Monday, March 31, 2008

A Small Obsession

Jack, my almost 7 year old, has a new obsession. On the way to my dad’s last week, we passed a tiny old dilapidated wood shack along the side of the creek bank. A gentle blow and slight push would have knocked it over. John jokingly told the boys, “That’s where you can live when you grow up.” Jack got immediately…excited.

Ever since then, he has been obsessed with the size of his future house. And not just his future house, but his current bedroom. Over the weekend, I talked him into going to look at a couple of open houses with me (my own incurable obsession). In the first house, we walked into the small mud/laundry room. I told him, “This could be your room.”

“Oh, could it be, please?” he asked me, completely serious.

“No,” I said. “This is the laundry room.”

“Well, we’d need to move that. This is a tiny room and I want it. My room right now is too big.” Know any kids that think their room is too big? I didn’t think I did either.

The next house we went to (but we didn’t get to go into because, as often is the case with children, a nature call interrupted us) had a small, fake guard shack at the entrance to the neighborhood to try to make it seem like it was worth the price they were asking for it. When we were leaving the neighborhood, Jack said, “I would totally live there.” I thought he meant the big, beautiful house on the corner. He meant the fake guard shack.

He said, “I’d have a bed and a table and I’d sit on my bed to eat.”

I said, “Where would you put the refrigerator to keep your food?”

He said, “I’d keep it somewhere else and just bring in what I needed when I needed it.” The owners of Sam's Club and Costco collectively shuttered, although they didn't know why.

I said, “Where would you put the television?”

He was quiet for a minute. “Yeah, I guess I’d need a t.v.” And then he thought about it. “No I wouldn’t. I’d just spend all of my time outside exploring. And then at night I’d go home and go to sleep.”

Yeah, right. This from a kid who gets tired after being outside for more than an hour. So I started asking him where he’d put his clothes and his toys and his Nintendo and his Playstation, etc. He answered with, “Somewhere else,” or, "I just need a little bit," or, “I don’t need it at all.”

That got me thinking. Here I am, looking at bigger houses dreaming of what I could do with more space (fill it with more clutter, perhaps). And here’s my almost 7 year old, already so wise and dreaming of downsizing and ridding his life of the clutter. Wouldn’t life be so simple in a one room shack? A bed, a table, spending your days exploring outside, and sleeping when you get tired. It makes me want to chuck it all and head for the hills, living with my family Little House on the Prairie style. But I won’t, because as much as Jack longs for that one room shack, he longs for his Nintendo and toys more. And I still long for more space to put it all in.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday Laughs

No Appetite

A woman asks her husband, "Would you like some bacon and eggs? A slice of toast and maybe some grapefruit and coffee?"

He declines. "Thanks for asking, but I'm not hungry right now. It's this Viagra," he says. "It's really taken the edge off my appetite."

At lunchtime she asked if he would like something. "A bowl of soup, homemade muffins, or a cheese sandwich?"

He declines. "The Viagra," he says, "really trashes my desire for food."

Come dinner time, she asks if he wants anything to eat. "Would you like a juicy rib eye steak and scrumptious apple pie? Or maybe a rotisserie chicken or tasty stir fry?"

He declines again. "No," he says, "It's got to be the Viagra...I'm still not hungry".

"Well," she says, "Would you mind letting me up? I'm starving."

Friday, March 28, 2008

You Know It’s Been A Successful Day When...

My boys have been on Spring Break all week. Yesterday we took them to their Grampy and Grammy’s house. They live in the country in a cute house surrounded by a spring-fed pond and creek. By our standards, here are just a few of the things that made this a wonderfully successful Spring-break day:

1. Six Ice-E-Pops between the boys, and three pieces of cheesecake for me.

2. Daddy having to kill a snake with a stick because it was trying to bite one of the dogs, and John couldn’t tell if it was poisonous or not. The boys, who were in the house during this time, thought this was totally cool, but John felt very bad about killing a snake.

3. Coming across a dead coyote along the side of the road during a hike. Man, coyotes have very big, very sharp teeth. And they are very, very white teeth. Makes me think I should be chewing on bark rather than Colgate.

4. Watching Luke reel in two fish from the pond, and then begging to let them go.

5. Watching my boys squatted in the creek, three in a line, water up to their knees, happily chatting about whatever popped into their heads while hunting for shiny rocks for our growing collection. Too bad I didn’t have my camera. Plumber's butt at its finest.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What Do I Do Now?

I learned something very important about myself after my crappy illness. I am a cranky after-sick person. Not that the whole 6-days-of-fever, can’t-move-a-muscle, vomiting, bloody-diarrhea, teeth-chattering chills, coughing-my-head-off wouldn’t make anyone cranky. It was the aftermath that made me cranky. The empty refrigerator. The piles of laundry. The dirty house. The piles of work. The to-do list that didn’t get to-done.

All of these things turned me into a very cranky person. So much so that I was huffy with the elderly at the grocery store. The Elderly! Usually I stop for at least one elderly person at the grocery store and help them read a label or find something on a shelf or in an aisle on the other side of the store. Not this time. I barreled through, cranky that their carts were in my way, that they were slow, that they went through the More Than 20 Items checkout line with four items in their carts.

I was even cranky with a couple that I had never even seen before so much so that I turned and left an aisle that I needed an item from just because they were in it. The source of my crankiness with them? Simply because earlier they were shopping for spaghetti sauce the same time I needed it.

And I think I figured out why I am so cranky. No matter how sick you are, life goes on. And all the well wishes and care providers and friends and family members can’t take care of your specific life duties. And, as soon as you are feeling a smidge better, you must get back on with life. No matter what a mess it is in. And when you are feeling like dirt that a dog just peed on, the last thing you want to do is clean up messes. Especially the messes that your 14-year old dog has left on your kitchen floor. Or the messes that your boys have left in the bathrooms. And when your gag reflex is working overtime, these unappealing jobs become even less appealing, and you find yourself longing for that fever to creep back up on you if only to postpone the cleaning for one more day.

So, why am I sharing all this? Because I am brilliant, that’s why! I have come up with the money making business to end all money making businesses. It is called (cue trumpets):



Some of the services I will offer include:

  1. Cleaning your house while you’re sick so it doesn’t smell like something died in it.
  2. Doing laundry for you while you’re sick so your kids’ clothes won’t walk to school without your kids inside of them.
  3. Grocery shopping so the workers at McDonald’s don’t start buying your kids birthday gifts.
  4. Preparing healthy, heat-and-serve meals with the items purchased from the grocery store so your husband’s cholesterol doesn’t merit a write up in a medical journal.
  5. Running other errands, such as picking up dog food for your dog, going to the bank, buying that birthday present for your cousin or sister, or just anything else that you can’t handle while oozing fluids from all orifices of your body.

I’m still working out all of the details. I don’t want anyone to think that I am trying to take advantage of the sick. I know that, when I was at my sickest, and then even when I was well and cranky with the elderly at the grocery store, I would have paid good money to have avoided having to clean my house, or grocery shop, or catch up on the laundry. And I know my family would have appreciated it as well. When the boys started pulling out year-old teddy grahams from the bottom of the snack drawer, I knew we had hit rock bottom. I will also need lots of Lysol and gloves/masks or I will be sick non-stop. Then I’ll just be back to what started this whole thing to begin with, and that’s no good.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tag, I'm It

A Shot in the Arm tagged me with a meme for which I am supposed to post 7 random things about myself. Since I am still recovering from my near death experience illness, I thought it a good day to post a meme and not try to be too creative. So here goes.

First the rules:

1. Once you are tagged, link back to the person who tagged you. Check.

2. Post THE RULES on your blog. Check.

3. Post 7 weird or random facts about yourself on your blog. (see below) Check.

4. Tag 7 people and link to them. I am tagging Dorky Dad, Who's Going to Tell You, Sugared Harpy, Midwestern Mommy, Biddy, Katydidnot, Momisodes. Check.

5. Comment on their blog to let them know they have been tagged. Check. And if you aren't into memes or don't feel like posting weird or random facts about yourself but I tagged you, don't sweat it. My feelings won't be hurt.


Here are my weird and/or random things. I'll let you decide if they are weird or just random.


1. I hate anything to be in between my toes. I can't wear flip flops. I hate when my socks get stuck between my toes. When my husband wants to torture me, he will poke my socks down in between my toes. He can be cruel.

2. I've seen the movie Grease at least 60 times.

3. I'm convinced I'd make a really, really good secret agent.

4. My average body temperature is between 97 and 97.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. I am directionally challenged. I always forget which direction play goes around a table when playing a game, and I always turn the wrong way out of a store at the mall.

6. Babies stare at me. A lot.

7. My toes can do this:


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Friday, March 21, 2008

You Know You're Sick When...

1. Your State is severely flooded and you ask, "Has it been raining?"

2. Your kids stop referring to you as "mom" and start referring to you as "that sick lady."

3. You don't remember what food tastes like, you've lost 8 pounds in 6 days, and your husband refers to you as "the tiny person."

4. You characterize your illness in phases, and have made it up to Phase 7.

5. You are too weak to shower, but are forced to by the disgusting events of Phase 5.

6. Your house smells as bad as you do.

7. You are convinced there is no way you could possibly sleep another second, and then fall asleep in the middle of playing a board game.

8. Your kids aren't even tempted to wrestle with you when you're sprawled out on the floor.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Karma

Some people that look at the world in a “glass is half empty” light would think that the last week of my life was the universe making things even for the incredibly relaxing and rejuvenating trip that I had to Fort Lauderdale. I would like to look at the world in a “glass is half full” light, so would like to think that the universe knew what it had in store for me (which really wasn’t all that bad in the grand scheme of things) so gave me that trip to Florida to get me all nice and relaxed and prepped to handle a stressful follow-up trip followed by an illness followed by another trip (which I may need to cancel due to said illness) rather than have me teetering on the edge of going postal when it all piled up on me.

My Motrin has graciously kicked in, lowering my fever enough to allow me to finally post on my blog, which I have missed doing. I wanted to let everyone know that my husband and I had a wonderful trip to Fort Lauderdale. We had no travel delays, no reservation hiccups, relatively no arguments or disagreements, wonderful weather, great food, we never got lost, and all in all the best 4-day vacation we could have hoped for.

We got upgraded to a suite (one of the perks of frequent business travel) and it was almost too hard to leave our room. Here was the view from one of our balconies:

Fort Lauderdale's Intercoastal Waterway and downtown

And here was the view from the other balcony:



The weather was a little too cold and windy for swimming, so we did a lot of walking, wandering, exploring, and eating. There was an art fair (I love art fairs!) and John agreed to go if I went on the Cyclone roller coaster at Hollywood Beach with him. Which I did. And I didn't puke.

We took a water taxi one night and toured around the Intercoastal waterway. The houses were amazing, which I knew they would be, but the yachts and sailboats really took me by surprise. Some of them were worth over 20 million dollars, and cost over $250,000 just to fuel for the week. Tommy Lee Jones has one docked there that you can charter for the low, low price of $120,000 per week.

We drove to the Keys to snorkel, but a cold front had moved in and all the snorkel excursions were canceled due to low visibility. So, we rented a kayak, rowed around and snorkeled a little off the beach. We bar hopped sampling drinks and food. Fair warning to those of you that will meet me when Bossy comes to St. Louis, here’s what happens to me after one drink:


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I said something that made me laugh so hard I cried, and John could only respond with, “Want me to drive for awhile?”

Friday, March 14, 2008

Lost Cell Phone Tips

  1. Check for your cell phone before you get off the plane, not after you’ve left the plane and passed to the other side of security where, even in a dinky airport where the runway is the parking lot, the TSA agents will not let you go back onto the plane to check for your cell phone but will send an agent to look who couldn’t possibly retrace your steps and couldn’t possibly care about finding your phone as much as you do.

  2. If you have to lose your cell phone, don’t do it on the trip when you will be driving from the Middle-Of-No-Where, North Dakota to the End-Of-No-Where, North Dakota and you will only be passing two pay phones during your two and a half hour drive, neither of which can make collect calls to a 314 area code.

  3. If you have to lose your cell phone, don’t do it on the site visit that requires you to randomly and unknowingly step into snow drifts in which you sink up to your knees from which the only means of escape is to crawl.

  4. If you have to lose your cell phone, don’t do it on the site visit that includes a long ago forgotten but soon to be rediscovered water well hidden by snow and the perfect size and depth to swallow up an unsuspecting passerby had she not seen it just in time.

  5. Try not to think about all the pictures on your cell phone of your children that only a mother should have, like the adorable pictures you took of them playing naked in the sprinkler.

  6. Try not to think of all the time you saved not entering your password each time you wanted to check your email or voicemail by storing each of those passwords in your phone, and at this very moment could be being used by whoever found your phone to check your email and voicemail.

  7. Try to forget that an address book that includes the name, address and phone number of you and everyone you know is on that phone.

  8. Wonder when you became so dependent on technology, as you turn up your iPod; check your Garmin GPS to ensure you are still heading in the right direction to the End-Of-No-Where, North Dakota; and wish you had your cell phone so you could check your messages and email.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Top 10 List

Here is my Top 10 List of Things I Overhear From Another Room in the House That Make Me Go Running Into the Room From Which I Hear Them:

10. “This will work, but we can’t tell mom.”

9. “Do you think this is waterproof?”

8. Giggle, giggle. “Luke, put your clothes back on.”

7. “Come over here and help me move this furniture.”

6. “I wonder how hard we would have to throw this for it to break.”

5. “A LITTLE HELP HERE!”

4. “We better put a bunch of pillows up or this is going to hurt.”

3. “Trust me. I’ll catch you.”

2. A crash and then wailing.

1. Complete silence.

And when you hear all of these things in one day, you know it’s time for a vacation. Without the kids. See you all Tuesday!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Spring Forward

This weekend we spring forward, or set our clocks forward one hour. I always thought that the purpose of Daylight Savings Time (DST) was to conserve energy. But I’ve never been sure, so I did a little research.

DST was invented in 1905 by an English builder and outdoorsmen named William Willett. Reportedly an avid golfer, he disliked cutting short his round of golf when it became too dark to play. His solution was to advance the clock during the summer months.

So much for energy conservation. The real reason for DST is so men can play golf longer in the evening. Not that I’m complaining. Winter is hard enough without darkness closing in on us at 5:00 pm. Although it is hard explaining to the kids that, yes, it is bedtime even though the sun hasn’t fully set. That first day that it stays light past 6:00 pm reminds me that there is an end to the winter and Spring will be coming soon. It puts a little spring in my step.

But back to DST and energy conservation. In 2005, President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act that extended DST by four weeks. The name of the act implies that Bush also believes the intent of DST is to conserve energy. Come on, Bush, we all know you just want to play golf. And this study proves it.

But did we really need a study to inform us that the clock change increases energy use rather than conserves it? School’s out, it’s warm outside, pools are open, the sun doesn’t set until after 8:00 pm. If you could attach a joule meter to my boys in the summer, it would explode from overuse. The energy expelled by my boys in the summer is ten times that expelled by my boys in the winter. O.K. I know that’s not the same type of energy discussed in the study. But, metaphorically, it’s a good comparison.

Normally, it takes me awhile to recover from the out-of-whackness the time change throws my system into. But, since I will be in Florida with my husband for a four-day vacation this weekend, I will have plenty of time to recover from the lost sleep. I will also be doing my part to make sure that the clock change does what it’s supposed to do by conserving energy. Lazing around on the beach for hours ought to do the trick.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

And Shasta Slept Through it All

To my Sister-In-Law, Nancy:

If you were wondering if your cute little dog Rudy misses you when you're gone,


video

He does.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Gambling Epidemic

There is growing concern that adolescents and young adults represent the highest risk group for gambling problems. If you perform a Google search, the results will bring up hundreds of articles like this and this with studies supporting that fact.

This is a very serious problem and I am not trying to make light of it, but I really do believe that I have found the root of the problem:





I never really made the connection before, but we took the boys to the Incredible Pizza Company to try to escape the winter doldrums and attempt to spend our entire paycheck in less than one hour. In three minutes, my sons blew about $15 on the above two games. Card swipe. Spin. Rats. Card swipe. Spin. Rats. I didn’t even try to explain the odds of winning the big jackpot of 250 tickets. And winning a big jackpot of 50 tickets didn’t quench the desire. It only fueled it. Sound familiar? It did to me, as I have played my share of slot machines. The reward for spending $15 in these games was a handful of tickets cashed in for dime store toys worth about a nickel.

As I followed my kids' frantic buzzing from one game to the next, I watched other kids clutching their tickets and moving from one game to the next with parents following closely behind. I marveled at the similarities of the pizza-arcade establishment and the adult version of these establishments, aka the casino:

1. Kids do not give up their favorite, high-ticket paying machines. The only things they are missing are the buckets to carry their tickets in.

2. Casinos have:

Pizza-arcades have:


3. Casinos have free drinks as long as you continue to play to ensure you remain loose and continue to play. Pizza-arcades have free cookies and ice cream to keep your kids on a sugar high to ensure they continue to play.

4. There are no clocks to be found.

5. There are no windows to be found.

6. The only light is provided by the flashing, fluorescence of the overhead lights and games.

7. There is loud music, yelling, screaming, crying, buzzing, chinging, whizzing, whirling, and no place to go for silence. Not even the restrooms are quiet.

8. Casinos have workers pushing around a change cart. Pizza-arcades have workers pushing around trash carts.

9. A couple of hours are all you can handle, and you leave with a ginormous headache swearing that you won't be back for at least a year.

Given these similarities, is it any wonder that our youth are growing up with the urge to gamble? We might as well sign them up for casino cards in the hospital at birth like we do with birth certificates and social security cards. "And, here is your social security form, birth certificate form, and casino registration form. Which portrait package would you like?"

So if you really despise these types of places, remember our youth and the gambling epidemic and you have the perfect excuse not to patronize the dreaded pizza-arcade establishment.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sunday Inspirations

"Love is everything it's cracked up to be…It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for."

Erica Jong, O Magazine, February 2004

My Album Cover

Damama T had this posted on her blog the other day. I always find these little activities fun, so I couldn't resist.

Here's what you are supposed to do to create your own album:

Go to……

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random (The first article title on the page is the name of your band.)

2. http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3(The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album.)

3. http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7daysThe third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

Use your graphics program of choice to throw them together and post the results on your blog.

Here's mine:



I like how the name of my band is the Captain's Hand, and my picture is a boat on water. Plus, I'm leaving for Fort Lauderdale on Friday. So, what is supposed to be random not so much. Have fun!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Saturday Laughs

Dan was a single guy living at home with his father and working in the family business. When he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died, he decided he needed a wife with whom to share his fortune. One evening at an investment meeting he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her natural beauty took his breath away.

"I may look like just an ordinary man," he said to her, "but in just a few years, my father will die, and I'll inherit 20 million dollars."

Impressed, the woman obtained his business card and three days later, she became his stepmother.

Women are so much better at estate planning than men