Archive for November, 2008

My Thanksgiving Curse :)

Posted in holidays on November 30th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I think I was somehow cursed last Thanksgiving.  I fell ill the day after Thanksgiving, and just as I was starting to feel better a few days later, I felt another virus coming on.  This cycle continued until just before Christmas, and because I was pregnant and exhausted, I tried to rest a lot and get well during that time, but it was stressful because I had a 1½-year-old to chase after.  And while I was sick, I was unable to eat any Thanksgiving leftovers.  So then all during the year, foods like turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and even creamed onions (which I used to love) just haven’t seemed very appealing to me.  I think I subconsciously associate the Thanksgiving fare with being sick, but I thought I’d be over it by now – wrong.  Thanksgiving dinner was great and everything, but I’m just not as enthused about those leftovers as I want to be.  On Thanksgiving day, the turkey was delicious.  That leftover sandwich I had on Friday was pretty good.  The cold turkey snack on Friday night was ok.  I didn’t finish the turkey snack on Saturday night, and today for dinner, I will have anything but turkey or Thanksgiving leftovers.  And I am blue in the face from reassuring my husband that it was absolutely nothing he did wrong with the cooking or the fault of any of the guests who brought delicious side dishes.  It’s just my Thanksgiving curse, and I hope it’s gone by next year.  But even if it’s not, no biggie because my Thanksgiving will be made more special than food by the wonderful people in my life.  Maybe I should “train” my body to accept the Thanksgiving food by making turkey and creamed onions more often…

At any rate, the helpers in the kitchen on Thanksgiving day were adorable – check them out:

And below are my two oldest daughters waving to Santa at the Welcome Santa Parade from the day after Thanksgiving:

And if their names were numbers that ordered them by birth, below is a cute picture of #2 and #4:

Sleep With The Angels

Posted in Current Events on November 30th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The title of this blog post is based on a book called To Sleep With the Angels, which details the horrible tragedy of the Our Lady of Angels school fire in Chicago, Illinois.  Ninety-two children and three nuns perished on December 1, 1958 – 50 years ago tomorrow.  The incident became the precedent and the inspiration for sweeping changes in laws and regulations regarding fire safety; such as the installment of sprinkler systems in public buildings, automatic fire alarms, smoke detectors, fire drills, and the end of grandfather clauses which eliminated older buildings from having to comply to fire regulations.  Our Lady of the Angels had undergone a fire inspection just a few weeks before the fire, but because it was an older building, it did not have to comply to all the fire codes because of grandfather clauses.  I came across this website about the tragedy, and it’s full of fascinating info related to the inferno – photos, news articles, maps, models, survivor lists and stories, and more.  Here is a little excerpt from the website olafire.com about the cause of the fire:

Was It Arson?
Although the cause has never been officially determined, all indications point to arson. A boy (age 10 at the time, and a fifth grader in room 206) later confessed to setting the blaze, but subsequently recanted his confession. He was more afraid of confessing to his mother and step-father than to the police.The boy confessed to setting numerous other fires in the neighborhood, mostly in apartment buildings. In his confession, he related details of the fire’s origin that had not been made public and that he should therefore not have known. While there was strong evidence that he was indeed the culprit, neither he nor anyone else was ever prosecuted, at least in part because the catholic judge in the case felt he should protect the Church.Officially, the cause of the fire remains unknown.

I’m curious if the boy who confessed is listed in the survivor lists.  Somewhere else I read that another reason the judge didn’t convict the boy is because it would have meant a sure death sentence for him.  One thing remains true – this was a tragedy of great proportion, and the damage is still being felt by those who witnessed the atrocity and those who survived and their families.  This is evident when you read some of the survivors’ stories on the website listed above.  Many of them have not spoken much about that day, and it seems that almost all of them remember it like it was yesterday.  My husband and I both grew up in the Chicago area, and we agree that most people we knew were associated with the tragedy in one way or another – whether they witnessed it, survived it, or watched it unfold on television.  It’s been 50 long years, and there are still raw wounds.  It was agreed upon by all those that knew Michele McBride, a survivor of the Our Lady of Angels fire, that she died of her wounds sustained in the fire, and that was as recent as 2001.  From olafire.com:

Michele was burned over 60% of her body and hospitalized for four and a half months. She underwent numerous operations which continued for years afterwards. The fire that ravaged her body left her in continuous, lifelong pain. Her pain finally ended in July 2001 when she died of multiple organ failure, no doubt a result of damage inflicted by fire so many years before. In 1979 Michele wrote a book (“The Fire That Will Not Die”) about her experience the day of the fire, and her life thereafter. Michele’s sister, Dae Hanna: “Michele died on July 4th 2001, from long term physical problems suffered from the fire many years ago. May she rest in peace. She never had a day without pain in her legs and joints. May she rest in peace. She disagreed vehemently with many of the theories in the ‘To sleep with the angels book’. Her book THE FIRE THAT WILL NOT DIE was certainly well titled, and the only first hand account of that day. May she rest in peace.”

I was reminded of the 50th anniversary of the Our Lady of Angels school fire by an article in the dailyherald.com, prompting me to do some research into the tragedy and to share with others the olafire.com website which contains so much helpful information.  My thoughts and prayers are with all of the families involved in this horrible chapter of Chicago’s history.

Walmart Saves The Day

Posted in Everyday Life on November 30th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What?!? Believe it or not, the title of my post does not have the slightest hint of sarcasm!  Walmart really DID save the day for us yesterday!  It almost makes me sorry for my many rants against Walmart and their shady practices designed to put small companies out of business…  almost sorry, but not quite there.

It all started when we decided to take the kids over to Fort Wayne, Indiana, which is about an hour away.  We pulled into a stall at the Sonic drive-thru for a light lunch and some slushies (Sonic has awesome slushies and drinks), when we realized we had forgotten my husband’s wallet, which left us without money or credit cards.  Luckily, we had picked up the mail before we left the house and brought it in the car with us.  And luckily², we had gotten a commission check in the mail.  So we braved the ‘big city’ Walmart customer service line on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to see if they would take pity on us and cash the check even without my husband’s ID.  We were gifted with even more luck when they accepted my driver’s license to cash my husband’s check, and we were able to eat lunch.  Except now it had gotten really late and we were all really hungry, so we decided to skip Sonic and go to the Golden Corral that was in the Walmart outlot instead.  If you braved my posts about our vacation diary, then you know how much we like Golden Corral.  And I’d say that the one in Fort Wayne is of the best quality out of any of the others we’ve been to.  After lunch, we took the kids to a McDonald’s Playland, but it had only one little tunnel and one small slide; prompting our 4-year-old to proclaim, “Dad, this is boring!”  But our 2-year-old loved it, and soon there were more kids to play with and everybody had lots of fun – including mom and dad since there was also a foosball table.  When we left the McDonald’s, we noticed there was a Burger King across the street (when isn’t there?), and that Burger King had a 3-story play area!  Oh, well, we had fun where we went and we can remember the BK for next time.  We quenched our thirst with drinks from Sonic, and there was a cool looking car wash next door, so we treated the kids to a car wash also -they love watching the soap, brushes, and water cascading off the car.  The second we pulled out of the wash –ding ding – our low fuel bell rang – uhoh.  My husband and I just looked at each other because it wasn’t like we had unlimited money with us.  In fact, we had spent the last of the check money at the car wash.  Thank goodness gas prices are decent these days because with the change we were able to scrape together from my wallet and the car, we had enough to get us gas to get home…  whew!  Perhaps it can even be considered a blessing in disguise.  When you compare the variety of shopping Fort Wayne offers to our hometown choice of Super Walmart and…  well, just the Super Walmart, unleashing us in a larger city with all those shopping varieties could have been disasterous to our bank account!

And by the way, the Walmart customer service line wasn’t too bad, all things considered.  Most of the line consisted of a family who had 6 kids and one on the way -wow.  And I thought I had a lot of kids!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in holidays on November 28th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Another Thanksgiving weekend is upon us, and so far it’s been wonderful for us.  Thanksgiving dinner was deliciously cooked by my husband and our guests who were kind enough to bring yummy dishes to share.  We played some games afterwards and watched the movie “21” -not very Thanksgiving-y, but a good movie nonetheless.  The night before Thanksgiving, my husband and I watched some Thanksgiving episodes of Friends – I think I had forgotten how funny that show was.  It’s strange because now when we watch Friends episodes, we are older than the Friends, whereas when the show was still running new in prime time, the friends were older than us…  oh well, yet another example of how time flies.  Over the turkey last night, we also did our tradition where we go around the table and say what we’re thankful for – and my ever-generic answer was the same as some of my friends, “I am most thankful for my family and friends.”  It may be a generic response, but it’s very true, and I am very blessed to have such a wonderful family (my husband and kids and our relatives who live far away – we hope everyone had a wonderful day) and such great friends.

So now, Black Friday is upon us, and I was able to convince my husband to not go shopping.  Every year, he wants to get up at the crack of dawn, if not before, and go wait in the lines to see the best sales stores have to offer.  But I’m never very enthused, mostly because we have 4 children under the age of 9.  I keep telling him to put it on his “when our kids aren’t so little” list, although I have one that’s lengthy enough for the both of us.  It’d be nice if one year we could get a babysitter for Black Friday so we wouldn’t have to wake all the kids up, but until that happens, I’m not willing to lose the sleep myself or have the kids lose it either.  So today for Black Friday, I’ve already had my first turkey-and-leftover sandwich, and we’re going to take the kids to see Bolt (our two oldest girls are excited to hear the voicework of Miley Cyrus) at the movie theater with a friend and her grandkids.  We haven’t been to a movie in forever.  I just hope our 2-year-old can behave.  After the movie, we’ll walk across the street for dinner, and then we’ll go see if Santa’s reindeer have arrived on the square before we get our spots to watch the parade.  Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, our town has a parade celebrating Santa’s arrival.  They bring real reindeer to the square, and everyone lines the streets in anticipation of seeing Santa Claus come to town.  His sleigh is pulled by huge beautiful horses, and last year, Santa called out hello to us and knew us by name!  When Santa reaches the town square, a few lucky children get to push the big button that turns on the Christmas lights on the square, and everyone cheers as they sip their complimentary cups of hot chocolate.  It’s like something out of a cheesy holiday movie, and I relish every minute of it.  I don’t know who is more excited today -me or the kids!  I love small town life!  And right now, as I’m writing this, I just saw Santa’s sleigh (covered of course) get pulled down our street with a golf cart!  I excitedly yelled out, but thank goodness the kids didn’t come down here in time to see it – I think it’d be better for them to see it for the first time in the parade.  It was exciting for me to see though!

I’m not sure what the rest of the weekend holds, but I do know that I get twice as much time with my husband and kids as a normal weekend, and for that I’m also very thankful.  I hope everyone else had a wonderful holiday!

Rides Jamiahsh Broke

Posted in Travel on November 27th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This is the long-awaited post (by some anyway) that details the uncanny coincidences of ride break-downs we encountered while in Orlando, Florida.  Here is a list of the following rides that stalled or broke down while fellow blogger jamiahsh was along.  Not to blame him, but…   😉

Epcot:  Spaceship Earth, the boat ride in Mexico, the boat ride in Norway – not only did the boat stall during the ride, but also, after we exited the boat, the doors at the end of the ride failed to open, trapping us and the 4-5 boat-fulls after us!

Universal Studios – The Mummy – got stuck where the ride gets “hot”, the Simpsons ride, Cat in the Hat ride

Magic Kingdom – Carousel of Progress glitched, Peter Pan’s Flight, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean (multiple times), Snow White

 We’ve been to Disney World lots of times, and although we’ve been involved in rides stalling and getting backed up, it’s never happened with the frequency of this year when jamiahsh was with us.  Therefore, the phenomonon of him “breaking the rides” is a running joke of sorts, and that’s why I had to make a post of it.  Break-downs aside, a fun trip was had by all, and the uncanny ride luck jamiahsh had is now merely blog fodder – and that’s always fun.

Seinfeld And The Man Of Steel

Posted in TV Shows on November 27th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Here’s a fun game for the holidays, providing you like Superman and the show Seinfeld, for that matter.  I read an interesting little blurb in the paper the other day about how Jerry Seinfeld is a huge fan of Superman.  So much so that there is a reference or an image of the “Man of Steel” in every episode of Seinfeld.  So this holiday season, while your turkey is cooking, digesting, or being cleaned up for you by your guests (how do you think I found the time to write this post on Thanksgiving Day?), pop in a few old episodes of Seinfeld and try to pinpoint the Superman allusion.

Vacation Diary – Chapter Six

Posted in Travel on November 25th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

NOTE:  This is the final part of a 6 part series about a family vacation to Florida

Friday, October 24, 2008 – We slept in (at least I did – my husband got up with the kids) and packed up and decided to depart early.  We were toying with the idea of renting an air boat to take into the swamp, but it was overcast again, and we weren’t sure how the kids would fare in the swamp.  So we headed out of the Orlando area, and we stopped at two beaches.  The first one was not memorable, and I don’t remember where it was – somewhere south of Flagler beach because we stopped there next after heading north up the coast.  The first beach had crushed shells for sand and it was still overcast and windy which made it a little chilly.  It was really cool to see two different moods of the ocean this trip; especially since we’re used to landlocked Ohio.  Well, we have Lake Erie, but that’s not the same as the ocean.  On the way there, it was a beautiful blue/green with soft, rolling waves.  On the way home, it was gray, and the waves had white caps and sometimes a large one would sneak up and catch us off guard and soak us.  At Flagler Beach, we found a coconut and a log, which we took with us – only after asking the park ranger on duty, of course.  He was friendly, and he said that coconut must have come a long way – and now it calls Ohio home!  Flagler Beach is a Florida State Park, and it was very nice.  There was a ramp leading down to the beach for the wheelchair-bound or strollers.  And the bathrooms were very nice for being outdoor state park bathrooms – they should have been a step away from port-a-potties, but these were really nice and clean too.

Since we were ahead of schedule, we decided to spend the night in a hotel, so we stopped outside of Savannah, Georgia at a Comfort Suites in Pooler.  It was a nice place, and we went swimming in the morning.  I think their chlorine content in the pool was way high because my husband’s eyes were burning and for weeks my girls and I had problems with our hair.  It was getting tangled really easily, and it wasn’t smooth or soft anymore.  My husband held my ponytail up to the hair closer to my head and there was a huge color difference – the ends of my hair were shades lighter than the top!  I have long hair, so I think the bottom part of my hair which was in the pool the longest got bleached by the chlorine.  I actually haven’t had the time to go and get it chopped off, but it seems to be getting back to normal now, thank goodness.

Saturday, October 25, 2008 – The hotel had a breakfast, which was actually kind of crowded, but we enjoyed bagels and cereal before our morning swim.  Got on the road about noon, stopped around 1:30 for lunch in the car.  I had an avocado sandwich (good!) from Atlanta Bread, and the kids had Bojangles Chicken, which has really good fries.  Chicken is pretty good too.  Stopped at a Shell gas station around Spartanburg, South Carolina, where we were approached by a man who had “run out of gas”.  Luckily, he had plenty of jewelry on display inside his coat to sell, so hopefully he wouldn’t be stuck at the gas station for long.  Traffic got a little backed up near Asheville, and it was bumper-to-bumper, but for only about 10 or 15 mins.  We decided to get off of I-40 to enjoy the mountainous scenery since we’re not usually in the mountains when there’s daylight on our trips down south.  In the peak of autumn color-changing season at sunset, the mountains were nothing short of gorgeous, and we pulled over at a few scenic overlooks for observation and picture-taking.  We stopped at a wonderful little restaurant in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee called “BBQ Garden Cafe”, and I can’t say enough great things about the place.  The ribs and corn were the best of each that both my husband and I have ever hadAnd that’s really saying a lot because we are tough critics when it comes to food at restaurants.  Unfortunately, as we chatted with the owner we learned that they were days away from closing – just not enough business in the mountains.  It’s a real shame too – best food I’ve had in a long time.  And it was a family owned place, so the owner got your order and went to grill it himself, and he even had his kids helping – a really nice family, and a really nice family atmosphere also.  I really hope that by some miracle the place doesn’t close – I was going to make sure we go back there every time we’re in Tennessee.  Here is the address, just in case you’re in the area; I can’t say enough how much I recommend the place.  You might want to call first though, since they did say they were closing down!  It’s located at: 3323 Cosby Hwy, Cosby, TN 37722

After the delicious dinner, we headed for home in Ohio, and we arrived at about 5 in the morning, a little early compared to usual.  But that’s ok, we needed the day for catch-up on sleep, laundry, unpacking, etc.  As you can see, I’ve been busy ever since which is why it took me a month to finish the trip diary.  But now I have, and all I have to do is cut and paste all 6 parts into one diary for our family to read for years to come.  Thanks for letting me share it with you; here is a picture of the autumn Smokies at sunset:

 

Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom

Posted in books on November 24th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was doing a search in the library’s database, and I came across the title Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow.  Further investigation showed it to be a science fiction book about Walt Disney World in the future.  Not usually my type of novel (and I strongly prefer to read non-fiction anyway), but since we’re Disney affectionados, I couldn’t resist the read.  It took me over a month to read it, and that’s not even soley because I’m so busy.  The book is difficult to read – author Doctorow does a nice job at placing the reader in the characters’ futuristic universe, but it’s almost too much – he neglects to provide an explanation of certain things.  For instance, the characters all have “Whuffie” and “HUDs”, and these concepts are constantly revisited throughout the story, but it’s never explained exactly what these things are!  My interpretation is that Whuffie refers to a meter in one’s body that measures a person’s positive characteristics, experiences, and emotions – and others can see your Whuffie level.  A person with low Whuffie is shunned in society, and sometimes even denied entrance to Disney World.  HUDs seem to be a person’s computer – it almost seems to be a part of their brain.  They can look up stuff and send things to each other instantly with their HUDs like directions to places.  It seems to be kind of like today’s internet, yet it’s built right into people’s brains.  So, yeah, you can see why it was slow reading as the reader had to get around all of these unfamiliar concepts.  But onto the story itself…

In the future when Down and Out…  is set – and I don’t know what year that is, he never specifically says – Disney World is now a retro-park; something that is preserved only because it’s an example of the great works of our current time.  The main character, Julius and his girlfriend Lil (who was raised in the Magic Kingdom) are on a mission to save the Magic Kingdom and keep the attractions as they are: old-fashioned rides through vintage dioramas.  There is a group of people trying to “rehab” all the rides and give them a futuristic makeover, and they do get ahold of the Hall of Presidents – they make it so that the guests can actually see what it feels like to be Abraham Lincoln and the rest of the former Presidents.  It is the goal of Julius, Lil, and their friend Dan to keep the rest of Liberty Square (a section of the Magic Kingdom), especially the Haunted Mansion, away from the “ad-hocs” as the rehabbing group is called.  Throw in Julius’ murder (don’t worry, he’s been “backed up” and can reclaim his life in a clone) and the fact that he now has to find out who killed him and keep it from happening again, and that’s how the plot thickens.

Overall, it was a very interesting read, but probably not something I’d re-read.  It was worth stepping out of my usual non-fiction genre for the experience to read a science-fiction tale, but it wasn’t anything stupendous.  The story was interesting, and the author did a great job of detailing life in the future, even if it was at times confusing to the reader.  I kept feeling like I was coming in on a sequel having missed the first part.  I thought there’d be more details about the Magic Kingdom, and in that respect, I was disappointed.  But if you like sci-fi books and you’ve been to Disney World, I recommend this book only if you read a lot and have lots of spare time.  On a grading scale, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom gets a C- from me.  Up next for me is My Lobotomy by Howard Dully- a non-fiction book about a guy who was involuntarily given an “ice-pick” lobotomy as a 12-year old.

The Scary Clown Sucessfully Sold Burgers

Posted in Uncategorized on November 23rd, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On another tangents.org blog, justj has been talking about cheeseburgers, namely White Castles and Burger Buddies (aka Burger Bundles), an ’80’s Burger King product.  I found an old Burger Bundles commercial on youtube and posted the link on his blog in the comments section of the cheeseburger post.  While I was looking around on youtube, I found this old vintage McDonald’s commercial where Ronald looks like something out of a horror movie.  Regardless of what his early incarnation looked like, the clown worked for them in helping to create one of the most successful companies of all time.

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Rectal Gas Policy

Posted in Kids on November 23rd, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

We’re all adults here, right?  Then you’d think the following sign spotted in the band room at a local high school would be less amusing:

Rectal Gas Policy
– Any student who releases audible rectal gas will receive one after school detention.
– Any student who “reacts” to audible or inaudible rectal gas will also receive  one after school detention.
If you feel the need to relieve yourself of rectal gas you must stand in the hallway to pass it.

Where do I start?  First, it must be said that I was visiting the school while attending a wonderful show choir performance starring (as far as I’m concerned) a good friend and my favorite teenager.  She did an awesome job!

After the concert, another friend gave us a brief tour of the new school where she works.  It’s a really nice school, but we were surprised to find that they apparently have an entire policy about a specific bodily function.  I wonder if students actually go into the hallway to abide by the policy.  And it really makes one wonder about the incident(s) that caused the policy to be drafted in the first place.  Asking my friend to make copies of the policy so I can post it on my blog is juvenile, I’ll admit…  but funny is funny, and I find it amusing.  I wonder if the teacher realizes that strangers come through her band room sometimes and read her rectal gas policy?  Did she have to submit it to the principal for approval before posting it?  Hey, Derek, do any of the schools you sub at have a body function policy?