Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hurry - Try Kiva for Free!

A couple of years ago I was introduced to Kiva through a Christmas present.  If you're unfamiliar with Kiva it is a organization that allows you to lend money to someone in need throughout the world.  Once the money is paid back, you can choose to lend the money again or allow Kiva to keep it as a charitable contribution.  Well, this morning I received an email from Kiva who has partnered with Ladies' Home Journal for a rare opportunity.  They are offering a small number of free trials available for new lenders.  If you act quick you will be able to take advantage of this opportunity.  You will receive $25 to lend to a new businesswoman in another country.  Check it out through the link below.  You will be able to read a short bio about the different women asking for loans and choose who you would like to lend the money to.  What a great feeling to be able to help someone in need.  I don't know how long the offer is going to last, but if you ever thought of doing something like this, what better way is there to try it? 

Okay, end of my unsolicited endorsement.  I'm going to post this fast because I really would love for someone to take advantage of this offer.  Here's the link for the free trial:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Quote of the Day

Try not to become a man of success but a man of value.
      -- Albert Einstein

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Gift of a Positive Attitude

With the Holidays rapidly gaining momentum upon our heels, and the economy leaving folks feeling a little strapped, I started to think, what if you could give something that wouldn’t cost you a penny?  What if it was something that would last throughout the year?  Of course this isn’t something you can wrap and give at your annual Holiday gift exchange, but I’m talking about something you could give on a daily basis to those who surround you -- the gift of a positive attitude.
I know most of us try to stay as positive as we can even through the roughest spots we encounter in life, but what if we tried just a little bit harder throughout the week?  Now I’m not saying you need to be the perpetually perky type.  You know what I mean, that one person you see that leaves you scratching your head and wondering what miracle pill they’re on and where can you get some, but the person who always tries their best to see the glass as half full.  These are those people that you tend to find yourself gravitating towards.  Why?  They make you feel good and positive and happy.  These are the people who try to uplift your mood when you are down.  They may be silly or spiritual or philosophical, but whatever they are, they depart you with a gift of renewed energy.
Adversely are the glass half empty types, the ones who seem to have nothing positive to say about anything.  They leave you feeling defeated, depleted and depressed.  They are toxic to our wellbeing.  And while you can’t entirely rid yourselves of these types, you can learn to live with them on a daily basis without letting them drag you down.  In fact, let’s try to change them around.  If however, you find yourself absorbing too much negative energy in this attempt, then I say why not just leave them with a positive last word during your next conversation and move on.
Seek out those glass half full personalities and encase yourself with their positive outlook.  They could be a spouse, friend, sibling, co-worker or even an occasional stranger.  Let’s fill our glasses with their upbeat outlook.  And remember the next time you hear the saying “love don’t cost a thing”, think to yourself, well neither does a positive attitude.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Today’s Mindless Trivia: Crow versus Raven – Size Matters

So the other day while I was sitting down looking out the back window and writing, I was awestruck at the amount of birds I was seeing.  You see, we hung two feeders in the backyard and unlike the shy birds in Littleton, Colorado which took over a day to decide if they wanted to come to our ornithological buffet, these Arizona birds have gumption!  Not fifteen minutes after the feeders were out did we have what seemed like half of the birds in the desert eagerly dining!  Oh and get this, we put a water bowl outside right next to the slider so that the boys would have it when we let them out.  Well, I look over and half a dozen little birds are fluttering in and around in the 6” dog bowl.  Mila, the cat, is in her glory.  She’s thinking, hot-diggity!  You gave me my own personal zoo with a full length viewing glass. 
I have been able to identify a couple of the bird species:   finches, I believe purple finches (the ones with the red bellies and necks), and Western Meadowlarks (pretty yellow bellies).  But looking out over the open terrain, we have also noticed many large black crows or ravens in the area.  Hearing them sound their “call” every morning actually reminds me of the corn fields near my childhood home.  It distinctly takes me back to a crisp fall day in the farmland of Pennsylvania with a cool breeze teasing my hair while I watched the crows sitting on a fence post or flying up above in the sky. The familiarity of the sound is actually comforting.
However, the crows I am seeing in Arizona are very large, which led me to puzzle over whether what I was observing were crows or ravens.  What’s the difference?  So, off to the computer I went.  After a search I quickly determined that these were indeed ravens.  With size seeming to be the major difference, crows are relatively small in comparison to the raven which averages 25 inches.  Now I know some of you are shuddering at the image, and maybe a particular Alfred Hitchcock movie is coming to mind, but did you know that crows and ravens are extremely intelligent?  Their brains are apparently among the largest of any bird species.  Ravens being larger are therefore a bit smarter.  The young crows and ravens also love to play.  They will pick up objects, play with them and hide them.  Yes, they are scavengers.  They also mate for life, or for long periods of time.
I realize there is a common thought that they carry an evil connotation or omen (often thought of as a bad omen, yet they can be a good omen as well).  Did you also know that they conversely carry a God-like presence in Mythology?  I learned too that the Raven is mentioned numerous times throughout the Bible and often used as a positive example.
I’m certainly not trying to convert you into a lover of crows and ravens, but perhaps we shouldn’t stereotype them as being bad so easily.  They too serve their own unique purpose.  Anyway, there is an abundance of information out there to suit your fancy should you really want to dive right into it.  As for me, my curiosity having been fed, I think I’ll “call” it a day.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Consumer Alert: Talking Doll Says a Bit Too Much

In my last blog I made a brief mention of the evolving dolls of the 21st Century, but has anyone heard about the You & Me Interactive Triplet Dolls?
Now these cute little baby dolls move their heads, giggle and babble.  Adorable, huh?  Well, before you run out to your local toy store to purchase this set for the Holidays, there is something you should know. 
Apparently there is a lawsuit pending over what is believed to be one of the dolls swearing.   Lawyer Joey McCutchen in Arkansas recently filed a lawsuit against Toys “R” Us citing misrepresentation, breach of contract and negligence over what appears to be the pink doll saying something sounding like, “Okay you crazy B****”.  Obviously it’s up to your own interpretation, but there is an argument to be made over what it sounds like this doll is saying.  However, don’t take my word for it. Do a Google search and listen for yourself, then decide.   
In the meantime, maybe a nice stuffed animal would be a better choice for the little one. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Grumpy Santa and the Non-Conformists

So last night Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was on TV.  This is a highly anticipated event for me each year right along with The Grinch, The Year without a Santa Claus, etc.  Love ‘em!  However, the more I write, the more I notice things about the way movies and books are written, hidden meanings, clues . . . you get the point.  This is not a negative for me.  In fact I thrive on it.  Anyway, while watching this 1964 classic, I put aside my childlike glee for a moment and viewed the movie through my analytical glasses.  You know what I discovered?  The younger generation is probably appalled by this movie.   Political Correctness is nowhere to be found.  Not everyone wins a soccer trophy in this movie!
The Santa in this particular movie I found to be a predominantly crotchety old fellow.  First of all, he’s going to cancel Christmas because of a little snow.  Now you’d think having lived at the North Pole all his life that he’d have this gig covered by now.  Secondly, he admonishes Rudolph’s father for the fact that Rudolph has a red nose stating “ . . . you should be ashamed of yourself”.  Then, after the elves have sung him a beautiful song, “We are Santa’s Elves”, he mumbles that the song needs more work, gets up and scurries out the door slamming it.  Mrs. Claus of course tries to cover for his rudeness.   Is this grumpy Santa the one we really want to be leaving us presents under our tree?  Fortunately he gets in a better mood by the end of the movie after realizing Rudolph can guide his sleigh with "that wonderful nose".
It’s interesting to note that the original 1964 movie didn’t have Santa returning to the Island of Misfit Toys as he promised.  Apparently there was a public outcry that Santa did not fulfill his promise to go to the island.  So in 1965 they rewrote the movie to include Santa’s journey to the island to pick up the misfits before delivering his toys.
Now for the non-conformists, Take Hermey.  This poor elf doesn’t like making toys.  He wants to be a dentist.  And what does everyone do?  Make fun of him.  Yell at him.  Of course the optimist in Hermey tries to fit in by fixing the teeth on the dolls, but the head elf tells him that no one wants a chewing doll (just wait until he sees the dolls of the 21st century). 
Then Rudolph.  Well, you know, he has that red nose and all.  Heaven forbid!  We can’t have any of that.  He is promptly kicked off the flight team.  When his new girlfriend Clarice walks home with him, she is reprimanded for being seen with a red-nosed reindeer.  Again, can’t imagine this type of message being written into any of today’s current children movies.  Thank goodness Rudolph becomes the hero in the end.
Just imagine for a moment where we’d be without the non-conformists in society.  Does anyone know the highly successful names of Steve Jobs or even Lady Gaga?  Talk about thinking outside of the box.
But don’t take me wrong, I’m not trying to be the scrooge.  I still love these old animated movies.  I can’t help it.  I don’t care whether or not they are PC.  They bring joy to my heart and that’s what matters.  Therefore, in the future I can be found eagerly awaiting the Snow Miser and Heat Miser to make their appearance by dancing their way onto my TV screen.  Popcorn anyone?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Journey

The Colorado November day was sunny, crisp and clear.  The muscles were sore and the nerves a bit frayed.  We left a day later than planned due to a few hiccups on the bank's end with getting the mortgage approved in time for the planned settlement date.  It wound up being pushed to the following Tuesday, but things were looking positive so we proceeded on with our move. 

We ran out of room in the Penske truck and wound up renting a 6 x 12 pull behind trailer too.  So our caravan consisted of my husband, Scott, driving the Penske and towing my car, while I drove the SUV with all three "kids" (two cocker spaniels and one kitty) and towed the trailer.  We left on a Friday afternoon and made it to Las Vegas, New Mexico that evening.  Saturday morning we were on the road by 8:30 and drove through a very windy section around Santa Fe.  Scott was barely able to go above 45 mph at that point, and I was feeling the trailer blow around a bit.  At this juncture I thought maybe we wouldn't make it to AZ until Thanksgiving!  But after finally getting through the rough spot we continued on without mishap.  It was a long drive, but the kids traveled really, really well.  We took an unplanned tour of Flagstaff when looking for gas (we always wanted to explore the area, just not exactly at that time. . . ) and got a little turned around, but once back on track arrived at our destination at around 8:00 pm.  Whew, finally made it.  After hauling that trailer, I'm ready for "Ice Road Truckers"!  (Okay, maybe not).

Monday was very busy with phone/Internet, Directv, and movers arriving to help unpack us.  It was a real Tetris puzzle trying to figure out what furniture would fit where (we downsized).  Scott was back to work by Monday afternoon in our makeshift "office", and I spent Tuesday and Wednesday trying to make sense of the boxes piled neck high in our garage.  By Wednesday (having not hooked up the washer and dryer yet) I was on a mission to find Scott's jeans -- no success.  Thursday I again was on a mission to find Scott's jeans.  The good news was I got the closet organized, the bad news was, yea you guessed it, no jeans.  I wound up unpacking around 10 boxes that day (who knew we had so much ahem, crap) and by 3:30 -- eureka!  Jeans!  Happy day!

So while we are slowly getting unpacked, the kids are finally adjusting and curious to see what treasures I'm pulling out of each box next.  The boys are having fun exploring the property, while the cat is cautiously slipping into cabinets and nooks and crannies to see what hiding places she can find.

Having worked my entire adult life, it's been odd not to get up every morning and go to work, but I am welcoming the opportunity to actually organize the house for once after a move without jumping right back into work. 

Well, time to start unpacking boxes again.  Today's mission -- find the silverware and ditch the plastic forks!


P.S.  Saw our first Roadrunner this week right at our front window.  Very interesting bird.  Scott was totally intrigued, which isn't surprising since he owned two Roadrunner cars during his teenage years.