Monday, July 29, 2013

Where Do Socks Go???

laundry, socks, missing socks

How is it that no matter how much of an effort I make, no matter how many times I look under beds, dressers, and living room furniture, or how thoroughly I count to make sure I have an even number, I always lose at least one sock when I do laundry.  I have checked everywhere in my washer and dryer for these lost socks and yet I still come up empty-handed.

It gets frustrating having to go room-by-room in search of all the socks that were either thrown carelessly on the floor or were used as snowballs in a summer version of a snowball fight.  Add to that frustration another search during the folding phase of laundry, and my head is ready to explode like a Looney Tunes cartoon character. 

I know, I know.  If I would teach my children to put their dirty clothes in the hamper, it would cut my frustration down as I'd only have to search once for missing socks.  I have obviously failed miserably at teaching this task to both of my children, but especially to my son.  All of his clothes can be found laying on the floor directly in front of his hamper.  Not on the hamper, in the hamper, or even thrown carelessly around his room.  No, all of his clothes lay in a heap directly in front of his hamper.

Since he really loves football, maybe I would have better luck getting him to actually put his clothes in the hamper if I were to leave the hamper lid open and attach a cut-out of a wide receiver to it.  That way he could practice his throwing and make a "completion" every time he actually gets his clothes in the hamper.  I might could even take that idea a step further and attach a motion-activated speaker with audio that plays the sound of screaming fans every time an article of clothing actually makes it into the hamper.

But even with that addition to my son's hamper, it still would not solve where our socks go during the laundering process.  Seriously, what happens to our socks?  Are there a bunch of one-footed sock thieves that quietly sneak in our house on laundry day and steal just one sock out of my laundry?  Could there be little sock gremlins or dust bunnies who snatch the socks and hide them out of spite for vacuuming up their friends each week? 

Or maybe they end up down the street in one of the neighbor's washer or dryer.  Maybe what happens is everyone's socks in our neighborhood get sucked out of our washing machines and pushed into someone's at the back of our subdivision.  Heck, maybe that neighbor is scratching their head wondering where in the world this odd assortment of socks are coming from.

They could be a crew sock only family but now they've got ankle socks, knee socks, and socks with little danglies on the ankle.  And even worse would be instead of just having white socks, they've now got a huge influx of socks with stripes, solids, neons and primary colors.  Oh the horror of it all!

The neighbor might even be worried that one of their kids has a sock fetish.  Imagine the embarrassment of having to talk about their child getting strung out on bright colors, Looney Tunes characters, fun patterns, and *gasp* the dreaded holiday patterns!  They may be worried someone might see their child wearing socks with Christmas trees and wreaths in July.  Why, they'd be so mortified and they might never live that embarrassment down!

To alleviate their stress, maybe at our next neighborhood picnic, along with potato salad and dessert, we should all bring our odd socks.  We could play "Pin the sock on the owner". 

Until then, my weekly search for the lost sock shall continue.  Now I will look a little bit closer for any fierce looking dust bunnies that may be hoarding a sock under a sofa or dresser, and I might even check outside to make sure there aren't any footprints of a one-legged bandit leading to/from the house on laundry day.

I'm sure if we all band together, we will find the culprit of the sock disappearances and laundry day angst will become a thing of the past....... unless the culprits are actually aliens who are weaving all of our socks together in a diabolical plot to take over the world...............

by: Christie Bielss

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Drive on the Wild Side

salt lake city, emigration canyon, ruths diner

My Dad loves eating breakfast at Ruth's Diner in Emigration Canyon, Utah.  The breakfast fare is pretty good but the drive down the canyon from Park City, UT to the diner, for me, is a nail biter.
Emigration Canyon is a very historic drive.  It is the route where the pioneers came into Utah and decided to make it their home.  But it's a canyon, and while going up the canyon is quite lovely and scenic, coming down is a very quick descent.  And it can be a whole lot quicker with the sheer drop-offs which border the roadside if you aren't careful.
The first time my Dad drove us down Emigration Canyon was a number of years back.  It was nerve-racking back then and I remember sitting in the front passenger seat of his SUV and moving as close to the center console as I could get.  In essence, I plastered myself against it and used the cupholders as hand holds much as a rock climber would when climbing Mount Everest.
This time going down the canyon, everyone decided to put me in the backseat right behind the driver.  They reasoned that having me sit 2 feet over would lend some "stability" to my senses as I wouldn't be able to see how the roadside drops off hundreds of feet down.  I thought it sounded like a good plan and climbed in the backseat.  I even brought my camera and had the grand plan to take pictures of the scenery as we drove down.
We made it around the first few curves and WA-HOO! the plan was working.  I relaxed and started enjoying the drive down ............. and then the road curved the other direction.  In an effort to redirect my gaze, my Mom tried pointing out scenery ahead of us.  It didn't work.  I had already seen the thousand foot drop to the bottom of the canyon and I started to panic.
I asked my Dad to slow the car down because it felt like we were doing 60mph down those steep, winding roads.  He replied "I'm doing less than 30mph.  If I go any slower we could almost walk down faster.".  My husband reached over and pried my fingers off the arm rest one-by-one and held my hand.  My Mom was still trying very hard to redirect my gaze forward instead of down.

She asked my husband to point to where she was looking in an effort to force me to look elsewhere.  My husband laughed as he replied "Ummm........ I don't think that's going to work.  Christie is wrapped around my head so tight I look like I'm wearing Davy Crockett's coonskin cap.".  Yes, by this point I'd grabbed ahold of him with a deathgrip and wasn't letting go.  If I was going down, he was going with me!
We made it to a "scenic lookout" area where we could park and walk around.  It took a couple of minutes for all of us to get out of the car, probably due to my husband having to detach me from his scalp first.
After walking around for a few minutes, my nerves settled down and I was able to enjoy the beauty of Emigration Canyon.  As I looked out over the mountain range, my Mom asked how I'd have felt riding in a covered wagon or having to maneuver a pull-cart up and down those mountains. 
I think I would have been such a famous redheaded pilgrim, they would have had to install 2 historical markers along the trail.  One would have designated where I saw the first drop off and started screaming in a full-fledged panic attack, and the second plaque would've been for my fellow pilgrims for having to listen to my screams all the way down the mountain range.......

by: Christie Bielss

Monday, July 22, 2013

What A Gas

Summer Vacation, Road Trip

Our much anticipated summer vacation had finally arrived.  The kids woke up on the first gentle nudge and excitedly sped through their morning routines in an effort to get out the door early.  As I was trying to put the last toiletry items in mine and my children's luggage, my husband was cutting his hair .......... while his suitcase sat on the bed just as empty as it had been the night before.  Typical.  He always packs at the last minute and always ends up forgetting something.  Heck, one year he forgot to pack any pants.  Yep, takes the phrase "going Commando" to a whole new level.

We ended up leaving an hour and half later than I had planned, but it was vacation and we were driving, so our schedule was flexible.  As we were leaving town, we went through the McDonald's drive-thru for breakfast.  My husband ordered his favorite:  sausage biscuits, while the rest of us ate syrup-less hotcakes.  That's right.  We had pancakes without syrup because I don't want sticky gunk all over my car.

My family happily gnoshed on their breakfast while I put the pedal to the metal and tried to make up for lost time due to my husband's primping.  We were about an hour down the road when our senses were assaulted by the smell of a skunk.  We didn't see it, but we sure could smell it.  We rolled the windows down and quickly aired out the car.  I felt sorry for whoever hit that skunk because their car probably had to be fumigated to get rid of that stench.

We continued blazing a trail down the highway barreling towards Amarillo, TX for our lunch break/refueling destination.  When we arrived in Amarillo, we stopped at a truck stop that also had several fast food restaurant choices inside.  The family chose Burger King and while I'd have rather eaten the tail end out of that skunk we'd smelled than something from Burger King, I sucked it up and ordered something that resembled chicken.  My family chose to go with cheeseburgers, fries, and a free ice cream cone.

Little did I know when they chose their lunch at that truck stop, we would be fueling more than the car's gas tank.  We hit the road and cheered when we crossed the Texas/New Mexico state line.  It wasn't long after that border crossing when we started encountering some strange aromas.  There was the older pickup truck in front of us that was emitting an odd smell, an open field where, from the rotten egg smell, someone must've hit a natural gas line while drilling.  We were also certain we drove past either a cattle auction yard or dairy farm due to the overwhelming smell of fresh manure.

This trip was definitely having a very negative effect on my olfactory senses.  We stopped at a rest stop in New Mexico to check out an extinct volcano and stretch our legs for a few minutes before braving the mountain passes through Raton, NM and Trinidad, CO.  I used the break to breathe in some fresh mountain air and settle my senses down a bit.

As we headed down the highway I was again assaulted by odors, but this time it became quite apparent what the source was............ and he was sitting right beside me.  I asked him ever so sweetly and discreetly "Ummm honey?  Did you do that?".  He busted out laughing so hard he was crying and managed to squeak out the words:  skunk, truck smell, cow manure, and natural gas. 

Apparently I hadn't smelled any of those things, I had been smelling his emissions.  As he was cackling like a hyena and I was grumbling about how courtesy dictates at least rolling down a window, we were both hit with the motherload of stench.

"Oh good heavens!" I yelled.  I looked over at my husband ready to tie him to the roof of the car when I noticed that he was clawing at the window trying to get it to roll down faster so he could stick his head out and get a breath of fresh air.  As I put my hand over my nose and mouth in an effort to breathe in air less odiferous, I hear a very quiet and polite "pardon me" and then another voice said "excuse me".  Great.  Now 3 people were battling each other with chemical warfare and I was stuck in the car with them.

Yep.  My great idea of hitting some fast food joints so we could make better time on the road had just backfired........... literally.  I was trapped in the car for another 4 hours with 3 people who were emitting toxic fumes.  Between my eyes watering and nose burning, I was pretty sure I'd been hit with the equivalent of a nuclear bomb or sarin nerve gas. 

By the time we made it to our hotel in Colorado Springs to spend the night, their three tummies had finally calmed down.  Burger King and McDonald's sausage biscuits were permanently banned from their diets for the remainder of the trip.  There was one upside to the whole situation.  Apparently when you have a green haze surrounding your vehicle, it does seem to deter tailgaters or anyone from trying to pass your vehicle on the road.

by: Christie Bielss

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Seeing Purple

Asthma, Barney

Giving birth to my children and holding them in my arms for the first time was the greatest joy I have ever experienced.  For 9 months prior to their arrival, I read books like "What to Expect When You're Expecting" and Dr. Spock's guides to raising children from cover to cover.  I knew ahead of time what changes my body was undergoing and how my baby was developing.  From reading those books I knew exactly what to expect from the day I found out I was pregnant all the way into those first few months after birth ........ or did I?

My husband and I were so excited when we brought our first child home.  For the first few weeks my son slept like an angel and was the best baby ever.  Oh, how the books were exactly right.  Then, when he was about 3 months old he started getting sick and was only sleeping for about 30-45 minutes at a time.  By the time he was 4 months old, the bags under my eyes could've been classified as a full set of luggage, and I'd sweat from so many steam showers due to the number of rounds of croup my son had contracted that I could've been hung from a wind chime.

Nowhere in those baby books I'd read so dutifully did it talk about this part of motherhood.  I was ready to rip the pages out of those books and burn them in a bonfire.  When our son was 5 months old he was diagnosed with reactive airway disease (aka asthma).  The doctor ordered a nebulizer kit (a machine that transforms liquid medication into a mist for inhalation).  The kit even came with a cute little child-sized mask that was shaped like a purple dinosaur.  I immediately thought "Awww!  How cute!  My baby's first Barney item!".

The first time I had to give my son a nebulizer treatment, he tolerated the mask being put on his face because he was interested in the dinosaur mask.  When it was time for his next treatment 2 hours later he was done with that mask and wanted nothing to do with it.  That boy may as well have been greased up like a pig and been born with 10 arms for as much as I had to fight to get that mask even remotely near his face.  By the time the nebulizer vial was empty, I was pretty sure I'd ingested more of the medication than he had.

About that time my best friend called and asked how the treatments were going.  As I wiped the sweat from my brow, I told her that it could've gone better.  She suggested putting a kids show on tv to distract him.  What a great idea! 

At the next appointed time for the nebulizer, I flicked on the tv and found Sesame Street.  What kid doesn't like a little Burt and Ernie, I thought.  Apparently mine.  He cried louder and fought harder with Sesame Street on than when I'd had nothing on tv.  Determined to find a way to make this easier, I grabbed the tv remote and started flicking through the few kid channels available.  Nothing tamed this wild beast of a child.  I was ready to throw in the towel and check into whether they made straight jackets in my child's size when my friend asked if I had a kid show or movie on tape that I'd bought.

YES!  I had 1 VCR tape (yes, that was before the invention of the DVD) for kids.  I dug that video out of the cabinet, plopped it into the VCR and hit play.  My son was instantly captivated by that strange purple dinosaur dancing across the tv screen.

I turned on the nebulizer, put the mask over his face, and wouldn't you know, he was so captivated he didn't even notice!  V-I-C-T-O-R-Yyyyyyyyyyyy........... why, oh why, did I ever think that was a good idea.  For the next 5 years that blasted, grotesquely purple, dancing dinosaur was the only way my son would take his nebulizer treatment.  And only with that same exact Barney tape playing.  Oh how I tried showing him how neat it would be to see something different by turning the tv to a 30 minute Barney episode.  I even bought a different Barney video.  No, "Barney's Super Singing Circus" had indoctrinated my child into the world of Barney and had immediately performed some kind of mind control over him.  It was the only video he would watch while having a nebulizer treatment. What was working so well for my son just so happened to be the very thing which was now sucking my brains out.

I hear parents talk about how difficult their child was with colic or separation anxiety.  There is nothing that compares to the sheer torture of having to listen to the same Barney video every few hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for 5 years straight.  Every time I heard Barney's voice it was like having nails driven up my spine.

If our military used this video instead of other forms of torture, I would bet terrorists would give up every ounce of intelligence information they knew within 5 minutes of that video playing.  I wanted to buy a stuffed Barney just so I could choke the life out of that obnoxious, mind-controlling dinosaur.

Ok, so I know Barney was a phenomenal tool in allowing me to give my son life-saving medication in a relaxed and comforting manner, but I'm pretty sure I lost some of my sanity and quite a number of brain cells to that video.  5 years of the same songs and same characters, day in and and day out, is just wrong on so many levels. 

I have, however, found a great use these days for those songs.  One chorus of a particular song from that video really stuck in my brain.  Now when I'm out in public with my pre-teen children and they start driving me insane with their bickering, or they keep antagnozing each other, all I have to do is break out into song.  Not a Broadway show tune, not Justin Bieber or One Direction.  No, I break out into Barney:

"Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy? 
Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy?
Giddy and foolish the whole day through,
Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy?"

You'll never see 2 children snap-to so fast as when you look at them ever so lovingly, gently stroke their hair and face, and start singing and dancing just like Barney.  Matter of fact, this has become such a good tool and brings me so much enjoyment, just as Barney brought them not so many years ago, that I've thought about trying to find a purple Barney shirt I can carry around in my purse to throw on to go with the song and dance.  I'm sure my kids would really appreciate my singing ever so much more if I just had the shirt.........

by: Christie Bielss

Thursday, July 4, 2013

An Independence Day Remembered

eagle, independence day

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” - Erma Bombeck

Every year in celebration of America's independence, my family always pauses to  thank those who came before us and sacrificed life, limb, and even their own family's safety, in order for us to live freely and to pursue our own dreams.

This celebration almost always consists of bbq, my grandmother's potato salad and deviled egg recipes, baked beans, corn on the cob, and watermelon.  And to finish off the food-fest is homemade ice cream, apple pie, and Texas sheet cake.

As part of our celebration, we always have sparklers to play with.  What would July 4th be without handing our children a 3,000°F fire on the end of the stick and telling them to be careful and not burn themselves after having just taught them not to play with matches or fire.

After the sparklers comes the grown-up's turn to play.  Over the years we've had a few minor mishaps with fireworks which have resulted in us making sure we have a garden hose close by.  We've misjudged how far the firework will shoot and have had to chase a few down.  We've also had to hose down our roof from where our neighbors have misjudged their firework's shooting distance.

But the ultimate year of firework madness came just a few years ago.  A neighbor had travelled to a bordering state and picked up some real fireworks while my husband picked up the kid-friendly ones.  All of the neighbors were standing outside ready for the show we were going to put on.  The neighbor and my husband had made some great finds!  Some shot way up in the air and exploded in a blaze of colorful glory.  Others whirled and zipped around so fast your eyes couldn't make out where the actual firework was.  They had others that sent out little spinning shooters across the ground in every direction and turned different colors.  And the kids loved the firecrackers that exploded when they threw them down on the concrete.

But like any grand finale, they saved the best for last.  They had picked up some rockets.  I moved my children and our neighbor's children into our garage thinking it would be the perfect place to protect everyone but still have a bird's eye view of the show.  My car was in the garage, so if the kids got scared, they could hop in it and look through the windows.  Another Mom decided that was a good, safe place to stand, so the 2 of us stood in the garage with the kids.

The men had to figure out which end was the shooting end of the rocket since it didn't have an arrow pointing "this end up".  They positioned it on our driveway so the fireworks weren't going toward anyone's house and would shoot directly into the center of the street.  With excitement that positively crackled in the air, they lit the rocket launcher's wick. 

The first rocket exploded out of the launcher's canon with lightning speed ........... and went straight into our garage.  "Oh cr*p!" my neighbor said, "those idiots turned the rocket launcher the wrong way!".  The rocket was launching fire balls in rapid succession at all of us in the garage!  We were having to jump as high as we could in the air to avoid getting hit in the legs and shins!

The kids in the garage were standing there screaming as we grabbed them by the arms and flung them bodily out of the garage while hopping over rockets.  My husband and the neighbor had to time grabbing the launcher perfectly in order to flip it around and not have one of the rockets launch directly into themselves, or any of the neighbor's windows, or, heaven forbid, the groups of people standing around. 

Luckily, nothing caught on fire from the fireballs exploding in the garage and no one was injured during the incident.  I can't say that 2 men didn't get a verbal beating when the rocket finally quit firing and we were able to regain our breath. 

Every time I hear our national anthem played and they get to "the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air", it reminds me of having to jump the rockets.  We decided after this experience that we should invite the local fire department to our party every year.  We could feed them some bbq and play some yard games........... before they have to rescue us or put out whatever fire we inevitably start.

by: Christie Bielss

Monday, July 1, 2013

What is a Redhead?

The Redhead, redhead

"Blondes are wild, brunettes are true, but you never know just what a redhead will do!" - unknown

Opinionated, fiery tempered, reserved, loyal, friendly, good humored, adventurous, passionate, strong willed and spirited, are just a few of the terms people use to describe redheads.  The desire to have red hair has grown exponentially in the last several decades.  Just about anyone can have red hair with a little help from Miss Clairol or a licensed colorist.  The shades of red available are limited only by your imagination.  Most redheads command attention merely by walking into a room.  Older men flock to redheaded women and instantly become feisty and may knickname them "Red", even if they've only just become acquainted.

But, just because you have colored your hair red, does not make you a true redhead.  One must grow up dealing with being called "carrot top", "ginger", "Ronald McDonald", "Bozo", "Howdy Doody", and other names, to understand where the redhead gets their strong sense of self.

Redheads are rare and make up only a small 2% of the world's population.  In the United States, only about 4% of the entire population is a natural redhead, but due to the population size of the USA, that percentage equates to more redheads than any other country.

What is it about a redhead which makes them different from blondes and brunettes - besides the hair color and attitude?  It's the eye color.   There are blue-eyed, green-eyed, and hazel-eyed  blondes and brunettes, but redheads are different.  The reason many throughout the centuries have been afraid of redheads has not just been because of the hair color, but because of the changing eye color.

That's right, I said changing eye color.  Many redheads have not only blue eyes, but depending on their mood, can also have green and hazel eye colors.  Yes, you heard me right - a redhead can actually have 3 different eye colors which change with their mood.  My eyes consist of only 2 colors - blue and green.  My family has learned that one color means I'm happy and jovial and the other color means it's time to jump into a bunker because that legendary fiery temper is about to explode like a nuclear bomb.

Because of our body's ability to change our eye color like a mood ring, many over the centuries who have witnessed this phenomenon have been so shocked they thought redheads were witches.  Redheads have been tortured and burned at the stake for the mere fact that they have red hair.  Seems crazy but people have been killed over the centuries for far less than that.

So, is there anything else which makes the redhead stand out from the rest of the population other than the hair and eye color and attitude?  Yes there is.  A study conducted in 1969 by the University of Pennsylvania concluded that redheads are actually proportionately smarter than blondes and brunettes.  Considering that redheads only make up 2% of the world's population, there is a disproportionate number who are high-achievers.  Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and 15 other United States Presidents, Napolean Bonaparte, William Shakespeare, Christopher Columbus, William the Conqueror, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, James I, Winston Churchill, Oliver Cromwell, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, George Bernard Shaw, Sinclair Lewis, Vivaldi, and Beverly Sills, were all redheads.  What would history, literature, or music be without them?

And, of course, little old, good-natured, fiery tempered, and extremely intelligent (LOL!) me is included in that group........who increased the earth's redheaded population with 2 more humorous, good looking, intelligent, and strong-willed redheads.  So, what is a redhead?  Hang around this blog long enough and you'll find out!

by: Christie Bielss