Monday, November 28, 2011

This is why I can't use a Palm Pilot

I'd get marker all over the screen

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.
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