Category Archives: Ten Things Thursday

10 Words That Are Fun to Say

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1.  Pandemonium. Feeling proud of her innovative teaching methods, Katrina invited the spider monkey’s owner to bring him to class, revealing her deeply flawed understanding of both monkeys and first graders.  Pandemonium ensued.

2.  Cabal. The Strunkwhite Cabal was dedicated to destroying misspelled and mispunctuated signs wherever they occurred.  Despite their 30 year reign of terror, it wasn’t until their poorly planned DoS attack on the White House Informational website “Cash for Crunkers” that they came to the attention of the FBI.

3.  Shenanigans. Sure, they may just be childish shenanigans now, but left unchecked, they’ll soon graduate to hijinks, or even monkey business.  And I think you know what comes next.  That’s right.  Tomfoolery.  And none of us wants to see that happen.

4.  Perfidious. If her senses hadn’t been overwhelmed by the intoxicating scent of Drakkar Noir, Melanie never would have trusted the perfidious Pablo and his mariachi band of deceit.  Now she was out one iPod, fifteen dollars, and the never-to-be-recaptured bloom of first love.

5. Mustachioed. A passionate love letter from Tom Selleck caused Vera to reconsider her personal rule against dating mustachioed men.

6.  Fandango. Strangely, his early training in fandango dancing did not help him get the lead role in Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.

7.  Pusillanimous. Daryl was too pusillanimous to use the word ‘shrew’, because although the rodent in question was shrieking at him yet again, she was also slicing carrots with a very sharp knife.

8.  Pantaloons. Do these pantaloons cause my posterior to appear inflated?

9.  Drosophila Melanogaster. Waiter, there’s a Drosophila Melanogaster in my soup!

10.  Bourgeois. “Arby’s curly fries?” he gasped at her.  “I had no idea when we started our relationship that you were so bourgeois.  Next you’ll be telling me that you didn’t even like ‘Lost In Translation’!”

10 Things My New iPhone is Good For

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I admit it.  I’d been coveting an iPhone for quite a while.  However, we had been Verizon customers since time immemorial, locked into a succession of satisfying two year service plans, and since the iPhone is exclusive to AT&T, I had given it up as a lost dream. I spent a lot of time checking out the Verizon versions of touch phones, hoping to fall in love with one of them the way I already adored the iPod Touch I got for my last birthday.  But to be honest, there just wasn’t any chemistry.  Apple had ruined me for all other touch interfaces.

Trust my wonderful, darling geek to know my heart.  For my birthday at the beginning of August, he canceled our Verizon plan and bought me my very own iPhone 3Gs.  After spending a couple of weeks playing with it and exploring its delightful secrets, I’m convinced that it is my favorite of all the gadgets Paul has ever bought me.  And that’s saying a lot.

I carry it with me everywhere.  I sleep with it next to the bed.  I’ve even dressed it up in a cute little outfit, green to match Penelope (my laptop):

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And now this new technology is touching my life in ways I never even dreamed.  Here are just a few of them.

10 Things My New iPhone is Good For:

1.  Settling restaurant arguments. Did ZZ Top release their first album in 1971 or 1973?  What was the host’s name on that old game show “Let’s Make a Deal”?  What are the main physiological differences between Vulcans and Romulans?  Before the yelling escalates and dinner rolls are thrown, I can whip out my iPhone and use my anywhere data plan to google the answers.

2.  Helping me find myself. I get lost.  A lot.  It doesn’t matter who is giving the directions; my ability to misunderstand and muddle them knows no bounds.  But the Map application on my iPhone can zero in on my current location using its internal GPS and ping the map exactly where I am while giving me directions to where I want to go.  It even follows me as I travel so I can make sure I’m sticking to the path.  It does everything except yell “turn left, dummy!” (Perhaps that feature will be added in the next software update.)

3.  Entertaining grouchy kids. Movies, music, video games… my iPhone has everything a tired Mommy needs to help her kids weather that extra-long wait while getting the winter tires put on the car.

4.  Keeping the world apprised of my every fascinating thought and action. I have an application on my iPhone that allows me to write entries on my blog from anywhere I go.  I also have one that hooks me up to Twitter, and one that puts me in touch with every one of my 400 Facebook friends at the touch of a button.  Whether I’m eating a cheeseburger, walking to the bookstore, or catching a cold, I can tell everyone what I’m doing at every moment of my day.

I cannot, however, make them care.

5.  Figuring out what’s for dinner. Picture this: I’m standing in the middle of the grocery store, trying to decide what to feed my family tonight.  I know that back home in the pantry, I have some chicken breasts, tortilla chips, and a can of Rotel.  I open my iPhone and tap the BigOven application, then enter the names of these three ingredients in the search box.  Up pops a recipe that uses them all: King Ranch Chicken, 15 minutes to prepare, bakes for one hour.  Looking at the recipe’s other ingredients, I toss cream of mushroom soup and some cans of chicken broth into my cart and poof!  Dinner is served!

6. Videotaping chance meetings with celebrities. Actually, that should probably say “videoing” (“video-ing”?), since tape hasn’t been involved since the eighties.  Whatever.  But the next time I bump into Dick Van Dyke in the produce department at the grocery store, I’m whipping out my iPhone and setting it to record every delicious moment of stuttering, nonsensical adoration.  (Plus, it might come in handy as evidence when I get called into court to defend myself against stalking charges.  After all, singing “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” off key isn’t a crime in the technical sense.)

7.  Discovering new music. A few years ago, there was a Diet Coke commercial starring Adrien Brody that I loved, purely because of the music.  I didn’t know what song it was, and there was only a fifteen second clip of it on the commercial, but I found myself humming that fifteen seconds over and over again until I thought I would go mad trying to figure out what it was.  Determined to buy the song and enjoy the whole thing, I kept trying to catch the lyrics so I could google them.  Eventually, I found out that it was “Callin’ Out” by Lyrics Born, and I purchased it on iTunes, but the whole process would have been vastly simplified by my iPhone and the free application I just got: Shazam.  Hold the iPhone receiver up to capture the song in question, and Shazam will use the song’s acoustic fingerprint to find it in the vast database before displaying the title, album, artist, and release date, as well as a purchasing link to iTunes.  Wow.  Just…wow.

8.  Finding out if it’s a snow day without getting out of bed. When the weather outside is truly frightful, there’s a good chance that life will be temporarily postponed due to snow accumulation.  Now I can just reach across to my iPhone and call up the local news web site to check school closings, all without touching a toe to the cold floor.

9.  Studying my Bible. When the teacher in my Bible class asks everyone to turn to a verse in the Bible, I get out my iPhone and look it up on YouVersion, my Bible application.  I can bookmark favorite verses, search by keyword, and view other people’s commentaries.  I can choose from a dozen translations.  There’s even a daily Bible reading schedule.  I used the same program on my iPod Touch, and it was one of the first things I loaded on my phone.  I used to feel a little self-conscious about firing up my electronic Bible at church, but lately there are a lot more people using them, and I can usually spot three or four other glowing screens from where I’m sitting.  What can I say?  I’m a trendsetter.

10.  Talking on the phone. That’s right.  Lest we forget, the iPhone is, first and foremost, a phone.  A phone with lots of cool phone-related features, like photo caller ID, visual voice mail management, and integrated contacts, along with all the usual cell phone offerings–speaker phone, conference calling, voice dialing, and the like.  There’s only one impediment to pure perfection.  I can’t find a good Chewbacca ringtone anywhere.

10 Things I Found While Cleaning Out the Garage

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Paul is out of town this week, counseling at a Christian teen camp up in Northeast Washington state.  I love what he’s doing, but I hate being apart.  The house is too quiet, the bed is too big, and the ten thousand words I usually bestow upon him the minute he arrives home from work are building up, unsaid, inside my brain.  Also, it gets dark at night, and the house makes noises, and even though I’m 36 years old, I’m pretty sure that the bogeyman is lurking around waiting for me to turn out the lights so he can get me.  (I’ve never figured out what happens once the bogeyman gets you, but I don’t want to find out at this late date.)

Anyway, the week is crawling by.  So I thought I’d help fill it up by getting some work done around the house.  On Tuesday I washed, dried, and folded 9 loads of laundry.  On Wednesday, I did our monthly all-day grocery shopping extravaganza, with stops at Walmart, Super One, and Costco.  And today, four months after moving into our new home, I finally cleaned out the garage so that we can park in it.

It was hot, sweaty work, and I almost aborted the mission prematurely when I moved a box only to discover an angry coven of giant black spiders nesting in the corner behind it.  Five of them scattered in random directions, scuttling across the floor so fast that I barely had time to react before they had found new hiding places.  I killed one slowpoke with my broom, and then stood there for several minutes recovering from an attack of the heebie-jeebies.  The rest of the job went slowly as I had to perform the Icky Spider Dance of Girliness every time I brushed up against a gardening tool or felt a droplet of sweat running down my leg, but eventually, I got it done.

Behold!:

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10 Things I Found While Cleaning Out the Garage:

1.  The Klingon Dictionary. Boy, am I relieved to have this back!  Just the other day, I was whispering sweet nothings in Paul’s ear, and I wanted to tell him “bomDI’ ‘IwwIj qaqaw”, but I couldn’t remember where to put the second apostrophe. Nothing turns a geek into a pile of mush like Klingon love poetry.  (Just try to keep the spitting to a minimum.)

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2.  A poem I wrote in college about sardines. Here it is, for your pleasure:

Oh, the bliss of a fragrant sardine!
(Even though it turns some people green…)
The smell is just made to enthrall,
Though my roommate agrees not at all.
Little fishies in cute little rows
Are a treat for your mouth and your nose.
Packed in mustard and on a saltine,
There is nothing quite like a sardine!

3.  My wedding planner. No, I don’t have a coldly efficient forty year old woman with a walkie-talkie and a list of caterers hidden away in my garage.  But I do have the forty pound 3-ring binder packed with receipts and schedules that I used when Paul and I were planning our wedding in Searcy, Arkansas back in 1996.  I tucked it away in case our kids ever want to know how much my dress cost ($300), the name of our photographer (Ed Wilson), or the song that was playing when I walked down the aisle (God Has Smiled on Me).

4.  A picture of my high school boyfriend sitting in my Dad’s recliner. Little did he know that he was taking his life in his hands that day.  It’s a common enough mistake.  In fact, when Paul, My Future Husband, came home with me for Thanksgiving to meet my family, my Dad’s very first words to him were not “Nice to meet you,” but “Get out of my chair!” (Thinks he’s so funny, my dad!)

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5.  A French newspaper. In 1991, I spent six weeks living with a French family in Aurillac, France, as part of an exchange program.  It was a life changing and horizon-broadening experience.  One of the souvenirs I brought back was this newspaper.

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6.  My high school graduation cap. It was white.  Do you know how hard it was to find something to wear to graduation that wouldn’t show through a white graduation gown?

7. 1000 feet of 14 gauge A/V cable. I’m sure it’s good for something.  I just don’t know what.

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8. My lucky bandana. I carried this battered blue bandana on dozens of outdoor adventures when I was in middle school and high school–camping, white water rafting, backpacking, rappelling.  I tied it around my ankle to stop the bleeding when I cut it on a river rock.  I used it to keep the sweat out of my eyes while I climbed Mount Yonah. I thought I had lost it, but there it was tucked inside a duffle bag full of old camping stuff.  I can’t wait to use it again.  But I’m thinking maybe I should wash it first.

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9. My hoarded stash of gift boxes and bags. After our wedding showers, I collected all the bags and boxes like a good little bride, knowing that I would need them for future gift-giving occasions.  Then, I promptly lost them.  For thirteen years.  Perhaps they’ve been floating in and out of a rift in the time-space continuum.  Or maybe they were stolen by a very specific kind of burglar, who suffered an attack of conscience all these years later and sneaked into our garage to replace the plunder.  Or perhaps I’m just absent-minded.

Nah.  That can’t be it.

10.  Space for the car. That was the point of this whole journey, after all.  I can’t wait to go pick Paul up and drive him home, just so I can enjoy his surprise when we actually get to use the garage door opener to…wait for it…open the garage door and drive inside!  It may be a tight fit (Two-car garage?  Ha!), but we will finally be safe from the scorching sun and the drifting snow.

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Now to go cross one more completed project off my To Do List!

10 Home Projects We Still Haven’t Gotten Around To

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When we were preparing to move into our first home, we made a list of things we wanted to do to it.  Big things and small things all went on The List, and it got long quickly.  We got some of the projects done (with help) before we moved in–painting, installing a garage door opener, demolishing the kitchen floor and laying a new one.  Unfortunately, that barely put a dent in The List.  We told ourselves that we would quickly finish the other jobs after the move, but between unpacking and finishing the school year and the drowsy, indolent haze that covers hot summer days like a mosquito net, we haven’t gotten very far.

A few projects, like building the deck and fencing in the backyard, will have to wait until funds permit us to hire a professional.  But there’s a nagging list of small, doable home improvement projects that need to be completed before I go back to work in the fall.  Here, in no particular order, are ten of them:

1.  Annihilate the stealthily creeping grove of aspens slowly taking over our backyard. According to G.I. Joe, our backyard neighbor, they are quaking aspens, and they started from suckers that spawned off of two trees he cut down in his yard some time ago.  Now they’ve formed a colony that runs the entire length of our back fence, probably 30 or 40 saplings in all.  Joe says that if they’re left unchecked, they’ll pull up the fence, kill his spruce bushes, and wind their root system all through the yard, preventing the growth of other plants.  I was able to pull up half a dozen of the smaller saplings with my bare hands, but most of them are tied into their linked root system so tightly I can’t budge them.  Fortunately, just as I was on the cusp of borrowing a chain saw and possibly cutting my leg off in a terrible accident, my oh-so-smart friend Kathy suggested employing the loppers I use to trim the rose bush.  It works perfectly!  Tonight I went out and cut down a couple of the very thickest trunks with no problem.  I’m planning to go out and take care of the rest tomorrow. Update: finished.

2.  Reseal all the windows and doors in the house. After ten years, the sealant that frames our windows and doors is starting to crack and peel.  We have to scrape off the old stuff and apply new before the next Idaho winter sweeps in with its frigid temperatures.

3.  Recaulk the bathrooms. At some point, the previous owners noticed the waterproof caulking around the tub and sink starting to pull away from the porcelain.  They just applied another layer over what was already there.  It needs to be scraped and reapplied.

4.  Refresh the landscaping. I was amazed and delighted by the number and variety of beautiful flowering plants that grew in our yard this year, all without my help.  But the beds need to be weeded and new bark cover laid down.  Paul would also like to dig down and lay some paving stones level with the ground all around the flower beds.

5.  Touch up the paint. The baseboards have seen better days, and there are some jagged nicks along the border of the walls and ceilings where the painter’s tape pulled up some paint along with it.  I’ll probably have to devote a day to walking around with a little cup of paint and a paintbrush, taking care of all the spots that need retouching.

6.  Furnish the living room. Going from a two-bedroom apartment to a four-bedroom house presents a not-altogether-unpleasant problem: not enough furniture.  We put our existing couch and chair in the family room, and now we’re trying to find something we like for the upstairs living room.

7.  Clear enough space in the garage to be able to park in there. This is essential before the snow flies in November.  It would be nice to get it done before that, though, especially since the recent bout of hot weather has turned the inside of our Ford into a microwave.  We’ve unpacked most of our boxes, we’ve given away some things we weren’t using, and next week we’ll donate a few larger items to the Family Promise rummage sale our church is doing.  That should carve out enough space for the Escort.  Update: completed 8/6/09.

8.  Bring our freezer home. Seven years ago, when we moved to Idaho, my parents generously bought us a large chest freezer for storing frozen meat and stuff.  (“And stuff” does not, in this case, include dead bodies.  Just so you know.)  Unfortunately, our small apartment did not have any room for the freezer, so it has been living, unplugged and unused, in Paul’s parents’ basement for all that time.  Once the garage is cleaned out, we will finally have the space to store a whole frozen cow on the premises, if we so desire.  Or an ice sculpture.  Or 20 half-gallon cartons of Breyer’s Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream bought on sale.  I like this.

9.  Put doors on Katie’s closet. When we moved in, Katie’s closet doors (the folding kind) were disconnected and leaning against the wall in her room.  Paul attempted to hang them, only to find that they don’t fit.  They’re too tall.  I’m not sure what happened there–maybe the old doors were damaged and the previous owners tried to replace them without measuring?  Anyway, something must be done, but I’m not sure what.  Curtains?  New doors?  Japanese paper screens?

10.  Buy a kitschy piece of wall art. Our house still needs that special something, that one weird sculpture or unusual painting that will both express our unique personalities and cause people to look at it and make a little “huh” noise under their breath.  Got anything like that?

What Would You Do-o-o for a Klondike Bar?

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10 Things I Would Do for a Klondike Bar:

1.  Wear a dress made out of duct tape.

2. Go to the grocery store in my pajamas.

3.  Spend the night at Walmart.

4.  Post a YouTube video of myself chair dancing awesomely to “Mai Ai Hee”.

5.  Stand facing the wrong way in the elevator.

6.  Go to a fancy restaurant and speak to the server the whole time in a really fake French accent.

7.  Approach a total stranger and pretend to know him from high school.

8.  Leave my fly open for an entire day.

9.  Dye my hair pink.  No, blue.  No, pink.

10.  Do the Polar Bear Plunge in Lake Coeur d’Alene.

10 Things I Would Most Assuredly Not Do for a Klondike Bar:

1.  Let a tarantula walk on my face.

2.  Go bungee jumping.

3.  Drink Spang*.

4. Get a tattoo of PeeWee Herman on my thigh.

5.  Watch “Hostel”.

6.  Streak the Superbowl half-time show.

7.  Try out for American Idol.

8.  Sit through a Barry Manilow concert.

9.  Reread “The Sound and the Fury”.

10.  Go anywhere with the Burger King.  He’s creepy.

*Spang is a liquid refreshment some friends of mine made up in college.  Tang plus Spam, blended until smooth.  We actually made this foul concoction once, and took turns tasting it.  It was revolting.

10 Movie Quotes That Paul and I Use in Everyday Conversation

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Bonus points if you can tell what movies they came from (without googling!)

1.  “Maybe you should put some shorts on or something, if you want to keep fighting evil today.” Used on the person who is still wearing his/her pajamas at 2:00 in the afternoon, or when a family member attempts the naked dash from the shower to the bedroom after forgetting to bring a change of clean clothes into the bathroom.

2.  “Sure, they’re cute now, but in a second they’re gonna get mean, and they’re gonna get ugly somehow, and there’s gonna be a million more of them.” True of cute little compys, cute little aliens, and cute little grade schoolers pouring out of the bus for a field trip.

3.  “Not the cow.  I just ate that cow!  Spasm!  Spasm!” All purpose announcement of indigestion.

4.  “I’m sorry, I was whack.”  “I was whack.” Instantly deflates an argument and prevents it from escalating into something truly ugly.

5.  “You gonna eat your tots?” Begging for food from someone else’s plate is a universal annoyance.  Being cute about it helps your chances.

6.  “We’re fine.  We’re all fine here now, thank you.  How are you?” Uttered over the phone in a tone of strangled calm while kids scream, doorbells ring, and glass shatters in the background.

7.  “Game over, man!  Just game over!” I’ve had it!  I give up!  Let’s take off and nuke the entire site from orbit.  Or, you know, go get some pizza.

8.  “Again, information that would have been useful YESTERDAY!” Appropriate reproach for someone who neglects to deliver a critical detail of some kind, resulting in epic FAIL.

9.  “Great party, Steve!” Follows the sigh of contentment that accompanies a fun activity, a good night out, or a hair-raising adventure.  Meaning: “That rocked!  Let’s do it again sometime.”

10.   “I came across time for you, <insert name of thing you like>.  I love you.  I always have.” As in: “I came across time for you, Breyers Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream.  I love you.  I always have.”

*Answers can be found in the comments section!*

10 Things I’m Probably Too Old For But Enjoy Anyway

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1.  Low-Rise Jeans. Maybe it’s the way I’m shaped (square), but before low-rise jeans came along, I was a woman-without-country in the denim department.  The horrible jeans of the 80’s (designed by Gloria Vanderbilt and her ilk) assumed that everyone had curvy hips and tiny, nipped-in waists, a shape still celebrated in the present-day construction of Mom Jeans.  (And let’s face it–Mom Jeans are just 80’s jeans that have morphed a bit to accommodate the ..ahem.. blossoming post-partum form.)  The fact is, some of us don’t have tiny, nipped-in waists, no matter what we weigh.  In that dark time, we had to choose between wearing trousers that fit in the waist but flapped around the hips like a pair of mountie pants, or jeans that fit the hips but pinched the body nearly in half at the waist, leaving button and zipper impressions so deep they could be cast in plaster.  I used to shop for jeans in the boys’ department just to get a half-decent fit.  So you can imagine my rejoicing when the jeans industry just did away with waists altogether and started making low-rise jeans.  No more torture, no more angry red zipper marks, just comfort and fit for everyone.  I’m stocking up so I’ll be prepared when fashions change again and waistbands move to just under the armpits.

2.  Tattoos and Piercings. I only have one tattoo, and no piercings that draw comments, but I’m always fascinated by good body art.  I especially like the large, colorful tableaus that cover the arms or shoulders of the subject and tell some part of the person’s story: a great loss, a personal achievement, a crossroads, a strongly held belief.  I’m not sure I’m done on the tattoo front, but I’m probably past the age when I can decently get my eyebrow pierced like I’ve always wanted to.  It would instantly become uncool if I did it, and everyone under thirty would be forced to find a new defining medium for their rebellions.

3.  Staying Up Late. Most of our friends express concern when it comes out that Paul and I regularly fall into bed around midnight.  We don’t set out to do it, but the nights go by so quickly, and the hours after the kids are in bed are so precious.  That’s our time, and it flies by in talking and playing and making plans.  Before we know it, we’ve done it again–it’s 12:30 and the morning alarm is mere hours away.  Sure, it’s hard to get out of bed, but it’s much harder to get into it when there’s still fun to be had.

4.  Video Games. I may hold the record for most team kills in Counterstrike history, but despite my lack of skill and my spastic trigger finger, I enjoy playing video games immensely.  It’s a love I came to late in life, so I suppose I’m making up for my misprised youth.  At least that’s how I justify all those hours spent in Azeroth.

5.  Eating Dessert for Dinner. It’s true.  Sometimes I skip the meat and vegetables and go straight to the ice cream.  And if I didn’t have a family to feed, I’d probably do it even more often.

6.  Cartoons. Spongebob Squarepants.  Fairly Oddparents.  Jimmy Neutron.  Mighty B.  Ren & Stimpy.  CatDog.  Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.  The sillier the better.

7.  Hip Words. Oh, wait.  They don’t say “hip” anymore, do they?  Though I avoid some words that I quite obviously cannot carry off (krunk, hizzie, chooch), the fact remains that I still use words like “sweet”, “sick”, “tight”, and “bites” with pathetic regularity.  But don’t worry.  I’m sure the vernacular is changing even as we speak and I will soon be as hopelessly out of date as ever.

8.  Celebrity Crushes. Did I mention that Gerard Butler sent me a signed photo?  I did?  Just checking…

9.  All Day Movie Marathons. Most adults I know don’t have the stamina (or the inclination) to park it in front of the television for a solid ten hours to watch all of the Harry Potter movies in one sitting.  I’m not one of those adults.  Close the curtains and pass the popcorn!  (Just give me a stretch and bathroom break about halfway through!)

10.  Public Displays of Affection. Our kids may not want to see it, but that won’t stop us.  I love kissing, and holding hands, and stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to share an enthusiastic bear hug brought on by declarations of love and/or impending dessert.  Who cares who’s watching?