Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Out of control at the Nickel Arcade

The thing about having a very handy, very competent hubby is that pretty soon, other people start to notice the handiness and the competency.

One little case in point: Ricardo has a CDL license.

Apparently, guys with CDL licenses are hard to come by, at least around these parts, because he is in high demand at our church for any random events that pop up. Senior trips to the mountains, field trips to the zoo. Once or twice even a trip to L.A. for some of the young people, a trip where they tried to convince me to come along when Savannah was 9 months old.

Think of all the fun! they said. Disneyland! Dodgers game! Shopping!

Well, yes. And 16 hours on a school bus with a baby? thanks.

But last Friday, he was asked to drive the middle schoolers to a local Family Fun Center, one of those places where they have laser tag and paintball and miniature golf and go karts. Since it was a Friday night and I think they felt bad for pulling him away from his family, they were kind enough to invite all of us.I figured we would hang out, maybe play a round or two of miniature golf, but I didn't have high expectations outside of that.

We started out in the Nickel City arcade, a den of swirling lights and headache-inducing noise, the kind of place I usually avoid like the plague. But since the youth leader handed each of us a card with arcade credits on it, we couldn't very well waste it, right?

I apprehensively approached the Skeeball games. I am one of those girls that always gazes afar at the Skeeball players at the fair because, while it seems like a fun enough game, I've always been too intimidated (and cheap) to try it out in front of people who could laugh and scoff at my sorry skills.

But this time, I got over myself and thought I'd give it a try. A few throws into it, and I realized that I was actually pretty good! I sunk a 50! And then two 100s in a row! And then...well, then the ball bounced violently against the plastic shield and rolled back to me while my ego deflated and I glanced around to see who noticed.

Turns out nobody really cares how good or bad anyone else is at Skeeball.

After a couple of games, I suddenly realized that reward tickets were spewing out of the machine after each game ended. And then I realized that you could redeem said tickets for a selection of prizes, mostly junky little things, the kind you get in a Happy Meal and that multiply around your house and drive you crazy.

Savannah wandered around the prize area, pointing to various things - "I want that! Oooh, I like that, Daddy!" - and of course they were all things that cost over 10,000 tickets, things like a Princess lamp or a humongous stuffed whale.

I kept playing, and suddenly the weirdest feeling kicked in. That I-have-to-win, I-have-to-get-more! more! more! feeling. There I was, throwing skeeballs for all I was worth, sweat pouring off of me because it was insanely hot in there, and getting all excited when the machine spit out 9 or 10 tickets at a time. And all for some silly little prizes that probably weren't even worth the money that it took to buy the arcade card.

I told Ricardo, "Now I know how gamblers feel, and why it's so hard to stop - you think, just one more time, the next time around I'll hit the jackpot."

So we played until our cards ran out, and we had a grand total of about 200 tickets. We told Savannah to pick something, and after we convinced her that the Princess lamp was definitely not coming home with us, she settled for two little bouncy rubber balls.

This, my friends, is what an hour of throwing skeeballs will get ya - two of these babies:

Word to my hubby: if you know what's good for you, don't ever, ever take me to Vegas.

On an unrelated note - the lovely and very hysterical Missy at It's Almost Naptime is hosting a giveaway for a complete blog design done by yours truly. I know that at least a few of you have told me that you wish you could get a blog makeover, so here's your chance! (blogspot blogs only - so sorry to anyone else hosted by a different platform).

So go on over and leave her a comment - you never know, you just might win! And if you don't need a makeover yourself - you can enter anyway, and give it away to someone else that you know needs some beautifying.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Don't mess with Mama

I wrote this post a year ago about our hiding-out tendencies when the doorbell rings.

Not much has changed, except that Savannah now knows the ropes. The doorbell rings, she hunkers down on the couch. Just like Mama. She says, "Shhhhhhh......" in a loud stage whisper. Just like Mama.

And then when I have tiptoed over to the peephole and verified that whoever has dared to intrude is gone, she asks, "Can I talk now, Mama?"

I've trained her so well.

Last Monday, I was standing by the kitchen sink cutting up a mango for Savannah. I happened to glance up and noticed two young guys, maybe around 20, walking up my sidewalk and around towards my front door. My first thought was, Oooh, they sort of look like hooligans.....but other than that I didn't pay much attention to them.

I hissed a warning to Savannah, who was in the living room on the couch....."Savannah! Shhh! Doorbell!"

(And now that I'm typing this, our system sounds so much sillier than it does when we are actually implementing it. Not that I'm planning on changing it or anything, because it is has served us quite well thus far).

Two seconds later, the doorbell sounded. We shrunk into our respective positions to wait them out; I heard their voices, but not clear enough to make out what they were saying, just muffled murmurs. A few seconds later, it was quiet.

I stepped out from my little space and started to walk towards the living room. And that's when I saw them.

In my backyard.

One of them was scoping out the place, probably looking for a rock to hurl through the window. The other had his face pressed up to the sliding glass door, looking inside, trying to open it.

Oh, sisters. In about two seconds flat I went from zero to sixty. I roared - ROARED, I tell you - at them while I sprinted for the front door. "What the...!!!! GET OUT OF HERE!"

By the time I fumbled with all the locks - 3 locks and two doors - and burst outside, they had already leaped over my stone wall, which is chest-high on me, and sped around the corner.

I was so furious that I followed them. I pounded across our lovely gravel yard and down the hot sidewalk in my bare feet and nice stretchy pants and pajama top that looks enough like a regular shirt that sometimes I pretend that I don't need to get dressed.

Those boys were fast. But at that moment, I had such surge of adrenaline that I felt I could catch them and take them both down. That's how utterly incensed I was.

Then reality set in as I realized, (a). I didn't have my shoes on, (b). there was no way I would catch them, and (c). oh yeah, my baby girl is still inside by herself. And a bonus point, (d). what exactly did I think I would do to them anyway, even if I could catch them?

So I stopped at the edge where the sidewalk met the street, still screaming at them. They bolted far up the street, then turned right and careened away. Once they were gone, I suddenly became aware of just how hot the sidewalk was, and just how sharp the gravel was. Funny what adrenaline will do to you - I didn't even notice it on my mad dash out.

My neighbor came over right away to check on me and calm me down. I called the police, and they came in two minutes, and started combing the neighborhood. I called Ricardo, who had left that morning for a business trip for 4 days, and he said, "Go figure, the day I leave...."

Seriously, y'all. It still makes me mad to think about it, the gall of these people to march right on in like they own the look in my windows, to contemplate taking my stuff.

It could have been so much worse. All of the what if's......what if I hadn't been home? What if they had thrown a rock and broken the window before I screamed? What if they had a gun?

But they didn't. None of that happened. We were protected by the great Protector - thank you Lord.

I doubt if they will be back, since a crazy lady obviously lives here.

A warning to all you hooligans out there....don't mess with Mama.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Project 365 - All about Red

I was browsing my friend Kellie's site yesterday when I saw this idea that I am borrowing for this week's Project 365. I picked one of my favorite colors, red, and then snapped pictures of random things around the house.

I like it because it shows such a diverse scattering of things, and it represents exactly where we are in life right now.

Some are things that I love - candles, red goblets, picture frames. A card from my hubby. Some are all about Savannah - books and barrettes.

And no picture collage is complete without the random can of tomato paste, which reminds me, I still need to put away the groceries from my shopping trip...from last night. Oops.

And to brighten your day...

Sara, thank you for hosting!

Friday, July 10, 2009

10 on the 10th: Easy Button

Things that make my life a whole lot easier (idea shamelessly stolen from H-Mama):

1. Pampered Chef Garlic Press. I am a firm believer that a little garlic should be added to everything (well, anything savory, that is), and so this gets used almost daily in my kitchen.

2. Flat Iron. You would only need to glimpse my hair anytime during the 90's to know how absolutely true this is. Maybe one day I'll get brave and post a pic from this unfortuante hair era. Or not.

3. Refrigerated Air Conditioning. On a day where it is supposed to get close to 100 degrees, and where we spent the morning outside at the aquarium, this is a big, big deal to me. Thank you Jesus.

4. Portable DVD player. Yes, yes, a total non-essential, I know. But on long car rides, what a life-saver for Savannah. Even here at home, when I don't think I can listen to Dora's VERY VERY LOUD VOICE for another second, she just plugs in her headphones and away she goes.

5. Mac Select Cover-up. The circles under my eyes thank me.

6. Magic Erasers. I have no idea how or why these work so well, but they do. They even removed the ink pen from my kitchen floor (somebody got in big trouble for that one) and they are the sole reason why I even attempt to clean my shower.

7. Oscillating fans. Hmmmm....I guess this would be the second thing in my list that pertains to keeping me cool, but did I mention it's hot? And also, I love fans not only for their cooling properties, but for the white noise they provide. My husband doth scoff.

8. Uncle Ben's Instant Brown Rice. In the ingredients list, the only thing listed is Parboiled Whole Grain Brown Rice. So I'm hoping that it is just as nutritionally sound as regular brown rice that I could cook myself if I actually remembered more than 40 minutes before dinner that, Hey! I need to make the rice!

9. My hubby. I realized again this week how very handy and wonderful he is. Door handle falls off in my car? No problem...he runs to the auto parts place and fixes it in an hour. Termites infest my walk-in bedroom closet, totally grossing me out and causing much involuntary shuddering? He's all over it - I don't even have to go in there. Gigantic van runs into the back of my car? He files the police report for me, and goes and gets all the quotes.

Which allows me more time to recline on the couch at home watching soap operas and eating bonbons....the life of every stay-at-home mom.

I know this is only 9, but Hubby counts for at least two.

So...what's something on your Easy Button list?

And thanks to Meredith at Life at 7000 Feet for hosting!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The game that might drive me to.....cheat

Last week, due to the mild case of chicken pox that Savannah came down with, we were cooped up inside the house. All week, every. single. day.

And because my hubby was gone the majority of last week as well, I was her sole entertainment.

I dearly, dearly love her, but can I just admit that I was ready to throw Chutes and Ladders in the trash?

Now Candyland, I can take. Candyland doesn't take forever. You can romp your little plastic figure across the red and purple and yellow squares in no time. There are, like, maybe 5 cards that you can draw that will send you backwards.

But not so with Chutes and Ladders. I can't tell you how tempted I was to cheat...."A 6? That will send me down the very longest slide and back into the oblivion of the bottom half of the board? I didn't spin a 6....surely it was a 5...."

I didn't do it. I just thought about it really hard. But y'all, that truly is the game that never ends.

So Daddy came home on Thursday night, and her spots had all but disappeared by then, so all was right in my world.

The next day Ricardo was moving some cardboard boxes out of our walk-in closet where we had been storing some things. I will spare you the details, but to sum it up in one word....dun dun dun...


I have never been so grossed out in my life. Ricardo, on the other hand, felt the need to turn this catastrophe into something fun, so he took a box crawling with the despicable things out to the yard, and watched some ants pounce on them. That really seemed to brighten up the situation for him.

Boys. I guess they'll always be boys.

The 4th was wonderful, relaxing, full of grilled foods and fireworks. Just the way it should be.

This second set of pictures is going back a few weeks, when Savannah was still in swimming lessons. On the day of her last lesson, we came outside, and a young girl, maybe 18, came up to us and told me that she had backed into my truck with her very long Community Center van.

The damage looked pretty minimal to me, but Ricardo took it for an estimate this week. The most expensive estimate was $1800 and the cheapest was $1200.

I was blown away...$1200? Really??? Unbelieveable. Fortunately it will all be taken care of, and I even get a rental while it's getting fixed. So it could be fun after all.

And I can guarantee you that Savananh will just LOVE the rental car and be "so, so sad, Mama" when we have to return it.

My little drama queen.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Princess for a day...

Savannah saw a wedding picture of us the other day, and I think for the first time she realized it was us, her Daddy and Mommy. She gazed at it with something akin to awe, and then whispered, "Mama...were you a princess? Is that your crown?"

7 years ago, on June 1, 2002, I got to be a princess for a day.

We planned an evening outdoor wedding, thinking how romantic it would be to get married as the sun set.

There was just one tiny little problem. That morning, the skies opened up and it poured rain. Water pooled in the yard, and everything turned to soggy mush. We thought about implementing plan B and moving it to a church somewhere, but I just didn't want to.

So we prayed. A lot. And sometime in the afternoon, the sun came out.

The day turned out to be so gorgeous. It wasn't without flaws, or course - it was a little too breezy, and so we weren't able to do the unity candle. And we had two huge flower bouquets that were supposed to grace the sides of the arch where we stood to say our vows, and it was even too windy for that - they kept blowing over.

But none of that mattered. What mattered was this:

And this:

And this:

And all of that crazy rain produced this amazing sunset....

He's still my Prince Charming. And I'm still his princess, even if I don't get the chance to don my "princess crown" much these days.

(On a side note...Savannah is looking over my shoulder as I type this, and keeps asking, "But where am I, Mama?")

Thanks to Kelly at Kelly's Korner for hosting!