Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick-or-Treat Tips - Now a moot post

Status: So thrilled there's no snow for Halloween this year!
Song: "Dead Man's Party" by Oingo Boingo

**Note: As you can see from the date, I started this post yesterday morning, fully intending to finish it. Then my day imploded. Soooo, I'm actually posting Saturday afternoon - in November. Just pretend it was up yesterday.

In the last week or two you've all been hearing all those safety tips for Trick-or-treating. You know, stuff like wear light clothing (I dare you to find a vampire wearing pastels, come on!), make your kids take flashlights, only go to houses you know, etc. etc. etc. And those are all good safety tips. I'm not knocking them. But you can find stuff like that anywhere (like here, and here, and even this official one dressed up in a cutesy layout from the Food and Drug Administration here ) .

Because, above all, this blog is for community service (okay, not really, it's really just a way for a writing junkie to get out some of the twitches) I'm going to give you Trick or Treat tips you probably won't find anywhere else. You might want to print them out. Or get them made up in those vinyl letters that so many people have on their walls these days (speaking of, I'd like to get a little saying or two if any of you know a vinyl letter person). I won't mind. You could even tattoo them on your body, but you might have to use your back or an entire leg to fit them all in , and that would just look tacky. So let's not go the tattoo route, okay? Unless you want to tattoo something easy like "The Theler Blog Rocks!"

So here are some Trick-or-Treating tips from Jaime's cauldron of life experience. *From now on we'll just say TOT because Trick-or-Treating is so freakin' long to type*

1. It doesn't matter what costume you use for a baby, they are so cute you can just wrap them up in an orange blanket. Bring a big bag because the cuteness factor always works and you can get lots of candy. *This is probably the only legitimate way for adults to actually go TOT, because we all know the baby isn't going to eat it, so really mom and dad get the bag of goodies, but everyone overlooks that fact because they're blinded by cuteness.

2. The older you get, the more creative you have to be with your costumes in order to score the candy. For example, my Senior year of high school a friend and I safety-pinned a large blanket around ourselves, and my sister and a couple of her friends wrapped up in throw blankets and we went as a bedding set (I was half of the comforter, the others were pillowcases). Once we explained our costumes we got candy on pure creativity.

3. If you're taking small children with you, a stroller is a must.

4. Find the neighborhoods with the highest density of houses. You might as well get more stops per mile.

5. If there's a large black sheet with a jack-o-lantern on it, be ready for it to be some guy with it on his head ready to jump out at you. (Adults have way too much fun with this holiday.) Also be ready with a change of clothes for your kids.

6. Do not wear a French maid costume. Yes, there is a story.

7. If you have a Microbiology class presentation on Halloween, you can dress up as cholera. It makes for great discussions, and lots of priceless looks as you walk around campus.

8. TOT in college dorms is a ton of fun, even if you don't actually live in the dorms. Make sure to go with a group of your friends, though.

9. Don't let those parents who spend the whole month of October sewing costumes for their kids intimidate you. Tell everyone you are trying to foster your childrens' imagination when you tell them to figure something out with the stuff already in the house.

10. Take advantage of the day to dress up, because others would wonder if something's wrong if you were to walk around dressed up as Spongebob, say, in the middle of February.

Happy Halloween!

I'll post pics tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Great Theler Grape Stomp

Status: It's a Wednesday. And Wednesdays kick butt more than Mondays.
Song: "Oceano" by Josh Groban

Last week you may have noticed me mention grapes a few times in my little Status-thingey. I don't really have a grape obsession, even though I did have a dream involving grape juice all over my kitchen floor and a number of unexpected house guests who stood around arguing while I tried to clean it up but it wasn't working because the rag just kept dripping purple juice and I was in my pajamas which were getting purple splattered all over them and...

So, nope. Obviously nothing weird or psychoanalytic about grapes here.

I do want to share a little of the Great Theler Grape Stomp. It's not something that will be famous, like the I Love Lucy Grape Stomp episode, but it was memorable. And if you don't have a clue what I'm talking about, then I need to get a bumper sticker that reads "Officially Old & Crusty, So Get Out of My Way, You Whippersnappers!" or maybe "You're Driving Like a Bat Out of Hell!" Please tell me you've seen that commercial. *I tried to find it on Youtube but couldn't, so I'll give a brief rundown. The commercial is of three people in the car. Two men and one woman, who is driving. One of the old guys yells at her as the car creeeeaaakkks along, "You're driving like a bat out of hell!" Creeeaaaak. "You're going to get us killed!" Creeeeeaaaaak. It's hilarious, believe me. (And thanks, mom, for helping me remember it right :)

Anyway, back to the grapes. Someone from Jason's work let everyone know that she was being overwhelmed with grapes. Before Fall Break, Jason mentioned that since I would have some extra time, maybe I might want to go get some and make grape juice, since our kids guzzle juice like budding juice-a-holics.

So Jason was thinking, "Free juice."

I was thinking, "Extra time?! You do realize I will have all three children home from school--for like, 5 days, and half the neighborhood is gone to Disneyland and the rest of the neighborhood is doing something else besides staying here, which means the kids will be bored cause there's no one to play with, right?" Needless to say, I didn't head any grape expedition over Fall Break.

Last Monday night Jason gets home and announces that it's all arranged for us to go pick the grapes, he's borrowing a juicer, and it's so incredibly easy, and did he mention it's free juice? So we pile in the van with the ladder, some buckets, various grape-picking paraphernalia, and the camera--because if I have to do this I might as well get pictures so I can write a brilliantly entertaining blog, right?

Well, by the time we finally finish dinner and get everything and everyone in the car, it's starting to get dark. We make it to the house and no one's there. We didn't go all that way for nothing, so we make ourselves at home and just head to the backyard, hoping there aren't any guard dogs. Luckily, only a cat or two pointedly ignored us traipsing into their territory.

There was a wonderful trellis/arbor covered in grape vines. I'm totally jealous of that trellis/arbor thing. And the grape vines. It would be a heavenly place to sit in the summer. Anyway, there are tons of grapes still. But all the ones easy to reach are gone. Probably picked by the 5 people left in the county who didn't make it to Disneyland over Fall Break. So we have to climb up ladders and contort our bodies to reach the delicious bundles of purple goodness taunting us just out of reach.

I had to decide between taking pictures of my children at the top of the ladder stretching to reach grapes and then falling off--but my new camera has a nice Sports setting that would capture the action nicely--or climbing up the ladder myself and letting the kids take pictures. It was hard. On the one hand, I just went through some major heart ache to get this camera (see camera post here) and my children have been known to trip, fall, run into things, and drop things on an hourly basis. On the other hand, bathing my 8 year old with a cast because he broke his leg falling off the ladder would be a big pain. As would the trip to the Emergency Room, and the doctor's bills. I handed over the camera and picked grapes.

And so for my brilliantly entertaining blog we have some truly wonderful pictures.

Like this.

And this.

I think the composition of this one is true genius.

This one captures the essence of the top half of my ear nicely.

The study of lighting in this one is moving.

This is probably the best one, though. I mean, who wouldn't want to immortalize the foot of the ladder? And yes, I do retain the copyright to this pic. I might be willing to part with it for a reasonable price. Maybe I'll put it up for auction.

Note: We do have a few pictures with actual faces in them, and grapes, too. But it doesn't go too good with the theme, so I may post those another time.

We got a lot of grapes, got hit in the head by a lot of falling grapes, and even found grapes in our sweatshirt pockets a few days later. Mmm-mmm good! Then I made some juice, and the house smelled yummiliciously grape-y for a few days. So if we invite you over for a glass of fresh grape juice, make sure to be adequately impressed.

The End

"Hey!" you say. "Where's the stomping?" And you would be right to say such a thing. The stomping of grapes came in every time we took a step--up and down the ladders or on the ground. The grapes were so ripe they literally rained down. We should have spread a tarp and then we could have had an official stomping. As it was, I'm still cleaning out the grapes from the bottom of my tennis shoes.

An important book

Status: Thoughtful
Song: "Arcus" by Amythestium

Today is my stop on a blog tour for a book I think almost every mom, youth leader, and even teenage girl needs to read--A Future for Tomorrow, by Haley Hatch Freeman.

Please visit my other blog for my review. And then get your own copy or borrow mine.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Microwave your toothbrush

Status: Excited for a halloween party tonight. Now if I could just figure out a costume.
Song: "Ready or Not" by Lou Gramm

Yep. It isn't just a catchy title. I thought this might be a nice little tip to pass on, with cold and flu season at the door.

You can find the original article at (But I've cut and pasted the whole thing for you.)

If you're like most people, you get a new toothbrush every six months, but you really should be changing your toothbrush more often, like every three to four months. When the bristles get worn and lose their rigidity, they don't remove plaque as well. But you should also do some maintenance within that three months, when your toothbrush is just sitting out in the open. After all, think about all the germs and bacteria floating around that would love to attach themselves to your moist toothbrush.

So to prevent colds, flu, and other sicknesses, once or twice a week run your toothbrush through the microwave on high for 10 seconds immediately before brushing your teeth. If someone in your home is sick, you may want to sterilize it in the microwave each time you brush. If you're the one who's sick, after the illness passes, ditch your old toothbrush and replace it with a new one.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just a quickie

Status: On a roll
Song: "Yesterday" by Foreigner (I went to John's spin class this morning at 5:30 and am now in a classic rock mood.)

Hey everyone! I had a couple of ideas for some really cool blog posts, with pictures, and one was even a Flashback Friday. BUT I've burst through the writer's block that has had me in its clutches and am on a roll. So no great post today, but here's a quickie video to start your weekend off with a laugh.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In the Mood For a Little Vampire?

Status: Almost finished making grape juice. Yea!
Song: "Let Down" by Another Cynthia

Visit my other blog for some recommended books that really suck (ha ha). Just in time for Halloween.

Click Here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Of bike rides, blood, and staples

Status: Canning grape juice from the mounds of grapes someone gave us
Song: "Whispers in the Dark" by Skillet (because it's Ian's favorite at the moment)

**This blog post is rated PG (due to graphic content). If you are a child, please check with a parent before reading on.**

I think all parents have some things they could do better at. I am pretty good at making my kids brush their teeth and forcing them to eat more well-balanced meals (rather than just Go-gurt and Goldfish). I make sure to know where they are, put a stop to potentially dangerous behavior like throwing rocks at each other while playing Army, and drag them to bed at a decent time.

However, I fall way short when it comes to bike helmets. Even though a neighbor recently had a horrible bike crash that would have been much worse if he hadn't been wearing a helmet. And even though a friend told me about her neighbor's son who crashed on his bike, felt a little sick (they thought he was catching the flu his siblings had), and passed away in his sleep due to a head injury. So even with this, the thought of trying to fight my kids to wear a helmet makes me tired.

I know I'm a slacker. I never wore a helmet while growing up, so I never got used to it. And the helmets that we do have (I did buy some, I just don't make my kids wear them) are horrible. They are pieces of junk. They were cheap at Wal-Mart and I passed a display and thought, "I should buy helmets for my kids." So I did.

**Warning: Crochety old lady sentiment coming up. The older I get the more I realize you get what you pay for.** The helmets are therefore sitting on a shelf in our garage, taunting me with my shortcoming in this area. But they are so uncomfortable, I whine to myself (and the kids join in). And apparently my family all have heads vastly different from the average head size, because the helmets wobble like one of those hawaiian hula dancers that you (well, not you. But, people) put on the car dashboard. And did I mention we look ridiculous?

But don't worry, I will repent and reform on the helmet issue. And here's the story...

Sunday evening after dinner we decided to go for a walk. Our kids wanted to go somewhere that is a little far for little legs. So we decided to all ride our bikes, instead. How fun! A family bike ride! *snort*

As we were getting ready to head out I thought to myself, "Self, you should make the kids wear bike helmets, because we're going out of the neighborhood and there will be more traffic." So I mentioned it to Ian, who promptly complained that the helmet didn't even fit him. Which is true. So I caved, and we rode down the hill, bare-headed.

We got maybe 3 blocks away when it happened. Ian was riding on the sidewalks and trying to catch air off the curbs. He turned to go off a curb at the same time Brennan changed direction. Ian swerved to avoid crashing into Brennan, and his front tire hit a big rock at the foot of a tree.
He came up off his seat, and would have tumbled over his handlebars, except that the branches of the tree stopped him.

He looked confused when he got off his bike, and put his hand to his head. "I'm okay," he said over and over again. But he was dazed and kept wiping at his head. Then we noticed the red stain creeping across his blond hair. Jason took a look and pronounced that Ian would probably need stitches. At that Ian started freaking out a little. I rode up front with him back home, reassuring him that we'll take a look when we get there.

After a little cleaning up, and more blood (you know head wounds, they bleed A LOT), we determine that one of the tree branches actually punctured Ian's scalp. We didn't think it went into his skull, but my sweet little boy now had a hole in his head. Literally.

**Warning: Graphic pictures coming up.

**If you are squeamish, just scroll past the pictures.

**I mean it. If you don't like the idea of a hole in your child's head, then you won't like these pictures.

**They're coming now.

**Last chance to scroll past them.

**Did I mention they're a little graphic?

I know, you see worse on prime time TV. But trust me. It was not fun in person.

Ian was shaky and an interesting shade of grayish-green with white pallor underneath. Jason heads to the Insta-care with him. Ian promptly throws up all over the waiting room. ("It was really gross," Jason told me.) They did a local anesthetic to numb the area. ("I didn't like the needle, it hurt," Ian said. Brennan told me he had to look away during that part. Brennan went along because he felt bad.)

Then they stapled the wound closed. Yes. Staples. Think big staple gun. Now imagine putting it to your head. And pulling the lever. *shudder*

Ian now has 2 staples in the top of his head. We can't wash his head until tonight, so if you've seen my child running around the neighborhood and at school with blood-matted, dirty hair that looks like it hasn't been combed or washed in two days, that's because it hasn't been. And please don't turn me into Child Protective Services.

We are buying bike helmets really soon. Good ones.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Real Beauty - Jaime gets on a soapbox

Status: Gearing up for another day of Fall Break
Song: "The Story" by 30 Seconds to Mars

I read a post by an author friend, Janette Rallison, on her blog which spurred this soapbox speech. Here's her post, which is really good. I encourage you to read it after you read mine (of course). *Side note: Janette writes clean, fun YA books for girls. I get to read and review her next one before it comes out and I am sooo excited :)

Since I just had another birthday and am officially becoming old and crusty, I can look back on my loooong life and see how things have changed in many ways. (I know I'm not that old, which makes some of these changes a little more eerie.)

I've actually been thinking about this subject quite a lot, and in my crustiness, I think that as a society we are completely, totally, and obsessively obsessed with beauty. Especially women. Perhaps some of that is because of the fairly new cosmetic surgery that allows us to enhance, tuck, reduce, color, and change almost anything on our bodies.

We are slammed with what is considered "beautiful" everywhere we go, and of course we feel inferior and like we don't measure up. Guess what? It's because we can't. Because what is touted as "beautiful" has also been enhanced, tucked, reduced, color-enhanced, and photoshopped so that it isn't even real.

When I was 18, I dipped my toe a little (a very little) into modelling. And I learned that if I had professionals fixing my hair and makeup for an hour, and then 200 tries (the number of pictures taken for the shoot) to look fantastic, then I could be "beautiful" too. I also learned that I wasn't quite tall enough, my chest is too flat, that my eyes can't decide what color to be, and that I show too much gums when I smile. I'm so grateful that career move didn't work out.

Watch this video, and never look at those "beautiful people" the same.

I just finished the YA trilogy of Uglies, Pretties, and Specials, by Scott Westerfield, which is not only great sci-fi, but is scary on the mark with what could happen when the search for beauty goes too far. In this futuristic society, before the age of 16, everyone looks different and is called an "Uglie." Then, at 16, everyone goes through a surgery to become a "Pretty." Everyone is supermodel gorgeous, supermodel tall, with great skin and hair. And no one stands out more than anyone else. (**I definitely recommend these books**) I don't know that we would seriously ever get to this point, but I know many young girls that would jump at the chance to fix everything and wake up gorgeous one morning. And many women, moms, and grandmas.

Real beauty isn't about measuring up to magazines or celebrities, because you will never be able to measure up to a fantasy. Real beauty is from the inside, and the most beautiful women in history had a shine that came through from who they were and how they treated others.

Time Tested Beauty Tips
(written by Sam Levenson and often quoted by Audrey Hepburn)

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge you'll never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; Never throw out anybody.

Remember, If you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.

The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I want to know...

... some of your pet peeves as you read books. I listed a few on my other blog, and would like to hear from some of you. Not only because it's kinda fun, but because as an author I don't like "peeving" my readers.

Take a peek here.

Status: Not going anywhere fun for Fall Break
Today's Song: "Whispers in the Dark" by Skillet

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sibling Oversight

Status: Determined to push through
Song: "When Doves Cry" by Prince (or is it just "sign" or the "artist formerly known as Prince"?)

It has recently been brought to my attention that in the sibling love I've been spreading, there is a significant lack of brotherly attention. Well, we can't have that!

So today is The Theler Five: Brothers Edition.

**Disclaimer: I'm just going to focus on my brothers, because Jason's would take more than one post. Don't worry, though. Over the next little while I'll give a shout out to all the family :)

So, here's to you Cory!
(That would be the tall, incredibly good-looking, and obviously brilliant, one in the center
- as he would make sure to point out.)

First of all, to everyone's joy, Cory (my older brother) got married just this last Spring, making him no longer a menace to society. You can read all about it here. He is also Senea's favorite uncle. She has been known to ask for him to put her to bed when she's mad at mom.

I have to brag that Cory has probably made the trip between Utah and Southern California more often than anyone in a year's time, followed closely by the trip between Utah and the Western Slope of Colorado. Yes, Cory can do road trips. And with flare, style, and, for a while, without even a CD player. Now that takes skill!!

Cory is also a talented humorous columnist. Grab some popcorn, make sure to visit the little boy's/girl's room (so you don't pee your pants) and take a peek at my two favorites: his column about the TV series 24 called "Crack in the Box," or the one about the idiosyncrasies of the writing industry called "Sucker for Publishment."

However, in the quest to woo his beautiful bride, marrying said bride, and getting established as newlyweds, Cory has taken a hiatus from writing columns that cause milk to shoot out my nose. Rumor has it he is turning his talents to a bigger project--maybe a book in the works? Hey, I'd buy it.

In the meantime, he is an insurance adjustor. So be really nice to the next person you talk to at your insurance company. Just imagine being yelled at every phone call you take. Not fun. And if you're snotty enough, you never know, you just might find yourself the object of the adjustor's next humor column...

I want to make mention of my oldest half-brother, Chris, who needs to get his butt over here so I can actually get a picture of him. He lives not far from my home town now, which gives both of us much less excuse to not see each other. Before, we had to go over the river, through the woods, across some mountains, another river, some more woods, and did I mention a mountain or two to visit each other.

So, bros o' mine, is that enough love??

Yeah, I thought so. (Just be careful what you say or you may be the subject of my next Flashback Friday. Do you really want all my readers to see some of those pics? Hmmmm???)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Random Pet Peeves

Status: Feeling guilty for sleeping in
Song: "Just Dance" by Lady Ga Ga

I started a completely different blog post a few minutes ago, a more happy, uplifting one. But I couldn't quite finish it. The happy, funny vibes just weren't flowing. Instead, I'm going to do this one because I'm in a snarky mood. Hopefully I can get all the snark out, and entertain in the process.

So, for today, here are some of my pet peeves. I'm not going for anything weighty, or life-threatening, or even anything that really matters, but just the stupid, annoying things that seem to get under my skin.

1. Cleaning showers -- I have three of them and I hate to clean them. Especially in the summer when my kids are all dirty (or when the Steeds have a mountain of sand in their driveway that the neighborhood plays in). The worst shower-cleaning experience for me, however, was after Halloween when Ian was Harry Potter and we sprayed that black hairspray all over his very blonde hair. It left a gray film all over the whole shower that did not want to come off.

2. Putting leftovers in containers -- I am notoriously spatially-challenged and can never seem to find the right size container to fit. I either go laughably too big or realize the container is too small when I've almost filled the whole thing.

3. Dried toothpaste -- I don't know how my kids can get toothpaste all over the counter, floor, mirror, walls, and ceiling when they brush their teeth, but it dries to a consistency that rivals cement and is always some weird neon color, so you can't even just ignore it.

4. Otter pop wrappers -- They end up everywhere, especially at the bottom of my window wells, which means I have to climb down in there and clean it out. For some of you that might not be a big deal, but my wells are 5 feet deep.

5. Socks -- My kids take them off and fling them anywhere and everywhere. And they seem to go through 2 pairs a day. Nothing like cuddling up on the couch after a long day to try and unwind with a good book, only to start sniffing. I check to see if maybe I stepped in something out in the yard. Nope. Is it me stinking? No. Forgotten food under the couch? Nope. A dead animal nearby? No, its a sock that has been shoved in between the couch cushions for who knows how many days.

6. Dishes -- they just never end. Ever.

7. Getting Senea dressed -- I will take boys over girls any day in the clothing department. It's a battle every day because she has to wear something that is sufficiently "pretty," "cute," or "hot." (Although I'm trying to strike that word from her vocabulary. 5 year olds aren't "hot.") Plus, it has to be weather appropriate, and mom-approved. Let's just say that all three requirements are rarely met without a bit of a battle. *Sigh* At least she'll wear other colors than pink now. There was at least a full year where she refused to wear anything that wasn't pink.

8. Shaving my legs in the winter -- Just 2 words. Goose bumps. (Ouch)

9. Not having any new emails for a whole day -- Doesn't anyone love me? *Sniff* I know my self-esteem should not be measured by my inbox. I guess its just one sign that I'm addicted to email. Admitting you have a problem is the first step...

10. My kids arguing with each other over stupid things -- like which of the boys' made-up numbers is bigger, "Cheese" or "Shoe" when apparently both are greater than infinity. (True story)

11. When my kids know more than me -- It's so freaking annoying. So I don't know the precise location of Moscow, and that it's really in European Asia. Oh, did I biff you in the head? Sorry. My hand slipped....

12. Complex board games that have more tiny pieces than my entire wardrobe -- And of course they get scattered all over the house. I don't swear, but I've been tempted to after stepping on a small plastic troll from Lord of the Rings Risk in my bare feet.

13. Being late -- I really hate this. I know that I start almost breathing fire, and the kids look at me with wide eyes and I know they're thinking, "Geez, mom. Get a grip. We're only a minute late."

14. The greasy dusty stuff that coats all those random surfaces of the kitchen -- What a pain to clean! Especially on the blinds. I can just turn a blind eye most of the time, but then when it starts getting fuzzy I have to do something.

15. Being hormonal and snarky, and knowing that I'm irrational because I'm hormonal and snarky, but not being able to stop.

Whew! I could just keep going, but that's probably enough. Well, I think I feel better.

You know, snarkiness loves company, so why don't you join in the whine-fest? Tell us about some of your stupid pet peeves!

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

MIddle Wife

Status: Ecstatic I finally finished sealing the cement in my driveway - and yes, it was as bad as I thought it would be.
Today's Song: "I Don't Care" by Apocalyptica

I got this as an email forward from my sister. It made me laugh, so of course I had to share.

Middle Wife by an Anonymous 2nd grade teacher

I've been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second grade classroom a few years back. When I was a kid, I loved show-and-tell. So I always have a few sessions with my students. It helps them get over shyness and usually, show-and-tell is pretty tame. Kids bring in pet turtles, model airplanes, pictures of fish they catch, stuff like that. And I never, ever place any boundaries or limitations on them. If they want to lug it in to school and talk about it, they're welcome.

Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her sweater. She holds up a snapshot of an infant. "This is Luke, my baby brother, and I'm going to tell you about his birthday.''

"First, Mom and Dad made him as a symbol of their love, and then Dad put a seed in my Mom's stomach, and Luke grew in there. He ate for nine months through an umbrella cord."

She's standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I'm trying not to laugh and wishing I had my camcorder with me. The kids are watching her in amazement.

"Then, about two Saturdays ago, my Mom starts saying and going, 'Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh!'" Erica puts a hand behind her back and groans. "She walked around the house for, like an hour, 'Oh, oh, oh!'" (Now this kid is doing a hysterical duck walk and groaning.)

"My Dad called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn't have a sign on the car like the Domino's man. They got my Mom to lie down in bed like this." Erica lies down with her back against the wall. "And then, pop! My Mom had this bag of water she kept in there in case he got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like psshhheew!" (This kid has her legs spread with her little hands miming water flowing away. It was too much!)

"Then the middle wife starts saying 'push, push,' and 'breathe, breathe.' They started counting, but never even got past ten. Then, all of a sudden, out comes my brother. He was covered in yucky stuff that they all said it was from Mom's play-center, (placenta) so there must be a lot of toys inside there."

Then Erica stood up, took a big theatrical bow and returned to her seat. I'm sure I applauded the loudest. Ever since then, when it's show-and-tell day, I bring my camcorder, just in case another "Middle Wife" comes along.

**I have to admit, when I first saw the subject line of Middle Wife I immediately thought it was some polygamy thing. I'm so glad I was wrong :)

Monday, October 6, 2008

A tale of two cameras

Or "How Jaime Was Struck with Impulsive Stupidity"

Status: Already feeling my million lunges this morning
Today's Song: "Black Gloves" by TS Hartley

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. ..
It was my birthday. And thanks to all of you who wished me a Happy Birthday *sniffle* I'm now divisible by 11, and you can't say that every year :)

In an effort to help my family figure out what to get me, I decided to buy myself a new camera. And they could all just contribute to the cause. As so often happens (at least with me), it turned into a bit of a saga.

My desires were simple. 1) I wanted something with a few more megapixels (we were working with 4.0) and 2) with more zoom. As my kids get older and the sports fields get bigger, many of the soccer pics this year include 5 fuzzy kids in blue shirts, and I have to specify that the blue-shirted athlete the third from the left is mine, etc. So those were my two requirements. Oh, and 3) I didn't want to have to take out a home equity line to buy it.

A friend of mine got a pretty good camera for a screaming deal at some electronics store in California. After research I determined that yes, it was a pretty good camera. More than sufficient for my needs. Unfortunately, the closest one of said electronics stores is in Las Vegas, and they won't ship. Tartar Sauce!

But you can find anything you want (and everything you don't) online, right? So I found some good deals. In fact, some jaw-dropping good deals. Maybe I'm just getting cynical in my old age, but I decided that I should check out these businesses some more. I found a website called where you can type in the name of the site offering you the jaw-dropping deal, and see customer reviews. It turns out that my great deals really were too good to be true. :( They were borderline scams (I won't tell you which side of the scam border), with abysmal customer ratings below 1 on a scale of 1 to 10.

I was so ticked that I wouldn't get my great deal. I did find a legitimate merchant that was selling the camera for about $100 more than the price I was wanting to pay, and even more than the price my friend got. But I just couldn't quite make myself pay that.

Next step, of course = ebay. So I scoured the auctions and the camera manufacturer actually sells new cameras with scuffed or slightly smooshed packaging. I bid on a few auctions, and lost. One just barely. Jason told me to quit with the hair-pulling and just go pay the higher price for the camera. So I swallowed my penny-nazi, bargain-hunting pride and bought it.

A few days later I got an email from ebay. An auction on the camera was ending soon, and it was priced significantly lower than what I had finally paid. My vision got hazy, my fingers started to tingle--bargain mania took over. With about one minute to go, I became the high bidder.

Common sense finally burst on the scene and I realized that I really, really didn't need TWO cameras. Could I even return one of them? Would I save money after I paid for shipping to me and then back to the merchant?? Were there restocking fees???

What was I thinking?! Stop! Cancel! *click, click, click* Cancel bid!

"Congratulations, you won!" Noooo! I was the not-very-proud owner of two of the same camera.

The first one came and sat unopened in my bedroom for a while. I had to return one of the cameras, but I wasn't sure which one yet. Finally I caved and opened that one so I could use it. When, on my birthday, the second camera hadn't shown up (despite them having my money for a couple weeks) I emailed the ebay seller. It turns out they didn't have any more of those in stock (how you sell something you don't have, I don't know...) but they could replace it with a refurbished camera.

I sent back an email sufficiently dissatisfied and requesting a full refund, the whole time dancing inside and chanting, "Yes. Yes. Yes." So I didn't buy two cameras after all. Whew!

Moral of the story: Think before you bid.

Doesn't it take pretty pictures? Now I just have to plow through the textbook-size manual...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Flashback Friday - Sisters Edition

Status: Procrastinating sealing the driveway (going on a few weeks now)
Song: "In Your Room" by Depeche Mode

Because I bragged about my sister Lori-ann this week, I thought it would be fun to do a sister's edition flashback.
Awww. That's just cute.

Thank goodness for braces (for both of us)

High school. (Yeah, I really did have that much hair.)

Heading to homecoming (not my school and actually I had already graduated). Unfortunately, my date turned out to be a stalker. Not so many fond memories of high school dances, and yes, there are more stories to go along with that.

Ah, the good times. The fun times. And just the plain strange ones...

Well, sis, this flashback's for you!!