What I learned from LA Ink

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

(photo taken from Wikipedia)

I hadn't watched this show before but the remote control was out of batteries and I was too lazy tired to get up and change the channel.

10 things I learned:

- Kat Von D is beautiful, a classically trained pianist and is a good business woman.

- They really are artists. Anyone who can take a vague request or an idea from a picture, draw out a sketch and capture what the customer wants, is pretty good.

- I like vintage cars.

- When the girl with the tattoo on her rib cage of a 1940's glam girl-in-her-bikini-looking-over-her-shoulder-while-steering-a-ship, has a baby, that tattoo will expand to look like someone standing in front of a circus mirror, while steering a ship of course.

- This business and its clientele is very different than it was 20 years ago.

- Tattoos are not for everybody.

- There is a difference between a tattoo parlor and a tattoo shop.

- Ink is not cheap.

- Don't judge based on looks or the number of tattoos one has ( I already knew that but it's a good reminder.)

- I'm glad I don't want a tattoo because it looks painful and if I'm going to voluntarily have needles buzz around me, they better be making me look 10 years younger.

Be glad I am not your kids' Youth Leader

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

because I would be tempted to do this to their cell phones. Asking some to put them away for the whole hour we are teaching doesn't seem to be working so maybe this would do the trick, hmmm...

(I couldn't get the video to embed but it's only 37 seconds, enjoy!
And for those parents whose children I do teach - sorry!)

Santa Exchanges and A book preview

Monday, December 28, 2009

I was able to participate with two lovely ladies in a Santa Exchange.

First I headed over to my creative friend, Jenny's house and we opened up presents like a 4 year old. I received my favorite animal, that cute little Elephant which I named Ella of course. I have loved those ever since she began making them. I also found some fabric to add to my collection and growing list of sewing projects. I am a little addicted to fabric so I loved this gift. I also received a red handmade book bag with a drawing of the Eiffel tower, a Jenny first! Andes mints rounded out the gift but I ate them before I could take a picture. Jenny is one creative person and there just about isn't anything she can't make.

I also received a gift package from my dear friend, May.

In it were books that I am dying to read and candles that are waiting to be lit. She got me dead on with those books. One is "Say You're one of them" by Uwem Akpan. Oprah says it's a must read and she usually gets those right. My husband wants to read that one also since we've heard so many good things about it.

The other is "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women worldwide" written by Pulitzer prize winning journalists. In the book they say that women and girls are one of the world’s great untapped resources, and education is the first step toward realizing it. I believe that to be true and I also believe that education is the way out of poverty for all people.

One woman they profile: "Tererai Trent, is one of the organization's great success stories, and is singled out by Kristof and WuDunn, the authors. Tererai credits the Heifer co. for her rise from poor cattle herder in Zimbabwe to Ph.D. She first encountered Heifer International when the organization’s president and CEO, Jo Luck, met with a women's group in Zimbabwe in 1992. While sitting in a circle in the dirt, Jo Luck encouraged Tererai that her dreams of getting an education were achievable. Even though she had been married off at age 11 and had no resources of her own, Tererai believed Jo Luck's inspiration, set her intention in secret, and is now in the U.S. completing her Ph.D. and working with Heifer." (quote taken from Heifer Intl. website)

I love these types of stories and their inspirational messages. May also sent a journal for me to hone my creative writing skills. She's a cheerleader of mine and my first follower on this blog. Her encouragement of my writing means more to me than she'll ever know.

Thanks girls, I loved my gifts but I love you guys even more!

A canned goods Christmas

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The wrap and prep party for Santa lasted all night.

Trae loved opening his presents but I am still convinced you could give him a can of artichoke hearts and he'd be happy. He had more fun with the wrap than with his presents. He's all, who needs cheap Chinese toys when I have an empty box and a bunch of trash?

To throw the bloodhounds off the scent, I put cans of green beans into 2 of the bags that were holding Forever 21 gift cards. After checking out the gift cards, the girls looked deeper into the bags and pulled out the beans.
"What's this?" asked Belen to which I replied they could just put it back in the cupboard. But they said they would keep it for personal food storage.
I think it will be cool when I am making something with beans next time and their friends are over, to ask them to go into their bedrooms and get me a can of green beans. I live for those types of situations. Maybe I'll even have my hair in curlers and be wearing one of those housecoats, that would be even better.

Santa couldn't find Reese or Trae's stocking because they kept putting them on as socks and you know how quickly socks disappear. Which, I think is a conspiracy to drive me nuts. Anyway, Santa had to use boots instead. I may just tell him to do that from now on because it was so cute and clever I might add.

Blair has been waiting for Splash Dora or Splash Ariel. She never really could make up her mind so Santa went with Splash Ariel. After her initial excitement, the question was, "Now where's Dora?" followed by a little sad face. Reading the mind of a 4 year old is hard. Why would he get that for her anyway? Doesn't he know we don't currently have a bathtub? Well, technically we do but it's still in the box.

I was just asked to fill up a Rubbermaid tub with water so Splash Ariel could take a swim. The water must be warm too. Man, this doll is demanding. Why can't she just like empty boxes and paper trash instead?

Hair salon love

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Photo courtesy of I don't know where

Dear Malstrom Salon,

It's been nearly eight years since I had to leave you.
I didn't want to, but the job made us move. You know a girl would never willingly leave her one and only hair guru.

I've looked for others but they have not quite measured up. When I sit down to wait for my appointment no one pours me a pop to drink and heaps magazines onto my lap. No one gives me a scalp massage with seductive, mind-soothing and stress-relieving aromatherapy oils. No one schedules my Ricks college gal, Tracy, at the same time in the salon so we can have a mini-reunion. But, I guess she would need to live here to do that...

Since I left, I went to a stylist once in Maryland with 3 inch fingernails. She couldn't hold the scissors properly because of them. Instead of using a comb to perfectly section out my hair, she'd use her nails and my hair kept getting caught in them; making me really mad. I was afraid to say anything because I figured it was akin to complaining in a fast food restaurant. Who knows what she would have done to my hair. She wouldn't have been able to hear me complain over her singing anyway.

In South Carolina it wasn't much better. There I learned that you never get your hair cut by someone who is older than your mom. Besides being subjected to menopause stories, the stylist suggested the Dorothy Hamill wedge would suit me nicely. Sure, if I were 10 years old.

I tried another place in Georgia which I thought looked promising. It figured that my name was called by the stylist who was not yet licensed. I learned this because she and the boss talked to each other the whole time. The boss said the stylist was going to get her sued if she kept messing up people's hair.
Note to self: never let anyone cut my hair who looks likes Joe Dirt.
She would have been a great candidate for Split Ends, though. Love that show.

I did find a girl here who actually does a good job. I told her of my hair cutting woes and she promised to end my search.
She passed my scrutiny but I stop short of letting her dry it. I did let her once but I came out sporting "mom hair" which is the cranial equivalent to wearing mom jeans.

It's all good though, you taught me your drying techniques well.

Now if I can just find local Aveda products, I'd be set. (no pun intended.)
(For those lucky enough to be in the vicinity of Malstrom Salon, call and ask for Chris or Tricia. Your hair will be your new BFF.)

Established 1993

Thursday, December 17, 2009

1 girl + 1 boy + a small town = meeting in highschool

Meeting in high school + friendship = going on dates

Going on dates + time = love

Love + a wedding in Portland +
16 years
6 states
2 military deployments
several tdy's
11 moves
5 kids
4 colleges
4 job changes
with some sadness and joy = a good life.

I am thankful it's been with you.
Happy Anniversary.

Hair plugs for trees

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The saga of the Christmas tree buying expedition.

We have had a few good Christmas tree buying stories over the years. The one that really sticks out in my mind though, is the Christmas of 2003.

We had just completed our first year of living in Maryland and we loaded up the kids and went off into the chilly night to the tree lot. Jon and I studied all of the trees and made sure they were straight. (Not that we have anything against alternative lifestyle trees.) But, one year I let Jon pick the tree which he did in a record 3 minutes and 24 seconds. Even the Fred Meyer garden clerk was surprised. Upon arriving home and setting it up, it kept falling over. Long story short - crooked tree, Jon wrestled, lost and in defeat he muttered some naughty words.
True to MacGyver style, I used fishing line, nails and the window sill to keep it upright. End of story. (And the end of letting Jon go it alone on the tree hunt.;)

But now back to Maryland.
We found a tree which was lush, big and full. It wasn't wrapped in netting but that was okay since we weren't far from home. I suggested putting it into the van where it could fit in between the kids. Jon, being thoughtful, didn't want to inconvenience them so he just put it on the roof of our van.

That worked too, I thought.

The tree guy didn't have much twine so Jon tied it with what he had. After getting into the car he told me to hang on to the tree and he would do the same.

"Are you kidding?" I said, not knowing if he was being facetious.
"No. Just put your arm out there and hang on. Trust me, it'll work, I've got it on this side and will drive slowly. There's no one on the roads right now anyway."

So we puttered down the road with Jon's left arm outstretched out of the window, hanging on to the tree and my right arm doing the same from the passenger side. Everything was going okay until I could feel the tree slip a little. I told Jon that it felt like it was going to come off.

"Nahhhh." Jon said smiling.
Then suddenly Jon said "Uh Oh!!" and I heard the whoosh of the branches scrape the top of our van and felt the pine needles slip through my fingers. I quickly pulled my arm in and looked at all of the needles in my hand.

I yelled, "We lost the tree!! We lost the tree!"

Instinctively, we all turned around and Jon looked in the rear view mirror.

"Oh crap."
"It hit the car behind us." Jon said dryly.

He pulled over quickly and we jumped out. The driver of the other car pulled up right behind us. An 80 year old woman got out of the car.
I was thinking we almost killed a grandma on Christmas.

She walked up to me and slowly said, "Did I hit a deeer?"
I said, "No ma'am, you hit a tree."
"A tree? What was a tree doing in the middle of the road?"
"It was our tree." I looked embarrassed.
"Your tree??" She looked confused.
"Yes, It flew off of our car and landed on yours."
"Oh, that's what it was. I was driving along and all of a sudden something came flying in front of me. I thought it was a deer." she said.

Meanwhile, Jon was trying to rescue the tree that was now in the middle of the road. The fog had rolled in and there were no street lights. I realized that no one was going to see the tree in these driving conditions. So I resorted to jumping on the side of the road waving my arms to warn motorists. I think they thought I was doing jumping jacks or was just being friendly as they waved back to me excitedly until they swerved last minute to avoid hitting it. I'm sure they thought. "Oh, that's what she was doing" when they saw the tree...

Each time, it rolled into the other lane as a car passed, getting hit on either side. One car was full of people laughing and appeared to be rocking out to their tunes. I folded my fingers into my palms and held my hands to my cheeks, nervously waiting for them to hit it. I saw them all scream as they rolled over the tree. I can still picture them in the car, arms outstretched, bracing themselves by holding on to the seat in front, mouths wide open. As their car bounced a few times over something big in the road, they screamed and laughed when they saw it was only a tree.

I couldn't help but laugh and turned to our kids in the van. Their faces were stuck to the window and their grins evidenced the hilarity of it all.

After that, the coast was finally clear and Jon rescued our poor, poor tree.
We sat silently in the car all the way home.

Belen and Charley whispered to ask if the tree was going to be okay.
I told them it was once we got her all made-over.

Jon hauled in what was left of it.
After he set it up, the tree kept falling.
Again, Jon wrestled, lost and in defeat, kicked it and possibly muttered a bad word or two.

It had already been through enough, the tree that is.

Remembering my usage of the mono filament from a few years before, I tied the tree to the window sill once more and positioned the gaping hole toward the wall. Realizing there was more than one gaping hole and mangled patches, I decided it was a matter of choosing which one was the lesser wound and filling in the others.
I used the boughs that I had on our entry door to fill in the gaps.
Think of it as extensions or hair plugs for trees.
It ended up being a beautiful tree and enjoyed the rest of its time with us.

Don't worry trees - I'll protect you.

A letter of sorts

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I have missed you mom.
Happy Birthday. I bet you look as young as you were in this picture, ha ha.

I hope you are having a good time up in Heaven.

How's dad?

All the grand kids are well. Tori and Adrianna are in college, Braiden is excited for his mission in 2 years, Tami and Blair's kids are being home schooled. David tripped over his own feet at the airport and went rolling in front of the boarding gate, holding everyone up. Lisa laughed so hard but he was a good sport. You know how sweet he is. He also got his Eagle Scout award. Bryson and Blaise may fly out to visit us which will make Charley so happy. The girls are enjoying their voice lessons and everyone else is happy and growing quickly.

Blair Noel always asks if you sit on the clouds and what you eat for snacks.

I tell her you have the comfiest cloud in the sky and feast upon the Word of God.
You were good to me, mom. Thank you for all you did. I'll  never forget it.


Dream Police

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I was watching Oprah, or as Gail says, "Op," when Stephenie Meyer was a guest and she said that a vivid dream became chapter 13 of Twilight. After Stephenie awoke from this dream, knowing she didn't want to forget; she wrote it down and explored it. The rest, as they say, is history.
It got me thinking about some dreams I have had. I know they won't make me a bazillion dollars but they're fun to analyze, nonetheless. Some are funny, scary and down right wierd - usually due to those sleepless nights of pregnancy.
Last year I was talking with some family members about dreams and one of my
brothers and sister-in-law had dreams where their teeth fell out so we decided that must mean they were worried about aging. My other brother and a sister-in-law both had dreams where they could fly. My sister-in-law, Jodi, said she even had a good take-off and landing in this dream. She's very athletic and outgoing so we thought this represented her happy and carefree spirit.

Besides my alligator dream, ( I use to live in Hilton Head and was always worried those critters were going to eat my children) I have a recurring dream that maybe you could analyze for me. Although, it has been over a year since I have had it, so maybe I'm cured already...

But anyway,
In this dream I was in high school and could never remember my locker combination. I always had to go ask Mrs. Loop (my high school secretary) to look up the numbers which made me late for class. By the end of the day, I forgot it again so I didn't take any of my work home which was in the locker. Because of this I never turned in my assignments and didn't get to graduate.

Each time I have had this, I woke up in a panic and paused for a moment to remember if I did graduate. I quickly remembered that I had and my mind was relieved.

Any psycho analysis? Do you have strange dreams? Any recurring themes?
P.S. Baja fish tacos tonight - yum!!

A Christmas story and Pepper Spray

Monday, December 7, 2009

This past weekend we enjoyed our usual, and not so usual, flurry of activities. First there was the small town Christmas parade where main street is bedecked in the lights for the season; local churches, businesses and the school band march through town pelting kids with candy. Santa enters town on the last float and he and Mrs. Claus take their seat at the Santa House on the square.
It is then officially the Christmas season.

Each year I have been wanting to go a farm in the mountains of central PA where Clydesdale horses pull you in a wagon to find your perfect Christmas tree. So with our first snowfall of the season, and after a trip to voice lessons, I had visions of my family nestled under wool blankets on a horse drawn sleigh, sipping hot cocoa and finding the perfect tree.
So off we went.
After a beautiful drive and many Christmas carols later, we arrived there only to find some cranky people tell us we were 4 minutes late for the last wagon. Someone ahead of us had just asked as well so I think they were tired of the question. Then as we were pulling out of the parking lot we watched a wagon leave with only 4 people in it. I guess they were better at the puppy dog eyes than we were. Blair cried.

On the way home, the GPS got us lost when we went looking for fast food. It took us to a small sub-division in the middle of nowhere and we laughed so hard we cried. I distracted Jon when I yelled, "Hey, there's a buggy!" and took a picture when I saw the Amish. He missed the turn when I startled him and I endured jokes from the kids yelling, "Hey, there's a cow!," "Hey, there's a car!"

The GPS took us back and Jon almost missed the turn again and the kids asked us to keep our eyes on the road. As we passed by the Amish house again, Charley remarked that even they had a trampoline in their yard. We laughed so hard at the kids' whimpering and Reese's exclamation, "I live in a van down by the river," Chris Farley style.

The next evening we were all enjoying some down time at home. I was doing laundry and tidying up the bathroom when I heard all this ruckus going on upstairs. I figured someone was arguing so Jon would take care of it since he was upstairs. Loud, crazy noise is a daily occurrence around these parts.

I continued to clean and then I found a cute headband. I went in to the bathroom and tried it on. I was enjoying this primping but decided to go out and see what was up with everyone.
As I was leaving the bathroom I felt my throat sting and thought maybe I used too much cleanser. As I moved toward the stairs I began to choke and cough. Staggering up the stairs, I couldn't catch a breath. Jon came to my aide, pulled me up and we ran out the back door. There I saw my whole family bent over on the snow covered deck, gasping for air. I asked what in the heck was going on and they told me that Reese sprayed bear spray, a heavy duty pepper spray we take on hikes, downstairs.

Jon came running back out and told us to get to the car. He called one of his best friends from the Army who is now an Orlando police officer and has a little experience with mace. We were laughing (and choking) while Belen was retelling the story and how two of her siblings went screaming by her, their arms flailing in a panic.

Feeling ill, we had to wait an hour to let the house air out so we went to get something to drink. The kids told me they were wondering where I was but ran for their lives instead. Jon said he checked the bedroom but I wasn't there. I did hear him ask where I was but I figured he was going to pawn off what I thought was a fight, onto me.
Jon dramatically joked that they felt I would've wanted them to go on...

Good times in this household.

Thanksgiving issues

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

All together with my brothers and sister's families 2008
Thanksgiving was almost a bust.

We have been on our own as a family for nearly 16 years now with only a few times when we have spent the holidays with our family and close friends. Usually I don't mind it being just us for the holidays. We've always kind of liked the ease of being with the kids and having a smaller meal. But on this day, I was missing my extended family and was enjoying my own little pity party.

It got worse when the day was interrupted by a total house plumbing issue.
Jon came home early from work to rescue us as we were just heading up to the convenience store. We made several trips to the corner store to use their facilities. I changed it up a bit and went to different ones in the area. The kids loved this knowing I always feel I should buy something when we have to use their restroom. So I had a list of items to buy while I was waiting for the kids: gum, sundae pop-tarts, potato chips, nutty buddy bars and an Icee.
Jon started in on the FIY project (fix it yourself) and went a couple of rounds with it. Normally he's pretty good at fixin' stuff but this time was proving to be a bit more challenging. The 50 foot snake we rented didn't do a thing so we called in the pros. The whole problem stemmed from the outside drain that we didn't even know existed. It was being covered by a coffee can which was hidden by the previous owners in an attempt to fix and disguise it with shrubbery.

"It figures" Jon said, referring to our situations with previous homeowners. Remind me to tell you about the homeowner who insisted I call her "Honey girl" when we were buying her home, our first house. Just thinking about her makes me want to throw something.

Anyway, with the plumber's advice and by the light of a flashlight, it took Jon about 3 minutes to fix and we were good.

The delay made for a late evening since Jon couldn't get his homemade stuffing done or any other side dish. So we enjoyed hanging out, made a few corn husk dolls and had dinner around 10 pm that night - which is the way they eat in Europe - late. People after my own heart...

And, as I sat there enjoying conversations with each of my family members, I was grateful for it all. It's never a bust when you are part of something bigger.