Friday, January 30, 2009


I found this picture today. Can you guess which one is me? Okay, I am the one in the modest bikini. I thought it would give all of you who are about to binge during the Superbowl weekend a good reason to renew that New Year's resolution. I am now considering wrapping bacon around chicken breasts and dipping these into a cheese sauce made with light Velveeta and low fat sausage instead of making bacon wrapped cheesy chicken wings marinated in butter and Tabasco.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I got my first taste of Obama's diefication about a year ago. I was at Sams and a nerdy 11 year old was begging his mom for a Rock Band game. "No, I am not buying you one more thing. You have enough stuff!" This was when the kid started crying because he really felt a strong need to get this game, "Mom, Please!, Mom, Please!" I can never keep my nose in my own business, so I interjected, "Hey, your Mom doesn't have to buy it for you. You can save up your birthday money. You can do chores. It might take you 6 months but you can pay for it yourself." His mother looked like a light had just gone on, "That is exactly what Barrack Obama would do!"

I can't speak for the young Obama. He was living the riotous life in Hawaii. I just know that Joe had saved up for about 7 or 8months so he could buy his Wii. I was trying to tell her that it wasn't Barrack, but Joe Muir who had saved and worked and saved some more until he finally had enough. She wasn't listening. Obama got the credit for Joe's efforts.

So has anyone else noticed that Obama gets credit for the sun that shines and the water that flows down the rivers to the sea? Just a few days ago I heard a reporter doing a piece on Air Force One as if Obama had just created this magic traveling machine. Haven't all of the presidents been riding Air Force One for at least the past 50 years. If you haven't noticed, then just pay attention for a few days and this practice by the gaga-fied press may annoy you as much as it annoys me.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Tenth and Last Pinewood Derby

The I-Car

Joe had this concept last year at the conclusion of the Pinewood Derby. "Wouldn't it be great if there was a car that looked like an I-Pod. Wouldn't it be great if the picture on the video part of the I-Pod was me playing a guitar!" Joe always has a person on his car. The first year he had an X-car with a Lego-man named Wolverine doing the driving duty. Last year he had a car called the Red Pony with a little people guy driving. With Joe it is always about the guy. I like this aspect of Joe and I think it says something about what he values.

On Wednesday I reweighed the car and realized we were over weight. We had to drill out a penny from the bottom. All of this drilling kind of unbalanced the car. I think we got some wood chips in the axles too.

We had to keep readjusting the wheels during the night because they would get out of kilter, making the car wobble, slowing us down...

Joe's car was doing pretty well but I wasn't paying attention because I was running the free concession stand. Hot Dogs, chili, nachos, lemonade, Kolaide and icecream bars. With this menu we can feed about 100 people for less than $70. At one point Joe was ready to go home and I asked him why. "Because I am on a loosing streak." I had him get his car and we adjusted the wheels. He was back on track again.

This is the display of all of the cars before the race. A few Webelos had had enough through the years and didn't show up. Al Jensen and the Webelo's den make all of our car displays every year and they do a great job.

Joe came in second over all and first in the Webelos den. Would he have come in first if he weren't unbalanced and making a bunch of adjustments? My guess is probably not, but it really doesn't matter. He was happy. I was thrilled that the Pinewood Derby process is over for me. This is not one of those things I am going to say, "Remember when the kids were little an I used to build the pinewood derby car every year. Wasn't that fun." It is a lot of work. So much can and does go wrong. Bob is less adept at this than I am, if you can believe it. The one car he worked on ended up with Jeff in tears after he superglued a lead man on the car after we had spent hours trying to get the weight right, and Bob was so frustrated that Jeff got in trouble. It is really frustrating when the eight year old wrecks the car, but it is his car. You know, I think I would rather get a tooth pulled than work on another Pinewood Derby car! At least the pain would be my own and I wouldn't hold the responsibility of an 8 year-old's happiness in case our car came in last place. I remember building Jeff's first Pinewood derby car. I didn't know you had to put weight on the car or work on the wheels and axles, or put graphite on the axles. Jeff came in last place that year. Jeff had 4 Pinewood Derby cars because of the way his birthday fell in the year. John had 3 and Joe had 3. That is a total of 10. I have learned a few lessons through the years:
1. Put the weight on top of the car preferably over the rear axle.
2. Spend time on the wheels and axles. Take off the nicks. Try to embed graphite into the wheels and axles. Trim the inside of the wheel just a little bit, to a V shape. Reshape the wheels so that they are more rounded. Use graphite liberally. Make sure the wheels spin freely and evenly.
3. Use lead weight especially if you are embedding the weight. It is hard to drill out a penny.
4. Make sure the car has over all balance. If the car pulls to one side during the race you are going to lose now matter how well you have done on your paint, weight, or wheels.
5. Use a 5 minute epoxy to reinforce the axle grooves. Coat your axles with vaseline or grease and stick them in the epoxied axle grooves and let them dry for 5 to 10 minutes. Use some pliers to gently remove the axles. After you finish working on the axles they can slide right back in.

I am officially passing the torch. The answer is no, I will not work on my future grandson's pinewood derby cars. That would be almost as painful as giving birth. Oh, sorry, Megan and other young adult women reading this blog who have not had a child yet. Childbirth really isn't very painful. Honestly. Good luck to future generations because I am out!

Joe comes in first after we tweeked his wheels a little to end his loosing streak.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

O'Bummer of a day

Today I watched Obama's inauguration then headed out to do errands for the Pinewood derby to be held tomorrow night. While out, I realized that my phone wouldn't work because the battery was dead because I plugged it into the charger last night but forgot to plug the charger into the wall.

Thus incapacitated, but nonetheless hungry, I stopped at Krispy Kreme for my free inaugural donut. While trying to get back on the freeway I realized that I was about to run out of gas. I got off on the first available exit and ran out of gas in the middle of a bridge at an intersection. I tried pushing the car out of the intersection but I guess I am not very strong. Fortunately, two of the three Nephites came and pushed my car while I steered to a semi-safe spot. I walked four or five blocks and found a gas station. I bought a gas can for $10 and a gallon of gas. I might have called a friend or Bob, but remember, my phone was out of juice too. As I was walking back to my car I had a distinct memory that the candidate Barrack Obama was really concerned about keeping gas in the cars of middle-class Americans. Where was he today when I needed his help? He was in DC enjoying a parade and a ball while I struggled by running out of gas while getting a free donut in his honor on his his big day. It seems President Obamma could not even let one day pass before going back on his campaign promises.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Life In The Segregated South Revisited

I was talking to Megan today about my last MLK post and I realized that I had never told my kids what life was like in the segregated south. I moved to Georgia in 1964 from San Diego, California. Somehow, being from California made us Yankees. I had never heard this term before but I was only 4 years old so I hadn't heard a lot of terms before. I realized the term Yankee meant that we didn't hate black people. Now that I look back on it I don't think the Rebels(as they called themselves even though the Civil War had been over for about 100 years) really hated black people. They just did not consider them to be equal to white people. They did not really wish them harm, they just didn't want to go to school with, go to work with, share public facilities with, eat with, or have any informal or formalized relationships with this sub class of people.

Some of the things I remember seeing were signs posted by private establishments welcoming Whites, while not publicly excluding blacks. A sign might read, "This restaurants welcomes White customers." I think that by 1964 companies were not allowed to specifically exclude blacks, but technically they were not excluding them with these signs, they were just welcoming whites. I remember that if my parents went into a grocery store and there were black people in line my parents would be invited to the front of the line. Being Yankees, they were offended by these gestures and would decline the offer, to the consternation of the clerk who would usually mumble something about the corruption the nigger-loving Yankees were bringing to the state. I hope I haven't offended anyone by this term. It was an offensive time.

Even now there are black parts of town and white parts of town. I think the difference back then was that there were policies in place to ensure that black people did not try to live in the white parts of town. Homeowners would refuse to rent or sell to black people. I only remember seeing one black lady in my neighborhood when I was there. She was a maid for an older couple. All the Yankee kids in the neighborhood were convinced that she must be a slave being held against her will. I am not sure why we came up with that one. I guess we knew we were being ridiculous because we never tried to rescue her.

Once in a while we would get a black child who attended Lockheed Elementary. There would never be more that two black kids at the school at a time but our school was considered to be integrated.

I never saw a mixed race couple in public for the 4 1/2 years that I was there.

During the 1968 presidential campaign George Wallace, governor of Alabama ran on a ticket promoting more segregation as the answer to the nation's problems. Being a Republican at the age of 8, I fought for Richard Nixon despite the overwhelming support for Wallace by the mini Boll Weevil Democrats turned Independents. It is hard to believe that a Segregationist could carry five states in a general election. I wanted to celebrate Nixon's victory but all of my little Rebel friends and my teacher were pretty depressed with the election results and even then I knew to keep my celebration to myself.

The failed campaign of Wallace seemed to be another nail in the coffin for segregation. I left Georgia in April of 1969 so I never witnessed a lot of integration. I just checked the demographics for my former elementary school. The new numbers come in as follows: black students-46%, hispanic students-38%, white-8%, multi-racial-7%. I guess this proves that you can't really force integration. White flight must have been the result. I am now officially disapointed. 2 4 6 8 they refused to integrate.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

MLK Remembered, My Eye Witness Account

I was a seven year old living in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia in 1968 when MLK was killed. I remember my 2nd grade teacher, Miss Garrett making an announcement to the class that MLK had been killed and that we were to go directly home after school. We were not to stop at the little store on the way home. We were not to dawdle. We were to run home as quickly as possible, and we should make sure we had our little brothers and sisters with us. She advised us that when we got home we were to stay in our houses and not go out to play. She informed us that there might be trouble and then she dismissed class. That was when the imaginations of all of the kids started to run wild! The rumor started to swirl that the Negroes from Atlanta were marching down the four-lane to Marrietta, GA to kill all of us little white kids because they were mad about MLK. As I ran home with my sisters I looked as far up the four-lane as my vision would allow but saw no mass of angry Negroes heading our way, even though all of my friends swore that they could see them running with knives, guns and baseball bats. The new rumor was that they were going to cut off the hair of the blond kids and poke out the eyes of the blue-eyed kids. I was pretty relieved that I had brown hair and brown eyes at that point. My sisters, with their blond hair, were going to end up looking pretty bad though. I hoped the Negroes could discern that Deanna had green eyes, not blue, or else she would end up in a school for the blind. Needless to say, we were terrified! In my mind I developed a plan. If I were to get caught up in the murderous riot I would calmly explain to everyone that I did not hate Negroes, that I thought they should have the same rights as white people. Fortunately, there were no riots in Atlanta spilling over into little Marrietta, so I did not have to use my 7-year-old powers of persuasion.

I just remember great sadness. I remember the tears shed publicly by Negroes in Atlanta. I am using the term Negroes because that was the politically correct language in 1968. That was the polite and respectful term. I know that there have been many updates since, but this is a 1968 memory. MLK was killed on April 4th in Memphis, Tennessee in the early evening. We had heard about his death on the news before we went to school on April 5th. I remember being sad, but back in the 60's it seem like assassination was just the way things were. From looking at old news reports there were riots in Chicago and DC. I wonder why we were allowed to walk home unaccompanied if the school was so worried about a threat. They must have had a lot of confidence in our ability to run fast and handle the situation.

I turned 8 on April 7th. I think it is funny that the only thing I remember about my birthday that year was thinking that I was old enough to be baptized but knowing that no one in my family would get around to making the arrangements. The funeral was held 2 days later on April 9th in Atlanta. We watched some of it on TV but my father didn't have a lot of patience watching coloreds on TV so that was out. As for my newly minted eight-year-old self, I loved to hear MLK's I Have a Dream speech and his Promised Land speech. You would think that I would have gone to see some of the proceedings out of respect and proximity, but no. This was 1968 and there were visible racial lines that would not be crossed.

I remember being allowed to play outside again the day after the funeral. What a happy day! I went back to my all white life in the Atlanta suburbs where the biggest racial development in the neighborhood was a new form of token integration. Deanna had a negro kindergarten teacher, Miss Killingsworth!

So this MLK weekend I reflect on how far this country has come in the last 41 years. It seemed after MLK's death that the time for talk was over and there seemed to be some real action taken by judges and legislatures to eliminate forced segregation.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Work Party-The Perfect Oxymoron

Bob's company had its annual post-holiday party last night. The venue was Maggianos so the food was great! The Diet Coke from the bar was top notch too. I didn't want to go over the two drink limit just because too much caffeine that late at night keeps me up way too long. It is just kind of hard going to these things as the spouse. I only see the other consultants once a year and I have trouble remembering a lot of details from year to year. But I do go. I usually overdress but I didn't make that mistake this year.

The entertainment was a casino. I am just not a gambler so I don't feel comfortable participating. It is all so foreign to me and I have not interest at all. Fortunately, the speech by the managing director lasted about one minute which is about the right amount of time in my book. She mentioned that it had been a hard year and that 2009 wasn't stacking up too much better yet but that she hoped business conditions would improve during the second half of the year. I am just grateful that Bob is on a steady project right now. It would be a hard time to roll off and be sitting on the bench.

A thought just occurred to me that next year I am going to bring my own entertainment. I bet a few other people would enjoy playing a non-gambling game like Apples to Apples or Banannagrams. If not, I could go off and entertain myself with a Sudoku or a crossword puzzle.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Christmas 2008

I finally got around to posting pictures from Christmas two weeks after the fact. I had been working on a couple more posts earlier and I just published them today so you might want to look at those too!

I took this picture of John before the Military Ball at the Hyatt. What a Handsome guy!

Christmas Morning

John with his new printer. Thanks Dad!

Three boys with their Aunt Deanna gifts. Subway cards for the big boys and a Camp Rock DVD and HSM3 CD. Thanks Aunt Deanna!

John opening his new digital camera. A gift that comes with a cost. We expect to see a lot of pictures from your USNA adventures. I think you have also been assigned by the TX USNA Parent's club to take pictures of North Texas Midshipmen for the news letter. Ask Miss Tannehill for specifics. Thanks Mom and Dad. Thanks a lot!

What a warm fleece jacket. Thanks Deanna!

Joe with Guitar Hero World Tour. Thanks Santa, Mom and Target for the Black Friday Deal!

Joe gave John an autographed football and an autographed football card both signed by Joe Muir. Someday that is going to be worth a lot of money when Joe is playing in the NFL. Thanks Joe!

John gave Joe a football so that Joe can practice everyday so that he can make it into the NFL. Hopefully he will not kick this one up on the roof of the school. Thanks John!

Grandpa Stockam gave me a soap mold and a soap cutter. He made it with wood from his property in Arkansas. He is handy with tools and worked really hard to come up with a good design. Thanks Daddy!

Joe gave me the fourth Twilight book, Breaking Dawn. That was exactly what I needed. Thanks Joe!

Jeff was flippin happy to get a DVD of one of his favorite movies, Smoke Signals. Thanks Mom!

What could be inside this huge gift box for Bob? I imagine Santa had a tough time carrying it down the chimney. It's a fireproof safe which is in another picture in this post. Thanks Santa!

Megan and Chris got Joe a football tee and a pump with needles for ball maintenace. Everyone is helping Joe on his path to the NFL. Thanks Megan and Chris!

With this new camcorder Willy Wonka can make a big splash on the youtube scene. Thanks Mom and Dad!

We are happy that Grandpa could come and spend Christmas with us. He is opening up a box with a new hose for his air compresser. Don't get too excited now. Thanks Bonnie!

This book about all of the airplanes and ships of the USN once belonged to a Plebe at the Academy who quit. As a resourceful Midshipman on a limited budget John wrapped it up and gave it to Grandpa. It was his favorite gift. Thanks John!

Who didn't get Rock Band this year? Joe has really enjoyed playing this with his freinds. I think it is cute that everyone loves to be the lead singer. Thanks Dad! He placed the order on Amazon as I shopped on Black Friday.

I didn't get a picture of the Balderdash and Bananna Grams games that we got. Thanks Megan and Chris! So far Joe has only thrown one tantrum while playing. Fortunately I found the missing tile he threw when I put the tree down. But he is getting better. I did not get a picture of the money that Grandpa and Grandma Muir gave to everyone. It was the right size and color. Thanks Grandma and Grandpa!

All Good Things Must Come To An End

Joe, John and Mom before heading back to school.

Joe, John and Dad

Joe,John and Dad in the 83 degree weather on January 3rd!

At the Airport. See you at Spring Break!

About Me

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I am a stay at home mom but the clock is ticking. My husband and I only have one child left at home. I enjoy shopping and finding great bargains.