Saturday, October 26, 2013

Finding Thankfulness In An Otherwise Bland But Busy Week

Hello, weekend! How'd you get half way over so quickly? 

Ten Things of Thankful time. Even with a relatively dull, but busy, week, there is always so much for which to be thankful. Little things, folks, remember the little things.

1. My friend Melinda and I drove the 180 miles (each way) to see our daughters play volleyball in West Plains, Missouri. We debated whether we were completely insane to drive so far to watch them play for 30 minutes, but I pointed out that we only have four more years of them at home, doing things like playing volleyball, and off we went. Not. Sorry. I also discovered McDonald's pralines and cream McFlurry and strongly encourage you to try one, too.

2. The trip back afforded us a view of a spectacular sunset. I took pictures with my iphone through a bug-splatted windshield (and no, I wasn't the one driving, just for the record). I already posted one of them for Wordless Wednesday, but here's another shot:

3. I got to do a little horse-sitting this week when the twins in my primary class at preschool wore horse necklaces to school and needed to take them off for movement class, so they didn't get bopped in the nose with a horse. I love my job!

4. I think,THINK, there is some kind of baseball game (or two or seven) going on this week, and I really could not care less about it. 

5. My daughter played her very last game of the volleyball season. It's been a great year for those freshman girls! They ended the year 15-1 in regular play, 22-3 including tournaments. Look how excited one of the coaches was:

(Coach CLAIMS she was re-enacting the story of one of the pitchers in the World Series game the night before calling a ball then standing there as it dropped in front of him, but we all know she was REALLY unable to contain herself that the freshman team was so awesome....)

6. My parents and my husband's parents were all able to come to the last volleyball game. Not that many kids are lucky enough to have two complete sets of grandparents, let alone have them come to their school activities. And guess who didn't think to take a picture of this event?

7. The choral music department held their fall concert the same night as the last volleyball game, so my daughter and one other volleyball player, also a freshman, had to hustle to change into their show choir costumes and do their hair and makeup. We got the grandparents from the gym to the auditorium (all, fortunately, in the same building) without mishap. My daughter's show choir group, New Expressions, is made up of freshmen and sophomores, and they blew away the other three show choir groups that performed. No lie.

8. After the tornado in 2011, the school kids in our district have had to put up with less than ideal conditions in order to go to school. One of our three middle schools was completely destroyed, as were two elementary schools and the high school. The high school students have been divided into two groups, with the 11th and 12th graders attending school in a converted large box store at the mall and the 9th and 10th graders attending at an old school building that was built in 1917 as a high school, and since then, it has been home to a junior high, a middle school, and an alternative school for kids with special needs. The auditorium, where the choir concert was held, is very cramped. The seats are probably from the 1940s. They are wooden and narrow. The sound and light systems pretty much amount to either "on" or "off". The stage is very small. But those kids got up there and acted as though they were at Carnegie Hall. They are resilient, those kids. 

9. The college boy is home for the weekend. And yes, he brought home a mountain of laundry. But guess what? HE WASHED THEM ALL HIMSELF! There is hope for him yet.

10. With the college boy home, we had a family dinner tonight, sitting at the dining room table and everything. My kids are so quick-witted, and we spent much of the time laughing and telling stories. Many subjects were discussed, including some that should NEVER be covered, let alone at a dinner table. But that's just the way we roll.

Now, see all the thumbnails of the other terrific bloggers who have linked up to our TToT? Do yourself a big ol' favor and click on one or all of them. Read their lists. Read the comments that follow, because we do play loose and fast with our comments. And link YOUR TToT entry as well. Ready, set, GO.

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday 10.23

Sunset on I-44, somewhere west of Cabool, Missouri, as taken by my iphone through the windshield (no, I wasn't the one driving, silly).

Monday, October 21, 2013

Let's All Go To The Movies. On Second Thought, Let's Not.

We don't go to the movie theater very often. My family would rather watch movies at home, but Saturday night, my husband and I dropped our daughter off at a birthday party and went to see Gravity 3D. And were we sorry. Want to feel my pain? Here are 12 reasons why I'm never going back to the local movie theater (Hollywood Theaters Northstar 14, if you're ever in the area and are tempted to see a movie. Oh, and did I mention it's the ONLY movie theater in town and the next nearest one is thirty miles away?).

1. My husband complained the whole time about the price ($13.25 per ticket for Gravity 3D), the sticky floors, the broken seats, and that the place smells like feet.

2. The popcorn was not the fluffy pieces of salty goodness you would expect, but instead, were hard little kernels that had barely exploded, and I could practically hear my teeth cracking with each bite.

Itsy, bitsy, teeny, tiny,
 tooth-breaking popcorn.

3. They no longer have Coke products. Did you get that? THEY DO NOT HAVE DIET COKE. 

4. The kid working behind the concession stand had no sense of humor when he asked me what I wanted, and I told him what I WANTED was a Diet Coke.

5. Most of the seats look (and feel) as though a bunch of 10 year olds have been jumping up and down on them. 

6. We were the very first ones in the theater, chose our seats, and began breaking our teeth munching on the popcorn when about ten college-aged kids came in and sat in the row behind us. IN THE ROW BEHIND US. WHEN THE ENTIRE THEATER WAS EMPTY OTHER THAN OUR TWO SEATS.

7. About a dozen other people also chose seats frighteningly near us, making my husband ask if we had become part of a Saturday Night Live skit without knowing it.

8. The girl sitting behind me and immediately to my right put her feet up on the back of the seat next to me, situating them RIGHT NEXT TO MY HEAD. 

9. The girl directly behind me laughed loudly throughout the entire movie. You realize we saw Gravity? And that it is not a comedy?

10. The two men who sat directly in front of us kept a running dialogue of commentary throughout the entire movie.

You must have really good eyes or a magnifying glass to see my little captions on here,
but it took me nearly an hour to do this (and that doesn't include the twenty minutes
it took me to find it on the computer after I saved it) so would you humor me
and take a closer look? Thank you.

11. This has nothing to do with the deplorable state of the theater, but I did find it entirely implausible that Sandra Bullock's character could pull out a manual and press a few random buttons and ignite the engine of a space capsule and launch it into space. But when I mentioned this, my husband said I needed to suspend reality and JUST ENJOY THE MOVIE AND THIS IS ANOTHER REASON WHY I DON'T TAKE YOU TO THE MOVIE THEATER.

12. The bathrooms are nasty, and only one hand dryer works. And there are several bathrooms in the building. And only one hand dryer EVER works in every. single. bathroom. What's more, it's usually the wheelchair-accessible one, so you have to bend over to dry your hands.

After prying our sticky feet off the floor and leaving the theater, we vowed that THAT WAS IT. 

But guess who got the last laugh?

That's right. I kept my 3D glasses. So there. Hah!

Friday, October 18, 2013

It's Better To Carry A Tune Than A Grudge*

It's a chilly, rainy night in the Ozarks. Unseasonably chilly. So unseasonably chilly that I broke down and put the electric mattress pad on the bed this evening, because I like to froze last night. That will lead me to my Ten Things of Thankful rather nicely, won't it? 

1. Electric mattress pads. I turn it on before I brush my teeth and wash my face and see to the rest of my evening toilette, and then I have a toasty warm place to put my tootsies when I climb into bed.

2. Electric mattress pads with dual controls, because my husband HATES having the mattress pad turned on on his side, although when he has cold feet, he sticks them on my side of the bed (and I kick them right back to his side).

3. Ever heard of a three dog night? Thursday night was a two cat night, thanks to the inviting fuzzy blanket I added on top of the covers. It worked; I was warm, but I also couldn't move all night.

The sliver that remains of what was once
 my side of the bed. 

4. I had help making the bed today when I put on the electric mattress pad. How do people who don't own cats put sheets on their beds? Who helps them?

5. This week was "F" week in pre-k. We talked about words that started with "F" during circle time. You know, fossils. Feet. Finger. Firetruck. We were walking down the hall to music class when one of the boys said, "Miss Dyanne, 'fart' starts with 'F'!" It proves he's listening and learning, but I must say, I am a little worried about "P" week....

6. It was also Fire Safety week at preschool. We had a visit from the fire department, which was really cool. The crew who came on the day I teach the primary class was the same crew that came last year and dressed me up in their firefighting gear. Wouldn't you know that they remembered me and asked if I would do it again this year? I was much more prepared for it this year and didn't think I was going to die while trying to breathe with the face mask on, although I might have did drool a little bit, maybe.

If Firefighter Justice weren't so cute,
I don't think I could be talked into this....

7. We had planned to attend the last home football game tonight, so with the rain pounding down outside tonight, I am reminded that I am so thankful my daughter plays an indoor sport, because those football player families are huddled under umbrellas and rain ponchos and are, I'm sure, quite miserable right about now.

8. I decorated the house for fall, and it makes me happy. 

9. Thursday night was Pink Out night at the home volleyball game. The freshman team surprised me by each presenting me with a pink carnation with a note attached telling how I had been an inspiration. It was very touching.

10. And sweet Lizzi made good on her word that she was going to run a 5k and raise money for cancer research! She reached her fundraising goal (and then some) and ran the race in a respectable 32 minutes and 15 seconds.

*The title has nothing to do with the post, as you have probably noticed by now. It was just a line from an episode of Modern Family that was airing while I was writing this, and I thought it was worth noting. And yes, Cam is the one who said it. Who else?

 This is a link up. Write your ten things and link them up. Hear me?

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Monday, October 14, 2013

Be Aware, The Encore

This was originally published October 2, 2012. The message is still timely. Read up, yo.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

It's October, and that means Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Pink ribbons, pink bagels, pink hair extensions, pink socks on football players, all designed to make us more aware of breast cancer.

I guess because I have been so very vigilant about self-examinations and mammograms myself, I have trouble believing that there are women out there who are really not aware of the very real risk of developing breast cancer.


A recent study sponsored by Medco Health Solutions Inc. found that half of U.S. women over the age of 40 fail to get an annual mammogram. Over 200,000 U.S. women are diagnosed each year with invasive breast cancer, and nearly 40,000 women will die this year from the disease. According to the American Cancer Society, the chances of a woman having invasive breast cancer at some time in her life are 1 in 8. Her chance of dying from it is 1 in 36. It is the second most common cancer among women, after skin cancer (insert sunscreen speech here), and is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer (insert quit smoking speech here).

Yes, I brag about my awesome new boobies, but ladies, seriously, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING? It's no way to get a boob job.

Perform monthly self-examinations. Be familiar with your grrrls so you can recognize any changes in them (I found my "jellybean" through self-examination and knew it wasn't like even the worst fibrocystic tissue I had). 

GET YOUR ANNUAL MAMMOGRAM! No excuses. I don't care if you say it hurts when your boobies get smashed between two steel plates. Mastectomy and lumpectomy surgeries and the subsequent treatments hurt far worse. Put on your big girl panties (pink ones, of course) and deal with it.

That is all.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pumpkins And More - Ten Things of Thankful

Didn't we just DO TToT, like, yesterday? Has a week already gone by? No matter, here's what I'm thankful for this week:

1. Last week, I thought it was Thursday on two different days that were most assuredly NOT Thursday. Then it really WAS Thursday, so I had three Thursdays in one week. THIS week, what I thought was Friday was actually Saturday. So, I skipped a day in there somewhere and got to the weekend a day earlier than I thought.

2. Comfort food! The college boy is home for his fall break, and Friday night, I made vegetable beef soup, hot rolls, and chocolate cherry cake. And we all sat down at the table and ate together. Heavenly, all of it.

3. When baking the cake, I was reminded of another story about my grandma. She worked in the store with my grandpa, and after he passed away and my dad took over, she continued to work there until she was at least 70. When an employee had a birthday, she would bake a cake and bring it to the store, and more times than not, it was requested that she make her chocolate cherry cake. It became her signature cake, known as "THE birthday cake" at the store.  No one knew how she made it, but they all knew it was delicious. My mother finally asked my grandma for the secret recipe, and then passed the recipe on to me. Then one day, while using a chocolate cake mix, I picked up the empty box and glanced down at a recipe that was printed on the side of the box. It was for chocolate cherry cake. Exact same recipe. In fact, it was a Pillsbury Bake-Off winner from 1974. All this time, everyone thought my grandma's birthday cake recipe was something mysterious, and it turns out it was under everyone's noses the whole time. So my mom asked her where she got the chocolate cherry birthday cake recipe, and she said, "Oh, that? I found it on the side of a box of cake mix." 

Grandma's Super Secret* Chocolate Cherry Birthday Cake:

1 (18.25 oz.) chocolate cake mix
1 (21 oz.) can cherry pie filling
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp. almond extract
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 27-32 minutes.


5 T. margarine or butter
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. milk
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt margarine in small sauce pan over medium heat. Add sugar and milk and combine well. Bring mixture to a full boil and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips, stirring until melted and smooth. Pour over warm cake.

*yeah, not so much

4. Two successful trips to the pumpkin patch with my two different preschool classes. No one cried, wet their pants, or threw up. If that's not a sign of a successful field trip, I don't know what is!

Farmer Tami telling us about pumpkins
at Fredrickson Farms

Best Pumpkin Patch in the history of ever.

85 pounds of pumpkin. Not much
more than that of Tami.

My precious pumpkins, listening intently.

5. While we were at the pumpkin patch, a reporter from the local NBC affiliate was there to do a story about it. I tried to evade the camera but got caught a few times. I feared the only part of me that would be in the shot would be my butt, but it never was (yeehaw!). You can catch a glimpse of me on the hayride at the beginning and at the end of the clip, and a quick smidge of me inside the barn. (There was some footage of another group of little kids [appears to be a daycare] taking a hayride as well, not to be confused with our group of far superior children.)

6. My friend Allison had an appointment for her first-ever mammogram. She was completely freaked out slightly apprehensive about it, so I went along for moral support. I told her what to expect (completely forgetting about the bb's that the technician sticks on your nipples to mark them - surprise, Alli!), didn't make fun of her for having her gown on inside out until after the whole thing was over, and was even allowed to be in the room with her for the procedure. Favorite quote from the whole thing: As the technician was helping her get into the correct position, Allison asked her, "What do you do with girls who don't have much? At least I have something to flop up there!"

VERY early morning appointment. We are not wearing
make-up. We are a little sleepy and a lot daffy.

7. My friend Lizzi helped me embed the video for #5. How cool is it that someone over 4,000 miles away can help me with a blog issue? There were some little bits of code before and after the video that refused to go away, so I plain ol' deleted them, and hopefully, nothing will go awry because of it. 

8. Finally got my fall decorations out of the attic. THIS IS NO EASY FEAT. Our house has a large (meaning huge) master bedroom and bathroom addition over the first floor family room that was done by the previous owners. Above it is a very nice attic space. It has lights and a floor and is perfect for storage, except for one small problem. Except for one huge problem. The only opening to the attic is in the ceiling of my closet. It is an opening about 3' x 2' . There is no "pull down" ladder. The only way to get up there is to drag the 8 ft extension ladder up two flights of stairs from the basement, move all the shoes out of my closet floor, and send someone up who can (a) fit through a 3' x 2' opening, (b) is not afraid of heights, (c) is strong enough to carry the tubs of fall (and/or Christmas) decorations to the opening and lower them down to someone standing on the ladder, below, and (d) is smart enough not to whack their 6'3" self on the 5'6" ceiling. College Boy scores a three out of four.

9. We are going to visit my parents this evening and go to dinner with them in the teeny, tiny town of Hume, population 336. More to come on this Thing of Thankful!

10. Last weekend was the Homecoming Dance, and as promised, pictures!

My daughter and her date.

Them again.

The whole group who went together, minus
the one boy who was running late.

Happy weekend, y'all! Link up with us, below.

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

It Started In The Tire Store: How A Smell Brought Back A Flood Of Memories

I don't know how YOU are spending a sunny, gorgeous, October afternoon, but I'm spending it sitting in the waiting room of the tire store, waiting for two new tires to be installed on my car. BEAT THAT!

Fox News is playing on the television in the corner, with no remote in sight. My ears are beginning to bleed.

The smell of the inside of the tire store reminds me of my dad's farm supply store, which he closed two years ago (sniff sniff). When I was a little girl, and the store belonged to my grandpa, he sold tires. And we're talking farm tires, here. Tractor tires. Truck tires. And they were stored against a wall in the back of the store, lined up into a tunnel. See where I'm going here? A TUNNEL. Perfect for crawling through, completely black inside. And when you came out of the other end of the tunnel, your hands and knees and pretty much every other part of your clothing and exposed skin were black as well. Good times! My mom LOVED it when we visited the store.

Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle David, ca. 1972

We (my brother, my adopted uncle who was [well, still is] the same age as me, sometimes my cousins Greg and Cynthia) also used to take turns pushing each other on two-wheelers (or dollies, or handtrucks, or whatever you choose to call them in your neck of the woods) up and down the aisles at break-neck speeds.

Think heavier and more

Did I mention that we did all these shenanigans on a Sunday afternoon when the store was closed? No customers were ever at risk. But every time we went to visit my grandparents (it was about a two-hour drive from our home and always on a Sunday, since that was the only day of the week my grandparents weren't working), we insisted on a trip to "the store." 

This is Snoopy. I love him still.
Besides farm supplies and hardware, my grandpa had a smattering of toys for sale, mostly around Christmas. One year, after opening gifts at their house, my grandpa took us to the store and told us we could each pick out a toy. My cousin Cynthia picked out a stuffed dog that had long, luxurious fur and came with a little brush for grooming. It was DARLING, and I wanted one just like it. Alas, it was the only one, and I was inconsolable. There was another stuffed dog there, a basset hound-ish dog with sad eyes, that my dad tried to convince me was JUST AS GOOD as the one Cynthia snatched from my hands beat me to fair and square, but I wasn't having it. After what I'm SURE was not any kind of over-reaction on my part, I sullenly took the stupid stuffed hound dog.  On our way home that evening, the ugly dog was on the car seat between me and my brother. It looked at me with its sad, hound dog eyes. I ignored it. My mother told me to quit pouting or she'd give me something to pout about. My brother said, "If she doesn't want it, can I have it?" That was it. I pulled the dog onto my lap. He was squeezably soft. If I picked him up and hugged him, his chin went over my shoulder and his legs hugged me back. And his name is Snoopy and he's in my cedar chest right now and he lived on my bed for many, many years, even accompanying me to get my tonsils out (read about that fiasco here) and I-told-you-so's are NOT NECESSARY.

Baby Small Talk
Had. To. Have. Her.
The next Christmas, we again got to pick out a toy at "the store," only I specifically remember being given the parameter that it was $5 or less (hey, it was 1968, and that was a LOT of money, you young whippersnappers reading this). I wanted a Mattel Baby Small Talk that was on the shelf, but it was more than $5. I was (believe it or not) devastated. But my Grandpa, who was not your stereotypical grandfather but was, nonetheless, generous, told me that if I would pick up the dried corn that someone had spilled onto the doormat in front of the doorway, it would earn me the doll. I don't think there was more than 50 pieces of corn on that mat, but I picked them all up and got the doll. A happy girl was I!

Grandpa also had a rack with snacks on it. We always got to pick something, and I chose the individual sized bag of pink wintergreen candies. They were sugary and melted in your mouth. I buy them now occasionally and expect the same from them and am always disappointed. There was always a big urn of coffee on a table at the front of the store, along with a container of non-dairy creamer and a box of sugar cubes. Guess who ate the sugar cubes? They're very crunchy. When my dad took over the store in 1979, he eventually phased out the coffee (and the doughnuts that were brought in every morning) because of the mess (and the fact that the employees ended up consuming most of the doughnuts). But before he did away with the coffee, my dad, the non-coffee drinker, once put milk replacer in the non-dairy creamer container and quite enjoyed himself watching customers stir it into their coffee, wondering why the coffee wasn't changing color the way it usually did with the creamer. My dad, always the practical joker.

And while this has NOTHING to do with the store, my grandparents lived on farmland 5 miles north of town. While they didn't farm any of it, it still had a barn, a chicken house, a few other outbuildings, a pond, and an apple orchard.  My grandma had the use of an old apple press, and every fall she would make the most delicious apple juice ever. It was somewhat viscous, had a full-bodied apple flavor, and if you drank too much at one time, it worked as a laxative with rather immediate results. My grandma saved plastic milk jugs all year, then filled them with the juice and put them in her deep freeze (which, incidentally, was big enough to hold a body, not that anyone tried that I know of) to enjoy all year. She usually did this by herself, but one year, my mom and my Aunt Mary Anne got roped into helping her. The cider press was by the edge of the orchard, and after the apples were gathered, the pressing began. My mom and aunt, armed with kitchen knives, began carefully cutting out worms, rotten spots, seeds and stems before tossing the apple pieces into the press. But when my grandma saw what they were doing, she said, "Don't bother with that! Just throw them in, like this." And she chucked apples, worms, seeds, brown rot, and all, into the hopper and pressed the juice out. And maybe this explains the viscosity. And the laxative effect. And the deliciousness.

Car's done. Time to go kiss $300 away. Taking one more deep breath of tire smell, the smell that immediately carries me back to a little farm supply store that is no more.

Your Best Buys in Farm Supplies.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Where In The World Is Syphylissa?

Earlier this summer, my bloggy friend Lizzi at Considerings posted a photo of a HIDEOUS doll her husby purchased (a USED doll - let THAT wash over you, all you moms out there) for her niece while at a fair. Horrified at the condition of the doll and what germs she might harbor, Lizzi named the doll "Syphylissa" and slipped it away from her niece's possession at her earliest opportunity.
This is Lizzi's picture from her blog.
Don't you love that chubby little arm
around Syph's neck?

A few days later, Syphylissa was caught and photographed looking at doll porn on Lizzi's laptop, and an idea was born, thanks in part to my friend Amy at Banana Wheels and her inspiring photographs of Creepy Baby. First came the pictures of Syph doing some pretty naughty things. Really naughty things. Then the BRILLIANT idea was hatched that Syph visit some of Lizzi's blogger friends around the world.

Problem: Syph is no lightweight. Shipping her from the U.K. to the U.S. was going to be pricey (because, like all babies, her head is heavier than the rest of her). Back to the drawing board, and the Master Minds of Lizzi and Dyanne came up with a take on Flat Stanley (a rather perverted Flat Stanley, mind you). And a few weeks ago, Syph made a trans-Atlantic trip to Joplin, Missouri.

Let Syph's U.S. adventure begin!

She attended her first volleyball game. She was a good spectator, cheering on the Freshman team, celebrating their win with the coach.

Old habits are hard to break, and the minute I let her out of my sight, that little minx was into trouble. In the boys bathroom, reading "Toilet Talk" while she was there. She disappeared upstairs into the weight room, where the trainer and the weights coach were hiding having a meeting.

She tried to break into the fire extinguisher case and pull the fire alarm, but fortunately, she was thwarted by having cardboard arms. That didn't stop her from climbing into the popcorn maker.

After promising me she would be on her VERY BEST behavior (mhm) , I let her go to preschool with me. She was very sweet to an amputee bear who was visiting with his preschooler for Teddy Bear Picnic day. Very Clara Barton of her, don't you think? She did end up spending a few minutes in the Sad Chair after being caught in the baptismal font, doing the backstroke. Then she tried to redeem herself with a few verses of "In The Garden" before I took her home for a nap before the football game that evening.

As evening rolled around, it was time to head to Junge Stadium to watch the Eagles play against the Hillcrest Hornets. Syph enjoyed the marching band playing at half-time. 

And she did love watching the game under the lights. All was fine until after the game (which our team won, by the way), when I caught her trying to pick up a football player. He humored her, posing for a picture, before breaking it to her that he was too old for her.

Facing the end of her visit, Syph accompanied me to the oncologist's office, and, naturally, was unable to resist playing with the equipment. She also stopped by the high school's 11/12 center, which has been located in a former store in the mall since the 2011 tornado destroyed the high school. She was suitably impressed with it. Then a quick stop at Walmart, where I stopped her before she shoplifted some condoms.

Sadly, her visit has had to come to an end. Where will she end up next? All I can say is, be very careful when you answer your door open the mail. 

Bye, Syph. Things won't be the same without you.