New TV!

Posted in Everyday Life, Movies on October 8th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Last night, my husband and I decided to visit an old friend we haven’t seen  in some time – The Redbox.  You all know the Redbox – the dvd rental machine that sits like a swollen ATM at many Walmarts, Meijers, Walgreens and the like.  Dvd rental at the Redbox is $1 per night, and one of the perks of the Redbox is lack of selection.  Yes, I said lack of selection.  In this day and age of rushing from here to there, who has time to actually make an extra stop to go into a video store and browse hundreds of selections?  We really enjoyed our Redbox summer, renting a movie almost every night and exhausting pretty much the entire Redbox collection.  Now the kids have been in school for a few months already, and time has gone by without us having time to think about our long-lost Redbox bud.  So anyway, last night, with the cold wind howling outside, we thought it to be the perfect night to stay up a little too late with a random Redbox horror movie.  It was Seventh Moon, and it seemed to actually be pretty scary, except that it is a ‘dark and shaky’ type horror movie – the camera moves around a lot, and the entire movie takes place  in the dark.  We turned off our lights in the house, but we still couldn’t really see.  Remembering what a repairman had told him once, my husband suggested we take the front panel off the tv and dust a little mirror inside – supposedly we would get a brighter picture.  Thinking it sounded easy (?), I agreed and we began to unscrew our tv.  We get the panel loosened and discover that there isn’t any dust on the screen!  And, you’d be surprised at how much empty space there is in a big tv!  But anyway, we started to put it back  together when CRACK!  Uh, oh.  Here’s a hint –  if you ever decide to tackle a home improvement project on the suggestion of someone else, no matter how small the project, always remember who told you to do what so that person can be held accountable!

So we are trying to put the tv back together, and we were thinking that at this point, we would just like to go back  to our movie, however dark it might be, we just want to be able to WATCH the movie on a working tv.  But then my husband sees the small mirror at the bottom that is FULL of dust!  I rigged a paper towel rod with a dust cloth, and reached in there and dusted off that little mirror.  We tried again to put the tv back together, encouraged and excited by the fact that we might have actually been able to fix it.  We put the tv back together, but we had cracked something, so it’s not really properly lined up and is now missing a few screws, oopsie.  BUT…  the picture is SO much brighter!  Not only were we able to see the rest of the movie (which was a nice ‘n suspenseful creature feature), but now we can actually watch tv during the day!  Oh, if only we had discovered our new tv during those bright summer days months ago when the Chicago Cubs were still invited to play baseball…

Tale Of Tartar

Posted in Everyday Life on September 4th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

I did not go to Walmart yesterday, but I still have enough of a complaint to sit and write a blog post about the place!  In case you’ve missed my other (many) Walmart rants, I’ll save you the search and link to a few of the various episodes depicting the times they wronged me.  Like this time.  And this time.  And this time, to name a few…

So anyway, back to last night – I needed tartar sauce for dinner and didn’t realize it until after the kids got home from school, so I ran out (for what I thought was going to be) really quick to get some.  I went to Walgreens first, but they don’t carry tartar sauce, so I went across town to Dollar General, and they don’t carry tartar sauce either.  Is this a side effect of living in a small town – it’s hard to find the things I need last minute if needed?  If so, I will gladly take it in exchange for the traffic, air pollution, and the general stress that exudes from larger cities (see hubby’s blog post about a recent news article about the most stressed cities – ew).  But most likely the apparent lack of tartar sauce in rural NW Ohio is due to scenario #2 – ever since we got a Super Walmart a few years ago, the competitors have phased out certain grocery non-necessities like tartar sauce.  Why should they carry old crusty tartar sauce when no one buys it there because everyone shops at Walmart?  I begrudgingly include myself in that category – you can read those previous posts of mine if you really want to know more about my Walmart paradox and why I shop there.  (At least my kids were never slapped by strangers, and I haven’t shown up here – yet.)

If you’re still with me – I’ve linked all over the internet in this post, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve lost some people –  I’m going to blame Walmart for my lack-of-tartar-sauce problem.  And in case you’re wondering how it all turned out, it really wasn’t a problem after all.  We just convinced the kids to try ranch dressing instead of the tartar sauce, and they actually liked it – well, until the ranch dressing came out too fast and spilled and incited a tantrum that caused a chain reaction that ruined dinner, but that’s another post!  And before my comment board lights up with healthy eating advice, I’m already aware that the kids really shouldn’t grow up so sauce-dependent.  But in these parts where the kids outnumber the adults, you must adapt to survive, and “pick your battles” is essential parenting advice!

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?

When “Good” Towns Go Bad

Posted in Kids, Uncategorized on April 2nd, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I guess it depends on what you would call a good town.  A place we used to live called Naperville Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago, was once considered a good town.  It had lots of fun things to do, relatively low crime, good schools, and lots of money.  It was never my ideal place to live, however, because it was always way too crowded and had way too much traffic for my tastes.  But I never considered it a dangerous place to live…  until yesterday.  Being from the Chicago area and having friends and family who still reside there means I maintain an interest in keeping up with their local news.  Yesterday I came across the following newspaper article about a murder that was committed in the neighborhood where we used to live:  Man Shot, Killed in Naperville

In a city the size of Naperville (about 10 square miles, with a population of over 140,000 people), this incident might not appear to be as shocking to the normal reader as it was to me.  However, having lived in this neighborhood only about 7 years ago, I can’t believe how much it has changed.  We lived in a small townhome; it was very nice and backed up to a school.  It seemed like the perfect picture of suburbia at the time.  It was VERY over-priced for what I would expect to pay for a 1.5 bedroom where I live now, (we paid $1380 rent a month, and our place was not more than 650 square feet), however at the time I thought it was worth it because it was a “nice” area and close to family in a place I thought would be safe to raise kids.  Needless to say, I was wrong on that account.  In the article about the crime, the newspaper drew a nice little map.  Turns out the victim (who had an arrest record himself – not that I’m judging, just noting) lived not more than 2 blocks from our old home.  The victim’s body was found 5 blocks from our old home.  We used to take our daughter for walks around the area all the time; there was a Walgreens we used to walk to right near where the body was found.  Readers who posted in the comments section of the story say how the area has become “seedy”, and in the article itself, they state that the victim’s home was a “high traffic area”.  All of this adds up to a place where I would NOT want to raise kids, let alone pay through the nose for a small place to live, only to have to worry about protecting my family from the violent crime that seems to have invaded the area.  Some might say this is an isolated incident; they can say “this can happen anywhere.”  That IS true.  Anything can happen anywhere.  However, one can now say that it can happen anywhere, but it DOES happen there.

It truly makes me thankful every day that we’ve now found such a wonderful place to call home; away from the city and its crime, pollution, and expenses, not to mention how superficial and just downright unfriendly the residents of a town like Naperville can be.  It’s baffling to me that they charge EXTRA to live in a place like that!  It makes me feel really good knowing that when my kids grow up and want to raise children of their own, they will have the option to stay in the wonderful town where they grew up.  I did not have that option, since I grew up in a town next to Naperville, and it is no longer a good place to raise children.  If my kids want to spread their wings and fly away to explore the world and see what else is out there, that is fine.  I will miss them of course, but I am quite confident that if all else fails out there,  they will always have the option to return to the place where they grew up to live safely and prosperously.  Country living is not for everyone, I guess, but I don’t think I’ll ever understand those who choose to pass up utopia for city life 🙂