Monday, January 30, 2012

Thank You Mythbusters!

Last Wednesday, we had a very exciting morning.

At 7:00 am, my daughter walked down the stairs,
looked out the window,
and said, "Uhh, there's a car on fire."

I looked out the window to see bright flames in the darkness.

"Holy Sh**! Call 911!"

My husband grabbed the phone.

I ran outside to get a better look.

My daughter started screaming, "MOM! Come inside, the car might explode!"

My husband said, "Dara, come back inside. It's not safe out there."

My daughter started to cry. "MOM! MOM!"

Then my husband said, "Wait a minute. They tested this on Mythbusters. If a car is on fire, it won't explode. The gas tank has a release valve built in. It will burn, but not go BOOM!"

Yes, Mythbusters!

I was free to go. I grabbed my camera and ran back outside.

The firetruck arrived and put out the fire.

The fire inspector arrived to check out the scene.

The police officer arrived to take pictures and arrange for a tow truck to take the wreckage of a car away.

You have to understand, I live in a very nice, very quiet neighborhood. Nothing like this ever happens. Except for that bank robbery incident a year ago, nothing dramatic happens here.

Until last week.

Apparently, the car in question was stolen, stripped of it's fancy tires and rims, dumped on my nice, little street, and torched to conceal any evidence. Definitely theft; definitely arson.

I talked with the police officer. It was her 2nd week on our "beat." I assured her that car fires were not the norm.

When the drama was all over,
and my husband and I walked back to our house,
I said:

"Now that's how I like to start my day!"

My husband gave me a funny look.

But really, a car fire is even better than coffee to get you going in the morning.

And it's all thanks to MYTHBUSTERS, who said it was A-OK to go outside and check out the scene.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pros & Cons of BEING a Single Child

(Juliana and cousins.)

I grew up with a brother (his sons are in the picture above), so for today's blog I turned to the expert - my single child.

The Pros & Cons of Being a Single Child

1. You don't have to share your bedroom.

2. You don't have to share you stuff (except when the cousins come over.)

3. You get more stuff.

4. You don't have to "live up" to anyone else.
- No sibling comparisons.

5. You become an expert at knowing your parents.
- "You know what buttons to push when."

6. You become very comfortable talking with adults.

7. You get very good at entertaining yourself.

8. When you're friends fight with their siblings, you have little patience. You say, "You're both wrong. Shut up."

1. There's no one else to blame when something breaks.
- Except, you can always blame the cat.

2. No "distract and destroy" opportunities.
- As in, "You distract them and I'll grab the cookies."

3. Fewer babysitting opportunities.

4. Parents are more protective/overprotective.

5. Your kids might not get cousins.
- Unless you marry someone with sibs.

Best of All - I met a woman who grew up as a single child, who said, "The best thing about being an only child is that I always knew I was Number One! My parents loved me the Best!"

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pros & Cons of Having a Single Child

There are pros and cons to everything, including the number of children people have. My husband and I came up with a list. Of course, there are so many pros to any number of children, but these are the main ones, according to us.

The Pros and Cons of Having a Single Child:

1. You can take your child anywhere.
- One kid is a lot easier to bring places, like nice restaurants, museums, and on vacations.

2. There's no sibling rivalry.

3. You can put all your energy into your one child.

4. One child is cheaper. (My husband added this one.)

5. You become very close with your child.

1. Many things are a First & Last.

2. When you don't want to play Candyland for the 23rd time in a row, you can't tell your child to go play with her brothers and sisters.

3. I worry that she will have to take care of us, and make decisions about us, by herself when we are old.
- Then I remember she will have family and friends to support her.

Tomorrow: The Pros & Cons of Being a Single Child

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Single Children: Both First and Last

This week on Planet Parenting, I'm focusing on Single Children - having one, being one, pros and cons, etc.

- - - - - - -

I have a single child, a daughter, who is 13 years-old. When my daughter began kindergarten, I noticed for the first time that everything is Both a First and a Last.

As I walked with my daughter into that kindergarten room, it was the first time I had a child starting school. It was also the last.

When she began first grade, we were done with kindergarten forever.

I noticed this idea of First and Last dramatically when my daughter graduated from 6th grade. My daughter was done with elementary school. But so was I.

Many of my adult friendships have grown out of our children attending elementary school together. We parents would see each other at drop off or pick up; we'd volunteer at the same events; we'd hang out and laugh. But now, I was moving on. And most of them weren't. They had younger kids still at the school.

"First and Last" may sound a little sad. And it is. But it's also pretty amazing.

I get to go through every step with my daughter, as she goes through it. I don't need to divide my attention between 2nd grade talent shows and junior high acne. I can really focus on each step of childhood. Right now, we're all about choosing a high school (and the perfect hair straightener.)

My friend with identical twin girls says she has a similar feeling. Everything is a First and Last for them too, it just comes in a double package.

Sometimes I feel like I rush through life so fast that I forget the little things that are so very important, like sitting and talking and just being together.

When I have a First and Last moment, I'm reminded to slow down, savor every day. Today is a first, but it's also a last.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Last Baby Tooth Falls

Last night my daughter lost her last baby tooth.

She is taller than me. She's almost 14 years old. And she's had braces since last summer.

But, that one last baby tooth hung in there. It was a molar, hanging by a thread. My daughter could twist it around in a circle, which was pretty nasty.

Then last night, she gave her baby tooth one final tug and it fell out.

All her baby teeth are gone.

- - - - - - - - -

It might seem like no big deal, but it was to me. My daughter has had her baby teeth almost her entire life. But not anymore.

She's no longer a baby. Or a little girl. Or even a "big girl."

She's a teen. Almost a young woman.

From now on, she'll only have adult teeth. This is good. She'll need them the rest of her adult life.

- - - - - - -

But, when that last baby tooth fell, I felt sad.

My baby isn't a baby anymore.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Problem with Fame

My daughter (and I) were quoted in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. My daughter, Juliana, is the first person mentioned in the article. I'm so proud of her and what she had to say. Elizabeth, the WSJ reporter, was very impressed with Juliana and said, "She was the best person I talked to for the article."

The article, Why Not Wear Pajamas All Day?, was on the front page of the Journal section, and the banner for the story was above the fold on page one!

It was kind of a big deal.

Well, I guess a whole lot of people read the Wall Street Journal. Today, the internet was full of links to the story, and responses to it.

Some of the response articles were not very nice. In fact, they were pretty mean.

People can, and should, have their own opinions, about wearing pajama pants to school or whatever else. But, come on, do people need to be nasty about a 13 year-old girl they don't even know?

No, they do not.

But, Haters will be Haters. No matter what.

And really, is the fact that kids wear pajama pants such a big deal? Is that what keeps people up at night?

If it is, those people really need to get a life. And leave mine, and my daughter's, alone.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Writer's Workshop - Five Dogs

For Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop today I chose prompt #2:

"List the names of five dogs from your lifetime. Write about why one sparks a stronger memory to you than the others."

When I was growing up, our dogs were:

1. Anja
2. Gleda
3. Charlie

My dogs now are:

4. Lucia
5. Lily

Anja and Gleda were Norwegian Elkhounds. Thus the Norwegian names. Anja means "favor or grace." Gleda means "one who is happy."

Charlie, who was a beagle-mutt-mix, got her name from the park where we bought her - Charlotten Park. There was a vegetable stand that said, "Puppies and Produce." Who could pass that up?

So Charlie became our very own.

She was an awesome, small dog with a big personality! She had a beagle nose and a penchant for getting into trouble.

One of her "incidents" occurred when my father was getting ready for a backpacking trip out west.

Charlie carefully opened his backpack, slid out a freeze-dried food package, and ate an entire Mexican Dinner for Two. The next day, she lay around bloated and ill, but with a smile on her doggy face.

Another time, Charlie jumped onto a chair, then onto the kitchen counter, where she discovered a pie. But after one bite of the Mincemeat Pie, Charlie decided she liked the crust better than the inside. She nibbled the entire crust off the pie, leaving the actual pie intact.

But most of all, Charlie was always there when you needed a hug and a friend. Good dog.

I hope my daughter has memories like this of our dogs. But mostly, I think she'll remember our cat and how she crazy-loves his furry self.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Daughter is in the Wall Street Journal

Back in December, I wrote a week of blogs about my daughter's sense of fashion in Junior High Fashion Week.

Last week, I got an email from a fashion editor of the Wall Street Journal. She saw my Junior High Fashion Week blogs and was interested in interviewing my daughter for an article she was writing. So Juliana and I were interviewed by phone.

The editor, Elizabeth Holmes, loved what Juliana had to say. Apparently some of the teens Elizabeth spoke with gave "one word" answers. Not my daughter.

Juliana is featured prominently in the article talking about her "comfortable and cool" style.

Check it out!

Wall Street Journal article: WHY NOT WEAR PAJAMAS ALL DAY?

Wordless Wednesday - My Cat in Barbie's House

Our cat Cheech loves small, enclosed spaces.

Somehow he discovered Barbie's Country Living Home from my childhood, buried deep in a pile of old toys.

He found a way in.

He loves Barbie's House.

But when he's not hidden inside small places . . .

He wants to be King of the World - high up for all to see!

Naptime Momtog parenting BY dummies Angry Julie Monday

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Packing: Boys vs. Girls

This past weekend my daughter and 17 other kids went on a Confirmation Camp Retreat.

Yesterday, I posted why I don't like chaperoning teen camp trips. You can read it HERE.

Today, I'm writing about an observation I had right before they left.

Girls and Boys pack differently!

This is what my daughter had:

1. Duffle Bag
2. Sleeping Bag
3. Pillow
4. Bag of Shoes

Then, in walked a boy (whom I'll call T.)

He had:

1. Duffle Bag
2. Garbage Bag sealed with Duct Tape

And he wasn't the only boy with a garbage bag of stuff! None of the girls had a garbage bag. Why is that? And none of the boys had an entire bag just for shoes!

Sometimes this boy/girl packing difference extends into adulthood. Before my husband and I were married, my husband used to pack for weekend get-aways by putting his clothes in a PAPER BAG!

Now we have suitcases. But, he misses his paper bag. He says, "It was so much more efficient."
Just like a garbage bag with duct tape.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Why I Don't Chaperone Camp Trips

My daughter just got back from a weekend Confirmation Camp trip.

She had a LOT of fun and told me all about it.

This is Why I Don't Chaperone Camp Trips!:

1. They don't sleep.
My daughter and her friends stayed up until 5:30 am, when they finally passed out from exhaustion on the bare mattresses of the top bunks.

2. They sneak outside.
In an attempt to get the phone numbers of the boys in the other cabin, so they could text them and bother them all night long, the girls snuck outside at midnight in their pajamas. They turned back when they couldn't figure out whose window was whose. They didn't want to tap on Pastor M's window.

3. They are messy.

4. They make noise.
My daughter and her friends were asked to turn down the music during their impromptu dance party and at 2:00 am when they were laughing hysterically.

5. They do mean things to their friends while they are asleep.
You should NEVER be the first one to fall asleep at camp! One poor friend actually fell asleep and this is what happened: She was lip-glossed, glittered-bombed, and surrounded by junk including a new "friend."

6. They dance on pool tables.
Enough said.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Morning Conversation

This was the morning conversation between myself and my 13 year-old daughter.

J: I'm hungry.

Me: Do you want some toast?

J: Zingerman's bread.

Me: Do you want anything on it?

J: Butter.

Me: Do you want some honey on that?


Me: You can walk to school if you keep yelling at me like that.


Me: What's going on? What's the problem this morning?

J: YOU! You are the problem! You're always the problem!

Me: I'm the source of all your problems?

J: Yes!

Me: (laugh)

J: It's not funny!

Me: I know. I know.


J: I'm sorry for yelling. Can you drive me?

Me: OK. Let's go.

J: Where's my jacket?

Me: How would I know?

Mornings are not my daughter's best times, especially when school starts at 7:30 am. I call her "Beauty and the Beast." Beauty at night. Beast in the morning. I remind myself that she's both. Not just Beauty. Not just Beast. Maybe all of us are, really.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ten Things I Love about Parenting a Teen

For Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop today I chose the prompt: "What are 10 things you love about motherhood?"

I think it's relatively easy to write about 10 things you love about parenting a BABY. So soft and sweet, they coo, they cuddle, they loooove you.

But a TEEN?

They're lovable too.

Ten Things I Love about Parenting a Teen

1. She can dress herself.

2. She can feed herself.

3. She can feed me, if bribed.

4. It's never boring.

5. It's fun to shop with her. I like her sense of fashion.

6. Even though she's a Beast in the morning, she's still a Beauty at night when she says, "Good night, Mama. I love you."

7. She can put herself to sleep. (My husband and I are almost always in bed before her.)

8. We enjoy a lot of the same TV shows, movies, and books.

9. We have some pretty awesome talks.

10. It's amazing to watch her grow into a wonderful, young woman.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

High School Visit #1

Yesterday, my daughter "shadowed" at a high school. She's in 8th grade and it's time to choose a high school. Most of us never had to choose. We just went to the only high school available. Where we live, there are a few to choose from, so my daughter's checking them out by "shadowing" (following) a ninth grader around for the day.

Here are some things she learned.

Shadow Day #1

1. High School #1 has around 2400 students. My daughter's junior high has 800, so it's 3x the size. (The other high school J's checking out has 4000 students. Way bigger.)

2. H.S. #1 has approximately the same racial make-up as J's junior high. (Approx. 32% White, 31% Asian/Pacific, 28% African American, 8% Hispanic, 2% American Indian.)

3. J said it felt "just like" her junior high when she was walking through the halls.

4. She recognized lots of kids.

5. The teachers were nice.

6. The orchestra is small, almost like a chamber orchestra. J liked that. She plans to play her cello in high school.

7. They have good cross country running, nordic skiing, and track teams. These are the sports J's interested in.

8. There's no football field.  H.S. #1 has to use other high schools' fields for games.

9. H.S. #1 has more than 30 Advanced Placement classes. That's the most AP classes offered in the district.

10. There's a 7 period day, which J likes. Her junior high has a 6 period day. If you take your 4 core classes, orchestra, and a language, that's your entire schedule. There's no room for electives like art, drama or mythology. Seven periods allows for that.

11. H.S. #1's early lunch time is 10:00 am! Who's hungry that early?

12. H.S #1's mascot is the Cougar. (This past fall, I blogged about the potential troubles of being a sports-supporting "Cougar Mom.")

Overall, J enjoyed her visit and liked the school. She'll shadow at another high school in early February. Then it's decision time.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Harry Potter Marathon

This past weekend, my daughter and her friend had a Harry Potter Movie Marathon. They started on Friday afternoon and went till Saturday evening watching every Harry Potter movie in a row.

They are big fans of Harry Potter.

We shook our heads, but we let them do it.

On Saturday morning, they popped in a movie and never paused once. They would quick get food to eat, or use the bathroom, then run back to the couch.

They never got out of their jammies.

The thought of watching SEVEN movies in a row makes me exhausted.

And yet, I'm a little jealous. To be so relaxed, so lazy. To hang out with your friend all day and night, to watch movies, to never get out of your pajamas. That sounds pretty great.

Maybe I should call up a friend and suggest a movie marathon.

Then again, maybe one movie with a friend is enough. That would be a real treat.

Smells Like Home

Every home has it's own smell. It's hard to describe, but you recognize it when you walk inside. It's hard to smell your own home because you live there every day. But, walk into a someone else's house and I bet you know what I mean.

My friend's home smells subtly like Tide to me. Her home reminds me of clean.

My grandmother's home smelled like baking. Even when she wasn't actually baking, her house smelled like that to me.

Sense of smell is one of the biggest triggers of memory. You can walk by someone or into a place, and instantly a memory comes to mind. A smell, a whiff of scent, reminds you of a different time and place.

I have an excellent sense of smell. It's my best sense by far. This can be a blessing and a curse. When I was pregnant and had a heightened sense of smell, my husband called me a wolf. I could smell everything so strongly.

This weekend my daughter and her friend had a Harry Potter movie marathon at our house. They started on Friday and went till Saturday evening, watching all the Harry Potter movies in a row. It makes me exhausted thinking about it.

The next day, my daughter's friend said our house smelled "soft." I like that.

I sometimes worry that our house smells like cat box or dog breath or dust. Soft is so much better.

Do you have a memory of a home smell?

NOTE: The photo is of a room in the very cool dollhouse we received as a gift. I'll blog about the dollhouse another time.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Resolutions my Daughter Made for Me

I'm not a big resolution-maker. My resolutions would basically be the same every year. Eat better, exercise more, etc. Not very interesting. So I thought I'd jazz it up a little.

For Writer's Workshop today, I chose the prompt: "What are your New Year's Resolutions for 2012." But I added a twist, inspired by Traci over at Sellabit Mum.

New Year's Resolutions that my 13 year-old daughter made for me:

1. Go to the gym with Dad and stick with it. (OK, there's the obligatory exercise resolution.)

2. Pay my daughter's allowance on time. (I could be better at this.)

3. Write more. (Excellent idea. Of course, I can't drive her everywhere if I'm writing more.)

4. Don't complain so much. (Moi? I never complain.)

5. Try not to speak when we're in public. (What the . . . ? Now that's classic from a 13 year-old.)

What resolutions would your kids make for you?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Wide-Awake Sloth

There's a cool little zoo near our house. They have a sloth. This is what she usually looks like. A ball of orange-brown fur tucked in a tree.

In all the years my daughter and I have been going to the zoo, we've never seen the sloth awake. Until one day. . .

She's awake! And eating a piece of lettuce.

Apparently she rarely leaves this tree.

Sloths aren't lazy . . . they're just very mellow!

I'm linking up with these great Wordless Wednesday blogs!

Angry Julie Monday
parenting BY dummies

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Olive Farmer

Today I asked my husband if he wanted to ditch his career in computer security and become an . . . OLIVE FARMER!

I mean, he is part Greek after all. They grow olives.

He said, "I don't want to be a farmer."

I was disappointed.

As I do every January and February, I started looking for homes in warm, sunny locales. I love Minnesota, but winter can be very long.

So, I found a great place in the middle of California that is a olive farm. What could be better than having acres and acres of farm land with olives growing?

Unfortunately, I know nothing about growing olives. And California is pretty far away.

But, it sure is pretty. That area reminds me of Tuscany, Italy. Rolling hills of olives and grapes.

Hey! If olives won't work out, maybe we need to grow grapes. Having a VINEYARD sounds awfully romantic and wonderful.

Maybe my husband would like to be a grape grower! We like wine.

I'll go ask him and let you know what he says . . . .

He said, "No."

Hmmm, onto Plan C - Win the Lotto and live on an olive and grape farm, but have someone else grow everything. Sounds like a plan.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Counting the Books

Today was Inventory Day at the bookstore where I work. This is the day - once a year - that we count every book in the store.

Since we're very "old school" we have paper tally sheets and clipboards. We write down the price and how many there are at that price. It's labor intensive, to say the least. Luckily, we have about 15 volunteers helping us each year.

This year I had a great helper. My daughter! She was a champ. We tackled the kids book section, which is the section I'm the book buyer for.

We took turns reading the price of the book and writing it down on the tally sheet. She worked with me for FIVE hours, with only a short break for lunch. She was AWESOME!

For her hard work, the owners are letting her pick out any book for free. Plus, I'm paying her $20. I think she deserves it.

Thirteen year-olds can be very grown-up . . . sometimes. :)