I received a very nice e-mail Sunday evening. It seems that I have a new place to hang out. How cool is that? IMSO gets to play along with the big girls and boys at Alltop! Like her, and her, and her, and this one too, oh and him, and him, and this guy. So many I can’t name them all. Just go check out all the great Moms and Dads at Alltop.

I hope know that other people taking off to Chicago this summer have been worrying wondering about the same thing I have ~ you know, the whole getting lost around in an unfamiliar town thing? I discovered that I won’t be stranded at the airport after all. The Windy City venue offers airport shuttle service, and it’s cheaper than a taxi! Woohoo! As long as I can read a sign, then I can find the right bus and just sit back and relax. Whew!

Second step taken. I’ve reserved my room at this lovely riverfront hotel. I CANNOT wait.

I’m negotiating with Hubs for some of his frequent flyer miles to bring down the cost of my flight there. What do you think I should promise in exchange for a discount on my tickets?

On a more serious note… I got another e-mail Sunday that wasn’t so nice. Through a notification program offered by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, I receive periodic notices when a registered sexual offender moves into my neighborhood ~ well within five miles of my house.

This weekend I was informed that one such offender has moved in a few houses down from WK’s best friend B ~ right across the street from a local park where several city rec soccer teams practice and play their games.

I showed WK the e-mail and told him to let me know if he ever sees this guy or if he ever tries to talk to them. WK tells me that he and B have skated in front of where this guy lives many times.

I called our local police department to find out if our city had any sort of ordinance restricting where registered offenders could live in proximity to places where kids congregate. Apparently, we don’t. I’m not comfortable with that.

It seems that the only restrictions are based on schools and day cares. In the town where I work, they are limited from living within 2,500 feet from parks, schools, daycares, bus stops, anywhere kids gather ~ basically banning offenders from living inside city limits. I like that idea better. Maybe I should chat up my local city council member about a possible change in the city ordinance.



When I argue with my peeps, I just want to lay it all out, rant for a few minutes, get really a little loud and be done. Clear the air and not let things fester. Then, I’m over it.

I do try to fight fair though. I don’t bring up old conflicts, I don’t call names, and I don’t go off on tangents, pinging on everything that I am pissed about now, was in the past and anticipate in the future. Yet, even when I agree with you, if I’m mad, it can sound like I’m arguing with you.

I have a totally different fighting style outside The Family. When I do have conflicts with co-workers or neighbors, I try to remain calm and logical, nothing like when I’m mad at my peeps. But don’t get off subject, don’t call me names or accuse me of lying. I will totally lose it. I am a force of nature.

Hubs is not like that. He doesn’t like conflict and can avoid a fight… especially with me, in the most adroit ways. Yet, if he disagrees with you, and has the facts to back him up (which he always does) you never stand a chance against his brutal onslaught of logic and reason. No voices raised, no hint of anger… just cold, hard reality.

When he welds this superpower against people he has to deal with on a professional level, it can be devastating. Whenever he is off to a conference or business meeting, one of the last things I say to him is “don’t make anyone cry.” He doesn’t always listen.

How do you argue… do you argue?



I’m fortunate in that on a nearly daily basis I get to work with people whose sole job is to create Web sites and write computer programs. From them, I’ve learned just enough HTML code to either get myself into hopeless situations or make small fixes that make me look like a genius.

Through osmosis, I’ve also garnered some small amount of knowledge that has helped me improve my Google search results. The magic ~ Search Engine Optimization ~ is in tags and keywords.

Tags are more than cute titles for your post, they can be wonderful ways to increase your visibility. Using actual words and phrases from your post, you try to select the same words and phrases someone else might use when making a Internet search.

All this may be something you already know, but what you might not know is that if you use tags that don’t actually appear in your post, you can be penalized and Google will shun you as pariah ~ not really, but close.

In a recent post, I went all wonky and opined about quantum mechanics. When you simply search for that topic, I’m no where to be found. But! If you couple that tag with another I used ~ fate ~ I’m on the front page. If you’re as nuts as I am and search ‘quantum mechanics & blue food’ ~ I’m in the top three baby!

These are silly examples, but I’ve found that if I’m more specific with my tags, I do have a better Google showing. That’s not saying once found I get innumerable click-throughs and have a butt load of daily hits ~ but I could, dangit! (I guess most people researching quantum mechanics want more authoritative data than what they can get from a mommy blogger ~ go figure.)

All this may explain why I seem to be an international blog phenom.

Not too long ago I found a neat little widget that not only worked on WordPress, but did something I had tried for months to figure out how to do… it keeps track of where new visitors come from to find me.

The Flag Counter on my side bar shows me the home of each of my unique visitors. As you can see I’m huge in Canada and the UK, and coming on strong in Australia and Germany ~ if only! These flags represent only the first or single trips to IMSO. It doesn’t keep track of return visitors.

I only have 60 flags visible, but since I added this feature, I’ve had multiple hits from nearly 100 different countries.

I’m apparently quite popular in Eastern Europe and the Pacific Rim too. I should go on a world tour.



About three years ago I served on a federal jury. The defendant was charged with running a Ponzi scheme that bilked his clients out of more than $65 million. While not on the same scale as Bernard Madoff, the idea was similar.

The defendant in this case would pay client #1 with money he got from client #2, and so on. He had operations in the U.S., England and Australia. A few clients could afford to invest millions of dollars, and others who were retired, had pooled their pensions and nest eggs in hopes of earning enough money for a comfortable life. All was lost.

Over the course of the two-week trial we heard all sorts of excuses… that the defendant believed his investments were good, that he had no intention of defrauding his clients, that he was willing to return as much of the seed money as he could, and so on, and so on.

Throughout the case the jury heard testimony that the defendant claimed he could guarantee as much as 300% return on investments, that the principal funds were insured and could not be lost, only the interest was at risk.

On the first day of the trial the prosecutor played us a tape of a telephone conversation between the defendant and a couple he eventually secured as clients. During the conversation the wife asks how much risk was involved, could they lose their investment. Initially the defendant told her there was zero risk, then said ‘it was more likely that Barclay’s would fail than their investment.’

If you’re not familiar with Barclays, it is one of the oldest and most respected financial institutions in London. Zero risk? Seriously? We had our lie.

When the jury was finally given the case for deliberation, that tape was one of the things we asked to review. In our instructions we were told that we could only vote to convict if we believed, beyond reasonable doubt, that the defendant knew his investments were bogus.

It took us less than two hours to return our guilty verdict. The defendant was sentenced to 33 years in prison ~ six months for each $1 million he stole.

All this has been on my mind with the news of Madoff’s $50+ BILLION scheme. He even stole form his own family!

I have to wonder that somewhere along the line some of these clients had to ask ‘is this too good to be true?’ Like with the case I was involved with, did these people actually think they would see 300% return on their investments? Really?

I’m not excusing either of these men. What they did was heinous! It was wrong on SO many levels. And, I’m not blaming the victims… BUT… where was commonsense in these cases?

Would any of these investors actually answer those ridiculous e-mails we all get on occasion promising millions of dollars for little or no out-of-pocket risk to us? The investments these men offered, in some cases, were just as transparent.

I think in both of these cases, the thieves were very charming, very charismatic, very believable, and perceived to be very powerful. With the amounts of money involved, it was easy to be fooled, to be overwhelmed by the promise of incredible returns on investment.

Madoff should be punished just as harshly should he be found guilty, but this should also serve us as a cautionary tale to be more involved in our own money matters, and recognize that ‘if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.’



There are more and more days lately when all I want is to be a slug. Not thinking, not doing, not worrying about anything.

I don’t want to think about my job being outsourced… I am not indispensable and I am fully aware that I can easily be replaced. What I do is not rocket surgery. In the past year, our office staff has been cut in half. In that same time period, I went from being the new kid to being the second in seniority. I try not to think about it, but probably would be wise have some fall back plan. Esty is looking really good to me.

I am so very tired of worrying about WK and his struggle with OCD and anxiety disorder. It’s not that I don’t care, I do… too much. I want him to be able to function like any other teenager. But for him right now, that’s not going to happen. As much as I am frustrated by the situation, his frustration must be 100-fold. I want this to go away, and that’s not going to happen either.

I’m over working so hard and not seeing any outcome. I’m done trying to keep my house straightened up only to have it look like a bomb went off not an hour later. I don’t want to wash another dish, fold another towel, vacuum the same pet hair out of the carpet, or pick up the same magazines. I want someone to pamper me and ask what can be done for me. I want to be selfish.

I would like to hibernate for the next couple of months, long enough for the temps to get back into tolerable levels. I want to just shut down and not think, not do, not worry.

Who’s with me?



Because of my thyroid disorder I have to get blood work done about every three to four months. I’ve gotten used to it and can manage pretty well. It helps that the techs at the lab I frequent are great and I barely feel the pin prick. It helps even more that the sight of blood, especially my own, doesn’t bother me.

I can’t say the same of other people in my family.

On my way to the hospital in anticipation of the arrival of my beloved son WK, I barely managed to make it to the facility in enough time for a blessed epidural. (JM showed up after only two hours of labor which precluded me from having any body numbing drugs ~ a story for another time.)

As I sat on the edge of the labor room cot, legs dangling off the edge, back rolled, the anesthetist worked his magic and inserted that lovely drug pipeline into my spine. if I had not already been married, I would have kissed him full on the mouth. I never felt anything until he applied the medical tape to my back to hold the tubing in place.

Slowly sitting back up, I rose to face Hubs. He had been standing in front of me, holding my hands cooing little snippets of encouragement. All the while having a perfect view of whatever the tech was doing with his long needle.

I can quite honestly say I have never seen all the color complete drain out of someone’s face the way Hubs’ did that early June morning. His lips were totally white. He excused himself from the room for about 10 minutes, returning after the blush returned to his cheeks.

Hell, the man can’t even clean up kid puke, or road rash knees without going all wonky.

Apparently he passed this disdain for human body fluids onto his daughter.

As a child, JM could get dizzy from a paper cut. If there was blood, she was nearly inconsolable. As she got older her anxiety over the sight of blood improved, but never completely left her.

Then she went to college. College… where student groups often sponsor blood drives. Groups like the Student Honors Organization. The organization of which she is the ranking officer. A ranking officer who is expected to participate in said community service.

Last year she worked up enough courage to finally take the plunge and face the needle. She was at the drive, had filled out all the paperwork, was moments away from the vein drain and got this question. ‘Have you had a tattoo within the past year?’


Not six months prior, in celebration of her 18th birthday, she had gotten inked. She was told she couldn’t give blood. Probably not as disappointed as she let on.

This year…

She tells me she’s ready to be a big girl, to help out someone else, maybe save a life.

SHO is sponsoring another drive, at the Honors Dorm, and she’s expected to not only attend, but donate.

She tells them that she’s been to China recently… not a problem. No tats in the last 12 months… passed. Not eaten today…. here’s a snack.

Trying to be grown up, there she sat eating her Goldfish crackers and sipping on her apple juice box. She’s finally ready, but not.

“You know how I am about blood, especially my own blood!”

I’m happy to announced that she survived her blood letting. She did have to avert her eyes from the IV bag attached to her arm, she did go all fuzzy and have to be given ice packs and Gatorade, did have to contend with a friend throwing up all over the place, and have other friends continually tell her how pale she looked. But she NEVER lost consciousness.

“I’m never going to be one of those who does this every eight weeks. I think I can do it maybe once a year. I have to get better at this sort of thing.”

Her goal was to give blood without fainting. One pint down.



Up until a week or so ago, I had dismissed the disregard some people had toward blogs as a general misconception as to what these online missives really were. That like diaries and journals of old, these were glimpses into another person’s life, consciousness, private space ~ a window to their soul ~ if I may wax poetic here for a second.

I believe that like me those who publish their writings to the world take them very seriously. We write about our inner struggles, our families, our ups and downs, sometimes with humor, sometimes with angst, but always with truth and heart.

There are still, and always will be, people who view blogs as nothing more than drivel, as ramblings of no consequence.

How wrong they are. And we must take back what is ours, must stand up for our rights and not tolerate disrespect by ignorant people toward us and what we do.

Like the person who took my words as her own ~ it was a violation of a very personal nature, a ambush, a theft of my identity ~ albeit a crime of inexperience.

Like the reporter who believed that she had the right to Kelly’s words, never identifying who Kelly was actually speaking to, never mentioning that the interview was not with her. This person, whose own profession censors word thieves, was wrong. Her editors were wrong, and that there has been no effort to right these wrongs is reprehensible, and a blight on an honorable vocation.

Like the fellow mom who, after reading about my drama, found not a single story stolen, but her entire blog appropriated. Not just her words, but also photographs of her children. I can hardly imagine her reaction to that discovery.

Like Heather who shared painful and traumatic events of her life to only have a purported friend steal them, offering them as false proof of her own violations. So harshly affecting Heather that for a time she lost her trust in people.

All of these were not words written in secret on a bathroom wall. The author is clear and has not just ethical rights of ownership, but legal rights of ownership.



I fell in love… and I fell hard.

Like any new love, I wanted to spend as much time as we could together. Snuggled up in the love seat ~ seemed appropriate. Playfully wrestling on the floor, taking longs walks together at the end of a stressful day.

I would feed this new love of mine by hand, giggling when my fingers got nibbled on too. I could forgive if the bites were a little too rough.

Nighttime was sweet. Warm bodies wrapped together. A nuzzled ear, a nose to nose kiss, or a playful lick on my cheek. Even the snoring was cute.

That was then…

Now, I can’t move in my own bed. Splayed legs, hogged space and blankets. Snores have taken on a timbre that shakes the windows. Feet, with unclipped nails, twitching and churning, push hard against my back, waking me in the middle of the night, disturbing my already fragile sleep.

If I do get up, to perhaps pour a glass of cold water, or untwist my cramped legs, I turn to find my love has taken over my pillows, gazing up at me with sad eyes, begging me to not complain, to not reclaim my spot. The one that conforms to my shape, the one that was warmed by my body, to surrender my comfort to another.


I have banned my love from my bed. I am reclaiming my sleep, my space, my sanity.

Only if she didn’t sit outside my door crying all night.



Wouldn’t it be great if there were signs like this warning us about all the obvious dangers in our lives. Seriously, do I really need this sign? I live in Florida… alligators are a given. That I shouldn’t feed a wild animal because it might act, well… wild, is really a no-brainer.

How great would it be if all the bad boys (and girls) came with warning labels: “this butt head can be hazardous to your mental health… have more self-respect and ditch the jerk.”

What about signs in restaurants: “lard found in the menu items can cause you to balloon up like a puffer fish… you should really watch what you eat or you could have a coronary.”

It’s like all those ridiculously obvious warning labels on other everyday items… like don’t use a hair dryer while in the shower, or remove child before folding baby stroller.

When did we stop using our brains, stop listening to that little clear voice inside our head, and start depending on labels and signs to rule our lives? When did common sense and reason get replaced by obvious statements presented as serious commentary? When did we quit thinking for ourselves?



One of best benefits from joining in this wonderful world of blogging is that I’ve found kindred spirits. Other moms, other parents who share some of my same concerns for our kids, have the same stories, the same fears and hopes for the future.

I’ve found a community where I can brag about my kids, can bitch about them, and cry over them and will always find an ‘I’m with you’ show up in my comments.

My kids are a never ending source of pride for me. They are both brilliant (if I do say so myself), they are hilarious (even if I’m the only person laughing) and the most beautiful babies in the world (both are heartbreakers and no one will ever be good enough for them.)

You can’t simply make those declarations any where. There are people out in the real world who not only disagree, but will most likely spit at you for saying such things. Here, among blog-friends, you get a ‘woohoo! Yay for beautiful, smart, hilarious kids!’

I really am not one to brag too often about my kids, but every once in a while I would like to tell IRL friends about something one of my brilliant, beautiful, funny kids does and not get looks to kill. I would like to say something akin to “JM has finally decided on a major’ and not have to contend with black looks and sneers, as if I had actually emphatically declared that “JM will one day cure all the world’s problems.’ Or, ‘WK has surprised me with how well he took to driving,’ when all they hear is ‘WK could kick your ass on a NASCAR track.’

There is a smidge’ of sarcasm here, but really is it such a bad thing to be able to voice your pride in your kids without being made to feel like you’re telling the rest of the world what losers they are. That’s not what I’d doing, but you wouldn’t know that talking to some people.

For the longest time I wouldn’t say anything about how my kids were doing in school, or if they did or said something share worthy, or even show off their school photos. Because when I did, I got all levels of snarkiness.

But here! Here there is a whole bunch of equally smitten parents who are more than happy to hear about my kids, because they know that I’m equally as excited to hear about theirs.

So… feel free to brag away. Tell me all the wonderful things your kids have done, said, or tell me how gorgeous your babies are. I want to hear all your stories, I want to see all your photos. I want to ooohhh.. and aaaahhh over your little, or not so little, lovelies, because you all have been wonderful when I show off my not so little lovelies.

Having said all that, leads up to this… my latest brag worthy photo.

JM recently attended a Leadership Conference as part of her duties as UF Student Honors Organization President. She went through a ropes course, which is not entirely named correctly.

It really should be called a ‘climb a big ass wooden teepee’ course. That little figure at the top, dangling legs off the platform… yeah, that’s JM. (I don’t know who that poor soul is who’s caught in the cargo net at the left.)