Monday, April 30, 2012

We All Need to Laugh

It is said that laughter is the best medicine.  And why not?  We are happy when we laugh.  We’re content.  We’re not expressing worry, stress or anger.  Laughter allows us to move on with our lives.

A family member on my husband’s side passed away unexpectedly.  The funeral is tomorrow and is out of state.  Initially we had considered getting a loan against the title of the unwanted truck and purchase a plane ticket – but the interest on the loan was outrageous; the airfare would be close to six hundred dollars.

We have over drafted in our bank account and so someone wired some money to Roland so that he could drive down – only it wasn’t enough.  A hundred dollars for a 12 plus hour drive (I don’t know how many miles) we were still going to have to borrow some money one way or another.

When we had gone for a visit just two short weeks ago (I made mention in my last post) we took my mom’s car.  As the car was not returned in superior condition, we didn’t bother to ask to borrow it again – although it is only Roland who is going and won’t be eating (or dripping) ice cream in the back seat. So for this next trip we have borrowed my sister’s car.

My husband can laugh at situations that others may find stressful.  And I admire that a lot.  It was just one frustrating thing after another of the events which took place this morning – well, midmorning.  He couldn’t leave as early as he would have hoped.  It was a matter of running around all morning from location to location and searching the internet and double checking.

Not only did it put him behind, but I had told my sister I would pick her up before noon and because our simple plans turned into complicated hassle, I was late with meeting her.

It was a comedy of errors from Roland’s point of view.  He didn’t get out of the city until just before 12:00.  Just before.  He won’t get to his sister’s house until after midnight.  I hope that they will call his phone instead of mine.  I plan to be in bed.
Why did I borrow my sister’s car if I have one – and a truck?  They’re unreliable.  If they should happen to break down, I would rather have it be in the city where there is a mechanic nearby.  The route between our house and his sisters is mostly desolate.  Not a lot of mechanics or rescue crews.  Besides Kayla’s car is better on gas and her gas gage isn’t broken.

I love Roland and his sense of direction – not just on the roads, but in life.  I need to lighten up and laugh more.  He’s great.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Make Every Second Count: You just Never Know

          Two weeks ago we left the state to be with Roland’s family.  We spent most of Friday driving, checked into a room and spent two days there.

          We didn’t meet up with the family until after 4:00 pm on Saturday.  Roland and his brother had both come from out of state to celebrate their mom’s 85th birthday.

          The eldest sister had actually sent the invitations out in January.  We had told her repeatedly that we just didn’t have the finances.  And just the week prior, we didn’t even have reliable transportation.  We ended up borrowing my mom’s car and our expenses were paid for.

          There was Elvis, and dancing, and hugs, and kisses and a tremendous surprise.  Roland’s mom had an exceptional birthday.  Cameras went off in all directions.  I would guess over 600 flashes – but that’s just a guess. 

          The next morning we posed mom and four of her five children (there was one who was unable to attend) before Roland’s brother and his wife returned to their home state.  More pictures were taken with I don’t know how many cameras.  It is nice to have those memories.  Especially now.

          Last night the family called to tell us of Roland’s older sister’s passing.  It was so unexpected.  I am still bewildered over the news.  Who knew that all of those pictures would show her in her final moments?  Wonderful, happy photographs of the very last memories we will have of her.

          We’d gone down visit before.  Maybe every other year.  Twice to bring mom back for a visit, once for the funeral of Roland’s uncle. 

          I’ve been to a lot of funerals during my lifetime.  Most have been LDS.  I like LDS funerals.  I can’t say the same for non LDS. I think I’ve been to about five that have been of another denomination.  And with each of them it has felt cold and so non-personal to me.  For it seems that anyone could be lying in that casket and the sermon would be exactly the same.

          Not all LDS funerals leave one feeling good about the person or the way the arrangements were made – but for the most part (at least in my experience) LDS funerals are beautiful and filled with love and devotion.  For the most part, even if you may not be familiar with the deceased, by the time the services end, you will know something.

          We sat around for two hours at Uncle Gil’s.  There was a small amount of hushed visiting and family members taking a break for their smokes and returning to the mostly empty pews.

          With most LDS funerals I have attended, there is a viewing beforehand.  And there has always been a line.
          The services are usually done by friends or family members – remembering and honoring those that have passed on.
          The Relief Society (women’s organization) rallies around the family – often providing the family with a meal for after the services.

          Roland’s family doesn’t have any of that.  They could.  But choose not to.  For Uncle Gil they hired a preacher, a minister, a man of the cloth – I actually don’t know what his title was.  A handsome sum of money was donated by the family members who might attend on Christmas and Easter (if that)  It felt as though they were trying to buy Uncle Gil’s way into heaven.

          I think the family would find a lot more comfort if they were to allow Roland and myself to conduct – because we would honor his sister by holding the kind of funeral that I am used to attending.

          I’ve given talks at funerals before.  I spoke at my great-grandmothers, my grandma’s and my dad’s.  I thought my dad’s was wonderful.  I talked a bit about daddy’s childhood and how he had met my mom.  Patrick took over with honoring him as a family man. 

          Corey was out of the country at the time.  We played a message that he had recorded prior to my father’s death.  And Kayla (who was in her last year at high school) sang “My Father’s Eyes” There was music.  It was a really nice service.
          After Bill’s (my brother-in-law) first wife died, I learned things about her that I hadn’t known before her passing. There were some really nice talks at that one as well.

          There are many LDS funerals that seem to go on and on – but as a whole, I think they are nice tributes and find a lot more comfort in them than these “impersonal sermons” as I call them.  I just don’t find the same sense of peace that I do with LDS funerals.

          We are still awaiting details.  But these are my thoughts at this time.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Silent Heroes

There are several variations of what may come to one’s mind when visualizing his or her perception of a hero.  There are comic book heroes such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, or even Word Girl.

Many people have benefitted from the heroic actions of the police, firefighters, soldiers, etc.  It is the uniformed men or women whom they see as heroes.  And they are, and deserve to be recognized.
          There are “heroes” who do it for the glory – just to be recognized as heroes.  And there are the silent heroes who work behind the scenes, who don’t ask for recognition, many who would prefer not to bask in the glory.  These are the true heroes.

          Roland is one of those heroes.  He does things out of nature – not because he’s seeking a reward or glory.  He just does things because they need to be done.
          For example, he’s really not mechanically minded, but he will stop to give people a lift or assist where able – whether he actually knows the person (or people) or not.

          One time (many years ago) he noticed an acquaintance waiting at the bus stop.  He offered her a lift just because of his nature.  But for her, it was a heroic act of rescue.  Neither of us knows all the details and so it is only speculation as to whether she woke up late, her car wasn’t running, she had barely missed the bus . . . whatever. 

She  has been grateful to Roland for his actions all this time – and it really wasn’t a recent thing.  Maybe 30 years ago?  Maybe longer.  An incident that Roland probably thought nothing about even in that moment, but in that moment he had become her hero.  And she has never forgotten.

My dad was a hero just by his example – supporting each of us in our dreams – supporting us from “behind the curtains” never feeling the need to set foot upon the stage himself.  And really not wanting to.  He didn’t have a desire for the praise. 

He was wise with money and knew how to budget and provide.  We may not have been financially wealthy, but daddy kept the family together and saw to it that we would take a family vacation each year. Daddy was a silent hero.

I remember being stranded on the road myself.  Kayla and Corey were with me.  Kayla was maybe about five or six.  We didn’t have cell phones then – and payphones were only a dime.  With the car (I believe I was driving the one that belonged to my grandmother, actually) pulled over to the side, I took each of the kids’ hands and started walking.  A man pulled over to see if we needed a lift.

As I pushed Kayla and Corey into the car, I thought: “What am I doing?  I don’t know this man.  He could just try to steal us and hold us for ransom”

But this “grandpa” who had picked us up became my hero for a moment.  As it turned out he really didn’t live too far from my grandma. 

And there’s another time when my neighbor was stranded on the freeway – with at least six kids in the car.  It was the “hippy era” and those long haired freaks had earned a reputation among the older generation which was less than flattering.  But it was two of those long haired “freaks” that helped us to move along.

And then there are the occasional customer service representatives who are serious about resolving my concerns.  Those are true heroes for making me feel like I am more important than a paycheck.

Strange how such little actions on our part can have such a huge impact on somebody else’s.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I.R.S. = It Really Sucks

          After our youngest son, Randy, returned home from his mission, he decided to open an account at the credit union.  To complete the process, a driver’s license or picture ID with a valid address was required.  No problem.  His DL had expired and going to the DLD was also on the agenda.

          But he still needed proof of address.  We had moved and his old DL revealed the old address.  He was asked for something to prove his new address – like a bank statement.  Are you kidding me?  It was like a no win situation.

          Recently, (even though we had actually filed our taxes a month early this year) we were asked to include Randy’s FASFA on our taxes.  Randy had not completed his FASFA as he was waiting for the results on our taxes.

          I never fully understood that old cliché that says we can’t have our cake and eat it, too.  Seems like in those last two scenarios we can neither have nor eat.  We can only view whatever cake others may have or are eating. 

          It’s like being told by a podiatrist to stay off your feet (by walking) in order to let them heal – but that you should exercise your feet in order to give them strength.  Huh?  It’s either one or the other.  How can a person seriously do both?

          This is the first year in mine and Roland's married life that we actually have a tax refund.  But we also owe back taxes. We owe this. We owe that.  We will never even see our refund.  It would be nice if we could pick who gets it.  But at least the debt will be lessened in one way or the other.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I am a Summer Scrooge

          I don’t mind sunshine.  I can drive when the sun is out and lighting my path.  There are a huge number of summer activities that I do enjoy.  I just don’t care for the heat.  I would rather have it cool.

          April hasn’t even ended, and already I’m changing my perspirated drenched clothes two or three times a day.  What am I going to do in July?  If it’s above 72 degrees I am an ogre. 

          Even the dog is panting after hours of sleeping.  Our walks now have to happen before school.  Just two weeks ago it was midday because it was too cold in the morning.  I think if the weather were to change gradually (maybe just one degree every other day) it wouldn’t be so bad.  This 20 – 40 degree jump has got to go.

          I enjoy having an A/C and fans.  I like the coolness of water and being splashed. I would still rather have the crisp air of fall though.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Left Lane is for Passing

          Last May the bishop (leader) of our ward (Church boundary) had some major health problems along with his second counselor.  My husband, who was serving as the High Priest Group Leader, said to me that if the bishop had passed away during that time, the mantle would have been handed to him and he would have had to step into the bishop’s shoes (metaphorically speaking) until a new one was called.

          I don’t know how soon the first counselor (at the time of our ailing bishop) was called to take over the position of bishop.  But my husband was called as his first counselor.  It was to be his fourth calling in less than two years.

          But his second counselor holds the record of short lived callings.  He had been called as a Sunday School teacher – I don’t know for how many months.  He was released in order to serve as a counselor in the Elder’s Quorum.  The week after he was put in the Elder’s Quorum position, it was announced that he would be the new second counselor of the bishopric.  He had lived in the ward for only six months.

          So last June we got our new bishopric: our 32 year old Caucasian bishop, my 56 year old husband (of Hispanic decent) and a 34 year old fireball from the Philippines  Our new bishopric resembled that of an Oreo Cookie.

This last Friday the second counselor and his wife moved out of the ward.  We all knew it was coming.  Today they spoke in Sacrament meeting.

          The first speaker was his wife – she gave an awesome talk about staying on course.  She had two comparisons of wanting to “change lanes” and trying to “hurry things along”.

          Her first example was/is one that many of us are guilty of.  We drop by the store to pick up whatever. We happen to be in a hurry and the lines are seemingly never-ending long. (She must have been at a Wal-Mart)

          The specific example she used was a woman with a fidgety child.  She was in the express line and saw another line open up – but was still behind two or three people.  And for whatever reason, the line stopped moving.

          The child continued to fidget and the woman jumped in and out of lines causing her more anguish.  As the speaker checked out, she looked back to see the woman behind three groups of people.  If she had just stayed in line to begin with, she would have been next.

          The other example she used was in passing trucks on the highway.  She has learned that when she is in the left hand lane and she sees a semi signal to come over, she will allow it to come into her lane knowing that once it has passed its obstacle, it will go back over into the right.
          She says that non-understanding drivers will be upset that she has allowed a truck in and will attempt to pass both of them, swerve into the right hand lane, floor it and will have to slam on the breaks in order to avoid the obstacle that the truck driver was trying to avoid in the first place.

          So instead of passing this speaker and the truck, the “hurried” driver has to wait for the truck, the speaker, and whatever cars behind her before he or she can move back into the left lane – which defeats the purpose for having gone into the right lane to begin with.

          What’s the big deal?  Sure, being behind a truck is not always ideal – but a truck in the left lane is not going to be in the left lane for very long.  Trucking takes experience.  The drivers have a better view of things from where they are sitting.  Sometimes we need to trust that they know what they’re doing and show a little patience.

          Same with our Father in Heaven.  He can see a whole lot further down the road than we can.  We need to trust in Him and stay on course and not be in a hurry to get around what we think is unnecessary.  If we just accept the “slowness” as part of the plan to begin with and stay on course, our journey will be a lot smoother.

          The speaker compared moments in her life when she herself wanted to switch lanes thinking they might get her to her spiritual destination at a faster pace, but would end up becoming discouraged or frustrated, but would have a better understanding about WHY when she finally did arrive where she thought she wanted to go.  And continues to go.

          She’s experienced so much anxiety over this last move – not wanting to leave but needing to.  And now that they are moved she is more at peace.  And now has a better understanding at staying on course and having faith in God who is ahead of us seeing all.

          It was a really good talk.  I did have more to go with my notes.  Rather than elaborate further though, I can create some new posts out of what’s remaining.

Friday, April 20, 2012

No, you DON’T have my permission

          I’m not an avid facebook user.  In fact, the more “improvements” that are made, the less I use.  I haven’t deleted myself.  For one, I haven’t figured out how.  And I still like to look at pictures.  Especially when I know my brother-in-law is going to be posting better pictures from an event that my camera just doesn’t capture.

          Truth is the novelty wore off for me about two months after I opened my account.  And now with facebook controlling which posts I view or what might be important to me (the pictures copied from wall to wall to wall with humorous captions are NOT what I would pick to clutter up my home page.  I would like to hear (or read) about how life is going for my friends – but then with all this new rig-o-moral, maybe everyone has decided not to include anything personal whatsoever)

          Now it just seems so complicated just to stay on facebook. What’s up with this: “you have been invited to” or so and so “sent you a request” and then you have to leave the fb page and give your permission to surrender whatever photos or information you have posted to fb (like is it really private – seriously) and as I don’t want to do that, I don’t ever go into the application (take birthday calendar request for instance) and I would like people to get reminders if they really would like to wish me happy birthday (as I enjoy having the application to remind me) but not at the expense of surrendering my photos.  But at the same time, if I truly feel that way, I shouldn’t be posting them in the first place)

          I have finally inserted pictures onto the posts that I’ve written thus far –mostly ones that I’ve “borrowed” from Google.  I respect the ones that have copyright right on the photo – but I don’t always see what lies underneath.  And just because it’s marked “copyright” doesn’t mean someone else may try and use it and just crop off the “copyright”

          So I’ve been hesitant about using my own photos – not so much landscape.  I don’t care about those.  I have an adorable one of Jenna making an “angry face”.  It’s an older photo.  She’s grown a lot since then. But her expression cracks me up. I have shared it here  At the same time I don’t wish to risk desecration to my photos when other people use Google and decide to use her picture for themselves in an offensive way.

I actually don’t have a problem with people using my photos – so long as they don’t desecrate them.  Once I put them on Google or facebook, I feel like I have lost control of that.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

As Different as Mustard and Aqua Velva

         The refrigerator in Sunny and Patrick’s house is buried in photographs and wonderful thoughts.  Family is very important to them and they are on display at all times.
          Children’s art work decorates the walls above the dining room table and there are portraits upon the piano.  The house is decorated nicely, and the feel is one of warmth and love.  It is inviting.  It says that their children are important and family matters.  It is welcoming and full of joy and positive self-esteem.

          Grandma also keeps photographs and art work.  Her refrigerator is covered with magnets that hold up treasured memories.  There are pictures in every room showing off her grandkids, her children, their spouses, etc.  It says that her posterity is important and it is good for our self-esteem.

          Kayla and I both live in Cracker Box houses.  We both have more stuff than we do space.  And though we’ve had different family members over at different times, neither one of us is equipped for having the whole family over. It would be like trying to cram 15 of us in a walk in closet or as comfortable as eight people stuffed in a Volks Wagon bug for 25 miles.

          But still we have the comforts of our family in photographs – and display our posterity in a positive way.  Anna likes to move the magnets around on the refrigerator and Jenna likes to hang her art.  And I have scanned many of her drawings and crafts since she was three. 

          We’re a bit cluttered at times.  Actually more clutter than I would like.  It’s livable.  Our children know they’re important. 

          We have barbeques on occasion.  We have done other family activities as well.  We keep in contact through e-mail, through phone, in person.  We are a close knit family.  We are in my opinion.  But every family is different.

          Recently we visited with Roland’s family.  He has three sisters and a brother.  All three sisters are older.  His mom happens to live with the youngest of the three girls.
I had been to her house before.  Each time we’ve gone it seems to have been redecorated.  This year the display was showcased to perfection.  Tons of candles and pottery and decorative STUFF – nothing personal about it.  It was how you’d want your home to look to potential buyers.  It was how you would want it to look for the media.  It was sterile.
She used to have photographs upstairs and along the hall.  But they got moved – pushed back on some shelves in the corner.  You would have to literally move the desk and each picture in order to view them all.  No kids’ art.  NOTHING on the refrigerator.  Nothing seemed inviting – to me anyway.  It was all material.

They have five adults living under one roof (plus two children; and constant visits from their three grandchildren and their parents) and have five TVs (at least two of them are on 24-7 whether they are even being watched or not – usually not) and at least four or five computers (none of them updated however.  That’s a surprise – but then they really don’t spend that much time on it; I would guess the kids do more than anyone else)

And yet I know they love their family members.  (We’d gone to another state for mom’s surprise party – and our room and gas were all paid for before we had even arrived) and spend huge amounts of time together.  But there is no memorabilia.  Nothing that stands out to build self esteem.  And I wonder how much of a difference it would even make to them.

They love to dance.  They love to party.  They love to drink.  They don’t much care for religion.  If they want a message, they can watch the evangelists on TV. 
To say our families are as different as day and night would not only be clich̩ Рour families are more drastically different than I think night and day are.
They love and admire our boys.  Richard’s done well at bringing them up, they say.  Richard tries to explain that it’s not solely just himself but the values taught in the gospel.  They don’t want to hear it.

Their understanding is that God knows them.  They’re not out killing anybody.  They are decent human beings.  They’ve got it made just fine without religion.
My family members are active and hold church callings and are dedicated – not just on Sunday, but every day.  Three hours is too long for Richard’s family – and to extend it to the entire week?  Uh –uh. 

They are good people.  Just an entire different comfort zone – for them.  But Not for me.  I like the photographs and the religious values and spending time with family without booze.  I’m certain that they would be just as uncomfortable in my world.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Those Poor Confused Geese

          I’m walking my dog at the park when two geese started honking.  Highness hadn’t even noticed them until they brought it to his attention that they were there.  So of course he starts yowling and the geese took off and started circling the park – honking loudly as they flew.

          Now since I don’t speak geese, I don’t know if they were warning other birds that there was a crazy dog in the park or if they were announcing: “No – it doesn’t appear to be springtime over here, either.”
Or if they were just lost from their flock and asking others to make themselves known.

It’s supposed to be springtime huh?  According to the goose’s bodily calendar, it is time to end their southern vacation and get back to work in the north.  But the elements just don’t jive with their predictions.  And it’s frustrating.

But geese are not the only ones to suffer here.  It is every driver in the road who encounters poly cones and orange barrels, signs that say “Road Closed” and “Men at Work”.

Actually I haven’t seen the “Men at Work” signs this year.  I suppose after the elements they have faced the last few years, it is better just not to post them than to have the public say, “Where?  I don’t see anybody working”

It rains.  The sun shines.  The wind blows.  Sometimes all within five minutes of each other. It can be very frustrating.

That’s how it’s been every year I have tried to plan Jenna’s birthday.  Everybody wore coats on her sixth birthday when we had the clown.  I finally had a back up this year.  And so we held it indoors.  Guess what.  The weather was nice.

I hope the geese realize that it’s not just them.  We have all experienced a degree of questioning Mother Nature.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My 100th post

            I am out of town right now and so did not post yesterday . . .  My computer and printer are both went to “fix-it” shops.  I did not plan on posting to my blog for the next four days. But it is raining now.  And the birthday party we showed up for won't be starting until later this afternoon.  So I am using the computer at the hotel.  
            I finally was able to add pictures on my 95th post.  It wasn’t that hard.  Corey told me where the icon was.  I don’t know why I didn’t see it before.  What an idiot (me, not him)

            For two years my daughter’s schools celebrated the first one hundred days of school.  Last year the student were asked to draw their perception of how they would look when they reached age 100.  This is what Jenna drew when she was in first grade:

I don’t recall them having their 100 day celebration this year.

I will post again after I return home.  May not be daily as I don't know when my computer will actually be ready.
I have many ideas for new posts.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Speaking of Television . . . or Cable Rather

          As I mentioned in my last post, there have been periods of time that we have had to do without.  The bills are too overwhelming at times.  We lost our first house due to the economy leaving us even more financially scarred.  After the move, Roland and Jenna were limited to DVDs from either the library or our own personal collection.

          We tried doing without the Internet.  But the Internet is required just for finding a job.  It’s an assistant to Jenna’s education.  It was a necessity with Roland’s last job.  And he may be starting Internet courses pretty soon.

          Our period without the Internet did not last for more than two weeks.  Eventually we added cable because it was only 8-10 dollars more.  But basic.  Very basic.  We had only 7 stations (perhaps 18 with all the shopping net works and three Spanish stations; okay seven that were regularly watched) – and lost one of the PBS stations in the process. 

          Our cable company screwed up big time – either that or we had been being cheated for five months.

          A UPS driver came to our door with a package from our carrier.  That was weird.  We specifically told them that we were struggling with payments just for the basic  basic (surely they are wise enough to figure it out with all our late payments and constant calls)  and so Roland calls to see if they upgraded their service and we need all this hook up now.

          The company claims they mailed the package out in November.  November?  Seriously?  It is now being delivered to us in April?  So Roland’s on the phone with at least three different employees – asking questions – plugging in wires – reporting errors and so forth.  (Good thing he LOVES cable – I would have given up and sent the equipment back)

          So this morning, instead of only 7 stations, we now get 40?  Maybe 60?  We also have other features that I don’t believe we are paying for.  On the other hand, I remember the package including certain stations that we weren’t getting before.  But now it just seems like there are more than what we’re paying for.  But then again I haven’t received the most recent bill.  We may actually be getting rid of both cable and internet if the bill is too high.  After all we do need to eat.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

TV Guide for 20 plus years? I must be old

          When I was twelve years old, my only living grandpa bought me a subscription to TV Guide and continued renewing it each year until he died. And then my dad took over with payments until he died. And I let the subscription run out.

          My mom asked why I hadn’t renewed it.  TV is just not all that important to me.  It may have been when I was twelve.  But each year I become less interested in the TV and programming.
 I did enjoy reading TV Guide stories on occasion – but there were oft times that even the articles or the lay out lost my interest.

          After I married Roland – there were two of us who really didn’t care if we owned a television and two that would “die without it”  and actually there have been months at a time that we have had to do without (especially after even local programming was changed to high definition)

          So after a while, I started receiving junk mail from AARP and funeral and retirement homes.  I was on all the lists for senior citizens.  It was crazy!  I figured it must have been all those years of having my name on the TV Guide.

I do appreciate the educational shows that Jenna enjoys.  And I have enjoyed the trivia and historical programs that Roland will watch sometimes.  I do watch shows right now. But as a whole, I really wouldn’t miss it if it were gone. 

If I do ever become interested in watching shows in prime time, they seem to get cancelled (“the Defenders” for example) and so most of the shows I watch are in syndication and it really wouldn’t hurt me if I never saw them again.

I am almost 50.  But I still don’t qualify for medicare or retirement.  I don’t get near as much junk with Roland as I did when I was living with mom.  Most of the time there is a “senior” offer, it has Roland’s name on it.  He’s not really a senior citizen either.  But he is closer than I am.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Turning Gang Behavior into Unity: No she’s not Pregnant!

If there are more than two people banding together to undermine authority – it is considered gang violence or gang related or birth of gang actions.  I was not aware of this until this morning, but evidently this cause took place in my daughter’s school fairly recently.

          From what I understand it was a bunch of sixth graders.  The principal said there had been about 30 of them who had decided to stir up some mischief and were plotting their aggressive actions in the hall by the doors when they should have gone out for recess. 

          Of course when they were reminded of the rules to go out for recess and to disengage their loitering, they stood together and refused – which then led to the principal’s office (who by the way is the most awesome principal ever and is even tempered and rational and deserves respect) and the kids somehow blew everything out of proportion. 

          Each of them had gone home to give a very inaccurate account of the events and so Mrs. Randolph had parents slamming her as well as the kids.  Mrs. Randolph was bashed on facebook and those involved discussed banding together by wearing the same color so that they would stand out.  The color chosen was pink.

          Somehow Mrs. Randolph got wind of what was going down and decided that ALL of her students would wear pink.  (It was referred to as Mrs. Randolph Day) There were rumors that she was pregnant.  Others said she must have cancer.  But no, it was for unity.  It was to even things out.  It was taking a stand.

          And for the most part none of the kids were wiser.  They just did it because she asked them to.  Certainly put a damper on the expectations of those sixth graders however.  How wise to have put out the fire before it spread and turned into something ugly.  At least I hope the fire has been completely smoldered.

Spring is here . . . and so is winter

Jenna and I were returning home from my moms.  I happened to look over towards the side of the street to see 2 dozen or more trees seasoned in pink and white (mostly white) blossoms.  Standing next to them or just a few feet apart were naked trees withered by the harshness of winter.  If the traffic hadn’t been so heavy or if I had been in the appropriate lane, I would have stopped to take a picture.  Not that it would have done justice really.

          The elements have taken turns.  The 31st was so windy, it knocked me in a coma. But the first was really nice.  It snowed on the sixth.  It was too nice for wearing jackets on the seventh.  Weird.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Jenna Loves Caterpillars

          Jenna has liked caterpillars for as long as I remember.  I don’t know why.  I don’t know when – though I suspect it must have been in the womb.

          There was a week the caterpillar/butterfly cycle was discussed during her first year at preschool.  Twice during the week the focus was on the caterpillar and the other two days were on the butterfly.  She was there for the caterpillar days chiming in her knowledge and sharing with the class more depth than the teacher was actually ready to go into, dropping her mouth in disbelief and then saying, “You are right, Jenna.  How come you know so much about caterpillars?”

          “Oh, I just like caterpillars and so I know all about them.”

          I don’t think Jenna had even seen a real caterpillar before until the summer when she had turned four.   We had gone to a resort with the scouts.  One of the scouts had lovingly taken her under his wing.  And just before we left to return to our cars, he found a small green caterpillar which he allowed her to hold.  Oh, the joys! 

          Both had wanted to take the caterpillar home but the scout leader was talked into leaving it in its natural environment.  Jenna was hoping we could return for it later when no one was looking.  She did, afterall, know how to take care of it.  It would have been her first pet.  Her first responsibility.  But it wasn’t mine to give.  It wasn’t practical to have it in the car for the ride home.  But it was a good memory for her.  We did get some pictures.

Friday, April 6, 2012

What's so Odd about That?

I googled Odd Facts and came up with list after list of odd facts – but not all were “facts”.  I questioned some of it like “Ernie and Bert from Sesame Street were named after the cab driver and police officer in “It’s a Wonderful Life” – I could not find any evidence that confirmed that.  Henson said he was not there when they named the characters, but even he believes that it’s just coincidence.

Then I decided I needed something to back up all the facts that I share.  Hey, but just because you read it on the Internet doesn’t make it true.  And just because you learn something in school doesn’t mean it will stick. 

For instance, my peers and I learned about the solar system almost every year that I was in elementary school.  (I personally saw no purpose for it.)  We were taught that Pluto was the smallest planet.  Today we are told that Pluto is not a planet at all.  It seems that the International Astronomical Union decided has debated the issue.  Whatever.  (Again.  What was the point of learning about it either way?)

So here are the facts that I found back up for (and more than one source at that)

Odd Facts

Charlie Brown's father was a barber (as well as Charles Schulz’s father)

Betsy Ross was born with a fully formed set of teeth called natal teeth

Bingo is the name of the dog on the CrackerJack box.

Butterflies taste with their feet

The plastic things on the end of shoelaces are called aglets.

The name for Oz in the "Wizard of Oz" was thought up when the creator, Frank Baum, looked at his filing cabinet and saw A-N, and O-Z, hence "Oz."

A group of kangaroos is called a mob.
A group of unicorns is called a blessing.
The first Santa icon (the one we all know and love today) made his first appearance with Coca-Cola in 1931.

John Wayne’s birth name is Marion Morrison.  His grave remained without a marker for almost twenty years.

Warren G. Harding was elected President on his birthday.

The Baby Ruth candy bar was actually named after Grover Cleveland's baby daughter, Ruth.

Walt Disney’s original name for his mouse was Mortimer and not Mickey

4 Odd facts about me:

I can drink 1-2 quarts of liquid (soda, juice, water) and keep it inside of me for a few hours.  But if I have just one teaspoon of milk, I have to go the second it hits my bladder.

Wind wipes me out – even if I’m inside and am not even aware that it’s windy. I am literally so out of it that I feel drugged.

I can touch my nose with my tongue.

I am allergic to most Christmas plants.  Amazingly the tree is not one of them.

An odd fact about my husband:

 He can drive in any element and not notice how bad it is.  He will drive towards the sun glaring through the window or with an inch of snow on his windshield and not even be fazed by it.  I think that’s incredible!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Son in Thailand: Foreign Exchange

          I had always wanted to host a foreign exchange student.  While I was still a student myself, I had wanted my parents to take in a student from another country.  It wasn’t until after Roland and I were married for almost a year that I talked him into assisting my wishes.

          Our foreign exchange student was from Thailand.  He was in his senior year of high school and our three boys were in junior high school. Ooki was the greatest example to our boys.  He was always assisting and learning and growing.  I miss having him around.
          Ooki came to us in mid August.  We introduced him around the valley and actually drove to parts of the state, where we don’t go normally, just to show him it was there and it was an interesting part of the state.

          He did everything with us – even family pictures.  He became our oldest son.  And what an awesome son he is.

          Though not a member of our faith, Ooki went to Church with us every week.  When he was introduced to the Thai branch, he would sometimes go for six hours – three with our family and three in his Thai ward.

          He participated in scouts and most family events and was such a great asset – not just to our family – but all people that met him.

          Roland and I bought our first computer just a few months after Ooki arrived.  Ooki had that thing out of the box and hooked up in just ten minutes.  The computer was his baby and he took care of it.  And he did an awesome job.

          He had a digital camera and had created a website. That was cool to see ourselves on the Internet.

          He did have his peculiarities – like sniffing at everything before he would even taste it – and dousing most every food with ketchup.  We seriously went through more catsup in one month with Ooki than we had in eight months by ourselves.
          He says he’s shy and so doesn’t smile often.  But he should. 

He is very talented and very helpful.

          I miss Ooki.  We’re friends on facebook, but it is not the same as having him here in person.  I’m happy to have that contact though.  He is in a relationship and he posts lots of pictures. I love my son, Ooki.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Let's Go Camping

          My three boys love camping, especially my youngest.  I think I must have enjoyed it at one time – when I was a youth and had no concept of just how much work goes into it.  My current body is not designed for the discomforts of a frozen or hard ground.  Give me a motel room.

          The first year the Roland and I were married we had purchased two pup tents just before Christmas.  We gave one to Tony on Christmas day and the other one to Randy on his birthday (which was just ten days later).

          At the end of May we took our first camping trip together (and actually the only one I went on, now that I think about it).  Halfway there we learned that Randy had brought his blanket.  JUST his blanket.  No sleeping bag.  He thought a blanket would be all that he needed.  Seriously?  He said he loved camping and then acted as though he had never been.

          We stopped by a second hand store and purchased a sleeping bag for him and a frying pan which we could dispose of after our little three day weekend adventure.  We’d gone for a charity event and set up camp behind the rest stop which provided coffee and food to travelers venturing down Highway 6 – which at the time was reported to be in the top ten of the deadliest highways in the nation. 

          Upon arrival, the boys pitched their tents and went off to explore – leaving the dog (Houdini) behind in one of the tents – which took the Houdini only seconds to destroy.  What were they thinking leaving the dog in the tent in the first place?  The whole idea of bringing him was to keep both him and the boys busy running and exploring.

          Roland and I slept in the van during the day.  He had volunteered us to keep watch during the graveyard shift – which was fine really.  It was far too cold and uncomfortable for sleeping in the van.  We kept a fire going by the road so that travelers could warm themselves up as well.

I understand that there was a whole lot more lively activity during the day.  But that’s when Roland and I would sleep – or try to anyway.  Roland also cooked up hamburgers at very odd hours – like 7:00 in the morning.

          In addition to coffee and bakery goods, we passed out bumper stickers which read, “Pray for me.  I drive Highway 6!”  Because of the weekend program that this organization provided, injuries and crashes had been cut down a large percentage as travelers were able to rest a bit and get something in them to help them stay awake. 

          The boys continued their camping experiences whenever the opportunity would arise – often going with the scouts.  And so would Roland.  They’d go in the dead of winter – and Roland hates the cold.  I remember enjoying those moments when I would have the house to myself.  I enjoyed that a lot more than camping.