Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Close That Door!

A girlfriend of mine who subscribes to this blog recently asked how so many funny things keep happening to me. I wish I knew.  All I know is that I will never run out of material, both a blessing and a curse.
Here is the latest one. I had an appointment in an office building, but when I got there, I discovered it was a huge complex of several buildings.  So I parked and then popped into the closest one to get directions.  Hmm.   No reception desk.  So I wandered down a hallway, and saw this sign:
Yes, you cannot make this stuff up. Can you imagine what’s going on behind that door?  I figure all hell has broken loose in a science lab, with monkeys and kangaroos leaping about, smashing beakers, and sending lab-coated scientists under the desks for cover.  Even if it’s just guinea pigs, believe-you-me, they can create a good bit of mayhem.  I (unwisely) allowed our daughter to breed them when she was in junior high, so she could learn about genetics.  Trust me; there’s plenty of genetic info online.
Or perhaps this is the office of a jokester.  I would certainly enjoy posting a sign like that, just for amusement’s sake.  Years ago I heard of a brilliant burglar deterrent.  You post a sign on your front door that says, “Beware of Dangerous Pyracantha.  If confronted, do not try to run, just back away slowly.”  Then you put a big, empty cage on your front porch, with its door open.
Of course, this assumes that burglars don’t know what a pyracantha is.  It’s a plant and it looks like this:
Still, a sign like that on your home would be a great idea.  And the other one is perfect for your office. Or maybe it’s just a preschool.  Either way, you can believe I did not open that door.

Have you checked out my website, lately?  No scary tabs that lead to maniacal creatures, I promise.  Just lots of fun videos to watch and some terrific books to buy!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Is There a Boredom Shortage?

          It’s that time.  Summer is ending, and families are running out of ways to entertain the kids, as many parents count the days until their stir-crazy kids can go back to school. 
          It’s as if we have all agreed to mount a War on Boredom.  We pack our kids’ lives so full of campouts and trips and sports and programs that their entire summer reads like the appointment calendar of a CEO.
          And today I’m calling it out.  Boredom is good.  Yep, there-- I’ve said it.  Boredom is absolutely necessary to a happy life.  But because it’s unpleasant, a bunch of silly parents 30 years ago decided it had to be avoided at all costs.  We began this era of “Supermoms” and “Superkids,” enrolling them in enrichment classes, competing to get into the right pre-schools, giving them every opportunity in every hour of the day to get jump on the competition.
          What a crock. Years ago no parent gasped in horror when a kid said he was bored.  Instead, the parent asked him what he was going to do about it.  And we made our own entertainment.
          The result?  Creative self-starters who knew how to roll up their sleeves and solve problems, instead of waiting for someone to entertain them.  We built forts, put on plays, made spook alleys in our basements, made stuff and sold it door-to-door, started lawn trimming companies, told jokes, taught littler kids how to tumble or dance, ran libraries out of our bedrooms, wrote poems, held art festivals, read books, went on scavenger hunts, designed puzzles, learned to cook, climbed trees, trained dogs, grew vegetables, told scary stories, and made up our own games to play.  For free.
          There was no limit to what our imaginations could conjure up—we could pretend to be forest fairies, spies, movie stars, cowboys, zombies.  We could watch clouds tumble by in the day, and stars gather at night. Granted, it was safer then to run around a neighborhood, but you could be just as creative on stormy days cooped up at home, simply because you had the mindset that your joy was up to you.  And that’s what’s missing today—the chance for kids just to think for themselves.
          When someone directs your life every minute of the day, you become an automaton.  You don’t plan or imagine because there’s no point—your schedule is already determined.  There are also adult-levels of pressure injected into these activities, far more than most kids should have to manage.  And then parents wonder why their child seems depressed and unmotivated.  Look at primates and big cats in zoos—they’ve lost their freedom and they know it.  And they act just like many kids today: Listless, flat, miserable.
          Having choices and self-determination is vital to happiness.  When those are stripped away, you are living in a prison of sorts.  And even though you go to Taco Bell and have your own bedroom and the latest sneakers… you don’t have the freedom to invent or dream.  Someone else is deciding everything for you.  What we need to do is allow kids to get good and bored.  Then watch and see what their brains can do.  You will be amazed.

Check out my website, jonihilton.com, and watch a few of my YouTube Mom videos.  You might even find some fun stuff to do on those wonderful, boring days!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Scene of the Crime

Imagine you have just been to see the new, suspenseful Mission Impossible movie.  Imagine you have come home, still a bit jumpy, your mind swirling with crime and mayhem.
          Now look in your guest bathroom  and see this:
          Not your everyday occurrence, can we agree?  So here are the possibilities I offer you:
1-   A very large man with big feet has somehow entered my home (after murdering somebody), then has hidden in my bathtub, only to mysteriously liquefy and flow down the drain.
2-   My cat has approximately 100% more hunting ability than I thought, has captured a human this time, but could only eat half of him.
3-   A fly fisherman ghost has walked right through my walls and has taken a bubble bath, but then has fallen asleep after the water drained out. And he’s still there.
4-   A space man with time transporting abilities has broken into my home, hidden in my bathtub, and then gotten sent to Medieval times, and I don’t mean the dinner show.
5-   An alligator wrestler has chosen my bathtub for his latest practice session (after all, there’s a lot of mud here), but has lost and the alligator is still creeping around my house. 
6-   Our son, Richie, who just became a geologist, has gone to investigate some goopy, swampy site, and has left his pants and boots here without first warning his mother. 
Allright, fine.  If you guessed # 6 you are right.  But you must admit it’s a bit disconcerting to find half a dead guy in your tub, no?  Even Dr. Seuss wrote a scary book about exactly this kind of discovery.  It’s called The Pale Green Pants and goes, “Then I was deep within the woods when, suddenly, I spied them. I saw a pair of pale green pants with nobody inside them!”
So I know I’m in good company, being concerned about this half-a-person-in-the-tub thing.  I also know it should be a requirement that geologists bring their mothers gemstones after each expedition, if only to quell their fears.  (If these scientists are so smart, how come they didn’t think of that?)
You can give your mother a wonderful surprise—better than a gemstone.  Okay, better than some gemstones.  Give her one of my books, available here.  Or buy one for yourself!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Shoe Fly

          Aha.  You thought I misspelled that, didn’t you?  You thought I meant Shoo Fly.  But no; today I am talking about my latest foray into the frustrating realm of BUYING SHOES.
          And let me just say that I am not one of these women with eight thousand pairs of shoes.  I like them, but I’m not an addict.  I do breeze by the shoe department and slow down when I see a gorgeous pair of high heels.  I’ll pick one up to admire it, suddenly notice it has a red sole, and then sigh.  This means trouble.  This mean it’s a Christian Louboutin high heel and will have an insane price tag. And I think we can both agree that a thousand dollars—or even seven hundred, as many of his are—is an insane price for a pair of shoes, even if they are gorgeous.
          So I try to shop where nobody’s ever heard of this Louboutin guy, nor his outlandish prices.  And it works pretty well, except for last week when I needed a new pair of tan sandals with a heel.  My old ones are at least eight years old, and though I stopped caring that they are no longer the most current style, I do care when they begin to fall apart.
          Up and down the aisles I went, hunting for a shoe with a medium heel, two or three inches high.  Men, you have no idea what women (or their backs) go through to stay current with the dictates of designers.  I couldn’t find anything shorter than five inches.  So, to quote the entire state of Utah (where I spent my childhood), I thought, “What the heck—I’ll just try on a tall one, and see how it feels.”
          Mind you, it has been at least ten years since I’ve worn Barbie pumps or any shoe with a five-inch heel.  I sat down, slipped my foot into a camel-colored beauty, buckled the ankle strap, and stood up.
WHAMMO!   My calf seized in an immediate Charlie Horse.  I tried not to yelp, collapsed back onto my chair, and then struggled to unbuckle the shoe. It would not unbuckle.  The pain was escalating as my calf cramped tighter and tighter.  Finally I got the shoe off (threw it, I think), and then tried to stand, barefoot.  But my foot was stuck in a toe-point, as if encased in an invisible ballet pointe shoe.  
And it was killing me. It took both hands and the strength of Hercules to finally bend my ankle, then stand on my foot, trying to stretch my calf out again.  I walked.  It throbbed.  I walked.  It throbbed.
Nobody knows where the term, “Charlie Horse” came from, but other countries have better names for it. It’s called the paralyzer in Portugal, the horse’s kiss or muscle hangover in Germany, donkey bite, water buffalo, or old woman in Italy, thigh hen in Norway, wooden leg in Finland and Israel, and rat in Guam.  Clearly these are places where women are trying to be fashionable, but have worn flat shoes too long.
I could feel the stares of young ingenues all around me, and yes I can read minds but I refuse to print what they were thinking.  Suffice it to say I ignored them.  Their time will come.
I continued the hunt for a sandal with a lower heel and finally found one. Fortunately, it also had a lower price.  So victory was mine.
And you may also experience the victory of successful shopping, simply by clicking here for my latest books.  No Charlie Horse required.