Friday, July 30, 2010

Thoughts of a Twitterless Thinker July 30, 2010 edition

I may not tweet, but I do think.

For the past few years I have noticed that the manufacturers of shampoos and conditioners have done us a “favor” by making the bottle caps a permanent feature. Was this done to keep caps and bottles together when recycling? Was it done to keep klutzes like me from dropping bottle caps all over the bathroom? Was it with the consumer in mind that they made the removal of the bottle cap so difficult? I don’t think so.

No, the reason the manufacturers keep the cap securely attached to the bottle is so that obsessive-compulsive frugalistas like myself will go ballistic when they can’t get the last little bit of conditioner out of the bottle. In the olden days, when the cap and bottle were separate entities, a gal could run a little water inside the bottle, swish it around, and end up with one last conditioner application. Not anymore. Just try running water through the tiny hole at the top of the cap. Doesn’t work unless you are hip about standing there trying to coerce a trickle of water through the opening for about fifteen minutes. One thing I hate worse than wasting money is wasting time.

After being annoyed by this situation for the past four years or so, I finally had my Eureka! moment while taking a shower the other day. (Four years. I told you I’m a thinker.)  I would go in from the bottom!
(See disturbing scissors shot.)

I simply stabbed a hole in the bottom of the bottle and made a hole big enough for running water. I got one last application out of that bottle!  Their cheap ploy to get me to buy more conditioner before I am ready no longer works with me, no siree. I am smarter than the bottle.

My son asked me the other day what we were having for dinner. Apparently he didn’t like what was on the menu because he said, “I feel like all color and flavor has gone out of my life.”

This body hasn’t seen a swimming pool in a couple of years so when I heard that Computer Geek’s family was having a family reunion at a local lake I thought I’d better get a jump on the situation and get some mild tanning done.  I didn’t want to burn or cause shock amongst the relatives at the exposure of my pasty white legs. For a few weeks before the event, I sat outside in minimal clothing, praying that no one would choose that moment to come a visitin’.

The day of the reunion showed me that my tanning efforts were pointless.

The rain didn't spoil it for Neo and Gnome

A little later, I took the kids (Hoolie and Weston) down to the lake and good fortune, i.e. the sun, smiled upon us.  They walked around looking like geeks with their shorts hitched up until I finally begged them to please get wet.

They played for a couple of hours until a kid came running down to the water’s edge screaming, “There’re leeches in there! Get out! Get out!” Kinda spoiled the mood. 

Despite the intermittent rain, we had an enjoyable time with extended family.  I came away with a good idea to pass along.  CG’s family always has an auction at their get-togethers.  People bring items that they either no longer want or have created. The other members of the family bid on the items, with the proceeds going into a family fund. They have an assigned family treasurer who keeps track of the funds, and then the next time they get together, they use the money to hire caterers.  This reduces the amount that each person has to pay for meals. Slick, huh?

Speaking of cool party ideas, my daughter Em came up with a few winners for her dear friend’s baby shower.  Em’s friend, a girl who I love as if she were my own, was pregnant with her fourth child. My daughter knew that the only thing her friend, Tiny Dancer, needed was a stroller. Yet, how to ask people for money for a stroller? 

A raffle, that’s how! Tiny Dancer makes beautiful baby quilts and had lots of leftover material, so Em asked her to make two quilts, one for a boy and one for a girl. At the baby shower, Em and Tiny Dancer raffled off those quilts at a dollar a chance. It was a nice way to get the funds she needed, yet also a face-saving way for women who only had a buck or two to spend on a gift to participate.  The winner of the girl quilt was a young woman who is due to have a baby girl, and the winner of the boy quilt just had a brand new baby grandson.

Instead of the usual shower games, Em and friends blew up lots of water balloons and played water balloon volleyball. It’s played using a sheet and is tons of fun! 

Word of warning from Em---Don't wear cream colored pants

Em and I took kids to the park the other day. My dear aunt loves to take photos of kids from behind, when they are not looking. I decided on this outing to try taking some shots like that because they really are quite interesting.

Chunk and Avatar (Airbender, not blue people)

Chunk, kissing his look in the mirror


Tough dudes, Weston, River and Dash

Hoolie and Webkin friend

Tiny Dancer had her baby, a beautiful girl on July 27. She’s a lovely little lady who I am sure I will eventually manipulate into calling me “Grandma.”  I haven’t thought of a stage name for her yet. Her real name is so poetic I don’t know how anything I come up with will do her justice.

Do you ever wonder why some people are really good at self-sabotage? Why, Mel Gibson, why? He used to be one of my favorites and now he is just making me sad.

I have twenty tomato plants almost ready to start turning red. My husband thinks we will never eat that many. Silly Computer Geek.  I will eat all 480 tomatoes in my search for that elusive one that tastes like it came from Iowa.

Little granddaughter Hoolie comes over several days a week while her mom goes to work. Last night Computer Geek and I were eating dinner in the living room while we watched the news. When we were all done Hoolie walked over without a word and took our dishes out to the sink for us. It’s moments like that where you just have to admit that life is nothing without sweet children in it. May you and I always have children in our lives to bless us.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Peek into the Life of Sarah

A guest post by Jill, a very special mother

I want to tell you about my 6-year-old daughter.

~She’s going into first grade

~She went to five parties last month, including a pool party and ice-skating party in the same weekend

~She’s pretty darn good at playing UNO

~She loves to swim and dive for nickels at the bottom of the pool

~She rides her two-wheeler with wobbly training wheels

~She loves to make people laugh

~She can’t ever eat enough pizza

~She worries when people are upset

~She just graduated from Daisy Scouts to Brownies

~She has a “BFF” that she has playdates and dinners with. We’re pretty sure they’ll get married.

~She has lots of other friends - mostly boys! - and walks the halls of school like it’s the red carpet.

~She has her share of time-outs

~She loves her “dolly” but also Hannah Montana

~She wants to be a doctor when she grows up

~She fights with her older sister as much as they laugh together. She bosses her baby brother around.

~She counts to 10. In Spanish.

~She tells knock-knock jokes

So what? Why am I telling you this?

Because she also happens to have Down syndrome. She had open heart surgery at 3 months old and almost died of a collapsed lung and sepsis.

So what? Why am I telling you this?

So you’ll see that people (and they ARE people first) with Down syndrome are more like you than different. And they deserve to be treated that way.


This post was brought to you today as a BloggersUnite special concern. Bloggers from all over the world unite to bring special issues to the forefront. Today's focus is on People First: Empowering People With Disabilities. As of this posting, 329 bloggers have agreed to participate.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Reality Bites

How many times have you been stranded on a deserted island? Have you then had the opportunity to summarily dismiss some of your co-desertees thereby ensuring your own chances for survival? Didn’t think so.

How many of you single people have had the chance to pick your spouse from among twenty of the planet’s hottest (according to Hollywood standards) people, all claiming to be totally in love with you? Moreover, you get only twelve weeks to pick your mate for life?

Recently I have been watching a few of these shows. The first one I watched was last season’s The Bachelor, starring Jake Pavelka. I, along with millions of Americans watched in shock as he picked for his wife the house witch, Vienna. The other women in the house repeatedly warned Jake about Vienna’s machinations. Did he listen? No. Week after week he sent home the nice girls and the sweethearts. At the season finale, when he proposed to the full-of-guile Vienna, I said, “Now there’s a poo-bomb waiting to happen.”

Have you been watching Entertainment Tonight? Or The Bachelorette?  Both shows can’t seem to get enough of the disaster that was the Jake-Vienna union.  Vienna is manipulative. Jake is mean and domineering. Both hate each other after a few weeks of flying high on the wings of love.

Yet as I think about the show, I realize that we are not watching this program in real time. By the time we watch him get down on one knee and propose to Vienna, Jake already hates her in real life. So what are we really watching? Did the producers know this relationship was doomed and so showed Vienna in the worst possible light? That way it’s all Jake's fault for picking the woman he was warned against. “The show” clearly presented to all of us that he was making a mistake. Remember, these girls agree to have the cameras on them 24/7.  How many of us wouldn’t look like a wench if a camera was there catching every move we make? What if every time I grew impatient with my son, it was broadcast on TV? What if every time I woke up with a headache and was a little cranky, it was there for America to view?  What if those embarrassing moments were all that the network decided to show of me?  What if Vienna and Jake’s relationship had succeeded instead?  Would we only see the charming clips of Vienna, proving once again that the network has a winning show on its hands?

Now enter The Bachelorette. Ali, one of Jake’s rejects from last season, endeared herself to the viewers with her seemingly sweet and lively nature. Naturally, she was a shoo-in as this season’s new bachelorette. I have been glued to the TV every Monday night, wondering who Ali will send home next. As I get closer to seeing the finale, I realize that this show is appalling. The premise is that Ali will have twenty-five good-looking eligible young men to choose from. Each week, at least one, sometimes more, young man gets sent home as Ali realizes that he is not the one for her. Now as we settle in to the final weeks, something disturbing seems to be happening, something that I have a hard time pinning on Ali. Emotions are being played with.

Ali, as part of the show’s premise, expects all the men to be there for the right reason, i.e. her. They are expected to fall in love with her, so that she can more accurately judge who is there for her, and who is there for his own reasons (stardom, fame, etc.) Most of the last remaining contestants have admitted that they are in love with Ali. The problem? Ali seems to truly love them as well. The show sends her on home visits to meet the parents of the last four remaining men. Emotions run high as the parents meet the woman that their son is in love with. She appears to love their son in return.  But news flash—this is a “reality” show so Ali will end up breaking the hearts of three of the men, along with the hearts of the parents who must then “be there” for their suffering son as he deals with rejection by the woman he loves.

We watch as each week the elimination process becomes more difficult for Ali. Her tears seen genuine as she sends home yet another young man that she has gotten close to. We watch as her pain is displayed for all the world to see. Last week we observed one of the three remaining men, Frank, break her heart as he tells her that he is more in love with his ex-girlfriend than he is with Ali.

One of the most disturbing parts of both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette shows involve what they call “the overnighters.”  As the contestants get narrowed down to three, they are offered a chance to spend the night together. In the two shows I have watched, no one has yet refused.  Is sleeping together then part of the decision making process?  And how does Ali justify sleeping with three different men, three nights in a row? “Yay” for Frank when he left the show on the day of his “overnighter” with Ali. Apparently he was someone who knew how that would further play with emotions.

We are now into the final two weeks of the show. Shortly, Ali will choose one of the two men remaining, and break the heart of the other. Ali though, will not escape unscathed. Her hurt each time she rejects someone is obvious. And yet, we watch, unable to turn away from the heartbreak before us.  The producers already know which man she has chosen. They already know whether this relationship seems to be working or not.

Ali is not the only one whose emotions are being played with. Ours are, as well. If she picks Roberto or Chris, we are bound to be happy for her either way. Both men have been portrayed as utter gentlemen, and maybe they are. If Ali is happy, we will be happy. Even though we only know what the producers want us to know about Ali, Roberto or Chris, we feel as if we know them intimately. Because we have felt that intimate connection, we will surely watch again next season. Right? Not me.  I, for one, am tired of the game networks are playing with our emotions.  They are priming us to enjoy our circuses.

Speaking of circuses, have you watched the TV show Wipeout?  It is my eleven-year old’s favorite show. People get punched in the face, knocked off wobbly platforms into the mud, and swiped off their feet into a pool. Dramatic slow-motion footage is replayed ad nauseum so that we can watch the hilarity over and over as a person’s head is whipped backward or his back violently smacks a corner on his descent. Wow, that’s funny, huh? Sorry, producers, but I have yet to laugh. Maybe if you slo-mo it for me a few dozen times.  Perhaps laughing at the physical misfortune of others started with America’s Funniest Home Videos, or maybe even as early as The Three Stooges.

Another circus is the new show Downfall where the contestant is dropped off the side of a building if he or she does not answer enough questions correctly.  Sure, they’re attached to a bungee cord, but the premise is that they are “dispensed.”  Gotten rid of.  Adios.

These reality shows remind me, frighteningly I might add, of a book I recently read.  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a futuristic novel set in a time when America has collapsed and a new government has taken over. As part of a tyrannical plot to keep the new colonies from rebelling, they hold a yearly game where teens are forced to fight to the death for the entertainment of all.  Sponsors pick which contestant they wish to throw their advertising dollars behind. Citizens are forced to watch the games on television and appear to enjoy them. The teen with the most dollars on his side is most likely to be the sole survivor. The novel clearly shows us how a society can so degenerate that death becomes entertainment.

Perhaps there is time; after all we currently only find Ali’s tears engaging and the Wipeout contestant’s whiplash amusing. What will happen though when a rejected suitor gets violent, or a Downfall player plummets to his death? Will we say enough is enough, or will it merely whet our thirst for our own Hunger Games?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bastille Day-My Non-Anniversary

In 2003, I was a single mother, having lived through a failed marriage. My son was five years old and was tended by a seemingly endless parade of babysitters while I worked fifty hours a week. I didn't enjoy my status but there seemed to be no other options for me.

My daughter Em at the time had a friend named Gnome. Gnome had a father who was single, having recently suffered through a failed marriage also. Em would tell me how sometimes she and Gnome would discuss the possibility of her mom/her dad getting together, making them sisters. "Never!" I would say. Gnome's dad, a computer programmer by trade, was an extremely annoying individual.

He would call me.
I wouldn't answer the phone.
He would knock at my door
I would hide until he gave up.
He would drop by my place of work.
I would be grateful for every customer who walked in the door, keeping me from having to talk to him.
People would say, "Maybe you should give him a chance."
I would respond in my best pirate voice, "Nevah!"

He was a stalker, in my opinion.
Drove me crazy.

On July 14, 2003, he walked into the cell phone store that I managed. No customers were there, just my co-worker and I, meaning I would have to deal with him.

We chit-chatted aimlessly until he uttered those words that made me realize the depth of my loathing.

He: "Oh--it's July 14th."
Me: "Yeah, Bastille Day."
He: "How did you know that?"  I wanted to slap that incredulous look right off his face.
Me: "You expected me not to know that. Therefore the only reason you would have possibly brought it up was to hope that I would therefore ask, 'What's special about July 14th?' so that you could explain it to a dummy like me." Then with my best Clair Huxtable wave of the index finger I said, "You ain't the only smart one!"

I was mad. Really mad. That arrogant pompous horse's butt.

After he left, I said to my co-worker, "I will never marry that man. UGH!"

He kept on calling.
Driving by.

On April 10, 2004 we were married. I have had six happy years with Computer Geek. We are extremely compatible, which I guess means that I am an arrogant pompous mare.

Em and Gnome are sisters.

Happy Bastille Day, Computer Geek. Whatever that means.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Decorating Fever is at an All-Time High

This is the first summer in nearly twelve years that I have been able to fully unpack from all my previous moves. Summertimes have usually been spent working, babysitting or packing for yet another move.  Although I'm not there yet, I am progressing at a much faster rate than ever before, possibly because my child is now almost twelve and fairly self-sufficient.

With all that unpacking comes the discovery of things that I haven't seen in years, or things that matched the decor four houses ago. I found a recipe card holder that Weston bought for me at a thrift store when he was small.

Cute in its day, it no longer matched anything in my kitchen. See that lovely shade of lavender paint lurking in the background? Heh heh heh...

I wasn't chuckling for long. Weston saw the paint and brush and said, "Are you going to paint that thing I gave you?  I thought you liked it?"  

I tried to explain that I do like it and now it's time for a new color. He got a little choked up. "Can you at least not paint the bears?"

Not wanting to be the subject of future discussions at Christmas for the rest of my life, ("Yeah, I remember the time Mom painted over that beautiful recipe card holder I gave her. I saved up for weeks to get her something nice. I thought she would like it but...") I decided a compromise was in order.

Here's the side I re-vamped:

Now we are both happy. I even painted some clothespins the same color so that I can use them as refrigerator magnets. (You really don't throw away those business magnets you get in the mail, do you?)

One of the advantages of having  this guy

for a neighbor, is that he leaves beautiful gifts for us in our yard

which I am all too happy to use as decorative pieces in my house.

The office in our new home has walls that are a lovely shade of army green. Since my son's new room is decorated in lime green, the camouflage patterned curtains I sewed for him two years ago no longer match. However, they fit in quite nicely with the manly walls in the office. 

For Father's Day, I went to Wordle and made Computer Geek a piece of art using the words of a quote by his favorite old guy, Patrick Henry.  (If you ever have to come up with a gift on the fly, that is the website to go to. You can take any words you want---best friend names, quotes, a person's interests--- and submit them to make a cute gift. If you want one word to appear larger than the others, just type it in more frequently.This is not to say I made his gift at the last minute if CG is reading this.) You can even choose your color scheme, so I picked colors that matched the walls and curtains.

The last thing I made involves a piece of scrap lumber, some spray paint (hallelujah!) and some stickers. I wanted to make something that would look nice through the month of July since we would be celebrating both the Fourth of July and Pioneer Day (big party day in Utah.)

I spray painted the hunk of lumber an almond color. I got some stickers at Walmart and adhered them where I wanted. I also went to Microsoft Word and printed out two black stars. I Mod Podged over the top for protection.  

It now sits on top of my wood-burning stove. I was happy that the wood had some natural cracks and a nail in it. Makes it look more rustic. Cheap to make. Cheap cheap. That's my middle name.

Off to do some more unpacking!  Yee haw!

Friday, July 9, 2010

I Won Something!

Remember a few months ago when I posted about my daughter Kay who wins EV-ER-Y-THING?

Well step aside because it's Mama's turn!

I recently entered a contest over at The Idea Room, where I scope out all the fun that goes on there every day. I keep their link over on the right side of my blog in case you want to go back there every day like I do. The giveaway was for a gift basket from a cool new place called Treebee Soap.

See that basket of yumminess?  All mine!

Please check out both sites. Maybe you'll be a winner too!

Photo Credit: Treebee Soaps

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Great Utah Time Warp

Happy 4th of July to all of you out there who don't live in Utah! If you do live in Utah, then you understand that in our world the 4th of July is over already. It happened Friday and Saturday. That's because in Utah nothing happens on Sunday. That's right. No Thing.

Not that I'm complaining. Sunday is a laid back day for me anyway. Plus we got to celebrate the 4th over the course of two days instead. (And a big benefit is that I can start my July 4th post with a picture of fireworks that I took two days ago. Cheating? Yup.)

Friday night our town had a little parade, that ended with a man yelling at me, "If you don't get out of my way, I'm going to run you over!" Because it was a small town, no f-words were uttered. That's how you can tell we have hospitality.

Later that night we traveled to a nearby town for an outdoor concert. You might remember that we went to the same place last year for Independence Day celebrations and got to see Merrill Osmond.  These outdoor concerts are magical. People spread out camp chairs and blankets and listen to good music under the stars, followed by fireworks. Children run through the grass and dance, wearing neon jewelry and lighting up our night in a parade of bright colors. Warm breezes keep us from being too hot or too chilly.

Look at the clips below to see a brief glimpse of who we saw in concert this year.

[Now this is right where our video would have appeared had I not stopped the download after THREE HOURS. I even took an hour nap while it was downloading. So just pretend you saw someone who looked and sounded amazingly like Neil Diamond.]

That person in your imagination was not even Neil Diamond, but an expert faker named Jay White! We thought he was fantastic, as did the crowd. On many songs, if we closed our eyes and laid our heads back in our camp chairs, we would have sworn Neil was really there. He normally plays at the Riviera in Vegas but we were lucky that he had nothing to do on the 2nd of July! (That's the 4th of July in Utah lingo.)  This had to be one of the best concerts I've attended.

Gal pal Ekanela and her family were there too.

Weston (purposely pretending to be eating) with Ekanela's son, He's Hot. 

Ekanela's daughter, The Divine Miss Ya-Ya

BFF Ekanela with hubby, He's Even Hotter, and daughter, SK8TR

The next day, Saturday, Ekanela and I hit the parade route. We even took our kids. We would have gotten lots more candy had we left them home, but we knew they would enjoy the hot sun and noisy sirens.

Well, except for SK8TR, who enjoyed the sirens NOT SO MUCH.

The Divine Miss Ya-Ya, her cousin Osteoporosis, He's Hot, Weston, and SK8TR

SK8TR, an all-American pile of cuteness

During the parade, Weston scored two coupons for 12" pizzas for only $5 each at a local pizzeria that is known for its great  food. The coupon specifically said, "No Waiting!"   That was a big fat lie. Ekanela and I each decided to get one pizza to give to the kids for lunch. I went in to order our pizza, while Ekanela went to the dairy. We hoped that we would finish our errands simultaneously. 

At 12:30 I entered the pizza place and saw that there were lots and lots and lots of people who all thought they should use their Pizza for $5 coupon. Right now. I placed my order and paid for for 2 cheese pizzas around 12:35. At around 1:00, Ekanela called to check progress. I told her I had ordered, but not yet received, our pizzas. She asked me if it would be a problem to order a third pizza. 

I looked around and saw that there were still quite a few people waiting for their orders, and about 20 more people waiting in line just to place an order.  She decided to send her son, He's Hot, in to get a third pizza. I was honest and said that he would probably be in line for at least 30 minutes, waiting to place his order, and then there would be another 30 minute wait to get the pizza. $5 pizzas don't come along every day so she decided it would be worth the wait. 

After about another 10-15 minutes, the owner came out and yelled, "Three cheese pizzas for Roger? Roger? Is there a Roger for three cheese pizzas?  Roger?"  Roger was either deaf or had given up, so the owner called out the next person in line, who happened to be me! "Two cheese pizzas for Randi?"

I said, "Actually, I need three cheese pizzas now," and turned to He's Hot at the end of the line and said, "Bring the money up here!"

The owner said, "Just take them, they're yours. Go."  Woo ho!  Ekanela scored a free cheese pizza.  Thank you, Roger, wherever you are. You saved us about an hour's wait, and made some starving children very happy.

Later that night, we went to another set of fireworks just a few blocks from my house. There's a beautiful church building not far from my house that sits atop a steep hill. 

People gather with blankets and bug spray on that hill to watch. Computer Geek, Weston and I walked over there to sit with daughters (adopted and not) and grandchildren (adopted and not.) Our blanket was kind of slippery so Computer Geek and I had to dig our heels in to keep from sliding down the slope.

Tiny Dancer and Em

Avatar and Pinque

Weston and Dash

He said he was watching but I think he was sleeping.

After we walked home, I put brownies in the oven so we could finish our July 4th celebration the right way---with chocolate and ice cream. Gnome happened to call around 11:00 p.m., right when the brownies were coming out of the oven, so we invited her and Hoolie over for a midnight snack. 

Today, the real July 4th, I would like to officially end our festivities, as many of you are just beginning yours, with a quote by one of my favorite founding fathers.

Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death! 
Patrick Henry 
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