Tuesday, December 27, 2011

When kids get sick

It's a conundrum. When do you take the kids to the doctor?
I never solved the puzzle when my children were growing up and I can't help a lot now with our grandchildren.
It's always tough because kids seem to get sick on holidays, weekends and just before you're leaving on a big trip.
It's difficult to decide how sick they are, whether they'll get better on their own and when expensive and time-consuming medical intervention is warranted.
The only real rules seem to be if you wait too long, the doctors scold you for delaying and if you go in too soon, the doctors scoff at your over-zealousness.
It's very frustrating.
I once went about six weeks before I took my baby daughter in to have her arm checked. She'd broken or cracked her shoulder bone when she rolled out of the crib (with a little help from a bigger brother) onto the carpet.
She couldn't tell me what was wrong but she looked at me funny when I'd lift her little arm very high.
Weeks later, the doctor confirmed that she had a small knot on the bone where it had been broken.
"Of course, it could have happened during her birth," he said, trying to console me as I tried to deal with being a completely clueless, heartless mother.
Other times, I'd check in with an ailing, coughing child who seemed destined for the hospital only to be told it was a common cold. I ended up nearly losing a daughter who couldn't stop tossing her cookies. Several times my son's headaches were actually concussions. Another daughter reacted badly to a bee sting and sunlight and scared us silly before we had the sense to get essential help.
It's really a dark art and as I watch my daughters try to decipher the code that defines a serious ear infection or strep throat from a minor stomach flu, I agonize for them and with them.
My grandson's "stomach ache" just turned out to be appendicitis.
My 3-year-old granddaughter isn't getting over what some newby doctor diagnosed as a simple virus two weeks ago.
You'd think I'd be better at diagnosing after 40 years at this but it's actually made it harder. I know it can be silly to run in to the doc for every sniffle but I also know what can happen by waiting too long.
Is 60 too late to apply to medical school?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Many early returns

Marc and I both hate returning stuff to the stores.
It takes forever.
I always feel I'm perceived as trying to get away with something and Marc just hates the hassle. He'd prefer to just forget whatever the problem is and keep things calm.
I don't particularly enjoy it but it bugs me to be overcharged or to get something broken or something I can't use.
So, for the most part, we try to stay out of the return and exchange line.
This year, however, I've been back to switch something out three times already and it's not Christmas official yet.
The first was a Harry Potter DVD I bought back before we owned a Blu-ray outfit and I thought I had bought one that was both regular and Blu-ray.
When I was showing my daughter which one I'd purchased for a good price, I realized the one under the tree all wrapped up didn't have the blue top thingy.
I went home and opened it up. I even showed it to Marc who agreed it was not a Blu-ray copy.
"It'll be fine," he said in that tone that told me he was dismayed.
I headed to the store trying to fit the exchange into a half-hour window I had in my busy day.
The line was five people long at the exchange counter and took several of my precious minutes but I got a gift card and rushed to the back of the store to get the proper DVD.
I came back to the "Speedy Checkout - 20 items or less."
There were five folks ahead of me. Looked good.
But the first lady was really old and REALLY slow. She couldn't work the card reader or write her name on the screen. She also couldn't move very quickly. She took up 10 of my remaining 15 minutes.
The next customer was quick and bought her 10 gingerbread house kits lickety-split.
But the next was a Hispanic lady who apparently counts 20 items differently. I counted 39 and several of those she picked up and refused to hand over to the checker. She'd decided she didn't want those.
Next I bought new glasses but one has a chip in it. It had to go back.
I forgot to bring my $50 gift card for my Honeybaked Ham so we're going to stop and effect a refund and rebuy.
Marc is being dragged along for both of these.
Merry Christmas, dear.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Shopping for free

In today's busy world, there's so much pressure — not the least of which is the pressure to save money or get a deal.
I had a particularly hard day this past week when I had opportunities to save all around me.
First of all, my son gave me a $200 gift card to Robert's where he works. Since Robert's is going out of business, he has these cards to give to friends and family.
I was really glad to be family because I love Robert's and have a whole list of things I like to buy there.
I started planning and on the day I got my card, I could hardly focus on driving properly on the way to the store.
I tossed colored papers and glitter paint and stickers and pages of vinyl lettering into my cart. I raided the art supply aisle picking up canvas boards and frames and brushes.
At the end of my journey I stood in line as the girl rang it all up. I had spent $120. $80 left to go.
I drove over to the store in Orem and grabbed a Melissa & Doug wooden barn, more stickers, some velvet paint kits, more lettering.
It was so much fun but at the end I was happy to have successfully spent my card. I had been feeling pressured to spend it well and before the store shelves were empty.
Next I headed over to Target because I had a $5 off coupon if I spent $50. I usually have no problem spending money at Target either so I took a cart and started off.
I picked up fruit including a pineapple and some strawberries for the family party. I added cans of tomato sauce and liters of Sprite.
Still $30 to go.
I grabbed some packages of raisins and some cake mixes. Now I was almost there.
I added some sugar and flour and oil. I kept adding and adding trying to make sure I didn't come in at $49 and miss my savings.
I tossed in some candy and nuts.
At the checkout stand I was exhausted and happily right where I needed to be.
The total came to $51 something and then the $5 off coupon applied. I was proud of my little self and relieved to be done saving money.
Then came the receipt. But wait, it came along with another coupon, this one for $8 for spending $80 that has to be used before Wednesday.
The checkout lady said, "You're really lucky! Nobody ever gets those!"
Oh, dear!

Friday, December 16, 2011

A spider, a snowflake and 2 violins

Tis the season for grandkid Christmas programs and I love it.
I don't mind squeezing the car into a no-parking zone by the school or driving around in the dark to find the door at the back of the school that's open to the gym where the orchestra is going to play.
I don't even care that the Grinch in the parking lot near the busy school gets to tell me to move it or it'll be towed.
The nicest spider
I don't mind the crowded conditions inside though the tall guys who sit in front of me blocking the view of my favorite spider are annoying.
I just love seeing the enthusiasm, the sweet confidence, the look in their bright, little eyes as they see that I've come to see them sing their songs or read their part or play their instrument.
It's precious.
This year we have Alyson being Charlotte the spider in the 3rd grade version of Charlotte's Web.
It's so funny
It's snowing in England
We have Adell singing all the words to "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and laughing when we come to the part about the seasick crocodile because she knows I think that part is somewhat gross.
We have Jack in England being a snowflake and getting irate because people keep telling him he's beautiful and he's a boy, after all. Only girls are beautiful!
We have Samantha and Emma playing their violins.
A bright star
Samantha is almost 12 and just picked up the instrument a few weeks ago but she can play it. (She's especially good on the circle move!)
We have Emma who is very young to be playing a violin but she has a gig with her teacher at the Joseph Smith Memorial building on Christmas Eve Eve.
It's all good and makes me appreciate being a stay-at-home albiet unemployed grandma at the moment. I have no problem working these shows into my schedule.
And I agree with my friend Robert Kirby who wrote in his recent column that it doesn't really matter what you can see from the cheap seats, it's the view from the stage into the audience that counts.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dumpster diving

It's cold.
It's uncomfortable.
And I always feel like I'm going to fall in.
That's why I've never enjoyed dumpster diving.
So it was only because I like this little old lady in my ward that I agreed to go searching for a newspaper she wanted.
It's not unusual for people to call Marc and me for past issues. People in our neighborhood pretty much know we get a lot of papers and tend to hang onto them for a while.
We often get calls for copies of an obituary or a news story that includes the names of their relatives or friends.
It used to be fairly easy to help people out.
If we didn't have the copy of the issue they wanted, I could go to the morgue at the office and pull one out.
Now it's harder since I work out of my home office and I think the morgue got dropped when The Deseret News moved to the Triad Center.
At least I don't know where it is now.
So I agreed to this search with a bit of trepidation.
I missed recycling day so I was pretty sure the issue she needed was still in the bin.
But I was also pretty sure it was way down deep.
Since it's freezing in our garage, it took me a couple of days to work up my courage but today I put on my warmest robe, my thickest slippers and headed to the garage.
I propped up the lid and started hauling out papers (and drink cups and Kleenex and tin foil and cake mix boxes).
I dug and dug until I got down deep enough to need a chair and a grabber utensil.
I carefully stood on the chair that threatened to close up on me and stirred around.
On and on I searched and leaned until I was nearly standing in the bin. I found all the papers leading back to the right date and then the papers leading up to it.
Finally, you guessed it, I found the one I wanted, right smack on the bottom where I expected it would be.
I called up my friend and told her the good news.
"Thank you!" she said. "I really appreciate it."
"That's OK," I said. "I'll drop it off later. It was no trouble."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Upgrading the old TV

I'll admit if it wasn't for Marc in our household, we would probably still be watching television on a snow-filled 26-inch screen.
I'm very resistant when it comes to upgrading for the technology.
I didn't think I cared when color televisions started to come in high definition and on plasma screens and do the laundry for you. (Just kidding, they don't do the laundry yet but just wait a while.)
But each time we've improved our situation, I've found that it's quite nice.
We can see our shows better.
The TV behaves. When everything went to high definition, we were prepared.
Yesterday, Marc's wishes came true and we bought a flat-screen, LED or LCD or LDS-type TV.
We had to ditch the top of our corner cupboard and redo the landscaping.
The rats nest of cords in back of the cupboard got to go.
And now we have to find a new home for the "old" TV that I thought we loved.
It's too big. It's out of vogue.
And, oh yeah, it won't respond anymore to the remote which actually brought on its demise.
Marc cannot live without a working remote and I'll admit it tells me it's time to move along.
So in a moment of financial madness, we made the leap.
Easy, breezy
We headed to the furniture store and while I sat blissfully in a red velvet lounger, Marc talked shop with the saleman. He loves all the techno babble and me, not so much.
About 45 minutes later we were driving oh-so-carefully away with this lovely 40-inch flat-screen television that gets a prime spot in the family room.
It does have nice features. Theoretically I can surf the Internet and check emails and get work done during the commercials now.
I can see every little hair and imperfection on the actors' faces. How great is that?
And look at this simple little remote that comes with it. I know I'll learn to love it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Singing for my supper

Jordan Todd Brown
First off, to be honest, I'm a fan of the Pickleville Playhouse.
Marc and I have made it a point to see every "Juanito Bandito" show they've produced and recommend them to our friends.
So when I noticed they were doing a Christmas show in Logan (at the Eccles Conference Center until Dec. 23), I volunteered to review it. My editor didn't want to pay me the mileage+ it would take for a print review so I offered my blog as a forum.
T.J. Davis/aka the Bandito was all for it. He even offered to pay for dinner.
So here we go: "12.25, A Merry Musical Comedy" is a lively Christmas show made almost manic by the antics of Jordan Todd Brown as Greechner/Gizmo and Whitney Davis as Zanita/Zoe.
These two are over-the-top funny and virtually unstoppable as they careen along through the story.
T.J. keeps up but just barely as he tries to play the straight man to their crazy talk (He's often just trying to keep from cracking up and the two comics compete for laughs).
Megan Bagley as Elanor/Ellie and Sharli Davis King as Emily/Eve are wonderfully talented supporting cast members.
Whitney Davis
The story is simple as Davis playing the part of Brandon the single father (and Buster the Elf) attempts to reconcile his son's hopes for Christmas with the reality of his slim budget. They're counting on Santa. Davis is worried.
Meanwhile the elves back at the North Pole are looking for Santa who seems to be AWOL and try to salvage Christmas with a fund-raiser telethon.
A grumpy Grinch-like neighbor who doubles as a conniving, greedy elf (Brown) and a wacky drop-by friend (Whitney Davis) make the simplest conversation a hilarious event.
There's so much raw talent on stage it's hard to describe. Let's just say it all works, from the political pundits to the "one-man flash mob" and the curly-toed shoes.
Even the little guys, Carter Davis (T.J. Davis' real-life son) and Bryson Hackler, come across pretty believable.
Everybody can sing well. Everybody can act and everybody is funny.
The result is a happy ending for everyone.
What better scenario can one hope for?

(By the way, the Bandito is coming to Salt Lake in February to the Jeanne Wagner Theatre. See for tickets and details. If you've never seen the Bandito in action, you're missing out.)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Girls wrapped in a bubble

Hannah inside a big bubble
I've long been a fan of the Festival of Trees.
I think it's one of most innovative and well-run charity fund-raisers out there.
I'm giving away my age when I say I remember it when it started in the Salt Palace with about 100 trees for a 2-day stint.
It quickly outgrew the space.
Now there are 700 trees plus gingerbread houses, wreaths, doors, small trees, kid's crafts, a boutique, sweets and a running talent show in the South Towne Expo Center for four days.
Trees were generally green or white with lots of lights and pretty ornaments.
Today, there are all colors and kinds including sports trees, a Peanuts comic tree, and Barbie trees (My 3-year-old granddaughter planted her feet squarely and refused to leave this tree. She also refused to share it with any other kids, telling them to beat it when they tried to look at it).
There's a red-neck Christmas tree with packages wrapped in newspaper, an "Up" tree with Kevin the mother bird sticking right out of the middle and balloons standing in for a star.
You name it and somebody's made a beautiful tree out of it.
It's a gorgeous and mesmerizing sight.
But the best part right now is the Kid's Korner.
Someone has come up with a whole variety of inexpensive and easy-to-make crafts for children. They can make star ornaments, fuzzy caterpillar strips, layered sand necklaces and plaster ornaments. They can call one of Santa's elves for just a single ticket.
I have been impressed with the price.
While trees and gingerbread creations are out there selling for thousands of dollars, in the Kid's Korner everything is just a couple of tickets and the tickets are 3/$1.
How great is that when you have kids who want a wand AND a chance to fish for a prize AND a chance to stand inside a giant bubble?
Bless you organizers for staying in touch with the reality, recognizing that almost everyone coming to the Festival is going to bring a child or two who's going to get bored with beauty and creativity.
By having an inexpensive Kid's Korner, you take them out of the aisles, make a little more money and soothe the savaged parents.