A Boy and His iPod Touch


I’m very proud of the young man above. He wanted an iPod Touch this past Christmas, and I was more than skeptical. He’s 8 and that’s an expensive piece of technology to take care of, to keep up with, etc. I was concerned he was too young or too irresponsible. Other concerns: buying games, trusting him on the Internet, I wasn’t going to get his little brother one … ultimately I didn’t get him one.

But after that we made a deal: if he saved his money and had at least $100 by his 9th birthday, which is next week, I’d cover the rest. Well, he crossed the $100 mark just this past week. He saved his allowance ($5 a week if he does all his chores) plus the occasional bonus for doing extra jobs — and used some of his birthday money. He learned to save and to sacrifice for something he really wanted. He also learned greater responsibility and work ethic in our home. Last weekend, for example, he swept the living room without being told, and he asked for extra chores to make extra money. I had him clean the fronts of the kitchen cabinets.

So today we ventured to Target where he handed the electronics guy a big wad of cash in exchange for an iPod Touch. He was beaming and so proud of himself. It was fun to watch! Not only did he show me that he was responsible enough, he’s invested in it which boosts his desire to take care of his purchase. I couldn’t be prouder!

Bullseye Cake Pops

One of my simple joys in life is a friend who knows me so well that when they see something out-and-about in real life they say “that is so Heather, I’ve just got to tell her.”

That was the case with these Target dog cake pops that CorrinMc emailed me about this week.

It’s no secret around here about my love of Target.

But knowing that I’d like love these actually goes a tad beyond the Target connection.

Because these are made by Bakerella, who I saw and met last year. So these have not just 1 Heatheriffic factor but 2!

My birthday is the end of this month, and some friends and I are  celebrating this weekend by taking a painting class. These may just be the perfect birthday sweet for our little soiree.

Why I Give

I give to the Hydrocephalus Association because when my 6-month-old son was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, or “water on the brain,” their web site and the free packet of info they sent me were extremely helpful during a very scary time. Every day there are parents receiving the same diagnosis we did who can turn to the Hydrocephalus Association for information, support, success stories, treatment options, and hope for a cure. In addition to providing informational materials to families affected by hydrocephalus, the association lobbies for additional research dollars to search for a cure and better treatment options. I give because they have helped me in the past, are helping other like me right now, and their support for research may come into play in my future if my son were to benefit from any of the research being funded right now.

I give to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital because while working for Target several years ago I learned just what all St. Jude does for the patients and families affected by childhood cancer. Target supports St. Jude by carrying their wrapping paper and Christmas cards each holiday season. The art on the cards and wrapping papers are designed by St. Jude’s patients and are *so* cute! A portion of the proceeds goes back to the hospital. This year, Target is selling a limited edition Bullseye plush dog (pictured above) with 100% of money going to St. Jude’s. Target also has Target House where families can stay while children are undergoing treatment. It’s decked out very nicly with everything they need plus, to give them as much comfort as they can while away from home. Target workers volunteer to do things like plant flowers, clean up playgrounds, and clean the toy rooms (because keeping patients away from germs is very, very important at St. Jude’s).

I give to my local volunteer fire department because they will be the ones who will get here the quickest if we were to need their help with a fire or other emergency. My money goes to buy better equipment, which in turn will help keep mine and my neighbors home safe, and to buy safety equipment for the firefighters who volunteer their time to help their community.

What are your favorite charities, and why do you give?

I am Known

I’m intrigued that companies — like Amazon, who recommends what books I might like, or Netflix, who recommends what movies I should see, or my beloved Target who prints out coupons for things I buy — know me so well. Their fancy computer algorithms  predict, based on things I’ve bought, watched or rated, other things that I might like, and they do so quite accurately.

A few years ago, Netflix described my taste in movies, as

Action & adventure based on real life
Feel-good teen dramas
Dark military movies
Sentimental wedding movies

and those descriptions were pretty spot on. Today, Netflix describes my tastes as

Emotional dramas based on a book
Psychological thrillers
Suspenseful action & adventure based on real life
Family feature animation.

Once again, that’s a pretty accurate depiction of things I like.

People sometimes act shocked when they hear that companies use data about spending habits to learn about their customers and market more specific products to them. I’m not surprised at all. It’s nothing new really. They’ve been doing it for a while, and if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Why should the Target coupon printer give everyone a coupon for the same product when they can look at the kinds of things you buy and customize deals that you might actually use, ya know? It helps them and it helps you, a win-win.

Music Review: Taylor Swift “Speak Now”

Listening to Taylor Swift makes me feel like such a teenager. The love stories and break ups and friendships remind me so much of my high school years. Which makes sense of course, since Taylor Swift was not that long ago a teenager herself and writing songs about her teen-age experiences. She’s also writing for teenagers, or at least a good teen-age fan base. But as a 30-something, it just takes me back. Sometimes it’s the scenarios or the stories themselves but most often it’s the perspective. It’s very obvious to me that the song is written from a young perspective. Even the songs that look back on loves lost have a youthful slant.

Her new album — Speak Now— is delightfully fun. You can tell that Taylor’s been in love and been hurt and had people say bad things bad about her lately, and I love that she takes those emotions and feelings out on (or in) her music. Because I find writing so therapeutic I enjoy it when a musician uses music in the same way.

The title track may be my favorite on the album. It’s certainly the one I’ve listened to the most. It’s just fun, telling the story of a girl at a wedding of the guy she wants and what she’s seeing and experiencing as she waits for that “speak now or forever hold your peace” moment to speak up and tell him how she feels. “I am not the kind of girl who should be rudely barging in on a white veil occasion, but you are not the kind of boy who should be marrying the wrong girl,” she sings. Favorite lines — describing the wedding dress as a gown shaped like a pastry and the bride’s walk down the aisle as the bride floating like a pageant queen. Can’t you just picture it? I can.

“Enchanted” reminds me of Swift’s “Love Story” from her previous album. It has a very romantic story and sound and conjures up images of strangers meeting at a ball, or some place fancy that. “It was enchanting to meet you,” Swift softly sings. Sounds like the kind of thing a lady says to a gentlemen, doesn’t it? My favorite part to sing is this backup singer part towards the end — “Please don’t be in love with someone else. Please don’t have somebody waiting for you.” Who hasn’t been there when meeting someone, wishing they’re not already taken.

“Back to December” is the track that’s all over the radio. Honestly — the song on it’s own is a fine song but for personal reasons the story in the song annoys me. The story is of a girl who ended a relationship in which she didn’t appreciate the boy who loved her and is now trying to get him back by meeting up with him months later and bringing to mind all the good times and saying she goes back to December (when she left him) all the time with regrets. Oh, and — she wants him back. Call me cruel but she had her chance, shoulda took it when she had it. Too late now; move on. “If the chain is on your door I understand.” Good. ’cause it is. Reportedly based on one of Taylor’s own relationships (as are a lot of her songs, if you believe what you read on Wikipedia), the song is eerily similar in timelines and actions to a relationship I know of that ended similarly. That kinda bugs me whenever I hear it because I can picture the girl in that relationship doing that exact same thing. In fact, I think she did, several times even. But, on a positive note, kudos to Taylor Swift for writing a song so personally relateable. That’s one of, if not the, trait I like most in a song — the ability of the song to be real and true, so at least there’s that.

I’m enjoying the album, but then I’m a Taylor Swift fan so no surprise. There are no bad tracks; I like them all. “Mean” is fun, as is “Better than Revenge” in which Swift rhymes actress with mattress (I love creative like-rhyme.). “Never Grow Up” makes me thing of my boys as well as myself being young and wishing to be older.

The Speak Now Target exclusive deluxe edition is worth the extra few bucks for four new songs and acoustic and mix versions of tracks from the album. I also like that the Target version is all Target-y — the photo from the regular album has been photoshopped to make the dress Target red!