Friday, April 30, 2010

Finally! Another Top Ten List

I have a confession to make. As of this past week, I have been doing a terribly lousy job of writing Elder Sweeney a postcard every single day. Granted, he has gotten a lot of postcards so far, but they haven’t been going out in an orderly, one-a-day fashion as I had planned. The Census is just kicking my fanny! But I will complete the task at hand! He just might have to get 7 postcards this next Tuesday, that's all.

Anyway, his mission address has also changed, so I am having to mail all these postcards to the actual mission office, where I am sure some of the office elders are seeing them. And, in true Bingham style, I got to thinking about perhaps writing some very intriguing “P.S. statements” on these cards, as a way to mess with any of the unsuspecting office staff who might be reading them. And then, with the help of my parents (as we walked around Lake Hollingsworth), this top ten list was born. So here it is:


10. P.S. Wow, you’re lucky- in most missions you’re not allowed to swim!

9. P.S. Jacob said the office elders in his mission were totally lame too.

8. P.S. I wouldn’t worry too much, they don't actually excommunicate you for that anymore.

7. P.S Is this address where I send your new Xbox controllers?

6. P.S. Chin up! 18 month missions are just as good as the two year ones.

5. P.S. That is so weird that your companion is married…

4. P.S. Are you still stalking that one Sister in your zone?

3. P.S. I can’t meet you at the Phillies game on the 10th- lets make it the 12th instead. I know that's a Sunday, but I figured that wouldn't be a problem.

2. P.S. I told you Redbox is amazing!!

1. P.S. I think the mission car is more than capable of making that jump you told me about! Let me know how it goes.

I think I will try a few of these out next week. I'm going out in a blaze of glory, people!

A Dave Quickie

A lot of quickies lately....

So the other night I was chatting online with my brother, Dave, and he wrote something that really made me laugh. I was telling him all about my Census work. He asked me how long this was all going to last. I couldn't really give an accurate answer. But I think he hit the nail on the head when he estimated, "Until people come to their Census?" Exactly!

And I have to admit I was really excited to get to use this picture. It's a new classic.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The latest...

Today started my first day as a trainer for the Census. I met the 8 people that are in my group and for the most part they are all pretty normal! I am pleasantly surprised! Unfortunately, nothing too exciting happened today. Fingerprinting went pretty well and the only partially funny moment happened when one of my crew members said he was going to use his new census badge to commandeer a vehicle. "Don't worry," he said. "I'll tell them they'll get 50 cents a mile." Ahh, Government humor!

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Cindy Quickie

Last night the kids were sitting at the table waiting for me to bring them each a brownie. It happened to be raining cats and dogs at the time and Jacob walked past the table with a mop in his hand- a mop he was going to use to go prop up part of our weakling gutters in the backyard. As soon as Cindy saw Dad with the mop, she was very interested in what he was doing and helping out. "What is that for?!" Cindy asked with amazement. Jacob replied, "It doesn't matter. You just worry about your brownie." Then with a totally puzzled look on her face she said, "It's a brownie, what's there to worry about?"

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Seems totally crazy, but Luke turned 3 on Friday. I can't believe what a big boy he is! Amazing :) Since he had his birthday activity a few weeks ago by riding Thomas the Train, Friday we just had a small family party, cake, ice cream and presents. Oh, and Cindy and Dad skipped school and we went to Denny's for breakfast. So it actually was a birthday present to all of us. Man, I love breakfast...French Toast, bacon, eggs, toast..... FOCUS! Okay, I will focus. Here are some pics from Lukee's day:

Started the morning with some presents. They were pretty much all Thomas the Train things- bubbles, plate, paint with water....

I used some Thomas the Train bathtub squirters on his cake. Pretzel sticks also make excellent railroad ties. Luke approved of my work.

Luke has no patience for pictures right now, so when I took Luke's birthday pictures I got about 10- as opposed to Cindy's 44. There were a few good ones...

Cindy quickly took over, I mean, helped Luke open his presents...

You can even see Aunt Misty on Skype on the laptop in the background. She was there to see Luke open presents and blow out his candles. Technology rules!

I did trick candles for Luke too. They just kept re-lighting and Luke could not have been happier.

Anyway, Happy 3rd Birthday to my big guy :) He is the best little boy I could have ever asked for!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What on Earth?!

As I pulled into South Mckeel to drop off Cindy this morning, there were tons of kids all lined up out front. They were all wearing green colored shirts and holding signs that had to do with Earth Day. I am pretty sure you all know by now how I feel about Earth Day. I basically hate it. To me, Earth Day is the opportunistic greenwashing of our society. If you really want to have an Earth Day then it needs to really be about appreciating nature and it's beauty and not about demanding that I re-use my sandwich baggies, showing me how to plan a "green" birthday party for my 3-year-old or making me feel like a horrible person when I don't own a purse made out of old drink box pouches. So as I saw all these kids out in front of the school, who really were enthusiastic and well presented, I heard them chanting, "Honk if you care! Honk if you care!" Wow, that was the absolute WRONG thing to be chanting at me. I mean, on one hand I wanted to honk because I think the kids looked great and had tons of spirit. But let's face it, I COULD CARE LESS about the liberal-agenda crap they have been indoctrinated with. However, in my milisecond of moral dilemma, I realized that since I had turned into the parking lot with about 30 other cars, not ONE of them had honked. And suddenly I felt a whole lot better about my convictions :) And then kinda sad because maybe all the parents at McKeel are deaf....

Furthermore, to properly celebrate Earth Day 2010 here in Sweeneyville, I give you: Earth Day Predictions of 1970

These are actual predictions about the future of the Earth from those many years ago. Enjoy!

“We have about five more years at the outside to do something.”
• Kenneth Watt, ecologist

“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.”
• Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day

“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”
• Life Magazine, January 1970

“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”
• George Wald, Harvard Biologist

And that pretty much sums up why I believe Earth Day and all things "green" are a glorious joke.

(To read the full blog post, with all the predictions from 1970, which are all spectacularly awesome, go here. I have not read or previewed anything else on the website aside from this article, just so you know.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Look at this egg, man!

Somehow out of all the eggs for sale at Walgreens today, I choose the carton with the giant mutant egg inside it. I mean, look at this thing! I think a baby conehead is going to hatch out of it. It's the pointiest egg I have ever seen!!!!!

And just before the above photo was taken, Cindy took this one:

Seriously, is the student becoming the teacher?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Big News!

Okay, just wanted to officially announce that little brother Brian just got engaged last night :) Yes, this is the same boy who told me with white-hot fear in his eyes a few days before leaving for BYU that, after being on a mission for 2 years, he was "so scared of girls." Anyway, looks like he got over that fear real fast :) His fiance's name is Kelly Ward, from the West/South Jordan area of Utah. She is fantastic! She is an Elementary Education major at UVU in Orem, she likes to dance, she was an EFY counselor, she has been to China (English teaching exchange thing???) she loves the movie Singing in the Rain and most importantly she is not even the least bit creeped out by me and the fact that I stole all this information and picture of the two of them from her Facebook pages without asking. See? I told you she was fantastic! They are getting married in August, not sure of a date yet. On behalf of Binghams everywhere, Welcome to the family, Kelly!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Did you know?

That Luke LOVES Ritz Crackerfuls? I have been getting them really cheap because of the store sales and coupons and he literally eats one of these for breakfast every single morning. It is the first thing he says to me when he wakes up- "Mom, can I have one of those long crackers?" And that is even before he is fully conscious or his eyes have adjusted to the light. I blame it mostly on the fact that they sit at the top of the food storage closet in his room, which is the last thing he sees at night and the first thing he sees in the morning. I am just so darn proud it's not gummy snacks. Sniffle, sniffle! It brings a tear of joy to my little eye...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Grandma Quickie

We just learned a few weeks ago that our church ward is being re-combined with another ward that we split from about 2 years ago. It was quite surprising! I was talking to my mom, who has been our ward's Relief Society President since that time, and she was speculating whether or not she would be released from that calling or continue to serve in that role. My very wisdomous advice was to just do a really crappy job and then they would release her. She replied, "That's what I've been doing for the last 2 years and it hasn't worked!" Ha ha, yeah right, Mom. You have been doing a great job and that's the real problem :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

The latest from Census training...

Yesterday we got to the saftey section of the Employee Manual!! We spent a large amount of the day talking about bizzare safety tips and a had lively 30-minute discussion on the correct way to get away from a dog that may want to bite you. It was a heated debate between the "run" vs. "back away slowly while not looking at its face" crowds. I was on the side of "spray the dog with the mace that we are not allowed to carry." But alas, I was alone in my principles. What's with all the dog people, sheesh?

Anyway, my favorite line from the manual was this helpful safety tidbit about returning to your car after working. And I quote:

"As you walk towards your vehicle, scan beneath the vehicle for persons waiting to charge out at your ankles."

How in the heck is a person going to fit under my car and have enough room to "charge out" from it? I seriously can't not laugh every time I read it. The visual is just too entertaining.

I also had a very detailed discussion with Bill, the 70-something year old man who sits with me at my table, about American Idol. He knew every single one of the contestants, first and last names and pretty much everything about every performance they had done. I was pretty impressed! If only Bill put this much effort into the training class!

And finally, let's take a quick poll, here. How many of you have heard the phrase "elevator eyes" before? This came up during our enlightening sexual harrassment discussion. For those of you who aren't hip to that, dude, elevator eyes is the term for what someone has when they look another person up and down, if you catch my drift. Nope, never heard of that one.

And that wraps up yesterday's work for the Federal Government. Today I will be trapped for 8 hours learning how to fingerprint people! The only advice we were given on prep for that was to "wear dark clothes." Roger that!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Did you Know?

That Luke sleeps with his eyes half open? It totally creeps me out. Sometimes his eyes are open halfway more than others, but sometimes I swear he is looking at me.

(And then I hear that music from the Geico commercial and it gets even weirder!!!)

P.S. I am totally still writing Sean a postcard every day and working out my arms every day. So far the arms are feeling a lot less flabby and I can do a total of 10 push-ups. Arms are stronger, pride is a little bit weak...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Census Shenanigans!

Census Training has been all that I ever could hope for and more. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call sarcasm. Anyway, it has thus far been 16 hours of verbatim reading. And filling out 12 forms. And that's all. Government progress at its finest! There have already been some classic moments, but here are two to get us started:

Item #1-

This is the picture on one of my many, many, many handbooks:

Does that make ANY sense to you that these people are all apparently making a difference by being "counted" by each holding up a ZERO? (Or a giant floppy disk from 1989?) The irony of that image is killing me, smalls! I mean, you add up four zeros and what do you get? Hi-grade amusement, that's what!

Item #2-

Because two of the trainees did not show up yesterday, we got a new replacement trainee in our group today. He is younger kid and has actually already been out "enumerating" (the fancy-schmancy word for counting people) for the past two weeks. His name is Joe, and during the course of one of our many riveting discussions, someone asked him a question about his experiences so far. I was totally zoning out at this point, but the needle scratched and fell off the record when he said "Yeah, when we were out counting homeless people in the woods it was a little difficult to use our binders." Wait, what did he just say? I got a large q-tip and swabbed my ears out, because I thought he said that he was counting homeless people out in the woods. And clearly, that was just a joke. Or was it? Oh, no my little friends, that was not a joke. I talked to him further to get the scoop and on March 31st from midnight to 7am, Census workers all over the US count homeless people in the woods! Just for that one night so they don't double count. I am not making this up! He was assigned an orange saftey vest, a flashlight and a clipboard. REALLY? REALLY? The weirder part is that no one else in the room even blinked when he said this. They all nodded their heads like it is common knowledge that certain census workers are assigned to count homeless dudes in the woods. It absolutely made my whole day :) He also told me that he worked out in the woods behind the Lakeland DMV, he counted about 5 guys, and would they give out their names? Joe said, and I quote "If they were awake and not mad at your for waking them up." That is total awesomeness. Lucky guy also has gotten to count people at soup kitchens, halfway houses and prisons! So counting you in your uppity "house" is no big deal. Seriously, the Census doesn't screw around, they are serious about counting everyone. Everyone!!!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Second best week ever??

Just for your information, I start working for the US Census today. I will be in training all week from 8:30-5pm. It is sure to bring me lots of great stories for the blog. Stories about interesting people, overly eccentric instructors, far away lands, strange church training rooms, government bureaucracy... And if it doesn't, I am quitting. Because, let's be honest, why else would I take this job? (And even more honest is that I just want to see how many Eskimos I can count.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Day Out with Thomas the Train

I was wondering the other day if there was a place where you could actually ride Thomas the Train. Well, about a month after I first asked myself this question, I saw an ad on PBS for "A Day Out with Thomas the Train" where, lo and behold, you can ride Thomas! Hello, Luke's 3rd Birthday present. Nice to meet you. I bought the tickets about three weeks ago, so I had been patiently waiting for this day to arrive. I just couldn't wait for Luke to be able to see Thomas in person!! And Luke did not disappoint me. He LOVED every minute of it. He screamed with delight, he squealed, he was just about as cute as could be! Which is pretty dang cute, people! And yes, even though the tickets were a little pricey for the three of us (Thanks again Mom for coming!), they were definitely well worth it in the end :)

Here are the highlights of the day:

You had to select your train ride time when you bought the tickets, so I chose 9:45am- I figured earlier is better because he would be shutting down by about 1pm, which was totally true. We actually got to the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish, FL about 8:45. It took us about an hour to get there and we got the real scenic backroads and zero traffic as well. Excellent!

Here is Luke ready to leave the house in his new Thomas threads. Choo-chooo!

When we got into the parking lot, we could see the Thomas the Train engine sitting on the tracks. Luke pretty much freaked out and could not wait to get out of the car to see him. It was so cute!

He was thrilled to finally get close!

But until it was our turn to ride the train, Luke enjoyed some inflatable fun. And he REALLY enjoyed it. The inflatable slide is one of Luke's weaknesses. Like a moth to a flame, he cannot resist!!!

But look who was coming down the track! It was the star of the show :)

We got to sit right behind Thomas in the open-air car. Luke was loving it!

I was just about to stand up and take a picture at the halfway point in the train ride (you know, when the train stops for a few minutes) when the train decided to move and I was almost lurched overboard. So I sat down real quick :)

After the train ride, we hit the activity tents. They had train tables galore, storytelling, and a few other things. Like....

Thomas tattoos! or Stickers! as I refer to them...

Sandbox tables!

Ball pits!

More train sets!

Then it was time to meet Sir Topham Hatt. I really thought Luke would freak out when it was time to step up and get his picture taken, but he was freakishly excited! We had to hold him back. He kept holding Sir Topham Hatt's hand and looking up at his face. It was totally precious :)

Ice cream was the only way to get Luke to take a break from all the activities. Who could resist a giant cone of homemade chocolate ice cream?

We then got in line to have our picture taken with Thomas! The cutest thing in the whole world was when were about 10 feet away and Luke looked really serious at me and asked, "Can I please touch Thomas' buffers?" So cute!

Here we are with Thomas!

I am a little disappointed that my eyes are closed on this one, I was sure this was the money shot that I could enlarge to hang on the wall above Luke's bed. Maybe I can photoshop my head from the first photo onto my body in this one.

The day capped off with Grandma Bingham getting Luke an awesome Thomas balloon. We love Grandma :)

And of course Luke fell asleep before we were in the car for 5 minutes. Poor little guy was wasted! But I can rest well at night knowing that Luke had total wish fulfillment for his 3rd birthday. It's a pretty sweet feeling :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My next 30 Day Challenge X 2

So I think I have shifted my thinking. Instead of focusing on another 30 totally new experiences, this year will mostly be about 30-days-long projects. A few weeks ago I finished '30 home projects in 30 days' (as well as simultaneously 'Writing 30 poems in 30 days'), so it is now time to move on to the next challenge. I am choosing to do 2 at the same time, seeing as how they are both not something I am necessarily going to blog about all the time, but can easily do simultaneously. Drum roll, please:

Project #1- Write Elder Sweeney a postcard, every day for 30 days

Jacob's brother, Sean, is in the home stretch of his mission to Pennsylvania. I have been slacking lately on writing to him. Okay, okay, slacking actually means "horribly non-existent" in this case. So to make up for my lame correspondence over the past few months, postcards will be raining down from the heavens! Of course, since no mail on Sundays, two will go out on Mondays. Bonus! I figure I can tell him a really tricky riddle on postcard 1, then tell him the answer on postcard 2. (No worries, you can try to solve it too!) Or I can always stick to my usual task of challenging him to use whatever phrase or saying might be on the front of the postcard in his next door approach. "Lobster Shanty" was definitely my best work thus far. I never did follow up with him on how that went...

Project #2- Work out my arms, every day for 30 days

For whatever reason my arms feel giant and flabby to me right now. And since having arms with at least a little definition and tone in them has been a goal of mine forever, there's no time like the present, right? So I am going to make sure that I do some sort of arm sculpting/push-up/8-minute arm routine every day for 30 days and see just what kind of a difference it might make. Oh, I could look up some ridiculous arm workout program on the Internet, I suppose, but I want to see if just your average Jane can get results without having to be some sort of bicep maniac genius. Plus then I can finally write that book, "Arm sculpting for Dummies, by a Big Dummy." Pictures might come at the end, depending on results. Actually, there will definitely be some kind of pictures, just not sure of who or what. How's that for a carrot on a string, huh people?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Introducing Lucy

A while back we decided to sell our truck. Superman was a great vehicle. He served us well. (Cindy even cried when we told her he was gone.) But he was not the best commuting car for Jacob, and to be honest, we only needed him for all of our dance equipment every few months. So we sold him before the miles got too high and his price went down. We knew exactly what we wanted to replace him, though. A hatchback! But it had to look cool, so we were all about finding a Mazda3 because that is pretty much the only hatch that looks nice. Sorry to the Focus, Matrix, Vibe and Versa :) We tried to like you, but we just couldn't do it. Anyway, we ended up selling the truck within a week of lising it and it kinda caught us off guard. But we have a friend who works in the auto auction in Tampa and Orlando so we called him up and gave him our order. We thought this was a no-brainer. How hard could it be to find 2004-2006 Mazda3 Hatchback with low miles and a stick shift? Apparently, like trying to find the Holy Grail in Iceland. Using only a twig to dig in the ice. While blindfolded. With one arm. And one finger. It was impossible! And trying to find something local was ridiculously difficult! We were driving around DeAnne's truck in the meantime and we were feeling terrible about how long the search was taking. Plus that truck was guzzling the gas even faster than Superman! So after daily and almost hourly searches of the auctions, craiglist in every city up to Boise, ID,,,, classified ads, etc. we finally saw a car on Monday in Tampa. The price was way too high, but it was in great shape and had all the features on our optional wish list too (leather seats, sunroof, etc.) So Jacob made an offer just to see what would happen and the seller took it! She was moving to California and just needed to rid herself of the car in a hurry. So yesterday DeAnne drove me over to Tampa where I met her in the parking lot of her bank to buy the car. She then took out all her luggage, called a cab and waited at the bank for a ride to the airport. And I was then left to drive home a stick shift car in the middle of Tampa. Let's just say it has been a while since I drove a stick :) I was just a tad bit intimidated, but it came right back to me and I have to say, this car is FUN to drive! I guess now when I get the responsible mommy car doldrums, I can just take Lucy for a spin and feel much spunkier. Credit goes to DeAnne for the idea of the car's name. The girl who sold us the car was asian and she thought of Lucy Lui, the actress. So when DeAnne called her "Lucy" I knew that was a winner. And this also proves that we are just silver car kinda people. Don't try and fight it, Jacob. Silver is our density! I mean, destiny....

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Luke Quickie

The other night I was asking Luke what he wanted for dinner. I rattled off the same four ideas I say every night when I ask him this, "hot dog, chicken nuggets, macaroni, grilled cheese..." He has never once in his entire life asked for the grilled cheese. I just say it to make it sound like a lot of choices. But the other night he got very excited about that choice. Unfortunately, it was only because he heard me wrong :( But he was dang excited for me to make him a Gorilla Cheese sandwich! Heck, who wouldn't be?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Best Week Ever!

This past week was so eventful and fun that I need to devote an entire post to recap what we did. I am sure it won't be able to be topped for quite a while :)

We built our path, finally!

Cindy's 6th Birthday Party...

We took in the last Detroit Tigers Spring Training game of 2010.

Tigers beat the Braves, 4-1, complete with a home run and broken bat. And Chipper Jones fouled a ball within 20 yards of us. This is my sweet action shot of right before the ball came whizzing around the net.

Then we all went to Cedar Creek Seafood so Jacob could have all you can eat crab legs. And the best news ever: kids eat free! Or as on our case, kids don't eat, but it's still free! Score!

We also watched some movies this week:
Surrogates- (Sci-Fi, Bruce Willis)- 2.5 stars (with one star just for me staying awake through the whole thing, which is saying something right there...)

Sherlock Holmes- (Robert Downey Jr.)- 3 stars, I did fall asleep, but I liked what I saw when awake!

Where the Wild Things Are- 1 star- after about 10 minutes I was trying to fall asleep, and thankfully I did.

I have to mention that my glorious friend Karin made a chocolate truffle cheesecake that some people in her family (who shall remain nameless, Trevor) did not like. So she shared some with me and it was phenomenal! (Really, Karin- Jacob and I both agreed we would happily pay for something like that in a restaurant.) The best nighttime snack I have had in a long time, for sure :)

Of course there was some major Xbox playing around here. Modern Warfare up the wazoo! And late nights, which always go hand-in-hand. But an experience we needed to have all week to remind us that we actually don't really like staying up that late.

I took the kids down to First Friday in downtown Lakeland. It is a monthly event held the on the first Friday of each month where they have entertainment, kid's stuff, late shopping, etc. right in the middle of true downtown Lakeland. This time the big event was the hot air baloons they were going to have on display right near Lake Mirror. And it actually worked out that we got front row seats to the inflating of one of the balloons. Cindy and Luke were in heaven, they did not want to leave. And it was pretty cool, I'll admit.

It was also our little friend Lexi Stanley's birthday on Saturday. She turned 2 years old and we got to be part of her Little People birthday party. Yay for Lexi!

And also because this weekend included Easter, we got to go to an egg hunt at a friend's house and then one right here in our own backyard with Grandma and Grandpa Bingham. Egg hunts never gets old with these two...

Dinner out on the patio was fabulous! Just in time to beat the heat of Summer.

The kids found their Easter baskets without too much trouble. And giving them the same stuffed bunny in it for 2 years in a row is genius!

And in between all this Jacob got a wisdom tooth taken out, we made homemade salsa, baked banana bread, had Easter dinner with Grandpa Sweeney and just spent time together. Like I said, Best Week Ever! And now it's time for that vacation I've been planning...