Tuesday, September 29, 2009

10 on Tuesday: Cool Stuff

These are the things that are on my cool meter right now…

1. My iPhone – I love all of the applications (one of these days, I'll have to do a Top 10 on my favorite aps!) and I love the appearance of the phone - it's pretty cool to whip it out and have "my world" at my fingertips.

2. My Nikon D50 camera – I got hooked on photography about 4 years ago – children and scenery are my favorite subjects. It’s pretty cool when you realize you have “the perfect shot” right in front of you.

3. My Kindle – how cool to take your entire library with you – it’s like an iPod for books! Best invention ever - and sure has saved me time and money in my packing! No more lugging along 20 books on vacation.

4. Johnny Depp – no explanation needed.

5. Live theater – I have season tickets to almost every theater venue in town. The actors on a stage have to get it right the FIRST time, unlike TV/movie actors who get take after take after take. That’s cool.

6. Facebook - I can seriously spend hours surfing FB and looking at pictures or “reconnecting” with people who spoke to me a total of 4 times in high school. Cool, huh?

7. Gospel Music – I joined the Gospel choir at church a few weeks back and I love the African-American spirituals that we’ve been singing. "Walk With Me" keeps playing over and over in my head....the music has soul – which is cool.

8. Jeans. I love this time of year when it’s cool outside and I can wear my Levi’s. I love my jeans – they’re comfy.

9. Europe – I’ve been to a lot of places all over the world - but I loved the architecture, the people and the food in Europe. It was pretty cool this summer to be walking where Julius Caesar and Michelangelo walked.

10. Volunteering – whenever you give yourself away to help others – that’s cool. That's the ultimate cool.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Yellowstone On My Mind

So I’m sitting here tonight, engrossed in the new Ken Burns documentary, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” The first 2-hour installment of a 12-hour series premiered tonight on PBS. And all I can say is, “Wow.”

Burns has done it again. Of course, what a subject matter he had to work with. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE our national parks. Love, love, love. I’ve been to numerous national parks – all over our beautiful country – but I have to say that my favorite is Yellowstone.

I’ve been to Yellowstone countless times now – in both winter and summer. It’s gorgeous, breathtaking, awe-inspiring – and jaw-dropping. The natural beauty – the wildlife – the different eco-systems – all come together in one place that can never be absorbed in just one trip. The photo above - one of my favorite photos EVER that I have taken myself - was taken back in 2002 at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Isn't it gorgeous?

If I won the lottery, and could pick any place in the country to live, I honestly say I would probably build a cabin right smack in the middle of Yellowstone. (If it were legal – which it’s not!) It’s that amazing.

This isn’t a long post tonight – I’m too wrapped up in this televised delight for the eyes – but just wanted to share. The series is on every night from now until Friday night – try to catch one of the episodes.

And if you’ve never been to Yellowstone National Park – go. Just go. You won’t regret it. Take a camera. And lots of memory cards. You’ll need it. Or - do as my daughter once said: "Take pictures with your mind."


Mikayla and I in Yellowstone - Summer 2008

Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's Sew Not Happening

So at Bunco last night, I overhear one of the moms asking another mom what her daughters were going to be for Halloween.

I choked on my drink and had a mini panic attack – oh my God! Was it already time for Halloween? Holy smokes! Where did the time go? How did THAT happen?

I rushed to the nearest calendar I could find – thankfully, almost everyone has one on her refrigerator – and saw that it was only September 25th. Whew. I let out a sigh of relief. I still have a MONTH before I even have to THINK about costumes. I mean, seriously – my Halloween costume shopping happens on October 30th – it’s a tradition that I adhere to proudly. I’ve learned from experience that if I buy a costume before October 30th – it will either be lost, dirty and/or ripped apart – by Bewitching Hour on October 31st.

But then – it got worse! I overheard one of the moms describing – in detail – the costumes that she was SEWING for her two daughters. I look confused – and asked, “Sewing? What is this word, ‘sewing’? I am not familiar with this term.”

After the mom enlightened me on the joys (ha) of working with material, thread and gasp! – needles in order to assemble a Halloween costume, I silently thanked God for Target and costumes hanging on nice, plastic hangers – no assembly necessary.

And I silently thanked God that kids aren’t allowed at Bunco, and therefore my kids had no chance of hearing how other moms "sewed" said costumes. Sometimes it’s just best to leave our kids in a state of blissful ignorance. They’re happy with Target. And so am I.

So – until October 30th – there will be no more mention of Halloween costumes in my world.


Question: Do any other mothers out there sew their kids' costumes for Halloween? Do you use patterns? Or wing it? I am just curious about this "sewing" thing...unheard of.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bunco Babelicious

I have a confession: I am a Bunco Babe. There – I said it. I admit it. I own it.

Years ago, my neighborhood began a Bunco league – 12 women formed a “club” where we’d get together once a month and play a game of dice. We had two rules: Rule #1: No hubbies. Rule #2: No kiddies. After that – anything goes.

If you’ve never played Bunco before – it’s simple enough. You throw the dice – and if you get 3 of a kind – you scream, “BUNCO!” And you win! And you get all excited! There are “official” rules – and then there are “our” rules. Our rules rock. Our rules allow us the ability to eat – (and boy, do we eat) – and then drink (and boy, do we drink) – and talk (and yes, we do talk!)

And then we eat, drink and talk some more – all the while throwing those little dice and moving from table to table.

I’m heading out tonight to play in my “old” neighborhood. I can’t wait – I had to drop out of the league several years ago because my schedule just wasn’t allowing it – I seemed to be out of town more than I was in town, and it was only fair to become a “substitute” and let someone else take my place that could commit better to actually being there to play. I got called this week to “sub” tonight – and I jumped at the chance to say yes. I gotta’ love that opportunity to have no hubby and no kiddies on a Friday night – and to eat, drink and talk, of course! My specialties!

Since hubby and I are in the process of moving to a new neighborhood, located at a lake, I recently participated in “Boat Bunco” with my new lake-lady neighbors. That rocked – literally. We tied up several pontoon boats on the lake – and had about 30-some women going from boat to boat, playing and talking and eating and drinking. That was a hoot! When you feel tipsy – you don’t know if it’s from the boat or if its from too many martinis…somewhat of an odd feeling! But – imagine the food that 30+ women provided – it was better than Thanksgiving.

Prizes are given for numerous things: most Buncos in the evening (I’ve never won that); last Bunco (I may have won that once? - in all the times I’ve played!); most wins (I’ve won that once, I think – woo hoo) and most losses – I seem to EXCEL at most losses. Which seems to imply that I am a BIG LOSER!!! But that’s okay – because the Biggest Loser takes home cash – and that ain’t bad! Ain’t bad at all!

Even if I don’t take home cash from a night of Bunco, I do go home with the memories of friendships and laughter and connections with some awesome women. And that’s always priceless.



Thursday, September 24, 2009

Garbage Sale Rant

It’s that time of year again – our neighborhood garage sale weekend. Joy. I’m doing cartwheels.

Seriously – I haven’t had a garage sale in the last 8 years – and for good reason. It’s a lot of work – who knew?

First you have to gather up all of the junk – oops, I mean “treasures” – and then you have to go through and slap a price on everything. More fun.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Do I price high? And take a chance no one will buy my stuff? Or do I price low – and get rid of the garbage – oops, there I go again! Sorry – my “treasures”? I finally decide that I do NOT want to put these “treasures” back in my house – whatever doesn’t sell has to be packed for the big move to the new house – so I go cheap. Really cheap. Absurdly cheap. Hubby rolls his eyes and says, “Why don’t you just GIVE it all away?!” Ha – I’ll show him when I make oodles of money on this sale.

So, everything is priced (cheap!) and staged and the garage doors open and the sale starts. Woo hoo.

Now the worst part…dealing with customers. I am seriously getting cranky in my old age. And having to be up EARLY – and PERKY – and FRIENDLY –ALL AT THE SAME TIME - is asking just a little too much of me, I think. But I do my best – after all, I’m a salesman today. I must sell this. To prove hubby wrong. I WILL smile and be friendly! Even if it frickin’ kills me.

First customer: older man, walks in, looks around, and says, “I’m looking for Thomas. Do you got any Thomas?” I have to admit my ignorance, and say, “Excuse me? Thomas?” “Yeah”, he says. “You know – the Engine.” “OH – Thomas the Tank Engine!” He nods. I, apologetically, say – “I’m sorry – no Thomas.” “Are you sure?” he asks, frantically looking around my garage. Uh, yeah, dude – I think I would know if I had Thomas the Tank Engine in my OWN garage sale! “Yeah, I’m pretty confident I don’t have any Thomas.” He looks around to make sure I wasn’t holding out on him – and then leaves – continuing his frantic search. Good luck with that, dude.

A little later, another man walks up to me, holding a little plastic 2-inch Chiefs football Christmas ornament in his hand– and asks how much I’ll take for it. I go out on a limb, and say, “How about a nickel?” His face fell. Seriously. I couldn’t believe it! He hands over the nickel and walks off. My neighbor, who was visiting with me at the time, says, “What did he think he’d pay for it? A penny?” Folks – I realize we’re in a recession and all – but when you’re crestfallen at paying a nickel for a Chiefs ornament – then times must really be tough. Yowza.

So the day continues – people walk up – people walk out – some buy – some don’t. At 2:30 pm, I gleefully shut the garage doors and counted the minutes until hubby got home from work.

When he walked in the door tonight, I had a Cheshire Cat grin on my face, looking as if I’d swallowed the canary. I love it when I can prove him wrong.

I really AM quite the salesman. I have the nickels today to prove it.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Brad

Thursday is my son's 20th birthday. I love him dearly - he has brought so much joy and happiness to my life. So - in honor of his birthday, here are 10 things you should know about my oldest son:

1. He loved his mommy so much he refused to “be born” when he was supposed to – managing to hang on tight in his mother’s womb for an unprecedented two weeks after his due date. I finally had had enough and demanded that the doctor go in there and get him OUT! He came out weighing an astonishing 9 pounds! In the nursery at the hospital, his layette was between two tiny 5-pound black babies…a visitor was standing at the window and exclaimed, “Oh look – it’s a Double-Stuffed Oreo.” I laughed so hard I ripped out my C-section stitches. Ouch.

2. He’s had perfect health his entire life – nary a cold or the flu or anything. Perfect attendance all through school. Disgustingly healthy. Unnaturally healthy. He certainly didn’t get that from me.

3. He was such a good baby – even through the supposed “terrible twos” – that our friends and family wanted to clone him. My mom said I was spoiled and didn’t know what a “real” baby was like. I didn’t care. He was my first and he was near perfect.

4. When he was 9, I took him on a trip – just the two of us – to the East Coast, where we stopped one day at Gettysburg. This was because he was obsessed with Civil War history. While there, we took a tour of the battlefield. The tour guide would spout out some interesting trivia – and then my precocious 9-year old would say, “And the rest of the story is this…” and then proceed to spit out even MORE trivia. The tour guide finally said, “Oh my God – he’s only 9?! He can do this tour better than I can – he’s amazing.” And he still is.

5. I have one son who's an athlete - and this son is my brainiac. Very smart. Extremely smart. (He got that from me....) He was so smart all through school that when he was in 5th-grade, the counselor told us that we needed to consider having him skip 6th-grade – as the 6th-grade curriculum could teach him nothing that he didn’t already know. He's pretty smart.

6. In 7th grade, he scored in the top 1% of ALL kids in the nation on the SAT’s. He and I and Grandma took a road trip to Duke University that summer to pick up his award for his high score. I was a proud mom – but dang, that was a long road trip for just a certificate!

7. In 7th, 8th, AND 9th grade, he was invited to attend Truman State University for 3 weeks in the summer for gifted students. Each year, he took a different college-level course – staying in the dormitory - doing his own laundry. It was hard letting a 12-year old stay in a college dorm without his mommy for 3 weeks – but he handled it well. Better than I did.

8. In 10th grade, he was one of two Missouri Scholars chosen from his high school, allowing him to attend Missouri Scholar Academy at the University of Missouri that summer for 3 weeks. Again, another college-level class – by now, I was handling it very well sending him away each summer. And I was certainly okay with him doing his own laundry.

9. In high school, he became interested in drama – and starred in several of the high school theater productions. He was surprisingly good – I didn’t know he could act. Of course, he DID get that from me.

10. He’s now a sophomore at Truman State University on a full academic scholarship, where he’s majoring in Religion and Spanish. His goal is to be a missionary in central America – preferably Guatemala, where I’ve taken him for 3 years now on mission trips. He’s an amazingly intelligent and compassionate young man – and I’m very proud of him.

Happy 20th Birthday, Kiddo! I love you!


Summer Afternoon in Venice

A new series...Wordless Wednesday...using my own photographs to speak for themselves...

This photo is: "Summer Afternoon in Venice."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

10 on Tuesday: Things I Hate About Traveling

Summer is over...and my traveling days have slowed down, albeit temporarily. For today's "10 on Tuesday" list, I'm posting the things that I hate about traveling.

1. Flying. Period. I like NOTHING about it. Give me the open road anytime and I can drive cross country.

2. People who violate the carry-on luggage rules and hog all of the overhead compartments with their monstrous suitcases. Really, people? You REALLY think that will fit??!!

3. Hotels with no wi-fi. Dark ages, anyone?

4. Noisy hotel rooms and inconsiderate fellow guests.

5. Sleeping in strange beds with strange sheets on strange pillows. Ew.

6. Packing. Can we say, “procrastinate”?

7. Forgetting an important charger – My phone? My camera? My Kindle? My laptop? My i-pod? That’s too many to remember - and so inevitably, one of them will be accidentally left behind. Darn it.

8. Choice of peanuts or pretzels for dinner…yeah, right. THAT’LL fill me up.

9. Taking my shoes off at airport security. Ew again.

10. Leaving my family & pets behind. Tears, much?

What are the things YOU hate about traveling?


Monday, September 21, 2009

The Best Cure for Insomnia is to Get a Lot of Sleep

Sleep. Elusive.

I don’t bitch too often. I think. So allow me one blog post to have a little pity party. Indulge me.

My pity party centers around my night time routine. And keep in mind that what you are about to read has been going on for two years now.

As I get ready for bed, I pop a Benadryl. Allergies decided to invade my living space when I was in college. Injections used to take care of them – until it became inconvenient to trek to the nurse and the needle once a week. Much easier to buy and pop a pretty pink pill each night before bedtime. Allergies solved. That’s a good thing.

I slide into bed and close my eyes. I pray for sleep.

I roll onto my right side because that is where my body – after 17,155 nights of practice – naturally rolls. Ouch. Immediate sharp pain in the gut. My stomach rebels. For the last two years, my chronic IBS gifts me with intermittent pain – and sleeping on my right side is a sure guarantee of discomfort. Why? No one knows – it’s a medical mystery. My right side has had much poking and prodding over the last year to figure this mystery out – to no avail. I do, however, have a pretty pale blue pill that will eliminate this – but I rebel against taking it – you’ll see why, later. It has an awful little side effect.

I begrudgingly roll over to my left side – where my gut feels much better – but my body can’t get comfortable. It just doesn’t feel right. I try to sleep – but can’t – and so I squirm. And twitch. And toss. And avoid turning.

After 17,155 nights of sleeping – it is instinctual for me to raise my arm over my head. It may look silly – but it helps me sleep. To quit the tossing and squirming, I lift my arm over my head. But now we have a problem. If I sleep on my left side – it is my right arm that goes over my head. Pain. Immediate pain. My shoulder – whether it’s bursitis, tendonitis, or a torn rotator – whatever – does not like my arm over my head. It rebels. Ouch. The doctor has said to take Motrin and to quit putting my arm over my head when I sleep. Uh huh.

So – now I’m in a quandary. Sleep on the right side – pain. Sleep on the left side – pain. What to do, what to do? As I ponder my choices, the minutes tick by on the clock…tick…tick…tick….the rest of the house is quiet – hubby and kiddies and pets all snoozing away. I am so jealous.

Every night, I will eventually give up and give in to the drugs. I’ll climb out of bed and go take the pretty blue pill that will calm the stomach and allow me to roll over to my right side where I am most comfortable. But it will NOT let me sleep. No, dear readers – this lovely blue pill- although it is miraculously eliminating all stomach pain – has a slight side effect. It causes insomnia. Seriously. No more pain – but no sleep, either. Are you kidding me?! Insomnia? Life is cruel, huh? Now you know why I struggle taking it – do I choose the pain? Or do I choose the sleep?

Sigh. I must chase the blue pill with a pretty white pill that has been prescribed to bring on sleep. It fights the blue pill for control – and eventually wins. But it takes a long time to "kick in." Several hours after slipping into bed – I slip into a drug-induced dreamless sleep that will NOT leave me refreshed in the morning.

Only to repeat again the next night.

Stephen King has a novel, Insomnia, which I read about 20 years ago – and it terrified the hell out of me. It sometimes feels that my nights have become something out of this book. Which is truly scary. It might just cause me to lose some sleep. (ha – can’t lose your sense of humor over things).

Peace. (yawn)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lazy Sunday Musings

I’m lounging in my sitting room and glance out the window…

…the sun is valiantly trying to poke its rays through the stubborn clouds…

…raindrops leftover from this morning’s shower glisten brightly on the green leaves of the trees…

…and I can’t help but wonder if the leaves know what lie in store for them....

Do they know they only have a few weeks left to live? Do they know they’re going to go out in a “blaze of glory” – bright reds, brilliant yellows, awesome oranges – each vying to outdo the other in a last gasp of autumn beauty? Do they know they’ll have a “last dance” as they break away from the tree and go swirling, spinning, twirling to the ground?

I enjoy being lazy…watching the leaves…knowing that I have a few weeks of respite before the raking begins.

Enjoy the day.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Shiver Me Timbers

Ahoy, maties!

Today is “Talk Like A Pirate Day.”

Who THINKS of these things, anyway? And, more importantly, why??!

Anywho, pirates have always fascinated me. When I was a little girl, I secretly wanted to be a pirate when I grew up. I wasn’t sure if there were “girl” pirates, as I didn’t remember ever seeing them at Disneyland. But I knew they were pretty freakin’ awesome with the black clothes, the swords, and the “bling.” I loved the bling.

I know – don’t lecture me about how evil pirates were – I know, I know. I didn’t see that as a child. All I saw was the treasure they always seemed to be surrounded by. And I saw living on the high seas, sailing under a cool flag with a skull and crossbones. And I saw intense sword fights. Blimey - I wanted some of that action!

My children have grown up with Captain Jack Sparrow – and of course, to them, he’s the ultimate in cool. To me, he’s Johnny Depp – and who doesn’t like Johnny Depp, for heaven’s sake?! Johnny Depp could portray the Devil and I'd be mesmerized.

So, in honor of Talk Like A Pirate Day, I have a pirate joke to share:

A pirate and his parrot were adrift in a lifeboat following a dramatic escape from a valiant battle. While rummaging through the boat's provisions, the pirate stumbled across an old lamp.

Secretly hoping that a Genie would appear, he rubbed the lamp vigorously. To the amazement of the castaways, a Genie came forth. This particular Genie, however, stated that he could only deliver one wish, not the standard three.

Without giving any thought to the matter the pirate blurted out, "Make the entire ocean into rum!" The Genie clapped his hands with a deafening crash, and immediately the entire sea turned into the finest rum ever sampled by mortals. Simultaneously, the Genie vanished.

Only the gentle lapping of rum on the hull broke the stillness as the two considered their circumstances

The parrot looked disgustedly at the pirate and after a tension-filled moment spoke: "Now you’ve done it!! Now we're going to have to pee in the boat!”

Arrrrrrr……wasn’t that fun?!


Friday, September 18, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s my favorite time of the year.

September…the weather has been absolutely beautiful.

The kids are back in school.

And football is back on Sundays.

Life just doesn’t get much better than this.

Now…if only the Chiefs would win….that would be even better!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Black is the New Black

Happy birthday, Elvira!

Yes, it's Elvira's birthday today - remember her? The "Mistress of the Dark"? Did you know she was born in Manhattan, Kansas? I didn't know that. Huh. The things you learn.

Anywho, back to the subject at hand. Which, in honor of Elvira, is the color "black." (Don't get into a philosophical, esoterial argument with me on whether black really is a "color" - I really don't care. To me, if it comes in a Crayon box - it's a color. End of discussion.)

My dear daughter - at the wise old age of 4 - developed an obsession with the color black. She wanted all things black - clothing, toys, bedroom decor - yada, yada, yada. I freaked out. What kind of 4-year old embraces black? Was this going to mean she was a future mass murderer? A future "Elvira" on the big screen? A "Goth" pre-schooler? Unheard of!

Should I indulge this passion and take a chance that she'll grow up to be psycho? Should I stop it - squelch this ludicrous idea - and explain to her that little girls like the color pink - and only pink?

In life, as a parent, you learn early on that you must pick your battles. My daughter was always a good child - she behaved, she was polite, she was respectful. It seemed to me that what she wore would not be worth the ensuing "battle" - and if she was happy wearing black, then so be it.

So - I let her wear black. She was happy. I adjusted. We did get some strange looks at Target.

The fascination for black lasted all of 9 months - and then it, like other girlish fascinations, slipped away and disappeared. On to a new color.

She's a great girl. I don't think she will be a mass murderer as she gets older. I don't think she was harmed by wearing black every day for 9 months.

I respected her choices and allowed her to explore her passion. And we are both better for it.

Happy birthday, Elvira. And to all things black. Indulge your child's creativity today in honor of Elvira.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What Are We Supposed to Eat?

Someone sent this to me – I think they’re telling me something. Whatever the case may be, I have to agree that this is PURE genius:
What Are We Supposed to Eat?

Can’t eat pork….swine flu.

Can’t eat chicken…bird flu.

Can’t eat beef…mad cow.

Can’t eat eggs…salmonella.

Can’t eat fish…mercury poisoning.

Can’t eat fruits and veggies…insecticides and herbicides.

What’s that leave?

Now, seriously….who can argue with this wisdom??? Be healthy. Eat more chocolate.


My Shoes are a Snooze

Truth: I am NOT obsessed with shoes.

I only mention this because yesterday, my Facebook status said something along the likes of, "I've got money in my pocket - Momma's gettin' new shoes." Or something like that.

Later, upon reviewing it, I thought, "Why in the world did I post that?!" The last thing I would probably spend money on is new shoes. Seriously. I don't think I'm alone in this - I'm sure there are other women out there like me - but I do not live for the next shoe sale. I can't remember the last time I even bought new shoes.

In fact, my shoe wardrobe is rather...well....boring. I have managed to get through the last two summers with only TWO pairs of shoes. Zzzzzzzzz.

My first pair - and perhaps my favorite - are a pair of plain white Keds sneakers. This photo was taken a year ago at this time, while working in Galveston with the American Red Cross:

Yup - those are my Keds. What's nice is, they may get a little dirty - but they're washable. I like my white shoes looking white.

Here are the same Keds on my feet THIS summer while vacationing in Philadelphia:

These sneakers have been all over the world. They're awesome. They fit - they're comfortable - and they're cheap. That's a trifecta, in my book. When I travel - these are the shoes I'm wearing to the airport.

The 2nd pair is when I need something a little more dressy. And there's not much to them - just a simple pair of gold sandals. This photo was taken in the Pantheon this summer in Rome:

These sandals have been all over the world, too. They pack easily in my suitcase and they don't weigh much more than 2 ounces.

Here they are, on the cobblestone streets of an itty-bitty village in France called St Paul:

They're comfortable, they're cheap - and they're about to fall apart. I'm seriously depressed about that. I've had them the last 2 summers and I have a bad premonition that they're not going to last one more summer. Which is really too bad, because I get all kinds of compliments on them. If shoes could be cloned - I'd clone these.

I like to remind Hubby as often as possible how lucky he is to have a wife that doesn't buy millions of pairs of shoes. If I even SENSE that he may be forgetting - I'll remind him again.

He'll then quickly remind ME of my (slight) handbag/purse obsession. But we won't talk about that here - that's off topic. Today's topic is shoes. And maybe I DO need to go get another pair. Temperatures are getting cooler - and I just don't think those gold sandals will make it in the snow this year. My toes did get rather chilly last January.


Friday, September 11, 2009

CraigsList is Like Crack

So I’m always a bit late for the party.

Facebook – whose face is it, and why is it on a book? I didn’t join until this year – and now I “get it”. An I-phone? What’s that? And what’s an application? I got one in June – and now I can’t possibly imagine my life without it. So – I’m a bit slow on catching on – but I eventually get there.

We bought a new house this summer – complete with furniture. Between it and my existing house, we have a mini-Nebraska Furniture Mart going on. It became increasingly evident that we must sell some of our inventory. Or move it. Ugh. Who wants to move anything? Selling sounded so much better.

Friends suggested CraigsList. Who is Craig, I wondered? And what’s on his “list” that’s so special?

Monday night, I went exploring on the internet to see what this was all about. I’m reasonably intelligent – and so it was relatively easy to see how this works. I informed Hubby that I’m going to try this out. He rolled his eyes. Which made me even more determined to make this work. If you're a woman, you know exactly what I mean by that.

I began by taking a photo of a huge, ugly, white sectional sofa set that was left in the new house by the previous owners.

I then used all of my creative writing skills and my marketing skills to come up with clever advertising to get rid of – oops, I mean sell – said sofa. My skills are negligible – but I did my best.

At 10:45 pm Monday night, I uploaded my photo – along with my clever & witty advertisement – out on CraigsList – and then went to bed.

Tuesday morning, I had over 50 emails in my inbox. Yikes! By lunchtime on Tuesday, I had money in my pocket – and the sectional was gone! Woo hoo!

I quickly looked around and snapped a photo of our TV entertainment center – listed it with Craig – and before I could remove the dust bunnies from under it, it was SOLD! Ka ching –more money in my pocket!

This is great! I snap a photo of not one, but TWO bedroom sets – and they’re now SOLD! Buyers are coming Saturday to pick them up – and I’ll have even MORE money in my pocket!

I LOVE Craig! I love his List! What a guy! I am SO doing the Happy Dance!

When I started snapping photos of my children and writing clever advertising copy of their wonderful attributes – I knew I had gone too far. I need some serious help.

But imagine the price they would have brought??!!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Death From Boredom

School has started.

Life is good.

If you’re a parent – you know what I’m talking about. I love it when my kids are back in school.

Because, as you know, it’s our jobs as parents to entertain our children madly – God forbid they’re ever bored. And my kids were –egads – bored this summer. They made sure I was aware of this as often as possible– all the while surrounded by a Wii, a PS3, several humongous flat-screen TV’s tricked out with 3000 cable channels, half of the inventory from Toys R Us, a swimming pool, and bikes. Lots of bikes.

My horror stories of what it was like when I was growing up – in the dinosaur ages before electricity, of course - and how I had to find ways to entertain myself – didn’t faze them. The only reaction I got was more eye-rolling in the backs of their heads, and an even more plaintive, “But – that was then. This is now. And we’re bored.”

I reassured them that they were probably the ONLY children in America that were bored this summer. I wanted them to feel special, after all.

Thank GOD for school – it saved their lives. Seriously - my children were near death from boredom – bored to death, I tell you!!!

Humpf. If they only knew – I was close to killing them myself.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day 2008 And A Sack of Food

He was tall, frail and speckled with gray….he approached me as I was leaving the diner. “Excuse me, ma’am – do you know when the hurricane is supposed to hit?”

This was exactly a year ago – Labor Day weekend – and I was leaving a truck stop in-between Baton Rouge and Alexandria. I had been in Baton Rouge for several days, deployed by the American Red Cross, in anticipation of Hurricane Gustav. That morning, several of us volunteers had been told to evacuate Baton Rouge and head north – to Alexandria – for our own safety, as well as the protection of the Red Cross vehicles we were driving.

Waiting until the day before expected landfall to evacuate is never smart – as I found out – nor is it speedy. My partner and I had been crawling along the highway, moving only a few miles every hour, as the highway was a virtual parking lot of vehicles all attempting to do what we were doing – head north.

After driving for several hours, we were getting increasingly hungry. I had been squirreling away snacks for the last few days – a package of cookies here – a bag of chips there – and storing them in an empty Walmart bag in the truck. I had learned from previous disaster volunteer work that food can become scarce after an event; it’s best to have a surplus of food stored away in advance – a “just in case”, if you will. However, my partner and I were hoping for one last hot meal before landfall – but the prospects of getting that meal were growing increasingly smaller – as every store, restaurant and gas station we passed along the way were all closed and boarded up – letting employees be at home with their own families, preparing to “hunker down.”

We were about to give up on a hot meal when we saw a crowded truck stop off the side of the highway – and we quickly pulled in. The diner was a zoo – there was a sense of desperation from all the weary & hungry travelers, all hoping to get that last meal before the storm. The frazzled waitress told us they were cleaning out their freezer and therefore our only choices for dinner were a cheeseburger, or chicken tenders. Hey – that sounded good to me – I was just thankful there was anything at all to eat, and that they were open. No complaints here. I ate half my tenders and quickly boxed up the rest – thinking they could serve as a future meal during the storm. I’ve learned – you don’t throw any food away before a storm hits.

We were leaving the diner when the elderly gentleman approached me in the parking lot. “Do you know when the hurricane is supposed to hit?” he asked. I replied that it would be coming within the next 12 hours. I then asked, “Are you from around here? Do you have shelter?” He replied, “No, ma’am…I’m from New Orleans – and they told us to evacuate from there. I didn’t evacuate during Katrina – and ended up breaking a hole in my attic roof to get out – and I ain’t taking chances on this one. I got in my car and just started driving north.” I asked, “Are you heading to a Red Cross shelter? There’s several of them open on up the road.” He said, “No, ma’am…I plan on riding out the storm over there in my car.”

I looked across the parking lot and gulped. His small car looked like a puff of wind would blow it over…no protection from an expected Category 4 hurricane on the way. I tried to convince him of the need to head to a shelter, but he said he was “old and tired” and he’d be “just fine” in the car – “God would watch” over him.

I asked him if he’d eaten – if he had food – because the stores & restaurants would probably be closed for several days, especially if there were power outages. He said no, he had no food – but he’d be fine.

Without thinking, I handed him my box of leftover chicken tenders. “Here, take this – please,” I said. He fussed and tried to refuse, but I insisted. He took it and said, “Oh, bless you, child. Thank you.”

I then said, “Hang on.” I jogged over to the Red Cross truck and got my Walmart bag of snacks – along with what few bottles of water I had – and gave it all to the gentleman. He choked up and said, “Oh Lordy – thank you. You’re an angel.” I told him I’d give him more if I had it – but our Red Cross truck was empty and we wouldn’t be able to load up with more food until we reached Alexandria. I again tried one more time to convince him to head to a safe shelter, but he shook his head, hugged me, and walked back to his car.

“I’ll be fine,” he called out over his shoulder. “When I got God and angels like you watching over me, what can happen?”

As I got back in the truck and drove off, he was sitting in his car, reclining his seat to settle in to sleep. I didn’t feel like an angel, for sure – but I did pray to whatever angels were listening to watch out for him and protect him during the storm.

I’ve often wondered whatever happened to him. Hurricane Gustav hit the next day, and after it was over, 48 people in Louisiana alone were killed – so it was a storm to be taken seriously. I spent almost 3 weeks in Louisiana, working 12-hour shifts, 7 days a week…I passed out hundreds and hundreds of snacks, meals and water to thousands of people affected by the storm.

The meal that made the biggest impact on me, though, was the leftover chicken tenders and the Walmart sack of snacks that went to that old man in the parking lot…somewhere along a highway….in rural Louisiana. God bless him, wherever he is.

Happy Labor Day, everyone.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter

I started a new 12-week Sunday School class this morning - it's a woman's study of the book, "Five Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter." We had a huge turnout for the first week - apparently, there's a lot of moms out there who are struggling with some of the "talks" we all must have....

Several people messaged me, asking what the conversations are...I recommend the book (author is Vicki Courtney), but a quick summary of the 5 conversations are:

Conversation #1: You are more than the sum of your parts...
This appears to deal with body issues, appearance, redefining beauty and the impact that the media has on body image.

Conversation #2: Don't be in such a hurry to grow up...
Discussion includes girlfriends, boyfriends, drugs, gadgets (cell phones, Facebook, internet usage, etc) & how we all seem to have 8-year olds going on 18...

Conversation #3: Sex is great and worth the wait...
I think this one is self-explanatory...

Conversation #4: It's OK to dream about marriage and motherhood...
Discussions include living together before marriage, and career choices, including motherhood...

Conversation #5: Girls gone wild are a dime a dozen...dare to be virtuous...
Emphasizing to our daughters the importance of virtue...

Interesting, huh? Each "conversation" is important and valid and necessary - especially in today's culture. I have to be honest - my dear daughter is now 10, and although we've 'touched' on some of these subjects, I've been rather avoiding sitting down and talking with her in-depth about some things. However, I know the importance of it - as lately, she's been coming home and telling me of her newfound knowledge that she's picked up on the bus (!!!) - and if she heard it on the bus, well then, by golly, you know it has to be true! Yikes - how scary is that?!

I'll try to report back on some of this as we go through our study - but just thought I'd share it for those that were interested. Again, I recommend checking out the book - perhaps one of you can lead a study at your own church - as this is certainly an important topic.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Junior Rings and Brain Surgery

Last night, I sat down with my 16-year old son to order his junior class ring. He hands me the paperwork so I can review it, and I immediately cringe.

I'm always suspicious when something says, "Only Four Easy Steps!!!"


Ordering a junior class ring is about as easy as brain surgery. (Of course, I've never performed brain surgery - but I would assume it's rather difficult...correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think I'm ever wrong....)

Those "four easy steps" EACH had at least 16.6 "sub-steps" - I kid you not- and so what I thought would take just a few minutes ended up taking 93 minutes and 47 seconds. Really. I missed the ending of Project Runway, which did NOT make me happy.

Back in the dinosaur age, when I was ordering my own junior class ring, I got to pick the stone color. Woo hoo. That was about the only choice you got back then. And I was really creative - I picked my birthstone. Done deal.

NOW - you begin by picking the style of ring - "achiever", "heritage", etc - all fancy names for what REALLY means, "Really expensive price for small piece of stone and metal." Speaking of the metal, you must choose that, too. We have white gold, yellow gold, purple gold, silver gold, platinum gold, topaz platinum (okay, I made some of those up - but you get the idea) - and so on, and so on....

After choosing the stone, you then must decide what goes on the sides (sports? clubs? logos? pets? future jobs? And, are you kidding me on future jobs? Who the heck knows in high school what their future job is going to be???)...after designing both sides, we then had to decide what goes on top, on the inside, on the bottom side - who knew a ring had so many freakin' sides?!!

And wait! You're not finished yet! Get this - you pick a finish....seriously? Who cares what kind of freakin' finish you have on your ring?? What the heck IS a finish, anyway???!

After spending most of the evening flipping through the 152-page design book - and then attempting to fill in the oh-so-easy order form - it is going to be REALLY interesting to see what my son ends up with when it's finally delivered. We think we've ordered a silver ring with a crimson (go, OU) stone and a baseball logo on one side and a Christian cross on the other side...with an antique finish, of course. What we probably ordered instead? A purple ring with a green stone, a cheerleader on one side and the Glee Club on the other side.

Sorry, son. We tried.

When our 10-year old daughter is ready to order her ring, we'll hire a brain surgeon to help us with the paperwork.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I've Got the Shoulder Injury Blues

Way back in March of 2008, I spent three weeks in Hawaii on an amazing mission trip.

I only mention it now because I seem to have brought back with me a permanent reminder of this trip...and it's not been pleasant.

Most of my time was spent outdoors, assisting in landscaping a church camp and getting it handicapped-accessible...one of my many projects during those weeks was raking a large camping area and removing the sod. One day, while attempting to "rake" up a rather large piece of said sod (that sounds funny), I felt something rip in my right shoulder. And when I say rip - I mean, horrendously, painfully tear - leaving me in tremendous pain and unable to move my right arm for quite a long time.

I took Tylenol and came home and somewhat forgot about the shoulder...thinking that time would be the best healer and it would eventually heal on its own.

Hasn't happened, unfortunately. If anything, it appears to be getting worse. To the point that now, even trying to shift gears while driving my car causes sharp, stabbing pains in the shoulder area. Yikes - I can't imagine not being able to drive! I've babied it, given up Tae Kwon Do, and even given up lifting weights - hoping it would get better. To no avail. It's gotten to the point that every morning, when I wake up, the shoulder is throbbing...I don't even want to get out of bed.

I wonder if anyone else has ever had a similar injury....and if so, what's the answer? Don't say surgery- I'm a wimp when it comes to hospitals and doctors and such - I am doing everything I can to avoid surgery. There has to be another answer....

In the meantime, I'm just living on painkillers and babying my arm and doing a lot of complaining.