Friday, August 20, 2010

Joanna Made Me Do It!

Okay, Joanna didn't really make me do it, but she inspired me.  I was reading her blog, The Fifty Factor, this morning and she posted a list of 84 things about herself and encouraged others to do the same.  I love a challenge, so I'm going to give it a try.  Are there 84 things about me that you would find interesting or don't already know (or that I would admit to)?  We'll see......

  1. I still remember the exact second I fell in love with my husband.
  2. Purple is my favorite color, but I don't own any purple clothing.  Nothing in my house is purple, either.
  3. My grandmother and I were never very close, but the things I inherited from her are some of my favorite possessions.
  4. I love the way new socks feel when you put them on, but I think new shoes are almost always uncomfortable the first few times you wear them.
  5. My dog died 6 years ago and I still expect to find her sleeping in her favorite place, sometimes.
  6. When I get nervous, I hyperventilate.
  7. I almost always remember what people were wearing when I first met them.
  8. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  Most of the time.
  9. Life is too short to hold grudges, but sometimes I do it anyway.
  10. To recite the planets in order, I have to sing a song I learned from Blue's Clues when my son was in kindergarten.
  11. No matter what astronomers say, I still think of Pluto as a planet.
  12. I didn't get cold feet before our wedding.  I never doubted that my husband and I were soul mates.
  13. I got sick on a corn dog when I was about 7 years old.  I haven't had one since.
  14. Sunny days are great, but I love dark, rainy days once in a while.
  15. Laughter is important, it can change your mood instantly. 
  16. If there is a House marathon on, I'll probably watch it.
  17. The five second rule doesn't exist in my house.  The idea of eating food that fell on anything but your plate makes me queasy.
  18. Disingenuous is one of my favorite words because it's a very dignified way to say "Liar, liar, pants on fire".
  19. I'm a trained interior decorator.
  20. At this very moment, you could seat 20 people on my back porch and in my yard.  That's only if you're counting chairs and bar stools.  If you included the porch steps, the number would be around 25.
  21. My husband makes me laugh.  Daily.
  22. My kids make me laugh.  Daily.
  23. We currently have three hot tubs, but we need to get rid of two of them.  Want one?
  24. I used to love scented candles, but lately they give me a headache.
  25. Fall is great for about a week.  Once the trees lose all their leaves, the world looks dead to me.
  26. Christmas used to be my favorite holiday, but now I prefer 4th of July.  Better weather, no last minute shopping to do.
  27. Sunglasses are a must for me.  I can't drive on a sunny day without them.
  28. None of the ceilings in my house are painted white.
  29. The glass is usually half full, in my opinion.
  30. I'm a terrible liar.
  31. I prefer liquid fabric softener to dryer sheets.
  32. New cleaning products make me happy.
  33. If I don't recognize your number, I'll let my phone go to voice mail.
  34. Freesia are the best smelling flowers.  Roses are a very close second.
  35. I would chose chocolate over any other flavor 99% of the time.  Ice cream is the exception.  I rarely chose chocolate ice cream.
  36. I think there must be life on some other planet in some other solar system.  It just makes sense to me.
  37. Door to door salespeople make me crazy.  If I wanted to buy something, I would go out and get it.
  38. The smell of salt air is intoxicating.
  39. In high school biology, we learned to type our own blood. 
  40. My blood type is O positive.
  41. I tried a no carb diet, once.  I looked and felt terrible. 
  42. The movie "Rosemary's Baby" scared the crap out of me when I was a kid.
  43. I used to be a cheerleader.
  44. You could describe my sense of humor as sarcastic.
  45. Of all the people I'd like to meet, Stephen King is number one on my list.
  46. I try to live my life without regret.  Still, there are things I wish I could change.
  47. Most of the time, I've got an annoying song stuck in my head.  
  48. I paid $2.50 for my purse.  It was on a clearance rack and had been marked down 10 times.
  49. Revolving doors make me a little nervous.
  50. I wonder why they stopped making colored toilet paper.  Remember that?  It came in colors like peach, seafoam green, and powder blue to match your bathroom decor.
  51. My son always tells me I have too much time on my hands when I admit to wondering about things like why they stopped making colored toilet paper.
  52. I used to drive a car with manual brakes.  When I bought a newer car with power brakes, I nearly put myself and my passengers through the windshield every time I stopped.  It took me a month or better to get used to them.
  53. Squirrels are my nemesis.  They empty my bird feeders and dig in my garden.
  54. I've gone out to scrape the snow off my car wearing shorts, a coat and snow boots.
  55. Going to the movies doesn't interest me very much.  I'd rather watch a movie at home.
  56. Procrastination is one of my less appealing qualities.  I'll tell you about it.  Later.
  57. I always manage to break the mechanism that allows a vacuum cleaner to stand upright.  I have two vacuum cleaners, neither one will stand up unless you lean them against something.
  58. Money can't buy you happiness.  True, but it sure can make your life easier.
  59. I miss having a fireplace.
  60. My daughter taught herself some Japanese.  She learned it online when she was 8.  That boggles my mind. 
  61. I have a habit of reading headlines, but not the stories that follow them.  I can tell you what's happening, I just can't give you any details.
  62. When I was about 5 years old, I had a clock that looked like a barn in my bedroom.  It had a cow sticking it's head out of the barn door and his eyes would move back and forth.  I was scared to death of that thing.  I didn't bother to tell my mom about it until just a few years ago.
  63. Unsolicited advice usually irks me.
  64. I love games and puzzles.
  65. People who are "story toppers" irritate me. 
  66. Loud noises bother me, but I like loud music.
  67. Firecrackers are pointless.  See above.
  68. Popcorn always smells better than it tastes.
  69. I wish my grandma had written down the recipes for all the wonderful things she made.  I'm still trying to figure out how to make her icebox cake.
  70. Suckers are spherical and lollipops are flat.  Am I right?
  71. I think it must have been an evil genius who decided to pipe the smell of rotisserie chicken through the supermarket.
  72. I'm the only girl in my family.  When I was a kid, I used to think it was unfair that my brothers had a sister, but that I only had brothers.
  73. The last time I went to a roller skating rink, I put my skates on and immediately fell on my butt.
  74. I wish I could age as well as Raquel Welch.  Have you seen her lately?  I swear that woman doesn't get any older.
  75. My son and I have really deep conversations about the afterlife.
  76. Zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables.
  77. The songs that Aaron Lewis (of Staind) writes speak to me.
  78. I never drive over the speed limit in residential areas, but I've been known to have a lead foot on the expressway.
  79. Bonfires make me happy.
  80. I'm very particular about the scent of soap, shampoo, conditioner and deodorant.  I won't buy something without smelling it, first.
  81. I've never won the lottery.  Not the big jackpot, anyway.
  82. It's nearly the end of summer and I haven't been to the beach.
  83. I'm a big fan of hugging people that I care about, but getting hugs from people I've just met makes me a little uneasy.
  84. Any day above ground is a good day.
Whew!  That was tough!  Are you up for the challenge?


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Am I So Out Of Touch That I Missed When Washing Your Hair Became Uncool?

While my husband and I were watching television a few nights ago, I noticed what I think is sort of an odd trend. We saw at least three different commercials for products that are meant to give you clean and/or frizz free hair for three days.  I've got to admit, I don't understand the concept.

This morning, I went to the website of one of these products and this is what it says, "When you don't wash, natural oils and impurities build up along the hair shaft, making strands look greasy and flat or dry and frizzy. This buildup weighs down your style and leaves hair feeling less than fresh and beautiful."  It also explains how the products work, "This unique collection is formulated with Mineral Clay to eliminate odor and remove buildup, Witch Hazel to absorb excess oil if your hair tends to be greasy, and Aloe Vera to rehydrate frizzy/dry hair. All of the products are infused with citrus extracts for ultimate refreshing benefits. Say hello to a fresh new day even when you skip shampooing!"  Their products come in four different forms: dry shampoo, creme, mist and foam. 

If you're trying to achieve fresh, beautiful hair, wouldn't it be just as easy to wash it with regular shampoo?   Having my hair look, feel and smell clean is important to me.  I can't recall a time that I thought to myself, "My hair is unclean. What can I do, other than wash it?"  If you're sick, bedridden or have no access to water, that's a different story.

I hope that shampoo (and clean hair, in general) isn't becoming uncool.  Personally, I love shampoo (and clean hair).  There are a few favorites that I buy most often, but my daughter and I have been known to spend twenty minutes or more smelling all of the different varieties at the store.  I especially like to smell the brands that cost $30 or more per bottle to see if they smell superior to the under $5 variety (to me they don't).

If shampoo does become uncool, what's next?  Dry showers with powdered soap?


Monday, August 2, 2010

Home Sweet Home Or Bust aka The Last Vacation Story For A While (Probably)

Nearly every year we take our family vacation on a little island on the coast of North Carolina.  We always stay at the same great oceanfront resort.  It's not a fancy place, but we love it.  It has three pools, multiple hot tubs, a fantastic breakfast buffet and a tiki bar.  Every Thursday evening they have a poolside wine and cheese party.  The rooms are huge, but affordable.  We get a two bedroom suite that has a full living room and kitchen.  The balcony has a view of the ocean and the hotel's tropical gardens.  For the short time we're there, it's paradise.  I'd tell you the name of the place, but then you might want to go there.  It's hard enough to get a reservation as it is.
From the resort's website.  The room we usually reserve
has a slightly different layout.

I could tell you all sorts of great stories from our many vacations there, but I'm not going to (well, not today, anyway).  Today, we're going to focus on our experience getting to and from that little piece of paradise.

Anyone who has traveled by air over the past few years knows that TSA regulations for what you can and can't bring on an airplane change all the time.  When I book our flight, I read up on the current rules.  On our last trip, my parents and our son's friend traveled with us so I made sure they were aware of the restrictions well in advance.   I was not as specific as I should have been.

At the time, and I don't think it has changed since, you could not bring any type of liquid, cream, lotion or any product resembling such in your carry-on luggage or on your person.  This would include, but was not limited to: medications, cosmetics, beverages, food items, and toiletries.

I gave this information to my mom.  I went over it and gave specific examples of what she should not take on the plane.  I think I mentioned lipstick, hand lotion and a few other things she would commonly have in her purse.  I reiterated it the day before we left as well as on the way to the airport and again as we entered the building.  She assured me she had none of the forbidden items with her.

Check-in took longer than we expected that morning because I had made a mistake when making our flight reservations online.  My dad has back problems so I always request a wheelchair at the airport for him.  Somehow, I had managed to request a wheelchair for each of us.  It caused quite a stir, and eventually a lot of laughter at the check-in desk because they were preparing to bring seven wheelchairs and seven employees to escort us all to our gate.

With that cleared up, we headed over to the security checkpoint.  The kids, Mr. Willoughby and I got through without a problem and were putting our shoes back on when we saw my mom having words with one of the security screeners.  Mr. Willoughby went over to see what the problem was.  Turns out that my mom had a tube of toothpaste and a large bottle of some over the counter liquid medication in her carry-on bag.  The screener wouldn't let her pass through until she either disposed of it or went back to the check in counter and had it added to the checked luggage.  My mom didn't want to dispose of them because they were brand new, sealed containers (which is why she thought she could leave them in her carry-on bag).  Things were getting ugly until Mr. Willoughby offered to take the bag to the counter and check it.  (I should note that my mom will never live this down.  We still tease her about it.)

Eventually, we boarded our plane.  Our flight was uneventful and we spent nine wonderful days in North Carolina.  During our stay, another of our son's friends joined us (his dad was working in a nearby area temporarily).  When it was time to head home, we now had eight people and all of their luggage to jam into our rented mini-van.  Our flight home was also uneventful.  It was once we deboarded the plane in Detroit that everything went south, so to speak. 

I've been to a number of airports in my life, but I can unequivocally say that the baggage claim area in the Smith terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Airport is the worst.  It is seriously equivalent to the bowels of Hell. 

If you've seen the movie Joe vs The Volcano,
 you may remember the terrible lighting in Joe's office.
I think those are the same bulbs they use in the baggage claim area.
The minute you get to the bottom of the stairs, your fellow passengers go from friendly to aggressive.  A dog eat dog mentally overtakes the crowd.  You may be elbowed, kneed, punched, kicked or shanked in an attempt to retrieve your luggage and that's on a good day.  On a bad day (most of the time) the carousel isn't working properly and the suitcases cause a log jam that whips the crowd into a frenzy.

While Mr. Willoughby went to get our vehicle, the kids and I fought through the angry crowd and eventually retrieved all of our luggage.  It wasn't pretty.  My son had to dive over the carousel to grab one of our suitcases that had fallen off.  Battered, we rounded everyone and everything up and headed outside.

Our transportation for the sixty minute drive home was my mom and dad's mini-van.  It's a good size, but clearly not meant for eight people plus their luggage.  It took at least twenty-five minutes to force everything in and still leave a little room for passengers.  We were in a loading zone and other people were honking their horns at us to move along.  The overall mood was foul and becoming fouler by the minute.  We finally pulled away from the curb with three kids in the third row seats, my mom and I in the second row seats with my son sitting on a suitcase between us, my dad in the front passenger seat and Mr. Willoughby in the driver's seat.  We were all wedged in place by luggage.  No one could move more than a half inch.  It was uncomfortable.  I'm sure we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies.

Only five minutes into the drive, my daughter started screaming.  She had lost her souvenir ring and couldn't find it in the dark.  We told her we would find it at home, but she was inconsolable.  The screaming turned to crying.  At about the same time, the "door ajar" alarm malfunctioned (a frequent problem in this vehicle) and made an incessant dinging sound.  My mom suggested that we pop in a cd and turn the volume up, so we did.  The only cd in the van was one my son made for them.  It's heavy on the Barry Manilow, but my mom's favorite is Chicago's "Your The Inspiration".

Every time the song ended, she asked if we could play it again.  I think we heard it five or six times.  I believe we heard "Mandy" two or three times, too.  I wish I had some audio to share with you because you just can't imagine it.  Ding, ding, ding, sob, sob, sob, "'re the inspiration...", ding, ding, ding, sob, sob, sob, " bring feeling to my life...."  For an hour.  One. Whole. Hour.  We arrived home shortly after midnight and practically exploded out of the van.  My mom and dad headed home, the kids went to bed and Mr. Willoughby and I each took a dose of ibuprofen.

We laugh about it now.  Amazing how your least favorite experiences make for your most favorite stories, isn't it?


~Photos courtesy of Google Images~

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fort Knox Or Bust aka The Trip Where I Didn't Know There Were Three Of Us

It wasn't until we were married for a year or two that I got to meet Mr. Willoughby's older brother, Dave.  All the time we were dating, engaged and for a while after we were married, Dave was in the military and stationed in Germany.  When he finally came back to the US, he was living almost 900 miles away.  Eventually we made the trip and I met my brother in law for the first time.

In 1992, Dave went to Fort Knox for some special training (I could tell you about it, but then I'd have know the rest).   We found out that there would be a graduation ceremony at the end of his training, so we made plans to attend.

The trip from Detroit, where we were living at the time, to Fort Knox, Kentucky is only a little over 400 miles, so we decided to leave on a Thursday night after work.  At that time, we had two cars.  This one:

Our Chevy Beretta

And this one:
Yes, believe it or not, that's really us with our Pontiac Fiero

Which one do you think we took?  Yeah, I'm not sure why, either.

In reality, it was a good choice.  There is a surprising amount of leg room in a Fiero.  I'm not kidding, there is.  There isn't a lot of room in the "trunk" for luggage, but we were only going away for a long weekend, so we didn't need more than one suitcase.  Plus, the Fiero had a cool sunroof.

The weather was nice, so we had a good ride with the sunroof open and the music cranking.  We were a little worried about our accommodations in Fort Knox, though.  Dave had made arrangements for us to stay at the guest house on base.  When I mentioned it to one of my coworkers, she told me she had stayed there temporarily when her husband was in the military.  I asked her what it was like and she said, "Just like an Army barracks.  You know, cots, shared bathrooms.  That kind of thing."  Yikes.

We rolled in to Fort Knox at about 1:00 in the morning.  It's not an open base where you can just drive in.  You have to pass through a security gate and you must be on "the list".  An armed guard will stop you and ask for identification before you can drive in.  It's an all business exchange.  I'm not saying the guard wasn't the sort of guy you could share a beer and few laughs with, but I thought it best not to tickle him or call him Chuckles.  But that's just me.

I didn't go inside while Mr. Willoughby checked us into the guest house, but I could see the lobby from the car.  It looked really nice with elegant furnishings and area rugs.  It gave me reason to be optimistic.

Not the Fort Knox Guest House, for representational purposes only!
Thankfully, I was right.  Our room was very nice.  It was tastefully furnished with two full sized beds, an entertainment armoire with a large television, stereo and VCR (no Blue Ray back then) as well as a table and chairs.  There were no cots in sight and we had our own bathroom.

We didn't have any problems at all until the next morning when it was time to get ready to leave for the graduation ceremony.  I was wearing a blouse/skirt/heels combo and Mr. Willoughby was wearing a white dress shirt, tie, black dress pants, black shoes and white athletic socks.  Somehow, neither of us had thought to pack his black dress socks.  We didn't want to look like hillbillies, so we headed out to find a store on the base where we could get a pair of dress socks.

Not Mr. Willoughby's feet
This would be a good time to tell you, if you've never been there, Fort Knox is an Army base, but it's also a self contained city.  It has its own stores, fast food restaurants and gas stations.  The unfortunate thing is that it's a confusing place to find your way around.  In our search for dress socks, we nearly drove out onto the firing range.  I know, you think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not.  We really stopped just short of driving onto the range which was, thankfully, empty.

After the ceremony, we all had plans to spend the weekend together in Cave City, Kentucky.  It's a fairly touristy sort of place, but it was only an hour from Fort Knox and we knew we'd have fun visiting all of the attractions together.
I'd tell you which one is Dave, but then I'd have know the rest

We had reservations at some mid-priced chain hotel, but Dave had made reservations at a new resort hotel in the area.  He dogged us about it every chance he got, too.  He talked about how nice this place was, how it was brand new, the view, the get the idea.  It was all in fun.  So once we got into Cave City, we parted ways to check into our hotels with plans to meet at the fancy schmancy resort for dinner.

Our hotel turned out to be surprisingly nice.  We had a clean, comfortable room and there was a nice game room and pool on the grounds.  But it seemed oh so much nicer after we met up with Dave and found out his hotel was still under construction.  Phase one was open for business, but the rest was still being built.  The pool wasn't open yet, there was no game room and his air conditioning didn't work.  You can guess who dogged who after that.  After dinner, we stopped back at our hotel so Dave could see if they had any vacancies.  They did.  He switched.
A picture that has absolutely nothing to do with
this story except for the fact that we saw this cute little guy
in the parking lot of our hotel. 
I felt this post was lacking an "Awwww" factor.

On Saturday, we spent the day touring the caves in the area.  The entrance to Mammoth Cave can only be accessed by walking down a steep grade.  I had no problem walking down it, but when we were ready to leave and had to walk back up it, I didn't feel like I could do it.  I was hot and nauseous and had to stop every few minutes.  I had no idea why I felt so bad (until a few weeks later when Clear Blue Easy gave me the answer).
Me, at Mammoth Cave.  I was a little pale that day.

We did our best to squeeze every last drop of fun out of the weekend before it was time to say goodbye and head our separate ways.  We don't see Dave nearly enough because he still lives so far away.  We always have a blast when we do get together, though.  But we still pick better hotels (sorry, Dave!).


~Some photos courtesy of Google Images.~