Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I've Lost My Mind... No, Just the Ketchup!

The other night I fixed some fish and french fries. I like the malt vinegar ala Long John Silver's Seafood on my fish but don't use ketchup on my fries. Jimmy likes ketchup on his fish and fries. I had just bought some new ketchup since the bottle we had was nearly empty. I went to the pantry and got out my bottle of malt vinegar but I could not find the ketchup. I looked, and looked, and looked. I looked in all the cabinets. That didn't take long because we have a very small kitchen. The more I looked the more irritated I got.

So Jimmy managed to squeeze out just enough for his meal. But I was not satisfied. After supper I looked on all the shelves and moved things around hoping it had been pushed toward the back of the pantry. No such luck! I even looked under the bathroom cabinet since the bathroom is right next to the pantry. Then I looked in the coat closet which is under the stairs. I still had no luck. Come on, it can't be that hard to find one large bottle of ketchup! This place is not that big!
I even looked upstairs in the laundry room. Don't ask!

I even thought that maybe the bottle fell off the shelf at some earlier time. That would have possibly resulted in the bottle falling into the trashcan. Surely I would have noticed a brand new bottle of ketchup which had never even been opened. How hard would that be to spot in the trash? Apparently pretty hard. I even considered that maybe I put it somewhere and forgot where I put it. I looked all over this place. I can only guess or hope that I have not lost my mind. But I have apparently lost the ketchup! I am not amused!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bullies Among Us

More and more every day we hear about bullying in schools. We wonder why children are so mean to each other. What sets a child on the road to becoming a bully. What makes this child feel that he or she has to intimidate other kids? Is something lacking in this child's homelife? Do the parents bully each other? What can parents do to help their children? Are parents part of the problem?

When I was in school kids seemed to like to make fun of me. I guess this could be considered bullying. I was a small child who wore glasses, had buck teeth and my last name rhymed with "tomater". So you can just imagine the words and laughter I heard. Many times I cried because I felt hurt by these kids. None of this was physical, but the words stung just as much. What did my parents tell me? They suggested that I either laugh with them or just ignore what they said. As a shy child this was hard to do. In one form or another this went on even in to high school. As a sophomore, two football players in my English class made fun of me by calling me Oswald because of the books I chose to read for book reports. I knew that the teacher would give better grades if the students chose harder, classic books like "Ivanhoe" or "Wuthering Heights".As a teen this bothered me even more than it did in grammer school. I was sick to my stomach every morning. What did my parents say? The same thing they said before or find something in common with them that we could talk about with each other. It was hard for me to get up the courage to laugh at their comments and even harder to try to talk to them. But eventually I did because I never let on what I really felt and learned to focus on them instead.

My older daughter had a run in with a girl in high school. She was frustrated in much the same way I was. I suggested, as my parents did, to laugh with the other girl. I told her that if that girl knew she wasn't going to fall into the trap she would probably stop because the game was over. It worked. They became friends.

Some how parents have to take more notice of what kids are doing. It is worse today than it was when I was in school. Not only do kids bully in person they can do it from cyberspace and on the phone. Why is it so hard for parents and kids to talk to each other? People are not always going to get along or even like each other. But they will have to get along. Parents can help. But maybe they need to learn how. It is not hard. Pay attention, listen, speak, help.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Miley"s Autobiography??

So Miley Cyrus plans to write a book about her life. Yeah, her life story...hum. She's 15! Come on. Ok, call me cynical but remember she is 15! Don't tell me, it's going to be a pop-up book, right? No? While I do like Miley Cyrus aka Hannah Montana, what can she say? She says she wants to focus on her relationship with her mother. That's nice. I would hate to see what my kids would have written about me at the tender age of 15. Couldn't this be a little over-kill. I hope that this book will be a sucess for her. So far much of what she has done has been very sucessful. You can't walk into WalMart without seeing clothes, shoes, sunglasses, etc everywhere. Now there will be a book. On the positive side maybe the tweenies will learn how to have a good relationship with their parents with what they read in Miley's book.

Maybe she should make this book in a ring-binder. That way as she grows up she can add some more pages. Other than her show biz sucess and her relationship with her mother, what else can she talk about? Let's see, the first years- I wore diapers until I was two and was potty trained by three. My mom taught me to walk and talk . Daddy taught me to sing. I now sing better than he does. Come to think of it I act better than he does too! Hey wait a minute is he expecting me to take care of him for life? Oh wait I forgot to tell you what Hannah Montana would have to say about...

Let's see- asuming $15.95 per copy... Oh boy! I hope her book does well. I wonder how many pages it will be. Some of her younger fans may not have a long attention span. Then again, with all her great sucess, at least she won't have to worry about having an achy, breaky heart any time soon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bananas Fight Wrinkles?

I ran across a recipe for a natural wrinkle remover this morning. This, I guess, was in line with the Earth Day awareness and homemade things which are supposed to be environmentally friendly. But bananas as a wrinkle cure? I just find this a little funny to imagine.

The recipe says to mash 1/4 of a banana to a creamy texture. Spread all over the face and leave on for 15-to 20 minutes. Then rinse off with warm water followed by a "dash" of cold water and pat dry. What is a "dash" of cold water? How do you measure that? And I guess you can eat the rest of the banana while waiting those 20 minutes. What else are you going to do?

I can just see it now. The husband walks into the room. "Honey, what is that on your face?" Can you imagine the reaction when he finds out it is a mashed banana? Then there would be the reaction of the kids as they race by on their way out to play. They might actually run into each other when the shock of seeing that finally hits them. "Mommy, why are you wearing mushed bananas on your face?" Now if the the kids or even the husband really work at this, they could have a joke fest.

Then there would be the reaction of the family pets. I can just see the cat or dog climbing into the woman's lap and sneaking a sniff. When they discover that it is a banana, what would they do? My dogs would immediately want to not only smell it, but they would probably think it would be a good snack. Face washing by dogs, hum... Oh but wait, the cat would really have fun. Dear Kitty's sandpaper tongue would not only clean off the banana but provide a good scrub, too.
Yeah, about that time the kids would come in and drop to the floor in hysterics as the dog,cat or both try to clean up the mess.

Now this is supposed to be a wrinkle remover. Has anyone ever really tried this? Does it really work? How long would it take to see any reduction of wrinkles? How would anyone explain this to friends or family? Would they be taken seriously? I can just see the eyes rolling. Bananas are still fairly cheap and I have always liked them. I'm not sure though if I want to use them to remove wrinkles. Of course if they do I may buy out the store's supply!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bordom, a Caladium and a Robin's Egg

This weekend bordered on boredom. Taxes had been done and I sent the feds their money. We went grocery shopping. I discovered a grocery gift coupon in my purse so our $70 bill was only $50. How do two people spend $70 for one week at the grocery store? I guess I will never figure that out. Jimmy either played poker or slept most of the week-end.

Of course most of the movies that were on tv were either not my taste or I had already seen. The Rockets lost the first game of the playoffs. I didn't watch so I didn't really care. Of course then I attempted to watch the Astros who lost again Saturday. Then Sunday I barely looked at the game but when I did, they were behind. Suddenly they were ahead. Then they put the closer in. Hide my desperation. Ah, relief, the closer did not blow the game!

But, in true form hope springs eternal. While waiting patiently(?) for Daisy to decide which blade of grass she would choose to use for her business, I discovered an empty robin's egg. I picked it up. It still amazes me how fragile they are. Of course that made me look around to see if I could see a next. But, I did not find one and I made a dove and a grackle mad in the process.

Finally Daisy finished her journey around the building. As we walked back to the door something else caught my eye. One lone caladium had popped up in the little(make that miniscule) garden area in front of our unit. The soil there is not very good. When we first moved in it was overgrown with airplain plants. In order to plant some flowers I had dug them out. Unfortunately all of the flowers I planted had died. I had decided not to even bother this year. So, when I saw this one little plant waving at me I could not help but feel hopeful. Now, should I get some more plants? Well...maybe I shouldn't push my luck.

Friday, April 18, 2008

It is Still Early

I sat down to watch the Astros game yesterday. Big mistake. The ultimate rout was 10 to 2. Sigh. I know it is still early and the team has historically been a second half team but... I read somewhere that the Houston Astros' payroll is in the neighborhood of $93 million. At this point if I were Drayton McLain, I would think about asking for a refund. He paid a lot of money to dump players to get power hitters. We all knew the pitching would be suspect. At this point we are all a little numb.

All the power hitters are playing softball. We are supposed to have a lineup that a pitcher can not walk one to get to a weaker hitter. So far our big bats are being used as fans to cool the air. Berkman, Lee, Tejada, Pence are all trying but even when they do get some hits, too many runners are left on base. Funny that was a problem last year.

Oh and then we hear that Miguel Tejada fessed up that he is not 31 but 33. It seems that when he first entered the big leagues it was suggested that he lie about his age. What that two years means who knows. Now the media guides will have to be amended.

Pitchers are still trying to find home plate. Even the war horse Roy Oswalt has had no real sucess. That should have been a given. Wandy Rodriguez is doing better than Oswalt. Go figure. Even when the team has a good lead the bullpen frequently lets the starters down. And at this point when I see Jose Valverde warm up I think seriously about changing the channel. With 1 save, 2 blown saves and a whopping 11.37 era in 6 games, it is enough to want Brad Lidge back.

Of course the Washington Nationals are not having much luck either. I wonder if the Pope said a prayer for them while he was at the stadium. Maybe the Astros should just decide to play all the other slow starting teams. So far the Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers lead the best of the worst with 7-9 records. The Astros and Giants are tied at second with 6-10 records. We could have it worse. The Detroit Tigers are suffering with a meager 5-11 record. But the lowest of the low honor goes to the Washington Nationals at 4-12.

Well, shall we all dig out our crystal balls and see where these teams will be say in July? Or where will they be at the end of September? If things don't significantly improve I wonder which or if any of the managers of these early losers could be dismissed. Of course all of these teams could turn things around and be on top. It is still early.

On the other hand I could watch the Houston Rockets who actually made it to the NBA playoffs. Wonder how long they will stay?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Blah, Blah, Blah

In case you did not know this, today is National Blah, Blah, Blah Day. Aren't you glad you now know this. Ahem,so in case you were wondering blah, blah, blah. And also blah, blah. Where have we heard this before. Oh, let's see, a boring teacher? Or maybe it sounds like a politician. The again we have all read the minds of our kids as we try to explain to them why they are not allowed to do something. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And don't forget the way they roll their eyes while you are saying blah, blah, blah. So in celebration of this most important day why don't we all celebrate by blah, blah, blah.

To quote Charlie Brown, "Oh, good grief."

Have a nice blahful day!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How Many Years?

Time flys so the saying goes. One day your child is taking that first step, next thing you know they have grown up. Jimmy and I were thinking about how long we have been here in Houston. Then we realized that next year Annie and Jason will be married ten years.

So then reality set in. We looked at each other and remembered that this year we celebrate twenty years of marriage. Yikes! Well my first marriage dragged on for 17 years of agony. So thinking of this twenty years has been something else. While no marriage is perfect, this one has been more of an adventure compared to my first one. We have learned a lot together. We now have been together long enough to be able to know what the other is thinking and almost finish each other's sentences. We've been up and down. One thing I think we have learned is when to just shut up. We've learned that sometimes an issue is not that important. Especially when two days later we don't remember it. We've learned to enjoy the little things and to laugh at ourselves.

It is hard to believe that twenty years have gone by so fast. I hope the next twenty go by a little slower so that I won't miss any thing.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Lot of Flowers, No Bees

A while ago there were news stories about what was being called colony collapse disorder. Honey bees have been disappearing and this was the name the scientists gave the problem. Nobody really seems to have a good answer as to why this has happened.

I remember a couple of years ago, the house we rented had bees inside the siding by the garage. My landord had an exterminator come out and kill them. At the time I thought it was a good idea. Jimmy and I had been stung several times while triming the hedge. Now I wonder if it was the right thing to do. Years ago when I lived in Austin I came home from work one day to discover bees all over a young tree I had planted. Luckily one of my neighbors had called the Texas Parks and Wildlife people. As I stood wondering what to do, my doorbell rang. Apparently someone at Parks and Wildlife had gotten in touch with a local beekeeper who was at my front door. He was more than happy to take the bees away.

Now I wonder where the bees have gone. I have not really paid much attention to the colony collapse disorder as it was shown on television. The opinions about this situation are as many as there are scientists. Some say it is because of extermination. Others say it is because the natural habitat of the bees is being erroded due to urban sprawl and the loss of farm land. Some say that the bees have been infected with numerous viruses. Others say nothing is wrong. This is just a natural cycle.

I don't know what to think. While I got annoyed at all the bees flying around under the house siding, I did like to watch them in my flower beds. Now since we live in a townhouse group at the front of the residential street I have not seen any bees. There are a lot of flowers and flowering shrubs around our building as well as the entire neighborhood. I have no place for a flower bed here. But I can walk right out my front door and see several shrubs in full bloom. In the past I would have had to carefully circumvent the shrubs so as not to disturb the bees. Now I walk out and see no bees at all. All the flowering shrubs are in full bloom, yet there are no bees anywhere. Flowers and pollen drop to the ground untouched by Nature's pollinators. I feel a little sad. Is this really a normal cycle or is Someone trying to tell us something?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I've Heard That Before

Chris Rock's mother Rose has written a parenting book. I haven't read it nor do I know what makes her an authority on parenting but I did see part of an interview with her. She seems like a nice person who raised her children to be good people. Don't we all hope that we can do this?Some of us do a better job than others do. I am always amazed at the parents who have several children and can maintain their sanity. There are always questions. Do we spank or not. Do we ground them or take away something. We we have "the talk" or let someone else tell them the "facts of life"? Some parents even question should they be friends with their kids? Or should they be the parent?

One of the things that Mrs. Rock discussed was the fact that she told her kids that she was their mother, not their friend. I remember that statement very well because that is what my mother told me. She was there to set the rules and teach me to become a good adult. We were not going to dress alike or were we going to like the same things. Sometimes I felt she did not understand me. Did I need a friend or a parent? Maybe I needed a little of both. Some times we all do.

I do think the statement, "I'm your mother, not your friend" is important. Of course when I said that to my kids, I was the meanest mother on the planet! At the time they did not always understand why. Parents must make unpopular decisions and listen to a few doors slam. Even the best house rules do not always work. But one thing a parent can look forward to is when the children grow up. Then as the parent, you have the fun of saying, "Just wait till you have kids of your own!" When the kids grow up and are on their own things change. Not only do they have to pay their own bills, then they have kids. Some kids actually realize that some of the things they heard as children were right. Suddenly,when they have grown up they can see why their parents were not their friends when they were kids. As adults they can be friends with their parents. Then you hear," Mom, this kid is driving me nuts!" Stay strong and be the mother. Friendship comes later.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Get That Mouse!

I finally, cross my fingers, have our pc working again. Now I can search for information without being taken to some other site. Just imagine looking for Best Buy and coming up with some other odd place. Since I ran a spyware scan several times and trapped some bad guys it seems to be working better. So Jimmy and I were talking about his laptop yesterday. He did not know if there was a spyware program on it. There isn't. He did not even know anything about the virus program which is on the laptop. It apparently came with the computer and runs all by itself. We thought it would be a good idea to check out the system.

"Check it out tommorrow, ok," he said. I thought to myself that that should be easy. A laptop is not much different than a pc. So this morning I sit down to check Jimmy's baby out. I soon became annoyed. Nothing is the same as the pc. His uses Mozilla. When I first got on to look at it I saw that IE was only #5. Then I remembered Mozilla, not IE. Ok so I decided to check out the system and maybe update some things. Well, call me stupid! (Hey not everybody at once!) Nothing looks familiar. And I found myself frustrated trying to get the curser to move and to go when I wanted. Just keep pushing around the little square. The right and left clicking was not a problem. Where did the curser go? Come back here! Move! Rats! Not the one the Survivors had to eat last week, ugh! Now I know why Jimmy wants to get a laptop mouse. I started this little escapade at 7:03 this morning when I checked out the virus scan. By 7:15 I had a headache! I was sorely tempted to throw things. Why didn't we go back to WalMart and get that mouse?!

Can you guess what will be the first thing on our shopping list when we go to WalMart Friday? Not paper napkins or toothpaste, oh no. That stupid little mouse will be first on the list! Give me a headache in the morning, will ya! I'll show you! Oh, wait, I had better not get my hopes up. Given our previous experiences with WalMart, when we go back to get that little red mouse, they probably won't have it!

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Quest

Jimmy is enjoying his laptop these days. He did say he wanted a laptop mouse and maybe a light. He also decided he wanted a tray table to put the laptop on so he can sit in his chair, watch tv, and play poker. Since the keyboard is dark we figured a light would be good. So Saturday we decided to go looking to see what we could find.

Since Jimmy's truck is still waiting to be put back together, he has been using the TA. Lets face it. A sports car does not do well as a work car. It has to be driven all over town loaded down with tools and other stuff. Plus that leaves me home without transportation. Not that I am some one who likes to run around, but...I haven't been out much so when we went out I looked around at places I had not seen in a while. Did I mention I don't get out much? We drove down the street and I discovered a couple of new apartment complexes. I even saw some new stores. Or at least to me they were new. Why do things look different if you have not been out for a while?

Our first stop was Circuit City where Jimmy was surprised to find a laptop light for a good price. He was happy with that, but they did not have the mouse he wanted. He wanted a red one. Why? I don't know. And of course Circuit City did not have any tray tables. We also went to Office Depot and Best Buy to check out the mouse availability. No red ones were found. So we decided since he knew that he could get the one he wanted at the WalMart near our place we decided to embark on the quest for the tray table. This turned out to be more difficult than we thought.Two Walmarts and a Target only had the folding, sit in front of the chair style. He did not want that kind. He wanted one that the legs would slide under the chair and the table could be adjusted to different heights and angles. So on we went to another store. We found one at Linens and Things but it was $30. Jimmy did not want to pay that much. So we went to another WalMart farther down the street. By this time my feet are starting to hurt. Don't get out much, remember? So, as a last ditch effort I suggested we check out one a pharmacy. So we drove over to a CVS pharmacy which happened to be nearby. Yipee, he found one there for just $20. My feet thanked him. I was getting tired of walking all over those stores and finding nothing.

Finally Jimmy was happy. Now we decided to go home. But since we were both a little crabby and hungry we decided to stop at a Mexican resturant near our home. We had never been there before. It was actually within walking distance of where we live. So we stopped to eat and were pleasantly pleased with the food. It was more authentic Mexican style rather than Tex-Mex which is so popular here. I was happy. Remember I don't get out much these days.

So now Jimmy is happy with his new tray table and light and I got out of the neighborhood for a while. Now, when will he be able to finish the work on his truck? Soon, I hope, before I forget how to drive. I need to get out more. Ha!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Teachers, Children and What Now?

It is too bad that parents don't get a training manual when we get kids. Sometimes being a parent is not fun. Punishing a child for things as we used to say "hurts me more than you". Loving a child is just as hard. We want the best for our children. We hope to teach them to be good people. So why do we see so many stories of children behaving badly? Is it just the media playing to the emotions of all of us? Or is there something else?

We see more and more stories of teachers having sex with students. We see stories of students being bullies to other students. We have just seen a story of 8,9, and 10 year old children who had planned to attack their teacher. The kids were supposedly angry because the teacher told a child not to stand in a chair. Here in Houston we have seen the report of a teacher telling her students that they were stupid. A parent had concerns about the teacher's conduct so she put a recording device in her child's backpack. What she heard was surprising. The Pre-K teacher was heard saying"Everybody understand that? You're so mean to me, so I get to be mean to you. Y'all are just stupid kids. I swear to God." I can not imagine a teacher talking to a young child this way.

How do we get to this dark place? Are we, as parents, to blame? Do we blame video games, movies or music? Where do our children learn that sex with a teacher is ok. We blame the pretty teacher. What about the school yard bully? They need to defend themselves, right? A teacher punishes a student. So, the kids plot to attack the teacher. Did we teach our kids to react this way? Maybe we have.

Our kids watch us. They see how we talk to each other. They hear not only what is on tv, but how the parents react to things. Dad calls a co-worker a son of a bitch. Mom tells her sister she is stupid. Children are like sponges. They absorb what they see and hear. They are witness to the kindness and cruelty we say and do. I don't pretend to understand why people are doing things the way they do. I do know that what we say to children affects them more than we may know. I have heard a mother tell her son that he is worthless, stupid and the scum of the earth. When I heard this, the child was not even old enough to go to school! Then I heard the woman's boyfriend and his stepsister say the same things to the child. I was shocked. At the time I did not know the mother very well. I did know the other two adults because they are my son and stepdaughter. When I questioned them about what they said to the child, they said that they were just playing. Playing? I was especially concerned because I had thought I had taught my son better. I was also very upset with my stepdaughter because she has a mentally challenged sister. Yet no-one thought there was anything wrong.

In the great soap opera of my family this is one reason why I did not jump for joy when I found out that my son and that woman were back together and expecting their own "bundle of joy". If they don't see anything wrong with the way they talk to her child, what about the baby? What chance does the new one have? I have tried to talk to my son about this behavior, but I have not really made any headway. The older child should be going to school soon. I wonder if he will call some kid "the scum of the earth". Kids love to repeat what they hear others say. I hope his teacher doesn't call anyone stupid. Then again, he is a big boy, maybe he will just smack someone. Maybe he will bring a used diaper from the new baby and plunk somebody in the head with it. And so the cycle continues...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Are We All Aware?

April is autism awareness month. Today is World Autism Awarness Day. Many news programs are featuring stories about this disorder and the families affected by it. What do we really know? We know autism affects 1 of 150 children. It affects 1 in 94 boys. Eighty-four percent of parents with autistic children have divorced. Treatment of this order can be very expensive, especially for those children who have to go to special schools. Most insurance companies will not cover the cost of care. At this point no-one really knows what will happen to those who are severely disabled by this as the grow into adulthood. Many parents wonder who will take care of their children later in life.

Many of us know very little about autism, unless it hits our family. We wonder how to cope and if our children will be doomed to a life of frustration and lost hope for sucess. There are those who have grown up with autism and have thrived and become successful. Others stuggle every day just to communicate. It is time we learn. CNN is running a lot of information all day today. If you suspect that something is just not right about your child ask your doctor. Get a second opinion. Do not wait. There are many clinical sites which have information on this disorder. There are many charity and support groups including Easter Seals and Autism Speaks. Become aware so that some day we can solve this mystery.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Notice of Violation

It was not that long ago that Houston drivers ran red lights a lot. Well they still do. Accidents happen when those drivers run the lights. They try to beat the light but frequently end up hitting another car or causing some other problems. So the City of Houston decided to put up red light cameras. Of course this created a lot of controversy as well as cash. Supposedly a lot of money has been collected from the tickets.

A lot of people have found a notice in their mail box from the Houston Police Department. Hey, Dummy, you ran a red light and we have it on camera! The dreaded Notice of Violation! I have never gotten one of these tickets in the mail. I have run an occasional red light. Shush, don't tell. Actually where I drive, there are no red light cameras. I usually do my duty like a good girl. I have had the occasional palpations while I wondered if the guy behind me is paying attention.

I could never imagine what the ticket would look like. Well, apparently one of my neighbors got a ticket recently. Some how this ticket ended up in the trash. Actually I found it blowing across the parking lot. Daisy tried to chase this piece of paper. So being curious, I picked it up. Yes Big Brother is watching. This informative piece of paper had the picture of the car's rear end and plate number. It had an official ticket form with all the information like where it happened, date, and time. Naturally it listed the violation (Art.XIX, Chapter 45). It also told the violator that she could view her images and video online. And of course it gave the addresses of the Walk-in Payment Center. I wonder how busy that place is? Of course it also gave the address of the Houston Municipal Court where the "images and video...will be submitted as evidence in the municipal court proceeding..."

There was something funny about this notice. The address of the Photo Enforcement Program for the Houston Police Department is in Mesa, Arizona! Yeah buddy! Run a red light in Houston, Texas and get a ticket from the Houston Police Department in Mesa, Arizona. Jeez!