Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Recipe: S'Mores Brownies

I've been baking up a storm lately. My favorite thing to bake is brownies, so I've been experimenting with brownie recipes a lot of late. I've also been really inspired by Pintrest and my favorite brownie recipe is one I found on Pintrest. So, last night I made brownies Matt dubbed "Fudgetastrophy."  Even though it doesn't sound like it, that's definitely a compliment. This is the recipe I thought I'd share today--something I'm calling S'Mores Brownies.

S'Mores Brownies


12 TBSP Salted Butter
1 1/2 c. Sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 - 1 tsp pure vanilla or orange
3 large eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips, optional

4 Graham Crackers (8 squares)
2 c. Mini-Marshmallows

{Chocolate Frosting}

3 c. Confectioners sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 stick butter, softened
3 - 4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 glass baking dish with parchment paper (or spray with Baking Joy, though parchment is recommended because of the graham crackers).

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and extract. Remove from heat. Mix in cocoa powder.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs. Add cocoa mixture to eggs and blend well. Mix in flour and chocolate chips. Do not beat, mix only until the flour is blended. Mix in 1 cup of marshmallows.

Lay 3 graham crackers (6 squares) in the bottom of the lined baking dish (lay down two full crackers, then break one cracker lengthwise to fill in the rest of the space at the bottom and side to cover the bottom of the baking dish). Pour brownie mixture onto graham crackers and carefully spread evenly. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cover the top of the warm brownies with the rest of the mini-marshmallows. Allow them to cool completely.

For frosting:

Mix sugar and cocoa into a large bowl. In another bowl combine 1 cup of sugar mixture with butter and 1 tablespoon cream, beating until smooth. Add another cup of sugar and another tablespoon of cream, beating well. Continue until all ingredients are combined and frosting is fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Spread frosting on top of one round. Top with second round and cover top and sides completely with frosting.

Frost brownies when they're completely cool. Crush one graham cracker and sprinkle crumbs on top of frosted brownies.

Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Recipe adapted from:


Saturday, April 27, 2013

All the Pretty Horses. . .

I had the opportunity to go out to my friend Marsha's place yesterday to see her new filly. Her horse, Lily, just gave birth to her foal a few nights ago, so I was dying to go see her. Up until last year, when I went out to Marsha's the first time, I had never been closer than 500 feet to a horse. Seeing them up close was awesome.

While I was out there today I took the opportunity to get some pictures.

This is Lily, she's the mama. . .

Pretty, isn't she?! Marsha named Lily's baby Hisolda, a derivative of Isolde. Want to see her?

D'awwww!!  Okay, I didn't take that picture. I stoke it from Marsha's Facebook page. But I did photoshop it a little bit. This is the one I took. . .

Double d'awwww!! If hugging her had been an option, I totally would have done it.  But her mama didn't seem like she would allow that, so I didn't push my luck. She also didn't want to stand still for a picture, but look at those legs. She's one tall filly!

I even got to
bridle her (erm, I think)halter her for the first time ever, which was pretty awesome. She was jumping all over the place. Very cool experience.

After that, I went to see the other horses, Claudia (who's with foal), Grace, and Petra. They're all just such beautiful creatures!

This is Grace and Claudia, respectively. Claudia is one big horse, but I don't think I'd have known she was pregnant if Marsha hadn't told me. Check out Ms. Claudia's close up. . .

She's so pretty!! And check out her sister, Petra (not actually sisters). . .

I love her brown spots. I know with a dog it's called brindle, I have no idea what it's called with a horse. She's a good girl, even though she's not ride-able because she spooks easily. She's also smaller than the other horses out there, but according to Marsha she's a much more usual size as horses go. And she loves her mama. . .

It's so pretty out there, with the horses and chickens, I just wanted to stay all afternoon. But, then Matt would have starved, so I dragged myself away after a while, but I'm going back sometime to see those pretty horses again soon!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

On Dove's "Real Beauty Sketches" Campaign. . .

Watch the video really quickly, if you haven't seen it already.

Okay, done?

I've just spent the last hour reading a whole lot of opinions about the content of that short video. I had been ignoring it before that, but Anne at The Belle Jar wrote about it, and so have several other very thoughtful women. So, I figured now was my chance to weigh in. And, while I respect their opinions that the video perpetuates the idea that the content of a woman's character is less meaningful than is her physical beauty, I'm not sure I agree completely.

Bottom line: It's an ad. Even if it isn't exactly structured that way, it's still an ad. Whatever the context, we can hardly forget that the purpose of an ad is to sell a product. In this case, a product that will affect how we look on the outside because Dove sells beauty products. If their ads didn't reflect the product, it wouldn't be a very good ad. But it's not just an ad, it's ad add geared toward making women feel good about themselves. Even if it focuses on external beauty, how can it be wrong when it's purpose it to raise women up?

How can we point to ads that promotes the idea that women must look a certain way--namely thin and flawless--and call them bad, then turn around and call the opposite bad, too? We should make up our minds. Either we want ads to stop creating an unrealistic, unattainable standard for beauty and stop featuring floating body parts that objectify women as less than the whole, or we don't. We have to have some standard, some baseline for which we're striving, otherwise we're going to find something wrong with everything.

Like this Dove campaign.

Because it's not a beauty product's responsibility to make us feel better about our intellect or our emotional health. It's their job to make us feel more beautiful and there's nothing wrong with that. There's no one alive that doesn't want to feel like they look good. Self-esteem is only half what's on the inside. Whether we like to acknowledge it or not, how we feel about our appearances matters. It's the subject of a whole lot of distress for women of all ages, including young girls who're being told from their adolescence that they should strive to look a certain way. That they would be pretty if they just did this or that.

Dove's Real Beauty Sketches campaign says, to those little girls, that they shouldn't be so hard on themselves. It says the same to grown women. Yes, it's fragile. Yes, it's breakable. But so what? It's a step in the right direction. Objecting on the grounds that it's not a fully formed solution to society's insurmountable standards is like saying that we shouldn't do anything at all. We should do what we can, even if it's tenuous.

And we should remember that we're all a part of the dog and pony show society puts on regarding appearance.

Anyone who has ever bought one pair of jeans over another, worn one pair of shoes over another, or bought one shade of lip gloss over another, is attending to their physical appearance. If they've put lotion on their skin, washed their faces, or gotten a hair cut, they're conscious of how they look. Anyone who has ever felt miserable because they're having a bad hair day can't claim that physical beauty doesn't matter. We shouldn't obsess over it, certainly, but little decisions we make every day prove that even feminists aren't above participating in the behavior that seems to be so objectionable.

I mean, today, I overheard two feminist professors talking about shoes in the corridor. They're two of the smartest, strongest women I know, and they feel comfortable talking about fashion because they know that being conscious of how they look doesn't change how smart they are. There is absolutely no rule that says feminists shouldn't care what they look like. There is no rule that says feminists need to forsake physical beauty in favor of high ground.

So, I wonder why we're being so sensitive about this ad. I've read what's being said, but I still wonder. At least one objection seems to be that it's hypocritical because Dove is owned by Unilever, the same company that owns Axe, a company known for it's sexist approach to advertising. But I have a few small problems with this line of reasoning. First, Unilever is an umbrella company. The people who make the Dove ads don't make the Axe ads, they're completely different divisions. Second, the Axe ads are geared toward a completely different audience, namely, men. What appeals to men won't always appeal to women and vice versa.

If I were going to sell a car to a man, I'd emphasize it's power. If I were going to sell a beer to men, I'd emphasize it's manliness and I'd do that with women. Dr. Pepper Ten is appealing  to men by suggesting that it's not a weak women's drink, but we're not getting upset about that. Though, admittedly, I was appalled at the audacity. My point here is that advertising to men is a completely different ballgame and men like to see women.

Yes, it's deplorable that the same company would sell one product with sex by objectifying women and the other with self-esteem boosters, but the bottom line is that they're selling a product. Even if, as Anne points out, they don't actually give a damn whether women feel good about themselves, and there's very little doubt about that fact, the outcome is still the same. Women are still feeling better about themselves. They're still, potentially, seeing something less harsh about themselves when they look in the mirror. They're stilling saying, "Maybe I am prettier than I thought," and it's one less thing to beat at their already bruised self-esteem. And yes, I know it's not exactly that easy, but it is a step in the right direction and I'm okay with that.

I suppose my point is the positive body (and beauty) image isn't a bad thing and it doesn't matter where it's coming from. My husband is fond of saying that being environmentally friendly won't change the world until it becomes profitable. The same thing is true for beauty standards. When it becomes profitable for someone to stand up an take steps toward making women feel better about not being a size 2, then it'll happen. Dove is proof of that.

For further reading about this from a whole lot of very smart women, check out:

Need Feedback!

I need some feedback here. Somehow, I managed to completely screw up my previous theme. I have no idea how it happened, but it did and there's no fixing it. Not awesome. So, I'm looking for something new, not because I necessarily wanted to, but out of duress. Broken theme is broken.

So, what do you think of this theme? It's neat, but is it functional? Help me out here. Can you easily find the comment button? Is the theme easy to navigate?

I like how clutter-free and simple it is, while still being really unique. Unfortunately, I can't decide if it's too unique. Let me know.


I changed the theme that I was originally seeking feedback on, but I'd still like to hear how you like this one. I'm looking for something that suits me. So, who knows how long it'll be here. I really like it, though. It's still simple, but it's more functional than the previous.

If you're interested in seeing the previous theme, the one I was on the fence about, it's this one: http://carolinethemes.com/2012/11/04/spun/ (Which I still love, by the way).


Monday, April 22, 2013


Would you believe this is my 400th post at this blog? I have to say "at this blog" for two reasons: 1) this isn't my first blog, or even my second, and 2) because I have zero idea how many posts I've actually written when you add it all together. If I had to, I'd guess somewhere closer to 1,500 or so, but who could say? Part of me wishes I'd done some tallying or or had some way to go back and read everything I've written over the years. The other part, the one that knows that there was a time when I was a horrible writer, is glad I can't.

So in honor of 400 posts, I thought I might take a page from Jodi's book and share some facts. Here goes:

  • This blog was born on September 29, 2009 making it a little more than 3 1/2 years old.

  • As of right now, there are 1,458 approved comments on this site.

  • My site stats say I've had 35,650 unique visitors.

  • Akismet has caught 10,673 spam comments since this blog's inception.

  • This blog has had just one name, but probably 20 different looks.

  • The most hits this blog has received in one day was 125 on January 26, 2011.

  • The post "True. . . Research?" is my most popular post with 2,461 hits.

  • The post "Cupcake Cones & a Free e-Cookbook" came in second with 1,458 hits.

  • The post "Cupcake Vineyards: Red Velvet" was third with 1,456 hits.

  • November 2009 was my most productive month with 24 posts.

  • This blog has 43 categories.

  • My most used categories are: Life with 124 posts, Fun with 90 posts, and Issues with 87 posts.

  • I find it ironic that a blog called "pessimist" has used the category "Fun" so much.

  • I'm apparently tag crazy because this blog has 1,042 tags.

  • My most used tag is Graduate School with 41 posts, then school with 29, master's thesis with 20, and marriage with 19. (Wish I knew how to combine some of them!).

  • This blog has 446 active images and 38 unattached images.

  • The search term used most to find me is "eric northman" some 1,642 times so far (there are 481 other search hits from terms relating to eric northman).

  • "Cupcake cones" is the second most popular term with only 320 searches.

  • The term "Pretty Pessimist" has been used 29 times to find me.

  • My name has been used to find me only 5 times.

  • These foreign terms have been used: احلى فيلم رومانسي ساندرا بولوك (something about romance movies with Sandra Bullock), колесо дхармы (wheel of Dharma), and татуировки на плече (tattoo on shoulder).

  • The most amusing search term is: "hate computers." It's ironic, right? I mean, this is a blog which means it's only on the computer.

  • I'm running WordPress's Twenty-Twelve theme and have 7 active plugins.

  • I host with HostGator and am very happy with them.

I've been blogging since 2003, so before I was here I was at blogger.com, then wordpress.com, then I self-hosted another blog at kristynmarie.com. Now, I'm here. So, clearly I've hopped all over the web. And, in honor of reaching 400 posts at this blog, I thought I'd share with you what my first blog ever looked like. Mind, this isn't this blog, but my first blog over at blogspot back in April 2003. Ready? Okay, here goes...


Yikes! I know you can't see what it says and that's just fine with me. The purpose is just to show you what it looked like. I was a horrible writer when I started blogging, but I did it anyway because I enjoyed it, and I can honestly say that blogging regularly has made me a better writer. Well, that and going to college, I'd imagine.

One more image. . .

This is that same blog as the picture above after it's first premium make-over. This theme is my first custom theme ever. I chose the image and the designer put it all together. I still kind of like it, actually, though I would probably have chosen different colors if I could do it all over again. Maybe a monochrome and red palette? Ah well, hindsight and all that. I wonder what they designer is doing now?

Anyway, this blog has seen a lot of milestones since it's inception. More than any of my other blogs. More than all of them put together, actually. Since I started this blog, I've:

That's a heck of a lot of milestones so far and with any luck there will be many more to come. So here's to another 400 posts and more. Man, I wish I had some of that Cupcake Vineyard's Red Velvet right about now!!

One last thing before I go. Today is Earth Day. So, here's a post I wrote about Earth Day in 2011. It seems to be getting more hits than usual today. We're just staying home today, hanging out, no driving anywhere, so it'll be a green 400th post-aversary! :D

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Our Marriage License. . .

I've mentioned a few times that I've been doing some digging around through some old boxes. I've shared pictures and documents that have special meaning for me, but this one is particularly so. In the category of things I thought I'd lost forever, there's this:

Our marriage license. I found it in a keepsake box inside another box. What it was doing in there, I have no idea, but I've since put it in another keepsake box (an old wooden cigar box) with all the pictures I've been collecting and scanning lately. Hopefully it won't get lost again, but if it does, I have a scan of it now. Safe and sound in cyberspace.

I think I've mentioned before that a few days before we got married we went down to the court house to get our license. It wasn't at all formal, we just sort of chatted about it for a few minutes to make sure we were both still interested in getting married, then went to get it taken care of pretty quickly. Very laid back, no pressure, exactly the way it should be. All of the focus that day, February 8th, and then again on February 14th was on us, not on planning anything. We got married, went to the game shop, then went out to dinner. There aren't even any pictures, but that's okay. I have this and I have my memories, that's good enough for me.

Pretty, isn't it? Maybe I should frame it instead of keeping it in a box. It would look pretty on the wall with our degrees. I think I might just do that soon!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Cotton Belt Trail in Waco, TX

I mentioned in my last post that after Matt was done with his GRE, I talked him into taking a short hike with me. I had seen the trail from Old Lorena Road and really wanted to get a closer look, but I didn't want to go alone. This wasn't my agoraphobia, mind you, but was rather whatever bit of common sense I have left telling me a woman with an expensive camera shouldn't saunter off all alone. Self-preservation has it's moments.

After we parked, I took a few minutes to stop and smell the flowers. . .

For whatever reason, I tend to call those pink flowers poppies, even though I know they can't possibly be poppies. After some research, it would seem they're called pink buttercups. There were a lot of them all mixed up and growing wild with the bluebonnets. So pretty!

Then, we started down the trail. Our end goal was the bridge of the river, which didn't at all look that far. The trail even tricks you into thinking it's downhill, and for a while it is.

Until, of course, it's not anymore. It goes up hill so gradually, though, that you don't notice it at first.

But, you can't get up there, onto that bridge, without a little climb. And, it was totally worth it. Not only is the bridge awesome, but the view is too. Check out those solar powered lights.

I love the logo in the middle of the bridge. It's so retro. But like I said, it's the view that makes it worth the climb. . .

I'm a sucker for awesome views. I love how green and filled with little waterways central Texas is. And the breeze up here was amazing, it cooled us down from the uphill hike pretty nicely. I could probably have stayed up there a lot longer, but Matt was eager to hike back to the car and be on our way.

The hike back tricks you into thinking it's also downhill, but unlike the hike up, the one down really is mostly downhill. . . mostly.

Until, again, it's not. . .

But this little stretch up to the parking lot is the only uphill climb on the way back. Matt was grateful for that. When we got back to our car, which you can't see here because it's hiding behind that tree on the right-hand side, I told Matt I wondered what was in the other direction. This parking space isn't actually at the trail head, so the trail stretches on for several miles in either direction. Might be that next time I can talk him into going the other direction.

Beautiful, isn't it?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gone to Waco. . .

Matt and I took a trip to Waco yesterday so he could take his GRE for grad school. He has to have the scores in before he can enroll for the next semester, so it was really becoming important that we took the time out to do it. I considered for a minute making him go alone, but I really enjoy going to Waco, so I went with. Besides, I have this horrible fear when we're apart for two long that something terrible will happen to one of us. It's ridiculous and irrational, but that's the way it is with me sometimes.

So, I made plans to go hang out with Amanda & Karen while Matt took his test, but I also talked him into going early so we could go see Cameron Park, my all-time favorite place. . . pretty much ever. He was happy to grant me this one small favor, even though it meant getting up and on the road a little bit earlier. I was sort of hoping we would make it there with enough time to hit the Cameron Park Zoo before we had to go eat lunch and drop him off, but there wasn't anywhere near enough time, so I settled for some of the more scenic locales in the park instead.

We hit Lovers' Leap first. This is my favorite place in the park and where, in 1999, Matt asked me to marry him, so it holds a particularly special place in my heart. Way back then it was all dirt with a little stone wall you could easily fall over if you weren't careful. They've since renovated it with park benches and a five foot wrought iron fence, but it's the view that really gets me there.

It was so beautiful, and the breeze felt so nice up there, I could have just stayed all day. My favorite days are those that're overcast, the green canopy contrasting with the gray sky. It's awesome, which is exactly what we were fortunate enough to get.

After there we went to the Mouth of the Brazos, which is much closer to the river. As a matter of fact, there's a hiking trail that starts at the Mouth and wanders along the river right below Lovers' Leap. Matt and I have only walked it one time, quite a long time ago, but I still recall vividly how beautiful it was. It was fall and the leaves were turning orange and gold. So lovely. I also got some pictures there, but this post is already running long, so I'm going to skip them for now.

Anyway, he tried to convince me that we should go have lunch after we left the Mouth of the Brazos, but I talked him into going one other place, which happened to be on the way to lunch: the Suspension Bridge. I love this place more than words can really express.

There is no place, not even Lovers' Leap, that I love more than this--the catch here is that the Suspension Bridge isn't actually in the park. The bridge is just so cool, it's awesome to be standing out there, over the water. Matt and I used to go there all of the time when we lived in Waco, though we usually went late at night. It's amazing during the day, but is spectacular when it's lit up in the evening. And this is where the Waco 4th of July stuff happens. That bridge sways like crazy when there're hundreds of people ambling up and down, enjoying the festivities. It's a crazy, dizzy sensation to think something so large can be so mobile when moved by the force of human momentum.

After here there was barely enough time for lunch at Schmaltz's, which is an awesome local Waco sandwich shop, before I had to take him to his exam. I hung out for a while with Amanda & Karen, who I have apparently not seen for 2 1/2 years before yesterday (for shame!), while he was taking his test. After that, I picked him up and convinced him to take a walk along the Cotton Belt Trail, which is actually somewhat new--as in, it wasn't there when we lived there. It was a longer walk than it looked from the road, and we didn't even take nearly the whole thing, so he wasn't completely happy with me for making him traipse along in the heat, but he lived. I took a whole bunch of pictures of that, which I intend to share in another post, maybe tomorrow.

Oh, and I finally got some bluebonnet pictures. Ever since they started blooming around here I've wanted to get some pictures. Unfortunately, I can only seem to find them blooming along highways or places I don't want to park to snap pictures. This turned out to be no exception. Matt stopped along Old Lorena Road, which isn't exactly a highway, so I could get a picture or two.

They're just soooooooooooooo pretty. I love bluebonnet season, even if they do kill my allergies. We spent some more time with Amanda & Karen, so Matt could see them, too, before heading out. Matt decided we should have dinner before leaving Waco, so we had Golden Corral, which we can't get here, and then took one more trip to the suspension bridge so I could try my hand at taking pictures in the evening. Frankly, I suck at it, but I did still manage to figure out how to make the most of it.

The first bridge is one of the bridges that runs parallel to the Suspension Bridge. It's a one way bridge that was, for a long time, closed to all but foot traffic. Now, it's open again, but still has a protected sidewalk. The second picture is the Brazos River Walk, which I also shot from the Suspension Bridge. It's only one side, the walk actually stretches along both sides of the river for quite a ways. It's pretty at night, but also a little bit spooky. The next two are the bridge all lit up. It stays lit up like this from about dusk to 2:00 a.m. or so, when the lights are programmed to go down--Matt and I learned that the hard way once, when we were left standing in the middle of the bridge in utter darkness. That was fun.

What wasn't fun was that while we were standing on the bridge, all the lights flickered and we heard a massive boom! We figured it was a blown transformer or something, but it turns out it was a much bigger deal since that's all the effects we felt from the West tragedy, that happened only about 20 miles from there. We didn't feel the earth shake because the bridge absorbed the shock. We were on our way home when Joey texted us to find out if we were still in Waco and okay, and told us about the fertilizer plant--my God, my heart goes out to those poor people. We were both pretty shocked and had a quiet drive home afterward. Of course, it was partially quiet because I was asleep a lot of the way, but really what do you say after something like that happens? Jovial conversation just didn't seem appropriate  so we settled for stunned silence, instead.

When we got home, I somehow managed to drag myself inside, braid my hair, and crawl into bed where I stayed until almost 8:00 a.m. this morning. We had one exhausting day, with lots of high moments, a few really humorous moments (tell you about those later), and what ended up being one pretty scary ending.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

{Insert Witty Title About Being Moody & Depressed Here}

I'm having one of those horrible, can't get out of the funk, wish I could hit restart kind of days. I woke up in a fine mood, I spent the morning cuddling with my puppy, but somehow, when I wasn't looking, my mood has degraded substantially. I can't even say why, or when it happened specifically, only that right now I feel like crawling back into bed and pulling the covers over my head. Which, of course, is impossible because I have class in 15 minutes and my students are giving presentations. Guess it's just time to suck it up, buttercup, and make the most of it.

It's possible that it has something to do with eating. Namely, I haven't all day and it's almost 1:00 p.m. It could also be that I'm hormonal, I don't know. Or, maybe it's just how my brain chemistry works. Sometimes, I'm fine, others I'm like this. Awesome brain. Seriously.

After work I'm thinking Matt and I will go out for food. That might help, to eat and spend some time with my husband. At least, I hope so, because I need to get out of this mood before tomorrow when we go to Waco so Matt can take his GRE. I'm going to see some friends, Amanda & Karen, who I've not seen in a long time. So, I need to be in a good mood. Hopefully, when I wake up tomorrow, this gray cloud hovering over me will have passed. But for now, I have to go to class.

Monday, April 15, 2013


My family went on a vacation ever year when I was a kid. Usually, we went to Texas to see my grandparents, but other times they would take us on short trips to see things in California--like Disneyland or Knott's Berry Farm--or would go to Las Vegas. One year we went to Vegas for a whole week, which was pretty cool, though I can't remember ever leaving the Excalibur.

But my favorite place to go, in general, was always to central California, and in particular, to Solvang. Have you been? If not, you should go. It's a little Danish town in the San Ynez Valley and I've always thought it was fun. Even as a kid I felt it was full of charm. It's filled with little shops, restaurants, and from what I hear there's a ranch that raises miniature horses near by, though I've never been there myself.

Strangely, now that I think about it, I don't think we ever stayed there when I was a kid. We just dropped in there on the way to and from other places. Maybe it's not the kind of place you stay for any length of time? I remember my folks would always buy us saltwater taffy from one of the little shops and one year my dad promised us these little wooden puppets that danced when you pulled their strings, but we managed to leave without going back for them after breakfast. We never did get those puppets, which for whatever reason is branded to my memory. I barely remember what the dolls looked like, only that they were wooden and that I wanted one. The irony, of course, is that I actually hate puppets.

Now, my folks go and stay in the WorldMark resort there, but I'm almost certain we never stayed there when I was a kid. We'd go up that way to see Hearst Castle (another must see) or wherever, but Solvang was never the main attraction. When I was a little older and I'd drive my ex-husband's sister Missy to and from San Luis Obispo, where she was going to school, I'd drop in there for a little window shopping and because I love the atmosphere.

Finding that post card of Solvang in my stuff has me thinking about all the fun times we had going there. It's really just one of the many things I really loved about California. I miss being able to take little trips to the beach or up the coast to see some of the awesome things there are to see in California, like the Spanish missions--I've see San Juan Capistrano and San Luis Obispo-- or the tide pools at Dana Point, where I went on a field trip when I was little. Or heck, even taking a day trip to the mountains. I'll definitely have to make a point of going again sometime.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

On Matt's Adoption. . .

You may or may not know this, but Matt was adopted. He was born at 1:36 p.m. on October 12, 1977 at Edna Gladney in Ft. Worth and went home with his parents shortly there after. Naturally, both of us think adoption is really awesome and that people who adopt children are a special kind of people for opening their hearts to a child to whom they didn't physically give birth. In other words, we like it.

So, when I was digging around and came across what I'm about to show you, I was both astonished and giddy. In our years together, I had never seen it. I'd never opened the legal paper work in the envelope of things we got from his granddad's house after his passing. Check this out. . .

Apparently, they orange-backed these things back then--legal documents are blue backed now. Or maybe this copy is just orange-backed? Or maybe it has something to do with the type of document it is? I have no idea, but how cool is that? Finding that also allowed me to learn something new about the man I've been with for 14 years, that his adoption wasn't final until 6 1/2 months after they took him home. Can you imagine what a nerve wracking 6 1/2 months that must have been for them? April 24, 1978 (still before I was born) cannot have come soon enough for them.

I would absolutely lose my ever-lovin' mind. Luckily, his dad's a really reasonable, steady type of person. That probably made it easier. Oh, and it was a completely closed adoption. I also found the letters from their lawyers that notified them that their petition had been received and when their adoption was final. All of that along with his birth certificate.

I couldn't wait to share it with him after finding it. I almost burst by the time he was awake. We looked over the documents together and reminded ourselves how cool adoption is. :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Haiku Mood. . .

One of the things I like best about my job is that many of my colleagues are really fun people. Take Hank, for example, one of the instructors who was also my adviser when I was an undergrad. He posted a whole thing about haiku poetry on Facebook today (which was originally for his Intro to Lit students) that really has me in a haiku mood. . . if such a thing is possible.

So here's mine for the day. . .

Cool breezy morning
Locked away inside today
Meeting with students

All in all, It has been a really nice day so far. I am in a pretty excellent mood, which the haiku's are only improving. Matt drove me to work and bought me breakfast before he dropped me off, which I think really helped. Since he's off work today, when he picks me up we're going to go eat. He said he'd "curb-stomp Santa for Chilis" so that's what we're going to have. So for Matt. . .

Don't curb-stomp Santa
Chilis has great mac and cheese
The North Pole is saved

Okay, that's the last one. I promise. Besides, I have another student conference in a few minutes, so I should run. But before I do, I lied. One more. . .

Have a lovely day
Better Tuesday than Monday
Weeks are too darn long

I just realized that only my first one has the nature allusion that is often required of traditional haiku, but that's okay. They're fun anyway! ;)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Missing Memories. . .

Since moving to Texas in 1999, Matt and I have moved four times. The apartment we shared for the first year we were a couple was literally across the street from the mall and was a cute little one bedroom apartment with a galley kitchen on the second floor of our building. The second place was a 2/1 duplex at TSTC family housing. Late in 2002, after Matt's granddad died and Matt graduated from TSTC, we moved to another cute little one bedroom, all bill's paid apartment in a unit of one bedroom apartments near MCC where I was attending school.

Our fourth move was to the house we've lived in for the last 8 1/2 years here in Stephenville. But it was something that happened during or move from TSTC family housing to our little apartment by MCC that inspired this post. Well, that and the picture below, which is one of the only pictures I have of my high school friends. It's a Polaroid, which take terrible pictures, that I found today in an old album.

Left to right: Mayra, Julie, Shannon & Jodi, Shannon T., and your's truly.
We had one more load of things we wanted to move out of TSTC before we turned in the keys. At that point in our lives we weren't the most responsible people on the planet, we had already had to move a lot of furniture from Matt's grandpa's house, and so we weren't terribly motivated to keep a lot of our old furniture, which we decided to just leave for the maintenance people to clean up. I was exhausted  and had a ton of unpacking to do, so I sent Matt to pick up the last load with special instructions that he was to make sure to bring the purple Royal Dansk Danish Cookie tin that was under neath the futon and the portfolio with my drawings, pencils, and Prismacolor pens that was standing up between the left arm of the futon and the wall. Those were the only two things I had specified and they were the only two things he managed to leave behind.

At that point, we didn't have cell phones. As a matter of fact, we didn't have cell phones until June 2010, so it wasn't as though we could call or text to make sure everything was loaded up. He had to rely on his memory. After he loaded up the car, and I can't remember now what he did remember because I'm still so crushed about what he didn't, he took the keys to the management office and left the in the key drop. By the time I realized he had left the tin and portfolio, days had passed and the apartment had already been cleaned out. Those two things, which I can never ever replace, were lost forever, and though I still cringe about the portfolio, it was the Royal Dansk tin that was most significant.

I thought at the time, and still think, that he left it on purpose. He would deny it to this day. Inside the tin was the only remnants of what had been my life before he and I were together. The only pictures of high school friends, class photos, group pictures from dances and prom, and the only pictures I had of the day Mike and I got married, as well as the ceramic bride and groom that had been on our wedding cake. But it wasn't the wedding snaps that I was most concerned about, it was all of my high school memories that are not decomposing in some trash heap somewhere. I can never ever get those back.

So, when  I was looking through an old photo book this morning--which is mostly empty with a few pictures of places I'd gone on vacations as a kid--and I came across that Polaroid of the only slumber party I had during high school, I almost cried. Heaven knows it's not a very clear picture, but that's okay. It represents one solid memory in time, the recapture of one of those memories I thought was rotting away. Oh, and I also found a picture of Jodi trying on her wedding dress, a well as one of Jodi and me trying on our dresses together (it's a back shot, but I think I also have the front shot somewhere, too. . . God we were young!!).

What the picture represents, at this point, is so much more significant to me than the memory it represents. I remember we had fun, that's about all I remember about it. But it gives me something to cherish, something to look at, something to make me wonder where Mayra and Julie are now, and what they're doing. I suppose the point is, it's something I thought I'd never have again, and that's truly something special.

Update:I dug around through my photos and had one more of that slumber party. This is what I came up with. Is this your quilt, Shannon?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Conferences & Presentations

I have a week of student conferences coming up. This is the part of the semester I really like, when we're working on the last paper of the semester--the document study--my student's come in for one-on-one conferences, and they give their presentations, which start next week. Since we only have three and a half weeks until the final, everything's really coming down to the wire, tensions are running high, everyone's mentally exhausted, but it's also almost over and they can see the blessed light at the end of the tunnel.

Conferences are usually a pretty informal and easy going. Students come in, we talk about their progress, their attendance, their current paper, and I answer any questions they may have at this point. I'll also give them the grading rubric for the presentations, something I've not used before, but that I think might help to facilitate the whole presentation process, which students don't much seem to enjoy. Heck, when I was an undergraduate I didn't enjoy it either, but in the intervening years and through my experiences in grad school and teaching, I've begun to see that it's a significant way for students to engage in process of sharing scholarship that's so much a part of the academic experience.

What I really like most about conferences and presentations, though, is that I get to learn more about my students. In previous semesters, I've allowed my students to chose any topic for which they could formulate a viable research question. All the had to do was narrow their subject down to a sufficiently workable topic and show me how their chosen topic was research-worthy. However, I've learned through that experience that freshman comp students have trouble pulling a research-worthy topic from the immense aether. So with that in mind, I approached the research paper this semester in such a way that students had a built-in framework for topic selection: their majors. Their papers had to pertain to their majors, or to college life if they were undecided. So I'm looking particularly forward to the conferences and presentations this semester because I really will get to learn about something that interests my students.

I really expect that the next few weeks will be great, particularly with my grading all (or almost) caught up. I just get to visit with students and be a spectator as they present. It's doubly fantastic because, in addition to being caught up on my grading, I'm all caught up on my own homework. It really is the calm before the storm since I'll have research papers and finals to grade while trying to navigate my own finals. So yeah, it should be a nice few weeks before the mayhem strikes. :)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Five Things that Really Piss Me Off. . .

You know, there are a few things that really pisses me off. I mean, really, really piss me off. And since this is a pessimist blog--it's right there in the title--these sorts of posts are bound to happen--it can't be sunshine and rainbows all the time, now can it? But, since this is #390, I'm not really sure why I feel the need to share that particular disclaimer. I guess it's because I'm not a total bitch all the time. . . there's actually a part of my brain that constantly screams at me to be more cheerful, to be nice, to be optimistic. Generally, I tell the part of my brain to shut the fuck up. Like right now, for instance.

Okay, so. . .

Number one: Women who say things like "It was so easy I could do it myself, without my husband's help!" I was browsing around on Overstock.com today, looking at bamboo shades for the kitchen window, and I came across a review that said that exact thing, almost word for word. In that moment, I grew so unreasonably angry that I had to walk away from my computer. Thank the heavens Matt was sleeping or he'd have gotten an ear-full.

This isn't 1940, lady, women are capable of doing things by themselves, without their big, strong, manly husbands to help them. We even know how to use tools now. We even know how to use the kind that plug in. Shocking, I know. Crazy liberated women trying to do man's handy work, like hanging the blinds. How dare she?!

Number two: It's 60 degrees outside, it's 78 degrees inside, and I have the damn desk heater on. I am literally running a heater when it's 78 degrees in my house, because I'm cold. I'm always freaking cold. For 34 years I've been freaking cold. I used to lay on the sofa at home and snuggle under blankets in the summer. Now, I snuggle up in my Snuggie and turn on the little heater. It's atrocious. And there's zero chemical reasons I should be having this problem. There's not a thing wrong with my hormones. Nothing, nada, zip. I'm apparently a-ok. But, I'm still always cold.

Oh, and Matt likes to run the air conditioner on 70 when it's anything above 74 in the house, which means I'm doubly always cold. I'm cold and he's hot, all the time. There's no happy medium. One of these days I'm going to freaking snap and take a bat to the air conditioner. I swear.

Number three: People who passive-aggressively tell you what they really think of you and hope you didn't catch it. Like calling you names in the context of a joke. That straight pisses me off under any circumstances. Sometimes, I'm sure it's a joke, and sometimes,I feel like there's a ring of truth to it.

If someone wanted to tell me that they didn't like me, they think I'm petty and spiteful, or tacky, they hate my cooking, they could care less about anything I have to say, are completely disinterested in me, they don't think my job is real work, they're not all that interested in talking to me anymore, they think I'm a bother to them, or whatever else might be floating around in their heads. I'd rather they just said it to my face than to hide behind passive-aggressive jabs, or passive aggressive silence, for that matter. Thankfully, most of the people in my life aren't like this, that's the silver lining, because I really don't have space in my psyche for that.

Number four: I'm not a maid. I'm not a chef. Wife doesn't = servant. If I do all the cooking and cleaning, in addition to going to graduate school and working, then I should hear a thank you every now and then. Or maybe, just maybe, the laundry could magically done without me doing it. Or the trash could magically find it's way to the dumpster without my nagging.

And I don't just mean me, but all women. Men in our society, even those that's say they don't believe in the misogynistic idea of "traditional roles" still often perpetuate them by neglecting the sort of responsibilities that would make the man and the woman more equal. If you push me into a typical women's role by asking me what's for dinner, or by throwing a hissy fit when you don't have a clean shirt for work--even though I was at work from 9:00 a.m. until almost 5:00 p.m.--then you're a part of the problem.

Number five: Hearing a person say that their spouse "wont let them" do this or that. Marriage isn't prison. If you have to ask your spouses permission, rather than telling them your intent so you can talk about it like adults, then you're in the wrong kind of relationship. Or at the very least you need to grow up, put on your big boy or girl panties, and fix whatever's broken in your head that makes you the kind of person who is willing to accept commands from your spouse.

And if you're the kind of person who has to be asked for permission, get over yourself. The world, or even your marriage, doesn't, and shouldn't, revolve around you. I never tell Matt what he can and cannot do. I tell him what my preference is and then leave his choices to him and he always considers what I said and then makes his own decisions--often times not the decisions I'd have made if we had the kind of marriage that says we don't "let" one another do things. I don't want to be a mommy, that includes to my husband.

And while we're on this particular subject. Spouses who use emotional blackmail on one another are petty creeps. If you emotionally blackmail your spouse into doing what you want them to do by manipulating their emotions or making them feel like shit about themselves, then you're a fucker. Simple as that. Seek therapy.

Bonus: Comment SPAM. I hope the people who get paid to leave me comment spam, even though Akismet catches most of it, get struck by lightening. Or someone drops a house on their heads.

Okay, so now that I've bitched and complained. I've got other things to do. . . which, coincidentally  also pisses me off. Go figure.

Friday, April 5, 2013

On Babies, Puppies, & 21 Sparkly, Purple, 12mm Dice. . .

I was thinking again tonight, sort of involuntarily, about the similarities between dogs and babies. The whole condescending mommy blogger thing really has the wheels in my head turning. In general, I love how different they are. But, there are moments when their similarities are astonishingly disturbing, too. Take Chewbi, for example. Just like a baby, he literally throws tantrums, loudly, until I play with him. He also has nightmares. But I think the thing that makes him most childlike is the fact that, like a baby, he puts everything in his mouth and I'm constantly having to watch him to make sure he's not going to choke to death.

Like this. . .

This is all that remains of a set of dice. Those 15 purple dice are all that's left of what was once a cube of 36. The pink dice are there for reference. Shall I share with you a funny little story about what happened to them? A short tale to illustrate my point?


Last year, when I was in California visiting my family and friends (the trip that started with the train ride from hell), Matt was left alone to take care of himself and our furbabies--*gasp* I said furbabies! This isn't terribly irregular, this is the third or fourth trip I've taken like it, so he's no stranger to this sort of thing. But this time it wasn't just Galileo and Anakin. It was also Chewbi. So when I got home and everything seemed fine, I was thankful. I was glad my little family had managed to avoid falling apart in my short absence.

Then, the following day, while tending to Chewbacca, I noticed something strange. That is, that what was at once point a sparkly purple die had run the length of Chewbi's digestive tract and come out the other end, irrecoverable. It was still a dice, mind you, but I was certainly not going to try to save it. When I went to investigate where said die had come from, I noticed that there was a plastic cube (like the one containing the pink dice set above) spilled over--the black cap chewed up--and I was only able to find those 15 you see in that picture above.

This means, to my horror, that Chewbacca had eaten 21 of those sparkly, 12mm dice (they're substantially smaller than a normal 16mm, oh, say, Yhatzee die, for example) while I was in California. He had eaten them. Put them in his little bitty mouth and swallowed them. I wasn't here to watch him and he'd eaten more than half a cube of dice. And when I asked Matt about it, he said, "I didn't notice. I must have been at work," and then he had a good laugh that some 15+ dice were likely still floating around inside Chewbi somewhere. Ultimately, I'm pretty sure those dice the little guy swallowed made their way to freedom. I watched him like a hawk to make sure he wouldn't get sick and the only reason we didn't take him to the vet is because those dice have smoothly rounded corners, so we figured it was no harm, no foul. . . except that I lost more than half a set of sparkly purple dice.

Now tell me, what would happen if a baby ate more than twenty 12mm dice? That would be a big deal, right? Pretty sure no one would be laughing. Though you'll have to trust me when I say that I only laughed from horror, to keep from crying, not from humor. But you know, even though a baby--and a dog, for that matter--really shouldn't be eating dice, that wouldn't stop either from trying and in the case of Chewbacca, succeeding. Naughty dog. . . and naughty babies, too, for that matter!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

They called us "y'all"!!!!

While talking to my mom on Skype last night we got to chatting about my great grandparents, Joseph Lloyd and Eliza Josephine Troutman. I told her I didn't remember them, but then they died when I quite small. She said that my Grandma Wilma and her mother, my Great Grandma Troutman, had come to California shortly after my great grandfather died, but I didn't remember that, either. That's when she reminded me of something funny that had happened when we were in Texas for my great grandparent's 50th anniversary. It's funny, and a memory I do clearly have, though I didn't know, until last night, that it had happened when we were there for their anniversary.

I'm the brat on the right--this is me and Staci, when we were about five and seven (or so) years old. Hesperia, CA.
I was quite small, maybe five years old, and we were at my Aunt Wanda and Uncle Rex's house in Plainview. They had a basement playroom filled with toys, a glassed-in patio filled with those little John Deere tractor models--that weren't for kids, they were my uncles, who was a commercial harvester his whole life--and a huge trampoline in their back yard. I remember their house being fun. While we were outside jumping on the trampoline, all the adults were in the house, sitting around the kitchen table, enjoying desert. That is until I came running into the house crying.

I ran up to my folks, my feet bare, and when my mom tried to comfort me and asked what was wrong, I blurted out, "THEY CALLED US 'Y'ALL'!!!" Apparently, in the infinite wisdom of a five year old, I thought our cousins, who were only a little bit younger than us and who had grown up in Texas, were calling us names. Everyone burst out laughing, which was confusing for me, while my mom explained that "y'all" just means "you all" and that my cousin was just addressing both of us, not insulting us. Ugh, embarrassing. . . thankfully, little kids don't hang on to embarrassment the way adults do.

Looking back on it now I laugh, particularly since I've been living in Texas for 14 years in June and though I swore when I moved here that I'd never lapse into y'all's, I have. I use it so much that I hardly notice it anymore. Still, it's one of my better memories now. We went to Texas every year when I was a kid to visit my grandparents, but this particular memories stands out the most in my mind. Maybe humor is some kind of fastening agent for memories. Wouldn't that be ironic? A pessimist with the ability to most vividly remember the funny things!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Brainspill: Work, School, & Criminals

Whew, I'm actually all caught up on my grading. That feels. . . amazing and crazy. For the first time this semester, I have no paper's to grade for upwards of three weeks. It's awesome, now I can get caught up on my school work for my Organizational Behavior class. I only have like 7 quizzes to take before I'm done with that classes work, but I have to read more than 100 pages for each of them. So, it's a balance to find the time, but Matt works tonight, so maybe I'll be able to get some of that done.

Otherwise, I'll probably just do a little bit of housework--like the dishes and laundry--and watch my true crime shows. I wish I could say why, but I am crazy addicted to shows like Snapped, Snapped: Killer Couples, Deadly Women, Lockup, and Lockup Raw. I guess I've always been pretty interested in that stuff, but it's getting out of hand. Lockup and Lockup Raw record quicker than I can watch them--they're shows on MSNBC about prison life and they're really interesting. Maybe I missed my calling and should have gone into criminal justice and forensics? That would have been a quite different life than the one I have now.

I mean, teaching English is a far cry from working with criminals*. Oh, and speaking of, it looks like I'll have three classes in the Fall, so that's good. I'm going to have one English 1301 (111, Freshman Composition) and two English 1302 (112, Freshman Composition & Research). So, I'll likely have about 75 students in all. That's the most I've ever had, but I think it should be fine trying to manage it and there's always the chance I could get one more section (though it's a slim chance). All in all, I'm really finding this job fulfilling--so much different than how I felt when I was in grad school (the first time).

But, I won't work in the summer. Adjuncts don't do summer work here for whatever reason, which is fine. I'm going to take 9 hours of summer coursework instead. I'm currently registered for Business Research Methods, Human Resources Management, and Managing Human Resource Development. Then, in the fall I'll take another 6 hours of coursework, Laws & Regs in HR and Compensation Management, while I teach 9 hours. I think the comps for this program are also during the fall semester, but I can't be sure. It's multiple choice. 70 = passing grade, so it shouldn't be too bad. Then, I'm planning to graduate in the spring (May 2014) with my MS in Human Resource Management. What I do from there, I have no idea. :)

I've also been considering trying to pick up some extra classes of online work as an adjunct through some of the local(ish) junior colleges. I'm not sure though. I'm not sure it's wise to do extra work, three sections here, and try to go to college. I really need to think about it. I'm also super content doing adjunct work at Tarleton, I'm very comfortable here, so much so that it feels like home, so I may just stick with that. It's something to consider anyway.

Okay, so now that I've jumped all over the place, talking about work, class, and criminal shows. I think it's time for me to go home. I'm at work, I'm done, but I'm waiting for Matt to wake up and come get me so we can have some frozen yogurt. Love that stuff and our local place has a new flavor I want to try: Honey Vanilla Greek. Sounds delicious! Okay, now I've added yet another topic. I really am going before this gets out of hand.

* Well, the girl involved in the rash of robberies in town a few weeks back is a student, so this is mostly true.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Dear Condescending Mommy Blogger. . .

PREFACE: This post was written in response to this letter--which I've just recently come across. Though I'm aware she's not railing against people with pets, her condescension is so aggravating that I had to respond. Why should she care if people love their pets and treat them like they're family? So, the following certainly doesn't apply to all parents, just to this one woman who seems so set on hating people with "furbabies," that she decided to engage in the exact behavior she's railing against. I don't find her post "tongue-in-cheek," I find it insulting and so did a whole lot of others.

Dear condescending mommy blogger,

We were never friends in the first place. After all, who really wants to be friends with women who think the world revolves around their womb and brood? But don't worry, you won't have to "flick me in the eye" because I'm about to agree with you. First, a small correction because if you're going to be nasty, at least know what you're talking about. The term "childless" refers to someone who cannot have children. I'm pretty sure "childfree" is what you're looking for here, we're the ones have chosen not to have children. This distinction is important because if you're demeaning childless people who are filling a huge void--one you couldn't possibly understand while you flaunt your ability to procreate--with an animal, then you're just a bitch.

Okay, so onto the part where I agree with you. Dogs, furbabies, whatever, are most certainly not children. Trust me, we understand that. We understand it on a whole other level, because that's the entire point: If dogs, or cats, or hamsters, or birds, or potbelly pigs, or whatever, were equivalent to children, we wouldn't want to raise them either. Do you get it now? We don't want anything even remotely resembling a baby, even when it's furry and cuddly and way cuter than a scary, wrinkly newborn. So unless your friend or commenter, is childless and feels horrible about that, or is completely mentally unstable, then they understand that kids and pets aren't the same thing, too. But how does it hurt you if they want to treat their pets like their children? Um, it doesn't.

There are, however, some comparisons and you would be obtuse to overlook them simply because you don't want them to be true. Like babies, puppies have to go to the vet every other month or so to have shots and check ups. So your assertion that you take your baby to the pediatrician more than I take my puppy to the vet in the first year is bull. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests, that at a minimum, babies are seen at birth, a few days after birth, then at two months, four months, and six months, nine months, and at one year. Puppies go to the vet for a series of shots shortly after they're born, then every few months for vaccinations, deworming, and heartworm checks. And just like a good parent, good dog owners make sure to keep their animals on preventative care medications their entire lives.

Just like your babies, my dogs get sick. They throw-up. My 8 1/2 year old shih-tzu just threw-up all over the sofa this morning. I have to clean that up, just like you have to clean up after your babies when they get sick. I have to give them medication and call the vet when they're ill, just like you call your pediatrician when your babies are sick. When my dogs have an accident in the house, I have to clean it up, just like you have to clean up after your baby--though thankfully not nearly as often. My dogs have bad dreams, bad moods, and are afraid of things like thunderstorms and the dark. Your babies have bad dreams, bad moods, and are afraid of things like the dark, too. I have to give one of my dog anti-anxiety meds when it storms because he's petrified.

Like your children, my pets have separation anxiety. They're sad when we leave them home, they miss us while we're gone, and they're happy to see us return. Which is actually smarter than your newborn baby, who thinks you don't exist when they can't see you, thanks to his lack of object permanence--which they won't develop until their 4-6 months old. Now granted, my puppy probably has the same problem, but it doesn't matter. I didn't spend 20+ hours in grueling pain to bring him into the world, so it's fair. I don't sink my entire identity as a caretaker into how smart my dog is.

Oh and on your point about bathing your baby, I do have to bathe my dogs. Otherwise, like your babies, they start to smell bad. But, because I have shih-tzus, who have human-like hair instead of fur, I have to have them groomed, which costs me about $35 each (there are two of them) every 6-8 weeks--so, about $70 dollars every month and a half. How much does it cost you to wash your baby? Oh, about the cost of a bottle of Johnson's and Johnson's? Yeah, I think we might be even. It costs me more money and you more time. But to make one more point, most babies I've been around don't mind, and even enjoy, having a bath. My dogs hate it, it causes them anxiety. It's not playtime for my dogs when it's time to take a bath or get groomed. It's an hour of washing, shaving, clipping, ear plucking, gland cleaning, nail trimming. It's not a walk in the park, it's a necessary evil. Thankfully, I've found a groomer who loves animals and takes good care of them.

One more thing before I move on. You do put your babies in a cage, but I don't. I don't crate my dogs. You have playpens, cribs (which actually have bars), baby gates, play gates for the yard, and swings and bouncers that contain your baby. You put your baby in way more cages than I do. The only time I've put my dog in containment is when he was a puppy and I didn't want him to hurt himself. And that was only for a few months, and he wasn't in there all the time. So don't give me that crap about how you don't cage your infants. That's total BS.

But to your other points. You're completely right. I'll never have a dog breastfeeding from me "all night" though I'm pretty sure babies don't feed all night, either. Maybe I'm wrong, but that would be one hungry kid. Yes, my dog sleeps through the night sometimes, other times he barks all night and keeps me awake--and since there are two of them it's a chorus of barking. And they bark every time they hear something outside. Pretty sure your baby doesn't cry when they hear noises outside. And yes, my dogs do generally eat what I give them, but they don't always like it. Fortunately, unlike your baby, my dogs don't spit food all over me and make a huge mess. They don't throw tantrums or throw their food on the floor. It's bliss.

Blessedly, my dogs can be left at home alone without having to pay $15 an hour for some teenage babysitter to neglect them while I'm out--though when I take trips I have to kennel them, which costs a fortune. Tell me, when was the last time you paid for a plane ticket for your baby? Or an extra hotel fee? Or even had to pay for them in a restaurant? Oh, never? Then you have no idea what it actually costs me to try to take a trip. It's exorbitant, but it's also the choice I knowingly made when I chose to bring them into my life. Just like the expense, tantrums, no sleep, up half the night, chaos that is your life is something you likely chose by choosing to bring a life into this world.

So, why don't you step off your high horse for just a minute and assess the situation. You say the letter was to "a pet owner that thought it was appropriate to judge parents, talk smack, and compare having a kid to having a dog" but you've just done the exact same thing, the other way around. And even though you may think so, your choice to have a baby is not superior to our choice not to. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but you've engaged in the same behavior you're railing against by judging dog owners, talking smack, and comparing having a kid to having a dog. You're doing it too, so do you really have the right to he so condescending? Yeah, probably not.

Your (non)Friend with Pets

PS. If you're not wise enough to see that your humor is damaging and hateful, and you're so petty that you have to discourage dissent by insulting the intelligence of those who wouldn't agree with you, then maybe  you're the one who should "suck it."