Monthly Archives: January 2011

Soap and water will break that itch cycle.

I’d be safe to say that we have all encountered dirty people…filthy people with grease and odor galore.  I’m talking about your common, everyday, normal, average people.  Not the mentally ill, homeless, or physically ill.  After having my nose hairs singed by one such common Joe, I became intrigued as to what causes the tendency towards filth.  Do these people know they are dirty or is this their version of normal?  Are they like Linus on Charlie Brown who enjoyed his state of disgusting? 

We don’t live in a third world country.  We live in America where running water is plentiful.  The majority of us are not homeless so we have access to showers and soap and our sense of smell is most likely intact enabling us to sniff out that ‘not so fresh – time to shower’ odor.   But uncleanliness still prevails???  I just don’t get it.  There is NO excuse, in my clean opinion.

So for those of you out there who are curious of where you stand on the whiff-o-meter, are teetering on the verge of being called Linus or just want some brief reassurance here goes.

You might be a DIRTBALL if: (feel free to add to this – these are just a few that I quickly threw out)

  • you attract more insects, dogs and wild animals than humans
  • You think running water is an Indian name
  • you have an accumulation of lint, debris and crud in the folds under your neck or other areas of your body
  • You think deodorant is not necessary OR…
  •  …that deodorant may take the place of bathing and the more white layers, the better
  • You believe there is nothing disgusting about the dirt accumulation under your nails
  • you cause the facial orifices (eyes and nostrils in particular) of those around you to water profusely
  • you notice that people tend to create a cosmos of distance between you and them
  • You like to smell “natural” and you believe that bathing destroys the o’naturale odor
  • You can fuel candles with the build-up of substance in your ears
  • You thought “body wash” was a service offered by the mechanic for your car
  • You often get asked if your hair is wet when really it hasn’t seen water for weeks
  • You publicly pick and dig in places that should be tended to in the shower
  •  You notice those around you tend to hold their breath
  • You think the stains on your sheets add a vintage-like character
  • There is always an empty seat or a hundred empty seats next to you
  • You think hand washing is for the obsessive-compulsive people and find nothing wrong with using those unwashed hands to eat after just going to the bathroom
  • You often hear “what’s that smell?”
  • You fail to bathe daily and feel that once a week or less is fine
  • You think the plaque accumulation on your teeth is fortifying
  • You frequently itch and are not embarrassed to scratch your itch

Here’s an idea:  SOAP and WATER will BREAK that itch cycle!!!

For personality jolt, shock once.

Here’s the scenario:  I was at the dreaded Post Office standing in a line formed from the pits of Hades.  There were two veteran clerks manning the desk and moving things along at the speed of molasses.  Ever so slowly, they would call the next person in line by stating their monotone and rehearsed “I caaan help the neexxt person in liiinnne….” I stood and watched this happen over and over again.  It was amazing how they could execute this routine without even a twitch of life evident in their dead, emotionless faces.  But I guess that’s it right? The routine kills them. Each person that approached the counter met the same cold stare and flat questions about delivery confirmation and postage products which continued throughout the transaction….and transaction…and transaction!

Sigh.  I should have know better than to think I could make a QUICK stop at this place.  Anyhow, while fidgeting in line I glanced up and recognized someone I knew two people ahead of me. I extended my greetings and engaged in brief small talk.

The summons game to the individual I knew and he approached the counter.  Now what I need to inform you is that others may know him too because he used to play professional ball in this area.   As soon as his physical mass hit the counter the clerk suddenly sprang to life-like he took a ZAP from an AED (Automated External Defibrillator). 

For personality jolt, shock once.

He excitedly chirped “Well, Hello [insert name]!  It’s nice to see you.  How were your Holidays? Did they treat you alright?”

Whoa, whoa, WHOA!  A personal greeting and THREE emotion filled questions in a row?  Three questions not related to postage stamps or postage products? The individual answered the questions and they had a nice dialogue filled with smiles and laughter. 

OOOkaaay.  I’d like to give the clerk the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe he suddenly woke up or something.  Maybe he doesn’t come alive until the 100th customer of the day.  Maybe his body just processed the food from lunch and jolted him with a whopping dose of sugar. 

Soon it would be my turn.  I quickly glanced at myself because my daughter frequently accuses me of sporting a perfected homeless look.  Hey, I have to dress up so many days of the week that when I have the opportunity to don the frayed jeans (the bigger the holes, the better) T-shirt and tennis shoes I do so with pride. 

Not me but it's my comfortable look!

I know that homeless people can look unwelcoming to some and did not want to appear scary for this experiment.  But I’m happy to say that, this time I dressed professionally.

The female clerk called the person ahead of me which left me with Mr. Suddenly Come Alive.  I heard him say “I caaan help the neeexxt person in liiinne.”  I walked to the counter and smiled a warm friendly smile, not too overdone or it becomes downright creepy.  I handed him my two envelopes for international mailing and requested a book of stamps.  He stared back at me with that blank stare void of emotion and asked flatly about the need for delivery confirmation or additional postage products.  I waited for some spark of the personality that he demonstrated minutes before.  Nada, Nothing.  Apparently Mr. Come Alive has returned to the land of the living dead.  He flatlined.  I think we need to bring back the human AED to his counter!

So why am I writing about this?  Do I care about the preferential personality and small talk from Mr. Come Alive?  Nope.  Not particularly.  But here is the deal.  It is human nature to segregate individuals.  We judge, measure, rate, class and treat people according to these categories which, are 99.9% of the time external or performance oriented deductions.  The Post Office scene was a vivid example on a minor scale.  However, I realized as I watched the episode play out that I don’t want to act like that.  I don’t want the natural tendencies of our culture to become my normal.  I want to warmly welcome all.  Each encounter I have with people should reflect sincerity and fairness to all – not just toward those whom society deems worthy. 

So here is my challenge:  We all judge and behave accordingly.  We need to….

S T O P.  

Let’s see if we can go an entire week without judging or treating people how we think they should be treated based on notoriety or external assumptions.  Let me know how it goes!  As you begin to stop the cycle you’ll be amazed how many Post Office scenario scenes you will witness!

Close your eyes and swallow.

I’m usually bold enough to try anything in the food world at least once.   I guess the “you never know until you try it” adage was permanently seared into my soul.

This outlook on food almost killed my psychological well-being and digestive track when I was dating my husband, who is Filipino.  I initially approached the exotic food with great caution, similar to what I imagine walking through a mine field would be like.  I strategically placed meager amounts of the unknown substance(s) on my plate with the utmost uncertainty…Closed my eyes, opened my mouth (maybe chewed a little) and swallowed.  However, after my taste buds danced and exploded with delight, I began to inhale multiple servings of delish rice, chicken, noodles and other veggies.  I eventually quite asking what things were and simply heaped mounds of steaming hot [presumed] goodness on my plate. 

It was during this time of hog slopping that I discovered an important fact.  Not everything in the food repertoire was, by my standards, edible.   Here is a brief example.

Eggs, right?

Take this little gem.  Upon my first encounter with these guys I assumed that they were hard-boiled eggs.  Given the fact that I LOVE hard-boiled eggs, I skipped with delight at the sight of these babies. HOWEVER because I am talking about my frightening exposure to the dark side of Filipino food, I think you can deduce that something evil lurked beneath the shell.

Meet the contents of the egg.


They call this lovely Balut (Ba-loot).  Balut are duck eggs that have been incubated until the fetus is all feathery and beaky, and then boiled alive. The bones give the eggs a uniquely crunchy texture. They are enjoyed in the Philippines and the fifth and seventh levels of hell.

I hit you with the worst first because I’m cruel like that and you guys are tough.  Now that you have regained control of your stomach and digestion organs, here are some other fun times at the table that I enjoyed – totally unaware until something deep inside my innards began to question things.

looks innocent enough…I thought.

My friend, Diniguan which is also called “Blood Pudding or Chocolate Meat.”  This dish is simmered in blood until it creates a thick gravy-like substance.  But, baby  it ain’t no gravy!!  If you like the taste of liver…I do not and this taste is what produced the rapid expulsion of the material from my mouth and caused the Filipinos to giggle at the white chick spewing chunks of blood meat all over her plate, you may enjoy Diniguan but here is what you should know.  The ‘meat’ is often stomach, intestines, ears, heart and snout. YUMMY! 

fit for a queen

But what the queen should know is that she is eating Mr. Ox tongue.  I know we have this dish in America too but this girl never met Ox Tongue before.  The texture of this little fellow let me know immediately that I had been tongued!!

The place of eating Ox Tongue

Blissfully unaware and food tripping in the Philippines, we loaded up our plates and gorged on the hot, steamy stuff.  However, if you look closely at my son’s face (he was much younger at the time) you will notice that he, or his intact tongue, discovered something was not quite legit about his food.

Umm, MOM I really don't want to eat this and my hand is being forced to touch it!

Last in the line up of disgusting is the baboy, or pig.  I know many enjoy this particular delight world-wide and often involves bon-fires with kegs of beer and drunk, hooting humans.  This cuisine was an easy one to maneuver around and did not produce the cardiac standstill that the Balut did.  However, I did manage to try a piece.  It was, ah, different tasting than the store-bought pig that we consume.  It has a wild taste, like deer. 

Alas we arrive at the reason for this post.  Forget about the fully formed baby duck and other tormenting entrees.  We will now discuss Pizza.  Nice, safe Pizza.

My daughter ordered a Big Mac Pizza and asked me to try a piece.  I had never heard of such a thing.  A pizza made like a Big Mac?  But after exposure to the above mentioned how could I really argue with her safe request????? Big Mac Pizza prepare to meet my Gastric contents………

It was GREAT!!!  It tastes just like a Big Mac minus McDonalds nasty, processed, life sucking beef patties.

I even packed some in my lunch today –

Messy goodness!

– and enjoyed every.single.messy.bite!  Now that’s the stuff I’d try any day!!

Leave and cleave

Allowed to grow

The art of letting go.  Hmmm, haven’t quite mastered that one yet.  But c’mon my kids are still all under the age of 15!  Thinking about leaving and cleaving is downright puke provoking. 

Or is it?

You see I’ve had one of my mother “Ahh-Haa” moments.  It is simple really.  Everything we do from the time they POP out of us wailing their screams of protest is to prepare them for adulthood. 

At first we change diapers.  Then progress to wiping little rears. Eventually these little bodies develop motor skills and coordination and begin to self-wipe their own little rears.  Now, maybe the job is extremely messy and not the best at first [as evident by the skid marks discovered while doing laundry] but in time every child becomes a proficient butt wiper IF they are given the opportunity to try. 

I have met so many families of late who, out of presumed fear, attempt to shelter and smother [totally suck the life out of] their kids from learning and growing in our world. Yes, we live in a crazy world.  Yes, there are freaks.  Yes, there are real dangers.  But it is our responsibility to help navigate our children through these times and teach them how to make wise decisions and choices.  Because in a blink they will be out there…leaving and choosing someone to do the cleaving with (I’m gonna hurl).  If they haven’t been allowed to spread their wings in the safety of their supervised home nest then they will crash and burn upon the first freedom take off and many others after that.  AND the crashing and burning part…it just doesn’t effect them.  It effects the entire family no matter what age they are.

Truly people, we need to let our kids wipe their own butts and get a little messy while we’re still around to do the laundry.  It is much easier to wash a little skid mark than an entire PILE of crap!!

It’s a blur but I’m sane

Everyone was in bed.  The house was quiet.  I was semi-alone and I loved it.  But rather than exercise my brain or do something productive like laundry, I plopped myself down on the couch.  The couch is in front of the TV.  The remote lives on the couch and before I knew it, the remote was in my hand and I was existing in the time sucking world of TV where seconds magically morph into hours.   This is a dangerous place late at night especially with the DVR full of unwatched shows.

I am not a big TV viewer like my male counterpart but I do like my brain candy.  I was all prepared to have my eyes glaze over, my mouth relax in the open position and veg on some brain candy when I stumbled upon something. 

TLC….TLC Extreme Couponing episode.  I had never watched this show before but I was suddenly curious.  Coupons seem like a waste of precious time and chasing deals  that are over priced, filled with restrictions and basically non-existent.  And then there is always the cashier lady to deal with.  Usually old and irritable, she inspects each coupon thoroughly looking for any defect so she can rasp “this is NO good!” But by watching these individuals get incredible savings I became inspired. 

Inspired by the deals not the psychosis that some of the individuals displayed!  Have you watched that episode?  Toilet paper was described by one of the coupon clippers as “My pride and joy!”  [someone requires intervention time

Let’s face it, some of those people need HELP…the institutional kind with pharmaceutical therapy, group time and professionals in long white coats writing frantically on clipboards.

So while I have no intention of going off the psychological deep end, I will devote some time to clipping coupons.  I have already started and it is surprisingly challenging.  My head is spinning and I have a gazillion flyers and coupons scattered all over the place.   I even key-napped my husband’s car keys to load him up with the recent reward cards obtained from the various stores.  So when you see the bulge in his pocket, don’t comment.  Resist the “Are you happy to see me or is that....” remark please.  Look away!

The stuff deals are made of


So send me some love and let me know the inside tips.  What has worked for you?  How do you survive the world of coupons.  Holla to Carrie who has already helped me a lot!!

We thought we were good.

Recently my Father-in-law celebrated his 75 Birthday!!  My Brother-in-Law called us and asked if we would put together a family video wishing Tatay (father in Filipino) a Happy Birthday.  Yes, of course we would!  And if you know us then you are aware that in our family we simply could not let a Birthday slip by without singing the Happy Birthday song!  C’mon, we have kids and a Birthday just isn’t a BIRTHDAY without the BIRTHDAY song.

We were set….or maybe not.   Our oldest had just taken a shower and was wearing a face full of zit cream.  Not to worry.  She had this, no problem.  Just watch. We rounded up our gang and created our masterpiece. 

Rowdy.  Animalistic.  Raw.  Loud.  Chaotic.  Unpolished.  Just some immediate adjectives that come to mind.  But it causes your lips to smile right?  Our daughter was proud of her improvisation.  Smart huh?  We thought so and off went the video via the internet to the Philippines.  We just knew it would make Tatay’s Birthday.

WELL what my brother-in-law failed (epic fail) to inform us was the fact that they were having a HUGE, spell it H-U-G-E  gala event for the birthday boy in honor of his 75 years of life.  They were going to play the video on the big movie screen at the event.  A lot of people were there…WATCHING.  Waiting.  Strangers, whom we have never met were viewing our family HOWL and….other thingsDon’t you think that may have been important to know beforehand?

But wait. As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, take a look a the video my brother-in-law sent……


Wow.  I am speechless.  What a video.  I am at a loss for words and must end this post now. 

Isn’t there a saying about PAYBACK???

Falling on your butt happens.

In life we fall down. It happens. We all have crashed at some point. Some of us more than others.  Well this New Year’s Day the boys learned this fact literally. We made the most of this beautiful, unusually warm day and headed out to explore the sights, the sounds and the ICE.

But before the ice let’s look at the exhibits….

He LOVED the gingerbread masterpiece creations.  He was pointing out Sponge Bob’s house.


You must be joking.  I am not, I repeat NOT getting on the ICE…no way! I am bred for the tropics.


I see the hubby’s reflection


Rows of Gingerbread homes


Jumps of excitement over the house creations


A form of Art.  Now when can we eat them?  We are 100% recovered.                                           
an indoor exhibit of houses galore                                                                                                                                          
Santa ornament camouflaged in the tree                                                                
And not so camouflaged.                                                                                                                                                         


Santa’s from around the world                                                                                                                                             


How the Italians do it…a bit troubling indeed.                                                                                                                             


La Befana                                                                                                                                                                                       


Now this is a frightening sight for anyone especially a child! She looks like she requires the Heimlich maneuver.                                                                                                                                                                         


 The hubby’s favorite.  Reindeer butt.   Disturbing.                                                                                                                                                                


Looking up                                                                                                                                                                                    


and up                                                                                                                                                                                            


and under                                                                                                                                                                                      


Getting ready to hit the ice



Whoa, this is harder than it looks – getting their skate legs


I can’t let go!!!


I must hold on!  I have a death grip on this rail.
I am getting tired.  This is hard!


Older bro is gaining momentum but I keep falling!


I got this!  No problem! And it’s so hot that I can take off my coat!  Mom somehow failed to capture all of the butt falling moments but there were several and I saw stars.
A hard fall will make you see things like lights around trees…

I was taking the pictures but are you wondering about the rest of the family? Just in case you are….


Monitoring things from the sidelines…the safe way to be.


But wait, Texting???


And Drinking??


She must have found a STARBUCKS!!!


Back outside to the beauty for a short while before it is over.
Good-bye for another year…and we welcome 2011!!!

From our family to yours....

Happy New Year!!