Tag Archives: diet coke

It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye…….

My dear friend from college put out a request on Facebook to see who might be interested in taking her daughter’s Flat Elizabeth on an adventure.

If you have never been entrusted with a Flat Stanley and do not have any idea what I am talking about, you should really consider what kind of friend you have been. For those of us who are trustworthy and creative and just spectacular in general, sometimes our friends will send us a Flat Stanley (or other cutout doll named after their child).  There is a children’s book about a boy named Stanley who gets smushed by a blackboard and accidentally sealed in an envelope and he ends up on a grand adventure. And some teachers think it is a great idea for kids in their class to create their own cutout doll and send him/her on his/her own grand adventure.

It is a really fun way for the kids to learn about the world.

Being so competitive willing to help another mother out, I raised my hand immediately. And, no I did not knock three other mothers down in the process – remember it was a virtual competition – I behaved myself quite nicely. After all, I am a civilized competitor – but I might have shouted “me, me, me” into the web-o-sphere once or twice. Maybe. And maybe not. But maybe.

In fact, lots of people offered (to no avail) to play tour guide to Flat Elizabeth. My friend is a delightful person and so it makes sense that a lot of friends would offer to help her. And I am not at all suggesting that they are losers in the Flat Elizabeth campaign – but you can see where she ended up. 😉

On a slow train to Ranthambore – the tiger preserve in India. Oh, yes, in case you have forgotten, India is where “I” live. Flat Elizabeth came to visit me! Yahoo! Not the other losers friends who offered to help out. I’m just sayin – I won, I won. tee hee.

She was a delightful travel companion. She didn’t each much and never had to stop for potty breaks. She didn’t even fight with her siblings – of course, that might have something to do with the fact that she does not have any siblings – but she did not fight once. And, yes, she is absolutely adorable. My friend friend’s daughter  is no slacker. She would never send a ragtag Flat Elizabeth to visit.

So Elizabeth went on a tiger safari and saw real tigers.

She went to an Indian classroom and found her initial on the board.

She saw forts and monkeys and learned a lot about the emperors of India.

She also rode a camel and an elephant.

She played in a band.

The only snafu that we hit was that security was tight at the Taj Mahal and they would not let dolls in. Yes, I know you would think the real threat would be guns, knives, or other expl*sives. But apparently, dolls are also on the no-go list. I tried as hard as I could to get them to change their minds. I explained it was for a school project – that Flat Elizabeth is really not a terr*rist and meant no harm to the Indian people. But it seems to have more to do with advertising – they do not want people taking pictures of the Taj with dolls and using them for advertisements. And, yes, I did my best to explain that in the west, we do not consider a piece of paper a doll. No offense intended to Flat Elizabeth – as I mentioned, she is the bestest Flat Elizabeth e.v.e.r –  but she hasn’t actually been offered a modeling career and her intentions were purely academic.

But we did not let that stop us. We found a picture of the Taj and took her picture in front of it and checked the Taj Mahal off our list.

She also had her picture taken with a member of the royal family.

Okay, now you are just being picky. He was a member of the royal family and he is sadly no longer with us – but once we stretched our imagination with the Taj Mahal, anything went. So, yes, that is a picture of her with a king. Truth be told, I think he was actually flirting with her. Don’t laugh – they have a lot in common you know – being made of paper is just one of the fine qualities they shared. Although I think she is from better stock than he is – or was.

She even wore a makeshift sari.

She also got all the diet coke she wanted. Shhhhh. Don’t tell my friend that part. But we loaded her up on caffeine.

Flat Elizabeth also got to stay in a palace. And enjoyed every second of the royal treatment.

And her bath at the end of the day was nothing short of divine.

Somewhere along the line, poor Flat Elizabeth lost an eye. I have sworn myself to secrecy on this one – mostly because I have no idea how it happened. But my dear friend understands that traveling in India can be dangerous. She has assured me that she knows of a very reputable eye surgeon in the U.S. who will keep it all on the down low.

Unfortunately I did not take a picture of her with only one eye because I did not want any evidence of the mishap should I be asked to testify later simply forgot. But I assure you, she was the cutest dang one-eyed “doll” e.v.e.r.

All the votes are in and it is o.f.f.i.c.i.a.l. – I am the best Flat Elizabeth hostess ever. Me, Me, Me.

My friend was so grateful that she sent this note…

Dear Queen of all things Flat Elizabeth,

Thank you so much for opening your heart and home to Flat Elizabeth. Your adventures with her far exceeded our highest expectations. You are just amazing. Our project will be so much better than anyone else’s. You are a rock star. It is as simple as that. We are hereby nominating you to the highest order of Flat Elizabethness and crown you supreme hostess and tour guide. It is with humble hearts and grateful friendship that we thank you for all that you have done for us. Even Mother Teresa herself could not have done such justice to this project.

Okay – what it really said was …

Dear A Reason 2 Write

Flat Elizabeth had a great time. Thanks.

Oh sure, the real version was more toned down than what I imagined it might be. But I know in my heart the Academy will be calling soon. Don’t doubt me. 😉

WOW Science………..

Sometimes in life, your kids want to do something and you just cannot bring yourself to say yes to even though you know you really should just say yes. You know that they will grow from it, learn from it, enjoy it. But it requires adult participation. Oh bother. Such as it was with the school science fair.

Participation was voluntary (did you hear that – v.o.l.u.n.t.a.r.y.) – no grades given – no first place – no nothing. Just the love of a little science experiment. Oh yeah and you get a t-shirt. Bear and Flower had no interest whatsoever – so I am off the hook, right? Silly rabbit, that’s what I thought too. But there is Angel. With eyes full of wonder and a heart full of enthusiasm. And great hopes for a t-shirt.

Angel: Mom, can I sign up for the science fair?
Me: Honey, you realize you don’t HAVE to sign up, right?
Angel: Yeah, I know, I just WANT to.
Me: I am not sure there are any spots left (yes, I will tell my children a fib – sue me)
Angel: Then what is that table for over THERE?
Me: Flu shots.
Angel: NO it isn’t – it’s for the science fair
Me to myself: (damn, that’s right, she can read now)
Me to Angel: Yes, dear it is – but you realize you don’t HAVE to do it.
Angel: I know, I just WANT to.
Me: Fine.

So, we sign up about 6 weeks before the day of the science fair. Angel decides (with a little good old-fashioned coaxing) that she wants to do the Coke/Mentos experiment. Fine – that’s easy enough. So, little by little I buy 2 liter bottles of soda and mentos candies. We stock pile them in the kitchen. I had to go back and get extra mentos because apparently Bear and Flower “forgot” the candy was for the experiment. (Very supportive those two.)

We I get two of each kind of soda – I roll like that – even in my hesitation to agree to do the project, I must be prepared in case one of the sodas is flat. (Oh ye of little faith – it is highly probable here that a soda might be flat.) I delay her starting the project because I am trying to find Diet Coke in 2 liter bottles. Good luck with that. I am not sure why – but I could not find it. And, sadly, it works the best.

Everything sits in our kitchen. She is distracted by knitting practice, watching tv, fighting with her brother and sister, and that damn reading habit of hers –  you name it. She almost forgot about the science fair.

But, finally she remembers that she wants to participate. I think it was because she tripped over the big science fair poster board they gave her for her display. I know, rookie mistake – I should have hidden it better. Next year. But, you can be sure I am not begging her to get started. She needs to find that inner motivation – prove that she really wants to do it. Wouldn’t you know, she found it right there on the floor next to the poster.

Now, I will admit that after number one hubby disagreed over how to measure the explosion of soda and after we discussed whether the experiment should be done on the porch or in the park, we actually all had a lot of fun. (FYI, I was right on both counts – just for the record – yes that made the project more fun.) And no, we did not ask Angel how she thought we should measure the explosion – it was her project after all – we are perfectly capable of fighting over discussing a solution without her help. Thank. you. very. much. 😉

Here is our line up.

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Coke went the highest.

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Sprite was a dud. And, yes, we tried it twice. Remember, I was prepared with reinforcements.

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Fanta looked pretty cool but also did not rise to the occasion.

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Afterwards we went to the park. (Better late than never.) And we found out that if you try to drink the soda while it is exploding, it will most definitely go up your nose.

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And we found out that it is fun to have a coke-that-has-exploded fight in the park.

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We also found out that Angel is perfectly capable of standing alone with her project for 3 hours and discussing it with anyone. Adults, children, teachers. She had no fear whatsoever. In fact, she really enjoyed it. Yes, she made her own poster.

poster

And she got this ribbon – and a certificate – and a t-shirt. WOW Science indeed.

ribbon

If you want to melt into the landscape of India and enjoy it unnoticed, I suggest you not hang out with us. Exit stage left. Immediately. There is nothing like drawing attention to yourselves by using perfectly good soda and making it explode with perfectly good candy on the porch while in the land of “we waste nothing”. Yep, we did not go unnoticed today. I wonder what our Indian neighbors really thought about our experiment and ensuing soda fight in the park. They must think us strange birds indeed.

All in all, we have survived and quite thoroughly enjoyed the science fair. But I draw the line at Girl Scouts – I am pretty sure that is an American organization that is underrepresented here – at least that will be my story and I will distract her from any sign up tables.

And by the way, Angel wore her t-shirt to school. Priceless.

Grandpa Chuck………

I was blessed with a grandfather who loved me more than even fairytales could imagine. No matter what. Always. Period. He was also proud of me – well, maybe not every single second – but he never let me know any different. I hope everyone is loved like my grandfather loved me. (I am very fortunate to be loved very much by some fabulous people – in time, I am sure you will hear about all of them – but today is just for Grandpa “Chuck”.)

When he died, I was somewhat caught up in my own life – number one hubby and I had a one-year old little bear. I was working part-time and I lived 747 miles away from him. He called me the night he died. I had sent him flowers that day and he wanted to thank me.

I was tired and in bed, so I let the machine get the phone. He left me a beautiful message about how special the flowers were and how all the women at the nursing home wanted to know who their competition was. He laughed and said good night. Then he died during the night.

It’s hard to say if I regret not picking up the phone. Of course, if I had known….. But I did not. So I was left with his voice on tape. And I played it over and over many, many times. So, who is to say. He knows I loved him. He got the flowers. And I got his voice on tape. But yes, I would have taken the opportunity to tell him how special he was – had I known.

I drove down to Georgia to help with the funeral and clean out his room. As I sat down to write his eulogy, I knew I would not be able to be the one who would read it out loud. So we asked a family friend to share my stories.

My grandfather had moved down south so my mother could be nearby to help him. He lost touch with many of his friends from New York – sadly many of them had died. As such, his funeral was mostly attended by my mother’s friends – in support of her. So it was very important to me to let them know why he was worth the time they took out of their own busy lives. I knew he needed to be remembered and in some ways introduced to the people attending his service – his memories needed to be captured.

Desperately, I wanted them to know why my grandfather was worth mourning. That he made at least one life a lot richer just by being a part of it – mine.

I started my tribute to him by writing that my very first thought when I heard he had died was to gather up all my memories of him and put them in a basket. My heart did not feel big enough to hold every laugh and every tear and every smile. But that was foolish. Me trying to be clever with my words. There is absolutely no way I could forget him or the special things he did for me. Even 10 plus years later, I can still hear his laugh and taste his fried potatoes. I can feel the warmth of his hug.

He would fill my fridge with fresh fruit and diet Pepsi (he could never remember I drank diet Coke – during his visits, I drank diet Pepsi). To this day, I cannot eat a green grape without thinking of him. He would always buy me a poppie from the VFW volunteers and I would hang it on the rear view mirror in my car. He loved to sit in the bar for an hour before eating dinner at a restaurant. He would always order an apricot sour for me. I was not 21 and I did not like the taste one bit. But I would sit and sip and watch him flirt with the waitresses 50 years younger than him. He was charming. Sometimes he would steal the steak knife from the restaurant if it was a really good one. He’d wrap it in the cloth napkin. He stole the napkin too. Sometimes he would embarrass me.

He would scour the weekly ads for the best deal on mayonnaise and other groceries. Then he would go to three different stores and stock up on the sale items. With his big old heart in tact, he would give away half of what he bought to neighbors and friends. I tried to no avail to explain the concept of saving money to him – that if you buy things on sale and then give most of it away – there aren’t many pennies left in your pocket – clearly pennies were not the point. He was not foolish with money – but sometimes his heart won out over his bottom line.

He always found the perfect gift for me – usually because he always asked me what I wanted. When I was in elementary school, he used to let me sit on his lap when I got out of the swimming pool, even though I was soaking wet and he was in his street clothes. He bought me a car when I turned 18. He called just to see how I was doing. We used to drive down to Georgia together and he would always pack his lunch. A sandwich and a beer. He was never really in a hurry. He could just sit and enjoy. He always waited until 4pm to have a cocktail and he always took the phone of the hook during his dinner. He was a very good cook – even when he was a little heavy on the pepper. He bought me my first iron skillet and I was mortified when he told me to never use soap on it. But it turns out he was right.

After Bear was born, my mother bought him a Dr. Suess book as a gift from my grandfather. She had my grandpa sign it. He signed it “With Love, Grandpa Chuck.” It was a sad day for me because we never called him Grandpa Chuck. It was his handwriting for sure, but it was not his signature. I guess that day I realized that Bear would never get to know my grandfather. My very special grandfather was slipping away little by little. That was a heartbreaking realization. My children have their own spectacular grandparents – and for that I am so grateful.

So, I treasure the fact that my children have grown up with so much family nearby. It has given them many soft places to fall. And now, we are oceans away from dinners at IHOP and sleepovers and homemade cookies and art projects and reading books and all the other gifts their grandparents are giving them. And I do not even have an answering machine. It is so hard to be away.

How did he do it?

Lots of people have commented that number one hubby has lost weight and they all want to know how he did it. I’ll say that he was certainly not jabba the b-u-t-t to begin with, but he has gone down at least two pants sizes since living in India.

He did not go on a diet and he did not start working out like a madman – but some things are different.

First, he is no longer working in our kitchen. That goes a long way in reducing the amount of food readily available.

He also switched from regular soda to diet soda. Real men do drink diet soda and they lose weight – especially if they drink a lot of soda.

Then there is the fact that Indian cooking is mostly from scratch. And not the kind of scratch where you open a can of something and doctor it up a little. I mean really from scratch. Fresh everything – that means there is not a lot of salt in the food or preservatives.

Plus it’s hotter here. I think we sweat more. I don’t know if that helps but it doesn’t hurt.

And, even though McDonalds delivers here, there are no cheeseburgers or Big Macs. The fries are delish – but when you aren’t wolfing them down with a cheeseburger  you don’t get as many calories.

Although, a lot of Indian people run 7-11’s in the U.S., there aren’t any here. So, sadly, no slurpees.

So it’s not magic – it’s fresh foods, less junk. You can see I am well on my way to being a scientist. 😎

Note: And for those of you who know him, you will get a kick out of this – yesterday he started a yoga class. Anyone want to start a pool on how long that will last? hee hee