Monday, October 29, 2007

It's Me, Marva!

I was looking at the books on my youngest son's shelf and had totally forgotten about a particular book called It's Me, Marva! by Marjorie Priceman. I bought this book a few years ago because of course it has my name in the title. It was evidently a Parent's Choice book and considered quite a good read for children ages 5-8. How about older children, say 42 and older?
What I wouldn't have given for this book when I was a kid! I always wanted something with my name on it, back when I.D. bracelets and such were very popular. Do you ever think I found anything with "Marva" on it? Not a chance! Naturally when I came across this book I simply had to have it.

I'm a size WHAT?

Friday night we took the boys to the mall. The day before I'd purchased a couple pairs of flannel pajama pants for them, but made the mistake of choosing the wrong color for the little man (What was I thinking, right?), therefore we went to exchange them.

On the way home we were teasing the boys, telling them we were going to put on their comfortable new pants and lounge in front of the fireplace when we got home. We're always able to get the little man to "bite" when we say we're going to take something of his for ourselves. He said I couldn't have his new pants and I asked why. Then our 11-year-old smarty britches pipes up and says I'm too big and that I wear a size "billion." Ouch! I have yet to decide whether or not I'll allow him to live another day.

Witching you a Happy Halloween!

This week is Halloween and I'm reminiscing a little. I remember a time in my life when Halloween was such a big deal. Seemingly everyone celebrated the holiday and it was just plain fun. We'd trick-or-treat, bob for apples, tell ghost stories, go to haunted houses, etc. That was back when you got homemade treats such as popcorn balls, fudge and cupcakes when you went trick-or-treating. We even had Halloween parties at school where we were allowed to dress up in our costumes and have a parade around the school. Man, those were the days!

I don't know where those days went, but they certainly don't exist anymore. Children don't often have Halloween parties at school, and if they do, they have to refer to them by another name such as "Fall Festival" or something similar. No one gives out homemade treats to trick-or-treaters anymore. Now we're afraid someone will try to poison our children or put needles or razor blades in their treats.

I realize there are groups of people in our country who don't celebrate Halloween for various reasons, with the main reason being religion. That's a choice people have to make for themselves and their families and of course that's totally acceptable, but what I don't understand is why the rest of us can't still celebrate the holiday in the same traditional way. Our kids love Halloween, and for them it's all about dressing up and pretending to be someone else for one evening. It's also about hauling home a whole bunch candy in a big ol' plastic pumpkin. To them Halloween is harmless fun, and it holds no sinister, evil meaning whatsoever.

For the last few years we've put up a Halloween tree (See pictures) and the boys just love it. We carve pumpkins and put out a few other decorations as well. It's so fun to watch how excited the kids get when the decorations come out of storage. I know soon enough they'll be too old to really enjoy Halloween in the same way, but I want them to have some long-lasting memories of the holiday, just as I do.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I won! I won! Well... sort of.

Last night the boys participated in their monthly Cub Scout pack meeting and in addition to the regular Scout business, the kids were invited to wear their Halloween costumes and bring spooky desserts, both of which would be judged in separate contests. The boys "cleaned house" in the costume category last year, but I don't know why since they were Captain Jack from "Pirates of the Caribbean" and Harry Potter, not exactly the most original costumes, and most definitely store bought. Whatever... the boys won and they were happy as could be.

This year the boys' costumes are once again not very original in that Harry Potter has been chosen yet again (Hey, I saved a few bucks since we already had the costume, so that works well for me!) and we've added Spider-Man (the evil one from Spider-Man 3). They didn't win anything this year and my youngest was a little bummed. Hello! There were multiple Harry Potter and Spider-Man costumes, so what can you expect? All I'm saying is... use a little more imagination and originality next year.

Okay... on to the part where I actually win something... the spooky dessert contest! First of all, no one's kids actually make their own desserts. Everyone knows the parents do it, right? The spooky dessert contest had each den competing for the honors, but I didn't know that at the time. I thought they gave a prize for the best overall dessert. Since my oldest son is in a den of only 4 kids, and no one else entered a dessert in the contest, I figured I'd enter my dessert to represent his den. Besides, our youngest son's den had several desserts entered in the contest. I ended up winning the best spooky dessert for my oldest son's den, but it was only because no one else in the den brought anything! So, yes, I won... well... sort of. It's a bit anticlimactic.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sock Issues

My oldest son has sock issues. He can't (and won't) wear just any sock. In the past when I've purchased him new socks, he's complained that they "hurt" his feet. Have you ever in your life heard of socks hurting someone's feet?

I can't tell you how many times I've returned socks and the folks at the customer service desk at the store just look at me as if I've lost my mind. Most stores want to know the reason for returning an item and I just cringe when I have to explain my reason.

"Yes, I know what size my son wears, and yes, these are the right size, but they don't fit him."

This kid is literally walking out of the socks in his drawer. They are nasty, dingy and have holes wearing in the bottom. I don't want him to take off his shoes anywhere for fear someone will call the Department of Social Services and have my child taken away from me for suspicion of neglect.

Something had to be done, so today I broke down and bought more socks in hopes that my son will wear them. As I was shopping in the local Target store, I nearly dropped to my knees and prayed on the spot for these socks to fit. I'm happy to report they are keepers. Life is good!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I'm a Mark Bishop groupie!

Today I was listening to my Mark Bishop CD and remembering the concert I went to a few months ago. If you aren't a follower of southern bluegrass gospel music, you probably have never heard of Mark. I had heard of Mark, but not because of his music...

Mark Bishop and I went to school together from the 1st grade all the way through high school. I knew Mark could sing, but I didn't know how well until recently. Back in the winter when the Grammy Award nominees were announced, my husband and I were looking at the line-up of nominated artists and I saw the name "Kenny Bishop" listed under the category of southern bluegrass gospel. I knew a Kenny Bishop, but I figured it couldn't be the same person. I was wrong. It was very much the same person. I googled Kenny and found out lots about him and Mark, his older brother.

These guys have been incredibly successful in the gospel music business (first as The Bishops with their dad, and later as solo artists) and I had no idea. I'd never really listened much to gospel music until the last couple of years and I still hadn't been listening to southern bluegrass gospel. I was so excited to find out that these two guys I've basically known all my life are making music for the Lord and had been doing so well. It's a pride thing, I suppose. "Small town boys making it big" is what was in my mind.

I bought a couple of CDs, one of Mark's and one of Kenny's. I was so impressed and still am! I listen to them all the time and so do my boys. The boys have memorized several songs and have their favorites. Mark writes all his own music, which I think is just an incredible talent. I can't imagine having the ability to do that! Every song tells a story and they're so personal and beautiful. I can see (and hear) myself or someone I know in all of his songs. I love that!

A few months ago my family had the great fortune of attending one of Mark's concerts. The boys were so excited and they thought I was way cool because I knew somebody famous. They wanted to know if Mark would remember me and I told them I hoped he would. I mean, how many "Marvas" could a person know, right? But I didn't think Mark would look out at the crowd, see me and say, "Hey! It's Marva!" Let's face it, I've changed a bit. I'm SEVERAL pounds heavier now than when I was in high school and it had been 20+ years since we'd seen one another.

The concert was held in a small church and we were getting ready to go into the sanctuary and wait for things to start, but stopped in the lobby where someone was working at a booth selling Mark Bishop CDs, etc. That someone was Mark himself. I walked right up to him and said, "Excuse me, but I was wondering if you'd remember me." Give me a break! Did I really just say that? I was mortified!

Mark was so nice though. He looked at me as if he recognized me (I'm sure he didn't) and said, "Where do I know you from?" I filled him in and we chatted for a while. He met my husband, sons and my in-laws. I told him the boys' favorite song and don't you know that was the first song he sang! At one point during the concert he began to chat with the congregation and he asked if anyone knew where his hometown was and then he said, "Well, anyone besides MARVA!" He said my name and my boys looked at me like I was really somebody. "He said your name, Mom!" my oldest son said.

After the concert we lined up in the lobby to purchase Mark's newest CD, "Abundant Sunshine," and he posed for a picture with our family and gave each of the boys an autographed picture. We're now official Mark Bishop groupies!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Now that's funny!

A friend sent this to me via email this morning and it struck me as being quite funny. Here's your morning chuckle...

We had a 'going away' party yesterday for a lady at our Little Rock claim office. One of the supervisors called a Wal-Mart and ordered the cake. He told them to write: 'Best Wishes Suzanne' and underneath that write 'We will miss you'. As the picture shows, it didn't quite turn out right. It was too funny not to keep it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

There's nothing more beautiful...

I LOVE autumn and the beautiful foliage that accompanies the season! This tree in our neighbors' yard is the most exquisite color of red. (Click on either picture for a closer view.) Today I went outside and just took pictures of leaves. I have a new camera I'm learning to use. Maybe one of these days I'll get serious about photography and actually take some classes. Enjoy the fall foliage wherever you may be. The colors will be gone before you know it!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I spent $$$ today!

I just went to my first-ever Silpada jewelry party. Anyone been to one of those yet? I've heard about this business started by two women and how it's really taken off, and I even have a friend in Germany who is now a consultant, but I'd never been to a party / showing / open open / whatever you wanna call it.

My neighbor hosted this shindig and she was serving brunch with wine, so I went! Hello! My husband and boys had been out of the driveway less than an hour and I spent over $200. If that's what happens when the boys are gone, they'll have to do this camping out thing more often and I may have to take on a part-time job to pay for my habit.

Seriously, I don't usually buy jewelry for myself, but I really like this stuff, athough it's not real cheap. I did buy a birthday gift for my niece, so I wasn't totally self-indulgent.

Chick flicks, wine and cereal... Oh my!

This is shaping up to be a great weekend. First of all, the cleaning lady came today and my house is spotless. I'm telling you, I'm going to have to give some serious thought into mentioning this lady in my will. I LOVE HER!

My oldest son has already finished most of his homework for the weekend and it's only Friday night. He didn't even complain about it, which made it even nicer. And the reason he did his homework early is because...

Tomorrow my husband is taking both boys camping overnight. I'M NOT GOING! (I actually have a prior commitment with our church, so it's not like I'm purposefully blowing off my family.) I just realized I have never been alone in the house since having kids 11 years ago. What will I do with myself? I can do ANYTHING I want! Maybe I'll rent some chick flicks and open a big ol' bottle of wine. Maybe I'll have cereal for dinner or order out. Maybe I'll soak in the tub for an hour and read. Maybe I'll scrapbook for the first time in ages. Maybe I'll go to bed early just because. The possibilities are endless!

Time alone sounds absolutely heavenly, but I'll be honest in admitting that I'll miss the men in my life tomorrow night, and I hope they'll miss me just a little too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It's almost that time of the month...

Yep, it's nearly that time of the month, the time when my mood changes as a significant event occurs. My husband even knows when it's that time of the month. He's very intuitive that way! That's right... my cleaning lady comes on Friday! Woo-hoo! My mood definitely changes when the cleaning lady (a.k.a. my new best friend) comes. Just ask my husband - he'll tell you. What time of the month did you think I was talking about?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Just forward my mail to Giant

I went grocery shopping again today. I swear, I feel like I spend two-thirds of my time at Giant. I know everyone who works there and they know me as well. As much time as I spend at the grocery, I probably should just have my mail forwarded there. I could go to the commissary, and I usually do if I have "big" shopping because I do save a lot of money, but it's a bit more of an effort to go there because a) it's farther away and certainly not as convenient in location, and b) it's always mega crowded and I HATE that! My time is worth something, isn't it? Actually, I'm thinking of ordering groceries online from Safeway just to see how it works. I may never have to leave my house to grocery shop again!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

"I fought the lawn and the lawn won..."

Yes, I know that's not really how the song goes. It's "law" and not "lawn," but in our case, "lawn" is totally appropriate. We've got lawn issues at our house and it ain't lookin' pretty. We'd been noticing that hunks of grass were being pulled up as if someone or something was digging up small sections of the yard. This was occurring overnight because we'd never seen anything in the yard during the day. As it turns out, we have grubs, at least according to the experts who are supposed to be taking care of this lawn. This isn't our house, nor our lawn, seeing as how we're living in a rental. These geniuses told us that other animals like birds, raccoons and such come out at night and feed off of the grubs, which is why our yard looks like ----.

These lawn experts supposedly came and treated for grubs. We then re-seeded and fertilized and now we have a nice, new patch of grass to replace the dead, barren area in our yard. What we're now noticing are other patches of grass that appear to be affected by grubs. Did those people not treat the entire yard when they were here? What is the deal? And if those woodland creatures are feeding off the grubs, why are the grubs still here and seemingly spreading throughout the yard now?

I keep thinking of that Kevin Bacon and Reba McEntire movie called "Tremors" and I get the willies. Yikes! I know these grubs are just little bitty things, but at the rate these things are eating our yard, they've got to be growing. Wonder what the neighbors are thinking?

Friday, October 12, 2007

The absent-minded professor lives at my house

My oldest son is the absent-minded professor. I'm not kidding! He's a smart kid who can't remember his name some days! He's so forgetful and disorganized that I'm starting to get concerned. I thought early Alzheimer's happened to people my age and older, not an 11-year-old.

I realize I'm a wee bit partial, but my son is a great kid... Really! He's kind-hearted, thoughtful and very polite. Well... most of the time anyway. He's also very bright and imaginative. This kid is in some advanced classes at school, so he's not mentally challenged. I want you to get an accurate picture here.

So if my child has all these great attributes, why on earth can't he remember his homework?
He sometimes forgets to write down homework assignments in his daily agenda book. How am I supposed to be sure he gets his homework done when I don't even know what the homework assignments are? He'll also forget to bring home the necessary books to complete his homework. I'll ask him why and it's always the same reply... "I don't know. I just forgot." Let me just say I'm really starting to dislike that response.

And if, by chance, my child remembers to write down all of his assignments and actually follows through with them, he can't always remember to turn them in on time. Last week he finished an assignment EARLY and still didn't get it turned in on time, therefore being penalized with points taken off for late turn-in. Hopefully that will help wake him up. It's a shame to work hard for the good grade only to have it disappear because you couldn't remember to turn in the stinkin' assignment.

You know I have organization issues and the fact that my child is incredibly disorganized just kills me! We've discussed ways to keep organized so many times. Nothing seems to sink in. We've talked about writing down those assignments immediately rather than waiting until later, because he'll forget to do it if he waits. We've talked about stashing books and necessary supplies into his backpack the minute he knows he has homework in that subject, but he still forgets. I'd be willing to bet the inside of his desk at school looks like a tornado went through it. I guarantee there are important papers shoved to the back of it, never to be seen until the end of the school year. He could win the "Sanford & Son" award for clutter and messiness, no doubt.

At home I still find his books and papers scattered everywhere rather than put back into his backpack, ready for the next day. I know I'm not supposed to do everything for him because it doesn't teach him responsibility, but I can't allow him to flunk 5th grade because he's the absent-minded professor, can I?

I can't relate to this problem! I was always a responsible kid and my mother NEVER had to help me with my homework or keep me organized. I just did it. I know kids have so much more on their plates these days. The homework load is heavier and it's more complex. I'm starting to think 5th grade math will eventually do me in. And of course there are the MANY activities in which our kids are involved. When I was growing up I lived in the boonies and both my parents worked, therefore we didn't participate in many extracurricular activities. So what I'm saying is... I think I had less on my mind as a child than my children do today, so organization and homework weren't issues for me. Could my kid be over-scheduled?

If my kid isn't over-scheduled, is the problem stemming from the fact that he's an 11-year-old boy? I don't have girls, so I have nothing and no one to compare him to. He's so easily distracted and is prone to just staring out the window and daydreaming until our screams bring him back to reality. I'm told he does this at school too. WHAT is he thinking about? Does he have a crush on a girl? Does he have a case of raging hormones? Do kids lose their minds when they reach the 5th grade? I know I'm losing mine and I have only two words for this situation... SERENITY NOW!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Weekends are a time to relax and rejuvenate...

Yeah, right! Just how many events can one family squeeze into a weekend anyway? This isn't a trick question. I'm curious to know if anyone else has ultra-hectic scheduled weekends like we do. This is what we're doing this weekend...

On Saturday:

1) Soccer game for kid #2 @ 11:45am, which won't start on time because they NEVER do. At least we can sleep in a little.

2) Cub Scout Popcorn Sales @ a local grocery store mall area from noon-1:30 with kid #1. I don't believe I can make that one due to the soccer game. Thank God my hubby is around so we can divide and conquer, which is becoming a regular routine for us.

3) Cub Scout Popcorn Sales AGAIN from 3:45-5pm with kid #2. Since they're both involved in Scouts, but in different dens, they have two different times to work - NATURALLY!

4) Oktoberfest from 6-9pm at a neighbor's house, which I'm actually looking forward to because a) we can bring the kids, therefore I don't have to pick up or take home a babysitter, b) there will be free food and drinks (Gotta love that!), c) if we have a drink or two, we only have to walk two houses down to get back home, and d) it'll probably be fun.

5) Sometime during the course of the day I'll have to make a casserole to take to an event the next day (See below).

On Sunday:

1) Sunday School & Church from 9:30am-noon, which is our normal routine every Sunday, so that's no big thing.

2) Sunday School Picnic @ 1pm at a local park and everyone has to bring something. There's where my casserole comes in. When do you cook a casserole when you're not at home? I've always wondered about that. Too bad Alice (Remember the Brady Bunch's Alice?) doesn't live with us. I'd make her do it!

3) Since we're going to be busy as bird dogs all weekend up until this point, I can pretty much guarantee the boys will have loads of homework. This nearly always happens. And of course kid #2 starts 2nd grade testing at school on Monday morning, and he's to get plenty of sleep and have a good breakfast the next day.

Weekends ain't always what they're cracked up to be!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Organization is My Friend

I love organization! I admit it... I probably have touches of OCD (You know, OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER!). My friend Dana and I joke around about our OCD tendencies. She's a professional organizer, so she knows about these things. Please know I realize there are people in this world who truly suffer from OCD and it's no laughing matter. I'm not talking about them... I'm talking about me! I just like the idea of having a place for everything.

I love those HGTV shows where the organization professionals swoop in on families and their pigsty homes and whip them into shape! It's not just because I like seeing the before and after, which is always amazing, but it's also because seeing the way some people live makes me feel so much better about the way I live. I look at other people's clutter and "foolishness," as Niecy from "Clean House" would say, and I feel pretty good about myself.

I don't like clutter around me for long periods of time. I mentioned we're a military family and we move a lot. Moving is chaotic and I don't care for the whole packing and unpacking thing. I like seeing new places, experiencing new things and making new friends, but the physical part of moving I could certainly do without. It's exhausting, chaotic and messy. There are boxes and packing paper everywhere, just piles of it! For those with organization issues (like me), it's enough to make you crazy. Yep, just go ahead and throw another quarter into the therapy jar!

My children do not display even the slightest hint of OCD tendencies. I suppose I should be happy for them because I imagine they'll be happier, more fulfilled people down the road. But I'm not particularly happy for myself because I still have to live with these slobs... uh, I mean loving children... for several more years before they go off and establish their own pigpens... uh, I mean beautiful homes. Okay, I have to give my boys credit in that they do make their beds on a daily basis and they do a pretty good job of it. I still have to constantly remind them to pick up their clothes, toys, books, etc. off the floor, but at least those beds are made, right? Small steps, small steps...