Thursday, March 19, 2009

Confessions of an American Idol Junkie

Last night my Facebook status read, "Jennifer Rowlands is disappointed Alexis Grace got voted off -- I voted for you Alexis!" My sister left me the following comment:
"I'm still in shock that not only are you watching a reality TV show, you are emotionally involved enough to make it your status. Who are you and what have you done with my sister? BTW...I like Danny, Matt and Kris (in that order!)"

When I read her comment -- it is emailed to me, otherwise it would be quite a while before I'd ever see it -- I started to analyze why it is that I totally look forward to Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and can hardly wait until it's time to watch another episode of what has easily become my favorite TV show. It generated so much thought in fact, as I was crafting my "witty" response to her, that I thought, "Wow, I'd better just turn this in to a blog post." (Do I have time to write a blog post this morning -- no, not if I'm going to use my time wisely -- but I so rarely feel like pouring out thoughts into writing lately, I just have to grab these inspirations, no matter how frivilous, when they come.)

I think it has kind of grown on me -- three years ago, Johnny came home from the Mexico Mission trip all excited about the bus trip home (that's a first) where the bored high schoolers had thrown together an impromptu version of AI, which they called, "American Bus". Gabriel Halpin ended up winning that one with his ever-popular rendition of "Big Rock Candy Mountain". Since that humble beginning, American Bus has taken on a life of it's own, each year becoming a little more refined. Last year, Jordan Rose added a Ryan Seacrest element and started interviewing contestants. I wasn't on the trip last year so I missed seeing Catie sing, in honor of one of AI's more memorable tryouts, "I Am Your Brother", dedicating it to her brother Johnny.

As American Bus took root in my consciousness, so did American Idol. Last year I watched most of the final shows, and was actually very opinionated about which David should win...and he did.

This year, we have watched every episode from the beginning. We now have AT&T U-Verse, which enabled Scott to record the entire season in one operation, so we have the ability to fast forward commercials if we aren't able to start it on time. Notice I say "we". That leads me to another reason I'm so hooked on this show -- my kids love it. It is something we enjoy as a whole family -- even the pets are cuddled up with us as we sit down to watch. (Gotta love that Jody).

Another reason I am hooked is the relationships I've formed with these contestants as the season has progressed. Pitiful, I know. But the show effectively draws in those of us who root for a team because we follow its players. Some of these contestants have very compelling stories and it's hard not to get a little emotionally involved. One of the reasons I hated to see Alexis Grace leave last night is how likeable she appeared in the behind-the-scenes interviews. She also reminded me of Kelly Ferguson, and since she was one of our favorite babysitters back in the day, it was hard for me not to pull for Alexis. Plus she could sing!

My girls think Adam Lambert is amazing. I think he's entertaining, and would miss the element of surprise he brings to the show. He was featured on my facebook advertisement side bar recently letting me know 3 of my fb friends had joined his fan group. I clicked on the highlighted line to see which of my friends it was, fully expecting to see one of my daughter's names -- they weren't listed, but Russ East was! That made me chuckle! Johnny likes to bash Adam because he knows it bugs his sisters. We are all fans of Danny -- haven't joined the facebook fan group, but we like him and wish him great success none-the-less. We all think Michael seems like a really nice guy, but are frankly surprised that he's lasted this long. Allison is so cute -- she just reminds me of Fionna on Shrek in a cute sort of way -- and boy can she sing! Scott is very inspirational, not sure if his voice will carry him too far, but inspirational and enjoyable none-the-less...

I think my final reason I look forward to American Idol is because it is just frivilous -- it is like a bit of junk food for my brain and sometimes a bag of chips or a candy bar just hits the spot.

Go Danny!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Another Rowlands Challenge

Every year it is a scramble to send a family picture in our Christmas cards. This year, a photo opportunity presented itself in September, Labor Day to be exact. Our beloved trampoline bit the dust after 10 well-used years. One of Johnny's friends broke through it's worn webbing. Thankfully, his friend was not hurt, although if he had been maybe my girls would have been more gracious about the demise of the their favorite form of exercise.
I had the incredible idea of posing our family along the trampoline rim for our Christmas picture. Wouldn't that be a sweet way to incorporate something that had been near and dear to all of us for the past ten years? Suprisingly, no one else caught my vision (it is amazing how often that happens) and it was a grumbling bunch I was forced to work with as I set the camera on the timer mode. However, most family members pulled themselves together enough to crank out a strained smile each time the flashing light signalled that our camera was about to take a picture. They were not enjoying it, but at least they were cooperating.
Johnny took a different tact. He decided he was going to enjoy the experience but forget the cooperation. It was like a repeat of one of my favorite Calvin & Hobbes series where Calvin's dad tries to get a nice picture of him for the Christmas card. Calvin flashes a charming smile until one split-second before the cameral flashes and then suddenly his expression changes to one that should never be sent! I thought this kind of behavior should have been the least of our worries as the youngest person being photographed was 14! However, the 18 year old, who is technically an adult, managed to foil about 13 of our attempts. He had us laughing enough that the death threats we gave him just did not seem terribly earnest. All told, it took 18 tries to get one we could live with. Thank goodness for digital!
When I loaded the photo shoot onto the computer, Scott and I decided it would serve our boy right if we actually sent out one of his goofy poses. Thanks to Adobe Photo Shop, I was able to create a collage that showcased several of his memorable faces and added what I thought was a very appropriate greeting, "Merry Christmas from the Rowlands Family: May your picture take less tries than ours." Like much of my own humor, I thought it was rather hilarious and a fitting solution to another Rowlands challenge. I submit my finished product below for your viewing pleasure:
Like I said, I thought it was hilarious and made myself chuckle several times over my clever wit. Like my brilliant plans that no one else thinks are brilliant, not everyone thought it was funny. My mom took one look at it and said, "It looks like you like Johnny best." I was shocked. That was the opposite effect I was shooting for. But maybe it was just my mom -- she doesn't get Princess Bride either. So I showed it to my friend, Diane. "It looks like Johnny is your favorite." She told me flatly. Well this was crushing. Here it was September and I had 50 copies of a family picture that I suddenly feared no one would understand.
Fortunately, a couple of days later I got a new haircut that was so much cuter than my grown-out-no-style, that I simply had to take a new family picture. This time I enlisted the help of my dad and Johnny was well-behaved. It turned out pretty good and did not contain any subtle humor to misunderstand.
Well, at least this picture provided me inspiration for a new post--and I obviously NEEDED a little inspiration! That, after all, is probably the most fitting solution to another Rowlands challenge.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Little Perspective

Yesterday I posted a heart-felt bit about the death of our pet rat. Catie made the comment, "Do you really think anyone reads your blog anymore?" I expressed my own doubt but told her I just wrote it because it helped to write out my feelings.
Well suprise, surprise...there are some of you who still read my blog and amazingly, were sensitive enough to post sweet comments about our grief process for a rat. Thank you. That really was sweet.
Today perspective has returned. Talk of getting Pip, Michelle's rat, a new roommate has taken center stage, and we are all able to think of Lucy with a fond appreciation rather than the suprising depth of sadness yesterday. Who would think I could feel so sad about a rat.
I remember years ago, we did a gift exchange with our family members in which we were required to purchase 4 items with only $5.00. The items must include something to wear, something to eat, something to play with, and something to read. We often resorted to very creative solutions in order to stay in the price range. My brother, who had drawn my name, bought a greeting card as my "something to read". It was a sympathy card, but what made it funny was it was a Pet Sympathy card. We all chuckled over the sticky sweet sentiments expressed as well as the thought someone would actually send a sympathy card for a pet!
I was thinking about that card today and did a little google search, typing "Pet sympathy card" into google images. I chose only to browse the first 18 of about 128,000 matches. The image to the left is one such offerings. (I tried "Pet rat sympathy card" but that did not yield much -- apparently those who grieve for their rats to the degree they need a card are not a large enough market for the card makers.) Anyway, 128,000 matches? Amazing. Granted, Mother's Day Cards yielded 1,700,000 and Father's Day Cards yielded 1,300,000 (sorry dads), but still, 128,000 is nothing to sneeze at!
Bottom line -- I'm feeling a lot better but I'm still musing over the big impact a furry little creature can have on a person's feelings! On the plus side, it must be good for the economy because the card industry would have a smaller market if that were not the case.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We Loved Lucy

I have really neglected the blogosphere for the last month and a half. My "honeymoon phase" with facebook has lasted longer than I would have thought -- probably due to the fact that I keep connecting with new "blasts from the past", additionally my little nephew in Thailand (not even a month old) has his own page where his pappa adds new photos and clever captains, and I joined Parking Wars and feel the need to compete with my sister. But today, a status update just did not cut it for expressing my thoughts.

Today Lucy died. I told my husband this morning, with tears streaming down my face, "The economy is in the toilet. People I love are in the hospital. Life is hard. And what am I crying about? I'm crying that my daughter is having to say goodbye to her pet rat." Granted, Lucy's influence in our life did go beyond that of the average pet rat.

Last September, Catie became the proud owner of Rattatouile, a rat who's owner was ready to no longer be a rat owner. It was the perfect way for Catie to try out pet ownership for herself. She'd been lobbying for a hamster, but this deal was too good not to give a try. So Rattatouile joined our family, but it wasn't long before she was renamed, Lucy. About a month into rat ownership, Catie was enjoying her pet so much she decided to write an expository speech on pet rats. I know that choosing a topic that is inspiring and interesting to the writer is key in maintaining enthusiasm for a speech that will probably be given repeatedly over the course of several months, and therefore I thought the topic was a good one for Catie. I warned her, however, that it would probably not be a speech that would appeal to her judges to any great degree.

So with Lucy as her inspiration, Catie combined personal experience with research on the web to write a 10 minute speech about pet rats. She tried out many of the ideas she read about, including making a pinata and hammock for Lucy as well as doing a photo shoot with her. To my chagrin, Lucy's Christmas picture turned out much better than our family one. Catie's speech included large 20 x 30 inch boards which provided visuals for her words. As with many other things, my prediction that judges would not warm to a speech about pet rats proved to be wrong. Not only did they like it, they awarded her 1st place in the first qualifying tournament of the season, held in San Diego, which qualified her to give the same speech at the National competition in June.
Through Catie's speech, her love for Lucy was shared at tournaments, a young-at-heart gathering, elementary book club, Piner-Olivet elementary school, and the fair. At home, her enjoyment of Lucy turned the whole family into pet rat enthusiasts -- something I would not have thought possible. We all enjoyed Lucy's gentle and loving personality and I took great satisfaction in being able to lull her to sleep by scratching behind her ears.
It was also endearing to see Catie take good care of her pet and as Lucy became increasingly weaker in this past week, to see Catie once again doing online research and applying her learning to make Lucy as comfortable as possible. As she sat today participating in her online Spanish class and stroking her failing pet, it was really hard to keep the's only a rat!
Later today the girls buried her in a little container lined with one of Catie's shirts Lucy had chewed up. A tissue piñata and one of her favorite treats, a banana chip, were also tucked in for good measure. After the burial, both girls scattered some flowers.
I know -- she was only a rat. But she was a rat that brought about some really great things in our family...inspiration, opportunity, responsibility, and caring. A rat is a pretty small life in the big picture, but the things that she inspired are pretty big after all.
We are going to miss our little Lucy!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Only Six?

I was kind of tagged by my niece, Megan, to post six of my quirks. My response? It is going to be hard to limit it to only six. I am officially tagging my sister Jody, because she has as many quirks as I do! And if Lynn Whitely ever gets a blog -- I would sure love to read her top six! Actually Lynn, you can leave them in the comments!

So what do you think of the photo? I got this one when I entered "Quirky Person" into Google images. Ah, the incredible power of the internet...whoops, back to the task at hand...
1. I seem to have a compulsive disorder to only clean/put away what someone just seconds before took out for a purpose. For example, my counter will be entirely husband pulls a glass out of the cupboard...he then goes to the refrigerator to retrieve something to the two seconds that takes, I arrive on the scene and absent mindedly put his glass in the dishwasher leaving intact all the items that should have been put away. This scene is replayed on a daily basis.
2. I tend to ask questions and then not listen for the answers. Then I ask the same question and again I fail to listen for the answer.
3. I play Spider on the easy level because it makes me happy when I win. If I lose, I reset my stats so I can pretend I always win.
4. My husband insists that I will dance around the house, putting off making a trip to the little girls room, only to decide I urgently need to use it just as soon as someone else is occupying it.
5. My husband also insists that when doing something complicated and confusing on the computer, I will click on options without reading them and then wonder what I've done.
6. My husband further points out that I am hopeless about giving and taking directions that involve "left and right". Apparently he finds it confusing when I say, "Turn right" as I point left -- go figure!
As you can tell, my husband was very helpful bringing to mind a few of my quirks. I would write more, but right now I need to chat with him about HIS quirks!

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Honeymoon

Well I guess it is finally time to post again. Thank you so much for praying for my sweet niece, Sarah. She is one of my heros and I am so thankful that God has tenderly cared for her and her family these past weeks through His people. Praise the Lord she will be 29 weeks along Sunday. One of the best consequences of Sarah needing help, is having the need to be there more often. I am enjoying my Fridays with Sarah & Bekah & Bailey.
Two weeks ago I took these pictures of Bekah. They are from my cell phone so they're basically pretty lame, but what a cute little subject! At first she did not want to cooperate, but then she decided she liked posing and immediately checking out the results. Each time she took the phone in her hand and giggled at her picture on the screen was just precious. I ended up taking about twenty shots because I was enjoying her giggle so much.
Though I had planned to be there yesterday, Chris ended up home early, so I stayed home to take care of some of the more pressing needs of my children. Between the pressing needs, I filled much of my unexpected spare time playing with facebook. I signed up for my own account about Midnight Thursday, so on Friday, I was set to go.
I have to admit I am having fun. I remind myself of someone who just gets email for the first time and thinks it is the best thing since sliced bread, drools over every mass-mailing coming in and forwards it to 100 of her closest friends. Thank goodness that phase of email does not last long --unless you are retired. (I've found that retired folks still think their friends and family like to receive every forward that comes through their inbox.)
Yes, I am in the honeymoon phase. Thanks to Michelle, I learned all about flairs yesterday--though my own collection is pretty lame in her eyes--I designed a stick figure family complete with the pets and even a few dead fish to honor those we used to have--I adopted a pokey*--I sent and received flowers--and I'm up to 41 friends!
I was pretty fired up about My Space a couple of years ago, but I quickly lost interest and only signed in often enough to change my age to 29 whenI had a birthday. And then, I even got too bored to do that -- I am now 30. When I first got my blog, I was posting almost every day. I usually do not post quite that often anymore (cough, choke). And, though I check my email often, it is against my religion (almost) to send on a forward and quite honestly, I have certain relatives relegated to my "junk mail" because that is all they send! So, knowing my electronic communication history, I am not expecting my current enthusiasm for fb to be a sustainable phenomenon.
However, I am finding it really cool to reconnect with friends I have not caught up with in years. I also was added to the loop for a possible multi-class RVCS reunion in the next couple of years. So right now, I am enjoying the honeymoon and I think facebook is pretty darn cool.
*My pokey's name is Bailey and she's a lovable chocolate lab who is really bad at catching the frisbee. Feel free to stop by and play with her anytime.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Please Be in Prayer

Just wanted to ask for prayer for our niece, Sarah, and her baby. I lifted the beautiful picture from her sister, Megan's, blog. Here's the email that was circulated by our church earlier today:

Chris and Sarah have asked prayer for Sarah and their unborn baby. Sarah is 26 weeks along and started having contractions last night. She is currently in the hospital and they have given the baby medicine to help develop his/her lungs. The earliest the Drs. like to deliver is 34 weeks. Sarah will be in the hospital till Thursday and is on possible bed rest. Please pray the baby will continue developing and wait to make his/her arrival as well as peace for Chris & Sarah.

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”
Psalm 139: 13-16