Saturday, August 30, 2008

Slow Your Roll

Lately I've been hearing about this new drink that's out on the market called "Drank."

I LOVE the idea behind this drink. Instead of being a hyper energy drink intent on keeping you active for hours, it's a "slow your roll" anti-energy drink that can help you relax. It contains melatonin, valerian root and rose hips (all natural relaxing and sleep-inducing ingredients).

I think we need more relaxation in our society. Many Americans are in "go go go" mode all the time, barely taking time to breathe every day. I have definitely been in that frame of mind myself lately. But hearing about this "anti-energy" drink reminded me that we need to all take some time to slow our collective roll.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It Ain’t Just in The South

The good news? We’re getting new exercise equipment in our apartment building.

The bad news? Bad spelling/grammar exists everywhere, even where we “Northerners” live.

Monday, August 25, 2008

One Crazy, Itchy Night

I had a bad day today. So I decided, what better way to cheer myself up than to write a bit more about our vacation in the Ozarks?

Ahh, let me just close my eyes and go back…to the most beautiful, exciting place in the world…Branson, Missouri.

Yes, you heard me right. Branson, Missouri. Iwanski and I spent three days in this heavenly place.

What? You don’t believe that Branson is the most beautiful, exciting place in the world? Well, you are wise to not believe me.

Still, I love flashy touristy towns, and this one was no exception. It is chock-full of corny country music shows, tacky souvenir shops, and all the miniature golf courses you could ever need.

During our stay in Branson, we decided to check out one of those overpriced country music shows. Out of the probably 50 or so shows in Branson, we finally decided on the “Presleys’ Country Jubilee.” The Presleys are one big talented family, and we had heard good reviews about the show.

And the reviews didn’t lie—the music was excellent (if you like country and gospel music), and the musicians were all extremely talented. They had a fiddle player that was one of the best I’ve ever seen, and the piano and harmonica players were just fantastic.

But my favorite part of the show was the stuff I didn’t expect, that made me either cringe or crack up—or a combination of the two.

Take for instance how the show started. The performers, gaudily dressed in sparkly sequined suits and skirts, burst out on stage and into song, with phony smiles plastered on their faces. It seemed so over-the-top and phony, I almost thought that they were going to start doing jazz hands or something. I looked at Iwanski, who was looking like, “Oh my God—what did we get ourselves into here?”

And then, about ten minutes into the show, they dropped dozens of bubbles from the ceiling. Now normally this wouldn’t be something to laugh about—except for the fact that Iwanski is allergic to bubbles. Yes, that’s right. The minute a bubble touches his skin, he starts breaking out in hives. We figure it’s probably the abundance of glycerin in bubbles that bothers him. But whatever the reason, Iwanski saw the bubbles and got a horrified look on his face. He started bobbing and weaving to avoid them—while I sat there laughing and laughing. (Aren’t I just the nicest wife?)

But finally the bubbles stopped dropping, and Iwanski and I settled down to enjoy the rest of the show. One of our favorite parts of the show was the silly “Hee Haw” type comedy. There were two guys dressed up like hillbillies, and they told some silly jokes that made us groan and laugh. But then they told a joke that made us cringe—or maybe it was the audience’s reaction that made us cringe the most.

Here’s the joke they told:

Hillbilly #1: I got puppies for sale. I got six Republican puppies.

Hillbilly #2: Cecil, just 5 days ago, you told me they were Democratic puppies.

Hillbilly #1: Yeah, but now they got their eyes open.

Ugh, I still can’t hear that joke without cringing—especially because the audience—instead of just groaning or chuckling a bit—started cheering very loudly. I believe a big ole’ “Whoo!” even rose up from the audience. As a liberal, I felt SO out of my element. I looked at John, who rolled his eyes and yelled out a quick, but loud “Boo!” That at least made me laugh.

Then—the coup d’etat of the evening—the one moment that made me cringe and laugh the most—was the end of the show.

The Presleys chose to end the evening with a song that Iwanski and I can’t stand—Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to Be An American.” I can’t stand the song mainly because of the phrase “where at least I know I’m free.” I guess people in Canada aren’t free, huh? How about people in England?—or in France? Are they enslaved? Iwanski can’t stand the song because—well, as he puts it, “It’s just a bad song.”

But hell, we knew when we bought the tickets that we were going to have to listen to some songs that we didn’t like.

What we didn’t expect was: when the performers sang the line, “And I’ll gladly stand up – next to you,” everyone in the audience stood up!—except for Iwanski and me, of course!

I looked at John, bewildered, and asked, “Are we supposed to stand up?”

“I don’t know,” he replied, an amused/nauseous look on his face.

“I think we’re supposed to stand up,” I said, laughing. So we stood up. And cringed. And laughed. And cringed and laughed some more.

“I guess that’s what people down here do during this song,” remarked Iwanski. “But it’s not the national anthem. It’s a crappy country song from the 80’s.” I just kept on laughing.

On our way out the door, Iwanski said to me, “That made me itch.”

And it wasn’t even because of the bubbles.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Seven Things I Learned While On Vacation in Arkansas and Missouri

1. The Ozark Mountains are BEAUTIFUL.

2. If you decide to stay in a lodge on the top of a mountain especially because the view is supposed to be so great, be sure to stay at least 2 nights in case you get a really foggy night. (At least we were lucky that the fog started clearing away before we checked out in the morning!)

3. The World’s Largest Toy Museum is a fun place that often makes you exclaim, “Oh, I remember I had this toy when I was a kid!” (The Strawberry Shortcake and Apple Dumpling dolls REALLY took me back.)

4. If the name of a State Park contains the words “Ha Ha" (Ha Ha Tonka State Park), that might be a warning to be careful not to fall off your hiking trail and bruise your shins and skin your knees.

5. There are (surprisingly) armadillos in Arkansas and Missouri.

6. Hannibal, Missouri (birthplace of Mark Twain) is a really cute town with many old buildings and many friendly people.

7. Every town in the Ozarks with over 2000 people has a Chinese buffet, a Mexican restaurant, a Sonic, and a Pizza Hut…and at least one of the Pizza Huts had some bad grammar on their sign.

(If you’re going to go through all the trouble of making a big window sign, you might want to make sure that the spelling and punctuation are correct!)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Miss Healthypants—1, Cancer—0

OK, so remember when I had that surgery a couple of weeks ago?

Well, before the surgery, my doctor had said that there was a possibility that afterwards, they might find out that I have cancer. Needless to say, I have been worried about that for the past couple of weeks.

Today, my doc called me to tell me the good news: I don’t have cancer! Whoo-hoo! I can’t tell you how happy I am right now.

It’s amazing how much you take things—like your health—for granted, until they are in jeopardy.

From now on, I will remember to thank God every day for my health, and for all the good things in my life.

Today, I am not only Miss Healthypants—I am also Miss Gratefulpants.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Barbecue Heaven

One of my favorite parts of our vacation happened the first day of the trip. Driving past St. Louis, we stopped off in the town of Eureka, MO and found “Super Smokers Barb-B-Que.” See?

Iwanski and I loved Super Smokers. The first thing we noticed when we got out of our car was the SMELL. A thick cloud of delicious hickory BBQ smoke was being pumped out of the restaurant and into the air. Talk about a great way to lure in your customers—after smelling that, there was no turning back. We had to gets us some Super Smokers.

When we went in, we ordered at the counter and sat down to wait for our food to arrive. We both ordered the pulled pork, which came with a couple of side items (i.e. corn bread, baked beans, etc.). I, of course, being Miss Healthypants, also ordered a side salad, while Iwanski—not being Mr. Healthypants—also ordered a third of a slab of ribs. At the tables (which, of course, had red-checkered tablecloths), there were six different bottles of barbecue sauce, mainly named for the region of the US where they came from. The BBQ sauces were: St. Louis, Tennessee, Kansas City, Texas Hot, Carolina Sweet, and “Championship.” This is where I learned that:

1. I do not like Texas Hot BBQ sauce. Anyone up for spicy ketchup? That’s what it tasted like to me.

2. The “Championship” sauce wasn’t my favorite, either. (I guess it won some contest, but my taste buds gave it a thumbs down.)

3. The rest of them were just okay except for the Kansas City BBQ Sauce. That was absolutely wonderful, delicious, tantalizing, etc.

4. That’s when Iwanski informed me that most BBQ sauces that are sold in grocery stores today are modeled after the Kansas City BBQ sauce. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. This is a piece of knowledge I had not picked up on over the years.

Well, one thing’s for sure: there is a reason why Kansas City is known as the Barbecue Capital of the U.S. That sauce is tasty! And Super Smokers also made a wicked-good pulled pork. It turns out the smell wasn’t lying—it really was great barbecue.

Oh, and lest I forget—there was also a pretty unique item on the menu at Super Smokers—Frito Pie. This is a Southern “delicacy” that Buck had told me about from his Texas upbringing.

According to my research (i.e. googling “Frito Pie”), there are generally four different ingredients in a Frito Pie: Fritos corn chips (of course), chopped onion, cheddar cheese, and chili—all melted together into a gooey mess. Super Smokers, of course, took it up a notch by also adding pulled pork to the mess. This sounded like a heart attack waiting to happen, so I avoided ordering that.

Because I’m sure that the pulled pork, barbecue ribs, and jalapeno cornbread that I sampled was all 100% healthy.

Not to mention the side salad slathered in ranch dressing. But at least I ate some vegetables, right?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I’m Ba-ack!

I hope all is well with everyone in blogland!

I am doing wonderfully! Iwanski and I have just returned from a fun, relaxing vacation in Ozark Mountain country. Here were my favorite parts of the trip…

The Mountains…the Ozarks are quite beautiful.

The Rivers…Missouri’s National Scenic Riverways and Arkansas’s Buffalo National River were just lovely. (Iwanski was surely in his element with his camera.)

The beautiful views everywhere we went…

The National Forests…

The thrill/fear of maybe running into a black bear…

No, we never did see a bear, but we did see this:

And this…

I really enjoyed the vacation. (Can you tell?)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Later, Dudes!

Alright, I decided that I hate writing and will not post any blog entries any more.

Man, I’m such a bad liar.

I will be back in about a week with tales to set your hair on edge—or something like that.

Have a happy, sunny week!


Well, I Survived!

Yep, that’s right, I made it through surgery. Wow, that sounds so dramatic, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. They put me under “conscious sedation”—which means that you’re generally awake, but in “la la land.” I gotta tell you, it wasn’t half-bad! I was gonna ask them if I could take some of that stuff home with me afterwards!

And today, I’m recovering nicely. Just tired and in some pain, but they gave me some good drugs for that, too! I’ll tell ya’, going for surgery would be an addict’s dream!

So overall, I’m doing pretty well today, and VERY relieved it’s over. Thank you to everyone for your positive thoughts and well-wishes. They really did help!

Now—sigh—I have to go take more drugs. If ya’ gotta, ya’ gotta.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Trying to Be Positive

OK, so I might as well just tell y’all: I’m having minor surgery on Wednesday.

Now don’t you fret, and don’t you frown, because I know everything’s gonna be okay. And after all, why worry about things that you have absolutely no control over?

Still, today my mind was consumed with thoughts and questions about the surgery, like:

 What will it feel like to “go under”? (Nope, I’ve never “gone under” before.)

 Will I feel any pain during the surgery?

 Will I get through the surgery okay?

 Will I be in a lot of pain afterwards?

 Will my recovery be relatively easy or difficult?

 Will the doctors find out everything inside of me is okay?

I’m mostly worried about this last one. Now, those of you that know me know that I’m generally a very positive person. However, sometimes I, too, can sink into negativity here and there. So any positive thoughts y’all can send my way, I’m sure that would definitely help!

OK, now I need to stop worrying. I will attract positivity with positivity. As Barack Obama might say, YES I CAN!

Friday, August 1, 2008

0.0 on the Richter Scale

Iwanski and I are going on vacation very soon. Whoo-hoo!

We are heading over to the Ozark Mountains and plan on spending some time in Arkansas and Missouri. Yes, I said Arkansas and Missouri. I’m sure it will be very, very exciting!

Honestly, I am very excited. Iwanski has done a ton of research for this trip, and I know we’ll have a great time touring the countryside and enjoying its beautiful natural features. One night, we’re even staying in a hotel at the top of a mountain in Arkansas. Can you imagine what the view from our balcony will be like? I can’t wait!

I’m really lucky that Iwanski likes planning our vacations. If it were me, we’d probably end up in a bed-bug motel in a dry county in Arkansas, overlooking a dirty swimming pool. Thank God for Iwanski!

But he wasn’t always so good about planning out the details of our trip. A couple of years ago, when we traveled to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, I saw a big sign for “Earthquake: The Ride” and got really excited. After all, I’d never been in an earthquake, and I really wanted to see what it felt like, without risking life or limb. And Iwanski had not read anything about this particular attraction, so we thought we’d check it out.

Well, I still never found out what being in an earthquake was really like. Instead, I found out what it was like to flush $17 down the toilet.

Basically what it was, was one “train car” which resembled a metal cage, in a room which was supposedly a subway tunnel. When the ride started, the car shook gently. Then suddenly, the car jerked forward and backward, and the fake-ass train operator voice said, “My God, there’s an earthquake!” Then the voice screamed, “Oh my God, there’s a fire in the tunnel!”—and five feet in front of us, we saw some orange tissue paper being blown by a fan. Wow, what a fire! Then the voice said, “Everyone, please remain calm. We’re getting it under control.” Well, let me tell you, it was hard to remain calm. Iwanski and I were laughing too hard.

Then they shot water at us to put out the “fire,” and then the voice started screaming, “Oh my God, there’s rats coming onto the train!” And they blew air on our ankles to simulate the rats running around.

Then the voice yelled, “Oh my God, he’s escaped!” and a big stuffed gorilla appeared a few feet in front of us.

And then, just like that, the ride was over. It was the worst waste of money ever.

But it was definitely memorable.

I know that Iwanski did a lot of planning for this trip, but I hope he left some room for more “Earthquake: The Rides.”

Sometimes in life, it’s the unplanned events that make the best and funniest memories.