Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thursday 13

1. I hate being late for anything. When going anywhere, I always make allowances for heavy traffic, construction, road closures, or car trouble. As a result, I usually get to my destination so early that I end up trying to kill time before my appointment or class.

2. I have never tried any illegal drugs in my life. And I wouldn’t know where or how to acquire them if I wanted to.

3. I hate repeating myself.

4. I like “City of New Orleans”, as sung by Arlo Guthrie. Quinton strongly favors the Willie Nelson version. We will be fighting out that issue ad infinitum.

5. On Tuesday, Lucas informed me that he didn't make it into his school's SAGE program. He took the news better than I did.

6. For Halloween last year, I dressed up as Paul Stanley from KISS.

7. I am too vain for my own good.

8. I want the weather to hurry up and cool off so I can start hiking again. I'm anxious to try out a new hiking trail that was constructed near the house.

9. Kyle and Luke like me to e-mail them…even if it is quicker for me to walk in the other room and talk to them in person.

10. I can hold conversations while driving, but don’t ask me thought-provoking questions while I’m trying to negotiate a difficult left turn. You will be ignored.

11. My favorite time of the day is the morning down time I get after the rest of the family has left for work and school. I love having the house to myself. I get to eat breakfast, read blogs, and watch the news in peace and quiet.

12. I only buy cinnamon-flavored toothpaste.

13. I love it when Lucas makes jokes about my music choices. Once while listening to Captain and Tennille, he politely asked me to “please turn off that middle-age sex music”. Then the other day, the iPod was playing Mongo Santamaria. Over the lively Latin music, Luke chirped: “Hi, welcome to Garcia’s! Will there be four of you dining this evening?”

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Unhappy Motoring: Not Once, But Twice

It’s been a rough week. Monday afternoon, Q called my cell phone to tell me that he got a flat tire on the freeway. I offered to go pick him up, but he told he already called a tow truck and to “sit tight”—he’ll call me back if he needs me.

Not being one to obey orders, I hopped in the Mustang and raced into the city. En route, Q called to tell me that the tow truck driver installed the spare and he’s now on the way to the shop to get the tire fixed. He asked me to meet them there.

It was going to take a few hours before a mechanic can get to our car. No big deal. Q and I grabbed lunch at the sandwich place next door, and I drove him back to his office. He picked the car up after work.

Not willing to be outdone by the Dodge, the Mustang, decided to act up too. Yes, that’s right. That night…that VERY SAME NIGHT, as I was leaving the college, the car wouldn’t start. I called Q: “What’s it doing?” he asked. “It. Won’t. STARRRRTT!!!!!” I yelled back. “When I turn the key, it makes a fluttering sound”.

We agreed that I have a dead battery. Some nice people visiting nearby gave me a jump start, but it didn't keep. I only got 5 miles up the road before the car stalled again.

Long story short, the car didn’t make it home. The Mustang died altogether in the middle of 67th Ave. Luckily, a bunch of really nice people pushed it into a parking lot. Q and the boys were on the scene within minutes. It was almost 10:00 so Checker’s was already closed. So we locked up the car and left it in the Boston Market parking lot.

Yesterday morning, Q and I drove back down there. We bought a new battery, installed it, and all was good in the world. But still, I was flustered. Why, oh, WHY can’t we have car trouble in the safety of our own garage? Heck, even a well-lit parking lot, where all the businesses are open wouldn’t be so bad! Why do all of our breakdowns have to take place on desolate roads, busy freeways with very little shoulder, and dark parking lots, late at night?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

White, white, and MORE WHITE!

I stopped in The Depot the other day to pick up some white paint samples. I am looking to paint the bathroom cabinet, and I want it to match the countertop. I have seen too many amateur redos where the white in the cabinets was different than the white in the counter. And it always ends up looking odd. For instance, the cabinet will be painted bright, bright white, while the sink is yellowish-white. I am trying to avoid that.

When I got to Home Depot, I had it in my mind that I would grab “just a few” samples of white. I would grab samples of eggshell white…off white…Navajo white…bone white…ultra pure white…and antique white. Because after all, that's all I would need and that's all they would have, right?

Wrong. Twenty minutes later, I walked out with a deck of 63 samples…all of which came from different sections classified as “white”. It’s funny, really. When lumped together, the samples all look so different. But when looked at individually, they look exactly the same—just plain white.

Some the colors on the samples left me a little perplexed. There’s one called Frosted Juniper. From my experience with Fiesta, juniper is a very dark bluish green color. Frosted Juniper is white with the very slightest tinge of minty-mint green.

Swiss Coffee, Vanilla Delight, and Almond Cream look exactly like they sound—like something you would find on a Starbucks menu.

Most of the color names conjured up images of snow (Frosty Morning, Polar Bear, Snow Fall, and Glacial Tint), weddings (Bridal Veil, White Glove, Soft Lace, Wedding White, and Champagne Flute), clouds (Billowy Clouds, Canyon Clouds, and Cloudy Day), and bed sheets (Natural Linen, Crisp Linen, Fine Linen, Silk Pillow, and Linen White)

Then there’s Cinnamon Cake. That name doesn’t exactly make one think of white…unless it was covered with vanilla frosting. No, Cinnamon Cake, to me, sounds more like the color of Jango.

My favorite is name is Divine Pleasure. If I end up using that color, I may never leave the bathroom!

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Song List

Best Duet: “You Don’t Have To Be a Star Baby to Be In My Show”, Billy Davis & Marilyn McCoo

Best Disco Song: “Romeo and Juliet” by Love ‘n’ Kisses

Best KISS Song: “Strutter”

Best One Hit Wonder: “Escape (the Pina Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes

Best Power Ballad: “Amanda” by Boston

Best Hippie Song: “The Rain, the Park, and Other Things” by the Cowsills

Best TV Theme Song: Theme from “Battlestar Galactica” (the old one)

Best Instrumental: “Unfinished Business” by the Blackbyrds

Best Story Song: “Ode to Billy Joe” by Bobbie Gentry

Best Sing-along Song: “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” by Dionne Warwick

Best Song for Gettin’ Busy: “Baby, Come to Me” by Patti Austin and James Ingram

Best Driving Song: "Runnin' With The Wind" by Eddie Rabbit

Best Solo by a Former Beatle: “All Those Years Ago” by George Harrison

Best Country Song: “Cherokee Fiddle” by Johnny Lee

Best 80s Song: “Union of the Snake” by Duran Duran

Best Motown Song: “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder

Best Song I Couldn’t Find on iTunes so I Had To Buy an Entire CD: “Pilot of the Airwaves” by Charlie Dore

Best Song for a Good Cry: “Wildfire” by Michael Martin Murphey

Best Song for Curing Headaches: "Fly Away" by John Denver

Best Hair Metal Song: “The Zoo” by the Scorpions

Best Song that’s No Longer on the Radio: “Mack the Knife” by Bobby Darin

Best Song for Relaxing: “Castles in the Air” by Don McLean

Best Song from a James Bond Movie: “All Time High” by Rita Coolidge

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Ms. Val's Bargain of the Week

All summer, the boys--Kyle, mostly--had been begging to take them to Waterworld, a water park near our house. I had putting them off for various reasons. For starters, Waterworld costs $22 per person admission. That's $88 for our entire family, plus food, raft rentals, and locker fees once you're in the park. Also, Quinton's condition and energy level prohibit him from fully enjoying the park's various slides. Lastly, we have a perfectly good swimming pool in our back yard.

That's why I convinced Kyle that the Sunrise Community Pool would be a better choice for his birthday. That place costs only $4 admission for our entire family. For that price, there's no guilt if Quinton gets tired and we have to leave after only an hour--and that's exactly what happened.

Also, unlike Waterworld, Sunrise wasn't very crowded. The line for the water slide was, at most 5 people long. Bench seating was plentiful, the place wasn't so large that you would lose sight of your kids. Also, the lifeguards at Sunrise are nicer. I've found that there's some rampant abuse of power among the teenage staff at Waterworld.

The trip to Sunrise Pool left us with enough cash to have lunch at In-N-Out Burger, go to a movie, and go to a Chinese restaurant that night for dinner. If we had gone to Waterworld, we would have gone home afterward, where I would have fixed Top Ramen for four.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Before: The Downstairs Bathroom

Not satisfied with a new back door, new appliances, and a crop of new accessories, I have decided that I want to redo the downstairs bathroom. Here's how the bathroom looks now:

While I don't exactly hate this room, I....OK, I hate it. I don't know what I was thinking with that color. It looks like the curtains my dad's second ex-wife put up all over their house. I like the shower curtain, but it doesn't exactly fit in to my design plan. About the only things that will survive the makeover will be the little white cabinet above the potty and a pretty 4-hook towel rack that was added after this photo was taken. Oh, and I'll definately hang on to the plate Kyle painted for me.

I will be painting the room a light, dusty lavender color called Vintage Violet. I also found the mirror I want. It has beveled-edge glass and a white, distressed shabby-chic wood frame. The mirror is $100 at Joann ETC, but they routinely send out a mailer with 40% off coupons. So I put myself on their list, and when my first coupon arrives, I will go buy the mirror.

I'm also planning on painting the vanity. It will go from a white-washed oak-look finish to white with beadboard paneling inside the cabinet door frames similar to what I did to the playroom wall unit. Quinton suggested that we get a pedestal sink. It's a nice idea, but bringing in such a sink would eliminate 90% of our storage for that room (I have a problem with leaving a dozen TP rolls out in the open). Plus the area under the current cabinet is not tiled. Bringing in a pedestal sink would require us to retile the entire room, and that's a lot more work than we care to do right now.

I also want replace the current faucet. The one we have now is a cheap-looking piece of crap that came with the house. The handle is a clear plastic ball that's cut to look like a prismatic crystal. I refer to it, and other such features as the Contractor's Special.

Problem is, I need to convince Q to let me buy a $140 faucet. Here's a picture of it. Look at it. Drool longingly. Isn't she pretty?

While it's not the most expensive faucet in Lowes, it's certainly not the cheapest. Also, it's diffent looking than most of the other faucets out there. And anyone who knows me knows that I like to do things that aren't necessarily normal and conventional.

I'll also be putting in a new vanity light. Or more aptly, Quinton will. The one I want is shown here. It will be replacing cheap chrome light bars with the exposed bulbs, just like the ones sold at The Depot for $8.

I'll be doing this project in stages. I'll do the walls, mirror, and light first. The faucet and cabinet painting will happen later. I'll need that time to work on Quinton. I think I'll print out a picture of the faucet and tape it to the mirror so he can see how pretty it looks.

Oh, and as always, I'll post photos of my progress.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thursday 13

Kyle's 12th birthday is this weekend. So today's Thursday 13 will be dedicated to him.

1. Kyle was a premature baby, weighing in at 5 lbs, 4 oz. When he was two days old, he had to be air-evac’d to a hospital with a neonatal care unit, where he was put on a ventilator. He was there for 10 days before I got to bring him home.

2. Kyle did not start growing hair until he was 3 years old. He had a little colorful beanie that I always had him wear outside for protection. He liked that hat so much that he even wore it indoors. He looked so cute in that cap. I still have it around here somewhere.

3. Kyle is his father’s son. He likes to accompany Dad to the Diamondbacks games, while I take Lucas pottery painting or antique shopping.

4. When Lucas was learning to talk, he had a hard time pronouncing Kyle’s name. It always came out as “Kowie”. We thought it was so cute that for awhile, we actually called him that. But Kyle didn’t like it much. He would get exasperated and yell “Quit…calling…me…KOWIE!!!!!!”

5. Kyle likes Star Wars. He also likes Legos. His favorite toys are the Star Wars Legos.

6. One of Kyle’s favorite meals is orange chicken and walnut shrimp from the Chinese place down the street. He sometimes eats the leftover chicken without even heating it up.

7. Kyle has been saving up for months to buy a Nintendo Wii. He's been very disciplined about it too. He's been very good about not wasting it away on little things like candy and more toys. He’s hoping to have all the money he needs when the Wii goes on sale later this Fall.

8. Ice cream and popsicles are not safe around Kyle.

9. Kyle’s favorite movie is Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and he likes watch it in a dark quiet room. He wears his Revenge of the Sith t-shirt so much that it’s now faded and is starting to get holes in it.

10. Kyle drinks more than anyone I know. His favorite beverages include iced tea, Gatorade, chocolate milk, and refrigerator water…anything that’s cold.

11. Kyle has started taking an interest in girls. I have said too much already.

12. I promised Kyle that when he grows up and moves away, he can take Jango with him. He loves that kitty so much that he doesn’t object to me referring to her as his baby sister.

13. When he grows up, Kyle wants to be a video game designer.

Happy Birthday, Kyle. You may be growing up, but you’re still my Treasure.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

It's been a very busy week

Here it is so far, in a nutshell:

Monday: Got up…got everyone dressed, fed, and off to school/work. Checked email…read blogs, nosed around eBay. Called Dodge dealership parts department…they want $65 for a replacement hubcap for a 2001 Dodge Stratus. “I’ll get back to you”. In the meantime, I’m morbidly embarrassed to be seen driving that car.

Got dressed…ran errands. Home Depot, Target, Lowe’s…went to Let’s Do Lunch with Quinton. Had the usual: California BLT for him…egg salad on sourdough for me. Bread was dry. This place has really gone downhill.

Took Q back to work…stopped at the grocery store on the way home…couple’s making out at the deli counter…EWWWW!!!! I’ll come back when they’re gone. Bought eggs…margarine…stuff for tuna noodle casserole. Paid and went home.

I forgot the beef.
STUPID sucky-face people! Back to the store! I would have skipped it, but roast beef is the only thing Luke wants in his lunchbox.

Boys came home…snacks…homework…dinner. Left for drafting class...took the Mustang…big mistakebig storm…parking lot flooded…favorite pink leather sandals SOAKED…bottom 10 inches of jeans, also soaked.

Came home…Q’s on phoneboys are fighting…everyone’s pissed because we got no rain at our home in Peoria…hectic bedtime routine beginsJango starts screaming…I finally got the privilege to go to bed around 10.

Tuesday: Got up…and got everyone dressed fed. Everyone left at the same time. Driving south, it looks like rainLOTS of lightning…odd sight at 8:30 in the morning…started raining HARDtraffic lights were out at 3 intersections. It took me almost an hour to get to school

Good thing finding a parking space was easy. Sort of. Parking lot was flooded AGAINgot my new brown mocs wetmade the mistake choosing to carry a suede purse. Went to Staples…bought supplies for design history class…met Q for smoothies... drove to Scottsdale to buy supplies for drafting class.

Address on syllabus turns out to be a business office for a catalog company that sells drafting supplies…translation: “we don’t sell that stuff here”…Drove across the street to Kierland so the trip wouldn’t be a total waste…I was a bad girl at Anthropologie and Banana RepublicHey, Mama needs new school clothes too!!! Called Meredith for advice on where to find drafting supplies…she gave me a nearby address…they had everything I needed. Time to go home.

Boys get home from school…time for a quick snack before taking Luke to drum lessons…came home…nothing’s thawed for dinner…Kyle and Q eat hot dogs…Luke and I eat sausage and fried eggs…baseball game on TV…homework…everyone needs Mommy’s help at once…baths and showers…quiet reading time….everyone’s in bed. Now, it’s my turn.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Before and After: The Bannister

When we moved into this house 7 years ago, everything was white: the walls, the appliances, and the woodwork. Unfortunately, that included the bannister. And in an effort to keep the house affordable, we tried to keep overpriced builder upgrades to a minimum. As such, having a shiny, wood- stained stair rail rated low on the list.

After a few years, painting a few walls and watching a few decorating shows, I fancied myself an expert. I was going to make the Mission-style railing look like white-washed oak--just like the cabinets in the nearby kitchen.

Instead, it looks like a bottle of Pepto Bismol exploded on the bannister. Oh, and what the %#@* was I thinking with those wall colors? I wanted Granny Smith apple green. Instead, I got lime popsicle green. And that garish blue looks like that same color as the toxic paint Adam had Jeff's office painted on Dynasty.

I hated it immediately. But at Quinton's urging, I agreed to live with it for a few months. Let the countdown begin.

Then one Saturday morning, in a fit of boredom, I put a small amount of paint stripper on a hidden corner of the newel. I couldn't believe the beautiful wood underneath! I was so excited, I made Q come see what I had done. He too was impressed and agreed we should strip all the paint and expose the wood. And since he had a week's vacation coming up, that would be the perfect time to do it.

Shortly after we began, we realize we had made a mistake. The paint was coming off slow and gummy (those stripper cans make it look so easy!). This was going to take forever! We had to work hard to protect the surrounding walls and the carpet below. We made countless return trips to The Depot, buying every kind of tape, drop cloth, solvent, steel wool, scraper, and sanding block we could find. We even bought a second detail sander so both Q and I could work without having to take turns.

I had the stain chosen and bought before the paint was removed. But while stripping the spindles, we discovered that all 13 spindles were made of 13 different types of wood. Oops! That honey-colored stain isn't going to cut it. The only way to solve that problem was to stain the spindles with the darkest stain possible. In this case, I used walnut.

Nine days, and numerous tantrums later, we completed the beautiful stair rail shown here. I was so proud that I had to show it to a neighbor who has the same house we do...still with the white painted bannister. When she saw mine, she gasped: "VAL! How much would you charge to do this to mine?"

I told her: "You don't have enough money."

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ms. Val's Bargain of the Week

This week, the boys went back to school. So, since I don't start school until next Monday, I had the entire week to do some marathon shopping.

This week's bargain (or more aptly, bargains) came from Old Navy. Their clothes aren't the greatest, but for my boys, it's a race to see whether they will ruin the clothes first, or outgrow them. Besides, had a coupon that was about to expire.

For Kyle, I bought 2 pairs of cargo shorts ($6.99 each), 1 pair of denim shorts ($7.49), 2 pairs of jeans ($6.99 and $7.99), and--the bargain of all bargains--1 pair of swim trunks ($1.97).

There wasn't much available in Luke's size so he only got 2 pairs of cargo shorts ($6.99), and a pair of drawstring cotton shorts ($4.49).

And then there's the coupon. That puppy got me $10 off my total purchase. The grand total, after tax came to $50.62. Not bad for 9 articles of clothing.

Runner up: This prize goes to a lady on the Fiesta message board who won a medium green (rare color for you non-collectors) sauce boat on eBay for $3.50, including shipping.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Mom List

1. "Mom, where's my other shoe?"

2. "Moooooooom!!!!!!! Jango threw up in my rooooom!!!!!"

3. "Mom, can I go out and play?"
"Did you finish your homework?"
"No, but can I go out and play?"
"Didn't you hear what I just asked you?"
"Yeah, but can I?"

4. "Mo-om! Lucas is hogging all the Pop Tarts!"

5. "Mom, for my birthday, I want a guitar, an amp, an iPod..."
"But your birthday is, like 10 months away!"
"And your point is....?"

6. "Mom, why can't Lucas practice his drums when I'm not home?!"

7. "Mom! I found your secret Oreo stash!" ;-D

8. "Mom, can I use your computer? Mine's all the way upstairs!"

9. "Moooooom! You were supposed to remind me that today was ravioli day in the cafeteria!!!"

10. "Mom, where's my Nickelback CD?"

11. "Mom! You didn't wake me up!"
"Your alarm went off! I heard it!"

12. "Mom, how come Jango always jumps on your bed, but not mine?"

13. "Mom! You and Dad went to Tokyo Lobby without US!?!?!"

14. "Mom, you have to wash my jeans more often!"

15. "Mom, can I unload the dishwasher later?"
"Later when?"
"Just later."

16. "Mom, why don't we have a DVD player in our car, just like "Joey"?"
"Because we have a convertible."

End of discussion.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Separated at Birth?

A few months ago, I took this picture of Jango:

Then yesterday, while surfing around Cat of the Day, Lucas found this:

The resemblence between the two pictures is just uncanny! Not only are both cats chocolate point siamese, but they both sit with their front paws crossed and take comfort in teal green linens.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thursday 13

1. I always chuckle at the “Bad Robot!” part at the end of Lost.

2. When we visited Grand Cayman a few years ago, our rental car was a green New Beetle. Driving on the left side of the road was weird!

3. I don’t look good in yellow clothes…just yellow cars.

4. Every year, on the first day of school, I always have a batch of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies waiting for the boys when they get home.

5. My favorite VH1 panelist is comedian Bill Dwyer. He's hilarious AND he's...very nice looking.

6. I threw a loud fit in the parking lot when my car got its first door ding.

7. It’s hot in Phoenix! I always offer cold water bottles to the pool guy, the pest control guy, delivery people, and any other workers that come to my home. The guy who delivered our washer called me 5 minutes after he left to thank me again for the water. He said, “You guys were really nice”.

8. My favorite Fiesta color is persimmon.

9. I always wanted a personalized license plate for my car. Early contenders included: FLMBYNT, BGNHNTR, and CYKOMOM. Quinton vetoed them all (we’re always swapping cars). Besides, CYKOMOM was taken. You can see the winners here.

10. My favorite male Sex and the City character is Charlotte’s lawyer-turned-husband, Harry.

11. If the ladies’ room is occupied, I will avail myself the use of the men’s room. This happened a lot when Q was in the hospital.

12. My dream job is to be a program director for an easy-listening radio station. The station would specialize in love songs and feel-good ballads from the 70s and 80s. Sales of Zoloft, Lexapro, and the like will go down QUICK!

13. I will not wear t-shirts. Every top I own either has long sleeves or NO sleeves.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Before and After: The Appliances

Our new refrigerator and dishwasher have been in place for just over a week now. And I couldn't be more thrilled. For starters, I'm no longer pulling grit-coated Fiesta out of the dishwasher!

The refrigerator was a fluke purchase. We originally weren't going to buy one because there was nothing wrong with our old one, except that it was old, it was too small for the space, and it froze the mayonnaise. But I convinced Q that it was a good time to buy a new one because Sears was offering 10% off if you bought two or more appliances. Besides, at 14 years old, the old one could go at any time.

And that's exactly what happened! The day after we ordered the appliances, I was out with my sister when my cell phone rang. It was Q calling to tell me that "It's a good thing we just ordered a new refrigerator." Yep, the old one was on its way out. It was leaking, and even quit running. But Q gave it a good, swift kick and got it working long enough to get us through until the new one was delivered.

The new refrigerator will be able to carry over to our new kitchen when we remodel in a year or so. It includes:

--Filtered water and ice in the door. Yes, we've finally stepped into the 90's! I haven't felt this grown up since Q and I both got cars with power windows. The boys love this thing. As a result, they are now drinking more water. Also, the dispenser has a cool blue night-light that lights up the whole kitchen.

--The shelves pull out like drawers. No reaching way in the back for the V8 Splash...although sometimes I still do.

--It's a counter-depth model. That means the box doesn't stick out beyond the cabinetry. With the old fridge in place, I was unable to open my towel drawer (the one to the left of the fridge) without first opening the refrigerator.

--The temperature control is a push-button digital thermometer that shows the actual temperature. So there's no more guessing whether it's cold enough or not.

--The freezer has a light in it! Two of them, in fact. I had never seen a freezer with a light in it before. The fridge portion also has two lights in it. One on top and one on the bottom.

I am still getting used to this dishwasher. Aside from being a useless piece of crap, the old dishwasher had only one possible way for loading all dishes. Mugs could only fit in one row of the top rack. And the flatware basket had only one possible location.

The new dishwasher is so full of features and fancy gadgetry that I'm still discovering new and efficient ways to load the thing. It too will be incorported in the new kitchen. A few of the perks include:

--The adjustable top rack. It can be lowered for my tall water goblets, or raised to accommodate cookie sheets or a Fiesta chop plate. The top rack can be removed altogether, if needed.

--Entire rows of tines can be lowered to fit jumbo mugs or Quinton's large stock pot.

--The silverware basket can be located anywhere for better dish placement. The basket can also be separated into three smaller baskets if not all are needed. It also has this nifty slotted lid for each piece. This means our spoons don't end up spooning.

--It's so quiet! Seriously, the first time I turned the thing on, I had to put my ear against the door to make sure it was actually running!

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Guilty Pleasures List

1. Nighttime soap operas! I like Dallas, Dynasty, and Melrose Place, but my all time favorite is Knots Landing. I want to be Karen Fairgate…with Laura Avery’s looks.

2. One-hit wonders.

3. Grease 2. That movie is so bad it’s good.

4. Driving through a crowded parking garage, I come face to face with a blonde in a Hummer. Both of us want the same parking space. But the Hummer doesn’t have the turning radius needed to squeeze in there, so the Barbie Girl has to pass it up. My 4-cylinder Dodge and I emerge victorious. THAT was cool.

5. The E! True Hollywood Story

6. Whipped cream, straight up. I do put it in a bowl instead of eating it right out of the can.

7. Singing along with the Captain and Tennille on the car radio. Loudly. With the top down. And I don’t care who watches!

8. Waking up to a fist full of peanut M&Ms. Some people get their morning jolt from coffee. I get mine from chocolate.

9. Pink anything. No…pink everything!

10. Actually getting to see a carpool lane violator get pulled over by the police. Quinton witnessed this last week, and I was so jealous that I wasn’t with him at the time.

11. Flintstone’s vitamins. Yes, I still eat them.

12. Peter Piper Pizza. I could eat four slices of that stuff! I usually have to arm wrestle Kyle for the last piece.

13. Researching former C-list TV and movie stars on IMDb.

14. Wasting entire afternoons watching Beavis and Butthead marathons.

15. Easy listening music from the 70’s and 80’s. The sappier the better: Christopher Cross, Lobo, Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, Boz Scaggs, Kenny Loggins, Air Supply, Roberta Flack, Olivia Newton-John, Melissa Manchester, Rick Springfield, Jefferson Starship, Pablo Cruise, Barry Manilow, and many, MANY, MANY others…

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ms. Val's Bargain of the Week

Pretty much anything from IKEA. But my biggest bargain was a 3-pack of scissors for $1.99. I bought two packs. Other goodies I picked up: a pair of pot holders ($.99), a twin-size fitted sheet ($4.99), a 2' x 4' woven striped rug ($3.99), and a large glass measuring cup ($4.99). But my favorite purchase was this adorable pedestal table ($19.99).

My mom and I made the 50 mile trek to IKEA last weekend. Going there is always an experience. Here are a few highlights:

--Upon driving into the parking lot, we noticed a Suburban with a trailer hooked to the back. Somebody's buying dorm furniture for the triplets!

--We also saw a Miata parked nerby. Somebody came to IKEA and they brought the Miata? I suppose it's possible they only stopped in for a set of placemats and some flatware. Yeah, right. That's what I said when Q and I once went there in the Mustang. We came for shelves for Kyle's room and ended up driving home with the top down and a 6'+ patio umbrella woven between the seats and across my lap.

--Beware of the lighting. Lucas had spotted a small firefly wall lamp that would go perfectly in his bug-themed room. The lamp itself was $6.99, but it required special light bulbs that cost $8.99 for a 2 pack. That's a lot of money for light bulbs, especially light bulbs from IKEA. Oh, and let's not forget the fact that the bulbs cost more than the light itself! No thanks. I helped Lucas pick out another lamp.

--I found a lamp that I would love for the family room. I passed because it cost $35. While that's not a lot of money, it is a lot of money for a lamp from IKEA!

--I was disappointed that they didn't have the silk striped cushion covers that I had been coveting. This is a surprise considering that these particular covers were featured prominately in their 2007 catalog.

Runner-up: Today, I bought a gallon of milk at Fry's for $1.67. Regular price is $3.59.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Before, During, and After: The Playroom Wall Unit

As you can see by the date, we redid this wall unit over 4 years ago. It was a hand-me-down piece from my mom. She bought it in the early 80's when medium oak furniture with rounded mouldings was the choice of every budget decorator. When she gave it me some 10 years ago, the finish was dried out from years of neglect. We took it home and I promptly slapped on the black paint. What the %#*& was I thinking?

I had a great time removing the nasty, paint-stuck front mouldings with my hammer and pry-bar. I got to be Psycho Mom for real that day! But the fun quickly ended and the real work began.

I think the boys would have loved to keep this thing flat so they could use it as a fort. Lucas thinks this picture makes his butt look big. Yes, he's definately his mama's boy!

I originally wanted to move the wall unit downstairs to the garage to paint it. But the thing weighs like 500 gazillion pounds! When first moved in, Q and the two movers had a very difficult time getting it upstairs to the playroom. At that time, Q informed me that if this thing ever leaves the house, "it will be out the window in pieces!"

Primer, primer, and MORE PRIMER!!!!!!

One week, six coats of primer, two coats of white paint, and three trips to The Depot later...

Now it's Quinton's turn. He gets to play with his new miter box and power tools!

Success! The Finished Product. And it was all done without spilling any paint on the carpet.

The close up detail.
Fast forward four years. The wall unit now has paint nicks and chips (the moulding we used was MDF), and is covered in crayon. I think it might have melted Popsicle juice stuck to one of the shelves, too. I'll spiff it up someday--when the boys quit taking snacks and writing implements to the playroom.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Family According to Lucas

Every since I introduced the boys to the South Park character generator, it's become one of their favorite online activities. Here, Lucas made a SP portrait of our family. Now, I've always known that Q and Kyle look exactly alike. But I never knew I was such a screamer...or had such wild hair.

I also didn't know Lucas was a TV sports announcer. That must be what he does late at night when he's done sneaking Oreos. Yes, Luke...I know all about that. The crumbs at the bottom of your milk cup don't lie.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thursday 13

1. I love watching my boys sleep.

2. I buy the highest thread count sheets I can afford. After 3+ months in the hospital, Q now sees this as less of a frivolity and more of a necessity.

3. I am a Pepsi addict and I’m picky about how it’s served. Pepsi tastes best in a Styrofoam cup with crushed ice…as served at the Arrowhead Hospital cafeteria. Plastic cups are ok too, but to me, soda tastes less fizzy when served in a glass glass.

4. I must sleep on the right side of the bed. It’s my thing, and I can’t sleep any other way.

5. I can spend an entire afternoon playing Dr. Mario with the boys.

6. I love watching those Time-Life Music infomercials that feature has-been celebrity spokespeople hawking compilation CDs.

7. I spent too much time on nosing around, checking out how the neighbors are pricing their for-sale houses. And if I'm lucky, there are pictures. ("They're asking $450K for THAT?")

8. Q and I bought our first house when I was 19. It had 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and less than 1300 square feet. I could have lived in that house forever, but once Lucas was born, we got a computer, and Kyle's toys mulitplied like rabbits, it was time for a place with more room and rooms.

9. No matter how many times I see the reruns, King of the Hill never stops being funny.

10. I always use pink toothbrush. Not only because it's my favorite color, but so the boys know not use it. Yes, it’s actually happened.

11. I can’t stand the taste of coffee.

12. I do my best writing in the middle of the night.

13. Years ago, Baskin Robbins had a deal where you could buy 2 pre-packed quarts for $5…limit 4. When I was pregnant, we would go down there and I would buy 2 quarts each of Chocolate and Peanut Butter and Mint Chocolate Chip. Q would wait in the car. When I came out, he would go in and buy his limit in Gold Medal Ribbon. We would go home, load up the freezer, then—if space permitted—we would repeat the process at another B&R.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Pissed List

1. I’m pissed that Lifetime took Designing Women out of their lineup and replaced it with The Nanny.

2. I’m pissed at the tool in the black Scion we saw driving alone in the southbound I-17 carpool lane at the height of morning rush hour. You know who you are!!!!

3. I’m pissed that I can’t buy my favorite chap stick—Natural Ice mentholated lip protectant—at Target, Walgreen’s, or Fry’s. The only place around here that sells it is Wal-Mart. And I HATE Wal-Mart!

4. I’m pissed that the state trust land north of my house was recently sold at auction to a real estate developer. That means within a few years, our mountain view will be replaced by houses!

5. I’m pissed that I’m 33 years old and I still get acne!

6. I’m pissed that the kitchen floor can’t just stay clean forever.

7. I’m pissed that the nearest Banana Republic store is almost 30 miles from my house.

8. I’m pissed that Quinton’s recovery seems to be taking longer than it should.

9. I’m pissed that it seems to rain everywhere but Phoenix.

10. I’m pissed that my boys fight over Pop Tarts: “What part of ‘I will buy more’ don’t you understand?”

11. I’m pissed that Quinton puts the Fox News Channel on at a high volume so he can hear it three rooms away.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Quinton Update

All things considered, Quinton is doing well. He's just tired most of the time. And if he's not tired yet, he will be soon. On the bright side, he's been having very little pain, some weakness, no nausea, no vomiting, and no return trips to the hospital!!!

Quinton has been working full-time hours at the office. And just like the good wife I am, I've been giving him a rough time about it. While I understand the importance of Q's being at work, I also see how the 8-hour days are really beating him down. He's started doing some of his work at home as time and circumstances allow.

Also, Q has become somewhat accident-prone. He'll be in the other room and I'll hear *KLUNK*..."Aw, $#!T". He bumps into stuff. He burns himself. He drops things. He burns himself while dropping things. He just needs to slow down, be careful, and ask for help!

I got Quinton a medical bracelet that identifies him as cortisone dependant. THAT was an adventure! I went to the Walgreen's pharmacy to order the bracelet. There were no fewer than 5 people working there: 2 pharmacists and 3 clerks. Only one of the clerks seemed to know how to fill out the bracelet order form, and she was busy answering questions and making printouts for some guy in the drive-thru.

It took some doing, but I got the bracelet ordered. Two weeks later, it arrived safe and sound in the mail. And it took another few weeks to get Q to remember to wear it.

Q had an appointment with his opthamologist Monday morning. It was a routine, post-glaucoma check-up, but they discovered he has of ocular herpes. This appears to be a flare-up stemming from a case of shingles he had almost 2 years ago. Eye drops were prescribed and Q has a follow up appointment in 3 weeks.

Q also has an appointment with his endocrinologist later this week. I'll post any new developments as they arise.

Monday, August 07, 2006

They're GONE!!!!!

And I'm pi$$ed! I hate losing things. And it happens more often than I care to admit. Currently, my house keys are missing, and it's bothering me to the point of insanity.

The last time I had them was Saturday when Luke and I were out shopping. On the way home, we stopped to get the mail. He fished the keys out of my purse, checked the box (it was empty), got back in the car, and put them back in my purse. I haven't seen them since.

I have thoroughly searched every room in the house. I have rifled through every junk drawer, pen and pencil cup, paper pile, countertop, desktop, tabletop, sofa cushion, and dirty clothes hamper we've got. I even looked inside every disk pitcher, carafe, vase, and gravy boat I have on display. I didn't find the keys, but I found every pair of scissors I've ever owned!

This evening, I looked through both cars--twice. I even opened up the collapsable windshield sunscreens thinking the keys fell into the folds. No dice.

So I hit the phones. Kyle and Quinton went to a baseball game on Saturday, so I took Luke out for pizza. I called the pizza place to see if anyone had turned in any keys. They hadn't. Same story with Old Navy and Wal-Mart.

Luckily, they're only my house keys. We keep the car keys on separate rings because Q and I swap cars so often. And I don't have any spares because I loaned them all out when Q was in the hospital and my sister and mom were helping me out with the boys. I simply haven't asked for them back.

It seems to me that lost items only turn up when a) I am busy looking for another lost item--as was the case with the scissors, or b) I replace said item.

And that's exactly what I'm going to do. Tomorrow, I'm going to borrow Kyle's house keys and Q's mailbox key, and I will down to Ace Hardware to have new copies made. Then, when I go to pay for the new keys, my old ones will fall out of a previously undiscovered rip in the lining of my purse!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Ms. Val's Bargain of the Week

It's back-to-school shopping time again! And this week's bargain is college rule, clean-edge spiral notebooks--$1 per 10 pack at Target.

I bought 4 packs. And with 3 of us attending school, these will go FAST! In fact, I'm thinking about going back and buying more while they're still available at this price. Last year, we ran out of notebooks by December. When I went to replenish our supply, the multipacks were gone, and individual notebooks were priced at $.79 each.

Runner up: I picked up a rose Fiesta handled cake tray for $6 on eBay.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Before and....Not After: The Master Bedroom

This is my favorite room in the whole entire house. It's the second room we decorated when we moved here 7 years ago (kitchen was first). These pictures were taken 5 years ago, and--except for having added and subtracted a few knick-knacks--the room remains virtually unchanged.

Diamonds are a girl's best friend...just not when they're being drawn on the wall. I got the inspiration for this room off an idea card from the Home Depot paint department. The instructions made it look so easy. But even with a level taped to the yard stick, I gave up really quick. Quinton--my uber-patient math genious husband--drew the lines on the wall and I sponge painted them in.

Three days, 1 faux sponge and 12 rolls of masking tape later, I had a whole room full of harlequin diamonds!

This is the sitting area that makes up part of the turret in front of the house. It's hard to tell by this shot, but these windows afford us awesome views of the mountains north of our neighborhood.

I love this room so much. But the day will come when we will have to paint over the diamond pattern, and that's just going to kill me! Now, I am ready for a new duvet, a quieter ceiling fan, and some different lamps.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Thursday 13

1. I carry a tape measure in my purse at all times. It comes in quite handy at the most unlikely times.

2. I love using mint infused hair conditioner that makes my scalp tingle.

3. I still have both of my Cabbage Patch Dolls from when I was a child. I took that adoption oath seriously.

4. I watch Sex and the City reruns mostly to admire Cynthia Nixon’s hair.

5. I do not have enough pink clothes.

6. I am the first member of my immediate family to visit Europe.

7. I have a fondness for anything from the 1970s. Music, architecture, TV, clothes, cars, decor. You name it, I love it.

8. I always leave my coin change in the tip jar.

9. I once ate an entire pizza when I was pregnant with Luke.

10. I love loud thunderstorms with lots of lightning and downpours.

11. I am the only member of the household who doesn’t have blue eyes.

12. The floor of my childhood bedroom was covered with bright red carpet. My parents’ room had royal blue, and the rest of the house had pukey green.

13. I’m enjoying learning how to download new fonts for MS Word. (Thank you, Quinton for your infinite patience and for not getting upset when I ask you to repeat the instructions).

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Analogies and Metaphors

I love receiving jokes and funny e-mail lists. I got this one yesterday from my good friend, Tess and thought it was worth posting.

Every year, English teachers from across the country can submit their collections of actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays. These excerpts are published each year to the amusement of teachers throughout the land. Here are last year's winners.....

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hail stones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

19. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

20. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

21. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

22. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

23. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

24. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mood Fiesta

Friday was the first time I used my tangerine square baker to make a batch of brownies. When I pulled them out of the oven, I noticed the color didn't look right. It looked a lot like persimmon. So I pulled out my room-temperature tangerine Betty Bowl to compare.

Sure enough, the heat does effect the color of Fiesta. I had heard of this happening with other colors. Scarlet comes out looking cinnabar. Cobalt and plum look almost black. I have another baker in shamrock, whose color doesn't seem to be affected by extreme temperatures.

Incidentally, the tangerine baker returned to its normal color once it cooled off. And the brownies were delicious.