Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thoughts of a Twitterless Thinker.........December 30, 2011 edition

So there I was sitting at my computer, 1:30 A.M., noshing on leftover mashed potatoes and gravy, and scoping out the blogs of my online buddies. I was laughing at their antics, marveling at their creativity, and admiring their mad writing skills. And then...a Eureka moment when I thought to myself--"Hey! I have a blog! I should go write on it some time."


Fellow bloggers: Do you ever have days when you feel like you have nothing to say? When it seems as if everything has already been said? When each day seems like every other day so writing anything down seems so redundant?  If so, how do you conquer that blase feeling? Dang, it was so bad I considered setting up a Twitter account so I could feel justified in having nothing to say.

As I pondered setting up said Twitter account, I remembered that it might be seen as a betrayal by those Quangsters who rely on my being a Twitterless Thinker. To satisfy those three people, and to keep myself from plunging into the deep dark depths of 140-character thoughts, I bring you the latest installment of Thoughts of a Twitterless Thinker.

You know what I've been thinking about most lately?  In a few days I get to find out the gender of my latest grandchild--Em's baby. I'm thinking girl. Em's thinking girl. I'm thinking the ultrasound tech is thinking girl but doesn't want to say anything until the official gender unveiling on Tuesday. I'll keep you posted.

My son, being a thirteen-year-old, now communicates with his friends online more than he does in person. I had one of his friends sitting in my office using my computer, while Weston was in his room using his computer. They were involved in a group chat with a couple of friends from school. At one point the two boys were just typing to each other and I mentioned something to both of them that maybe they should just get off the computer and go talk to each other face to face. You know, since they were only a room apart and all. Each one looked at me with the 2011 equivalent of "Are you high?"  Silly me. There I go thinking again.

Speaking of online chatting, you are all familiar with the chatting acronyms, right? You know, like LOL means Laughing out Loud, and BRB means Be Right Back. Weston was feeling mildly hurt because he thought his friends thought he was "lame."  I assured him that was not the case, but to prove it he confided that when he says something online, his friends will respond with LMAO. When I told him that it meant Laughing My A** Off, he brightened. He thought they were responding "Lame-o!"

I'm thinking that most of this post will be my thoughts on dealing with the creature called "The Thirteen-Year-Old."  For some reason, as soon as Weston turned thirteen, he lost massive amounts of brain cells, to the point where I have to re-teach things he learned when he was three. Things like when you get up from the couch while holding a plate of spaghetti, make sure that you hold the plate in a horizontal position. Holding it in a vertical position will cause the spaghetti to slide from the plate to the carpet. I thought he knew that, but maybe I didn't stress it enough when he was three.

Or things like when it's cold outside, you stay warmer when you wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Like a toddler, he prefers to dress himself, so when he runs around the house in a short-sleeved t-shirt, ankle socks, and shorts and then complains, "I'm freezing!" I tend to say stupid things like, "Maybe you should change your clothes."

Or when he's sitting at his computer with his headphones on, and his chores are left undone and his room is a mess, and I say, "No computer until your chores are done and your room is cleaned."  He smiles at me and says, "Okay."  Twenty minutes later he is still plugged in so I repeat. He nods and smiles, " I am."  Ten minutes later I go back to his room, slightly more irritated than the first two trips and tell him again to get off the computer and get his chores done. He unplugs and says, "Mom! I am!"  

There's that awkward moment where I am left wondering if English is his second language or if I have failed to teach him the proper bodily actions to perform when your mother says to get your chores done. They don't involve sitting in a chair staring at a computer screen with headphones attached. Did I not teach him these things when he was but a manling? Oh wait! Maybe he's playing some new Facebook game called Chore-ville, where the player thinks that actions performed online are duplicated in the real world. 

Today I was convinced that all the life-skills training that I have done with this child since age 0 have been for naught. I was certain that my young man was replaced by someone else's obstinate defiant two-year-old.

Me (noticing that Weston was ready to walk out the door to go to an Airsoft game in thirty degree weather): "Why are you wearing that jacket? It's not even dry. Did you pull it out from the washer?"

Weston: "It's okay."

Me: "It's not okay. It's soaking wet. It hasn't even been in the dryer yet."

Weston: "Mom. It's not that cold out. It's fine."

Me: "You can't wear a sopping wet jacket. You are going to freeze."

Weston: "It's not that bad."

Me: "Go put on your winter coat."

Weston" "It's too small."

Me: "When did it suddenly get too small?"

Weston: "My arms show when I stretch my arms out." He puts on the coat and demonstrates. About two inches of his forearms show.

Me: "If you put on a long-sleeved shirt, then your forearms won't get cold."

Weston: "Mom! It's not a coldness thing. I don't want my arms to get hit by airsoft pellets."

Me: "Then wouldn't a long-sleeved shirt still help?"

Weston: "Argh. Mom. You don't get it."

He's right. I didn't get it. I thought my "How to Pick out Appropriate Clothing" training had ended nine years ago. Looks like I'm starting from scratch. After ten minutes of arguing, he finally left the house with a long-sleeved shirt and his warm winter coat. I was exhausted. 

On the bright side, he is still capable of making me laugh. One day Computer Geek, Weston, and I were coming back from Walmart and stopped for gas. Computer Geek started to get back in the car but Weston said, "You left your receipt hanging at the machine."  CG sees that it is so, gets back out of the car, retrieves the receipt, then gets back in. He says to Weston, "Thank you for letting me know about that."  To which Weston replies, 

"I am a noble steed."  Indeed.

I'll close this thoughtful post with an amazing tip I learned over the holidays. Have you ever been to Walmart and tried to get some pop, only to discover that all the pop at the front of the shelves has been removed? And that you are far too short to reach the pop you want, way at the back of the shelf?  Many times I have said, "Oh well. I guess it's just God's way of saying that I shouldn't drink pop," and then I move on. No more! God has provided an awesome pop-retrieving tool.

We were at our local Walmart and noticed that the fake 7*UP was almost gone. The last few bottles were waaaay in the back. Shaq could not have reached those bottles. Two Walmart ladies were working in the aisle, and because our Walmart has awesome customer service (I'm not lying--these people are even happy when I use coupons. They rock. Yay for store # 2794! Give 'em all a raise!) they asked me if they could help. 

I explained that I was far too short to reach the pop I wanted. These two ladies had a brilliant solution. "Let's find Max." 

Max shows up and he is approx. 6'3".  Does he reach up there and get my pop? No. Remember I said that even Shaq could not have reached those bottles?

I learned that the ladies didn't go find Max because he was tall. They found Max because he was smart. Max showed me an uber cool trick that I am now going to show you. Amaze your friends! Stun your relatives!  I now present the Walmart No Stilts Needed Pop Retrieval Tool:


Amazing, right? The tool is inconspicuously hidden in the shelving unit itself.  It slides right into the hole when you have finished pulling the pop toward you with the elongated staple-like pop-grasper. So the next time you feel inferior because you can't reach the pop that is inconveniently stored above your head, just look for the thing that looks like a staple camouflaged against the shelving unit. How many times have I looked right at it and never known?

P.S. Max, who is a serious customer advocate, gave me permission to take the above photo.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Anything Embarrassing Happen to YOU Lately?

A friend dropped by on Saturday with a plate full of fudge. (I swear I was born lucky.) We chatted for a few minutes and then I pushed her out the door so I could gorge on the fudge she had to leave. After we said our goodbyes and she closed the front door, my son looked at me and said, "Boy, I bet you are embarrassed."

I couldn't think of any social sins I committed during the course of our conversation, so I asked Weston, "Why should I be embarrassed?"

"Because the back of your skirt is tucked into your underwear."


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dressing my Angels

Early last week, I got an email from one of the coupon sites I haunt. They directed me to the Victoria’sSecret Facebook page, where VS was giving away gift cards on a daily basis until Christmas. I scoped it out, by reading the rules as well as comments by previous winners and losers.

Every day until December 15, the company is giving away a total of 100,000 Victoria’s Secret gift cards. However, they begin giving away each day at precisely 9:00 A.M. Eastern and only give away until that day’s allotment is depleted. That means by approximately 9:07, all of that day’s cards are gone.

Since that’s 7:00 A.M. my time, I didn’t even bother entering the first few days. I get ready for school at that time and felt entering a contest was not high priority. Last Thursday though, I was running ahead of schedule. I noticed it was 7:04 and thought I would give it a shot.

I tried for a few minutes but kept getting an error message, presumably because thousands of other people were also trying to enter. I was ready to give up, and thought, “I’ll give it one more shot.”  That one more shot won me a gift card.

I was pretty excited. The amount of the gift card was a secret. They don’t tell you the amount until you have placed your online order and are ready to check out. After reading the comments on the Victoria’s Secret Facebook page, I assumed I probably won a $10 gift card, since that is what all of the people were saying that they won.

Later that night, I was ready to go online and place an order and use my $10 gift card. I wanted to order something for daughter Kay. Thinking that I would just buy something for ten bucks, then pay the additional tax and shipping myself, I started looking for ten dollar items. Any of you who have ever shopped at Victoria’s Secret know that means my options were limited. I finally decided on body wash. I called daughter Em, who knows these kinds of things, and asked her which fragrance Kay might like. She suggested a few and I added the body wash to my “shopping cart.”

I entered all my shipping information and got to the section where I had to enter my gift card number. I also had our personal card information ready since I knew I would be responsible for paying anything over the $10.  With tax and shipping, my body wash came to $16.99.  I looked at the total, expecting to see that I owed $6.99.  I was wrong.

Instead, I read this, “Your gift card covers your entire purchase. No additional payment is necessary. Your new gift card balance is $483.01.”

I read it over a few times, sure that I had made a mistake. When I realized I was not dreaming, nor breathing, I called Em back. I was hoping that she would be kind enough to come over to my house and help me use up my $500. She graciously accepted. She drove right over. In her pajamas. That’s my girl.

Now anyone who knows me knows that I do not have a figure conducive to shopping at VS. My daughters however, do. Merry Christmas, angels.

Over the next three and a half hours, Em and I sat online poring over that website. We got Kay and Gnome on the phone, requesting their help in spending the $500. They were also happy to oblige. Okay, “happy” is too mild. “Delirious” probably covers it better. 

Em, being the consummate online shopper, used her eagle eye to discern that I also got free shipping because my order was over $25, and an additional $25 off because my order was over $150.  Twenty-seven items later, I logged off. If anyone needs help navigating the Victoria’s Secret website, just call me. I know that website top to bottom. My order came to $497.44. Whew. I felt accomplished.

A few days later, I am still in shock.  I keep checking status on my order, to make sure that it’s real. I am so grateful to Victoria’s Secret for their generosity. I looked at their site and found that out of the 100,000 cards they are giving away, only 82 were the $500 cards. And what did my dear husband have to say about all this?

“Now can you go win me something from Cabelas?”


Friday, November 25, 2011

Giving Thanks

I’ve spent the last two days with family and friends, feeling the gratitude that the Thanksgiving holiday was meant to inspire. How about you? Did you get to spend some time with your loved ones? Or maybe take a rest and relaxation break?

A list of things that I am grateful for has been running through my mind the past couple of days. Like most everyone, I am grateful for the biggies. I also am grateful for the silly little things that make life enjoyable. I call them The Biggies and The Littles. If you like, I’ll share that list with you.  Do I hear begging? Oh, all right. Here ya go.

The Biggies

I am grateful for the influence of God in my life. Too many miracles have happened for me to ignore His hand. My life, and my son’s life, have both been saved in miraculous ways. I have frequently prayed for food to feed my kids during desperate times and it showed up on my doorstep. I avoided a car crash when my vehicle and the other involved “floated” through each other instead of colliding. Many times I have lost things and after praying heard a voice in my head clearly telling me where to find the lost item. I hate to think of my life without His presence.

Family.  I have an amazing husband who just about every day tells me in one way or another that he thinks I’m beautiful. I actually feel pretty around him. He helps with dishes and laundry.  He does things with my son, who is not his own. He is easy going and rarely gets mad, except at politicians. 

My oldest daughter is a Godsend to me. She is kind, caring, thoughtful, loving, intelligent and is one of my best friends. 

My second daughter is my sweet baby girl who makes me laugh (always has!) with her goofy antics. She is a hard worker has been able to read my mind on several occasions, then state my thoughts out loud. 

My son is an affectionate boy who is nearly as goofy as his big sister. He tells me every day that he loves me, and tries to be a good teenager.

My step-kids, grandkids, dad, brother, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws of all kinds, and people I’ve adopted are all a joy to me. Yeah, they’re grouped together in a list, but each and every one is loved.

I have the best friends in the world (many of whom are included in the family section.) My friends are always thoughtful and sensitive and considerate and look out for my well-being. I don’t know what I did to be blessed by having such amazing people care about me, but I am grateful.

Soldiers. I might not agree with every war or every cause that sends these men and women into battle, but I’m sure they don’t either. Yet, they sacrifice their time, their family lives, their interests and hobbies, and in a lot of cases their lives, for our nation and ultimately, for me. Some of them are so very young. I could not do what they do.

Being Female. I like being a girl. I don’t know how God decides who gets to be male and who gets to be female, but I’m glad I am what I am.

Kindness. There are so many kind people in the world. Just look up “random acts of kindness” on the internet and you will be amazed.  Here’s a project for you if you want to play along. This week, do one of the following:
*Tape 50 cents to a gumball machine along with a note that says, “Have a ball!”   
*Send a thank-you card to someone.
*Compliment a grocery store cashier. “Thank you for double-bagging that for me,” or something similar.

As I watch the Black Friday insanity, I am grateful that I don’t have to fight my way through a crowd for basic life necessities. Today people fought like lionesses over a gazelle carcass for $2 waffle irons and DVD’s and video games.  People in other countries have fought the same way over bread or water. I am grateful I have the luxury right now, and believe me it is truly a luxury, to stay in my home and let the degenerates fight it out among themselves.

The Littles

Funny things kids say.  And do. They bring humor to an adult’s sometimes tedious life.

Tomatoes. I eat them plain. I drink them in juice. They are in my spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce and chili. My undisputed favorite food.

People who can sing. I can’t. I count on those of you who can to make my life pleasant.Are you listening Josh?

The internet. Learning has always been a great joy in my life and thanks to the internet, any kind of knowledge I would like to pursue is at my fingertips.

Cameras. I love taking pictures. As I get older, and more and more memories crowd my brain, photographs help me remember what happened in my life.

Getting mail other than a bill. I love postcards, letters, free samples, things I’ve ordered, catalogs, and cards.

Jeopardy. I consider it a good night if I can get five answers right. I am convinced that Alex Trebek is the world’s smartest man. He knows everything and can correctly pronounce every word. I think he should play on the show sometime.

Peonies. Best smelling flower ever. And that shade of pink is magical.

Vicks Vapo-rub. It, along with white noise, helps get this allergy-girl to sleep every night.

Pens. Love them. Markers, highlighters, ballpoints, gels, watercolors, it mattereth not. I love them all. In fact, my former boss once bought me a Palm Pilot to replace my Franklin Planner. I stopped using it because I couldn’t color in my schedule entries or doodle all over the page.

Writing. I don’t know what else to do.

Beaches. Sand. Water. Sun.Aah.

Iowa. It’s too humid in the summer. It’s numbingly cold in the winter. But its color-splashed springs and crisp autumns, along with the nice people, twang my heart chords.

Humor. People with a good sense of humor are so attractive. Not the slapstick kind—can’t stand it—but a fine verbal wit. George Carlin. Jack Handey. Robert Brault. And—is anyone looking?—Monty Python.

Words. They way they feel on my tongue. They way they can formulate an image in my mind. The way they stab the exact meaning I am trying to convey. Here are some of my favorites:  Synergy. Poignant. Persephone. Serendipity. Eloquent. Archipelago. Evanescent.  And this phrase from Warren Zevon: Little old lady got mutilated late last night.

Now that I’ve made my list of The Biggies and The Littles, I am confident that I will start thinking of all the ones I forgot. I reserve the right to keep adding.

What are some of your Littles?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I Learned it on Pinterest! Amazing Hair Hacks

Imagine with me, two scenarios.

1. Your family is experiencing financial hardship due to unemployment, or illness, or all seven of your kids being in college at once. You need a haircut, but can't afford the $45 to go get your long hair layered. What do you do?

2. The power has gone out due to a snowstorm. You know you have to go to work tomorrow regardless, but are worried that the power will still be out in the morning so you won't be able to curl your hair. What do you do?

Well thanks to Pinterest , I have learned that the solutions to these two problems are very simple.

Solution 1. Layer your own hair

Solution 2. 
Cut the toe off an old sock to make a hair scrunchy
Put your hair into a pony tail using a hair band
Take the old sock and make a sock bun in the manner shown in the video, misting your hair with water first.
Sleep on it.
Take out the sock bun in the morning and fluff up your curls!

Now you didn't think I would post these tips on my blog without trying them first, did you? Yesterday, I cut my hair into layers using Solution 1, then curled my hair overnight using Solution 2.

Are you ready for the results?

Layered, curled and ready to go on a Sunday morning.

I talked to a hairdresser friend tonight who was familiar with the layering technique.She learned it in cosmetology school, but they can't use it. Because then who would pay $45 for a hair cut? 

Don't throw away those holey socks!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Road Not Taken--or Taken, Then Given Back

On daughter Em’s birthday, I asked her brother Weston about his favorite memory of Em. Almost without hesitation, he proclaimed, “The time she gave me the road blanket.”

When Em was a teenager, she received an anonymous Christmas gift of a large warm quilt. The colors on it were very gaudy, so she brought it out mainly on cold winter nights. Usually, it could be found tucked in her closet. Em’s taste in decorating is very classic and her color choices lie in tans, beiges, browns, and golds. The quilt of many colors just didn’t “go” with anything else in her bedroom. It’s warmth factor could not be denied though, and when the temperature dipped, out came the quilt.

Little brother Weston was fascinated by the designs on the quilt. Often he would ask Em if he could use her quilt as a “road” for his tiny cars. He dragged out this quilt so frequently that he began referring to it as “my road,” as in “Em, can I play with my road?”  Being the sweet big sister that she was, she usually obliged.

She obliged, that is, until the day she moved out.

The scene in the kitchen was heart-rending. Em was moving out, as children tend to do when they get married. The quilt was in the process of being transported to her new home. I will never forget the look in young Weston’s eyes as the realization hit—his road was going bye-bye.

“No!” he screamed. “You can’t take my road!” The young boy was out of control, pleading and grabbing on to the quilt so it would not be moved. Em struggled to get it out of his grip, and being moved by his grief I encouraged her to leave it behind for him to play with. She would not be swayed, and why should she?  The quilt was hers, given to her as a gift.

Weston was inconsolable over the next couple of days. Whenever he would think about it, he would wail, “My road…”  Just as frequently he wailed about the fact that his sister cruelly decided to live with her new husband instead of with us. He was a miserable tot.

One day, when Weston and I had gotten home from errands, he went into his bedroom and started yelling. “My road, my road!” I went to his room and found the quilt, neatly folded on his bed.

On top of the quilt was a note.

“To my brother, because I love you.
You probably need this blanket more than I do.
I love you, my handsome.”

To this day, I cannot get him to give up the quilt, though he no longer uses it as a road.

A young Weston, playing with cars on his "road"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happy Birthday, Em!

Twenty eight years ago today, I held a newborn princess in my arms. I thought she was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen in the entire world. Although I had first laid eyes on her only moments before, I knew that it would be sad for me to spend even one day apart from her. Luckily, she was mine.

Baby Em (you all know that’s not her real name, right?) was a perfect child from the start. She was always smiling (except for those first horrendous weeks before we discovered she had a milk allergy) and went around trying to please her parents. The first time she scribbled on the wall with crayon, I told her that we don’t color on walls, we color on paper. She said, “Okay,” and never colored on the walls again.

Em has pretty much been that way her whole life, always seeking to do the right thing, and to be a good example. I’ll share a few of my favorite “Em”ories with you:

*She was able to speak well at a very young age. At age two, when we would drive past an ad for Coke, she would say, “Ch-ch-ch-ch-Cherry Coke—Outrageous!”  (That was their slogan.)

*She noticed everything. Once, at age 2 ½, she was watching television with her Grandma. She excitedly said, “The Statue of Liberty!” when she saw it on TV, then followed it by saying, “There’s the President,” when Ronald Reagan appeared on the screen.

*“Mommy, I can’t sniff very well.” I finally figured out that she had stuck a raisin up her nose, which required a trip to the doctor.

*When she was three, our extended family ate dinner at a nice restaurant. A man played classical music on the piano while we ate. Em took the opportunity to dance around, whirling in her dress. When the music stopped and the audience applauded, Em looked around in surprise and bowed.

*When she was 2 ½, her dad was washing some clothes with Woolite. Em said casually, “I’ve switched to Delicare.”

*She wanted me to read Sleeping Beauty when she was three. I told her I would be there in a minute and she said, “C’mom, fat chickie!”

*At a restaurant, her Grandma offered to accompany her to the bathroom. As they walked away from the table hand-in-hand, we heard Em say loudly, “Grandma? Do you know how to wipe?”

*When she went to kindergarten, her teacher told me that she kept trying to encourage Em to play with the other kids, “She just wants to hang out and converse with the teachers.”

*At age six she was as tall as the eleven and twelve-year-old boys at the day care center.

*At her grade school, the faculty decided to start a good citizenship award for those students who exemplified good behavior. The principal told me that they were choosing her to be their first recipient.

*She had fun modeling for Sears as a pre-teen, and got to do some runway shows and mannequin modeling.

*As a teenager, she devoted most of her spare time to taking care of her baby brother, Weston, while I worked. I am forever grateful for all the hard work she did, helping me to keep house.

*She surprised me with tickets to a Riverdance performance.

*She paid for her sister, Kay, to come here for Christmas one year.

*She has given me adorable grandchildren and an amazing son-in-law.

I could go on and on with her awesomeness and how lucky I was to give birth to such a caring, intelligent, generous, happy girl, but I don’t want to make everyone jealous, so onward with the pictures!

 This is one of my favorite pics of Em--on the beach in the Philippines

Em with Hubby and son, Avatar

 In the forest with Chunk, who wears her face

 More Philippines photos

With sister, Kay
Happy Birthday to the the first person who called me Mom!

Check in tomorrow for Weston's report on his favorite memory of Em

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Robert Brault Blog Hop

Those of you who have been readers of this blog for any length of time know that I am a huge Robert Brault fan. I have mentioned him several times in various blog posts, plus his quote graces the top of this blog. Permanently. Unless I someday change it to another Robert Brault quote.

Becky Povich of Writer Searching for Bliss is also a huge rb fan. [People who hang out on Robert’s website know that he signs everything “rb.” The mere fact that we know that is like some sort of notch on the belt of Brault fan-ness.]  Becky is hosting a Robert Brault blog-hop and has invited me to play along. Since you all know I idolize rb, I agreed.

I won’t spend a lot of time telling you why I think RobertBrault’s work is the ultimus maximus of quote-dom. Simply go here for unabashed adulation. I will however steal some of the quotes from his site and plaster them right here for all to see. My favorites run in the hundreds, so it was difficult to pick just a few. Enjoy.

“What you don't realize as a kid is that if your parents are always going to be there for you, they aren't going to be somewhere else doing exciting and glamorous things."

"There are things about myself I would never reveal.  You'd have to waterboard me -- or there would have to be a lull in the conversation at a cocktail party."

"Never point a finger where you never lent a hand."

"When you speak, always tell the truth.  But don't always speak."

"If you don't decide what your life is about, it defaults to what you spend your days doing."

"Arriving at church for services, we leave our toddlers in the basement child care center and proceed upstairs -- as if God were likely to be upstairs."

“If you allow people to treat you like a doormat, they will expect you to say WELCOME."

"I would love to go back and travel the road not taken, if I knew at the end of it I'd find the same set of grandkids."

“You think you know someone, and then at their memorial service, a stranger comes in, sits for ten minutes alone, speaks to no one, and quietly leaves."

"You don't realize how little accuracy there is in network TV reporting until they cover a story in your hometown."

"You'll never have a more enjoyable Italian meal than on the Saturday night after Thanksgiving."

"Often, what seems an impossible climb is just a staircase without the steps drawn in."

"My wife has noted two road habits of mine -- a tendency to belittle the driving skills of truckers and a tendency to follow an 18-wheeler in a dense fog."

And because I have the greatest of respect for any man who publicly adores his wife, I will end with one of his most tender quotes.

A Thought for Joan Marie
"One day, in your search for happiness, you discover a partner by your side, and you realize that your happiness has come to help you search."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Time to Clean the Wax from my Elderly Ears

Weston and I were idly chatting as he was getting ready for bed.  Then he asked me a question that gave me brain freeze.

"Why do people think that breeding is fun?"

Quick, Randi. Think of an answer that gives him the information he is seeking, without overwhelming him. You want him to feel free to ask such questions in the future, yet you don't want to embarrass him or make him feel uncomfortable. Start off with sparse information, then let him guide the conversation.

"Well it usually starts off with having a love for children. Children bring a lot of joy and happiness to people."

He scrunched up his freckled face and said, "Huh?"

"Well, it can be fun because people want to have children--"

"Mom, what did you think I asked you?"

"Um, why do people think that breeding is fun?"

"No, I said "Why do people think that reading is fun?"

Whew. That one's a lot easier to explain.

Friday, November 11, 2011

If you must say it, Say it on the Wall!

A few weeks ago, I was on a site called While He Was Napping. While there, I entered a contest to win $20 worth of vinyl, for use on walls or signs or ceramic tiles or...whatever!

I have been in the homes of other people where I saw nifty quotes on the wall, and have always admired the look and the way it really personalizes a home. People use sayings from favorite authors, or from their wedding vows, or from a favorite song, you name it!  Because the price of a vinyl printing machine is a little cost-prohibitive for me right now, I lusted from afar, and crossed my fingers when entering the contest.

Oh, did I tell you I won?

The contest sponsor was none other than:

I spent a couple of hours over the course of two nights, trying to decide how I wanted to use my gift certificate. I finally decided on these two:

I will adhere this one on either my front door or mailbox. Maybe both!

Of course the vinyl will be my own last name and established date. Since I lack any sort of creativity on my own, I will probably try to make a wooden sign similar to this with my vinyl.

They also allow you to customize any saying that means something to you, in a variety of sizes, fonts, and colors. I picked a personalized saying as well as the above two selections. I was very pleased with the speed with which they processed my order, even though I was a "freebie" customer. They also did a great job of verifying my customized order before sending it out.

Although I didn't select the samples below, they are some of my favorites:

Perfect for Thanksgiving!

I love this one--Shut the Door! (How many times a day do we say this?)

As you can see, the possibilities are only limited by your creativity (which I why I am so glad they provide lots of amazing photos!) Check out their site to see the many options, and to purchase vinyl for your own home or for Christmas projects with meaning. And if you end up spending hours browsing, like I did, don't say I didn't warn you!  *smile*

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

30 Days of Joy...............Day 30!

Oh, if only I could do life the way I do my blog.

Thirty days would only happen when I blog about them. Time would move slower. Children would stay at that precious age where they still ask you to scratch their backs. I wouldn't watch the news and hear them say, "An elderly man was struck and killed by a Trax train today."

He was fifty-seven. In what world is fifty-seven elderly? In five years and one month I will be fifty-seven! Puh-lease.

Fifty-seven will only happen when I get around to blogging about it.

Kind of like my thirty days of joy. Come on, you didn't think that my thirty days of joy would actually last thirty days, did you?

So for the last day of joy, I bring you the cause of much happiness in my life today.  Firefox 8. Yeah, baby.

A few weeks ago I downloaded Firefox 7. I supposed at the time, that it would come with all kinds of slick new features. Features like being able to use it to browse the internet, check my email, oh and maybe even BLOG.  Nope.  Firefox 7 came with a very annoying new feature. It is called "Not Responding."

You know how when your kids are little they think that if they hide their faces, you can't see them? Or when you try to get them to do something they stick their fingers in their ears and say, "Not listening."  Firefox 7 was kind of like that.

If I tried to read an email, it would say, "Oh, did you select that email?  Ha ha! Not listening!"  Or when I would visit the blogs of some of my very favorite bloggy friends, it would freeze all activity on my computer and say, "What did you want me to do? Work? Sorry...lah dee dah...I'm in my hammock right now."

When I tried to post something new I would get the "Not Responding" out-of-office memo.  I didn't much like Firefox 7.

So today when I got a message asking me if I wanted to update to Firefox 8 to fix "stability issues," I wasted no time weighing out the pros and cons. There were no cons. It was easy.

Nevertheless, I did have some joy all those days I couldn't post about it.

Computer Geek had a birthday.
They cancelled school this week due to a chicken pox outbreak.
There's tomato juice in the fridge.
I won a $20 gift certificate to Say it on the Wall. (Uber cool vinyl site--I'll post pics when I get my product.)
Weston came out of his room dressed for bed wearing red shorts and socks.
Gal pal Ekanela tucked a little candy corn surprise in my door.

Yeah, life is good when you're elderly.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

30 Days of Joy...............Day 29

You know it's a joyous day in the Quang household when the lady of the house gets something F*R*E*E in the mail!

I was notified by Carol at Songberries a couple of weeks ago that I had won a book in an online contest. It arrived today!              

Yup. You read it correctly.
THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO VEGETABLE GARDENING!  I promise you, there was no more worthy contestant than I. This book knows me. When it was dreaming of possible new owners, my name immediately jjjjjjjjjjj  [ <---- see that> That's where I feel asleep mid-sentence. No lie. I think I'll leave it just like that.]                                                                                      

Visit Songberries, sign up for their fun giveaways, and let me know if you get some free joy in the mail too!


30 Days of Joy...............Day 28

Today I heard one of the most joyous sounds known to man--

--the thumping washing-machine sound of a nine-week-old heart beating.

I was fortunate to be invited to daughter Em's ultrasound. 

Only nine weeks and a tiny heart has already started the journey that will cause it to beat for the next seventy or eighty years, second-by-second, without fail.

Through the miracle of the ultrasound screen, I witnessed the rapid thump in the baby's chest, blinking like a lighthouse beam, and drawing our eyes toward the miracle that we call life.

Only the size of a grape, and already I love it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

30 Days of Joy...............Day 27

The Queen of Quang waited a whole week to upload another joy post for which of the following reasons:

A. She has been spending her time dipping her toes into the pristine aquamarine waters off the dock in front of a rental bungalow in Bora Bora.

B. She was busy preparing for her favorite holiday of the year, Halloween, and was hoping to spread the joy posts out so that the last day coincides with October 31.

C. She has been swamped with dehydrating, freezing, and canning tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, apples, peppers, salsa, and squash. Did I mention apples?  Oh yeah, and apples. And more carrots.

Which one did you pick?

A. Nope. It will take me a couple of decades of devoted couponing to accomplish this feat.
B. Another nope. I hate Halloween! More on this controversial subject in another post.
C. Aw, you peeked at my gray hair and fruit-stained fingernails, didn't you? Or did you hear me utter these words a few days ago, "I can't wait for winter."

Seriously, although preserving food is a colossal pain in the patootie, I am grateful that we have been blessed with an abundance. And even though I have to spend my days being someone I am not, i.e. a domestic diva, I am confident that this coming winter, having food to eat will make all the stress (oh, trust me, canning food is stressful) worth it.

Let's bring on the joy!  Today's joy is brought to you by...

The color yellow!

The last time I recall wearing yellow, I was in college and had bought a bright yellow ski jacket. Not that I've ever skied. (Shhh...don't tell Utah, home of the greatest snow on earth, that I said that.) Since then, I have never purposely bought any yellow clothes.

That doesn't stop yellow from being the most joyous color ever! (Shh..don't tell purple--it thinks that because it's my favorite color, I can't say anything nice about any other color.)

My yellow back yard

Someone's random yellow tree

Em's happy yellowness


Happy yellow grandson with a toddler-proof indoor basketball

Lemons are such a happy fruit, despite their ability to make us pucker


The nice thing about yellow pens, is that they never run out--
what can you really use them for besides highlighting?

Teenage joy--the trampoline

Sign joy---for William

I meant to take a picture of that yellow boy joy toy known as TONKA, 
but some yellow-haired two-year-old distracted me.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

30 Days of Joy...............Day 26

It wasn't hard to find joy today.

Adopted grandson, Dash, turned 14 today. He's one heck of a nice kid.

I had to stop and take a picture of this bush. 
It was having a "Celebrate Autumn" party so I captured the festivities.

My lovely daughter, Em,  told me I can FINALLY let people
know that the Chunkster is no longer her youngest child.
It was getting exhausting keeping the secret.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

30 Days of Joy...............Day 25

My bloggy friend, Naqvee, made me laugh today with her blog post about her addiction to Google. After I finishing LOL-ing, I read her post out loud to my husband and we laughed together. What did we find so amusing?  The fact that we could see ourselves in it. We too, are Google addicts, who must find the search bar whenever a new question pops into our minds.

What year did Leave it to Beaver start?
How much older was Wally than the Beave?
How far apart did Mother Teresa and Princess Diana die?
Is all nubuck non-vegan?
How can I make a tin-foil dinner?
Are there any coupons for raw sugar?
What are the ingredients in Bac~Os?
Can I find some recipes for a good cream of potato soup?
How do you can tomatoes in a water bath canner?

These are some of the questions that we Googled today. If you find Google to be a staple of your computer life, check out Naqvee's post.

Another thing that brings me joy is Kid History.  The Roberts brothers of Utah, have told their children many of the family stories from their own childhoods. As with many families, the stories get told over and over until they become family legends.  The brothers decided to let their children re-tell these family legends on camera. It becomes hilarious as the grown brothers reenact the stories from their childhood, but use the voices of their children. Give Kid History #1 a view. Follow-up with Kid History 2-6. 

My son and his friends have become masters at quoting the dialogue from the Kid History. Some of the snippets that I hear almost daily are:

"What else is about it?"
"I'm gonna punch your car!"
"You guys are gonna get kicked in the head."
"I yike yewow gwapes...and gween gwapes."

It's getting late so I'm going to ninja vanish. Check out Kid History #5 to see what I mean.

Friday, October 14, 2011

30 Days of Joy...............Day 24




30 Days of Joy...............Day 23

Major joy happens when...

You get out of school early to go on a field trip! 

This trip was supposed to happen last week but was pre-empted by a sadistic snow storm. Today, a group of students and parents headed up to the world-famous Maple Canyon.

You may think I jest, because you know my sarcastic sense of humor by now, and you know how I love to make fun of the armpit in which I live. But I tell you this---Maple Canyon is indeed world-famous.  Die-hard rock climbers from the world over will attest that it is a rock-climbing nirvana. Once I was in the grocery store in our little town of 3,000 or so souls, and heard the cashier chatting with some customers who sported classic German accents. The cashier asked them where they were from, to which they answered, predictably, "Germany."

When asked what brought them all the way from Germany, one of the group answered, "We came to go rock-climbing in Maple Canyon."

The school has a yearly trip to the canyon, during which the hardiest of students demonstrate their prowess by scaling a massive boulder strategically placed right in the middle of the path. The weakest among us, namely me and maybe one or two other people, say "To here I will go, but no farther."

Once the boulder is conquered, the party hikes on and is rewarded with a waterfall at the end of the path. I have never seen this waterfall, since I sit and wait by the obstacle in the road for everyone to come back down. There were many witnesses to the spectacle of my son climbing up the waterfall. Daughter Em claims it is well that I not make it past the boulder lest I have a heart attack watching Weston's gymnastics. She promises to send me a picture of the event. I am assured that after I see his monkey tricks I will never let him go to Maple Canyon again.

I was disappointed because my camera was having trouble adjusting to the light/dark contrast, so many of the pictures are hazy. Nevertheless, spending time surrounded by the beauty of God's world, never fails to bring me to a spiritual place of unspeakable joy.

Avatar snacking on some melon.

Weston, showing everyone how he can balance on his palms. Tricksy, eh?

Yeah, so someone's clothes apparently fell off and were hanging on the side of the canyon wall. Or maybe they're all that's left of some unfortunate climber.

How can you not have joy with a smiley face like that?

The path to the cave is steeper than it looks. The ascent proves your manhood, even if you are a woman.

Give a one-year-old a rock to hold and where does it go?

See the large boulder in the middle of the path? That is NOT the large boulder in the middle of the path referenced above. This one is simply a minor annoyance. You must either go under it or over it to keep going. I went under it going in, then over it going out. This is the "small" boulder and it is probably about twenty feet high. It is easier to go under, but very claustrophobic.

These walls sport dozens of carabiners left by previous hikers. Although hard to see, there is a silver one hanging directly above the "navel" in the rock and slightly to the right. There are more higher up to the left of the navel. The canyon is full of apparent dead-ends, until you get right to the "end" and see the path continues between the walls. 


I really wanted to adopt this purple rock and give it a new home in my backyard, but this particular section of Maple Canyon is privately owned and taking it would be stealing. 

Weston and one of his best buddies. Yeah. A best buddy who is beautiful, blond, shapely, and female. Should I be worried?
Entrance to the canyon. As you can see, it's not for the weak of sole.
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