A Not-So-Perfect End To A Perfect Day

Posted in holidays on November 1st, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WHEW!  I have to admit that we totally overdid it on Halloween, but in a good way – at one point in the evening, my 5-year-old said “how many parties are we going to?!?  We threw a Halloween-themed game night on Friday, complete with things like spider venom, truth serum, and rat vomit for drinks and snacks.  Most guests wore costumes, and there was a wide collection of characters, from witches to fishes to Star Wars characters and a vampire – we even had a gay construction worker!  Fun was had, but as usual, we stayed up too late and failed to rest up for our huge day ahead –  HALLOWEEN!

We began Saturday by making the rats costumes and taking them to the pet store for a costume contest.  No word yet how they placed in the contest, but Bobby Jack dressed as a zebra while Oreo was a Pink Lady from Grease – the kids had a blast!  We took  the rats home and headed out to the ice rink for the annual community Halloween party – one of my favorite things about living here.  We get there right when it opens and head straight for the hayride, where we are driven around the huge park.  Occasionally, creepy creatures run from hideouts among the trees and chase the wagon!  Not as many people were in line this year, so we got to ride the hayride twice, and then the kids tried some of the games, the maze, and the bouncy castles, while Mom and Dad chatted with long-lost friends and sipped slushies and hot chocolate (everything at this party is free and donated by local businesses and organizations!)  We got our hot dogs to go this year, and they told us to take a huge pumpkin home – we still have to carve our pumpkins, so we were more than happy to get one more!

We were able to rest for about an hour, then it was time for trick-or-treating.  We moved into our neighborhood 3 years ago, and we learned the first year that it’s not good for trick-or-treating.  We love where we live, but come Halloween, it seems like many neighbors aren’t home, so we’d have to make the kids walk blocks for only a few houses with porch lights on.  So we drive across town and trick-or-treat in a friendly neighborhood where some friends live, and we started with  their house.  Our little guy dressed as Barney, Disney was Dora the Explorer, Sammie was a princess, and Taylor was a bloody prom girl.

Halloween 09

Oh wait, you need to see Barney with his tail 😉

Halloween 09 (5)

I absolutely love Halloween – of course I think my own kids were the cutest, but I  love seeing all the kids dressed up.  An honorable mention goes to the 4 teenage boys who were dressed as the Teletubbies – my 3-year-old daughter was asking where the Teletubbies were all night, but we never did catch up to them…

Halloween 09 (15)

We took in quite a haul with the 4 kids, and after the second house, our 15½-month-old had the hang of taking candy from strangers.  Ok, that sounds really bad, but Halloween is a unique event, he was allowed, and it was really cute!  We got in the car after we were done trick-or-treating and headed over to a party at our friends’ church.  The kids had a blast there as always, and we made out like bandits in the raffle!  Years of not winning anything we entered apparently caught up with us on Halloween night because a few bucks in raffle tickets won us 2 value meals at Burger King and 3 really cool brand new toys for the kids!

But here is where things start to change from perfect to overwhelming – at the church we ran into my Kindergartner’s friend Hannah from preschool.  This child has many medical issues, and she’s been in and out of the hospital her entire life for brain surgeries.  Her mother was telling us how she doesn’t like her preschool anymore and how she’s been depressed because she doesn’t have any friends.  So who could possible tell this little girl “no” when she asked if she could come sleep over again?  Certainly not us, no matter how exhausted we were from the weekend’s activities…

After the church, we headed over to the community theater where they were having a Wizard of Oz party.  I  was completely exhausted, and we had to hurry home to meet up with my daughter’s little friend, but I really enjoyed the Wizard of Oz party during the short time we were there.  They did an AWESOME job with the decorations, and there were so many neat Oz-themed games and activities – even a yellow brick road! -that I will forgive the inclusion of some things from Wicked.  I guess I should say for any readers who don’t know – I’m a huge Wizard of Oz fan, but it’s the movie that I really enjoy.  I don’t remember the book much, and what I’ve seen of Wicked did not impress me, to say the least, but that’s another blog post altogether…

So FINALLY we get home, and Hannah is waiting for us.  At this point, I was SO incredibly tired, not to mention my car full of garbage, pieces of costume, and spilled candy.  All I wanted to do was end Halloween my favorite way –  watching a scary movie with Hubby.  So we got the kids (all SIX of them, since two daughters had friends over) as settled as was humanly possible after I-don’t-even-want-to-think-about how much candy and were about to  start our movie when Hannah comes down the stairs.  We sent her back up, and checked email and basically killed some time until we felt confident we could start a movie without any kids coming downstairs or calling for us.  Well, that never happened.  Somehow, we had forgotten that Hannah is a friend who is very needy and also one who outright REFUSES to go to bed.  We started the movie anyway, and we only had to interrupt it like 5 times (a late 80’s thriller called I,Madman – both hubby and I recommend it!).  But Hannah began one of her many descents down the stairs right during a climatic moment in the movie, which made my husband jump a mile high, which in turn made my heart stop and stomach drop.  And that was when I  knew I wouldn’t be falling asleep for hours.  Hannah finally fell asleep when there was only 15 minutes left in the movie, but she outlasted every one of the other kids, and by then, it was 2 am!  I guess you could say I put my extra daylight savings hour to good use; I think it’s the only hour of sleep I got!  I had trouble falling asleep, then I had terrible nightmares all night and kept waking up –  one was about Hannah; I’m not even kidding!  I woke up early to the sounds of kids playing and couldn’t fall back asleep.  So here we are, the Sunday after Halloween, dead tired with a messy Halloween-themed house and a trashed car.  But at least our house once again contains only the 4 kids who live here, and the main trouble-maker has been sacked out all day – told you we overdid it!

Hope you had a GREAT Halloween!!!

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!

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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Vacation Diary – Chapter One

Posted in Travel on October 28th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Because Disney World and the Orlando area in Florida are our favorite places to vacation, we make it a point to go as often as we possibly can.  The last few trips we’ve made, I’ve been careful to keep a trip diary – a notebook log of things we do as well as hints that might help us make the next journey.  Each trip to FL sees me taking a notebook for our trip diary, and I write about various things in it, depending how much downtime I have to write while the kids are sleeping.  Here is an excerpt from the diary for this trip:

FRIDAY OCT 17, 2008 – Left town about 5:30pm.  Unfortunately, our local Burger King we decided to get for dinner took about 30 minutes!  Kids were rambunctious, so we stopped at a McDonald’s Playland in downstate Ohio, wondering how we were ever going to make it the remaining 1,000 miles and back again (at least I was!).  The good news is, the Playland seemed to tire out the kids and they fell asleep.  They woke around midnight, but a trip into the gas station seemed to comfort Disney (almost 2 year old) and the kids slept until about 8 am Sat morning.
SAT OCT 18, 2008 – We stopped at another McD’s Playland to blow off some steam, but it was raining, so their outdoor playplace was closed.  The kids handled it well.  This was north of coastal Brunswick, GA, so we made pretty good time the night before – thanks to sleepless driver Chris!  Since the weather was nice, when we saw a sign around Jacksonville, FL that the beach was only 4 miles away, we decided to stop.  We had a great time, and the kids had lots of fun wading in the ocean and collecting seashells.  After that, it was on to Orlando, and we stopped and picked up the key for our condo rental when we got there.  We then made it to the condo – which was over 10 miles away, much to our surprise – where our faithful driver promptly crashed leaving me to facilitate the activities of 4 well-rested kids.  But no problem, I was glad to do it.  After all, I had been afforded a nice nap in the car on the way down, a luxury my husband didn’t get.  Of course, I’m a person who does best with 8-10 hours of sleep, not that I ever get close to that, but still…  So I’m doing my best to summon all the patience I have so I can watch the kids who would not let me nap, and I ended up taking the younger two to Walgreens with me to get some supplies.  The place we stayed in was very nice, but it didn’t come with anything – no soap, shampoo, paper towels, beverages…  for a family of 6 staying for a week, these were necessities I would need at the local Walgreens.  I killed some time there, got lost on the way back, and by the time I had unloaded kids and groceries, my husband was rested and ready for some fun.  We went to Golden Corral for dinner…  delicious.  Reminder for those of you who live in urban areas – we’re not used to a variety when it comes to eating out.  So, when we eat out, even at major chain restaurants, we appreciate them in a way we never did when they were available constantly. 

SUN OCT 19 – slept in, had lunch at Golden Corral.  Read my post about the previous night’s activities if you don’t understand why we had two meals in a row with Golden Corral.  I would say the lunch is even better then the dinner.  So then we went to Old Town, which is a row of shops fashioned like an old fashioned Main Street – there’s even a general store where they sell little glass bottles of Pepsi for 50¢.  When we first started going to Old Town 10 years ago, those little bottles were a quarter, but I’m not complaining – there’s something about the glass bottle that makes that Pepsi taste extra good.  Maybe it’s the thirst quenching reflief it provides after walking around in the Florida heat, or maybe it’s the always much needed caffeine boost – whatever the reason, that little bottle always hits the spot.  The Main St. part of Old Town is about 4-5 blocks long, and at each end, there are carnival rides.  The roller coaster is jerky but fun, and I went on the swinging boat ride which was scarier than it looked!  My fearless daughter, who always wants to try the big rides but isn’t tall enough yet, was shaken enough on the swinging boat ride that she cried.  We sat on the end, which I knew would be more thrilling than the middle, but I didn’t realize how much more mild the middle would be until I rode there with our friend Jamiahsh.  We had lots of fun at Old Town and kinda lost track of time.  We wouldn’t have been late for the dinner show Arabian Nights if we hadn’t left the tickets back at the condo…  oops.  We had to walk around in the dark and missed the first few minutes of the show.  At least they let my husband in, who let us out at the door and had to park the car.  The worker in the parking lot told him to give all the tickets to me, but when my husband tried to get in, they gave him a hard time without a ticket!  Thank goodness he was able to get in and also find us in the dark.  Arabian Nights is a great show.  Think Medieval Times (if you’ve been there) without the chivalrous games.  Well, there is a chariot race, but there are more acrobatics and horse dancing – the horses are gorgeous.  My husband calls it Medieval Times for girls, and all us girls in the family love it.  My husband was able to get a good deal on tickets online, so the show cost less than a regular dinner!  And their food is really good.  It’s served with all-you-can-drink pop, which backfired a little bit because in the dark with the show going on, it was difficult to notice that our 2-year-old Disney was drinking A LOT of pop.  So next thing I know, she’s walking around, and she starts going up the stairs and tells me she’ll be right back.  I said, no, Disney let’s stay in our seats, and then she YELLED at me – “I’LL BE RIGHT BACK!”.  It wasn’t a really angry outburst, but if you know sweet little Disney, it was so out of character for her that it was hilarious.  She was all hepped up on sugar and pop.  So there’s our first 2 days in Florida.  We started Monday off with a time share presentation – ugh – so I’ll take that as my cue to stop posting for now.  This post is long enough, wouldn’t you say?

Wanna Feel Old?

Posted in Current Events, Movies on August 22nd, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Of course you do, who doesn’t?  Besides, it’s Friday night, and you’re at home reading my blog!  😉  I guess you could be reading this at a later time…  But anyway, if you’re around my age or older, then you remember Molly Ringwald, a popular actress in the 1980’s from many teen-themed movies such as Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, and the iconic The Breakfast Club.  If you were a fan of these movies as a teen or young adult yourself, you will probably feel old when I tell you that Molly Ringwald is playing a grandmother in her next role.  That’s right – grandma.  A woman whose kid has a kid.  Sigh.  While we’re on the subject of feeling old, I read an article the other day that had some interesting facts about the lives of students entering college this fall.  Each August for the past 11 years, Beloit College in Beloit, Wis., has released the Beloit College Mindset List.  It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college.  For these students, Sammy Davis Jr., Jim Henson, Ryan White, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Freddy Krueger have always been dead.  Here is some food for thought with the rest of the list:

  1. Harry Potter could be a classmate, playing on their Quidditch team.
  2. Since they were in diapers, karaoke machines have been annoying people at parties.
  3. They have always been looking for Carmen Sandiego.
  4. GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available.
  5. Coke and Pepsi have always used recycled plastic bottles.
  6. Shampoo and conditioner have always been available in the same bottle.
  7. Gas stations have never fixed flats, but most serve cappuccino.
  8. Their parents may have dropped them in shock when they heard George Bush announce “tax revenue increases.”
  9. Electronic filing of tax returns has always been an option.
  10. Girls in head scarves have always been part of the school fashion scene.
  11. All have had a relative–or known about a friend’s relative–who died comfortably at home with Hospice.
  12. As a precursor to “whatever,” they have recognized that some people “just don’t get it.”
  13. Universal Studios has always offered an alternative to Mickey in Orlando.
  14. Grandma has always had wheels on her walker.
  15. Martha Stewart Living has always been setting the style.
  16. Haagen-Dazs ice cream has always come in quarts.
  17. Club Med resorts have always been places to take the whole family.
  18. WWW has never stood for World Wide Wrestling.
  19. Films have never been X rated, only NC-17.
  20. The Warsaw Pact is as hazy for them as the League of Nations was for their parents.
  21. Students have always been “Rocking the Vote.”
  22. Clarence Thomas has always sat on the Supreme Court.
  23. Schools have always been concerned about multiculturalism.
  24. We have always known that “All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”
  25. There have always been gay rabbis.
  26. Wayne Newton has never had a mustache.
  27. College grads have always been able to Teach for America.
  28. IBM has never made typewriters.
  29. Roseanne Barr has never been invited to sing the National Anthem again.
  30. McDonald’s and Burger King have always used vegetable oil for cooking french fries.
  31. They have never been able to color a tree using a raw umber Crayola.
  32. There has always been Pearl Jam.
  33. The Tonight Show has always been hosted by Jay Leno and started at 11:35 EST.
  34. Pee-Wee has never been in his playhouse during the day.
  35. They never tasted Benefit Cereal with psyllium.
  36. They may have been given a Nintendo Game Boy to play with in the crib.
  37. Authorities have always been building a wall across the Mexican border.
  38. Lenin’s name has never been on a major city in Russia.
  39. Employers have always been able to do credit checks on employees.
  40. Balsamic vinegar has always been available in the U.S.
  41. Macaulay Culkin has always been Home Alone.
  42. Their parents may have watched The American Gladiators on TV the day they were born.
  43. Personal privacy has always been threatened.
  44. Caller ID has always been available on phones.
  45. Living wills have always been asked for at hospital check-ins.
  46. The Green Bay Packers (almost) always had the same starting quarterback.
  47. They never heard an attendant ask “Want me to check under the hood?”
  48. Iced tea has always come in cans and bottles.
  49. Soft drink refills have always been free.
  50. They have never known life without Seinfeld references from a show about “nothing.”
  51. Windows 3.0 operating system made IBM PCs user-friendly the year they were born.
  52. Muscovites have always been able to buy Big Macs.
  53. The Royal New Zealand Navy has never been permitted a daily ration of rum.
  54. The Hubble Space Telescope has always been eavesdropping on the heavens.
  55. 98.6 F or otherwise has always been confirmed in the ear.
  56. Michael Milken has always been a philanthropist promoting prostate cancer research.
  57. Off-shore oil drilling in the United States has always been prohibited.
  58. Radio stations have never been required to present both sides of public issues.
  59. There have always been charter schools.
  60. Students always had Goosebumps.

I hope I didn’t depress you, but remember, it’s not my list, so blame Beloit College and Molly Ringwald if you feel like an old geezer.  Why don’t we just forget about the list and toast our recycled bottles of Coke to life experience.