Monday, March 31, 2008

Ideas for April Fool's Day

Tomorrow is April Fool's Day, which is one of my favorite non-Christian holidays. I come from a long line of practical jokers so April Fool's was a year-round event at my house growing up. I'm not talking about short-sheeting the bed or putting Vaseline on the toilet seat, although we did those once.

Here are a few of the better stunts we pulled at the Simpson house...

The Christmas Tree Pile-up. You know that week after New Year's when everybody puts their dead, dried-out, Charlie-Brown looking Christmas trees on the curb? One year my mom got the idea that we needed to help out the city employees and go around collecting the trees. Why? Because she wanted to pile up as many trees as possible in the front courtyard of our neighbor's house. (This was a very good friend of the family, mind you, and not a vindictive revenge against an unkind neighbor.) Sometime around midnight we drove around the block gathering trees and depositing them into Leonora's courtyard. Eventually they were so piled up that you couldn't even see the front door. I don't know if Leonora or her skillethead* of a husband opened the front door first, but I do wish I could have seen their reaction when they saw their very own Dead Christmas Tree Lot.

(* Skillethead: noun A person who has absolutely no sense of humor to the point where you just want to whack them over the head with a skillet.)

The Midnight Stampers. My sister Jamie was having a slumber party sometime during the early 80s. I remember a gaggle of girls sitting in the Jacuzzi singing along to Billy Joel's Glass Houses album (back when they were actually albums), so it was probably the summer of 1980. It was loud, giggly, raucous, and I was rather grateful when everybody finally fell asleep on the living room floor. One, it was quiet, and two, my mom had another great practical joke to pull. My mom, sister Brooke, and I took a few of her rubber stamps and a black ink pad and stamped on the girls' faces. It was a little dicey pressing a stamp onto a sleeping girl without her waking up, and it was even more difficult navigating our way among the sleeping bags and other junk without tripping and falling. But we managed the task and went to bed.
Several hours later we woke up to the sound of squealing as the girls had discovered their inked-up faces. Some of them thought it was hilarious, but most of the 12-year-old girls were not pleased. They grew even more frustrated when neither soap nor cleanser nor Sea Breeze removed the black ink. I think my mom had to apologize to the other moms that day.

The Granny Panties Flagpole. My mom, Skeez* and I used to take evening walks around the neighborhood. One of the neighbors had a metal flagpole in the front yard. There was never, ever a flag on the pole and the chain made a rather annoying clanging sound when the wind blew. I don't remember why we decided to do this, but one night we took a pair of the biggest, ugliest satin panties and strung them up the flagpole. They waved gloriously in the wind for a day or two until the neighbor noticed them and took them down. We waited another week and then strung up another pair. This went on for a while before the novelty wore off. It was one of our more juvenile stunts but nobody ever said we were mature.

(*Skeez: Short for Skeezix, who was a character in an old cartoon strip, maybe Gasoline Alley? Skeez was the nickname of a good friend of my mom's who taught me how to drive in his Mercedes Benz. Talk about stress - even at 15 I knew the value of a Benz and the likelihood of a student driver crashing it.)

The Circular Drive Detour. OK, this one may have been illegal. Certain someones (and I'm not naming names) went around town gathering those blinking construction signs -- you know, those wooden sawhorses that have reflector tape and a flashing orange light on top? We Said people also gathered a dozen orange cones and one detour sign. Then the culprits creating a road blockade and detour which took vehicles through a neighbor's circular driveway. I'm pleading the Fifth.

The antics continued in college, of course, and this is probably my favorite practical joke during the college years:

The Dorm Room Gravity Flip. I'd experienced a rather unpleasant break-up, so a girlfriend and I decided to take everything in my boyfriend's room and flip it upside down. We finagled a key from one of the roommates and spent an hour turning his bed, dresser, chair, stereo, wall posters, and everything else we could upside down. We also replaced all his cassette tapes with country music and Prince's Purple Rain. He eventually got his tapes back, but for several days he would pull out a rap case and find a Garth Brooks tape inside. Interestingly enough, the girl who helped me with that stunt ended up dating my ex-boyfriend for the next three years. Hmmm.

But the best practical joker in the family is actually my brother-in-law, Kelly. He's taken joking to a whole new level with these escapades...

The Crime Scene. Kevin and I once inherited a roll of yellow "Crime Scene - Do Not Cross" police tape. It was an awesome white elephant gift and we gave it to my brother-in-law because we knew he'd put it to good use. He held onto it for a while until some neighbors went out of town. Before they got back, he wrapped their entire house with the yellow tape. They got back from a relaxing vacation and were horrified when they turned onto their street and saw that their house had been burglarized. They didn't know what to do, so they knocked on Kelly's door and asked what had happened while they were gone. Kelly strung them along for a while with an elaborate story before he let them in on the joke.

The "What Is That Smell?" Stunt. All parents have had one of these -- the super-stinky, gag-inducing, ultra-nasty poopy diaper. Now imagine putting that diaper under the front seat of a friend's car on a 90-degree day. The friend could not figure out where the horrible smell was coming from. He vacuumed, sprayed air freshener, and even had the car detailed. Eventually (as in days later) his son was sitting in the back seat of the car when he spotted the poopy diaper under the seat. I'm sure payback was unpleasant.

Lastly, and I don't remember which sister pulled this stunt...

Santa Claus Loves Everybody. My sisters live in a highly populated Jewish part of town. (Was that kosher?) One year they collected as many tacky plastic Christmas decorations as possible -- Santas, manger scenes, anything at all to do with Christmas. One of their Jewish neighbors was the lucky recipient of a yard-full of incredibly tacky Christmas decorations. Thankfully both Jews and Gentiles have a sense of humor.

So here's my April Fool's Challenge: I want to hear about your antics! Leave me a comment telling me about the best practical joke you've ever pulled. We all need a good laugh.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Birthday Reflections

Today's my (cough) 37th birthday. Not a huge milestone, except that as of this month I have officially lived in Texas longer than I lived in Los Angeles. (Not including the 12 months I spent living in a tent in Colorado, but let's not confuse things.) When I moved to Texas I knew I'd never return to LA, but I also didn't know that I'd stay here forever, too. Life is full of seemingly minor decisions that become longterm, isn't it? Nonetheless, I could see the hand of God guiding me to San Antonio, and I haven't heard Him telling me to go elsewhere so here I am. For the last 18 and a half years. In Texas. God's sense of humor still fascinates me.

Ironically, this week in Bible study we discussed Joshua 13-19 where God divides Canaan among the tribes of Judah. I was reminded, once again, that the Lord has given me a wonderful portion. Not just materially, although He has certainly blessed me with a hard-working husband whose talents allow me to stay at home and (in theory) focus on the kids and the house. In reality my house is a wreck, but we have clean laundry and I'm always available to take care of the kids' needs. But the Lord's portion also includes a fabulous, loving church family. I've been at Wayside for 18 years and Kevin and I have been part of Homebuilders for 8+ years, and I am continually amazed at how much God has blessed me in terms of rich friendships. The Lord's portion also includes numerous ministry opportunities. Those are ever-changing, but tonight I got to talk to several new HB friends (one of whom is also a Los Angeles transplant), and I am seeing the wonderful truth behind Deuteronomy 32:9, "For the Lord's portion is his people."

In all it's been a good birthday. I got phone calls from my sisters, a handmade card from Kelly in Ohio (another HB friend whose friendship blessed me for a season), homemade drawings from the kids, and an invite to a Spurs game next week -- woot! Kevin even snuck a dozen roses into my car while I was working out at the gym, a surprise that put a big old smile on my face. All that and a plate of Outback's coconut shrimp for dinner made for a very good day.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Circle Game (with full apologies to Joni Mitchell)

Yesterday a child came down to ponder
Does she have a fever? Is her throat red?
Mama held her hand upon her forehead
And declared that child go back to bed.

And the sickness, it goes round and round
And the aches and fevers go up and down
We're captives on a carousel of pain
We can't get well and I wish these germs
would go back from where they came
As we go round and round and round in the circle game.

First Kendra, then me, now Caelyn.
Happy Spring Break, everybody.

Friday, March 14, 2008

More Weekend Time Wasters

More proof that I'm qualified to be a secretary.
88 words


And apparently I have a good voice for TV...

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
The Inland North
North Central
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

I watch way too much television...
Your Final Score Was 73%

Good Job! You definitely know your TV theme songs. It might be possible that you are watching too much television.

Guess the Theme Song
Take More Quizzes

But at least I'm smarter than a 5th grader...
You paid attention during 86% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lasik, Round Two

Last May I took the plunge and had Lasik done on both eyes. A detailed description of that procedure can be found here. (And by the way, that post gets the most Google hits out of all of mine. I guess Lasik is more interesting that the funny things my kids say.)

I've been back to the doctor multiple times during the last year, and my left eye has consistently been worse than my right. Now let's be clear, I used to see 20/400 out of my left eye, and post-Lasik it varied between 20/40 and 20/100. So both measurements were better than before. But, I paid $2400 for that eye to be fixed, and so when my doctor offered to do an "enhancement" for free, I thought I should take advantage of it.

Yesterday I went back to the Laser center and had it tweaked. I got briefed, prepped (God bless Valium!), and walked into the laser room. There I lay down on the reclining chair and felt the inflatable pillow lock my head into place. An assistant applied the duct tape to my eyelids to keep them open, and then that uncomfortable speculum got inserted to keep me from blinking. After a few more numbing drops, I was good to go.

First the doctor needed to relift the original corneal flap instead of cutting a new one. That was a little disturbing, since she was using what appeared to be a dental tool to gently lift the flap. It took a short while, but I could tell when she'd succeeded because my vision suddenly got very hazy, like I was looking through Vaseline. Then they had me stare at the blinking red light and zap, zap, zap, my eye got lasered. And the smell of burning flesh was apparent this time, too. The doctor then took a spatula and spent several minutes smoothing down the flap. I'm so thankful my doctor is a perfectionist, because there is a greater chance of having corneal scar tissue form when the flap is relifted. But she smoothed and tucked and finally declared it "perfect," which is always a good word to hear when someone's poking at your eyeball.

I went home and tried to take a long nap, but I woke up several times. My eye stung and itched, so tears were streaming out of it while I slept. Last night it felt a little itchy, but I'm not experiencing the dryness that I had last year. I'm doing the regimen of drops every four hours (last year it was every hour for the first day), and so far so good.

Update: I went for a vision test this afternoon and could read the 20/20 line perfectly and could guess my way through the 20/15 line. I'm impressed.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Weekend Time Wasters

And this is how I spent the last hour...

I didn't like this first quiz since most of the Stampin' Up! colors weren't acceptable.

The next one was harder because I couldn't spell most of the countries.

And now I'm proud to say that I'm NOT a geek, although certain friends may beg to differ.
22% Geek

Finally, I took Dr. Phil's quiz. I got a 37, which means, "Others see you as sensible, cautious, careful & practical. They see you as clever, gifted, or talented, but modest. Not a person who makes friends too quickly or easily, but someone who's extremely loyal to friends you do make and who expect the same loyalty in return. Those who really get to know you realize it takes a lot to shake your trust in your friends, but equally that it takes you a long time to get over it if that trust is ever broken."

And that would be my Saturday. That and a dozen loads of laundry.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Election Day

Disclaimer: I am an idiot when it comes to politics. I took two Poli Sci courses in college. I nearly failed one class (seriously, I got a D) and I had to drop the other class because it started at 8 a.m. and I just couldn't drag my lazy bum out of bed that early. That said...

I voted for Obama. Last week. (I love early voting and always take advantage of it. I can combine a trip to the library with a trip to the polls.) I voted for Obama but I was really voting against Hilary. The thought of another Clinton administration terrifies me more than the ebola virus, so I placed my little vote for Obama in the hopes that she won't be on the ticket and, in the end, McCain and Obama will duke it out come November.

So I voted for Obama, but it's six days later and I want my vote back. Why? Because the man won't stinking leave me alone. In the last six days I have received three dozen phone calls from Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and various members of the Obama campaign. They called to remind me to vote. They called to ask who I was voting for. They called to tell me, again, that election day is very important and my vote matters and wouldn't I like to attend tonight's caucus?

OK, but I've already voted. Your call is wasting your time and my time and some campaign dollars. And, quite frankly, you're getting on my nerves.

I have politely hung up on Barack and Michelle's pre-recorded messages, semi-politely told the polling places that I've already voted, and not-so politely told today's callers that I'm sick of them calling.

I'm not even registered as a Democrat. How did they get my number and why are they bugging me so much?

Interestingly enough, I've only received one phone call from Hilary. I guess she knows she'd be wasting her time...

Monday, March 03, 2008

Font Geek

OK, this is going to have a limited audience, but I just love it.

(Dedicated to PSoup, Marcus, and everyone who's taken a class from Sammye Johnson.)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Things That Made Me Happy Today...

Sleeping until 8:04 a.m.
Watching Kendra and David sort the laundry. (yes! delegating works!)
Laughing with Amy during kickboxing class.
Wolfing down lunch knowing I just burned that many calories during kickboxing class.
Collecting pecans with Caelyn.
Shelling pecans with Caelyn.
Having David rub his head against my arm while purring like a cat.

Yup, it's the little things.