Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pay it Forward Challenge, Any More Takers???

Hi! I'm wondering if I may have frightened away a few potential Pay it Forward players when I described the grand goodie bag I received from Lin at Duck and Wheel with String. I should have mentioned you do not have to go out and spend a lot of money or do anything extravagant. Just a nice, kind thing that would make someone feel good. It could even be free advertising on your blog or a singing telegram (well, maybe that would work for some people, not me!). Anything that works for you to show another blogger some kindness. With all the bad things going on in the world, we all could use a little kindness every now and then!

So... I'll extend my deadline for the Pay it Forward Challenge until Sunday at midnight. I only have one contestant so far, so don't be shy and let me know if you'd like to play! I'll draw three lucky winners and if you win, you'll receive a little something special from me!

On another note, sorry I haven't been keeping up on my blogging lately. Since the weather is warming up it seems like there is so much we need to do outdoors, and the kids' activities have been picking up. One of these days I'll find a way to fit it all in!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Little Boy is Growing Up

Our son Tyler just got back from a trip to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. My dad operates an educational tour company called 500 Tours, and this year they offered the trip to the junior high where Tyler goes to school.

Tyler's always been shy and quiet. He's the one I tend to worry about because he's not as social as my daughter. He's also one who needs constant reminding, "don't forget to take your shower, did you brush your teeth?" This was going to the first time for him to be away from home (and me) for a trip like this. Would he be okay going three whole days without me to watch out for him and remind him of things?

The first day he was gone, I sent him some text messages like, "R U having fun?" He didn't respond (of course, he's not connected to his cell phone like my daughter is). The second day I sent another text, but still no response. But, he DID call my husband! He wanted to know what was going on with a NASCAR race. Nothing about me... My husband said he told Tyler to give me call.

I waited for Tyler to call, but he never did. Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore and I called him later that night. He said he was sorry he forgot to call me. He and his roommates were in another room at the hotel where some classmates brought along their Wii. He said they might all sleep in their room. I was very happy to hear he was having fun and hanging out with the other kids. "So," I prodded, "are you going to take your shower in their room or yours?" To my shock, Tyler replied that he had gotten up at 5:30 and he took his shower that morning. What? He actually practiced good personal hygiene without me telling him to do it?

Tyler had a great time at Space Camp. He learned a lot, had fun, and proved that he doesn't need me quite as much as I thought he did. Sigh... I guess it's time for me to let go a little and let him grow up.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Paying it Forward - What I Found at the End of the Rainbow

Today started off as a really blah day. I felt tired and worn down because I getting over a head cold. I've been bummed out due to some recent blogging drama and some changes at work. To make it worse, today was a cold, cloudy, rainy Monday. Blah, blah, blah...

After work, I picked up Angel from her tumbling class. I didn't feel like cooking supper, so we went through the drive thru at KFC. We just pulled out of the parking lot, when Angel realized she didn't get her drink. When I turned the car around to go back, I saw the most beautiful sight in the sky. It was a big, bright, rainbow! I went back to get the drink, and I was so happy about the rainbow I even pointed it out to the kid working the drive thru (much to Angel's embarrassment).

The beautiful rainbow was in our view all the way home. I told Angel that it looked like the rainbow ended over by our house. I wistfully told her that maybe we would find our pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (to which I received an eye roll with a "yeah, right").

So, we came home, and I dragged my tired body and the bucket of KFC into the house. I noticed a box sitting on the island in the kitchen. It was addressed to ME from Lin from Duck and Wheel with String! I couldn't believe it, this was my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!!!

The kids heard my gasp and they poked their heads into the kitchen with curiosity. "Look! It's my prize from the Pay it Forward contest!"I exclaimed. They came closer as opened the box. This was as exciting as Christmas morning! Inside the box was an adorable polka dotted gift bag with lots of goodies. I squealed with delight each time I pulled out one of the gifts (even little Miss I'm 2 KEWL 4 U was impressed). The surprises inside included: Some wonderfully scented Mea Culpa Body Yogurt, an adorable kitty-shaped bar of Happy Goats Soap (it looked like Hobbes, of course), kitty treats, chocolates, candles, a notepad, a nail buffer, and a very sweet note from Lin.

I'm so grateful that I was chosen as one of the prize winners in Lin's Pay it Forward Challenge. My prize came at a time when I really needed a little pick-me-up and a reminder that there are some really great people in the world. Lin's blog is one of my favorites because she is so funny and insightful, and you can feel her kindness as you read her words. If you haven't checked out her blog, Duck and Wheel with String, you really should!

Now, it's MY turn to pay it forward to three more bloggers. Please comment by midnight on Saturday, April 25, if you would like to have your name entered for a chance to win. Sorry, but to keep shipping costs down, only contestants who live in the U.S please. I'm not sure if I can come up with something as good as Lin did, but I'll put on my thinking cap and see what I can come up with. It's a lot of fun, so let me know if you're up for the Pay it Forward Challenge!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Sheriff Has a New Deputy in Town!

When you gaze into my fishbowl, you will notice some furry, four-legged fishies. We have four cats and two dogs, and it can be quite amusing to watch them interact!

Over time, the animals have developed their own hierarchy. Simba is the ruler of all the animals in our house. We call him "the Sheriff" because he doesn't put up with any ruckus in his town.

Next is Honey, a red bone coon hound. She was a stray that we adopted. She's always had a bit of wildness in her, and she is true to her breed in how she loves to hunt. Honey also personifies the meaning of the word for female dog.

The two female cats, Sasha and Spot, are next. They cannot stand each other, and they go back and forth with who gets to be the dominant female cat. If they are in the same room, you will hear them hissing and growling at each other.

Licorice is our big black male cat, and he is the lowest ranking cat. It's not because he's afraid of the other animals, it's because he just doesn't care. If there were a Margaritaville for cats, he'd be there getting wasted away on milk and catnip.

The bottom of our animal hierarchy is Biscuit, our yellow Labrador. He wants desperately to be friends with the cats, but he is afraid of all of them. Simba and Licorice will sometimes let Biscuit sniff them, but if they turn around and look him in the eye, he will cower.

One night, Honey saw Spot in the living room. Like a big bully, Honey chased her out of the room. Honey strutted back with her head held high. But what she didn't realize was that Simba had staked out the room and he was watching her. My mom had made a bed for the cats out of a cardboard box. The box has two openings on each side for carrying handles. Simba was inside the box and watching out of one of the holes.

Honey walked through the living room and passed the box that Simba was in. As soon as Honey was by the box, Simba jumped up and started whacking her in the face with his paws! Then, out of nowhere, Licorice ran over and started whacking the other side of Honey's face! Honey froze. She didn't know what to do. My husband and I finally had to pick up the cats to get them off of her. Honey was trembling and had a cut across her nose.

So, it looks like Licorice might be moving up in the ranks. Maybe he's just been an undercover secret agent who was posing as a lazy cat that didn't care. Maybe he thought his buddy Simba was in danger and needed some back up. Whatever it was, the sheriff has a new deputy in town and they're not putting up with any monkey business from the dogs!

Friday, April 10, 2009

My First Job - Lessons Learned

I saw this on Lola's Diner, and I thought it sounded like so much fun! The topic for this week is My First Job, and my first job was a doozy!

One good thing about growing up with frugal parents is that you are inspired to work to earn your own money. I was born in 1968, and money was very tight for our family throughout the 70's and early 80's. Anytime there was an opportunity for me to earn money, I was there.

I did a lot of babysitting and pet care for other families, but my first REAL job was at a local cafeteria style restaurant. I was almost 14 when I started, and my parents had to drop me off and pick me up. I had to have a signed work permit, and my hours were restricted because of my age.

This was a restaurant that our family had eaten at very often. It was operated by a Mormon family (you don't see too many Mormons in Indiana) that had several daughters. The father always served the meat. Every time we would go through the line he was very friendly and talkative.

When I asked my parents if I could work there, they agreed and we asked the owner if I could have a part-time job. I filled out an application and I was hired. My starting wage was only $2.50 an hour. It was under the minimum wage, but because it was food service he could get away with paying less (even though very few people tip in cafeterias). I didn't mind. I was excited about the prospect of earning $20 to $30 a week of my own money.

Up to this point in my life, I had been quite sheltered. The only adults I had been around outside of my family were were from school, church, or my friends' parents. It was at this job that I learned not all adults are kind and caring.

The owner, who was so gregarious and friendly to customers, was often angry and unpredictable to his family and employees. I'll never forget my first day on the job. I was in the back of the restaurant and I saw him walking toward me. Smiling happily, I looked up at him and said hello. He gave me a dirty look and walked away without saying a word. When the restaurant was closed, he would yell if he thought someone wasn't doing their job. Once, I was carefully wiping out the water left from the ice in the salad area. He looked over at me and yelled, "Put it in second!" I had no idea what that meant, and I must have given him a deer-in-the-headlights look. He just shook his head and walked away.

The rest of the family was very nice. There were at least seven daughters and one of them was my age. She was a lot of fun and we became good friends. The mother was from Germany and had a very heavy accent. Looking back, I realize now that she was nervous and stressed when her husband was around. Sometimes they would be in the office with the door closed, and we could hear shouting.

About a year and half after I started, the owner was admitted to the hospital and he was gone for several months. The rumor from the other employees was that he had a nervous breakdown and had been admitted for psychiatric treatment. Work was much more pleasant with him not there!

When the owner was released, he came back to work. He seemed calmer (maybe from medication), but I was never comfortable around him. One day after I finished working on a Sunday afternoon, I was waiting outside behind the restaurant for one of my parents to pick me up. I was now almost 16, and I had my dress on from Church that morning. The owner walked outside and approached me from behind. He placed his hand on my shoulder with a slight caress. "My, you have really developed into a nice-looking young lady," he said. I froze, and I distinctly remember the disgusting, creepy feeling that I felt from head to toe. "Thanks," I muttered, and thankfully, he walked away and never said anything like that to me again.

When I turned 16, I was able to drive to work. One day I drove to the restaurant and a sign was posted on the back door. It said that the restaurant was closed and we could pick up our last check at the owner's home. Business had been much slower over the last few months, and I don't think they were able to afford to stay in business.

I really don't know why I stayed there as long as I did. I don't think Mom and Dad realized how bad the working conditions were, and I really liked having a paycheck. I also think I still had the mindset that all adults are good and are to be respected no matter what. I would never work in conditions like that now, and I stress to my kids to trust their instincts and get out of uncomfortable situations immediately.

Do you have a good first job story? Please comment or go to Lola's Diner to learn how you can Blog Back Time.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What's So Great About Texting?

If you have a preteen or teen in your life, you are probably well aware of the popularity of texting. My daughter is eleven, and sometimes her texting drives me crazy! Here are a few things that annoy me:

  1. She prefers to text rather than talk. I’m not talking about places she has to be quiet, I mean she would rather text ALL THE TIME! Wouldn’t it be easier to verbalize something and have a conversation than to type everything out?

  1. She tries to text while doing other things. When I catch her, I make her put her phone up. But if left to her own devices, she would text during meals, while helping clean the house, and while shopping. There is nothing more annoying that seeing her try to walk around the store with her phone up so she can text!

  1. She gets mad if I call her. I called her on her phone a few weeks ago. “Why didn’t you text me?” she sneered. I told her I would rather talk to her so I could hear the beautiful sound of her voice. I explained that I just don’t get all of the emotion from her texts. She quickly informed me that she CAN show emotions while texting by using different punctuation.

  1. She texts me while I’m driving. When I call her back, I have to explain that I cannot text while I’m driving. I think it’s funny, because then she has to TALK to me.

  1. Her text language doesn’t make sense. Okay, I understand why you would want to abbreviate and replace words with letters. But does typing KEWL instead of COOL really save you any time?

I guess the only good thing is now I have something I can threaten to take away from her if she gets in trouble!