Monthly Archives: September 2014

The State Fair: Pigs, Pronto Pups, and Parking Lots

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A few weeks ago we went to the Kansas State Fair.  The fair is something we only go to every 10 years or so and we had “just” been there about four years ago, but I had bought the youngest daughter tickets to go see Hunter Hayes in concert.

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It was a beautiful day in the Land of Ahs.  Abundant sunshine with temperatures in the 70s.  Usually when we attend the fair, it’s either raining or 100 degrees, so this was definitely a change for the better.

Mr. Caffeinated Ginger dropped me off at the front gate so I could procure our tickets while he, daughter, and daughter’s friend drove off to find a parking spot.

I picked up the tickets at the will-call window and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Finally, about 30 minutes later, they appeared.  Apparently they had to park literally a MILE away.  The next time we come to the fair I bet I’ll be the one parking the car and he will be the one dropped off to the get the tickets.

We entered the fair and after handing out cash to the teenager, we were quickly abandoned by our daughter and her friend.  Apparently they didn’t think it would fun to hang out with the parents.  Pshaw.  Whatever.

One of the main reasons to attend the fair is the food.  None of it is actually good for you, but that all part of the fun, right?

First off, was my personal favorite–The Pronto Pup.

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For those of you naysayers who are thinking “That’s just a corn dog.” Nope.  It’s bigger and better.  It’s like a new and improved version of the corn dog. And for $3.50, it’s one of the more economical grease-filled delicacies you can purchase.

We then checked out the vegetables and fruits on the display.  Some of them even came with hair.

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We missed out on seeing the butter sculpture because there was a huge crowd jostling for viewing positions.  I wanted to see this year’s monstrosity, but valued my life even more.  So sorry, you’ll just have to use your imagination on that one.

The baby animals exhibit is one of my favorites. I tried to smuggle a baby goat out in my backpack, but Mr. CF made me put it back.

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The rest of our afternoon was spent traipsing through the RV exhibits (I wanted to take a nap on one of the beds, but apparently that is a no-no), dodging older people on their scooters, trying to find the Dillons exhibit with free ice cream (they were out, gosh durn it), and me really wishing I had worn better shoes as I had forgotten that going to the fair means walking approximately 723.2 miles.

But a huge highlight, if not THE highlight of my day, was the pig races.  You haven’t lived if you haven’t seen the pig races at the fair.  Pigs such as Lindsay Loham and Michael Mahoganey race around a small track in order to win the prize–an Oreo!  You would be simply amazed at the masses of people these pig races attract.  I bet you can’t see such fine entertainment like this in Las Vegas or New York City.

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It was finally time for a meet-up with daughter and friend to give them the concert tickets.  Once that was accomplished and an after-concert meeting place was established, Mr. CF and I headed for a rumored margarita garden which, of course, was at the opposite end of the fairgrounds from where we stood.  However, our efforts were rewarded when we found that garden to be a thing of reality and not just fantasy.

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After enjoying our refreshing drinks, we went to a show by a comic/hypnotist.  He was funny, but it felt like deja’ vu so I’m pretty sure we’d seen him before on one of our every-ten-year trips to the fair.

We then rode the Sky Ride to the other side of the fairgrounds to meet up with the teenagers. Being scared of heights, I’m not sure why I thought riding this would be fun.  But I made it through without tossing my cookies or losing my flip flops.

By the grandstand we enjoyed everyone’s favorite fair food–the funnel cake.

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The lights and sounds of the midway are always more alluring at night.

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The concert soon ended and we were able to meet up with our daughter and her friend fairly easily.  As they extolled the virtues of Hunter Hayes, they also expressed that they were starving because they hadn’t eaten all day.  (Seriously?? How do you go to a fair and not eat??  Isn’t that the whole point??)  So we traipsed the mile through the darkened parking lot to find our vehicle.

We moseyed our way to the nearest Taco Bell, whose dining room conveniently closed five minutes before our arrival. So we went through the drive-through and proceeded to attempt to eat tacos as we drove home.  Good times, people, good times.

It was a fun day, but my feet and legs wanted to make sure that I put on the calendar that 2024 will be the next Year of the Fair.  They can’t handle another one until then.

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Soul Selfie

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Selfie is one of those new words that was welcomed into existence with the introduction of smart phones and social media. Whether we like it or not, the term selfie has permeated society and has even been added to dictionaries.  There is also a song titled #SELFIE that came out this year.  If you haven’t heard it, DO NOT look it up on Youtube.  Trust me on this one. You can thank me later.

I myself have even taken selfies, much to the chagrin of my teenagers.  To be honest, that is one of the reasons I take selfies–to annoy and embarrass my kids.  Isn’t that my right as a parent?

But recently a quote came across my Facebook newsfeed that made me think a little differently and seriously about selfies.

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That stopped me in my tracks.

When I take a selfie or when someone else includes me in their picture, I always have to make sure I look good (good = no food between my teeth, my forehead wrinkles covered, and I’m having a “good hair day”) before I let it be shared with the whole world.  I have an image to uphold, you know?

But what about my soul–that part of me that no one sees, the part that is the true essence of me?

I have always been taught that I need to set a good example for other people.  I’ve taken the song “This Little Light of Mine” pretty seriously since I was young. I do believe that my actions and words need to reflect Christ as it is through me that others will see Him.  I am definitely NOT perfect and boy, do I mess up at times, but I do try to speak and act in a way so that others would not be surprised to learn that I am a Christian.

However, what about those thoughts in my head? The times when I am thinking not-so-kind thoughts about others? The times I judge others on their actions/words/clothing/lifestyle? The grudges (ie. unforgiveness) I hold against others because they have wronged me (real or imagined)? The times when maybe–just maybe–I might have some unclean thoughts?

In the Old Testament, it was considered a sin to act on sinful impulses.  However, in the New Testament, Jesus takes it one step further and teaches that just the thought of something sinful is a sin. That’s because it is a heart–or soul–issue.

While it is nice to have an attractive and kind outward appearance, actions, and words, it is even better and more important to have inward goodness of the soul.  The soul is it is really all about, folks. The soul is the real deal and the condition or “selfie” of your soul will be probably be revealed here on earth and definitely in eternity.

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Remembering the Day the World Stopped Turning

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All of us who are old enough to remember know exactly where we were when we first heard about what was happening in New York City on September 11, 2001.

I was a stay-at-home mom at the time.  Only my oldest daughter was in school full-time.  My son was enrolled in afternoon preschool and my youngest daughter was only two years old.

We were in the midst of our usual weekday morning routine.  The routine went something like this:  The kids would make messes; I would clean them up. Repeat.

The TV was on, but not on network TV.  I’m pretty sure it was set on Nick Jr. and we were watching Blue’s Clues as it was a favorite.  Life was normal.

Until my husband called from his workplace.

He told me to turn the TV to a network channel because an airplane had just hit one of the World Trade Center towers in New York.  My first thought was, how could a plane mistakenly fly into downtown New York City and hit a building?  I assumed it was a mechanical error or the pilot had a medical emergency.

I turned the channel.  Just moments after I started watching, the second plane hit the second tower.  My mind was in a state of confusion.  One plane hitting a building could be an accident.  But two?? My confusion and disbelief continued as Flight 93 went down in Pennsylvania. It turned to horror as I watched people jumping from the skyscrapers and witnessed the Twin Towers falling to the ground.

My 4-year-old son knew something was wrong, even though I tried to keep most of this tragedy away from my young kids’ eyes.  His first worry was that his Uncle Bob (my oldest brother) was okay.  My son knew that rescue workers were in danger as they tried to help victims.  My brother was a police officer in California, not New York City, but it still made an impression on my young son’s mind.

As the facts emerged and it became apparent that this was a terrorist attack on our country and its land, it was the first time I’d really ever been afraid for my kids and their future.  What kind of life was ahead for them if these type of incidents became life as usual?

As for the terrorists, what kind of god do they serve that killing thousands of innocent people as well as themselves is something to be honored and desired?

I think one of the images I remember the most was the next morning when the news stations were showing the emergency rooms of the New York City hospitals.  I had expected to see the emergency rooms bustling with activity as medical personnel attended to the injured people’s needs. However, the emergency rooms were practically empty because there were very few survivors. Unfathomable.

Days and weeks after the terrorist attack, stories kept emerging about people who called their loved ones from the Twin Towers to say good-bye after the towers were hit because they knew their chances of survival were slim. People–both emergency personnel and civilians–who lost their own lives trying to help others.  People who survived but will be forever scarred from the experience.

To these people I want to say, “I remember.” I may live hundreds of miles and several states away.  I may not personally know anyone who experienced a loss of a loved one on the day.  But I remember.

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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We’ve all heard that saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Every picture also has a background story and knowing the story helps put the picture into perspective.

A prime example is this picture of my older brothers and me when we were young:

Marti Bob Ernie flower bed 1968

My grandmother took this picture at my grandparents’ farm.  I think her motive was to capture her adorable grandchildren and her beautiful spring tulips all in one picture.

However, if you look at the picture more closely, you would notice this:

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My face.  Which isn’t very happy.  In fact, I would label that a definite pouty face, complete with stuck out bottom lip.

Why was the young Caffeinated Ginger so displeased?  Well, look no more further than my feet:

Marti Bob Ernie Flower Bed bread bags

Those, my friends, are plastic bread bags on my feet.  I remember very distinctly that there had been a recent rain and the ground was rather wet and a little muddy.  I don’t recall what kind of shoes I had on that day, but I do know that Grandma was concerned about my shoes being ruined, so her solution was to place empty bread bags on my feet.

Even at three or four years old, I knew that this footwear wasn’t going to make for a good fashion statement.

Adding insult to injury, she didn’t make my brothers wear bread bags on their feet–just me. Sometimes it really stinks being the youngest child.

Grandma probably tried to sweet talk and cajole me into smiling for the picture, but being a stubborn ginger whose fashion sense had been insulted, I was not going for it.  Nope, no way. I’m sure she was quite thrilled when she received her developed pictures and saw this masterpiece.  Sorry, Grandma.

Of course, my own children have paid me back for my sins by not always cooperating for pictures either. That’s okay.  The time of retribution will be upon them when they become parents.  ‘Tis the circle of life.

 

 

5K Race Recap–A Tale of Wind, a Locksmith and Frozen Custard

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On Sunday, my husband, son and I all participated in a 5K race.  This particular 5K was presented by Kidzcope, a non-profit organization that provides a variety of support groups, programs and workshops to help children and families struggling with the death of a loved one.  Its mission is one that is near and dear to my heart and one that I hope to volunteer for in the near future.

The weather conditions were not ideal for a race. The wind was gusting 20-30 mph and it was h-o-t, HOT.

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We arrived at the race location and quickly checked in and received our race bibs and shirts.  We had about an hour to kill before our race began, so we decided to go get our lawn chairs from our vehicle and bring them back to the location where the after-party was to be held.  When we walked back to our vehicle and inserted our key in the door to unlock it, we received an unpleasant surprise.  Even though the key turned in the lock, the lock held fast. Mr. CF kept inserting and turning the key thinking that something would change, but it was not to be.

Forty-five minutes to race time. Dilemma.  Do we call a locksmith now or later?  We decided to do it now in the hopes that the problem could be rectified in time so that we could all be at the start line in time for the beginning of the race.

Mr. CF called the nearest locksmith and was assured that the locksmith would be there in 30 minutes or less.  Five minutes passed.  Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Twenty-five minutes.

We hear the announcer instructing runners to go the starting line.

Finally, fifteen minutes before the race, Justin the Locksmith rips into the parking lot, tools in hand. The stars aligned for us and Justin popped the lock in just a few minutes. And while I had visions of this door-unlocking costing us a chunk of money, Justin strikes a bargain with only a $35 charge.  Life is good, folks!  Mr. CF pays Justin, and our family of runners gets to the starting line with plenty of time to spare.

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Justin the Locksmith–Our Hero!

 

We got to the starting line, adjusted our ear buds, and we were off!

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As usual, I had to sweet talk my legs to keep going the first mile, which was on downtown city streets.  We then turned to cruise the path by river and enjoyed this scenery:

keeper of the plains

And no, I didn’t take that picture.  I was too busy panting and bribing my body to keep on moving.  Pretty though, yes?

The wind and heat were taking its toll on me.  I actually didn’t mind the heat as much as the brutal wind.  It reminded me of running track when I was in junior high and how much I hated running in the wind back then.  Thirty-some years later I still hate it. Ugh.

But I wasn’t going to quit.  This was Mr. CF’s first race after only running for three weeks and there was no way I was going to let him beat me in his first race.  My spidey senses were tingling and I knew he wasn’t very far behind me, so it was game on.

I kept on trucking and the finish line was finally in sight.  I was disappointed that I wasn’t going to make my sub 30 minute goal, but frankly at this point I was just glad to be DONE!

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My official race time was 31:01 with a pace time of 9:59.  Even though my goal was not met, I was pleased with the sub-10-minute mile pace.

My son finished several minutes ahead of me and Mr. CF finished less than 30 seconds behind me. Here’s our running family after we survived the gusty wind and heat otherwise known as Kansas in August:

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The after party was fun with lots of good food, drinks, games for kids, and a live band.

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A local sports bar provided yummy kabobs and corn:

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Freddy’s Frozen Custard served, of course, frozen custard:

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Then it was awards time and Son was pleasantly surprised when his name was called as the first place winner in his age group:

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Score one for the Caffeinated Ginger family! This makes up for the last race he and I ran when I received a medal and he did not.

All in all, it was a successful night of running, even with the emergency locksmith situation. Mr. CF is now hooked on racing and we are now signed up to run at least one race a month through November.  I’ve created a monster.  Oh, well….as they say, the family that runs together, stays together!

Happy Running!