Friday, July 31, 2009

Thursday Thoughts of a Twitterless Thinker 7-30-09


I don’t Twitter, but I am a thinker!

I accepted my own challenge (I’m very persuasive) to enjoy what’s left of this summer and have been having fun!

Wednesday night we made lemonade slushies (Challenge #1.) Do they not look scrumptious?

Today (Thursday) I accepted Challenge #16, which was to turn on the lawn sprinkler, sit in its path, and get misted.

I have a very small deck off my living room, which seats a couple of camp chairs and six potted plants. I put on my swimming suit, which almost could have qualified for #13, which is sunbathing, but since I neglected the Coppertone I will save that for another day.

The mist from the sprinkler hit me just right—lightly blanketing my body while avoiding hair and makeup. I was in paradise.


I heard my cell phone ringing inside the house but was too ensconced in the camp chair to get it in time before voicemail picked up. (Seriously, if you are over 40, getting out of a camp chair is a project in itself. They suck you in and don’t let go.) Luckily, I have a considerate son who brought the cell phone to me.


I listened to the voicemail. It was Scoutmaster. I am the treasurer for our local Boy Scout Troop. The message said that Scoutmaster was on his lunch and was wondering if he could come over and give me the scout dues.


In light of the fact that I was in my swimming suit and have had three
children and am in my late forties, very late forties, almost fifty forties, I did not want Scoutmaster to see me. Thinking to avoid a visit from Scoutmaster, I sent my son over to his house, a block away, to get the dues for me. I remained immobile in the womb chair, enjoying my misting.

Soon, the living room door opened. Blinded by sunlight, I peered into the darkened living room attempting to make out the form of my son. Instead I made out the form of Scoutmaster.


Me
: AAAGH!

Scoutmaster
: Oh !

Me
(Trying awkwardly to climb out of the camp chair): AAAGH!

Scoutmaster
: Your son said you sent him over because you were busy. I thought he said you were canning. He must have said tanning!

Me
(grabbing my towel, which is smaller than my body): AAAGH!

Scoutmaster:
So I thought I’d come over anyway to talk to you.

Not noticing my discomfort in the least, Scoutmaster stayed for about fifteen minutes, discussing various aspects of scouting.


I deserve a merit badge of some sort.

Later that evening, granddaughter Juliah and I accomplished #11, which is to sit outside at dusk until the stars come out. It was a very special evening as six year old Jules talked and talked as we waited for her mom to get off work. She told me about her plans and dreams. Her biggest dream? To walk around the block. I promised her that tomorrow we would go on a walk right after dinner (#18.) I’m all about making childhood dreams come true.

The other day in one of my comment boxes, Auntie M talked about making hollyhock dolls. She agreed to share the process with us.

Making Flower Dolls
by Auntie M


Hollyhock dolls are as old as Victorian times, maybe older. Women planted hollyhocks alongside the outhouse, so when ladies came to visit they didn't need to ask where the privy was; they just looked for the hollyhocks.


If you don't have hollyhocks, Rose of Sharon works (that's what these are).


Pick a bud and a blossom, leaving a bit of stem on the blossom. With a toothpick, carefully poke a hole in the thickest part of the bud. Then carefully poke the stem of the bloom into the hole (you might need to widen the hole a bit). If you want to, you can paint a face on the doll with a marking pen. Now you have a little doll wearing a fancy skirt. Grace and I played with these for about an hour before they began to wilt. Then we laid them in the grass to recycle back into the earth.


P.S. by Randi: I think the blond doll is the cutest.



Do any of you bloggers out there use Feedburner? I need a techie type (Marc, oh Welsh Scribe, are you out there?) to give me some advice.

I have 2, yes TWO readers who have subscribed to my feed. One is my husband, and the other is dear Janice. However, almost every other day, my subscriber numbers jump to THREE. But, the very next day they will be back down to TWO. The next day they will go back up to THREE. I get momentarily excited until I remember, “Oh yeah, tomorrow it will be back down to TWO again.”

And it always is. Which tells me one thing. Someone signs up, then cancels the next day. Then someone signs up, then cancels the next day, etc.

This has been going on for months. I’m not egotistical about this, but my statistical mind finds it hard to believe that everyone who signs up for my feed (except my husband and Janice) cancels me the next day.

I have asked this same question of the Feedburner help group, but got no response. Any thoughts? If you know you have subscribed to my feed, and you’re not my husband or Janice, please let me know at: foreignquang at gmail dot com. Even if you have subscribed, then cancelled the next day, I would like to know that too. Thanks for any help in solving this mystery.

Have you ever heard of the miraculous healings at Lourdes, in France? The story is that Mary, the mother of Christ, appeared to a fourteen year old girl named Bernadette in the mid 1800’s in Lourdes. (Now you also know the origin of rock star Madonna’s daughter’s name.) Since that time, many miraculous verified healings have taken place.

I will submit to you that my house is the Lourdes of broken appliances.

About a month and a half ago we decided to swap out our refrigerator with another one that we had, which is lots bigger. A day after plugging it in, we realized that everything in the fridge was lukewarm, while everything in the freezer was very cold, but not frozen. Our friend, who is a large appliance repairman (the appliances are large, not the friend,) was on vacation for two weeks and then was not able to come to visit us due to his work schedule, for another week. For three weeks we put all fridge items in the freezer to keep them cold.

And then one day, it started working. Just like that. Everything we had in the freezer, was now actually frozen. Our milk, our fruit, our vegetables. Been working fine every since. The refrigerator was healed.

We have a gas stove. The front left burner did not work, but the other three did. I got frustrated whenever I would accidentally try to turn on the front left burner and would only smell that nauseating gas odor.

Then, the other day, it began working. Just like that. Healed.

Much to the chagrin of our grandchildren our Wii game system stopped working. I had unplugged it once and then when we tried to plug it back in, nothing. Because I want our grandchildren to still love us, I was annoyed that the Wii would not work. Even Computer Geek hubby could not get it to power on.

So yesterday, my son’s friend stopped by to pick up a Wii game that my son had borrowed. After looking for a few minutes I realize that his game is still in the Wii. The broken Wii. The Wii that won’t turn on. Fearing we would have to buy the friend a new game, I made a bold suggestion.

Me: Jere, plug in the Wii.

Jere: Mom, it doesn’t work.

Me (remembering the healing of our other appliances): Try it, son.

Jere: Mom, the Wii is broken!

Me: Jere, please plug in the Wii.

Jere: Fine, but it doesn’t work. We’ve all tried it.

The Wii was healed! Healed, I tell you! Out popped the game!

Just let me know if you would like me to meditate over your broken appliances.

Speaking of appliances, the other night I shut off all lights in the kitchen and living room, preparing to go to bed. Strangely I could see perfectly fine. I remembered back to when I was a girl and all the lights were off and I had to grope in the dark trying to find the chain hanging from the ceiling that turned on my bedroom light. Why could I see in the dark now, when I couldn’t as a child?

Then I realized. We don’t really live in the dark anymore. Glowing eyes were lighting my way through the dark kitchen and living room, eyes that would have frightened a pioneer.

The lights from my printer, my husband’s printer, my computer, my husband’s computer, the scanner, our two keyboards, our two monitors, the power strip, the TV, the DVD player, the amplifier, the subwoofer, the speakers, the microwave, the cordless phone base, and my cell phone all made sure I wasn’t truly wandering in darkness. We live in an enlightened age.

That’s all for now…have a good weekend!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thirty Ways to Enjoy What's Left of Summer


Every July I go into “Where in the heck did my summer go?” mode. Like many adults, my days are spent doing the mundane “must do” tasks that we all have. If you go to work every day, it can be even worse. Each day seems like every other day and all of a sudden---boom!---the Back-to-School sales are here and your summer seems shot, like a dud firecracker.

To counteract that sense of impending autumn, I make a list of summery things I still want to do. See how many of these summer activities you can still accomplish. We’ll compare notes in thirty days, so let’s go! Send me some pictures if you like, and I’ll post them at the end of August.

1. Make a lemonade slushy. I throw lemon juice, honey, ice cubes and water in a blender and whip up an icy lemon drink. Throw in some strawberries for garnish. DONE!

2. Organize a family and friends baseball game at a local park. Let the kids play!

3. Watch the Perseids shooting stars on August 12. Find a state park with no lights for best viewing. Woo-hoo! Saw about 25 in 45 minutes!

4. Crack open a watermelon. Invite your kids’ friends over. Let them make necklaces out of dried watermelon seeds.

5. Get up before the sun does. Sit outside and wait for dawn. Watch your neighborhood come alive.

6. Attend a nearby county or state fair. Go to the carnival and munch some caramel corn or let cotton candy melt on your tongue.

7. Take a day trip to a lake or an ocean (unless you live in Nevada and it takes more than a day to find water.) Build a sand castle.


8. On an extremely hot day, find a good movie and go lounge in an air-conditioned theater.

9. Slather some soft butter on a hot piece of corn on the cob.

10. Splash in a pool—either your own wading pool or a full-sized city pool. Even better, find a water park complete with crazy slides and inner tube rides.

11. Go outside at dusk and sit there until the stars come out. Pay attention to the sounds of your neighborhood.

12. If you planted a garden, go pick something and eat it. If you didn’t plant a garden, go plant something quick-growing like radishes or marigolds. It’s not too late!

13. Sunbathe. Sit on a lawn chair in your yard and bask. Remember the suntan oil. No summer is complete without a whiff of Coppertone.

14. Go to the library on a hot afternoon and curl up in a chair with a novel.

15. Get out the grill and barbeque your dinner. Don’t have a grill? Almost every city park does.

16. Turn on your lawn sprinkler. Sit on the periphery of its reach, and let the mist cover you.

17. Make dinner and serve it on the front lawn on a blanket.

18. Go for an after-dinner walk with your family.

19. Google “Things to do in [your state]” then pick one thing from the list to do.

20. Attend an outdoor concert. They’re easy to find in the summer.

21. Go on a Sunday drive with no destination in mind.

22. Invite your friends over for a water balloon/gun fight. You’ll be amazed at how many of your guy friends own water machine guns.

23. Have a family and friend ice cream night. Buy different flavors and have all kinds of creamy toppings and fun sprinkles to put on top.

24. Play Frisbee.

25. Take a neighborhood bike ride. You will discover all kinds of things that you never saw while driving by in your car.

26. Go to a baseball or soccer game or a tennis match.

27. Be lazy in a porch swing or a hammock.

28. Make your own popsicles out of fruit juices.

29. Play volleyball. If you can play sand volleyball, even better. Pretend like you’re Kerri Walsh or Misty May-Treanor.

30. Crank up the air conditioner or turn a fan on “high”, grab a blankie, and take a nap in the cooling air. Having a migraine helped!


Have a great thirty days!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Serenity 7-26-09

Patriotic July Sky
Red, White and Blue

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday Thoughts of a Twitterless Thinker 7-23-2009


I accomplished a Bucket List goal, thanks to chick pal Ekanela. I went to a salon and had them do some creative clipping. They took my almost waist-length hair and magically turned it into shoulder blade-length hair. (P.S. Does anyone remember the Francie Barbie doll whose hair you could lengthen by pulling her hair and shorten by twisting a knob on her back?) Ekanela and I turned it into girls’ night out, complete with French fries and creamy shakes. She was brave and went first. My son only called about thirteen times asking when I was coming home.


If you want to sneak up on a common housefly, you must attack from below.

You see, the housefly can’t see underneath its own body. How do I know?

Because when a fly lands on my computer screen, all attempts to scare it away by chasing it with my cursor, fail. Go for the belly.


Speaking of bugs, one of the grossest things in life happens when you move your bath poufy in the shower and two little earwigs spring to life. Ugh. These creatures love the dark and the damp, just like Edward and Bella. I had never seen an earwig until I moved to Utah, once of the least damp places I know. So why do they thrive here? At least I no longer have to cope with Iowa’s common house centipede. (Know what I mean, Jed?)


The best answer I have read to a meme question, comes from Ken Devine of A Day at a Time. He was asked, “If you were a time traveler, what era would you live in?” He took a few liberties with the question, and decided that instead of living in an era, he would visit different eras, one hour at a time, to make a complete day. Given that, here’s his answer:


“…First off would be an hour with Christ...I'm sure he'll also help me with my remaining 23 choices...possibly even send me straight back and tell me not to interfere.

"If I get the go-ahead I'd like to arrive at Auvers-su-Oise in 1890 and be with Van Gogh just before he shoots himself. So what if you HAVE only sold one painting in your entire life, I'll say. What if you ARE hungry, miserable and pathetic. You are a genius mate, and I'm here to offer my appreciation and £2000 to tide you over... and for goodness sake get yourself a decent hat. All I ask is you write on the back of one of your paintings THIS ONE IS FOR KEN DEVINE ONLY.

"Seriously though, best not tell him he's pathetic, but I'd let him know his paintings will sell for millions and he's appreciated the world over. Hang in there my friend!

"I know he'll think I'm the one who is mad and will probably shoot me instead, but I like to think I'll make a difference in an hour…”


Does that answer rock, or what?


Visit Hayden Tompkins’s site Through the Illusion for my Cool Video of the Week nomination. After watching this I wanted to be a Canadian, although I couldn’t even pass their Step 1. I do think though that I would look fine in that red jacket and white gloves! I promise you this song will be in your head all day.


Biggest Gut Laugh I’ve Had All Week: My husband and I were traveling to his sister’s 40th wedding anniversary on Saturday. He was telling me that when he was a poor college student, there was a restaurant that he wanted to go to, but couldn’t afford. Years later, when he got married, he took his first wife there, pleased that he finally had enough money to dine there.


This was back in the 80’s when restaurants started bringing a carafe of water to the table so the waiter didn’t have to keep refilling your glass. Hubby, never having witnessed this practice, started drinking the water straight from the carafe! (He’s a closet Viking.) He was a tad red in the face when the waitress came by to suggest that he use the water glass instead.


A special shout-out goes to the readers of Foreign Quang in Florida, and in the United Kingdom. Those two places over the last month showed the highest percentage (more than double of any other area) of page views on my site. Thank you to the lovely people of Florida and the UK for your support!


Tomorrow’s Pioneer Day in Utah! Yee-ha! A day full of parades, craft fairs, entertainment and fireworks. If you have to work on this state holiday, I am sorry. This is the place!


I am privileged to be tending my two grandsons today. As I write this, Baby Roly Poly is napping, looking rather angelic. He’s 3 months now and has a future as a sumo wrestler. My thoughts today are also with another baby.


Recently, in our local paper, the front page showed our local police officers searching through a garbage dump. They searched for weeks for the body of a newborn infant. His mother, not knowing what to do after she gave birth to him at home, claimed stillbirth, and simply threw him in the garbage. The diligent officers finally had to give up after several weeks of opening bag after bag of smelly refuse to no avail.


I am thankful for chubby little angels sleeping in a swing, and saddened for those whose only crib is a garbage can.


Nuff said for today, I think.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Why You Should Have a 72-Hour Kit

When my daughters were about nine and six years old, we lived in a four-plex apartment building. There were two units on the second floor and two units on the main floor, one of which was ours, the other belonging to a cop. In the basement, was a storage area for all the tenants, and a laundry hook-up for the cop’s unit. Only he had access to the basement from his apartment. The rest of us had to go outside the building and down some stairs to gain entrance.

I was sitting alone, curled up on my living room couch, reading. It was close to midnight so the girls had been asleep for a few hours. I became vaguely aware of a steady humming noise, but couldn’t quite place the source. I ignored it for a few minutes until it became more annoying. I walked around my apartment, trying to determine where it wailed the loudest. Finally, I went into the bathroom and noticed that the noise was a lot louder there. I looked out the window, but could see nothing out of the ordinary. I bent down and realized I could hear the hum grow louder. I put my ear to the heater vent on the floor and could plainly hear a smoke alarm in the basement. From room to room I went, putting my ear to the heater vent. Soon smoke started coming up through the vents as well and I knew that it was time to get out. I quickly called 911 and went to the girls’ room to try to wake them. I had to start dragging them from their beds before they understood the urgency.

With as much calmness as I could muster I said, “Get your packs and go outside to the meeting place! I’m going to get my pack.”

They scrambled to the floor, got their backpacks from under their bunk beds. Together, we walked to the front yard of a neighbor’s house, which was our designated meeting place for emergencies. I wanted to still “meet” in the designated spot so that it would become habit if they had to do it alone. We lived only a couple blocks from one of the city fire stations so by the time I had gotten the girls out, the fire department had already arrived and was checking the other apartments.

A neighbor lady let us go inside her house to wait out the situation. I felt somewhat calm, knowing that no matter how the night ended, I was prepared.

In each girl’s backpack were emergency items. A change of clothing. Socks. Underwear. Shoes. Sample size shampoo, soap, toothpaste and a toothbrush. A few toys. A jar of coins valued at about $12 for vending machines, phone calls or necessary purchases. A comb and brush. Paper and a pencil. Scissors. A needle and thread. Non-perishable food, including candy. A water bottle. Toilet tissue. Bandages. Phone numbers of relatives. A small fleece blanket. A rain poncho. Plastic utensils. A can opener. A flashlight. Mine was similarly packed, but with more items and more money.

After about an hour, we were told that it was safe to go back inside our home. Apparently the cop started a load of laundry in the dryer before he left for work, and the dryer caught on fire. Aside from a smoky smell throughout the building, the fire had been contained inside the dryer. We were very lucky.


My inspiration for having a 72 hour Emergency Kit


Other people have no been so lucky, and it was their misfortune that prompted me to start 72-hour packs for our family.

In May, 1990, I was living in Sioux City, Iowa. Through the west side of town runs Perry Creek which winds through business areas and backyards. On May 19 at around 1:00 a.m. because of heavy rains, the creek rushed over its banks, flooding the area. Many residents wakened to find their beds in three feet of water. Rescue workers went door to door in boats, trying to waken those still sleeping. I remember seeing pictures in the local newspaper of people in wet pajamas, standing on their roofs, waiting for help.

Most of those rescued were taken to the nearest large facility, which was West High School. They stood, cold and wet, on the gymnasium floor, trying to make temporary living arrangements. Many things stood out to me during the subsequent television and newspaper interviews.

The people were wet and miserable.

They remarked that they only had time to grab their eyeglasses or their pets or their children or their shoes.

Since they were in pajamas, many felt exposed and “naked.”

Children were crying because they were cold and hungry.

The adults, having no change on hand, couldn’t even use the vending machines to abate their hunger.

Many couldn’t remember their relatives’ phone numbers.

Infants had no diapers or formula.


I had heard before of people packing 72-hour kits and many of my friends already had them prepared. If people have time to grab their children and pets and shoes and glasses, wouldn’t they also have time to grab an already packed 72-hour kit? A kit containing a change of dry clothes, needed medication, spare contact lenses, coins for the vending machines, a list of important phone numbers, baby food and diapers? How much more comfortable would these people have been, knowing that the things they would need to get them through the crisis were already on their backs in a backpack?


Why 72 Hours?

Most emergencies that would cause you to evacuate your home, last for approximately 24-72 hours. This can include flooding, fire, earthquake, tornado, gas leak, or other disasters. The kit is not a panacea for all emergencies, but it can be a comfort, knowing that no matter what happens, you will be dry, clean, and fed. Even something as simple as being able to brush your teeth and put on deodorant can do wonders during a time of stress. At the end of 72 hours you most likely will know whether or not you can ever return to your home.

What goes in your kit?

I have found that the LDS church is the champion of 72-hour kit preparedness. For a great list on what you should have, go here. Of course any list needs to be adapted to the needs of your own family. Small children who can walk are capable of carrying a tiny pack on their backs. Mom and Dad will need to carry the excess for them, for infants, and for those whose disabilities prevent them from carrying their own.

For this reason, I pack my own, instead of buying pre-packaged 72-hour kits. If you have a ten year old girl who can’t live without her crossword puzzles, by all means stick a few in her pack. For your toddler who walks around all day saying “cracker, cracker,” make sure you have some. Remember that for growing children, you should store clothing that is at least six months larger than what they are currently wearing. Better to wear something a little too large than something they can’t squeeze into.

Many of the things that go in your kit can be found around the house without too much extra expense. Every time I receive a mail sample of shampoo, soap, toothpaste, or feminine products, guess where it goes? If expense is a problem, then at least do something. If you can’t yet afford a backpack for every member, then at least do a boy scout-type bedroll, rolling everything inside a fleece blanket, secure with safety pins. If you can’t afford that, then wash out a plastic mayonnaise jar and stuff it with money, portable toothbrush, needle, thread, pocketknife, a granola bar, tissues, bandages, phone numbers, a mini-flashlight or whatever else will fit in that small jar. Our family did not go all out on buying things all at once. We used the girls’ too-beat-up-for-school backpacks and put things in there one at a time. The priority is usually food and water.

Where to store?

Shortly after I had prepared my own kits, one for each member of my family, I watched on television as hundreds of people in California left their homes due to wildfires. Many had the same story—they had to leave in a hurry, only having time to grab essentials such as shoes, car keys, kids and pets. In a time of urgent departure, you don’t always have time to think of everything you might need. For that reason, the best time to prepare for a rapid exit is now.

Where do you keep your 72-hour kits for that rapid exit? Many people vary in their preferences. Some families prefer to keep them in the car, since if they have to flee, most likely they are fleeing by car. Others keep them in shelves by the door, ready to grab on the way out. Still others store each person’s kit in a different spot in the house, assuming that the odds of at least 1-2 kits making it out of the house are better than if they were all stored in the same place. Others keep two kits for each family member—one in the car and one in the house. It’s really up to you and the needs of your family.


That old cliché---Better Safe than Sorry!

Sure, chances are you may never need to use that kit. In the past fifteen years, I have had to only use mine once. But we all saw the Katrina disaster on TV. Ask any survivor what they would have given to have had fresh clothing, drinkable water, some food to give their hungry babies, some toilet paper and a toothbrush. I’m sure you’ll agree that having a few supplies on hand is well worth the effort.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ken and Pen----You're it!

Septembermom, over at My Voice, My View tagged me today for a meme. Unlike the last time I got tagged for a meme, I now know how to pronounce the word “meme.” Head on over there to read her answers too!

The Rules for this meme:
1. Respond and rework. Answer the questions on your blog. Replace one question that you dislike with a question of your invention, and add one more question of your own.

2. Tag other people.

What is your current obsession?
I could have just kept septembermom’s answer, because my obsession is whatever dancing show happens to be running at the moment. For now, it’s So You Think You Can Dance. I even watch the show with pen and notebook in hand in case I come across a song I like, or in case I want to watch a certain performance over again on youtube.

What are you wearing today?
My favorite blue jeans along with my coolest shirt—a turquoise blue button down. That’s coolest as in “least likely to cause heat stroke in the Utah desert,” not coolest as in “Dang, you look fine.” For shoes I am wearing my taupe Skechers with burgundy embroidery on the side.

What’s for dinner?
We had roasted chicken and baked potatoes. It’s now 11:30 p.m. and I have dessert in the oven. We called Tim’s son, Nathan, who was just getting off work at 10:00 p.m. and begged, “Please. We will die unless you bring brownies home with you.”

What would you eat for your last meal?
Spaghetti, but only if I make the sauce myself. All store-bought spaghetti sauce has onions in it. I might even have some Iowa corn on the cob, and key lime pie.

What relaxes you the most?
A coma. Ok, not that. I’m stealing my answer from septembermom again. Reading relaxes me more than anything.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?
Someplace that has sand, blue skies and lots of water, as in an oceanic amount of water. Although I would prefer it to be warm, if I had to spend an hour back on the beach in Washington, I would not complain.

Which language do you want to learn?
I would like to finish learning Spanish. I took four years in high school, but in the last two years, they just put me back in with first and second year students since they didn’t have enough people for a full class. After Spanish maybe Hebrew.

What do you love most about where you currently live?
I live in a valley between two mountain ranges, so it feels very secluded. There’s not much crime except for the meth-heads who mainly just kill each other. It’s a small town, but it’s only 90 miles from culture when I absolutely cannot take the seclusion any longer. I also love that the people here go on and on about how terrible the winters are. I just laugh and say “Winter? You want to see winter? Spend January in Iowa baby, then come back here and complain about winter.”

Describe your dream home.
My dream home has a front room decorated like heaven, with very light (so as to be almost white) pink walls and white carpet. There is a huge crystal chandelier hanging in the center, which acts as a prism, causing little rainbows to dance across the walls. There is a beautiful Greg Olsen painting on the impression wall and soft music playing in the background. The kitchen has a center island and lots of cupboard space. There is an attached dining room with a serving area that connects to the kitchen. Also on the main level is the library which houses all of our computers in addition to shelves of all the best books. Down the hall is the laundry room and a huge bathroom. The bathroom has an atrium where there are lots of plants nourished by the sunshine coming through the solar pane in the roof. There is also a mammoth jetted tub. The bathroom is L-shaped with an additional door enclosing the toilet area. We have a two-level basement. On the first level is the family room where there’s a home theater, piano, and pool table. Turn the corner and go down the stairs to find the second level which houses the food storage area, the dance/exercise studio, and an all-purpose storage room. Now on to the second floor. The second floor holds four bedrooms. We don’t need four bedrooms, but as long as we are dreaming, three of these rooms would be used for guests and the fourth one would be Jeremiah’s. Jeremiah’s room would have a loft where he could hang out when he wants to be alone and read. *Sputter, cough* Make that when he wants to build an elaborate Lego Star Wars city. He would have a tunnel with an attached slide that would whisk him down to the family room. Two more bathrooms on the second floor. On the third floor is the master (that’s me) bedroom. Of course it is done in lavender. It has a huge window seat for reading, a walk-in closet and another jetted tub. There are vending machines for midnight snacks of Little Debbies, Snickers, Nacho Doritos and Dr. Pepper. What I meant to say is there’s a refrigerator for midnight snacks of grapes, apples, oranges, water and celery. Off the master bedroom is a balcony with a view to a garden below. There’s a vegetable garden, a flower garden and a winding path through an arbor graced with ponds and fountains. And to top it off—my own treehouse! Did I mention secret passageways? No dream house is complete without secret passages, especially one to the treehouse! (This dreamhouse can only be achieved by your clicking on the Amazon link and buying something—Wah, ha ha!)

If you were a time traveler what era would you live in?
I would never want to go backward because I love all the amenities I now have--contacts, curling iron, flush toilets, the internet, and Pizza Hut. So I guess I would go forward, into the future and visit my descendants.

What is your favorite color?
Purple, lavender, lilac, iris, plum, eggplant, or violet. I can’t decide.

What is your favorite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe?
A pair of black pants that my daughter bought for me. They make me feel like dancin’. With Irish clicky shoes.

What were you doing ten years ago?
I am sure that I was going crazy as a working mom with a ten-month old. I am positive that exactly ten years ago to this very moment I was asking God, “But why can’t I be a stay-at-home mom? Why do I always have to work?” Wah, wah, wah.

If you had $300 now, what would you spend it on?
Printer cartridges, a few new shirts, a haircut for my son so he doesn’t look like a Beatle, a pair of comfortable shoes for my flat-footed husband, and some potted flowers to decorate my front yard.

What are you going to do after this?
Go to bed. Or maybe check a few blogs, heh, heh.

What are your favorite films?
Please see the sidebar on my blog that has a list of “Movies I Have Seen More than 5X.” Then add Twilight and I am David to that list.

Your favorite books?
The University of Success by Og Mandino, Star Girl by Henry Winterfeld, The Princess Brideby William Goldman, Xanth Novels by Piers Anthony, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, All Harry Potters by J.K Rowling, Swinging Sisters by Madonna Dries Christensen (shut UP, it is not about that,) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Big Susan by Elizabeth Orton Jones, Watership Down by Richard Adams, pretty much anything Orson Scott Card has written or will ever write, The Host by Stephenie Meyer, Heidi by Johanna Spyri, The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and the scriptures. Sorry, I only had room for 1/100 of my list.

Do you collect anything?
Compliments. Do you have any for me? I've also been known to involuntarily collect Troll dolls.

What makes you follow a blog?
Good writing, humor, a unique perspective, cool pictures and free food.

What was the most enjoyable thing you did today?
I babysat my newish grandson. He’s such a happy little bug.

Ann's Question:What makes you comment on a blog?
I comment when the person has something valuable to say and I want them to know how much I appreciated their thoughts, or if I cannot control the urge to inject some humor.

Amy's Question:What is your favorite thing to do when you have some free time?
Reading, blogging, hanging out by water (a pool, a lake, a waterfall, the sink,) traveling.

Tonya's question:What is a talent you wished you had?
Oh, how I wish I could sing. I have a monotone voice that I can make go up and down in a sing-song manner, but it is not truly singing.

Gena's question:As you may know, I am all about "Serene Moments", so what is your "Serene Moment"?
I feel serene when it is a sunny day and there is water moving nearby.

Noelle's question: If you could go to heaven who would you see, and why?
My perfect mother. If they kept her out just because of her swearing, I'll be mad.

Vickie's question: Who is your favorite actor?
Jim Caviezel. He knocks me out with his intensity no matter what movie I see him in.

Kitten's question: Other than Blogger, Facebook, and/or Twitter, what are your most frequently-visited websites?
http://www.earlytorise.com/ for the best advice ever on how to be successful in life
http://www.newswithviews.com/ for the best news that is not under the control of the mainstream media
http://teachers.net/wong for the best website on effective teaching
http://www.sugardoodle.net/mambo for ideas on Sunday School lessons

Septembermom’s question: What was your favorite subject in school?
Reading, literature and spelling.

Randi’s question: Whose music affects you?
I love any music that is danceable. That means I like very few slow songs. (Whispering, shh… this means that I like Michael Jackson) I also like Il Divo, Celtic Woman, Josh Groban, Heart, and my son-in-law, Matt.


And now, “Tag! You’re it!” to :

Ken
Pen

I picked them because they rhyme.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Are You a Giver or a Taker?

Scenario

You are at the office. You and your team have been working overtime, trying to increase sales for your business. The early indications are that the strategies you have implemented are working. Sales seem to be up, but you won’t know for sure until you get the final report for the quarter. Your boss asks to meet the entire team for lunch to discuss the report.

After everyone has assembled at the local pizza place, your boss takes out a folder and asks for attention.

“I am happy to announce,” she says, “that sales are up 46% for the quarter.”

After the applause dies down, she says, “Now for a little surprise.”

You hoot and holler with the rest of your team, wondering what surprise she has in store.

“Each one of you…” She pauses for dramatic effect. “…and your spouse, will be going on a three-day Caribbean cruise at the end of this month.”

The reactions begin.

Will you react with the Takers? Or will you react with the Givers?


The Takers React

“Are you paying for our plane tickets to get there?” asks Robert.

“Yes, plane tickets are paid for,” answers your boss.

“What about gas to drive to the airport? Who’s paying for our gas?”

“Each couple will be responsible for their own transportation to and from the airport.”

“So it’s going to cost me money to take advantage of this little reward?” persists Robert.

“ I knew there had to be a catch,” says Suzanne. “And what about child care? Are you reimbursing us for babysitters?”

“Excuse me, but I just went on a cruise last year,” says Jacqueline. “Can I just have the money you would spend on my trip instead?”

Your boss looks increasingly uncomfortable.

“I’m not married, so can I bring someone else, or can I have the money that my spouse would have cost if I was married?” asked Lawrence.

“How many days off work does this entail, and how are we going to be compensated for our lost work hours?" asks Suzanne.

“Cruises make me sick,” says Lisa. “Can I go to Vegas instead?”

By this point your boss is sorry she ever spent the last few days planning this surprise for her employees. She’s ready to call off the whole trip. Until…


The Givers React

“Well I think this sounds like great fun!” exclaims Mark. “I have never been on a cruise.”

“It will be so much fun!” agrees Jodi. “Hey, I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we make a list of all the people who need child care, and then see if we can combine sitters?”

“Oh that’s a great idea! says Jan. “I just have the one little guy so maybe we can save on sitter costs if we go in together.”

“That might work with the gas situation too,” says Dirk. “I’ll make a list to send around to see who wants to car pool to the airport. I’ve got a van that seats eight. We can split the gas costs.”

“These are great ideas,” says Mark. “I know everyone will be busy packing the night before, so I’ll have a potluck open house at my home. People can just drop by and grab some food and not have to worry about making a dinner while they’re getting ready to go.”

Your boss looks at them and smiles. This trip might be salvageable after all. Whose side were you on?


In most situations in life there is an opportunity for you to be a giver or a taker, a positive force or a negative force, lightness or darkness. Could you almost feel the lifeblood being sucked out of the room when you heard the reactions of the Takers? Were you thinking of people you know who react in exactly that way, no matter what the situation? Do you want to be around Takers? (Both the Takers and the Givers were based on people I know. I'll bet you know some Takers and Givers in your own life.)


Are You a Giver or a Taker?

Are you always early for work, dates, meetings?
Or do you consistently show up late for everything, forcing others to wait, to restart the meeting, to call to see where you are, or to make excuses for you?

Are you self motivated? When there’s work to be done, do you start right in, with the end goal in mind?
Or do you wait for someone to motivate you, to offer incentives, to give prizes or rewards before you’ll put in your best effort?

Are you the lender, when others are in need?
Or are you the borrower, always needing money, tools, a ride?

Do you offer emotional support to others?
Or are you always the one needing support, because something bad happened to you again?

Are you self-sufficient?
Or, do you feel it’s someone else’s job to take care of you? (Your parents’, your employer’s, the government’s)

Do you give your employer your best effort?
Or do you feel your employer “owes” you something for your services? (internet access, cigarette breaks, time for personal calls)

Are you the parent to your children?
Or do you expect your children to parent you or to be your emotional crutch? (Mommy has another one of her headaches so make your own dinner, Daddy feels grumpy when he gets home from work so go to your friend’s house, Mother doesn’t get any “me” time so she’s going out, Father had a good life until kids came along, etc.)

Are you accountable for your own actions?
Or is someone else always to blame? (Your parents were mean to you, or it’s not your fault your work isn’t done because your co-workers keep talking to you, or your boss just doesn’t understand your special needs.)

Is life full of good things, happy people, exciting events and meaningful moments?
Or do bad things always happen to you? Are other people just “lucky?” Is life one soap opera after another?


What Happens When a Giver Has to be a Taker?

Life happens, even to Givers. You may lose your job and have to be on food stamps for a while. The one tool you need is the one that your brother-in-law has. Your spouse becomes disabled and you need a shoulder to cry on. Does relying on someone else for a while turn you into a Taker?

No. Everyone in the course of life is either a giver or a taker. What matters is how you spend the majority of your time. Does every day involve more giving or more taking?

I read an article recently by a Rabbi Yoni Posnick, who addresses this very thing. (He got his inspiration from another Rabbi—Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler.) To quote Rabbi Posnick:

“What happens when one giver gives to another giver? Inevitably the giver becomes a taker. Therefore Rabbi Dessler adds a third category, the receiver.The receiver receives from other givers what they wish to give and, in return, reasserts his role as a giver by saying “thank you.” Expressing appreciation converts every act of receiving into an act of giving. By doing so, you have given a heartfelt expression of goodwill to the other.”




The Art of Gratitude

To avoid being continual Takers, we must be grateful for the people who surround us. Take a moment to ponder those who are deserving of our gratitude. Have you ever thanked:

Your spouse for cooking a meal, taking out the garbage, spending time with the kids, or cutting the lawn?

Your boss for your job?

Your children when they do their chores without being told or when you see their kindness toward a sibling?

Your co-workers for being pleasant to work with?

A cashier when she double-bags those heavy juice bottles?

Your minister, priest, rabbi, for a touching sermon?

Your parents for all they have done for you?

A teacher who believed in you?

Your neighbor who shoveled part of your walk too?

Your friends for making life bearable, and laughing with you?

Your siblings, for loving you no matter how big of a jerk you were as a child?



Training our Children to be Givers

In high school, we had a mandatory marriage class. Our teacher, Father Ramaeker, impressed upon us the following: “If you go into a marriage saying everything will be 50/50, your marriage will fail. You must go into a marriage expecting 90/10, that is you give 90% and expect only 10% of your partner. If all people entered marriage with that in mind, there would be no divorce.”

How do we ensure that our children are Givers when they grow up? How do we make sure that they are not continually the Taker in a marriage, a job, a friendship?

According to Rabbi Posnick:
“It is our responsibility to train our children to be “givers.” They should
not be allowed to merely “take”---here is the car, here is the credit card,
here is some money---with little or no appreciation or positive expression
of gratitude in return. This fosters an attitude that life is about “taking”
and it most certainly carries over into marriage.”


It not only carries over into marriage, but also our work relationships, parent/child relationships and friendships. Raising a child with an entitlement mentality is a form of abuse. The child who grows up expecting everything to be handed over is socially crippled for life. The little girl grows up expecting her every whim to be satisfied by her husband. Or she believes the commercials that tell her to spend all the money she has shopping because she “deserves it.” Or she can’t understand why she gets fired from job after job, blaming her employer because she can’t be expected to spend every minute at work actually working.

The little boy grows up railing at the government for not providing health insurance, or railing at his employer for firing him for being late, or railing at his wife for not working enough hours.

So, what is it? Shall we strive to be a community of Givers or Takers? Will we raise our children to bless others or to be “entitled?”

What can we do today, to be a Giver? What giving actions are your trademark?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Touched by an Osmond

I hope all of you are having a meaningful July 4th.

We are getting ready to go to our local high school stadium to listen to orators talk about our history and freedom. The two men represented by the orators will be Thomas Payne and my husband’s favorite, Patrick Henry. Following the oral presentations are a patriotic choir and of course fireworks.

Our family celebration actually began yesterday on July 3rd. We--Tim, Jeremiah, granddaughter Juliah and I-- traveled to a local town, about 15 minutes away to see a motocross exhibition and listen to a concert by local boy Merrill Osmond. (See previous post on the private joke between God and me regarding the Osmonds.)

We had a truly enjoyable evening. The skies were clear with the temperature hovering around 70 degrees. None of us had ever seen a motocross event, but since it was part of our ticket price, we attended. I was surprised at both the level of skill and the level of insanity of the riders. I had assumed that during the motocross event we would be watching men on motorcycles on an obstacle course. Not so. These daredevils flew across a 70-foot space between a ramp and a dirt hill, doing flips with and handstands on, their bikes.


After the exhibition, the concert began. Merrill has fifty years in the entertainment business and is a consummate performer. He began by walking through the audience, shaking hands with his fans. Silence please…drumroll…an Osmond touched me. He also shook hands with Jeremiah, who was thrilled no doubt because of maternal influence.

Merrill performed a selection of his oldies along with some contemporary music, and was surprised when a young pre-teen girl sang along to one of his songs. He held the mike so she could sing along with him. I think he felt truly honored. His two sons walked through the audience selecting people for a fan dance contest. The audience selected the winners and four participants each got a collector’s Merrill Osmond teddy bear that Merrill said was valued at $500.

A highlight of the concert was his daughter Heather, who performed two songs, one of which she had written herself in behalf of our troops. If we don’t hear more from her in the future, I would be surprised.

A light breeze cooled fans who sat on camp chairs and in the bleachers or who laid on blankets sprawled on the grounds of the football stadium. Little children danced on the grass, waving multi-colored neon necklaces and wands to the music as the light faded. A waxing gibbous moon (I didn’t teach fifth grade for nothin’) shone reflected light onto the field.



Merrill topped the evening by speaking about his love for family and for this country. He said he could have chosen to raise his children anywhere, but he chose to raise them in an area where he knew they would grow up to be good people. He mentioned his concern for his friends, the Jacksons, who were dealing with their tragedy right now. He sang The Impossible Dream, his father’s favorite song, in honor of him. The strains of his final song faded out as the fireworks exploded.

I am certain that as a young girl, my attraction for the Osmonds was mostly because they were cute and sang good songs. As an adult, my level of appreciation lies more in the fact that they are true showmen, strong vocalists, and can harmonize like no others. A show put on by an Osmond will never be a waste of your money.

Note: In the video, Merrill shakes my hand right after the guy whose back is in the shot. You will see Merrill looking in the camera briefly, then I sit down.


video

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thursday Thoughts of a Twitterless Thinker 7-2-09

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time once again for the Blithering Bloggeress, the Rambling Writer, the Queen of Quang to subject you all to that time-honored tradition—Thursday Thoughts of a Twitterless Thinker!

Since I don’t Twitter, I don’t want to deny anyone the privilege of knowing what I thought about all day. It's the rage.

I have been watching, for a few years now, So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With The Stars. Five seasons ago, I didn’t know the difference between an Argentine Tango and a Paso Doble. Today, I sit and watch either show and say things like, “They shouldn’t have smiled during that tango,” or “ The footwork needed to be a little more aggressive on that paso. He was stepping too lightly.” My husband has even become quite adept at predicting what the judges will say.

Over the years, I have watched dance evolve. Several years ago, the nation watched in awe as Cheryl Burke and Drew Lachey did an amazing freestyle to Save a Horse by Big and Rich on Dancing with the Stars and won the competition. If that same routine was performed today, I am certain it would be pegged as “not enough for this level of competition.” And they would be right. Dance has progressed to where a certain level of gymnastics is almost expected for a performance to even be considered mediocre.

Last night, on SYTYCD, Melissa and Ade treated the nation to a Romeo and Juliet pas de deux. Today I think about what a thrill it is to watch the dance culture develop, literally step by step.

For a visual treat, watch this video of Oren Lavie’s Her Morning Elegance.

And now, for my fellow wordsmiths, the best quote I’ve read this week: Despite some famous examples to the contrary, if you can say "new" and you can say "clear", then you can say "new clear." Robert Brault

My son came home from Boy Scouts to tell me that he shimmied up a 30 foot rope without knots in it. Apparently in the last two years, he is only the second scout to be able to get to the top. Now I understand why, at his entry into Boy Scouts, his new scout leader told me, “We don’t like moms to come to scouting events or else the boys won’t have any fun.”

Speaking of wordsmiths, I love hearing words used in new ways or hearing phrases crafted in a unique style. Do you make up our own words? That’s fine with me as long as you don’t care that I steal it ( and use it as the title of my blog.) It should come as no surprise then that I have a new hobby. When I go to someone else’s blog, and I have to type the nonsense word in order to leave a comment, sometimes I write the nonsense word down because I love it. I am determined to find a use for the following “words” : koant, scril, deaph, honsfer, aniaste, maahjo, chastess, and my all-time favorite----eflush. No longer will I delete emails, I will eflush them! Come on, you writers out there. Can you think of a way to use the above words in a sentence? All mimsy were the borogoves!* Yeah!

What is an “ono” dinner? Computer Geek and I got invited to one and Wikipedia was no help.

With vacation time upon us, I couldn’t get out of my mind a beautiful post at Goodlife Zen, on having a “staycation.” I was surprised to find that the guest author was none other than one of Foreign Quang’s most frequent commenters, Janice Hunter. It contains some beautiful thoughts so I encourage you to pay her a visit.

I get to go see Merrill Osmond in concert on Friday. The Osmosis never ends!

My last thought on this lovely Thursday is actually a rant. I don’t rant often so when I do, you know I mean it, darn it! So tonight, I’m watching a dancing show (surprise) and there are two commercials for horror flicks. One was called Orphan and the other was The Unborn. (No, this is not a repeat of my gore rant from a few weeks ago.) I am ranting about the use of children in horror films. I saw the previews for these two films and was disturbed to see children so fiendishly used. I love little kids, and their sweet spirits and their innocence. I can’t for the life of me, understand people who corrupt all that is good about childhood by dressing up our babies as objects of evil. I can’t fathom allowing my ten-year old son to be painted up as a demonic character, nor can I imagine my five-year old grandson. No money in the world could sway me to allow such an abomination. Am I being too sensitive? What are your thoughts?

* Not an original sentence. Stolen with love from the Master Of All Made Up Words,
Lewis Carroll.
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