Small-Town 4th of July Recap — Part I

I was giddy for a week, just waiting for the smorgasboard of photo opps that I knew would be waiting for me at my annual hometown 4th of July celebration. And while the rain threatened to deprive me of my fix, my camera and I, in the end, prevailed.

If this is your first visit to my hometown on Independence Day, you can catch up here and here.

Part I — Don’t Rain on My Parade

Well, it did.

But the dedicated parade-goers showed up with umbrellas, and in some cases, rain bonnets.

It had all the elements of a traditional small-town parade. There were cute clowns . . .

And freaky clowns holding a creepy monkey puppet and driving a Cub Cadet . . .

This boy was smart. He wore a satchel in order to keep both hands free for maximum candy grabbage.

Our sons and nephew, on the other hand, had to share the bag to a fold-up chair because their parents neglected to remember a plastic sack.

There were floats that were boats.

This one won the award for originality. Yeeeah, it’s a boat . . . with some balloons . . . and a sign . . . (I’m not sure what that says about the creativity of the judging committee.)

There were floats carrying children with guns.

I’m glad I didn’t have to be the one to tell this guy they didn’t win the originality award!

There were fancy cars . . .

and walking cans of Spam . . .

Mmmm . . . turkey Spam, my favorite!

And of course, it’s not officially a parade until the obligatory “girl-walking-while-carrying-a-goat-on-a-leash” entry.

Whew!

How embarrassing! We showed up in the same outfit!

Her hat, however, was nothing compared to this hat.

Never seen a shower cap over a cowboy hat before? Yeah, it was a first for me too. But I’m thinking it just may catch on.

People were positioned throughout the parade route, giving away water like it was, well . . . water . . .

Yet despite the persistence of the volunteers, there were surprisingly few takers. Hmm . . . it may have something to do with the fact that it was raining. And the majority of us were thoroughly drenched. For some reason, water didn’t sound especially appealing.

This little guy won my award for cutest Hispanic cowboy.

And of course, our parade would not be complete without tractors, lots o’ tractors.

Red tractors . . .

Green tractors . . .

Orange tractors . . .

Even blue tractors! (Who knew?)

Abe Lincoln made an appearance

As did Lady Liberty . . .

But the papparazi were really waiting for . . .

the group that always has the fans screaming. That’s right . . .

The vintage lawn and garden tractor club.

As the parade came to an end, we all sloshed to grandma’s house while visions of next year’s parade danced in our heads.

There’s nothing like a small-town parade!

Stay tuned for Part II of my recap: The Carnival

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Guest Post—J.R. Cook on the Wii, Weight Watchers, and the Queen of England

Right now I’m soaking up the inspiration at BlissDom, a blogging conference held at the a-MAZ-ing Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville. So while I’m learning how to be a better blogger for you all, I asked a couple people to fill in for me here at Boogers and Burps. First off is my cousin, J.R. Cook, who is the founder of WiiWeightLossPlan.com and was one of the very first to recognize the Wii as a fitness tool, you know, back before the Wii Fit and all. I’ll let him tell his story…

Paula approached me last week about a guest blog post and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what something like that entails or what I should even write about. Her site is about saving money and living life with her husband and 3 boys. I’m a 30 year old bachelor who works in the computer software industry and spends a lot of his free time on geeky things like video games and writing about them.

Being a 30 year old bachelor I thought I could write some interesting post about myself and see if any nice ladies would come flocking to my email box. I then realized the audience here is more than likely 30 something married mothers with kids so that idea didn’t pan out too well. So in that case, I’ll write about what it is that probably makes me single to begin with – being an overweight guy that plays video games in his free time.

A few years ago I took the video game interest and started a blog about how I could lose weight while playing video games. The Nintendo Wii had just been released and I thought it could be used as an exercise utility and with that I found a gimmick that I could blog about. I called it the Wii Weight Loss Plan and it actually worked.

In fact, it was working a little too well. I lost about 15 pounds and a PR guy found my site, this was the same PR guy who helped make the Red Paper Clip guy get international attention. Next thing I know he’s helping me out and I’m suddenly finding myself being interviewed by the local Omaha news station. A few weeks later I find myself on the front page of the Omaha World Herald and the Des Moines Register. Not too long after that I got a call from Good Morning America and it looked as if I would be hopping on a plane to New York City in the next couple days to be on the show. However, it got canceled last minute because the Queen of England was in town and evidently they thought she was more important than I was.

I hate the Queen of England.

My site was getting as high as 50,000 visitors a day. There were talks of a possible book deal, there was a company interested in doing a documentary with me, and I was doing 2 or 3 radio interviews a day. All of this attention over a few pounds lost, I hadn’t even gotten to my halfway point yet on my goal. It was insanity and that insanity made me realize something… I had started letting at the fame and attention and the readership go to my head and I wasn’t focusing on what was important at the time; I wanted to lose weight.

I got burned out quick because of this. I wasn’t happy with what the site had become. The PR guy was coming up with weird gimmicks for me to try and do that I didn’t want to do. This wasn’t me and I wasn’t enjoying it. So I stopped.

And the weight came back on.

More weight got added onto that.

Two years later and I know I need to do something. The first time around I didn’t really have any kind of plan. I planned to cut calorie intake and spend some time playing the Wii as a small workout. It did have good results though when I stuck with it.

This time around I’ve decided to take a more structured approach and joined Weight Watchers. I’m hoping this keeps me in check each day and week in keeping track of what I am eating and making sure I am staying within my “points” that I am allowed. I discovered I can use the Wii as my activity and for 30 minutes of playing Wii Sports or Wii Fit, I can gain back 2 points for that day to consume. I am then using my blog to inform people about the plan and to keep people up to date on my progress. The thing I like about Weight Watchers is the weekly official weigh in and the meetings. Now instead of me just telling people I lost 5 pounds, I have official proof!

Probably the coolest thing was in my first meeting we were talking about activities we could do. One lady said “I read this story about this guy who lost weight by playing Wii, which could be an activity” and about 8 or 9 other people in the room said they had read the same thing. They were all talking about me and had no idea I was the one they were talking about. I’m hoping to keep it that way – I do this because it’s what I want to do and I enjoy it. If other people enjoy it, great, but this is about me.

And that’s really the whole point of my long winded post here. If you don’t do something for yourself and you don’t enjoy doing it, then you won’t succeed in what you have set out to do. This goes for anything in life whether it’s weight loss, blogging, volunteering, etc. Having a mild amount of fame and attention could be fun and interesting for a while, but it won’t help you meet goals you have set for yourself. If you stay focused, have a little fun doing it, then amazing things can and will happen. For me that amazing thing is to get to my goal. My goal is definitely not to worry if the Queen of England will disrupt a future trip to New York City.

Something About You Is Different . . .

I can’t put my finger on it, but something’s different . . .

I know—you got new glasses. Is that it?

No?

You’ve lost weight?

Wrong again, huh?

Hmm . . . this is gonna drive me crazy . . .

I’ve got it! You got your hair cut. And it’s quite fetching on you, I might add.

What? Not it either?

I don’t know then. Maybe it’s just an inner glow. Do you have a new inner glow? Wait, you’re not PREGNANT are you?!

Whew! Well, not that there would be anything WRONG with that, but . . .

I give up. I’ve got nothin’. What’s different, huh? C’mon, tell me . . .

Oh, you got a new site? A completely new look? You’re now on the WordPress platform, sporting a whole new template with enhanced functionality?

No, that’s not it.

I’ve got it! You plucked your eyebrows, didn’t you?

It’s about time . . .

Photo courtesy of flaivoloka

Freebies for an Organized (and Pretty!) New Year

We’ve officially had one week in 2010. (Is it just me, or does “twenty ten” sound all space-ageish to you? Wow.) So how’s it going?

I don’t know about you, but I always have grandiose dreams at the beginning of each new year—dreams that include me (a slim, stunning, and highly successful writer) living in my incredibly organized yet still electic-and-homey home with my happy and handsome hubby (well, that part’s true at least), obedient and sweet-smelling children who don’t balk at personal hygiene or cleaning up after themselves, and dog whose behavior would leave even the judges at the Westminster Dog Show speechless (but in a good way).

And every year I quickly realize that just dreaming about these goals isn’t gonna make them happen. And then I give up.

This year, however, is going to be different!

(Well, I don’t really know if it’s going to be different or not, and I’m betting on not, but inspiration usually makes for a better read than discouragement, so I’m sticking with that for now.)

I do love all of the new organizational tools that the new year unearths. Blank calendar pages and goal sheets leave me with a feeling of possibility and hope. I’ve tried many, many different planners and calendars throughout the years. And to all of the planners that have tried with me and failed, I’ve just gotta say: “It’s not you; it’s me.” This year, however, I’m trying the two-fold approach: the online Cozi calendar for Husband and I to use, which we can easily access on our phones (It’s an awesome tool—and FREE!) and the Rhapsody Franklin Covey daily planner, which I won from Sincerely, Jenni (an awesome Iowa blogger I met at I_Blog) .

There are so many great tools out there that you can download and print for FREE that I wanted to share some of my favorites with you this Thriftilicious Thursday. I will likely be printing them all. And maybe, with God’s help (because there’s no way I can accomplish a task like this on my own), this will be the year I get it together. Maybe.

Let me know which ones you like, and make sure to check out all of these awesome sites! Got another great freebie to share? Leave a comment with a link!

(Oh, and before you start getting all organized, check out Marc Johns’ Serious Drawings blog. I. Love. Him. That’s one of his drawings at the beginning of my post. He completely cracks me up and makes me want to hang mustaches on strings from my ceiling. He has a book too. Buy it.)

Goal Chart from The Project Girl

Free Printable 2010 Calendar from Living Locurto

Free Printable Goal List Form from Buttoned Up

Free 2010 Turn Over a New Leaf Resolution and Calendar Download from Benign Objects

Kate’s DIY Grocery Forms and Planner from Design Sponge

Home Management Notebook Printables from Organizing Your Way

Printable Library Card and Pockets Template from Creature Comforts (for those of you who have everything else in their house organized)

Beautiful 2010 Calendar from mibo

2010 Printable Planner (that’s simply GORGEOUS) from Design Evolution

2010 Printable Resolution Forms from Up Up Creative

Find Me at Type-A Mom Today

I’m excited to tell you that I’ve been hired as an editor for the “Mom Stages” section of the Type-A Mom Web site! My first article is about the hidden dangers of toys, which is especially timely with Christmas being only FOUR DAYS AWAY! (As you may have gathered from my lack of posting this past week, I am NOT READY!) So hop on over to typeamom.net and leave a comment. Can’t tell you how excited it would make me!

“It Wasn’t Me” Strikes Again

If you’ve been a mom for long, you’ve likely had a run-in with the notoriously naughty, yet curiously elusive child who manages to fly under the radar by maintaining several aliases, such as “Not Me,” “Nobody,” or “The Dog.” In my house he goes by “It Wasn’t Me.” But don’t get bogged down in the pseudonymous details. Whatever his name, his M.O. is the same: to wreak havoc on a household and try to shift the blame to sweet, innocent children. Make no mistake: he’s a wily and crafty kid, and he’s capable of almost anything.

Lately he’s been targeting my house, preying on my three angelic boys. And although we’ve gotten close to catching him, he always manages to slip away just in the nick of time, leaving us in the wake of his destruction. Take a look at what “It Wasn’t Me” has managed to pull off at our house just this week:

  • Left a cereal bowl on the living room floor.
  • Threw an apple core in the bathtub.
  • Stuck his toe in Boy #2’s eye.
  • Misplaced the universal remote 37 times.
  • Cut little slits in my sheets and pillowcase.
  • Left poop in the toilet and didn’t flush.
  • Left pee in the toilet and didn’t flush.
  • Left pee ON the toilet and didn’t flush (or wipe it off).
  • Began disassembling a rubber band ball and shooting about 30 rubber bands throughout the house.
  • Farted. Repeatedly.
  • Left the garage door open.
  • Discarded an empty GoGurt wrapper on my bedroom floor.
  • Ate an entire box of Triscuits within 30 minutes of my returning from the grocery store.
  • Squirted globs of ketchup on the kitchen table and then left them to congeal and harden.
  • Left cupboard doors open.
  • Left the front door open.
  • Left the refrigerator door open.

If you suspect you’ve been a victim of “It Wasn’t Me,” do not attempt to apprehend this troublemaker on your own. He is said to be armed with a permanent marker and will likely start scribbling on your leather couch if cornered.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Photo courtesy of ebarrera on flickr