Monday, January 31, 2011

Because My Noah (noaa) Said So

Apparently males named Noah have an affinity for giving sound advice regarding extreme weather situations.
Meet my buddy, Noah (noaa).

Noah moved in with us long before the four cats, but after the 79 Koi fish and  the arthritic dog.
He sits on the dryer because that was the least conspicuous place next to an outlet that I could find. 

Yep, I am that great of a hostess. 

Guests named Noah will sleep on the dryer, please.  I like Noah.  He is quiet most of the time.  Doesn't eat much, I like that piece about him.  A bunch.

Since moving to the mid west, I have really broadened my vocabulary.  And I have Noah to thank for that.
It includes tasty little phrases like "Crap kids, get in the basement,"  "Why is the sky green?" and "Holy hannah, why is the house shaking like it is going to fly away and land on a wicked witch?"

Now, to be Noah doesn't talk that potty talk.  Those are my own quotes.  However, Noah is the one who tells us the weather--which encourages that kind of talk.  So, once again, you can see it isn't my fault (my favorite phrase not involving a good swear word like hell or damn of course) :)  .

Noah (NOAA--National Oceanic And Atmosphere) taught us a new phrase today:

Blizzard:  A blizzard is a severe storm condition characterized by strong winds and reduced visibility. By definition, the difference between blizzard and a snowstorm is the strength of the wind. To be a blizzard, a snow storm must have winds in excess of 35 mph with blowing or drifting snow which reduces visibility to 400 meters or ¼ mile or less and must last for a prolonged period of time — typically three hours or more.[1] Ground blizzards require high winds to stir up already fallen snow.  Blizzards can bring near-whiteout conditions, and can paralyze regions for days at a time.

You know I had a Magic 8 Ball when I was a kid.  You could ask it questions, and it was tell you answers and what to do.  My Noah was doing that earlier today.  Trying to boss me around.  Old Noah, new Noah, you know I am not a fan of being bossed around.

"If you were planning a trip for Tuesday, don't."  (Since when does the weather have an opinion about my Tuesday plans?)

"If you have to travel, here is the grocery list of things you should take with you in the car with you in case you might be stranded on your way to the 7-11 2 miles away to get your morning caffeine fix and have to live in your car for the next 7 days..."

You know, scarey things.

I am an Alaska girl.  I know snow.  Wind.  Cold.  For heaven's safe, Noah, my mother's people were Finnish Reindeer herders.  I have cold in my blood.  And I never had a box with a name tell me I should be afraid of all of them.
I think I just read on the news that 100 MILLION people who live in this region could be impacted by a snowstorm that is suppose to be here in the next 5 hours. 

It began earlier today with a little ice rain--want to see what that looks like?

Nope,  I did not install frosted glass windows like you would
find in a bathroom shower in the truck.  That is ice.

Scratch Val Scratch

This is not your granddaddy's ice...

from inside the truck

It took like a minute to scrape a hole that big in the ice...
with the ice scraper

So tomorrow looks like it will include some watching of NCIS Season 6, making some scrumptious peanut butter balls, and jammy wearing.  And I quote from the nightly news--"horrible evening commute."  A good day to stay home.

When googling some pictures of the prophet Noah, I stumbled across this blog post which Cracked. Me. Up.  Another fun thing to watch on a snow day:

I will keep you posted.  It is my first official blizzard.  

At least according to Noah.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The unofficial photographer of the Temple Chasers

I love "behind-the-scenes" information.  Like Pop Up Video (best show ever) or how JoLo travels with 100 in her party and wants only white candles in her green room.  Love it!

I am the self-dubbed unofficial photographer of the Temple Chasers.  It is really by default. 

Here is the back story of why I am up too early some mornings, wearing my housecoat in public, and probably (so aptly pointed out by some Facebooking friends) on some watch list for the local construction company.

It is embarrassing to admit, but I don't remember the date or even the year the Kansas City Temple building was announced.  I think it was about 18 months ago. Maybe. Wait, maybe it was 2 1/2 years ago. 

What I do remember is that it was announced on a Sunday.  The very next evening, Buddy Cheryl stopped by and said "Wanna go find the temple site?"  Off we went.  I think I was still wearing my apron from cooking dinner.

This was my vote:
look at these crazy colors--unedited

We drove like crazy my mother would "bats out of hell."  Suffice it to say that Cheryl is passionate about this temple.  As we scurried around, tromping through tick-infested grasses, Cheryl said "we are like storm chasers....but temple chasers."  The name stuck.

Storm chasing is a big deal here in the mid-west I have learned.  Bunch of crazies, driving around looking for inclement weather....even have their own tv show on cable.  You should watch it.  It would explain the breathless fit we were in that Monday night.

We picked our site.  But alas! 
We were wrong.

We went temple chasing again when the LDS Church released the location of the new site.  ASAP!  Wasn't as hard this time because we had directions (isn't that usually the case?)

Here is what we found:

Nothing says "insert a temple here" like a big smelly green vinyl chair.

It was almost like someone had been waiting for us to arrive, Cheryl in particular.  "Here ladies," the green gross vinyl chair said...."have a front row view."  Since it was only 7 minutes from my house (and 5ish from hers) it was an easy local to have a front row view of.

Of course, we didn't want the green smelly chair to feel shunned.  So we partook.

Well, some of us partook. 
Some of us were too scared
to sit down in the grossness

The girl thought we might be
hauled away to the clink...
since we were "trespassing"

It has been fun to watch the excitement build around the development of the temple. 

Cheryl can't wait for it to be built.  So to document her journey, really the journey of temple-going folks, she began a blog.  She is a blogging queen, so she is the perfect choice to do so.  It isn't a job.  It isn't something anyone asked her to do.  It is for herself, and she is gracious enough to let us peek in.

It is aptly named: The Temple Chaser  (but of course!)

For many months, the ground laid quiet.   

The good news:  Building has begun.

The bad news:  Cheryl unexpectedly moved away.  Farther then 5 minutes away.  I mean states away.

I feel sad that since that first day of Temple Chasing, our lead Temple Chaser is missing out on much of the activity. 

This is where I come in.  Since I have a camera, and a little time, I take the pictures. 

They are not really just for the blog, although I like that they tell the visual story. 

Taken this morning

lights turned on in temple...check--God

Those pictures I shoot so early on the cold snowy mornings in my housecoat are for her.  Like little Hershey's kisses.  Dark chocolate of course.

Her temple passion has now infected me.  I wonder how it is going.  I miss it when I haven't seen it for a few days.  I like knowing where it is at in its construction.

Someday soon the temple will be finished and she will no longer need my kind of connection from KC.  But it is a wonderful thing we will always share.  I can't wait until we can attend it together.  :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

An overdue reply

Our church was cancelled yesterday because of snow. 

Church snow day.  It was nice.  No offense Jesus--it is nothing personal.

Since watching the "Hoarders" show, I realize that I have a couple things I like to hoard. 

No, not cats.  Remember, we cleared THAT up last week.  Remember, it isn't my fault.

Nope, I figured it out. 

Office supplies and recreation paperwork/books.

I have a bachelor's degree from Utah State University in Parks and Recreational Management.  What is that, you say?  Party Throwing 101.

Of course I could run a golf course, mow football fields with grass with wacky designs (helloooo, it is called Turf Management) or run a swimming pool that never will make money (swimming pools and ice skating rinks NEVER make money...that is why water parks cost so dang much to visit).  See my vast skills and knowledge I have tucked away in my head?

And in my basement.

So, yesterday I had a small heart to heart with myself and cleared it all out. 

Let me show you my proof:
this is the first recreation notebook I ever had
--as you can see, I have kept the binder for 25 years

Before the wonderful world of GOOGLE, recreational ideas and learning tools were not easily available. 

I spent years collecting and organizing ideas that could be found a moment's notice.  With my field, a great idea makes a great party.  It is all about the "idea."

This little AASG binder holds a lot of memories for me.  My first leadership academy/retreat/conference...first of about 20 I have been to so far.  I became buddies with the director who later baptised me into the Mormon church (shout out to Darrell and Linda).  I met a guy whose brother, Tiel, later became one of my best friends.  Still is.  As forementioned, I got my university degree in this field. 

A Dr. Phil "life defining moment" as evidenced above.

Binders or notebooks like this are a special treat for the participants.  They tend to hold leadership development ideas, as well as warm fuzzy motivational sayings, stories and quotes.  I have loved those LONG before those motivational poster people plagerized so many of them.

Clearing out these papers, I stumbled across one of those stories they had given us that August of 1986.  I still have it.  I thought you should read it.
A Letter to the Future Leaders of My School

I have wanted to write this for a long time but belonging to the class of people that I do it’s taken me a while. I do apologize—it’s been badly needed. Some people don’t even realize it, or maybe they just choose to ignore it, like they do us.

I am a nobody. I was never given the attributes that a leader possesses. We “nobodies” are the nation’s future “silent majority.” We’re the ones who carry the majority of the votes, then sit back to be led.

Only sometimes, we don’t sit back. We timidly raise our hand at a class meeting to volunteer for a committee, if we haven’t already given up trying. Usually we’re passed over in favor of a more “leader” type, whose been tried and found true. If we are picked (!) out of the faceless mass of nobodies sitting in our section, we’re supposed to feel privileged…and we generally do.

When we arrive at the planning meeting, the only one of our kind, the token of benevolence on the part of the “higher class” we find ourselves slightly out of place, and very uncomfortable. Those who do try to make us more at ease, more accepted, will forever have our gratitude.

Now I am a senior. I probably won’t ever have much of an effect on people, but if just one future “leader” remembers this, I’ll feel somewhat useful and very gratified.

Please take a little time to remember us nobodies. It’s true that most of us follow our leaders out of cowardly habit, but we will remember and have a certain amount of affection for those who took the time to treat us as human beings, not just potential voters or admirers. Those who can’t even spare a “thank you” when we compliment them on some achievement or even some article of apparel, will be forgotten as soon as possible. And those patronizing airs may bolster your ego, but they don’t go very far with a nobody.

This may, to some, sound bitter or trivial. I meant it to be neither.

Those “leaders” who laugh or ignore this, well…I feel sorry for you. You don’t even have sense enough to recognize yourself.

I remain as always….Anonymous
(written by a high school student from Texas)
The first time I read this letter I remember where I was even sitting in the lodge at the event.  It struck my heart that there were kids who really lived that way.  Who felt that way?  I was not one of them.  I was the kid she was writing to.

I was a leader. Me.  A girl from a small town place.  Did kids I know feel like that?  It made me feel uncomfortable.

Later, my senior year, I was asked to present at the National Honor Society Induction School-wide Assembly.  We had 900+ kids enrolled in school that year.  I cannot remember which honor trait I was asked to speak about, but I remember what I said.  Probably honor or something warm fuzzy....certainly not academics I am sure.  :)

I read this letter.  To the entire student body. 

Several people tracked me down after the assembly and days afterwards and asked me for a copy of the letter.  You wanna know which kids they were?  That's right.  The "nobodies." 

I was so happy to see this letter yesterday in my cleaning out. 

I have tried to live my life that a slogan from the Hardrock Cafe:  Love all, Serve all.  There are no "nobodies" when they are feeling loved.

If I could write a long overdue reply to Anonymous in Texas from 25+ years ago, I would be so happy to report on my progress. 

So, Anonymous high school student from Texas, your letter worked. 

It somehow got to a lodge in outside Wasilla, Alaska (yes, the home of Sarah Palin who was just graduating from high school that summer down the street a bit) into the hands of a girl from Soldotna.  A girl who is NOT known for her steller "members" (as the Girl used to say....Mom, you have bad 'members'--that was before I had had hundreds of should see my memory now--oh my!) but a girl who has never forgotten the line "they don't go very far with a nobody."

I recognized you were writing to me.

Your letter impacted me.  Influenced me.  Directed me. 
Thank you.
Your pal,

Unfortunately, there is no such motivational story when it comes to cleaning out and dealing with my love for office supplies.  :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

A celebration of Tom Allison with some snacks

You are cordially invited to the Celebration of
Tom Allison's Life with some snacks Party

Friday, February 11th, 2011

LDS Church Building
5550 North Jackson Ave
Kansas City MO  64119

7pm to 9pm

Casual dress
No children
No gifts

The time has come for us to have a sort of farewell party for our bestie, Tom.  His life is winding down.  His "bucket list" is all finished (how many people get to say that?).  His children are growing up and settled.  His primary time for service is over.  He has crossed his "t's" and dotted his "i's". 

He is waiting for our Heavenly Father, as LDS folks adddress God, to come for him.  He believes he is ready.

I, however, am not.  :(  As I realized last week, there is no cell service in Heaven.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hello, my name is Valerie...

Hello.  My name is Valerie and I am NOT a pet hoarder.
Whew.  Glad that is cleared up.

In my mind, anyway.

Poppa Joe called me last night to point me towards the special "news" report about pet hoarders.
"You should watch it," he says.  "Why?" I asked.   He didn't answer.

It is true that we as a family (ok, perhaps it is me and the Boy) have sort of stumbled into some pets lately.  But as I always say, "It's not my fault."  That is my story and I am sticking to it.

It is no secret I have a bit of a soft heart.  So two years ago, when my sick little boy asked if we could rescue some kittens my father had "other plans" for related to a gun and an abandoned field, what could I say?  The Girl got her beloved dog all those year ago that she had waited for.  The Boy had been waiting for some cats.  He had no friends, no school, and was lonely in his illness.  What is a mother to do?

Some of you have met our first pair:  Smoke (after Tony Stewart) and Sparta (after ancient warmongers)

Smoke--fatty catty

Sparta--no you are not misreading his troublemaker eyes

I would not have guessed myself a "cat person."  In some ways, I am not.  I hate hair.  Hair in my sink. Hair on my food.  Hair on my head.  Hair in my house.  So you can imagine, that living with four cats now, there is some hair.  Four cats, you said Val? 

Which brings me to the second pair of cats who have found their way to our home. 

These cats formal names are "The Cats Formally Known As Tom's" (modeled after that ever successful name change "The Man Formally Known as Prince").  Meet Luke and Leia...yes, named after that Luke and Leia.  They are the perfect names since their former owner has a half of leg covered in Star Wars tattoos...

Luke--so aptly named since he is such a whiner

Leia...the princess loves her leather

Bestie Tom, as you know, is dying and could no longer care for his cats.  Taking them in seemed the right thing to do.  The transition has been hard for the other animals, but I actually saw them PLAYING instead of fighting yesterday.  World peace must look like a living room floor without clumps of other cat's hair that has been ripped out by Sparta, the troublemaker.

You know, a woman doesn't get up one day, in her right mind anyway, after 38 years cat-free and say to herself, "You know, the throw up the dog is leaving around on the carpet isn't enough...I need myself some cat.  Not just one cat....I need four." 

Yep, it is true.  We have a dog too.  Meet Coho, the greatest dog ever.  :)  

The girl won a photo contest with this shot.
Took it when she was about 13.

The Girl will die when she sees this shot on my blog...
shhh...don't tell her

See how great Coho is.  He dressed up as a Jedi knight and didn't complain once about his light saber being too heavy or his robe getting in his way.  :) Now that is what makes a pet great!

So, all said, not including the 75 koi fish out in the pond or the opposum who digs through our recycles weekly, we have five pets. 

The good news is we offer free lint-rolling whenever you stop by.

If you come for a visit, bring your allergy medicine.  Lots of it.  :) 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bob the Builder Award: Bronze+ Silver =Gold Metal Winners

A year ago, the Boy and I started collecting pennies for children.  It was my first blog of last year.  One of two resolutions I made.  Yep, did them both.

The Rotary has a foundational program that gives children in developing countries a dosage of vitamin A that can prevent blindness.

The hefty cost of this program:  $.02 a dose. 

We decided to save all the pennies we got back this year in change or found laying around.  The grand total:  590.

That means that we saved enough money to prevent blindness in 295 children.  Not a bad day's work as my dad would say.  I already wrote out the check.

Look how far a little bronze can go.

Speaking of metal, I have a silver metal happy story that began unfolding two months ago.

As you know, we know a thing or two about children's hospitals.  That said, the Ronald McDonald House is a non-profit arm of the McDonald's corporation that serves children's hospitals.  Some hospitals RMH have bedrooms and kitchens for families to use.  Some hospitals don't have the space and the RM House is found off campus, but very near to the hospital.  Kansas City's has both.

The RM House people offer free meals, a place to shower and take a nap, do your laundry, and even sleep over for super duper cheap.  As I can testify first hand, those are luxury activities when your child is in crisis.

One of the main fundraiser projects of the RM House is to collect the metal tabs  from the pop and soup can lids.  They also collect old keys.  The can itself is valued at $.02 a piece, but the tabs are worth $.10. 

They accept the tabs collected by people and have a deal worked out with local recyclers.  It can amount to a very tidy sum.  We have been doing it for years as a family, and I tell ya, one of the easiest things ever EVER you can do as far as donation work.

While the holidays are a crazy time, the good news is that a lot of soda is consumed.  That can mean a whole lot of tabs floating around.

Our Church Ladies charity group began collecting in November at their homes, their classes they teach in and at their works.  We got our first big donation turned in this Sunday.  

Holy hannah!

Mr. Fun was feeling it last night after a failed negotiation with the Boy to help count them out for me, so Fun did it while he watched the football game. 
Thanks Mr. Fun for your time

And he counted.

And counted.

I counted.

The Girl was an easy trade.  Counting for some Taco Bell. 
 "Hi!  I am a Presidential
Service Citation Winner that can be
bought with some Taco Bell..."

Even the cat counted. 

The grand total:  14, 173
That translates to $1,417.30 for the Ronald McDonald House without even really trying.  This is just the beginning of the collecting so I will keep you posted.

I guess I marvel at how two kinds of metals can bring Gold medal kind of results. Everyone wins.  "Win-win!" as a cheesy movie we just watched said last week.  The kids, the collectors, and of course, the Taco Bell counters.  :)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It is all coming together

I went to a journal writing class last night and the topic was "Christmas Memories."  You might know that I have been tired the last two years to really "do" Christmas, thus rebelling in my own ways.  Here is my is now making sense WHY I might be a "Krank."
Christmas isn’t really my “thing.” After writing this essay, I might have figured out why.

I remember my first Christmas not going as expected. I had been forgotten in the class gift exchange. As I stood giftless and crying in my golden-toned snowsuit with the plastic black belt, my teacher rummaged through her desk drawer and pulled out a pink hand mirror. A used pink hand mirror. A highly coveted gift for any stylish first grader. I cried even more after she gave it to me.

My senior year in high school brought another dreaded gift exchange. No! No! I said. They went ahead and of course my greatest fear was realized. Forgotten in the gift exchange—again. No pink mirror this time. Instead time my teacher sent me some green branch thing with an apology note.

Christmas at home were different, too.

We weren’t allowed to open Christmas gifts until my dad had a cup of coffee and a couple smokes. He would kneel down by the gifts, with his cigarette dangling out of his mouth and toss our gifts to us. I always wondered if the day would come and the ashes would flick down onto the Christmas paper and catch everything on fire.

One year we went bowling, before going to bowling or to the movies was what people did on Christmas.

So, when I married into Mr. Fun’s large, traditional Mormon family, I had visions of the “normal” Christmases. You know… the Norman Rockwell kind.

For the record, when the Andersons get together for their full family Christmases nowadays, we affectionately refer to them as “warm fuzzy fist fights.”

The first family fist fight was two grown brothers fighting over video game controllers. One brother was punched in the eye so hard that the doctor dad thought he was going to have to haul him down to their clinic to ex-ray it. And I remember there was some sort of choking incident at a pick-up basketball game at the church a few days later.

Warm fuzzy family fight number two happened a few years later, between two different brothers involving hockey sticks and a whole lot of rumored swear words.

Apparently the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Last year, when the family was all together for Chrismas and a grandmother’s funeral, the brothers were on their best behavior. Their children, however, were not.

One cousin would not stop punching and wacking another cousin, so the second cousin punched the first one in the back and knocked him down flat. One teen cousin put a four year old in a choke hold for pulling hair, reminiscent of the choking from a few years back.


Isn’t there some saying that the family that chokes together, stays together?

Aaaahhh, God bless the holidays.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Before I forget

We call it the "brain." 
You know it.

The family calendar.

I have always had a paper calendar.
Same style, every year.

Nothing fancy. Usually one I pick up at
the Dollar Store or at the Kmart for cheap.
Works perfectly. 

A couple years ago Tom gave me the idea
to start keeping the prior year's
calendar as a sort of family history.

I tried it.  I like it.

I thought since I use the blog as a form of
family history,  I would kill two birds with one stone.

A blog, some genealogy for me
 and some fun for you.

That's three birds I guess.

"A win-win" (catch phrase for the Girl and Fun)

Just for your info:
I will share some highlights...
the yellow lines are trips someone in our family took out of town
the pink are days that we had company stay with us
13th at 6 am--Girly trip to Georgia
Matt went somewhere I can't remember
27th at 7 pm--
Val beats Tom and Dave again in the Pinewood Derby
(go girl)
12th--val goes to the Man Prom
23rd at 9 am--got the taxes done (sweet...)
1st--Nightmare RYLA deadline day
1st--Val takes New York and the United Nations
14th at 4:30 pm--Irish Dinner
18th--Niece Elizabeth makes her debut

19th--Mr. Fun has a bowling/softball schedule conflict...
what is a boy to do?
24th--Val almost dies in Titanic in Branson
11th in the evening--Saw original Norman Rockwell paintings
(I even touched one)
23rd at 5 pm--Girl graduates
28th--Boy passes 7th grade at the
School of the Kitchen Table

9th--Val misses class at Buddist Temple on how to slow
down and meditate---too buzy to attend
12th--Val goes to Canada, eh...
28th at 3:30 pm--annual pilgrimmage to Ozarkland
in lovely Kingdom City, Missouri

3rd--Survives Tallants almost blowing folks up
Fourth of July party
10th--Andersons cancel Alaska trip so
Mr. Fun can tromp around Europe for a few weeks
27th at 2 pm:  Somebody was at the dentist
29--Boy and Fun go to Colorado
2nd--Girl swears the drive to Nauvoo is similiar to a trip to Hell
week of the 9th--Girl does speed dating at
Star Wars Convention...uh, yeah...
17th at 8 am--Tom gets "lemon sized" cancer pulled from his
chest through rib cage
25th--long lost natural father comes to town

13th--Boy hits another doctor appointment at 4:30
17th--bought a print for Poppa Joe at Art Fair
25th--Valsy goes to see said new neice with her momma
2nd--Girl gets a Starbucks with a buddy
7th--Boy gets a $35,000 "staycation" at hospital
9th--Dog gets a hair cut
2nd--Girl gets the "I voted" sticker which is STILL
hanging by the computer
6th--Matt's dad teaching stalking skills
14th--Val attends another scout meeting
25th--the Andersons hob-nob with the Mayor and his family
13-17--Girl survives first college semester exams
22nd--Mr Fun has another surgery
(gotta do it because we hit our deductable with
the staycation in October)
29th at 4 pm--Val accidently lets Baby Will
eat Fruit Loops and cat food off the kitchen floor.

So there you have it.
A year in the life of Andersonville.

Bonus information:
Just in case you were wondering:
I help to attend, track, work or drive to at least
71 different medical appointments this year.
Not including 3 surgeries in four months,
and a 2-day and an 8-day hospital stay.

We had company or a trip in every
single month except for February.

No wonder I am so gosh-darn tired.

Happy New Year.  Have a good one.  :)