July 2011 (part 1)

Posted in family fun, Travel on July 30th, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The July 2011 page on my calendar has been filled since spring, so I knew we had a busy month ahead.  Organizing everything I had jammed into those little squares on the calender was going to be challenging enough, but then we were even able to add a few family mini-vacations to the mix!  It’s been a great summer so far despite the challenges of sometimes trying to be in 2 places at once, and I wanted to chronicle everything to enhance the wonderful memories we made as a family this summer – but be prepared; this will be quite the manifest when I’m finished!

June 30 and July 1 – We began the month with a last-minute trip to an indoor water park that’s an hour away.  After a sudden burst of cabin fever, my husband found a super internet deal that afforded us some much-loved family time.  The kids loved the indoor water park, and Christopher was old enough this time to go on some water slides which he found to be a blast!

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Best of all, the constant lower back pain that had been making me short of patience, irritable and tired all the time seemed to be remedied by my getting to sit in water for 2 days.  I should note for future reference also how interesting it was to pack different people for 3 different trips at the same time.  Simultaneously, I was packing 6 people for an overnight stay (with a separate bag for changing into street clothes from bathing suits, I might add), 1 little girl for a 4 day stay at camp, and also for a 3 day trip for 6 people.  It felt hectic at the time, but not unmanageable – due to the fact that my wonderful family did much of the work for and with me.  And you know what?  I don’t think we forgot anything!!

July 2, 3 – After the water park, we got a day of rest (and unpacking, re-packing, laundry) before we set out Sunday for the 4-hour drive to Nashville Indiana – with one small glitch:  Hubby had food poisoning.  He had to miss church to rejuvenate, and then we were off – well, after packing up the car and some other in-town odds n ends.

July 3-6 – We spent the 4th of July in Nashville – a yearly trip Hubby and I take with our 4 kids, my parents, my uncle, and my sister, her husband and their 2 kids – there were 13 of us staying in a large house in the middle of the Brown County woods.  It was a beautiful place, and we’re torn on where to choose to have next year’s gathering.  Last year, we had a beautiful house where each family had their own bedroom and bathroom.  The few downsides to this house (called The Oaks) was the large steep hill that led down to the pond and fire pit – it proved to be dangerous last year when someone took a nasty spill (but was uninjured), so we didn’t want to gamble with it this year when we have an adult who is practically incapacitated (me being 5.5 mos. pregnant).  Also, the kids have to be watched constantly down by that pond, so it was a nice break for the adults this year to not have to worry about who was going to take them down there.  Also, there wasn’t really any yard for the kids to play in at The Oaks.  There was a swingset, but really only the two 3-year-old boys were of the age to enjoy a swing set this year, and that leaves 4 other kids with no yard to run around in.  Both houses had pool tables inside and hot tubs outside (which became little swimming pools for the kids since we didn’t want to turn on the heat in 90° weather), and The Oaks had tons of dvds,  board games, and a foosball table, but then again, this year we brought our own dvds and games and the kids had TONS to do and were never bored.  Another plus to this year’s cabin vs. The Oaks: the large dining room table that fit almost everyone at the same time so we could enjoy meals together.  The Oaks had only a small breakfast nook that seated 4 people or about 6 kids, so the adults had to eat elsewhere.  Given these pros and cons of each cabin, it’s going to be a tough decision next year on where to stay!!
The kids’ favorite thing to do this year was to go down to the creek that ran around the property (this cabin was called “Ginley’s Gulch” for future reference).  There they would walk the creek, hunting for crawdads, geodes, and minnows, and they found quite a few of all of the above.  As I said, this property had a larger yard, and also 85 acres of forest, and in the future I would like to explore the gorgeous property more since I wasn’t quite feeling up to that this year.  I did enjoy walking down the cleared path into the forest though – there were many beautifiul butterflies, cool looking insects, and birds to see and hear.  And oh yeah!  I forgot to mention another huge plus of Ginley’s Gulch – the screened-in porch!  It had a ceiling fan, so it was a wonderful, mosquito-free place to spend our Brown County evenings together.  A great trip!!

July 6 – We arose at the crack of dawn to pack up the car and get the kids roused for the 4+ hour drive to Michigan to drop daughter #2 at camp.  We were all exhausted, and the kids slept much of the way.  We did stop in Fort Wayne for something to eat, and we finally tried a little cafe where we had always wanted to try their eggs benedict since reading an ad for them years ago.  The eggs benedict was a bust – sauce from a packet, don’t you know, but they did have one of my seasonal favorites that’s very hard to find in the northern part of the country where I live: fried green tomatoes.  And they were yummy!  We dropped Sammie off at camp just a little late, and we were excited for her after seeing what a great place Camp Selah is (Camp Selah is a Christian camp in Reading Michigan, and both of our kids who went had a SUPER time!)

July 7-9 – These next few days were a bit quiet without the whole brood together, and we fit in another family min-vacation: since Sammie had to be picked up in the morning in Michigan, we took the other 3 kids to the drive-in in Coldwater Michigan and spent the night there – lots of fun!  Saturday the 9th we picked up Sammie, and she said she had a good week during her first ever time at camp.

July 11 was the 3rd birthday of a very special little guy, and we took him out to dinner at the local Mexican restaurant where they sang to him, put a sombrero on him, and dabbed his nose with dessert.  I of course forgot my camera 🙁  but he liked it all the same.  It reminded me of last year when the staff at Bob Evans sang to him, and he dove into my shirt to hide – the year of experience helped him to enjoy the attention more this year.  And in the morning of little dude’s birthday, I had to drive Taylor to camp in one of the nastiest storms of the year.  We made it there without a problem, but the ride home was dicey with driving rain and wind.  I was glad I didn’t have any kids with me which would have made me nervous, and as you can tell I made it just fine – even if I did arrive sopping wet and very late to Bible study.  In the newspaper the next day, I saw a picture of a power line that fell into the road which turned out to be the same road I had been driving down during that storm.  Just goes to show you what kinds of things to look out for when driving during inclement weather in the middle of desolate farm country, and I feel blessed to have made it safely.

July 11-14 – So with our eldest away at camp, the week flew by…  even though we missed her (I especially missed having someone old enough to have a normal conversation with me during the day).  We had 3 days of doctor appointments (me and our youngest-for-now had his 3-year-checkup) and meetings, and then… freedom!

July 15 – Hubby and I met my mom in South Bend, and she took “the littles” (our family name for the younger kids in our family; in this case it meant our 3-year-old, 4-year-old, and 7-year-olds) to Grandma’s for a vacation – which left Hubby and I kidless for a whole day!  So Hubby took me to the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, and the amount of walking and the weather was perfect for me even while pregnant since it was just the two of us.  What a great idea as I was just starting to get zoo withdrawl!  After the zoo, we decided to take the scenic route home from South Bend and fell upon a perfect date purely by accident:  in Middlebury Indiana, there is an excellent Amish-style restaurant called Das Dutchman Essenhaus.  We were driving by on a day when they had a buffet, so we could sample many varieties of their very delicious food.  Even better, there were some Amish men offering carriage rides in the parking lot, so we took one!  It was so romantic, the grounds of the mini-resort were beautiful, the weather was perfect, and hearing the history of the grounds as told my our Amish guide was wonderful – best date day ever!!

(below is a picture of a horse and buggy like the one we drove in (ours was more of a carriage than a buggy).  I had to take the picture on the way home since I had forgotten my camera and couldn’t take any pictures while on the buggy ride!)

July 16 – This was the day we picked up our oldest from camp, and we got to hear every detail about her awesome week while driving from Michigan to Fort Wayne to see…  the new Harry Potter movie ON IMAX IN 3D!!  Yes, it was as cool as it sounds, and it was fun to take Taylor out for a fun day with only parents and no younger siblings – dinner was at Golden Corral, one of her favorite places since she loves steak.  I’m thankful that the awful nausea I felt earlier in the day did not persist through the movie, and the cause of it that day still perplexes me…  such is a mystery of pregnancy, I guess.

July 17-18 – The 3 of us tackled the huge project of cleaning out our spare room – what a mess!  I wish we had taken some “before” pictures, but the most important thing is that it got done, even if I felt like I was going to fall over in exhaustion by the end of it.  I’m so proud of Hubby for all the hard work he did for this project, and especially that it was his idea to tackle it earlier than we had scheduled – we began Saturday night after Fort Wayne rather than Sunday after church as we had planned.  But it looks GREAT, and as I’m writing this at the end of July, our family has gotten so much use out of it already.  We made it into a craft / hobby / school room, and it has a computer, Taylor’s new sewing machine (a present from Grandma), all kinds of paper, crayons, glue, etc, and all the many, many arts and crafts kits and supplies we had been saving (and losing) for the past 5 years.

(July manifest to be continued – need to give your eyes a break!  But first, here is a pic of a creative, cute fire hydrant in downtown South Bend Indiana I snapped while sitting at a stoplight – look for it near the silver van’s rear bumper)


BookWorm

Posted in books on April 15th, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was always an avid reader, but then I took an almost decade hiatus from reading books.  Because I did (and do) my reading before bed, I think the hiatus was due to the combination of getting used to parenting and also being fresh out of college which meant that I wasn’t used to getting to read what I wanted rather than what was assigned to me.  But a few years ago, I took up the hobby once again, and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it.  I began by reading non-fiction because I liked the idea of learning something while I was reading.  I read biographies and stories that ranged from fun to inspirational, and my favorite reading was centered on true crime.

I read In the Presence of My Enemies, the inspiring true story of the Burnham couple who, after years of missionary work in the Philippines, were taken hostage during a vacation there and held for a year.  I read My Lobotomy, the biography of a man named Howard Dully who underwent a forced frontal lobotomy at the age of 12.  I read How Many Hills to Hillsboro, an account of a family of 5 who attempted and almost made a cross country trip together in the ’60s – on their bicycles.  I delved into fiction, reading the entire Harry Potter series and loving it.  And now I call myself an avid reader with a “to read” book list a mile long – and by the way, all of the above mentioned books I enjoyed immensely, and I highly recommend them.

I think that’s how I ended up reading 3 books at the same time.  It began when I was looking for something to read that would compare to Harry Potter, so I tried C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series and began with The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.  While enjoyable, it wasn’t quite the can’t-put-it-down book that I was looking for, so I consulted my “to read” list and decided to try a Stephen King book that had been recommended by a local newspaper columnist – Under the Dome.  With the exception of some short stories, I haven’t read Stephen King before, but I’ve enjoyed a few of his movies.  So far, Under the Dome has been exactly what I’m looking for – page-turning excitement that is hard to put down!  The novel is about a small town in Maine that is suddenly and inexplicably cut off from the rest of  the world by a mysterious,  invisible – yet very real barrier.  Between trying to draft and enforce their own laws, keeping lawless individuals under control and townspeople from going crazy – literally –  and attempting to figure out what the dome is and how to get rid of it, the little town has more than its fair share of strife.

A few weeks before my request for Under the Dome came in at the library, I had decided I wanted to read the Bible, and so I find myself switching between two 1000+ page books in bed at night – I am so grateful we found a great sale on that e-book reader, which makes switching between these two books easy on my arms and my bed partner.  I know a lot of people are intimidated by the complex language of the Bible, but the NIV version is fairly easy reading, and I really enjoy reading it and especially learning more about the chapters I’ve read when I go to church on Sunday.

As if reading two 1000+ page books at the same time weren’t enough (though on the plus side, it’s not like I can possibly get the characters in the Bible and those in Under the Dome mixed up – a complication I used to run into in my heavier reading days when I would try to read a book for pleasure and a book for school at the same time), another one of my requests came in at the library – Caril by Ninette Beaver.  Being a more obscure book, I don’t know that I will get the opportunity to get it from the library again, so I’m attempting the book-reading tri-fecta.  Caril is the unauthorized biography of Caril Fugate, the alleged accomplice to Charles Starkweather who went on an infamous murder spree centered in Lincoln Nebraska in 1958.  Although Caril was tried and convicted in a court of law, there has been much debate about her actual role in the murders because of her age at the time – 14.  The book follows the cases and Caril’s incarceration and is written from the media’s point of view in the 1970’s before Caril was released from prison.  It’s been interesting to read about other news items of the day (breaking news items in 1958 included: Liz Taylor’s husband killed in a plane crash and Elvis being drafted into the Army) and also how differently people reacted to news reporters taking interviews for the brand-new medium of the day: television.  Family members of suspects, law enforcement, and attorneys were all much more willing and able to talk to reporters and share details for the camera than they are today.  You may have seen one of a number of movies made about the Starkweather cases; the most famous is Natural  Born Killers, although that movie DOES NOT follow the cases accurately and is, in my opinion, a terrible movie.  I  guess the reason I’m so interested in these cases is because Charles Starkweather was a different type of serial killer and one who has escaped the major notoriety of say, Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy.  I also lived in the lovely city of Lincoln Nebraska for a year, and I’ve seen many of the places where the crimes took place for myself – including the penitentiary where Starkweather was electrocuted and the cemetery where he is buried.

I’m really enjoying all 3 of my books right now, but reaching my goal of re-reading the last installment of the Harry Potter series before the final movie comes out mid-July is going to prove to be quite challenging!!

And one more note – further encouragement to read Under the Dome is the movie being made due to come out this year – looks like a made-for-tv movie, which is difficult for me to imagine based upon the violence involved and intensity of the story.  But if Stephen King’s other tv mini-series are any indication, Under the Dome the movie version will not disappoint and is an excellent reason to  pick up this great book for some perfect summer reading!

Harry Potter – Reading Vs. Watching

Posted in books, Movies on January 20th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Now that I’ve read the first installment in the Harry Potter series, I decided to watch the movie make the story come to life.  I wasn’t disappointed, but I much prefer the book – the movie leaves out a lot of details.  It was obvious that was going to happen otherwise the movie would be about 12 hours long, but the excluded details were enough to make me prefer the book to the movie.  Here is a run-down of thoughts I had while enjoying the movie last night:

•  Did the beginning of the movie portray Professor McGonagall as a cat as she is in the book?  I didn’t notice it, but I also came into the movie a minute or two late due to an unplanned (though pleasant!) phone conversation.  I would have liked to see her as a cat.

•  I really liked seeing how the train station came to life, and especially how exactly they found platform 9¾!

•  Did the movie explain the resident ghosts of Hogwarts?  I noticed lack of explanation for other characters as well – especially Neville! – but as stated before, it’s a long movie, so maybe it was out of necessity that they had to cut some descriptions that were present in the book.

•  The movie is well cast and directed.  Everything is just like I pictured from the book, and that’s a good thing.  I had considered waiting to watch any of the Potter movies until I was finished reading the series for fear that movie would ruin my vision of Hogwarts, but I’m glad I didn’t wait; the movie was very enjoyable.  I was pleased to see  that creatures like the Gringotts bank goblins, for example, looked just like the sketches in the book which also helped to make my expectations match the movie.

•  Visually, the invading troll was cool, although its extreme smelliness was completely downplayed in the movie – one of the things I wish was not.

•  This movie would be so cool in 3D!!

•  The charcer Hagrid gained about 50 IQ points for the movie.  He was likable, but reads dumber than he acted in the movie.  I think I would have liked to see him more like he was in the book.

•  The movie is a good representation of the book brought to life, but how is it to watch it on its own if you haven’t read the book?  I will talk to my husband about this because he did just that.  And for me – the movie almost went too fast for me.  I saw events happen in minutes that in real time, took me weeks to read about!  But then again, there are over 300 pages being shown in under 3 hours.

•  The character Severus Snape stood out as being very well cast – I’m not remembering a very vivid depiction of him in the book, and the movie did not disappoint in this regard.

FOLLOWING MIGHT BE SPOILERS – YOU MIGHT NOT WANT TO READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN OR READ HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE

•  Quirrell didn’t seem to be stuttering much in the movie, which brings me to a minor complaint that I have about both the book and the movie.   I felt that Professor’s Quirrell’s character was not elaborated upon enough to fully give the audience the big surprise ending.  Sometimes I would even get Quirrell mixed up with Filch (while reading the book anyway), but I guess that could also be a side effect of reading while falling asleep!

•  Did I miss something, or does neither the book nor the movie elaborate upon why Harry’s scar hurts when he see Snape?

Overall, a very enjoyable movie-watching experience!  Fun for everyone – the kids weren’t scared by it and enjoyed it, and my husband liked it so much that he’s been asking me when I’m going to finish the 2nd book because he wants to see the 2nd movie!

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone

Posted in books on January 8th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I did it.  I’ve finished reading the first book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  And I really enjoyed it; I think I can officially call myself a Harry Potter fan!  The book was very fast-moving, and because it’s kind of a kids’ fantasy book (but don’t get the wrong idea – MANY adults like it too!), I was able to finish the entire 300 pages on my limited reading schedule without even having to renew it at the library once!

Tonight, I’m going to start the second book in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and if I can convince my husband, we’ll be watching the movie of the first book this weekend.  And now I am REALLY excited to see the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando.  They are being kinda secretive about the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction, but it promises to use “entirely new technology” to bring the Harry Potter series to life “in a way never before experienced”!  Maybe something like The Mummy ride or The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman 3D?  How cool would that be for Harry Potter!!  And the shops and restaurants are all going to keep in the tradition of the boy wizard’s world.  Chocolate frogs, anyone?  The world doesn’t open until spring, and it doesn’t look like we’re going to get to Florida before the fall or next winter anyway, so if that becomes a reality, we will have to make sure we get to Universal – I really liked Islands of Adventure anyway, and now it’s going to be even better!  I just have to make sure I read all the Potter books by then.  And I almost don’t want to read too much about the new world on the internet for fear that it would be spoilers about things I haven’t discovered yet.

As much as I’m enjoying the Harry Potter series, I’m not usually one to stick to one type of book.  If I need a break from Hogwart’s before I get through all 7 stories, I might try The Zookeeper’s Wife, a story about a zoo in Poland in the 1930’s and how it’s destroyed during the holocaust – as long as it’s not too depressing of a read.

A Not-So-Cynical Look At The 2009 Holiday Season

Posted in holidays on December 29th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was thinking about our family’s 2009 holiday season, now come and almost gone already, and I was envisioning words to describe this wonderful season, despite the fact that this year ours was peppered with unpleasant familial dramatics.  But about a week ago, I made what was a conscious decision to pull myself up from the depths of despair I had fallen into after losing a beloved family member just one week before Christmas.  So, in my good humor, I chose 24 of the best words to describe my holiday season, each beginning with a different letter of the alphabet.  Here goes…

Avatar – Saw it and actually liked it, despite my typical sci-fi reluctance.  But I liked Avatar so much that I’m really hoping the timing and budget work out so that I can see it again in 3D at a more technologically savvy theater.

Big Family Christmas – We traveled to Illinois on Christmas Day and got to take part in a huge gathering of my husband’s large extended family.  His 92-year-old grandmother, who speaks with a thick east-coast Connecticut accent (and who smoked 3 packs of cigarettes a day from age 16 until age 70!) told many of her infamous stories that had everyone in stitches!  After hearing one of Monie’s stories, I could have used the words Blue Boob for B, but I will spare you those details…  😉

Christ Was Born – We went to a beautiful church service on Christmas Eve to celebrate and reflect upon the entire purpose of the Christmas holiday.

De…  There are two words that come to mind for this letter based upon certain recent events in my life, but I’m not going to go there; this is to be “A Not-So-Cynical Look…” blog post.  So here, D will stand for Dumbledore, since I’m almost halfway through my first Harry Potter book and lovin’ it!

Elf – My favorite holiday movie, and we actually had time to watch it this year!  It, unlike a few other favorite Christmas experiences, did not lose any magic this year.  I still felt that warm and fuzzy “Christmas Magic” feeling after I watched this movie – I’d pull it out more often, but it’s not the same unless it’s Christmas! 
“I love smiling; smiling’s my favorite!!”  – Buddy The Elf

Friends – We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends, and I can’t thank them enough for the things they did and just for being there during this bittersweet time.

Grandparents –  We were able to visit 3 of our grandparents this holiday season!  Even being in our 30’s, we have 3 surviving grandparents among my husband and I –  we were blessed to be able to spend time with all of them this year!

Homemade spaghetti – Best.  Christmas.  Gift.  EVER!!  My mother-in-law sent us home 4 huge frozen batches of her out-of-this-world spaghetti sauce!  AND a large bag of grated Asiago cheese.  AND…  something I’ll save for another letter…

Ice – Drove through plenty of it to reach IL and get back to Ohio on Christmas day.  Luckily, traffic was light and travel for us was smooth and safe.  The kids were good as gold and slept for the majority of both drives.

Jill – Screwed us over again!  This little story begins with Walmart.  Since this is “A Not-So-Cynical Look…”, I won’t go off about Walmart, but I will simply state the facts:  the pump in our windshield wiper cleaner fluid dispenser stopped working after the last time we got an oil change at Walmart.  We didn’t really need it until Christmas night, when we were driving past the city of Chicago, and apparently smog + snow = some sort of disgusting pollution paste.  So visibility is limited, and we still don’t know exactly what happened since we’ve driven this route dozens of times, but basically the express lanes on I-90 seemed to suddenly dissolve into city streets.  So now it’s 10:30 on Christmas night, and we’re wandering around in the city.  We can’t see out the back of the car since there’s tons of Christmas presents, and we can’t see out of the front of the car because of the pollution paste.  This is where Jill comes in – and she directs us straight back to I-90.  Only problem is, our van can’t just jump guardrails; we needed an entrance ramp, and Jill was only directing us to streets that crossed over the expressway and didn’t actually intersect with it.  So we crossed bridge after bridge, and we criss-crossed I-90 until one of those streets had an entrance ramp.  Then Jill freaked out and tried to get us off of the expressway again, but she got her power button pressed – we knew our way from there.

Kalachkies – I have a fun memory of a Christmas years ago when my forgetful Polish grandmother was sitting in her wheelchair, instructing my equally Polish uncle and myself how to make kalachkies, a usually delicious Polish cookie.  The end results were inedible and referred to as “hockey pucks”.  This year at Christmas, my husband’s cousin made homemade kalachkies – real ones, no hockey pucks, and they were delicious!  Thanks Lilly!

Late night drive – One night, we took the kids out in the car in their pajamas with some snacks, and we drove through the snowy countryside to a town  about 30 minutes away for a drive-thru lighted display that’s just wonderful.  Late night drive could also refer to my husband’s and my peaceful drive home (after the unscheduled tour of the city) while the kids were asleep all the way from Illinois to Ohio – nice.

Mashed Potatoes – My mother-in-law is a great cook!  I guess it’s been  awhile since the last time I had her mashed potatoes, because I  didn’t remember how they tasted.  But I told her the truth after Christmas dinner – they were the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had!

Noodles – My mother-in-law’s spaghetti sauce also came with EIGHT pounds of whole wheat gourmet organic pasta!  I love whole wheat pasta – it actually tastes better, and you don’t get the pasta-stomachache / horrible stuffed feeling that can accompany pasta over-indulgence.

Onions – One of my favorite holiday dishes is creamed onions, and it was a nice surprise to see this dish on the Christmas buffet.  Fortunately for me, my husband can replicate the taste of his mother’s creamed onions –  yum!

P.A.S. – Pompous Ass Syndrome – my poor brother-in-law is a victim.  Enough Said.

Quiet – With 4 kids and Christmas celebrations spread out over 2 weeks, there really wasn’t much of this.

Revenge – My brother and sister-in-law gifted our kids 3 little gumball machines.  Cute, but not when you realize how many gumballs needed to be pried out of our candy-obsessed toddler’s little hands, for one thing.  Who would give little kids gumball machine gifts?  Wait, isn’t that what we got her 3 kids last year?!?  I’m all for re-gifting; I really think it’s a smart thing to do.  But maybe next year I’ll choose our Christmas gifts more carefully…

Snow – It’s been snowing on and off for a week and a half here in Ohio.  The Chicago area was unexpectedly blanketed with about a foot of snow on Saturday – thank goodness we left for Ohio on Friday night!

Turkey – We ate it and it was good.

U-Turn – see “J” – Jill the GPS.  Besides the time we were lost in Chicago, Jill caused us to make at least one other U-turn on this trip.

Vile – Odor in Gary Indiana – I don’t care what the Music Man had to say – Gary Indiana STINKS!  Literally!!!

Weather  – I was worried about it all week, but thankfully, it didn’t impede our journey in the slightest.

X-changing gifts –  Ok, that’s too generic?  What else could X stand for, the rating of Monie’s Blue Boob story?  We x-changed gifts many gifts, and that’s all I’m going to say.

Yellow Puppy – When our friends heard about our family’s heartbreak, they gifted us a gigantic (stuffed) dog.  This cute puppy’s headband wouldn’t even fit on my head, and she wears a sweater that could probably fit me – or at least all 4 of my kids in it together…  so cute and so thoughtful, and the kids LOVE her!

Zoo lights – With everything that was going on during this December, I’m so thankful that we were able to make it to  one of our favorite Christmas destinations this year –   the Toledo Zoo for their Lights Before Christmas displays.  Beautiful lights in a peaceful atmosphere, and if you get there early enough, you can see some zoo animals, which is probably my favorite thing to do in the whole world!

Hope you had a Merry Christmas, and best wishes for a great New Year!!!

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.