Archive | July, 2008

There goes my baby

31 Jul

BigHugs is three today!  My baby isn’t really a baby anymore, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.  It’s been such a joy to watch her grow and become her own little person with her own likes and dislikes, joys and disappointments, ideas and opinions (believe me, she’s got some opinions).  I’ve loved watching her experience all of her firsts—her first step, first taste of chocolate, first feel of grass under her toes, first trip to the beach, first time seeing a real live elephant (that was exciting!)—and I’m looking forward to all of her firsts still to come.  But I’m also realizing that all of her firsts are my lasts, the last times I’ll ever watch a child of mine experience her firsts.  Bittersweet.  Sigh.  Bittersweet.

I don’t usually post pictures of the chillins, but I just love these from our recent zoo trip:



Any caption ideas?



I wish I knew what she was thinking.  I imagine I’ll be saying that a lot over the next several years. 

Happy Birthday, BigHugs!  I love you!

Nice try, Cally

30 Jul

I’ve received a lot of these e-mails over the past several months, all variations on a theme: millions of dollars in unclaimed money, help me get it and I’ll give you a cut, I picked you at random because you seem so trustworthy, etc, etc. But this one I received today is by far my favorite:


I am writing this mail to you with tears and sorrow from my heart.

I am Cally David Stevens,accountancy student in the university,my late father David Stevens was farmer in the country and he was shot dead in an incident east of the capital, Harare. Mr father was killed during an incident involving a group of farmers who responded to a radio distress call from a neighbour in the Virginia Macheke district.My late father and another farmer were chased and shot at before taking refuge in a local police station and i was left alone with the tiwns my mother delivered before her death.

The protesters came also to our house and destroyed everything, but i escaped with the twins and the briefcase that my father entrusted to me before his death, i went to my grand mother and stayed for while because of my studies, but life was very hard for me, it came to a point that students went into prostitution to pay for school fees and to feed.
You can read from the news in
When i opened the briefcase and found out the documents that my late father have deposited some mount of money which i am the next of kin in a bank in burkina faso, itravelled there to withdraw the money for a better life for me and for my twins brothers, when i get there i found out that my late father instructed the bank that i will withdraw the money when i am married, or with a trustee that will stand on my behalf.

Actually insearch of an honest and reliable person who will help me to withdraw the money and invest it i have chosen to contact you after my prayers and i believe you will not try to cheat me but rather take me as your own people. Though you may wonder why I am so soon giving in to you without seeing you, well I will say that my instsint still tells that you could be true to me. Briefly,I will like to disclose much to you if you will help me to relocate to your country with the substance that i inherited from my parent.The amount of $4.2 Million which i will like to invest in your country into any lucrative business venture which you are to advise and execute seeing that i have no business experience for now.

However, I shall forward you with the necessay documents on confirmation of your acceptance to assist me for the transfer and investment of the fund.As you will help me in an invsetment, and i will like to complete my studies, as i was in my ist year in the university, when the crisis started.It is my intention to compensate you with 10% of the total money for your services and the balance shall be my investment capital. This is the reason why I decided to contact you. Please all communications should be through this email address only for confidential purposes.

As soon as I receive your positive response showing your interest I will put things into action immediately. In the light of the above, I shall appreciate an urgent message indicating your ability and willingness to handle this transaction sincerely. Awaiting your urgent and positive response. Please do keep this only to your self please i beg you not to disclose it till i come over , once the fund has been transfered.I will send you my picture in my next mail.
With due respect, I am pleading that you help me, i am giving all this detailed information with every transparency beleiving that you will have a clear picture of the base of help i need from you. I hope to hear from you soon,May truth and love be the guiding word in my refuge in you dear helper.

Sincerely yours,

Farmers, distress calls, twins orphaned at birth, prostitution—what more could you ask for?

The Invisible Woman

29 Jul

My family spent last weekend in Portland, visiting Madhousewife’s family and checking out their zoo and science center (OMSI).  I was born in OR and spent the first 8 years or so of my life there, so I had been to both of these places before, but not for many years.  OMSI has changed locations since I was a child—they have a new fancy shmancy building, but at least one of the exhibits was the same, and it happened to be the exhibit that I had told my family about before our trip.  It was…

The Invisible Woman!  Duhn, duhn, duhn!

Check her out.


As a child, I always thought she was incredibly creepy.  I still do.  But my kids thought she was cool because she has a panel in front of her with buttons corresponding to her different parts and when you push the button that part of her body lights up.

Like this:



My kids especially enjoyed flashing the “headlights” on and off.  Being from out of town, I didn’t bother to get embarrassed.  Madhousewife wasn’t around at the time, so she didn’t have the opportunity to get embarrassed.  Would you have found that embarrassing, Mad?

Before heading up to the Life Science floor, Mad’s husband had warned us about the “how fetuses grow” exhibit.  It featured fetuses from week 1 to week 32 in their in utero development, and he wasn’t sure whether or not our children would find it disturbing.   I found it pretty interesting until I realized that these were actual fetuses, not just models.  That was disturbing and heartbreaking to me.  There was a sign stating that all of the fetuses used were spontaneously aborted, but still.  I’m all for education and scientific study—these are important and valuable things we need to do.  But these were somebody’s babies.  My kids were creeped out and intrigued.  I didn’t tell them they were real babies. 

After finishing up with that exhibit, which included carefully studying the diagrams of how babies are born, Goose said to my husband, “I don’t want to have babies.  I’m scared.”  As far as I’m concerned, that’s a healthy attitude for the time being.

The Washington Park Zoo is a lovely zoo.  If you’re ever in Portland, I can recommend it.  They have a great variety of animals in lovely living environments (well, the primate houses leave something to be desired, but they’re apparently remodeling those) and there’s plenty of shade and easy walking trails.

Here’s my favorite pic from our time at the zoo:


And on an unrelated note, here’s proof that Madhousewife is raising her kids right.  When I asked my 5 year old nephew if I could look at his hot dogs, he gave me the most bewildered look and then ran away in the opposite direction.  Perfect response.

Winner: Flaky Friends giveaway

28 Jul

Thanks to all who participated in the Flaky Friends giveaway, especially those who posted on their blogs.  We really appreciated the extra publicity, and we got some great feedback for Hollywood’s business!

With all the promising name suggestions for my mouse, I just haven’t been able to choose yet.  So I decided to give everyone who offered a suggestion an extra entry.  I also awarded extra entries to those of you who so kindly advertised for the giveaway on your blog and an extra entry for each referral.

In the end, I had 169 entries, but unfortunately there could only be one winner.  And the winner is…

Vicki Wurgler!

Congratulations to Vicki!  You will receive an official notification and instructions on how to redeem your $25 gift certificate to Hollywood’s Flaky Friends Etsy Shop via the e-mail you submitted with your comment.

Regrets to the losers, er non-winners, but don’t despair!  You can find links to more Flaky Friends giveaways at Hollywood Flakes.

Thanks again!

Friday Funnies—Facebook edition

25 Jul

Both of today’s FF appeared in the newspaper within the last week.  See how timely I am with my whole Facebook posting thing?  I’ve got my finger on the pulse of America for you, dear readers.  On the pulse.  You’re welcome.


One day when I was lamenting not being able to find old friends on Facebook, Chuck said, “It’s probably because most people are age aren’t really as in to technology.”  People our age?



Are you Rat or Goat?

Facebook friends and a memory meme

24 Jul

A few months ago I joined the wonderful world of Facebook.  For those of you not already familiar with the Facebook, let me warn you it is not necessarily a healthy experience for the individual with self-esteem issues.  See, you get on  and start collecting friends.  You find people you know on there and “add” them as a friend.  But that’s just the first step.  You “add” and then they must “confirm” or “ignore”.  If they confirm you, they go on your friends list.  This friends list is posted on your profile page along with a number stating how many friends you have, Facebook friends that is. 

I have no idea what happens if they ignore you.  I mean obviously they don’t go on your list, but when someone adds you as a friend there’s this special news bulletin that pops up on your profile page that says, “Bythelbs and so & so are now friends.” (It’s kind of nice to have such a formal declaration.  Very self-affirming.  I wonder if it’s binding in a court of law.)  So if someone ignores you, is there also a special bulletin, “So & so has ignored Bythelbs’ friend request?”  I have yet to go unconfirmed (because I’m not brave enough to add someone without feeling fairly certain I’ll be confirmed), so I don’t know.  And I’ve never had the nerve to ignore someone else’s friend request (I really was only tempted to once) because I couldn’t stomach the thought of having my snub broadcast across the internets.  Who am I to deny someone a friend?  Who am I.

But back to the numbers thing.  It seemed just a few short weeks ago that I had maxed out at 20 friends, 75% of which were family/extended family members.  But hey, that’s cool.  Twenty friends?  That’s a lot of pals, right?  I was feeling pretty good until I’d hop over to another friend’s page and they would have 150!  What kind of loser did that make me with just the 20?  Were people mocking me?  Scoffing?  Pitying?  Pointing their fingers with a sing-song “Ha Ha”?

My husband decided to join too, and it didn’t take long before our friend gathering turned into a little friendly competition.  At one point, he surpassed me, which seemed totally wrong considering I had been on Facebook a full two months before him, but whatever!  I made a comeback, though, when I discovered that I could browse my friends’ friends lists to poach potential new friends.  You should just try to make sure that you actually know the person on your friend’s friends list before adding them.  It’s kind of embarrassing when your friend recognizes her friend on your friends list and wonders how you know her friend too.  Not that that’s ever happened to me.  But a friend of mine was in that situation.  I asked why my friend didn’t just delete the friend once my friend realized that the friend was actually a non-friend.  My friend said, “Wouldn’t that be rude?”  I thought my friend’s concern over hurting the non-friend’s feelings was admirable.  But had the non-friend just been trying to spare my friend’s feelings by not ignoring my friend’s friend request or was this non-friend just trying to boost his own friend numbers?  (I suppose I really should stop referring to him as the “non-friend” considering there was a formal declaration of friendship published on the internets and everything.)

One friend of mine said a friend of hers, who’s actually her brother but on Facebook we’re all just friends, said that Facebook was just a lame way of reconnecting with people you didn’t care enough about to stay connected with in the first place.  I suppose that may be true to a certain extent.  But I prefer to put my cynical self aside in this instance and say that it’s actually pretty fun and exciting to find long lost friends who were just inevitable casualties of time and distance.  Today I found my best friend from 3rd grade who I hadn’t seen or spoken to in almost two decades, and that was pretty awesome.

What’s your take on Facebook friends?



Speaking of friends, my good bloggy friend Boquinha over at Sushi and Pizza posted this fun memory meme, and I’m going to play along.

Here’s how it goes (and I’m totally plagiarizing Boquinha here because she’s awesome plus I’m just lazy like that):

1. As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I have had together. It doesn’t matter if you knew me a little or a lot—anything you remember! (I’m thinking this should be interesting since only one of my regular commenters knew me before bythelbs.)

2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. If you leave a memory about me, I’ll assume you’re playing the game and I’ll come to your blog and leave one about you. (If you don’t post a memory meme, I’ll just pick a random post.  Just kidding.  Or am I?)  I think it’s fun to take a trip down memory lane, and it’s always good to have a laugh or smile about the past (six months).  Oh, and if you don’t have a blog, never fear, I will post my equally touching memory about you right here next to yours.

And for all of you regulars, if you don’t leave a comment, don’t worry, my feelings won’t be hurt.  I’ll just have to assume that there was such a plethora of happy memories, you couldn’t possibly choose just one.  And then I’ll cry myself to sleep.  From the happiness of feeling so treasured and loved, of course.

Flaky Friends giveaway!

23 Jul

So a few months ago I had sent Hollywood some Nana’s Been a Nut Bread mix as a thank you for sharing a recipe, and she offered to send me my very own custom Flaky Friend made from the mix’s special packaging as a thank you for my thank you. (How cool is that?)  Imagine my excitement! My very own Flaky Friend! But alas, several weeks went by and no Flaky Friend arrived. I just figured Hollywood was busy, what with life and the blog and the starting of the new business and all.

Well, a few weeks ago I was talking to Hollywood and she casually asked whether or not I had received my Flaky Friend. I told her no FF had arrived. It turns out she had sent my FF weeks before, but it had gotten lost in the mail somehow! I was so bummed! She even showed me the pictures of the finished product she had posted on her special FF blog, which only increased the measure of my bummeditude because it was arguably the most adorable handmade stuffed animal mouse I had ever seen in my entire existence.

Hollywood, being the true gentlewoman that she is, offered to make me a new Flaky Friend if I sent her another mix (for the special material, you see), and I gratefully accepted. It arrived last week. Never (at least not since the arrival of Sir Guster R. Giles—I’m calling him Giles for short) have I been in such raptures over a stuffed animal. Is he not adorable?

Just look at this face:

Now I have been known to say that I need another stuffed animal like I need a hole in the head, and yet they are reliably a favorite gift in my home.  So even if you need another stuffed animal like you need a hole in the head, check out Hollywood’s Flaky Friends Etsy Shop.  She takes custom orders and she’s also offering free shipping through the end of the month!

But wait—there’s more!  Hollywood has generously offered a $25 gift certificate to spend in her Flaky Friends Etsy Shop!  You too can have your very own one-of-a-kind-handmade-with-love-by-Hollywood Flaky Friend!  You need only visit her shop (be sure to browse through the sold items as well) then come back here and leave a comment telling me which Flaky Friend or Friends are your favorite.  (Hollywood’s looking to produce some of her Friends in larger quantities and would like to get an idea of which ones might be the most universally adored.)  I’ll also give you an extra entry for mentioning the giveaway on your blog and for every person you refer who also leaves a comment (please ask them to mention you by name).  Let’s give a fellow mommy blogger a helping hand with her growing business!

I’ll leave the contest open until Monday, July 28, 7 am PDT, and post the results sometime later that day.

Oh, and any name suggestions for my mouse?  I’ll throw in an extra couple entries if I pick your name.

This giveaway is now closed.  The winner will be announced by 4 pm PDT.

The new Facebook—believe it

23 Jul

Over the past couple of days I’ve mentioned to a few of you my displeasure over the new Facebook format and I got the same response from everyone, “What new Facebook format?”  For some reason I seem to be among a chosen few who were allowed to experience the new Facebook.  Some of you were skeptical that such a thing existed and even questioned my sanity, so I have proof.

See it?  Right there in the upper left corner? 

The new Facebook is here Try it now 

I am not crazy.  Don’t feel bad if you were not specially selected for this upgrade because it stinks.  Everything is all rearranged into these separate tabbed pages, which in my opinion requires an inordinate amount of extra clicking, and it completely screwed up my Scramble games!  I was awarded 0’s for three separate rounds of Scramble when I had actually earned 52, 68 and 83 points!  Oh the injustice of it all!  Dude, don’t mess with my Scramble!  Luckily, I was able to revert to the old facebook and I am back to scrambling again.  That was a close call.

Oh, and folks I have a super fun giveaway in the works, so be sure to check back here later today or tomorrow!

This is not the party to whom you are speaking

22 Jul

Our family e-mail address is just our last name at internet provider dot net. I’ve never really thought of my last name as being very common, but apparently in certain parts of the country it is because we are forever getting e-mails meant for someone else. And it’s not even always the same someone elses.

Here’s the latest (I’ve “changed” the names to protect the strange strangers):

Sent: Tuesday, July 01, 2008 3:12 PM
To: bythelbs’ last name at internet provider dot net
Subject: 1 ? 2 Me

Christoph asked me outright today, “Has Sis. Bythelbs ever told you anything about Chantella?”
I said, “yes, she told me that she called you when you were on your date with Chantella, and that Chantella texted her with your phone, she told me that she and Chantella have been communicating somehow, and she told me that Chantella’s heart keeps breaking over you, so Sis. Bythelbs suggested that Chantella shouldn’t be always making the calls, and that she should back off for a while and see how long it would take you [Christoph] to realized that you missed her and would call her back.”
He just said, “Oh,” like he was fitting it into his thoughts, but it wasn’t a readable inflection.

I told him later on that I thought that your advice to her was good advice, but it would have been easier if it wasn’t him on the other end.
I told him that mothers do daydream, and I gave him an example of another mother and her daydream for her 7 year old daughter, a person he thought would never do this, but she doesn’t talk about it unless specifically asked, and that it’s just what we do. I told him that I used to have Chantella in my daydreams with him, until I met Kelly and saw a perfect match in looks, and placed her into my dreams, but that if after his mission he finds that he’s in love with Chantella, I think she would make a great wife and mother, but I can’t tell where his heart goes. I told him that I’m glad he’s just friends with them right now, but if he was ever boyfriend/girlfriend with someone, I would like that, too, but that I thought it best not to go there until he’s ready to look for someone to consider marriage with and after his mission, becaue the chances of a girl getting hooked before he returns is pretty great, which is why I wouldn’t want Chantella to wait for him, because I don’t want her to miss her chance, taking the chance on Christoph, because that is also no guarantee that way, either. Then I went into the “I hope you date all the girls that wrote to you three times each, then …,” letting him know that I don’t really expect he’s going to follow my scientific way of dating, but that mom’s dream for our kids. That’s what we do.

So, the main reason I am writing to you is the first paragraph, but I thought you’d like to know the rest, too.

-Daydream Believer

I’m not sure I totally understand what’s going on, but I think I’m feeling sorry for Chantella. I was going to reply to Angela to let her know she had the wrong Sis. Bythelbs, but I’d like to know what Christoph decides and if he breaks poor Chantella’s heart again. Plus I’m kind of diggin’ Angela’s writing.

I can’t tell where his heart goes.

He just said, “Oh,” like he was fitting it into his thoughts, but it wasn’t a readable inflection.

Mom’s dream for our kids. That’s what we do.

That’s literary gold, people.

Birthdays and Mondays

21 Jul

Today’s my mom’s birthday. She would have been 65. I had a whole post written in my head, but I can’t do it. I can’t say it right.

It caught me off guard this year. I knew her birthday was coming, but I don’t remember being this sad last year. Or maybe any year.

One of my favorite pictures.  I wish I could see her face.


She can’t catch me today.