Thursday, February 28, 2013

You Are A Remarkable Human Being

Compliment form found HERE

Did you know that tomorrow, March 1st, is National Compliment Day?

I love random, little-known holidays almost as much as I love your hair today.  I am super excited to spend an entire day paying compliments to everyone I come in contact with.  Whoever thought up this day for everyone to make a conscious effort to notice the good in others AND tell them about it was a genius!

Ready for tomorrow?  Let's get to work!

I'm going to post copies of the 'Take a Compliment' form I found online (see above) and leave them all over the place: mirrors of public restrooms, grocery store bulletin boards, community mailboxes, gas pumps - the possibilities are endless!  Then I'm going to compliment people like crazy - all day long.

Need some compliment ideas to help you get started?  Try THESE.


Or watch this little video for some inspiration:

Will you join in my crusade?

(I bet that just made you think of a song.  You're so awesome like that.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Everyone Needs A Dollar

One year on my birthday I was surprised to discover a small gold box in among the mail in my mailbox.  On top was a yellow sticky note with my name written in all caps and a smiley face drawn in beneath it.  I knew immediately that it was from my friend Jason and wondered what could be inside.  I pulled the lid off  and there sat a crisp new dollar bill, folded in half with another sticky note attached to it.  The note read, Everyone needs a dollar!

Earlier that week Jason had told me this story, so this seemingly simple gift instantly brought a smile to my face.  I placed the dollar in a notebook that I carried in my purse, and eventually forgot about it.

One day as I was driving I saw a homeless man holding a sign that said, I could use a dollar.  This made me think of Jason's story and the dollar in my notebook.  I fished around to find it then handed the man that dollar with the sticky note still attached.

After Jason died last year I was reminded again of that dollar.  I wished I still had it - or at least the sticky note that was stuck to it.  It was a simple thing, but it represented to me the good that he did and how he was always thinking of his friends.

A few weeks ago Jason's sister brought me some books from his classroom library.  My family was leafing through them, deciding which ones to keep and which ones to pass along, when Allen said to me, "Look at this!"

Inside one of the books was Jason's preferred customer card for a local hair salon... and a dollar.   

Was he reading this book while waiting for a trim of his signature Calvin-esque spiky hair?
pic found here

Was he planning to give the dollar as a tip?  I'll never know.  But I like to think that it was no coincidence that I now have a dollar to replace the one that he inspired me to give away.

Jason said it best himself.  "Like this simple dollar, the example we set each day may have a greater impact than we can ever fully realize."

Thanks for the dollar, my friend.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Everyone Needs A Slurpee

I was clearing out a tidal wave of papers from Hubba's backpack this morning and found this, the top 5 things he would do if he were president.

In case you can't read his writing, here's his list:

1. I would let people have freedom.
2. I would order a slurpee.
3. I would make sure everyone has the money they need.
4. I would let all the kids get their drivers license.
5. I would make sure everyone is safe.

If I were president

I'm pretty sure #4 and #5 would cancel each other out.  But #2 is by far my favorite thing he came up with.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Best Chocolate

I have been on a kind of self-appointed mission over the past several months.  My purpose?  To discover the best blend of chocolate and almonds in a candy bar.  It has been hard work sampling so many varieties of chocolate but I was totally willing to take one for the team in order to share my findings with you.  No one deserves to live their life thinking that the Hersheys with Almonds at the checkout is their only choice.

My favorites evolved throughout the testing process but it ultimately came down to one clear winner.

Are you ready for this?  It could change your life.

The winner is...

 Chocolove's Almonds & Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate. 

I wasn't a huge fan of dark chocolate originally.  Whenever I got a miniature Hershey's Dark in my loot sack on Halloween it was quickly traded off in a package deal with the Lemon Flavored Tootsie Rolls.  But I guess that my taste has changed (evolved?) as I've gotten older because most milk chocolate is just too sweet for me anymore.  However, I find that a lot of dark chocolate is too bitter.  So where's the balance?

Here, in this bar.  That's where it is.

I don't know if it's because it's Belgian chocolate or what but this bar is the perfect blend of subtly salty and just enough sweet - plus almonds, which are my favorite. 

Maybe you're thinking, "Gerb, dark chocolate?  Seriously?"  Well, my friend, I have found your new favorite, too.  If you aren't even willing to try the perfection of Chocolove's bar because of its 55% cocoa content then this is the milk chocolate candy you're looking for:
Neither of these candy bar makers are giving me anything to share my findings with you.  All I'm getting out of this is the warm feeling in my heart knowing that I've helped you discover your new favorite candy bar.  

You are SO welcome!

Now that I've found perfection in a chocolate bar I'm not sure what to look for next.  Any suggestions?     

Friday, February 22, 2013

Random Thoughts

One of the million reasons we love our dentist: He loves kids!

We have the best dentist in the world.  Even though Little O recently almost bit his finger off while having a cavity filled (I wish I was kidding) Dr. C still loves us and wants us to come back.  He is seriously the kindest, most friendly and caring dentist we have ever had.  Plus he does good work!  He says something on his website about his patients being his friends and he really means it.  We will go to him for as long as he's in business.    

The last time I went to the dentist we were there for 3 hours so I brought a bunch of cards and markers to compose and decorate some happy thoughts to send off in the mail.  Uninterrupted writing time = best three hours of that week!

Writing letters and decorating envelopes can be even more addicting than computer time.  I'm not sure which is more time consuming or if either are in my best interest but I love them both.  Letter writing is actually just like computer interactions, only it takes more time.  But both help me feel connected to friends and family and both provide some means of adult conversation that does not include needing to know the words to the new Scooby Doo theme song.

I'm pretty sure my kids speak to each other in movie quotes more than in actual conversation.  I can remember the basic plot of most movies but I can barely keep track of the character's names let alone what exactly they said, so I am not a very skilled participant in these quote conversations.  Sometimes I'll throw in a song quote (because that's my love language) but they either ignore me or ask "what movie is that from?" and then give each other the bless her heart look when I tell them it's from a song.

I am constantly trying to better understand the connection I have with music.  Does everyone have a more real and raw sense of their being and emotions and mind through music?  I watch someone play the piano or guitar really well and it almost hurts that I don't have that ability.  Some songs lure the dancer that I know exists inside of me but she's a lot more graceful in my mind and my gawky limbs and lack of coordination just don't cooperate.  Music awakens me, creates or emphasizes my moods, sharpens my senses, makes me feel whole.

And words just can't really describe what I'm trying to explain because that last thought sounded way too cheesy when I re-read it just now.  The feeling is real and not cheesy at all.  Although I do love cheese.  Especially Tillamook's medium cheddar. 

I was driving to a meeting one Saturday morning when a song came on the radio that reminded me of my missionary son in Texas.  It's a song he would sing all the time, one he even pulled up on his iPod and played for me once when he came home to visit from college saying, "Mom!  You have to love this song!"  It made me cry to hear that song on the radio, thinking of my happy missionary boy smiling his way into the hearts of the people he's meeting and teaching.  I miss that kid a million times over but I love hearing of the awesome experiences he's having.

The only way to get your kids to believe that beef or chicken bouillon cubes are NOT candy that you're hiding up in the cupboard is to just let them have one.  You'll only have to do it once.

My oldest daughter has been bringing home poetry that she is supposed to navigate through and write up all of the meaning behind the words.  She asked me what one of the poems meant and I read it and thought, it means the author is on some crazy drugs! but I told her that she should google it because someone on the internet would give her a better answer than I could.

This reminded me of when I had to do the same thing in high school.  I remember how much I loved English and how it pained me to have to somehow magically understand the minds of the people who wrote these crazy poems and know what the symbolism of everything was.  I showed ElemenoB the poems that I wrote back then, the ones that were purposely meaningless.  I wrote these so that someday, when my poetry was famous (I had no doubt!) I would have a few crazy poems that meant nothing at all.  Take that, English teachers!

I wonder if that's what the other famous poets did, too.

I always hated how teachers ruined great books by testing us on the symbolism in them.  Remember Lord of the Flies?  I LOVED that book but pretended to think it was awful because everyone else hated it.  And then Mrs. Whoever started asking what did this mean and what did this represent and I was like, huh?  A bunch of kids are stuck on an island and trying to survive.  What the heck are you talking about?  I haven't read it again since the 10th grade.  Maybe I should now that there's no one there to ruin it for me.

I took a group of boy scouts to a city council meeting recently to pass off a requirement for a merit badge.  A non-profit group was requesting that their funding be increased to either 7.5% or 10%.  The guy that is supposed to represent the people in my area of the city said, "I think we should give them 15%!" and I just sat there, wondering how it would work if banks operated that way.  "I'd like a loan for $10,000, please." "Can we give you $15,000 instead?"  Thank goodness Mr. Overly Generous With Taxpayer Money was out-voted.  I don't get that way of thinking.

You know the saying 'You are what you eat?' Well I just ate every single Foxy Lady and Too Cool conversation heart I could find and I'm still in my pajamas with a frizz-do.

I know I need to take better care of myself.  I know I need to exercise more (meaning: I need to actually exercise) and eat something healthier than dark chocolate with almonds.  Why do I find myself making excuses for not doing these things when I know they are in my best interest?  Even worse, why do other people make excuses for me (such as: If I looked like you I wouldn't exercise either)?  Anybody need a walking buddy?  Because I still can't run longer than about 10 minutes straight.

This getting older business stinks sometimes.

If science projects are supposed to be done entirely by elementary aged students with only minimal parent support, how in the world would they ever get done?  I just finished parentally supporting my 5th sixth grade science project.  Five down, five to go.  I deserve some chocolate!

Speaking of science projects, does anyone want to know which brand of diapers is the most absorbent?  Pampers and Luvs.  But Huggies absorb water faster, so they're still my favorite.  And none of my kids pee 6 1/4 cups at a time anyway so I don't care if the other brands absorb more.  I like the brand that absorbs better.  But the project wasn't about my opinion.  Huggies for the win!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sew Talented

Thumbelina was at it again this year.  About a week before Christmas she started making gifts for as many of us as she could.  I wanted to be sure to document them because I am always amazed at her generosity, thoughtfulness and talent.  Here are her creations:

X loves cars and trains.  She invented this bag for him to carry them around in - complete with little pockets all around the interior.  Genius!

She made this adorable 'Folklore Bag' for Cowgirl.  The pattern is from a really cute book called One Yard Wonders.

These pictures don't do the bag justice.  I was kind of hoping Cowgirl wouldn't like it so I could confiscate it - but no such luck.

Boys can be tough to sew something for so she thought long and hard about what to make Hubba and then came up with this idea: Lego Leg Slippers!  She wanted them to look like the feet/legs of the Lego guys that Hubba loves to play with.
She couldn't find any pattern for boxy looking boot slippers so she altered another pattern to create these.  They're even lined with warm, fuzzy fur. 

This sweet purse she made for Princess is also from the One Yard Wonders book.  It's called the Flouncy Bag.  I like that word, flouncy.  I'm going to try to use it more.

She made ties for her brothers last year but wanted to make a wider one for her Poppy this time around.  It's his new favorite.  I think she altered this pattern a little to make it wider.  She also informed me that the best kind of interfacing for a tie is the interfacing from an old tie.  But maybe it's not called interfacing.  It's been a while since she told me.  It's the inside stuff that looks kind of weaveish.  Anyway...
(In case you're wondering, he requested that his face not be in the picture and I was in an accommodating kind of mood.)

Little O is in love with stuffed animals.  He can never have enough of them.  So this stuffed elephant Thumbelina made him was a big hit.
He thought up possible names for quite a while before finally deciding on Trunk.  Isn't that the perfect name for a pet elephant?
This pattern is also found in the One Yard Wonders book, in case you were wondering.

And I had to add this bag to the mix.  Thumbelina heard that two of her friends were going to Disney World and Universal Studios in Florida and she really wanted to make them some cute purses to bring along.  She didn't take any pictures of them, but I found the Minnie Mouse bag she made posted on one friend's Facebook page.
It is based off of this pattern with a few little additions by Thumbelina to make it more Minnie Mouseified.  The other bag was Harry Potter themed and equally awesome.  You'll have to use your imagination.  Are you imagining something really awesome lined with an upcycled Harry Potter sheet and featuring a golden snitch on the flap?  That's the bag.

UPDATE: Thumbelina's friend sent me pictures!  Here's the Harry Potter purse:

 Awesome lining, perfectly placed.

 Find the golden snitch!

I'm hoping that one of these days I will be inspired by Thumbelina to dust off my sewing machine and make a few gifts myself.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Books I Read: Freakling

If I had written this review a year ago I would have said something along the lines of: I really enjoyed this book and so did my 11-year-old.  It's unique and adventurous and a fun read!  Which are all true.  But I'm trying to be more objective and break out of my mold of not wanting to ever say anything negative about anyone or anything, so here's what I really thought.     

Cowgirl wanted this book for Christmas.  Her 6th grade teacher was reading it to her class and she didn't like having to wait for the next installment and I'm a sucker for books so she got it.  She loved the book and gave it an 'Awesome!' rating so I decided to give it a go as well.

Initially I had a hard time getting into it.  I would read a chapter, put it down for a few days, then pick it up again when Cowgirl would excitedly ask if I'd finished it yet.  I had a hard time understanding what was going on, sort of like I had walked into the middle of a conversation.  However, once I got into it and figured out some of the lingo and what was going on, I was anxious to find out what was going to happen and couldn't put it down.

The story had a bit of The Giver style (there's a Calendar Song that I'm sure is symbolic but I stink at that stuff) and a bit of a Harry Potterish feel (not really knowing who you are or what powers you possess) and then some.  I got a kick out of the crazy old lady and was surprised by a few unexpected twists.

The main character, Taemon, is one everyone can relate to in some ways.  He has never really fit in.  He discovers that he holds some unknown powers and has to make difficult choices because of them.  His brother is a jerk.  He isn't sure who he can trust.  He wants to do what is right.  The plot takes him on an adventure of sorts that he never really wanted.  The story is interesting and even thought-provoking.         

When I reached the end of the book I was a little disappointed - it seemed kind of abrupt and a few things didn't seem to go along with the feel of the rest of the story and there was a lot left hanging.  You know how you get to the end of a book and say, "That's it?"  That was me with this book.  But then I decided there must be a sequel in the works and that resolved a lot of those issues for me.

Overall I think this is a worthwhile and interesting read.  We'll definitely check out the sequel (which I googled and sure enough, it's in the works) for more adventures with Taemon the Freakling.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday Letters

We had a young man who is leaving on his 2-year church mission this Wednesday speak to us in church today.  He shared part of his dad's conversion story as well as a few others told by some of the leaders of our church.  They got me thinking about my own family's story of how we came to be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and all that has meant for me ever since.  

The first thought I had was of the Deaf elders who came and taught our family of this gospel that has had such an impact on shaping me into the person I am today.  I am so thankful that those elders would give up two years of their lives to search out families like ours who were in such need of the message they had for us.  And then somewhere in the back of my mind I had a faint recollection of another elder who was there - one who was not teaching in ASL, but in English.  One who would come with the two Deaf elders and teach us kids.  Maybe he was a signing elder, I can't remember that part, but I know he was funny and kind and patient.  He had blonde hair and a huge grin that was ever-present.  I remembered how much we loved having him in our home, both before we were baptized and after.

Throughout the day I kept thinking about this particular elder but couldn't remember his name.  It was driving me crazy!  Then, as we pulled into the driveway after church, it came to me.  Elder Gilger!  I tried to remember where he was from (maybe Arizona?  No, that was Sister Curbishley) but all of those little details were erased from memory.  Still, I couldn't stop thinking about Elder Gilger.

After dinner I had a vague recollection of a Christmas card he had sent our family being in a box of things my mom had given me after my Dad died.  I went and dug out some photo albums and envelopes filled with newspaper clippings and such, and there he was!

I wanted to contact him, tell him what our family is up to and see where the last 32 or so years have taken him.  I tried Facebook but couldn't discern the faces there from the one in my head or on this Christmas card.  So instead I decided to do the next best thing.  I decided to write.

Dear (Former) Elder Jeffrey Gilger,

It has been many, many years since you served your mission in Los Angeles California.  I just wanted to let you know what an awesome gift it was that you and the other elders shared with our family.  A year after we were baptized, our family was sealed together forever in the Los Angeles Temple.  This has become especially significant since my Dad left us much too early after a battle with the worst kind of brain cancer just over ten years ago.  Is there any greater gift than that of a family becoming a forever family?  Just 10 short years after that sealing I was able to be sealed to my own spouse for time and all eternity.  There are so many more details that I would love to share, so many more blessings and miracles that I have experienced as a result of your willingness to serve a mission 30+ years ago, and I hope that someday I will have the chance to tell you of those in person.  For now, I just need to say thank you.  

All the best,

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Errors Around Town

Found in the halls of a high school as I was leaving a basketball game:

We would go to The CENTER but now it's too far away.

I spotted this typo while online one Sunday afternoon:
It made me all kinds of giddy to send in an error report.  My kids think there is something wrong with me.

Pretty sure this sold me on NOT sending my kids to Snow College.  I think that you should be able to expect something that is being mass-produced and sent to prospective students to not have so many errors.  Maybe it's some kind of test.  How many can you find?

My friend Kamie spotted this one and captured it for me.  Who knew store hours could be so complicated?

Can I just buy this at regular price or do I have to pay the sale price?

Oh, SwagBucks.  I love you for the free Amazon gift cards I get every month but you need to have a training on the differences between your and you're.

I totally saved the best for last.  To be fair, this is a 12-year-old kid writing this.  It came from Cowgirl's pen pal at a school somewhere in Florida (let's call him Hulk).  Sure, his spelling and grammar could use some help, but if nothing else he totally gets points for content and creativity.  I'm pretty sure I have quoted part of this to just about every person I came in contact with yesterday. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Quick Quips

(As I hang up the phone)
Little O: Was that a boy or a girl?
Me: A girl.
Little O: (fist pump) Yesssssssss!
Me: You like girls better?
Little O: Um, yeah.  Duh.

A love note from Curly...

Little O: I had a bad dream and it was called Scooby Doo And Shaggy And That Other Guy Who Does Stuff With Them Turned Into A Robot.
Allen: We need to just throw away your Scooby Doo movie so you'll stop having bad dreams.
Little O: You can't just throw away bad dreams, Dad.

This is something Hubba brought home.  The last 2 answers are my favorites.

Hubba: Is there such a thing as sound-proof underwear?  'Cuz I think they could come in handy.

Little O: You need to throw these books away!  The pictures disappeared!
Me: Not all books have pictures, believe it or not.
Little O: Just letters and letters and letters on pages?  That's so boring!  What can you look at?
Me: The words.  And you read them and they create pictures in your mind.
Little O: I don't even know words yet!  Why do you always have to be so distracting?