Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top Ten for 2011

All over the Blogosphere people are doing their 2011 post recaps for the year. I've never done one before, so I thought it would be fun to give it a try this year.

My top ten posts are the ten most viewed posts from 2011 that were posted in 2011. I decided to disregard posts prior to 2011 because my sidebar does a nice job of keeping my overall posts ranked and current. That, and I'm just dang tired of looking at those posts. I'm even a little tempted to delete them. But I won't, because they're my top ten and they generate a lot of traffic.

Ho hum. With no further ado, here are my 2011 top ten:

#1, by a landslide, was Menu Planning Redo

I feel like I should wash my mouth out with soap for this one. I finally gave up on the Mac software and made the switch to Photoshop Elements. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, if you have a PC, the Creative Memories StoryBook Creator Plus software is awesome, but if you have a Mac, don't waste your time.

All I had to do here was to say "bacon" and everyone came running. Knocked me right over.

I'm happy to report that the third time's a charm. This round of ID tags is holding up very nicely.

Now, let's just pretend that Google Analytics doesn't exist and I get to pick my own favorite posts for 2011. This is how it would all shake out.

Oopsie, that's all I have. No top ten because I don't even think I posted ten times this year. My bad.

Clearly I'm not doing that SEO thing and clearly Google doesn't think the post titles I'm choosing for my favorites are worthy of being ranked by the SEO thingamajig. I'd promise to do better, but the truth is, I like making obscure post titles.

It's not me, Google, it's you.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Thank You Note Etiquette (or Lack Thereof)

I torture my kids by making them write thank you notes for the gifts they receive for their birthdays and Christmas. It's great fun.

Not. If I'm going to be perfectly honest, it's like pulling teeth. Without anesthesia.

What has been fun though is to see their thank you notes evolve from very simple "Thank you for the blah, blah," into more elaborate notes that do not always stick to proper etiquette. 

This thank you note to The Barefoot Contessa from Stinkerbell is my case in point. In case you find it difficult to read, I shall recount it for you.

Dear Grandma Louie-Ann,

This year you got me and Zoe millions of toys and clothes. Since you got me 1,000 dollars in my collage account and all that stuff you got me for Christmas I think you're RICH! But mom says you just spend your money wisely. But that is true. Thank you for the Puzzle Roll, Clothes (my favorite is the Diary of a Wimpy Kid shirt!), Pony Care Set, MORE clothes, Jasmine, Black Sparkly Sweater, and the Biffy Puzzle. They're great!


This thank you note makes me laugh. I have questions though. Is a collage account a place to store cut out pictures until you're in the mood to paste them onto a piece of poster board? And do you get the feeling that the Stink is alarmed by the amount of clothes she got for Christmas?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Quick Note About Pinterest

Follow Me on Pinterest

I received a comment today from a reader, scrapbookmomx5, and she asked me if she could Pin things from my blog onto Pinterest. She was worried that my copyright blah blah on my sidebar forbade such activity.

I quickly crafted my reply, only to realize that scrapbookmomx5 does not have her e-mail address attached to her Blogger profile, so my e-mail was simply going to be sent into the abyss that is known as It's a dark and dismal place.

So, in case anyone else is also wondering, here is where I stand. Absolutely YES, you can pin any ding dang thing on my blog that you want. The copyright blah blah is to discourage people from posting my pictures and my content on their own blogs. Believe me, it has happened, and it does happen. It's very awkward.

My copyright blah blah is not intended to apply to Pinterest. Pin away, if you so choose. I would be hard pressed to find a blogger that didn't allow pinning from their blog, and really, how can we stop it? The reality is that Pinterest brings a lot of traffic to blogs. I get almost as much traffic from Pinterest as I get from Google, and I would be crazy to turn people away from Pinterest. Well, I am crazy, but you know what I mean. CrazyER.

Pin away, Peeps, and thank you for all your pins! They are much appreciated by me.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Doing Whatever I Want

The end of the year is fast approaching, and I keep thinking of things that I want to share with you, but I've been too lazy to get up and do something about it. I'm going to attempt to do a little of that in this post.

The first of those things is, at first glance, possibly a little boring. It's our 2011 Christmas ornaments from my Mother-in-Law, The Barefoot Contessa.

Every year, the BFC gets every single person in her extended family an ornament that is appropriate to the year they've had. Quite often the ornament makes light of a comical event in the person's year. My ornament this year is the cruise ship, and it is appropriate, although not comical, because Peanut Head and I went on a cruise for our 20th anniversary.

Stinkerbell's ornament, however, is a knee slapper.

The Stink's comical even for 2011 was the fact that she was assigned a mule at Girl Scouts Horse Camp. It's appropriate, it's ironic, and it's hysterical. The BFC gets extra points for this one.

Peanut Head's ornament had us all stumped until we asked The BFC about it. I had to slap my forehead, it was so appropriate and I had let it slip my mind.

His ornament makes light of this unfortunate event. I have to hand it to The BFC, she's good.

Zoe Bug's ornament was a horse, just because in her world it's horse, horse, horse, horse. I took a picture of it, but it was blurry so I left it out. I could retake it, but then I'd have to move. Not happening.

The BFC has a knack for finding the perfect ornament. She frequently procures her ornaments at  Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, just in case you need to know.

On another note, I'm on break from school this week and I am thoroughly enjoying myself. We don't have enough snow to play in and it's too cold to go outside just for the sake of getting fresh air, so we're hanging out inside. I'm not complaining either. I love being inside, in my sweat pants, doing whatever the heck I feel like, because I'm not constrained by any deadlines. It's pure bliss.

I'm taking advantage of the extra time by working through some Photoshop tutorials and learning how to use my new program. I've been staying up super late, and when I go to bed I dream about digi scrapping in Photoshop. It's awesome.

So I tapped into a bunch of tutorials over at and there's so much great stuff there, that I'm going to be busy learning for a long time. Sadly, the tutorials aren't free, but the one that I've been working through has four complete lessons with five or six tasks within each lesson. I'm averaging about one lesson every other day. The lessons come with all the supplies you need to do each of the layouts too, so that's pretty nifty.

I figure I'll wait a few months before I buy another lesson because I need to give myself time to process all the new information and get comfortable using my new skillz.

I found the Jessica Sprague site in connection with Becky Higgins' Digital Project Life. One of my New Year's resolutions for 2012 is to make progress towards getting caught up on my backlog. Notice I didn't say I was going to get caught up, but instead make progress.

I don't want to psyche myself out with the stress of another unattainable goal. Not that it's unattainable, but I like to play head games with myself and set myself up for failure. This is how I outsmart myself and work around my self inflicted obstacles.

Project Life is going to help me with that, by enabling me to focus on the story and not spend so much time on the creative layouts. I'll still do layouts like the one above, but they will be scattered throughout my albums and not stressing me out with the pressure of needing a fabulous layout for every ding dang picture.

Or stressing me out because I only have one or two pictures for an event and I don't want to waste a whole page on a one-photo layout. I hate that.

The last thing I want to share with you today is the Christmas gift I gave to my students this year. I had good intentions of getting these up earlier this month, but I ran out of time. I you like the idea, you can pin it for next year. You are pinning, right?

If you aren't and you want to, e-mail me and I'll send you an invite. You must start today. Trust me.

I got this great idea that I was going to give my kids water bottles for the classroom. They drive me crazy with their up and down to get a drink every ding dang minute. I knew I couldn't afford really nice water bottles for the whole class, but I was able to score some pretty decent ones at the dollar store. I bought every last one and I was able to get exactly the number I needed. I was crawling around, digging behind plastic containers to come up with 27 cups, 27 lids, and 27 straws to make a complete set. I really lucked out. 

I cut the names out of vinyl on my Cricut and they went together surprisingly fast. Then I stuffed them with a candy cane, an Airhead, and a mint and left them on their desks for them in the morning. The best part was that my kids loved them and they were very surprised that I personalized the cups for them. That made me feel all tingly and lovey dovey inside.

I heart their sweet little hearts.

And I miss them, but I do not want my vacation to end.

Did you hear that, Father Time? Slow the bus down, will ya?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Not Even Google Can Help Me Help My Stupid Self

I'm happy to report that since I added "Move the Ding Dang Elf" to my To Do List, I have not missed moving Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater once.

If only that were the end of the story. It. Never. Is.

Remember how I told you that I turned to Google to help me? Well, about that. I, uh [cough] forgot to erase the search window wherein I typed "What do I do when I forget to move the Elf?"

Technically I didn't forget, because really I don't even know how to do that, but I certainly did forget to connect the dots and realize that my eight year old was going to see my query the next time she picked up my BFF to Google something.


Yes, she saw it and then she got that knowing little smirk on her face that screams "Parent! I know you're Santa Claus, so just stop with the fantasies and lies."

That one.

Thankfully she's smart enough to keep it to herself, because she knows that Santa brings underwear to Unbelievers. Ugly underwear that fit too tight and bind in unfortunate places.

I've been having a little too much fun with Peter and naughty behavior. It's right up my alley.

I even have a maniacal laugh to accompany my antics. I bet you wish you could hear it.

Peter Potomus showed up on the kitchen table one day with a little surprise.

What's that?

A note? Oh goody! I love notes. 

That's what I exclaim in class every time I intercept what I hope is a love note. Spring is coming and it does not disappoint.

We have a bit of a history in our house with fictitious characters leaving threatening notes to our children.

My bad.

Let's read this one, shall we?

I'll read it to you, just in case you can't make out my little Elf's teensy tiny writing.

Dear Annika and Zoe,

Zoe, stop making such a big mess with your horses. Also, stop whining so much, it's really annoying. You should also try to be nicer to people. Annika, you have to stop being so grouchy in the mornings. You should stop playing so many video games. To both of you, stop arguing and fighting so much. If you girls don't follow my rules you'll be on the naughty list. I'll be reporting to Santa again.



P.S. Don't make your mom mad.


Disclaimer for Copyright Infringement: One of my sweet, angelic sixth graders wrote the above note for me. Although she retains artistic license, I paid her with an Air Head.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

2011 Christmas Card

I just finished our 2011 Christmas card, WHOO HOO! I've been pretty neglectful about sending out Christmas cards since I went back to work, and I am determined to get them out this year.

My goal today was to sit down and put together our Christmas card. My Creative Memories sbcStudio software for the Mac is STILL not working, and I decided that I am finished waiting for them to fix the stoooooooopid program. I bit the bullet and downloaded the newest version of Photoshop Elements, went through some tutorials, and bumbled around to come up with this card. It's pretty simple, but my PSE skills are limited, so I'm good with it.

I would love some tips about how to organize and access paper and embellishments from those of you who are PSE pros. School me, please.

I never got around to getting our family portraits taken (because I'm fat), so I went with pictures from this year. Of course our cruise portrait made it in there, and the highlight of the girls' year, Horse Camp. You know my Christmas letter is going to mention Stinkerbell's mule. I cannot wait for that.

How about you? Are you doing a photo Christmas card this year?

Merry Winners!

Congratulations to Elsa and Stephanette! Please e-mail me at to claim your banners.

I had a blast reading through the comments and I laughed hysterically at Livin' in Duckville's comment. She informed me that she saw a sign on Pinterest that said "Glitter is the Herpes of Craft Supplies."

Yippee! My first CTD (Craft Transmitted Disease).

Monday, December 5, 2011

Where Have All the Eyelets Gone?

I've been hard at work making another holiday banner. You may remember the "Merry & Bright" banners I made last year. I loved the one I kept, but for some reason I couldn't get past the color scheme. It didn't really go with my holiday decor, so I gave it to Smashley. I have a lot of reds and greens in my Christmas decor, so I set out to make myself a new banner with more traditional colors this year.

Apparently it's a little late to be looking for Christmas paper and stickers because the selection was pretty horrid. And eyelets? Forget about it. It seems eyelets have gone out of style. I scrimped and scrounged through my eyelets to put this thing together.

I ended up finding enough paper that I liked, so I spent a large part of a day cutting out letters and backgrounds on my Cricut. Since I was making one banner already, why not make four?

So that's what I did. I made one for me to keep, one for my Student Teacher, Natalie, and two to give away to two of my lucky readers. 

I heart Natalie. She started the school year with me back in August, and she just finished her student teaching. Natalie has made my life so much easier this fall. She's scary smart, quick, motivated, and she has an amazing work ethic.

I'm going to miss her.

I need an emoticon.

Who can give me an emoticon for my sad face?

Changing the subject so I don't cry.

You know how I like to glitter my letters, right? Well, I asked the Renaissance Woman to help me decide what color of glitter to use on this banner, since she is the Renaissance Woman, and she suggested that I use several colors.

What? More than one color of glitter? What about matchy-matchy?

I had a hard time with that suggestion. I just wasn't seeing her vision initially, but she explained to me why I should do it. Some blah blah about complementary colors and making the colors pop, so I did it.

I figured she was the one with the art background and she knew what she was talking about. I'm just some Josephine who likes pretty things that sparkle.

I'm so glad I listened to her.

I didn't use any glitter on Natalie's banner because she's allergic to glitter.


I'd be a walking hive if I was allergic to glitter. It's very nearly my middle name.

I needed something to make Natalie's letters pop though, so I tried this stuff that I got from Melanie-Who-I-Almost-Killed-With-Pie. It's supposed to give your paper a raised epoxy look. I really like how it turned out.

If you could possibly squeeze this banner into your color scheme, leave me a comment telling me the one gift you are giving this year that you cannot wait for the recipient to open and why.

Please make sure your e-mail is attached to your Blogger profile, or leave your e-mail address in your comment, so I can contact you to tell you that you've won.

The contest ends on Thursday, December 8th, at midnight in Siberia. May the Force be with You.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Elf Trouble

I hope you all had a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving. I had a pretty awesome week since we had the whole week off from school. I overslept, and I wore sweat pants every day. Talk about bliss. I sure hope my pants fit on Monday.

I love weeks like this because they recharge my batteries and I end up being a lot more productive. I'm not rushing Monday or anything, but I'm ready to face it when it gets here. Bring it.

Whatever, take your time Monday, I'm only messing with you.

As a result of being on vacation all week, Peanut Head and I managed to get our tree up and our Christmas decorations out. Normally we go pick out a live tree after Thanksgiving, but this year we decided to go with an artificial tree. Artificial trees have come a long way since I was a kid and you had to match the color of the branch insert to the color of the hole on the broom stick tree skeleton. In the new millennium the trees are pre-lit, and that, my friends, is a beautiful thing. I'm not going to miss any of the cranky rumblings from Peanut Head wrestling with the lights while I pointedly avoid the vicinity of the tree. 

Would you look at the size of this tree. I'm telling you, it was not this big in the store. We got it home, set it up, and we exclaimed "Holy Huge Christmas Tree!" It's gigantic. When I stand off to the right, I can't even see my hallway. It's like it doesn't even exist.

Geezo, I'm just a few paragraphs in and already I'm off topic. I came here to tell you about our elf trouble.

This Elf. Perhaps you've seen him? I picked this creepy little guy up at Barnes & Noble last year, but I've seen him at lots of different stores as well. The idea is that the Elf watches the kids and flies back to the North Pole to report back to Santa. A little Christmas intimidation and threat to go with your Egg Nog. Right up my alley, I say. I'm all about messing with my kids. My parents did it with me, and I'm passing it along to my kids. It's tradition.

Except that I kind of suck at this particular job. As with our loser Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy, the problem is that I keep forgetting to do my part to keep the magic alive.

Our elf, Peter, has been here since Thanksgiving and he hasn't moved. As I mentioned he is supposed to report back to Santa. Every night. And come back and be sitting in a new spot each morning. Therein lies the problem. I don't just have to remember to do my job on one night, but every ding dang night between now and Christmas. What the heck was I thinking?

Yesterday Zoe casually mentioned to me as I sauntered out of bed at 10:00 a.m., "Mom, Peter didn't move last night. We woke up and we looked all over for him and he was in the same place. Why didn't he go to the North Pole last night?"

I get the feeling she is questioning the magic. Can it be?

"I . . . Uh . . . uhhhhhh. . . . hmmmm," I begin. "You might remember from last year, Peter doesn't leave every day. Sometimes he doesn't have anything to report, so he stays."

You see, I have a history here. And I lie.

Well, you would think that after being busted and silently reminding myself fifty times last night, I might have remembered to send Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater to the North Pole.

I did not.

Freaking out girls woke up this morning and again, Peter had not moved a hair.

"Uh . . . uh . . . uh . . . . "

Nothin'. I got nothin' here.

Thinking, thinking, thinking. "Hmmmmm?"

I was just as perplexed as my offspring. Why did the ding dang elf not make the trek to see the Santa Man?!!!

Throwing me a bone, Zoe says "Mom, I think Garrett and Colleen touched Peter and that's why he won't leave." Garrett and Colleen are Smashley's kids and they were here for Thanksgiving.

"Nooooooo!" I exclaim. "That's probably exactly what happened. I'm going to look into this and get back to you. We'll get Peter fixed, don't worry."

I went straight to Google to find out how to fix my stupid self. I couldn't find a long-term solution, but I came up with this one myself, that I think will at least buy me another day. I went to the girls to share my findings.

"Girls?" I said.

"Yes, Mama." Blink blink went their pretty eyes and on went their trusting smiles.

"I think Peter hasn't been working because we haven't activated him yet. We have to talk to him and tell him whether we've been good this year and also give him a message to give to Santa," I misrepresent.

Honestly, I don't even know where I get this stuff. It's like a disease. The Lying Disease.

So today Zoe pulled a stool up to where Peter is sitting collecting dust, and she had quite the conversation with him. It was long, and it was pointed.

Stinkerbell couldn't be bothered with basic friendly conversation. She likes to cut to the chase and get things done.

She left a note for him to give to Santa. Would you like a closer look?

I think I need to talk to her about her list. A couple of those things are pretty pricey.

I told Annika that she needed to fold her note up so Peter would have an easier time carrying it. The way it is now, it would create a lot of wind drag.

She went one step further. She made him a little carry sack made out of toilet paper and staples. The note is inside. I'm tempted to tell her that toilet paper disintegrates in precipitation.

So now in my Zenbe Lists app, the one I check every night before I go to bed, my little OCD ritual where I arrange and rearrange my To Do List for the next day, I have marked as a Highest Priority Item, "Move the Ding Dang Elf!"

No lie.

I'll let you know how it goes.

If I remember.

I'm so glad Peanut Head is in charge of the Santa Magic. He's much better at magic than I.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

School Me

I don't know if I have any readers left out there on account of my intermittent posting, but I hope some of you are still out there, because I need some input. Technology input. That request will eventually come after the following long winded narrative, so feel free to scroll down to the bottom if you aren't in a patient mood today.

I understand.

I'm not the kind of person who technology comes easy to, I have to really work at it and take notes. Whenever I get a new gadget or thing, I hand it to Peanut Head to set up, figure out, and tutor me. I have the attention span of a gnat, so he has the added chore of having to spoon feed me over many tortuous sessions.

Some might say he's enabling me, but if they did, they would run the risk of me indelicately tackling them and telling them to shut up and mind their own business.

Our technology relationship is an arrangement that works quite well for us.

The married us.


Anyway, shortly after the iPad came out, Peanut Head was telling me how I should get an iPad, it would be perfect for me and my alarmingly out of control e-mail situation, my blog surfing, and my general computer addiction. What I heard was "Spend $800, blah blah blah, don't actually accomplish anything productive on an $800 gadget, blah blah blah, $800, blah blah, portable, blah blah, $800, blah blah."

Actually, I don't think he ever quoted a price, that was just the stubborn and pushy automatic rejection response from my Man Giving Advice Listening Filter app.

Peanut Head does not find my cool app the least bit amusing.

In fact, if he were to ever incite divorce proceedings, this app, er . . . character trait would be at the tippy top of his Irreconcilable Annoyances List.

Flash forward six months and I'm on the Apple website working my way through all the commercials, enjoying myself because it's good entertainment, and I actually watch an iPad commercial.

So picture this, figurative tail between my legs I approach Peanut Head and meekly announce "I think I might want one of them iPad thingies." He knows he has won so he just smiles and shakes his head a little bit which, according to my Body Language Translation Dictionary, means "I know you better than you know yourself. Bazing!"

"Heh, heh. Funny, isn't it?" is my reply. It's true and I hate that it's true, but because I want the iPad thingy, I have to admit it. It hurts so bad.

This took place about this time last year, before the iPad 2 came out. Since Peanut Head is so conservative and patient, he suggested that I wait for the iPad 2 to come out because it was going to have a camera, a USB port, and all the other rumors that were going around about the magical new iPad.

According to the rumors, the launch of the new iPad was always just around the corner. It would come out for Christmas, it would come out after Christmas, the new year, with the new iPhone, etc. It was torture, I tell you.

I have to be honest with you, I don't wait patiently. I waited in agony, whining all the time, stalking the Apple website, Googling for the newest and most promising rumor. I was a druggie looking for my fix.

While I was waiting in agony, I had plenty of time to save up for my new BFF. I passed on a Christmas gift from Peanut Head, and then a birthday gift in February. I scrimped and saved, waiting for my one true love.

Finally the fated day came back in March, and I was joined with my BFF. We haven't been apart since, and I love my iPad more than my dog, but less than my children and Peanut Head. Okay, maybe I love the Bunnery Sergeant a little more, but not much more. The point is, I might possibly take a bullet for my iPad.

Not in an important organ or anything, but for sure in one of my extra fleshy bits.

So I've had my BFF for a little over seven months or so, and I've learned a thing or two about it. I'm pretty comfortable with it, but I don't navigate around it quite as well as my fellow sixth grade teacher who has had his iPad for about two weeks and can dance circles around me, on his tippy toes, with one hand behind his back and only using his pinkie finger. For illustrative purposes, that pinkie finger is in a splint.

Because I'm bitter and passive aggressive, let's just refer to him as Robo Techbot from here on out. Not in person, of course. Just on the blog. He'll never know.

I feel a tangent coming on, so I'm going to hit my force redirect key and attempt to get to my point.

A couple weeks ago Peanut Head and I got our Christmas presents early.

BFF #2, the companion to BFF #1.

And I have this to say. What the heck was I doing with a Crackberry when this Bounty of Efficiency and OCD Enabling Tool existed?!!!!

No, really. And I have exponentially fewer apps than Robo Techbot, but I don't even know how I can live now without the apps I have and use.

And since as a rule I'm always ten years behind on all trends, I need some schooling. What are all the cool apps and what can they do for me?

Please, I'm begging you, one junkie to another, what are all your favorite apps?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Idioms, Kittehs, and Ninjas

I want to know who in our district decided to schedule Halloween and Parent-Teacher conferences in the same ding dang week. And school. What's with the school?!!

It's chaos, I tell you. The kids are all hopped up on sugar, I'm all hopped up on sugar, and no one can concentrate.

Okay, I can't concentrate. There's so much talking, talking, talking, and no quiet.

That's one of the hazards of working with children. Incessant talking. 

Incessant talking at school, incessant talking at home, incessant talking in my dreams for crying out loud.

Stinkerbell is eight right now, and I've dubbed eight as The Year of Incessant Talking. I was reminded of The Year Zoe Bug Didn't Shut Up this evening when The Stink was recounting a very long story about an art project she had done in her class today, with step-by-step excruciatingly detailed instructions. Her description was so detailed that I wanted to whip out my camera and document it as a tutorial that I could post on U-Tube.

Except that I would have to listen to the whole thing a second time. And as much as I love her, it was a taxing story.

I persevered by imaginary brain slapping myself to remain conscious, quietly reminding myself that I love and care for this person who is taking the time to share part of her day with me. Something I will be begging for in another five years or so when she will come home with her no-eye-contact look, reply in one word sentences usually only containing the word "fine" and probably always accompanied by the My-Mom-is-So-Lame acrobatic eye roll.

The thought just sent shivers down my spine so I'm going to go upstairs and ask The Stink to tell it to me again.

Dang it. She's asleep.

I think it's ironic that I became a teacher so I could boss people around and make them listen to me talk.

The irony is killing me.

So . . . idioms. 

This was my Halloween costume this year. Man, I look tired. It's the talking . . . it's wearing me down. The chef's hat looking thing is really a light bulb. Not a Bright Idea light bulb, but like my shirt says, The Light at the End of the Tunnel.

I thought it would be hysterical to have Girl Genius make me a t-shirt that said this:


Perhaps it is in poor taste, but it makes me giggle.

It was also the perfect opportunity to turn an idiom into a nice visual for the kids. Idioms are hard to teach. It's a little like teaching people how to get a punch line. It's an acquired skill. 

It's a joke . . . . Get it? The light? It was turned off. It's the light at the end of the tunnel. The beacon in the night. Somebody turned it off to save money. Ha. Ha Ha. Ha. Get it?

Never mind.

Sometimes you have to beat people over the head with a punchline, so in keeping with that potentially sad outcome, we made Idiom Cootie Catchers. They're all the rage in the sixth grade.

So what if they usually predict who you will marry, how many kids you will have, and whether you will drive a minivan or a skateboard.

Here's the kitteh my title refers to. Zoe Bug wanted to be a cat for Halloween this year. It's so fitting for her personality. My sweet little kitty cat.

Stinkerbell went as a Ninja with many pointy knives. She wanted to get a big swoopy looking knife, but Peanut Head put his foot down and told her that Ninjas don't have Broadswords, they have Katanas.

I had to run upstairs to get the technical blah, blah about the knives. Swords. Whatever.

And I know that Sheryl Crow sings about the guns you can buy at Walmart, but I'm here to tell you that they don't sell Katanas.

And please forgive me here, but why for the love of Peter Pan does it really matter? It's just a Halloween costume. She's not going to be slaying any dragons or anything like that.

The best she could hope for is to sever Zoe Bug's tail from her bum. And that would totally be cheating because it was a Velcro-attached tail.

Not that Stinkerbell didn't do it anyway. Again, Peanut Head is so proud.