Monday, January 29, 2007

Wii Got It!!!!!

I believe the video explains it all.

An Evening With iTunes

I spent much of last night downloading new music for my iPod. I've never been accused of having good taste in music. The proof is in the pudding:
Since I quit paying attention to new music trends around the mid-90s, most of the stuff I down loaded is from the 80s, with a little 70s thrown in. And my musical taste runs the gambit. I've got everything from new wave, schmaltzy AM pop, and hair-band metal--including enough Poison to take out an entire city block. BTW, they're no KISS, but Poison's version of "Rock And Roll All Nite" isn't half bad!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Ms. Val's Bargain of the Week

This week's bargain is actually one of Luke's birthday presents. For the last two Christmases, I had been buying him the latest copies of the Guiness World Records books. He loves these things and can spend hours sitting on the floor reading and sharing facts with the rest of the family. For his birthday, Luke asked me for previous-years copies of GWR.

On a website called Thriftbooks, I found 2002 through 2004 for one penny each. 2005 was $.99. Shipping for these four large, hardcover books $11.22. I almost feel bad for the seller here. There's no way this company made any money off me on this deal.

Then last week, while scavenging through a booth full of books and license plates at the antique mall, Q found a copy of the 2001 book priced at $3...or $2.55 after the coupon discount.

Now, we can read about the about the dog who can hold the most tennis balls in his mouth whenever we want.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Birthday Interrupted

What should have been a day filled with pizza, go-karts, miniature golf, bumper boats, and enough sugar to fill my trunk has been squelched by illness. Poor Lucas is sick in bed with a fever.

As a mom, I should have known something was up. Yesterday, I accompanied his class on a field trip. Upon returning to the school, I learned that Luke fell asleep on the bus ride back to school (we chaperones had to drive ourselves).

Second, as part of this birthday, I brought in treats for the class. Lucas didn't finish his cookie from Paradise Bakery.

Third, instead of riding the bus home, Lucas wanted come home with me. That's really unusual for him because Luke loves riding the bus with the kids from the neighborhood.

Shortly after we got home, Lucas came downstairs bawling. I thought he had hurt himself and started checking his body for bruises and blood. He cried that he's sick and we're going to have to cancel his birthday.

And it's no wonder he was upset. We had a whole day planned. We were going to take the boys, along with Luke's friend to lunch at Peter Piper Pizza, and to the Fiddlesticks fun park in Scottsdale (we did away with birthday parties a few years ago. Instead, we now let the birthday boy plan the entire day.)

Anyway, Lucas spent a few hours lying on the couch crying. Crying partly that he felt so sick, but mostly because this day that the big day he had been talking about for so long was now cancelled...or at least postponed.

I know, I know. It's just a birthday. That's what I said last year when Q was in the hospital and Luke's birthday was pretty much glossed over. This year's birthday was supposed to be better.

This morning, I had the heart wrenching task of calling the other boy's mom and informing her that we wouldn't be going after all. I also told her that we'll make it up to "Danny" and Lucas by taking them out when he gets better.

Lucas spent the entire day watching cartoons, taking baths, and sleeping in my bed. I spent the day painting my living room and watching Myth Busters reruns. Yawn.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thursday 13: The Lucas Edition

Lucas' 9th birthday is this weekend. As such, this week's Thursday 13 is dedicated to him.

1. Lucas' favorite snacks include popcorn, popsicles, raw cookie dough, and whipped cream. I had to convince him to spray the whipped cream into a bowl instead of squirting the can into his mouth.

2. Lucas has been taking drum lessons since August. It is his dream to someday replace Tre Cool as the drummer for Green Day.

3. Whenever Q and Kyle go to a baseball game, Lucas prefers for me to take him to lunch at a sushi restaurant and to the antique mall to hunt down bargain Fiesta.

4. Explosive things come in small packages.

5. Lucas likes to study foreign alphabets. He spent much of last summer learning about the Ukranian language on the Internet. He's now fascinated with Vietnamese.

6. He fancies himself a tough guy, but he does have no fewer than 50 stuffed dogs living in his bedroom. Some of these are pink!

7. Lucas loves music. His favorite singers/bands include: Green Day, Hillary Duff, Kelly Clarkson and KISS.

8. He could eat breakfast cereal for every meal. And he doesn't even require a bowl. Taking handfuls of flakes and bits out of the box suits him fine.

9. When I wanted to repaint his room, Lucas insisted on being in on the color selection process. He definately wanted purple. So after studying paint samples, he narrowed his choices down to a color that reminded me of a grape popsicle and a soft lavender color called "purple veil". Guess which color got used.

10. No matter where I hide the Oreos, Lucas always manages to find and sneak them. I can tell he's been there by the lid left off the Tupperware container.

11. Between the ages of 2 and 6, Lucas wore only two outfits: pants and no pants. The second one was his favorite.

12. Given the opportunity, Lucas could spend an entire afternoon playing the Internet video game RuneScape. Luckily, I can control his Internet connection from my laptop...and blame the "outage" on the cable company, if necessary.

13. Lucas is trying to grow his hair long. After baths, he loves it when I blow dry it for him.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

When It Rains, It Pours.

It rained again in the Phoenix area today...more so than on Friday, in fact. Except for the mud and wet shoes in the house, I could really get used to this weather! It's hard to tell, but the the mountains in the first photo were topped with snow. This is a rare site this close to the city.
I love this picture.
Weather break!

This photo was taken two blocks from home.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ms. Val's Bargain of the Week

Awhile back, Q and I took up tennis. That is to say, we go down to the courts at the park and hit balls around. The boys decided that they wanted to play too. Not a problem, except that meant someone would have to sit out. Again, not a problem, unless that someone was me. In that case, Kyle or Lucas would be stuck using my pink racket.

I was in Target on Friday buying a birthday present for Luke's friend. As I wandered through the sporting goods aisle, I spotted a peg of Wilson tennis rackets with the telltale red clearance sticker on them. On further inspection, I found these rackets, originally priced at $12.99, were marked down to $3.24. SOLD!!!! At that price, I was able to buy one for each boy. Double sold!!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Rainy Day in Phoenix

We don't get many days like this around here. So this is a real treat. As per our tradition, the boys got fresh baked cookies after school.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thursday 13: The Hospital Edition

1. Today is the 1 year anniversary of Q's going into the hospital for adrenal surgery. Two additional surgeries soon followed.

2. His hospital stay was only supposed to be two days...three tops. It ended up lasting the better part of four months.

3. During the hospital stay, Q missed Luke's birthday, Valentine's Day, my birthday, and Easter. He came home for good on Mother's Day.

4. He went more than 6 weeks unable to eat a crumb of food--including the entire month of February. Since then, the longest he's gone without eating is maybe 6 hours.

5. After over a month and a half at the community hospital, and chewing through a truckload of red tape, Q was transferred to the Mayo Hospital in northeast Phoenix. I firmly believed that move saved his life.

6. During the earliest weeks of his hospital stay, Q was in ICU. After about the third week, one of the nurses bent the rules for us and give me permission to bring the boys in for a short visit. It was very difficult for the boys to see their dad in such a vulnerable position.

7. I think Q had more CT scans than most people have teeth.

8. I can't begin to count the number people who were on the business end of my temper. Most notable is the doctor who ordered Q have a catheter inserted when he clearly didn't need it. He claimed that he wanted his urine accurately measured. I assured him that Q may be sick, but he still has good aim. The graduated pee bottle will be just fine.

9. Q usually hates it when I act rude and talk down to people. But not that time. He thanked me for sparing him the pain of catheter insertion. ("Squeaky wheel, Honey. Squeaky wheel.")

10. Even after not being able to eat and having a feeding tube stuck down his nose for so long, Q was still very selective about which foods he would eat. He refused lemon jello. He hated the mushroom ravioli. He also told me that Mayo had the worst iced tea ever.

11. Apparently the bad iced tea at Mayo is well known. One of the nurses made Q some tea from her own personal stash.

12. The lady at the Mayo Hospital deli counter got to know me quite well. She knew I would order one of two sandwiches: egg salad on sourdough or roast beef on rye. And she never failed to ask about my husband.

13. Q has been out of the hospital for eight months. And not a day goes by where I don't think about some aspect of that whole experience. It's hard not to, considering that Arrowhead Hospital is located on the same main road that runs nearest to our house. I think about mundane things like waking Q up to give me his password to our mortgage account. I think about the vomit, the IVs, and the post-surgical bleeding. I think about the hospital volunteer who played piano in the atrium at Mayo (that guy was GOOD!).

January 18, 2006 has become a turning point, of sorts for our family. It's the reference point we use to measure when an event occurred (did that happen before or after the hospital?). It comes up in conversation at least once a day. I'm sure the Cushing's illness/hospital will wane in time. But it will take a LONG time. I'm sure of it. But in the meantime, I'm just glad it's all over.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The C List

Coach handbags…colorful dishes…corny movies…chocolate…Captain & Tennille…crown molding…cartoons…catalogs…carnation pink crayons…cantaloupe…chocolate point Siamese kitty…children...cheesy 70’s music…Chinese food…Charlie Brown…cashmere sweaters…climate control…cake…coupons…caffeine-free Pepsi…Comedy Central…chocolate chip cookies…cosmopolitans…cinnamon…chili…Ces...Ces' paintings...charger plates…choices…clothes shopping…charm bracelets…cloudy days…Clinique…convertibles…clean house…Chapstick…comedy…clearance racks…crumbly-topped muffins…California…cream cheese...Christopher...consignment stores...comic strips...cuddle time with Q, Jango, or one of the boys...

The A List
The B List

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Real Financial Heroes

I actually know people like this...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Ms. Val's Bargain of the Week

On Monday, I picked up my books for the spring semester. For the first time, I managed to buy textbooks for both classes for less than $100. This is especially surprising because the bookstore didn't have any used copies of the AutoCAD book in stock. I had to buy it new for $68.

This is a sharp contrast to last semester when I spent close to $200...also for 2 books.

Friday, January 12, 2007

My Work Areas

Following in the footsteps of Ces, Menchie, and a few others, I am posting pictures of my work area. Everyone elses work area are neat and organized, but not mine! And since I don't work at a traditional job, most of my work is done here:
and here:
And the work that I do there gets organized here:
Most of my blogging and other computer work gets done here. It's also here where I pay bills, sign permission slips, read the mail, write checks for the boys' lunch accounts and Scholastic book orders, and grade homework.
Stuff I like to keep at arm's length is kept here. These tools of the trade include: the checkbook, phone, calculator, scissors, and pens. This table is also the dumping ground for odds and ends like the DVD remote, a receipt from the bookstore, a broken mouse, a jury summons, a gift card, extra car keys, a Post-It note with Luke's friend's phone number on it, and an iPod FM transmitter that doesn't work well.
Overflow junk gets dumped here: Kleenex, the Schwan's catalog, the ceiling fan remote, CD for the Q's new digital camera, hand lotion, extra cough drops from last week, extra Post-Its, a couple of Luke's graded math tests, a trinket box, a tin of Rosebud salve, a pink Coach wristlet, and an invoice for our quarterly HOA assessment. On the floor below is a jumble of cords that includes the plug for the floor lamp, my iPod synch cable, two cell phone chargers, camera cable, and laptop charger. My iPod ear buds are around here somewhere...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Thursday 13

1. I was summoned to appear for jury duty today. But when I called the automated system to get my reporting time, I learned that my group has been excused. Most people would be relieved by this, but I'm rather bummed. I was really looking forward to experiencing this part of the judicial process for myself.

2. I am not good about delaying gratification, or otherwise depriving myself of anything. It's a genetic aberration, of sorts.

3. According to my iTunes library, the most played song on my iPod is "Castles in the Air" by Don McLean. #2 is "The Things We Do For Love" by 10cc.

4. It's been almost two weeks since I redecorated the bathroom and--gasp--it's staying clean! I have never been able to keep a single room clean for that long. Of course, it helps that this particular bathroom is the smallest room in the house. And I'm sure the removal of cheap construction-grade fixtures didn't hurt, either.

5. The boys' favorite rainy day food is chili. When they come home from school, one of them will announce: "I smell Mom's chili!!!" Kyle, in particular will help himself to a bowl right then instead of waiting for dinner.

6. When we were in California last month, I managed to navigate the streets and freeways without getting us hopelessly lost. It wasn't easy, either. I kept losing my sense of direction...something that's not a problem in Phoenix (I'm obviously spoiled by the grid system here). Anyway, I will install some sort of dash-mounted compass for our next car trip.

7. Speaking of California, the LA area is home to the best jazz station ever. I don't remember the call letters, but the frequency was 88.1. They play jazz music all day, unlike the Phoenix station, which broadcasts NPR (Not Pertinent Radio) everyday until 7:00.

8. Learning moment. I use this phrase often. The boys hate it because it's my way of telling them that they have to accept and live with their choices.

9. My new TV addiction is real estate shows...especially the "flipper" ones where the sellers overimprove and overprice their houses to the point where they sit unsold for months on end. I love watching said sellers collapse under the weight of their own greed.

10. I'm hardly ever late for anything. I have no problem getting the boys to the bus stop on time. I manage to get the oil changed every 3,000 miles without delay. I return library books before they're due. And I always make it to school with time to spare. But for some reason, our Christmas tree stayed set up in the family room until January 9.

11. We have about 8,ooo pairs of scissors in the house. All but 2 are missing.

12. We also have about 12,ooo pens. Only about 5 of them work.

13. Dumb question: Why are there clothes all over the floor if everyone "always puts them in the hamper?"

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Quinton Update

It's been a long time since I wrote any sort of update on Quinton's recovery from Cushing's Syndrome. The fact is, he's doing quite well. A few highlights:

--Q and I try to go out walking in the evenings. If we don't go, it's because it's too cold, too windy, or there's something good on TV. Not because Q doesn't feel up to it.

--Q had an appointment with his endocrinologist back in December. At that time, the doctor lowered his daily cortisone dose.

--When we went to California, Q seemed to have the stamina to keep up with the rest of us through four days of almost non-stop walking and standing at the amusement parks.

--Q has also been working hard on regaining his strength. He's currently bench pressing 50 pounds. That may not sound like much, but it's more than I can do! We've also taken up tennis. That is to say we drive over to the courts at the local park and whack the ball around. Sometimes we even get it over the net...more than once!

--Around New Years, Q came down with a head cold, which included a fever. As advised by his doctors, he doubled his cortisone intake for the duration of the illness. He also spent a few days hunkered down here at home instead of going to the office. If he didn't follow these precautions, he could have ended up back in the hospital.

--A few days ago, Q told me that he feels better now than he did before last month's cortisone dosage change. And he felt better then than he did a year ago (before surgery). This is an indication that his remaining adrenal gland may have come out of its dormancy and is producing cortisol again. It will take further testing to see if that is, in fact, the case.

--He has another follow-up appointment in mid-March.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Before and After: The Downstairs Bathroom

Back in August, I posted about wanting to redo the downstairs bathroom. I intended to do the job back then, but life got in the way. And by "life", I mean architectural history class. Anyway, I used the time between Christmas and New Years to finally redecorate the bathroom. Here's how it looked before:
And here's now it looks now: new paint job...
New light fixture...
New faucet
New mirror...
and new towels...two of which are fluffy and pink!
After a few false starts, Jango is getting used to drinking from the new faucet. We still have the old contractor-grade faucets in the other bathrooms if she prefers...
Going into this project, I had originally planned on repainting the vanity, but once I got the lavender paint on the walls, I decided that the white-wash cabinetry didn't look too bad. Besides, I didn't want to create more work for myself. Also, I didn't replace the shower curtain because not having it makes the room more light and open. The shower in this room barely gets used to begin with.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Lucas Drumming to "The Reason"

Quinton used his new camera to record Lucas playing on his new drum set. Here, he's drumming along to "The Reason" by Hoobastank. He's only been playing for a few months so please be kind. Also, we don't know what that little "clicky" noise is in the beginning, but it does go away.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Ms. Val's Bargain of the Week

About two years ago, Q bought me an Oneida 53 piece flatware set in the Stanhope pattern. The set included service for 8, plus 8 additional teaspoons and 5 serving pieces.

Then a few months ago, we noticed that we were always running out of spoons. With four people eating cereal, scooping up sugar, stirring tea or hot chocolate, etc. And let's not forget all the lunches the boys' friends eat here. Also, there might even be a few spoons hiding out in one of the upstairs rooms. In any case, the demand for spoons was outpacing supply.

I found another set of the same flatware available on eBay for an opening bid of $29.99. I bid and won it for that price. Not bad, considering that the same set is currently being sold at for $80.

Now, we will never run out of spoons again!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Disneyland Trip

Yesterday, I posted pictures of our trip to Universal Studios. Today's pics are the highlights from two days at Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. We spent the majority of our time at DCA because that park had better rides and fewer crowds. It was a win-win situation.

This is Luke's way of telling us he didn't care for the Autopia ride. Being too short to drive, he was relegated to the role of passenger.

The boys got the lead car on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

A model of a Star Wars X-Wing at Disneyland.

Waiting in line for Space Mountain

Leave it to me to find Fiesta at Disneyland! This was part of a mosaic wall at California Adventure.
Lucas calls this "a waste of perfectly good Harlequin".

It's hard to believe that less than a year ago, this man was fighting for life in a Phoenix area hospital.

Disney's California Adventure at sunset...including the most nauseating Ferris wheel ever.

I just love Kyle's hair in this picture.

Jedi Training Academy. Kyle had a front row seat.

Finally, Lucas got to drive! I'm not sure how Q finagled that, but I have a feeling that an inattentive ride operator was involved.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Universal Studios Trip

We took the boys to LA last month for a little pre-Christmas vacation. Below are highlights from our trip to Universal Studios.

The boys weren't too interested in having their pictures taken with the roving costumed characters, but they posed with Spongebob Squarepants because their cousin is a huge Spongebob fan.

From the set of War of the Worlds. I'm glad that's not our Mustang!

The Bates Motel with the set of How The Grinch Stole Christmas towering in the background. According to the tour guide, the car parked out front (also used in Psycho) did double duty as the family car from Leave it to Beaver.

My favorite part of the tour was getting to see Wisteria Lane and the houses from Desperate Housewives. Here, Mike the Plumber's house is pictured. I think that's Carlos' Jag parked in the driveway.

Lynette's house...complete with minivan in the driveway.

Susan's house.

Betty Applewhite's house from season two. This same house was previously occupied by The Munsters.

Mary Alice and Paul's house. The same house was used in Leave it to Beaver.

Bree's house.

Edie's house

Gabby's house

No studio tour would be complete without the close-up shot of Jaws.