Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What I Didn't Do This Summer

Those of  us who work in education have a special place in our heart for summer. Some regard it like my husband, a 35-year-veteran teacher, "I have the summers off so I can go earn a living."

Then there are some who have a long Summer-To-Do list prepared by the middle of May. I had mine in hand the last day of school this past May. However, today - August 7 - was my second day back to school for the "Fall." (August = Fall? Just doesn't seem right.) And my To-Do list is still mostly unchecked.

I must say, I LOVE my job; it's just the "going to work" that's the bummer - especially after trying to get my list done.

What didn't I get done? See if you can guess:

CABINETS!  That's right.

A picture is worth a thousand words on this next entry on my Didn't-Get-Done-This-Summer list:

I hope you didn't guess, "No money earned from tomatoes" because what really didn't get done was: Grow. Some. Food. Period.

Remember when your kids were little and you signed them up for Little League or enrolled them in piano lessons because you always wanted to do that when you were a kid?

Well, apparently it's my daughter's turn to fulfill her dreams in me. She decided to plant some zuchinni, cilantro, and tomatoes for her gardening-illiterate mother. She said, "Water these." I tried. Well, for most of the hundred degree weather I tried. And you see what I got.

Another line item on my list that didn't get accomplished is: write another book. I didn't think I'd get the entire book written. But, I had the subject, the theme, and a few notes. Apparently that's not enough to write a book. The farmers' fields and ponds weren't the only thing shriveled up this summer. MY well was dry, too; so not even a page of that book is written.

I guess I can look at it the other way -

What I DID DO This Summer:

 Welcomed our first grandBOY to our crew of four grandGIRLS

Learned I could handle three 2-1/2 year old girls in the pool (with curbside help!)

Tasted my first RUNZA burger

Tried to wrap my brain around the changing nature of a
three-year-old's birthday party

Had a great vacation

and . . .

Learned a great way to take off three layers of old wallpaper!

Gee - with a list like that, what am I stressed for?

All that sounds like much more fun than I had planned!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Oh no . . . Not the Driver's License Bureau

Did ya miss me? I borrowed that thought from my good friend at A HOUSE AND YARD. (Check out her excellent blog here. I've especially enjoyed her blogs written several months ago about her house remodel. Fun read!)

Yep, I've been AWOL from blogland doing everything from Grandma time . . .

to trips out of town that included several nights in a caboose (really!) . . .

to trying to dodge the heat as I resume my outside fitness routine.

I'm pleased to report, though, that what I haven't spent a lot of time doing is renewing my driver's license. I received that pesky little yellow notice about a month ago and decided I just need to git 'er done.

But, seriously, who looks forward to the Driver's License Bureau?

I had heard recent horror stories of the Bureau's switch to a new "system." I pondered packing three days of food, plenty water, and a winter coat for my wait in line.

However, kudos to the Kansas Driver's License Bureau (at least the Branch I went to). I was able to text ahead from my phone and get in a virtual line. How cool is that?

I texted my request per the instruction on the little yellow card. I was now an invisble patron in their waiting line. Within minutes I received a text message back, "Your wait time is 11 minutes." Not 11 hours! 11 minutes!

I jumped in my car. As I arrived in the Bureau's parking lot, I received another text, "Your wait time is 7 minutes." Whew...glad I left the winter coat at home.

Entering the lobby, though, my heart sank. The room was full of people. To get through this mess it would require a miracle the size of the entire nation of Israel crossing of the Red Sea. But, I took my place in the "Check In Here" line.

Rather quickly, I worked my way to the somber-looking Check-In Greeter. He checked my cell phone number and said, "Your wait is 15 minutes."

"But my phone says it's only 7 minutes."

"Well, that's just an appromixate wait," he responded without cracking a smile.

I figured 15 minutes was better than 15 hours, so I sat down. Sure enough, in less than 15 minutes (everything was working in approximate measures) my number was called.

I went to the next somber-looking clerk and began answering his questions:

"Any name changes?"  No.

"Your address still the same?"  Yes.

"Your height and weight the same?" I pondered, Since we're all about approximate I answered, "Yes." And since this driver's license would be good for six years, I'm sure I'd be that weight SOMEtime in the next six years.

As I still pondered the weight question, he said, "Now, if you'll just step over here--" Yikes! my mind raced. They've put in scales!; he finished, "... we'll do an eye test."

So while I was celebrating over the no-scales-at-the-Bureau issue, I squinted to read the numbers in the eye machine.

"Ummm.....is that an eight? No, wait...it's a three. Oh - it's a five."

Somber-clerk said, "Now read line three."

"Well....hmmm....how do I say this, I thought.....gee, I can't read that."

"Ma'am, please put on your glasses and read line five."

Amazing what glasses can do.

"You didn't have a restriction before, but now I'll have to put a glasses restriction on here for you to wear them while driving."

I didn't ask if I had to wear them all the time or just when I see the red lights flashing behind me.

Shortly after the blatant reminder of my deteriorating eyesight, Somber-clerk wanted to take my picture. I've always wondered are you really supposed to smile for this photo? Just act natural? Pretend like you're having a lot of fun? And if I did smile, I'd be the only smiling person in here.

So, I tried to strike a pose somewhere in between; and ended up looking like I'd been arrested in the wee hours of the morning and taken in for a mug shot. (And I have to live with that photo for six years.)

I then forked over the $26.00 so I could continue driving for another six years, took my temporary license with my mug shot, put on my glasses, and walked out in less than fifteen minutes.

Yes - kudos to the Kansas Driver's License Bureau.

There's just one thing. Bureau, you've really got to work on this smiling thing. It looks something like this:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Andy Griffith and Barney Fife: It Doesn't Get Any Better

I wrote this for THE RECORD newspaper in March 2006, shortly after Don Knotts (Barney Fife) died. I share these same sentiments about Andy Griffith (Sheriff Andy Taylor).

Sometimes it’s hard to think you’re doing any parenting right when you have two teens in the house.  But, thanks to my husband, our children have received a healthy minimum requirement of wholesome TV viewing – namely The Andy Griffith show. 

The antics from Mayberry have a special place in our home.  During the summers, it’s common to eat lunch as we gather at noon around our friends Sheriff Taylor, Deputy Fife, and Opie.

Often, a restless teen has been known grab one of our Andy Griffith DVDs and entertain himself for an hour. 

Don’t tell my 14 year old you know he watched Andy. However, I will set the record straight that the DVDs are his dad’s – not his.  But, it does a mother’s heart good to have her kids choose such entertainment. 

So, with the recent death of Don Knotts, our beloved deputy, we have been closely watching the tributes to this great actor.  Though he had other roles and venues in acting, he’ll always be remembered as a uniformed Barney.  He’s not a Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, or even a Steve Martin.  But he acted like none other.  He was part of a legendary TV series that took us to safe places, provided some laughs and yes, even good morals. 

I grew up watching The Andy Griffith show. But, even forty years ago, my city life seemed worlds away from Mayberry R.F.D.  Then, and even more so now, I secretly long to experience just a glimpse of that world.  Where as I kid, I might roam the streets freely.  Where as a parent, I wouldn’t worry about my kid on the street.  Or as a townsperson, I actually would know my neighbor and could say, “Oh, you know, down at the McGilley place . . .” 

That kind of life sounds rather refreshing at times.  I might even give up email for that.  Well, at least for a while.

Mayberry was a good place to escape, even if just mentally; and Barney Fife always made the escape worthwhile.  Today, people seem to escape to ‘reality.’  I don’t know about you, but Mayberry seemed a lot more real than being lost on an island, swapping wives, or calling for a Nanny to straighten out your bratty kids.  I’ll choose Andy and friends anytime over the ‘reality’ Hollywood is producing these days. 

So, while many are watching the red carpet, the outfits (or lack of outfits) the stars are wearing, envelopes being opened and Oscars being presented, I think I’ll read a good book.  Or maybe yet, invite the kids to grab a DVD of a most deserving award-winning actor, escape into Mayberry one more time, and thank Deputy Fife for the experience. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bad News Gone Good

I was stressed when I walked in the computer store today. I hadn't renewed my anti-virus software, and you know what happens when we surf without protection. That's right - you end up with diseases. And apparently, my computer was a candidate for the ICU.

I must admit - my computer is my bosom buddy. We spend a lot of time together. So she needed quick healing. I heard about a store that would diagnose free.

So I tenderly wrapped up my friend, put her in my tote bag and took her in for some relief from her viruses.  

As I approached the Fix-It Counter, Amy greeted me cheerfully and said, "What can I do for you?" She listened to the symptoms for only a few minutes and said, "Oh, we can take care of this. We deal with this all the time. But, I'll just turn 'er on and see what's happening."

She can help me! That was the best news I'd heard all day.

There is something so refreshing about the confidence of  kids in their twenties when it comes to computers. Not that my generation can't use or repair them, it's just we had to learn about computers. Whereas, I think these young twenty-and-thirty-somethings  were born with a computer chip that helps them maneuver their way through electronics at the speed of light. Which, if they are teaching you, can be bad. But, when they are fixing your computer, that finesse is a good thing.

So here was Amy - young enough I could have given birth to her. She even had tatoos. I knew my computer was in good hands. And, indeed, it was. Less than two hours later Amy had my friend feeling fresh as a daisy.

Amy even explained (very carefully and tediously) some other things about my computer. For instance, I had surfing options. Who woulda thought? I had been surfing with the same browser my entire computer life. But she told me about the advantages of possibly choosing one of three other options.

Amy also gave me her business card and invited me to call her with any and all of my questions. She doesn't know what she got herself into with that kind gesture, I thought. This could come in handy because my very own twenty-year old is moving out soon. I won't have him to whine to when something goes wrong.

 I think Amy, my computer,
and me are going to be a
great team!

And, in the meantime, I'm back online and all is well.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Five Things I Learned on Vacation

Several years ago, my family stood in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA just yards from where the US constitution was signed. We were on a vacation that included Philadelphia, Gettysburg, and Washington DC. Vacations in that area just reek of education and history. You could have signed us up for Parents of the Year.

"Mom," my son said, "the tour guides just said the constitution wasn't signed on July 4th like my teachers have always told me."

"Well, now you can go back and tell your teachers the correct story of how it was signed months later and all the other things you learned," I responded.

"No way!" He seemed repulsed. "I can't do that. The kids will make fun of me. You're not supposed to learn stuff on vacation."

And, to this day, he sticks to his story of "no learning on vacation."

I, however, differ. Read on.

 FIVE Things I've Learned Over the Past 4000 Miles

ONE:  The best thing my 20 year-old could hear me say is, "Drats! My camera batteries are dead."

TWO: I truly am an athlete. The sign at Niketown in California says so:

THREE:  If, upon checking into a downtown hotel, you are told by the hotel clerk (several times), "Do NOT leave anything in your car," you probably shouldn't leave your room on foot at 7:00 p.m. to shop at a store 1.5 miles away. I witnessed at least two illegal activities (and probably walked through others that my naive eyes did not detect) before returning to the hotel at dusk. Thank you, Son, for that experience.

FOUR:  I also learned that people actually DO steal from hotels. Oh, I've suspicioned this over the years - especially this year when we checked into two different (cheap) motel rooms where they didn't bother to include a clock for my room fee. But, upon checking into a little higher quality room, I saw this sign that confirmed my people-do-steal-from-hotels suspicion:

FIVE:  And lastly, I learned blue plastic sunglasses are NOT appreciated by my children.

But, hey, they were only $4.00 at Fisherman's Wharf. The two sons accompanying me on vacation refused to let me out of the car with my new blue shades. Needing some support, I texted a picture to my other adult children to get a vote on the glasses. Only my daughter-in-law sided with me. (Let's hear it for the in-laws!)

BUT - I also learned what to do with the not-so-popular $4.00 glasses.

Arriving in New Mexico, I discovered my nephew shared my taste in glasses. (His were only ornamental!)

I asked if he would like a matching pair to wear in the sun. So, Mark is the proud owner of two pair of blue glasses. When we left three days later, he was wearing them everywhere. I'm glad the glasses found a good home.

The last 4200 miles were fun. But it's good to be back home in our own little nest.

Friday, June 8, 2012

LOCATED: The Morerods

Well friends, in answer to the question from the last blog of where the Morerods might be sighted on a southern route home from California to Kansas......the winner is BT from OK (Oklahoma, that is!).

We traveled through here:
(border of California)
where the temperature is know to be a little on the warm side.

And then we arrived here:

If you recognized those pictures as the Grand Canyon, you're right, just like BT from OK.

THINGS CHANGE over 18 years from when we were there before. I enjoyed it and appreciated the wonder of it all more this time. Maybe, because 18 years ago, we had five children, including two in strollers, and I probably was saying things like, "Don't get too close," "I know it's hot out here," "We'll go the bathroom soon," or "Yes, we'll visit the gift shop in a minute."

 Due to our travel schedule, we visited at 7:00 p.m. And, since I'm not a professional photographer (where is my daughter when I need her?), I apologize for the not-so-great quality of the pictures. I tried different camera settings, however, I'm not really sure many cameras can capture the beauty and awesomeness of the Grand Canyon.

Although there were a number of tripod-carrying photography buffs trying for their best shot with cameras slung around their necks and lenses that probably captured what was going on back home in Kansas.

And, in case you're wondering if we took advantage of the new glass bottom walkway that juts out over the Grand Canyon, the answer is .... ummm - NO. It was in another part of the Canyon, and since we didn't know if we had what it took to step foot on it, we decided not to venture there. If you want to see what I'm talking about and if you'd like that experience, click here.

I was going to save this next picture for the next blog on WHAT I LEARNED ON VACATION, but I will share it now since this learning experience happened at the Grand Canyon.

I learned that there IS something that can raise my blood pressure and body temperature higher than any mid-life hot flash. And that is this:

One of those crazy people that has ventured out onto a precarious, death defying, scare-your-mother-half-to-death cliff is son #4. Just inches from the toe of his Nike is the drop-off to the bottom of the Canyon. I am pleased to report, though, that both he and I lived to tell about it.

But I'm here to testify that no hormonal hot flash has anything on the temperatures my body soared to as I watched him take off and hike into this compromising location. My apron strings WERE NOT long enough. He didn't even ask my permission.

I recovered and we had a good time. Even #5 wanted in on the action. This is as daring as he and I get:

I look forward to chatting next time when I will report on WHAT I LEARNED ON VACATION. 

Leave me a comment and tell me this: are you a rock-adventurer, pushing the bounds of sanity OR one that is content to watch from safety and OK with not knowing what you missed by peering over the edge?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

And the Answer Is . . .

Well, apparently hotel shampoos weren't high enough stakes to get very many guesses on Where Were the Morerods. If you still want to look at the pictures from a previous blog and take a guess before you scroll down for the answers, click here. 

Thanks to those who did guess, though. Some of you were really close guessing where the pictures were taken. But, here are the official answers.

PHOTO #1: 

This is the beautiful Salt Lake Temple. This was a first visit for me, so this building was fabulous.

PHOTO #2: 

This was taken at the:

Sometimes this is called the Bonneville Salt Flats. These salt flats were used for racing and breaking all kinds of speed records. You can read about it on the internet if you click here. Nope, hubby didn't let me loose in the car on the flats.


This is just one wonderful view of Lake Tahoe. Not sure you can get a "bad" view at this beautiful lake. If you haven't been to California or Nevada to see this (it is in both States), put it on your "Places to Go on Vacation" list.

Here is another noteworthy place to visit. It boasts of things like this:


I won't make you guess where this is because I've decided I'm going to keep all my hotel shampoos. This is Yosemite National Park. You can swing over there after you visit Salt Lake City and Lake Tahoe! Yosemite is even where I tested my video finesse.

Check out this video:

Complete with dramatic narration, huh? OK, OK, I'm sure it lacks some professionalism - but we all have to start somewhere, huh? Let me know if you think I should keep my day job.

One more place to visit. Would you like to guess where we're going? If we're heading out from California, and taking a southern route to Kansas, what natural beauty do you think we'll stop to see?

Leave me a comment and then check back to see where we went - and if you were right!