Tuesday, December 27, 2005

My Family

Well, I've been home for Christmas since the night of the 24th and I'm quickly remembering why my family is one of the strangest I have ever met. I don't have enough time to write about all of the insanity of the past few days...but let me tell you all one happy Christmas story.

Wendy's has this promotion going on where if you buy a soda, the cup has a coupon that you can redeem for a free airline ticket on Airtran. You need 32 cups for a 1-way ticket, 64 cups for a roundtrip. So, due to the fact that my family does EVERYTHING to the max - they have been dining at Wendy's every day for the past few weeks. And drinking soda. You can't get a can of coke in their house because they are so over carbonated from their daily meals, they can't stand it at home. Which means I couldn't have a soda at home :( But they eat every meal there, and they have found a Wendy's that gives you new cups on the free refills...most just refill your current cup. So they get salty food to make them thirsty and they drink soda until they burst. The manager and employees all know them. They give them some discount now every time they eat there because they are so amused by my family's obsession. I think my sister thought about buying a Christmas present for the cashier. So we finished our meal, got in the car, counted up the cups...and we had 24. Which is apparently a new per-person The Steph's Family record for cup acquisition at Wendy's. And was cause for a celebration. And me shaking my head. THIS is what I came to Florida to see.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas Eve

Since I may not have a chance to post on Santa's big day, Merry Christmas a little early!

I also just wanted to do a little public service and recommend 3 movies to watch on DVD or in the theater (as applicable) during the holiday season:

1) Walk the Line - This movie is absolutely great and it may rank right up there with Days of Thunder in terms of the number of times I can watch it over and over again. I would go see it in the theater again and again, and you can bet it will join my DVD collection the day it is released. And I didn't really care one way or another about Johnny Cash before the movie...so that isn't my motivation for loving it. This is the best movie of the year in my book. I loved it.

2) Wedding Crashers - Freaking hilarious. The chest hair waxing scene has been noted as the funniest movie moment of the year - and I would have to agree with that. This is another movie that has Days of Thunder ranking potential.

3) March of the Penguins - Just plain cool. Very well done, great cinemetography, interesting and extremely far from boring. The only reason this movie won't reach Days of Thunder ranking is that you can really only watch penguins crossing ice, and only crossing ice, so many times. But I would see it again...just not over and over and over and over as a background movie when I'm doing stuff in the house like Days of Thunder.

DISCLAIMER: I do not like Days of Thunder because of excellence in acting or anything else. In fact, it's really not a great movie in terms of all of that, I'll be the first to admit. I just think it's kinda funny, cute and human. And it does have some very repeatable lines.
"I'm dropping the hammer." "No, you're not!"
"I don't know what this looks looks like to you officer, but this isn't distribution, it's consumption."

Happy Holidays - no matter which one you celebrate or ignore!

Thursday, December 22, 2005


My family went to see the King Tut exhibit in Ft. Lauderdale the other day and my sister now feels guilty about his stuff traveling the world for people to stare at after these things "were supposed to be left in his tomb for his afterlife." I say that these things were "put in his tomb for his afterlife" and maybe his afterlife is as a world traveler and educator...so his life is fulfilled when random strangers from the future look at his stuff.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


They make these for adults! How freaking cool is that? I want them!


* Funniest lyrics in a song ever...they aren't funny when you put them back in context and with all of the rest of the lyrics...but I wasn't paying attention when this song was on and I only heard this line:

"The difference is Jesus loves you, but I don't."

I couldn't stop laughing. I looked the lyrics up on line and the song is about a cheating husband or something, and this is the whole stanza:

"You say I should stay with you
That Jesus forgives you
You pray I will, but I won't
The difference is
Jesus loves you, I don't"

Come to think of it, it still cracks me up, even within the stanza. How many times have you wanted to say that to someone?? Hahaha. Gosh, what a great come-backer.

* I love going to the gas station and having the price at the pump be 2 cents less than the price on the giant sign.

* I love buying a shirt and having it ring up $8 less than the price on the tag.

* I'm very happy that we only have 5 more days of listening to the same 15 holiday songs played over and over and over and over again...wearing out the Energizer battery. (Funny side note - recently a local newscaster was trying to make a reference to the fuzzy pink mascot and called him the Duracell Bunny. Obviously the ads have worked on her over the years.)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Warm Fuzzies...

...and they're not the type on an old sweater you just took out of the dryer.

Last night the little 8 year old girl that I mentor called me to chat. Cute things from that conversation:

"Hi, Steph, it's __________. Remember me?" Awwwwww

(After I told her that I was visiting my mom and dad and sister in Florida for Christmas...)
You could take your son or daughter to Disney World and your parents and your sister and your Grandma and your Grandpa and your cousins and your auntie and your uncle. I bet they would like that!
(I just smiled and said, "Yes, that's probably true!")

Then she said:
Well, will you tell me all about it when you come back to school to mentor me?

Another cute thing out of nowhere...
So how is your son or daughter?
Well, actually I don't have a son or daughter.
Oh, so it's just you?
Yeah, just me!
Oh, so you're not a Mrs? You're a Miss?
Yeah, I guess so!

Then something else:
You could read to your brother to make him go to sleep so he doesn't bother you.
He's just 2. He doesn't understand my books. He just babbles.
Well maybe you could read him a little kid's book?
Oh, like Elmo! That would be perfect.

Then came another cool phone call today from a friend with whom I used to work in Florida. Apparently, a program that I started through the community service branch of the athletic department at that school (we had done it at my undergrad) was still going strong there - and is growing. The program is awesome - it provides new sneakers to under-priviledged children at local elementary schools. Hundreds of them. And I was worried that after I left it wouldn't continue. I'll be honest - the program is A LOT of work...but there is nothing cooler than seeing the smiles on little kids faces who get a new pair of sneakers for the first time.

The program was simple - and the process was fun. We partnered with elementary schools who provided us with the names of children who really needed sneakers. We created "Wish Tree" papers (for lack of a better term) with the children's first names, sex, age and shoe size. All of that information helped the buyer make an educated purchase. We then bought socks and put a pair of socks in each box (if we had the money in the program that year to do it), wrapped each and every pair of shoes, and hand delivered them...with Santa. And we made sure that every name we were given by the school had a pair of sneakers. We did absolutely everything under our power to fill every need. Watching those kids open the boxes was so rewarding...and the best part about Christmas each year I did the program. Some of those kids honestly had said they didn't think Santa cared about them, or they were bad, because Santa had never given them a present before. That makes you sad for a minute, until you realize that you got to be Santa and show them that you cared.

Those years that I worked on the program really changed my attitude when I walked by a Payless or the shoe department at a WalMart. If I saw kids sneakers on sale, I would try to buy a pair and hold onto them until November came and then match it up with a kid because it was almost guaranteed that there would be a kid that needed that size. Or when the program got going, I would know which sizes we were in most need of so I would just find a pair or two then and fill in the holes. It was really a blast to do it.

Here's why I am so much in support of this program that provides little kids with new sneakers (don't get me wrong - I love Toys For Tots and have been known to buy a puzzle or stuffed animal to throw in those bins). Sometimes little boys are wearing their sisters' outgrown sandals, other times parents can't afford to buy kids new shoes so their current ones have holes. Other kids can be cruel...and sneakers are a status symbol to kids. But the great thing is that they don't have to be Nike or Reebok or anything expensive - just something new that fits from WalMart or Payless. In fact, with the program, when we received cash donations to purchase shoes, we would go to Payless or WalMart or KMart. Kids those age don't care about designer names...they just think there is something wrong with their friends if they are wearing torn up old shoes.

Toys break, they get old, or they get lost. But a kid with new sneakers can run around outside without a new toy, or a toy at all...and play tag, run a race, jump rope or climb a tree. Can a Care Bear do that?

My sister put it best one year: "All of those new toys don't mean a thing to the kids if they can't run around outside and play with them because they don't have shoes that fit." (My sister was involved with the program 100% when she and I went to undergrad together...and my mom even helped...buying sneakers on her own and helping us spend the cash donations as we took the school's 15-passenger vans and filled them at Payless, helping us wrap, helping us deliver...it became a family affair for The Girls of The Steph's Family.)

New sneakers make children walk faster, stand taller and jump higher - all because they feel better about themselves every time they put them on. Plus, they physically feel better when the shoes fit. Knowing that made that program so great...and makes me so happy that it's still going strong.

Alright, I'm down off my soap box. I'm happy that I have sneakers that cushioned my jump down.

What to think?

Jaime Foxx has a record out. Well, it comes out in a day or two. But I'm not quite sure what to think about that. He just performed on the Today show...and it's just weird.

He's a good singer...I'll give him that. But does playing the role of Ray Charles, one of the greatest of all times, in a movie qualify him to record an album a few months later? I don't really want to see Joaquin Phoenix and Reece Witherspoon releasing records in late 2006...although they both did a great job portraying Johnny Cash and June Carter in "Walk the Line," and doing their own singing.

Watching Jaime Foxx sing on TV was like watching an actor playing a singer playing an actor. Pre-performance interviews with singers are normally awkward and weird...most are more at ease singing than being interviewed live. But Foxx is obviously comfortable in that situation from his "other life." And the whole time he was singing I couldn't stop picturing him arguing with Tom Cruise in a cab.

Maybe that's just me. But it's easier to accept a singer switching to acting than an actor switching to singing. The same goes for Lindsay Lohan (although that opinion is further validated by the fact that she sucks) and all of the others that do it. Except for J Lo, cause she was technically a singer before an actress...they picked her for "Selena" because she was a singer. Wow, that was forever ago.

Jaime Foxx is a good singer...so don't jump all over me on that...but it's just weird to see live. I guess I don't think about it too much when I just hear him singing in the background or on other people's songs. I guess he is a classically trained pianist, so there is some validation. It's just so weird to actually watch Jaime Foxx sing as himself...not as an actor playing someone.

"New Flavor!"

I got a new flavor of gum yesterday. I know it's a new flavor because the packaging says so, in big letters. "New Flavor!"

This gum is interesting. It's Wrigley's Orbit White (that part's not interesting), but the flavor is "Bubblemint." I fell victim to the idea of a mint flavored gum in pink packaging and the words "New Flavor!"

Here's the thought process as I took a bite into this "New Flavor!" for the first time. My first thought..."This is just like normal bubble gum...nothing too exciting. Oh well." Then my next chomp, "Oh, there's some sort of spearmint flavoring in there. That's interesting. And rather gross, actually. Mint is not supposed to be mixed with bubblegum flavoring." Then I chomped a couple more times and the mint taste faded into the background, leaving my mouth feeling minty fresh, but leaving a light, pleasant taste of bubblegum. And it turned out to be quite the wonderful "New Flavor!"

So for those of your doubters about Orbit White Bubblemint Gum...don't doubt any longer. It's a great "New Flavor!" and I highly recommend it! Yes, I know those flavors should never mix in logical life...but someone had to be the first to mix peppermint candy and chocolate in order to create that delicious peppermint bark they sell at Williams Sonoma! So take the risk and bite into Bubblemint gum! Remember, it's a "New Flavor!"

Sunday, December 18, 2005

These are a few of my favorite things...

(An overplayed "holiday" song - still not sure why that's considered a "holiday" song)

I've been busy, so I haven't had the energy to post in a while. Hope everyone hasn't given up on me! Read me. Read me. Read me.

* As you all (4 of you, counting my 3 family members) know, I love Super Target. I can buy eggs, shampoo, socks, chicken, grapes, candles, windshield washer fluid, DVDs, board games, magazines, ice cream, pencils and a shower curtain all in one trip. Even better, the cashier bags my eggs, shampoo, socks, chicken, grapes, candles, windshield washer fluid, DVDs, board games, magazines, ice cream, pencils and shower curtain for me. IN ONE BAG. Yes. The eggs and windshield washer fluid and grapes and shampoo and the rest all go into one bag. There is obviously a part of cashier training that is either A) forgotten (how to bag stuff properly) or B) overemphasized (save bags, use only one unless the customer begs you for two). So whether you buy 1 item or 187 items, you get one bag. I'm all about being environmentally friendly and cost-effective...however I really don't want to catch salmonella from my grapes because they are sharing juices with the chicken, and it drives me nuts when my ice cream sweats on my magazines and runs the letters together. Nor is it great when the windshield washer fluid smashes the eggs.

* Someone built a snowman in the little courtyard outside of our apartment building. It has sticks for arms, a drawn-on smile and pine cones for eyes. It's not very traditional looking other than those details (yes I know Frosty had other natural elements for facial features, but this isn't Frosty). They just piled snow up into a sorta cone shape...no rolling of giant snow balls for this apartment building. The end result is that it actually looks like a giant albino turd standing on end. That thought makes me smile even more than the site of the happy snowman.

* I'm thrilled that, between the time we got the first inch of snow just before Thanksgiving until May when the temp rises about freezing, the roads and sidewalks are extremely trecherous. The snow and ice never leave. And everyone stops salting and sanding after the first day of snow - so the ice never melts and there's never anything to add traction. So you walk at your own risk. However, you do get a little more muscle tone from being constantly tense while trying to walk to your car.

* There is one great part about winter - if you have a "doggie bag" from a restaurant, you can just put it in your car and it freezes almost instantly. Therefore you can continue on with your day (movies, shopping, work, transmission rebuilding) without fear of your food spoiling.

* Walk the Line may be one of the best movies I have ever seen.

* I absolutely love candy cane ice cream. And it's only available during this time of year. Except for at one ice cream store in Sarasota, FL. But every year I eat a bunch of gallons of this stuff during November and December. And then the rest of the year when someone asks me what my favorite flavor of ice cream is, I completely forget about my holiday obsession. And I give some lame answer like "mint chocolate chip" or "Breyers fudge vanilla swirl." (I really do love that Breyer's fudge vanilla swirl.) I don't know why, but I completely forget about candy cane ice cream. Until November when it reappears on freezer shelves with the special "Holiday Edition" green or red bow graphic on the front. So it doesn't get its deserved recognition during the other 10 months. Why can't it be available all year? "Peeps" aren't just for Easter anymore (look at the packaging, they come out at Halloween, Easter, Christmas, Valentines Day)...so why not candy cane ice cream? My New Year's resolution is to keep candy cane ice cream at the top of my favorite ice cream flavor list all year long. That sounds like a more reasonable resolution than most people make!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Why, oh, why?

Just a simple, brainless, crack-me-up post that I really didn't even write myself. I'm feeling lazy on this snowy Friday.

One of my friends posted this as a bulletin on Myspace.com...and it's hilarious. I have seen a bunch of these before (ex: Why do drive-up ATMS have braille on them?), but nearly all of these were new to me in this format.

Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are getting weak?

Why do banks charge a fee on "insufficient funds" when they know there is not enough?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

Why doesn't glue stick to the bottle?

Why do they use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection?

Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?

Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Whose idea was it to put an "S" in the word "lisp"?

Why is it that no matter what color bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?

Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?

Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?

Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?

Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the end on your first try?

How do those dead bugs get into those enclosed light fixtures?

When we are in the supermarket and someone rams our ankle with a shopping cart then apologizes for doing so, why do we say, "It's all right?" Well, it isn't all right, so why don't we say, "That hurt, you stupid idiot?"

Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?

In winter, why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?

How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?

If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The shark swam near the surface...

...and The Apprentice still managed to jump it.

Q: When did "The Apprentice - Donald Trump" jump the shark?

A: When he went from the Final 4 to the Final 2 with a multiple firing...continuing a season-long, annoying tradition that was only shocking the first time. And when he did what every other annoying show that seperates their contestants from their families for 30 long, grueling days (yes, I know The Apprentice is weeks and weeks long)...brought their loved ones in for an emotional reunion. I haven't seen my family in almost 6 months and I am managing not to cry for 30 minutes so I can type this blog for your reading enjoyment. They get split up for 3 weeks and they are on the edge of an emotional break-down from not seeing their best friend and their fuzzy poodle.