Four Generations

I have two reasons for posting this photo:

1. Because of all that has happened in my life and the long journey I went on to get where I am today, this picture means more to me than you could ever imagine. The fact that this picture even exists is a miracle in itself. My daughter is in it - whom I was only able to have through a lot of blood, sweat and tears (and money) and who is an absolute miracle. And my Grandma is in it - who is aging, lives on the other side of the country and had previously decided that her traveling days were over. It's truly amazing that we could all be together.


2. Because of my last post. For anyone who doesn't know me or what I look like. Look! I'm a mom, I'm a daughter, and I'm a granddaughter. AND I have a sleeve tattoo!

Big East Preview: Not great, but improving

The only that most sports fans associate with the Big East is the way that the conference destroyed their March Madness brackets during the college basketball season.

As for college football, West Virginia's the perennial favourite to win, and everyone else is trying to catch up, so we say. But with Rich Rodriguez doing what no man should and go to Ann Arbor for some (financial) love, it's blown the conference wide open.

So what about the couch burners?

Now that Pat White's gone, everyone in Morgantown, West Virginia is talking about Jarrett Brown, who has a cannon and, surprise, surprise, is really, really quick. The team also need a speedster......oh, and running back Noel Devine provides a heck of a lot of that. A big non-conference match-up with Auburn beckons, as does a tough road game at South Florida. This team has the talent to win it all. Prediction: 10-2 (losses to South Florida and Auburn)

And the Penn State pretenders?

Everyone knows the biggest college football in Pennsylvania isn't Pittsburgh. It's Penn State. But one of the NFL's heroes played at Pitt, in the form of one Larry Fitzgerald - probably the best wide receiver in all of football. LeSean McCoy could have been a hero at Pitt, but decided to go pro early, leaving a monster running back-sized hole in the backfield. Now, three people will battle to take McCoy's place - Dion Lewis, Sharriff Harris, and Chris Burns - and all are really quite good. And they'd better pray it is - or it's going to be a long season. Prediction: 9-3

Speaking of poor in-state relations....

There's only one college football team in Ohio in recent years, and it ain't been Cincinnati. But now, the Bearcats are much improved, wowing many with a 9-4 record last year. Retooled and ready to rumble, the Bearcats quarterback/wide receiver combo of Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard will frighten many-a-secondary. The problem is the 'D'. You don't replace 10 starters and expect to be brilliant. And to be honest, we'll see the fruits of the 'D' when they go to Corvallis to get it on with 26th ranked Oregon State and then play Big Ten dark horses Illinois. Prediction: 8-4

And down somewhere nice and warm....

There's the South Florida Bulls, who haven't come back from the heady heights of a No.2 ranking in 2007. Jim Leavitt's team has constantly threatened to win a Big East title, and now quarterback Matt Groethe and defensive end George Selvie are in their final years, the time is now. They'll have to prove themselves with in-state games at Florida State and at home against Miami during their out-of-conference schedule (as well as monster home games against West Virginia and Cincinnati). If they come through all four, then the Bulls are laughing to the BCS.
Prediction: 10-2

Will Rutgers light up the Empire State Building again?

Remember when Rutgers knocked off Louisville on a Thursday night with the Empire State Building glowing red in honour of the Scarlet Knights in 2007? In our humble opinion, Rutgers have lost too much offensive talent to compete for a Big East title this year, but watch out for 2010, will ya? Prediction: 6-6

And the rest?

Syracuse's season's going to be ugly (yet again), while Louisville is still in rebuilding mode. Connecticut will be tricky for some teams, but they won't win a title (although they'll be bowl worthy).

And the most important bit:

Best-looking students: The University of Louisville. It's something about Southern girls wearing red. Cheerleaders most likely to get drunk with you - West Virginia (they may well throw in a ceremonial couch-burning, too).

Here's a couch-burning commentary.....(seriously!)



Reaction

I get a lot of different reactions from people in regards to my sleeve tattoo. And it's usually ok. I expect it - I'd be a fool not to. I mean, seeing a person with a sleeve tattoo usually turns heads anyways but when it's on a female, it sometimes elicits even more reaction.

Some people will do a double take - all the while trying not to look obvious - "What the...? Is that a...? Oh crap! She saw me! Look away! Look away!" Then there's the people who peer at me out of the corner of their eye, waiting til I look the other way to take a good stare. There are the blinkers, the people who are shocked but try not to show it and somehow this causes their eyes to blink in rapid succession (these are usually older ladies). There are the shameless open starers - the ones who just stare, sometimes gaping mouths, sometimes while looking me up and down because they just can't quite figure me out. ...Hmmm... nicely dressed, no piercings, hair is kinda mom-like, makeup is normal, cute little baby in tow... but then there's the tattoos... I don't get it! Granted, I am probably not what most people expect when they think of a woman with a sleeve tattoo. I don't fit into any cookie cutter genre and that can be confusing for some.

And I know people form opinions about me based on my tattoos. I know I'm judged by people on my appearance. No matter how "normal" I look otherwise, when they see the tattoos they instantly think things about me. They think they know something about me. Even people that I see in my everyday life who either ignore the tattoos or who say the tattoos don't bother them? They're still thinking shit.

And generally, it's all neither here nor there for me. Mostly, I couldn't care less about what people think. I understand that it's not everyday you see a woman with a sleeve tattoo and I expect most people to react in one way or another. It is what it is. I am what I am. I look how I look. Deal with it. Or don't. Have your looky loo, think what you think, get on with your life.

Until the other day when I was leaving the grocery store with my husband and my baby - a woman walked into the store and gave me the most obvious, ignorant, stupid look I've ever seen. I looked right at her and said, "Oh, now that's just really rude." She pretended she didn't hear what I said (despite being within two feet of me), avoided eye contact - and looked right at my arm and made another ridiculous, and terribly rude face. And then she strutted away with a little disgusted shake of her head.

I have never had a reaction (to my face anyways) that was so obviously meant to show disdain and to purposefully make me feel small, or ugly, or bad, or whatever it was that she was going for.

I boiled with a million different emotions.

Firstly - rage. And let me tell you it is rare that I ever feel rage over reactions to my tattoos. But oh Good Lord did I feel some serious rage towards this woman. I had to stop in my tracks and consciously stop myself from walking after her and giving her a quick close up of my tattooed arm as it followed my fist into her perfectly made-up face.

But Ruby was with me and it would have been very inappropriate. So when we got to the car, I asked Steve if I could leave Ruby with him for a few minutes while I went back in the store and hunted the woman down.

He said that I couldn't do that - which was the level headed answer. Besides, what I felt like doing to that woman is probably what she would expect from "a person like me".

After the rage started to peel away, I felt shame underneath it. Oh how I fucking hate shame. In all logic, I know that I have NOTHING to feel shameful for. But I somehow did. One stranger's rudeness could make me feel embarrassed and ashamed of myself? Am I a bad person for how I look? People think I am. This woman thought I was.

But after some time I started to feel other things. I felt actually shocked that in today's day and age, any person would be so obviously judgemental towards another. I mean, in today's society do we not promote individuality? Do we not promote tolerance of others? Do we not not judge books by their covers? Do we not teach our children to accept people for what's on their insides and not what's on their outsides?

And there are SO MANY people in today's world who have SO MANY different looks. It truly shocks to me that anyone would find a tattooed arm so appalling and revolting that they would make it such high priority to express their hate of how another individual looked.

What if someone walked by her who smelled different? Or who had a different color of skin? Or a birth mark? Or who was bald - maybe by choice, maybe not? I do realize that I've chosen to have my arm tattooed so it's not exactly the same, but really... I wonder where she draws the line?

And just what made her feel that she was justified in trying to make me, another human being, feel lower than her (because that's what it's really all about) because she didn't approve of my appearance?

So after I had worked through my own feelings about this incident, I decided that I kinda felt bad for her. How limited and enclosed her world must be. How few friends must she have, and how boring must they be? Everybody must look Stepford and nobody who is worth her time can have anything about them that makes them stand out. And what is this woman teaching her children? What is it that she's saying to them with her ignorant, intolerant ways?

Somebody once asked me, "What are you going to tell your kids about your tattoos?" And this was before Ruby was ever even in a petri dish - but I responded that I will teach my kids that everybody is different, and that no matter what somebody looks like, you should always get to know them before you decide if you like them or not. I believe that my tattoos will go far in teaching my daughter to be accepting of others. And I'm proud of that. I'm proud of the mother that I am, I'm proud of the woman I am, I'm proud of my tattoos.

And I'm sorry for anyone with preconceived notions about anyone's appearance. I really am.

Perhaps the next time you are out and about and you see someone who looks different or out of the ordinary or who is even perhaps ugly or unappealing to you? Do the world a favor and take a minute to realize that they are a human being just like you, with likes and dislikes, thoughts and feelings. And take a minute before you judge them on their appearance.

Really. Think about it.

It's not just about Florida: SEC Conference Preview

Hedges, pretty co-eds, jorts, and monster-sized stadiums.....that's the SEC for you. Oh, and they play some pretty good football, too.

A quick few words about Florida

Very. Good. Indeed. Preseason ranked No.1. Tim Tebow. Brandon Spikes. Great Defense. National Championships. Favourites to repeat in 2009. Big game on the road at LSU.

Is Ole Miss for real?

This is the dark horse for the SEC, although this dark horse may well come in second - by a mile to the Gators - when all is said and done. Jevan Snead's a darned good quarterback, and Houston Nutt's ultra confident that his team can be even better than last year. Watch out on the offensive side of Dexter McCluster, who's a threat running and rushing. The schedule will help: monster games at home to Alabama and LSU should make this team viable. If they beat one of those, they've already exceeded the VFA's expectations.

And LSU?

Jordan Jefferson is a talented quarterback, and they still have a ton of speed on both sides of the ball. If Jefferson can pull it off and WR Brandon LaFell has a big year, then this might just be the team to upset Florida this year. They may well be the team that upsets the Gators this year, too. As for winning the SEC West, it's going to be a toss-up between the Tigers, Ole Miss and....

Alabama

That's right - Alabama. So badly have the Crimson Tide been underrated before the start of the season for a while, that the critics cried: "You won't fool me again!" and now they are pre-ranked No.5. Yes, the 'D' is crazy good but there are still a few worries about their offensive line. Oh, and at quarterback, too.

Meanwhile, in Auburn....

Gene Chizik will survive his first season in charge of 'War Eagle', but only just. The fans aren't going to like what's going on in Auburn (particularly when the lose their second straight to 'Bama), but the school will talk about 'rebuilding' (a lot) and GC will keep his 401K.

How is Lane Kiffin going to fare?

Well, new Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin has been talking about "new attitudes" and he's been recruiting well. He's obviously eager to get the team winning the SEC East again, but it won't be this year. Why? Firstly, his new nemesis, Urban Meyer will beat him (and everyone else in the division!) and secondly, injuries have absolutely ravaged his wide receiving corps. But expect them to go bowling (7-5) though - even if it isn't a great one.

Georgia on our minds....

Athens on our mind simply because we're hitting up the prettiest town in the SEC for the game against LSU. Frankly, we're praying for a night game, because that would be a blast. Fifth-year quarterback Joe Cox has tongues wagging, and he'll have AJ Greene, who's a tall and fast target for him to hit. Georgia's defensive line is much vaunted, and we'll see how good they are when they play Oklahoma State on the road. I predict a 10-2 year this year (with losses to Florida and Oklahoma State).

The rest?

Vanderbilt
had a great 2008 (by their standards), but it's hard to see the Commodores winning more than five games this year......Kentucky won't be anything special, and South Carolina need Stephen Garcia to shake off a woeful 2008 for the Gamecocks to compete in 2009. Oh, and we're ignoring Mississippi State for good reason. They'll be lucky if they win three games this year. Arkansas, however, will be much better. Ryan Mallett will lead these guys to a 7-5 record - even if they don't really play anybody good until their SEC opener with Gawgia.

And more importantly.....

Best fans

The noise in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is enough to give anyone a headache. We still love the 'You Suck' chant at South Carolina. Best co-ed prize goes to Ole Mississippi (although Florida's pretty close behind).

Best tailgate

You can't get better than tailgating on the North Lawn at the University of Georgia. It's an experience you have to do once in your life.

Expect this sort of game when Florida visits LSU this year






Horses. Then and Now.

I was riding horses before I could walk.

Here I am atop Coco - quite possibly the kindest, most gentle horse ever to walk the earth.

And here I am 33 years later... atop Phoenix. It has been at least 10 years since I've been on a horse and it felt great to get in a saddle again! I miss it and wish I had more opportunities to do this:

About a Week To Go: Pac-10 Preview

The Pac-10. Home to USC Song Girls, smart Stanford kids and THAT Oregon Duck. They play football, too.....and quite well, in actual fact.

Is anyone other than USC going to win the Pac-10?

Probably not. The battle for a new quarterback shows what rude health USC's offense is in, and you should trust Pete Carroll to choose a good one. Even though we think Mitch Mustain is overrated, he's still pretty darned good. However, there are two things that could get in the way of the 'mighty' Trojans: the fact that Carroll & Co always seem to trip up in the State of Oregon, and the fact that the linebacking unit has been shredded by defections on the NFL. But if USC can win all of their games - as well as the tricky non-conference trip to the Horseshoe against Ohio State, those Song Girls will be cheering could well be cheering at the National Title game.

You talked about the State of Oregon

Oregon is fancied to be USC's successor for the Pac-10 trip to the Rose Bowl, and Oregon State, who had a great run last year right until the injury to star running back Jacquizz Rodgers, are ranked just outside the Top 25. While we don't think O-State will factor in a title battle, they may be good enough to get a sub-Top 20 ranking.
We mentioned that the Ducks are fancied to beat out USC for a title run. We'll throw this one out there - if they can win at Boise State (no mean feat in itsself) and stop USC, then the Ducks will win the Pac-10 title, and may even run the table. Those are two big 'ifs' though. We predict a 11-1 record for Oregon (loss at home to USC) and an 8-4 record for Oregon State.

What about the State of California?

While Stanford will do the usual (that is to suck), Cal hasn't been talked about at all this offseason. That's strange, because Jahvid Best is a brilliant running back. But there are too many question marks about the Bears to confidently say that they'll roar this year. Maybe 8-4 if they are lucky.

One coach that's been particularly vocal is Rick Neuheisel, UCLA's coach. The win over Tennessee last year was a monster for the program, but repeating that at Neyland Stadium might be a tad more difficult. Kevin Bosworth shines out in a pretty useful defence, but it'll have to play incredibly if UCLA are to threaten USC. We're thinking 8-4.

Did someone forget Washington?

For very good reason, as it goes. Washington and Washington State combined for just one conference win last year in a brilliant display of futility, and this year isn't pegged to be different. Scout.com thinks Washington State is going to finish 2-1o, while it's got Washington pegged at 3-10. Here's my take: Washington WILL be better than WSU this year, because Jake Locker isn't a bad quarterback and Steve Sarkisian's recruited pretty well. I'm not saying bowling, but I'm going for 4-8, with the wins coming against Idaho, Arizona, Washington State and Stanford.

Oh, and then there's Arizona....

Mike Stoops' coaching job at Arizona has been on the line for years. The Wildcats haven't performed properly for ages, and don't look for 2009 to be 'the year', either. Arizona State will be in recovery after the departure of QB Rudy Carpenter, but really, a 6-6/7-5 year will be somewhat of a success.

Best fans

Oregon - when you talk about atmosphere, you talk about Oregon football. Best co-eds prize is the most difficult of the lot, but I'll give it to Arizona State.

Best Cheerleaders

Tie between the USC Song Girls and Oregon Ducks cheerleading squad. What do you think?

OREGON



USC SONG GIRLS

Just Over A Week To Go: ACC preview

With the college football season starting on Thursday week in North Carolina for South Carolina's match-up with NC State, the VFA thought it was high-time we started with our conference previews.

With that in mind, here's our ACC preview.

The contenders

Georgia Tech

After they beat Georgia on the road in one of the best games of 2008, the Ramblin' Wreck have high hopes for 2009. They should do - the running back corps of Jonathan Dwyer and Roddy Jones are downright filthy, and Paul Johnson may just be the conference's best coach. Oh, and Josh Nesbitt, who's already on the Davey O'Brien watchlist for 2009 after posting strong numbers both in the air and on the floor, is a pretty good quarterback.

Prediction: 11-1 ACC winner

Virginia Tech

Already people are talking about a potential Top 10 finish for the Hokies, but get this: they've still got one monster of a game to play against the Alabama Crimson Tide on the opening day of the season. If Tyrod Taylor & Co can get through that, then they should have plain sailing up to October 17, when they get together with Georgia Tech.

Prediction: 10-2 (loses to Georgia Tech, 'Bama)

Clemson

The Clemson Tigers were the model of 'disappointing' last year when they trundled to a 7-6 record last year after being widely predicted to win the ACC. This year, running back CJ Spiller's back, but the offense needs to wake up a bit - or new coach Dabo Swinney could be getting the boos reserved for now-resigned Tommy Bowden.

Prediction: 10-2 (wins ACC Coastal)

Could go each way

North Carolina

Butch Davis' program keeps on getting better and better, and the Tar Heels are giving people in Chapel Hill something else to think about other than basketball. Having said that, a warm-up against the North Carolina School for the Blind at the Dean Dome would probably get more fans in, but really, the school should be selling more football tickets. Why? This team - ranked in the teens preseason- is going to be pretty useful.

Prediction: 9-3

Miami

Not even ranked this year, there's a thought that this could be yet another rebuilding year for Randy Shannon's men. But we'll throw this one out there: there's is a much better team than people will give Shannon credit for. The defense was pretty good last year - although they'll have to improve their run defence, which was pounded last year. Travis Benjamin and Craig Cooper are going to be a lot of fun to watch. Maybe we were premature to talk about an ACC title (we actually forgot about Georgia Tech - oops!) in our predictions, but these guys will go bowling.

Prediction: 8-4

Florida State

In the last few years, Florida State has been in the shadow of their in-state rivals, Florida. With Florida expected to have the season of a lifetime, Florida State is expected to remain blackened out by orange and blue-clad bandwagon jumpers. If there was ever a season for the Seminoles to get on the map, it's this one. Quarterback Christian Ponder's being seen as the person to lead the charge - and he'll need to. Otherwise, we'll be talking about FSU as yet another 'also-ran'.

Prediction: 7-5

Wake Forest

The Deacons have been a minnow awakened over the last few years, and it's coincided with the quarterback play of Riley Skinner. In fact, when the Deacons went 8-5 last season, it was seen a mild disappointment. This year, Skinner and Wake Forest could prove people wrong, although two nasty end-of-season dates with Georgia Tech and Florida State may hurt the Deacons. Nevertheless, they'll probably go bowling this year.

Prediction: 7-5

The Rest

Duke might be improving, but they won't go bowling.......NC State and Maryland will continue to rebuild - if not improve- after mediocre 2009s.....Boston College hasn't been talked about this off-season, and for good reason....Virginia should stick to it's wonderful co-eds.

Best fans

Clemson: The noise in Death Valley is absolutely deafening. The Tigers orange army are some of the most vociferous in college football. It's a crazy place to play in. Virginia's female contingent get the prize for the prettiest, though.

Neglect

I have been up for 3 hours. I've been to Starbucks for a latte with the baby. I've fed and watered the baby. Bathed the baby. Put the baby down for a nap. Cleaned the car. Loaded up the empty bottles for return. Did a load of laundry. Did dishes. Tidied the house.

Steve is yet to arise from the depths of Hangoverville.

I left the party early last night because I was on Mommy Duty.

He was poured out of a cab at my doorstep a mere two hours later with whiskey on his breath.

I let him out of my sight for 2 short hours and now I have two babies to care for today.

One of them is going to be severely neglected. The 38 year old one.

Go ahead, call the authorities on me. Have him removed from my care.

Are there foster homes for 38 year old men??

The Preseason Polls: A quick reaction

Listen, we know that preseason polls don't really matter, but they are still great fun to talk about.

Here's our take:

1) USC might be a little high

There definitely seems a problem with USC quarterbacking group. Pete Carroll can' decide between Mitch Mustain, Matt Barclay or Aaron Corp. He's also missing a superb linebacking corps, who have all gone to the NFL. Oh, and his offensive co-ordinator's left too. And there's a nice trip to Ohio State, for one of the biggest games of the season. Question for pollsters: If USC destroy Ohio State, will that put them into National Championship Contention?

2) Oklahoma vs Texas

College Gameday might have had the game of the season last year, but this year they've set up one of the games of the decade. Prediction: two unbeatens clashing at the State Fair. We can't wait.

3) Penn State - too high at No. 9?

Penn State is on equal footing at No.9 with Oklahoma State. That's great - but Oklahoma State is a better team (offensively) than Penn State is. Remember, PSU needs to build a wide receiving corps, which was decimated by graduations. Although PSU is favoured by many to win the Big Ten, methinks this enthusiasm is a season early. Then again, when have you ever known the VFA to be confident about the Ohio State game? PSU's ranking by SI (14) might be about right.

4) Too much love for the SEC?

Understandably Florida has been picked as the No.1 team in the nation, and Mississippi's been getting a lot of love recently. But Alabama? Last time we looked, they were missing one veteran QB, a scorching running back (Glen Coffee), and offensive tackle Andre Smith - who some believe was the best in his position last season. A lot of people have the Tide third behind LSU and Mississippi in the SEC West. Then again, Nick Saban's done wonders with a team written off by the writers. It could be the writers saying: "You're not getting past me this year!" Still, having five SEC teams isn't too shabby. Then again, nor is five for the Big XII, either (Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Nebraska). Don't be too surprised if you see Tennessee in the Top 25. Seriously.

5) Still, no love for the smaller schools

TCU's in 17th, Utah's in 19th, BYU's 20th. Which one of these ones is going to be remain unbeaten? We'll make a call for Boise - and also shout out to SI for recognising that bigger might be better in 2009. They've got Boise at 9, and TCU in the top 20, too. But no love for BYU.

6) Or the Big Ten

PSU, Ohio State and Iowa are all ranked. Michigan are going to suck this year - according to the pollsters- and there's no love for our seven other friends. And even Iowa - is Jewel Hampton better than Shonn Greene? In the VFA's view, Illinois should be ranked. Juice Williams and Arrelious Been are prodigious talents and Ron Zook is a great recruiter. Watch out for these guys to surprise.

7)....And still no faith in Notre Dame

The pollsters think that the Fighting Irish are the 23th best team in the nation, in front of just Nebraska and Kansas. That doesn't exactly translate to faith in Jimmy Clausen, Charlie Weis and Golden Tate, does it? We think that they should be ranked around the 12-15th mark.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Cat

This morning I was reading my novel, and a very brief part of the novel was about a woman's cat whom she had found starving as a kitten and she nursed it back to health and kept it as a pet until it died years later (and she was so devastated that she emptied her fridge contents onto a table and consumed them).

It got me thinking about cats and how I had wanted a cat so badly for the past five years to replace my beloved Dakota who died only 6 weeks before my wedding. An untimely and very unpleasant death.

But cats are expensive if you buy them in the pet store nowadays. I purchased Dakota 13 years ago, for $20 in a pet store. Any pet store I have dared to peer into in the past few years is selling their donated, barn cats for upwards of $200 - $400. Ridiculous and wrong.

Anyways, I'm no longer all that interested in owning a cat but I started thinking, "What would make me get a cat now?" And my mind decided that that if I ever found an abandoned kitten or if a cat showed up at my house and wouldn't leave, that I would consider keeping it.

Just a fleeting thought, brought on by a paragraph read in a novel.

Until I went out for a walk with a friend this afternoon. I was gone a couple of hours, and when I returned? There was a small cat sleeping on my front stoop.

I kid you not.

It sat up and looked at me when we strolled in the driveway. No hurry to leave until I talked to it and thought about petting it. Then it got up and stood just out of my reach, staring at me. Then it ran away - so no, in case you were wondering, I don't have a new pet.

But if it comes back...

Sometimes I think the Universe can see into my mind and plays tricks on me.

Rent

When we found out I was pregnant and we realized that our townhouse was going to be too small (and in the wrong neighborhood) we started looking for a house to buy. And I swore up and down that I would NEVER buy a place with a basement suite in it. I refused to share my home with anyone, even if they were paying me.

It's possible that it was because I still have a sour taste in my mouth from the time we rented out the spare bedroom in our townhouse to an old acquaintance, who was in town working for a few months. I figured an extra $300 per month would help out in the pocketbook and would make up for any minor inconvenience I might suffer from sharing my home with someone other than Steve.

I would be wrong about that.

Nobody told me that my new tenant was a raging alcoholic and drank in excess of a case of beer per day. PER DAY. And nobody told me that he was a sloppy drunk who would spill his 3am Chinese food onto my cream colored Berber carpet. (Sweet and sour pork anyone?) It was when I woke up one morning to find an empty ziploc container laying on the counter which had, the night before, contained my lunch for the day, that I decided our rental agreement needed to come to an abrupt end and three months of renting quickly turned into one.

Or it could be from the time when we were renting a large house in Williams Lake and the younger brother of Steve's friend was looking for a fresh start and so he came to live with us. He had only been there a week or so when he took to hiding in the bathroom where he would smoke cigarettes with the shower running. He continued to do that even after we busted him and asked him not too. And I would find his dirty underwear on the kitchen floor in the morning, along with a sink load of dirty dishes.... And then one day he was just gone, and so was Steve's leather duffel bag and the rent money that he owed us.

Needless to say, I'm not all that crazy at the thought of having others share my house with me. So I said No, No, No to house after house after house that had a basement suite in it. Until such a time that I had viewed 43 houses and was wearing down and we came upon this house. The one we bought.

It has a basement suite.

But still, I SWORE we would never rent it out. After all, it would be so handy to have two kitchens! Especially during holiday dinners with all our family! And a giant rec room that we could turn into a bar! YEAH! A bar!!!! And we would have all these fun parties down there! We we even got a dart board! Because we could play darts during hockey game intermissions! And there is a spare bedroom where all our guests would feel right at home. Just think of all the great fun we could have with that space!

Well, a year later and it turns out our social lives are not nearly as lavish as we had predicted them to be. The Grande parties haven't really happened (there have been a couple of low key BBQ's), the spare room has been used enough times that I can count them on one hand and the dart board is getting dusty.

Also, maternity leave wages are brutal and we're tired of eating Kraft Dinner.

And so.... after much deliberation it's possible that the basement suite in my house just may be rented out as of September 15th. I pray that my potential new tenants are neither sweet and sour pork spilling, lunch stealing, raging alcoholics nor shower smoking, leather bag stealing, rent ditching jerks.

Experiment complete!

Results: Success!

I met with my goal of losing 2lbs this week. In fact, if my scales are right (admittedly, they can be a little dodgy at times) I actually lost a little more than 2lbs.

Steve may or may not have met with his 2lb goal this week. After I made banana chocolate chip muffins yesterday and happily watched him snarf down three of them in one sitting, he is none too eager to step on the scales this morning. Not to mention the beer that he just couldn't resist more than one night in the past few.

I am quite pleased with myself and my results.

This little experiment has given me a lot to think about in regards to my eating habits, dieting and Weight Watchers.

Conscious effort

On Sunday evening Steve and I decided to set a mini goal of losing *2lbs each by this coming Saturday.

Actually I said that I was setting that goal for myself and Steve decided to come along for the ride. He will probably cut out a piece of toast in the mornings and the 2lbs will just fall off him and probably even a couple more. Dink.

Anyways, back to me... The challenge that I made for myself was to see if I could lose this 2lbs without following a plan. (Like Weight Watchers.) I wanted to see if I could lose 2lbs simply by being conscious of what I'm doing. Like consciously making healthy choices, ramping up my exercise level (I've slacked lately), only eating when I'm hungry and only until I'm satisfied.

Is it possible for me to lose weight without using the crutch of a "program"?

Should be easy enough (for most people I suppose it would be), but yesterday I found that while I was waiting for dinner to cook, I kept peeking inside the fridge, looking for something to snack on. I was a little bit hungry but... I was cooking my dinner so really there was no reason I couldn't wait 30 minutes.

Normally I would have been all grabby snacky before dinner. I could have had something and called it an "appetizer".

And dinner was really good, really comforting. And after I was done eating it I really wanted another little scoop of mashed potatoes and another slice of roast beef and some gravy (oddly enough I wasn't craving more green beans or carrots). And if I was still hungry I could have had a little more. But in all honesty it wasn't true hunger that was calling me back to the mashed potatoes, I just wanted to keep eating. So I stopped myself.

This morning when Ruby's little voice called out through the baby monitor bright and early at 6am, I groaned and thought about using the 2 hours before Steve had to be at work, by squeezing out another hour or so of sleep while he took care of her - but instead I hauled my ass out of bed and threw on the runners and went for a jog. Ohhhh how baaaaadly I wanted to sleep more this morning. But I know damn well that the early morning is the only time during my day that is available for me to jog. And so I forced myself to do it. It's been too long since my last jog and the longer I go in between jogs, the harder it is to get going again.

In a few minutes I'm going out to the kitchen to cut up the veggies that I will steam for my lunch. I would really rather just make a simple grilled cheese (or better yet, go to Tim Hortons for a sandwich) and if I didn't consciously make an effort to eat something healthy, my day would get away from me and then next thing I know I'd have no time to make anything healthy. So I'll get on it now, while I have an extra minute.

This shit is all psychological. I get busy or bored or emotional or tired or whatever during the day and I don't think about what I'm eating or how much. So this week, I'm trying to be conscious of everything and see if I can shave off a couple of pounds.

Good, bad or ugly - I will post the results of this little experiment once it's over.



*This is not an additional 2lbs to the weight I've already lost, this is 2lbs of I'm-enjoying-my-summer weight that re-appeared over the past little while.

What I Learned Today #18

Today I learned that if you wait a couple of days to clean up baby food that was flung on the floor, then it either becomes permanent and you could just shrug your shoulders and say that it adds character to your hardwood, or you need to buy a chisel.

Or possibly a jackhammer.

Giving credit where credit is due?

I have come here numerous times today to write this post but each and every time, Ruby has had other plans for me.

And now it's after 4pm on a Friday and I'm tired and I have dinner to cook and sheets to take out of the dryer and throw on the bed so this isn't going to be the post that I had originally planned.

In summary I wanted to say that although I joke about Steve a bit here and I tease him about the things he does or doesn't do, I just wanted to say that he did a kickass job taking care of business last night when I went out for a couple of drinks with some of my mommy friends.

I got home at about 11pm and there was a light left on for me (I have previously come home to complete blackness). He was waiting up for me (I have previously come home to him out cold). Ruby was in bed sound asleep with her jammies on (I have previously come home to either her still being awake or her sleeping in her bed with nothing but a t-shirt and a bib!!! on). Ruby's bottles were all washed, the kitchen was clean and the dishwasher had been unloaded and reloaded (previously... well... you get the picture).

Had I been able to write this earlier today, this would have been the end of the post. I might have said something about how nice it is to be able to go out with some girls and have a break and come home to things being just the way they would be if I had stayed home. I would have said how impressed I am with Steve and how kind and sweet he is and that he's a good dad and a good husband... which he is...

But then this afternoon, once again it all became clear to me with one simple question:

"You don't mind if I go fishing for the day this weekend, do you???"

Who is college football’s most disappointing team?

On ESPN’s college football live we’ve heard a lot about ‘dark horses’ and ‘surprises’ and teams who might shock you. Good old positive thinking, eh?

But at the VFA, we’re thinking something different: college football teams that, over the year, have promised much and singularily failed to deliver.

There are some big names on the list – compiled through our rather good new version of USA’s 2009 College Football Encyclopedia (Sky Horse Publishing) we’re not afraid to call out former National Champions and teams that, in our view, have pretty much sucked it up for the last few years.

Arizona State

It seems that every year much is expected of an Arizona State team that has a ‘high-octane’ offense. It’s exciting to watch. Trust us – we’ve been there enough times. And while Terrell Suggs is one of the defensive alumni that’ll always be talked about- and Andrew Walter, Sam Keller and Rudy Carpenter were penned as being star quarterbacks but delivered little. Arizona State last beat USC in 1999. They’ve beaten Cal once in nine seasons. They’ve gone to big games against non-conference teams (Georgia in 2008, for example) and been terrible, too.

Texas A&M

Sounds silly bearing in mind that we’ve got to the point where the talks generally been all about the Aggies’ fans rather than the Aggies players, but things seems to have been a permanent struggle since the 10-0 and 9-3 years of 1994 and 1998 respectively. Texas A&M might have quite a good record against their hated rivals, Texas, but they haven’t beaten Oklahoma since 2002 and there’s no way that they’ll be better than third in their division. Kyle Field might be great as a tourist destination for college football atmosphere fiends like me, but fancy winning a game or two?

Nebraska

There have been a lot of good Nebraska teams in the past. Tom Osbourne coached them to four national titles, and the ‘Sea of Red’ was generally a sea of celebration. But in the last few years – mostly under coach Bill Callahan – it’s been a Sea of Crap. A decision by Callahan to promote a ‘spread offence’ simply didn’t work, and the Huskers looked completely outclassed against most other opponents.

Oregon

Like Arizona State, much has been promised of the Ducks but little has been delivered. Sure, eight out of the last nine seasons have been winning ones. Sure, they’ve got groovy kits and can talk about a stadium that quite simply rocks and win over USC in 2007. But they haven’t been great against the Trojans and sometimes have struggled to beat better opponents. Oregon WILL be better –but how long do we have to wait?

Miami

Has anyone seen a side go so far downhill so quickly since 2005? It might be argued that their 40-3 trainwreck loss against LSU in the 2005 Peach Bowl was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but that straw then continued to beat the crap out of the Hurricanes for three straight seasons afterwards. Many people don’t want ‘The U’ to contend after the mastery of the early part of the decade and the fact that they were so darned rude about it, but Randy Shannon’s only got people talking about a possible ACC title in 2009. But then again, it might be 2010…..or 2011.

Florida State

While heated state rival Florida can’t seem to lose, FSU can’t seem to get a marquee victory. In fact, the Noles have been ordinary since the National Championship Game loss to Oklahoma. And the reason why it’s disappointing is that this team has gone from perennial National Title contender to also-ran (and Florida’s wench) in the last few years. Dadgummit Bobby, why don’t you give it up?

Notre Dame

First of all, the VFA knows that Notre Dame has the hardest schedule in the country – apart from the SEC schools. We know that when you play Michigan and USC every season, that you can expect the odd season sweep against these two teams, plus a few more losses. But we didn’t expect the Irish to lose to Navy (2007) and Syracuse (2008). To make matters worse, the talk that enwrapped Jimmy Clausen that put in virtually on the right hand side of ‘Touchdown Jesus’ has hardly materialized….and the Irish have only one bowl game since 1993.

USC

You might be screaming “what the ****?” about why the Trojans themselves on this list. After all, they own the Pac-10, are a perennial National Title contender, haven’t had a losing record since the 2000 season debacle and provided half the NFL draft for the best part of a decade. But get this: they’ve only won a National Title once in the last decade, despite being favoured in most – if not all – the games they play. But they always seem to lose one game (usually in the State of Oregon!) a season, and blow their chances of a National Title. Heck, even the Trojans don’t want to go to Pasadena every year.

What do you think?

What happened to Justin King?

In his first year, Penn State recruit Justin King was like his fellow recruitees Derrick Williams, Deion Butler and Jordan Norwood: Gods on Campus.

To say that the new recruits were “much-heralded” on State College would be to say that Joe Paterno is “kinda liked” in that part of the world – a huge understatement.

King doesn’t let us know, pulling some electrifying catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns – as well as putting up over 200 yards rushing. Oh, and he played some defense too, pulling out 11 tackles.

The kids on campus took to the likeable King quickly, wearing No.7 jerseys with pride- thankfully forgetting the last person who wore the shirt – former QB Zach Mills.

Realising he might ‘have something’ as a cornerback – and my gosh, he did, he then played his next two seasons in ‘D’, rocking out 79 tackles and 3 interceptions. Unfortunately, the Nittany Lions disappointed making the Outback and Alamo Bowls.

King then made a decision that I’m still trying to understand: going to the NFL.

King was a corner who could have been fantastic given a little more time. During his time at PSU, he was just ‘great’- but nothing mind-blowing. As a wide receiver, he could have been destructive too – the second coming of former Ohio State Chris Gamble, perhaps.

He freaked people out, doing a 40 at lightning speed, and then injured himself before the 2008 season.

Now? He’s working with the St Louis Rams as a nickelback.

Personally, I’d rather King had forgone the NFL for one more year. Maybe he would have been the key that would have seen the Lions beat Iowa on the road. Maybe he would have kept up with the USC receivers in the Rose Bowl. Maybe he wouldn’t have faced USC – he may have played against Florida.

And a big, stronger, faster King would have come to the NFL as an even higher pick – and made more money than a fourth round player with injuries.

But if King's a success in 2008 and helps to pull St Louis out of the mire, then we'll be seeing King for a ton of Sundays to come.

Why I'm Taking a Break from Weight Watchers

No, it's not because I'm at my goal weight, nor am I even close.

* Because I went hard and heavy at it for 4 months and I lost 22 or so pounds. And I find that after a run like that I need a little break.

* Because right now, summertime is super busy and it's really REALLY hard to stay even 75% on track when you've got a bunch of stuff going on. This isn't to say that I'm a super busy woman with a packed schedule, but a lot of things just... come up. Like impromptu barbecues, and evening beers on someone's deck, and lunch out with an old friend, and a concert, and friends birthdays, and other such things. It's really not cool to bring a green salad with Fat Free Italian Dressing to a BBQ, you know. Also? Not enjoyable when your paper plate holds one tablespoon of an amazing looking potato salad and a piece of steak the size of a bottle cap - then overflows with lettuce. Not much fun at all.

* Because when the heat wave struck - and could strike again - I am not able to think straight. I have a sweaty, cranky baby with a heat rash to care for. And I myself find it hard to get much more exercise than it takes to shut my bedroom door and crank on my mini air conditioner and lay on my bed in the nude. So counting points, eating healthy and exercising in that shit? Forget it. I'm loading the deep freeze with ice cream and wheeling it into my room and don't talk to me until it's under 25 outside.

* Because I am on maternity leave wages right now and cannot afford to pay money to Weight Watchers if I cannot give Weight Watchers 100%. If I can't do it with gusto, I'm not doing it.

*Because I don't think I am HIDEOUS looking right now and I can buy clothes in "normal" stores. And if I wear my Spanx, I even look kinda curvy.

And so.... I am on a brief hiatus from the Weight Watchers scene right now. And in the meantime I'm not on a hog wild binge out. I am still running (though not as much as I would like due to heat wave and sometimes Ruby demands) and I am still watching what I eat (somewhat). But for now, I'm on a little break. And that's totally ok, I need it. Come September I plan on getting back at it and losing some more weight before I go back to work in December.

I had a dream the other night that when I went back to WW, I went back to meetings as opposed to online and it felt good and felt successful in the dream. Maybe I might go with that when the time is right.

The Dad That Cried Wolf

Steve took Ruby into her bedroom to put her down for a nap.
A few minutes later...?

Steve: Tarable! I need help in here. OhGodOhGodOhGod!. Can you help me with Ruby's diaper???

(I sigh. I hear it all the time.)

Tarable: I'm sure you can handle it.

Steve: NO! I can't! It's a bad one. I need help! Please help me!!

I say nothing and continue to sit at the computer. He hears nothing but the chittering of my keyboard.

Steve: So you're not going to help me?!?!! You're just going to sit there??!?!?!

Tarable: *sigh* No, I'll come help you in a minute.

(I figure if I wait long enough he'll sort it out himself)

Steve: CAN YOU COME NOW PLEASE???!

I finish what I'm doing and head into Ruby's room... where I walk into a shit storm that was, admittedly, definitely a two person clean-up job (a third person would have been nice). Steve was holding out Ruby at arms length (probably had been since he set off the initial alarm) with a look of absolute fear in his eyes. The poor bastard, I can't believe he didn't start crying! It was ugly.

Like, immediate-bed-stripping, fire-up-the-laundry-machine-NOW, and hose-down-the-baby... UGLY.

I felt somewhat guilty for not taking immediate action (poor Ruby) when he initially asked for my assistance, but I hope the boy has come to realize that calls for help while changing a diaper are only to be used in the most dyer of situations (like this one) and not every other time that he is stuck with a simple shitty diaper (like too many times in the past).

If Coaches Could Twitter....

Twitter is a sensation. We can’t stop talking about it. We chat to each other about uninteresting things and pass on links to articles that we’re SURE someone will like. It's incredible.

If we gain a follower, we feel happier. It's a boost to our fragile egos. It's nice to know we have friends - even those we'll never meet.

Oh, and it takes up loads and loads of time when we're meant to be working.

Well, college football coaches are the same. If they get a recruit, they are incredibly happy. If they lose one, it’s bedlam. The program's going to hell in a hand basket, and they have to shoulder the blame.

Imagine if a college football coach could Twitter anything they wanted.

Well, don't look now, but the VFA has some inspiration for them.

Here’s the list:


@Meyer:
I'll put this one out there - Charleston Southern are a great football team - Joe Paterno told me.

@Kiffin:
The team's going to play like I talk to Urban Meyer. Angry.

@Pellini:
No defence, no black shirts. Do I have to get any angrier? The steam out of my ears says NO!

Joe Paterno doesn’t know what Twitter is, let alone email and computers. He just wants to remind you that whoever PSU plays, they are always a great football team. Credit where credit's due, eh?

@Tressel:
We love BCS bowl games. Oh, wait a minute…How do you 'Untwitter' again?

@Carroll:
Go! USC! Fight! Can’t! Stop! Writing! In! Exclamation! Points!

@Zook:
This is my 4722nd Twitter today. And Juice Williams for Heisman! No, I’m not joking.

@Spurrier:
We’ve just recruited a big O-Line. That’s four big cocks! Now we need a quarterback!

@Tebow:
Why in the heck is everyone so interested in whether I'm a virgin? Does nothing remain private anymore? Jeez.....

@McCoy:
I play quarterback too.

@Bradford:
I play quarterback too.

@EveryotherDIQBThanTebow:
We play quarterback too.

@Weis:
Remember this: We beat Hawaii! Who says my coaching career at ND has been a failure, huh?

@Corso:
Not so fast, my friend….

@Herbstreit:
The great thing is about Tebow, is that I’m in love with him. And Colt. And Sam.

@Fowler:
Great. We’re in Florida again. In September. In 400 degree humidity. Anyone got a new shirt? And a college stadium we HAVEN'T visited?

@ESPNCFBLIVE:
Big recruiting news out of heaven – God’s just said that Jesus is no longer his quarterback – Tim Tebow is.

@Rodriguez:
It’s not yellow, it’s maize. Michigan will be back. When? I dunno….

@Holtz:
Notre Dame=National Champs 2010.

@MarkMay:
Notre Dame=National Chumps 2010.

@Stoops:
Who says the BCS sucks! I'm a fan!

@Oklahoma State: I AM A MAN!

@Richt:
We play as badly as we did against Florida last year, and the dog goes quarterback.

@Sherman:
Forget the 12th man. I need 11 good ones on the field every week. Right now, I have one(ish).

@NittanyLion:
Everybody talks about the ‘Thriller’ I did, but has anyone talked about my version of ‘Smooth Criminal’? I don’t think so!

@Autzen Stadium:
Losing hearing…What did you say again?

@Chizik:
Great decision for me to Auburn. Not sure the Tigers fans feel the same – especially the guy who'sburning my car right now….

@Saban:
Why does everybody hate me?

@Davis:
Is it because it's not basketball that no-one cares about the Powder Blue?

@Bowden:
Dadgummit! Gimme me my wins back!

@Brown:
Who cares if we beat OU this year? We’ll probably lose to Oklahoma State anyway!