Sunday, August 23, 2009

What? Cool people LOVE me!

I've been writing this blog for over 2 1/2 years, and I hold no delusions that it's read by a great number of people. Most of my readers are either related to me or see me often enough that they'd hear most of the stories in person, so reading here just saves them the time. Every once in a while, though, I find out that someone's reading that I don't know very well, or even at all. This thrills me to pieces--it feeds my ego and my love of knowing anyone new all at once.

Some time ago, in the last year or so, I got a comment on my blog from someone named Cameron (some of my friends who read the blog even asked me who he was, since it was apparently inconceivable that anyone besides them would read what I wrote.)(Come to think of it, I'm still not entirely sure how Cameron found this thing. Cameron?). I clicked on his name to check out his blog, and discovered he's a college student from Bentonville and quite the clever writer. We continued to read each other's blogs regularly. This is how I came to know that he's a musician and audiovisual genius, that he has an adorable girlfriend named Aubrey that he regularly raves about (SMART boy) and that he's in general a cool guy. That's why, when I needed someone to do video for a wedding I have coming up, he popped right into my mind. I sent him a message, and he ended up getting hired. Then when I needed to find the perfect piece of photography equipment last week, I knew he'd be just the person to ask.

It was funny actually talking, because we'd never met but knew all sorts of stuff about each other. This guy who I had never seen face to face knew that I have a drama queen daughter and a wild child son and a sweet, if blog-shy, husband. He knew about our summer vacations and saw our back to school pictures. I know that he's an avid Mac user and what classes he took last semester and where his girlfriend worked this summer. It may seem strange, but in this case I got wedding and photography help and he got a video job, so it was pretty handy.

Then last night, Matt and I went to Van Buren with Chad and Marla to see the concert of one of my favorite singers, Travis Cottrell**. I knew that Cameron was also a fan, and at some point read on his blog that he actually knew Travis. Cameron was at the concert too, and afterwards Matt and I got to meet him. It was so fun! And a little surreal, I suppose. We recognized each other right away (neither of us is exactly camera shy or hesitant about putting our pictures on our blogs). Matt is thrilled that Cameron is willing to talk to me for 30 minutes about the finer points of choosing the perfect auxiliary camera flash, so he was very eager to shake hands. We chatted for a few minutes, and then Cameron introduced us to Travis. I decided that meeting both of them at the same time was worth visually memorializing, so I made Matt take a picture of us (a bigger deal than you might think, since taking a picture with people you don't know is not exactly Matt's thing). Travis is on the left, Cameron on the right. (That's me in the middle).

Pretty fun, right? Thanks to this blog, I now have a hip college student with lots of helpful knowledge for a friend. And look at what Cameron got out of the deal! He's now pals with a wordy, over-enthusiastic thirty-something stay at home mom. Lucky, lucky boy.

**The concert was ridiculous. I'm not kidding. Incredible. Insanely fantastic.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Too cool for school, apparently

You know that saying, "Youth is wasted on the young"? I think the same is true of the first day of school. Every adult (except maybe teachers) associate the first day of school with pure excitement. New supplies, new friends, a new teacher, it's all so cool! Kids are not quite so impressed. It's a pity.

I'd love to tell you that I have a fantastic story about Abby's first day of first grade. In fact, it was completely normal and low key in every way. We got ready, went to school, delivered her to her classroom, and...that was that. I picked her up some hours later. I asked how it was. She said good. Case closed.

I did manage to get some pictures of Miss Whatever before we left for the morning:

Note the horseshoe earrings. Her school's mascot is a stallion, and horsehoes are everywhere.

This photo might lead you to believe that my children can be in physical contact with each other without one of them being injured. This is not true.

Her idea of an appropriate first day of school photograph.

At her big kid desk.

Yawning. Two minutes in to her first day of school. Just another day for her. No big whoop. What's for lunch? Ho hum.

Well, hopefully things will get more interesting as the year progresses. Otherwise, I'll be forced to blog about random people that annoy me. Heaven knows there's no shortage there.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ice cream, I scream

Today was a little much. Ethan started pre-school at the place Abby went for 2 years. We loved it then, and I love it now. He zipped right in and started playing--no separation anxiety for that kid. I think it will be really good for him. It will also be interesting, since they provide lunch and it's a set menu that reaches far beyond the three foods that Ethan will currently consume.

Most of the rest of the day was consumed by Abby's school's Ice Cream Social, where the class lists are revealed and kids get to meet their teachers and see their classrooms. I had to wear both my mom-of-a-first-grader hat and my PTA-volunteer hat. I raced around setting everything up, mixing gallons upon gallons of lemonade and making copies of every sign up sheet known to man. Then I went with Abby to meet her teacher (who is lovely and will be wonderful, I have no doubt). I spent the rest of the time on ice cream duty. This is what I would like to spend the rest of this entry talking about.

This year, PTA bought ice cream novelties from Yarnell's and rented one of their freezers to hold them all. We got 4 kinds--fudge bars, ice cream bars, ice cream sandwiches, and freedom pops. (Yes, there is a point to me telling you this.) Since we only had one freezer, we put several of each variety out on a table and just replenished the table as needed. That way, everyone could see all the choices and select their own.

This should NEVER have been my job. I have way too little tolerance for schmucks, and they came to the ice cream table in droves. I had at least 10 people ignore the table and point to the fancy treat painted on the side of the freezer, saying they'd "take one of those." Ummm, yeah, this is NOT Baskin Robbins. And the PTA isn't exactly rolling in the dough. I had one mother ask me if there was a fat free option. In fact, there is--it's called DON'T EAT ICE CREAM. Kids would stand at the table foreeeevvvveeer, picking up a fudge bar, almost opening it, then throwing it back and grabbing a sandwich. Over and over. People would say things like, "Don't you have any Nutty Buddies?" or "Oh, I didn't want a blue--do you have any more reds?" People. This is FREE. When Abby was in pre-school, she learned a valuable phrase--you get what you get and you don't throw a fit. It almost came out of my mouth more than once.

There were, of course, many more highly pleasant people than annoying ones. I saw lots of familiar faces, including that of Abby's "boyfriend" who she claims will be her partner on Dancing With The Stars when they are 15. I can hardly wait. I told her that I'd even throw them a big party when they won--but she can forget about serving ice cream.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

And I thought Dora was just an annoying kid with a talking monkey.

If you don't have kids, or if you're one of those parents who don't let your kids watch tv because it's "bad for them" or you prefer to "actually parent" your children, then perhaps you have not heard of Noggin. Noggin is a heaven-sent 24 hour television station geared exclusively towards pre-schoolers. Dora and Diego are Noggin's Queen and King, but there are lots of other great shows that are completely adored by the 5-and-under set.

My life would be horrible without Noggin. I am grateful for it, and I am pleased that virtually all of the shows have some educational component. For example, when Dora is going on one of her adventures she speaks in English but sprinkles in occasional Spanish. She also teaches numbers, letters, colors, shapes--all that good pre-school stuff.

Yes, the learning that happens while watching Noggin is a nice little bonus. The Noggin execs apparently think it's the best thing to ever happen to children. Either that or they are trying to ease the guilt of parents everywhere who plop their kids in front of the tv--at least if they're watching Noggin, they're learning something! Noggin's motto is, "It's like pre-school on TV!" They have a commercial where "real parents" rave about how their 2 year olds are bilingual, recognize octagons, can spell 35 words and count to 250, all thanks to Noggin. Really? It's a bit much.

I'm saving the best for last, though. At the beginning of each show, a still screen comes up with a "learning objectives" statement on it, while a very inteliigent sounding woman recited the information.

It may sound reasonable, but let me give you an example. This is the statement for Wow!Wow! Wubbzy! It's one of E's favorite shows, and it is about a yellow creature with a long tail who runs around and plays with other creatures.

"Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! enhances pre-schoolers' understanding of inter- and intra-personal dynamics, as well as their cognitive and problem-solving skills."

Huh! Who knew?

Other things children gain from Noggin shows are "metacognition*," "kinesthetic awareness" "deductive reasoning skills" and "awareness of diversity."

I am not making this up. I am not that creative.

I always wonder if any parents actually buy that junk. If they go, "You know, Tommy, your metacognition skills just aren't what they should be. To the living room with you--it's time for some Blue's Clues!"

I can tell you what my son takes away from those shows. He watches the entire episode, listening carefully for the most annoying line of dialogue. Then he yells it at the top of his lungs for three days.

I suppose Noggin would tell me he's improving his memorizational and recitational skills, as well as improving his vocal projection abilities. Lucky, lucky me.

*Post a comment if you actually know what metacognition is--WITHOUT looking it up.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My house is for the birds

For the past several years, we have had a bird or birds build a nest in the little nest-sized alcove in our entryway. It's about 2 feet in front of our front door and 8 feet up. This seems like a fairly minor fact in the grand scheme of things, but it's actually consumed a lot more of my time than I anticipated. The kids know this happens, so they are always watching to see what's going on. This makes it impossible for Matt and I to "relocate" the bird family. I say that like we would ever get around to doing it even if we could. Therefore, we have come to accept them as a part of life.

Sharing our home with Tweety and Co. has its advantages and disadvantages.

Kids learn valuable science lessons about the birth and growth of birds.

Kids occasionally try to "help" baby birds by "tossing" things into their nest.

It makes a nice topic of conversation with guests.

If they make it in our house after being attacked by the mama bird, who does NOT like intruders when the babies are small. (We have had more than one neighborhood kid try to come over to play, only to have them run screaming from the porch when mama started her routine. She can be kind of scary.) (Not that is is necessarily a bad thing--I'm not so crazy about some of those kids!) (And besides, anyone can have a guard dog--we have a guard bird.)(Though sometimes she can get a little overly dramatic--once I was unloading groceries and she got some friends. I think they were trying for an Alfred Hitchcock moment.)(I was unimpressed. My kids are over it too--when she starts messing with them, they both just yell, "I'm not trying to take your babies, bird!")

The baby birds are SO cute. They have pitifully scrawny necks and squawky little chirps, and every time we turn on the porch light they all poke their heads out as far as they can and chirp up a storm. It's great fun. If you ever drive by our house and see the front porch light strobing, don't be alarmed. We're just playing with the birds.

Poop. Lots and lots and LOTS of poop. It's pretty much a blanket over our whole walkway. And until the birds finally leave, there's no point in cleaning it. I live in constant fear that Ethan is going to smear it on his sister, eat it, or bury my cell phone in it. It's only a matter of time.

So for now, we live in delicate balance with the birds. I'm going to have to keep an eye on that mama bird, though. Pretty soon she's going to start popping the children upside the head when she gets mad at them, and that role has already been filled, thank you very much.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Usually when I haven't posted in a while, it's because there's so much going on that I just don't have time to do it. The past few days, the opposite has been true. After Abby got well we took a quick trip to Branson, and since we got back on Thursday, nothing has been going on. Nnnnooooooootthhhhhiiiiiinnnngggg. I went to a baby shower yesterday and church today, which got me out of the house for a total of about 6 hours out of the last 60 or so.

While I've been home with the kids and nnnnoooootttthhhhiiinnnggg has been going on, I've had this weird Twilight Zone-ish thing going on. It's like I'm living someone else's life for lack of something better to do. There are never dishes in the sink. When a load of clothes finishes washing, they are immediately put into the dryer. And then? They are PUT AWAY. The SAME day. I have always had this twisted sense of pride over the amount of clutter in my living room, as if it proved that my life was far too exciting to spend any time cleaning. Well. I caught myself de-cluttering THREE times today. I even cleaned out. My. JUNK drawer. Who have I become?!

Even with all this bizarre activity, I've still had plenty of time to do mom-ish stuff. I've played Sorry and Candy Land and Memory a gajillion times and watched every episode of Hannah Montana ever made. I've made more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than I care to admit in writing. I've read books and done puzzles and even doled out money for the stupid ice cream truck that stalks our house. My children are not neglected.

In the spirit of full disclosure, though, I suppose I must admit I have had a little down time too. I have played Spider Solitaire on my computer so many times that the game opens when it hears me sitting down. Any friends who are unfortunate enough to call me get treated (trapped) to a 45 minute conversation about anything I can talk about to keep from hanging up. I also check Facebook about every 10 minutes. I keep thinking I should post a status update, but every time it would be: " doing the same thing she was doing 10 minutes ago. And an hour ago. And yesterday."

I know, I know, everyone would kill for a few days with nothing going on, and when school starts and both kids are in soccer and I am wading like a madwoman through the clutter in my living room I'll hate myself for not appreciating this more. Whatever. I can't think about that now. I have an important meeting with some laundry.