Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Man Flu

I learned a new term yesterday from my British friend, Christine – Man Flu.

Man Flu is an interesting malady that I'm sure, though you may have been unaware of the terminology, has affected one or more of the men in your life.

The only way I can describe it is to reference my personal experiences with the debilitating disease and explain it in ways most women will understand.

Picture Mom. She takes care of two children every day, goes to work, comes home to clean the house, make dinner, bathe the children, take care of the laundry, and go grocery shopping.

Though it seldom happens, one day Mom gets the flu. She has a fever, is vomiting, and races to the bathroom for bouts of diarrhea, but she continues to go to work, to clean the house, to take care of the laundry, to go grocery shopping, and to take care of the kids while Daddy reclines on the couch watching football. He shouts commands at Mommy from the living room – what's for dinner – can you get me a beer – I can't reach the remote that I dropped – can you pick it up for me.

Now picture Dad. The poor man has the sniffles. Incapable of making it into work, he drags his slumped shoulders from his bed and complains about how his whole body feels as if it has been run over by a truck. As if you can't see it by his droopy eyes, a look he has perfected over the years, he is completely exhausted.

All the poor suffering man can do is grab the Wii remote and play numerous games on one television while racing back to finish the taped football game on the other television at the other end of the house and request you to bring his coffee, make his breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and prepare plates filled with snacks.

Throughout the day he will take numerous naps and inquire about medicines he should be taking, all the while asking you to feel his head for fever.

That, my friends, is Man Flu.

Disclaimer – I have several male friends I cherish. Not all men suffer from this affliction. But many of the men I've known throughout the years serve as textbook examples of this, um, sickness.

P.S. Have you read my Dating Advice from My Mother blog? Or my Road Trips in the Flintstonefossilmobile? If not check them out.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Road Trips in the Flintstonefossilmobile

I have no memory of what type of car Mom drove to get us around when my sisters and I were young and my dad was working. I think it was a Ford. I do remember the dread we felt when we got into it though.

I refer to it as the Flintstonefossilmobile because it had a hole in floor of the back seat, and we could pretend we were driving the car with our feet just like Fred Flintstone used to do.

All three of us were embarrassed to be seen in it, and we definitely didn't want any attention drawn to us, but with a muffler that sounded like a Harley on acid, we were doomed to grab the attention of anybody within a twelve block radius.

And we did. EVERYBODY turned around to identify the sonic boom that shook the ground as we paraded down the street, and all three sisters crouched down in the back seat to hide from the leerers.

Despite our attempts to hide, though, Mom had a magical way of drawing even more unwanted attention our way. One day, as she was driving us to school, a spider dropped from the roof to align with her eyes. We didn't know about the spider when the car veered toward the curb, because the spider wiped out Mom's ability to speak, but we knew we were scared.

"Mom, you're getting close to the curb!" I'm sure the spider was taunting her at this point, but, as I said, we were unaware of its presence. Mom didn't want to touch the spider and the only thing she could do was pray that it went back up its web. It didn't.

"Mom, STOP! You're on the curb!" It hung in front of her, probably thinking (do spiders have brains), "Hmmm I see you have your children in the back seat. Let's see if we can cause this old jalopy to crash like a tin can." Her eyes widened as she thought about how to get rid of the hanging spider, totally oblivious to the fact that she WAS DRIVING.

After she clunked over the curb, we called out, "Mom, you're on the grass now! Slow down!" We saw the front steps of the house directly in our path become an obvious target. Closer and closer to our car it appeared. Mom, however, heavy leaden (though microscopically small) foot on the accelerator, saw only the spider.

By this time, maniacal children were screaming all around us. Oh, wait…that was the three of us. MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMM!

She stopped just short of the steps, quickly threw the car in park, and ran out of the car, leaving the three of us in the early stages of a heart attack.

Yes, driving with my family has always been interesting. And occasionally, for one reason or another, my parents have been known to abandon the car in a hurry and leave at least one of us inside.

On a trip through the Arizona desert, for instance, WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING in the MIDDLE OF AUGUST a wasp flew into the car. My sister, Cindy, a sound sleeper, had fallen asleep and didn't hear my mom scream, "GET OUT OF THE CAR. RIGHT NOW!!" So the rest of us jumped out of the car and waited for the wasp to stop crawling on her.

I still remember the look on her face when she awoke to see all of us staring at her from outside the car and hearing my parents tell her, "Don't move!"

Those words haunt me. We were on a trip to a place in Michigan that I think was called Smallbones Resort. It was located somewhere around the Three Sisters Lake. The resort no longer exists, from what I hear, but when we were kids we made several trips there with cousins, aunts, and uncles.

On the "Don't move!" day, when I was around thirteen years old, a wasp landed on my shoulder. Mom went into a frenzy. "DON'T MOVE!" she commanded me. We had recently been told that I was highly allergic to bee stings and that if one stung me three times I would die. I stood like a tin soldier.

Mom and Dad stood in front of me watching the wasp wander across my shoulder. I trembled with fear. My father grabbed a rolled up newspaper and my parents argued about whether or not to swat it.

Dad raised the newspaper.

"NO! Don't. It might sting her."

"But if I don't, it might sting her anyway."

"Stand completely still. DON'T MOVE!"

He raised the newspaper again. I squinted my eyes waiting for the assault, either from the newspaper or the wasp.

"NO! Don't. It might sting her."

"But if I don't, it might sting her anyway."

"Stand completely still. DON'T MOVE!"

He tried again. I thought I was going to pass out.

"NO! Don't. It might sting her."

"But if I don't, it might sting her anyway."

"Stand completely still. DON'T MOVE!"

Repeat numerous times, and each time, picture the bee crawling further up my neck.

Eventually, with one swift movement, my father slammed the newspaper into my neck and killed the wasp. I think my nervous system became permanently damaged that day, and years of bug panic contributed to a lifelong morbid fear of anything crawling or flying.

It might not surprise you to learn that we all suffered from bugphobia (it's a term used only for my family, so perhaps you've never heard of it). For most of our lives, especially when it concerned bees, wasps, and spiders, we lived in fear of anything that we perceived to be harmful.

And that included tiny little insect-sized humans who drove fossil cars, like my mother.

(image from http://i-love-cartoons.com/snags/clipart/Hanna-Barbera/Fred-Flintstone-Barney-Rubble-Car.php)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Feminine Products in a Bachelor Pad

What's the difference between a Sanitary Pad and a Bachelor Pad?

(raising hand and shaking it vigorously) OOH! I know! I know!

But I might never have made the connection if it hadn't been for – oh, here we go again – sorry – I CANNOT mention her name, but you might remember her from a previous post. (Click the link if you want to read about another one of Beebeeshababa's adventures.)

Yes, folks, Beebeeshababa has given me reason to blog about her AGAIN.

She is dating a divorced father of a 2-year old daughter. We'll call him Vgfoatyo (acronym for very good father of a two year old). I have not as yet met this man, but he sounds like somebody I would like – well, except for one small detail – read on.

Unfortunately, like most men dating women, Vgfoatyo is totally unprepared for a woman's monthly visitor, so when Vgfoatyo left for work in the morning and Beebeeshababa was getting ready to leave for her job, Beebeeshababa woke up with her period and a house void of sanitary supplies.

She probably could have removed his roll of toilet paper and stuck that between her legs, but that would have left him with nothing, and what if he had to come home from work and well, you know, poop? Not a good idea.

Besides, walking around with a roll of toilet paper wedged between her legs would be uncomfortable and it would have shown through her pants.

She could have used folded paper towels, but unless she had tape to hold them in place, they might have crawled out of her pants, rising slowly up her back with every step she took, and how disgusting would that have been?

So she had to come up with an alternative.

Running around in a frantic search for anything that looked remotely similar to a sanitary pad but unable to find anything, she paused for a brief moment when she discovered something that just might work, Vgfoatyo's daughter's Pull-Ups.

Would it be at all possible to fit into them? she wondered.

Before I go any further, I must explain to you that Beebeeshababa is very much like my mother (oh, no, did I somehow manage to maybe hint at her identity) – microscopically small. You could probably pick her up with one hand and place her in your pocket, so yes, the Pull-Ups found their way up her skinny little legs and over her tiny hips.

For the first time in 20+ years, Beebeeshababa could parade around her boyfriend's home wearing a diaper. Not that she had a boyfriend 20+ years ago, but imagining her wearing a diaper is kind of disturbing.

All kinds of images swarm my brain. She had to drive home to change her diaper (that cracks me up just thinking about it). But what if she had gotten pulled over for a broken TAIL light (again, cracking myself up here) or somebody BUTT into her (will this ever END)?

But really, how hard is it for a man to equip his home with NECESSITIES? How pathetic is it for a woman to have to search for a substitute for sanitary napkins when the guy could be a sweetie and provide them? Is it too much to ask to keep sanitary supplies in a man's cabinet for us?

So here's to the men reading this blog – if you have a woman in your life, do her a favor, will you? Keep some sanitary supplies in your bathroom. And if you're not comfortable with sanitary supplies, keep some Pull-Ups or even large diapers on hand – something.

So what's the difference between sanitary pads and bachelor pads? Isn't it obvious? Bachelor pads can be sanitary, but sanitary pads can't be bachelors.

Oh, come on, people. It's just a blog.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The McDonald's Police

When my three oldest grandchildren were young, my daughter occasionally brought them to McDonald's to eat. Going out was a treat for them, because they seldom had money for anything. But they were kids, and kids play hard and loud.

Kids are also filled with so much energy, parents find it difficult to settle them down for any length of time – especially when they go someplace fun.

But Keeley, my daughter, wanted them to have memorable experiences, so she found inexpensive places for them to go. She also wanted them to behave, and she didn't want to have to chase them around, so she devised a plan that worked very well.

On one of her visits, she invited me to accompany Amanda, 6, Sarah, 5, Travis, 1, and her to a local McDonald's.

We sat down and it wasn't long before I noticed how well-behaved they were. I couldn't help but comment about how like little angels they were acting, and I wondered what magic she performed to keep them securely in their seats with no bouncing, crying, jumping, leaving their seats, or anything.

They were the picture of perfection, children who other parents of rambunctious, out-of-control kids would sigh and say, "I wish my kids acted that way."

I was so proud of them and her for her superb mothering skills.

Until she told me about her warning – that if they didn't behave and eat all of their food, the McDonald's police, who were watching them from cameras on the ceiling, would rush out, grab their Happy Meals, take the Happy Meals away, and make them leave McDonald's and never come back.

Thanks to Kelly, who has an online business degree and has supported this blog.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Prevent Car Accidents with the Bubble Rubber Bumper Buggy

If you believe that we hold within ourselves all of the answers to life's mysteries, I invite you to delve into the mind of my daughter, Lindsey, who has come up with a remedy to one of life's problems – a way to prevent car crashes.

Of every possible solution to the problem of auto crash prevention, I think she has come up with one of the most innovative and obvious answers to the problem – bumper cars.

I'm not talking about the supposedly street-legal bumper cars (yes they have them and you can find them at jalopnik.com) – I'm talking about old fashioned bumper cars – the fun crash-into-other-cars vehicles. But maybe a little bigger and maybe with an engine that runs on air. Oh, and with air conditioning and heat too.

After examining all of the positive aspects of using bumper cars, the only downside I can see is shopping, especially regarding food shopping – so I'm hoping somebody will construct a see-through bubble bumper top over the bumper car to prevent groceries from becoming tossed salads prior to getting home.

Imagine how different our lives would be without auto accidents! Daily commutes would be fun. We could exercise our stress release mechanism by crashing into the guy next to us over and over and over again until we've released pent-up stress from days, weeks, months, and even years before as we bang ourselves into a stress-free existence.

I can even see the commercial for it...

Announcer: The best stress relief program on the planet – bump your way to a stress-free commute with the Bubble Rubber Bumper Buggy (do not confuse with rubber baby buggy bumpers)!

Imagine driving your very own bumper car. Spin around in circles and bounce off the walls as you maneuver your way through traffic. Wheeee... Doesn't that sound like fun?

With bumper cars, we could actually enjoy what used to be mind-numbing exercises in patience. Remember when we sat in hour-long traffic jams, slamming our fists into our horns and cursing out stupid drivers who cut us off? Now we can use our cell phones without having to worry about causing crashes, because the whole point of riding in bumper cars is to crash into other vehicles without causing accidents.

And riding bumper cars would challenge us to make it into work before the boss got there. We could make a game out of it. Of course, lots of bosses never make it into work in the first place, because they're playing golf, so this game might be unnecessary. But it would be fun to try.

Or, we could stay on the road and work from our laptops.

Another benefit is the exercise we would gain as we stretched our muscles in an attempt to remain in our seats – much like that of people who use the Hawaiian chair shown on the Ellen Degeneres Show. (If you haven't seen it yet, watch the clip – you'll have to watch a commercial first, but it's worth it.)

Of course, construction workers would need to place bumper guards on the sides of the roads, but they would be safe, because bumper pads would surround their construction sites.

Naturally we would have to allow for police, fire, and medical vehicles, so we would have to construct special roads for them, possibly elevated above the bumpercar roads, allowing quick access to hospitals and government offices. But what's another couple of millions of dollars in taxes?

Two other problems Lindsey didn't yet address – getting to the airport on time and truckers jackknifing around us.

With the exception of those two problems, I think bumper cars are a great idea. Maybe, before actually purchasing them, we could use our existing vehicles by attaching different colors of bubbled rubber to the sides, front, and backs, colors like pineapple, peach, banana, caramel, chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla (I must be hungry – sorry).

I will leave you now to enjoy something edible as I ponder the solutions to the problems raised in this blog.

Disclaimer: my daughter and I come from a long line of inventive imaginative minds, the brains of which are sitting in examination jars held by scientists trying to research the link between creativity and delirium.

(Bumper car was borrowed from wikimedia.)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Because of YOU (my friends and family members)

Going through cancer is a journey I am traveling, but I am not traveling alone. Along with me for the ride are family and friends who offer me so much comfort, that even though exhaustion is my constant companion, the pain of needles is barely detectable.

Recently Associated Content had a call out for articles on things to be grateful for in 2009. When I thought about all the people who have rallied in support of me during my bout with cancer, I couldn't help but put in my entry, Thankful for Cancer – Thankful for You.

If you have journeyed with me through cancer, and even if you haven't, I invite you to read the article. That whole "blessing in disguise" comment is true. Cancer truly has been a blessing for me, because of the number of people praying for my recovery. What else explains a 4 cm. wide tumor shrinking to almost nothing in less than 3 weeks?

So what do you have to be thankful for?

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Philosophical Granddaughter

Young children ask questions. Parents and grandparents are supposed to answer them. For most of my life I have had to figure out ways to answer multitudes of questions asked by numerous inquiring minds from my children to my grandchildren to the children for whom I have provided care. Unfortunately, I sometimes have no answers.

I am ashamed of myself. How have I slid through life without knowing universal answers to philosophical questions?

In my attempt to answer these difficult questions, I try logic, memory, fantasy, and creativity, and when none of that works, I pray for miracles. Most of the time I jump online when I have to look for answers to simple questions like why bees buzz and how cotton becomes fabric. But the bigger questions leave me stumped.

I'm never prepared for the kinds of question for which no books or Internet sites provide answers. Just the other day my granddaughter Audrey, who turned 5 at the end of October, asked, "God made everything, so who made God?"

Words like "always was, always is, and always will be" didn't pop into my head. My brain, like Elvis, left the building as I searched in vain for a reasonable explanation.

Having never thought about asking that question myself, I hadn't a clue about how to answer it. The only thing I could think of that might appease Audrey was to tell her that since God made everything, God made Him (or Her) self, which implies of course, that He already existed if he had the tools to create Himself. But I knew that if I gave the response that God made Himself, Audrey would ask me how He made Himself, and I would be stumped again.

But I said it anyway. Quickly. Well, Audrey, since God made everything, I guess He made himself (and then – in my head – I said, please don't ask me to explain myself). Fortunately she didn't ask any more questions that I was unable to answer (she must be psychic), and I breathed a sigh of relief. But she frequently comes up with philosophical questions that leave me to wonder why I feel so inadequate when it comes to the big questions.

I should have been able to answer the God question long before Audrey asked it. So why didn't I ask it of myself years ago? If I had, I would already know the answer, right?

If life is eternal, and God made humans, what was He doing before He created us? Of course I'm thinking God would get bored in a universe filled with nothing but God. Then again, if God is everything, God is enough.

But we're talking about infinity and forever, or, as Buzz Lightyear might say, infinity and beyond. God is Spirit. Bodies are probably playthings to God, created to amuse Him as he watched our human antics and the foibles we made with the "gift" he gave us – free will.

As He portioned Himself out into millions of little beings, should He have known we'd get all caught up in being human to a point where we would forget we were spiritual beings inhabiting a body?

And I answer myself by saying, yes He should have known, because He is God.

But now I'm afraid Audrey will stop thinking of me as the all-knowing Grandma if she continues to ask questions for which I have no answers. What kinds of questions will she come up with later? How will I answer her (or any of my other grandchildren who think deeply about issues I can't explain)?

Does anybody know if Barnes and Noble carries a Grandmothers' Answers to Philosophical Questions For Dummies book? I think I'm going to need one.

By the way, had I Googled, "Who made God," I would have found some reasonable answers, so I guess I was wrong about looking up philosophical questions on the Internet. Answer abound everywhere about everything. God truly is everywhere.

Photo shows four of my grandchildren – Kaden, Audrey, Nolan (Audrey's brother), and Zac (Kaden's brother).

Monday, November 2, 2009

Me With Hair (I look like my mommy)

If you read My Bravest Blog Yet, you got the chance to see what I look like bald. Here is what I look like with a wig. Note the comparison between my mother and myself.

You'll have to excuse my pallor. Even though I slathered makeup on my eyes, I still look sickly – my mom doesn't. And that's how you can tell us apart. She's the healthy one. I couldn't even smile because of the sores in my mouth due to the chemo, so realize I'm just as happy as my mother. I just can't show it here.

My mom has maybe four gray hairs on her entire head. I now have none (hear that, Mom? none). The reason I know how many gray hairs my mother has is because I tower over this petite microscopic woman who stands at 5'2" and weighs approximately 8 pounds. I generally carry her around in my pocket and I frequently look down at the top of her head as I pet her.

OK, I'll stop. She's not that small, but I can pick her up with one hand wrapped around her waist and place her on my counter. She's a lot like The Incredible Shrinking Woman, played by Lily Tomlin several years ago. My sisters and I fear for her safety every time she goes into the bathroom. We'd hate to see her slip down the drain.

I promised to stop, and so I will. I just wanted to update everybody and let them see that I can look slightly human again.

Before I go, I'd like to give an update on my respiratory infection – I still have it, but my chest doesn't feel as tight today as it did yesterday. Soon I hope to be able to talk without coughing up a lung.

And now for a reenactment of Lily Tomlin's Edith Ann – spiiiiiiiiiiiiiit! And that's the truth.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Help for the Auto Repair Challenged!

The CHECK ENGINE light – how man times has your car sent you that message? What does it mean? And what do you do about it?

What – you think I know? Silly reader. I don't know. But I know somebody (or some place) that does. The fact that it is located more miles away from me than I would care to drive but that it's also on the Internet makes it easy to get to. Houston Auto Repair is now my Repair Pal.

Before I go any further, let me explain to you what I know about cars: they provide transportation from point A to point B. I hate stereotypes, but I can't deny my complete lack of knowledge when it comes to cars and car repairs. I know NOTHING about cars.

In my defense, I've met guys who knew nothing about cars, too. Like the guy who told me that the problem with one of my cars was its Cadillac converter. And I thought, WOW, I didn't know it had that function. Silly guy. He was trying to impress me and even I knew he was talking about the catalytic converter. But that's it. I know my car has an engine, because I have had to replace those amazingly expensive parts not once, but TWICE. And I know about transmissions, because I have had to replace that extraordinarily expensive item once.

But let's go waaaay back to my first car. It blew. Completely. I was a teenager who knew less about cars then than I do now. And what did my father say? "When's the last time you put oil into it?"

"Oil? You have to put oil into it?" Apparently there are some things my father thought I was born knowing. The car maintenance gene, however, did not get transferred to me.

Having said that, I do know some things, and what I don't know, I usually depend on the experience of service techs to teach me when I take my car in for repairs and oil changes. Which makes me an easy target.

BUT I am smart, and I love to research, and, thanks to my love for research, I now have access to LOTS of technical support via my Repair Pal!

What's a Repair Pal, you want to know? Glad you asked.

When a repair tech tells me I need a tune up, I can consult my REPAIR PAL to get the information I need about what exactly is involved in a tune up.

And if I want ratings and reviews of cars made between 1990-2001 I can start by checking out this Acura Integra, where I can also read questions and answers about common problems and learn about which cars were recalled or issued TSBs (Technical Service Bulletins – and you thought I didn't know what that was).

I also know more about oil changes and filter changes. The Auto Repair Encyclopedia even lists the mileage at which you should check for scheduled maintenance, and in its "How To – Helpful Hints" section you can read about why your engine knocks or pings and why your brakes squeak.

Lots of recommendations and lots of questions answered. Ever wondered why your car leaks? Find information on how to recognize common and not so common leak problems. It even offers advice on how to replace your wiper blades.

Knowing what to say when I bring my car in for maintenance helps me look at least somewhat informed when it comes to auto repairs, so I can tell the technician what I THINK the problem is. And when the tech calls me over to show me what's under the hood, I can tell the difference between the oil receptacle and the place where the windshield washer fluid goes. This is a great resource for anybody who knows as little about cars as I do.

The next time you have to bring your auto in for repairs, don't allow unscrupulous repair techs to rip you off. Go to Houston Auto Repair first to educate yourself about YOUR car and to manage your maintenance ONLINE..

(Check Engine graphic above was borrowed from Houston Auto Repair's web site.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

FUN and FUNNY games!

I had to tell my kids this year that we were going to have to cut back on gifts for Christmas. Money has been grim, so I've been looking online for family video games as gifts for my kids and grandkids. I used to give each person his or her own gift, but with four kids, three spouses, ten grandchildren, two more spouses, and two great grandchildren, I'm pretty much tapped out in the finance department, so this year, everybody gets a "family" gift. Well, except for the unmarried ones among the group.

Two of my kids have Wiis, so, not knowing which video games they already have, I thought I would let them pick out the one they want me to get for their family gifts, something that everybody in the family would enjoy playing. I found a great resource for VIDEO GAMES and this blog is my way of asking Greg (and his family) and Brittney (and her family) to click the link. Please tell me which game you want. They have lots of other games too, though, so if you want a Playstation III game or an XBox 360, I'll get you one of those instead.

And now a gift for Lindsey. I know, Linz, you already have my Christmas present, but this one is free and it's lots of fun. I think you'll enjoy it. And it fits in so well with why you're going to school.

Lindsey is my second oldest daughter who loved playing dress up games even when she was a baby. Every morning she went into my closet, examined my little scattering of shoes, and always picked out the same pair (I had only two classy shoe styles – she preferred the brown straps to my decade old black and gold 70's platform shoes). She would then gather her bracelets, necklaces, crown, and rings, and parade around the house in her pajama top and diaper. Very cute. Well, I just found the perfect online dress up game for her.

This online dress up game is fun and FUNNY! Well, funny for me – fun for Lindsey. You see, I have no fashion sense whatsoever, so when I tried to play dress up games, I lost miserably. Lindsey is going into fashion merchandising (she didn't get that talent from me obviously), so I'm sure she will do much better than I did. And it won't cost me a penny, because this Dress Up Game is free (click the link). She can even play it at work during down time (don't show this to your boss, Lindsey).

I even found a game I like to play (I love skills games and brain games – they have both, and LOTS more). You can find so many games on this site.

Keeley and her family don't have a computer, so I'm saving this blog for her when she makes trips to the library (do they let you play games at the library?) – if so try any of those links above.

While I wasn't necessarily looking for anything specific for my parents or siblings, I came across something I know one of my sisters will LOVE. I can't tell you why. No, I'm not trying to be evasive. Let's just say that Cindy has been setting up a web site that concerns beauty, and I found something she may want to use to connect to her site that offers beauty information for her visitors. Cindy, check out this BEAUTY INFORMATION site – they offer skin care analysis, hair care consultation, a fragrance finder, and even (you know I love this) a beauty horoscope. Plus they offer expert advice, so I think it will make a great link for the site. I promise to tell everybody the name of her site when it is up and running. For now, though, it's a secret.

That was my "hook" to get you to come back to my blog. Will it work? I hope so.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Halloween TRICK or Treat? (Don't Try This At Home)

When I was growing up, Halloween at our house was great fun, not just because it was Halloween, and not because we threw Halloween parties, but because my father handed out bags of treats – and tricks.

I would stand behind my father when he opened the door to welcome the little masked goblins, and wait to see the looks on their faces as Dad commanded them to say, "trick or treat" if they hadn't already said it. He refused to give anybody candy until they said those magic Halloween words.

What my dad did from that point on, though, probably scared the little trick or treaters and frightened their parents as well, because what Dad did was grab their hoard of candy from them – bag, plastic pumpkin and all – and just before he slammed the door in their faces, yell, "TRICK!"

Of course he always opened the door immediately and returned their treats, but the looks on the faces of those innocent little children was priceless. Their bodies never moved. They looked like a photograph frozen in time – in exactly the same position as when Dad first closed the door. Their parents stood at the end of the sidewalk in shock – another still photograph framed by the doorway – and Dad and whoever was standing at the door with him would bend over in hysterics.

I am always tempted to follow my father's lead and grab the bag of candy from some poor unsuspecting child, but these days you never know what awaits you at the end of the sidewalk. And so I just say, Happy Halloween and hand out treats.

Monday, October 12, 2009

As Promised – Breast Cancer Diagnosis Article

As I promised in a previous post, here is a link to the article I wrote about my experience with Breast Cancer:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

It's Been Awhile

As usual, I've been very busy, but this time I've been busy with something a little more dramatic than usual. Thursday I begin chemotherapy for breast cancer. I am writing a diary of sorts about my experiences and I will link to that article later.

But for now, I'd rather not focus on BC, because as I write this blog, my son, his wife, and two of their children are driving across the country from Oceanside, California to Quantico, Virgina, and they're stopping here at my home in Illinois tonight! They will be here in less than an hour.

As I await their arrival (very excited about them coming), I would like to link you to a few articles I've written lately. This first article has to do with cheating spouses of best friends – Cheating – Do You Tell Your Best Friend?

These next two articles were written for the paranormal section of Xomba. Both are interviews.

Neil Tobin performs at the Excalibur in Chicago every Friday night.

Leslie Rule is Ann Rule's daughter. Ann Rule writes true crime stories. Leslie Rule writes true ghost stories.

I have written more, but I don't want to inundate you with links, so enjoy! And if you are the type who believes in the power of prayer, please say one for me. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More Driving Woes

I am going to be somewhat evasive in this blog, because I need to tell one more person about something that is happening to me (I will relate what that something is in a future blog). But I CAN tell you that some of it has to do with money and insurance.

As one with little income, like so many Americans enduring this failed economy, I am faced with having to spend my negative income on such things as housing, utilities, gas, and car insurance – must haves for anybody LIVING. I personally think insurance sales people are some of the most boring people on the planet.

OK, not really. That's what I used to think though. I've now engaged in conversation with many of them, not because I sought them out but because I know them personally, and while I find the subject of insurance boring, the people are definitely not.

My own insurance agent, believe it or not, told me that because I moved, I should probably look for somebody closer to my home. And I thought, what? I've been loyal to you all these years and now you're dumping me? I think he just couldn't imagine somebody moving so far away and still wanting to pay for insurance at such a distance.

The way I looked at it though, was that I hate listening to boring insurance quotes and spending time talking about it when I can read it online in MY time. So I looked online. And, being the impatient soul that I am, I stopped at the first place I found. Finding affordable car insurance is an absolute necessity. And my time is absolutely important. So I'm going to share this website with you in case you are looking for cheap IL car insurance. Yes, I said cheap, not as in unworthy, but as in inexpensive.

If you're as impatient as I am, and if you would rather do your own research on car insurance costs, do what I do: look online for your Illinois auto insurance quote. It's better than inviting a bunch of insurance agents into your home to quibble about rates.

And as far as that something that is happening to me is concerned, please be patient (yes, please be the exact opposite of me) – I will relate the details in a future blog. I promise.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Drivers Who Annoy Me - One of My BIGGEST Pet Peeves

Today I am going to write about one of my biggest pet peeves – driving while playing games – with other drivers.

My Dad had an annoying habit of driving in the left-hand lane of a four-lane highway at the same speed as the driver on his right. If the driver on his right slowed down, my dad slowed down. If the driver on his right sped up, my dad sped up.

As a child I was fascinated by this game and I watched his face in the rear view mirror whenever he played it. As the cars lined up behind him, his cheeks rose higher and higher and the grin that spread across his face grew wider and wider as the line of cars behind him grew longer and longer. I figured he was probably playing some kind of follow the leader game, and he was winning.

Faces of the drivers behind us were contorted into all kinds of shapes, and the gestures they made were frightful.

The drivers in the cars next to us were sometimes oblivious to what Dad was doing. Other times I'm sure they couldn't help but wonder if Dad was stalking them, despite the fact that Mom was sitting in the passenger seat.

Having grown up with a father who loved
playing the game I now refer to as the "Control Road Antagonist Ploy" game (CRAP for short), I learned that other people enjoyed controlling the road as well, and I discovered that my father's idea of enjoyment was diametrically opposed to my own idea of fun.

I hate to judge anybody, though, so I'd like to give those other annoying drivers the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they are the daydreamers among us, taking a leisurely drive down a crowded highway, oblivious to the tantrums being thrown in cars around them. Maybe I am just being hypercritical.

All these many many years I sincerely believed in the goodness of other drivers UNTIL I spoke with my brother-in-law, Craig, about this issue. When I told him my theory of what I believed to be a game drivers played when they speed up to join a slow driver on their right, he acknowledged that he played that game all the time. I knew it! I knew they were doing it on purpose.

So I've been thinking about how to out-annoy them. And here's what I've come up with – an ear-shattering horn that looks like a gun. I roll down my window and aim, and as the sound comes out of the pseudo gun, out pops a flag that says, "You win! Now move on!" If only I could figure out how to get between them and the car next to them.

Monday, September 14, 2009

My TOP TEN SURPRISES about Giving Birth

Pregnancy is an exciting period in any woman's life, filled with a combination of expectancy and anxiety. Concern about the baby's welfare begins at conception, and the entire nine months is pregnant with surprises, not the least of which is the birthing process itself.

During the initial phases of childbirth, women begin to feel what some people refer to as "uncomfortable." I remember calling my mother and telling her I was on the way to the hospital, but not to get too hopeful, because it was probably just gas. In my top ten list of amazing discoveries made during childbirth, counting down from ten, my Surpise #10 – it wasn't gas.

A pregnant woman mentally prepares herself for the anguish of knowing a thousand people will be parading through the room at any given moment, and unless she has been perfectly prepared, she will be as surprised as I was by my Surprise #9 – getting shaved.

Surprise #8 was later discovering that when hair growth begins (almost immediately), those tiny little standup straight hairs get caught in the fabric of whatever you happen to be wearing.

Surprise #7 is my all-time favorite surprise, because this one includes the significant other who, instead of being your helpmate, your stronghold, your soft shoulder to lean on, has to tell you exactly WHEN you will be getting your next contraction. "Oh, here comes another big one, Honey!" Along with uterine contractions, you may experience the same vengeful loathing I felt as the muscles in my eyes contracted into a scathing squint.

Unless you give birth at home, interns and residents will poke and prod your belly. They, along with your husband, watch the monitor in gleeful anticipation of your next contraction. If you're lucky, you will get a doctor who uses her palm to feel the contraction. Surpise #7 is finding a doctor who loves to prod with the points of all of his fingers – on both hands – stabbing you at once and disovering that your reflex is to kick him in the groin.

Reflection time: I remember the first moment of feeling a flutter – a tiny movement, something so uniquely different from anything I had ever felt before, a tiny foot, or perhaps an arm or an elbow pushing me at some midway point in my pregnancy. I remember the exhilaration I felt upon first feeling "life" – so imagine my Surprise #6 – pain so intense I could have crushed the hospital with my thoughts. Nobody can prepare you for that level of pain, because you will probably hear numerous stories about how "I went to the hospital at 3 AM and by 3:01, she just popped out." I hated those people.

Surprise #5 was discovering I would not be able to engage in sex for several weeks. But the surprise was more of a "Why would I ever want to do THAT again," than a whiny, "Oh why not?"

Surprise #4 was a surprise filled with regret – oh why oh why did I not allow you to drug me? Why oh why was it SO important for me to go through a "natural" childbirth?

Surprise #3 actually came when I realized, after experiencing the ultimate joy of being pregnant for nine months, that I was warning myself to "NEVER DO THIS AGAIN – NEVER FORGET" combined with a deep-seated wish that my husband were the one giving birth.

And yet, moments after giving birth, I completely forgot the warnings I gave to myself, the regrets over having a natural childbirth, because my #2 surprise was discovering the intensity and depth of love I felt for this little infant I had been carrying around with me for nine months. Giving birth and the process of releasing a child into the world may have created a void in my womb, but it was instantly filled with a love so deep and so profound, I marveled at my ability to love so strongly and to feel so protective.

But the biggest surprise of all, my #1 Surprise was realizing I would be willing to do it all over again, and again, and again.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Oh! No! Christmas and More Birthdays Are Coming!

One of my grandsons loves his sister's tooter. For those of you unfamiliar with toddler speak, I am referring to a scooter. So when I looked online to find a boy "tooter," I came across a website with LOTS of ride-on toys, including wagons and rocking horses. Then, while I was on that same web site, I found something called, "Roller Racers" and "Plasma Cars." I love toys that involve some sort of exercise. And when you combine exercise with fun, all the better! Look HERE for more of those kinds of toys.

Of course, every time I think of toys, I think of my grandchildren. With so many birthdays every year, not to mention Christmas in less than four months, I decided to look now for an October birthday gift for one of my granddaughters. What I found though, was something I would have loved to have had as a child – a doll house.

I remember going to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago (I lived down the street) and seeing this amazing doll house with so many intricate details in each room, from paintings on the wall to tiny cups on a serving tray. I wanted it to fit in my house. My dad refused to open the ceiling though, so I had to suffer my whole childhood without that dollhouse. But oh, how I would have loved to have had any of the ones found HERE.

And lest I forget my older grandchildren, I can't overlook electronic toys, so I found several possibilities HERE. I even found one some adults might like – an "American Idol All Star Challenge DVD Game" and a portable DVD player. The best thing though, for those of us with limited incomes, is that everything I've looked at so far is reasonably priced.

Now to look into getting that scooter!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Writer Needs Your Opinions!

How would you like to participate in research about a couple of very important issues? Your answers may appear in a future article (though you can remain anonymous). Please see the questionnaire HERE.

I will post a blog in My Heart Blogs To You after the data is compiled and after the article is written and posted.

Thank you in advance for your participation (and if you have any friends or relatives who might want to participate, please invite them – all answers must be in no later than September 15, 2009).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Roads? Where I'm Going I Don't Need Roads.

Yesterday I went back to the future. I tried to get the wireless connection working on my ancient laptop, but couldn't, so I took it to the local Apple dealer instead.

The University of Illinois was brimming with activity this past weekend. Apparently classes begin Monday and students were filling the streets in droves as they moved into their new quarters. I didn't know where the campus Apple dealer was located and neither did all the PC owners I asked, so I drove around and around all of the one-way streets trying to find it.

After hearing that even laptops can become extinct unless you spend more money to fix them than it would cost to purchase a new laptop, I left the parking lot that was closest to the Apple center. I needed to turn right, but I wasn't allowed to turn right. Right would have taken me directly home. Instead I kept driving left down one-way streets until it got to the point where I felt I was spiraling downward into the bowels of Champaign, Illinois.

Yes, I know those two words – bowels and Champaign – clearly do not belong in the same sentence, but you have to understand how annoying it is to drive and drive and not be able to get to where you need to be. Very frustrating.

But, optimist that I am, I ventured onward. Then suddenly, with absolutely no idea how I arrived on what looked to be a bicycle path, I saw students staring at me as they walked around my car, oblivious to the fact that I was pretending to be "Security" for the campus. Finally I saw a road that took me (again) in the opposite direction. "Oh, you've got to be kidding me," I said sympathetically to myself.

All the while I'm thinking – the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and I am creating a web of non-intersecting tangents that are taking me further and further away from my destination. It was like running in quicksand. All I wanted to do was find some familiar territory.

It was like the time I went to visit the man who would one day become my ex-husband. On my way to visit him before we got married, I drove through a neighborhood that kept bringing me back to the same street corner. I should have taken it as a sign, but I didn't. And every time I arrived there, I looked around and thought, "How does this keep happening?"

I think, after having had numerous years in which to ponder this mystery, that I have some defective gene that pulls me in the wrong direction. Please see my previous post, Driving Dilemmas, for more proof that I do indeed have this as yet undiscovered defective gene.

(Photo is from IMBD - Internet Movie Data Base – a clip from the movie, Back To The Future, starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd)

Driving & Other Dilemmas - Bloopers & Mistakes

Have you ever put a key into a lock that didn’t work? One of my daughters and I were discussing the many times we’ve encountered just that problem. Sometimes it’s with cars (as when we attempt to force our keys into what turns out to be somebody else’s car), and sometimes it happens with houses.

One year I moved into an apartment complex with numerous buildings that all looked exactly alike. A friend and I had gone out for a couple of drinks (hmm, come to think of it, that might have contributed to the problem), and she let me off at my new apartment.

“I’ll stay here until I see the door open,” she offered as a measure of protection (I have always had amazing friends). She watched me climb the stairs, walk down the long outdoor hallway, stand before my door, and fidget with the lock.

After numerous attempts I looked over at her and saw her raise both palms upward and shrug her shoulders. I did the same. After more attempts, I walked down the long hallway, down the steps, and right back into her car.

“What do you want to do?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I thought out loud. “Maybe my key isn’t working.”

Turns out I lived one building to the west.

My daughter’s favorite driving story is about the time she and a couple of friends were driving one friend home after a party. They pulled into the driveway and when Sema didn’t open the door, they said, “Sema, you’re home – get out!”

“But this isn’t my house,” she argued.

“YES! It is, now open the door.” Reluctantly Sema left the car and walked up to the front door where she found herself standing face to face with her next-door neighbor at 2 o’clock in the morning, saying the only thing she could think to say, “Have you seen my brother?”

But the highlight of my driving experiences is one of those déjà vu moments that reminded me of the time I was taking driver’s ed in high school. The instructor and two other students were male. I was the only female.

In those days, wheels didn’t return to their original position, so when I made a right turn, I ended up speeding through a field directly into the path of a house. Every time the instructor yelled, “BRAKES! BRAKES!” I accelerated more and more. When I saw the whites of the eyes of the family seated at their breakfast table staring at me with mouths agape, something snapped inside me and I slammed on the breaks just in time to see the two other students cowering in embarrassment on the floor of the back seat.

And so here I was, decades later, working for a home party company heading into the country to find – from the driving directions that included no street names – landmarks such as poles, statues, and baskets. I was never very good at seeing in the dark, and this brand new street had no lights yet. I had to continuously vacate my car and walk up to each house just to locate the address.

Finally, I thought I had it figured out and I pulled my car directly in front of what I thought would be the correct house. For reasons I couldn’t understand, I saw the father wrap his arms around his children and rush them into the house. When I came to a stop, I noticed the circular driveway in front of me running to my left and to my right. Too bad I didn’t see it before I drove across their newly landscaped lawn.

(photo of Nicolas Cage – "this isn't my house" in The Family Man is from IMDB – Internet Movie Data Base)

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Day My Mommy Lied To Me

Anybody who knows me knows I hate liver (and yes, I can see my mom rolling her eyes already in memory of the horrible wretched day she got caught lying).

But I would like to emphasize my hatred of liver by saying I detest it so much that if it were the last food on Earth and I HAD to eat it, I would cut it up into tiny pea-sized bullets and shoot them down my throat with squirt guns filled with enough water to prevent the gag reflex from expelling the "nutritious" (gag gag) most awful tasting meat on the planet. And it's not even meat – it's an organ! (oh gag again)

So now that you have the backdrop for the BIG LIE, let me emphasize once more my HATRED of liver. Got it? Good. Because this is what happened on the day I saw what looked like liver in a pan on the stove in our kitchen – LIVER!

"It's NOT liver," my mom lied.

"I know what liver looks like. And THAT is liver. It even smells like liver."

"Well, it's not. It's a new meat called revil."

"There is no such thing as revil," I told her.

"Well, obviously, there is, because we're eating it," she told me.

Hmm. As the smell of the organ filled the house, I squinted my eyes, tapped my finger to my chin, and pondered the situation. I was raised Catholic by a Catholic mom. Therefore, what my mom was telling me must be true, because good Catholics never lie. And good moms never lie to their children. So I will try this "revil" that I don't believe is really revil, because I am a good daughter.

When it was time for dinner, my two sisters and I sat down at the table gawking at the inside of some poor dead animal sprawled out on our plates. We looked first at each other, and then at our mother, wondering if we should trust her.

"Taste it," she commanded.

I placed the tip of my tongue on the foul substance as I looked at my mother in horror. "It tastes like liver," I said, seething. And then realization grasped me by the throat. "(Gasp!) It is liver. You LIED to us!"

My sisters and I were so shocked, our swallowing reflexes locked up. But we were even more shocked when she revealed to us that revil was liver spelled backwards. "So really," mom said, "it wasn't a lie."

Knowing how much my mother disdains certain foods, one day soon I'm going to invite her over for some "new" foods – tunaep rettub sandwiches with a side order of saep and a dessert of tunococ pie.

(I love you, Mom)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Hey, Soup!

At times like these I wish I had written down EVERYTHING my children and grandchildren said throughout their lives, though I'm sure my kids will find some of the funny sayings and memories when they sift through the contents of my numerous trunks after I'm gone. But today, the blog is – once again – about Kaden.

My son and daughter-in-law are still in town and were at my home when my daughter's mother-in-law stopped by to see her (and a couple of my other) grandchildren, Audrey and Nolan. Kaden didn't remember meeting her and asked her what her name was.

"Sue," she responded.

"Soup?" Kaden asked.

"No, Sue."


"S-U-E," she said slowly so my 4-year-old grandson could hear her better.

To which Kaden responded, "I'll just call you Soup."

Shortly after, we heard, "Hey, Soup, wanna see me look cool?"

"Sure," Sue said, smiling.

Kaden donned a brimmed hat. After she acknowledged his coolness, Kaden then turned the cap around.

"Know what I look like now, Soup?"

"No, Kaden, what do you look like now?

"A stud muffin."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Negotiator and The Attack of The Tomato

A Weekend in WizaWorld

Audrey and Kaden were looking out a window at a couple of guys parked across the street from my house. "That's Tommy," Audrey told Kaden.

"Who's Tommy?" Kaden asked.

"Tommy is my daddy's boyfriend."

Audrey and Kaden are both 4 years old and while their vocabulary is quite extensive, they still mispronounce words sometimes. Here's an example:

Audrey wanted to know if Kaden knew that tomatoes ruined houses. "You mean the big ones?" Kaden asked.

And Audrey responded, "Sometimes they call them twisters."

After this conversation I decided that Kaden should put on his clothes. His three cousins (some of my other grandchildren) were already dressed. Kaden wanted to stay in his pajamas.

"You can't go outside with your pajamas on," I reasoned with him. And he responded, "How do you know? Have you ever tried it?"

As the morning progressed I found it more and more difficult to restrain myself from laughing and told him that he had to put his pajamas on if he wanted to eat breakfast, to which he responded, "No I don't. I can eat breakfast with my pajamas on."

Two hours later, at snack time, I told Kaden, who was still wearing his pj's, that he HAD to put them on if he wanted a snack. And that's when I noticed Kaden's amazing negotiation skills.

"No, I don't. That's what you said at breakfast, and I still got breakfast."


"Well," I told him, attempting to outsmart the 4-year-old, "now it's snack time and if you want it, you'll have to get dressed."

"You forgot about it the last time," he reminded me.

But I was not to be outdone by my young grandson, so I reminded him that I was the boss in his parents' absence and that I could choose to NOT give him a snack. I saw the wheels spinning in his brain.

"OK," he said, "Here's what we'll do. Whoever says it the fastest wins. So if you say I have to get my clothes on, but I say I get a snack first, I win."

So, of course, I blurted out, "Kaden has to put his clothes on!"

And he said, "It didn't start yet."

Eventually he put on his clothes, but the whole day continued that way, them talking, me laughing, me trying to hide my laughing.

Being a grandparent is so challenging.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

She Wanted to Call 911 But She Didn't Know The Number

People keep telling me not to blog about them, but they keep giving me great material, so how can I not? Well, here I go again, disguising somebody else (or is it the same somebody – you'll never know).

Beebeeshababa was alone in her apartment when she heard a noise outside. When she ran to the window, she saw a couple of strange men trying to break into her SUV. She panicked. She had already had her CD player stolen and she wasn't about to lose something else.

So Beebeeshababa grabbed her phone to call the police. Again and again, she tried and she tried to call the police. Again and again she failed and she failed to reach them.

In desperation she called her best friend Shalalala and cried, "I keep calling 911 but it doesn't work for me. Can you call it?"

Shalalala was mystified. "How could it not work for you?"

And Beebeeshababa, who couldn't believe her best friend was wasting precious time, while her SUV was getting ransacked, cried some more, "I don't know, but it doesn't? Can you do it for me, please?"

But Shalalala wouldn't let it go. "It's impossible for 911 not to work, Beebeeshababa. What exactly are you dialing?"


Thursday, July 23, 2009

How Sushi Became an iPhone

Every year as a combination birthday/Christmas present, my son and his family fly me out to visit them in Oceanside, California. Usually, because my daycare job doesn't allow me to stay longer than a weekend, I am there for only 3 days at the most. This year, however, I was lucky enough to spend 5 days with them!

I've missed a lot of my son's life over the years. As a U.S. Marine who was born in Illinois (where I live) and who is now living in California, Greg was stationed in North Carolina and has been to Japan (for a year), to Thailand (for several months), to Iraq (four times), and to Kuwait (twice) – so whenever I am given the opportunity to spend time with him and his family, it never matters what we do, where we go, what we eat – what matters is that I am spending time with him and with them.

One night we were discussing what to eat for dinner and everybody (I thought) decided on Chinese. Fine by me. As I said, it doesn't matter to me where we eat or what we eat.

So when we pulled in front of a sushi restaurant, I thought, hmm, well, I must have missed this part of the conversation. I've never had sushi, but if this is what the family has decided, I'll try it. Greg was the only one to get out of the car, so I assumed we were picking up the sushi (and not the Chinese) and taking it home.

Then Greg asked me if I wanted to go with him. Well, yeah – anything to spend time together, even if it's just picking up sushi from the local sushi stop. But as I was getting out of the car Michelle warned, "You'd better bring your purse. You'll need your ID."

Oh, OK. They NEVER ask me to pay for anything and, as a matter of fact, REFUSE to allow me to pay for anything, so I was more than willing to foot the bill for dinner. But why would I need an ID to purchase it?

Well, come to think of it, this IS California, and I've heard that sometimes people die from eating sushi, so maybe the state of California is keeping track of who is eating it.

Yes, I really do think that way.

But we walked past the sushi restaurant and into a store that sells iPhones. What? We're not eating sushi?

No, we're getting you an iPhone. Their reason for giving me an extra present was that they were "paying me" to watch the kids. I don't think I'm senile (though I'm sure somebody in my family would argue with me about that). I honestly don't remember ever doing anything that would require them to pay me for doing it.

So this is my reasoning: I take the kids to the park and I get an iPhone. What would they give me if I took the kids to the zoo? A laptop? Or how about a trip to Disneyland? My own plane?

Still this is the greatest toy ever (besides my computer)! And I am so grateful to them for receiving it.

So – Greg, Michelle, Taylor, Kaden, and Zac, thank you thank you thank you – for the trip, for always making me feel welcome, and for giving me another way to keep in touch with you.

Photo of sushi is from Wikimedia Commons. Photo of iPhone is from Apple.