Monday, April 27, 2009

Large dogs and soft crates don't go well together

Another funny video, this one from the Lab Lovers chat group. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Color is GOOD for you!!

This was sent to me yesterday by a friend -- it's too cute to NOT share!! Enjoy!

Color is good for you!

Yesterday I went to the doctor for my yearly physical.

My blood pressure was high, my cholesterol was high,

I'd gained some weight, and I didn't feel so hot.

My doctor said eating right doesn't have to

be complicated and it would solve my physical

problems. He said just think in colors...

Fill your plate with bright colors... greens, yellows, reds, etc.

I went right home and ate an entire bowl of :





And sure enough, I felt better immediately. I never knew eating right could be so easy.

Send this to all your chocoholic friends. I just did!!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

The puppies again!!

Remember my new friend Barb, who adopted Sunnie, the pregnant dog??? Sunnie's puppies are now three weeks old, and Mackenzie and I got to go visit them this week. Here are some pictures to enjoy -- and for those of you who really need a "puppy fix", there's also a video!! You'll be amazed at how much these little guys have grown!

P.G. County Governmental In-Efficiency

If you read about the adventure Morgan and I had on Tuesday at the courthouse, you'll remember how frustrated we were with the whole ordeal. To add insult to injury, guess what showed up in the mail on WEDNESDAY? Yup, you guessed it -- it was the letter excusing her from jury duty!!

Now, why on earth, when she checked in on Tuesday, could they not have told her she was excused, and then let us go home? Instead, we sat there for nearly six hours.....

The interesting dilemma now -- she did her "civic duty" and has a notice from the county saying so; she also now has a letter from the county saying her duty has been "temporarily postponed". If I was a betting woman, I would bet a LARGE sum of money that P.G. County will try to recall her for jury duty in the next 3 - 6 months.

Guess we're going to need to make some calls to the courthouse and make sure this is straightened out...... and hang on to BOTH letters to prove it, in case they conveniently "lose" her records!! I'm certainly not counting on them to be accurate or efficient at this point!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Keep on praying for baby Stellan!

Prayers for Stellan

Baby Stellan had his much-needed heart ablation done today at Boston Children's Hospital. While it was only partially successful, hopefully it will buy him the needed time to grow a bit older and larger before any more, potentially major surgery will be needed. Keep praying for him and his family, especially with his mom being there in Boston with him, while her husband is home in Minnesota with the other young children. It must be very difficult for all of them. Please be praying!

The Courthouse Adventure!

Well, not REALLY.... it was actually a rather long, boring day. It just sounded like an interesting title!!

Poor Morgan..... she received a summons for jury duty back in late February. Being a full-time student, jury duty could potentially be very disruptive to her schedule. She contacted the office by phone, told them her situation, and was told that it had been noted and to please follow up with a letter. This was done -- but we never heard back from the jury duty office about her status.

Yesterday, she called over there, explained her situation again, and was bounced from phone to phone to phone, never getting a real answer. The last person told her that no information would be available until after 6 PM and to call back then. WHAT? So immediately after 6, we called the listed number, and found, to our dismay, that it was a recording of which GROUPS would be required to be present today, not any information on whether or not she had been excused. Of course, all "live" people (and I put that in quotes, because some of them are so slow and dumb, I think they might actually be dead -- or at least brain-dead!) had already left for the day, which left us no option but to quickly change plans for today to include a long drive to the county courthouse. Morgan was NOT thrilled about this.

We needed to get up at 5:30 in order to get out of the house by 6:15, and drove to the courthouse, fortunately hitting almost no traffic. There is very little parking near the courthouse, so they have you park in an outlying parking lot and hop on a shuttle bus from there to the courthouse building. This ran very smoothly and efficiently. We got to the building and got in line to put our bags through X-ray and to go through the metal detectors. Unfortunately, we didn't realize that unless you have actually received a summons, you cannot enter the building until after 8 AM. Great....... Morgan went in the building, and I was left with trying to figure out what to do with myself for an hour! It rained cats and dogs last night, so all the outside benches were SOAKED! No way was I going to sit on those for an hour!

Ultimately, I took the shuttle bus back to the car and just chilled out for a while, then returned to the courthouse. There were SO MANY people in the jury waiting room -- it was full to the brim. Fortunately, the gentleman Morgan ended up sitting next to was a retired police officer and he talked her through everything that was happening, as well as telling her which questions would be most likely to disqualify her!!! While she chose to follow her conscience and answer those questions honestly (good girl!!), it was extremely helpful to have this guy explain what each procedure meant.

She finally got "released" around noon, which I've been told isn't all that bad. It seemed TERRIBLE to me!! I had to sit on a hard church-pew-style bench for hours, and when I got too stiff, walked around a very large, boring building!! Morgan got her lesson in public service, the justice system, and more; I got another lesson in patience and fending off boredom!!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Taxes are so taxing.......

My yearly rant about how complicated income taxes are is just a bit louder this year. I will freely admit that part of the problem is usually my lousy bookkeeping during the year. This requires several hours of time digging out and categorizing all the receipts, calculating all the mileage for my business, and all those kinds of things before I can actually start the tax preparation.

This year, however, tax preparation has hit a new low. And at least part of it is the fault of TurboTax. I've done our taxes using TurboTax for probably at least 8 or 9 years, so I'm not new to this program at all. As soon as I started using this year's version, I realized it wasn't as user-friendly as it had been in years past. It was harder to navigate through the options, harder to go back and review some area you'd already worked on, and just seemed generally more difficult to understand.

But I kept on plowing through and thought I was nearly done by Monday. Some of TurboTax's figures didn't look quite right to me, especially the credits for college expenses, which seemed rather low. However, TurboTax knows better than me, right??? Or so I thought.....

On Tuesday night, I remembered one more small donation we'd made -- only $100 -- so I plugged that figure in and went to bed. Wednesday morning (yes, the 15th -- I was really pushing that deadline!!), I hit the "print" button, and up popped a message saying my return showed five errors...... sigh....... One was just a needed notation for the $100 addition; two others were minor things; and then up came the education tax credit with two errors. I couldn't figure out what on earth was going on, so I decided to get back into the program in-depth and try to figure out what the problem was. As I was reviewing the "interview" (TurboTax asks bunches of questions to help determine your status on each deduction), I found that TurboTax, for some strange, unknown and totally random reason, had marked both of my older daughters as having received convictions for drug use, possession or trafficking!! WHAT???? Where on earth did it come up with that crazy idea??

Now I was getting angry and frustrated. It was already noon on tax day, and I was still fighting with this stupid program -- I just wanted it to be OVER. I unclicked the "drug convictions" boxes and re-ran the error check. And all of a sudden, my tax refund went from $400 to over $2,300! Again, WHAT???? How did that happen? How do I know if it's right or wrong? I ccouldn't file THAT -- I wouldn't even be able to sleep knowing that I filed that kind of paperwork, possibly in error.

So what happened after those hours and hours and hours of work and frustration??? We ended up filing extensions of time! How ridiculous is that?

I know my taxes are a bit more complicated than many people's, because of having two kids in college, plus a small home business. However, there's no reason on earth that it should take HOURS of my limited time, incredible aggravation and 30 pages of returns and "supporting documentation" to file income taxes, especially for a tax refund. I heard on the radio yesterday that it took the "average tax payer" 26 hours to prepare their taxes this year. Something is really wrong with a system like this, when the average person, trying to be honest and do the right thing, can't relax and file their taxes without feeling like it's possible they've made a huge mistake somewhere along the line and that the government will "get them" in the future.

I think I need to join those people who were at those "Tea Party" protests on Wednesday!! Yes, I'm fed up with how much we're being taxed, but I'm even MORE fed up with a system so complicated, inept and convoluted.

Just my rant for the day.......

(And with my hubby's permission, I am NOT even going to think about taxes again for at least one week! Maybe by then, I will have calmed down a bit and can work on the taxes again a bit more rationally.)

Until then, I wish you many happy "returns"!!! (oh, yes, I'm feeling very "punny"!!)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter, music and kids.......

They kind of go together, don't they? At least, in most churches I've ever gone to. Usually pretty tacky music, but when it's kids 5, 6, even 10 years old performing it, somehow it's never really terrible!! (Might be a bit painful for those of us with nearly pitch-perfect ears, but it's still cute!!)

Anyway, here's a group of kids at my church this Sunday! Mackenzie played her violin for the intro and the closing of the song. Unfortunately, not everyone "got the memo" that she'd be playing at the end and so her ending got a bit stomped upon by clapping -- but no matter!! She still did great, even if the applause messed up her rhythm a bit!!

And the proud moment for this mom -- she was so matter-of-fact about all of it. Not nervous at all!! Where did THAT come from? I used to be TERRIFIED of performing in front of people.....

And now..... here's Mackenzie!! With apologies for my abysmal videography skills!!)

Monday, April 6, 2009

A terrible loss......

A young man who was a friend of my kids, only 19 years old, committed suicide over the weekend. How incredibly sad that a person this young would think his life was not worth living. While he and his family were not close friends, I have known him since he was very small, and he was a fine young man. Please pray for Alex's family in this incredibly difficult time.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

And now an unusual birth.......

I have a new friend who I met on-line on a labrador retriever owner's chat group. Turns out she lives fairly close to me. Recently, she adopted a dog from a rescue group in Ohio. She was told the dog was heartworm negative, current on shots, and already spayed. When the dog got here, she found out that basically NONE of the above were true, and in fact, found out within a week of getting the dog that she (the dog, Sunnie!) was PREGNANT!!! Oh, my -- what a huge turn of events!!

My experience with pregnant and birthing dogs is fairly limited, but I do (obviously!) have a great deal of experience with birthing humans!! I offered to be a helper or at least a resource, if needed, whenever Sunnie went into labor.

So, long story short, Sunnie had puppies yesterday! Sweet birth, fairly uneventful, mom and five new babies are doing fine. Grandma/midwife Barb could probably stand to get some sleep, though!! (And as for WHEN Sunnie got pregnant or WHO the father/fathers were, we'll never know -- none of the pups looks like Sunnie!!)

And so, without further ado, enjoy puppy pictures!!!

Black and white BOY #1

Brown BOY #2

Black and White BOY #3

Brown and white GIRL #4

Brown GIRL #5