Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Heart Halloween


I wish I had time to write a blog post today, but life is crazy at the moment.

If I had time to write I would tell you all about how much I love Halloween, but I have roughly 45 pumpkins to gut and carve.

I could go on and on about how this is my favorite holiday, how I am that crazy neighbor that you don't understand because our family gets so into our Halloween decor, but I have a clown costume to fix and one more clown mask to find.


I'd tell you about how we transform our house and yard into the Cemetery Hotel and how this year is the off year when we throw in a spook alley, but I need to get to making the food for the disgusting dining room.

I'd love to tell you about how huge it's become this year with a cast of almost 30 teenage spooks and creepers from the neighborhood, but we're getting our haunted corn maze put back together after the continuous rain and wind that all but destroyed it a couple of nights ago.



I wanted to write about how fun it has been decorating the interior of the top floor of my house in preparation for having hundreds of strangers wander through it this weekend, but I still have to measure, cut and lay carpet remnants in the walking areas.


I wish I had time to tell you about the additions this year - the haunted lobby and creepy laundry room, the catacombs and south cemetery where the zombies come out at night, the forested tunnel and honeymoon suite... but the spider's lair is not yet complete and, well, someone's got to do it.

What I will tell you is that if you live anywhere near me and would like to come, we had tickets printed for both Friday and Saturday nights and we'd love to have you see what we've been putting together for the past few weeks in anticipation of this weekend.

For us, the real treat is having our friends and neighbors come through and enjoy a bit of a scare on Halloween weekend.

If you'd like a ticket, just let me know in the comments or send me an email at gerbdonna at gmail dot com. If I can't get one to you before this weekend then we can put one on hold for you with the lady who'll be passing out candy in front of the Cemetery Hotel.

I hope you can make it... we're dyyyyyyying to see you. (insert evil laugh)

Crazy: Up Close And Personal


I wish I had time to write a blog post today, but life is crazy at the moment.

If I had time to write I would tell you all about how much I love Halloween, but I have roughly 45 pumpkins to gut and carve.

I could go on and on about how this is my favorite holiday, how I am that crazy neighbor that you don't understand because our family gets so into our Halloween decor, but I have a clown costume to fix and one more clown mask to find.


I'd tell you about how we transform our house and yard into the Cemetery Hotel and how this year is the off year when we throw in a spook alley, but I need to get to making the food for the disgusting dining room.

I'd love to tell you about how huge it's become this year with a cast of almost 30 teenage spooks and creepers from the neighborhood, but we're getting our haunted corn maze put back together after the continuous rain and wind that all but destroyed it a couple of nights ago.



I wanted to write about how fun it has been decorating the interior of the top floor of my house in preparation for having hundreds of strangers wander through it this weekend, but I still have to measure, cut and lay carpet remnants in the walking areas.


I wish I had time to tell you about the additions this year - the haunted lobby and creepy laundry room, the catacombs and south cemetery where the zombies come out at night, the forested tunnel and honeymoon suite... but the spider's lair is not yet complete and, well, someone's got to do it.

What I will tell you is that if you live anywhere near me and would like to come, we had tickets printed for both Friday and Saturday nights and we'd love to have you see what we've been putting together for the past few weeks in anticipation of this weekend.

For us, the real treat is having our friends and neighbors come through and enjoy a bit of a scare on Halloween weekend.

If you'd like a ticket, just let me know in the comments or send me an email at gerbdonna at gmail dot com. If I can't get one to you before this weekend then we can put one on hold for you with the lady who'll be passing out candy in front of the Cemetery Hotel.

I hope you can make it... we're dyyyyyyying to see you. (insert evil laugh)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Switching Perspective

Yesterday was one of those days.

For me, that means I've been coughing for 2 weeks straight and was able to sleep maybe a total of 2 hours at night because I woke repeatedly in various panicked half dream/half awake states and my body refused to cooperate when I attempted to get out of bed in the morning.

I lamely told my kids to pull out the cereal for breakfast and that I'd give them all money for school lunches then went back to sleep.

About 5 minutes before the elementary kids left my 11-year-old came in to report that they had all eaten cereal AND toast, brushed their teeth AND hair and that I could continue to sleep knowing all was taken care of for the day. I thanked him and drifted back to sleep.

I didn't give it a second thought until I went to pick my kids up after school.

My 6th and 4th graders turned out just fine, but when I saw my sweet little 2nd grader approaching the car, I about died.

She had very obviously done her own hair that morning...


Initially I was mortified. Because I have a large family I am self conscious about what others think of my kids appearances and do my best to be sure that none of my kids look neglected or orphaned. I guess I'm trying to avoid the whole stigma of oh, his pants are too short because he only wears hand-me-downs or her hair is always a mess because her mom has no time to get to it with all of the other kids to tend to.

When we got home I decided to talk to her about it. I asked, "Princess, did you do your own hair this morning?" "YES!" she answered, excited. "I did the ponytail all by myself so you could sleep! Isn't that awesome?"

Her response caught me off guard. She was so pleased with herself and what a big girl she was to have taken care of her own hair. She saw this as a gift to me, allowing me more time to rest that morning. What could I do? Besides, I am always trying to foster independence in my children. So I decided to change MY attitude. Was this any worse than allowing my 5-year-old to wear his long-sleeved skeleton pajama top all summer because it made him happy? Not really. And it certainly didn't hurt anyone - unless you count my silly pride.

"That IS awesome," I told her. "And it was so nice to sleep in this morning. Thank you, sweetheart."

"You're welcome!" she answered, beaming, as she skipped down the hall. Then she turned and added, "I love you, Mom!"

Indeed.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Guest Post: Stargirl


As part of my goal to reach every state in the United States before the end of the year I found myself in a college town in Utah. I was out for a walk, enjoying the sunshine with my pet rat, Cinnamon, when we came upon an elementary school. I couldn't resist going inside. I decided to make it a special unbirthday for some unsuspecting student, just to brighten their day. As we entered the school I set Cinnamon down on the floor and let her lead the way. She scampered and scurried until she came to the door of a fifth grade classroom. I placed Cinnamon inside the front pocket of my skirt and stepped inside.

Oh, this classroom was magical. You could just feel it through every part of your being the moment you walked through the doors. I knew why Cinnamon had led me here. This was a place where I could really feel like I belong.

Right away I spotted the student who I should serenade. It was a boy in the corner with dark hair and the most beautiful chocolate brown eyes to match. Something about him called to me so I pulled out my ukulele and began to sing a Happy Unbirthday song, just for him.
I could almost immediately tell that the other kids wished that they were the ones I had chosen to sing to. I decided without a second thought that I would share the ziplock baggie full of warm chocolate chip cookies which I had bought from the roadside table of some little kids on my way over. After all, it was everyone's unbirthday, really. It always is! There is reason to celebrate every day of our lives.
As they all enjoyed their cookies I told them my name was Stargirl and shared a few of my adventures; my short time as a cheerleader at Mica High, the names my parents allowed me to choose for myself, even the speech contest I won.
They were all so polite and attentive that I decided to ask their teacher if I could take his class to a magical and enchanting place. There was a buzz of excitement when he agreed. Little did they know that they were already there!

I taught them how to clear their minds until they were wrapped in nothingness and let them experience the wonderful feeling of it all.
It was right about then when I realized that Cinnamon must have slipped out of my pocket. I hated to have to leave, but I gave them a few parting words about never being afraid to just be themselves and off I went.
I would love to make my way back to that town in a few years and see what those kids have become. I can only hope that my short visit made some kind of impression upon their young minds. This I do know... that was a classroom which overflowed with untapped potential. Great things will come from that group of fifth graders - I just know it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Together We Can


The following conversation was overheard during dinner this week:

All-a-Boy: "The Reflections contest is coming up soon. I think I'm going to draw a picture for my entry. The theme is 'Together We Can' so I think I want to draw a clown fish and a sea anemone and title it 'Together We Can Be Safe'."

Cowgirl: "Want to know what I'm going to do?"

All-a-Boy: "No. You'll probably draw a clown fish and an anemone just to copy me."

Princess: "Or you could draw a cute puppy!"

Cowgirl: "No, I want to take a picture of you two with your arms around each other and call it 'Together We Can Do Anything.' "

Hubba: "Well, I'll draw a puppy. No, I'll draw TWO puppies. Two puppies POOPING! And I'll call it 'Together We Can Poop'!"



You've gotta love the mind of a 5-year-old boy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Getting On My Soap Box

photo from vergemagazine.com


I'm going to write today about a topic that can be a bit controversial because it's all I can think about right now. It's all my kids can think about (and talk to me about) right now because they just had an assembly all about it where big promises were made. I'm talking about school fundraisers.

I hate school fundraisers. With a passion. And my kids hate that I hate fundraisers because then they can't win the prizes and parties that motivate the students to participate in the fundraisers.

How many people honestly want to buy wrapping paper, cookie dough, magazines, jewelry and whatnot at a ridiculously inflated cost? I'll tell you this: I sure don't. But yes, I do. If a kid that I actually know comes to my door selling something then I almost always will because I'm a sucker for kids. My kids hate this, too. If I won't let them sell these things then why do I buy crap from their friends?

I guess I'm sort of a hypocrite in that regard but I don't care. I'm the mom and I can do what I want - plus I don't think it's fair to lecture the neighborhood kids about what I think when their parents are obviously fine with it. That's not my place.

Well, push the wrapping paper and cookie dough sales aside because the latest trend in fundraisers seems to be more along the lines of Can you just give me some money for (insert school name here), please? In exchange for your donation, the kids will run a certain number of laps or shoot a basketball into the hoop a specified number of times in succession. I don't allow my kids to do these fundraisers either. Why? If the kid never ran one lap or if they missed a few baskets then the money is still collected. And even if they did run or make baskets, why should anyone be paying them to do this? Isn't that what kids do? Play?

I guess that what it comes down to is that I don't like the idea of teaching my kids to ask for something while giving back nothing in return.

I am not opposed to the idea of finding a way to generate money to donate to their schools, however. I have allowed my kids to do bake sales in our driveway, offer their babysitting or yard work services in exchange for payment, collect aluminum cans or even sell the clothing they have outgrown to a children's resale clothing store. I let them come up with their own ideas for fundraising, too - and sometimes these are awesome and sometimes they fail. But the point is that they are learning something. I will even take them to the dollar store and let them choose prizes if they earn the donation amount they were trying for. As long as they are learning to work for what they get.

It seems to me that many of the kids of today suffer from an entitlement syndrome. They feel that they are entitled to whatever they want and if they don't get it then all aytch-ee-double-hockey-sticks breaks loose. Fits are thrown. Tears are shed. This makes the new fundraising approach ideal for most kids. Collect money from friends and family, turn it over to the school and claim your prize. Easy.

My 5-year-old told me this week that if he did not bring any donations to the school for the current fundraiser then he would be the reason that the school did not get to have an ice cream party and he would not have any friends at recess. I am not cool with this type of motivation. It only makes me firmer in my position.

I hold on to some small glimmer of hope that my kids are learning something from all of this lesson I am trying to teach. I want them to learn the value in hard work. I suppose that only time will tell whether or not my methods are effective.

Dislike


image from techdigest.tv


There are many things I am not a fan of. I usually keep these things to myself because I am a pleaser kind of person and I just want everyone to get along and be happy. Today, though, I'm going to break out of my box and share a few of these things with you.

These are a few of my NOT favorite things...


Driving in snow.

The first frost of the season.

Mean people.

Leggings instead of nylons at church. (we can still be friends, though)

Snow skiing.

People who let their dogs poop in my yard.

Paying bills.

Not being able to find any maternity dresses that go past my knees.

Bullies.

The cashiers at our local Smith's grocery store.

Getting holes in my socks.

Feeling jealous or angry.

Arguments.

Kids who answer the door when I'm in the shower.

Sadness.

Disrespect.

Boogers.



I had better stop there.

If you want to read all about one other thing that I really, really dislike you can click on over to Four Perspectives today.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mystery Man


I found this drawing in Princess' room and I can't quite decide who it is. I've narrowed it down to:

A) Barack Obama
B) Martin Luther King
or
C) Will Smith

What's your vote?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lucky Day


image from rice.edu

The spam folder for my Gmail account seems to accumulate quite a few letters from foreigners who really want to share millions of dollars with me. I generally delete these correspondences, but today's email was different. Why? It came from the FBI!

Rather than try to summarize I'll let you see for yourself how easily I'm going to become a multi-millionaire.

I present to you the very official sounding email I received this morning... along with a bit of commentary from me.


<<
OFFICIAL LETTER FROM FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION FBI
ROBERT MUELLER III EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FBI FEDERAL BUREAU OF
INVESTIGATION FBI.WASHINGTON DC.
(I'm not sure they included enough references to FBI in this opening.)

Email: federalbureauinvestigationsXXXX@hotmail.com (right...because all FBI agents use hotmail accounts.)
FBI SEEKING TO WIRETAP INTERNET

ATTENTION: BENEFICIARY (very personalized!)

FROM: ROBERT MUELLER III EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FBI FEDERAL

BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION WASHINGTON DC. FBI SEEKING TO WIRETAP
INTERNET (pretty sure they already mentioned this)

The federal bureau of investigation (FBI). (I SO appreciate the clarification.)

Through our intelligence-monitoring network has discovered that the transaction that the bank contacted you previously was legal. Recently the fund has been legally approved to be paid
via Central Bank of Ghana. (Huh? Was that in English?)

So, we, the federal bureau of investigation (FBI) Washington Dc, in conjunction with the United Nations (UN) financial department have investigated through our monitoring network noting that your transaction with the Central Bank of Nigeria legal. You have the legitimate right to
complete your transaction to claim your fund US$15.5,000,000.00 (Fifteen million five Hundred Thousand united states dollars) (again, the clarifications provided here are so helpful - especially amongst the abundant grammatical errors.)

Because of so much scam going on in Ghana. (Riiiiight. No scams going on here in my spam folder, though.)

We the federal bureau of investigation decided to contact the FedEx Courier Service Company in Ghana for them to give us their procedures on how to sent this money to you without any further complain or delay. (How thoughtful!) We just got an information from the Central Bank of Ghana and they have loaded your US$15.5,000,000.00 in ATM CARD and submit to the FedEx courier service company for immediate delivery to your doorstep. (Well. I just got an information from my common sense and it says 'are you kidding me?')

You are required to choose one option, which you will be able to pay and also convenient for you, for quick delivery of your parcel containing your ATM CARD and other two original back up documents. (Again, I am loving the wording here. Someone at the FBI needs to take an English refresher course.)

Service Type | Delivery Duration | Charges/Fees

------------------------------ ------------------------------ ---------------
Premium Express (24hrs Delivery)
Mailing $200.00 00.00
Insurance $150.00 00.00
Vat $100.00 00.00
TOTAL $450.00
$450(Four Hundred and fifty US Dollars Only).

.............................. ..............................
Special Express (2 Days)
Mailing $180.00 00.00
Insurance $50.00 00.00
Vat $150.00 00.00
TOTAL $380.00 00.00
$380(Three Hundred and Eighty US Dollars Only).

.............................. ...............................
Economy Express (3Days)
Mailing $100.00 00.00
Insurance$?150.00 00.00
Vat (5%) $50.00 00.00
TOTAL $300.00 00.00
$300(Three Hundred US Dollars Only).
.............................. ..............................

(I love that they give me so many reasonably priced options to have my millions delivered to me. Thank you, federal bureau investigations (FBI) for the convenient for me!)

You are hereby required to advice us, on your parcel delivery option by filling in the required form stated above. Please note that the deadline for claiming your fund is exactly one week after the receipt of this email. After this period, your fund will be return back to the ordering costumer. That is the instruction given to us. So take note. (Note taken, thank you.)

We request that you reconfirm your mailing address to ensure conformity with our record for immediate dispatch of your parcel to you. Only valid residential/ Office address and postal address are certified OK. (Riiiiiiiiight.)

DELIVERY DESTINATION INFORMATION:
Delivery Terms: .............. .......International Delivery
Condition Of Delivery..............Priority Delivery
Consignment Note No: ........... MI 49866-2110
Color of Parcel: ..................... Brown. (definitely useful information)
Total Weight: ..........................36.2 kg
Total Net Weight: ...................1.7 kg

We are here to protect you from any problem till you receive your package. (And then what?)

Looking forward to hear from you as soon as you receive this message.

Best Regards,

THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.

MANAGEMENT. (Huh? What happened to ROBERT MUELLER III EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FBI FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION FBI.WASHINGTON DC. ?)
>>

SO?? What do you think? Should I go for it?

Okay. I'll tell you what. If you leave me a comment I'll send you $500,000,000 (Half A Million U.S. Dollars). I'm no hoarder. Just choose one of the delivery options above.

THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Picture Day

It's picture day at the elementary school today.

I used to dread this day... having to wake up early enough to get the girls' hair just so, making sure that everyone's clothes were acceptable and their milk-mustaches from breakfast were washed away.

Well, we stopped ordering school pictures a few years back so now I allow the kids a bit of creative license. Two of the elementary schoolers are sickies today, but here's what the other two came up with...
Now? I LOVE picture day.

I just hope their teachers have a good sense of humor.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Clouds


It is my day to post over at Four Perspectives. Come see what I have learned about my lifelong love affair with clouds.


ALSO! Please keep reading...

I wanted to tell you about an auction that you really should check out. Not only are there some great items up for bid (Christmas is coming!), but it's for a wonderful cause as well.

You can read more about the auction here at Tiburon's famous Shark Bait blog or just head straight over to it here. I promise it will be worth your time and money!

Do me a favor and go check it out.

In The Clouds

I have had a lifelong love of gazing at clouds, watching as they drift lazily past then gather in beautiful formations or discovering shapes and stories in their changing forms.

This began as a young child in Clinton, Iowa where I learned to watch for the fast-moving, greenish-gray clouds which usually foreshadowed a city-wide tornado warning. This fascination continued as my family moved to southern California and my younger brother and I would climb onto the roof of our apartment building to watch the bright golden-red sunsets behind the cotton ball clouds which hovered over the ocean. After moving to Utah and falling in love with the mountains I have observed the clouds that tend to linger at the tops of the majestic peaks.

Simply put, I love clouds.

I have realized over years worth of observation and fascination that the clouds could be considered something of a metaphor for my life.

Sometimes I feel as though I am stretched much too thin, like cotton batting clouds, pulled so tightly in so many directions that holes begin to show through.

Other days, like the clouds I see so often clinging to the tops of mountains, I just need something to hold on to, whether it be my family, my faith, my memories or any other thing that can sustain me until I am ready to stand on my own again.

Some of my best days are the ones where I am like the clouds which are filled with light. I feel ready to conquer the world - or at least the various tasks associated with being a wife and mother and human being - with a bright and happy countenance, filled with hope and possibility.

There are also times when I feel like a storm cloud, dark and angry and ready to burst. I reach a point where I am filled to capacity... and then, when I can no longer carry the burden or hold another drop of emotion, the tears fall like rain until I am empty.

It seems that as I have passed through each learning phase of my life, I have been like a cloud formation - changing slowly, almost imperceptibly, into different shapes and forms depending on which way the wind was blowing. It often happens so slowly that before you know it I have become a person who is completely different than I was to begin with.

However, no matter the state I'm in, there is usually a silver lining if I'm just willing to find it.

And just as I am mesmerized by watching the clouds and the way they change and morph depending on the atmosphere around them, I enjoy watching people as they do the same. No two are alike - each is unique in its color and form and structure, and that is what makes each one fascinating.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Quick Quips

From the mouths of my kids...

"Mom, do we need to get gas?"
"Nope. We've got a full tank."
"We don't have a tank! We have a car!"

"Last night I had a rilly, rilly bad dream and dragons chaseded me but I hided where they can't find me. It's true - I can not just make this stuff up!"

"Mom, are you gonna die after the baby is borned?"
"No. Why would you ask something like that?"
"Well, in Star Wars, Queen Amadala gets her baby borned and then she dies."
"Pretty much everything that happens in Star Wars would never happen in real life, honey."
"Yeah. (sigh) That's why we never get to see Chewbacca or Yoda anywhere."

"The forehead of my belly hurts."

"Is that really grandpa? 'Cause he kinda looks like WalMart."

"Where are you going, Mom?"
"To watch General Conference."
"Is that like General Grievous?"
"Not even close."



For you who are unfamiliar, this is what General Conference looks like:
and this is what General Grievous looks like:
VERY different.

And yes, I am aware that my 4-year-old daughter has a freakishly accurate fascination AND knowledge of everything that has to do with Star Wars. I think it's kind of cute.