Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Random Fact du Jour

Bearcats, a member of the civet family, have a scent that smells exactly like popcorn.

Remember that just in case it ever comes up the next time you're on Jeopardy.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Post-Thanksgiving, Pre-Christmas Updates

I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving! We went to my brother-in-law's as usual - this year they prepared the absolute biggest turkey I've ever seen in my life. It was 34 pounds, I kid you not. My nephew raised it for 4H or whatever farming club he's involved in. I am kind of weird about eating things that I've met in person ... But I *am* a meat-eater, so I guess that's silly. He sure was delicious, though. Probably the best tasting turkey I've ever had!

Incrediboy was under the weather on Thanksgiving Day (he did all right but had a sporadic lowgrade fever and didnt eat much) - Hub took him to the doctor on Friday and he has a sinus infection too :(. They say sinus infections arent contageous, but I wonder! He's on these new antibiotics that are nasty and he hates. Lovely getting that in him. Needless to say, with my dad's health being a little delicate, we canceled plans with my folks. Dang it.

I made a trial run of ice cream cupcakes y'day, and not only are they adorable but they're really good! And WAY less messy to eat than a normal cupcake. The only drawback is the cones lose a little bit of crispiness the next day (yes, I know this because had one for breakfast - shut up) - but I'm sure as heck not getting up at 4am to make flippin' cupcakes tomorrow just so the cones are perfectly crispy. Preschoolers wont care all that much about that I'm sure. ;)

Oh, and I have two more gifts bought. YES!

Have a great week, everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

This is an altered version of a post from a few years ago - I was reading it this morning and decided it was really all I wanted to say this year as well - more to myself than anyone, but hopefully it will bless you as well. Enjoy your holiday, friends!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A THANKFUL HEART - Originally posted Nov. 23, 2005

I used to work for a company that was owned and about 85% staffed by Jehovah’s Witnesses. JW’s do not celebrate any holidays or birthdays, considering it to be a form of idolatry. We of “other ways” were permitted to take the day off without getting any grief about it, but we weren’t paid for the holidays we took. As an inquisitive casual Christian, I once asked one of my coworkers why they didn’t observe Thanksgiving, being that it was a day of prayer and thankfulness. He told me, “Because WE are thankful EVERY day.”

Frankly, I found that response very annoying in its condescension.

It’s been probably 14 years since I had this brief conversation, but I think back on it every year. As time goes by, regardless of the fact that it generated from the teachings of a doctrine with which I personally do not agree, its simple stand-alone truth has come into a better understood light. With so much to be thankful for, it is indeed a shame that most people are only thankful for what we have in flitting afterthoughts, if at all - and only pause to more deeply reflect and appreciate during holidays set aside for such.

This year has been a challenge for me. Indeed every year brings its bounty of highs and lows – found treasures and losses. Sometimes the lows get to me, and seem to stick with me longer than the highs. I often catch myself getting into modes of being sad, stressed and/or cross. For what reason? What burdens are so heavy that I can’t find joy in the many blessings in my life? I have a wonderful and loving husband who makes me smile every day. We have the most marvelously incredible little boy who teaches us daily new joys of life. We have a sweet and gentle dog that is a model of unconditional love for us. We are all healthy and sound and to top it off were fortunate enough to have been born in the United States, land of Liberty. Though my family is scattered, they are good and strong people who have shown me what it means to lead by example. I have friends that are true treasures. I have a “dream home” on some beautiful country land and my husband and I have jobs that we not only love but allow us to provide for our family while also enjoying some finer things. Yes, I’m constantly scrambling, perpetually fretting, often stressing, and always chasing after someone or something. But this means my life is full of others with which I share love and happiness. And that truly is the biggest blessing.

It’s easy to get caught up in feeling sorry for ourselves or allowing our hearts to harden, proclaiming we have no one to thank for our life and accomplishments but ourselves. But as I grow older, watch the world grow and evolve around me, I begin to understand what my coworker was saying at the heart of it. It’s a fulfilling thing to gather with friends and family on marked holidays of Thanks, but true thankfulness carries on and flows freely every day of the year. This Thanksgiving, as we hurry around the state and visit with relatives, cope with screeching herds of kids, and I hug my husband and pick birthday cake out of Incrediboy’s hair, I’ll be opening myself to the Lord to teach me how to have a more gracious and thankful heart on a daily basis – for ALL my blessings - because I am so very blessed, it should be no other way.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Love Sucks - But in a Good Way

I’ve been called many things, but “domestic goddess” is probably not on the list. Generally, my motto is, “Keep your home clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy.” I’m a lame housekeeper, I’ll be the first to admit it. There are a lot more things I’d rather be doing than cleaning house. I do it, occasionally. But not like I should.

One reason is that when I get done, it looks like I never did anything. Particularly the floors, and let’s face it – a dirty floor makes the whole room look dirty. Hardwood is one thing; sweep and you’re done – a vast improvement. But our big throw rugs? They’ve got almost as much dog hair on them as our most beautiful dog himself, and our tired old vacuum cleaner just didn’t get it up. Vacuuming and nothing were nearly the same thing, which was discouraging.

That is until Hub bought me my new vacuum cleaner.

Now to most modern women, the gift of a vacuum cleaner would hold an insulting reference to 1950’s socio-sexist politics. But only until they’d meet my new baby, I bet.

If it’s possible to be in love with a vacuum cleaner, I am. Sleek, with 3 filters (one of them HEPA), 24 - count 'em, 24! - cyclonic chambers, a never lose suction guarantee, pull-out telescoping tube handle, 4 attachments including special pet hair ones, and dressed in my favorite color. It sucks everything but the color out of the carpet. And I love it. I love it so much I bet I even vacuum more than once every month or two now.

Thank you, Hubby – I love you even more than my new vacuum cleaner. I mean it!

BTW, after many hours of pain and suffering, I'm finally overcoming my sinus infection. Thanks to everyone for the get well wishes!

And may God bless the SAINT who invented Zithromax. :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Roadkill Head

I think that a very large utility truck ran over my head while I was sleeping last night.

Either that, or I've developed a sinus infection.

I've been battling feeling crummy for several weeks now, and yesterday started producing thick gunky brown snot out of the right side of my nose (sorry, TMI.) I woke up this morning with nearly the entire right side of my face, from above my eyebrow to the roots of my top teeth, absolutely throbbing. I'm plugged up, but the added pressure of trying to blow my nose makes me quite certain the whole right side of my head will blow apart if I push too hard.

Sucks to be me.

BUT! I don't care. Because one of my bestest friends, Chesneygirl, will just so happen to be in my area tonight for a work training thing tomorrow. We've been planning to meet for a late dinner and for her to meet my boys - and we only get to see each other a couple times a year, so as long as I can get up and move, I'll be chillin' with my coolie in a matter of hours now. YESSS!

I know what you're thinking. I'm extremely selfish and inconsiderate to expose my dear friend to my germs. But she told me she didn't care. And who am I to go against her wishes?


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Speaking of Madness ...

Incrediboy's got a birthday coming up this month, and now that he's in preschool it's become a nice little tradition for all the kids to have a little something special for the class (provided by their parents) in honor of their birthdays. This has varied from simple little gift bags to hats and noisemakers to a party at Chuck E. Cheese. The latter from which I'm still recovering.

I had the idea of providing a pinata for his class, but after asking his teachers if this would be okay, they decided to have a pinata for the kids at Halloween. Thanks for stealing my idea. >:[

So last week I just so happened to run across the greatest idea in a magazine. ICE CREAM CONE CUPCAKES. Have you seen these? You take flat bottomed ice cream cones and fill them as you would a cupcake tin. Place the batter filled cones on a cookie sheet and bake according to the box directions. When the cupcakes cool, ice them and add decorative sprinkles. Then you eat them like an ice cream cone! Kids love them because they're fun, and they are (supposedly) much neater and easier for little ones than the traditional paper cup peeling action of regular cupcakes.

And honestly ... how CUTE are THESE!?

Apparently this is not a new idea, as I've since found many people who are familiar with this technique. But I'm pretty excited. I think they're adorable and fun and I can't wait to make them for Incrediboy's class.

I'm pondering the possibility of making up a little party favor bag for all the kids too, but frankly, I already have an inordinate amount of stress going on in my life right now. The ice cream cone cupcakes may be it for preschool this year. And trust me, while I consider myself a pretty fun Mom, Suzy Homemaker -slash- Party Coordinator is a role I find challenging to play. I'll consider myself doing pretty good if I can pull these off and get them to class without destroying them in the process.

Maybe I should make a test batch. You know, just to practice.


Monday, November 12, 2007

The Madness is Underway.

I bought my first Christmas gift this weekend. I ran across a book on a subject in which my brother-in-law has a strong interest. It’s a very nice, very thick, sleek paged hardback book – and I got it on sale for what I’d estimate to be a fourth of its retail price.

I’m quite pleased with my find.

Truth be told, I’m beginning to really detest the holiday season in these later years. Not Christmas itself – I love Christmas. But the whole big production it’s become. I used to enjoy gift shopping, I really did. But it's just too much of a hassle now. Ya know? It's is an absolute crapshoot – everyone has everything, and getting suggestions (other than HDTV’s and things like that) is like getting blood from a turnip. I rarely see my nieces and nephews and really don’t know what they already have, so toy shopping is a grope in the dark. Then there’s always the gnawing feeling that we haven’t gotten enough. Then there's the increasingly impossible task of finding something for everyone else that reflects a remote air of thoughtfulness on your part (I've never cared for taking the route of generic gifts - I always try to find something special. A huge contributor to my stress level, but it's all part of my OCD. I can't help it.)

My family discontinued gift exchanging amongst adults many years ago. We still buy for the youngsters, but not having to deal with everyone else made the holidays much more enjoyable. We could let go of the stress of trying to find so many gifts and simply enjoy the season as meant to be. Gathering together, seeing the children’s joy with their gifts, enjoying a meal and sharing the special warmth and love of family is where the true magic of Christmas lies. Hub and I have tried to suggest this system to his family, but it’s never been accepted. So each year, we are still struggling to find gifts for those that have no suggestions for us and already have everything they want and need.

All I can say is, “UGH!”.

I know I sound totally selfish, not to mention very un-American, and believe me I know what a huge impact non-gifting would have on our economy. I don’t want stores to finish in the red, and I don’t want people to lose their jobs. But just think about how much nicer the holiday season would be, if we got back to focusing on what it’s all about and didn’t place such a huge emphasis on what to buy. We could return to teaching our children ~ BY EXAMPLE ~ the true meanings of Christmas. Love. Family. And the birth of a Savior. Not materialism, greed, and keeping up with Johnny and Jenny’s parents.

Incrediboy is coming to an age where he’s putting the whole “gimme” aspect of Christmas together. Every toy commercial prompts “I want that”. Now comes the skillful challenge for us as parents to balance Christmas of the heart and Christmas of the wallet. Having Incrediboy has also set us back a few steps in the sense that I do buy some little things for my Hub and myself after all, because it’s nice to have all of us open a stocking on Christmas morning. Not happy about re-adding us to the shopping list, but it’s all about creating memories for the boy.

So, for now, at this time each year, I join in the race. Struggling blindly to find something for everyone in the midst of a cluster of horrible, creeping traffic and grumpy, rude fellow shoppers (the REAL reason I hate Christmas shopping). Likewise, I don’t know what to tell people to get me, and I feel bad about that. Thus, if you haven't caught on - this whole aspect of the holidays is not only unenjoyable for me, but downright stressful.

Have you ever seen “Best Friends”, where Goldie Hawn took about 5 Valiums before going shopping with her mother- and sister-n-law, and ended up passing out in her chicken salad?

I’m in touch with how she got to that point. Just sayin’.

One gift down, a squillion to go. Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

T-Bone - 4/8/1960-10/28/2002

A few years ago I wrote about my sweet friend T-Bone, the laughs we had, and how her illness caused her to withdraw from the world. Her mother told me they were just making her comfortable during her time she had left, the last time I called T-Bone's home. But I never even knew when she died.

It's always bothered me. Immensely.

I've periodically tried to do searches on her name on line to learn more, but have never really had any luck - Until the other day, when I ran across a very interesting site. Find A Grave is a huge database of millions of gravesites all over the United States and internationally. A collective project of both founder and thousands of contributors, visitors to the site can look up information on those who have passed. Of course the success of finding anyone depends on whether someone had taken the time and effort to enter them prior to your search, but with so many already banked there, your chances are fair.

I found T-Bone. She had been entered by a family friend, who had been gracious enough to also include her obituary and a photograph of her headstone. As I would have expected, her stone is adorned with a lovely angel - she loved angels. More importantly, I finally knew when she'd left us. I left a note in the guestbook, telling her I missed her. Silly sounding, I know, but somehow I felt much better after doing so.

I've never cosidered myself one for "closure" in the matters of death. When someone I love dies, the last thing I want to do is go to a funeral. I do NOT want my last memory of my loved one to be of them gray and cold and laid out in a box. But I do have a way of remembering the friends I've lost on their birthdays and the days they have died. It's my way of paying them tribute, if only in my heart. Not knowing when T-Bone passed away has always troubled me. My experience with finding her in that grave database and in finally knowing the date she passed, made me realize that perhaps I do have the need for "closure". Just in a different way than someone else would.

It's good to finally know. Rest in peace, my dear friend.

(BTW, if you're a perpetual browser like me, Find A Grave also has thousands of famous people's graves and biographies in its database. Have fun!)

Monday, November 05, 2007

A New Bright Star

I learned this weekend that a good friend had died.

I met him about 12 years ago, and if there's one thing that could be said about him it's that he never met a stranger. From minute one he treated you like he'd known you forever. He was popular - everyone seemed to know him - yet he had a way of making you feel like you were very special to him. There was nothing at all phony about his warm nature - it was just the way he was. Genuinely kind, unpretentiously intelligent. He lit up a room, wherever he was. And he had such an infectious laugh ... :)

The Hub I are blessed to have many memories with him and his wife. Great days and nights on the lake. New Years Eve parties. Friends' weddings. A wonderful visit and generous gifts when our son was born. Movies. Dinners. Lots of laughs.

We'd spoken with him on the phone, what doesn't seem like too long ago. We'd discussed getting together for dinner again but didn't make any solid plans. When his wife called us this weekend and told us the news, we could barely believe it. We missed the funeral, we didn't know - but there were many people to contact during a time when good concentration was hardly possible. It's understandable.

It's still sinking in that he's not here anymore. And already the world is a dimmer place now.

Shine brightly in your new home, my friend. We'll miss you, more than words can say.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I *SO* Love This.

I wish I could take credit for this, but I can't - I got it by email. I wish I could credit whoever put it together, but I don't know who they are. So, whoever you are - Kudos. This killed me. Hope y'all enjoy it as much as I did! (Also that you appreciate that it took me like two hours to upload all these goofy pics into Blogger. Just for you.) I know the spacing's a little screwy here and there, but Blogger's being a butthole and I did the best I could and am getting a headache, so forget it. Enjoy!

Last weekend I put an exhaust fan in the ceiling for my grandfather. While my brother and I were fitting the fan in between the joists, we found something under the insulation. What we found was this:

A JC Penney catalog from 1977. It's not often blog fodder just falls in my lap, but holy moley this was two solid inches of it, right there for the taking.

I thumbed through it quickly and found my next dining room set, which is apparently made by adding upholstery to old barrels:

Also, I am totally getting this for my bathroom:

There's plenty more home furnishings where those came from, however I'm not going to bore you with that. Instead, I'm going to bore you with something else. The clothes. The clothes are fantastic.

Here's how to get your a$s kicked in elementary school:

Just look at that belt. It's like a boob-job for your pants. He probably needed help just to lift it into place. The belt loops have to be three inches long. And way to pull them up to your armpits, grandpa.

Here's how to get your a$s kicked in high school:

This kid looks like he's pretending to be David Soul, who is pretending to be a cop who is pretending to be a pimp that everyone knows is really an undercover cop. Who is pretending to be 15.

Here's how to get your a$s kicked on the golf course:

This "all purpose jumpsuit" is, according to the description, equally appropriate for playing golf or simply relaxing around the house. Personally, I can't see wearing this unless you happen to be relaxing around your cell in D-block. Even then, the only reason you should put this thing on is because the warden made you.

Here's how to get your a$s kicked pretty much anywhere:

If you look at that picture quickly, it looks like Mr. Bob "No-pants" Saget has his hand in the other guy's pocket. In this case, he doesn't, although you can tell just by looking at them that it's happened - or if it hasn't happened it will. Oh yes. It will. As soon as he puts down his matching coffee cup.

Here's how to get your a$s kicked at the beach:

He looks like he's reaching for a gun, but you know it's probably just a bottle of suntan lotion in a holster.

Here's how to get your a$s kicked in a meeting:

If you wear this suit and don't sell used cars for a living, I believe you can be fined and face serious repercussions, up to and including termination. Or imprisonment, in which case you'd be forced to wear that orange jumpsuit.

Here's how to get your a$s kicked on every day up to and including St. Patrick's Day:

Dear heavens, I don't believe that color exists in nature. There is NO excuse for wearing either of these ensembles unless you're working as a body guard for the Lucky Charms leprechaun.

In this next one, you'll be relieved to learn: Your Search For VALUE Ends at Penneys. As does your search for chest hair.

And this -- Seriously. No words.

Oh wait, it turns out that there are words after all. Those words are What. The. Heck. I'm guessing the snap front gives you quick access to the chest hair. The little tie must be the pull tab.

Also, judging by the sheer amount of matching his/hers outfits, I'm guessing that in 1977 it was considered pretty stylish for couples to dress alike.

This couple looks happy, don't they?

I am especially fond of this one, which I have entitled "Cowboy Chachi Loves You Best."

And nothing showcases your everlasting love more than the commitment of matching bathing suits. That, and a blonde girl with a look on her face that says "I love the way your junk fights against that fabric."

Then, after the lovin', you can relax in your one-piece matching terry cloth jumpsuits:

I could go on, but I'm tired, and my eyes hurt from this trip back in time. I think it's the colors.

That said, I will leave you with these tasteful little numbers:

Man, that's sexy.