Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Wish

I just saw an ad for World Vision that said:

"I can bail out:

a: A National Bank
b: Auto Companies
c: A Child Slave"

And all I could think was, if the government hadn't taken my money to bail out national banks and auto companies, I could afford to sponsor a child. Except I wouldn't do it through World Vision because a good percentage of your money goes into their advertising campaigns. I want to put it in with the charity who will use the largest amount of my money possible for the child I sponsor.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ahhhh, Lou Rawls! I could listen to that man sing forever!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Favorite Cake

Jeremy's aunt called me on Thursday to ask me to make a cake for her husband's 40th birthday.  She told me that I could do whatever I wanted as long as it was all "Over-The-Hill"ed out!  So this is what I came up with.  I am proud to say that it is of my own design, and that the "rocks" the edge the cake are chocolate rocks I found in the candy dept. at Walmart.  I LOVE this cake!

Oh yeah, I forgot to add nostrils to the skull at first, so I added them after I took these pics.  I took another picture with the nostrils, but I haven't uploaded the pic to my computer yet.  So you'll have to use your imagination. ;)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring Break

Launa and Shadow at James and Jody's

This Spring Break was unusually eventful for us. I decided that I needed an internet detox, since I had been oblivious to my family to an unacceptable degree.  I got off to a good start, but couldn't ignore my grampa's passing on Tuesday, so I wrote two tributes to him - one here and one on FB. Thursday, Daniel had his testing for learning disabilities. I'll get the results on May 7 -you know, two weeks before school lets out for the Summer. Hopefully we'll be able to start some strategies and get some kind of coping mechanisms in place before school starts in the Fall so he can take 3rd grade by storm! 

Friday we went to visit my brother at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina. We got there in the early afternoon, and hung out and made dinner together that night. Saturday we decided to go to the beach, so Jody got out her GPS and pointed it toward the nearest beach which just so happened to be Wrightsville Beach, NC. We grabbed lunch within a couple of miles of our destination at a local fast food restaurant, in which the girl behind the counter was especially rude to my brother and treated him like a moron. When we were done there, we headed back toward the beach, but got stuck in awful traffic. After waiting in traffic for about 30 minutes to get a mile, we realized there was some kind of event going on in town. People were dispersing from what appeared to be maybe a parade, and girls were dressed in old-fashioned debutante dresses out in front of the historic mansions of the town!  Wouldn't you know it?  We chose the annual Azalea Festival to visit their beach.  But the town was beautiful, and the girls in their pretty dresses were a thrill for Launa, so it wasn't a total loss. When we finally got to the beach, we stripped down to our bathing suits, and ran for the water!  

Did you know that the Atlantic Ocean in North Carolina in April is FREEZING?!  Well, you do now!  

We spent a lot of time on the warm sand instead of in the water, although the kids really didn't mind the cold water much.  They were having a blast finding sea shells and playing in the waves.  Daniel surprised me since he can't swim, and is usually a very cautious kid, by running into the water up to his waist all by himself without any adults very nearby. (I have to admit that as his mother it also alarmed me tremendously, but any time that kid wants to be adventurous, I try not to discourage it.) We had a good time burying each other in the sand, and walking on the pier.  Jeremy and I went over to the pier first and we got there just in time to watch someone pull a 40 lb stingray out of the water!  It was very cool!  Jeremy and I went back and got the kids and James and Jody, and we all went for a walk down the pier. After spending the day on the beach, we decided that we wanted to get some fresh sea food from a local place, so we went to a local shop and asked where a reasonably priced seafood place was.  The guy told us to go to a place called Heironymous (I have no idea how it's spelled) and we plugged it into the GPS.  So we got to the restaurant and got a place to sit. We decided after having a look at the menu that we would take the kids to McDonald's for dinner afterward in order to save money knowing that they probably wouldn't eat the more expensive food we would order from this restaurant. Two other parties were seated at the same time we were. The waiter took our drink orders, but didn't come back to take our food order until the other parties had already gotten their food.  Then we waited for over an hour for our food.  We decided to pay for our drinks and leave, so we asked for our check. Suddenly, the waiter was all excuses (he actually told us that they were putting a large party in priority over us because the two waiters were sharing the tips from them), cared about our food, and told us it was ready and in the window, were we sure we didn't want to stay for the food?  Well, we allowed him to persuade us to stay. (BIG mistake!) The food must have been sitting in the window for a very long time because by the time it came out the food was cold, and crab legs couldn't be cracked. Anywho, we were pretty ticked off, but then we received the bill.  Just under $100.  Jody, spurred into action, went to have a chat with the manager, who incidentally was the man who seated us.  He remembered seating us, and agreed with Jody that it had been an excessively long time ago, and gave her a $30 gift card to help pay for our meal. Meanwhile, our children are starving, because they had just spent a day at the beach and we stopped for dinner at 7 pm and it was now 9 pm. We still had a 2 hour drive home. So when we finally got to McDonald's, we decided that the kids had earned Happy Meals instead of dollar menu for being so good at the adult restaurant. Jeremy went in to order. 10 minutes, later, we were wondering what had become of him, so I walked in to see what the hold-up was. He was just putting in his order. I would like to take this moment to say that the restaurant was not packed out.  I don't know why it took so long for them to get to him. I would also like to say that these time frames are NOT exaggerations, they are actual amounts of time that we waited for service and food. 10 minutes later, he finally emerged from McDonald's with the two Happy Meals he had ordered. 

Maybe you can help us come up with a new slogan for Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Here are a couple that we came up with:

Wrightsville Beach, NC: Service at OUR convenience.
Wrightsville Beach, NC: Where we will get to you when we're good and ready, and not a minute before!

Despite all the food difficulties, we did have a good time at the beach, and the kids now know that the ocean is REALLY salty!  Daniel, who was having a blast running into the ocean later amended his opinion of his day to say that it was the worst day of his life because he swallowed too much salt water.  Whatever...I guarantee you I won't be able to keep him out of the ocean when we make another trip later in the Summer. We have come to the conclusion that there's no reason for us not to make a couple of trips a year to the ocean since we live so stinkin' close to it!  This is a luxury!  But we will meet James and Jody at a halfway point next time. 

Daniel in the water - alone.

Jody, Launa and me.

Daniel Launa and Jeremy

Launa and Daniel with Uncle James. Note Uncle James' Haitian farmer's tan!

The most handsome man alive.

Pretty sky that day.

40 lb. stingray.

The good-lookin' people.

James kisses Jody on the pier.

Anyway, Sunday was our last day together, and Jody had been wanting to take the kids to a place called Monkey Joe's, which is a bounce house. Since we had such stringent time constraints, we did not keep the Sabbath holy and went to play. It was a good thing that we went.  The kids got to get a lot of their energy out before we made the 7 hour trip home. And they went to sleep in the car and slept well, which was good since they had to go to school this morning. Since I had the car, I didn't Daniel up at 6:10, and instead let him sleep until 6:50 and then took both kids to their schools in opposite directions. Tonight, they went to bed nice and early without excuse or argument.  They knew they were tired. We had a really good Spring Break.  We just wish we could have spent more time in North Carolina. There was not enough time, but Summer break is right around the corner, so we'll do it again before Summer's out!

Launa bouncing

Daniel sliding

James after about 2 hours of Monkey Joe's.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Wayne Guess

Today the world lost my Grampa.  Wayne Aldon Guess was born in the state of Nebraska to a farming family. He was the youngest of several children, and used to joke that his parents gave him the middle name "Aldon" because they were all done having children. He married my gramma as a teenager.  He was 17 and she was 15. Gramma said that on their first date he tried to convince her that a light pole was the moon and stood there howling at it.  It's a wonder that he scored that second date, but I'm glad that he did! ;)  Grampa and Gramma raised their children in Yakima, Washington on an indian reservation.  Grampa was a farmer and could make anything grow.  He was also a construction worker and could build anything beautifully. Grampa built this cool futuristic craftsman home where my mom grew up.  It had all of the amenities of a modern home.  This house came complete with built-in appliances in the kitchen which could be pulled out and hidden away when a person was finished using it. They lived on a working farm.  My grampa had livestock, horses, and grew crops. My mom used to be a crack-shot and barrel racing competitor when they lived there. 

In the mid-70s when my mom was in Jr. High they moved to the coastal town of Ventura, CA. Because that was where all the good construction jobs were. That's where I was born. They lived right down the street from a great park. This park had the play areas fenced in with wood stumps that varied in height. When we were little my grampa would take us to the park. And he was always so patient.  He would hold our hands while we walked all the way around the play area on the stumps.  I've always been afraid of heights, but I would occasionally try to slide down the pole, or the big slide, and inevitably got stuck and refused to come down. My grampa was 6'4" and would reach up for me to come down.  He'd have to convince me that he wouldn't drop me. (I was 4, but thought he wouldn't be able to carry my weight or he would miss me when I fell.)  He never missed. He would push us on the swings for a long time.  Probably much longer than he wanted to, but he never rushed us. He also lived by a community college that has a swap meet every weekend. We would go and he'd always get us something little there. Ventura has a marina with a bunch of little shops and a carousel. My grandparents would take us there and let us ride the carousel, buy us tiny little baby porcelain dolls that were about 2 inches big. If we were really good, they would buy us cotton candy (pink, of course!). They also would take us to the museum and we could play in the "tide pools" there. One time we saw a live shark egg there!  It was cool!  It looked like a rectangular pouch with a ball on one end, and you could see the little shark developing inside! Sometimes they'd buy is "trouble dolls" or fools gold from the gift shop. Trouble dolls were a local indian tradition.  There were 5 dolls in a teeny-tiny box. You were supposed to tell them your troubles, and they would work at night to help resolve them. My grandparents live near a lot of farm land.  The neighboring town of Oxnard is famous for its strawberries. My grandparents used to buy these huge half flats of strawberries and share them with us when we visited.  Grampa used to tell me to "Eat up!  It'll put hair on your chest!"  I think he did it so he could have more strawberries, because inevitably I would put the strawberry I was eating down and not go for any more that night. Grampa used to like to go to the swap meet and buy fabric from a whole-saler and send it to me for dresses when I was a teenager.  I made several really pretty ones, and I still have some of his fabric.  I think I'll make Launa something.  Maybe I'll have enough material to make something for both of us so we can match.

After I had Daniel, I took him for a visit when he was about 18 months old. When grampa heard that I was bringing him, he unearthed the little red Radio Flyer wagon that we used to play in when we visited him as kids.  Of course, by the time Daniel came to use it, it was rusted and a mess. So Grampa sanded it down and re-painted it so Daniel could have something to play in when he got there. While we visited, my grandparents took us to the beach and the marina. Grampa took us to the swap meet. Even though my grampa was no longer a farmer by profession, he loved to grow things and would create a garden each spring. It was planting time when we got there, so Daniel helped Grampa plant cucumbers.  At 7 years old, Daniel still remembers that!  When we talk about him he always asks, "Is that the grampa I planted cucumbers with?"  He is.

When Grampa found out that I was having a girl, he went down to the swap-meet and bought a pretty little frilly dress for her to wear when she got here. We went for another visit when Launa was about 18 months old.  I don't think I managed to get any pictures with him.  I don't know how I did that. 

By the time my Gramma Gross died last year he had deteriorated badly. We visited him in the nursing home he was in at the time. He was so skinny and he couldn't walk. This was not the Grampa I remembered from my childhood.  It was a hard thing to see. The last 2 1/2 - 3 years have not been good ones for Grampa. My grampa has had many struggles in this life. He suffered greatly with depression. When my mom was a very small girl, her family was in a hideous car wreck. One of the children didn't live through it. Today, he got to see her. He gets to hold the baby that I lost. And those that my cousins lost. While it hurts me now, I know that he is whole again.  He is seeing the ones that he's been missing.  He is not depressed. His body moves the way he wants it to.  No more Parkinson's. Yes, this is a good day for you Grampa.  

I look forward to the day I get to see you again.  And I'll miss you until then. I love you Grampa.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Internet Detox

Mary has been a neglectful wife, mother and house-keeper. The biggest reason for this is my Internet addiction! Jeremy and I have agreed that we need a media detox. He - video games, me - internet. The kids are home from school this week and they deserve better than looking at the back of my head and having Jeremy craning his neck around them every time one of them has to walk through the room this week. We are going to have a good time hanging out as a family this week, and the Internet is NOT invited to this party. See you all next week.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Silly Little Article

Ran across this article tonight. It uses a deck of cards to reveal personality types. Here's what it says about me:

I am a 2 of spades.

"Spades are confident, strong-willed and wise. Even when they are young, Spades will often act more mature than their age. These are the workers of the deck. Spades are more interested in doing their jobs well than talking about them or becoming too emotionally involved with others. Spades can be stubborn and don't like it when others try to control them. Spades find satisfaction in careers in construction (building), broadcasting and health care. And, as the symbol of 'transformation,' Spades can also be successful in industries that deal with death or dying, and mysticism.

Two is sensitive, logical and comfortable in partnerships because you enjoy having someone to talk to, or bounce ideas off of. Avoid being insincere or becoming too dependent on the opinions of others."

Interestingly, I share this number with my boys Glenn Beck ans Rush Limbaugh (and also Howard Stern I'm afraid).

I don't put much stock in this obviously (confident? worker? really?) but a girl can dream.

Friday, April 2, 2010

My Life Philosophy

demotivational posters
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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Inadequacy of Taste

I love music. I think I have pretty good taste in music. But I also feel a little bit limited in my musical experience. I grew up in a rock n' roll family that went to hymn & chorus singing churches growing up. The classical music that I know, I like. However I feel a bit stupid and uncultured when it comes to music other than rock music. I know music from the 50s to the present, with a noticeable gap in 70s music knowledge because 70s music for the most part stinks (even the worst decades have the occasional good song, but I'm talking in generalities here). Studies have shown that people who prefer pop music are not very deep thinkers, while those that like jazz and classical are generally smarter than everyone else. I can see that. Usually the reason that I listen to music is so that I don't have to think. Maybe that's why I like it so much. People don't usually think of rock music as beautiful or even very deep. It's funny to me, though, that the right rock song will still move me to tears. Most of the songs that do that to me are associated with a memory or a different time in my life and fill me with longing for things that I miss. It's even more than that though. Sometimes I'm actually where I want to be when I listen to the right song. That's all.