Friday, February 27, 2009

Profoundly incredible


This is worth your 10 minutes. And your $5. Or, if Ava gets her way, your $500! Visit http://www.profoundlyseth.com. Seriously. Do it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The terrible story

This is for Ellyn. :) Partially because I feel terribly guilty about being lame and not being able to think up the best name ever for her awesome project, but mostly just because I love her. And she twittered me and reminded me about it.

Oh yeah, and by the way I just had a "WOAH" moment when I realized that your twitter name is your name backwards. That's right, folks, doesn't take much to astound me.

---

Here's some context about my terrible story - I twittered this earlier:

Oh my gosh. I did something SO horrendous today that I don't even know if I can put it in Not Me Monday. It's so embarrassing.

That being said, I probably won't be able to wait until Monday to tell the story. It will most likely get its own post tonight. Ugh.

You will probably laugh very hard, though, and after all, I am here solely for your amusement, dear readers.

(Man, now I'm worried my terrible story won't be so shocking or interesting at all. This is a lot of pressure. Deep breaths. Whew!)

And now, onward.

---

So today, I was going about my merry way being a rock star at work, editing and mixing down, converting and uploading. It's quite the gig.

I was feeling super-cute (or, you know, just sort of cute) because I wore my knee-length skirt, short-sleeved shirt, and open-toed shoes to work because it was 82 degrees here today (another reason to MckCruise out of the Lone Star State, no?). Sure, I would end up with blisters on my feet from said open-toe shoes after my walk to Starbucks, but hey, at least everybody could see my hot pink toe nail polish. I hadn't had these clothes out since last summer!

But I digress.

So I'm sitting there, editing, and I happened to look down at my lap, all of the sudden noticing a weird stain on my skirt. It ran from about hip bone to my knee, to give you a perspective on how big this stain really was. And it was yellow.

This was not a dark-colored skirt, friends. This was a white skirt with green flowers on it. With a big yellow stain on the white.

Maggie.

As I've mentioned before, my darling dog likes to urinate on everything. I had to put a drop cloth on my bed when I left for classes in college because she just loves peeing on beds and blankets. Gross, I know. Trust me, I know. I learned never to get into bed in the dark or without feeling around first. We can't leave clean clothes or towels on the couch when we leave either, because, you guessed it, she uses them as her personal litter-box.

Now that we have a house with doors that close and Maggie's home life is a little more stable (not moving every summer), she's not quite so bad, but as you can probably gather from the way this story is going so far, there are still times we're still unpleasantly surprised by this.

Problem is, I never catch her and therefore have a hard time punishing her for it. If anybody has any ideas on this one, I'd love the advice. (MckMama? got any Potty Training 101 for a theoretically housebroken dog? I'm guessing your kids don't urinate on beds and clothes out of spite.)

Anyway, back to the skirt.

Best I could tell, Maggie peed on the skirt while it was on my closet floor amongst all the dirty laundry, and the washing machine didn't get the actual stain out later. Back it went onto the hanger to await my return and inevitable humiliation.

So I'm sitting in my office, staring at this huge pee stain on the front of my skit, wondering if anybody noticed. Then, it occurs to me that the urine most likely is on the back too.

Ut oh.

I stand up and turn the skirt around, hoping to find a less visible stain, but unfortunately, the one on the back is even bigger. And really unfortunately placed.

Yep, I'm an adult with pee-stains on my skirt at work. Yellow stains in the crotch area just scream professionalism, don't they?

Because God actually cares about the details, I happened to be carrying my other purse today, which had my Tide pen in it. Whew! While it wasn't 100% effective (since, you know, it's for spots and not for cleansing an entire skirt!), at least it took some of the edge off.

Unfortunately, my friend Erin walked in while I was trying to remove the stain, asked me if I had spilled something on my skirt, forcing me to sheepishly explain why I was covering my skirt with stain remover.

The lesson I learned today? Do a little twirl in front of the mirror before you leave for work. It might just save you a day of walking around looking like you'd wet your pants skirt.

Starbucks White Mocha Frappuccino

It's not even on the menu! You have to ask for it!

But... YUM!

Blog design tip of the day - Resizing someone's blog button

Update - RSS reader friends, you'll probably have to view this post on the actual blog - The text boxes the code is in are showing up as the actual code inside them, which won't make sense to you.

---

I only started "professionally" redesigning blogs a few months ago, thanks to Heather, who asked me to design her a blog header because she liked mine. When asked how much I would charge, I just told her to donate to my BikeMS ride (the one I hadn't registered for yet!). 

Since then, I've raised almost $400 for the MS Society by designing blogs and basically started a new business, Blogs by Mandy. I'm hoping that after BikeMS is over in May, I can continue to design blogs both as a way to raise money for organizations I believe in (String of Pearls is next!) and for a little extra cash to do things like MckCruising. But at least part of the money spent at Blogs by Mandy will always go somewhere else. It just makes good sense to me.

Since I love all of you "tens" of faithful readers so dearly (seriously!), and I believe the reason I get clients is lack of time, not lack of ability (i.e., I'm not taking clients away from myself, and if I am, oh well, you've learned something), I'd like to start a new series of blog posts with instructions for modifying your blogs yourself! My HTML and digital deign ability is self-taught, and I believe that anybody can do this if they have time.

So, without further ado, welcome to my first blog tip of the day:

Resizing your blog buttons

You guys all have friends whose blog buttons just aren't the right size for your sidebars. And because you're so devoted to them, you add their buttons anyway. This results in about half of the button actually being visible. This cut-off look isn't ideal, but you don't know how to change it.

Mandy to the rescue!

You can find out how wide your sidebars are by viewing the HTML for your blog. To find your HTML, go to your Dashboard, click "Edit Layout," then click the "Edit HTML" tab. There, you'll find a text box with a whole bunch of HTML in it. You need to find the section of code that looks something like this:


Your code may not have the same wording; perhaps it says "sidebar-left," "sidebar-right," or just plain "sidebar." In any case, the number below the sidebar code is what you're interested in. On this "blog," it says "width:140px," which means that if my blog button is bigger than 140 pixels, it's not going to fit. Once you know this, you'll know the maximum size the buttons you add to your sidebars can be.

Now, on to the actual button code.

The HTML for the button probably looks a lot like this:

...and this is what the button looks like on your blog:
Blogs by Mandy

Let's take a look at the actual HTML. 

Do you see the section that says this?
 

This is the part of the code that points to the actual image. The URL within this code is a link to an image - see for yourself:


In this case, it's a .png file. The URL on your button could end with .jpg, .tif, .bmp, or any other image extension. Just look for the code that begins with "img" and you'll likely find the URL pointing to the image soon after that.

To modify the size of the button, you need to add a width to the button. You can do this by adding a width to the image code right after the URL, which, in this case, is "width=140px," telling the image to resize itself to 140 pixels wide.

Now, your image code looks like this:

And all put together, your entire button code looks like this:



And your image looks like this:
Blogs by Mandy

instead of this:
Blogs by Mandy

Exciting, yes?

---

By the way, once you've sized your button to what you want it to be, you may want to also center it on your sidebar if that's not included in the code. To do this, just add before everything in the code and after everything in the code. Then, all your buttons line up!

Get it?

---

If you liked this tip, and want to see a tutorial on something else about blog design, please leave me a comment! If, like many of my clients, you just don't have the time to learn how to do all this stuff, then check out my portfolio and what I'm about and hire me to do it!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

MckYESSSSSS!!!

It's leaving from TEXAS! That means I can probably do it!

Any of you guys thinking about going?

Leave a comment!!

AT&T Samsung Eternity

I got a new phone on Saturday! I've been wanting one for a while (since I broke the lens on my Razr by putting it in my back pocket and sitting on it the second day I had it!), but wasn't sure if I wanted to get something with a data plan, or if I wanted a flip phone, Blackberry Pearl, iPhone... so many choices!

I finally decided on the Samsung Eternity, mostly because I wanted a touch-screen phone but I'm really not a fan of Mac products. We have macs at work, and while they are powerful and "pretty," I have had more trouble with this mac than I've ever had with a PC. Part of that is the need to run VMware on it for certain programs, but regardless, I've just never been happy with mac products.

So I went with the Eternity. It's also a touch screen, about the same size as the iPhone, and the data plan is half the cost ($15 a month instead of $30). It also got pretty good reviews.

So far I really like it a lot! My one complaint is that there's no e-mail client for gmail, so I can't get notified when I get a new e-mail like you would on an iPhone or Blackberry, but I can quickly and easily use my browser to check it. Also, I know there's a way to sync my Outlook calendar with its calendar, which will definitely come in handy when I finally get around to that.

Now, I'm just trying not to drop it, sit on it, or get it run over by a car.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quick Blogs by Mandy Contest

Congratulations, Courtney! You won the discounted blog makeover!!

If you missed this opportunity, don't worry! I'll still accept blog orders for a discounted rate of $40 instead of $50 for a complete blog re-design! "Sale" ends at midnight. E-mail me now!

Check out my portfolio and why I'm doing this here!

--

I'm $32 away from $300 on my Bike MS fundraising quest. As an incentive to have you donate and get me up to that beautiful round number, the first person to e-mail me with an "I'm in!" gets a total blog re-design (banner, backgrounds, columns, and blog button, all customized for you) for the $32 instead of the usual $50. Ready... GO!

Not Me Monday!

Check out MckMama's blog for way better entries than mine!

I absolutely did not change from a skirt to jeans at my desk in my office before AWANA by putting the jeans on under the skirt then removing the skirt. And if I had, I would have a much better reason for doing it than being too lazy to walk all the way to the bathroom.

I did not set a blog entry to publish a few hours later, then immediately go to my RSS feed and wonder why it wasn't there yet.

I did not put two collars on my dog at one time because my sister-in-law made them and they were so cool that I couldn't decide which to let Maggie wear. 

I did not tell El that I was good at witty titles, get her e-mail outlining the project, then  rack my brain for a week for a clever title to no avail. I am not still pondering this.

Also, I did not just put the very last of the dog food into her bowl this morning. I would never let my dog run out of food.

When MckMama posted that a contest would be done at 10 p.m. her time, I did not try very hard to figure out what time that would be, then decide it was an hour later than my time, only to find out we are in the same time zone. I did not make a dumb comment to her (before I figured this out) about time zone math, since no time zone math was necessary.

I am not following Bacon Salt on Twitter. And I really don't regularly respond to their tweets. That's just weird. 

I did not finally get to see, play with, and wear my brother's NBA championship ring this weekend.

On the way to work today, I did not paint a clear coat onto my nails during various stop-light waits. I am always completely focused on driving.

Oh yeah, and I'm definitely not shamelessly taking advantage of the extra blog traffic by mentioning that I'm redesigning blogs in exchange for donations to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

What did you not do this week?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I'm so pretty!!!

Dear Ajax,

Thank you so much for my new collars and leash!! You have no idea how excited I was to get them. I'm actually wearing both collars right now! Man, these new fancy collars that Cassandra made are MUCH nicer than my boring black collar I used to wear!

Shane arrived here safely, which I know you'll be happy about since you haven't seen him in a while. I've been keeping him company since he misses you so much. I'm a lot smaller though, so he's not quite as impressed with me. Also, I can't turn on the fireplace.

Tell Cassandra I said "thank you" for the super-awesome collars and leash she made!! I love them!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hope

Oftentimes, when we think about medical miracles and answered prayers, we think of situations like Stellan's or Harper's. A complete turnaround - an unexplained healing. It's awesome and so encouraging.

This week, I was reminded of another kind of medical miracle. This kind of medical miracle was just as much an act of God as the others, but took a lot of work, money, and research here on Earth to become a miracle.

A few years ago, our dear friends gave birth to a beautiful son named Colin. He was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, and tragically, due to several complications from the disease, lived here on Earth for only 7.5 months. His life had unspeakable value. The story of his fight spread among family and friends, renewing the prayer lives of many.

About a year later, Ryan and Wendy had another son, Clayton, who was also born with HLHS. Thankfully, the HLHS surgeries and treatment have been successful for Clayton, and he is currently a very sweet and happy 2.5 year old.

Wendy's recent post, however, reminded me of something that I actually hadn't thought about before I read it a few days ago:

We are so grateful for the doctors that pioneer the amazing surgeries that keep Clayton and children like him living. If Ryan or I were born with HLHS we would not have lived, as these surgeries were only developed in the early 80's, and they were not very successful until the mid 90's. True HLHS, like our boys have had, was 100% fatal. We are even more grateful for all the children that have paved this road before us. Treatment for our kids improves everyday, and if parents didn't make the tough decision to put their kids through these cutting edge procedures, we would not have Clayton today. Tonight I remember Colin, Maddie, Ellie, Kayla, Davin, Ethan, Lauren, Abigail, Wylan, and many others whose names I can't recall. They were all deeply loved and are all greatly missed. I hope the lessons learned with these children will improve the treatment course for other children with CHDs. Hug your kiddos tonight.

Clayton would not be here today if he had been born just a few decades ago. Can you imagine what a difference the research and new surgeries has made for families of kids with HLHS? There are so many diseases out there that used to be fatal, and now, thanks to research, have treatments and fixes.

This should give us hope.

Hope for kids like Cathryn and Corynne, JudsonIssac, DylanCora, and others. All these kids had fatal diseases. And all these kids are greatly loved by their families, friends, and others. All these kids made an impact on this world.

But someday, maybe kids that have the diseases these kids had won't have to die. Someday, maybe there will be treatment for these kids. 

Sometimes, it takes some work down here on Earth to get our miracle. And today, I will encourage you to be a part of that miracle. 

Donate just a little something to one of the causes of the kids or parents of kids you pray for every day. Donate a little something to the Cancer society for the friend you lost to it or who is fighting for their life right now. Donate a little something to the Multiple Sclerosis Society for people (like my mom) who live with MS or to the Ankylosing Spondylitis Association for Gitzen Girl.

There is reason to think that there will be a cure for any or all of these diseases someday. But we can't sit on our butts.

Get out there and do something. And oh, by the way, don't stop praying.

Hi/Low Thursday

This post is part of "Hi/Lo Thursday" on the Riggs Family Blog. Check out their blog to read everyone else's "Hi/Lo" posts and for a chance to win $100.

I've never done this one before, but I thought I'd give it a shot.

High:

This weekend Jack and I went to College Station, where we spent time with one another and some very good friends. It was just so nice to not worry about plans, timing, or schedules, and just be with one another.

On top of that, I had Monday off, which gave me time to finish (my work-friend) Isa's baby invites. Gosh, it's just so much fun doing stuff for her! She's always so grateful and excited, and since this is her first baby and she doesn't have family in this area, it's fun loving on her a little bit.

This is Christelle helping me make the "Bee" invites!



The Low

Gosh, my "low" really isn't that low, especially considering that Abby's "high" was chemo!! We're just so incredibly blessed.

The only "low" I can think of for now is just a large workload at work. I feel awful even saying that, because 1) We're actually getting a little caught up on the broadcast schedule, 2) We just hired a new editor, which will help me SO MUCH when she starts and we get her trained, 3) I'm LOVING the people I work with more than ever, and 4) I love going to work every day at this awesome ministry.

Check out the Riggs Family Blog and Serious Life Magazine!

Proper e-mail etiquette

Dear hypothetical friend or friends,

I love you, but you are driving me crazy. Is it your constant need for attention or your not-very-funny jokes? No. Is it the pet turtle you're always making me babysit? Nope. Is it your bad hygiene? Not at all. My sense of smell isn't all that great anyway; by all means - stink the place up. (Lest you're wondering "is it me about whom she speaks? Do I, indeed, have the bad hygiene?" No. I don't actually have any friends with bad hygiene. Or a pet turtle, while I'm at it.)

No, hypothetical friend. It's your poor e-mail skills. 

Lest you think this will be another grammar rant, let me correct you: it isn't. This is an e-mail etiquette rant. More specifically, this is a rant about the times that a lack of e-mail etiquette that really ticks me off.
  • For goodness sake, check Snopes.com before you forward me crap. There are no HIV-infected needles in theater seats or cell phone numbers being released to telemarketers. Do your homework before you forward.
  • I do not need an e-mail acknowledging that you received the e-mail I just sent you (unless I ask for some kind of confirmation). I know you got the e-mail. If you didn't, it would be sent back to me by the magical bounce-back auto-replier.
  • If you can pop your head into my office or call me to say something insignificant, you probably don't need to e-mail me about it. 
  • Don't forward me something unless you truly think it will interest me. If it has some variation of "if you hate Jesus, you'll delete this message" at the bottom of the e-mail, chances are it will not interest me.
  • If someone that I don't actually interact with will be out of the office that day, don't bother telling me about it. If I e-mail them for something, I will find out that they are out of the office when their Outlook Out of Office Assistant auto-replies and lets me know.
  • If I have to scroll down for ten minutes before reaching any kind of content, you should have edited better. If it really bothers you to remove content from the e-mail, feel free to type "snip" where you've removed content, like my friend Greg does.
  • If it takes more than 5 e-mails to solve an issue, get on the phone or get in person to take care of it. Same goes for text messages, by the way.
  • Don't "reply all" unless you have to. Your response probably wasn't all that clever anyway.
  • I know there's something to be said for formality in an e-mail, but if it's a one sentence e-mail, I don't need a "Dear Mandy" and a "Yours truly, Doofus-pants." Just say it, already.
  • And, I realize you thought this wouldn't be about spelling and grammar, but read over your e-mail before you send it. You look like an idiot when you misspell words and have a spell-checker.
I have enough out of my system now to be finished with my rant, but there are definitely more. In fact, if any of the above were news to you, you really need to read this article about e-mail etiquette. Except you can ignore number 30 because I think it's stupid.

Happy e-mailing, hypothetical friend.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tagged again

Christelle tagged me in a note/quiz about how well I know my hubby, so I'm going to answer these questions. The beauty of this is... you guys don't know if I'm right anyway, so either way, I'll look like a genius! Or, you know, just a girl with some free time.

1. He's sitting in front of the TV, what is on the screen?
If it's just him, it's House, Knight Rider, American Idol... if it's us it may be Grey's, How I met your Mother, NCIS...

2. You're out to eat, what kind of dressing does he get on his salad?
He doesn't usually eat salad! But he likes Ranch and Blue Cheese

3. What's one food he doesn't like?
More like whats one food he actually likes? [Christelle our husbands are very alike!] He doesn't like vegetables.

4. You go out to eat and have a drink. What does he order?
Dr. Pepper, usually. If it's grown-up drinks, he likes Crown & Cokes or margaritas. If it's Chick Fil A, it's sweet tea.

5. Where did he go to high school?
Naco-nowhere

6. What size shoe does he wear?
You got me. Slightly bigger than mine.

8. What is his favorite type of sandwich?
Roast beef with swiss and mustard, yummy and heated up. If it's just an every-day sandwich, he likes ham with sharp cheddar

9. What would this person eat every day if he could?
Chick Fil A - almost does eat it every day!

10. What is his favorite cereal?
He likes kid cereal, like Reses Puffs

11. What would he never wear?
Um... lots of things. Like a bra, a top hat, a tutu...

12. What is his favorite sports team?
Cowboys!

13. Who did he vote for?
My guess is he voted Republican

14. Who is his best friend?
Me! If that doesn't count, probably Dave.

15. What is something he does that you wish he wouldn't do?
Refold towels when I fold them. 

16. What is his heritage?
I'm guessing German

17. You bake him a cake for his birthday, what kind of cake?
Chocolate with chocolate icing [out of the can, not buttercream or whipped] or yellow with chocolate icing.

18. Did he play sports in high school?
He was in band. And I think he played soccer but probably not in high school

19. What could he spend hours doing?
Talking about taekwondo our our budget

20. What is one unique talent he has?
He can fight somebody with a walking cane (and he won second in the world last year in the weapons competition with it!)

Then... Amanda did another one with fancy hearts, so I'm adding that.

♥ What are your middle names?
Alan and Nicole

♥ How long have you been together?
Almost 6 years. Woah.

♥ How long did you know each other before you started dating?
A few months

♥ Who asked who out?
Welp... that's just a long story waiting to happen.

♥ How old are each of you?
Jack's 29 and I'm 22

♥ Whose siblings do/did you see the most?
Well, mine, since he doesn't have any

♥ Do you have any children together?
NO!

♥ What about pets?
1 Maggie dog

♥ Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
Our schedules being opposite can be tough, but at the same time it's nice to have the time apart so we don't drive each other crazy! :)

♥ Did you go to the same school?
Same university, yes. I'm not sure if Jack would have married me if I wasn't an Aggie.

♥ Are you from the same home town?
Nope

♥ Who is smarter?
Not touching that one

♥ Who is more sensitive?
Hard to tell. I have no soul.

♥ Where do you eat out most as a couple?
We like to try lots of different places every time we go out, but we really like Chick Fil A (see a theme here?)

♥ Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
Hawaii

♥ Who has the craziest exes?
Both of us have very tame exes... I think that comes with having dated so long. At this point none of of our exes care what we're doing.

♥ Who has the worse temper?
Well, Jack used to have a temper when he was younger, but I don't really see it now. I guess me.

♥ Who does the cooking?
Me

♥ Who is more social?
Oh gosh... I don't know. We're both very social. I can't shut that boy up.

♥ Who is the neat-freak?
I guess me, though when Jack decides to actually be neat he blows me out of the water.

♥ Who is more stubborn?
We're both terribly stubborn.

♥ Who hogs the bed?
You know, we have an argument about that every. single. night. [Argument between fits of laughter, if that helps the situation any] Since I'm the one contributing this blog and I can say anything I want, I say HIM!

♥ Who wakes up earlier?
Bleck. Me, because I have to, but he's the morning person. I know. It's a cruel reality.

♥ Where was your first date?
Officially? III Forks on my 18th birthday. Unofficially? Posados one weekend when my parents are out of town. That's right, mom. I'm such a rebel. We had Tex-Mex. Alone.

♥ Who has the bigger family?
Me

♥ Do you get flowers often?
Every so often he'll surprise me with them.

♥ How do you spend the holidays?
Thanksgiving at his house, Christmas at mine.

♥ Who is more jealous?
Neither. We spent so much time doing the long-distance thing that it's really not an issue at this point. I once told a friend that "if I caught Jack naked with another woman, I'm pretty sure there would be a good explanation for it."

♥ How long did it take to get serious?
Hard to say. Again, not normal circumstances.

♥ Who eats more?
Jack. By a longshot. He's a bottomless pit.

♥ Who does/ did the laundry?
We do our own, and Jack does the towels.

♥ Who’s better with the computer?
Me. No contest.

♥ Who drives when you are together?
Jack.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

WebMD for Pets

This might come in handy sometime!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Not Me Monday!

Update - I did not just forget to link to MckMama's blog in this post until now because I write these little by little throughout the week.

On Tuesday night, I definitely did not eat lima beans that had been sitting out all night AND all day. And while we're on the subject of things I didn't eat, I might as well throw in a kolache that had been out all day at work too.

I also did NOT grab the dry-clean-only (translated: never get cleaned) slacks that had been crumpled in the corner of my closet (for months) off the floor one day this week, douse them with Downy wrinkle release, and throw them in the dryer for a while so I could wear them to work. They did NOT come out of the dryer looking WAY better than they would have if I had ironed them. I'm not terrible at ironing anything having to do with laundry.

My friend Christelle did not run around in the middle of a tornado/downpour like a lunatic looking for the back of her phone after our movie. My friend Ashley and I did not simply stay under the overhang (safe and dry) and laugh hysterically at our friend rather than running out to help her find it.

I did not wait until the last minute to start a big project at work, then panic because there was too much to do on it before the deadline. I am not looking forward to having another editor around here.

I absolutely did not, even for a second, consider buying some of the on-sale cloth diapers Tiffany mentioned on her blog on Thursday so I could stock up on them over time because they're so expensive. That would be completely insane because 1) I don't have children now or plans to have children any time soon and 2) I don't even know if I'll want to cloth diaper when I do! The tree-huggers (read: Tiffany, MckMama, and BabyRabies) are messing with my brain, I'm telling you. ;-)

I was not offended by the part of "He's Just not that into you" when they claimed that if a girl's not sleeping with a guy, she's not into him. I did not write TWO ranting blog entries as a result.

I did not skip training for BikeMS every stinking day last week because there were more fun things to do.

My husband and I did not travel 215 miles for Valentine's weekend to go to a concert, and then on the night of the event, decide we were too tired and just go to bed instead. We are not old and married.

What did you not do this week?

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Annual Valentine's Day Rant

Dear new readers, 

My name is Mandy, and I like to rant about Valentines Day. Every. Single. Year. Now before you go thinking I'm going to rant about the commercialism or the horrible-terribleness of the forced romance on this 14th day of February, let me inform you: I am pro-Valentines Day!

My friends all know this because, well, I do love to shove anything I care about down their throats any chance I get (thus the blog). I do not love Valentine's Day because of the gifts (though I do love a good gift), or the flowers (I can say with complete and total honesty that I would rather get flowers on ANY other day of the year instead of Valentine's day), or the date (we go on very romantic dates every single weekend; why should this be any better?). 

All this to say, I do not love Valentine's day because I have someone. And I believe that you should love it even if you don't have someone right now. Don't be my bitter friend this Valentine's Day.

The reason I love Valentine's day is because of its history. You know, this one. Valentine believed so much in the importance and sanctity of marriage that he married couples even though it was against the law. He was literally sent to prison and put to death (in quite a violent way) because he believed so strongly in marriage. AND, as an added bonus, he got a little love story of his own with the jailer's daughter along the way! How cool is that?

Now, the twist to this year's Valentine's rant is the fact that I've been pondering the fact that some of my Christian friends get completely excited to celebrate Halloween every year, yet hate the idea of Valentine's day. Really? Let's look a little bit at Halloween's history:

On the night of October 31, [The Celts] celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.


This is such a stark contrast to the celebration of Valentine's Day! Valentine's Day is based on Christian values, while Halloween is based on remarkably pagan values. So why do my Christian friends hate Valentine's day and love Halloween?

I am definitely not saying that you're bad or un-Christian for celebrating Halloween. I enjoy a baby dressed as a pumpkin as much as the next girl (okay, maybe not quite as much as the next girl). But just remember the history of these holidays and what you're really celebrating before you go knocking V-day.

And before you say that "the history of the holiday doesn't matter here in the present," have you forgotten the way you preach "remember the reason for the season," and "don't take the CHRIST out of CHRISTmas" every year at Christmas? That's important. And this is too.

And now... bitter friends, bring on the angry comments. ;-)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Purity isn't lame

...all the cool kids are doing it! Or, well, not doing it.

Okay, so when I said "rant over" in the HJNTIY post, you didn't think I really meant it, did you? Nah, not me. You should know me better than that by now.

I must say, I LOVE the comments I got about the mini-rant about the part of "He's Just Not That into You" that said "if she's not sleeping with you, she's not into you." I really do know what they meant by that, especially with the way the storyline was going, but it would have been nice of them to clarify that "if she's not sleeping with you BUT she's sleeping with other guys" she's not into you. That, I'd definately agree with.

It's no secret that Jack wasn't "getting any" before we were married. (Chris and Greg, was this what you were talking about when you said I reveal too much about myself on my blog? hehe I don't really care.) I'm here to tell you that waiting sucks but it's worth it. Thanks to all of you who also shared your stories via comment on the last post.

Good for you. 

Well, of course I am!

Last night, when I was driving my neighbor girls home, this was the conversation:

Ashlyn (6 years old), reading her candy bar wrapper: "This says 'milk chocolate!'"

Me: "Mmmm that's my favorite. Do you like dark chocolate?"

Ashlyn: "I like ANY kind of chocolate!"

Me [chuckling]: "You are your mother's daughter."

Ashlyn [matter-of-factly]: "Well of course I am."

And that was that.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Jamba Juice Strawberry Surf Rider

Yum! It's lemonade, strawberries, peaches, and lime sorbet, and it's delightfully tangy. It was my first Jamba Juice drink, and I see fruit in my future!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You

Cute! Totally Relateable! And made me so glad I'm not still out there!! (Sorry, single ladies!) Kind of makes being girl seem like hard work.

Oh, but one thing really annoyed me about it - there was a section called "if she's not sleeping with you [she's not into you]," followed by a guy ranting about girls who won't give it up and how terrible that is, and how to find out early [that they're not going to sleep with you] so you don't "waste your time on them." Bah! If that's true then I really wasn't into Jack for the five years we dated. Maybe the section should have been called "if she's not sleeping with you, but she's sleeping with a bunch of other guys like a big prostitute, she's not into you." Anyway, that's the end of my rant.

----

So when we got out of the movie, there was an actual tornado warning going on. I was with Ashley H. and Christelle. Christelle had left Rylan (her 12-week-old baby) at home, and he needed to be fed soon. But we were standing in the lobby with a bunch of other people, looking at a SHEET of rain. It was insane.

Finally, Christelle decided that her son's well-being was more important than her dryness/not being swept away in a tornado-ness, and so she ran out towards her car. Ashley and I were standing under the overhang, also getting ready to also run to our cars, watching Christelle run out into the torrential downpour. Suddenly, she stopped, looked down at something, then turned around to us and yelled something distinguishable to us about losing something.

"What?" we yelled back.

"I lost my flubs aiosdag wetoq!!!" she yelled, and began to walk in circles, bent over, searching the ground for something as the strong winds forced the buckets of rain sideways.

Ashley and I busted out in laughter, watching Christelle in this ridiculous scenario, getting completely soaked as she ran around the front of the theater, bent over and looking a lot like Ellen's blindfolded musical chairs contestant, searching for her invisible item. She continued this obscure behavior until Ashley and I couldn't breathe from laughing so hard. I guess she finally gave up, because I found out later that she had been looking for the back of her phone and never found it. That part was sad, but watching her get soaked looking for it was the hardest I've laughed in a while.

"Slap Ya Momma" Cajun Seasoning

"One of these days, you're going to get it right." -Jack, about dinner last night

I must say, I am not a very good cook. Hamburger Helper is quite a feat for me, and I even screw that up pretty often. So I'm not all that great at seasoning food from scratch. I just don't really know where to start. The other day, however, we tried Slap Ya Momma Cajun Seasoning, and we loved it. I didn't think I was a very big fan of Cajun food, but I really enjoy this seasoning! Jack's mom is from Beaumont, and she's Cajun cook extraordinaire, so he's a big fan of it too. 

Be warned, though, I put a ton of it on my tilapia last night, and my mouth was burning, so use it wisely. I could have done with less. (But I have what you could call"gringo mouth.")

Monday, February 9, 2009

Make Something Monday!

Every week, Amanda does Make Something Monday and I always want to do it but never get around to it! But today I came prepared!

I've had these thank you notes for a while and I'm not a super-huge fan of them. They were fine for wedding thank you notes, but they're just kind of plain and I'd rather just make my own thank you notes.

So...
...I used them to make Valentines! Just covered up the "thank you" with patterned paper, made a heart out of a variety of Valentines ribbon (which, by the way, I got half off after Valentines Day last year!), cut out "valentine" with my wishblade, and voila! A brand new card that was practically free to make!

Not Me Monday!

This blog carnival was created by MckMama, aka, the woman through which I live vicariously. [Who needs real kids when you can watch other people's kids do all the fun stuff without cleaning up any body fluids or getting up with screaming kids in the middle of the night?]

This week, it did not take another baby only 2 seconds flat to start screaming as soon as she was passed off to me. She did not remain unhappy the entire time I was holding her.

We did not go out to a trendy restaurant in Dallas on Friday night, then to two different parties on Saturday. We are not cool enough to be out that often on a weekend (actually, we're usually not that cool.)

I am not at all jealous of my co-workers, who are in Nashville right now for NRB. I would not jump at ANY excuse to go to Nashville. 

I did not gasp so loudly that my husband came running, worried that I had hurt myself, when I won the awesome camera strap in a raffle-raiser.

I did not spend an entire weekend designing blogs for my Bike MS ride, and my house is not still a mess as a result.

I did not almost pass out on my first "real" bike ride since last year because I hadn't been drinking water or anything else before hand. I did not look like a total wimp huffing and puffing and getting all light-headed with my friend. 

I also did not forget all about the wind and how terrible that can be on a bike. As a result, I did not re-think riding BikeMS this year (don't worry, I'm still going to do it!)

I am not behind on posting my pictures for Project 365. I never get behind on posting those!!

My friends did not tell me I reveal too much about myself through blogging.

I did not forget all the other things I was going to write here now that I'm actually sitting down to write them.

What did you not do today?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Me? Win something!?

So I registered for the Canon Raffle-Raiser over at A Sister for the Bean, and actually won the camera strap for linking to her blog!!! WOW! I never win anything!

The Cotton Candy by Natalie camera straps I had to choose from were so awesome! If you're in the market, these are great! I finally settled on the Avocado Damask pattern. Check them out!

Also, speaking of winners...

Remember this picture?

And the winner of the name that photo contest is:

Jaymie from And Charlotte Makes Three with "She said we were going for a walk! This was SO not what I was thinking!"

And while I did NOT lie to my dog about where we were going, it does match the look on her face! Congratulations, Jaymie! E-mail me at mandy@blogsbymandy.com and I'll get you all set up with a brand-spanking-new blog button!

A close second (who even got a vote from Tiffany!) was Courtney, with "PLEASE don't post this on your blog, Mommy...please! This will totally ruin my reputation!"

I also REALLY liked Amanda's "Soggy Doggy."

And now... it's time for a bike ride.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thank you and you're welcome.

My dear wonderful sweet pregnant friend came into my office the other day, a little perturbed. She told me that her mother-in-law asked whether she had bought her thank-you notes for the baby gifts yet. This confused my friend, because she's from Mexico, and in her culture, they thank the giver when they receive the gift and that's good enough (Ironically, she's the one I made the baby thank you cards for, which I'm giving her at her shower next month). Evidently, her MIL told her that she absolutely needed to get thank you cards and send them for all her gifts, because this was the American expectation and that people are offended by it if we don't receive one.

The reason she was upset about that when she came in my office was that I had bought her a copy of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" when I found out she was pregnant, and she wanted to tell me that she was terribly sorry for not sending a thank you card, and that she was, in fact, very grateful for it and uses it all the time. She was just hoping she hadn't offended me.

What?

First of all, I will say that she sent me an e-mail, telling me that she appreciated it, so that should count as a written thank-you anyway. But even without the e-mail, she had thanked me very sincerely in person when I gave it to her, and I didn't expect anything else. I didn't wonder why she didn't write an actual thank you card. And I would argue that most other people don't either.

I will say, I enjoy writing thank-you cards, which is why I write them. I like to make them, and I like to send real mail or deliver them. However, my brother does not write them (nor do most of the men I know), but he says thank you. I think that's just fine. 

So, my bloggy friends, it's time for you to weigh in. I know what Emily Post has to say about the issue, but in real life, do you expect thank-you cards? Are you offended if you don't get them? Do you notice if you don't get one? When must we send thank you cards? When don't we have to? 

Leave a comment!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mush

Last night, at AWANA, one of the little girls, A, baked me and the group some cookies (so sweet!!). They were chocolate chip with M&Ms (and they were delicious!)

When the other girls got into them, one of the other little girls, E, was trying hard to avoid the cookies with the red M&Ms, because her mom didn't like her to have red dye in food.

"Why doesn't your mom like you to have red dye?" asked N.

"Because it's bad for you and turns your brain into mush," answered E.

N stared at her blankly for a moment, and then leaned over to me.

"I think her brain's already turned to mush," she whispered.

I busted out laughing, and then remembered that that wasn't an appropriate reaction.

"Um... that wasn't very nice," I replied, between bursts of laughter.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Note to self... learn how to quilt

I LOVE this Chinese tradition and idea for a baby quilt that I read about from Shelley from A Sister for the Bean (who, by the way, has an AWESOME raffle going on to raise money to adopt Claire!)

To welcome and celebrate a new life, there is a tradition in the northern part of China to make a Bai Jia Bei, or 100 Good Wishes Quilt. It is a custom to invite friends and family to contribute a patch of cloth with a wish [prayers are what I would want] for the baby. Part of the patch of cloth goes into the quilt for the baby, and the other part of the cloth can go into a creative memory notebook [scrapbook, anyone?] with the wish for the child. The quilt contains the luck, energy, and good wishes  from all the families and friends who contributed a piece of fabric. The quilt is then passed down from generation to generation.

We're not having kids any time soon, but I love the idea!!! Get your fabric ready, people... I'm going to want some of it.

And the winner is...

...Pam from Country mouse, city mouse!!! Congratulations, Pam! You won a new blog header for following one of my blogs!

E-mail me at mandy@blogsbymandy.com and I'll give you all the details!!

Didn't win? Don't worry! You can get a new blog header for a great cause at Blogs by Mandy!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Worst. Day. Ever.

It started out so well.

Jack got up early, so I could tell it was the day that Mandy would sleep in with me (I'm a dog, so I don't know what the days of the week are, but I think I heard her say the word "Saturday," whatever that means).

I barked at Mandy (as did the neighbor dog, that barks non-stop every. single. morning.) and finally, she groaned and rolled out of bed to take me out. I'm so the queen of the house.

After Mandy and I got up, we played for a little while, then I chilled while Mandy designed some blogs for Blogs for a Cause (that's right, I don't know what the days of the week are, but I know the name and URL of Mandy's new business to raise money for her BikeMS ride).

Then, the trouble started.

I'm always worried when Mandy starts cleaning. First of all, she gets out that big scary loud machine that she runs over the carpet. I don't know why she keeps getting that out when I've made it quite clear that I do not like it! I run away from it, and when I get brave, I run after it and bark at it. Then it scares me and I run away again. Hey, I'm just a little dog.

But the bathroom... the bathroom is where I really don't want Mandy to clean.

You see, for some reason, before Mandy cleans the bathroom, sometimes she also decides to clean me! She puts water in the tub, grabs this awful shampoo (which she tries to convince me smells good! She REALLY doesn't understand what sorts of smells I like), rubs it all over me, and then pour water on me. It's barbaric!

So when she grabbed me and carried me into the bathroom, I knew what was coming. It was the dreaded BATH.

But wait... the water's not running... wait... I think I recognize that... what are you doing with that trimmer!? Those scissors? No... not... a haircut!!!

I cowered and crowded the wall as she came at me with the loud vibrating monster.

Gvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv!!!! She ran it down my coat, vibrating my whole body and taking off chunks of hair at a time. She did this over and over and over, and even though she could totally tell that I wasn't enjoying it, she kept doing it. 10 minutes passed. Still going. 20 minutes passed. More torture. 30 minutes passed. Awful.

Finally, she finished this agonizing persecution, and I would soon be free.

...and then she started the bath water. Are you freaking kidding me!? After all of that, and Mandy still wanted to give me a bath?

She went to pick me up again as I did a cartoon-like run-in-place in the small area to try to get away. Plomp. Right in the tub I went, and she soaked me with water.

I will never forgive you for this.

"Goooood girl," she cooes as she slathers the disgusting goop all over me.

Yeah, I'll show you a good girl. Remember that yellow spot on your bed? I can make that happen again.

"You're so pretty!" she remarks, stupidly.

Pretty!? I'm a mutt that you thought about naming "Floyd!" And you just cut my hair completely unevenly!

Finally, she finished up and, shockingly, had the nerve to take my picture before she would let me get out. I tried to jump out of the tub several times, clearly ticked off at her, so she finally put the camera down and got me out of the tub.

After she dried me off and opened the door to the bathroom, I took off like a shot and ran laps around the house, rubbing my wet body all over her freshly-vacuumed floor (HA!).

Then, to add insult to injury, she washed both of my beds! And I've been working so hard on making them smell just right!

I definitely don't trust Mandy any more, and there's no way I'm going anywhere near the bathroom again. At least I left it super-messy.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go roll in something.





Doesn't this picture just SCREAM "name that photo contest?"



Name this photo!! Winner gets a free customized blog button with "grab my button" HTML (made by me) using a fabulous kit of your choice from Creations by Rachael!

Sum it up

Today, I got an e-mail from a co-worker who puts together the internal newsletter, asking for a blurb about myself for the next issue. 

How do you sum yourself up in a few sentences? Every time I try, I end up with a really random list of unrelated things. How do I identify myself in a few sentences? Today, it was with this:

I was raised in North Dallas (and actually now live in the house that I grew up in – my husband and I bought it after we got married last year). I graduated from Texas A&M University with a BA in Telecommunication. I’ve been in AWANA since I was 4 years old, and now I’m an AWANA leader. I’ve been to four continents (I’m working on the other three – my dad and I are planning a trip to Antarctica together in the next year or two [his seventh continent]). I ride the MS150 every year (now called BikeMS), benefiting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and this year I’m co-captaining Team HP. I did audio internships at EDS and the Texas A&M University Writing Center, producing educational podcasts for both organizations. I’m a fanatical scrapbooker and blogger, and I have a dog named Maggie.

What's your "blurb?"

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Not Me Monday!

For WAY better blog entries than mine, visit my favorite yankee over at mycharmingkids.net

After a particularly hard workout, I did not take my blue Poweraide into the shower with me. That's just weird. I also did not consider keeping one in there all the time because it worked out so well for me.

I also do not spend extra time in the shower (not EVERY SINGLE NIGHT), writing and doodling on the steamy glass. I am not a five-year-old, for goodness sake. And if I were, I'd have a nice set of bathtub crayons to play with in there instead of having to resort to writing in steam with my fingers. I did not just consider buying some.

I was not annoyed with my husband when he waited around for me at the taekwondo school instead of coming home after a miscommunication we had (that was not totally my fault, by the way) about me riding to the school on my bike and him taking me home.

When Jack's laptop broke down today, we did not have a break-down of our entire system when we had to *gasp* share one laptop for the night!! We do not have two(!) other desktops we could also use but don't want to because we like to be in front of the TV on the computer.

I was not at all excited that MckMama came home this week so that her blog entries and tweets would be more consistant. What kind of person misses somebody they don't even know!?

I did not leave my dog in the bathroom while I ran to get my camera between trimming her hair and bathing her, just so I could get a picture of her looking miserable. That would just be mean!

I absolutely did not stay in my PJs until 5 p.m. on Friday, designing blogs for my BikeMS ride instead of cleaning my house. (And I certainly didn't also do that on Saturday until 3). I am also not using "Not Me Monday" as an opportunity to mention that I need donations for my ride and more riders on my team! Not me!!

(I also am NOT posting this earlier than it was originally scheduled because I just noticed MckMama has Mr. Linky up).

What did you not do today?