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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Bunch of Balloons: A Social Commentary

I've decided my new go-to accessory is going to be two dozen helium-filled balloons.
I don't often walk around with them gracing my wrists, but I think I need to change that.
Last night was sports banquet night at my girls' school. I was in charge of balloons.
So, I picked up a dozen each, blue and white, on my way from the office.

You know what happened?
EVERYBODY I passed in the shopping plaza and parking lot smiled and said hello.
Even the cool, young dude driving by  in his lo-rider had to put his window down for a "Hi, there!"

I thought this is great commentary on our society.
I mean, who can't help but smile at a giant bunch of balloons bumping around some one's head?
If that what it takes to drive the crabbies out of my life, I think I'm on it.
And, I could color-coordinate for my outfit. Or my mood.
Maybe I can get one of those silvery Mylar jobs when I'm in the mood for something less obnoxious.

I'm sure seeing me shove the gas-filled mass into the back of my car without them taking off in the wind (which HAD to pick up as I crossed the parking lot!) or popping any of them had to provide some level of amusement for others. I'm sure.

I will say:  The real entertainment came later, when I got to school. In the space of my 15-minute drive, a storm blew in. When I couldn't wait it out any longer, I made a break for it, balloons in tow.
The ribbons were SO TANGLED, it took two of us 10 minutes to get them apart!

Anybody want to join me and make this a real fashion trend?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

If this had been an actual emergency...

This has been an tiring week... mentally, any way.
I--along with a WHOLE LOT of other people--have been spending the last four days living out what it would be like for a 7.7 earthquake to strike the center of the United States.
Although, I have to admit:  I had one of the cushy desk jobs.

Every year FEMA (that's the Federal Emergency Management Agency) stages a national-level disaster exercise of some type. This year, in observation of the 200th anniversary of the 1811 earthquake that struck along the New Madrid Fault, the National Level Earthquake (NLE) simulates a major quake in the Midwest.

After four days of working through the logistics of more than a million people without power (just in our state), no potable drinking water, natural gas leaks (and resulting fires), major bridge and roadway failures, and no telephone or cell service (not even 911!), I cannot emphasize how important it is for EVERYBODY to have a disaster plan at home.

How would you get along if you couldn't do the most basic things--like flip on a light or drink your tap water--for days, if not weeks?

There are a lot of info and tips on disaster preparedness online at:  Take a few minutes and check it out. This makes a good family project to put together a go kit.
I'm not talking anything fancy or exotic.

Look how simple this is:
 You can fit everything for a basic kit in a simple backpack. You can always use one of your kids' old ones.
(In full disclosure, our kit here at my house is in a Rubbermaid tub that we keep in the basement. This particular kit I have pictures of is a kit I recently took to an elementary school for an earthquake awareness day demonstration.)
Stock the kit with basic essentials to get you (and everyone in your family) through three days.
Some of the basics include batteries, a mini first aid kit, a foil-type thermal blanket just-in-case, glow sticks, a leatherman tool, and small hand- and foot-warming packets.

 Don't forget a crank-style radio, a whistle, a flashlight, a tarp with a rope (for temporary shelter in the worst-case scenario) and--just in case--extra toilet paper!

Don't forget to pack water and food that doesn't require cooking or a can opener (unless you pack the can opener!). These nutrition bars and water packets, which will last up to 5 years, are available online.
But you don't have to go fancy. I stock my home kit with peanut butter, crackers, canned tuna and granola bars. Just rotate them out once in a while, so they stay fresh.

Another piece of advice I learned the hard way:  Beware of bottled water in plastic jugs--the plastic can give out after a while and leak! I did a regular check of my kit a while back and found everything floating in my storage tub (except the water-logged TP). So, I had to clean it up and start from scratch.

Don't forget to include supplies for your pets in your kit, too.
The rule of thumb is to stockpile, at a minimum, everything you'll need for 72 hours.

It's better to plan now, and not wait until it's too late!

In case you want to read a little more about the NLE 2011, click here.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What Was I Thinking??

That little voice in my head kept speaking to me:
"Don't do it, gal."
"You'll wish you hadn't."
"You are an idiot in motion."
And, against my better judgement, I hushed that little voice, and I did it anyway.
I gave in.
Call it peer pressure... Wishful thinking... Losing touch with reality...
I accepted a bag full of Amish Friendship Bread starter stuff from a co-worker.

What was I thinking?
Have you ever done this before?
I haven't in quite a few years. And now I remember why.
I think I had a little moment, as I stood there in the office, that over took my sensibility when I thought, "Oh, the girls will think this is fun!"

In case you aren't familiar with it, the Amish Friendship Bread is a bag of sugar, flour, milk and yeast (maybe some other stuff if I go look at the recipe) that someone pawns off on shares with you, so you can make your own endless supply of bread.

The problem is:  It comes with a schedule that requires regular kneading and adding and burping.
Just what I need:  High-maintenance food. That I have to feed no less!
It's like having another pet in the house.

The worst of it is:  You have to do all this stuff on a schedule and, inevitably, the day I'm supposed to add lots more ingredients and divide it four ways, then bake one portion, is the day we get home late because oldest daughter has a track meet (in the rain) and everyone has homework (including me!). And I couldn't care less about baking some bread.
Now, I've just added Bread Guilt to the baggage in my life.

Let's just say it didn't happen again this time. And now I have a five-day-over-due bag o' goo loitering on my counter top.
My question to any of you out there who has done this:  It is too late? Can it be revived/saved?
Or should I just give up and throw it out?

Great. Now I have Food Waster Guilt on my baggage list.

Smart and Trendy Moms

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Working Mom Wednesday Blog Hop

Hadn't done the Working Mom Wednesday link up lately, so thought I'd particpate this week:

#1 - Set one goal for yourself this week. What will you do to accomplish it?
My goal is to get the camper ready for summer trips. We have a travel trailer that is our home-on-wheels for weekend trips and usually one week-long (on rare ocasion two!) adventure. It's usually out by now, but with all the soggy weather we've had this spring, I haven't been real motivated to go camping. (Because muddy kids and a dog at home is plenty to deal with, let alone in the camper and in the truck!)

I have a day off this week, so that's what I'm doing with it. (Along with a few other household projects that have been falling by the way side... like cleaning the fridge.)

#2- Do you enjoy reading? What are some of your favorite books?
I enjoy reading when I find a really good book. If it's assigned reading, and I'm not "into" it, I find it painful.
Right now I'm reading "Pox: An American History" by Michael Willech. It's about the hitory of smallpox in the United States.

Honestly, I don't feel like I get a lot of time to read. When I get the chance to check out the offerings at the library, I get books on CD to listen to on my 90-minute each way commute. This week, I've been listening to Freakanomics.
My favorite books are usually biographies. One of my favorites was "Into Thin Air," about a group scaling Mount Everest.