Friday, September 30, 2011

10 Things I Would Do If I Didn't Have To Work

I recently discovered MAMA KAT'S Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop online. She gives a choice of writing prompts, you choose one, write about it, post it on your blog and back at her website. Here's my first attempt.

My prompt: "10 Things I Would Do If I Didn't Have To Work"
(And because I don't always follow the rules, I'm adding "And Have Tons of Money."

1. Start a Foundation so I can give away money to people and organizations I love.

2. Watch re-runs of The Closer, Law & Order, and Bones.

3. Actually take my Shih tzu to obedience classes.

4. Go Up North to Lake Superior on a regular basis. (See photo above.)

5. Tutor kids at my daughter's junior high school.

6. Homeschool (or better yet, hire a tutor for) my daughter during the months of January, February & March every year in a warm, tropical location like the Bahamas or Bermuda.

7. Spend a year in England, Australia, or Italy.

8. Finish the quilt I started three years ago. (Maybe.)

9. Go bike riding or to the gym more often. (Maybe.)

10. Audition for a play or musical.

If you want to participate in the Writer's Workshop, here's the link:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Quote of the Day

While at a restaurant, this was overheard from the next booth over:

"But why did God make me a vampire?"
- Girl, about 5 years old

(This Kid Quote was submitted by my friend Mary Lou.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Six Embarrassing Things Before Breakfast

There is a famous quote from Alice in Wonderland about believing "six impossible things before breakfast." Today, according to my daughter, I did Six Embarrassing Things Before Breakfast.

Here is a list of my offenses:

1. I said I wanted to "shadow" her at school to see what all her classes were like.

2. I suggested I come to her math class and tell the naughty kids (most of whom I know) to "zip it!" or I'll call their moms.

3. I offered to substitute teach her co-ed Health class.

4. I almost ran over Adam, a boy in her grade. (I actually only startled him as I drove down the alley.)

5. Sheila at the corner market and I laughed about telling an overdue pregnant woman to have sex to get things moving. (The woman did ask for suggestions!)

6. Worst of all, when dropping off my daughter at school, I said "I love you," with the car door wide open!

Tomorrow, for my daughter's sake, I'll try to limit myself to only Three Embarrassing Things Before Breakfast. If I can.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mondays (and Thursdays)

I have a "love/hate" relationship with Mondays. But my daughter just has a "hate" relationship with them.

On Monday morning, it's always a little more difficult to get out of bed for me. It's a lot more difficult for Juliana. After a weekend of sleeping in to the late hour of 8:00 or 9:00 am, it's hard for her to get up at 6:15 am for school. This is the "hate" part of Monday.

The "love" part of Mondays for me is that it's a return to routine. I love the weekend and it's more unscheduled, relaxed atmosphere. But, a fresh Monday morning is the return to a daily routine that is comfortable and known.

My daughter's favorite day of the week is Saturday because she has absolutely no commitments or "have-to's" on Saturday. She can sit around and suck air if she so desires.

I would have thought Monday was her least favorite day of the week. But she has informed that, in fact, Monday is her second least favorite day. Thursday - poor, usually ignored Thursday - is her absolute least favorite day. Why? Because it's almost the the weekend, but not quite. It's like she can see the end in sight and then, nope, she has to go to school one more day.

For Juliana, Thursday is the cruel joke that keeps happening week after week.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Kid Quote

When talking about buying a lottery ticket . . .

Juliana: "Will we win money?"

Dad: "We will never win."

Juliana: "But you keep buying tickets. What's the sense in that?"

- Juliana, age 5 1/2

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Carrot Seed

I love The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss. This children's classic recently celebrated it's 60th year in print.

It's the story of a little boy who plants a carrot seed and waits patiently for it to grow. While he waits, everyone around him tells him it won't grow. One after another, others give him this negative opinion about his carrot seed. But the little boy keeps tending the seed and waiting. He believes it will grow. And it does in a BIG way!

This book is about more than a carrot seed growing into a giant carrot. It's about a boy who believes in himself and his project, growing a carrot, despite everyone around him telling him it won't work.

With very simple text and clean art, this little book is a wonderful addition to any youngster's library.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Working The System

I've noticed a pattern. It took me awhile to figure it out, but I finally did. Every time my husband is out of town, my daughter says she's sick and needs to stay home from school, which is what she said this morning.

Statistically speaking it's very improbable that she gets sick every time I'm single parenting and not at other times. What's more probable (and very likely) is that she knows I'm more of a push-over when it comes to letting her stay home from school.

My husband is a hard-core, school attendance kind of guy. I bet he won the award for No Missed School Days as a kid. Even though he probably had the flu and a dozen colds, he went to school every day. I agree, that going to school is extremely important, but I'm not quite as stringent. My husband says, "You can only stay home from school if you are fevered, vomiting or bleeding from the ears." Since my daughter was doing none of the above, I made her go to school today.

Kids are savvy. They seem to be born knowing the strategy, "If one parent says no, go ask the other one." By the time they reach middle-school, kids are absolute PROS at "working-the-system" at home. Our only defense is to think ahead, be prepared, and form a United Front with the other decision-making adults in the house. If I hadn't done this, my daughter would be home watching TV right now instead of sitting in Geometry class. Poor her.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Quote of the Day

When paying for dinner, my husband said, "This coin is a Sacagawea."

Our daughter responded, "A sack - of - Juliana?!"

Juliana, age 3 1/2

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

School Clothes

Back in the day, when I was a middle-school kid, I wanted all the brand name clothes: Calvin Klein jeans, I-zod shirts, Pappagallo bag, and giant Lip Smackers to make my lips shiny and scented (preferably strawberry.)

Unfortunately, my mother thought Tough Skins jeans (from Sears) were perfectly appropriate attire, especially for my brother who wore them throughout his school career. I did not agree. I wanted the "good stuff." But mom would not pay for the brand name items. But she did agree to pay the equivalent of a regularly-priced item.

So I started babysitting. Not out of a love of babies, but out of a love for brand name clothes. Unfortunately, I didn't babysit very often so my money supply was lacking.

I got some name brands, but the sad, step-cousin versions. I couldn't afford the actual Calvin Klein jeans, but I did buy the odd, Calvin Klein tan khaki pants. I think I got an orange I-zod shirt on sale and saved forever for a blue wool Pappagallo bag, not the whale design that I wanted. The saddest thing of all was my sale-priced Maple Nut scented Lip Smacker. It just wasn't the same as strawberry.

So, do I buy my daughter all the "good stuff?" Yes and no. I won't buy Hollister jeans at full price but I did buy her a pair on sale, plus a couple cute shirts. But as far as lip smackers? She can have any flavor she wants.

Monday, September 12, 2011

So Embarrassed!

Last Friday night was the "Back to School" Dance for 6th-8th graders in our neighborhood. It's held every year at the park recreation center. This year my daughter and her friends were the big kids at the dance, such a sweet position to be in.

They danced - basically jumping up and down - and ran around inside the rec center from two hours. The dance was scheduled to end at 8:30 pm but I was done working at 8:00 so my husband and I drove over to pick her up.

We arrived at 8:15 pm and were told by my daughter that she had 15 more minutes and wanted to stay. Plus, could we please wait outside? I, of course, did not wait outside. Instead I started to dance. To my credit, I was not dancing on the actual dance floor but in the hallway. Still, I was spotted by my daughter's friend. Oops.

Suddenly my daughter reappeared.
J - "I'm ready to go."
Me - "What about waiting till 8:30 pm?"
J - "Nope, I want to go now."
Me - "But this song is good."
J - "No. Let's go!"

Apparently, me dancing to Britney Spears was the instant motivator for my daughter to leave the dance that she so adamantly wanted to stay at minutes before.

Note to parents: If you need to get your child moving quicker, Just Dance!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Kid Quote

A boy named Philip has two brothers, sixteen and eighteen years older than him.
One night at dinner, with his two brothers home from college, 3 year-old Philip said:

"I want to grow up to be a brother."

- Philip, age 3

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Day Photos

Every year when I was little, my mom would take my picture on the first day of school. The picture was always taken with me standing by the front door with my hand on the door nob. I imagine the photo was staged this way because the front door was the "formal" door.

But in reality, my brother and I always went out the back door to school. We'd walk out the back, grab the neighbor kids, walk through the little woods, up the alley until the alley ended, and then we crossed over to the main sidewalk.

Why did we walk this convoluted, back way to school?
Well, because it was more fun!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Kissing Hand

For many children, school began yesterday. While lots of kids are excited to go to school, some children feel a great deal of trepidation. There are several good books about going to school, but this is one of my favorites.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn is about Chester the raccoon who is afraid to go to school. He'd rather stay home with his mother. His mother tells him about "the kissing hand", a secret passed down in their family. She opens his hand and kisses his palm. At school, or any time he's away from home, he only needs to press his hand to his cheek to feel the warmth of his mother's kiss.

The Kissing Hand is very touching and reassuring for youngsters (and their mothers). It's especially excellent for children heading to preschool or kindergarten for the first time.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

School Start Times

While some schools have already begun, most children are heading back to school today.

My daughter's junior high school began today with a new, earlier start time of 7:30 am. Her alarm clock makes the sound of a babbling brook that gets louder and louder until you shut it off. This morning at 6:15 I walked into her room to hear a thundering brook inches from her head. She was sound asleep. I was able to wake her up and she arrived at school on time - sleepy, but present.

Why do junior and senior high schools start so early, while elementary schools start so much later? We all know that most little kids get up a lot earlier than older kids. So why do teens begin school the earliest?

The answer has been given that junior and senior high schools need time for sports after school. OK. I get that. But my daughter and her junior high classmates will be getting out at 2:00 pm today. That's a lot of time for sports.

Plus, it's a known fact that teenagers get into the trouble most frequently between the hours of 3:00 and 5:00 pm, the time when parents are often not home. So, letting all those teens out at 2:00 pm, with 3 hours to fritter away before mom and dad get home seems questionable.

Like my daughter says, "No kid is going to get up early to cause trouble." That's right. No teen is going to get up at 6:00 am to get into mischief. But that same kid might find some mischief at 2:00 pm.

Food for thought.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Extrovert Parent, Introvert Child

I am a confirmed Extrovert. On the Myers Briggs test, my "E" is about as high as you can go. My daughter, on the other hand, is an Introvert. Being an Extroverted parent with an Introverted child, can pose some challenges (as can vice-versa) which I was reminded of this weekend.

The terms Extrovert and Introvert are frequently misunderstood. I used to think they meant outgoing and shy. But, it's more than that. Laurie Helgoe, a psychologist interviewed in the recent issue of Real Simple Family explains it this way: "An introvert refuels by spending time alone. An extrovert draws energy from interaction."

This is so true. My daughter re-charges her batteries by being alone listening to music or reading a book. I re-charge by spending time with family and friends. This difference in refueling preferences can cause some confusion and misunderstanding.

For example, my daughter, her friend, and I just got back from our vacation up north. We had a great time. But something struck me as odd several times. I was surprised by how quiet the girls were when riding in the car.

For a good amount of time while traveling in the car, there was silence in the back seat. Silence, while riding in a car with other people, signifies to me that someone is upset, sick or sleeping. Silence does not signal something positive to me. I spent a good 20 minutes trying to figure out if Juliana or her friend was upset and with whom. Then it finally dawned on me, that the two girls were perfectly fine. They were just relaxing. Just being quiet.

This was a revelation to me. My inclination, in a car full of people, is to talk and visit the entire time. This kind of interaction fuels my extroverted self. But I realized, for Juliana and her friend, just being quiet in the car was re-fueling them.

So I shut up. I didn't turn on the radio. I didn't attempt to make conversation. I just drove. And thought. I let the girls have what they needed - quiet. Surprisingly, it was actually kind of nice to simply drive and think. For awhile. Just don't ask me to do that all the time.

(This photo is of Juliana and her friend looking out at Lake Superior.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Quote of the Day

Upon entering the bathroom at a local super-store, my 2 1/2 year-old daughter exclaimed:

"It smells heinous in here!"

I cracked up hearing her say "heinous." I must have said something similar and she was simply repeating it, but she sure sounded cute. (BTW, the bathroom did smell bad that day.)