Monday, October 31, 2011

Cross-Promo Post

I'm linking up to Miss Elaine-ous Monday with this post that links to other posts in a crazed attempt to do more than I can possibly do right now.


Please check out my Etsy blog, Jaborandi Grove, and today's post about projects that were completed that were inspired by Pinterest.

There are actually two posts about that - I've linked both to Simple Organic's From Pinterest to Real Life post.

I also wanted to give a shout-out to Gigi who has a link up going on right now for Fall Food Recipes. It ends today, though, so get on it!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mystery Guest

When the clown first entered our annual Halloween party, we each assumed someone else knew who it was.

"Creepy! Nice job!"

"Wow! Where'd you find that orange jumpsuit?"

He (I assumed it was a man as he stood about six-feet-tall) slowly wove through the crowd, his steps deliberate, giving each person a penetrating look with his blue eyes that had a slightly bloodshot appearance due to the white face makeup used in conjunction with the mask. It looked very professional. Not surprising since our costume party had raised the stakes every year for quality and originality. One year a guy sewed his own Sam-I-Am costume.

But this was different. It wasn't incredibly original - the clown mask was standard "It" variety; the prison jumpsuit was shapeless; the black gloves could have been OJ's Isotoners. It wasn't the costume. It was the character who embodied the costume.

The friendly chatter gradually slowed as party guests began whispering amongst themselves trying to figure out who this stranger was. We searched his eyes for something familiar. We joked that maybe he really was a mass murderer. But under the lighthearted banter lay tendrils of fear that threatened to blossom into panic with the slightest encouragement.

Whispers of conspiracy theories rose and fell until we exhausted the possibilities.

"Ok, I give up. Who are you?"


"Do you work at Sprint?"

Head shake.

"Did you go to KState?"


We continued the 20 Questions format, but were still stumped. A head count had been done for those we were expecting, and no one was missing. The mood shifted again.

"Seriously, man, this if freaking me out. Who are you?"

Not a word.

My friend, Christy, and I continued to discuss possibilities off to the side, unready to confront the stranger. After reinspecting him, she gasped. "Wait! It's not a guy. It's a girl!"

"What?" I said, skeptically.

"Look at her shoes."

She was right. They were definitely women's boots.  It wasn't obvious at first because the chunky 2-inch heels were mostly covered by the pant legs.

We ticked off the list of girls who hadn't arrived yet. None of them were tall enough, though, even with those boots. The only one we could think of who would have fit the body type was Brenda, but she was out of town and wasn't due back until the following day. But it had to be her.

"Brenda, is that you?" Christy asked.

Finally, the clown laughed. "Yes! I thought you'd never guess."

memoir writing, remembeRED, writing prompt

This was written in response to NotJustAnotherJen's Word of the Month: Fear, and the Write on Edge Remembe(RED) prompt: With Halloween approaching, many of us are revisiting fond memories of trick-or-treating, favorite candy, and parties. For Tuesday, reach back to a costume that made an impression. Was it yours? A friend’s? Maybe it was a costume you never got to wear. Show it to us with your words, draw us into the emotions it evoked at the time. Word limit is 400.

Monday, October 24, 2011

World Premier of "Tom Sawyer" Ballet

The "Tom Sawyer" ballet world premier at the new Kauffman Center was fantastic! Magnificent sets, lights, costumes - it was very professional. They seem to have stepped it up a notch from when it was at the Lyric Opera House.

The opening scene with whitewashing the fence was a bit long, but other than that I LOVED the first act. It was highly entertaining. The second act I would have eliminated except for the firefly dance and combined it with the third act. And the courtroom scene in the third act was not very good. I spent a good part of the time trying to remember the plot (I think I was mixing up "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"). I wish the whole thing would have been as good as the first act, but overall it was still excellent.

And the Kauffman Center is gorgeous! It reminds me of the Sydney Opera House on the outside, the Guggenheim on the inside and the Sprint Center with the angled windows.

The terrace outside Balcony 7 where our seats were.

Looking down from the terrace.

In the auditorium, I love the purple curtain and the red seats. I could do without the orange seats and the weird multi-colored panels on the walls behind the blind-like elements, but it didn't bother me that much when it was full of people. We have seats in the top balcony, but they didn't feel really far away - just really high. But the view was still fantastic.

The view from our seats.

Oh, and they don't sell snacks - only beverages. It wasn't a big deal Sunday since we went in the afternoon, but we used to go on Thursday night, and we would go to dinner first, then not get dessert, so we could split something during intermission at the Lyric. I understand why they would want to limit that kind of thing, though, since it's so clean and beautiful now. We're going to have to be on the ball from now on; late arrivals will not be seated until intermission. However, they do have a screen at the door so you can at least see it on TV. If you get a chance, I highly recommend you visit the Center and catch a performance by the Kansas City Ballet.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"A Better World"

I was contacted a few weeks ago to check out a new Facebook game called "A Better World." It's a do-good game by the company ToonUps. It's set up similarly to other games in that there's a town and you can invite people to play with you. The driving force behind this one, though, is to promote positive activity and emotions.

Each day you log in, you are given a Daily Missions list. You earn "do-good gold" for completing the items on the list. There are different areas of the World: My House, Town, Countryside, Village.

One of the stopping points is the Sanctuary of Hope. Here you can type out your hopes and dreams to share with the rest of the World. Others can light candles to show support for you.

Sanctuary of Hope

Another section is the Gratitude Grotto. There you can type things you are thankful for.

Gratitude Grotto

There's also an arcade area where you can play fun games like variations of hangman, whack-a-mole, bejeweled and more.

In general, I like the concept of the game. It's much less violent than Mafia Wars, for example. And it's definitely a positive atmosphere. The only thing that bothers me is that ultimately you are still earning "money" to buy clothes, furnishings for your house, etc. It seems more self-centered than I had hoped. It would be nice if what you earned was used for charity or something. But compared to other games on Facebook, it's definitely more uplifting. It's a game I would be comfortable with my kids playing.

I'm not a big gamer, but I do like the Arcade section since it's a throwback to the old school games I like. Check it out and let me know what you think! Play "A Better World" at

Disclosure: I was given the opportunity to share my thoughts and opinions on A Better World. ToonUps provided a $50 donation to Cedar Ridge Christian Church as a thank you for my participation. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I'm FINALLY participating! It's been way too long. I really don't have time this week, either, but it's so simple, I just HAD to do it. This week's prompt was "to compose a text–160 characters–that would either elicit or express fear." So here goes:

The last image to flash in front of her eyes before the blade severed her brain stem was her murderer reaching for her daughter.

• • • • • •

Guest Post: An Easy Recipe for Parents and Children

A few weeks ago, Dan Gilbert, the Communications Coordinator for Primrose Schools®, contacted me about doing a guest post relating to early childhood education. He sent me the following article about teaching kids how to help in the kitchen, and then I went to the site to check out the school, and I realized, this is the preschool I had fallen in love with when looking for one to place our oldest in! I love the Balanced Learning approach and the Helping Hands community service initiative. Since I'm blessed with a best friend who runs a preschool less than a mile from our home at a ridiculously affordable price, I couldn't bring myself to enroll her at Primrose, but under different circumstances, I definitely would have.

Please read the following article and click on the link to the school site for more information. There are 200 schools in the country, so there may be one near you.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •
An Easy Recipe for Parents and Children
by Dan Gilbert

The kitchen can be a magical yet dangerous place for young children with the delectable aromas emanating from it. However, don’t let the potential hazards scare you from having your children help out when it comes to preparing a delicious meal or a scrumptious dessert together. Spending time in the kitchen is a great way for families to connect and spend quality time with each other.

The kitchen has always been a popular room in the house to come together as a family, says Dr. Mary Zurn, vice president of the highly accredited education for preschool students at Primrose Schools. It’s a place where families can communicate about the day’s events. It’s also a place where children can take on their share of responsibility by learning daily tasks to help out.

Teaching children about nutrition can be a daunting task. By incorporating healthy foods into recipes you make together you will be able to teach your child healthy substitutes in a discrete way. The whole cooking experience shouldn’t be about nutrition, but it is a great way to begin teaching children healthy eating habits.

By following these simple tips, parents can keep the kitchen a safe yet fun environment for children:

1. Assign Simple Tasks: Children like to help out, so choose simple tasks they can do solely, but with your supervision. Assign simple jobs like rolling out dough, mixing batter, or decorating cookies. Even young children can get involved, so give them pots and a wooden spoon so they can pretend to cook and mix together ingredients. This gives them a sense of responsibility in the kitchen, yet you will know they are safe and out of harm’s way.

2. Establish a List of Rules: Children need the guidance and supervision of adults when in the kitchen, so put together a list of rules to follow. Teach them the importance of cleanliness by washing hands before touching food and the reasoning behind this. Make sure your children know what utensils are safe to touch and which ones are dangerous. To ensure that your child doesn’t accidentally get burned or hurt, take an inventory of the kitchen while working together making sure pot handles are turned inward and knives are out of reach.

3. Learn the Basics Step by Step: Children can master essential skills like counting out bread slices or by helping follow a recipe. As they accomplish the easy tasks, give them chores that are more advanced. Teach older children the basics of learning to use a knife by having them start out with items that are soft like cheese or soft bread and can be done with a dull spreader. When they are ready to move on to a bigger challenge, give them a plastic knife where they can practice slicing vegetables and fruit.

4. Make it a Fun Experience: Cooking with your children can be a messy and chaotic experience; so don’t stress the spills and mistakes. If eggs end up on the floor instead of in the bowl or the recipe doesn’t turn out quite right, offer your child guidance and let them try again. Teach your child the responsibility of cleaning up, while still having fun together.

When the meal is finished, make sure to tell them what an outstanding job they did. Let them be the first to sample a taste of what you made together and ask them what they would like to make together next time. Maybe instead of a dessert you can try making an appetizer?

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nightmares and Reality

For those of you who haven't heard, Baby Lisa has been missing for two weeks now. Now that I have children of my own, I can't watch news stories about these things anymore, so my source of information has mostly been people recounting a tiny bit of what's going on here and there. In other words, I don't know much.

What I do know is that she is gone. Regardless of how or why or who took her, the point is she's gone. I have insane fears about something happening to our girls. I think all parents do to a certain extent. With the recent abduction of Baby Lisa, it's been on my mind more than usual. Coupled with the fact that I was re-reading David Baldacci's  Hour Game and had serial killers on my mind, I've been having crazy nightmares. I don't think it helped that I was sick with a fever the last three days.

It's a fine line to walk in today's world between being safely cautious and paranoid. It's hard enough to negotiate that field as a single woman. But adding kids to the equation makes it almost impossible. I try to remember not to worry, and pray for peace and protection, but sometimes my mind works itself into a frenzy.

I think it's interesting to see how people react to situations, too. I know what I think I would do when you ask me how I would respond to a carjacker or mugger or kidnapper. But were any of those things to happen in real life, would my reaction be the same? I hope I never get to find out.

Two of my friends have had terrible experiences in which they didn't respond the way they thought they would. One was leaving a concert late at night and was carjacked by a 14-year-old who put a gun in her face. Instead of giving him the car, she told him she'd take him where he wanted to go but he wasn't getting her car. I could NOT believe she did that. She couldn't either. She said she thought it was because he was just a little kid and she wasn't intimidated by him.

Another was mugged in the parking lot of a restaurant in broad daylight. She had stopped there with her 7 and 5 year old kids on their drive from Kansas to Oklahoma. A couple of guys tried to steal her purse. She held onto it for dear life, kicking and cursing as they dragged her along the pavement. They finally gave up and left her and the kids unharmed, but shaken. She was operating on Mama Bear instinct though; her fear was if they got her whole purse, they would know their names and address and could come find them. I don't know that I would have had the presence of mind to think of that in the moment.

What about you? Have you ever experienced a nightmare that became a reality? If so, how did you react?

This is linked to a monthly meme with Not Just Another Jen. October's word of the month is "Fear".

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I have Klout!

I got my first Klout perk in the mail - a sample of Axe hair gel. DH is a pomade fan, but I thought he might like to try it out, so I was excited when it arrived. Unfortunately, Baby R wanted to try it out first.

"I squirt it, Mama!"she claimed, proudly.

"Uh-huh, that's ni– Wait, what? What did you squirt, honey?"

"I squirt it, Mama!"

"Where did you squirt it," I tried.

"On the table." She pointed to the playroom table.

I walked in and saw it smeared over a quarter of the tabletop. Oh boy.

After I cleaned up the outside of the gel container, the top of the table, and Baby R's hands, I hid the gel.  This weekend I'll let DH know where so he can test it out and I'll let you know what he thinks...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Autumn

Some pictures of the trees on the way home from church Sunday. Another gorgeous 80-degree day. We spent most of it outside. 

And now for a shameless plug in conjunction with the season, stop by my Etsy shop, Jaborandi Grove, and pick up the Autumn Seasonal Set before it gets cold and snowy.

Of course, then you can get the Winter Seasonal Set, but let's not get ahead of ourselves...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Calendar Says It's October, But...

It's hard to believe when we've had temps in the 80s for the last week. Don't get me wrong; I'm enjoying our Indian Summer. It made our trip to the pumpkin patch yesterday very comfortable. Though, it was really dusty as it hasn't rained in three weeks. But I'm ready for slightly cooler weather, just enough for jeans and a light jacket, a little nip in the air so the fire pit sounds inviting instead of just hot. 

My sister was in town over the weekend, so we were lucky to have her and my mom join us on our quest for the best pumpkins. Here are some pics of our fun! 

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