Tuesday, December 25, 2012

26 Acts of Kindness

    I’ve been inspired this week by a nation-wide project that was fueled by NBC journalist, Ann Curry. In response to the horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary school on December 14, she asked her Twitter followers a “what if” question. What if each person vowed to do twenty acts of kindness, one for each child killed that day?

    Her question spawned a movement to do twenty-six acts of kindness in honor of the teachers and children. Some people are doing twenty-seven acts, including the shooter’s mother in the victim list. [Some don’t include her because she was shot at home and not at the school.] A Facebook page has been set up where participants can list their good deeds, not for acknowledgement, but to inspire others with good ideas for “random acts of kindness.”

    There’s a tendency to feel helpless and vulnerable when evil acts are perpetrated on the innocent, especially when the victims are children. For a few days, I was discouraged. The thought of a small child watching his classmates get gunned down, knowing his turn was coming, was more than I could bear. As a former teacher, I imagined what those teachers felt, knowing that they were acting as human shields for their students. Did they know their selflessness might buy those children only a second or two? Did they hope that maybe those two seconds might save the life of at least one child?

    It depressed me. I felt like evil had won and was laughing at all of us in triumph. But a slow burning determination took hold. I would not let this event discourage me.  The twenty six/seven acts of kindness seemed a way to show that no matter how much evil was present in the world, it had no power to take the light out of my life unless I allowed it.

    Below is the list of the twenty-seven victims. Will you join me in doing acts of kindness in their names? If you do an act of kindness on behalf of one of these people, will you leave what you did and in whose name in the comment section? I will then copy and paste it next to their names. [If you prefer to be anonymous, please email me at foreignquang@gmail.com and I will withhold your name from public view. Blogger generally sees it as spam if you mark your comment as anonymous.]  I will post your act of kindness next to the name of the person you chose. You may choose more than one, and if people pick the same name that’s okay too.

    Many people are leaving notes with their act of kindness, letting the recipient know in whose name the kindness was bestowed. If you need ideas check out the Facebook page.

Emilie Parker, 05/12/06, female (age 6) I will start off with Emilie Parker, who recently moved to Connecticut from Utah. We bought a jumbo Hershey bar and left it in the mail box for our mail carrier, along with a note.
Charlotte Bacon, 2/22/06, female (age 6) I have a friend who is housebound for the New Year's holiday so I took her some chips and pop so she can celebrate at home with her children.
Daniel Barden, 9/25/05, male (age 7)
Olivia Engel, 7/18/06, female (age 6)
Josephine Gay, 12/11/05, female (age 7) Auntie M. had in her possession a yellow kitchen bowl that belonged to her mother. She sent this 50+ year old bowl to her niece, who had never met this grandmother, and who will treasure it beyond belief. She sent this heirloom to her niece in honor of Josephine Gay and Dylan Hockley.
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 04/04/06, female (age 6) Anonymous 3 knew of a family who had a very low food budget, so she delivered some essentials and goodies to the family in honor of Ana.
Dylan Hockley, 03/08/06, male (age 6)Auntie M. had in her possession a yellow kitchen bowl that belonged to her mother. She sent this 50+ year old bowl to her niece, who had never met this grandmother, and who will treasure it beyond belief. She sent this heirloom to her niece in honor of Josephine Gay and Dylan Hockley.
Madeleine F. Hsu, 07/10/06, female (age 6)
Catherine V. Hubbard, 06/08/06, female (age 6)
Chase Kowalski, 10/31/05, male (age 7) Weston had plans to shoot off some New Year's fireworks. He decided to invite along a boy from outside his normal circle of friends, one who doesn't get invited to many activities, then had him over for hot cocoa and cookies. He did this in honor of Chase Kowalski because he has a friend with that same first name.
Jesse Lewis, 06/30/06, male (age 6)
James Mattioli, 03/22/06, male (age 6)
Grace McDonnell, 11/04/05, female (age 7)
Jack Pinto, 05/06/06, male (age 6)
Noah Pozner, 11/20/06, male (age 6)
Caroline Previdi, 09/07/06, female (age 6)
Jessica Rekos, 05/10/06, female (age 6)
Avielle Richman, 10/17/06, female (age 6)
Benjamin Wheeler, 9/12/06, male (age 6) Pat gave $20 to a mother struggling to raise her children alone in honor of Benjamin Wheeler.
Allison N. Wyatt, 07/03/06, female (age 6) Pat gave $20 to a struggling family to help with household bills in honor of Allison.

Rachel Davino, 7/17/83, female (age 29) I took some Pillsbury frozen cookie dough over to my neighbor with a note that said, "Everyone could use a little dough for the holidays." I wanted to honor a teacher and chose to do it in Rachel Davino's name.
Dawn Hochsprung, 06/28/65, female (age 47)
Anne Marie Murphy, 07/25/60, female (age 52)
Lauren Russeau, 1982, female (age 29)
Mary Sherlach, 02/11/56, female (age 56) In honor of Mary Sherlach, Anonymous 2 took a plate of cookies over to her ex-husband's house because he was spending New Year's Eve alone.
Victoria Soto, 11/04/85, female (age 27)
Nancy Lanza  Anonymous paid the past-due mortgage for a couple who was soon to lose their home in honor of Nancy Lanza, because she is omitted from some Acts of Kindness lists.

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

“But remember, boy, that a kind act can sometimes be as powerful as a sword.”
~Rick Riordan, The Battle of the Labyrinth

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I Fell For It

I was not totally paying attention. There may have been several reasons.

*It was 1:00 A.M. and I was a little sleepy.

*The beautiful clouds over our lovely valley have been replaced by the unnatural grid pattern of chem trails.

*I'm old and not as sharp as I used to be.

Take your pick.

Whatever the reason, I caused son Weston no small amount of glee while saying goodnight.

Weston: Oh yuck! My room smells like updog.

Me: What's "updog"?

Weston: Oh, not much. What's up with you, dawg?

Did I not trick my own parents in such a manner when I was young?  "Look under there!"
"Under where?"
"Ha ha ha! You said 'underwear'!"

I need to start taking fish oil again.

The happy jokester with Avatar and Pinque

P.S. Weston doesn't have school today or he would not have been full of hijinks at 1:00 A.M.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fall Harvest

Yes, it's about time I put up my fall harvest post since it is...oh...DECEMBER! To be fair, because I am a stickler for such things, it is still autumn. Had I behaved as I normally do, I wouldn't have published this until December 21, thereby incriminating myself as a procrastinator. But I am on top of things this year or so I would like you to believe so below is proof that I am attempting to become more self-sufficient and to become less reliant on Stouffers for my family's nutritional needs.

In the past, I would readily plunk down $2+ for a box of peppermint tea. The new Randi scores live peppermint from her daughter's garden and makes her own tea! (Gardeners everywhere will tell you that peppermint is a wild child that will erupt spontaneously and take over your garden if you don't contain it. This is not true. In the five years that I have been planting peppermint, spearmint, and pineapple mint, I have yet to be able to keep a plant alive, hence the necessity to raid Em's garden where peppermint runs rampant.)

Canned potato soup? Pshaw! My friend and neighbor graciously unloaded a box of potatoes from her garden so I did what all domestic goddesses will do--I turned it into homemade potato soup! Technically, I guess you could still call it Campbell's potato soup since I spent 27 years of my life as a Campbell. (Did I mention that the reason my lovely neighbor shared her potatoes was because out of my 14 potato plants, my garden yielded roughly twenty golf ball sized potatoes? Yeah.)

So what do you do when you have twenty red Anaheim peppers that you are sure will spoil before you have the chance to eat them all? You dehydrate them, throw them in a blender, put them through a strainer, and call it cayenne! (The seeded residue after straining looks just like the contents of the hot pepper shaker at the pizza joint, so that's what we use it for.)

Progression of a frugalista:
1. Go out to eat for pizza. Realize eventually that it's too spendy so...
2. Start buying frozen pizza. Realize that it too is too spendy so...
3. Start making homemade pizza using pizza sauce from the grocery store. That becomes too spendy so...
4. Make homemade pizza using homemade pizza sauce with tomatoes from your own garden! (and from the gardens of all those people who call you and ask, "Could you use some tomatoes?" I've never yet turned down a tomato offer.) We have not yet attempted growing our own pepperoni so there are some things we still buy at the store.

One thing I have not managed to kill in my garden is our plum tree. I made these muffins recently from frozen plum puree from my 2011 harvest. Our plums trees didn't produce this year. (Oh wait...maybe I did kill them...) Anyway, the muffins were scrumptious.

In the olden days, my friends and I used to get together and spends lots of money at Applebee's. Now we get together and spend lots of time canning apples! It's so much more fun! *cough*

My wiseacre husband just walked by and said, "Wait a minute...are you...posting?"  
Yeah, well it just might happen more often now that harvesting and NaNoWriMo'ing are over. More on that NaNoWriMo business later...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Glass Children

A guest post by author Madonna Dries Christensen

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. As the grandmother of one child with DS and one with autism, awareness is second nature. These children have an older sister, so I’m also aware that siblings of children with special needs often have difficulty coping with the association.

        We all wear labels today. My oldest granddaughter’s label reads: typical child. Sixteen months older than her sister and four years older than her brother, she is accustomed to therapists coming to the house to spend time with her siblings. At age nine, and beginning to grasp that they need extra help, she’s both protective of them and resentful of the attention they receive. She once commented to me that it’s hard being the only child in the family without a disability.   
        This child makes the honor roll. She has an expanded vocabulary, is gabby, a good listener, and eager to learn. In a verse she wrote in Third Grade, she described herself as curious and smart. She’s kind and generous; given to writing notes signed with hearts and xoxo and sometimes including a dollar bill. She’s alternately sweet, sassy, confident, and insecure. She frets about change. She has a quick humor and likes playing pranks. She’s a Girl Scout, a school patrol guard; she plays chess and piano, and is taking lessons in percussion for the school band. She enjoys running, swimming, climbing trees, building things, and is an imaginative storyteller, writer, and artist. She has won awards for artwork and needlework.
My granddaughter attends a therapy group for students who have siblings with special needs. It’s an outlet, but when sensory overload brings a meltdown, she complains that no one listens to her; no one pays attention to her. Of course, we do listen; we do pay attention, but she’s forgotten that a visiting grandparent played with her all day, that the whole family applauded one of her stage shows in which she was the solo performer, or that she spent the day with her aunt and rode her horse.  
In an Internet video, Alicia Arenas talks about her 1970’s childhood as the older sister of an autistic brother and another with a terminal illness who died at age four. The child with autism was not diagnosed until age 13, so prior to that the parents had no guidance. This overwhelmed them, and frustrated Alicia.    
Arenas calls the siblings of children with special needs Glass Children (she doesn’t know who originated the term), and explains that this does not mean they’re fragile. Instead, they’re strong, reliable, independent, and often willingly shoulder the responsibility of making life easier for their parents. When someone says, “You need to be good and help Mommy,” they take that to heart. Because these children appear to be doing well, busy parents and other adult family members might look right through them—like clear glass. If asked how they’re doing, these kids will say they’re okay. Arenas warns that they are probably not okay. They are at risk.   
Search online for Arenas and watch her video. Then consider a family you know that is meeting the constant demands of someone with special needs. Think of special needs in a broad sense. The family might be dealing with a teenager who’s involved with a gang, or a live-in grandparent with dementia. Maybe a parent is away on military duty. The children in these households would benefit from individual attention. Take a child to a movie, or shopping; teach a craft or skill, help with homework, or seek his help—maybe lessons in using your new iPad. Children thrive on showing what they can do. 
        When my granddaughter requested help with a secret project, I mailed her an envelope marked private, with instructions on what she needed to do. She told her parents, “There was a letter that made me feel confident about myself. It made me feel like I could do anything.”
Don’t look through the children around you; look at them; let them know you’re listening. All children have special needs. 

Madonna Dries Christensen is the author of several books, most recently In Her Shoes: Step by Step, a memoir. Royalties are donated to the Down Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia.



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How to Insult Women Without Really Trying

Weston turned fourteen the other day. Old enough to know better, I would think.

In conversation with his sister, Em:
"You should get on my trampoline and jump. It holds 250 pounds."

In conversation with me, his selfless, devoted, adoring mother:
"Mom, you could even fit in this hammock. It says it can hold up to 300 pounds."

We're so fat that between the two of us I think we could tackle him and sit on him until he apologizes. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Borrowing Chunk

There is nothing like having little people around to make you appreciate life's seemingly humdrum moments.

Earlier this week daughter Em was feeling poorly so I took advantage of the situation and swiped her son. Chunk is always good to have around for entertainment purposes, but this week I was happy to have him around for introspection purposes.

I used to wonder why Computer Geek needed to have 2 monitors running at all times. I assumed it was a nerd thing, but now I know--it's so he can work and Chunk can watch Cars.

One day, he was eating lunch and yelled, "Grandma! Look!" I went into the kitchen to see what was so important. He said, "Look, I can see the sun in the salt!"  Do you remember being so intrigued with small miracles? I loved the reflection on his cute little face.

He knows it's his job to pick the red ones.


He sooo wanted to pick these, but he mustered all his self-control and simply admired.

I had to hold him up so he could see the sunflower. I explained how I planted them because they remind me of my daughter, his Aunt Kay. When she was little, she had freckles across her nose, blond hair, and big brown eyes--a perfect sunflower. 

Both of us with our "maters."  
[The other side of his cup is Mater from Cars. Yeah, and my table was shabby before shabby was chic. Does that make it chicer?]

Em is feeling better now. I'll have to think of a new reason to steal Chunk away this week.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Gardening Magic

Yesterday I promised to share an amazing gardening secret. Are you ready?

You can regrow celery!

Yup, it's true. Normally you buy celery and chop off that ugly mess at the bottom and throw it away, right? Stop it right now!

Chop off that ugly mess and set it in a bowl of water. In a few days you'll see some leafy re-growth. Then it's time to plant it in the ground. Soon you will see new celery growing. What's that you say? You need proof? Oh, all right.

Those gardeners who know way more than I do (that would be all of them) say that it's a good idea to cut a 2 liter pop bottle in half, cut off the top and/or bottom, and use the plastic as a shield around the celery as it grows to keep snacking critters from spoiling your efforts. 

So what do you think? Will you ever throw away the bottom of the celery again?

Friday, August 10, 2012

I'm a Little Bit Country...

...and a whole lot city girl. I'm afraid of most animals except ladybugs, kittens, and dogs that already know me. I grew up thinking that a garden was three tomato plants in the back yard and that a hike was walking the length of the Southern Hills Mall on my lunch break. Then I moved to Utah. Rural Utah.

Although I have lived here for fifteen years now, I am still astounded by nature. Deer walking through my backyard is always a cause for silent observation. Having to stop on the highway because a herd of majestic elk, taller than a car, is crossing never fails to thrill. The mountains out my back door humble me.

The past few years, to emulate all my country-folk neighbors, I have tried my hand at gardening. Each year I attempt to use more space than the year before, and try more of a variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Three tomato plants would be laughed at by neighbors and friends who have ripped up most of their yards to make gardens. I have twenty-four tomato plants this year and am slowly learning to bottle the excess. What excess? Ha! I eat tomatoes as fast as they can grow!

In addition to tomatoes, this year I have corn, broccoli, kale, green peppers, jalapenos, yellow peppers, pumpkin, cantaloupe, watermelon, green beans, radishes, carrots, peas, lettuce, onions ( I can't believe I just wrote that,) sunflowers, potatoes, dill, cilantro, peppermint, pineapple mint, and two varieties of baking beans. Whew! Makes a city girl exhausted just thinking about it.

This country girl wannabe was out watering her corn the other night. It's growing against my back fence and doesn't fall under the watering shadow that benefits my other "crops" so I was hosing it manually. It takes a while, so I had plenty of time to put on my country girl thinking cap and reason that I had better focus the spray toward the roots because the leaves might block the plant from getting any moisture.

Suddenly, I had a revelation!  (This is where all you pure-bred country folk can begin hootin' and hollerin' and squealing with derision.) The leaves are positioned in such a way that any moisture that falls on the leaves is channeled directly to the roots! What a mind-freaking brilliant design!

I had to run in and get my camera to share this astounding revelation with the world. I spent extra time watering that night just so I could watch rivulets of water make their way to the plant base. Fascinating, I tell ya.

Of course, I understand that by sharing this new-found knowledge, I am exposing my ignorance to the blogosphere. But you just wait to see what gardening trick I have in store for you tomorrow!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Love Post for Springfree Trampoline

Ever since Weston was a little tyke, he has wanted a trampoline. What child doesn’t? After all, what’s one of the first things a toddler does when he learns to walk? He jumps on his bed! The need to jump on something bouncy is seemingly inborn in a child. [Those who are privy to the fact that my friends and I jumped on dorm beds when we took a friend to college will please kindly keep silent. This is about a child’s need to jump.]

Over the years, we came up with excuses as to why he couldn’t have a trampoline, but the main concern for me was safety. Weston knew other children who broke arms, a collarbone, a wrist and a leg.  Could I really afford hospital emergency room visits? Not so much. Yet, budgeting for medical care  seemed almost an inherent part of buying a trampoline. At least, that’s what I thought until June of this year when I happened across a Facebook site for Springfree Trampoline.

Almost immediately I was captivated by the unique look of the trampoline. Then, I watched videos showing how Springfree has revolutionized the trampoline industry. I could feel trampoline lust settling upon my soul and was excited to see that they just so happened to be running a contest to actually win one!  Two winners were to be chosen—one by popular vote and one by company vote. All I had to do was submit a picture of someone jumping for joy.

I knew the picture I had to use—one of Weston on a friend’s trampoline. I told him I was going to take a picture, and he being the smart-alec that he is, went into a yoga pose right as I snapped the picture. It’s always been one of my favorites because he looks suspended in mid-air. I submitted the photo to the Springfree contest and encouraged everyone I knew to vote.

June 25. The Day of Decision. 
I kept my Facebook page on the Springfree site, eagerly checking back to see if a winner had been chosen. Finally, we saw that someone else had been chosen as the popular vote winner. After reading the winner’s story, we felt comforted that a very deserving young man had won instead.

We then waited for Springfree’s decision as to who would be the company’s choice winner. We were disappointed when we saw that Weston was not the winner. The winner was an adorable little girl. But something prompted me to read further and I saw that they had a tough time choosing and that they were going to pick a third winner!  Weston and I are the praying types so we prayed that he would be selected a winner.

About thirty minutes later I checked the Springfree Facebook page and saw that Weston’s picture was chosen as the third place winner!  I was screaming and pointing to Weston’s picture on my computer so Computer Geek figured out that we had won. Weston came running into our office to see why I was yelling, and soon he was yelling and high-fiving too!

JULY 9. Arrival Day!
The following two weeks were agonizing for Weston as he eagerly awaited the arrival of his trampoline.  One day, while he was away, the FedEx truck pulled up with three large boxes.  I called Weston and said, “You need to come home. We’ve got to get some school lessons started.”  This video shows some of his excitement as he realized that the real reason I had called him home was sitting in the driveway. (Sorry it’s kind of choppy.)

He wants to marry it.

 This is where the excitement of it all caused certain nameless people to assemble the trampoline without fully reading the instructions. When they got it all put together they realized the instructions said to attach the safety net before inserting the white rods. Oh well. 
It was good experience to take it all apart and put it back together.

Do you know how hard it is to tell children that they can't get on the trampoline just yet? And that they have to wait until we get the safety net put on? Yeah, right. It's like a magnet.

He's waited so many years. Thank you, Springfree Trampoline!

 Avatar and Pinque come over several times a week just to jump. 
It's been a blessing to the whole extended family.

Time for the re-creation of the winning photograph!

Now he no longer has to wait until Wednesday gymnastics classes to fly through the air.

It's so nice to know that Pinque and the other kids would really have to try to get hurt on this trampoline. There are no springs to get caught in, no exposed frame to fall through, and no rigid safety net bars to crash in to. Springfree has thought of everything. 
(Well, except for human stupidity and that's pretty difficult to prevent.)

Weston, Pinque and Avatar. Happy kids!

Chunk and Pixie taking turns. At ages 2 and 3, they've already learned to zip up the safety net before they can jump.

River sometimes comes over by himself, just to have some alone time on the trampoline. Almost daily we have someone come over to jump or to simply  admire the Springfree. It's been quite the attraction because no one we know has anything like it. 

I am really grateful to Springfree for their generosity. I'm afraid I have become a little bit of a trampoline snob. If I look at another trampoline now all I see is a bone-breaking child trap.Although Springfree's trampolines are more expensive than your average injury-inducing trampoline, I can guarantee they are less expensive than your average trip to the emergency room! Many friends who have heard about our prize have come to check it out. All of them marvel at how sturdy it is, how safe it appears, and how unconventional it is. 

If you want to check out the Springfree Trampoline for yourself, either click one of the many links in this post, or click on the Springfree ad on my sidebar. Since our trampoline arrived, the Springfree Facebook page has given away ten more trampolines! Check back frequently to see what new promotions they have going on. 

The Springfree customer service reps are top-notch and truly stand behind their product. They would be happy to assist you. I have dealt with them on several occasions and even though I didn't spend one dime for my trampoline, they treated me with the utmost of courtesy, friendliness and professionalism. Join the ouch-free revolution!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated to write this post nor to put an ad for Springfree on my sidebar. I have done both out of gratitude for the generosity of Springfree in giving away trampolines.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Press Release from Phoenix Quilts

Julie from Having Fun Quilting has been busy since I last posted about her project to put a quilt into the arms of every family who has lost a home to the summer wildfires!  She created a new site to help her in this mammoth venture. If you are a quilter, or have quilting supplies, or if you would like to make a cash donation, please see the press release below, or visit the new website.  Thanks to those of you who have already generously contributed!

Larger Phoenix Quilt Logo

Press Release from Phoenix Quilts
July 12, 2012

"We aren't trying to replace people's bedding . . . we'll let the insurance companies do that.  All we want to do is bring someone a little bit of comfort during such a tragic and difficult time in their lives.  We feel that a quilt can do that almost better than anything else."

That's what I tell people when they ask me why I'm doing this.  That's why I want to put a home-made quilt into the arms of over 800 families who have lost their home to the terrible wildfires that their home just happened to be in the way of . . . simply to bring them a little bit of comfort.  I feel that as these people are trying to rebuild their lives from the ashes that was once their home, a quilt is a great place to start!

What started as a desire to give a quilt to some friends who lost their home to a wildfire, has grown into a determination to reach out to people throughout the Western United States and show them there are a LOT of people in this crazy ol' world who care! 

Obviously, though, there is NO WAY I could sew that many quilts myself.  So I put the challenge out there to my quilting friends.  Through my quilt blog http://HavingFunQuilting.blogspot.com and our other blog http://PhoenixQuilts.blogspot.com, I have had HUNDREDS of quilters, quilt stores, fabric companies, batting companies, and many others, join me in this cause without any hesitation!  Completed quilts, finished quilt tops, beautiful quilt blocks and fabric to make quilts with, and even monetary donations, are shipped or delivered to us daily!  The generosity of these men and women all over the world completely and totally AMAZES me!  This is the most unselfish group of people I have ever been associated with, and I love them all for what they're doing!  Will you please join us in helping those who have lost everything???

The Phoenix bird, as you may remember, rose again from the ashes of his nest after it was burned by fire.  I know these people who have lost their home to a fire will be able to rise again, as well.  That's why we are using the name "Phoenix Quilts . . . Rising from the Ashes."

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Calling All Quilters!

Every night on the news for the past week, Computer Geek and I saw video of a new wild fire somewhere in Utah. The one closest to us, about thirty miles away, was the Wood Hollow fire. One life was lost and twenty-nine homes were destroyed.

A local blogger, Julie from Having Fun Quilting, decided to use her skills to provide relief for the homeless. Her friends lost their home while trying to evacuate others, so she decided to help them build new memories with the gift of a quilt.While sewing, a project bloomed in her mind--that of providing a quilt for each of the twenty-nine homeless families. She sent out a call to other quilters for help. The response to Operation Wood Hollow has been staggering. She will now be sending quilts to victims of wild fires across the nation.

Julie is in need of the following donations: quilts of any size, fabric, and money for deliveries. If you can help in any way, please visit her website. You can email her at the email address listed in her Blogger profile, or you can leave her a comment on her blog with what you are willing to do.

You can find more information HERE

Sunset last night as fire burned on the other side of the mountain

Friday, June 15, 2012

I Think He's Growing Up

Weston and I headed for the garden this morning to do some damage control. Either a cat or a peacock sat in my grow boxes and messed up my carefully planted rows of green beans, parsley, lavender and zinnia. We needed to replant those areas.  Weston knows that each morning he is to be available for family time in the yard, either for planting, weeding, harvesting, mowing, or as the occasion warrants, replanting.

Today he was having fun toying with me. I was trying to water the newly planted areas and he kept turning the spray on and off, on and off, thinking that it was pretty hilarious. When we finished our work he said, "I just realized that things go a lot better when I cooperate."

Yup. He said that. Really.

He followed up with, "Yeah, I think that when I don't fight you on everything, we have a lot more fun, don't we?"

I acknowledged that I certainly have a lot more fun when he cooperates.  He said, "When we do things together and I cooperate, then you don't have to yell at me and I'm a lot happier. You seem a lot happier too."  I considered grabbing my video camera and asking him to carefully repeat everything he just said so that I could YouTube it for future reference.

Part of our work today involved mixing soil in our wheelbarrow. Around supper time Computer Geek asked me if I knew the whereabouts of Weston. I said, "There's a wheelbarrow full of dirt in the back yard. He's a boy. My guess is that he's playing in the dirt.

Computer Geek went outside and sure enough found the boy driving his cars through the mounds. He said, "Your mom said I might find you playing in the dirt."

Weston replied, "I'm not playing. I'm designing."

That's right. Playing is for kids. Designing is for teenagers who have discovered that life is more pleasant when they cooperate.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Our NoJo Baby Bedding Arrived!

Last Sunday I posted my good news about winning a NoJo infant bedding set. Yesterday the set arrived in the mail so I hurried over to Em's house.  We were already surprised that I had won the bedding set, but we were even more surprised when we opened the boxes!

On the NoJo website, each infant collection (and they have many!) has a basic set with additional coordinating items available.  We assumed we were getting the basic 6 piece set, which on its own overjoyed us. I really could not believe my good luck in winning such a high-quality bedding set, especially right after Em had given birth. When Em started pulling the items out of the boxes, we soon realized that I had won far more than a basic set. I had won the mother-lode of NoJo Alexis Garden coordinating nursery goodies!

Included were a crib mobile, 3 fitted sheets, a window valance, a diaper stacker, a pink baby blanket, wall decals, a 3-piece wall decor set in frames, a bumper guard, a lamp, a comforter, a dust ruffle, a sheet saver, an infant-sized security blanket, and a hamper!

Miss Baby Elephant stretched out on her new NoJo Alexis Garden quilt.

Daughter Em with her amazing stash of NoJo swag

I was stunned that I received the entire collection.  Em loves the Alexis Garden collection because she is partial to reds, and it is not very often that an infant girl collection comes with red accents. [Notice that the living room wall behind the collection is red, hmm?]

Now you're probably wondering how you can score a fantastic baby bedding set for yourself, right? Well, if you're not a chance-taker like I am, you can go to the NoJo website to find a list of stores where you can purchase all the matching items needed to adequately spoil your newborn. However, if you're like me and believe that real people can actually win amazing prizes, then ENTER TO WIN RIGHT HERE a NoJo bedding set of your own!  

If you want to be updated about new products and contests or learn organizing and decorating tips for your nursery, then give NoJo a big LIKE on Facebook!  In fact, even if you have no need for nursery bedding, go give them a big LIKE on Facebook anyway, just because they were so generous to the Queen of Quang.  I know I'll be liking LOVING NoJo forever!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Do you ever wish you had a camera implanted in your brain so that you could capture those fleeting moments of joy throughout your day?  Those moments that happen so quickly that there is no way you could whip out a camera fast enough to save them forever?

I do. Then I would replay a few of those snapshot moments that happened yesterday.

1. I stopped at daughter Em's house for a few minutes last night. I was going through Chunk withdrawal. After two weeks of tending him while his mom recuperated from childbirth, I had to go a whole day without seeing him. (Computer Geek thinks we need to work out some sort of custody arrangement. We would be fair and let his parents see him fairly often.) The brief look on his face when he thought I was coming to take him to my house was priceless. It was a look of surprise and joy. I am so pleased that the thought of spending time with me caused him such happiness. Click.

2.  While I was there, Em was nursing Baby Elephant. (We're trying to think of a new blog name for her. We get it--it's a family term of endearment, but others might think that we think she's a little fatty.) All I could see was her scrawny little newborn legs peeking out from under the blanket. I held one in my hand and marveled at its perfection--weak calf muscles, smooth baby skin, and a minute foot encased in a pink sock. Click.

3. My pal Ekanela called me at 11:30 P.M. and asked if I was still awake. She asked me to come to my front door in one minute. When I opened the door, she gave me a 2-liter bottle of root beer and a new spray bottle. We had a conversation earlier this week in which we lamented being able to ever find a spray bottle that really works. She found one. Click.

4. Weston had just gone to bed. I was in the kitchen and heard him yell, "Mom, could you come here a minute? I need to talk to you."

I went to his room and said, "Yes?"

He said, "Give me a minute. I'll think of something."


What clickable moments did you have yesterday?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Enter to win NoJo Baby Bedding!

 Only two weeks old and already she's a winner.

A while back I entered a giveaway for NoJo baby bedding with this precious little sweetheart in mind. When I got an email with the subject line of "Congrats!" I was surprised to see that I had won a set of NoJo's high quality stylish infant bedding. Do you know how hard it is to choose from the NoJo collection?  Each one is adorable. I think Em was grateful that she could weed out half of them because they were boy-themed!  

The sets range from four to eight pieces. The one pictured below, the Alexis Garden collection, is the one I am getting. It comes with four pieces---a bumper guard, quilt, sheet, and dust ruffle. We can't wait to see Baby Elephant nestled snugly in her new Asian-themed surroundings!

You can enter to win a NoJo bedding set at their website. ENTER HERE through August 31, 2012.
Good luck!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Basking in Grandmotherly Bliss

Because of this girl,
the adorable Miss Baby Elephant,
I get to hang out with this guy--

the rambunctious, hilarious, heart-stealing Mr. Chunk.  It's a good thing Chunk likes his old Grandma, because we've been spending many precious hours together since the birth of his baby sister.  We go to the grocery store and ride the double-steering-wheeled carts and pretend like we are running into people.

We hang out at the park. The Orange park. Not the Purple Park or the Crazy Park.

We find cool things at the park, like those brown poke-o-nuts you see on the ground. 
I will never call them "pine cones" again.

We watch so many episodes of Dora that our eyes bleed and we must rest them.

We eat red popsicos.

And when Chunk freaks out on the way home to see Mommy because he left his three "points" at Grandma's house, Grandma digs three different "points" out of her car coin holder and says, 
"Oh look! Here they are!"

Grandma will be sad when it is time to give him back.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


While Em was pregnant, she frequently said, " I don't care what day she's born on, as long as it's not the 11th."  Her hubby's family has anniversaries and birthdays on the 11th, and Em didn't want to take away from their special days. Since her due date was the 19th, a birth on the 11th didn't seem very likely.

Do I really need to tell you that little Elephant [blog name chosen for her by her mother] made her entrance on May 11th? Nah, I didn't think so. It was too perfect. I envisioned little Elephant inside her mother's womb saying, "Did she say the 11th? I'm positive she said the 11th."

I would be a poor grandmother if I didn't post pictures, so prepare to be amazed at her loveliness.

7 lbs., 4 oz.
Around 5 hours old

2 days old, in her elephant-patterned p.j.'s

Grandma's hoping for brown eyes

Big brother Chunk adores her already

Can you see why Chunk has been spending his days with Grandma?
He's been described as "Dennis the Menace on steroids."
But it's a lie because he's always a perfect angel at Grandma's house--
besides I told him to go play in the mud.

This is only one of the reasons why I love having Chunk come over every day while his mama is recuperating. He was playing with Grandpa's flashlight and he aimed it at the corner of the wall saying, "Look, Grandma! I made you a heart."  

Happy Mother's Day to me.

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