Monday, December 22, 2008

Now this is getting ridiculous

I mean, the ornamental 2" we had for most of the week has now mushroomed into 14"!

Our city is paralyzed...Portland is just not a snow kind of place. Yeah, sure, about half the population owns snow chains (so they can go skiing in the mountains), but that's it. And there's nowhere near enough plows, sanding trucks, etc.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Closing school

People in Oregon are snow wimps. Seriously.

My kids have been out of school for FIVE days (all week) for 3" tops:

Come on. 85% of the student population walks to school here! And you know all us parents have been trudging in to work all week. Insane.

Of course, the best part is that our lovely snow will turn to cold rain come Christmas. Figures.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Doin' My Part

Ah, Black Friday...

Must say, I was honestly a bit disappointed. Yes, there were some "doorbuster" markdowns, and a few were even items I wanted to buy.

But the overall pricing wasn't that much improved over the previous week, when we took the kids looking for ideas. And frankly, I'm buying less than last year - so every bit is noticeable.

Still, I managed to unload my entire Christmas bonus in about 3 hours! Thankfully, I have just a few small items left to buy, and all those cards to mail, and then I'm DONE.
(And ok, the HP printer doesn't count - it's not a gift, just a replacement, and a fabulous deal from Office Max at that)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

So Now What?

The gas station in my little town has regular gas for $1.99 a gallon. After the $4.09 in the spring, it's such a relief to see. But it has me wondering...

When we were at $4/gal and climbing, everyone - including me - was trying to find ways to conserve gas.

Hybrids and compact cars
Ride sharing and carpooling
And so on...

Now that gas is back down, how many people will honestly keep worrying about this? Or will we, as Americans, climb back in our 18 mpg SUVs and get back to our old ways?

For my family...we've relaxed a bit, I will admit. I still hypermile in my Hyundai Elantra some, but I'm not coasting every light like I used to. And the Explorer is seeing a bit more useage than before. I do think we've fundamentally changed our mindset, however.

Will be interesting to see how everyone else reacts!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What a weekend

We just returned from a great weekend in Las Vegas! Took the kids with us, to celebrate my brother's wedding. They had a lovely ceremony in the Flamingo garden, followed by a fun party in the Stratosphere. I'm so absolutely delighted with how it went...almost wish *I* got married in Vegas now! Can you tell the kids loved the view from Strat?

One small complaint. We stayed at the Flamingo, in their recently remodeled "GO" rooms. Cool, mod decor - but those neat frosted glass doors to the bathroom don't block the light at 2am. I could have KILLED my hubby when he woke me just 30 minutes after I'd finally fallen asleep...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Today's Fun Discoveries

It's amazing the random insights you can have when stuck with excel spreadsheets all day...particularly when listening to mediocre online radio.

For instance...I never realized how prevelant the wailing jazz sax in 80s ballads. Yikes. I know Kenny G was big and all...but why did EVERY band have a Kenny-wannabe!?!

And another thought - no matter how intimidating a boss might be, how annoying a coworker or neighbor is, keep this in mind. EVERY single one of them has done the Electric Slide at a wedding. ALL OF THEM. Hard to be annoyed or scared when you can picture that person sliding on the floor, no?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend fun

We took our last chance at nice weather this weekend.

Hubby was stuck at work, but the kids and I had fun at Ecola state park, on the coast. We hiked the 2-mile Clatsop loop (going up 800 feet for the entire first mile!), had pizza at nearby Cannon Beach, played in the surf, and just enjoyed the heck out a pretty day.

Oh, and I finished some jewelry...but that seems so unimportant right now.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

This is fun

I'm writing this post from my Crackberry. How fun! Ok, granted it's not the easiest or most efficient way to do it...but it's my new toy, and I had to at least try it once!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm doing my part for the economy

Not really because I want to.

First, the graphics card in my computer died - a slow, lingering death. (Which is why it's been a while since my last post!) Off to Best Buy we went, to spend $100 on a new card - instead of $500 for a new computer. Only 5 year old computer has PCI and AGP slots, but the latest-greatest is PCI-Express. So I had exactly TWO options to chose from. Oh yeah.

Then, today, hubby and I upgraded cellphones and service. I got a BlackBerry Curve - and boy oh boy, do I understand why they call them CrackBerrys. It's fun, and addicting, and...yeah.

But heck, if I can figure out how to post to my blog from my BB...this could be great!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My Love/Hate of Fall

What's not to love about Fall? The changing leaves, crisp mornings, crackling fires and apple cider and the prospect of Halloween. Ah, such a wonderful time. And for someone whose birthday is in October, Fall should be extra special.

And it is...but it's also my worst time of year too.

As late September rolls around, my anxiety levels go through the roof. I have so many painful memories of Fall, and they just keep coming back to me - making me dread what else will happen too. Many of my memories are small - hardly worth mentioning - but some are huge, and the combined weight is hard to stomach some days.

Days after my 8th birthday, I made a huge move - from my home in Oklahoma, where my dad and many of my family a new home in New Jersey, with a new stepdad and 3 stepsiblings who resented my existence. I moved to a new house, a new school...and had to start all over again. And for the next 4 years, the cycle kept repeating - I'd visit my dad in the summer, then return to find my mom and stepdad had moved to another new house, in a new city - and my brother and I were once again clueless, friendless, and struggling to adapt to yet another school.

Years later, my first marriage imploded spectacularly the day before my birthday. To hear the most painful news of your life, and then dissolve into a crying, yelling, angry/sad/overwhelmed mess in the middle of JCPenney's handbag section...yeah, that leaves an emotional scar. Just 2 weeks later I was at a divorce lawyer's office...and spent October and November arguing with my soon-to-be ex over the remnants of our marriage.

To cap it off, that same year, my Grandmother passed away Thanksgiving evening. The memory of cuddling my 20-month-old daughter at Grandma Dollie's graveside - protecting her from the cold, drizzly hurts so much still that I can barely write it.

And now, today, I received the news that my cousin Donna has passed away. She was fighting pancreatic cancer...and the last few months she has slowly been slipping away. It's not unexpected news, and in a way it's almost a blessing - this has been very hard on her, of course, but also her husband, her son, her parents.

But the news brings me not just grief at Donna's passing...but all of the emotional baggage that Fall carries. I find myself, sitting in my cubical at lunch, struggling not to just lay my head down and weep at it all.

I will be so grateful for the first snows of December this year....

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Busy jewelry design time

I have yet another wedding coming up!

This time, it's my own brother...and it's more like a vow renewal, since he's already gotten married (in Sri Lanka, no less).

So once again I find myself creating wedding-appropriate jewelry. I amazes me how very different the jewelry styles have been. This time, we're going with a semi-traditional look (pearls and silver), but with a twist - smaller, delicate, and a bit funky.

In the process of coming up with pieces that fit, I'm creating several that really can work for more than just weddings...and considering the bracelet I listed on Etsy sold in 3 days...obviously I've struck a good chord!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My eBay shipping experiment

What do people most value in their eBay shopping experience? Actually spending less, or just feeling like they got a good deal?

eBay is really starting to push for sellers to offer "Free Shipping". This is, of course, an obvious ploy for more fees - after all, they earn a fee only on the sale price, not on shipping and handling. (I'm not even going to touch on the problem of fee avoidance)

The question is, does free shipping draw more buyers, and can you still make the same (or more!) profit that way.

So, for the moment, I'm running an experiment. I know my standard profit margin on items where I charge S&H - for 6 weeks or so, I'm going to offer "free shipping" but with a higher minimum bid, and see how it works out. Let's run some numbers so you understand what I'm talking about.

Let's say my standard item is a shirt. I bought it for $3.99, and typically sell it for $19.99, including $5 for S&H (total price to buyer - $24.99).

eBay takes a listing fee of $0.55 and a final value fee of $1.75. (We'll ignore PayPal fees, since they would be the same) If shipping costs $4.75 (normal price), that leaves me with a total "profit" $13.95 to cover my gas, time, bills, etc.

Now, if I move the $5 S&H price into the original listing price here's how my fees work out.

Listing fee = $0.55, Final value fee = $2.19. Profit = $13.51. I've lost $0.44 for the privilege" of offer Free Shipping.

However, if my Free Shipping listings generate more business, and my items sell for more than minimum bid...I will quickly make up that amount. Should be an interesting experiment.

And in case you are wondering - no, I don't plan to run this with Etsy as well. Mostly because Etsy, unlike eBay, does NOT list shipping cost when you search for items - so having free shipping won't catch anybody's eye in a list of products.

What do you think - would Free Shipping draw you in?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I admit it

I'm kinda Fringe-y.

I've watched the first 3 episodes of "Fringe" on Fox. It's not horrible, but not spectacularly good. I'm trying to like it, really.

I was a big fan of the X-Files, even during the silly seasons, even through that awful movie. I'm OK with stretching science in the name of a good story, and a little campy-ness works for me.

The neat wrapping up for crazy story lines in just 60 minutes...well, I can deal. It's TV after all. And Fringe's subplot - why is Massive Dynamics so interested in Agent Dunham has potential.

Still, I must confess - the main reason I'm still watching is not the strong female lead; it's not the strange cases they solve; and it's definitely not the stupid 3D floating scene titles.

It's "Peter Bishop" Joshua Jackson.

What can I say...awkward, intelligent, geeky white guys do something for me.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Etsy Artist Feature - KimForBeads

With so many talented artists on Etsy to choose from, I’ve really been remiss in my features lately! However, I’m thrilled to break the drought with this week’s artist – KimForBeads!

Kim makes beaded jewelry and accessories – gloves, bags, bugs, and much more. Her shop is a fun place to browse, and with roughly 170 listings, you’re sure to find something beautiful just for you!

Kim works in all kinds of beads, from stone and silver to handmade lampwork and ceramic. This gives a delightfully diverse feel to her many creations!

Like so many of us, Kim’s introduction to arts and crafts started as a child with her grandmother. Those fun experiences grew even more 18 years ago, when a job in a rock shop started her working with stone jewelry…and since then she’s perfected her craft and branched out into other mediums as well. Kim tells me her current favorites are the ceramic necklaces and branch necklaces – each One Of A Kind.

When I asked Kim to share a fun or quirky thing about herself, she confessed that she frequently beads in bed! I guess that big surface provides lots of working room…but I wonder how often she’s discovered a “lost” bead at 2am.

Be sure to check out the holiday items just being added at KimForBeads too!

Monday, September 22, 2008

My Divided Time

So, for those who don't read this blog regularly....I'm a busy lady.

I have a day job as an engineer - no stress there. Ha.

I have 4 great kids, all elementary school age.

I also have my own business - running both eBay auctions and an Etsy store.

eBay is our "fun" money generator. I go shopping, sometimes alone, sometimes with kids, then post my great finds (new and used) and make a little extra money. Last year we used the money to visit Disneyland. This year...well, to be honest, part of that money is going to bills of various kinds.

Etsy is my release - I make jewelry to relax, and express myself. That people want it enough to buy it is wonderful, but mostly it self sustains. That is, I use my Etsy profits to make more jewelry.

Except that...both eBay and Etsy have slowed down in sales. And my time has more demands this fall. So I find myself putting what little energy I have into the eBay business...and neglecting my jewelry.

Not that I don't have ideas - I sure have tons of them! I just can't seem to carve enough time to finish anything! I have a bracelet, a ring, and a pendant all semi-done. Ugh.

Oh well. In the grand scheme of life, this isn't such a terrible thing. I'm sure I'll get back to jewelry soon...and with the time for jewelry, will hopefully come time for blogging again!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

That was a pricey mistake!

I was a complete dummy.

I had a great, new, designer purse - bought it for a song, and from my research on eBay was going to sell it for a good $100 profit.

So I listed it, with Priority Mail (my standard) and Parcel Post shipping - the Priority Mail was the first listed.

I had tons of watchers, tons and tons of hits....and yet it sold for minimum bid. I only got $40 profit! It made no sense...

Until I saw what shipping was to anywhere but my zone - $28! All through the auction, the shipping said $12.

So for too high shipping, I threw out $60 profit. I'm just sick.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm in a Treasury!

I'm a bit late at announcing expires TOMORROW! But please, check it out

Thanks to Etsy seller Tallib for including me! Be sure to stop by Tallib's Blog and share the love!

Que Sera

Is it confidence? Arrogance? Or is my give-a-s*** button broken?

The rumor at my work is that today is LAYOFF day. We have a new CEO who has promised to "turn us around" and "change the paradigm" and all those other CEO buzzwords. I'm sure he'll change something. Hopefully it works.

So with change comes uncertainty. Everyone seems to agree that some jobs will be lost - the question is where and how many. I've heard reasonable assesments (underperforming satellite centers) and wild conjecture (25% across the board). All seem to agree that it will happen today - or maybe tomorrow at outside.

I've been in my industry since 2000, and weathered a LOT of layoffs. Seven so far, to be exact. I remember being very, very nervous about my job the first couple of times. Now...I just can't muster the anxiety. If I'm on the list, I'm on the list - nothing to be done about it.

But hey, if I lose my job, I'll have more Etsy and blog time!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

It's The First Day, Not The Last Chance

Being an old hand at this, I find the first day of school rather amusing. My children who won't stir from bed before 9am during the summer are all awake by 7:15am. Not just awake, but dressed, hair combed, and eager to help with breakfast. Oh, for the excitement to last past this week...but I know that, faster than the first stain can appear on those new backpacks, we'll be back to sleepy, grumpy kids who must be prodded awake at 7:20, 7:25, and 7:30. Oh well.

All of my kids picked their first day outfits, laying them on their floors with varying degrees of care last night. My eldest, now a 6th grader, chose a cute halter dress her mom bought this summer. Paired with sneakers, of course, and a jacket - that sleeveless dress isn't so wonderful when it's only 60-degrees out. She spent almost 20 minutes curling her hair, and looked so incredibly grown up. Too bad it all backfired - she called in a panic at 9am, apparently today was P.E. and she needed pants. Oh well.

My sons went with more casual "cool" looks. The 3rd grader wore his favorite silver shirt with one orange stripe, his brother chose a batman shirt and batman jeans for his first day in 1st grade. I suspect both fared better during recess than the older sister.

And our youngest, Miss Kindergarten, wore pink. Pink sundress. Pink cardigan (that cold morning again). Pink sneakers. Pink crown barrettes. Pink backpack. Purple socks (thank goodness!). Hubby joked that she looked like a bottle of Pepto - a cute one, of course.

So after the required group picture, we six headed for the school. The loaded backpacks slowed the kids to a normal pace, so hubby and I enjoyed the chance to talk to our excited children. Miss Kindergarten was definitely most excited (saying a lot), even though this morning was just a quick 20 minute "meet the teacher" time. (Tomorrow is her first full day) We quickly joined the sidewalk full of other families - said hi to neighbors, pet MoMo the mascot cat, and filed into the school. Got the three oldest kids settled into classrooms, then it was time for Kindergarten.

With so many siblings in school already, Miss Kindergarten is a pro. She knows her teacher's name, and remembers what room is hers too. We walked in and immediately started unloading school supplies, while finding our cubby and locating the name tag on the desk. The teacher, Mrs Brown, welcomed her and the other 3 kids there (calling them by name, from memory...I think she cheated somehow). Then, the kids were set to drawing pictures of themselves while we parents were handed enormous packets.

(Stupid fundraiser stuff was handed out TODAY! But I digress...)

After a quick survey revealed few changes from last year's packet, Hubby and I were left with some 10 minutes to kill. We introduced ourselves to the Aide, met a few of the parents, roamed the room looking around. I noticed one set of parents had captured the teacher's attention - a mom in green plaid, talking at length, and a dad with little to say. Mrs Green Plaid was holding forth on her incredibly gifted son, making sure Mrs Brown understood just how incredibly gifted this boy was.


Miss Kindergarten walked over to show me her picture - nicely colored (mostly in the lines) showing her blue dress she plans to wear tomorrow. (Accuracy - yes!) She'd even printed her own name. I started to direct her to Mrs Brown, but realized Mrs Green Plaid was still hogging her time. "My son went to a Montessori Preschool - they have so much academic merit, you know. He knows his letters, can sound out some words, and can even do addition and subtraction. It's so important to really challenge him..."

As Mrs Brown launched into her description of the general class syllabus (with a look on her face like she was repeating herself), Miss Kindergarten and I decided to meander over to the wall display.

We read that Monday is Music day, Wednesday is PE day, and Thursday is Library day. We read a poem about the months of the year. Other than confusing Tuesday and Thursday, Miss Kindergarten did it all herself.

Feeling just a touch smug, I walked back towards Mrs Brown. Our 20 minute session was over, and we needed to leave so the next group of kids could come in. (Besides, I had that annoying WORK thing) Mrs Green Plaid was still attempting to drill into Mrs Brown's head just how special her boy was...while the boy in question cowered behind his mom. And I realized...he had been there all along.

Instead of exploring his new classroom, instead of find the toys, walking on the alphabet mat, noticing the cow skull, and meeting his classmates...this poor boy had been stuck behind his mother, at best bored out of his mind. And she'd missed her chance too, missed being able to walk through the room, meet the aide, talk to some other parents. All because she wanted, heck needed, to force the knowledge of how wonderful her kid is into the teacher's brain.

What a shame - it was so unnecessary. A good teacher discovers each kid's abilities and talents - and yes, weaknesses - rather quickly once they are in the classroom. We've found that out with all of our kids. Heck, teachers find hidden gifts that parents don't even know about. So Mrs Green Plaid only deprived herself and her son of an enjoyable first day. What a shame.

Monday, September 1, 2008

I'm Not Ready For This

Today is Labor of hotdogs, sleeping in, playing in the park...maybe even a movie for the kids. Today is great.

Tomorrow I'm dreading.

Tomorrow is the first day of school, and it's my baby's first day of kindergarten.

There is NO way that this little girl

is ready for kindergarten. How can it be true? How can I be old enough for this???

I swear, I won't be one of those moms - but that's only because I'll restrain my bawling mess for after I leave school property.

Getting old is HARD.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Margarita Pearl ring

Margarita Pearl ring
Originally uploaded by texastesla
I find myself addicting to making rings now...

It must be my new mandrel. Or how quickly the time seems to fly when making something petite.

This one was a ring I spent a full day planning - deciding how to curl the silver wire (up and back? down? flared out?), figuring out the best way to attach the pearl to be secure yet mostly invisible. I'm very proud of the result, and plan to make a few similar designs with other center stones now too!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Isn't anyone shopping?

Granted, I've been rather focussed on my custom requests lately...but it sure seems like sales on Etsy are down quite a bit.

And boy, now sure isn't the time for it! In the last 2 weeks, our family has been to the ER twice - this last one just 2 days ago, and requiring an overnight stay!

So please...can I tempt you with some lovely jewelry?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I’m Soft-Rocking my Way to Insanity

Please, make it stop.

“Baby, I need your lovin’….Got to have all your lovin’…”

Who decreed that mindless soft rock was the best choice for work places?

And why would an otherwise-reasonable adult male feel that playing such music in his cubical was acceptable?

((Upbeat mumbling from Bob Dylan))

They say playing classical music for babies makes them smart. Can the inverse be true? Will playing tunes “from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and today!” make you dumber?

“Got to be rock-n-roll music, if you wanna dance with me…”

At what point does homicide become justifiable here, really? Before or after I find my foot involuntarily tapping along?!?

"God speed your love, too-ooh-ooo-oooh-oooh, me-yeh-yeeeeh...."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What a greedy jerk

This weekend is our small town's little festival - "Banks Days". Today was the parade, a fun little 20 minute bit down the main street, featuring decorated combines, fire trucks, and lots of tossed candy.

The candy was the problem. The heavy-set guy to my left was being a greedy jerk about it.

Mr Greedy was grabbing all the candy he could reach - and multiple times literally took it from my 5-year-old daughter when she was inches away from grabbing it. Enough that Rachel was in tears after 5 minutes, because she had literally gotten NO candy thanks to this jerk.

And all this despite the fact that my older kids were actually sharing their candy with the guy's kids.


Not to fear - we moved Rachel away from Mr Greedy, and my older kids did a great job helping her reach candy on her own. Still, for an adult to act that way is just embarrassing.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I'll be back with more soon

I've been having some computer issues (NVidia will never get my money for a graphics card again...) - plus a busy personal life - but will return shortly with more posts, including my horrible vacation story! Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Fake Dior

Designer purses are wonderful creations - made from high-quality leathers and rich fabrics, carefully crafted with great attention to detail. They also come with large price tags. For the average woman, a $400 purse is just not a purchase she can make...which creates two fields of businesses.

First, the counterfeiters. They duplicate those designer purses, well and poorly. You can find awful fakes - plastic instead of leather, poorly printed "logos - practically shouting to the world their status. For prices of $20 or so, you get what you pay for - and don't really expect the real thing. You can also find very well made fakes, and those can be exceptionally deceiving - leathers and fabrics that are good quality, perfect stitching, and hardware cast from a mold of the real item. These high-quality fakes often command higher prices as well - $100 and up - which makes them feel that much more legitimate.

The second business around designer purses is the resellers - people on eBay and similar sites who sell new and used designer purses for less than retail. Honest resellers offer items they know are genuine - either purchased themselves from a reputable store, or very carefully authenticated. Dishonest resellers - of which there are many - will offer fakes of all quality, sometimes by listing a real purse but sending the counterfeit.

I happen to consider myself an honest reseller - when I offer designer purses in my eBay store, they are generally something I found in a Nordstrom's clearance section. (Can't get much more reputable than that) On occasion, however, I do run across designer items at thrift stores...and then the painstaking authentication process begins.

Most fakes can be easily spotted, if you've seen the real designer items. The logo printing isn't right, or an inside tag is missing. Occasionally, however, even I can be fooled temporarily! This is one such story.

While shopping at my local thrift store, I found 2 possible designer purses - stashed in electronics, where obviously an employee was hoping to hide them until s(he) could buy them. One was a Gucci look-alike - while the outside logo print was nicely done, the inside fabric was plastic-like and cheap. I put that purse back in the "stash". The second purse looked like a Christian Dior logo. The fabric logo print was clean and distinct, the stitching throughout was pristine and uniform, and the leather strap was nice quality. Looking at the hardware, I could see multiple "CD" and "Christian Dior" stampings in hidden locations. The inside lining was a woven black fabric with "Christian Dior" as part of the pattern.

I don't normally sell Dior - it rarely goes on sale - but this purse looked close enough to be worth my $6 at the thrift. I went home, telling myself it was probably fake...but hoping for the best.

To authenticate it, I went to eBay's Guides, and looked for Dior purses. Searching through the guides, I saw multiple items to look for - certain hardware shape, check. Thickness of the hanging "D", check. Woven, not printed, name on the lining, check. This purse had so many hallmarks of a real Dior...

...but ultimately, I've decided that it's just a very well-made fake. (I'm still mildly hopeful that it's just a vintage purse with minor variations...but not enough to sell it) The shape is not quite right, for one. For another, there's no leather tag inside, which my research tells me should exist. Small details, really - but critical ones.

The moral of this story (of course there's one) - if you want to buy a discount designer purse, do your research! Know everything there is to know about the kind of purse you want, make sure you buy from a reputable seller...and realize that even the 'experts' can be fooled occasionally, so don't feel too bad if it happens to you.

Me, I'll be carrying that knock-off Dior occasionally. If I thought it was will everyone else!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Which is Better?

I've been rather busy with lots of things this summer (the bellydance class is going great!)...including 2 custom jewelry orders from Etsy, and 2 custom pieces I'm working on for family.

All this custom work seems to have consumed my jewelry-making time, so other than one 90% complete bracelet, I've made nothing to add to my Etsy store since May.

Which leads to a this a good thing, or a bad thing? Obviously having custom work means I'm earning money. (Yeah!) Still, it also means I'm neglecting my store, which makes me feel guilty.


It's About Time

Girls Equal to Boys in Math

Finally, statistical proof of what I've known all along...girls can be good at math too. Heck, I should be living proof myself - I'm great at math, have an advanced degree in physics, and more than hold my own with the male engineers at my job.

So why do people think boys are "naturally" better at math than girls? That there's some flaw in complex reasoning brought on by our double-X chromosomes...or perhaps just the 'insanity' of estrogen prevents our logical thinking.

Guess what y'all...boys don't have some natural male advantage. HA!

To the men I've dealt with in my life...including one college professor I WAS WORKING FOR, and who should have known better...I TOLD YOU SO.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Vegas, Baby!

The hubby and I just returned from Vegas, and boy did we have a good time. I won't bore you with the details - music, gambling, food, etc etc - however there were a few interesting moments I just had to share. (Hubby actually mentioned "I bet you blog this" on some of these) I'll warn you, it WAS Vegas,these aren't G-rated!

1. Free airport entertainment is worth the price. And by that, I mean it's worth NOTHING. Hubby and I were enjoying our pre-flight sushi before leaving for Vegas, comfortably seated near the front exit. Half-way through our miso, an awful caterwauling commenced...some random 25-year-old guy set up shop with his guitar, and serenaded the busy travelers. Since security didn't haul him away, I assume he had permission...but boy, were we hoping for that burly security guy to step in. This "singer" was awful; he slaughtered perfectly good songs from the 50s through 80s. Seriously, when your "Love Me Tender" is worse than the fat Elvis Impersonator at some cheap's time to find a real job, perhaps at McDonalds.

2. Vegas needs to change it's slogan. Forget "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas"...hubby now proposes a simpler "show us your tits". 10 seconds on a Saturday night is enough to prove him right. Now, I'm no prude - I've been there on a girls weekend where we dressed to the nines and clubbed hopped with the best of them. But sheesh, it's getting ridiculous! Everybody is wearing low-cut, tight, sparkly attire...from the petite girls with fake IDs, to mature cougars who know better. It's getting so you can't pick out the hookers anymore!

3. Speaking of that slogan - people, it's a saying, not a command! You'd never guess it from the Sunday-morning and Monday-morning crowds, however. (Hubby likes to get up before 7am and gamble for cheap) Walk of shame, check. Drunks of all ages, check. Conservative 50-something ladies grinning like Cheshire cats, check and check. As much as I enjoy people-watching during the evenings - all the crazy attire, the makeup, the flirting and drinking - mornings are even better - the hangovers, the smeared makeup and slept-in clubbing outfit, and more.

4. Drunks of all ages are fun. Sure, we saw plenty of drunk college guys cruising for chicks. (Note to college guys - getting drunk and randomly yelling "Wooooo" really doesn't draw the ladies) My favorite group of drunks was older, however. 3 couples, all in their late 40s to early 50s, riding the monorail with us after a night of dinner and a show. All were well soused, but one guy in the group was clearly way beyond the rest - he spoke loudly, said stupid things, engaged random strangers in a debate over the merits of the "Jersey Boys" show he just watched. His 5-person greek chorus just giggled and reminded him to use an "inside voice", which made the whole thing very, very funny to watch.

5. Movies and TV shows aren't that wrong. We witnessed an actual "medical emergency" on our flight back, and it was just like on TV! A lady was having a seizure about 20 minutes from our home airport. The flight attendants asked for "any passenger with medical training...a doctor, nurse, certified EMT". When we landed, we came in hard, and pulled into a gate in amazing time. It was thrilling and scary at the same time - for everyone, really. I can report that the passenger was conscious and able to walk out on her own, so hopefully she's ok.

In case you're wondering, no, we didn't come back big winners. That's ok - we stayed within our budget, ate a couple exquisite meals (Mesa Grill Sunday brunch is wonderful), and enjoyed being adults together. What a wonderful vacation...can't wait to do it again!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

These Guys Have No Life

In my continuing saga of "huh" moments...

This week has been a busy one for me at work. Brand new product that we're trying to get qualified and out the door - and I've run into a series of issues to deal with. It's meant some long hours, and I've had to come in early and/or stay late more than I like.

Staying late here really says something an engineer, I'm "exempt" - meaning I don't get paid for overtime. (They think they pay me enough as it is, I guess!) So instead of a nice 8-5 job with 1 hour for lunch...engineers here are expected to work 8-6pm, take maybe 30 minutes for lunch, and morning/afternoon breaks? Not a chance. Fortunately, most managers don't really stick to that, as long as you get your job done...but there ARE some odd looks and "going home early?" comments to deal with, if you dare leave at 5:30pm.

So fine, the atmosphere here is work-a-holic. But that doesn't explain some of the weird guys in this building.

Guys who show up around 7am. And leave after 6pm...sometimes closer to 7pm.

Seriously. I mean, I love my job...but I don't want to be here 12 hours a day. Or 11 hours a day. Even going somewhere else for a lunch hour...that's TOO long in this building.

What is up with these guys? Do they hate their wives? Are they lonely? Do they figure, why not work, since their World of Warcraft buddies won't be on until 8pm anyway?

Beats the heck out of me. All I know is...I love my kids, I love my husband, I have a comfy house I enjoy relaxing in...I have two internet businesses that I enjoy working on. Heck no, I'm not going to put in extra hours here 'for the heck of it'.

Time to cut this ESD tester needs my attention!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Easiest Shopping Ever!

Today, I did the unthinkable.


That's right! During my lunch break, I drove to the nearby Kohls and dared the swimwear. Why? Well, for one - 50% off. For another...hubby and I fly out Friday night to Vegas, and I need something that fits decently for those hours I plan to lounge at the pool. (In the shade, with SPF30000, I swear!)

As always, I dreaded this. I'm not a size 6 - I have a daughter, some surgical scars, and an affinity for chocolate. Finding a CUTE swimsuit that fits well and covers my flaws - yeah, sure. If you hear the Mission Impossible theme playing, there's a reason.

So it should shock you as much as it shocked me, that I spent about 5 minutes in the dressing room, loved what I grabbed, and left the store smiling after 15 minutes. SMILING. 15 MINUTES.

What's the difference? Have I finally learned which styles suit my body? (Halter good, string bikini bottoms bad) Are my expectations lower - am I happy with a less cutting-edge, more mom-style suit? Or is it just that this year, FINALLY, they've created flattering AND cute suits for everybody.

Me - I'm voting for the last. Let's hope next year is more of the same!

Monday, July 7, 2008

I Hate Working With Men

For all you women out there who work with other women...I'm so jealous!

Yes, I know you have problems. There's nothing like fighting with another woman at work to really ding the self-esteem.

But I have a bigger problem - no women to interact with!

It's really true. I'm an engineer, and I work in a building surrounded by other engineers. Male engineers.

And that means I have no one to gossip with! Seriously, we're not just talking about the goofy new name of Nicole Kidman's baby. This is the important stuff, like the awful bike outfit worn by one of the VPs. The visible tattoos on our new cafeteria cashier. And how the new ESD smocks make everyone's butt look HUGE.

It also means I have no female supporter here. Nobody to tell me my new haircut is great, or my new eyeshadow is too dark. (Guys might think it, but they won't say it!) Nobody to share my anger with over the sexist comments and double-standards that sometimes crop up.

It stinks. Truly.

So go hug your female co-workers today - even the ones you love to hate. Trust me, you'd miss them!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

So Life's Been Busy...

Once again, I find myself apologizing for my 'radio silence' of late. It's been a rather busy week yet again, and I have little time for blogging! So much is going on in my life...

For one, my kids are leaving for the summer. My family is 'blended' - meaning all of our kids have other, non-custodial parents. (My husband and I are blessed to have primary custody at least!) Our youngest daughter flew out with her dad last Saturday, and the sons and eldest daughter leave today for Wyoming. (I'll freely admit, I'm going to enjoy being kidless for a little...a quiet house, a much smaller grocery bill, the ability to eat whatever the ADULTS want) Getting the kids ready to go has been long and painful, however. Not just in the sheer volume of clothing to be washed and packed, but also the time spent with friends before leaving, the summer-vacation-type activites that we've tried to cram into our 3 scant weeks, and the overall emotional tones to everything we've done. Frankly, my husband and I are exhausted!

Adding to all the stress, I've been working on TWO custom orders. I finally finished the first - a lovely coral necklace - last night. The second, a jade ring, will take another week or so. 'Cause I've got SO much free time.

Of course, my biggest stressor right now is my job. (Which I generally enjoy, don't get me wrong) To simplify things, let's just say I'm an engineer who makes computer chips...really small ones lately. In fact, I spent a large part of my morning trying to move TINY little 4mm x 4mm parts from a small tray to an even smaller tray so we could test them. They are this tiny...

So you can see why I'm not only stressed, I'm headache-y too. On the plus side, however...things are wrapping up with these tiny parts, and next week should be much, much easier.

Hope you all enjoy your 4th of July holiday - me, I'm sleeping through it. Catch you on Monday!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What Were They Thinking?

Summer certainly brings out the questionable behaviors, doesn't it?

Like the guy at my work who has decided to ride his bike, instead of drive. (Noble idea, of course) Except he's kinda large. AND he likes those skimpy bike outfits.


Or how about this morning's big winner...a lady at work wearing a tube top. No, I'm not kidding. We're a professional company, today is NOT casual Tuesday, and yes, our A/C is working fine.

Somebody forgot she's not in college anymore!

Last but not least is the guy who sits near me. He's about my age (mid-30s) and reasonable attractive...or at least, he was until 2 weeks ago, when he inexplicable bleached his hair. Obviously on his own - no stylist would allow that horrible orangey-white nastiness to leave his/her salon!

Guys, please...before you do this, ask a woman or two about it first!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Today I'm In Love With...

I don't know about you, but right now I'm hating my wardrobe! With higher gas and food prices, it's hard to justify buying new clothes and shoes (unless I can make a few sales in my Etsy store that is!).'s tons of fun to look! Here's what I'm currently lusting after, mostly on Etsy.

Fun hair accessories

I've been letting my hair grow out, and now I'm ready for fun things to accessorize it! That, and just get it out of my face some days. I love all the gorgeous hair sticks available on Etsy - like this funky one (which I see is on clearance now...hmmm).

Barettes are harder to find, as I don't like lots of fuss - but this gorgeous copper one has caught my eye, and will someday be mine!

Girly Summer Clothes

As an engineer, I mostly wear sensible clothes - pants, flats, loose tops. It serves me well when crawling on the floor beneath a lab desk to hook up equipment...but it's not very fun. I miss dressing like a girl, and LOVE to wear skirts and frilly things whenever I can!

This "pillow shirt" seems like such a great compromise...casual yet girly. And this cut-out skirt could be dressed up or down as needed, yet still be feminine.
No new outfit is complete without shoes of course! I'm a huge fan of Cole Haan...I grab whatever I can find in the thrift stores, which isn't much. But what I really, really want is a pair of their Nike Air shoes for work. I'm on my feet a LOT, and would love to have shoes that look great and feel great! This pair of Jena Air pumps, for instance, would make me supremely happy. (Too bad I can't grab a pic of them!)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why Yes, I have Been Busy

For those who have noticed a decrease in my posts (and my Etsy posts, and my blog-reading...) - yep, I've had other things to do.

First, I took some vacation time with my family. No email access. It was like cutting off some vital part of my body - yet liberating in a way too.

Part of that vacation time has involved taking time to create for my sake, and for my family's enjoyment. I did quite a bit of sketching, and even made a pendant for my mom out of a shell we plucked from the beach (plus a pearl, some copper wire, and one big cuss word when I almost broke the shell). It's been fun and liberating (yep, that word again) to simply do what feels good, and what makes people around me smile.

Now, I haven't completely slacked off - I have 3 custom bids I'm working on right now, thankfully all at different stages. I'll be sure to post pictures of those completed projects, once they reach photo stage.

Will my posting get back to normal levels? Maybe, but not for a while. I plan to keep busy, enjoy the lovely weather...and bellydance.

Yep, bellydance! I've signed up for a local community college class - once a week for 8 weeks. I have many years of dance experience - mostly ballet, and mostly pre-puberty - but still, I have high hopes of good things.

Or at least, of not being the worst dancer there. How bad can it be?

So wish me luck - and I'll sure try to share the experience with you soon!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Really?!? This is OK?

I promised myself I wouldn't dip into politics again....yet here I am. But it's only incidentially related to politics, really!

I have a cube-neighbor, we'll call him Bill. Bill is a nice gentleman in his 50s - but Bill is incredibly conservative. Bill has pictures of George W Bush up on his cube walls, as well as various propaganda items for John McCain's 2008 campaign. (He is also an ardent Yankees supporter, but we won't hold that against him)

Bill mostly keeps his opinions to himself - cube decorations not included. Mostly he does that because I'm outside Portland, OR...home of hippies, Prius's beyond count, legalized suicide, and more pot jokes than you can stand. Saying Bill's political view is unwelcome here is an Bill tends to keep his mouth shut.

Except this morning. When for 20 minutes, he took a phone call from the Republican National Committee - they were looking for campaign money.

Now, if you don't currently work in a cube farm, let me enlighten you. Those 6' fabric-covered walls give a nice illusion of privacy - but it's only an illusion. All conversations are audible to people up to 30 feet away or more.

So I and my fellow workers were "treated" to a 20 minute discussion on why he's not going to donate to the RNC because he'd rather give it to McCain directly. Said discussion also included how much he gives (on a monthly basis, he proudly mentioned several times). He also had a nice chat with the solicitor on McCain's chances on winning, and apparently both agreed that it would be a long struggle, but McCain would manage to eek it out over Obama. It was, to all intents and purposes, a 20-minute commercial for McCain.

Since when was it OK to (1) solicit people at work and (2) take that kind of call and chat WHILE AT WORK.

((Oh, and I guarantee that if I were the person on the phone with an Obama staffer...he'd have something to say to me when I was done))

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I'm back, kinda

Quickie post for me today - I'm at work for 2 days before resuming my beach vacation. hee hee

It being Oregon, the beach has been less

And more of

Ok, perhaps that's a slight exaggeration...but with highs that barely scrap 60 F, and a stiff wind from the north 99% of the time - it's been quite chilly! Still, I've enjoyed the last four days of sunburn and tidepool gazing. It's better than this anyday!

Friday, June 13, 2008

And the Winners are...

Thanks to everyone who participated in my June Giveaway!

First prize (the pink flower earrings) goes to Kat Bryan!

Consolation prizes (free ad space) go to Pampered Ponytails and Matilda Sue!

I'll be contacting the winners this space for the next great giveaway.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Giveaway Ends Today!

Be sure to leave a comment with your favorite item from my Etsy shop to enter!

Prizes so far:
Handcrafted earrings
Free Ad space on this blog!

The more entries we get, the more prizes I'll offer! If you've previously entered, YES you can enter again. (Once per day, per person please)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hypermiling 2 - The Downside

If you've read my last post on the great fuel savings that is Hypermiling...then I must tell you, there ARE down sides to it.

You will be slower. My 17 minute commute has stretched to about 25.

You will not be liked by other commuters. Especially the kind that want to gun it at every green light.

You have to be extra careful about pulling into traffic...since you are SLOW, people can fly up on you very quickly.

You will become obsessed with calculating your new MPG. This will annoy your spouse/children/in-laws.

All in all - as long as you exercise a little extra caution when driving, I still think Hypermiling is the way to go.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hypermiling – Save Bucks!

Perhaps you’ve already heard of hypermiling – and maybe like me, you’re a bit skeptical of the claims. Some of the numbers seem crazy (30-50% mpg improvement for driving less aggressively?), and certainly some of the tactics mentioned sound suicidal or silly (turn off your engine at red lights, tailgate all the time).

So, as a scientist, I did my own hypermiling experiment at home – and yes, it really works. Best of all, you can see significant increases without doing stupid things or plunking down money! In my own little 2004 Hyundai Elantra, I went from 28.7 MPG average to 39 MPG average. That’s a 36% improvement….THIRTY SIX PERCENT. My 12.1 gallon tank used to get about 350 miles a tank…right now I’m at 370 miles and have 2 gallons of gas left.

Are you amazed yet? You should be.

Let me run some more numbers by you (with a little rounding to make life easier). At my old MPG, I needed to fill my tank every 9 days. That’s about 40.5 fill-ups a year, and at an average of $4 a gallon for gas – I’m spending $1960 a year in gas. (36.5 fill-ups x 12.1 gallons per tank x $4) Now, by increasing my MPG to almost 40, I’m stretching my fill-ups to once every 12 days. That’s only 30.5 fill-ups a year – I’ve instantly saved 10 fill-ups a year, which for my car translates to $484. And that’s assuming gas is “only” $4 a gallon! I live in Oregon, where gas is currently running $4.09 a gallon – which translates to $494 a year in savings.

$500 a year less in gas. Amazing.

So here’s the quick and easy way I’m saving gas – again, you don’t need to buy anything! Give it a try – and let me know how much you save!

1. Coast a little to start. When you first release the brake (automatic transmission only), the idle of the car will pull you forward just a bit…so let the car start rolling on its own before applying the gas.

2. Accelerate gently. Keep your RPMs around 2000, and ease your way up to speed. Think of how you would accelerate if behind a truck, and match that. Word of Caution: use common sense. If you have a short acceleration lane, or a large truck is barreling up behind you…MPG is not as important!

3. Use your cruise control. Look at your cruise control buttons – see how you have ‘accelerate’ and ‘coast’ buttons? Use them! When you set your cruise control, try using those to increase or decrease speed gradually. (Still use your brake for emergencies of course) This works best when you leave a 2+ car-length buffer zone in front of you.

4. Use your cruise control (again). Let’s say the speed limit is 60mph. Accelerate yourself up to 50mph, then set the cruise. Now use the accelerate button (pressing and releasing, not holding) to get up to that 60mph. This is a slower and smoother acceleration than you can ever do, and saves gas.

5. Don’t speed. Not only does extra speed mean extra gas…by not being the faster car on the road, you can take advantage of “drafting”. This is where faster cars pull you along slightly in their wake. (Tailgating is drafting taken to the extreme – it’s illegal and crazy, don’t do it!)

6. Coast to stops. When you see a light that is likely to turn red ahead of you, turn off the cruise/take your foot off the gas. Coasting to a stop saves gas…and really, are you in a hurry to wait at that light? The idea is to stay in motion, however slowly.

7. Put ‘er in neutral. When you do get stuck at a red light, put that transmission in neutral. It takes less energy than leaving the car in drive – but is easy to switch back when the light changes. (Much easier and faster than restarting an engine too)

Edit: Let me add that one big thing is to NOT idle as much as don't turn on the car before you are already buckled in and ready to roll, shut off the car as soon as you put it in park, and yes, turn it off while in the Starbucks drive thru. It's worth it!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Coming Monday...

Be sure to return for Monday's post...

I've increased my car's MPG from 28 to 36 - and will save about $500 a year from it. Learn how easy (and free) it is, and make it work for YOU!

(And in the meantime, be sure to check out the post below for my GIVEAWAY!)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

BLOG GIVEAWAY - Starts Today!

It's time for another giveaway! Who wants free stuff?

This giveaway is sponsored by ME - because I'm feeling generous!

First prize: Pink-n-purple flower dangle earrings
*Free US shipping too, international addresses get $2 shipping charge

When we reach 30 entries, we get

Second prize: (mystery)

When we reach 45 entries, we get

Consolation prize: FREE AD SPACE, right here on my blog, for 2 weeks!

How to enter: Visit either my Etsy Store or Custom Jewelry Site. Then, leave me a comment here on my blog - and mention your favorite item! You can enter once each day.

Earn extra entries by promoting this giveaway! Mention it on your blog - one entry! Create a forum thread on Etsy about it - one entry!

Contest ends at 9pm PST on Thursday 6/12.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Coming Soon! Another Blog Giveaway!

That's right people - I'm going to do another giveaway!

First prize wins these fun little earrings - perfect for summer!

If we get 30 entries into the contest...there will be a secondary prize too!

And....I'm even going to offer a consolation prize to the biggest loser. Free ad space on my blog!

Watch this blog for details - contest starts June 5th, ends June 12th!

Monday, June 2, 2008

The World Just Keeps Spinnin'

Today is no fun.

I'm dealing with a lovely bout of vertigo. No, I'm not watching Hitchcock's movie.

And I'm not afraid of heights either.

Instead, I have a constant feeling like the world and I are not in sync...and one of us needs to quit moving already!

I've had bouts before, so I know what what I have is just benign vertigo (BPPV), possibly linked to my occasional migraines. To quote Ah-nold, "it's not a tumor"...which I guess should make me feel better. Except it's hard to feel better when you feel seasick just sitting at your desk!

Adding insult to injury - yes, there is a medication to deal with vertigo. Dramamine. (And other Rx versions of course) So, my choices today are (1) feeling like I just got off the Spiral Rollercoaster of Death or (2) nappy time. I'm trying to split the difference - take a half dose - so I can function enough to work...but I seem to have achieved some DMZ state of staggering and drowsiness that I can only compare to heavy alcohol consumption.

I just hope HR doesn't pull me aside for a breathalyzer.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ode to the Gym

Oh Exercise Facility, how I love thee...

You take my flabby body and make it less flabby.

Your treadmills and ellipticals are my best friends and worst enemies. Some days I fly gracefully along, others I slog and drip sweat - yet you are always there the next day, ready for me. Let me count off your delights.

The well-muscled arms of the one cute guy.

Mr. Short T-Shirt's soft, blindingly white belly, sparsely covered in long black hair...glimpsed as he does ackward back stretches for no apparent reason.

Me, snuggled up to the air purifier for my crunches on busy days. Oh, the aroma of sweaty men!

And my favorite, the bulging arm veins of Mr Yoga - you can actually watch them expand as he does handstands in the center of the room. Best appetite suppressant I've ever had.

Today I was lucky enough to experience 3 of these delights at once! (The cute guy wasn't there)

How do I keep myself away from you? The call of the book must be so strong...yet I keep returning to you, my dearest. I shall always return...

...until I can live off just celery.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Welcome Back to Reality

I know it's Tuesday and all....but ugh, feels like a Monday! I'm swamped at work - big problem brewing, unfortunately. After a nice, quiet, relaxing weekend - it's back to the reality of work again!
I've reached two inescapable conclusions this weekend - one not too terrible, the other kinda expensive.

It was a rather productive weekend leading up to these conclusions. My eldest and I spent a good two hours finishing a charm bracelet for her mom's wedding in August. I think we reached a good middle ground of "real jewelry" and "designed by a kid". I promised not to post pictures (although the chance of her mom reading my blog seems small)...but I can tell you it's a nice sterling chain with pendant freshwater pearls. The pearls were picked out by the kid, and are mauve, cobalt, lime green, champagne, lavender, and orange. (That kid-design aspect) They are spaced out with silver beads, which helps make it more multi-color adult looking (less crayon-box)...and finished with a heart toggle. I really, really hope her mom understands the amount of work that went into this!

On top of the charm bracelet, I also recreated a pair of earrings that I'm totally in love with. (Wearing my own pair right now actually) I made the first pair as a gift, loved it so much I decided to make one for the store - but then had to keep them for me. :-) Finally made a pair to sell on Etsy - you can see them here.

Yesterday I also spent considerable time on a project I've been planning for a while. It's a braided wire look...and while I'm not happy with the "braid" itself, I did get some spiral wrapping done that I'm pleased with, and created one ring with it. I suspect I'll need an actual clamp, probably in the garage, to make my braid work properly (sitting on the couch watching CSI didn't work)...but it gives me some new possibilities for jewelry beyond my current abilities, so I'm stoked.

Which leads me to my discoveries. The not-so-bad...I'm not happy with my plain-jane white backgrounds. I've been thinking about this for a little bit, but my unhappiness really reached a peak this weekend. Time to start experimenting with solutions - something patterned a colorful, but that won't distract! Perhaps I can do a few drawing of my own....

The other - I really, really need a light box. My current arrangement just isn't working well, especially on overcast days. We have LOTS of overcast days in Oregon too. No matter how much extra light I have in the room, and how much photo-tweaking I do...I'm just not happy with the results. I know you can make your own lightbox, so will be looking into that - but since I do much more than just etsy jewelry, it will need to be a sizable box I think. Pooh.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What to do for Father's Day?

It's coming up in a few short weeks....3, to be kinda precise.

This year, I really feel under the gun. Not only do I have my hubby around to pester me, my mother and stepfather are coming out to visit us that weekend too. We'll all be sharing a beach house for that Sunday, as a matter of fact.

So - TWO guys to plan something for. And while the kids will no doubt do their normal burnt eggos and milk at 6am - with handmade cards! - I'm expected to pull something off a bit more...shall we say upscale.

Which lands me here, desperately trying to think of something that will please these two guys. Here's what I've got so far; any suggestions would be welcome!

  1. 1. Golf. My stepdad loves it, and would enjoy 18 or 19 holes...but hubby can barely squeak by on Wii golf. Scratch that one.

  2. Ocean Fishing day trip. Pricey, but can be fun. Except if they actually catch anything, then we have to eat it that night. I'm not a fish fan, and the kids tend to turn up their noses too. Plus, if the Pacific is rough, this might be 8 hours of seasickness. Next.

  3. Chinook Winds Casino time. Nice Indian casino not far from our rental house - actually sports table games, buffet, shows, etc. Both my guys like gambling of various sorts...but if one or both has a bad day, it could be a short and/or painful experience. I'm thinking no.

  4. Fancy dinner out. Hmmm, what could go wrong here? Nice restaurant, 4 children, long wait for food. Don't forget the enormous check and automatic gratuity for a party of 8!

  5. Ok, I'm stuck - can't even think of an option #5. Help!