Monday, December 19, 2011

Hitting The Motherload

My sister called me recently and told me a story that I almost couldn't believe. Almost. But I do believe it. Why? Because you can't make this stuff up.

Side Note- I should also add that this is how our phone conversation started out:

Sister: "I just wanted to let you know that I really embarrassed our sister today."
Me: "Oh good! How?"

This is just who I am. I have accepted and even embraced it. My much embarrassed sister however, I think is still a little ashamed of the actions that took place. I'm not. I'm jealous that I wasn't there, really. So without any further ado...

An 18-wheeler on the way to make a delivery at a Sam's Club got into a bit of a wreck near where my sister resides. The front of the truck was basically ruined, but considering that the truck was full of food, nobody would tow it to the junk yard until all the food was gone. Apparently a junk yard is just no place for rats and bugs. Their junk yard must be a lot nicer than the ones I've been to before. Anyway, the driver didn't know what to do, and the company said there wasn't another truck close enough to come save the day, so he should just give the food away.

What kind of food was in the truck? Cookie Dough. Oodles and Oodles of cookie dough. An entire mack truck full of cookie dough. And he was just giving it away. When sister got word of this, she and her friend decided to go to the site, just to see if it was true. I mean, somebody says "free tractor trailer load of cookie dough" and I might have to investigate, too. She came upon the scene in her large SUV (she doesn't hate the environment, she has 3 kids who all play sports, so let it go), and found that there was, indeed, a truck full of frozen treats right there. The driver told her that the peanut butter cookies were toward the back so they were all gone already, but there were plenty of other types behind that. All she had to do was crawl up in the truck and get them out. And she did. God bless her, she did.

Her friend began to protest at this point. Hadn't they come just to make sure it wasn't all a cruel lie? But my sister was not about to let free cookie dough just go to waste. She convinced her friend to help her. And they loaded up the SUV. The driver then told them there were other types of treats besides cookies in the very back. She got some of those, too. I love my sister. I love her so much, I'm not going to directly ask her to share the wealth, I'm just going to write a post about how awesome I think she is because she did this.

After all, she estimates that she was able to make off with approximately 8,000 free cookies. Let me say that again 8,000 FREE COOKIES. If that's not hitting the jackpot I just don't know what is. I mean, I'm a woman, I know that most of us (about once a month) can only dream of just this sort thing happening to us. And now, it has happened. And to my sister, no less. She is my hero right now. And my other sister is embarrassed. Ridiculous. She should be proud. But not to proud to shamelessly ask for cookies.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Early Christmas Presents

I know I promised good posts after I was out for a while after my tonsillectomy, but I got a little busy with Christmas preparations. Trust me, you'll live.

I have told you before that my husband and I tutor under privileged children through a program at our church. Well, every year, since we know money is always tight with their families, we put up a tree at church and put the name of every student in the program on it, so that members can come by, pick up a name and buy that child a Christmas gift (or several) so that they can have a little something extra (or in some cases, anything at all).

Now, we have a pretty big church, but with so many different programs to volunteer for, and Christmas parties to throw, and people to buy gifts for, sometimes it is hard to make sure every child gets picked from the tree. Our program leader works so hard to make do with the small budget she has if any kids are left, but it just seems so unfair sometimes. Of course the younger kids get picked first, and some of the older kids are left behind. Well, this year, two of the kids that my husband and I work with were still on the tree just a few days before our Christmas party (at which the gifts are distributed).

Now, I will admit with our own obligations, and celebrations, and doctor bills this year, we had hesitated to pick their names off the tree. However, the thought of them not getting the reward they deserve for how hard they are working in school and with us just didn't seem right. One member of our church agreed to chip in a little to help out, but she didn't have time to shop, so our program leader gave the money to me so that my husband and I could buy gifts for both of our students. And we, of course, put in some of our own money to round things out (which means, those of you who are friends or family, yes, we may have spent less on you this year, in order to give gifts to kids who otherwise might not get anything. So thank you, because those gifts were partially from you, too). And let me tell you, I shopped the discount stores, I used every coupon I could, and I shopped the clearance aisles, which, thankfully, are actually pretty awesome this time of year. We were able to give those boys some new clothes, new fleece throws to keep them warm, and even some new sports equipment (they both play for their respective schools), plus a little Christmas candy.

The party was this week. They didn't know those gifts were from us. They never will, and that's okay. One of the boys was unable to attend the party because he had a basketball game, but his mother stopped by. I sat and talked to her for a while and she just kept telling me how much her son talks about us at home and how much of a blessing we are to him. She is one of the nicest people I have ever met. Her husband passed away a few years ago, leaving her with three children and a severely diminished income. She works hard to give her family everything she can, but since she has to work a lot, she signed her son up for tutoring help so that he always has someone to give him the help he needs. Her son has a disability. The doctors have told her that he will never really progress past the age of 12. He is 14 now. But she never lets him use that as an excuse. She still makes him work hard and try the best he can at everything and you can see her influence on him every time he comes through the door. He doesn't make excuses for himself. He gets a little embarrassed, but he knows we are here to help. He is the sweetest kid. He even called us the other night to tell us thank you and Merry Christmas, since he didn't get to come to the party. I almost cried a little. It is hard not to tear up now, just thinking about it.

The other student we bought for was there. And ya'll, the look on his face when he opened his presents might just be the best Christmas present I have ever gotten. He is one of seven children in his family. So Christmas, while always happy, is not always full of gifts. And like our other student, he is one of the sweetest kids. He is one that still says sir and ma'am, which warms my heart. And for those of you who don't live down South and realize how important that is in our culture, let me just say it is a REALLY BIG STINKIN' DEAL. And not enough kids do it anymore, but he always does. And he always says thank you, even when all he needs help on is to have me check behind him to make sure he didn't forget punctuation, or leave off a math problem. When he came into the party the first thing he did, before he got something to eat (we served dinner), before he got his gift, before he did anything else, he came and found me, gave me a hug and told me Merry Christmas. So later on, when I saw the light in his eyes, and the smile on his face as he opened his presents, I felt like the Grinch when his heart grows three sizes. I just kind of melted a little. And NOW I am in the Christmas spirit.

That was their gift to me. It came early. They didn't even know they gave it to me. But it was amazing. And I have to thank God for it. Because He is the one who blessed us enough to allow us to be a part of it all.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bad Commercials

Recently, my husband and I became blessed with free DVR service (Thank you, DirecTV. You have never sucked at customer service and I have never regretted paying extra for you over cable because the local cable company is crap. Now, don't ever make me eat those words.). It has been great. I can record my favorite shows when I'm not home, or when I'm on a lot of medications and can't stay awake through the whole episode. It's awesome. And you know what? I actually prefer watching the shows once they are recorded, rather than live. Why? I can FAST FORWARD THROUGH COMMERCIALS.

Now, I realize that we are way behind on technology in the home. I mean, DVR has been around for a long time and we just didn't want to shell out the extra cash for it. I know a lot of you out there are over how awesome it is because you have gotten used to it. Well, shut it and let me finish because we just got it, not that long ago, and I'm still in the "THIS IS AWESOME" phase. Don't ruin this for me.

I hate almost all commercials. Most of them are stupid and some of the Hallmark ones can almost make me cry. That's right, I said it. Hallmark can almost make me cry within 30 seconds in some of their commercials. You know what else can do it? That Folgers Coffee one where the son/brother comes home for Christmas. I'm not ashamed. Well, maybe a little. But I digress. I hate almost all commercials, but there are a few that I specifically can't stand. They fall into one of two categories: commercials that creep me out, and commercials that gross me out. Let's start with the first one, shall we?

Commercials that creep me out. Hmm. Well, any of them with the guy from Progressive. You know the one with the 1970s facial hair that today is only worn by sex offenders. And he talks in a creeper voice, too. If I saw him on the street, I would refuse to make eye contact, and would avoid him at all costs.

The kid who has absolutely no emotions who is talking about "the old impromptu in-law visit" that is really for macaroni or something. That kid is creepy as hell. It is his deadpan emotionless droning. He is Shining-esque and I disapprove.

The Target Black Friday, awful red outfit lady is not the worst offender, but I feel that she could use professional help and heavy meds. She's creepy. She seems like the kind of woman who would be eerily nice to you, but if you accidentally took out her Christmas display that she would kill you in your sleep. Yeah, and again, she's not even the worst one.

The Velveeta skillet guy. LIQUID GOOOOOOOOLD. No. Just no. And the truth is that I don't think he is all that creepy, I just hate him. He's annoying.

When it comes to commercials that gross me out, the list is topped by that Above the Influence commercial where the girl is vomiting and it shows trophies and photos in the toilet. It's not even the glimpse of her life in the toilet that grosses me out. It is the actual sound of her throwing up. I can't watch it anywhere near meal time. I get the point they are making, but could they make it without the sound effects?

Any commercial with JELLO in it.

All of the commercials for the treatment of E. D. I don't need to know that Bob has that particular problem. I also don't need to know that his treatment is working and that ya'll are gonna get it on in the middle of doing laundry. I'm mixing commercials there I'm sure, but still. Ew.

Commercials for any of the channels that show America's Funniest Home Videos in syndication because they often show a baby throwing up on someone else. I just don't need to see that on TV.

And somewhere in the middle is the Hail to the V commercial. Where they open with things like "people have died for it" and then it turns out they are talking about, well, you know. I'm not a COMPLETE prude, but it's a weird commercial. And it's for Summer's Eve, which is just weird to see advertised, really.

There are, of course, more than that, but if I took the time to tell about all the commercials I hate, we could be here for a while. So I'll just leave it at that.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Back to the Land of the Living

It has been almost two weeks since my surgery. I wasn't really supposed to talk again until my two weeks were up, but since sitting in silence when I have something to say is a little preview of my own personal hell, I broke that rule. It's okay, during my follow up visit one week out, my doctor said I was doing fine and that as long as I didn't over do it, I could give talking a whirl. It took me several days after that to speak clearly, as I mostly at that point still sounded like I was talking through water, but I made it. Whew.

Now that I am doing better and am no longer under the influence of pain medication (well, other than Tylenol), I would be glad to share my experience with all of you. Why? Because misery loves company. That's why.

The day of my surgery they were running a little behind schedule at the hospital, so by the time they came to get me to start giving me the anesthesia, I had been nearly 14 hours without food, per their instruction, and I was doing everything in my power to still be a nice person and to talk over the loud noises my stomach was making. It is such a small organ, with such impatience, and quite the temper I might add. I had two people complain that my veins were being difficult. I smiled and oh so innocently pointed out that they are usually much more cooperative when I have been allowed to drink water. Seriously. No food OR DRINK for FOURTEEN HOURS. I was desperate. And trying not to be mean about it, because I really didn't want to upset the people who were going to be in charge of giving me meds.

After the extremely merciful, and wonderful people gave me medicine that made me completely unaware of how hungry I was, I only remember two things. The first was that I got a little motion sick when they wheeled me down the hall (that tends to happen when I don't eat) and the second was that I saw my doctor when they wheeled me in the room. He was being very kind and using his "soothing voice" when he spoke to me. After that I have extremely vague memories of not wanting the mask that someone kept putting on my face (because I don't like to have my mouth and nose covered at the same time - I don't care if that's weird, I don't like it because it makes me think of suffocating) and not having the strength to push them away. If I had not had just enough presence of mind to know that this was supposed to happen, I may have gone ape right then and there because that is one of my worst nightmares.

The next thing I know, I am waking up, it hurts to breathe, I can't speak, I can't swallow, and (true to form) I am nauseous from the anesthesia. When I get nauseous I get really hot and so the only thing I could do when the nurses asked me if I was okay (I was burning up, so I might have been breathing a little shallow) was to make a very weak gesture of me fanning myself. They got me a fan. And then told me to drink some water. YEAH, I'll get right on that. Just as soon as I can breathe without feeling like there are shards of broken glass in my throat.

It got slowly better after that. They kept me overnight for observation. The next day the worst part of my day was trying to actually eat the chicken broth they brought me. It was pretty much a no go. I don't even remember how many hours it had been since I had ingested food, but they had hooked me up to an IV to get liquids in my system and I was not hungry enough to withstand the pain of swallowing for mere chicken broth. Oh, and I almost gagged on the spot when I saw the Jello on the tray, so the wonderful hospital worker took it away.

For those of you who might have missed the memo, I hate Jello. Not the pudding kind, the jiggly, wiggly, gelatin kind. The kind Bill Cosby used to peddle. Jello=gagging. Food shouldn't wiggle all by itself once it's on your plate. But that is whole other crusade I could go on.

Once I got home, I learned very quickly that everything made me tired, and that eating chicken broth still pretty much wasn't worth the pain. I also learned that the old Brady Bunch episode when Cindy and Mrs. Brady got their tonsils out was a huge lie because you can't eat ice cream. Dairy coats your throat and makes it hard to breathe. LIARS. Also, you know who else is a big fat liar? Mary Poppins, that's who. You know how I know? Because I am pretty sure they mixed my antibiotic (which had to be in liquid form) with way more than just a spoonful of sugar and it still wasn't anything near delightful. And not just because it hurt to swallow. No, it was gross. Forget water boarding. You want to torture someone? Feed them that stuff. Quadruple ew with an ew on top.

Anyway, slowly but surely I improved. I can breathe, I can eat, I can talk. I still get tired a lot, but they told me that might happen. I still have to be careful about my level of activity and I'm not allowed to do anything strenuous for a bit, and I have to go back to the doctor in a few weeks. By then, he ought to be able to declare me fully healed and my life can return to normal, well, with better breathing and better quality sleep, but everything else will just be the same.

And since I had a LOT of time to sit and think, and watch really bad TV during my recovery, I came up with a few new blog posts to share with you. So be looking forward to that! Or at least feign interest. Fine, don't care at all, just don't tell me and spoil my fun.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


My tonsillectomy will be tomorrow afternoon so I wanted to let everyone know that I will be on a temporary hiatus while I am on my pain medications. I will be back in a few days when my world is no longer fuzzy, especially since I won't be allowed/able to speak for a while and I need some sort of outlet if I have any home of retaining my sanity. Until then, feel free to wander through the archives and read through some of my better rants.

Thanks and see you soon!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day!

This week when I taught my ESL class, since many of them are from countries that do not celebrate Veterans Day by that name or any of it's other names (Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, or even Poppy Day), I taught them about the origin of the day and explained why we celebrate it today. Well, as the week has gone on, I have noticed that many commercials are airing that involve Veterans Day sales that will last all weekend and it made me think that while lower prices are never unappreciated, maybe some have lost the real meaning of Veterans Day. So I will share the same information here that I shared with my class.

(Side Note: I learned while teaching about this that in Korea, which is where one of my students is originally from, they have a similar holiday known as Soldiers' Day.)

Veterans Day was officially declared a holiday in 1919, one year after the end of World War I. 20 million men died fighting in the first World War, which was originally called by two other names, the first being The Great War, and the second being The War to End All Wars. This holiday was meant to honor the sacrifice of all soldiers who fought for their countries during that war, both the ones who came home with their lives and the ones who did not. The holiday has since become a day to remember all military veterans from all wars, as a way of showing them our appreciation for all that they do.

Again, though, the holiday was officially declared a holiday in 1919, exactly one year after the treaty that ended WWI was signed. The treaty was signed at 11 AM and so it is remembered that WWI ended on the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 (Side Note: Not all fronts got news of the signed treaty so in some areas skirmishes would continue for a while, especially on the Eastern Front).

So that is where it all began. The day is celebrated in most European countries and Canada, but it is celebrated under different names, but all for the same reasons. So if there is someone in your life who is risking everything to fight for your country, today would be a good day to say thank you.

Another Side Note: When I explained all this to my class, I mentioned that on this day I feel especially grateful to the people I know or am related to who serve or have served, including those who are no longer with us, like my grandfather. One of my students looked at me and smiled a kind smile and said "You are proud of them." It wasn't a question, but an observation she made as I told her about them. And she was right. I am proud of them. So very proud and so very thankful.

Thank you, not just to the ones I know, but to all service men and women of the United States Military.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Candy Overload

No, I'm not talking about me. I'm talking about all of us who have candy left over after last night's Halloween festivities.

For instance, last year we had a lot more trick-or-treaters than we did this year. But this year we have a church across the street that hosted a Trunk or Treat event. I applaud them for giving kids a safe place to trick-or-treat and giving them fun activities to do while they are there, I do. But they stole a lot of our trick-or-treaters. Its hard to compete with a bouncy castle and a jumpy slide. So we have a lot of candy left over.

My dilemma is that I don't want all that left over candy just sitting around my house, mocking me. I also don't want to throw away perfectly good candy, because that just seems wasteful. And what about the parents out there who have kids who hit the jackpot, so to speak, and came home with more candy than they can possible devour before it goes bad without giving themselves the stomach ache of the year. Well, I recently heard of a program that is willing to help us solve just this sort of dilemma and to show a little gratitude to soldiers in the process.

Operation Gratitude sends care packages to soldiers as a way to say thank you for the work they do. Well, right now they are collecting Halloween candy to send to the soldiers. What better way to get that candy out of your house than to have them send it to a soldier thousands of miles from home to let him/her know that we are grateful and that we still care.

And just how to get this candy to them? I'm so glad you asked. They have set up a program to make it easy. It's called the candy buy back, and all you have to do is find a dentist in your area that is participating. Kids who are 16 and under can get paid for the candy they give ($1 per pound) and the rest us can donate it. You can find a participating dentist in your area through the Halloween Candy Buy Back Website. All you have to do is type in your zip code to find a participating dentist office near you. And if you happen to own/run/work at dentist office and want to sign up your practice to participate you can do that at the website, too!

So c'mon. Get that extra candy out of your house and away from your waistline. Instead, give it to a soldier who, I'm sure, would love to be reminded that the rest of us still care about him/her and are grateful for the work they do.

You tricked. You were treated. Now do a good deed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Things I Learned From Disney Princesses

I have read several articles and blogs lately that blame a number of things on the Disney Princess line. People are starting to blame these animated movies and the products, toys, etc that go along with them for the body image issues that young girls have, along with a number of other problems. In my mind Belle, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Pocahontas, Mulan, Jasmine, The Little Mermaid, Rapunsel, and Tiana are just the next scapegoats. Barbie went first.

People blamed Barbie for a number of things, and while it is true that her dimensions are a little unrealistic, I had a number of Barbie dolls as a child and whatever body image issues I have had throughout my life, I don't blame the dolls for any of them. I feel the same way about the Disney line. Actually, I'm a little more defensive about the Disney line because of all of the lessons that I did learn. And those lessons? Every single one of them has held true throughout my life. I have also enjoyed some of the lessons offered up by the newer princesses. I am happy to share some of them with you.

1. It is perfectly okay to be a woman who thinks for herself. Belle was an outcast in her town because she was different, but she didn't hide who she was just to fit in.

2. You're not always going to like your boss. In fact, sometimes they might even be a real witch. The wicked stepmother in Snow White was an actual witch. Snow White didn't much like her, but this witchy woman was the queen, so Snow White had to do as she was told. And she did.

3. Sometimes men will lie to you to try to impress you. Have you ever seen Aladdin?

4. It is also perfectly okay to be a woman who is strong. Mulan pretended to be a man a joined the army in her father's stead in order to save his life. Yes, when they found out that she lied and she was actually a woman they kicked her out, but she remained strong, saved the emperor and brought honor to her family.

5. It's important to know self defense. Even if your primary mode of self defense is to hit intruders with a frying pan. Nice shot, Rapunsel.

6. You have to work hard for what you want. Sometimes it will seem impossible to realize your dreams, but you if you give up and stop working hard for them, then you are certainly never going to get what you want. Tiana worked multiple jobs to save up enough money to buy her own restaurant, just to have it bought out from under her, but she didn't give up.

7. Just because someone has a different skin color, a different language, or different customs from you, doesn't mean they are crazy, weird, or a savage. Thank you, Pocahontas.

8. Sometimes all you need to put you in a better mood is a new pair of shoes. Now if only they would appear for free as a gift from a fairy godmother, that would be even better.

9. Not everybody is going to play fair. The Little Mermaid learned that one the hard way.

10. Yes, pretty girls get treated differently. It's not a fun lesson to learn, but it's still true.

11. But don't worry, because looks aren't everything. Just ask the Beast.

12. You shouldn't go around touching things that aren't yours without asking. You never know when one of them is going to be a poisoned spindle.

So while other people may complain that the princesses teach girls to sit around and wait on a prince who may never come and that they need to be skinny and pretty, I beg to differ. I say that while the lessons I learned were fun to see played out on the screen, they were backed up by things I was taught at home. So maybe instead of always looking for a scapegoat to point the finger at, some people should just let their kids be kids sometimes.

And by the way, if your five year old has body issues, I HIGHLY doubt that she got that from watching a cartoon character. Now if you want to cut off her exposure to the entire Kardashian family, anybody with the last name of Lohan, or fashion magazines until she is old enough to stand the general absurdity of it all, that I'm all for. But back off when it comes to Disney animation.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's The Bottom of the Ninth, Detroit, And You Just Struck Out

So I'm not the biggest fan of GM or its line of brands. I will be completely upfront about that. But when I read this article by David Fleming, GM actually does come out as one of the good guys. The Detroit Economic Growth Corp. comes across like snobby jerks.

For those of you who won't follow the link and read the article, here's what went down. David Fleming wrote an article (not the linked one, but one that came before that) that basically called out GM and told them to step up to the plate and act like they cared about their city and to refurbish the field where the old Tiger Stadium was located. He challenged them to clean it up and turn it into youth ball fields so that kids could say they have played where Ty Cobb once played (those into the game enough to know who that is, anyway). And the crazy thing? GM listened. They got enough employees to volunteer to clean up the area and presented a plan to the city. The plan was to use all those employee volunteers to clean up the space and then to make the area into Little League fields.

At this point you just get a little warm and fuzzy inside, don't you? The thought of kids in Detroit getting to play ball in an iconic place, and more importantly, having a clean, fun place to play. But alas, as Robert Burns once said (and then was ripped off for the title of a John Steinbeck novel), "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." Well, to be fair, these plans didn't so much go awry as the Detroit Economic Growth Corp squashed them like a bug. The reason? That land is prime real estate for companies who want to come to Detroit and it would be foolish to throw it away on ball fields.

Time Out. How many companies are actually coming IN to Detroit these days? And as the article points out, what about using the other "40 square miles of available vacant land?" This would be an opportunity to build something in your city, to give it the tiniest hint of a face lift, at a historic site, in a time when your city is hurting for some good publicity in a bad way. And you throw it away because someone else might want it someday? Did I forget to mention that the GM plan to transform the space would be at NO COST to the city? You need the good publicity, GM is hurting for some good PR, too, and this was a chance for you to both get that.

This whole situation cries out for my signature answer of "Oh, Honey, no."

I get that I'm not from Detroit and so I have absolutely no say in what should or should not go down there, but I do have some common sense that says turning down this proposal was a bad idea. The population of Detroit isn't skyrocketing, it's decreasing. Companies aren't flooding in, they are leaking out. It might have been nice to turn this empty lot, one that has been empty for twelve years, into something nice for the people who have stayed. The ones cheering on your teams that have risen like a Phoenix out of the ashes. The ones who want to hold on to a past that has had its ups and downs, but was something they could be proud of. But you didn't. You basically said that community pride, and the preservation of a baseball field that has meant so much to so many over the years isn't worth as much as the POSSIBILITY of someone wanting to bulldoze everything and build who knows what at some unknown point down the road.

It's the bottom of the ninth, Detroit, and that was strike three.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Sleep Study A.K.A. My Night As A Lab Rat

So last night was my sleep study. In case you want to know what it's like, here's how everything went down.

I arrived a few minutes before my appointed time of 8:30 PM and had to ring the doorbell to be let in. They keep the place locked for security purposes and will only let in people who have an appointment. They let me in and lead me to my room for the night. It had a private half bath and was basically a mix between a hospital room and a dorm room. There was a TV, but since there was no remote and it was higher up on the wall than I could reach, it stayed off. Luckily, I had a great C.S. Lewis book to read, thanks to a friend who lent it to me (which is good because my book budget for the month won't cover anything else). I filled out all the paperwork and then read for about an hour and a half before the technician told me through the intercom in my room that I needed to get in my pajamas and get ready for bed because I only had twenty minutes before they were going to wire me up. He put it a little nicer than that, but that was the basic gist.

So when my time came, the tech walked me down the hall and I was hooked up to so many wires that I kept getting tangled up in them. And then I walked back down the hall, and was given extra blankets because the room was like 40 below. I was hooked up to another set of wires that were actually attached to the bed. The tech told me he knew this was not going to be the best night's sleep of my life, but to just try to relax and to get as much sleep as possible. Then he turned out the lights and left me there to stare at the ceiling. OH, actually I forgot the best part. If I needed to get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, I had to tell them. I didn't need to press a button or anything, there was a microphone taped to my throat, so I just had to say it out loud and they would come unhook the wires that were attached to the bed and I would be free to go and then come back and get hooked up again. Again, the staff was SUPER nice about it, but it was humiliating.

Before I could go to sleep they had to calibrate the equipment. I had to blink on command, look to the left and right, up and down, point my toes, the whole shebang. So this means that for the rest of the night they could tell how I was moving, whether or not my eyes were open and measure my brain waves. I am officially a science experiment. Literally.

So, eventually I did fall asleep. It didn't last. Some of the other patients were sleep walkers and one next door to me had to get up to use his or her private bathroom a lot. And I heard the door open and shut every time. They gave me a white noise machine, but it wasn't loud enough to drown out all the weird sounds. And the worst part? Now I needed to use the ladies' room. I tried to just go back to sleep and hold it. No good. But I was so humiliated to have to tell someone that I had to go that it took me a good five minutes to actually say it out a dark room with no one else in it. But the tech's voice came over the intercom that he would be there in a second. He came, he unhooked a few of my wires, and when I came back he hooked my back up. Thankfully it was still mostly dark so I didn't have to look him in the eye. It was weird enough. I'm a grown woman, to have to ask permission to go to the bathroom was just wrong.

Anyway, eventually I fell asleep again. And then? I opened my eyes for just a second. There were no windows and no clocks in the room, so I had no idea what time it was and decided I should try to go back to sleep and closed my eyes again. But it was too late. Their little machine told them I had opened my eyes. The tech came over the intercom and told me that they had enough data and they would unhook me and I could go home. It must be later than I thought. Okay, I'm up. Up and at 'em. The tech unhooked me from all the bajillion wires that were attached to me and left. I was free to get dressed and go home. I began my process. And as I packed up my things, I got my cell phone out and turned it on (I had to turn it off during the night because the signal can sometimes interfere with the equipment. So they say, anyway. I just think they didn't want me to have a clock). It was just after 5. FIVE.

I don't have kids yet. I am beyond the stay up all night phase and not yet to the get up to take care of the kids phase. I am not a runner. I am not in the military and required to do morning PT. Five in the morning shouldn't exist to me. Ever. EVER.

I got dressed, filled out my departure paperwork, was told the paste they put in my hair to make my wires stick would come out with hot water and shampoo (it did, I just had to shampoo twice. That stuff is icky, by the way), and that my results would be sent to my doctor in a few days (along with a video recording of me sleeping for additional reference - that's right, they video taped me) and I would receive a copy of the paper report within two weeks. Then I drove home and had to call and wake up my husband before his alarm went off so that he wouldn't freak out when the alarm went off as I walked into the house. Even the dog was tired and dazed when I came in.

We all ate breakfast, I showered and worked like mad to make sure the electrode paste was out of my hair, and then my dear husband went ahead and got ready for work and I got in the bed to actually get some sleep. I only needed a couple of hours to prepare myself for the rest of the day, and it was a lot easier without being wired to the bed with an infrared camera pointed at me.

The point? I have a new respect for lab rats.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Food for Thought

A few things I've been thinking about lately:

1. I recently read an article in which the author stated that there are only two kinds of people in this world, the people who will wheel their grocery cart (or buggy, as I call them) back to one of the collection spots, and those who will simply leave it in the open parking space next to their car. I fall into the first category.

2. I think you could also argue that, if you are going to argue that there are only two kinds of people, the categories are more like the kind of people who will park in a handicapped spot even in perfect health on a sunny day just to be closer to the door, and those who would rather swim through the parking lot when it is raining cats and dogs than take a handicapped spot when there might be someone who actually needs it. I fall into the second category.

3. When I call the customer service number, I would rather wait on hold for five minutes than spend five minutes trying to navigate the automated system that can't understand my southern accent. If I'm calling the customer service number instead of sending an email to customer support it is because I desire to speak to a real live, sho'nuff human being, preferably one who can either answer my question or point me to where I can find the answer myself. I did not call customer service to hear an automated voice give me four options, none of which actually pertain to my specific question. And if you ask me to type in my account number, social security number, or anything else, I know it is because you want to answer my line and speak to me by name, but really I would rather you just answer the phone and let me give the info to you then. I want to speak to a person, is that so wrong?

4. I have to do a sleep study tonight so they can document that my enormous tonsils interfere with my breathing while I sleep, so they can then surgically remove them. I have to go to the sleep clinic, they will hook me up to a plethora of wires and belts and then I'm supposed to go to sleep and let them study me. Call me crazy, but I think it will be a little hard to sleep when I've got more wires attached to me than a computer and am being watched and monitored like ET in captivity. Anyway, I hope I get enough sleep for them to get the data they need.

5. One of the kids I tutor on Tuesday nights got an A on his math test this week. I can't take credit, he works hard and he earned every point he got on his own merit, but I was still so proud of him I think I was almost as excited as he was.

6. I've started taking a Zumba class once a week. It is so much fun! I am not the only one in the room who isn't a good dancer, so I don't feel embarrassed when I have trouble with the moves at first and it is a really good workout. I highly recommend it.

See you next week!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Who Are You Calling a Hussy? Part 2

So, thanks to a couple of readers who were able to clear up a few things for me, I now know that the Hussy Collection at Merle Norman was both named by a woman and that it would not be acceptable to anyone to disagree with her decision. Well, I DON'T work for her and I will be glad to express my sentiments.

Dear Marketing Disaster,

This is quite possibly the worst idea I have ever heard for marketing cosmetic products. Especially from Merle Norman. Just because other, cheaper make-up companies try to market their products using women painted up like cheap hookers, doesn't mean that we all want to look like that. There is reason I'm not buying their products. But if you would like to continue to get your kicks by poorly disguising your insults to your customers, I won't feel the need to disguise my insults to you at all. You're an idiot. And should have been more willing to listen to your employees instead of just assuming that absolutely always know best. So really, you're a stubborn, self-absorbed idiot. Good luck slowly driving the company into the ground.



Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tonsils? I Don't Need No Stinkin' Tonsils!

So when you have naturally large tonsils, allergies and colds can be especially brutal. Such is the case with me. I have tonsils that are too big and when they swell up when I get a sore throat, they practically touch in the back of my throat, making it difficult to breathe normally. Well, recently, they did just that and I went to the doctor so he could give me some medication. All I want to do is breathe like a normal human being, I really don't think that was asking too much. Well, neither did the doctor, because he is prescribing a tonsillectomy.

Wait, there's more. Not only will he remove my tonsils, but before that I have to spend a night in a sleep clinic. He will use the results of the sleep study to show that my tonsils cause breathing problems when I sleep. He also thinks it is possible that my jaw is too small and that causes my tongue to sit too far back in mouth, which would contribute to breathing problems, especially at night when I sleep. So he may get to do a little extra work on my tongue, too. Super.

I know my tonsils need to come out, but I'm not gonna lie, I'm not excited about this. Why? Because after the surgery I will have to spend several days speaking a little as possible. Anybody who knows me knows that I'm a talker. I like to talk to people. And talking when you tutor and teach ESL is kind of necessary. Thankfully, Fall Break is coming up and I'm hoping my recovery period will coincide with the time off from those activities so that I won't have to miss much. The group leaders from both activities are very understanding about my situation, but I don't really want to miss out. I like my volunteer work with them.

In fact, in my ESL class this week, I got to know one of my students a little better because she was early for class and we were able to spend a little time talking. She is from India, but her husband is from the US. He travels a lot with his job, which is how she met him, but now she lives here and needs help improving her English skills. During our class we always end with a lesson from the Bible. We have the same translation for everyone in the class and we use this opportunity to let them practice their reading and pronunciation skills, while also teaching them about the fundamentals of Christianity. Many of my students grew up in Christian families, but this student was raised Hindu and she told me that this is the first time that she has ever read any part of the Bible. She was shy and embarrassed to tell me, but I think she is really enjoying her experience with it in the class. I don't want to miss a class because then I would miss the opportunity to see how she drinks in the lesson. She is always so focused on it, it is truly a blessing to see and maybe God will give me the words to help her truly understand His message. And I know God could just as easily work through a substitute as He could through me, but I really want to be there for her.

So here's hoping for a speedy recovery that will help me not miss teaching my class or tutoring the kids...and that I won't go crazy not being able to speak for several days.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

GOD Is Bigger Than The Boogeyman

Disclaimer: The title of this post is not meant to be irreverent. I am using it to make a point.

Today is the 10th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon, and Flight 93. It has been a decade, but I still remember that day all too clearly. I was not in New York. I was not in Washington. I was not on an airplane. I was in the tenth grade in a high school in Alabama and I was learning CPR from a Red Cross instructor during a Sports Medicine class when I found out.

I remember our instructor kept correcting himself as he stuttered and stumbled through his sentences before he finally just said that he was distracted by what he had heard on the radio on the way to our school that morning. I remember the feeling of disbelief, in the truest sense of the word. We all thought it was a mistake. Or that he had misheard the story. Or maybe even that he had been hearing about a movie plot and not realized it. But it was true. It was all too true. The rest of the school day was spent either watching the news footage on TV in shock, comforting each other in hushed whispers, or sitting in silence when the administration finally decided that we shouldn't watch the news coverage anymore because it was so upsetting. I remember that a friend of mine and I sat against the wall, underneath the dry erase board, watching the classroom TV that was turned to a news station. I remember him saying, to nobody in particular, "My dad was in New York this morning. He was supposed to fly from there to LA for more business meetings." I was the only one sitting immediately next to him, so I did the best I could to comfort him. I also remember him being called to the office because his mother was calling. I remember him coming back into the room as white as a sheet because his dad had missed his flight and was still in the airport in New York.

I haven't talked to this particular friend in years. We drifted apart during college, but I see updates from him on Facebook on occasion. It doesn't matter though. I will never forget the time we spent together that day sitting under the dry erase board. Other people have the kind of stories that will rip your heart out of your chest just to hear them tell it. Stories that make you tear up because you know the heartbreak they must feel every time they close their eyes and relive that moment. My story isn't like that. But I won't ever forget it. I don't think any of us will ever really forget any part of that day.

I was reflecting on this a little this week, and my mind wandered (as it often does) to something completely unrelated. I thought first of the fear we felt, then the anger, and then the need for answers, the need for God. That last one lead me through a whole new rabbit hole where I ended up thinking of a Veggie Tales song. For those of you of don't know, Veggie Tales is an animated children's show that uses talking vegetables (and fruits - Bob the Tomato, and tomato is a FRUIT), to tell children the stories of the Bible and explain the concepts of Christianity. They also throw in a little silliness on occasion. The particular song that I am referring to is called "God is Bigger than the Boogeyman". The main chorus tells us that "God is bigger than the Boogeyman. He's bigger than Godzilla and the monsters on TV. God is bigger than the Boogeyman and He's watching out for you and me." I thought about the words of that song and the comfort they bring to children. The thought that it doesn't matter if you are scared of the things that may go bump in the night, because God is there, He cares, and He is bigger than whatever scary, creepy things that the darkness has to offer. And then I began to think about what that means to us as adults.

Ten years ago, as a nation, we suffered. As individuals, some people lost loved ones and felt unbelievable heartbreak. To this day, as we fight a war that the events of that day set in motion, more individuals lose loved ones, and some soldiers lose pieces of themselves, literally. There is a lot to be upset about. There is a lot of hurt. There is a lot of anger. Many people bear the scars of bitterness on their hearts because of what has happened. Others fight off the bitterness, but can't escape the heartbreak. I can't really blame any of them. But that is why I think about that Veggie Tales song and what it means as we grow up. When we are no longer afraid of movie monsters or the things that go bump in the night, when our fears begin to revolve around loss, and sometimes even people, the concept still applies.

It doesn't matter what it is you are feeling. What it is you are suffering from, whether it is related to the tragedy 10 years ago, or something else that plagues your life, is irrelevant. God is bigger than it all. He is bigger than heartbreak. He is bigger than anger. He is bigger than addiction, bitterness, disease, depression, and suffering. And He cares.

Many people hear or see statements like that and ask why a God who cares so much would let something like that happen. I am not a theologian. I am not a Reverend, Pastor, Priest, or Seminary student. Having said that, this is my answer to the question: God gave each and every one of us free will. We have the power to choose to believe in Him. We can choose to believe in other things. We can choose to put ourselves first. We can choose different religions. He wants us to choose Him, that's why he gave us free will, but that means we make our own choices. The people who orchestrated the attacks 10 years ago chose to follow a different god. They chose to be radical extremists that follow a god who tells them to kill all those who believe differently. They chose to view the United States as their enemy. And then, those that didn't choose to be suicide bombers, chose to hide in the desert like cowards, using children strapped with explosives to their dirty work. That was the choice they made. Nobody made that choice for them. They made it themselves.

They made those choices because of what they believe about the god they choose to believe in. A god who tells them that killing themselves is commendable, as long as they take the infidels with them. My God doesn't tell me that. My God tells me to spread the message of His love to as many people as possible. He says that if I find someone who doesn't know His love, to tell them about Him. Yes, there are acts and sins I am supposed to hate, but the people who commit those sins and acts are the people who need to hear about His love the most. Once upon a time, yes, my God was known to smite people. Then the New Testament happened because God made himself into man (Jesus) and suffered on the cross. He did this to save humanity, most of which either didn't believe what He was saying was true, had never heard of Him, or were actively trying to kill Him because of the message he was spreading.

And to the people who choose to believe in that other god (whose name, I feel, is not even worth mentioning) and claim that he is more powerful than mine, I have this to say: My God has been known to stop the sun in sky in order for his followers to carry out his work (Joshua 10: 12-13). My God made Himself man and came to Earth, was born of a virgin and died on the cross, all to save us from our sins (the account of this is found in several books of the New Testament, known as the Gospels). And, personally, He has blessed me with a home, a great family, a wonderful husband, and so much more. And even in my times of despair, He comforts me. What has your god done for you lately?

That is what helps me when I think about the heart ache that was caused by the tragedy so many years ago. My God is bigger than the Boogeyman.

Friday, September 9, 2011

An Excused Absence

It's been two weeks since I've posted here and I thought I would write a little something to explain my time way. There are a few reasons though, so I thought I would explain myself using one of my favorite things: a numbered list.

1. I have rotator cuff tendonitis and a pulled muscle in my shoulder. This means that for a few days I basically couldn't blog because I was in such pain I couldn't lift my right arm, and typing with one hand is zero fun. Also, I don't do so well with some medicines and the muscle relaxer they gave me tends to make my world a little fuzzy for a couple of hours. It's just not safe to blog, or drive, in that condition. I am recovering nicely, according to my physical therapist anyway, and should be as good as new in no time.
-As a side note, I learned this week that there are actually several ways to spell tendonitis (e.g. tendinitis) that are all considered correct.

2. College football is back! My beloved MSU Bulldogs played last Thursday and I was a little distracted preparing myself for the game. I did attend. I clapped, I cheered, and my hurting shoulder was UNBELIEVABLY SORE the next day. It was totally worth it. Even during my 8 AM physical therapy appointment the next morning when I was both tired and sore, I still thought it was worth it. And for those of you rolling your eyes and thinking that couldn't have been good for me, my physical therapist knew I was going to the game and was fine with it.

3. I am now teaching English as a Second Language to adults through a program at my church. My students are wonderful and appreciative, and I have a great time teaching the class. It does mean, though, that I have to dedicate some of my time to planning out the lesson and preparing for class. And yes, I do refrain from taking my muscle relaxer until after class so I can be completely there for my students. They want to learn, they just need somebody who will teach them, and I don't want to let them down.

4. I am also a part of a program at church that helps tutor underprivileged kids in the area. The program is just getting started for this academic year, but I am kind of pumped. I will be tutoring the same child all through the academic year so that they can get to know me and will find it easier to ask me for help as time goes on. Again, though, this does mean that I have to spend time away from The Soap Box. And yes, I also refrain from taking the muscle relaxer before that as well. Just like my ESL students, the tutoring program is voluntary and the kids who participate in it want to learn, they just need someone to devote a little extra time and patience to help them out. I don't want to let them down, either.

So that pretty much covers it. As my shoulder gets better so that I can get back to normal (typing with two hands, even!), and not have to worry about when to take my meds around the rest of my schedule I shouldn't be missing from the blog as much. Until then, though, things might be a little intermittent.

Who am I kidding? Even when my shoulder is better, it's still college football season. I might be a little distracted for the next few months. That's just the reality of the situation.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Who Are You Calling a Hussy?

Disclaimer: Nobody asked me to write this. In fact, they probably won't even be that happy about it.

I know a lot of people in my age group view Merle Norman cosmetics as something ladies older than us wear, but the truth is, I like it. I've been wearing it since I was in high school. It was the only brand of make-up I could find that didn't make my oily skin break out like I was hitting puberty all over again. I have been fairly faithful to the brand throughout the years, even though I can't just go down to the drugstore and pick up what I want, I feel it is worth it to go into a Merle Norman store and get what I want, and also have someone to talk to about my specific skin care and cosmetic needs. Having said all that, while I don't think it will cause me to switch brands, I was very surprised at the name of their new collection.

The Hussy Collection. There it was. Right up there on the wall. They say a picture it worth a thousand words, but my description will have to do for now. It was a woman leaning out of what seemed like a fancy sports car, with her lips so done up she looked desperate and her arms obviously positioned in such a way so that her boobs looked bigger. I'll give it to them, she did look like a hussy. No question about that. I wasn't mad when I saw it. Honestly, I gave a little snort of laughter and told the store owner (who was ringing up my purchase) that I thought that was a seriously unfortunate ad campaign. She rolled her eyes and responded that she agreed.

Apparently, there was some big wig car guy named John Hussy and his cars were special. Now, I won't go so far as to say that there isn't a woman who would know this, but I am fairly sure about a couple of things: 1 - a man came up with this campaign, and 2 - the car enthusiast woman who would make the connection between John Hussy and the car in the picture probably aren't Merle Norman's target market. Why am I fairly certain about these things? Because most women associate the word hussy with, well, a whore. And that is the LAST thing that women want to be thinking about when the go to purchase make-up. This is a disaster of EPIC proportions. And I want to know who let this terrible idea ever make it out of a board room. Somewhere along the way SOMEBODY should have just said, "Oh, honey, NO."

Again, this won't keep me from being a customer. I refuse to blame the store owner who had nothing to do with this idea, and doesn't particularly care for it either. I don't see the need to switch brands to avoid the unbelievably stupid ad on the wall. I mean, I probably won't buy anything from the Hussy collection specifically, but Merle Norman in general is pretty safe. But just for the record, there will be backlash from other customers. Or as Merle Norman will soon be referring to them, former customers.

The Hussy Collection? For a cosmetic company? REALLY? Dumbest move ever. Merle Norman, may she rest in peace, would be furious.

So, to the person who came up with this ad I have to ask you two questions. What on God's green earth were you thinking? And just who are you calling a hussy?!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Survey Says: None Of Your Business

Disclaimer: I'm ranting today. Get over it.

I think that, since the beginning of time, every married couple who didn't get pregnant on their honeymoon has been asked, "So when are you going to start having kids?" And the crazy thing is that people actually think this is socially acceptable. So let me clear things up: it's not.

You expect it from you parents. They have a vested interest in the continuation of their line. They want grandchildren. So it's actually pretty natural that they would ask, and they are pretty much the only people who will ask with any level of acceptability. Again, it's expected. Your close friends and family get a free pass, too. Not all acquaintances. Not all family members. Just the close ones. Basically, if you know somebody well enough to recite everything an identity thief dreams of, as well as what toilet paper they buy and their list of favorites it's probably okay to talk about it with them. They tell you everything else, they probably won't withhold this information either.

For everybody else, listen up: this is a personal question. You are essentially asking a couple about the intimate details of their sex life. Back off. Draw a line. You didn't change their diapers when they were young. You didn't hold their hand while they cried through the social disasters of the inevitable awkward phase. You didn't live with them through college when they decided who they were really going to be. So why on Earth would they tell you about their plans for reproduction?

For the couple: There are several ways you can respond to the age old, yet still inappropriate question. They vary in appropriateness based on the level of patience you have left for hearing it asked again....for the umpteenth time. The first time someone asks you, you stand there a little shell shocked that someone you only know so well would actually ask you this. After that awkward pause you answer, "Oh, I don't know. I suppose it will happen when it happens."

The next time you hear it, you give a grimace of a smile and say, "I don't know, I guess we're not really ready yet." (Side note: when this person says something like, "Well, you're never really ready," thinking that they can press you, it's okay to just walk away. I mean what do they really expect? "Well, we had a romantic rendezvous just last night, so here's hoping!" People shouldn't ask questions they don't really want an honest answer to, and you shouldn't dignify their presumption with an answer.)

When the question continues to be asked, you start to say things like, "I think that's between us and God, don't you?" This isn't as direct as you would like to be, but it is generally successful in changing the direction of the conversation.

Next you move into, "I think that's kind of personal," territory; then, "That's really none of your business; and finally you say what you have been thinking all along, which is, "That's really none of your freakin' business."

Now, most people get the point before you get to that last group, but some people just can't take a hint. I know there are probably better answers to be included in this list, but after a while you quit caring about being polite. I know a person, a close friend of my family, who once said she wanted to write a book called Leave them the F Alone that would be about all the things people think it's okay to ask a couple, when it is really quite inappropriate. For instance, when they are dating (just dating, not engaged) you DON'T ask, "So when are you getting married?" And when they get married you just DON'T ask, "So when are you going to start having kids?" At the time when she told me this I laughed and thought it was funny, but now that I get asked that on a decently regular basis, I often think of her and am tempted to offer to be a co-author. I think we could hit the best-seller list.

Okay, my very cathartic rant is now over and I can go back to being my sweet, not at all hot-tempered self. So in the words of the late (and missed!) Paul Harvey, "Good Day."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Few Lessons I've Learned Recently

Let me start by saying that my absence from the blog lately wasn't really intentional. I got a little busy with other activities. The good news is, though, I learned a few things from those ventures that I have decided to share with you.

1. No matter how much you love children, any adult who orchestrates, participates, or otherwise helps out with Vacation Bible School should be entitled to a free vacation.

2. When moving across the country, say from Georgia to California (like some friends of ours), make sure the U-Haul you have rented is actually equipped with cruise control.

3. When your husband comes home from work, gives you a kiss and ten minutes later says, "I don't feel good all of the sudden," it's already too late. Congratulations, now your both sick.

4. I think days when we are under an "Excessive Heat Warning" because the temperature (in Fahrenheit) is above 100 degrees BEFORE calculating the heat index (which is closer to 120), might be God's way of reminding us that Hell is a real place.

5. Of course, I think that dogs, children, and swimming pools (or trips to the lake!) might also be His way of reminding us that Heaven is a real place, too.

6. I think the website I Has A Hotdog is the most adorable waste of time ever. It is made up entirely of pictures of dogs and funny captions to go with them. Always good for a laugh!

Class Dismissed.

Friday, July 22, 2011

20 Interesting Things About The World's Columbian Exposition

The Chicago World's Fair, otherwise known as the World's Columbian Exposition, was held in 1893. The area for the fair covered more than 600 acres and gave us such attractions as the Ferris Wheel, but that's not all. There are some really interesting things associated with the Fair that you might not know, especially if you are not a history geek like me, so I thought I would share a few things that might spark your interest.

1. One of the principal designers and builders of the Chicago World's Fair was Daniel Burnham, who also designed the Flatiron Building in New York City and Union Station in Washington, D.C. Frederick Law Olmsted was another principal designer (but he worked with the landscaping, while Mr. Burnham worked with architectural structures). Mr. Olmsted is most famous, however, for co-designing Central Park in New York City.

2. The design of the "White City", the nickname of the part of the Fair officially known as the Court of Honor because all of the buildings were white (and because of the extensive use of streetlights actually made it possible to use the area at night), was actually the inspiration for L. Frank Baum's Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz. It also was the inspiration for the "alabaster cities" referenced in the poem "America the Beautiful" by Katharine Lee Bates.

3. The world's first Ferris Wheel, so called because it was designed by George Ferris, debuted at the Chicago World's Fair. It was 264 feet high and had 36 cars, each car could carry 60 people. In fact, in some parts of the world today the Ferris Wheel is actually known as The Chicago Wheel.

4. Walt Disney's father was one of the laborers who helped build and paint the buildings used for the World's Fair.

5. It was the Columbian Exposition because it was meant to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of the New World.

6. When it was originally suggested to have such a celebration, it drew little interest. However, in 1889 Paris hosted a World's Fair during which the Eiffel Tower was unveiled. At that time, the Eiffel Tower was taller than any American Building, and during the fair France made sure that their exhibits seemed more elegant than those of any other nation, including America. Wounded pride is a driving force, and soon the idea of having a World's Fair, with the excuse of it being the Columbian Exposition, that would top anything France could offer seemed only right. It took a vote of Congress to decide where the Fair would be held and Chicago won over Washington, D. C., New York City, and St. Louis. Chicago lobbied for votes by saying that this was their chance to show the world they had rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1871.

7. The Decorations Director for the Chicago World's Fair, Frank Millet, died in the sinking of the Titanic, while Daniel Burnham, by now his close friend, rode a sister ship, the Olympic, going the opposite direction across the Atlantic. The Olympic made an attempt to answer the distress call, but it was too late. Mr. Millet invented spray painting as a way to speed the process of painting all the building facades white for the Fair.

8. Chicago's Mayor, Carter Harrison, Sr., was assassinated two days before the Fair's Closing Ceremonies. The Ceremonies were cancelled in favor of a memorial service for the late mayor.

9. Both General Electric (backed by Thomas Edison and J.P. Morgan) and Westinghouse (backed by George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla) made bids to provide the electricity for the event, but Westinghouse won, and the Tesla alternating current system was used, instead of General Electric's direct current proposal.

10. All of the 200 buildings that were built for the fair were intended to be temporary. Two of them, however, still stand in place today. One now houses the Museum of Science and Industry and the other is home to the Art Institute of Chicago.

11. At least three more buildings survived after the Fair, but they have been moved to other locations, such as museums or privately owned land.

12. It is a little ironic that the Fair was supposed to show how Chicago had rebuilt itself after the Great Fire of 1871, since the year after the Fair much of the fairgrounds were destroyed during a fire. This second fire occurred during the Pullman Strike.

13. One of the attractions was called the "Street in Cairo" and was designed to look like an Egyptian marketplace. It featured a belly dancer who was nicknamed "Little Egypt." She performed what was, at the time, considered a "provocative" and "suggestive" belly dance (I do not know this dance and therefore cannot comment on whether or not it is actually suggestive or provocative) that was called the (I kid you not) "hootchy-kootchy." It was performed to a tune that is now commonly associated with snake charmers.

14. The Chicago World's Fair had the first moving sidewalk that was opened to the public. It was the Great Wharf Moving Sidewalk and carried people to the nearby casino.

15. "Buffalo Bill" was denied a spot at the Fair, so he set up next to it so that attendees of the Fair would also stop by his show. He earned a great amount of money and didn't have to pay any of it to the Fair developers.

16. The Fair almost went bankrupt due to the cost of building and maintaining the exhibits (and paying the laborers). However, the Ferris Wheel saved the Fair by being an extremely popular attraction that drew many new attendees. The Chicago laborers employed by the Fair (those who survived it, anyway) were certainly glad for the work, since the Fair took place amid the Panic of 1893, a time of great economic depression.

17. It is estimated that more than 27 million people attended the Fair during the six months that it was open.

18. People who visited the Louisiana pavilion were gifted with the seedlings of Cypress trees. According to some rumors, this actually helped spread the growth of Cypress trees to areas to which it was not native and it now thrives in places such as West Virginia.

19. The Fair introduced attendees to a new breakfast food: shredded wheat. It also saw the debut of Juicy Fruit Gum.

20. Milton Hershey purchased chocolate manufacturing equipment from a European exhibitor at the Fair, so he could add chocolate products to his caramel manufacturing business.

So there you have it. The Chicago World's Fair, or The World's Columbian Exposition, gave us the current home of the Art Institute of Chicago and the The Museum of Science and Industry, it introduced shredded wheat and Juicy Fruit gum (but not together - yuck!), and is partially responsible for Hershey's chocolate. Pretty interesting stuff, really.

Class Dismissed.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fun Things I've Discovered This Summer

Summer is almost over....for the school kids in my area anyway. The sun is still hot, the air still sticky with humidity, but in a couple of weeks all the school age kids in my county will find themselves back in the classroom. So with that in mind, I've been thinking about my own little summer vacation and about the fun things I've done, read, seen, etc. I thought I might share a few of them with you.

1. The Janet Evanovich numbers novels - If you think your family is a little crazy, or that you tend to stumble into unbelievable situations that embarrass you to no end then these novels about Stephanie Plum, a bounty hunter who is not so great at her job and has a former hooker as a partner, and sometimes even her own crazy grandma, will make you think your life is just peachy. She cracks me up. I mean, her love life is a like a train wreck and she has exploded more cars than any insurance company would ever insure, but it's pretty funny. There are currently seventeen books in the series and 4 between the numbers novels. I have read 3 of the 4 between the numbers and all seventeen of the numbers novels during the last month. The next one comes out in November.

2. The Glee Project - It's a reality show competition, but don't let that fool you. These kids are competing for a 7 episode guest starring role on the TV show GLEE. They have to sing, dance, and act. They also have to get along with the other cast members and learn how to take criticism and direction from casting directors, choreographers, and producers. It's fun and I like it. I already have two competitors that I'm pulling for.

3. Gracie Bleu Yogurt - It's one of those yogurt places where you can get sorbet or yogurt (including fat free options!) and then add any toppings you want and pay by the weight of the cup. It can be as healthy or as unhealthy as you want.

4. 5 Things - It's a board game. The concept is simple and there are parts of the game that could use some improvement, but I still think it's fun. The concept? Name 5 things in the given category. Sounds simple, right? You only have 30 seconds. It's trickier than you think. And it's fun.

There are a few more things, but those are what comes to me off the top of my head. It's been a fun summer so far. And as far as I'm concerned, it's not over yet.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Things I'm Thinking About Today

1. Yesterday was Independence Day. And while the fireworks and the patriotic songs are great, there is nothing like actually taking the time to remember why we celebrate the 4th of July. We were a small colony. We were all committing treason. We were going up against one of the world's most powerful nations. The odds were stacked against us. There have been many battles, fought all around the world in the name of gaining freedom and independence, but this holiday marks the celebration of ours. Be proud of where you come from.

2. Casey Anthony - I can't even watch her. She disturbs me. And yes, I know the verdict. She's not off the hook yet, though. The Lord will deal with her.

3. We had a hail storm come through yesterday and now we have a bit of leaky window problem...again. I know fixing it isn't the end of the world. And I am wonderfully blessed to have a roof over my head, a wonderful husband, a terrific family, and so much more, but still, sometimes I want to take a sledge hammer to parts of this house just to vent frustration. The only dilemma is that then I'd have to fix that, too. Hail is of the devil.

4. I like to read before bed, but sometimes a book series can be too good to read before going to sleep. Because you can't stop laughing long enough to get tired and actually want to go to bed. I feel that way about the current book series I'm reading. I sit up late, long after my husband has started to snore, and do my best to stifle laughter (meaning that I might not make noise, but sometimes I can't help but shake while I try not to giggle out loud). But then again, that's when you know the series is really good.

5. I have jury duty in a couple of weeks. Depending on how that goes, I might be a little quiet on the blog front. You never know when something like that comes up if you will be too mentally exhausted to accomplish things like blog writing when you get home.

6. Golden Oreos are dangerous. I don't like chocolate, so regular oreos are no threat, but the golden ones....a diet killer waiting to happen. Don't judge me.

7. To the Construction Crew Working on the House Behind Us: You might want to reconsider using that metal ladder to put yourself up on the roof when there is lightning steadily moving this way. I'm just sayin'.

8. My brother-in-law got married over the weekend. This makes me feel a little old since, when my husband and I first started dating, his little brother was only fourteen. Now he's married. Where does the time go?

I had more to say, but now I am contemplating why it is that when you are a child, time drags on forever, but as an adult you blink and six years have gone by. And I'm also keeping an eye on the construction crew. If one of them gets struck by lightning, somebody should really be there to call 911. I'm such a mother hen.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm Dreaming A Little Dream

I've been taking a little bit of blog vacation this week. I'm not doing it because it is the middle of the summer (well, technically speaking summer started just this week, but who really goes by the calendar, anyway?). I'm not doing it because I have too many other things going on. No, mostly this week I just really didn't have anything to say. I know it's hard to believe, but it's true.

I didn't have any world changing viewpoints about what I saw on TV. I have no complaints about how my laundry appliances are working. I had a great time hanging with some great friends at our place over the weekend, but you pretty much had to be there. Telling you about the incessant giggling is not nearly as fun as experiencing it. I didn't even have anything earth shattering to say about the Presidential Address last night. I'm failing you as a blogger.

Worse things have happened. You'll survive. I'll survive. No harm done. It's not the first time it's happened and I can just about guarantee it won't be the last. Still, thanks for pretending to care and to miss me.

Anyway, what I am about to say now isn't earth shattering either, but here goes: I want to go to the beach. I don't want to drive. I don't want to have to pay for a hotel. I don't even really want to have to pay for food. I just want to lie on a towel or a lounge chair in the sun. I want to walk on white sand and stare out beautiful blue waves as they turn emerald in the sunlight and then crash against the shore while the breeze that drives them cools me.

Basically, I want a free trip to the beach. It's not going to happen, but a girl can dream can't she? It's just not the same to sit in a tailgate chair in the back yard while the dog runs in circles around you until his panting is louder than the hum of the air conditioning unit. Even with a nice breeze to cool me off, it's not the same. There is no white sand. No beautiful waves crashing against a shore. And I do get a little kissed by the sun, but since I'm not actually laying out, but sitting and reading, I generally only get tan on one side of my body. It's not the same.

I would settle for a trip to the pool, really. Except that we don't have one and the thought of being in a swimsuit in front of the entire community at a local pool is nothing short of mortifying. So for now, book reading in the back yard with a panting dog and (God willing) a continuous breeze will have to do. It's not so bad really. I mean, I could be so busy with things that I have no time to spend outside enjoying God's creation. So I am thankful for that.

Still, a free trip to the beach....can't you just feel the daiquiri in your hand, the sand between your toes, and the breeze on your face? I can. I can almost smell the sunscreen, too. It's always nice to dream.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Things I Learned From My Dad

My dad has always been a major part of my life. I may complain on occasion about things he may say or do, but the truth is when I need serious counsel, or just when I am feeling at odds with life, I still turn to him. There are so many things I learned from my dad over the course of my life that I can't really begin to count them all, but I can share some of them with you. Y'know, in honor of Father's Day this weekend.

1. Like and love are two completely different emotions. They are not always mutually inclusive and they are not always mutually exclusive. In other words, you can like someone and not be in love with them, but you can also love somebody and not like them very much. On the other hand, when you find somebody who you like and love, it's a big deal.

2. You have to earn trust. You have to earn respect. And once earned, it is still possible to lose both.

3. A wood file is called a rasp.

4. You shouldn't go all winter without washing your car. The salt they put down on the roads will eat away at your paint and your undercarriage.

5. There is a big difference between "I want" and "I need" and you should learn it early.

6. Asking for help isn't always easy, but there is no shame in it.

7. It is important to say things like "I love you" and "I'm proud of you", but only say it when you mean it.

8. You are never too old to dream.

9. Take care of your car. It is less expensive to do the little things you need to do along the way than it is to repair the damage that is caused by not doing all the little things. Also, you may want a brand new car, but it is far more practical to buy a newer, but still used, car. It will still be new to you and it won't depreciate as quickly as a new car. And you don't need a new car until the one you have becomes unreliable, even with regular maintenance. This goes back to the difference between want and need.

10. You don't have to learn everything the hard way. It is just as easy to learn from somebody else's mistakes as it is to make those same mistakes on your own, but far less painful.

11. Money may seem important, and it certainly does make things easier, but at the end of your life your children will remember how many times you said "I love you" and the time you spent with them more than they will remember that awesome iPod (or whatever else) you bought for them.

12. Life is not fair. Anybody who says differently is either selling something or too stupid for you to be associated with.

13. Never underestimate the value of a good education.

14. If you would be ashamed to tell your parents, your spouse, your kids, etc. about it, you probably shouldn't do it in the first place.

15. There is a big difference between a friend and an acquaintance. Don't confuse the two. A friend is far more valuable.

16. When you make a promise to God, you better mean every word you say.

17. Prejudice is another word for ignorance.

18. If anyone ever hands you a paycheck you didn't earn, hand it back.

19. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

20. The words "right" and "privilege" are not entirely interchangeable.

And so much more. Thanks, Daddy. I love you.

But what about the rest of you? Are there any lessons from your dad that you would like to share?

Monday, June 13, 2011

10 Interesting Things About Mississippi

While there are far more than ten interesting tidbits I could share with you about Mississippi, I have decided to limit myself and make this a quick post. So sit back and get your learn on.

1. Many people know that Morgan Freeman, Jim Henson and Oprah Winfrey were originally from Mississippi, but you may not know that Lacey Chabert and James Earl Jones are also from Mississippi, and Parker Posey (while not born there), grew up in Laurel, MS.

2. Again, while many know that athletic stars such at the Mannings and Brett Favre are from Mississippi, you may not know that Cool Papa Bell (said to be one of the fastest players to ever play baseball), Steve McNair, Travis Outlaw, Walter Payton, and Jerry Rice were all born in MS.

3. Musicians from the state include 3 Doors Down, Lance Bass, Brandy, Ray J, Jimmy Buffet, Bo Diddley, Faith Hill, Howlin' Wolf, B.B. King, Denise LaSalle, Elvis Presley (he moved to Memphis as an adult, but is from Tupelo, MS), Leontyne Price, Charlie Patton, Charlie Pride, LeAnn Rimes, Conway Twitty, Muddy Waters, Tammy Wynette, and Hayley Williams. This list is, of course, not all inclusive.

4. Root Beer was invented in Biloxi, MS in 1898 by Edward Adolf Barq.

5. The Teddy Bear gets its name from President Theodore "Teddy Roosevelt". President Roosevelt was invited on a hunting trip in Mississippi, when the party caught a bear, they offered to let the President fire the kill shot, but he deemed the situation unsportsmanlike and refused to fire the shot. The toy, originally called "Teddy's Bear" appeared on the market almost immediately after the story hit newspapers.

6. Burnita Shelton Matthews, the first woman appointed as a judge of a U.S. district court (in 1949), was from Mississippi.

7. Dr. James D. Hardy performed the first human lung transplant in 1963 in Jackson, MS.

8. The X-Men Comic Book character Rogue was a self declared Southern Belle from Mississippi.

9. Now competing in the Year 3 Finals of the 3 year EcoCar Challenge, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and GM, among others, the team from Mississippi State University won top honors during the portion of the competition that takes place in Year 2.

10. William Faulkner, John Grisham, and Eudora Welty are well known writers from Mississippi, and contrary to what his nickname might suggest, Tennessee Williams is also from Mississippi.

So there you have it. A lot of very talented and very smart people, not to mention some cute toys and delicious drinks, hail from Mississippi. There are many other interesting facts about the people and places of Mississippi, this doesn't even begin to scratch the surface, but I thought I would share a few things with you to wet your appetite. Don't let the drawl, or even the sometimes sordid past, fool you, we're kind of awesome.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Relay For Life

This weekend I participated in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in my area. For those of you who may not know, there are many Relay for Life events all across the country. The events are designed to help raise funds and awareness. They also serve to honor cancer survivors in the area.

The American Cancer Society does more than fund cancer research. They also help get cancer patients to and from appointments, offer lodging during treatments if the treatments are away from the patient's area of residence, and they help with other things so that the patient does not have to go through it alone.

To participate in the event, which is from 6 PM to 6 AM (you read that right, it's an all night event), your team raises money by selling goods or services to the other participants during the event and at least one member of your team must be on the track at all times. The event is held through the night to represent the idea that cancer never sleeps. It doesn't stop to rest, and so we can't stop fighting, trying, learning, researching and doing whatever else we can to find new treatments and cures.

Our team set up a projector and played movies and sold cold drinks (it was sticky with humidity and hot like you wouldn't believe, by 2 AM it was still eighty-four degrees - Fahrenheit, that is) and popcorn. Other booths did face painting, water bottles, volleyball tournaments (you had to pay for your team to play), rock climbing walls, moon bounces, massages, pancakes, burgers, ice cream, if you can dream it up, somebody was giving it a shot.

It was my first year to participate, but it is my understanding that our area's event was a little less organized that it had been in the past. Thankfully, we still raised a lot of money. And that's all that really matters, it is a fundraiser, after all.

You want to know something else? It was fun. Don't get me wrong, by the time I got home and showered off the sweat and dirt and finally got in the bed I was just plain exhausted, but I did enjoy the experience. If the Relay event for your area hasn't happened yet, check it out.

If you are interested in donating to the American Cancer Society, but missed the event for your area, or if there isn't an event near you, visit their website. You can donate directly from the website. You can also learn more about what they do, and find out how to get involved.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tackling Dummy

Terrelle Pryor, when asked in a recent ESPN interview whether or not he knew he was breaking NCAA regulations with his recent indiscretions responded, "I didn't care. It was either sell it or get evicted." Hmmm, that's an interesting response for someone who showed up to a recent team meeting in a brand new car, valued at approximately $30,000.

I don't know about you, but it seems to me that if he can supposedly make regular car payments, then he ought to be able to make regular rent payments. Of course, the argument in his favor is that the car is registered to his mother, but who is that really fooling? This is not the first new car he has shown up in during his time as a buckeye. And even if his mother is willing to buy the boy a new car, you would think she would be willing to lend him rent money. I'm just sayin'.

If I were Jim Tressel, I wouldn't have risked my career to protect an entitled brat such as Pryor, but then again, I'm not a college football coach.

And as far as his punishment goes, you gotta be joking. He is suspended for five games? I have a better idea. There are a lot of guys on his team who are probably pretty ticked off at him right now. I say his punishment ought to be that between now and the final game of his suspension he ought to be used as a tackling dummy in practice so his teammates can let him know how they feel about it. Of course, I know he was not the only one who broke the rules, so I say line them all up and let the games begin.

Or, just to make it simpler, let the rest of the team take a free shot at each of them, each practice day, from now until the end of their suspension. Too harsh? Maybe. But he, and the other players in question, didn't just hurt themselves (Hurt? It's a five game suspension and they still got to play in the bowl game last year which was after this came to light, what a joke), they hurt the whole team, nay, the entire university. I'd be willing to bet there are a lot of guys who share a locker room with them that would really like to, how shall I say this delicately, express their anger. Yes, express their anger. I think that's a decent euphemism for beat the tar out of them.

Anyway, if the kid really can get a new car, but can't seem to pay rent without selling his stuff, I think he needs to take a personal finance class because his money management skills are seriously pathetic.

But I think the NCAA should really consider the tackling dummy approach to punishment. Don't worry, I don't need any credit..., but I would like a seat to that press conference just to see the look on everybody's faces.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Quick Thank You Note

I just wanted to write a quick little post today to say thanks to all of the men and women (both past and present) who serve in our military.

It's Memorial Day. Today is not about hot dogs and hamburgers. It's not about trips to the beach. It's not about taking a day off of work. It's not about baseball, racing, playing in the sprinklers, or hosting guests and standing over the grill in the backyard. It's not about any of that, but we have the freedoms that we have, including those which allow us to spend this day however we see fit, thanks to the dedication of our military.

So thank you. Thank you past and present Navy, Marines, Air Force, Army, National Guard, Reservists, and your families. Please know that you are appreciated.