Thursday, December 31, 2009

Inspiration from Goodlife Zen Question 3

The posts until Saturday, January 9, will be in response to Mary Jaksch's questions on Goodlife Zen, 11 Questions that lead to Gratitude. Please visit the site and subscribe for daily inspiration.


3. What barrier did you overcome?


For most of my adult life I have loved to exercise. In my younger days I alternated jogging with lifting weights. In my older days, I took dance classes.

A few years ago, during an Irish hardshoe class (think Riverdance,) I ripped a ligament in my right knee. The pain was severe and lasted for a long time. It was two years before I felt enough confidence in my knee to attempt another dance class.

I started off slowly with low impact Hebrew style worship dance. Didn't matter. Ripped the ligament in the left knee this time. The pain was recognizable to me, so I decided not to go to the doctor again, but instead went through the series of exercises my physical therapist taught me with the first rip.

It’s been three more years since then, during which I have suffered tremendous knee fear. Whenever I exercise, or even turn suddenly, I feel those nagging residual ripped ligament pains and usually stop what I’m doing for fear of making it worse. I have developed excuse after excuse as to why I can’t do this exercise or that one, but it all comes down to: I FEAR MY KNEES.

I fear my knees so much that I do very little exercise. And gain weight. Which makes my knees hurt worse. Which makes me avoid movement. You see where I’m going here…

Two weeks ago, chick pal Ekanela convinced me to join an aerobics class where she is an instructor. The nice thing? She understands knee pain. While she shows everyone else a dance move, she shows me the alternate low-impact move that will work the same muscles. She will even tell me to stop when the knee pain hits, and do something else as long as I keep moving.

Guess what? I FEEL GOOD! I want to exercise every day. I'm in the zone where I can't stand missing a day.

The greatest barrier I overcame this year was the fear of hurting myself. Sorry, there will be no accompanying picture of my knees.

What barrier did YOU overcome in 2009?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Inspiration from Goodlife Zen Question 2

As I mentioned yesterday, I received an email from the Goodlife Zen website. Mary Jaksch wrote a post called 11 Questions that lead to Gratitude.

For eleven days, I will answer her questions in order, and challenge you to answer
too! It's a great chance to evaluate your thankfulness level over the past year.

Thanks to Mary for her questions. Please check out her original post and subscribe to
Goodlife Zen for more inspiration.

Here we go with the second question!



2.What energized you?

In May of 2009, Computer Geek, Weston, Gnome, Hoolie, Neo and I took a trip to Seattle for CG’s father’s 85th birthday. We took two cars, slept on the road, and kept on driving until we got to the homes of CG’s sisters. [Side note: Computer Geek and his children are “This looks like a road that’s not too busy. Let’s pull to the side and sleep for a couple of hours” type of people. I am more of the “I promise to not eat anything for the rest of the trip if we can just stay in a hotel with a real bed and a pillow” type. I lost.]

I had never been to Seattle or anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. Utah has been my home for the last twelve years so I was totally acclimated to the color brown. Needless to say, when we drove through Washington I had strange, lustful feelings for the color green. I almost kissed a fern.

Seattle is a very energetic city, full of dynamic people who ride their bikes to work and
run everywhere else.(Seattle is green in more ways than one.) The shops are eclectic and busy. The energy of the city pulsed through me, creating a desire to do, do, and then do some more. We went to the Space Needle, The Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum, The Aquarium, a harbor tour, the zoo, a Mariners game, and rode the monorail. Of course we rode a ferry and hit Spud's on Alki Beach . Yummy fish and chips!

I was warned that my stay in Seattle would be a very wet one (all that green comes at a price) but it only rained one day out of the week we were there. The frigid waves of the Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean were energizing in themselves.

If I ever come up missing, look for me in Seattle, my caffeine-substitute.






What energized YOU?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Inspiration from Goodlife Zen Question 1

Today I received an email from the Goodlife Zen website. Mary Jaksch wrote a post called
11 Questions that lead to Gratitude. I started thinking about her end-of-the-year questions and thinking turned to writing and before you know it, I was blogging. For the next eleven days, I will answer one of her questions, and challenge you to answer that question too! Thanks to Mary for her questions. Please check out her original post and subscribe to Goodlife Zen for more inspiration.



1. What made you happy?

On April 4, 2009, a little boy was born to my daughter Em and her husband Supreme Dishman.

He is a little butterball of round-headed, brown-eyed chunk, whose personality is strangely akin to a puppy. If you walk into a room, his eyes will light up, he will smile, he will crawl to you as fast as his little body will go, and he will immediately begin chewing on your shoes. When you pick him up, he will begin wagging his tail and licking your face. [Ok, everything is true except the last sentence.]

Chunk is one of those babies that everyone wants to hold, even MEN. If Em and I attend the same function or activity, I have to fight people to get to my grandson, sometimes using all manner of devious trickery. “Oh my gosh! Is that a Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet in Metallic Ruby Red? Here, let me hold my grandson while you run to the corner to check it out.”

Computer Geek has been known to lament, "It's been over 24 hours since we last saw Chunk. Isn't it time for a visit?" Em was at the movies last week, and was in the lobby with Chunk. A strange woman came up to her and said, "Excuse me, but could I just hold your baby?" Billy Squier wrote Everybody Wants You for Chunk.

Little Chunk only cries for a few reasons: He’s wet, he’s hungry, he’s tired, or you took the DISH remote away from him. Other than that, he is happy, happy, happy. He makes everyone who sees him happy, happy, happy too!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sunday Serenity 12-27-09

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and the sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.
~Kahlil Gibran~

Friday, December 25, 2009

Birthday Blessings, Part 2

Friendships that never die…
The morning after my birthday, I received a text message on my cell phone. I was surprised to find that it was from my friend, I’ll call her Wander. Although I don’t know for sure how long it has been since I have been in touch with her, I will estimate that it has been between twelve and fifteen years. She had a dream about me during the night of my birthday, and felt impressed to call my sister in the morning and ask for my phone number. I was amazed to find that after all these years, she dreamed of me on my birthday.

Wander is one of the sweetest people I have ever had occasion to meet. We were friends in high school, through college, and then after. I found myself laughing at her text messages just as if no years had passed. I was so grateful to be back in contact with her and considered it another birthday blessing. She, like it has been said of Nathanael of old, has no guile. She’s a pure soul, incapable of deceit. I learned that in the intervening years, she had, then beat, cancer. I am grateful that God kept her alive for her 5 young children.

I actually got a two-for-the-price-of-one gift when Wander contacted me. She put me in contact with our mutual friend, Tray, later that day. I’ve not seen Tray for eight years, last at my mother’s funeral. Just seeing her face there, ready to be a support to me, got me through that agonizing morning and afternoon.

My friendship with Tray has always been a source of light and truth for me. She is extremely intelligent, independent, and could make having teeth pulled seem like fun. Her caring and her compassion got me through many dreary days as a single mother. She is 29 and always will be. She’s a deep thinker.

Post-Randi was off to a good start. I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon getting some housework done, because later that afternoon, I had a date!


Night on the town with two lovely daughters, both of whom are really skinny
The date was with my daughter Em. Also coming with us was her friend, a woman who I think of as a daughter too. She is very shy, until you get to know her, or unless she is dancing on stage, like an angel. I will call her Angel Dancer.

Em and Angel Dancer picked me up close to 4:00 p.m. They decided to take me out of town the day after my birthday since they were trying to honor my request to not do anything for my birthday. The closest large city is about 90 minutes away, so we had some time for good conversation. My daughter Em is amazing to me. She’s compassionate, elegant and humorous. She grew up not having much, yet she can hob-nob with millionaires and feel totally at ease. I love her a lot.

We stopped for dinner at one of their favorite restaurants, P.F. Chang’s. Now there is one thing I have to tell you about eating dinner with skinny women. They don’t really eat. That’s why they don’t look like me.

Em ordered some honey almond looking kind of chicken, Angel Dancer ordered lemon scallops and I ordered orange peel spicy chicken. I was thoroughly enjoying my meal when I noticed that the girls looked like they were finished. Most of their meal was still on their plates. Three bites, tops. Granted, they did have LETTUCE wraps for an appetizer. It’s bad enough to go to dinner with skinny women, but when they stop eating after three bites, it’s downright humiliating. Never having been one who succumbs to peer pressure, I just kept right on a-eatin’.

So the waiter comes over to the table, and sees that the skinny women have stopped eating already. He did not notice that I was still eating because I was not skinny. He smiles and says, “Was it just too much? Can I get you a take-out box?”

He brings back take-out boxes, and boxes up the honey chicken and the lemon scallops before grabbing my plate and boxing up my dinner! While I was STILL EATING. I still had like five little pieces of chicken left. I almost said, “Hey! Watsa matta? Cantja see I’ma still eatin’ my dinna?” But then I would have drawn attention to myself as a non-skinny woman, so I let it go.


Shopping
After we left the restaurant, Em tells me that a few of my friends gave her some money to take me clothes shopping. I should tell you at this point that unlike normal women, I do not enjoy shopping. Guerilla shopping is what I do. I scope out the store, figure out the quickest route in and out, make a missile-like path to my desired item, hit the checkout stand, and get myself out of there. I am not an impulse shopper. I am the steel sphere ricocheting in the middle of a pinball machine. In-store advertising is generally wasted on me.

Worse than eating with skinny women is going clothes shopping with them. Everything they try on looks good on them, so they simply have to decide things like, “Do I like this color?” and “If I buy this, can I use it as an excuse to buy something else that will also match?” I have to make decisions like “Does this make me look elephantine or simply cow-like?” and “Is there a way to push my stomach up so that it looks like my pectoral region is actually bigger than my stomach?” Skinny women do not understand the concept that some sweaters are butt-huggers, and so they must be purchased to either ride above the butt or hang below it. They look at you blankly and say, “I don’t get it. What do you mean by ‘butt?’”

Em and Angel Dancer handed me about 15 cute shirts to try on. That is to say that they were cute while still on the hanger. Once they made the transition from hanger to body, they no longer had any resemblance to the original item. I finally decided on a Christmas-red button down shirt, which still mostly looked like a shirt when I put it on.

The foreign nail polisher man
Walking through the mall, I felt my hand being grabbed. I turned and looked and it was a very handsome young man with a foreign accent (ha ha, skinny women!)

Daughter Em, knowing what the man was up to because she is a shopper, said, “Let him do this!” and walked off into a store with Angel Dancer. The man looked at my hands and asked me to pick out which of my fingernails was the worst. Hmmm…no one has ever asked me that question before. I decided randomly on my right thumb. Still holding onto my hand he asked me, “So that was your sister who told you to let me try this?”

He’s good, huh? I used to be in sales. I know the tricks. My sister. “No, that’s my daughter.”

“No way! So you got married when you were twelve then? I cannot believe that was your daughter. You are far too young.” Still holding my hand. Talking in that gorgeous accent, which I later found out was Israeli. Hmm. This must actually work on some women. Not guerilla shopper!

Anyway young handsome Israeli man began using a buffer on my right thumbnail. He buffed from one side of the buffer, then a second, and finally a third side of the buffer. He held the buffer over my hand and said,

“Now promise me you won’t start screaming.” Yeah, sure.

“Are you promising me? When I take away this buffer, you will not begin screaming?”

I promised. He took away the buffer.

“AAAHHH!” I screamed. My thumbnail looked like it had been polished with diamonds!

Just then Em and Angel Dancer walked back up. The man made his offer for the whole kit. I declined. (He thought he had me at the scream.)



He made another offer. I still said no. Finally at the third offer, Em said, “For that price I’m buying it for you!”

I won’t tell you what price we settled on because I respect the “tricks” of salesmanship. Needless to say if a handsome man in the mall grabs your hand and makes your nails shimmer like jewels, wait until his third offer before you buy.

Next on the agenda was going to a movie. We wanted to see Blind Side and arrived twenty minutes early, but it was sold out. All of the other movies started later, which is a consideration since we have 90 minutes to travel afterward, so the skinny girls decided on going out for dessert instead. I was not hungry yet, but the poor skinny girls, having had only three bites, were.

Dessert time
We ended up at Cold Stone Creamery. If you haven’t been there, the ice cream store has three sizes: Like It, Love It, and Gotta Have It. The Like It size seemed really small so I decided on Mint Chocolate Chip Fudge Brownie (yeah!) in Love It size. Little did I know, they PILE the ice cream way past the bowl, so the Like It would have sufficed. We sat down to eat and you guessed it—skinny girls were done after roughly three, maybe seven, bites. (They should have a Can I Just Sniff It size for skinny people.) They waited patiently while I savored the mint, the chocolate, the fudge, the brownie. Finally Em suggests that I finish my dessert in the car so we can get going.

We had traveled roughly fifteen minutes when the skinny girls saw the Golden Arches. “Fries!”

Em maneuvered through Drive-Up and asked me if I wanted some fries too.

“No, thanks. I’m still working on my Love It.”

The skinny girls got their fries and I will admit to stealing one or two out of Em’s box.


A nice ending to a fun evening
We drove home, mostly conversation-less, tired, and just trying to keep our eyes out for deer. As much as I jest about their skinny-girl eating habits, I do adore them both and had a great time with them. I’m grateful for my grown daughters and those girls (I have a few) whom I consider my daughters.

When I got home, around 11:30 that night, all was quiet. Computer Geek and Weston had gone to see Avatar for guys night out and weren’t home yet. On my kitchen table was a package from Foreign Quang reader Adam. He had warned me it was coming, so I knew inside was a package of black licorice. He had read on my sidebar that I like it, and he works at a place that sells it, so he thoughtfully sent off a package.

I opened it and was surprised to see THREE different varieties of black licorice along with two different tins of cocoa. You have to see these black licorice Scottie dogs. Aren’t they adorable?











I was so grateful that someone took the time to pick out things that he knew I would like. Someone who had never met me. Thank you, Adam.


Contemplation time
While I was alone, waiting for my men to get home, I started thinking about the week of my birthday. I had seriously wanted to focus only on the meaning of Christmas, and on Christ, and on being a better person. Yet, it seemed the week was destined to be about me, me, me. I had told friends and family my plans and had requested no birthday events, but when they happened I graciously accepted. I got lovely cards and gifts from two of my blog readers, my friends and family took me out, people stopped by with gifts and food, I was put in contact with old beloved friends, and received lots of calls and well-wishes. If anything, my birthday was more celebrated than ever before. What had happened? Why was my week with Christ seemingly thwarted?


Sunday brings an answer
The Sunday before Christmas our church had a Christmas program that involved singing and dancing. I was asked to help the dancers get in and out of their costumes between numbers so I spent time making sure all looked the same and had the right accessories on. Then I would rush back to the auditorium, trying to catch pieces of the musical numbers that were performed between dance numbers.

My son-in-law sang several numbers, among them O Holy Night, my favorite Christmas song. My eleven-year-old student angelically sang Breath of Heaven, which she had dedicated to me. Em and Angel Dancer performed spiritual worship dances that brought tears to my eyes. It was 2 hours of singing and dancing devoted to Christ. As I ran back and forth between the hall and the dressing room I had occasion to think about my week.

It hit me in a rush. In my effort to focus mostly on Christ, He in turn wanted me to focus on something else. He wanted me to know that WE are His hands, here on earth. WE are the ones, who through our kindness, our humor, our thoughtfulness, turn people toward Christ. Our behavior is our greatest testimony that He lives! How we treat our friends, our family, even total strangers, speaks volumes about our commitment to Him. And while I was trying to show my love for Him, He overwhelmed me by showing me, through the actions of others, how much HE loved me! I came away with a new resolve, just in time for Christmas, to try to become more like Him.

It doesn’t have to be a once a year celebration. Christmas happens to us every day, if only we allow it. Christmas happens to others every day if only we make it happen for them.

In that spirit, I would like to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas. Thank you for your loving support throughout the year—for all your kind comments, your emails, your phone calls, and your gifts. May we each go forth and make every day Christmas. May we always hear a cry for help. May we act upon the good intentions that we have. May we always respond in kindness and compassion to our fellow souls here on earth. And may we truly love each other, the way He loves us.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Birthday Blessings, Part 1

I am a woman who has blessings beyond measure.


As I approached my 50th birthday this week, I decided to break with my tradition. As you may remember from a previous post, I have a friend who celebrates her birthday for three days. I adopted for myself her tradition of naming the days surrounding birthdays, and so we usually celebrate Randi Eve, Randi, and Post-Randi. This year, however, my heart wasn’t quite “in it.” I told my family that I just wanted to spend the week until Christ’s birthday in quiet contemplation of what He did for us. So no parties, birthday cake, or gifts. Just a week of gratitude. How could I focus on Him, if I was focused on me?

I got my week of gratitude all right. But not in the way I had expected.


As with Christ's sacrifice, our bill was paid.


The week started off in a humbling manner. We learned on Sunday, that a friend of ours had anonymously paid $100 toward one of our bills. The family decided to use some of their Christmas bonus money to spend on other people. The parents, along with the children, chose our family to bless. We don’t know which of our friends did this, and we may never know. Sometimes it’s better NOT to know who was so generous. When we know who the giver is, we tend to have feelings of great love for that person. Instead, we now feel a great love for all of our friends, after all, how can we justify being negative toward anyone, when they might be the person who blessed us? What a gift we were given, and not just financially.


Love from around the world

A few days before my birthday, I received a lovely birthday card from Foreign Quang reader, and now my dear friend, Janice. As I read the sentiments in her card, I became introspective and thankful for what this blog has brought to me. I now have friends in Scotland, England, India, Canada, and across the United States. Janice took the time to send a card across the Atlantic.


A loving daughter


Two days before my birthday, on Randi Eve Eve, my stepdaughter Gnome asked us to have dinner at the restaurant where she is a cook. We thought a night out sounded lovely, so off we went. I had their signature apricot glazed chicken. When the check came, the server said that only I was to open the bill, so I did. Inside there was no bill, only a message that said, “Happy Birthday, Randi!” Gnome had paid for our meal. A single mother and student used her hard earned money to buy me a dinner out with my husband and child. Humbled again. Later that night, she brought me a quart of the apricot glaze, so that I could make my own glazed chicken.


Birthday Breakfast Bash


The day of my birthday began early for me, with daughter Em shaking me awake at 5:50 a.m.


Em: Mom. Wake up. Get dressed and brush your teeth.

Me: Why?

Em: We’re going out to breakfast.

Me: I need to take a shower first.

Em: That might not make the thirty people sitting outside very happy.

Me
: Whaaaaaaat?????

That got me out of bed in a hurry!

My good friend Ekanela had arranged for a birthday breakfast party at our local Denny’s (which is not very local since it is 45 minutes away, but it was the closest place that is open at that hour.) When I opened my front door, there were five or six carloads of friends, family and students all waiting in the dark for me to emerge.

The breakfast was delicious, especially when surrounded by all kinds of loved ones. My students were especially sweet. Not many 12-14 year olds would set their alarms for 5:00 a.m. just to go have breakfast with a teacher.


They made me a beautiful handmade card. The adults bought me a gorgeous fuzzy lavender sweater. I was so grateful for the love of friends and spent the ride home thinking about how lucky I was to have such good-hearted people in my life.

All these people, plus some you can't see, helped me turn 50 at Denny's
[Photo purposely de-colorized and blurred to protect those who
didn't bother with make-up at 5:00 a.m.]

Some Seriously Sweet Sixth Graders


After breakfast I went home to clean the kitchen and myself a bit. I was expecting eight sixth graders over for a movie date watching Night at the Museum 2 at 10:00 a.m. (Every three weeks Ekanela and Michelle plan a sixth grade activity and many times I get to be involved.) When the sixth graders arrived, I learned that Ekanela had told them all it was a party for me! One child brought cream cheese brownies, another brought peanut brittle, another got me a lovely bath set and another gave me a teddy bear. Especially touching was a little girl’s promise to dedicate her song “Breath of Heaven” to me on Sunday during a church performance. Ekanela’s family splurged on a new winter jacket for me—tan with cream lining. I love it. We watched the movie, eating the brownies and peanut brittle, and enjoying each other’s company.



Another loving daughter and fantastic Facebook friends

After they left, I stared out my front window, contemplating how blessed I am to have a good friend in Ekanela, and to be able to count eleven and twelve year olds as my friends too. My reverie was broken when I saw someone walking up our front sidewalk with flowers.


My daughter Kay had sent me a beautiful arrangement. I took several photos and promised her I would upload them to Facebook so she could see what the flowers looked like. While I was on Facebook, I was astounded once again. I had over 40 birthday messages from friends and family, all wishing me a Happy Birthday.



Delightful desserts

While I was responding to those loving messages, I heard a knock at the door. Six of my students, most of them from the same family, um—we’ll call them the Mallets, stood there holding a plateful of the most amazing seven-layer bars ever created. The Mallets are famous in our neighborhood for creating the most divine, delectable, decadent desserts. To get a gift of sinful sweetness from the Mallets is always an honor. I was honored enough to eat six of them almost immediately. (Six bars, not six kids!)




Phone a family member

Two telephone calls from family members followed the visit. My family is spread out over the country so a call is always welcome. I was grateful to hear their loving voices. Although, like every family, we have had our troubles, like every family we ascend above those trials with a bond ever stronger.


Sacrificing sister

My sister, throughout that afternoon kept texting me, “Did you get your mail yet?” I sent Weston out several times to check for mail. Finally after his fourth check, he returned with a card in hand from my sister in Wyoming. Enclosed was a check for $25. My sister has had some serious health issues over the past few years, and medical and therapy bills are still an issue. She has been unable to work, yet somehow managed to send me money for my birthday. When I gently scolded her for it, she only replied that a 50th birthday is more special than the rest.


It quiets down

Computer Geek took us out to eat for my birthday at a local restaurant. I had a quiet meal with my husband and son, topped off by a yummy creamy chocolate brownie shake. After dinner, I had to attend a dance rehearsal. A Christmas dance performance was going to take place on Sunday and I was recruited to help the dancers get into the appropriate costumes on time before the next numbers. I sat, listened to the spiritual music, and watched the dancers, again feeling overwhelmed by gratitude for my loving friends and family. I had only wanted to focus on Christ this day. How had the focus ended up being on me? I allowed myself this musical hour to reflect upon Him.


Repentance-the Greatest Gift


After the dance rehearsal, I got ready for bed and checked my Facebook account a final time. Waiting for me was perhaps one of my best birthday gifts of all.

One of my Facebook friends caused some damage to a member of my family earlier this year. We were very hurt. People suggested that I remove the offender from my Facebook friends list. I did not delete him, hoping that someday he would seek to make amends. Like in the prodigal son story, there is always rejoicing when someone changes his ways, for the better.

In my Facebook inbox, was a birthday message and an apology from the man who had caused such hurt to our family. I was in tears by the end of his message, the message of a repentant soul. What would have happened if I had deleted him from my friends list? Would he have ever found a way to contact me? Probably not, because he did not know my phone number or address. He would have missed the sweet sensation of forgiveness, and I would have missed the opportunity to offer that forgiveness.

I went to bed on my birthday night, full of love and thankfulness for the beautiful world that surrounds me.

Tomorrow…Birthday Blessings, Part 2.





Wednesday, December 16, 2009

FTC Ruling

Disclaimer from the Queen of Quang: Oops! I forgot---in light of the FTC's unconstitutional we-want- to-control-the- internet-even-though-it-is-a-world-wide-web Decemeber 1 ruling---to mention the fact in the post below, that neither Adam nor I get paid in any way for mentioning the words Ziploc, Emergency Essentials, Vienna Sausages, Kleenex, Tylenol, Advil, Band-aids, UNO, Skip-Bo, Old Maid, and Crazy Eights.

We are also not responsible if the reader interprets the word "disclaimer" to mean the below-mentioned "insect repellent," as in "the only reason we are mentioning this stupid disclaimer is because we want to repel the insects who are trolling the internet hoping to slap a fine on unsuspecting bloggers."

However, and only because the FTC thinks you are stupid and that you do not know what an "advertisement" is, I will tell you that the pretty pictures on my side bar and bottom bar that look like ads, are indeed ads. The ones that look like family pictures are probably family pictures. Because the FTC thinks you do not know the nature of ads, it is my job as a Big Bad Blogger who rapes the internet of its innocence, to tell you that companies PAY other people to display their ads. Commercials you see on TV?---yup, you got it. The TV stations get PAID to display those. Glossy photos in magazines that make you want to run out and uncontrollably BUY something? Yeah. Someone PAID the magazine to publish that picture. I know, creepy. I've ruined Christmas for you, haven't I?

In blog land, various companies will pay the blogger for ads on the blogger's site providing one of two things happen:
1. Either the reader clicks on the ad and looks at the new screen that pops up
OR
2. The reader clicks on the ad and actually buys something.

Now because of agreements I have with various advertisers, I cannot tell you which advertiser does which. Just let it be known, although I am not as confident of your ignorance as the FTC is, that if I write something, and it has a link to a page where you can BUY something, that I probably get paid if you BUY something. I will also tell you that in one year of blogging and in one year of having ads on my site, I have gotten paid exactly ZERO. The TV stations and magazines are not so lucky.

The fellow bloggers whose sites are listed in my sidebar are there because I love them like crazy, and not because they have paid me to love them either! They are just lovable.

So, at the risk of offending your sensibilities, I unfortunately will have to mention various aspects of this disclaimer every time I post a blog that mentions something buy-able, as per the FTC unconstitutional ruling.

[Further disclaimer: I was in no way paid by the FTC, in cash, in product, or in blog fame, for mentioning the name "FTC." If they would like to strike an agreement though, I might be amenable.]

Monday, December 14, 2009

How to Create Family 72-Hour Kits in 8 Weeks

Guest Submitter, Adam Willson


Foreign Quang reader Adam Willson submitted this list after receiving it in church. He thought, as do I, that it might be of interest to FQ readers. See my previous post on the necessity of having a 72-hour kit.



WEEK ONE
Container - This can be a small suitcase, backpack, or large garbage bag.
Add 2-3 Food items (breakfast-bars, peanut butter, melba toast).
Small Ziploc bag with 4 quarters - for use in vending machines.
$10.00 to mom and dad's small Ziploc bag.

WEEK TWO
Change of Clothing - suggested surgical scrubs, or elastic waist jogging suit, change of underwear, diapers, and feminine needs. (Just a little side note- surgical scrubs have a drawstring at waist and are great for adults whose weight could change or sisters that are in their childbearing years.
Sewing kit can be purchased or make your own by placing thread, needles, small scissors, and buttons in a zip lock bag - Mom/Dad's pack.
Add 4 quarters to your Ziploc bag.
Add $10.00 to mom and dad's small Ziploc bag.

WEEK THREE
Add 2-3 Food items (granola bars, tuna, small cup of fruit).
Bar of soap, wash cloth, hand towel, in a gallon plastic bag.
1 gallon of water (note: Emergency Essentials sells 80z packets of water that is easier and lighter to carry. They sell them in a case of 64 and the cost is less than $20.)
Flashlight w/batteries in Ziploc bag. (Might consider solar, wind up or pump up flashlights)
Add 4 quarters to your Ziploc bag.
Add $10.00 to mom and dad's small Ziploc bag.

WEEK FOUR
Blanket or sleeping bag.
Add 2-3 Food items (power bars, raisins, chocolate bars, Vienna sausage).
Toilet paper, wet ones, and hand sanitizer.
Add 4 quarters to your Ziploc bag.
Add $10.00 to mom and dad's small Ziploc bag.

WEEK FIVE
Radio - solar, wind up, or battery operated. If battery operated, be sure batteries are stored in Ziploc bag. This is in Mom and Dad's packs only.
Pocketknife, swiss army knife, or leatherman. This is another item to be packed in Mom and Dad's pack only for safety reasons.
Matches in small zip-lock bag, Mom and Dad only.
Toothpaste and toothbrush.
Add 4 quarters to your Ziploc bag.
Add $10.00 to mom and dad's small Ziploc bag

WEEK SIX
Emergency tool kit (pliers, screwdrivers) in Mom/Dad's pack.
Kleenex in pocket packs.
Paper and pen.
One garbage bag.
Roster for each kit with names, addresses, and phone numbers of remote family members and all personal cell phone numbers. This is especially needed in children's packs in case of separation. Note: you may want to include this in school backpacks in case emergency happens while children are at school and relocated.
A meeting place should be included on this roster in case of separation.
Add 4 quarters to your Ziploc bag.
Add $10.00 to mom and dad's small Ziploc bag.

WEEK SEVEN
A gallon ziplock bag with paper plates, napkins, utensils, and straws.
First aid kit, this can be purchased or made -Mom/Dad's pack only. Items to include are:
Essential medications. (i.e. Prescription Medication, or any special over the counter medication for children or adults.)
Pain killers - i.e. Aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, and if you have children remember to include Children's Pain Killers.
Alcohol pads and anti-bacterial hand cleaner
Band aids (Assorted Sizes)
Tweezers
Non-latex gloves
Antibiotic ointment
Anti-diarrhea Medications
Insect repellant (suggested wipes or pump sprays, not aerosol).
Add 4 quarters to your Ziploc bag.
Add $10.00 to mom and dad's small Ziploc bag.

WEEK EIGHT
Poncho or large plastic garbage bag.
Scriptures for Mom and Dad's pack.
Games or books one for each child, you may want to pack travel games and card games such as UNO, Skip Bo, Old Maid, Crazy Eights, etc.
Consecrated oil in both Mom and Dad's pack only.
Add 4 quarters to your Ziploc bag.
Add $10.00 to mom and dad's small Ziploc bag.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Weekly Storage Items Updated

Just a note for those who have been following along with the storage item of the week---today's new entry is posted in my sidebar. The list is updated every Friday. If followed each week, by the end of a year, you should be well-stocked in case of emergency, whether from natural disasters or job loss.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Brrr!

It was -14 degrees this morning when I left for school! I had to scrape the inside of my car windows too. The principal of our high school had hot chocolate warming on the stove for all of us when we got to school today. We needed it!

It has warmed up though. At 10:30 a.m. it is now up to 11 degrees below zero. At least it has stopping snowing!

Update: My chick pal Sandy informs me that the local weather station had us recorded at -26 this morning! That must have been before the sun woke up.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Let it Snow!


The results of twenty-four hours of non-stop snow.
Daughter Em got stuck three times and is thinking of trading in the Lexus for
something more 4-wheel drivish. Computer Geek, Weston and
I are making hot cocoa and retiring early after a quick chapter of
The Lightning Thief.
Nighty-nite everyone! Throw those blankies in the dryer
and warm them up before climbing into bed!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thoughts of a Twitterless Thinker 12-03-09

Greetings, denizens of the Quang! I decided it’s time I started thinking again. Since I don’t Tweet, I hereby subject you to the randomness of my mind, all in one shot. So…hmmm. What DID I think about today?

Although I don’t believe in astrology, I’m here to tell you, I was born to be a Sagittarius.
No other sign nails it.

How does a Christmas cactus know when it’s Christmas time? Mine bloomed at the first hint of December. Spooky.
Why won’t the mainstream media report on Climategate? The biggest scam since…since…since…The You’ve Inherited Money in Nigeria But You Have to Pay us Thousands of Dollars to Retrieve Your Inheritance scam, and no one will report it? It is EVERYWHERE on the internet, but I have yet to see it on any major network. Methinks Michael Crichton got it right. Too bad he died before seeing his research come to fruition.

I played a review game with my 8th graders today. I gave them a title of a literary work and they had to guess the author. One of the girls, while thinking of her answer said, “It’s right there at the back of my tongue.” I think I will steal that phrase for
whenever something is a little farther away than the tip of my tongue.

My friends and I have been having discussions lately on the female phenomenon known as “makeup.”

One acquaintance says that women wear makeup for other women.
They feel competitive with other women and want to look their best because they know other women are evaluating them. He thinks if other women weren’t around, women wouldn’t bother with makeup. I insist that women wear makeup for men. Men are visual and seem (I said “seem”) to prefer “enhanced” women. (Blame it on Hugh and Photoshop.) I’m not talking Tammy Faye makeup---just the normal amount. My feeling is that if men weren’t around, women wouldn’t bother with makeup.

Various men in our ongoing discussion have said that they prefer women
with no makeup. But do they really? I wonder, with good reason.

A previous man in my life said he preferred me, and all women, to dress modestly. By modestly, I
mean shirts that adequately cover torso and bosom, and skirts that fall below the knee. Yet once when he and I were out to eat, a woman walked by wearing a mini-skirt, high heels, a suit jacket, and a tank top that showed plenty of cleavage. His eyes followed her as she walked through the restaurant. He said, “Ah. Girl clothes. Nice.”

So that causes me wonder. Do men “say” they like women with no
makeup, but will take a second glance and actually prefer a woman with makeup? In light of some heated discussions about this topic, I decided to ask Foreign Quang readers their opinions.

Men—Do you prefer women with or without makeup?


Women—Do you wear makeup for other women, or for men? Or for yourself?


Last week I read all four books of the
Twlight series. My step-daughter, Gnome, has a boxed set, with which she was all too willing to indoctrinate me, I mean share with me.

Those of you who have read all four books completely
understand why there were two opposing camps---Team Edward and Team Jacob. Observe where my loyalties fell as I read the four books.

Twlight---Team Edward

New Moon---Team Jacob

Eclipse---Team Jacob
Breaking Dawn—Team Edward


I’v
e been to see New Moon at the theater twice, once with Computer Geek and Weston, and once with Gnome and her brother, Neo. I love going to movies that elicit crowd involvement, and this movie certainly has that ability.

The first night I went, the theater was packed. When Jacob rips off his shirt to stop Bella’s head from bleeding, the ladies went wild with loud cat calls, woo-hoo’s, “Go Jacob!” and
“Yes!” (I wanted to yell “He’s seventeen, you pedophiles!”) Later, when Edward tries to provoke the vampire powers-that-be, he steps into the sunlight while removing his shirt. The female reaction was a little more subdued. There were soft wow’s, gentle moans, and whispers “Oh baby.”

What accounted for the difference?
I think that because Jacob is the more passionate, fiery, humorous of the two, he got a like reaction. Edward, being more calm, cool, and stony, got the more reverent response, as if they were witnessing a Renaissance statue come to life.

The second time I went, there were only around twenty-five people in the theater. The crowd didn’t respond as vocally, except for one lady about my age who sat
behind me. Whenever Jacob was on screen, she would utter, “Oh, how cute!” or “What a precious!” “He’s sooo sweet!” I think she was in love. Definitely on Team Jacob. I wonder if that is why the theater is offering a $50 reward for the return of the cardboard stand-up Jacob that is missing from the lobby. Just wait until Breaking Dawn. Edward will go missing in a vampire flash.

All this
immersion in to the Twilight world last week made me miss Washington. We visited last May and would love to go back. It’s fun to read about Forks, when I’ve actually been there. The Olympic peninsula is gorgeous. It was a fantastically sunny day when we were in Forks, so of course we did not run in to Edward or Bella.


Copalis Beach

Near Kalaloch



Forks, of course!


Forks Visitor's Center



Neo, Gnome, and Hoolie in front of
Dazzled by Twilight, a store in Forks dedicated
to all things Twilight


Gnome, sitting on the carved "Edward" bench

I wish someone would bring a Taco John’s to Utah. Potato Oles with Nacho cheese sauce. Yummm. Maybe then my sister wouldn’t be so tempted to always text me, “Guess where I ate today?”


Since I am a financially disadvantaged teacher, I don’t have boatloads of cash to spend on my darling students when they have a birthday. I have begun
making them bookmarks since I am, after all, their literature teacher. Here are a couple of the ones I made recently.

My son is such a sweetheart. He went to go see 2012 with Em last week and brought home 8 little Sweet Tarts for me. Today, they each got a chocolate chip cookie in history class, so he saved half of it to bring home for me. He loves to surprise me.

He told me today that he got his desk moved in school. His desk is now right next to the teacher’s. I said, “Did you get moved for talking too much?”

“Mom. If I talked too much she would move me next to a girl.”


Ahh…the hypocrisy of the media. They slam Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, and Two and a Half Men down our throats—you know, the shows that glamorize promiscuity and infidelity, making cheating seem ever so cool. But then they turn around and crucify people who actually behave that way in real life. I’m not defending what Tiger Woods did. Not by any means. I’m just sayin’. Make up your mind, Hollywood. If you’re going to promote shows that show us how really sexy people “should” behave, then at least have the integrity to stop acting all shocked about Tiger.

Do other people name their houses? Among our group of friends, we have three families who live in houses with names. When we visit those friends, we don’t say we’re going to Laura’s house, or Sarah’s house, we say we’re going to the South House (it’s the “southest” of all our friends,) or the Pink Palace (one room in the house is pink,) or the Toothpaste House (it’s the color of Gleem.)

I guess that’s enough thinking for one day. So what did you think about?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sunday Serenity 11-29-09

It's a thankful time of year...
For cozy homes
warm friends
loving family
party food
twinkle lights
hot cocoa
secure jobs
running vehicles
nostalgic feelings
random kindness
crackling fires
sentimental music
and chubby cheeked grandchildren.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Blogoversary to Me!

It's true, Quangsters--it was one year ago today that Foreign Quang made its first appearance in the blogosphere. One year since we have been spewing Quang over the web. One year that I have adamantly refused to Twitter! And one glorious year that I have had making new friends from all over the world.

My very first comment five days later, was from Shirley Bahlmann, author extraordinaire, in response to my post Trollin' for Luv. Since then, I have had a year of amazing comments from amazing people--people who I am proud to consider my friends, though I have only met a very few offline.

Sincere gratitude, at this giving-thanks time of year, goes out to Auntie M., Janice, Jill, Writer Dad, Cindy, septembermom, Daisy, Robert, Hayden, Ken, Sandy, Marc, Pen, Naqvee, Eric, Kim, Brenda, Ana. You have helped me become a better blogger.

Thanks to Liz, who graced my blog with her presence shortly before she left this world for a better one.

Also a big thanks to those who may have only commented a few times but who nevertheless made my day when they did--- JB, Louie, Theresa B, Nadja, Jed, Uncle Danny, Uncle Gary, Nussaibah, Solomon, Stephanie, Kelli, windtraveller, Naomi, Armonis, Dana, Peacefulwmn9, Hutch, Minka, Ben, Lynette, Gerry, JM, Chuck, Jill S., Big Bad Wolf, and Danielle.

Gratitude to the ultimus maximus to Computer Geek, a.k.a Winston Smith who put up with many late hours, much whining, and undone dishes (sometimes) while I joined the blogging masses. Smooch.

Those of you who have hung out with me for a while, have seen the feature in my side bar titled "Ten Zen--Question of the Day from a Child Who Hates School." It's true, Weston hates the classroom. He does however, love learning. Over the past year, I have posted a few of the many, many questions I get from him each day. Trust me when I say that I have answered or attempted to answer every single one of these questions. May you all be so blessed with an inquisitive child. Here's a repeat of the questions I posted, in case you have missed any. Enjoy!

What is the biggest flag in the world?

What is tofu?

To some people, are we rich?

Is a bastard just a blaster without the “L”?

Why does Hitler act that way?

Do serial killers just go around trying to get rid of different kinds of cereal?

What are immigrants?

How did those stones get like that? [Stonehenge]

Why is there hot and cold? Why can’t it just be in the middle?

What is inner peace?

How do you set a sundial?

Do you ever just look at your life and say, “I’m really here?”

Does a cat hate water the way I hate tomato juice?

What can submarines do to ships?

Are there some jets that can fly down and go underwater like a submarine and then scoop back up?

What’s a restraining order?

How fast are Lamborghinis?

What does assorted mean?

How does Jesus always watch you? Is there a world-wide TV screen?

Is the Lincoln Memorial in Nebraska?

Why can we see when there is a nose between our eyes?

Do you ever just wish you could sit in a chair in front of the TV and melt into a big glob?

Why are there leaves in your purse? [doesn’t everyone carry spare bay leaves?]

Is there any medicine I can take that will get rid of this freckle?

What was the Boston Massacre?

Do women shave their armpit hairs?

How do you tell someone you don’t want to be his friend?

Would you still love me if I were just made out of bones?

Why do big turtles weigh so much?

Is David Letterman a lesbian?

Was Viet Nam worse than the civil war?

Do bees only have one nostril?

Why do they always call big ships a “she”

How do you play Mancala?

Is a Luther a person who goes to church?

How come standing on your legs makes it feel like you don’t weigh anything?

Are there such things as $50,000 watches?

How is money different when it’s all really just a piece of paper?

When a volcano first forms an island, how do the insects and snakes get there?

Are earwigs a resemblance of the devil?

Do you ever just wish life was easy?

Do you ever wish that killer animals were nice and that a lion could be your pet and that you could speak with him so he could just say, “Hey owner, would you please let me out because I really have to go to the bathroom?”

When is the next lunar eclipse?

How can you move your body parts when it’s like each part of your body has its own brain?

How long can a cat live?

What is a marble vein?

Can air freeze?

Has anyone survived a black hole?

When people drink wine, don’t they realize they are drinking feet?

If the builders of the Tower of Babel were really serious, why didn't they build it on top of Mt. Everest?

Why would there be a GMC car for sale at a Ford store?

Are there more rats or spiders in a junkyard?

How did they go to the bathroom during Queen Esther’s time?

Can a bird pick up a steer? No? What about a silver monster bird?

Does every word have a meaning?

Why were pigs made?

How much would it cost me to buy Utah's state capitol building?

When I grow up, will my chin be shiny?

Is it better for everyone to faint and die all at once, or for the world to just explode?

What’s the difference between fog and mist?


Thank you so much for making this a great year for me! Here's to another fun year of Quang!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Weekly Storage Items

Computer Geek and I have been watching old episodes of the TV series Jericho. Although it no longer airs on TV, we have been watching past episodes courtesy of youtube.

The show chronicles the events in a fictional town in Kansas—Jericho--after nuclear bombs have gone off in many U.S, cities. We like watching it because recent events in the news have sparked our interest in what happens after a disaster.

We all looked on (or experienced directly!) the chaos that ensued after Hurricane Katrina. People fought each other—sometimes to the death—over water, food, diapers, toilet tissue and other necessities. Grocery stores were looted and people braved the mad crowds just to obtain food for their families.

2005 New Orleans wasn’t the only scene of mass panic. Blackouts, snowstorms, floods and earthquakes also inspire the worst in humans as they converge upon stores and gas stations attempting to get their share. In the show Jericho, the panic leads to the murder of the grocery store owner.

For many years now, I have been a believer in being prepared. I certainly don’t want to encounter desperate people in the grocery store after a disaster. Hungry people make decisions they wouldn’t normally make in times of calm.

We try to keep enough food and water on hand to get us through a crisis. Ideally, we try to have a six-month supply of necessities. We hope that this will enable us to get through any disaster, including job loss, with minimal discomfort.

Because we are a one-income family we certainly can not afford to invest a lot of money into our preparedness efforts. So how do we do it?

One week at a time.

Each week, we focus on a new item on which to stock up. I have four different lists I consult, all obtained from the Internet, so that we can make sure we are not lacking in any given area. I no longer have the source of these lists, but I am certain they probably came from LDS (or Mormon) websites, since they are the experts on preparedness.

To help my readers in such an endeavor, every Friday on my sidebar I will post a new storage item of the week. If you follow this list for one year, at the end of that year you should be adequately prepared to avoid the grocery store scene during times of chaos and panic. Every time we go to the store during that week, we make sure we pick up some extras of whatever item was listed.

There are however, things you can do every week, regardless of the storage item of the week.

Each week, check the sales at your local grocery store for items that are deeply discounted. Always stock up on these items----you don’t need to wait for that item to show up on my list.

Always be concerned about stocking up on water. The other day I came home at lunch to discover that my landlord had shut off the water due to replacing a water heater in another unit. I wasn’t panicked because I knew I had water in storage if I absolutely needed some before the water got turned back on. We store water very simply in empty juice containers. (Do not use milk containers—they tend to leak over time.) I rotate them out by using the older ones to water plants.

If you use liquid laundry soap, keep the plastic container when you are through. Don’t rinse it out, but fill it with water and mark it as “Cleaning Water.” This will help you clean clothes and dishes in a pinch. [Idea obtained from a lecture I attended given by preparedness master Jim Phillips.]

Some have asked me if I feel it is unethical to have these things on hand during a time of mass need. They wonder if it is considered “hoarding.” I tell them that it is more unethical for me to be one more person at the grocery store during a time of need when I could have avoided it. Trust me, the people at the store during a panic will be grateful I am not there. They’ll be really happy if you’re not there either.

If you can afford it, by all means do a search online for a one-year storage list and go shopping right now. If you are like me, and can’t financially swing such a massive purchase, then tune in here every Friday for the storage tip of the week. Any comments you have as we go will be much appreciated!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Serenity 11-8-09


In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Answer!

The photo of the ladybug, snail, and the ones below were all taken at the Bellagio Botanical Gardens at the famed Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Another Clue


Here's Mr. Snail, also made from flowers.
This picture was taken at the same place as Ms. Ladybug

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