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.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

30 Days of Joy...............Day 22

My heart was touched with joy today for many reasons.

Weston complained that he thought his uvula was bleeding (it wasn't) and went on to ask me, "What is the purpose of a uvula, anyway?" I thought it was great that he knows what a uvula is. A lot of people don't.

Chunk, who calls both Computer Geek and me "Grandpa," finally learned how to say "Grandma."  He was excited today because he saw our car and started yelling, "Grandma!"  Alas, it was Grandpa this time. Maybe all grandparents should go by the unisex name, "Grandpire," so there's no confusion for two-year-olds.

Someone complimented my friend, Ekanela. I love it when people compliment her because she is way cool.

A whole bunch of green tomatoes that I picked last week during our snowstorm have now turned red. My salivary glands are activated.

And finally, one of my joyous moments is accompanied by a photograph.(You didn't really want photos of Weston's uvula or my salivary glands, did you?)

I was called upon to escort Avatar and Pinque to their horse-riding class. I'm glad that they are learning to ride and groom horses. At least they won't be fauna-phobes like their grandma. 
(Pinque in orange shirt and Avatar in red)

No, that's all right, I don't want to touch it. I'll just stand back over here and take pictures, mkay? Animals sense my fear and will do anything to prove that it's justified.

30 Days of Joy...............Day 21

Hello...it's me...the joy slacker.  I will blame it on the fact that I have been busy harvesting garden items. Since I am a city girl at heart, and have no experience with preserving food, being a farmer (of my yard) has taken its toll. I get far too little sleep and have actually been heard to say, "I can't wait until winter!"  My dehydrator is running non-stop, I have canned a few (very few) items, and my freezer is so full that getting an ice cube becomes a project worthy of extensive plotting on an Excel spreadsheet.

Late though it is, I couldn't let this day go by (remember my rule, that it's still technically the same day as long as I haven't gone to bed yet) without mentioning an especially joyous moment from earlier today.

Remember the special mom I told you about in my first joy post? She and her husband and kids dropped by tonight to express their condolences over the loss of Computer Geek's mother. Stopping by to express their concern was such a beautifully sweet act, but they also came bearing gifts and cards. Each child crafted his or her own sentiment on a hand-made card; they were words of heart-felt sympathy. What valuable gifts this mom and dad have given their children--the gifts of being able to feel the pain of another human being, and of being able to act on that sympathy with deeds of compassion.

These are no empty acts, either. The kids truly have love and concern in their young hearts. They radiate joy and happiness. I am honored to know this family, and thank them for the joy they have brought to my life, not only on this occasion, but on so many others, as well.  

I was kicking myself tonight because I went to the store and forgot to buy tomato juice. No worries. My pals have got my back!  The apple bread (from apples right off their tree!) no longer looks like this. There's a big chunk missing--oh, for yumminess!

Thank you for the gifts, the cards, the lovely acts of compassion, but most of all, for your friendship.

Friday, October 7, 2011

30 Days of Joy...............Day 20

Gather closely, for today I am going to tell you about one of the things that brings me joy nearly each and every day. When I wake up in the morning, I must have this. When I am blogging late at night, I crave this. When I don't have it, I get cranky.  When my husband gives me more of this, he gets a hug.

Are you ready?

Here it is...

Isn't it beautiful? I could weep...

It's my coffee, my oxygen, my chocolate.  Oh, wait---chocolate is my chocolate. Let me think of something else that other people are addicted to...thinking...thinking... Okay, it's my Grey's Anatomy.  While you're watching Dr. Dreamy, I'm sipping the poor man's Cabernet Sauvignon (some other "red" drink.) 

It used to be $1.18 at Walmart, so I would buy five or so cans at a time. Then, Mr. Walmart Manager realized that the tomato juice shelves are emptied almost as quickly as they are stocked, so he said to himself, "Hey, I studied the law of supply and demand in college. I think we could charge way more than $1.18 for this stuff. People are buying it like crazy!" So the very next week he upped the price to $1.62. 

(Don't believe the news anchors when they tell you that food prices are spiraling out of control at 4%. It's a big fat lie to make you say to yourself, "Oh, 4% isn't that much." I took math in college, Mr. Walmart Manager so I know that a 44 cent increase in price in one week is more like a 40% increase in food prices. I think. I'm right, aren't I?) 

Because I also took marketing in college, I know that at $1.18 my brain says, "This can of t.j. is like a dollar. I can get five."  But, when the t.j. is $1.62 my brain says, "Holy Schnikey; this can of juice is almost two bucks! That makes it more expensive than Dr. Pepper. I'd better get only two cans." 

I've tried to cut back on my tomato juice consumption, but then I get sad. I don't like being sad, so I buy my two cans, then later in the week go back for more. In fact, I bought two cans today while shopping, one of which is chilling as I type. It's my reward after I finish this post. Off I go, for a little tomato intoxication.

[ Obligatory government-enforced disclaimer:  Even though my blood runs thick with Campbell's tomato juice, the Campbell's company did not pay me to gush on and on and on about their product. I like it even without getting paid to like it. In fact, I get pretty irritated with them because they NEVER EVER have coupons for said product, so I always pay full price, which you know grates on me to no end. (What about generic tomato juice? Wouldn't that be lots cheaper? Don't even go there.)  However, if you click on the Amazon link below and actually buy some tomato juice, then I am forced to tell you that I would get paid a small, small, small cash bonus, that would only go toward supporting my habit.You wanna be responsible for feeding the junkie, go right ahead.]

Thursday, October 6, 2011

30 Days of Joy...............Day 19

I'm going to say this through clenched teeth--grrr--the fact that it snowed all day indirectly brought me some joy.

There. I said it, and without too much joy credit being given to the global warming that caused our field trip to be cancelled today.

The nice thing about it SNOWING ALL DAY was that it gave me an excuse to invite my firstborn grandchild over to see if Weston had any outgrown snow pants that he could pass on.

Just think what he'll look like when it really gets cold.

I wish I had saved some of that hot chocolate now that it's midnight and my house is freezing.

The snow caused me to have to go rip up my garden so I got to 
deal with veggies that come in my favorite color!

If you need an excuse to be reminded of all the joyous things for which you should be grateful, go rent the movie, "17 Miracles."  It's about pioneers who walked to Utah and the many miraculous events that took place amidst the suffering. 

If you have a cardiac muscle beating in your chest, then you will cry.  It made me remember that as chilly as my house feels right now because of the unwelcome snow, it could be lots worse.

Off I go to huddle under some warm blankets, praying for those who are outside in this cold weather tonight.

30 Days of Joy...............Day 18

Okay, so I skipped a few days of joy.

I will justify my slackerliness with a worthy excuse. Computer Geek's sweet mother died on Monday and we haven't been feeling the joy. Now that we are over the initial shock, I can realize that there is joy to be found in the midst of sorrow.  I'll let the photos of the past few days do most of the speaking for me.

Our first ever piece of corn from our garden. Not quite Iowa corn, but we were proud nonetheless.

I'll call this one "Clouds."

Oh, the studliness of using two racquets when playing racquetball.

Got chocolate soy milk?

Joy is having a nice husband.

Helicopters! If you were ever a child, you know what I mean.

Grandchild, who wears my daughter's face. Apple, hand-picked from our tree by the two-year-old. Play pan. Backyard swing. Crisp fall afternoon. A brief respite from the agony of death.

1 thirteen-year-old + any machine with a motor = happiness

Now that's one po-ta-to. Boil it, mash it, stick it in a stew. Name that movie quote.

Monday, October 3, 2011

National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Today we welcome the insights of author Madonna Dries Christensen. Royalties from several of her books go to the Down Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia.

No-Barriers Friendship 
Madonna Dries Christensen 

Photo Credit: Suzanne Garwood

You meet people who forget you.
You forget people you meet.
You meet people you can't forget.
Those are your friends.

        At the age of twenty-eight months, my granddaughter Sarah, laden with a pink backpack almost as big as she was, eagerly boarded the school bus to begin the early intervention program for children with developmental delays. She was in the class for two-year-olds, which merged for activities with three-to-five-year-olds. There, Sarah met Connor. They were immediately drawn to one another.
        Both children have Down syndrome. They now attend different public schools, integrated into regular classrooms; Sarah in Second Grade and Connor in Third. They each have many friends; typical children as well as those in their Special Ed classes. But for the most part, it’s Sarah and Connor—Connor and Sarah.
When together, they walk hand-in-hand. If they have a chance encounter, they both gasp with surprise and fall into a hug. Aim a camera at them and they smile and cuddle. If they haven’t seen each other for a while, they beg their mothers to schedule a play date. When parting, they cry and hug and wave goodbye until the other is out of sight.
        Mention Down syndrome in conversation and chances are someone will comment that people with DS are very loving. This is well-intentioned, perhaps compensation for not knowing what else to say. Many people with DS do indeed demonstrate a loving attitude and are extremely sociable, but they also experience the same wide range of emotions as anyone else. They are not always happy and they do not have identical personalities.
        Sarah has an easy smile and an infectious charm. She’s the unofficial goodwill ambassador at school; students and teachers greet her when she walks down the hall. Both she and Connor are polite and sweet to everyone, but neither is as affectionate to other playmates as they are to one another. Theirs is a special friendship and love.
        Sarah refers to Connor as, “My boy.” And he recently declared to her, “I love you. You’re a doll. Now, you love me!” 
        No one who knows this pair will be surprised if they one day announce their engagement. Short of that, they are soul mates. Best friends forever. 

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