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Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Jerk That Lives In My Old House

So, as I previously said, I have been doing a lot of online shopping for all the supplies that we'll need at the camp in the Czech. One of the things I had to buy was a small gift for each of the kids that come to the camp (somewhere around 100). After much shopping, I decided to order some really awesome Ed Hardy and Day of the Dead temporary tattoos. I ordered them from a vendor on ebay that supplies the temporary tattoos for vending machines. Since I was ordering two packages from the same seller, I emailed him and asked if he would give me a break on shipping. He agreed that he would, and sent me a PayPal "money request". I had never done that before, but all I had to do was click "accept", which I did, and the order went through. What I DIDN'T know was that my old Utah address was still on record with PayPal as my default address. I didn't become aware of this mistake until I got an email from FedEx telling me that a package had been delivered to my doorstep. After checking my doorstep and finding no package, I began to investigate further. That's when I discovered the problem. So then I picked up my phone and called my best friend from Utah, Stephanie, who lived just down the street from me. I told her the problem and asked if she would stop by the house and pick up my package of temporary tattoos and the mail them to me and I would pay her back. She said "oh sure, I'll stop by right now, because I am on my way home anyways..." (she was on her cell). I asked if she would remember where my old house was, and she laughed and said "it's not like I haven't been there a hundred times!"
A few moments later, she called me and said, "well, I got your package, but it's been opened... and... did you say it was 'temporary tattoos'?"
And I said, "yeah, why?"
She said, "well, because I rang the doorbell, and the lady that answered the door, had big temporary tattoos on her arms."
Well, as it turns out, after recieving the package from Stephanie, there was indeed a few of the 600 tattoos missing (I counted each and every one!). I really wasn't concerned about the missing tattoos. I was just appalled that someone would help themselves to something that clearly wasn't intended for them. I composed the following letter to that special person that owns my old house (it may seem a bit redundant to you now that I have already explained).

Dear Current Resident,
In a couple of days I will be going on a mission trip to the Czech Republic. Part of my duties to prepare for the trip was to do the shopping for all the supplies we would need, including gifts for all the children at a camp we will be working at. I ordered temporary tattoos online as a gift for the kids there. However, I made the mistake of not checking my “default” address on Paypal, and therefore, my package was sent to my old address, which, unfortunately for me, appears to be your new address. I can understand that someone might have unknowingly opened a package that was NOT addressed to them, since it did show up on their doorstep. But after opening it, and seeing the contents, I am sure you realized it was not intended for you, and was obviously paid for by someone else. I can’t imagine anyone being rude enough to then help themselves to the temporary tattoos as if they were there own.
I hope there I not too many people like you in the world.

And here is the envelope before I dropped it in the mail:

Now that I have spoken my mind to them, I can release the bitterness... like an irretrievable letter after being dropped into a post office box.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Arts and Crafts?? Czech!!

As you may or may not know, in exactly one week from today I will be traveling to the Czech Republic with a group of teenagers to work at an English camp for 2.5 weeks. Incase you're wondering, no, I don't speak Czech, but apparently you only have to be able to speak English to teach it (I guess we'll see). The past couple of months I have been occupied with planning curriculum, activities and art projects for the kids that will come to the camp. My favorite part has been planning the crafts. My second favorite part has been shopping online for all the supplies (on someone elses CC) and ending up with mounds of packages on my front step!... well... except for the temporary tattoo package that did NOT end up on my front step like it was supposed to... but that story I will save for my next blog post. My THIRD favorite part was getting to create samples of all the crafts we will be doing together. As soon as I return, I plan on doing all the crafts all over again with my own kids, who I will have most definately missed with all my heart!
Here are some of my favorite crafts I have planned: The teenagers wanted to do a tiedye project, so that is what this is. I couldn't find blank t-shirts for under a dollar each, but I did find these totebags for a dollar each, which works better anyways, because then we don't have to worry about size differences. The black dye (which typically doesn't come in store bought kits) gives it a mudmee tie dye look- a tie dye form that actually requires more skills than I have.

I remember doing this craft when I was a kid (and way less creative). I found this "solar nature print" paper online with 40 sheets for $8. At first, I was determined to figure out how to "skeletonize" leaves on my own. Just so you know, every single recipe and method on the internet DOES NOT work. I tried the boiling baking soda method, the bleach method, the stippling method- none work. Then I found that pre-skeletonized leaves are pretty cheap, so I just bought them. But THEN, one night while trying to unclog my kitchen sink (which is still clogged, by the way), I discovered a method that works! Draino. Soak a leaf overnight in Draino, and in the morning it will be skeletonized.
The solar paper develops in the sun leaving the silhouette of whatever was put on top of it. Then I added some color with watercolor paints. I can't wait to see what the kids in the Czech come up with!

Supposedly, hat painting was a big hit last year, so we're doing it again this year. We found these hats (in varying colors) at the dollar shop. Nothing too special about it, but my kids are still dying to do their own. And Roxanne has claimed my sample hat.

I am a decoupaging queen. I love love love to decoupage. For this craft, we got these 12X12 inch frames at Michaels for $1 each. Then I will bring my gigantic collection of things I've cut out of magazines and the kids can decoupage them onto their wooden frames. Brandi and I created this frame together, and we are also seen together in the photo displayed by the frame!

This craft goes along with the "fashion" lesson. I have been requesting free clothing catalogues which have been stuffing my mailbox for months now. I've clipped tons of clothing items out of the catalogues which the kids can collage into little people (as seen). Then they will have to demonstrate their fashion vocabulary by presenting it to the group and describing the clothing.

This necklace activity is also part of the English lesson. I bought these "woodsie" wooden dog tags online. The kids will go through magazines and cut out words that they think describe themselves and paste them onto the tag, which they can wear around their neck. This will help their English reading and comprehension skills (or so I think).

So, if you happen to think of me in the next couple of weeks, pray that I am making a difference in the Czech (for the teenagers I am going with and for the ones we'll be teaching), so that I won't be abondoning my children and husband in vain! Also pray that all the Czech kids will make wonderful beautiful crafts that I can take lots of pictures of and post on here (I should have internet connection while there)! Also, pray that when I come back, I can be an extra super fun awesome amazing mom, to make up for my absense while I am gone, and also to make up for all the neglecting I have been doing during preparation. And, finally, pray that my husband will miss me terribly and want me to never ever leave him again because he realizes how much he needs, loves, and cherishes me! And pray that I won't miss him too much.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Trading Tornadoes for Toads and Tadpoles!

Supposedly, tornadoes have been rocking the Ranch lately- however, none of which I have been lucky enough to see. In fact, both instances when a tornado was sighted nearby, I happened to be right where I am right now- in front of the computer... oblivious. But yesterday morning I heard it reported that the tornadoes were returning to the Ranch, which made it a perfect day for the kids and I to head out on a tornadoe chasing adventure! Sadly, we did not catch (or even see) any tornadoes... but we did catch a toad! Well... actually, Rocket caught a toad, and I'm not really even sure how because I didn't see it happen, but he was very proud of his catch when he did present it to me.

Despite his expression in this picture, he was pretty ecstatic about the capture- I think he is just annoyed that I insisted on taking a picture. When Roxanne declared that it was her turn to hold the toad, Rocket said that he did not trust her with his toad. I told him that it wasn't his toad, it was God's toad, so he had better share it with his sweet little sister, lest he experience an immediate unfortunate fate. Then the frog started crying. I never knew that frogs cried. I knew they ribbited and croaked and even sometimes made a very convincing goat/sheep-like noise. But, I tell you, they can also cry just like a baby when they are frightened.

So, I told the kids that it was time to return the poor frog to the wild where it belonged. Both of the kids were highly dissapointed that they could not take the toad home.
But, we DID capture some of the toads little babies, and brought them home with us. We are doubly determined this year, to nurture these tadpoles into froghood. Last year we learned some difficult lessons about tadpole care. We learned NOT to leave the tadpoles outside in a pitcher on a windy, sunny day, because you will most likely end up having to chizzle the dead dried tadpoles off of your deck. We also learned NOT to give the tadpoles tap water, even if you have boiled and cooled it. I will update you later on our progress. If I don't, then it was probably a failure.
Tadpoles were not the only creatures we toated home with us. After a look at the pond water under our microscope (which we recently snatched from the Goodwill for $5), we discovered that there was a whole realm of beings we were unaware of, in just one tiny little droplet! I was not incredibly successful at trying to take a picture through the microscope lense, but hopefully you can make out the eyeball and antennae of this little buglike thing that was previously undetectable. It was swimming around as we watched it, and you could see its organs underneith its transparent exoskeleton. Very cool.
Whoever ever said Highlands Ranch is not a very exciting place?!?! OK, ok... I admit, it was me. I suppose in even the most boring places on earth there are always atleast a few tiny, yet amusing, things that we overlook.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mr. & Mrs. Fresh 2009

If there really were an award for Mr and Mrs Fresh, first place would most definately go to Jolleen and Odie. After seeing my portrait of the Richards family, Jolleen asked me to put in a rush order for a portrait of her and Odie so that she could give it to him for their anniversary (which is tomorrow). With Jolleen being pretty much the coolest and most generous person I've ever met, I couldn't say no. She asked me to depict them in a way that would enhance their white trash characteristics (which they are very proud of)- but no alchohol or drugs. She tricked Odie into coming over to my place so I could take pictures of them "for a project I was working on". He had no idea. Odie apparently has a fetish with coonskin hats, so I had to paint him an extra fresh one- just like Davy Crockette. However, I have never seen him in overalls, although they seem to go well with the hat, dontcha think?
When I first moved back to Colorado, and met Jolleen, I was pretty sure she was my soulmate (even if she didn't feel that way). So I started to pray that she and Odie would move from the Springs to Denver so we could get to know each other more. I think God answered that prayer by sending me Jodi, who sounds like a combination of "Jolleen" and "Odie". Jolleen+Odie=Jodi. Get it?
Anyways, I think I might be beginning a long career in family portraits, because I already have a list of orders put in.... anyone else?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Some Other Things
We Think We Saw At the Zoo...

Ofcourse, I brought my camera along to capture a few of these creatures...

Chocolate and Canteloupe

Rocket is still in school. But Roxanne is not. Yesterday, I had a wonderful girls' day out at the zoo with Roxanne and her best friend Kei. One of my favorite parts was just listening to the two of them chat in the back seat while I drove. At one point, I heard this cute little conversation as I eavesdropped from the front:

Roxanne: Look at your leg next to mine!
Kei: I know, Roxanne. We have different skin colors. I am black and you are white.
Roxanne: White?! I am not white! I am.... peach.
Kei: You are a peach?! Well... then I am chocolate!
Roxanne: Chocolate?! I love chocolate! But, I am not a peach. Actually, I am a canteloupe.
Kei: Alright. You are a canteloupe and I am chocolate.
Roxanne: Did you know my mom packed some canteloupe for our picnic today?
Kei: Ohh yum! Did you pack any chocolate?
Roxanne: No, it's not healthy.

Then we spent some time at the zoo drawing the animals and having a picnic. The girls were much more patient than when I bring the boys, and they came out with some fantastic drawings.

And then we went home.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Bad Dr. Sketchy's: Two in a Row

Dr. Sketchy's has been bad lately. See the picture above? Does it appear to be the ugliest lady in the world? It's not. It's a man. And that is the problem with drawing men who like to dress as women. When you draw them, they just look like ugly women. Now in person, drags can be interesting- but only because you've got the whole package (no pun intended)- the burley walk, the shockingly deep voice, the conspicuous adams apple that dips as they swallow, and the snickers and chuckles from those around who think they can't be heard. But on paper, all that doesn't translate. The "kids coloring contest" label was my own cynical joke... but for some reason, I was the only one who laughed at it. Feel free to print it out for your childrens' enjoyment!

Oh well, there's always next month, right? Wrong. Next month was just as bad. We had a "gothic lolita", which, from the description, sounded pretty interesting- nauseatingly cute, doll-like features, over-the-top gaudy outfits, etc. But "interesting" was quite the opposite. Lolitas are like dolls, and dolls have no personality. Dolls stare blankly and pose stiffly. Not fun. It would have been just as fun to draw one of the not-fun dolls sitting around my own house... like Miss. Heart, who recently had an unfortunate run-in with an outdoor predator, leaving her fingerless. We hadn't even noticed that she had been missing (when you live the kind of sinister lifestyle that she does, people don't notice when you're gone). When the snow began to melt at the end of the spring, we noticed an arm emerging from the ice in our back yard. As we unearthed her, we discovered her face down wearing nothing but Hello Kitty panties- and her fingers were long gone. There's no telling who might have done this, but you have to admit, that she had it coming.

Monday, June 01, 2009


Last Monday I woke up 2 minutes earlier than I had to (which was 4 hours earlier than I normally do), so that I would have time to change my Facebook status to this: "Naomi is BolderBouldering", before I left to catch a bus to Boulder. Then Matt and I competed in the largest timed race in America (largest, meaning the most people, not meaning the longest), along with about 50,000 other people. As I previously mentioned, participating in this event is somewhat of a symbol of me overcoming my past and the things I allowed to hold me back. For some people, the race was a sortof "walk in the park", but for me it was monumental- not because it was particularly difficult for me, but because it was something I would have never expected of myself at one point in my life.
The most unanticipated difficulty of the race was not being aware of my timing as I ran. I had bought a watch at the dollar store the day before the race, but as I opened the package, the watch fell apart. So as I ran, I had no way of gauging whether or not I was in par with my goal pace. The last hill of the race was fairly steep and by that time I had become pretty convinced that I had already failed to meet my goal of finishing in under an hour and was feeling a bit downcast. But, as I ran into the roaring CU stadium, and saw the finish line, I glanced up at the gigantic score board clock and realized that I had about 3 more minutes to make my goal, a feeling of elation came over me and I sprinted to the finish line, finishing 6.2 miles in 58 minutes. I copied the above picture off of one of the websites. I think when the picture was taken, I was just realizing that I would be able to finish in under an hour.
But take a look at the lady (or is it a man?) in the brown shirt about three people behind me. It looks as though she did not make her goal. She symbolizes what I was 10 years ago. Letting hardships overcome me, instead of embracing them. Here is a close up of the face of defeat:

And now, another face of victory:

Matt finished in an amazing 53 minutes- a time he doesn't seem to be proud of, but should be. He was in the top 20% of all the racers- some of them being professionals.

When I got home from the race that afternoon, I again logged onto Facebook to update my status again. This time it said: "Naomi's BolderBoulder 10K finish time: 58 minutes. I am complete".