Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Just Flirting

Last night we were watching bits of American Idol between homework and dinner. My son kept at me about going to a website called, "Vote for the Worst." This website attempts to mess with the voting for American Idol by coaxing folks to vote for the worst candidate. They have enough members, that Sanjaiah stuck around for longer than usual due to their consistency in voting for him.

My son was curious as to whom was their victim this season. As it turns out, Brooke is on their list, however, they are now trying to say that the entire show is rigged. There was some spoof last night when Paula made a comment in regards to something that was supposed to happen but never did. Check it out here.

My son was over my shoulder the entire time asking questions in hopes of averting his already unfocused attention away from his math homework. He then asked, "Mom, are you going to comment on other peoples blogs about the American Idol thing?"

"No Buddy, I don't have time to comment tonight."
"You have been on your computer all night."
"I was writing a story, not reading blogs."
"So why don't you comment or read some blogs?"
"Son, I don't have time."
"Mom, you don't have time to blog flirt."

I laughed out loud! Blog flirt. Is that what I do? Evidently so, according to a fifth grade boy.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Seasonal Suppers

My husband grew up in a home where summer type food was served the summer and wintry foods were served in the winter. The same applied for fall and spring. I was unaware of this phenomenon since I grew up in a house where tacos were served every Tuesday night and on Sunday evenings after church and payday, we were treated to a bucket of chicken from KFC. There was no thought about the weather.

In my grand attempts to make meals during the week I often need to stop and consider the weather. If the temperature drops below 40 during the evening, salads are not on the menu. Just the opposite applies when the temperature soars to 80 or 90 degrees. On these nights, I tend to avoid my Chicken Corn Chowder creation.

I have learned to adjust to serving thick, hot, meals during the colder seasons and cool, light meals during the warm months. I have even learned to appreciate the thought that cheesy lasagna in mid-August sounds a bit heavy.

With that, I consider tonight's choice for dinner. Since we are supposed to reach the mid 80's by this afternoon, I'm leaning towards serving a taco salad. And, tomorrow when our afternoons only reach 65 degrees, I'll concoct a delicious spaghetti and meatballs. I'm flexible, mostly, unless I'm in a bind, than pizza is the perfect all-weather meal.

Thank goodness for pizza.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Delightful Discounts

I love discounts. I'm not particularly overwhelmed when the discount reflects 10 or 15%, but 40% off makes me silly. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter what is being offered. I may end up purchasing 4 neckties at 40% only because I love the idea of such a huge discount. No, my husband does not wear neckties.

I am not a scrapbooker. Not because I am incapable, or don't like it, I love the looks of scrapbook stuff. My problem lies in the fact that I spend my time doing other things.

I happened into Jo-Ann fabric and craft store which was selling all of their scrapbook stuff at 40% off. While my teenage daughter and I shopped around, my husband took the boys to McDonald's to get some ice cream. I figured that we had plenty of time to kill and sauntered to my hearts content.

I bought shiny sheets of paper I didn't know existed. I bought star brads, card stock, and decorative paper...six sheets for 96 cents! All of it was 40% off!

My husband finally text messaged me, "Where are you?" He should have known that you never leave a mother and her teenage daughter alone in a craft store that is offering unbelievable discounts.

Even though I don't scrapbook, I love decorative paper, fun pens, and Dixon Ticonderoga pencils. I'll have to create something with all of my great, inexpensive paper. Eventually I'll go back and purchase some more paper that I don't need, but this time, I will go by myself, without a time constraint. Their sale ends Friday. It's a date!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sizing Up Sizes

When is a large not a large? When it is from the junior department. I would like to know why I cannot purchase a large t-shirt from the junior department without it fitting like a second skin.

After one washing, the bottom of the shirt hovers near my mid-section and barely covers my stomach. The sleeves creep up to the tops of my shoulder and I have to shove my arms down the inside of the shirt, and push to stretch the sides out enough to hang without causing suffocation.

If I weighed 300 pounds, this would all make sense, however, I do not weigh 300 pounds.

Now, if I purchase a large in the "lady" department, it is fine. The sleeves are the proper length, the bottom of the shirt cover my stomach, and the sides aren't suffocating. The problem lies in the fact that sometimes the t-shirts from the junior department are cuter. I'm not often fond of "lady" t-shirts. I just want something that is cute, and fits. I don't think that is too much to ask.

I think I have a problem with my age. I still think that I am a "junior" even though I am miles from a junior. I need to act my age and purchase clothes that fit even if they are embellished with beaded Lilly-of-the-valley flowers and and the pants are neon green with an elastic waistband, at least I know that they will fit. My children will be embarrassed, but I won't be suffocating. I am all for breathing normally.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I Love Your Hair!

As I encountered a girlfriend of mine I noticed that her hair looked different. It was flipped at the end of the layers, had shiny highlights and was cute in every way. I stopped our conversation midway to comment on how terrific her hair looked. She smiled, but it was more like a "you've got to be kidding me" smile instead.

This particular day she hadn't had the time to blow it dry properly, so haphazard-like she fixed it up and left the house. Of course, this was the day she received many compliments.

One year our power had gone out for 48 hours. I was teaching at the time and in the morning was unable to blow dry my hair. I made my best attempts at getting my bangs to do something by sitting in front of the open door of our oven so that the heat could escape and dry my bangs. I clipped up the rest of my hair with a brown claw clip and called it a hair style.

Of all the mornings, this day, with wet hair up in a clip, and bangs that tried to curl under but were left on their own, this day, I got the most hair compliments from the kids in my class. "Your hair looks the bom Mrs. V!" Great. The days I painstakingly fought to add volume to my pin straight locks, teased and sprayed my bangs in perfect position...nothing.

Yesterday was one of those days when I had to choose between a coat of mascara on my eyelashes, or blow drying my hair properly. I hadn't the time to accomplish both tasks. The mascara won. I ran the blow dryer around my head a few times, scrunched the ends some, managed my bangs, and was off with most of my hair still wet.

This was the day people asked if I had gotten my hair cut. What did I do differently? It looks cute, did you try a new color? What gives? Why on the days that I do nothing with my hair, I get the most compliments?

Perhaps I should ditch the blow dryer entirely and walk around resembling a freshly washed dog. It will be then, that people will stop our conversation and say, "I love your hair!"

Thursday, April 24, 2008

You've Got Mail

My children love to get mail. I don't mean email, I mean old school, snail, USP, mail. They anticipate the holidays when my mother sends a card with a ten dollar bill tucked inside.

I love to get mail. Yes, I check my email regularly, but there is nothing like pulling the mail from the box, skipping through the bills and junk to discover an actual hand written message wrapped around a greeting card, or jotted down on a piece of paper in pen.

I count my blessings since my teenage daughter is not into IM, emailing, My Space, Face Book, or any types of popular electronic conversation. She likes to send text messages, but doesn't overuse her privileges, and rarely uses her mobile phone.

Her favorite way to converse is by sending cards and letters to her friends. Her thought is that if she sends someone a letter, they may respond and send her a letter too, which brings us back to the original fact that she loves to get mail.

Yesterday, she got mail. She was downright giddy when she saw that it was a letter from one of her friends and not an announcement from the church youth group. She thoroughly scanned the words, absorbing what was said, smiling and laughing out loud. When she finished, she retold the information back to me with the same excitement. It was so "Old School" so meaningful. It made an impact.

I miss getting letters. I too love to send an encouraging word in the form of a letter or card, and I love to receive them as well. Don't you?

Grab a card. Get a piece of paper. Find a stamp. Write a note. Make someones day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Kidz Eat Phree

I am wrestling with a grammar peeve at the moment. At a time when I have little people attempting to spell out every sign they encounter, I am very bugged when companies choose to spell words incorrectly. This confuses my children.

Already I am dealing with this,
"I know how to spell grocery store."
"Really? How?"
"V-o-n-s."

Okay, so that is not really how you spell grocery store, it is actually the name of the grocery store but I understood his reasoning.

When companies purposely misspell words like, "kidz klub" or "fantaztic fun zone" just that it looks better on their sign it irritates me. It is completely unnecessary.

In the throes of tying to help my children with their spelling and letters, I need company cooperation, especially at restaurants, even if their "kidz klub" meal does come for "phree."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ritual Hiatus

I haven't had a bowl of my favorite ice cream in a week. I love to eat Ralph's/Kroger Private Selection Chocolate Chip ice cream, slightly melted, in a glass bowl, not plastic, topped with whipping cream, but it has been one week since I have enjoyed this rich delicacy.

I cannot tell you that I am dieting, trying to cut out the hundreds of calories that I pour into my body at 9:00 at night, or that I have been sick and avoid ice cream for that reason.

I have been cheating, having an affair with a few other friends from the sugar and sweets category:

Monday: Mud Pie from a restaurant and a chocolate dipped strawberry. (yes, AND)

Tuesday: Napoleon pastry from our local bakery

Wednesday: Peanut butter brownie and few of my favorite cookies topped with a layer of whipped cream

Thursday: Strawberry shortcake from another bakery. My husband surprised me with this amazing treat.

Friday: Chocolate Chip gellato

Saturday: Brownies and my own homemade chocolate chip cookies made with milk chocolate chips instead of the semi-sweet variety.

Sunday: Three chocolate dipped strawberries and two chocolate chip cookies

Monday: Back to my old stand-by.

I hope that my bowl of ice cream isn't mad at me. I am a pleaser. I don't like when anyone or any thing is mad at me.

Right now I am barefoot and eating bon-bons. Really. They are actually called Dibs, but they look like bon-bons. Maybe I should be doing something else, like push-ups.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Full of Flannel

The flannel sheets are still on my bed. For those of you with surprise snow storms still shoveling mounds from your driveway and sidewalks, this is a natural occurrence-flannels in April. "Yah, so?" you may say as you saunter around the house in slippers enjoying the blast from your central heating system, and considering a recipe for split pea soup as a dinner option.

For those of you who are pregnant, live near the equator, are over 50 and experiencing hot flashes, or on the other side of the world and enjoying your summer, you may be sweating at the thought of crawling into a bed made with flannel sheets. I however, could sleep in flannel every day of the year. I would just have to turn the air conditioning down to 62 during the hotter months of the year. My husband may decide to sleep on the couch though since he only agrees to flannel sheets because he knows how giddy I get when they cover my body.

We are experiencing higher temperatures now in So. Cal. My flannel sheets would be long gone by now. Flannel sheets and April should never be in the same sentence since I reside in Southern California. However, in mid October, when the soft cotton sheets were replaced by flannel loveliness, I discovered a tear. Immediately the top sheep was tossed, and the fitted sheep became a cover for my jogging stroller. Handy, I know.

I have yet to replace our cotton sheets. I may be dragging my feet. Replacement is inevitable eventually. But, for now, I'll enjoy my flannel, and wear a bikini to bed. That should help me stay cool this weekend when our temperature soars to eighty.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Crust-Less

I'm semi-childlike in the fact that I don't like bread crust. I chop it off most of my sandwiches. Also, I repel any bread that has grainy, nutty bits nestled inside. I enjoy the whole wheat varieties-sans the wheat kernel chunks. I prefer English Muffins with my eggs. There is no crust to cut.

If I am gathered among a mature audience and attempting to make an impression, I will most likely not pull out my knife and shave off the dry edges. I typically bare through the boring sides of the bread, often gulping water in hopes of adding moisture to the desert-like feeling in my mouth.

If anyone tells me that the crust contains all of the vitamins and minerals, I will disagree. The crust is the same as the middle of the bread. Just because it has had direct exposure to the oven heat, and has turned brown and extraordinarily dry, doesn't make it more nutritious.

I'm the mom who cuts the crust off the sandwiches of my children. I'm the one who needs a dog to eat all of bread crust that I cut off of sanwiches. I'm the gal who wishes that "Whole Wheat Uncrustables" didn't include honey with the peanut butter. I give honey a thumbs down also. I need to try "Crustless Bread" if I could only find where it is sold. It might be easier to just get a dog.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

L-O-M

We have a little acronym in the Vujnov household which started when my son attended a baseball camp in the summer. While hundreds of boys gathered each day for one week in the summer to work through drills and play baseball games, week after week, weary teenagers who slept during the lunch break, assisted with the guys.

The one time I was early to pick-up my son from the field, the teenager coach was shouting to the other coach, that he was calling an "L-O-H" on one of his players. Because of the ten year old's "Lack of Hustle," the team received an out.

According to my son, it was a legitimate L-O-H. Many players, after high temperatures and hours of base running, were being called out by day four.

Soon after the first L-O-H, a boy ran with all of his might to first base. He was wearing baseball pants which were obviously too small for his growing frame, one orange sock, and one yellow sock. He had on a green and blue stripped t-shirt, and on his head was a red Angels baseball hat.

The teenager yelled again, but this time I couldn’t imagine the swift running player deserving an L-O-H. “Your player is out for an L-O-M!” The other coach was aghast. “What is an L-O-M?” With all seriousness, as the ten year old players intently listened he shouted, “Lack of matching!"

The term has stuck with our family. Today, my youngest was slapped with an L-O-M infraction. His outfit consisted of plaid shorts, a navy blue shirt, a camouflage jacket, brown flip-flops, and a black hat. He claimed his guilty charge, and changed into a brown jacket.

Although I don't know who will be the next child charged with an L-O-M, I do know this: I'll be watching!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Coming of Age

Among other things attached to my body, my eyelids are falling. Shockingly, my lid failure occurred overnight, between the hours of R.E.M. and the alarm sounding. I phoned my mother immediately to see if my condition was genetic. It is.

I'm not sure what my next step is since a surgical eye lift is out of the question. If any one questions why they cannot see my eyeballs. I'll just have to pretend that my eyes were meant to droop.

Also, it seems that I always look tired. No amount of under eye concealer actually conceals properly. White paint would actually work best, but then I would have to pretend to be a mime whose make-up application is inconsistent. I don't have the right moves to be a mime, and I talk too much.

In addition to my eye lids falling and always looking as though I just crawled out of bed, my knees crack when I squat and walk. My children question the snap and crackles which emerge daily and want me to teach them how to make their legs and knees crack. I would love to teach them, but only if they could teach me how to eat massive amounts of food, every two hours, and still fit into their jeans.

I love getting older, really. It is a mark of...something...I just can't remember what. Oh, memory, that is also an issue which needs to addressed.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Please Don't Call Me That

When I met my husband and knew that I was falling in love with him I asked he what his last name was. I was a bit apprehensive after spending most of my life with a last name which no one could pronounce even though it was phonetic-Chumchal (Chum-chall).

I was elated when he told me it was, “vye-no” and assumed the spelling to be vyno (rhymes with rhino). I then asked him how it was spelled so that I could write down his necessary information in my address book. When the letters, “V-U-J-N-O-V” spilled from his lips I was confused.

He went into a detailed story on how it got changes, pronounced differently and so on while I listened. A crazy last name wasn’t going to stop me from falling in love.

After 16 years of holding on to a last name which no one can pronounce correctly not only am I jealous of the last names, Jones, Markley, Downs, and Helms which are simple and phonetic, I am thrilled when I run across other names which seem impossible.

I recently read an article written by, Ligaya Figueras okay, so at least “Linda” is easy. There are plenty of difficult pronouncing last names as well as difficult first names I am sure.

I know that I am not the only person in the world who receives phone calls and the person on the other line butchers their last name, and I’m sure that if I had a simple last name, I would blend in with the thousands of other “Linda Brown’s”

For now, I will enjoy the uniqueness of my last name, and pray that when I win an Academy Award, the cue card for the announcers reads, “Vine-oh”

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mail Carrier Confusion

This week our mail carrier decided to arrive at 10:00 am instead of 1:00. For the past 9 years he has always arrived at, near, or around, 1:00.

I make a point to offer Eli the mail carrier, soda, water, or Gatorade during the hotter months of the year, and if I am out near the front yard I meet him at his truck to collect my mail so that he doesn't have to open the box and place the mail inside. I figure that I save him a good 3 seconds.

I do not like our mail carrier arriving at 10:00. I feel like I am going to miss some mail that was supposed to arrive, but will be kept over to the following day. I assume that the magazine which I typically expect on Wednesday won’t arrive until Thursday. Normally I can throw a letter in the mailbox by noon, and know that it will get picked up that same day. Now I have to make sure it get in the mail box by 9:00.

I’m a creature of habit. I enjoy schedules, calendars, and clocks. This week I am all mixed up. I am not fond of feeling mixed up. I hope that the mail time switch is temporary. Maybe Eli is on vacation and the substitute carrier likes to arrive early. I’ll have to scold Eli for taking a vacation, the next time I see him, but I’ll be sure bring him a soda too, to soften the blow.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Taste Bud Detour

My taste buds have taken a detour. When I was younger, my all time favorite snack food was cheese puffs. I would crunch them by the gob fulls and end up with delicious tasting orange finger tips. Sucking the cheese dust off the tips of my fingers was the ending bonus when the bag of chips were devoured.

The worst part about the cheese puffs though, was the cheese shelf that developed between my back teeth and my cheek. Reaching into my mouth with my finger to scrape out the speed bump of cheese goo took skill and determination. Once the bump was cleared, I could carry on with my puff eating.

Fritos are now my first choice in salty snack foods, that is, unless there is a freshly made bowl of onion soup mix dip nearby. Nothing goes better with onion dip than Ruffles potato chips. They are sturdy and rarely buckle or crack under the pressure of a thick mixture of onion dip.

I am partial to salty foods, until I find something sweet. My afternoons are set aside for salty, while the evening call is usually something sweet. I love it all, really, unless it has coconut or raisins inside. It is then, and only then, that I’ll settle for my old standby, a cold bowl full of Lucky Charms.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wolves are Waiting

I'm sending my daughter to the wolves. After 10 years of attending the same school, in the fall she will begin her freshman year of high school.

My husband and I attended a parent information night and were shocked that 85% of the information centered around college. I was numb, unable to absorb any information except when to register my daughter, and when she is to take the math placement test. College? Really? Can't we all just think about college when they are seniors?

As an added bonus to the evening and for the enjoyment of the student who were in attendance at the "Parent Information" meeting (why do parents insists on bringing children?) they showed a DVD. This was a re-cap of the previous years activities.

All of the popular kids were highlighted in the DVD as well as the athletes, band members, and pep squad, all of whom my daughter will never be a part of. Tears dripped down my face as I pictured her wandering around at lunch time attempting to "fit in" to some group of students. I pictured her twirling the combination of her locker while vile seniors point and laugh at her choice in shoes. I saw her sitting in Algebra, understanding nothing, yet afraid to raise her hand to ask for help.

I need therapy. At least before September rolls around I will need therapy. If I could just go to school with her for the first week, I can help with the new adjustment. I could make sure that she finds a few friends at lunch time, and help her open and close her locker in the proper amount of time. I could launch dirty looks at the students who mock her outfits, and kick the boys who laugh at her pony tail.

OR, I could stay home where I belong, pray, and trust that God will watch over her every move, and that He will make sure that the smug seniors spill soda all over their new outfits at some point during their first day of school. God has a great sense of humor.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Limitations

Mastering the Hula Hoop was easy when I was ten. I dreamed of appearing on the television screen exposing my talent of spinning several hoops around most parts of my body at a consistent rate of speed. I dreamed of breaking world records with numerous hoops, all in perfect control, making circles around my green spandex jumpsuit.

Today, I am unable to spin a Hula Hoop. No matter how hard I swivel my hips, gyrate my bottom half and smile, the hoop falls in a heap at my ankles. While my children can spin the hoop at mach speeds and at the same time, shoot a basketball, braid their friend's hair, and tie their own shoe, I cannot get one 360 degree spin to make it around my middle.

I am grateful that my mothering skills are not measured by the talents I mastered as a child yet am unable to master now. I am thankful that my children do not mock my attempts at Hula Hoops, cartwheels, and HORSE. I'm glad that I do not need to impress my kids with hidden talents since I do not have any.

For now I will stick to playing Kings in the Corner, and defeating them with my savvy card skills. Although most times, they beat me at that game too.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Yes, Officer?

I cannot afford to pay for a traffic violation. And, although a whole day alone, with a scheduled lunch break, sounds tempting, I cannot afford to attend traffic school. Therefore I do my best, without always succeeding, to follow most of the traffic laws in the city where I reside.

Typically I make a full stop at a stop sign, run yellow lights before they turn red, use my turn signal when changing lanes, and make sure that all my passengers are safely seat belted. I have been known to text message and drive at the same time, but please don't tell the cops. I usually wait for a red light before I finish whatever message I am trying to send.

Today I was pulled over by an officer. After passing one cop, another appeared in front of my car while I was driving on some winding roads near our house. I had all of the windows down in my car as a special request from my backseat passengers, both preschool age, who were securely buckled into their booster seats.

As I turned a corner, running through the previous three minutes of my driving in my head, I assured myself that I had broken no traffic laws. Just as I was about to reach over and pat myself on the back, some red lights appeared in my back window. The only possible violation occurring in and around my car was the fact that my youngest, sitting in his booster seat, was possible two or three pounds away from completely adhering to the "4 and 40 law." I think that he weighs 37 pounds, but I was banking on the fact that the officer didn't have a scale in the trunk of his car.

After I had reached curbside, the cop pulled up next to me and peered through my open window. "Sorry Miss" he yelled through his open window, "I thought that you were someone else, you look just like her."

What criminal were they looking for who drives an 11 year old Suburban carrying two small children as passengers. Was it the grey shirt that I was wearing that resembled an OC Jail outfit? Maybe it was my Christian music playing on the radio that was a sure clue. Now that I think about it, my fresh haircut and summer highlights must have resembled that of a true delinquent.

I'll never know what was so familiar about the way I looked, but I do know this, I escaped a ticket because I did nothing wrong, other than replicate the face and figure of a wanted criminal.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Operation Plant Replacement


I have officially killed my Mother's Day present from 5 years ago. Five years is a long time so I'm not terribly embarrassed.

Since I was extremely pregnant with our fourth child, my husband opted out of clothing purchases at that time, and bought a beautiful Sympathy Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) for me to place in our entry way. I think it had a hidden meaning.

The plant sits on a stand and it is the first thing you see when you open the front door. If the living room is littered with Lego pieces, water bottles, shoes, and pajamas, then, that is the first thing you see.

I don't "feed" the plant, but have watered it consistently since it's arrival. I keep the leaves dust-free, and make sure I apologize to it when my youngest pulls off one of the leaves.

Originally there were oodles of leaves, stems, and white flowers, however only seven remained on Monday, so I ventured out with my Target gift card to make a new plant purchase.

Target is not my first choice for meeting my gardening needs (as if I ever have gardening needs), but the gift card meant that I had no choice. After searching the garden department, attempting to describe the plant to the cashier in hopes of locating it, I found it, tucked in the front of the section, with other indoor plants, small and lonely. Because of its size I would need to purchase two in order to fill my large empty pot at home.

I gleefully grabbed the first plant and hollered to the cashier, "I found it, here it is!" I was glad that there were two and not just one. At that moment a women standing at the front of the store, 20 yards from where I was standing, darted over to my area and grabbed the second plant off of the stand, avoiding all the other plants sitting on the rack. This was the second plant that I needed. She looked at the price, and confused, I glared at her. I put the first plant in my cart and was disappointed because I really needed two plants.

The woman turned the plant to look for the price. "Eight ninety-nine. Is the price?" She asked me. "I don't know, I haven't checked," I replied. "I only have one plant and I need two." With that, she handed me the plant and said, "Oh, you can have this one."

And so my purcahse was made. My plants look lovely. People are odd. Plant grabbing, question asking people, are odd.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What's for Lunch?

I hate making lunches. Not that it takes a terribly long time, or that the creativity in orchestrating a superb sandwich trips me up, I just don't love doing it. I would much rather send my children off to school with $2.50 for a hot lunch purchase, but we all know that I would be taking years off of their lives if they consumed those cafeteria lunches more often than once a week or once every other week.

My mother always made me wonderful lunches. At the height of plain wrap chips, and bologna that resembled pressed, packing material, I received Skippy peanut butter sandwiches, Freetos chips, and Ding Dongs. While other kids suffered through tepid milk in their thermos, I indulged in sweetened iced tea.

Since I had such a great lunch packing role model, I should be excited to replicate the love and labor which was poured into my lunches, however, that part didn't transfer in the genetic scheme of things.

Today I'll throw some candy in with the sandwiches. That should make everyone happy. The effort is there, but the pain in carrying out the task of shoving food into a brown paper bag still makes me wince.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My Friend from Baskin-Robbins

While some may question the value of blogging I say blogging rules. For the writer, blogging is great discipline - like practicing piano scales if you are a pianist, for the complainer, blogging results in free ice cream. Is there anything better than free ice cream?

Gary from corporate read my complaint post about my local Baskin Robbins not offering One Dollar Scoop Tuesday and changing the dollar amount to $1.99.

Not only is Gary mediating the issue, he wrote a very kind note and sent me $15.00 in gift certificates. The gift certificates arrived on my birthday. He has impeccable timing.

I love ice cream. I love free ice cream even more.

Birthday Dinner Gone Wrong

Since we had a gift card for The Cheesecake Factory I thought that it would be the perfect location to celebrate my birthday. My dinner experience was straight from...that hot place where Satan resides.

My youngest boys could not have been worse. They kept deliberating back and forth on how boring the restaurant was and asking if they could go outside. My daughter complained relentlessly about occurrences at school while my oldest boy, sang songs, tapped his foot and attempted construction of a catapult using the forks and knives.

There was no "kids" menu which meant that we were subjected to a full price meal for children who are only able to consume the contents of a child's portion. They split one of the meals where the chicken fingers were eaten, but the fries were left in heaps.

After barreling through dinner where my youngest insisted on sitting next my oldest son and I, leaving little elbow room, we noticed that the Sharpie pen taken from my purse was used to create a drawing on a paper thin napkin leaving a black impression on the stone table.

The light among the dread was my free slice of Vanilla Bean cheesecake complete with two mounds of whipped cream, however, after the initial blowing out of the candle and bite, the vultures sitting amid the plate dove in head first and never came out for air. I think that I got four bites in total.

Next year we are staying home for our family dinner, and my husband and I will plan a date night together—far away from any and all children.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Simplicity

Life was simple when I worked at Skate Junction. The day I turned 16, 29 years ago to the day, I applied for the job. For my birthday my fiends and I went skating, and the "help wanted" sign caught my eye. I had previously applied for a job as a library page that I was denied.

If I wasn't able to ride my moped to work, I took my mother's mustang, or when desperate times called for measures, I rode my brother's 250cc motorcycle. I couldn't get it out of 2nd gear though and drove very slowly sticking to the edge of the right lane.

This was my very first job, and the job of the century. My first assignment was cashier in the snack bar. After that I moved up to front office cashier, then became a floor guard and eventually was allowed to run the sound booth finding hot, 70's tunes to spin for the skaters. They only let me work the sound booth when the rockin' hot d.j. was ill or out of town which wasn't very often.

My favorite night to work was Sunday. This night was set aside for adults only. You could only enter the skating rink if you were over the age of 18, so for a 16 year old girl, pining for a handsome boy, this evening was the very best. I wore a button on my corduroy vest which read, "Boyfriend wanted: Applications now being accepted." No one ever applied.

I drank free Slush Puppies, ate gobs of salted pretzels and gigantic pickles, learned how to skate backwards faster than any girl within a 20 mile radius, and got a discount on my first pair of skates. I designed fliers for the rink, hosted parties for small children in the birthday room, cleaned skates, and received a paycheck every other week. Life was simple.

Life is still simple at times, but mostly it is different. I love where I am. I just wish the world was where it was. Simpler.

Some days I would love to slip on my skates and go round and round the roller rink without a care in the world. Some days, I'd love to drink Slush Puppies until brain freeze got the best of me, but I have traded my skates for a Suburban and the Slush Puppies for hot coffee, and I am thrilled. This is the best place to be.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Got the Funk

I am in a funk. Out of Sorts.

The economy, gas prices, still no tickets to Hawaii, my birthday, working three part-time jobs which collectively do hardly anything to help with the family finances, needing new carpet and couches...needing not wanting, and other funks of life right now.

Honestly, most of my funks are material issues which is greatly embarrassing. I'm am having a pity party and you are all invited.

Perspective: My girlfriend is on day 29 of being in ICU and is still sedated and doped up on morphine for an unknown infection. I cannot afford to get my hair highlighted or a pedicure...really?

I go through waves. I count my blessings. I get sad. God remains merciful. I know that He understands my funkiness.

Jesus went through funks...I guarantee.

I need to go for a long run. I need to think and pray. I need to find my joy. Even though it may be buried deep behind my funk, I know that it exists.

I'll get over it.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Big Kid Date Night

We spent a cold night, from 6:30-8:45, watching my biggest boy pitch at his Little League baseball game. They were playing an undefeated team. My very gracious mother offered to watch the little kids while we watched - our attention completely on the game. I didn't have to dig through my purse, hunting for one dollar bills to hand out to the little ones for snack bar treats, or break up fights over whose stick is bigger or who should be allowed to be the pitcher and catcher for their baseball game using an imaginary ball. Imagine.

My son's team won. He was elated. Celebration was in order. It was 9:00 when we left for a nearby restaurant. I knew that my mom was tired from hanging out at my house since 6:15, but pushed the envelope and asked if she could stay a bit longer so that we could get some food with the big kids. She had no problem with our big kid date night.

We sat, just the four of us, together. We focused on each others conversations and laughed. We ate slowly, and savored the dessert. Just the four of us.

We have not had a night with just the big kids since the nineties, before the little kids arrived. No one ever complains, however, it was a nice change of pace. We devoted our time to just the big kids. We need to do that more often. It is great for everyone...except the little kids.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Hold On!

I was on hold for 45 minutes. The representative told me that he was placing me on hold for 2-3 minutes. He is really bad at estimation.

I could not hang up because I needed the information on the other side of the phone. You see, two months ago, we purchased tickets to Hawaii with our American Express Rewards Points. We saved a TON of money. The six tickets cost only $390.00, and our hotel is paid for as well. We could not pass up this trip.

Yesterday, the local news reported that our airline, ATA, had gone bankrupt. Not good news at all. Booking a flight now is going to require another two hours on the phone, reimbursement of points, higher cost of flights, and a massive headache.

I wanted to crawl into the fetal position last night and cry after my attempts to re-book our flight and get everything back in order.

We are still not booked. I dread making more phone calls today. I wish that I had a personal assistant who could do all of the work for me and in the end, I could thank her, and carry on with my day. I wish.

I'm gearing up for my lengthy phone call. I'm hoping for another flight at a low price, I'm trusting that God is going to help us toward this much needed family vacation, I fear being on hold for 45 minutes again and my kids yelling, "What is that music?" (I had the phone on speaker mode)

Wish me luck. I'm going in!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Failure Identified

There are many items that I have stored in my brain from childhood which are very old, yet very handy:
-Instructions on how to ride a bike
-Multiplication facts
-The name of the state where I reside
-How to make change
-What a properly formed topic sentences includes
-The definition of H2O

These are just a few smatterings of the things I learned in grade school, and have continued to keep close to the recall button in my mind. There are many more. I won't bore you with details.

Last night I was helping my 8th grade daughter with some history homework. She pulled out a map of the United States. Most of the previously blank map was filled in with the name of the state, and a few were still left nameless.

"Mom, isn't this where Nebraska goes?"
"Honey, I don't know, look on the computer."
"Really mom, you don't know? Didn't you teach fifth grade?"
"Yes, that doesn't mean that I memorized where every state goes just because I taught it to my fifth graders."
She was obviously disappointed with my lack of knowledge.

Knowing the location of every state on a blank map of the U.S. would be one of those items which has slipped far away from the recall button in my mind, but I do know this:

We live on the west coast along with Washington, and Oregon. New York is on the east coast with New Jersey, Maine, Rhode Island, and Florida. I know there are more, but I do not want to impress you with my wealth of knowledge.

Michigan is up by the lakes, along with Ohio. Down below is Texas and New Mexico, Louisiana, and Arizona.

Up on top is Montana and North Dakota.

Don't ask me anything more than those basics. I am on a need to know only basis with the states and their location, and for now, that is all that I need to know.

In order to help my children with their homework, I may have to repeat 5th grade, either that, or return my teaching credential. It may not count for much anymore if I cannot properly name every state, and "no" I am not smater than a fifth grader.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Down with my Baskin-Robbins

I love ice cream. I mean, I really love ice cream. I prefer it slightly melted and soft on the inside, almost like a really hard milk shake. I should have a sort serve machine in my kitchen. My birthday is around the corner. I'm putting a soft serve ice cream machine on my list.

Today I was helping out a flu inflicted neighbor. I figured that with the two extra boys, and my niece, a visit to Baskin-Robbins for a "Dollar a Scoop Tuesday" was in order. I had 5 children at the time, and a ten dollar bill - perfect.

We drove to the nearest Baskin-Robbins and I immediately noticed the "One Dollar Tuesday" sign hanging in front of the store. I also noticed that someone had taken a piece of paper, written $1.99 in Sharpie pen, and taped it over the $1.00 amount which was originally posted. In utter disbelief, I ran into the store to ask the cashier if the sign was correct and if they were charging $1.99 while every other store was charging $1.00. She nodded. I told her that I was sorely disappointed and was taking my business elsewhere.

She then informed me that each store is allowed to charge their own amount. So, how much was her store charging? Ten cents less than normal? I was not happy. I drove to the Rite Aid store and bought five single scoops of ice cream for $5.35. Perfect.

I called Baskin-Robbins' corporate office to report my outrage and, just like the cashier, they told me that each store has a different owner and can charge any amount they want to. Let me get this right. A nation-wide campaign called "One Dollar Tuesday" is limited only to those who choose to participate?

Down with my Baskin-Robbins. That is the bottom line. I must find a Baskins-Robbins who sticks to the rules, oh, and believes in customer service.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Counting Crows

My youngest child returns to preschool today. We are both excited since his last day was March 18th. To keep him busy while I was blowing my hair dry I asked him to draw a picture for his teacher.

When he brought me the picture, seeking my approval, I was able to distinguish every item: flower with stem and leaf, grass, sun, honey bee, and an airplane. As he was going over the picture, explaining each detailed drawing, he pointed to the airplane and told me that it was bird. This made me sad.

Although we live in Orange County with beautiful beaches, mountains, green hills, and flowers a plenty, my children are familiar with four types of birds, and these are not wonderful birds. For the most part, they are horrible birds.

The black bird that my son drew is the bird that he sees most often, a crow. They honk, holler, and dig through the garbage regularly. They are large and annoying, not pretty song birds.

We also have seagulls and pigeons which we have affectionately named, "rats with wings." They are also trash diggers, large, and gross. The cutest, and most lovely birds we see on a regular basis are sparrows. They are plain and brown without a stitch of color. Not so lovely.

Our bird selection makes me sad. Every once in a while a yellow finch comes to visit and the occasional hummingbird, however, any faithful bird watcher, living on my street, would be sadly disappointed with the view from his binoculars - crows, crows, crows.