Friday, December 30, 2005

100 Things

BBC News has published their list of "100 things we didn't know this time last year," and they came up with lots of interesting facts. Here are some of them (I took out all the ones I didn't like or were about some person I've never heard of, probably because I'm not British. That reminds me, I made the mistake of letting on at work that I like listening to guys with British accents, so now they have something else to tease me about. Whenever someone says anything about meeting someone, they go, "Is he British?" But I digress.) Here's the list:

2. Mohammed is now one of the 20 most popular names for boys born in England and Wales.
3. While it's an offence to drop litter on the pavement, it's not an offence to throw it over someone's garden wall.
7. Baboons can tell the difference between English and French. Zoo keepers at Port Lympne wild animal park in Kent are having to learn French to communicate with the baboons which had been transferred from Paris zoo.
8. Devout Orthodox Jews are three times as likely to jaywalk as other people, according to an Israeli survey reported in the New Scientist. The researchers say it's possibly because religious people have less fear of death.
12. Until the 1940s rhubarb was considered a vegetable. It became a fruit when US customs officials, baffled by the foreign food, decided it should be classified according to the way it was eaten.
14. It's possible for a human to blow up balloons via the ear. A 55-year-old factory worker from China reportedly discovered 20 years ago that air leaked from his ears, and he can now inflate balloons and blow out candles.
18. If all the Smarties eaten in one year were laid end to end it would equal almost 63,380 miles, more than two-and-a-half times around the Earth's equator.
19. The = sign was invented by 16th Century Welsh mathematician Robert Recorde, who was fed up with writing "is equal to" in his equations. He chose the two lines because "noe 2 thynges can be moare equalle".
20. The Queen has never been on a computer, she told Bill Gates as she awarded him an honorary knighthood.
24. The 71m packets of biscuits sold annually by United Biscuits, owner of McVitie's, generate 127.8 tonnes of crumbs.
28. The British buy the most compact discs in the world - an average of 3.2 per year, compared to 2.8 in the US and 2.1 in France.
29. When faced with danger, the octopus can wrap six of its legs around its head to disguise itself as a fallen coconut shell and escape by walking backwards on the other two legs, scientists discovered.
32. "Restaurant" is the most mis-spelled word in search engines.
35. The name Lego came from two Danish words "leg godt", meaning "play well". It also means "I put together" in Latin.
36. The average employee spends 14 working days a year on personal e-mails, phone calls and web browsing, outside official breaks, according to employment analysts Captor.
37. Cyclist Lance Armstrong's heart is almost a third larger than the average man's.
38. Nasa boss Michael Griffin has seven university degrees: a bachelor's degree, a PhD, and five masters degrees.
39. Australians host barbecues at polling stations on general election days.
42. Britain's smallest church , near Malmesbury, Wiltshire, opens just once a year. It measures 4m by 3.6m and has one pew.
43. The spiciness of sauces is measured in Scoville Units.
44. Rubber gloves could save you from lightning.
51. Parking wardens walk about 15 miles a day.
52. You're 10 times more likely to be bitten by a human than a rat.
53. It takes 75kg of raw materials to make a mobile phone.
56. The Pyruvate Scale measures pungency in onions and garlic. It's named after the acid in onions which makes cooks cry when cutting them.
58. The average guest at a Buckingham Palace garden party scoffs 14 cakes, sandwiches, scones and ice-cream, according to royal accounts.
59. Oliver Twist is very popular in China, where its title is translated as Foggy City Orphan.
60. Newborn dolphins and killer whales don't sleep for a month, according to research carried out by University of California.
63. It takes less energy to import a tomato from Spain than to grow them in this country because of the artificial heat needed, according to Defra.
66. The hotter it is, the more difficult it is for aeroplanes to take off. Air passengers in Nevada, where temperatures have reached 120F, have been told they can't fly.
68. The Very Hungry Caterpillar has sold one copy every minute since its 1969 publication.
73. One in six children think that broccoli is a baby tree.
74. It takes a gallon of oil to make three fake fur coats.
75. Each successive monarch faces in a different direction on British coins.
76. The day when most suicides occurred in the UK between 1993 and 2002 was 1 January, 2000.
83. Britain produces 700 regional cheeses, more even than France.
85. Japanese knotweed can grow from a piece of root the size of pea. And it can flourish anew if disturbed after lying dormant for more than 20 years.
87. Pulling your foot out of quicksand takes a force equivalent to that needed to lift a medium-sized car.
89. Spanish Flu, the epidemic that killed 50 million people in 1918/9, was known as French Flu in Spain.
90. Ordinary - not avian - flu kills about 12,000 people in the UK every winter.
92. You are 176 times more likely to be murdered than to win the National Lottery.
93. Koalas have fingerprints exactly like humans (although obviously smaller).
94. Bill Gates does not have an iPod.
95. The first traffic cones were used in building Preston bypass in the late 1950s, replacing red lantern paraffin burners.
96. Britons buy about one million pumpkins for Halloween, 99% of which are used for lanterns rather than for eating.
100. Musical instrument shops must pay an annual royalty to cover shoppers who perform a recognisable riff before they buy, thereby making a "public performance".

© BBC MMV

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Memorable Sayings

I’ve decided it would be fun to collect memorable quotes I hear around my house. I hope I don’t get in too much trouble with my family for this! Here’s what I have so far.


"You better get out of here, Seth! I’m gonna take my shirt off!" -Becca, trying to get Seth out of the bathroom.

"Your gift hurts my Adam’s apple." –John, with a gift from our grandparents. It was a Galileo thermometer, a liquid filled glass tube with little globes inside that go up and down as the temperature changes. John had the tube inside his shirt hoping to warm it up enough to get the globes to move.

"I need music!" -Anna, twirling around the house in a new skirt.

"You look like you’re singing to a firing squad." –Ok, that was me telling John what I thought of his unfestive expression during the church choir concert.

"Laura, get out of the manger!" -Becca, during the impromptu dress rehearsal for the family Christmas play.

"You look like an Israeli clown." –Anna, commenting on Seth’s first try at his costume during the above-mentioned dress rehearsal.


Stay tuned for more words of wisdom and family love to be published at some undetermined future date, such as after I get out of the doghouse.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Family Christmas Play

My family has the tradition of acting out the Christmas story each year. We're always up for any excuse to put costumes on! It's a lot of fun, and a good way to remind ourselves that Christmas isn't just about pigging out on rich foods. We expanded the play this year to include two acts. Act 1 was the manger and shepherds story, and Act 2 was the wise men story.

From Act 2, here is the pompous Herod and his trusty servant/bodyguard: The sweet (and slightly silly) Mary (It took a bit of doing for her to look reflective for the part about Mary "pondering all these things in her heart."):
Photographer/Joseph:
Shepherds don't come much cuter than this:
The angelic screenwriter/director/stage manager/producer/boss/chief...
GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST!!!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Thursday, December 22, 2005

While on the Subject of Music...

I just got this CD and have really been enjoying it. It has also been quite a conversation starter at work. I guess I don’t come across as a Johnny Cash fan! I now have something in common with my fifty-something-year-old boss (yikes!?) because he loves Johnny Cash music too. I’m trying to decide on my favorite song, and I’m having trouble deciding between “I Walk the Line” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Five Days of Christmas Music

One of the local Christian radio stations, KHCB, is currently playing five days of Christmas music. I'm listening at work via the internet, and really enjoying it. It's all Christian Christmas music, and mostly very peaceful, mellow music. It's very nice, but I hope I don't fall asleep at my desk!

KSBJ is also playing Christmas music (their "Christmas Open House"), but they've been doing it all month, and I think I'm tired of all their Christmas songs. They've been playing a lot of secular music too, which I think stinks. I mean really, does anyone like "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire"??! And can you listen to "Jingle Bell Rock" more than once without going crazy? And for another thing, what's the point of "Let It Snow" and "White Christmas" in Houston?! Besides, WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BE CELEBRATING THE BIRTH OF CHRIST HERE!!!!!!!

So, take my word for it, listen to KHCB for the next five days, and you're sure to get in a good Christmasy mood.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Where do They Get These Ideas?

Larry's mother??
The Jolly Green Granny??

These are the questions I had when I came home and saw this character.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Million-Dollar Problems

I read this story in the latest Way of the Master newsletter and thought it was great. I've given these tracts away before, and they're a lot of fun. It's especially fun to give them to the workers at fast food drive-throughs.
"Two of our employees, Jaylene and Trish, decided to stay a bit late at the ministry. As they drove home through a rather high-crime area, they took a few moments to slow down and hand some Million Dollar Bill tracts through their car window to some youths on the side of the road.
Suddenly, a police car pulled up behind them and flashed its headlights. The women pulled over and waited. They realized that they had approached youths at night in a gang-infested area (which isn't the wisest thing for two females to do). But they also realized that it doesn't exactly look good when money is passed out of a car in a drug-ridden area.

"When the officer came to the window, Trish said, "It might not be what you think it looks like! You're probably going to think that we're crazy." Jaylene added, "Those guys need to hear about Jesus. We were giving them gospel tracts!"

"When they gave the officer a Million Dollar Bill tract and showed him the pink and blue Curved Illusion tracts, he smiled and said, "You're showing the wrong person. I'm already saved." He was a brother in Christ, and he didn't stop them because of what they were doing, but because their license plate light wasn't working. The women then gave him a stack of tracts, encouraging him to witness."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What Do the Kids Do When the Parents Are Out of Town?

Well, we've kept busy, that's for sure. Our parents went to Washington D.C. for a long weekend, so we're holding down the fort. They'll be back this afternoon. Other than ordinary things like making sure everyone is fed and clothed, we've played outside, gone to the church choir concert, gone out to eat, and put the Christmas lights up on the house. It was fun, and we even remembered to test the strings of lights before we put them up this year. It turned out very nicely, if I do say so myself: We also had a fascinating activity last night: making torches!! John helped everyone wire old rags to ends of sticks. They even had to trek down to Lowe's to get more wire! I think it's noteworthy that this project was thought up and carried out during the day while I was at work. Hmmmm. That evening, we soaked the rags with Coleman fuel and set them ablaze. It was very exciting. They hadn't made a torch for me (go figure), so I was the designated photographer. For those of you who may be on the verge of heart failure, be assured that we had a pail of water nearby. We also had a preparatory speech about not setting each other on fire or standing too close to the bushes. (Laura's not as close to the bush as it looks, by the way.)



Monday, December 12, 2005

X-mas Tree Psychology

No, I didn't write this. I came across it and thought it was a very amusing Christmas-tree-problem solver.

If your Christmas tree is: Then you:
A metal pole.........................................need to watch less television
A menorah............................................are confused
From your neighbor’s yard................should refit it to the stump in January
A 20-foot Fraser fir.............................have too much money
A four-inch fungus...............................have too little money
Singing...................................................should call the cops
One in a million.....................................are in a forest
Already tossed......................................are impatient
On fire....................................................should run
Upside-down.........................................do too much yoga
Needle-less............................................deserve it
Pre-decorated.......................................need more spirit
The fourth you’ve bought....................need less spirit
Stolen......................................................need therapy
A couch, upended, with a star on top....will need extra seating
Brown......................................................should water it
Made of gold...........................................win
Surrounded by fake presents..............work at Crate & Barrel

Friday, December 9, 2005

Out With the Old, In With the New

I love calendars, and always have fun picking out new ones at this time of year. I'm actually famous for having too many calendars, but I say hey, there are worse things. Last year, my boss told me I could only have two calendars, one daily calendar on my desk, and one wall calendar, and that one had to be in a frame! (I'm such a difficult employee.) That's how I ended up with five calendars in my bedroom.

Well, now it's time to say goodbye to The Lord of the Rings, Dilbert, Castles, Lighthouses, and Bouquets with Bible Verses. Here's what I've gotten so far for next year:

For my desk at home: For my desk at work:
??? I'm not sure where I'll put this one. It's a mini one.
For my frame-on-the-wall at work (Hey, back view!):

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Chinese "Food"

Whoever wrote this menu must feel the same way about Chinese food that I do.

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Winter

It has been cold here in Houston for the past several days. Part of me thinks it’s terrific because it feels so much more like Christmas when it’s cold. The other part of me is freezing to death. I start shivering from head to toe the second I step outside! I’m avoiding all unnecessary errands because I don’t want to have to go in and out in such cold weather.

I’m wondering when I became such a wimp. The endless Texas summers have done something to my body, and now it thinks it’s going to freeze solid at 40 degrees. What happened to the girl who went sledding with no coat, and delivered newspapers on foot at 5:30 AM in minus 20 degree weather? I’d like to know.

I have a theory that cold weather here is much more ferocious than cold weather up north because the air is so damp. The damp chill goes right to the bones, or at least it seems to in my case.

I think it’s funny to see how differently people respond to the weather here. I saw a man riding his motorcycle with no jacket at all, and then I saw two teenage boys walking down the street with hats, gloves, coats, scarves…and umbrellas!

Saturday, December 3, 2005

Merry Holidays, Happy Christmas

I think it's frustrating that "Merry Christmas" seems to be going out of popularity. "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings" are so watered down and generic. Everybody tries so hard to be politically correct, and something gets lost whenever that happens. We've gotten one Christmas card so far this year at work, and it's blue with foil snowflakes and the words, "Season's Greetings." I hope we get some more soon that aren't so lifeless.

On the other hand, I must admit that I actually bought Christmas cards this year that don't say "Merry Christmas." They look like this: and on the inside, they say, "Hathy Holidayth." They were just too cute and funny to pass up. I was laughing out loud in the bookstore when I saw them! I guess I'll just have to write "Merry Christmas" inside.

Hey, how about that! I just posted a Christmas card on my blog for everyone to see. I could save a lot of stamps this way! OK, so maybe that's a little tacky.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Office Plants

OK, it's officially December now, so I think it's high time to decorate for Christmas. In keeping with the season, I believe I'll get a poinsettia to put on my desk, maybe one with a little more green than this one: I actually have a plant on my desk right now, but it's starting to look a little like this:
I have a hard time keeping plants alive in my office. I might have to give up and get a fake one. I've had two, and they've both caught some sort of terminal disease. It's a little depressing.

Monday, November 28, 2005

I'm Back!

I spent the holiday at a folk dance camp and had an absolutely fantastic time. John and I went together to the camp, which was between Waco and Austin. It was held Thursday through Sunday, and over the course of the entire trip we slept about twelve hours! It was sort of a test to see if it's possible to get tired of dancing. The answer is NO!!!

We had dance classes during the day for Israeli dances and Scandinavian couple dances. I really liked both types of dances and was glad to be able to learn them. I'd seen some Scandinavian dances, but had never been able to learn them. They're so much fun, and if you get with a good partner, you feel like you're flying.

There was a dance party each evening that went into the wee hours of the morning. We did lots of different kinds of dances, and had live music for some of it. My feet were really sore after so much dancing, but it was definitely worth it. I had a great time.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Blog Lives up to its Name

My family went to Taste of Texas last night. I'd been inside the restaurant before, but I'd never eaten there. It was excellent, but I think I enjoyed the building and the atmosphere as much as the food! We had a gift certificate that my father got as a thank-you gift for a speaking engagement. It was enough for our whole family to eat there, plus my grandparents. (10 people!) The restaurant was already completely decked out for Christmas with trees, lights, red bows, huge nutcrackers, and a santa hat on the stuffed deer.

That's something that's been bothering me a little bit. Why is there so much Christmas stuff everywhere already? I went out to lunch and heard Christmas music, I turned on the radio and heard Christmas music, I went to the mail store and they had their Christmas decorations up, and I've even seen homes with their icicle lights up already! I love Christmas and everything, but early November is too soon, I say. I've decided that Houston has only two seasons: Summer and Christmas.

In other news, the new salesman at my office (who's really nice and has a great sense of humor, by the way) seems to think it's part of his job description to tease us two girls all the time. On Friday, he started calling us "Thing One and Thing Two" because of all the goofy stuff we do. I can't honestly say this is undeserved. I'm trying to decide if we should call him the Cat in the Hat, but I think not because that would mean he could keep us in a big red wooden box.

I'm not sure if I'm Thing One or Thing Two, but I think I'm Thing Two (Hey! A tongue twister!) because I spent the day losing pens and finding them in strange places after the other girl accidentally burned her hair in my candle. Whatever the case may be, our new motto is: "We know how to have lots of good fun that is funny!"

In yet other news, we're having Thanksgiving dinner today because my Grandparents are here and John and I will be out of town next Thursday through Sunday. So, I have pumpkin pie in the oven that I probably ought to be checking on. I don't want to burn it up like I did the walnuts the other day. Have you ever noticed that when toasting walnuts, there's only a thirty second difference between perfect and inedible?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Foot-Stamping at Church

John, Anna, and I were recently asked to play special music in the church service. One thing led to another, and we soon found ourselves doing special music twice in the service and leading part of the congregational singing! I found myself wondering how I get myself into these things.

We were a little concerned about how our music was going to be received because we generally play rip-roaring bluegrass but our church is the pipe organ variety! Never in the entire history of the church, had there been music like there was last Sunday. The music leaders certainly liked it, though. We had played for them ahead of time, and that’s how we ended up doing so many songs for the service.

John played his banjo, I played the guitar, and Anna played the fiddle. We played gospel songs and tried to keep things toned down so as to hopefully not get kicked out of the church. It was so different from the music we usually have at our church that I figured people would either love it or hate it. It was interesting the way the church treated us like a visiting musical group or something. They even had a paragraph in the bulletin that said something about “welcoming the Pedersen family as they share their unique worship style with us”! I think that actually helped by making it seem like sort of one-time thing so people wouldn’t freak out and think this was the new yee-haw church!

Well, it turned out that the congregation absolutely loved it. Lots of people complimented us and said things like:

-When are you playing again?
-I didn’t know you could sing or play instruments!
-You brought back memories of my childhood.
-It was a breath of fresh air.
-Y’all were awesome!!
-Do you have any albums?

So now we have a whole other set of problems. We’re pretty much famous now. It felt very much like we’d given a concert, because we got so much attention. I’m glad people enjoyed the music, but that’s really not what a worship service is supposed to be about. We’re supposed to be focusing on the Lord, and I found it a little unsettling to have people seeming to be focusing on us so much. I almost felt like I owed God an apology. On the other hand, the other side of this argument that I’m having with myself is that we had the opportunity to use our God-given talents for God’s glory and to play and sing songs about him.

Also, from a more selfish perspective, we really enjoyed the opportunity to prepare the songs and play and sing together. We hadn’t really done a bluegrass-style performance together before, (for more than family and close friends) and it was great fun.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Squash Face

This is funny for two reasons. First, it reminds me of one time when my sister, Laura (age 6) asked my mother if she could get all her hair cut off. (My mother said no.)

The other reason this is funny is because my family has a tradition of drawing faces on appropriately-shaped produce. Butternut squash works particularly well. It gets especially funny when someone draws a face on the week's squash and signs his or her name!
I think the motivation for this probably came from Veggietales. Speaking of which, what's your favorite Veggietales song? Mine is "His Cheeseburger." These things are important, you know.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

What's in an MRE?

I have a new co-worker who has been in the Army National Guard for ten years. Last week, he brought me an MRE since I'd never seen one. In case you've never seen one either, prepare yourself for an educational experience. The brown plastic package clearly labeled "MEAL" contained:
  • A package of ham and shrimp jambalaya in a packet in a cardboard box.
  • A high-tech heating bag that gets blistering hot as soon as you add a little water. Amazing!
  • One slice of bread
  • One piece of spiced pound cake
  • A squeeze tube of jalapeno cheese spread
  • A packet of "lemon-lime drink mix" (tasted like gatorade to me)
  • A single-serving packet of Taster's Choice instant coffee
  • Powdered creamer
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Two pieces of white chewing gum
  • A cute little glass bottle of Tabasco sauce
  • A book of matches
  • A moist towlette
  • Several napkins
  • A spoon, and a good sturdy one at that
  • A package of M&Ms (YES!)

I can say from personal experience that the meal wasn't half bad. Besides, it's the closest I ever came to feeling like a soldier. :-)
Oh, and here's the Wikipedia article about MREs. It even has a list of the menus all the way back to 1981!

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Camping: Bringing Families Together by Giving Them a Common Enemy

My family went on a camping trip last weekend, and had GREAT weather. We were at a really pretty state park with a bunch of friends. It was nice to get away from the city for a while and spend some time outdoors.

Before we went, I charged up my camera batteries and packed my camera. I then left it in my backpack all weekend and didn’t take a single picture! So, please use your imagination as you read my list of the fun things we did:

-We played volleyball using a net made out of rope. Two long lines of rope were tied between two trees, then the rope was zigzagged between the two lines. Every time the ball hit it, the rope wound up looking like a pile of spaghetti. Hey, it worked!
-We went on several hikes, including an orienteering hike which means you follow a leader with a compass and a map of curvy lines as you stumble through the bushes trying to avoid being attacked by God’s creation while searching for a white numbered stake next to an elusive rock face.
-We played Frisbee for, I think, hours and hours. We even played at night since someone had brought light-up Frisbees. That was incredible, or at least it was until the boys caused the game to somehow turn into tackle Frisbee!
-We played Spoons with about twenty people at one long picnic table, but divided into three groups. I know you thought we had people diving down the length of the table, but please don’t let your imagination run away with you.
-We played music together for quite a long time on both Friday and Saturday. I think we played pretty much every song we knew. We figured we were running out of songs when we played “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Ten Little Indians.” Have you ever heard the bluegrass version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”?

We also had some encounters with wildlife:
-We found a giant millipede, and one of my brothers used it to make Anna scream so loud the stone picnic shelter almost shook. Then my other brother pulled out his knife and cut off the back half inch of the thing, but not quite all the way. It just kept right on walking, pulling its new caboose behind it. Sick.
-We had a crow who felt that it was his personal duty to stand right above our tent and caw at 6:00 in the morning, both mornings! We almost had fresh poultry for breakfast, I think.
-I had the memorable experience of a Daddy Longlegs in my pants. I am not sure the details of this episode are suitable for publishing.

Speaking of my personal trauma, I also scratched my arm on a tree, cut my hand on a Frisbee, walked into the lantern (nearly knocking myself out), strained a muscle playing the guitar too long, and got covered in pine needles by my dear brother who said he was making a pyre! Maybe I should stay at the office where it’s safe.

All in all, it was a great camping trip. The tent was dry, the sun was shining, the friends were fun, the breeze was cool, the oatmeal was hot, the strangers were quiet, and we all made it back safe and sound, dirty but happy.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Monday, October 31, 2005

The Current Song at my House

My father has an amazing memory for advertising jingles and old boy scout songs. I was reminded of that fact the other day when I heard my charming siblings singing this tune, that he had taught them. It is to be sung to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

I wear my pink pajamas in the summer when it's hot.
I wear my flannel nighties in the winter when it's not.
And sometimes in the springtime, and sometimes in the fall,
I jump between the sheets with nothing on at all!

It's amazing how this song sticks in your head. I've been trying to refrain from singing it at work today.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Visiting Africa

Once a year, my family "visits" another country for a day. We get music, costumes, and decorations from the country, make an ethnic meal, and read about the country. This year, we did Tanzania. Here's Anna with the lower half of her life-size drawing of a giraffe: My mother used flowers, coconuts, and plantains to decorate the table:
Cooking up a storm:
The littlest African:
The whole tribe:
It was so much fun!

On a side note, we had a hilarious incident when John, in full costume, had to go outside to get something out of his truck. Just as he went out, two teenage girls were walking by! Oops.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Ever Wondered What It's Like to Clean a Stadium?

Whether the team wins or loses, the stadium has got to be cleaned from top to bottom for the next game, and it is no small job. If you've ever considered joining the "facility services crew" or you're just curious about how many pounds of peanut shells they pick up after a game, read this.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Newest Left Behind Movie

The third movie in the Left Behind series came out this week. I watched it last night and thought it was excellent. My only complaint is that it should have been longer. Parts of it moved awfully fast and didn't develop the story quite enough. It was still great though, and I enjoyed seeing how the writers have developed the characters in the three movies.
(You'll notice that I paid almost no attention to the baseball game last night. Watching a new movie sounded a little more fun than witnessing the Astros getting creamed.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Trouble With Pumpkins

Please meet our happy scarecrow, who gets to come out each fall and smile at the world. Next to him is our surviving pumpkin. There was another pumpkin, but it rotted a few days after we set it out! We are a bit frustrated with our annual misfortune with pumpkins. This happened last year too. All our neighbors say, "Oh, our pumpkins last all fall!" Ours rot after a week. Maybe it's because our porch gets full sun and becomes really hot. John says maybe the pumpkins are frightened by the scarecrow. Who knows. I came home from running errands on Saturday and could smell bread baking as I walked up the front sidewalk, since the door was open. That is, I could smell it until I got too close to the pumpkin! Then I decided maybe we should enter a fall decoration contest and submit an entry for "Pumpkin with Greatest Stink."

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Local Frenzy

The Astros fever has been something remarkable to observe the last couple of days. Here's another great message-on-a-sign, that I saw yesterday in front of a bar:

"Chicago, You Have a Problem."

There's also the skyscraper downtown that has certain offices lit up at night so it makes a huge star on the side of the building! And let's not forget the lady I read about yesterday who was hanging big paper bees from her trees (for the "killer B's," the nickname for all the Astros players with names that start with a B.)

Topping the list is the phenomenon of massive crowds of people flocking to Academy to buy NLCS champions T-shirts! The lines were winding back and forth all over the store! Just in case you're wondering, I only know this because I accompanied my friend who's more of a fan than I am and wanted one of those T-shirts.

I think it's funny to see how many people are so excited even though they didn't even like baseball a month or two ago!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

This May Be Going Too Far

I saw a sign in front of a Catholic church this evening that said (and I'm dead serious here):

THE LORD HEALS BROKEN HEARTS. GO ASTROS. WE BELIEVE.

I rest my case.

World Series Suspense

The Astros' very first World Series is so close!! But, it's not as close as everyone hoped it would be yesterday. It's pretty amusing to read the news reports. I see words like "heartbreak," "gut-wrenching" or "staying alive" depending on where the reporter is from! Our whole city seems to be on the edge of its seat to see if the Astros can pull it off or not. I think a lot of people are turning into over-the-top nuts about it, but I do agree that's it's exciting.

My favorite quote from the news is this one, talking about Pujols' astounding home run: "It also immediately silenced a sellout crowd that had been on its feet and cheering. 'I've never heard 43,000 people shut up like that before.'"

Sniff, sniff :-(

(just kidding)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Large Families

I read an article on Fox news the other day about the Duggar family. They just welcomed their 14th child! Part of me agrees that this is definitely newsworthy, but on the other hand, it really shows how unusual large families have become in our country. There was a time when it wasn't at all unusual to have lots of children. I think it's really sad that so few people think children are a blessing anymore.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

"Snow" in the South

If you, like me, think that this is what winter should look like and have never quite gotten used to the lack of winter in the south... ...here is the answer!!! Now, for just $36.95, you can have your very own snow light machine, and have a white Christmas again. Somehow, I don't think it will be quite the same, though. Not when it's still 65 degrees outside. Oh well.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Croatian Dance Photos

John and I had a great time at our Croatian performance last Saturday. Our whole family ended up going, so my father took a few pictures. We did nine dances, and they went well, except for one dance where part of our group forgot they were supposed to be in the first circle! They came running up in the middle of it. Oh, well, I guess we don't want to be too perfect! My mother says our group always looks really happy during our performances. I'm not sure what that says about our dancing ability, but at least it's obvious we're having a great time!

Saturday, October 8, 2005

Birthday Concert

My mother's birthday was this week, and she asked us to give her a concert with all our different instruments. It was quite a long concert! She also asked us to each sing a solo, which was a somewhat traumatic experience for some of us. My solution was to play the guitar while I sang because I don't have a very loud voice, and when I sing with the guitar no one can hear me very well! We did have a fun time, though, and Mama said she really enjoyed and appreciated it. Here's a sample of our performances. First, the infamous nose flute: (don't ask) The cutest dulcimer player around:
The tonette virtuoso:
Do not be confused; this is John's mandolin solo. He asked me to play along because he said it would make the song sound better. Then, he gave me specific instructions to play quietly so as not to drown him out. John: "Maybe you should stand over there while you play." Me: "I beg your pardon!"
Anna and Seth played a beautiful tune on the recorder and bowed psaltery. They did a great job and everybody liked it. Those instruments sound great together.
That's it for this year! This is becoming an annual tradition on Mama's birthday. She's going to sit around and watch all the videos when she's eighty.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

New Guestbook

Drum roll, please. I've just added a guest book, and this is your big chance to be the first to sign it! Just click the link on the left. I thought this would be a fun spot for people to give ideas for the blog, send me a message, or just say Hi!

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Croatian Dancing

John and I haven't had any dance performances for a while, since there really aren't very many festivals in Houston during the summer with it being so hot. Our dance group, Houston International Folk Dancers, has a Croatian performance at a Slavic festival this Saturday, though. I love the Croatian music because it's so happy and lively. We are doing fairly simple dances, but one of the ladies came up with some great staging and choreography to make it more interesting. I hope we can pull it off without mishaps! We'll be performing nine dances, then doing a few with audience participation (hopefully!). If you're bored on Saturday, you should come enjoy the festivities! It will be held at the University of St. Thomas in Jerabeck Athletic Center. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students. There will be cultural and food booths for each nationality, and performances of traditional song/dance as follows:

10:00 am Traditional Slavic Mass honoring Sts. Cyril and Methodius
12:00 pm Procession of Slavic Countries Welcome Greetings by 2005 Festival Chairman Marian Kruzel
12:15 pm National Anthems and greeting from each country; American, Croatian, Czech, Polish and Ukrainian
12:30 pm Presentation of Queen and Princesses
12:40 pm Dance, music and singing: Polish Folk Ensemble "Dunajec"
1:30 pm Czech KJZT Youth Group from Damon
2:00 pm Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish School featuring ethnic Polish singing and dances
2:30 pm "Polonia Austin" University of Texas Polish Folk Dancers
2:45 pm "Houston International Folk Dancers" performing Croatian dances (that's us!)
3:30 pm SOKOL Czech Gymnastics Group
4:00 pm Juravli Ukrainian Dancers of Houston
4:45 pm P.O.L.K. of America
5:45 pm Dance, music and singing: Polish Folk Ensemble "Dunajec"
7:00 pm Festival Closes

Sunday, October 2, 2005

The Horn Player Strikes Again!!!

Life has been pretty ordinary for me since the hurricane, and my creative juices have been a little dried up, so I thought this would be a good time to revisit the all-time biggest hit of my blog: the one-man-bicycle-horn band! Just in case you missed it the first time (back in April), or if you haven't laughed much yet today, this is your big chance!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

New Wheels

I saw one of these on my way home from work today. When did three-wheeled motorcycles get invented? Where was I? Who buys these things anyway? The driver of the one I saw was a white-haired man who looked like someone who was having a late-life crisis and decided a motorcycle would be just the thing except that his wife worried so much that his life would become separated from limb that they had a huge fight but eventually reached a compromise, with him managing to convince her that this variety of motorcycle would never tip over, thus making it quite safe while still being loads of fun, a superb attention-getter, and much better than taking up sky-diving, wouldn't you say?Very cool.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Imaginary Disaster

What's this, you say? Well, this is what happens when you anticipate your first hurricane and it completely passes you by. Becca (9) and Laura (6) decided to pretend the house was flooded yesterday. You'll see in this picture a house (not to be mistaken for a cardboard box) on stilts, and a multitude of floatable stepping stones. These were carefully set up in convenient paths all over the house. At least now we know who to call on if the house ever really does flood!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Now We Can Laugh About It!

I was reading the news on the Houston Chronicle this morning, but it didn't really get interesting until I checked out the last couple of columns of one of their staff writers. It's laugh-out-loud funny to read about his hurricane preparations and his disappointment afterwards. Let's hear it for a sense of humor!

Don't get me wrong though. The hurricane was pretty much a joke here in Houston, but other areas definitely had a lot of damage.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

SPARED!!!!!!!!

We truly have a lot to be thankful for today. We had absolutely no wind or water damage, and the power is still on! All we got out of this hurricane was a lovely breezy day and a much needed rain shower. Praise the Lord!

It is still fairly windy today (kind of like it was every day when we lived in Wyoming!), but the worst is past and we came through completely unscathed.

Here's a picture I took on Friday when we took a short drive just to see what things were like in the neighborhood. You don't see Walmart this deserted very often! The western sky was beautiful last night. This was right at sunset, and meanwhile, rain clouds were rolling in from the northeast.
Here you can see the extent of our hurricane damage: a few twigs blown down in the backyard! Seth was a bit disappointed that there wasn't more drama, but I think he'll get over it.

We are certainly rejoicing today, but there are many, many people in our area who are without power, we please continue to keep them in your prayers. Thank you to all of you who sent us emails of encouragement and prayed so faithfully. We praise God for friends and family like you.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Calm Before the Storm

We are making last minute preparations today before the storm starts moving in tonight. Yesterday and today have been strange days because they have felt a bit like a vacation. We're calling it the "hurricane holiday." It's weird to be waiting for a storm this way. It's an absolutely beautiful day because it's actually breezy. It's a sign that something is up in the gulf when we have a breeze!

Seth is certainly ready for a storm! I think he's more concerned about rain than wind.
We weren't able to buy any plywood because it was gone from the stores, but we got these pieces from our neighbors. They will at least help to protect the windows from falling branches. We did have one large piece of plywood that Papa and John put over the large kitchen window.
We've been filling jugs, pitchers, and bottles with drinking water all week and have a good supply now.
We also have big buckets of water in the garage. We'll be able to use this water for washing or for flushing the toilets.

We are very glad to be in our snug house instead of stranded out on the highway like so many. This may be my last post before the storm, but I'll be sure to post a report when it's all over. Thanks again for your prayers.