Friday, August 30, 2013

Marketing Gone Amok!

All I've heard lately are people talking about calories, fat grams, trans fat, saturated fat, unsaturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and carbohydrates. Healthy this and healthy that, portion control this and portion control that.  It's gotten to the point where when someone starts talking healthy eating, I hear blah, blah, blah. 

Spray whip

But, with all of this new more intense focus on food, I've also noticed a decided shift in the way food companies are advertising their products, and enough so that it has captured my attention and I'm actually listening again.  Advertisers no longer show just a steaming mound of mashed potatoes with a delectably lush pat of butter melting down the sides.  No sir they don't. 

Now the companies have taken their advertising to a whole new level to meet the consumer's evolving health awareness.  Instead of just hooking you with that ever so appealing mound of steaming hot mashed potatoes, they now sink their hooks in deep with the new added kicker "and 1 serving is only 80 calories!". 

Wow!  I love mashed potatoes and to be able to eat them and only consume 80 calories would leave room in my daily caloric count for dessert!  And jump for joy! The very next commercial after the potatoes was for spray whipped topping.

The commercial displayed a big bowl full of beautifully juicy red strawberries with a big mound of whipped topping.  The announcer said "....don't feel guilty..... because with just 15 calories it's the perfect compliment to your workout."

Oh thank you sweet Lord!  I won't be killing all the effects of my workout and I can enjoy a delightful reward.  And look at that mound of scrumptious savoriness they say I can have for only 15 calories!!!  Woo Hoo!

I ran out and bought the whipped topping and the strawberries.  I sprayed that whipped topping just like I'd seen on tv and as I was lowering the can to clean off the nozzle, I noticed the nutrition label and was instantly dismayed.  The commercial showed this big mound of lushness and the announcer said it only had 15 calories, but the can said the serving size for those 15 calories was 2 measly, miserly tablespoons.  2 flipping tablespoons?!!  I don't think it is even humanly possible to spray out only 2 tablespoons. 

So, in an effort to protect all of mankind from such false advertising, I offered myself up as a guinea pig to see just how much I was using on average.  Remember, I did this with the pure motive to help all of you who are watching your diet and not because I wanted to eat an entire can of whipped topping...... although it was decidedly delicious!

The photo at the top of this post is 2 tablespoons (and heaping tablespoons at that) of the spray whipped topping.  The photo below that is what I guessed to be the equivalent of what they sprayed in the commercial (although due to inability to get an actual scale and the camera distortion, the scale may be grossly off from my point of view and they may have sprayed a much smaller amount). 

I measured that mound out and it was 13 tablespoons which equates to 97.5 calories..... that's a whole lot more than 15.

Going back to those mashed potatoes, those were only 80 calories per serving, right?  Not so fast.  I checked the serving size (1/3 cup) and wouldn't you know those 80 calories were only for the potato flakes.  That's right, you can have the potato flakes for 80 calories but if you'd like them actually mixed with milk, butter, salt, and water (they taste closer to real potatoes that way) as the package directions state, then those calories jump up to 150.

Between just these 2 food items, my daily calorie intake was just blown by 152 calories.  That didn't seem that bad, I thought.  After all, it wasn't like I'd blown it by 1,000 calories.

Then I decided to look up what it would take for me to burn those extra calories off.  55 minutes of having my arm dislocated from it's I mean walking the dog.... or I could go play bumper carts with the old farts at Walmart for an hour and 15 minutes, or I could go swim laps freestyle at a moderate pace for 20 minutes straight. 

All of those options really make those marketing wizards look like demons in my eyes.  I don't want to have to exercise extra just for some whipped cream and boxed mashed potatoes.  Heck, I don't really want to exercise at all.

Yes, it's irritating that marketing guru's have run amok using these methods to sell products, but I guess that's the nature of the beast of free enterprise.  Consumer vs. Marketing.  So, once again that age old phrase proves itself correct "if it looks too good to be true, it probably is".

So there you have it, my first expose'.  I feel so John Stossel-y.

by: Christie Bielss

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Telemarketer Tango

I have been trying to instill in my children that there is no job which is too menial for them to accept.......... with one exception: telemarketing.  I know telemarketing is a legitimate job which requires a lot of skill in order to meet sales quotas, but those people have a gift for being more annoying than a horsefly at a picnic.

Telemarketing, telemarketers,

I have employed many tactics trying to get them to quit calling our telephone number.  I have hung up on them, told them ever so politely I'm not interested, asked them to remove my telephone number from their list, demanded they quit calling my telephone number, and griped at them for calling me 30 times a day.

I do admit to veering a little off-course from Miss Manner's guide to mannerly evasion techniques with one particular telemarketer.  This telemarketer made the mistake of calling this redhead every 30 minutes for days on end.  This type of technique will never generate a sale from me, but it will spur me to step outside the bounds of etiquette so that I can entertain myself at that person's expense. 

Soap box moment:  I really miss corded telephones.  Besides the benefits of never having to dial your own home phone number because you can't remember where you left your cordless phone, you also cannot get the same effect that slamming down a corded phone gives you when all you can do is press the cordless phone's "off" button.  Instead of hearing the WHAM of a corded phone, all the telemarketer hears is the softest of clicks.  Without that level of satisfaction, I then resort to hitting the off button 5 times with increasing degrees of force as I yell at the phone "And.don'!".    Off my soap box.

So, after my politely worded declinations did nothing to stop this most persistent telemarketer, I decided it was time to get "creative".  Instead of giving my usual "no, thank you" response, I added a bit of a s-s-s-s-s-st-st-stutt-ut-ut-er. When I started stuttering, it threw them off-course and made them st-st-stumble through their spiel.  This strategy, while effective in shutting them up, did not stop them from calling repeatedly.  It was time to go to DEFCON 2.

As soon as the telemarketer's number popped up on Caller ID, I was ready and raring to go.  As soon as I said "Hello?" they began with their typical "May I speak with Mrs. Bee-uh-Bile-ummm-Beelesssss?".  Immediately I started acting as though I was hard of hearing.  After several times of me yelling "I'm sorry hon, but I can't hear you.  You'll have to speak up.", you could hear the frustration growing in the telemarketers voice (from about a block away) as they yelled their spiel even louder. 

When I had succeeded in getting the telemarketer completely exasperated and they had yelled their spiel for the umpteenth time at the top of their lungs, I said with all the indignation I could muster in my redheaded body "Well!  You don't need to yell! I'm not deaf, you know!".  They hung up and I rejoiced as the rest of my day was telemarketer free.  I celebrated too soon though.  About 2 days later they started calling again.

I was prepared though.  If you have to go to DEFCON 2, then you pretty much prepare to go all the way to DEFCON 1, and oh boy! was I prepared.  I had even rehearsed it with my family.  The conversation went like this:

Me: Hello?

Tele-stalker (TS): Hi, may I speak with Ms. B-B-Brills, uh, Ms. Bless, uh....Blise....ummmm...... Ms. Christie?

Me: Speaking.

TS: Well Ms. Christie, I see that you ha...

Me: Do you hear that?

TS: have.....ummm....... I'm sorry Ms. Christie, what?

Me: Can you hear that?

TS: (audible pause as they listened) Hear what?

Me: You can't hear that?

TS: hear what ma'am?

Me: People talking.

TS: Oh, well, maybe you're hearing some of my co-workers in the background.

Me: Ok....... ummm......... why are they telling someone to get naked?

TS:  WHAT?!!

Me:  The voices I'm hearing keep saying to get naked.

TS: Ma'am?!!! Ummm........ hold on a moment ma'am. (I could hear her whisper to a co-worker: "Did you say something to someone about getting naked?"......... pause....... "This person is saying they hear voices telling them to get naked!".)

Me: There! I heard it again! You'd better look behind you because somebody is standing there naked. You could video it and put it on youtube.

TS: (I could hear the chair squeak as they flipped around in their chair) Nope. (sigh) Nobody here is naked, ma'am. Is there someone else in the house with you? Maybe they said it.

Me: Nope. Nobody here but me and the dog and the dog can't speak............well, she doesn't usually speak. Just every now and again she talks to me.

TS: Ummm........ your dog talks to you?

Me:  Yeppers she sure does! .......ummm.... Why? ........ Doesn't your dog talk to you?

TS: You mean your dog barks and whines, right?

Me: No, she speaks perfect English - just like I'm speaking to you.  Well, not all the time. She really only does it when no one else is around.  I guess she's shy. And she can speak Italian, Scottish, and British, which is just like our English but with a funny sounding accent.  I guess it's because she's a mixed breed.  Pure breeds probably only speak one language. 

TS: Ummm...... you mean she understands all that language, right? (whispers to co-worker) "Oh sh**! This lady's cray-cray! She's hearing voices saying to get naked and her dog talks to her......yeah! like speaking words and sh**....."

Me: No, she talks like you and I are talking.  (sounding anxious) Ma'am? There's that voice again.  Are you sure that's not your co-worker telling someone to get naked? Is this some kind of telephone porn solicitation? Is this 1-800-Hot-Jobs or something like that?  Has the economy gotten so bad that you are looking for "Johns" over the telephone? Oh.My.Gosh! You're a telephone hooker aren't you?! Does your mother know what you do for a living?!

TS: tone)

And they've never called back.  And that, my friends, is how you get rid of tele-stalkers.  1 tele-stalker down.......... billions more to go..........

by: Christie Bielss

Thursday, August 22, 2013

You've Got Mail

"You've got mail".  3 little words that have all but eliminated the United States Postal Service from the letter mailing industry.  When I bought my first computer back in 2000 and installed the AOL internet software, I was sure the internet was the best thing since sliced bread.  Hearing those 3 words packed a punch of excitement so big it made my heart leap and my pulse race.

Letter, You've Got Mail, email, inbox

With baited breath I'd wait as I listened to the sound of the modem connecting to the provider.  My day would instantly be brighter if I had mail which caused my computer to speak those 3 little words.  The convenience of email has been a god-send to families and friends who are separated by distance.  Companies across the globe are now able to conduct business transactions in the blink of an eye.  The convenience of email has undeniable advantages.

However, as I was going through letters my grandfather had written to my grandmother while researching my family's genealogy, it dawned on me that I would not be leaving this kind of tangible legacy for my own children and grandchildren.  Sure, I could print off email correspondence between my husband and I when we were separated due to a job transfer, but printer ink does have a limited life span and it just doesn't give the same feeling a handcrafted letter does.

There is something so intensely personal about someone putting their thoughts and experiences down on paper in their own handwriting.  The recipient of that letter knows the sender has touched it with their own hands and the scent of their perfume or cologne may even still linger on the paper.  While the convenience of email has facilitated the speed by which we go about our fast-paced lifestyles, it has also caused us to forget to sit back, relax, and breathe.

When I was a child, one of the neatest surprises was to get a letter or card in the mail from my grandparents.  Oh the shouting and hoopla that would transpire with my brothers and I over whoever received that letter!  We would carefully open the envelope making sure not to tear the flap too much so the letter could be folded and stored back in the envelope to keep it safe.  The letter would gently be unfolded and read aloud as everyone sat around the recipient.  I still have those letters my grandparents sent me some 30+ years later and I still go back and read them from time to time.

I decided after having this revelation to go and purchase a set of stationary and send out some letters.  I went to 6 different retailers who carry stationary supplies and not a single one carried a set of ordinary stationary any longer.  Oh yes, they carried folded note cards and lots of designs for print your own invitations, but not a single, solitary set of stationary. 

It was as I stood there in that 6th store trying to think of where I could get a set of stationary that I remembered.  Most of the letters we received were on sheets of plain lined, and sometimes unlined, note paper.  Even the letters my grandfather sent to my grandmother while fighting in World War II were on plain paper.

The letters did not require fancy stationary with initials embossed in gold, or paper with pretty flowers decorating the corners.  No, all we needed for a letter to be special were the thoughtfully chosen handwritten words put down on paper and the love that it was sent with.

by: Christie Bielss

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Driving Force

Inspiration comes in as many different forms as there are people on the earth.  While many are inspired in similar ways, every person has a unique internal mechanism which gets recharged by a certain special experience.  That particular driving force creates a level of hope, calm, and understanding within each one of us which inspires us to do great works.

inspire, inspiration daily, God, Jesus, Holy Spirit

It is also that internal spark of resilience which inspires people after experiencing unthinkable injuries and tragedies to keep taking one step forward, when it seems like it would be so much easier to drown in a sea of anger, self-pity, and doubt.  That spark inside the deepest depth of their soul keeps pushing them to get back up, take one more step, and seek a new direction.

I felt that spark ignite inside of me after I was injured and the doctors explained to me what my future held.  That spark continues to drive me forward every single day.  A spark of determination which does not rely on anger or self-pity, but on hope.  A hope that cannot be denied, repressed, or quashed.

My hope and resilience, while it comes from a place within me, is not from me.  I've tried relying on myself, family members, and even close friends to bring forth that spark, but it never lasted long.  I've tried to force that spark to ignite and change me through reading books and listening to men and women speak, but they never sustained me.

It was only when the pain was unbearable and there was nothing left but the emptiness in my heart and very depths of my soul, that I came face to face with the force behind the spark.  It is the energy of the Holy Spirit that gives my soul life and my heart happiness.  His strength is what keeps me moving forward every single day when I could sit and wallow in self-pity and anger.  His love is what sustains me when the pain overtakes my body and my thoughts.  And it is His steadfastness which stands by and waits for my redheaded hard-headedness to get out of the way of His works.

Much like His servant Paul who sought healing from the thorn in his side, my healing has not been physical, it has been His grace which has been sufficient.  When the pain increases and causes my heart to get heavy while my soul grows weary, I am reminded of Isaiah 40: 29-31:

"He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might

He increases strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary,

And the young men shall utterly fall,
31 But those who wait on the Lord

Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint."

One day I will have wings like an eagle and I will soar with no limitations.  Until then, I know this spark from deep within me is the driving force which keeps pushing me.  With every push I know I am not alone because He continues to carry me when I am weak and walk beside me when I am strong.  With all that I am, I know it is through Him that I am healed. 

by: Christie Bielss

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Oh Mercy! He's Got the Gas Can!!

This summer we had to have an extremely large Bradford pear tree cut down.  Over the past year, portions of the tree had split off and crashed to the ground until only a quarter of the tree was left standing.  With even the lightest breath of wind, the foreboding and alarming sound of the tree trunk cracking alerted us that it was getting ready to separate yet again.

fallen tree, broken tree

We contracted a tree company who safely brought down what was left of the tree.  In order to save money, we had them cut the stump down to the ground level instead of having the stump ground up.  Once the job was complete, the Arborist gave my husband 2 ways to kill the tree's roots.  One was for us to use a pre-packaged root rot solution which not only kills the tree's roots, but causes them to disintegrate.  The other was to douse the tree in gasoline and set it ablaze.

If you haven't read about my husband's previous experience with gasoline and fire, you'll want to read about that escapade here.  Given my husband's history and the fact that our current house doesn't have a concrete culvert behind it which can handle an exploding gas can, I immediately drove (as fast as I dared) to our local home improvement store and purchased the Arborist's recommended poison for my husband to apply on the tree's roots. 

The next evening my husband went to work drilling holes into what was left of the tree stump and any roots that were above ground, just as he'd been advised.  While he was busy drilling holes, I left to take our kids to my parent's house to swim in their pool.  Something inside of me said I shouldn't leave until he had finished drilling those holes and applied the poison, but with 2 kids whining incessantly about wanting to go swimming and my parents already expecting us, I had to go.

Upon my return several hours later, my husband was sitting in the garage waiting with the "Ummm...... honey?" half-hearted smile on his face.  Before I could so much as groan, both kids saw his face and said in unison "Oh geez! What's Dad done now?!".

Well, after my husband drilled all the holes in the tree stump and roots, he read the directions on the package of tree root poison.  The directions stated that you can pour the poison in the drilled holes and let it sit and over the course of 6 months to a year, it would slowly kill all of the roots; OR for a quicker method, you can pour the poison in the drilled holes, douse the top of the stump with the poison and then set it on fireOh.Dear.Lord.!!!  I should have read the instructions before purchasing the solution!

If there is any chance to play with fire (my husband is drawn like a moth to the flame) he's going to take that chance.  He poured the solution into all of the holes he'd drilled and poured it over the top of the tree stump to ensure the perfect ignition. He located our lighter from where I'd hidden it (Why yes!  Yes, I hid it!  But I obviously need to work on that skill a bit more.) and lit the solution on fire.

Within a few minutes, the fire extinguished itself without having deteriorated the tree's stump or roots one tiny bit.  My husband said it went out so fast, he didn't even have time to get excited about it being lit........ which probably means he didn't get to do some man-dance around the stump.  Well, that was deflating and entirely no fun, so my husband made the executive decision the solution needed a stronger accelerant.  What's the best and strongest accelerant we have at our house?  The gasoline for the lawnmower.

Out he trots with the (new) gas can which he'd just filled with gasoline.  It took a few minutes to fill all of the holes and douse the top of the tree stump with the gasoline.  Remembering his last escapade with the gas can, he was extra cautious not to leave a trail of gas from the tree stump to the can, and even went so far as to move the can far, far away from the stump.

He did have a passing thought that our wrought iron fence sits right next to the tree stump and it could melt if the fire got too hot.  But, throwing caution to the wind, he went ahead and executed his plan.  With a giant "WOOSH" the gasoline ignited.  That tree stump and roots burned for a good 30 minutes.  He was having so much fun with it that he got some marshmellows and roasted a few over the fire.  Much quicker than expected, the fire died down and burned itself out.  Once the fire started dying down, it went out so quickly he hadn't had enough time make an ooey-gooey s'more.

When we arrived home he was so downtrodden, he looked like somebody had just shot his dog. Apparently, because the tree had just been cut down the day before, the stump and roots were still so full of moisture it kept extinguishing the fire.  So despite my husband's best efforts to kill something using fire, the mound still stands and he didn't get to do a man-dance around the fire, he only got 2 roasted marshmellows, and his s'more idea was thwarted.  And, as with the fire ant mound, the tree stump is flourishing since being set ablaze.  Unfortunately, since "Plan A" was an epic fail, stayed tuned because "Plan B" is now in the works.......... I'm hoping his need to make fire like a caveman is now a distant memory........ but I doubt it.

by: Christie Bielss

Monday, August 12, 2013

Oh Yes I Did!

Police officers and security experts tell you it's dangerous to meet people online and it is something you should avoid at all costs.  Even though you hear horror stories of people being robbed and murdered from someone they met online, you still see and hear commercials on the tv and radio espousing the benefits of it.  There have even been songs written about it, comedy skits acted out, movie scripts created, and real life drama that's unfolded on the evening news.

Internet Dating, Online friends, Humor

Being a typical redhead, I ignored those warnings and spent part of the weekend with a friend I'd made online. But this case was different (isn't that what the person always says in a movie before their online "friend" either robs them blind or kills them with an axe?).  Yes, you heard me right, it was different.  This wasn't from an online dating site, or some I'm a loser and need a friend site.  No, this was a much different orchestration and can only be described as us having been put together by God.

I know it sounds crazy but sometimes that's how God orchestrates our lives.  You see, I had known this person for a few years from a photography website I am a member of.  Photographers can be a very close-knit society and when one of our members suffered an unthinkable tragedy a couple of years ago, without even so much as a backward glance, we all came together and formed a bond which has become unbreakable.

Since that time, our group has met several times around the United States but unfortunately I've been unable to attend each gathering for one reason or another.  When the opportunity presented itself to meet one of the members of our group while she and her family were travelling on vacation this summer, well, being the crazy impetuous  redhead I can sometimes be, I jumped at the chance and invited them to stay at our house.

My husband was sure I'd lost my mind, but he went along with it.  The morning my friend was to arrive, my husband said "you realize this is something police tell you never to do, right?  We could end up on the news looking like a couple of idiots".  I laughed, but I was a bit nervous as well.

My friend and her family arrived and she told me about the first time our photography group got together and she had to explain the excursion plans to her family.  She has a great sense of humor and explained it to them as: one of the males in our group would pick her up in a white unmarked van at the airport.  He'd then take her to the hotel where he'd made her room accommodation to drop off her luggage.  They would then head several hours out to the desert for a photoshoot.  Ummm........ yeah.  Maybe I'm wrong, but it sure sounded like the makings of a Stephen King novel.

After that description, I think our visit sounded quite tame.  It was, after all, just bbq, relaxing, and church.  We had a great time and introduced them to some good old-fashioned Texas staples like fried okra (she'd never even heard of okra, much less fried okra) and corn dogs.  I could not believe her children had never had the cornbreaded, deep fried mystery meat yumminess on a stick we call a corn dog. 

All in all it was a fantastic weekend and we look forward to spending time with them, and the rest of the photography group, in the near future.  And thankfully, none of us made the evening news' headline story and no Amber Alert was issued for our disappearance.  Was this crazy?  In today's world, yes it was, but it was a crazy wonderful blessing as well, but not something I recommend anyone else doing.

by: Christie Bielss

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Beating the Summer Heat

It's summer and the temperatures have risen to the point that outdoor play has become untenable (105° outside temperature), so the kids are now having to play indoors.  The kids are getting restless and school doesn't start for another two and half weeks.  What's a mom to do if she wants to maintain her sanity?

Nerf, Nerf gun, battle, war

As a mom who is desperate, you figure out what the kids like playing outside and then figure out a way to recreate those activities for safe indoor play - meaning they don't break everything in your house.  My kids love having Nerf gun wars.  We only use the Nerf guns that have a spongy bullet with the suction cup on the end so it should be safe for indoor use, right?

When my son purchased these guns, I "oo'd and aah'd" over their purported 75 foot shooting distance.  I figured that it would wear my kids out having to retrieve "bullets" which were shot that kind of distance.  Never even gave it a thought about how these guns might perform indoors.

So what did I do when the "it's too hot to play outside, can we have a Nerf war inside?" is so sweetly and politely requested.  Of course I agreed to it. I mean, it is Nerf, it should be fine, right? 

Of course, I didn't really think about that 75 foot shooting distance capability, I was just hoping to not have to hear 4 kids whine anymore about the heat.  Within a few short minutes I heard the scampering of feet as the kids ran through the house at lightning speed taking up positions, the giggles of kids who'd dodged a Nerf bullet, and the sounds of boys pretending they'd been shot.

Within minutes the battle had expanded and before I knew it, I had bullets whizzing past my head, bouncing off the walls in my "home office" (ok, it's currently my formal dining room but I have hopes and dreams of it one day becoming my home office), sticking to my computer monitor, hitting the dog in the behind, and bouncing off all the framed wall art in my living areas.

Before I could get out a "Hey! Keep it in your rooms!", I felt the unmistakable suction of a Nerf dart stick itself to the back of my neck............ and that's when the tides of the summer blues turned.  Without taking the time to remove the dart stuck to the back of my neck, I got up from my desk, grabbed 2 of the Nerf machine gun pistols and reloaded them with the stray Nerf darts laying all over my office floor.  I walked into their battle zone with the machine guns in my hands and with the Mom look of "are you kidding me?!".

My children and their friends looked on with fear in their eyes as my son said "Ummm..... Mom?  Mom? Uhhh...... Mom?".  I looked up as he gestured to the back of his neck and said "ummm...... you have a...... ummm....uhhhh...".  With both pistols loaded and ready, I looked at him innocently as I said as though oblivious to his gesturing "I have ....... what???". 

My son cleared his throat while my daughter and their friends examined the floor tiles trying to stifle their giggles.  Gesturing to the back of his neck, my son tried again "You .... ummmm....... have a ......... uhhh........".  Ever so carefully lifting the pistols so as not to draw attention to them, I said "I have a??? ..........." and started unleashing a torrent of machine gunned Nerfs at them  while I yelled "a Nerf stuck to the back of my neck??!!!!  This means WAR!!!!!!!  Free-dom!!!!!!".  (You can't have a good Nerf battle without interjecting a little bit of Braveheart.)

Once the kids got over the initial shock of my surprise attack, they were jumping behind furniture, behind each other, around hall corners, anything to get out of the line of my bullets that were meeting their mark more often than not.  There was squealing, laughter, and lots of yelling for backup and reinforcements.

In the end, I was able to win the day when my husband came in the door from work, saw the war being waged and grabbed a gun and helped me hold off the gang of riff-raff until all of us were out of bullets.  That was lots of fun and not only helped entertain the kiddos, but burned off a lot of their energy reserves to where they were all ready to kick back and relax for a bit.

Of course, we are still finding stray Nerf bullets between the furniture cushions and in the window blinds.  And that's how we beat the heat on a hot summer day in Texas.  What do you do to beat the heat?

by: Christie Bielss

Monday, August 5, 2013

Channeling My Inner Superhero

While I was washing my face last night, my son hopped up on our bed and asked his dad "If you could be any superhero, who would you be?".  I listened as his dad replied "Are you asking who my favorite superhero is or who do I'd want to be?".  After thinking about it for a moment my son answered "Who would you want to be?".

Superheroes, wonder woman, Spiderman, Superman, Wolverine, Ben10
I turned the running water down so I could better hear the conversation.  My son waited patiently while my husband took several minutes contemplating who he'd most want to be.  "There are so many cool ones to choose from.  You've got Spiderman who can swing between buildings and climb up them. Not to mention having the web blasters he can shoot out of his wrists.  Batman, who has the coolest car and airplane ever.  Superman who can fly......." and it was at that exact moment when my husband broke out in song.

"I believe I can fly.  I believe I can touch the sky.......".  Our son started trying to talk louder than his father was singing "Dad! Dad! Dad, QUIT singing! Who would you be?! Dad?!!".  I could almost hear my son's giant eye roll and could have scripted this whole scene because it is one of the things that I love about my husband. He's got a great sense of humor and also has a great tenor voice and he will use them together to tease you mercilessly when given the opportunity.

Without being able to contain myself, I started laughing hysterically at my son's consternation with his father.  If you give my husband any opening to break out into song, he's going to take that opportunity, and boy was that a pretty good set up.  And heaven help us all if that opportunity also opens the door for him to dance.  He was born with 2 left feet and when he starts dancing......... well, it's just wrong on so many levels.

Finally my husband quieted down and answered my son's question.  "If I could be any superhero out there, I'd want to be a really cool one like Wolverine.".  My son got a great big smile on his face when my husband returned the question.  "Ok son, so which superhero would you be?".  After a bit of deep thinking and with a hint of mischeviousness in his eyes, my son replied "I'd want to be my own superhero.  I'd be a little bit of Wolverine, Spiderman, Superman, and Ben 10."

"Hey!  Now that's cheating!  You never said I could combine them!" my husband complained.  Laughing hysterically my son started doing a little victory dance around our bedroom at having outsmarted his father.  Standing at the door between our bedroom and bath, I watched quietly as the two of them were cavorting around the room being goofy - and yes, there is no other word than to describe what they were doing except cavorting.

It was while I was standing there watching their goofy antics enjoying the blessings of my family when my son finally saw me watching them.  He stopped and asked me the same question "Mom, who would you be?".   "Why, it's very easy.  I'd be Wonder Woman!  She has some cool indestructable bracelets and she wears a tiara that she throws as a projectile.  But, best of all, she has an invisible airplane AND she can fly!"....

And can you guess what happened at that moment?  If you guessed my husband and I breaking out into song together, you'd be corrrect.  With arms spread wide as though we were flying in the air we sang:

"I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly....."

And with that, my son flew through the open door to the quiet and safety of his own room.  Oh well, I guess the younger generation just doesn't get our adult humor......

by: Christie Bielss

Thursday, August 1, 2013

It Does WHAT?!!!!

When you have picked up a prescription from your doctor or pharmacy, have you ever read the package insert which lists all of the common, uncommon, and rare side effects?  Or maybe you haven't read the packaging, but you've watched one the many pharmaceutical company commercials and have heard the announcer reel off a list of the side effects.

side effects, side effects of, side effect

Last summer I came down with an infection which required a pretty hefty antibiotic.  I had no side effects with the first dose but, after the 2nd dose, my left eyelid started to do that little flutter-twitch which can be pretty annoying.  By the 3rd dose my eyelid was in a full fledged spasm/twitch that made me look like Popeye.  

As I was about to get upset about my squinched up eye, all of the sudden my right leg kicked outward like I was trying to punt a football, while my left arm spasmed up toward my face causing me to nearly punch myself out.  It was at this point that I thought to check what the side effects of this medication were.  Sure enough "muscle spasms" were listed as a common side effect.

I thought that to be a bit ambiguous considering I now looked like I had Tourette's syndrome (God bless anyone who has to deal with this syndrome on a daily basis)........... and sadly, I probably sounded a bit like the girl with Tourette's in the movie Deuce Bigalow with each uncontrolled spasm.  Thankfully I was home alone so my children didn't learn any new words.

I just took an antibiotic in June whose side effect left me a bit bewildered.  The side effects in order were:  constipation, nausea, diarrhea.....  Are they trying to tell me I should wear some "underwear armor" because after my stomach has expanded to the size of the Goodyear Blimp, I'm going to get some rather instanteous relief?

After these latest side effect episodes, I started actually listening to the pharmaceutical companies tv commercials just for the list of side effects.  I've found it rather surprising that some of the most bizarre side effects have been from some of the more common medicines.

If you're a smoker and are trying to kick the habit, your doctor might prescribe Chantix to help you.  One of the side effects is hallucinations.  So, you've got a smoker going through nicotine withdrawal who is having more mood swings than 10 women going through menopause, and you give them a medication which causes hallucinations......... you may want to go ahead and put the SWAT team on stand-by.

Or how about Viagra, the little blue pill for.....well.... um......  you know.  Anyway, this pill must've been manufactured by Willy Wonka's Oompah Loompahs as it can alter your vision to where everything you see is the color blue, just like the little obnoxious girl in the movie who chews the piece of gum and turns into a  gigantic blueberry.  Hopefully all Viagra turns blue is your vision.

One of my favorites was the commercial for Propecia, the hair loss/baldness drug.  It causes gynecomastia.  I had never heard of that condition and just had to Google it to find out.  Gynecomastia is a condition which causes men to grow fully functional mammory glands that actually lactate.  That's right!  Your man can grow hair to cover up that bald spot, as well a fully functioning pair of boobs to nurse your baby with!  Can't afford a wet nurse for that new baby?  Get your significant other on some Propecia and you can trade off breastfeeding the baby so you each can get a full night's rest.

But the beat all, end all drug side effect that has made me cringe and laugh at the same time was for an antibiotic.  Ok, so you go to your doctor and discover you have a respiratory infection and he prescribes you this medication to clear it up.  One morning, several days into taking the medication, you wake up and roll over to say good morning to your spouse only to scare the beejeevies out them because you now have a tongue that's a cross between looking like a Chow and an alien.

Yep!  This one medication which is supposed to cure your respiratory infection has now caused you to get a black, hairy tongue.  But don't worry, the pharmaceutical company says.  When you complete your 14 day dose of the medication, with some regular tongue brushing, the hairs will eventually fall out and your tongue will return to a normal pinkish color.

So, until the hairs fall out, do you part those tongue hairs in the middle or on the side?  Should you use a conditioner to prevent tangles?  Or maybe you could wax your tongue and get rid of all the hairs........ of course, that might be akin to sticking your tongue on a metal pole in the dead of winter...... never a good idea.

All of these drugs have passed the F.D.A.'s rigorous and intensive scrutiny and the F.D.A. has deemed these side effects to be within acceptable limits and guidelines.  Kind of makes you wonder what the side effects are of the drugs that didn't pass and have been denied............

by: Christie Bielss