Friday, November 28, 2008

The True Spirit of Christmas


(sassy, no?)

I've been so busy I haven't posted a story from 3 weeks ago that must be told. Let's begin with my evening with the Magentas.

Some context: Gary is my co-worker, Angela is his wife. I agreed to take family photos for them for their Christmas card. When said photos were done, I also agreed to help them design a Christmas card around the photo. They took me out to dinner, by way of bribery, and then the plan was to go to Kinko's to do the card.

That's the background. The event started out nice enough. We decided to go to La Shish for Fatoush salads. When we arrived it was pretty busy and I can assure you now that the Quinn's are not the only people who get a little testy when hungry. I know right now most of you think I'm talking about Gary - not so much.

After waiting about 15 minutes Angela started to notice that people who came in after us were being seated. She sent Gary to the hostess to find out what the problem was. Gary sheepishly went up (I know, hard to imagine)asked about it, was told that the hostess had forgotten us and we would be next.

Angela was on FIRE. Forgotten? And not even an apology? It gets worse. She saw them seating some other people who came in after us - a party of two. Gary assured her that they probably went ahead of us because we needed a bigger table for 3. She made him follow them (yes follow them) and see if they really were seated at a table for two. Bad news - they were not.

Needless to say, the rage continued to build and Gary was sent to the hostess a couple more times. Angela was ready to leave, but one last time she marched up to the hostess with daggers in her eyes and in all of her straight out of New Jersey glory. Luckily for the hostess, our buzzer went off right at that moment.

I thought it was over at that point and that we would just enjoy our meal, but I was wrong. Her anger was still white hot and was laced through the conversation during the meal. Angela was ready to throw down with the hostess, and frankly I'm surprised she didn't. I think my favorite moment was when Gary (in his new and surprising role as the calm, rational human) told Angela that sometimes you just have to meet people where they're at. Her retort? "I'll meet her where she's at! In the parking lot! Right after dinner!"

I liked this new twist on the Magenta personalities, but as an additional word of warning, do NOT ever give Angela lukewarm coffee either. When we went through the Starbucks drive-through after dinner, you should have seen how timidly Gary handed her the coffee cup when he felt that it wasn't that warm. He stammered, "Um..I'm..not sure..this is very..hot.." Did it go back? Oh yes, yes it did. Thankfully, the Starbucks girl was not offered the chance to meet outside for a parking lot brawl.

On to the Christmas cards and the true spirit of the holiday. For obvious reasons they chose the "Happy Holidays" message over "Peace on earth, good will to men."

I learned tonight that people are a lot like dogs. It's the little ones who nip at your heels that can be the most ferocious. It's not the size of the dog in the fight...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Beating the Economy Odds


The economy is in an ugly downward spiral, people are losing jobs all over and stuck in their houses, or in some cases facing foreclosure. In fact, my sister told me the other day that she has a friend in Utah who lives on a street where people are keeping their lights off all the time so the banks think they aren't home. I find this shocking. And everyone has some sort of crazy or sad story right now.

So in the midst of all this mess, I saw a post on a real estate blog yesterday that was a truly innovative approach to dealing with the market. Leslie Pandey wrote the article I'm pulling this story from and it's called...bum, bum, bum.."Michigan Woman to Raffle off Condo."

Apparently Angela Schaab in Grand Rapids, MI is raffling off her 750-square-foot Condo. She plans to sell 2,500 tickets at $100 each. She'll pick a lucky winner in a live raffle and the winner gets the home "free and clear." On top of that she is donating 10 percent of the proceeds to Habitat for Humanity.

This is pretty brilliant, is it not? She gets $250,000 bucks for her condo and the owner pays $100.00. Those who lost took a calculated risk and only lost 100 bucks.

There is a catch. Apparently this could be illegal since some states consider a raffle to be gambling. I scrolled down to the comments on this blog and discovered that not only is this woman not the first person to think of this option, but other people have come up with creative ways around the legality.

One came up with a contest that he touts as, "fair, fun and quick." And presumably legal. It is found on The PerfectPlaceContest.com. It turns a game of chance into a loosely termed game of skill. It's a word jumble type game and the highest score wins.

Here's how it works:
To enter, players visit http://www.PerfectPlaceContest.com, choose the property they want to win and pay the corresponding entrĂ©e fee which ranges from $50 to $200, depending on the property. Players will have the opportunity to try a few practice games before playing. The goal is to unscramble the letters as quickly as possible to form a specific word. Immediately following play, the home-seekers’ scores and the highest score will be displayed, allowing contestants to keep track of their placement. At the end of 30 days, the player who unscrambled the word correctly the fastest will be declared the winner of the property. Players may enter as often as they wish but must pay separate entrees fees for each game, and players must be 18 years old or older.

Intrigued? You can contact Donna Kalman at (954)255-6987 or www.perfectplacecontest.com.

I have no idea if this is really legal or not, but it is truly innovative, amusing, and a way to beat the slump! If only our nation's leaders could think as creatively to come up with better bailout plans and solutions to the crisis.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Twilight...at last


I realize that I should probably be embarrassed to admit this, but I'm not. I saw Twilight last night with my sister. And let me tell you two important facts:

1. It was good. Much better than I anticipated, and to me - better than the books. Why? I liked some of the characters they cast better (like Charlie) than the way they were painted in the book AND they took 400 pages of content and were forced to shorten it to a 2 hr movie which considerably helped the story. As the credits rolled on the screen Kristin turned to me quickly, and un-asked, in a tone that evoked a feeling confessional guilt said, "I loved it."

2. If you have any inclination at all to see it---see it SOON. Why? Because the theaters are full if you go when it first comes out. The full part is not the secret to Twilight nirvana - it's who the theater is full of: teenage girls. I have never, ever been so amused by an audience in my life. When the movie began and Edward walked on to the screen a scream and a group sigh pierced the air with more pre and barely-hormonal angst than I'm sure was ever heard at an Elvis or Beatles concert. "I LOVE YOU EDWARD!!" The reactions, the sighs, the giggles and screams added more to this experience than I can possibly communicate here. Please. Get up, walk to the door...go now. Before all the biggest twilight fans have seen it.

Those are the important facts. Here are a few more minor, but noteworthy tidbits:

- The guy sitting next to Kristin was as amused by every reaction as we were and kept looking at us each time it happened. At one point there was a somewhat gruesome moment and Kristin screamed--yes, she did. She turned to look at the guy next to her and he was looking at her laughing. She said at first she felt like they were sharing an inside moment, and then she thought, "why is this guy still looking at me?"

- Edward has hair on his arms and chest. If he is supposed to be like polished marble...well, get out the soap and razor my friend.

- I totally got on board the Edward train by the end. Going in I was super disappointed by the selection of this character and thought...not hot...not MY Edward. (I realize this sounds a little funny from an old lady about a teenager, but whatever.) By the end Kristin and I both agreed he was perfect. And teenage girl scream-worthy.

- The actors who play Bella's HS friends are fantastic! They capture their roles and play better high school kids than I've seen in any other movie. They're not too young not too old and they are quirky and strange and self-conscious and utterly delightful.

It's not a classic. There is not one deep thought to be had. It even has some ridiculous, I just got pulled from my suspension of disbelief moments, but it is completely entertaining and definitely worth the cost to see the story come to life. Bravo. Go with teen girls.

OH dear..one more note...
I went to the Twilight site last night and found a brilliant idea for all of you haven't gone yet. The twilight party planning checklist. Talk about brilliant marketing. Here's a few things to help you prep before you go with all your best girlfriends:

1. Make your list - include all your twilighter friends AND those you want to convert.

2. Use of our 4 custom twilight evites

3. Purchase ticket through fandango. If you buy online you get a free iTUnes remix!

4. Go to theater as your favorite vampire.

5. Take a my space personality quiz to know which vampire you should go as

6. Practice your OME! (Oh My Edward) Scream.


OK - there are more, but you'll have to go to the site and see for yourself. It's clear to me now that all the girls in my theater did this AND took #6 to heart.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Magenta's Merry Christmas

I'm dabbling in a new world--Christmas cards.

The Magentas were nice enough to not only let me take their family picture, but also to turn it in to a delightful memory to share with their friends.

Actually there are two in the running. Which do you like better?





I have discovered in working with them that they are tiny but "spirited." Word of warning--do not cross them or give them lukewarm starbucks. More to come on this.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Born-ing a baby


I realize that what I'm about to post has already been read by my entire family and that this is my blog and I should come up with my own darned stories, but this recent post from my brother Ryan on his family blog is too, too priceless not to share.

Some context--Ryan & Amy just had baby number 4. Child two is named Katie and she is six years old. Warning--if you don't know how babies are made, or the thought of it makes you uncomfortable you may not want to read on.

The first set of stories are about Katie. The birth of Chloe has awakened an interest within Katie about her gender identity. As we approached Chloe's delivery date, Katie began to ask more questions about what it is like to "born a baby." I think we told her at one point something about how it hurts to give birth as a way of letting them know how much their mother loves them and was willing to do to bring them into the world. Days or weeks later, Katie began to put pieces of the puzzle together, and realized that since she is a girl, she could be a mother, and if she is a mother, then it could hurt her too. Then, during the week before Chloe was born, she asked me where babies come out of their mommies. I answered the question as clearly but also discretely as I could. She promptly announced that she did not want to "born a baby." I tried to reassure her that this would be her decision when the time comes and she could make up her own mind about it.

After Chloe was born, everyone (including Katie) was happy to have this adorable addition to our family. On the day Amy came home, I was taking care of the kids while Amy went upstairs to feed Chloe. Katie asked where Amy was going. I told her that she was going upstairs to feed Chloe.

Katie thought about this for a moment, and then asked what Chloe would be eating.

"Milk," I said.

Katie pointed out to me that there is no milk upstairs.

I explained to Katie that the milk comes from Mommy. Katie then exclaimed, "LIKE A COW??!!?"

I'm not sure there was anything I could say at that point. I tried to point out to her that most mammal mothers provide milk for their children, not just cows, but I think it may be too late and the very idea of motherhood has scared her off for life.


Welcome to the world of womanhood Katie. And best of luck.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Stand up and Be Counted

I voted today for the first time. I know, jaws have dropped, eyes have popped, people are appalled. I've heard it all. So pick up your jaws and be a glass half full kinda person and think how great it is I am a voter now.

I will be forced to remove you from my friend list if you make any kind of comments about how horrible I am for not voting in the past and you go the glass half empty route.

I know the rule for those of you who will inevitably feel inclined to comment on patriotism, freedom and everything else dear to your heart---if you don't vote you can't complain. Well, I never did. I always refused to vote if there was not a candidate I wanted to vote for...and frankly people, I don't see that any candidate has made that much difference or dangerous impact except perhaps our current president, and I'm fairly certain the other option wouldn't have done any better, so...whatev.

The point is...this is a big election. I'm not feeling as strongly as I did a few months ago that one candidate is RIGHT, but I am excited to take part in the process. And I will be much more curious now to see who wins...and the CHANGES they will undoubtedly implement on day 1.

P.S. the SNL Presidential bash last nigh---HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT. Huge.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Photography 101



This weekend I did three photo shoots. I learned one big lesson...kids are hard. In general, but especially to photograph. Keeping them still, getting them to smile and stop screaming. A lot of bribery is involved with photo shoots with kids. Of course this often leads to even more "energetic" kids, or kids who have then drooled their chocolate candy on to their white shirt. Regardless, they're still so darned cute in pictures it's worth the effort.

One of the most interesting things I learned about my nephew, is that he is effectively bribed by candy, but he is made joyous by the ability to hit others. Some of our best shots came when he was on Shawn's shoulders and boxing him in the face and grabbing his ear. Witness in this photo the vise-like grip he has on Shawn's inner ear. Also witness Shawn's face as he screams in agony and fury. See how delighted the rest of the family is.

It was shortly after that even that the bribes turned to threats, but at least we got some really happy pics for a minute there while Ben was allowed to punch away. See family glee here.

For some of the new shots of the Davis (aka Ryan Johnson) family (Abram gets mad when I keep calling them the Johnsons) and the Shawn & Lisa Quinn family -see silent spinster stories. Although neither of these stories was very silent at all!

Saturday, November 1, 2008



This weekend I had my own Friday Night Lights experience. What I'm trying to say, is I went to a High School football game. First one in about 15 years.

My friend Ian was in town to see Pioneer (my alma mater) play their first playoff game. His brother Jeremy is the coach. I was surprised by several things.


1. How exciting the game was. It went down to the last second, the action was fast moving and these kids were pretty good. It's fun to watch it at this level and see the passion.

2. How hard it is to kick a football. Ian challenged me to try - it wasn't pretty.

3. Mostly I was surprised by the dads. I shouldn't have been since my own father was known to tell a ref, "He didn't deserve to live." but still, it's been a while. These parents were screaming the craziest things, they were life or death for their kids out there and some of them were very clearly re-living their own glory days. My favorite was the dad who stood up by the sideline wearing his old Pi-High letter jacket (still fit!) with the name "Jock" embroidered on the front. I don't even know how to start on the many disturbing things in this image.

4. Finally, the HS kids. I had forgotten the angst, the need to belong and the...lack of clothing girls wear in 40 degree weather. Ah, High School.

Regardless, it was a delightful way to spend Halloween night and it was tragic when they lost in the final minute on a botched call by the refs. Go Pioneer!

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