Thursday, May 29, 2008

Let The Game Begin!

In regard to my last post, check out this little gem:
Now that's a game I'd love to own. Along with the new and improved Accordion Hero II ! I'm not making this stuff up . . . someone else already did.

Too bad it was all just an April Fools Day prank.

Accordion players get no respect...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Play That Funky Music

As mentioned before, I have long been a fan of music. As a child I can remember seeing people play the guitar or piano and thinking, "Cool! I want to do that someday." And then my chance came.

Band Day in the gym of my middle school!

Band Day was the day that everyone who wanted to be in band could come see what instruments were available and sign a contract to rent or buy one from various vendors. My parents asked if we wanted to go. I did!!

There were no pianos.

There were no guitars.

What to do? I was so excited to be allowed to choose an instrument that I decided to make the best of things. My parents allowed me to choose an instrument on my own, so off I went to find the perfect fit.

The violin looked pretty cool, and a lot of people were talking to the violin guy, so it must be popular. It sorta looked like a guitar... but my oldest brother had played violin for about 3 days when he was younger. He would pull it out of its case, lay the bow across the strings and saw away, all the while chanting, "Grab your partner and swing her 'round! Yeeeeeeeehaw!" Good memories, but bad times for the violin.

I kept looking.

The flute was a pretty instrument. I could see myself like the pied piper, playing beautiful melodies that attracted crowds of people ... nah.

I kept looking.

The saxophone? The xylophone? I couldn't lift the tuba...

And there he was.

A man in the corner of the gym, all alone with his instrument. No one at his table. He was looking down at the floor, maybe wondering why he had come. I knew how it felt to be alone, ignored. Having no one talk to you.

I breathed in, let out a deep sigh, and made my way to his table. He looked up at me and smiled. "So, you're interested in learning the accordion?"

And the rest is history. I was an accordion player, doomed to one instrument for the rest of my life.

My first year of college I decided to take a guitar class. I learned the chords, I practiced until my fingers were calloused, but I could not master it. I finally gave the guitar to my younger brother, who had more ability than I.

My husband bought me a piano for Christmas back when we had only 2 little ones, and I took lessons for a short time, but I could not get the hang of it. I guess in my case the saying is true - you can't teach an old dog new tricks. So I am forever doomed to only have one musical talent: the accordion. (And I use the term "talent" rather loosely...)

So, if you want someone to accompany you on the piano or play the guitar around a campfire, you'll have to ask someone else.

But if you ever feel the need for some funky polka music, give me a call.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I Spy Memorial Day Weekend

(The crew visiting the cemetery in 2007)

Every Memorial Day weekend for the past 6 years I like to take my kids to our local cemetery to visit my Dad's grave.

I like to tell them stories about him.

I am afraid they will forget him, and that makes me sad.

One thing I tell them every year is that he loved Spiderman because the web-slinger's hands look like the sign for "I love you" when he's ready to shoot.
(Sign language version)

(Spiderman version)

If you're at my local cemetery this Memorial Day weekend, you can play a large-scale version of "I Spy". See if you can find my dad's grave site - it's got the sign language "I love you" hand on it.

If you need a hint: it's near a paved road.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Awesome 80's

Were you a child of the 80's? I was born in 1972, but the 80's are the some of the years I most fondly remember.

It was all about the music.

It was a time where I could discern whether someone was friend-worthy by quizzing them on their music preferences. Did they like Depeche Mode? U2? Oingo Boingo? R.E.M.? George Michael? Pet Shop Boys? Totally.

It went even further than that. 80's music could help me get to know someone better. When Jeremy from drama class caught my eye and I noticed a huge THE SMITHS sticker on the back of his car, I listened to their music. And I liked it. So, I liked Jeremy. (The feeling did not appear to be mutual, but that never stopped me from stalking someone...) In fact, because I was a bit boy crazy back-in-the-day, I discovered all kinds of great music! Red Hot Chili Peppers. Happy Mondays. Cowboy Junkies. The Church. They Might Be Giants. All discovered when investigating music that some boy liked. Rad!

I well remember the year I was given a portable pink radio with a stripey shoulder strap for my birthday. I would jump on my beach cruiser, throw the radio over my shoulder and listen to some sweet tunes as I rode to the beach, along the strand, and all over town. It was a particularly good day when "We Are the World" would come on - that song always made me smile. "That's What Friends Are For" was another favorite. Who didn't love Dion Warwick and Stevie Wonder?? Awesome.

There were songs that seemed to be written for me. Songs that knew my heart and made me cry. There were songs that made me laugh. Songs I had to dance to every time I heard them, no matter where I was. Songs I could sing along to at the top of my lungs and songs that brought me quiet reflection. And you know what? I still love music today as much as I did then. It still speaks to me. It's like a friend who understands so many aspects of my life and can put it all into the words that I lack.

So, maybe the 80's were a time for some crazy clothing, gaudy jewelry, overdone makeup and unique hairstyles... but that was when I gained my love for music - in all its diversity. And for me, that makes it all worth it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Home Run

I am not a huge sports fan but this video my friend Trish emailed me is awesome. We need more people like these girls in sports - and the world in general.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Coincidence? I Think Not...

We purchased our refrigerator almost 12 years ago, when we built our house. It was not what you'd call top-of-the-line... in fact, it was one of the least expensive models available at Future Shop at the time. But, hey - we were all about cheap.

A couple of years ago, the freezer stopped working. Allen took it apart, put it back together, and voila! it was up and running again. Awesome.

A couple weeks ago, we noticed the same freezer symptoms - some items were thawing, others were remaining rock solid - but it was manageable. We could eat ice cream sandwiches in bowls, and it was cold enough that nothing was going bad.

And then the refrigerator stopped refrigerating, which we discovered when Allen opened one of our 3 gallons of milk and declared it "blinky" (if you drank it, your face would start making that grimace where your eyes blink). One gallon was salvageable, the others went down the drain. Drat. (I was going to say "crap" but I'm trying not to say that anymore because I don't like hearing my kids say it.)

We took the beast apart, put it back together, and...it still didn't work. But man, was it clean! Unfortunately, clean, non-functioning refrigerators do not keep your food cold. Double drat.

We called a friend whose fridge was similarly dysfunctional and she recommended we call Don: the Refrigerator Whisperer. The man has worked his magic on appliances for over 40 years. He came over late Saturday night to look over our beloved Frigidaire, gave it a hearty shake and told us to wait and see what happened overnight.

We anxiously awoke Sunday morning to find that our freezer was working like a refrigerator and our refrigerator was working like a storage compartment. Progress!

Don came again on Monday, hoses and gauges and thermometers (oh my!) in hand. He fed the old Frigidaire some refrigerant, checked for pressure and leaks, and took its temperature. Things were looking good! The temperature was dropping! But alas, Don took his hat in his hands and with down-turned eyes declared our icebox incurable. We accepted its fate and went to look for a replacement.

After extensive online research and visits to various sales floors, we narrowed it down to two possibilities with the intention of returning later to make our final purchase. Upon our return home, we checked the fridge's temperature again. The freezer was freezing! The fridge was frigid! What small miracle had occurred to give us a last chance with our aging appliance? Many would say it was a coincidence that our faithful Frigidaire was no longer on the blink.

I say it was evidence.

Evidence of what, you ask? That we are blessed. Call me silly, but I think that someone upstairs is watching out for us, and I try to recognize the blessings He gives as such.

Spoiled milk? $10.
New refrigerator? around $800.
Blessings from heaven? Priceless.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thrifty Thursday

For those of you who live in my vicinity, there's a smokin' deal on flour tortillas at the Wonder Bread Thrift Store right now! They have an over-abundance of their flour tortilla 10-packs, so they're selling them at 5 packs for $2.00! If you won't use that many, you can buy 1 package for 50 cents. Awesome!

Yes, I feed a small army, but here are some ideas of how to use your overabundance of tortillas:

-Enchiladas
-Burritos
-Quesedillas
-Tortilla roll-ups (put whatever you want on the tortilla: peanut butter & jelly, cream cheese with ham, peanut butter and apples, etc. then roll it up and slice it into little wheels. Yum!)
-Cinnamon sugar crisps
-Wraps
-Homemade tortilla chips
-Frisbees

Go get yourself some!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Have You Seen Me?

Do you get this magazine? Because I don't. I have some published words in it, and I'd like to see them. They said they'd send me a copy, but I didn't get one - and I can't find one at the store. (I'm not complaining...I did get the check they said they'd send me, which was pretty cool!) Does anyone have a copy I could look at?

I'd be much obliged.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mermaids

I have long had a love for Disney's animated movie: The Little Mermaid. Soon after I had every song and line memorized (seriously, ask my husband) I came across this story in a book called "All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten" by Robert Fulghum. At the time I read it, the story spoke to me of being myself - and knowing who that really was. I was somehow reminded of the story in the course of the past week and looked it up again. It's still a good one. I call it "The Mermaid Story":

Giants, Wizards and Dwarfs was the game to play. Being left in charge of about eighty children seven to ten years old, while their parents were off doing parenty things, I mustered my troops in the church social hall and explained the game. It’s a large-scale version of Rock, Paper and Scissors, and involves some intellectual decision-making. But the real purpose of the game is to make a lot of noise and run around chasing people until nobody knows which side you are on or who won.

Organizing a roomful of wired-up grade-schoolers into two teams, explaining the rudiments of the game, achieving consensus on group identity – all this is no mean accomplishment, but we did it with a right good will and were ready to go.

The excitement of the chase had reached a critical mass. I yelled out: “You have to decide NOW which you are – a GIANT, a WIZARD or a DWARF!”

While the groups huddled in frenzied, whispered consultation, a tug came at my pants leg. A small child stands there looking up, and asks in a small, concerned voice, “Where do the Mermaids stand?”

Where do the Mermaids stand?

A long pause. A very long pause. “Where do the Mermaids stand?” says I.

“Yes, you see, I am a Mermaid.”

“There are no such thing as Mermaids.”

“Oh, yes, I am one!”

She did not relate to being a Giant, a Wizard or a Dwarf. She knew her category. Mermaid. And was not about to leave the game and go over and stand against the wall where a loser would stand. She intended to participate, wherever Mermaids fit into the scheme of things. Without giving up dignity or identity. She took it for granted that there was a place for Mermaids and that I would know just where.

Well, where DO the Mermaids stand? All the “Mermaids” – all those who are different, who do not fit the norm and who do not accept the available boxes and pigeonholes? Answer that question and you can build a school, a nation, or a world on it.

What was my answer at the moment? Every once in a while I say the right thing. “The Mermaid stands right here by the King of the Sea!”says I. So we stood there hand in hand, reviewing the troops of Wizards and Giants and Dwarfs as they roiled by in wild disarray.

It is not true, by the way, that mermaids do not exist. I know at least one personally. I have held her hand.

Monday, May 12, 2008

It's Almost Funny...

I had my kids deliver some thank-you cards for me on Saturday. At one stop, All-a-Boy chatted with one of his former cub scout leaders.

"Hey, Brother M, how's the new calling?"

"Good, All-a-Boy, how's the new baby brother?"

"He's good. And my mom's losing weight, so that's good."

Awwww, shucks. I didn't know he cared.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Cheery-O

Yes, it's true - I had a baby. Sorry to leave everyone hanging for a week, I guess I've been a little preoccupied. Little O was born on May 1st, and he's a sweet little thing if I do say so myself. (and I do!)
This was the view from my hospital room window. Isn't it spectacular? And can I just quickly sing the praises of my nurse in Labor and Delivery? Amy G. was awesome. It was like having one of my closest friends there with me - a friend who also had an amazing knowledge of all things Labor and Delivery related and explained every little thing that was going on. You'd think I would have this all figured out by now but she taught me a lot, and eased some fears, and made me feel completely comfortable. Thanks, Amy G!
I love this picture, even though he has that after-you're-born-mandatory-eye-goop-medicine fresh on his face. Can you see what a toughie he is? He's ready to knock you out if you pull any funny moves. Fists, ready. Don't mess with this kid.
The family all came to visit and Little O let them pass him around like a sack of potatoes without a complaint. He's a pretty happy little man. But wouldn't you be, if you got to be in this awesome family? (I mean that in a very non-vain way. If that's possible.)

I told him about how we have family prayers each day and he folded his arms to let us know he was up to the task. Not even a whole day old and already making me proud!
I guess we eventually tuckered him out.

Welcome, Little O!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

STILL Still Here

Today should be the day.

I am just waiting on a call from the hospital, letting me know they are ready for me.

That's the thing about living where I do - people here like to have babies.

Which means the maternity floor is always crowded.

Which means that even if you are a week overdue, you wait.

But if you go into labor on your own, you are welcome to come in anytime.

It makes me feel like I'm naughty for being induced.

At this point, I don't care.

Wasn't it nice of this little boy to wait until May?

The only months we have left now are August and December.

Whatever that means.

The phone is still not ringing.

But I'm having a baby sometime today!