Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Christmas Food Poisoning Story

I trust everyone out there had a lovely 25th?  I did too!  From the 23rd thru the evening of the 25th, everything was great.  Lots of fun, lots of family, very little drama (first time in years!).

And then it hit.  Sometime in the wee hours of the night, I started dreaming that I was puking.  Multiple, varied dreams.  I specifically recall one where I was hugging a nice clean toilet. By the time I cracked my eyes open on Monday morning, it was evident that the source of my dreams was very real.

Since then, this has been the view from my bed:
(just so we're clear, the bed protector wasn't for me.  Even though I know you don't believe me.)

I've had lots of time to ponder how this illness befell me.  Five family members have been struck at exactly the same time.  A sixth just got hit last night.  It could be food poisoning, but plenty of people around us on the 23rd had also been sick.  So it could be flu.  Either way, the symptoms are the same, and the misery as intense.

But I have another theory.  This one involves GOD.

Now this theory was hatched while in the lowest part of my illness, so it might be somewhat delusional. Let me know what you think.

I'm not an especially religious person, I don't go to church, and I haven't read the bible in years.  But I believe in God, and I do my nightly thanks to Him and talk to my boys about him regularly.  So I'm not completely remiss.  BUT, this year, I completely forgot 'the reason for the season,' if you know what I mean.  It wasn't until Christmas afternoon, on the way to visit family, that it occurred to me.  It took hearing mention of it in a Christmas song to remember.  Umm, yikes.  I felt a little guilty as I turned to my kids and said, "You guys, I totally forgot about why we celebrate Christmas!  Did you?"

They all shook their heads and said they remembered.  And my husband nods in agreement, giving a story about how much our 5 year old has been talking about it lately.

I remembered this, as I was lying in bed moaning and feeling like I was dying from the stomach out.  A short while later, this crept into my consciousness:  on the way to a Christmas Eve party Saturday night, my mom and I got distracted (as usual), and I completely missed the turn-in to the street where the party was.  I took the next turn available, which just happened to be a church parking lot, filled with people going to Christmas Eve mass.  At the time, we all thought it was terribly funny, and we joked about those darn religious people making my drive through their parking lot more difficult.

Maybe He was mad at me for the whole "forgetting Baby Jesus" thing.

Now that I'm past my lowest point and am on the other side of the mountain, I'm feeling more positive about things.  Maybe I was a little delusional, induced by the pain and nausea.

But I remembered one last thing this morning:  for Christmas I wanted to lose about 5 pounds to fit back into my pants (I've been eating a lot lately).  I'm now more than halfway there. there a higher meaning to all this?

Friday, December 23, 2011

'Tis The Season To Be Merry

Happy Holidays Folks!

It's December 23rd, and I still haven't figured out what to get our 12 year old for Christmas.  He has repeatedly asked for the same three items over the past month, hoping against hope that he'll wear us down and we'll cave.

 An Airsoft gun

Modern Warfare for the PS3

 A box of fresh donuts

Apparently, "all the kids" in school have airsoft guns and are allowed to play Modern Warfare to their hearts' delight.  And poor P is the only one in middle school with overprotective parents.  Sigh.  Not happy with being able to do these things at his friends' houses, he wants to be able to host his own war-themed events.  Maybe we are the most conservative parents in 7th grade, but we're sticking to our guns (pun intended).  He won't be getting these kinds of gifts from us any time soon.

That just leaves a box of donuts.  I'm all for getting him the donuts for Christmas, but I can't find a single donut shop that will be open on Christmas morning!  The clock is ticking and I'm getting desperate.

I've been devoting all my brainpower to figuring out what to get this kid, and as a result, the blog has suffered for it.  Please accept my apologies.

So today's post is a bit of a cheat:  a video of my neighbor's over the top holiday light show.

The first year they put together this light spectacular, I thought we had moved in next to the Griswold's.  It has a slightly Las Vegas feel to it, and it took a good 3 days of driving past the flashing house before I noticed a sign out front with a radio station painted on it.

I turned on the radio to discover they've got...their station.

The music filling my ears synched up to the house lights, and suddenly little Las Vegas made sense to me.  The songs are corny, and the loop is pretty short, but the kids love this holiday display, and I guess it I like it too, in all it's flashing glory.  We look forward to it every year now.

This year they really pulled out all the stops and added sound bytes from, appropriately enough, Christmas Vacation.

I'll close this post with one last video I came across this morning.  I couldn't believe it when I saw it, but here it is, in it's entirety, The Star Wars Holiday Special.  This thing is painful to watch, and I dropped out at about minute 5.  Hoping it would get better, I jumped over to minute 40 and was mildly entertained by the flashback to 1978 with the commercials for All in the Family, Alice, and Dallas.  As awful as this show is, I'm compelled to post it.  How can I not?  It's a Star Wars Holiday Special!

Monday, December 19, 2011

I Heart The OC

Last weekend, we took a drive down south to Orange County to spend the day at the South Coast Plaza. Being from the OC, my better half always enjoys spending time back in the old neighborhood, and I jump at every chance to go because I’m a big ol’ sap.  Even though I grew up 2 hours north, Orange County is where I lived for many years.  When bundle of joy #3 arrived 5 years ago, we moved back up north for a better career opportunity.  We bought a home in a neighborhood we never imagined we could afford, and the feeling of community has been unbelievable.  We can’t appreciate enough what good fortune we’ve had to be able to raise our kids in this kind of environment.

But I still miss Orange County.

I miss the average of three freeways it would take to get anywhere (and everywhere) I wanted to be. 
I miss Shirley’s Bagels on 17th in Costa Mesa.  And that Chinese restaurant with the red door in Brea.  Pumpkin City in Laguna Hills, the Back Bay in Newport Beach, and Wild Rivers in Irvine.

For the select few of you out there who can appreciate my unnatural attachment to an entire county, I’m so glad we’ve found each other!  For the rest of you, I'll try to explain it.  My adulthood was formed in this place.  I had no ties, my responsibilities were my own to manage, and I was completely self-sufficient.   I started my career, my marriage, and my family here.  I’ve got many positive memories of this place, punctuated by lots and lots of good food.  We’re talking authentic, ethnic, hole-in-the-wall eats.  Ahhh, the memories of it gives me the warm fuzzies.

Our connection to this is place is strong, and our kids are not immune to the feeling.  At 12 years old, P is starting to get too old for the day-cations, but L and M are still 100% on board with any trips back home.  So last weekend, when M asked if we could go to Orange County to see Santa (because that’s where he thinks Santa lives), we were all over it.  We’d make a day out of it, visit Santa, go eat somewhere fun, and make a stop at our favorite toy store.    

The day started off better than I had hoped: traffic was light, and the mall wasn't too crowded.  Everyone was having a good time, and I was wandering around, looking for gifts, when I came across a trio of friends in their twenties.  I hovered, hoping they’d notice and move so I could walk by.  One of them noticed, and said to his friends, “move over so the (old) lady can walk by.”  Ouch.  It stung a little.  That happy “I’m having a great day” feeling went a little gray.  Really?  From something so benign?  Yes, really.

I was totally unprepared to be faced with the politeness of a twenty-something as he sees me:  an older woman.  It kind of sucked.  So I did what any normal, neurotic female would do in such a circumstance.  I took a sad-face photo of myself to commemorate the moment.  And then proceeded to delete it, because the lighting in that store was not being my friend.  Now I see what prompted his respect for his elders.  He was literally faced with one (an elder, that is).  Tragic.

I shook it off, determined to enjoy my day.  We spent hours, going from toy store to toy store, enjoying the sights and stopping for lunch at the Rainforest CafĂ©, before we finally headed over to see Santa.  Along the way we lost a jacket, went for a ride on the carousel, and got separated from each other (without a phone…what on earth did people do before cell phones?).  

Santa was a little uneventful, probably due to the hour wait.  P refused to pose with him.  L thought his yellowed beard was kind of creepy.  M asked him if he remembered the chocolate milk we left him last year.

By the end of the day, we threw in a train ride and hot apple cider before heading back to the car.  On the way out, we passed through the money wing of the mall, where the Tiffany, Valentino, and other expensive stores reside.  It’s here where M decided to show his blue blood upbringing.

Good times.

Friday, December 16, 2011

What I've Learned From The BravoTV Housewives

I like reality tv.  I’m not especially proud to admit this, but it is what it is.  I have a particular weakness for the BravoTV suite of offerings.  I’ve got my Top Chefs, Real Housewives, Millionaire’s, Rachel’s, Tabatha’s, Jeff’s, Bethenney’s, and WWH's tivo’d to catch every new season.  To say that Andy Cohen has me in the palm of his hand (the one that’s not holding the cocktail) is somewhat of an understatement.

Before you jump to judge me (and there’s a lot to judge here), let me clarify something.  I’m selective with my reality viewing.  Yes, I, of all people, have standards that I adhere to, however loose (and ever-shifting) they may be.  These standards have less to do with the show and more to do with my mood.  Or maybe it has to do with the show being on hiatus...hadn't thought of that.  Anyway, because of my fickle high-horsedness (combined with my irrational hatred of re-runs), it turns out I don’t spend as much time as you would think watching trash tv.  There’s plenty of time for intellectually stimulating television such as Modern Family, Spongebob Squarepants, and Battlestar Galactica. 

Battlestar Galactica probably needs a little explaining.  Every Friday night, we get together with our neighbors to watch a couple of BSG (that’s what the cool kids call it) episodes, and I’ve got to say (this is perhaps even more embarrassing to admit) that I am totally into it.  Frak yeah!  Right now we’re up to the part where Starbuck gets kidnapped by the cylons and is introduced to the child they created from her egg when she was earlier abducted and sent to be harvested at The Farm.  So good.  I’m a total nerd.

Anyway, let's get back on track.  A highly esteemed colleague and I were discussing the trials and tribulations of the latest cast of Housewives (namely Kyle, Kim, Lisa, Taylor, and Brandi…hello…Beverly Hills, dahling), which led to a discussion of the utterly raunchy Atlanta Housewives episode I stumbled upon last week.  As we debated the authenticity of Kandi’s mother’s reaction to Phaedra’s choice of birthday entertainment, it occurred to me that (being the student of human nature that I am) there are a number of learnings I think we can all benefit from, thanks to the many housewives we’ve seen come and go over the years.

And so follows my guide to navigating those Housewife potholes, should Andy ever ask me to join the franchise:
  • ·         Physical theatrics, such as high-pitched “woo-hoos”, repeated leg splits, and cowboy-roping ponytails will be perceived as attempts to get attention; keep these to a minimum, and preferably off-camera.
  • ·         Constant hair-touching is one of those nearly subliminal “I’m insecure” messages that everyone picks up on. 
  • ·         Lucky enough to be well-received in your first year as a housewife?  Don’t get too comfortable, because you’re sure to crash and burn in your second year.  Each location has a story to tell:  Jill in New York, Kyle in Beverly Hills, Tamra in Orange County.  Play your cards carefully, my friend, and don’t get a big head. 
  • ·         Poorly-received in your first year as a housewife?  Consider yourself lucky.  Bad blood seems to magically disappear, friendships bloom, and message boards are suddenly kinder in your second year.  A combination of friendlier editing and improved personal filtering seems to be the culprit for the second year shift.  Alex in NY is a good example of this.  I can’t think of many more examples than that, because, honestly, it’s more fun to remember the ones that crash and burn (see previous bullet) rather than the ones that rise like a phoenix from the ashes.
  • ·         With great wealth comes great responsibility.  Should I ever be fortunate enough to amass wealth as great as these housewives, I promise to give back to the community and help those less fortunate than me.  As long as it doesn’t intrude on my lifestyle or personal spending habits.
  • ·         Love scenes, ranging from a foot rub to a private lingerie showing to a bathtub scene are gag-inducing to all viewers.  They’re probably gag-inducing even to the participants (who are watching at home, months later).  Don’t even kiss on tv.  Let the real actors do their jobs.
  • ·         Do not brag about how everything is so attainable.  When you’ve come from a privileged environment and were groomed to be everything you have turned out to be, claiming “you can have it all” is a little insulting.  Same goes for the wives who married into wealth.  Find me a successful housewife who had no help filling out her state college application, and then I’ll admiringly listen to her say “you can have it all”.
  • ·         Money can’t buy you class.  But it can buy you a clothing line, a singing career, and a modeling contract
  • ·         It is never in good taste to accuse another female of being a crack head, a thief, a liar, or a man, no matter how deep the voice.
  • ·         Wigs and weaves are easy targets, both in verbal sparring and in physical attacks.
  • ·         The BravoTV audience is like a wild herd of spirited mustangs.  They’ll turn on you in an instant.  This can either work in your favor or against you.
  • ·         We’re all flawed, money or not.  Editing will only magnify these flaws.  It’s part of the deal.
  •  ·       Never treat your pets like they're humans.  This includes, but is not limited to, sharing your fork, spoon, knife or plate with them.  Or encouraging them to drink from your neighbor's best crystal. 
These guidelines are based on years of housewife slip-ups, fights, and regrets.  But it’s not comprehensive.  I’ll bet you can think of more.


Monday, December 12, 2011

My Google, My Friend

Google, oh Google
You are my best friend
You're there when I need you
You're like a godsend

I call on you daily
With demands on the fly
You always deliver
You try not to lie

Allergies, Asthma,
Conversions and Time,
Finding phone numbers
And spelling l'chaim

My life is much better
With you by my side
What else can I do
I can't quit you, I've tried

What would I become
If you failed to appear?
A productive employee
Or Mom of the Year

That time when I needed
To clean a blood stain
You were right by my side
You had nothing to gain.

Remember that person
I wanted to meet?
You showed me the way
To his very own street.

And while others may come
And others may go
My love for your engine
Continues to grow.

So Google, continue
To show me the way
As I stumble and fumble
Through e-ver-y day

To give thanks in return
As I grow to old age
I promise to make you
My only home page

Friday, December 9, 2011

If I Can Sell This, I Can Sell Anything

From NW Studios of California, introducing the newest creation to come from this prolific studio.  Appropriately enough, the artist has named this work of art Metamorphosis.

Twice kiln fired and made of the highest quality resin/tin components, this nouveau-inspired piece is a delight to the senses. Allow your hands to linger on the luxurious curves of this sculpture as your eyes marvel at the glorious colors that seem to spring to life.  With each angle, you will feel as though you've discovered a new spectacle.

The magnificent Metamorphosis is hand-crafted and one of a kind; and for a limited time only, NW Studios of California is giving you the opportunity to own a true masterpiece for the unbelievable price of $129.99 (plus shipping and handling).

For this low price, you will receive your own original work of art.


Size:  approximately the size of a 14 oz. can of corn
Weight:  approximately the weight of an empty 14 oz. can of corn

At no additional cost to you, we will enhance your sensory experience with your choice of corn, black bean, or pea scent.  Please specify your requested scent when placing your order.

Note:  as these are hand-crafted, one of a kind works of art, there may be variances in the nature and shape of your final masterpiece.  But the scent is guaranteed.

As with all NW Studios works of art, each piece is designed and created in the USA. 

A Message from NumberWhisperer:  This is not really a retail ad, and there is no such business as NW Studio of California.  My 9 year old and I created this mishap when I forgot to take it out of the oven last weekend.  Dad is going to love it though.  Guaranteed.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Laugh and I'll Laugh With You: Hillbilly Handfishin'

Last weekend, I was doing chores around the house, when I heard laughter coming from the tv.  I stopped to listen, and whatever was going on sounded like a whole lot of fun, so I walked over to see what the kids were watching.  I've already got a smile on my face, as I wander over, curious.

So the image on tv is this:  a group of people standing in muddy water, watching one guy who appears to be crouching low to feel something under the water's surface.  He's got a huge smile on his face, and periodically, he screams, then cackles, and says ouwwww, ouwwww, ouwwww.  He doesn't really look like he's enjoying it, the laughter is more nervous than anything else.  But the rest of the folks....they are laughing like it's the funniest thing they've ever seen.

Here's a link to what I'm talking about

It's called Hillbilly Handfishin'.  If you've never seen this show, and are easily amused, this show deserves at least one viewing.  The premise is pretty straightforward:  vacationers pay these two guys, Skipper and Jackson to take them noodling in what looks to be the muddiest lakes, rivers, and streams Oklahoma has to offer.  What is noodling?  Not sure why it's called that, but it involves sticking your arms or legs into the cracks and crevices caused by rocks and trees and whatever else that might make a nice home for catfish.  The goal is to tick off the catfish enough so that they bite you, get strung up, and pulled out of the water.  That's noodling folks.

These fish can be huge.  12-15 pounds seems to be pretty common, but I saw one guy pull out a 42 pounder.  Tell me again, why would anyone want to stick their foot into the home of a forty-two pound catfish?  Oh right, for the fun of it.  To add to the thrill, there are snapping turtles, snakes, and alligators to keep an eye out for.  But no one seems to ever get hurt, except for some broken skin from the repeated biting.

Being the fraidy-cat that I am, I'd never go for this type of vacation, but that doesn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying watching others do it.  The one episode with all the cackling has to be the best of them all.  These guys had me laughing for days.  I was laughing so much, just from watching them (and the other noodlers) laugh, it made me feel like those babies that laugh when they see other people laugh and cry when they see other people cry.  I guess I pretty much have the emotional maturity of a child.  Sounds about right.

As a bonus enticement, Skipper is perhaps the hairiest man I've ever seen.  Most episodes, the female noodlers end up wrapped around him in their efforts to get a fish to bite.  Which usually makes me stop to ponder which is more uncomfortable:  sticking your foot in catfish mouth or bear hugging that wet rug?

Animal Planet's Hillbilly Handfishin' is on Sunday nights.

Friday, December 2, 2011

An Email About My Dog

To keep your eyes occupied while I fix my computer, here's an email from this week that will give you a glimpse into my glamorous life.

Sent: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 12:35 PM
To: Family
Subject: Charley is disgusting

Today the people behind us have been drilling concrete.  I noticed that Charley was barking at them, so I went to the sliding door to let him in.  Turns out he wasn’t barking at the neighbors.  He was barking at something on the ground.
A humongous, beady-eyed, yellow-toothed, dead rat.

Charley was clearly feeling playful, as he leapt back and forth, nudging it with his nose, barking and wagging.  Once he realized it was safe, he got a good grip on it and started whipping his head around, like it was his new favorite toy.  From across the yard, all I could see was that huge rat tail doing what could only be described as an Olympic ribbon twirling routine.

That dumb dog would not leave it alone, even with me shaking his bag of treats at him and quietly (so the neighbors wouldn’t clue in) calling, “Charley, want a treat? Want some food?  Charley!!!”  So I had to walk through the minefield of you-know-whats on the grass and smack charley on the head with his bag of treats.  And then trap him and take him inside to be quarantined until I’ve decided he’s groomed himself enough to be back with the regular population.

As much as I didn’t want to, I disposed of the rat all by myself.  And picked up the you-know-whats.

P.S. DH, there’s a big rat in the trashcan, and the shovel is now a health hazard.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Technology Strikes Again

Computer problems.  :(

Current virus count:  18

For now, trying to do things the old fashioned way.  With a pen and paper, gasp.

I haven't forgotten you, my 5 loyal followers.