If you can't find me, try the library.

Given that libraries have a history dating back to ancient Egypt, the idea of the public library should not be some sort of newfound, glorious light-bulb moment, but in this day and age of mega-bookstores and building up your own personal home book collection, it apparently is. I hadn't set foot in a library for the sole purpose of checking out books since my elementary school days, much less CDs or DVDs that weren't even available at the time. Granted, much of the media available at the library has suffered the abuse and neglect that comes with the territory when people don't actually own it so they don't care if they run it over in the driveway fifteen times; however, I must say that if you are lucky enough to find a CD in good shape, it is a spectacular way to check out music or movies you don't know enough about to justify spending the money.

For example: Flight of the Conchords. OH. MY. GOODNESS. I realize that I am probably a bit late hopping on this bandwagon and consequently they could be a little played out by now (a la Dane Cook), but when I saw their EP "The Distant Future" I remembered my brilliant friend Stacy being a huge fan of the show, so I picked it up figuring that she must be on to something because the girl has got some TASTE. On our way to Orange County this weekend, while almost getting blown away by the wind in Indio, I put on my most recent Scottsdale Public Library find and we pretty much haven't stopped laughing for three days, mostly because of this song:

"BINARY SOLO." Ha ha ha ha ha!

In addition to this CD, I was finally able to check out (no pun intended, but it works so there you go) Mindy Smith, Amy Winehouse, Jimmy Eat World, and since I can't find my Jeff Buckley CD, I get to upload that one too. And if any of the songs don't work, I can just download the individual songs for $1 a song, and end up paying a fraction of what it could have cost had I downloaded the full albums. Score. Cody and I watched "Babel" last week courtesy of the library. And while the selection isn't nearly what it is at the mega-bookstores, at least you have to read your latest selection in a timely fashion because sometimes you are forced against your will to return it because other people are waiting on the hold list (the only downfall I have encountered).

Current library reading selection: "Outrage" by Dick Morris. If our government's blatant mishandling of our tax dollars doesn't send you into fits as the title suggests, and if you think that the government can be trusted to put our money to correct and effective use in every program, if you think that they should be given more of our hard-earned money to dribble away into oblivion, then it's time for a reality check.


Bird Problems.

Recently my dad and brother found a new weekend pastime: shooting. I'm not entirely sure what could have brought this on, but if I were to guess, it would be an exercise in defending their constitutional right to wield firearms whenever and wherever they like. While my dad claims that it is for protection from home invaders (because those run rampant in their neighborhood), I tend to think it is less an act of familial preservation than it is a big F-you to gun control advocates trying to take away his right to shoot them if he was ever physically attacked by one. While I know that guns in-and-of themselves are harmless, I have a tendency to want to lock myself up in a thoroughly insulated titanium box for my own self-protection whenever I am around one (and rightfully so, considering that under my brother's instruction, my sister blasted a hole through her closet wall and into the next bedroom... at least the "bullet" was a "blank"... hahaha!).

Anyway, this blog isn't really about gun politics as much as it is what I think my dad and brother should do to put this new hobby to its most practical use. As long as they don't mind shooting in the dark, in the middle of the week, in some God-forsaken area near our apartment, at 11:00 at night, and either pissing off a lot of residents in the process or emerging as full-fledged heroes. Here's why:

Spring is in full force in Arizona, mixing cool nights with warm, sunny days. THOR likes to run around in the grass and stick his little nose out the window when we drive around. The orange trees and wild desert flora are blossoming and everything smells heavenly. Sounds like a fairy tale, right? There is a window of about three weeks, maybe a month that this lasts. In anticipation of the inevitable inferno that is the Arizona summer, Cody and I want to put off using the A/C as long as possible because APS IS THE DEVIL AND WILL ROT IN THE LAKE OF FLAMING SULFUR FOREVER (see the book of Revelation for proof), so we are leaving our windows open at night to let in the fresh air, and closing them during the day to hold it in.

Two nights ago, as I settled into bed with my husband, our dog, and my book, joyously reading and looking forward to a restful night, my peace was broken by a shrill, earsplitting, incessant, and ever-changing… bird call.

As is the case with most noises that keep me awake at night, be it a neighbor pounding his bass through the walls or one of those annoying car alarms where the horn honks erratically and stops IF AND ONLY IF its owner comes to shut it the &%#! up, my first instinct was to blow up the culprit with a bazooka. But since I didn’t have one of those handy at the time, all we could do was close the bedroom window- much to Cody’s chagrin, who describes sleeping between THOR and me akin to being trapped inside a car in the middle of the summer in Phoenix with no A/C and the windows rolled up. When that did absolutely nothing to muffle the annoying song of what I think is a mate-less, sex-deprived, attention-starved male Northern Mockingbird, I started to go crazy. I even tried earplugs to drown out this crap, but I could only get an earplug in my left ear, because apparently my ear hole in the other ear is too small to accommodate a foam earplug. Now there’s a problem I never thought I’d have.

On that note, I’m not sure which will be more annoying for my neighbors: the constant bird noise, or me taking up a shotgun at every tree within a half-mile radius in an irrational, ruthless, apocalyptic, sleep-deprived rage until the bird noise stops.


Friday's Find: Week 2

If you read my last post, you know that I don't like being a slave. It makes me angry. And if you're a slave, you should be angry too. Because chances are, if you are reading this, and you are an American, then you are indeed a slave.

With that in mind, this week's find is all about coupons. Cody and I went to the grocery store on Wednesday night for the first time in a month or so, and for once in my life, I was prepared. With a list. A list of SALE items. Pulled from the weekly circular. And I was armed and dangerous with a fist-full of coupons, ready to punch out any and all full-price items trying to weasel their way into our cart. If you're a full-priced item, you'd best watch your back, or I may just send the Easter Bunny after you.

We spent a good hour and a half walking up and down every aisle in the store, at the end of which Cody was on the brink of a bona-fide meltdown, as is generally the case when he volunteers to accompany me on my shopping excursions (proof that my husband must REALLY love me). I, on the other hand, was sure that I had experienced a divine revelation. There were angels singing, and harps, and a very bright light. Here's why:

I stood at the front of the line and watched the monitor closely as the cashier scanned our items and sent them down the little grocery mover. I nervously held out my coupons and looked sheepishly at the rapidly growing line of fellow shoppers, hoping that I wouldn't get jumped in the middle of Safeway for holding everyone up. As I started to have visions of angry fangs and warewolf-style hair growing out of their faces as the flustered cashier zapped my coupons, a lady standing two spots behind me said, "Smart girl!" I turned to look at her, almost incredulous, when the guy standing directly behind me said, "No kidding, I'm impressed!" I apologized for taking so long, and he responded with, "Are you kidding? I just watched $20 disappear off your bill!" Not gonna lie- it was one of my prouder moments. A secret thrill, if you will.

Here would be an appropriate place to insert a cheesy spin-off of the oft-over-quoted MasterCard "Priceless" commercials, but I will spare you, just this once.

Instead, I would like to bestow on you the PRICELESS world of online coupons. And I'm totally not supposed to draw attention to my ads, but I must reference you to the coupon ones posted on the top and bottom of this page. I printed most of mine from these sites and they worked. Also, Printable Coupons listed on my blogroll is one of the most amazing resources out there. Someone needs to build this woman a shrine.

All in all, my receipt read like this:

Club Card Savings: $31.45
Coupon Savings: $15.49
Total Savings Value: 37% $46.94

On Wednesday night, I was a shopping badass. I had stepped out of the Full-Price Matrix and into the Real World. The only thing I lacked was my black, shiny pleather catsuit, and Cody his superhero trench coat.

Now it's your turn! Tell me how much you saved and what you donned while kicking full-price butt.


Proverbs 22:7

Monday night, I got real mad. Cody and I have been attending Financial Peace University at Mountain Valley Church and man, did I get pissed off. I was already mad to begin with because the wonderful paralegal department at Phoenix College wouldn't lift a finger to help me get into the classes I need this summer so I can graduate in the fall instead of next spring, but I digress. This particular session was called Dumping Debt, and it was simply infuriating. And all you have to really do to get pissed off about having debt is to read Proverbs 22:7:

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

Let the truth of that one smack some sense into your silly little head for a second. This version is the NIV. It reads pretty much exactly the same in every other translation. I guess there's not much left to the imagination in a statement as plain as that. The only major difference I found is that some translations replace servant with slave.


Leave it to God to be that profound and blunt.

Cody and I are slaves. We are tied down completely by our debt. Don't get me wrong- we are able to pay our bills, and we are by no means in dire straits. It's just that our money comes in, and it doesn't have our names on it. It has other people's names on it- FIA Card Services. TruWest. Desert Schools. Honda Finance Corporation. Nordstrom. Direct Loans Student Services. We work hard 40 hours a week to give these people our hard-earned money, with interest. And for what?!!! A new car? A new dress? The latest craze? Fancy gifts for other people? A bunch of crap we don't need, that we probably don't have anymore, but that we have the potential to be paying off for decades to come?

Hmmm. Seems our judgment was lacking a bit.

With the arrival of my first credit card offer from Discover at the ripe old age of 20, the words "buy now, pay later" rang in my head like a schizophrenic, impulsive gong with every trip I took to the mall. I wanted to look cool. I wanted to look like a somebody. I wanted people to think better of me because of what I had.

Looking back, if I could have strapped myself up in a straitjacket at even the mere thought of a new pair of jeans or a sequined top, I would have done it in a heartbeat. I'm sure there was some part of my soul watching from the outside screaming at the top of her lungs, "LISTEN TO YOUR DAD! HE'S TRYING TO SAVE YOU FROM YOUR UNAPOLOGETIC IDIOCY!"

I grew up in a family who was comfortable but never rich. My parents made sure that we had everything we needed but not necessarily everything we wanted. My dad is a financial genius and I didn't listen to a word he ever said to me about money- and although he knew what was best, he let me make my own choices, probably because he knew I would have to deal with the consequences and it would teach me a lesson. My parents even bailed me out in tremendous ways when I was in college, and even after. There are no words to describe my gratefulness for their generosity.

A few years ago, it occurred to me that, gee, Dad really did know best all along, and I couldn't continue on that way if I wanted to have a future. I was able to pay off a lot of the debt I owed and I was on my way. So this whole concept of debt begetting slavery is not new to me. It's just that we still have a long way to go. Eighteen months seems like an eternity when you are in a buyers' housing market and your hands are tied because you have a negative net worth and no 20% down payment (yes, I know a mortgage is debt, but it's the only one that appreciates in value, generally speaking). Fortunately we both have excellent credit because in spite of the irresponsibility of having any debt in the first place, we have been responsible with the payments. As much as it kills me to look at the homes on the market that are affordable knowing that we can't buy right now, we both know that we can't take on more debt while we are still in debt. So we're plugging away to get out. Getting Gazelle Intense to out-run the Cheetahs that are after our money and our future every day.

We learned that 70% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck. And only 55% are worried about it (nobody knows what the other 15% are doing). But that means that it is "normal" to live paycheck-to-paycheck, and it is also "normal" to think that it is a normal thing to do! What are these people going to do when retirement hits and Social Security has run out?! Is this why most Americans these days seem to favor a large government- so that they will be taken care of when they can't work anymore?!! Because they don't want to do the hard work themselves?!!!

OK... I'm going on a crazy tangent here. I've just been mad. I've been mad at myself. Mad because it's somehow been accepted as normal to be in debt. Mad that credit card marketing has worked so well. Mad that I fell for it; mad that my husband fell for it. Mad that high schoolers are being taught that when they get to college, they "need" a credit card to establish credit and have a "future" (true story). Mad that I have dear friends who make outrageously unnecessary purchases and justify it by saying that they can "afford the payments." Mad because I used to do the same thing. Mad that I knew better and didn't listen. Mad that we live in a country where slavery is, indeed, alive and well.

If you take anything away from this blog, let it be this: Everyone thinks car payments are a fact of life (I guess these are the same 70% who live paycheck-to-paycheck... no?). The average car payment is $464 per month. If you instead bought a used car and paid cash for it, and made what would have been your "fact-of-life" car payments to yourself in a money market account, you would be a multi-millionaire by the time you reached retirement. If you choose the car... I hope the car will still be worth that choice when you retire.

Money isn't everything. Wealth isn't everything. But you have the choice to be smart or be stupid (i.e. "normal") with your hard-earned money. You can choose to put your name on your money or put someone else's name on your money. You can choose to be a good steward of all that God gives you so that you can give it back to Him. I'm so excited to be learning this stuff now and hope that even if it's not through me that someday you'll get excited- or even mad!- about it too.

Stay tuned.


Friday's Find: Week 1

Every Friday, stay tuned for my newest fave product/latest obsession, be it a beauty item, handy household must-have, outrageous page-turner or current music craze.

Click here for this week's find.

Partur Review: I must share this first find with the ladies- the most delicious summer scent my nostrils have ever encountered. No joke. I discovered it a few years ago at Becker Surf in Orange County and wasn't able to find it again until our honeymoon in Kaua'i. Even Cody, when he smelled it, understood my immediate need to jump up and down excitedly while screaming at the top of my lungs, "DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR THIS STUFF?!" in the middle of Island Soap & Candle Works. Normally I just get a strange look and a shake of the head before he walks away pretending he doesn't know that crazy woman. Now whenever I wear it, he says, "Mmmm... Hawai'i." That's the power of scent at work, people.

A few years ago it didn't even exist online, but lo and behold, it is now accessible to the masses and here I am to share it with you so that we can all smell like gardenia-coconut-mango-beachy goodness, all the time. If we all wear it at once, it just might bring all fundamentalist religious conflicts to a final, jubilee-type end and usher in the world peace* we have been waiting for.

*Will not actually dissolve conflict or bring in world peace. But it was a nice thought.

Proof that THOR loves Dad more than Mom.

The second that Cody walks out the door, THOR dashes over to the window in the office so he can see exactly where Cody is going and I'm sure he wonders to himself, how does he disappear into that white thing, and where does it think it's taking Dad?

Conversely, this is what THOR does when I leave:

Notice the chop-licking.

Gutsy Speech

I couldn't resist posting this little ditty my mom sent me. I'll be intrigued by and welcome any and all comments. (OK, so really, I'm just trying to pick a fight. Ha ha. Just kidding.)


My Fellow Americans: As you all know, the defeat of the Iraq regime has been completed.

Since congress does not want to spend any more money on this war, our mission in Iraq is complete.

This morning I gave the order for a complete removal of all American forces from Iraq. This action will be complete within 30 days. It is now time to begin the reckoning.

Before me, I have two lists. One list contains the names of countries which have stood by our side during the Iraq conflict. This list is short . The United Kingdom , Spain , Bulgaria , Australia , and Poland are some of the countries listed there.

The other list contains everyone not on the first list. Most of the world's nations are on that list. My press secretary will be distributing copies of both lists later this evening.

Let me start by saying that effective immediately, foreign aid to those nations on List 2 ceases immediately and indefinitely. The money saved during the first year alone will pretty much pay for the costs of the Iraqi war. THEN EVERY YEAR THERE AFTER IT'LL GO TO OUR SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM SO IT WON'T GO BROKE IN 20 YEARS.

The American people are no longer going to pour money into third world Hellholes and watch those government leaders grow fat on corruption.

Need help with a famine? Wrestling with an epidemic? Call France.

In the future, together with Congress, I will work to redirect this money toward solving the vexing social problems we still have at home. On that note, a word to terrorist organizations. Screw with us and we will hunt you down and eliminate you and all your friends from the face of the earth.

Thirsting for a gutsy country to terrorize? Try France or maybe China.

I am ordering the immediate severing of diplomatic relations with France, Germany, and Russia. Thanks for all your help, comrades. We are retiring from NATO as well. Bonne chance, mez amies.

I have instructed the Mayor of New York City to begin towing the many UN diplomatic vehicles located in Manhattan with more than two unpaid parking tickets to sites where those vehicles will be stripped, shredded and crushed. I don't care about whatever treaty pertains to this. You creeps have tens of thousands of unpaid tickets. Pay those tickets tomorrow or watch your precious Benzes, Beamers and limos be turned over to some of the finest chop shops in the world.

A special note to our neighbors. Canada is on List 2. Since we are likely to be seeing a lot more of each other, you folks might want to try not pissing us off for a change.

Mexico is also on List 2. Its president and his entire corrupt government really need an attitude adjustment. I will have a couple extra thousand tanks and infantry divisions sitting around. Guess where I am going to put 'em? Yep, border security.

Oh, by the way, the United States is abrogating the NAFTA treaty - starting now.

We are tired of the one-way highway. Immediately, we'll be drilling for oil in Alaska - which will take care of this country's oil needs for decades to come. If you're an environmentalist who opposes this decision, I refer you to List 2 above: pick a country and move there.

It is time for America to focus on its own welfare and its own citizens. Some will accuse us of isolationism. I answer them by saying, 'darn tootin.'

Nearly a century of trying to help folks live a decent life around the world has only earned us the undying enmity of just about everyone on the planet. It is time to eliminate hunger in America. It is time to eliminate homelessness in America. To the nations on List 1, a final thought. Thank you guys. We owe you and we won't forget.

To the nations on List 2, a final thought: You might want to learn to speak Arabic.

God bless America. Thank you and good night.

If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English, thank a soldier.



Baby Polar Bear

Why I love our home... and why I would miss it if we left.

This view is precisely why we couldn't pass up the opportunity to live in this exact apartment. My last lease wasn't up yet so I paid double rent for a month and a half so we could secure it. That and I couldn't get out of the craphole otherwise known as Arcadia del Sol fast enough. (If you're reading this, don't EVER, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, rent from there. EVER.)

...And this picture shows why it was worth every penny. 

Although I must say that some strange things have happened involving the street running along the front of the complex, like the time when we had just gone to bed and we hear this thing go by that sounded like it couldn't have been anything other than an actual Lear jet on a rather odd emergency landing runway, or perhaps a heat-seeking missle run amok. We still sit around trying to come up with ideas on what it could have been, ranging from a rocket drag racer to Godzilla ripping ass to the Starship Enterprise. Take your pick, it could have been any of the above. It was so loud that it woke Cody up from a dead sleep for the third time in his entire life, and was gone before we could reach two feet over to open the blinds to gawk confusedly at "What-The-Crap-Was-THAT."

And, lest we forget, the Scottsdale Senior Center across the street adds a PLETHORA of excitement to the neighborhood as well.