Saturday, June 28, 2008

Jake's APZ's

So, have I mentioned Jake still sleeps on his floor in front of his door as often as he sleeps in the toddler bed? Last night he woke me up crying at 4 a.m. When I went in his room I stumbled over the little tyke ipod in this video and finally found him lying face down on the hard wood floor directly in front of his dresser. I think he had gotten cold.

I tucked him back in bed, and he went right back to sleep. But if this happens earlier in the evening - once he gets me to his bedside, he immediately pushes just the right sequence of buttons on his ipod to get to this song. It's like Roger Rabbit and the shave-and-haircut trick. (His hiding place is found when someone knocks the first part of shave-and-a-haircut on the wall, and he can't stand not to finish the song). I can't help but sing it with him because he won't start singing unless I do. He's actually accomplished better versions than this. But you get the idea.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I got Hollywood sunglasses from a kiosk in the new Downtown, Branson. They were my first souvenir. The second was an 8-dollar key chain with pictures of us taken at our table in a bar-b-que restaurant by the person who then sold them to us in a nice little key chain. But I won't talk about that. The picture-taking monopoly in Branson gets Michael all riled up. It was tempting after she took the picture of us, to reach into my purse and ask her to now take the same pictures with my own camera. Would she have done it, do you suppose? Probably. But she would have charged 8 dollars for the flash.

So, anyway, the Hollywood glasses. I call them that because they're huge and dark and they're Versace. Actually, they're "compare our prices to" Versace. But that works for me because I have this ridiculous illusion (um, dee-lusion maybe?) that even if I could afford 500-dollar sunglasses, I wouldn't buy them because that's just wrong with all the poverty in the world. It's a lovely illusion since I'm not actually in a position to have to live up to it.

But I'm terribly disappointed, because I don't look a thing like Angelina Jolie in those glasses. I look more like a bug or something. It's very disheartening. I've actually never been able to pull off sunglasses. I don't know why I try.

Puh! That's not true. I know exactly why I try. People magazine much? Yes, but only if Julia, Jennifer Aniston, or Suri Cruise are on the cover. In sunglasses.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I Heart Branson

I get crushes easy. And now I have one on Branson. I wrote last week at work about my plans for visiting there. You can read that post on our Student Travel blog.

When you think of Branson, if you're wondering, "Do I have to enjoy country music to go there?", then you're definitely not asking the right question. First of all, no you don't. And second of all, what?! I really don't think anyone should live in Missouri without at least a little appreciation for a good country, blue grass, or - come on - at least give me some old time gospel - song. Of course, I went to Branson with these four - so getting to a live music show wasn't really the first thing on their minds. We only made it to one - the evening performance included in the price of our Silver Dollar City tickets. But did I love it? Um, let's just say I'm putting in my application tomorrow to BE a Silver Dollar City singer. Put me in a show, People, because that looks like fun.

I discovered all kinds of things on our Branson vacation. My 8-year-old loves roller coasters. LOVES them. As in, get me on another one now and watch me raise my hands on the loops that could make a grown man nervous. My 7-year-old enjoys roller coasters too, as long as they are no taller than Shaquille O'Neal and they have to send you around four times just to give you a full ride. On the other hand, he hates caves. Poor kid was leading the tour - only him and the tour guide between 60 other people and a death drop over the railing to a hole 500 feet below ground. He was completely panicked, but being behind him, I didn't realize it until I noticed he was gripping the hand rail with both arms and barely making his feet move one step at a time. Words you don't want to hear half way through a 1-hour cave tour? "I want to go back."

We were batting a thousand when it came to frightening our children to tears. Our oldest son, an excellent swimmer who water skis and does flips off the diving board, also has a nighttime-induced irrational fear of water. Where did we take him at 9 p.m. one night? To the Titanic museum. It was completely amazing to me, but seriously, we asked for those nightmares.

Most of the trip went much better than that though. I really love Branson now. Including the beautiful downtown and the most un-originally named "Scenic View" we stumbled upon one evening which showcases a gorgeous view of both the city and the countryside. I felt a little guilty when I called information one evening, "I realize I'm in the live show capital of the world right now, but could you direct me to a regular old movie theater?" The operator kindly did so, and I now also heart Kung Fu Panda.

Basically, vacation rocks. Silver Dollar City rocks. And making up for exposing your children to their worst fears by feeding them awesome bar-b-que and taking them to hilarious Jack Black movies and letting them ride their varied levels of thrill rides as many times as they can stand to wait in line? It rocks. And I heart it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Over The Rainbow

I researched this song today to add to some travel stuff I was writing. (It's on "my latest Squidoo" at the side there in case you care to follow that leap of context), and oh my goodness I love this version. It's a duet between someone living and someone no longer on earth - through the magic of what is apparently called digital mashup, a really unpleasant word for something that came out so beautiful. The version I have through iTunes is by Katherine McPhee, which I also love.

It's very feminine of me perhaps, but I love these songs that strike that strange balance between bitter and sweet. Life itself is a balance of the two. I don't know - maybe mashup is the perfect word after all.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Queen of Jordan

I love this woman.  She's a queen.  A queen.  Can you imagine actually being one of those?  At her age?  I first heard of her of course not through my extensive  research on foreign affairs but because . . . she was on Oprah.  I usually declare my Oprah watching proudly, but I actually do feel a little ashamed of this one.  Anyway, as Oprah said during that interview, this woman is a quote a minute.  She's so thoughtful and well-spoken.  I just find her one of the most beautiful people in our world today, and I wanted to share her with you in case you neither keep up with foreign affairs OR watch Oprah.  (Really?  You don't watch Oprah?  But she's the Aha Lady!)

I saw this episode of Oprah once in 2006.  I had never heard of the Queen of Jordan before, and I did not remember any of the rest of the transcript - about the fact that her husband likes bar-b-que or that she monitors her son's television -watching even though he'll be king one day.  But I remembered this quote.

On Friday, my 6-year-old turns 7.  I remember when he was 4, and I was diagnosed with cancer.  I knew one thing for certain.  If I die, I thought, there is no way he will remember me.  I didn't blame him for it, but I knew it would be true.  And it broke my heart.  I felt so jealous of the rest of his world, the people who could stay in his life and whom he would  know and remember.  I bought his presents last night.  I stared at them in the cart and felt sad.  They cost enough, they came from my heart enough, but they looked so cheap compared to how I feel about him.  Those gifts will thrill him right to his toes, though.  And he'll have no idea when he opens the Play-Do that I am actually thinking of the Queen of Jordan and how she can afford to give her son-the-prince anything he wants, but she doesn't.  She's trying to teach him to be a citizen of the whole wide world.  They're intense - the desires we have for our children and the love we feel for them.  They're like a 50-dollar Golden Collection Volume I of the best Looney Toons episodes ever.  But translated to them, it's just a cool cartoon.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

In which I quote Pooh and think about things

Pooh? said Piglet. Yes? said Pooh. Nothing, said Piglet. I just wanted to be sure of you.

I love my new job. I learn new things every day, and it makes me want to learn more. It all has to do with the computer, navigating social sites online, writing online content, marketing online - stuff like that. And it's fascinating. Yesterday I watched the beginning of a video in which a guy spoke who has made tons of money doing only that - being online, figuring out what people want, and becoming the person from whom they get it. Or something like that. If I truly understood what he did, I'd do it myself and be a millionaire by now. But I was completely fascinated. And I love being on the computer, writing on my blog, meeting up with old friends on facebook, twittering, (twittering is so fun, I'm telling you, and not nearly as time-consuming as other online sites can be).

But then last night we went to watch the boys in their baseball game, and it was like coming up for air. Suddenly, it rang true what the guy on the video had said - He had been in his basement for about 9 years running. But in the past two years he was trying to emerge more often and get a life. He was a living, breathing human being again.  And he was making more money.  Perhaps having a life is better for your career than not, I'm thinking.  So I thought of that guy while I watched the boys play, holding my breath every time they got to the plate - hoping they would hit, hoping they could handle it if they didn't.  And I thought of the bible passages that say - and I paraphrase, "If I have all these things but don't have love, then I have nothing" and "What good is it to gain the whole world, only to lose my soul . . . ."

I'm not really planning to gain the world. But I definitely don't want to lose my soul. And my soul is much more alive with people than in anything I could write or learn on a computer - no matter how fascinating. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I realized that for certain. I no longer cared about any dream, any goal for success, any unfinished work. I only wanted people.

It's kinda deep for the revelation from the sidelines of a Little League game, but that's what happens when I come up for air. You know?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Show Me That Smile Again

Um, Felic? Kirk Cameron wrote a BOOK. Yay! Remember when you told me I couldn't share him with you? He was your crush and thereby could not be mine as well. You helped me find someone for myself in one of those teen magazines. (And I still love you, C.D. Barnes. I thought you were great as the voice of Prince Erik in The Little Mermaid).

I discovered Cameron's book because I you-tubed him tonight (that's a verb now, right?) looking for a certain clip from Growing Pains. I thought of it when we were watching The Truman Show again tonight. See my profound adoration for The Truman Show here. And I had this thought, "I wonder how the idea for this movie began?" It could just be way ahead of its time. I mean, maybe the creator of it thought, someday . . . Reality T.V. How did they know? But then I wondered if it was this: What would happen, they may have thought, if a person reached the age in which you discover the world does not revolve around you, only to discover that the world DOES REVOLVE AROUND YOU? I also think this would be a fun game - watch a movie and try and decide what brilliant what if was asked that eventually led to the movie. But anyway -

This brilliant train of thought - if you're even remotely still with me -reminded me of Mike on Growing Pains. Remember, Felic? When he stayed home sick from school, and Gilligan's Island was on, and he was totally and completely thrown. "Gilligan's Island is on television while I'm at school?!" And, thus, the realization that the world did not actually revolve around him. Something about that episode just rang true in my teenage mind.

There is a great recent video of Cameron on You Tube about his new book. You gotta admit, he's a pleasant guy. And I love stories like this in which a person just says - "God, if you're real, then make me know it." And then He does.

Incidentally, Michael, I love you way more than C.D. Barnes. Although I do know that his full name is Christopher Daniel, and I can still sing the theme song to Day By Day.

Monday, June 2, 2008

I can still hear them taunting him, "Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids"

We all know my passion for finding the mundane, meaningful. But this might very well be the greatest stretch of that talent yet. My attachment to breakfast cereal.

It started when I was pregnant with John Michael. Breakfast cereal wasn't so much a craving as it was for some reason the only thing I felt I could stomach. Sometimes three times a day. Usually Fruit Loops if I remember correctly. Nothing too flaky or granola-like - I didn't want to risk the chance of anything getting caught anywhere and screaming at the gag reflex to catapult the whole thing back where it came from. But this next part is much prettier: My love for cereal further grew when the older boys were much younger. Drew had just started voicing opinions about things, and it had become apparent that he and John had different personalities. I loved watching that. I love watching it still. It's amazing to see three boys from the same two people be three such different souls. But besides that, it's lovely to watch them trust us enough and feel comfortable enough to be their own people. Michael and I cringe any time it seems otherwise. And like so many other epoch revelations in life, it manifested itself in breakfast cereal. I was completely, almost-to-tears, moved the day I realized that John liked Rice Krispies and Drew Cocoa Pebbles, John hated cinnamon and Drew loved it. Drew lived for donuts, John felt they were simply too messy. It's not like fixing your child a second supper because you're not up for the fight that ensues over the one you slaved over half the evening. Getting each kid their own cereal is a complete thrill, like refusing to name them Michael Jr., Michael, Jr., Jr., and - you know, Junior. They get their own name - first and middle - and their own cereal. And it completely thrills me.

Incidentally, Jake's following in Drew's footsteps so far with the Cinnamon, but you can bet I'll write it in poetry the first time he tells me, "Not that one, Mom. Bring on the Cap'n!"

Other breakfast cereals we love: Honey Bunches of Oats, Honey Nut Cheerios, chocolate marshmallow Lucky Charms (do 5-year-olds invent cereal now?), Golden Grahams, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. When I'm feeling strangely nostalgic for strange childhood cravings, I want Pops or Honey Smackers - those are the weirdest cereals. And any of these that can be purchased in the Malt-O-Meal brand will be. It's way more breakfast for your buck.