Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book review: Knockout Entrepreneur

We have a new segment here at Melz World - book reviews! And here is my very first one!

George Foreman has worn many hats in his life: boxer, celebrity endorser, businessman, preacher. But above all, he considers himself a "knockout entrepreneur."

What is a "knockout entrepreneur?" According to Foreman in Knockout Entrepreneur, it's "a person who truly wants to succeed in life and is willing to do the hard work necessary to make it happen."

Foreman was a former heavyweight champion of the world who came out of retirement in midlife to reclaim the title. His second time around was different from the first, however. By the time of his comeback, he had gone from a cocky, macho fighter to a Christian who had discovered that God's way to successes was through humility.

He also tells the story of the ubiquitous George Foreman Grill (admit it - you've got one in your kitchen right now, and you've used it in the past week) and how he nearly turned down the greatest business success of his lifetime before his wife convinced him of what a great product it was.

A knockout entrepreneur has integrity, and I was very impressed with George's sticking to his moral guns in the face of ridicule from others.

Find George Foreman's Knockout Entrepreneur here

Walgreens Shakedown

I really kinda feel like I robbed these guys today. I know I didn't get off as cheaply as maybe I could have, but I still feel pretty good about my trip!

2 Littlest Petshop playsets (with two pets each, plus LOTS of accessories)
1 Littlest Petshop activity set (all of this is for Anna Marie's birthday)
1 stainless steel bottle (Anna Marie's birthday - she's been asking for one.)
1 package of Swiffer Wetjet pads
2 bags of Brach's Candy Corn
3 (10 oz) bags of Pirate Booty
1 bag of Halls cough drops
3 cans of Hunts Tomato Sauce
2 cans of Blue Diamond almonds
2 cans of Pringles

Grand total (after tax, coupons, and $4 Register Rewards from my last trip): $26.15

Plus, I got $2 in Register Rewards to use next time!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The joys of being young

A conversation heard in my house this morning:

(Background: my mom had sent Anna Marie some leftover pancakes and sausage from the auction, and she was eating them this morning while I was getting ready for work.)

"Mom, some of my syrup got on my sausage!"

(cue nervous mom, thinking this is not going to end well)

"It did?"

"Yes, and it was gooooood."

Oh, to be seven again, and discovering life's simple pleasures!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The birthday boondoggle

It's official - our annual magazine was approved today, and hopefully will be published next week.

(By the way, in newspaper-speak, that means we hope to insert it in next week's paper. The paper "publishes" on the day it hits newsstands/mailboxes. It doesn't mean that's the day it's printed.)

And I have run into the same problem I've run into for the past four years, or, in other words, every year that I've been responsible for getting this thing put together: I emerge from a two- to three-week long magazine-induced stupor, and go, "Oh my goodness! Anna Marie's birthday is like, next week!"

And I hate it, because it means that she gets short changed every year, or at least I feel like she does.

Dare we remember last year's ill-fated trip to Cedar Hill Farms?

We dare not.

Every year, I promise myself I'll do better, and every year is a big pile of EPIC FAIL.

Last night, I had this conversation with my mom, and I got off the phone feeling really anxious. And then I remembered that the Bible says "be anxious for nothing" (Phil. 4:6-7), and I just prayed about it.

And then today, a plan started to come together.

There is a performance of Disney on Ice coming to Memphis this weekend, and we got free tickets at work. But, I'm going to be out of town this weekend, on a ladies' retreat with my church, and so I figured it was too much trouble to try to get Jason or someone else to take Anna Marie and just gave up.

But then, I happened to get on the website of the venue, and notice that they'd added a show for Sunday afternoon, at which time I will be back in town! I quickly texted a couple of cousins with kids Anna Marie's age, and they're game if I can get tickets.

(Which is where this gets slightly complicated, because I've got vouchers which must be exchanged for tickets at the venue box office - which is 45 minutes away. And Jason is working tomorrow, and then we have church, so he can't go. And I'm leaving Thursday night, so I probably won't have time to go.)

(But don't worry. I didn't get this far to give up again!)

So, for Anna Marie's birthday, it looks like she and some cousins will be taking in a performance of Disney on Ice. Because we had exactly the number of vouchers left that I was going to need for us to go. And because it's (say it with me now): FREE.

Amanda has also suggested that next weekend, on her actual birthday, we go out for dinner and all dress nicely - because she's getting to be so grown up.

I can dig it.

(Well, the dressing up part. The growing up part? Not so much.)

Let's just PRAY that this year's plan turns out better than last year's, m'kay?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

To watch, or not to watch?

I'm about to get a little deep and political, y'all. Hold on to your seats.

(I happen to be very opinionated, politically speaking, but I'm also Southern, and I was taught that politics and religion don't come up in polite conversation. While there are some exceptions, I think our present atmosphere has become quite unhealthy.)

As some of you may have heard, President Obama will be addressing the nation's schoolchildren next week.

Now, I know some folks are going all "brainwashing" and freaking out. I know parents in the district just north of mine, who are sending their kids to school on Tuesday with a note that they are to go into the hallway during the broadcast and "pray for our country."

Fine. Whatever. Our country and the people in it need lots of prayer. I'm all for prayer, and for your rights as an American citizen, and free speech, and all that.

But, I'm also all for not over-reacting. And I'm all for getting the facts before making a decision. And I'm all for letting times when your kids are exposed to things that are outside of their "norm" being used as talking points and teachable moments, so you can explain why your family believes what they do and so forth.

So, I went to the White House website. The address is (supposed) to be about setting goals, and taking responsibility for your actions. I was a little put off by the language of some of the elementary age discussion questions, like "What is President Obama asking me to do?" But I don't see how that's much different than Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country speech."

(And let me just interject here, one of the things that concerns me is that our children are being raised to ask what the country can do for them, to keep them in new cars and Reeboks.)

(I'll get off that soapbox now.)

And then tonight I was talking to the school superintendent, and I asked him as a mom (not as a reporter) if the children would be watching on Tuesday.

He asked the school board members, and most said that if a teacher wanted to show the broadcast, it was fine, but that they didn't think watching should be mandatory.

(Actually, one board member said to let those who wanted to watch do so on a tiny little screen in the hallway, to make it as hard as possible. But that's just him. It's his personality.)

The superintendent said he was leaving it up to the teachers. I told him that I didn't really care one way or the other, but I wanted to be prepared to discuss it with Anna Marie if she did watch it.

Did you hear that? I'm a conservative, and the President wants to talk to my kid, without me there. And I don't care.

Don't get me wrong - I do care, very much, about the information that she gets. But I also do care that in all this debate about healthcare, and stimulus, and cash-for-clunkers, that something is being lost. We've lost a healthy respect for the office of the President, and I think that's eventually going to trickle down to a loss of respect for all authority.

Or maybe it already has, and that's part of our problem.

I didn't vote for him. I don't like some of his policies. I don't like the suggested discussion question that says "Why is it important to listen to our officials, and why is what they say important?" Mainly because I think that not everything they say is important - and I know enough elected officials personally to say that.

Heck, believe it or not, even everything I say isn't important. All the time.

I don't like extremism of any sort, whether it's the type that causes a country to spend $1.6 trillion more than it's bringing in during one year alone, or the kind that causes people to interrupt public gatherings with fake birth certificates and be completely disrespectful of the other opinion.

And I don't like the extremism that makes people not let their kids watch the President talk to them about reaching their goals. Because as much as some are crying "brainwashing," I have enough faith in my child, and in our ability as parents with God's help, to help her work through whatever she is being taught.

I know that as she gets older, I'm going to have to do that anyway - in science class, on the playground, and yes, even at church.

I wish that we, as parents, could be part of the solution, not part of the problem - and I wish we could set a better example for our kids.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Meet Annie.

A.K.A The Luckiest Dog in Tate County.

I never knew my husband would turn into such an animal lover. He'd had dogs growing up, and his mom still had one of them when we got together. But he'd never seemed that attached to them, and, up until a few months ago, we'd put the idea that we could own a furry friend right out of our heads because of our living situations.

And then, Jason hit upon the idea to use the old enclosure in the backyard as a pen. And apparently, the doggie floodgates have opened, because since May we've gone for zero dogs to THREE of them.


You've already met Lucky and Delta, the yellow lab mix and full-blooded black lab we rescued from the local animal shelter. They're good dogs, if a little goofy. Jason has worked TIRELESSLY with them, on every behavior issue.

I think we now own stock in several doggie-treat companies.

He even bought himself a little drawstring treat bag that fastens to his belt, for when he takes them out on walks. He stops at a park up the street that has a gazebo, and practices sit/stay commands.

(Lucky is catching on much faster than Delta, by the way. Jason says she's a typical stubborn woman. I say she's just bored with the simple commands she's being given.)

Anyway, Jason took my car to my dad's house on Saturday, to hook his computer up and see why the "Check Engine" light was coming on. On the way back from the test drive, they see a little black puppy on the side of the road.

Jason, who was in the passenger's seat, opened the door. The puppy jumped in and sat between his feet in the floorboard.

It was love at first sight.

Jason brought her home, and I offered to call the city to take her to the shelter, which was closed for the weekend.

"I'm sure they don't need another dog," he said.

"Neither do we," I thought. And maybe said aloud. I don't remember. But I DEFINITELY was thinking it.

The puppy lived, barricaded, in our kitchen from Saturday afternoon until Monday afternoon. Do you have any idea how hard it is to cook with a small animal at your feet? DO YOU? And to have to watch your step, for fear of disturbing the "presents" left by said animal?

And to have to eat your cereal standing up in the kitchen, because if you cross over the threshold into the dining room, that puppy is going to cry and you won't be able to eat peacefully?

Not that she's not perfectly lovely. I'm just sayin'.

I tried to give her a good home with my cousin at church on Sunday, and Jason got mad because I'd tried to "give away his dog."

Gave me the "talk to the hand" sign right up in the choir loft!


So, Monday morning bright and early, I took the puppy to the vet while Jason went to Memphis. And, $62.50 later, she had a clean bill of health (and a $17 bottle of shampoo to clear up what the doctor called "fungus" but I think is just "mange.")

(And no, I've never spent $17 on a bottle of shampoo for myself, thankyouverymuch.)

The doctor gave her some shots and a dewormer, and said she was OK to live with the big guys in the backyard. Glory be! Coffee in peace once more!

Anna Marie named her "Annie" after a character in the Magic Treehouse books. She and Jason went to Walmart, and bought her a tiny pink collar and a teeny pink leash, and now Anna Marie walks the puppy while Jason walks the big dogs.

I saw them on the sidewalk as I came home last night after working late, and yes, it's the cutest thing you've ever seen.

She seems to be getting along splendidly with the other dogs. Jason did the introductions, and other than a whole lot of sniffing, there wasn't much controversy going on. This morning when I left for the gym, I even saw Annie and Lucky curled up asleep in the dog house!

I suppose it'll be good for Anna Marie, who is still a bit intimidated by the adult dogs. She can have one all her own, that's her size, that she can get used to as it grows over the next several months.

And if anyone is going to have to get a second job to pay for these animals, you can be pretty sure it isn't going to be me.