Useless information September edition




   Catherine the Great commissioned the first roller coaster in 1784.  It came complete with wheeled cars which ran on a track.

    The above sketch is an 1884 switchback railway, Coney Island’s first coaster.  Passengers climbed a tower and rode the car down then up to another tower. The next year, a roller coaster that completed a circuit replaced the switchback ride. 

    Today the highest roller coaster is the Kingda Ka at a Six Flags park in New Jersey.  It tops out at a stomach dropping 456 feet!  


Left Behind

Have you ever tried to use your computer mouse with your left hand?  It is impossible.  Somewhere around 10% of the population is left handed.  Children start favoring a particular hand around age three.  Notice which hand your child uses for finger painting, eating and pointing.  Left handed kids go through life not realizing that lots of things aren’t designed for them.  Some common items which are difficult for lefties to use are musical instruments, pencil sharpeners, cameras, notebooks and manual can openers.

   Make sure your child’s teacher understands likely problems a leftie will encounter, for example many lefties find it easier to write in what is called the DeNealian style, a combination of script and print.

    Famous lefties include Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, Queen Elizabeth, Matthew Broaderick, Lisa Kudrow, Oprah Winfrey, Michelangelo, and Bart Simpson (?). source Loving Lefties by Jane M. Healey, Ph.D.

Driving my MIL to Lincoln and back

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My husband tells of driving his grandmother home from Thanksgiving dinner several years ago.  Every few minutes she would ask him if he had a family.  Patiently GD would say, “yes, my wife and kids are in the back seat” time after time.  (I was not this wife.)  I have told him he should have just asked her questions about herself, like how she met his grandpa and where they had lived, that sort of stuff.


I spent all day with my mother-in-law yesterday.  She has lots of family things on her mind, so to keep her distracted, I asked her some questions.  This is what I learned.  To give you a frame of reference, my mother-in-law got married in 1945.  She met her husband in 1943 at a barn dance when she was 16, he was 20.  (They still hold huge dances there every other weekend in the summer.)  He was the oldest son of a farmer, and was needed at home.  She admitted, looking back, she might have been uncomfortable letting her 16 year-old daughters date 20 year-old men.  They set up housekeeping in a small home near a creek in the canyon bottoms near the Niobrara River.  They moved to a larger, three bedroom house around 1954.  In 1967 they built their own spacious home with four bathrooms and eight bedrooms.


All told, she had eleven kids.  The oldest was born in 1948 and the youngest in 1968.  Originally she cooked on a three burner fuel-oil stove.  Later on they bought a combination stove which would burn wood or cobs on one side, and had gas burners on the other.  When they first married you could not buy a new washing machine, due to war recovery efforts.  She hung up her washboard sometime after their first anniversary, when they got a wringer washing machine.  Their first refrigerator, a propane model, came in 1952.  Prior to this she kept milk in a pail of cold water which she changed throughout the day to keep it cool.  She got electricity in her home, for just an iron and lights when she was pregnant with her third child in 1953.  They installed (cold) running water (picture a hand pump and a basin) and an electric clothes dryer when she had five kids in 1958.  They lived 15 miles from the locker plant and had six young kids when they bought their first freezer, now she has three and lives alone.  They got a TV in 1960.  The automatic clothes washer came when she had nine kids in 1965.  In 1967 they built a house with an unspeakable luxury, an indoor toilet.  At the time they had 10 children.  Everyone bathed in a round tin tub in the kitchen until they moved to the new house.  They installed their first dishwasher in 1992.  


She also gave me some tips on how many times you can re-use bath water and how to rinse out dirty diapers with no running water, but she made me promise not to tell anyone.


She said she just let the last three (all boys) just potty-train themselves.   *note to self, consider trying this… 



My Grandmother lives in a retirement home.  She is getting rid of some things, and Mom came back this fall with two boxes of books.  I decided I would set up a paperbackswap account for my brother who lives in Korea.  (He is not in the armed services, so he doesn’t get the benefits of APO mail.) I would mail the books out and receive the books he orders, then get them to him the next time he comes to the states.


After sorting out a few keepers, like Grandma’s Betty Crocker cookbook and a book about headhunting in the Solomon Islands, I posted nearly 30 books.  I have had an incredible response.  I even sent one off to a Xanga friend.  Plays by Ibsen, books by Willa Cather, Sir Walter Scott and an obscure Chinese cook book have flown off the shelf.  I am hoping the Chinese cookbook person comes back for more, as Grandma lived in Taiwan for several years and had quite a collection of authentic cookbooks.  Most of the books are hard back but I was surprised to find they don’t cost any more to mail than a paperback does.  The cookbook did, but it was pretty big.


Mom is planning to visit her mother again this spring and I am excited to see what she brings back.  This is my gift to my brother, the gift of reading.

If nothing else will scare you this will.




As a 1930s wife, I am

Take the test!


I have got problems (just little ones)


 Leo loves my little village.  He twisted a lamppost then beheaded a windmill and a tree.  It all comes down after the next casualty.  It is not an expensive village, just resin, but I like it because it is small, so I can have lots of houses.  It is hard to find accessories to scale without looking at railroad stuff, even the stuff from this outfit is way off.  You can see the dump by the light.


Jane came home from pre-school with gifts for us.  Then she opened them.  She is four.  Almost five.

I have all of my gifts wrapped and prettified with ribbons etc.  They are in a big box in my room, although I would love to put them under the tree.  I don’t dare between a four-year-old who should know better and a 2.5 year-old who has very little self control and a one-year-old who probably remembers opening his birthday presents.  I hate to waste such prettiness.  I am thinking I will pile the gifts on my bed.  I have a bed in my livingroom.  Seriously, it works.  I put the nativity set up there (which you can’t see), and I could surround it with gifts.  I don’t know, that will probably be too much.  Mom says it looks like we run an orphanage with all of our stockings. lol


Mae or Jane took this photo.  I bragged to mom that I had gone through my closet and gotten rid of a lot of stuff.  She then proceeded to find three things in her closet for me.  I sent two to the YWCA career closet and kept the third, a Stewart plaid kilt she got in England in 1980.  I am allergic to wool, so I need to get a slip thing to keep me away from the waist band.  Thanks to support hose, I fit in it.  *Note to self, don’t let anyone shorter than you take your picture while you are standing.

Leo tinkled on the potty today.  Not in it, but he was on; it just went all over the floor because I was getting him the seat with the back stop thing while he did it.  He would prefer to wear a diaper to tinkle into, but I wouldn’t let him.  I even gave him a Donald sticker for tinkling all over my floor.  He runs around the house bottom-less these days.  He started today with training pants and Bob the Builder underwear over them.  Don’t ask why, I will never tell you.  After he wet those, I just let him run around nude.  No photo of that today.

In other news, we are getting lightning, thunder and sleet pellets for weather as I type.  Of course they postponed Jane’s program from tonight until Monday at 7.  Mae’s program is Monday at 7:30,  20 miles away from Jane’s.  We are going to have to divide our forces to conquer all the festivities.

I let the kids decorate the tree.  (Not a cedar!!) They ended up hanging ornaments on the light strings.  Not safe, but really cute.


Doesn’t this tree need gifts?

New Moon.

Man she is a whiny teen-ager.  The first interesting thing happened around page 240, then she goes off with the wrong guy.  Is that what true love is like?  I dunno, this might be my last adventure with Bella.  The two guy thing isn’t nearly as compelling as Evanovich makes Morelli and Ranger…who is of course the right guy.

Photo tag

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The object of the picture tag is to:

1) Choose the 4th folder where you store your pictures on your computer

2) Select the 4th picture in the folder

3) Explain the picture

4) Tag 4 people to do the same

I tested on my computer what the 4, 4 photo would be.  Then when I went to upload, I got my folders in a different order and a different photo.  Here are the gentlemen snuggling with Thomas.


This is a re-run, but I have added some at the end.

After my third and final child, I figured my body was done changing shape and I had come to an angle of repose, as Stegner would say. In January 2007 I took all three kids to JC Penney to go bra shopping. Leo was in a stroller, as he was 7 months old, and the ladies were along for the ride, at 4 and nearly 3 years of age. JC Penney is apparently saving money on labor, as nobody works in the store except the check out clerk, from whom I borrowed a tape measure. I found a couple bras that I thought might come close, so we went to the fitting rooms. The handicap access one was locked. It was the only one with a door, so I chose the curtained room farthest from the changing area entrance. Then I was faced with a choice. I could close the curtain and leave Leo outside in the hallway, or I could put the stroller in the changing room and change in the hallway. My third alternative was leaving the curtain open and the stroller in the hallway. I tried this, but the ladies were being “active” and I had a hard time keeping an eye on them without chasing them down the hall while hooking a bra behind my back. I had no desire to be arrested for indecent exposure at the mall. I opted for Plan B.

We proceeded down the mall to Victoria’s Secret. The lady put all four of us (and the stroller) in a changing room that was larger than a standard bedroom, with a locking door and everything. She measured me and found me some bras to try. She even gracefully side-stepped my question about the weird under-arm fat bulges which showed up in one particular style I had tried. I bought two bras.

Now that my fourth and final child is on solid food, I need some new underwear again. The ladies were in pre-school, so the gentlemen and I braved the Christmas rush at our favorite VS store this morning. We got there early, but the single employee was helping a customer. As we waited in the panty section of the store, I took Paul out of the stroller. He immediately crawled over to a table and grabbed the hem of the satin tablecloth, put his head on the floor, and began sucking his thumb. I might just buy him a nightgown for Christmas.  Leo entertained himself and me by walking between the tables, and getting his hair so static-y it clung to his head in swirls. I ended up getting another bra, and I haven’t changed size.  I tried this a few weeks ago, and the lady tried to convince me that I was a C.  That just didn’t seem possible, so I decided to come back when they weren’t busy.

My step-son has been here the past couple of days.  He is recovering on Workman’s comp from a knee injury.  He has been really helpful, he listed several things on Ebay and Craig’s List for me, he has been able to stay with the kids while I make by schoolbus runs.  It is nice having him around.  For example, last night he put the kids to bed so we could go to the movie.  We watched Fireproof.  It is really, really good.  I highly recommend it.


Downsizing Christmas


I was with some friends yesterday who were talking about how much they decorate for Christmas and how they had downsized to simplify this year.  I decided I have always had a healthy attitude about doing the Christmas thing.  I have some stuff, I put some of it out, never all of it, I also get rid of some each year.  I never have bought all new stuff to do a “theme”.  My theme is what ever ornaments my kids have…because theirs are newer than mine.  I decorate the living room and put a few things around the house, nothing in the bathroom or bedrooms, we just have one tree, well, I gave the old fake one to the kids, so technically two, and it is in a bedroom.  I make cookies sometimes if I have time, and maybe some English toffee. 

We exchange gifts with our parents, my Nebraska grandparents and our children, plus my husband’s sister who lives in town, no other siblings or friends.  My kids will get one or two things from Santa, and something from us, plus a few fun things in their stockings.  For Christmas I give my grandmother printed address labels of her Christmas card list.  She doesn’t have to dust it or store it and since she sends out 60 cards, it will save her at least hour, and hand cramps.

It is possible to love Christmas and not make your house look like the North Pole.  It is probably better to love Christmas without spending weeks decorating, making all kinds of sweets to exchange and spending hundreds in gifts for everyone you know.  The memories your children will keep are not whether you used snowmen this year or a nature theme, they will remember sledding and how magical the church looks when lit by candles. 


1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper

2. Real tree or Artificial? Real, and hopefully not Cedar again

3. When do you put up the tree? When ever we get around to getting it

4. When do you take the tree down? After Jan. 1

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, especially spiked!

6. Favorite gift received as a child? my saddle, or the Barbie doll clothes my aunt made

7. Hardest person to buy for? My husband and my stepson

8. Easiest person to buy for? Leo

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, several

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A used dress

12. Favorite Christmas Movie(s)? It’s a Wonderful Life or maybe Christmas Vacation

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I used to start in January, but I don’t get that ambitious anymore.  I get things all year long and stash them in a closet to be forgotten until sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I don’t think so

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? I can’t narrow that down, I like to eat sweets and most things I didn’t cook

16. Who will you miss seeing at Christmas? My brother

17. Favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay Home

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Unbelievably, yes

20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning

21. Opinion of Christmas newsletters – I like them.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Stupid Christmas songs, like Grandma got run over by a reindeer

23. Favorite ornament, theme or color? I like snowmen and mittens

24. Favorite Christmas dinner? Roast beef and tart cherry pie

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? that is a tough one, I need new clothes, books, maybe a tea set…

Friday – sale day


We sold our calves last week. The prices are lower than they have been in a few years, but they do call it a cattle cycle. At the sale barn, they sort them by weight into groups. We have enough now to make several nice pens of cattle, rather than selling one or two at a time. The same guy bought three or four of the large groups. (They sold early, but they were the nicest looking cattle we saw sell.) Between ours and our neighbors, we sold around 50 head of 9 month old calves. From here they will go to a feedlot, then on to the packing plant.

If you want to eat the best hamburger anywhere, come to our sale barn. I don’t know what for sure makes them so good, maybe the scent of manure wafting through the café or the mooing in the background, but oh my, those are good hamburgers, and I am not really a huge hamburger fan. I used to work in this town, and it was a treat to run down there on a Friday for a burger. They also serve homemade potato salad and pies. I am starting to miss working!

Useless information, August edition

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I went to a MOPS steering team meeting earlier this week. I am responsible for the newsletter this year. Each year someone new does the newsletter, so style and content vary widely from year to year.  I received several unsolicited compliments about the newsletter content. Yes, they were unsolicited. It occurred to me that you might also enjoy my articles, and they are already written, so with a small investment of time I have some blogs! (and I get to share fun information)  Space is limited, so the information is too.  I love trivia by the way.

The theme this year is Adventures in Motherhood, kind of a circus/amusement park thing. This will explain some of the content. I have a little space on the front page where I write about some sort of amusement park thing. Inside I usually write an article about something that pertains to our group in some way or another.

For those of you who do not know, MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers. MOPS has been a lifeline for me. I have made friendships here that have saved my sanity. I have gained untold wisdom from our speakers. I cannot say enough good things to give back what I have received from MOPS.

Here is August


George Ferris invented the Ferris Wheel for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (World’s Fair) in Chicago. It was built to rival Paris’s Eiffel Tower which was unveiled at the 1889 Paris Exhibition.

This Ferris Wheel was 26 stories tall (260 feet) and held 2,160 people at a time. (Our local hospital is 12 stories tall.) For fifty cents you could get a 20 minute ride, once around non-stop and a second rotation when they let people on and off.

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