the one hand, that left us with two manic, over-tired kids the entire time. On the other hand, it meant we put them to bed early every night and we ended up with the rest of the evening to sit and watch the Olympics!

This was the highlight of the vacation for me: watching the Olympics. I LOVE the Olympics. And during this Olympics, I became a fan of curling!!! For some strange reason, I found it fascinating. Even though I had to watch 2 hours of coverage just to see the outcome of the game, I couldn't tear myself away from it. I've decided it's my new favorite Olympic sport. (Ok, not really, but it's close!)

Anyway, the best quotes from the trip:

The boy, in response to a woman's question on the parking shuttle bus at the end of the trip - The woman said, "Do you love your baby sister?" The boy replied, "Yes. Her so cute. And she's got pockets!" (showing just how tired he was - he becomes like a sloppy drunk when he's tired - you have no idea what he's going to say, what he's thinking about, and it usually causes him to begin radomly spouting, "I loooovvve you. I want to give you a kiss....")

The girl, as previously stated, "Woo Hoo!!!" to any mention of sledding.

Friday, March 03, 2006


So, as I was getting ready to go to my pedicure, hubby and I were discussing what he and the kids should do tonight.

I said, "Maybe you could go to C-H-I-C-K-F-I-L-A"

Husband said, "Yeah, or I was thinking we could go to W-E-N-D-Y-apostrophe-S"

The boy said, without missing a beat, "Or maybe we could go to H-I-J!" (?????)

I had such a hard time not laughing...

Big Plans

Big plans for the weekend? Well, tonight I'm going to get a pedicure for the very first time. A friend of mine is treating a group of us to pedicures tonight.

I'm a little nervous. Since I've never had a pedicure, I keep wondering if the person giving me the pedicure is going to exclaim, "Wow, I've never seen something like that before!" When she/he sees my dolphin-shaped little pinky toes that have virtually no toenails on them. And that would really be saying something, taking into consideration how many feet they must have seen.

I wonder how in the world she/he (are there actually any men who give pedicures? I doubt it, but I wouldn't know because I've never gotten one before!) will ever get any toenail polish on it. Surely she/he will not do what I always do, which is just paint the entire area around the nail and then assume that after a couple of showers, naturally, the only place the polish could still stick would be the nail part. I mean, how am I really supposed to get close enough to my microscopic pinky toe toenail to actually see it and paint only it?!

I'm also nervous because all of my other friends are pedicure pros. Having had so many pedicures in their lives that, I'm sure, they're able to actually tell what is a good pedicure and what is a bad pedicure.

I always feel like an out-of-place ugly duckling around this set of friends. I'm the only one who doesn't regularly wear makeup. I'm the only one who doesn't absolutely adore going shopping and buying whatever the most current fashion magazines say you're supposed to buy. I'm the only one who doesn't know the names of all the movie stars and what type of handbag each one owns.

I sometimes wish I could fit in with them a little more, but then when I think how much extra effort that would take, I just can't find the energy to actually want it enough.

I'm happy that I have no idea what to look for in designer handbags and footwear. (the only thing I look for in a purse is a strap long enough so that I can wear it across my body like a Miss America sash, something that would certainly never be found on ME!) Call me practical, call me a bit of a tomboy (except when I really actually want to dress up and look nice and then I'll attempt to knock your socks off), and call me out of style, but I'm pretty sure I can have a whole lot more fun in my jeans and hiking shoes or my biking shorts and funny biking shoes with the cleats on them than I could ever have while wearing stylish clothes and makeup. AND I get to include my hubby and kids in those fun times.

Good times, indeed.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Love it!

I totally want one of these! (thanks, Courtney, for sending me this link!)

But, since I already have a fish tank here at work, I find it wasteful to buy another one. So, would somebody else get one of these, get some fish, and send me a picture of it so that I'll know someone else is enjoying it as much as I would?! :)