Monday, December 13, 2010

Henchmen and nakedity

No, way! It can't possibly have been almost 2 months since a post. Either I'm having a great time because we all know that time flies then, or I'm losing all concept of time since I rarely leave the house. It's probably the second choice.

Regardless, I overheard something tonight I want to record for Syd. We were driving Syd and her cousin Faith to the 4H Christmas party when I heard them talking in the backseat about their dogs. Syd lamented to Faith, "My mom and dad really don't help me out much at all. I have to take care of my dog all by myself."

I'll remember that at 4 in the morning.

And when I'm giving the pup a bath, cleaning up pee and puke.

Yeah, we don't do much at all.

It shouldn't surprise me to hear this. Syd's been looking for some good help. Just a couple of days ago she invited me to be her henchman.

I think her Ross is showing.

Then there's the Ross built-in-naked mechanism. As the name implies, it's the thing that makes Rosses want to run around naked. I'd always thought it only applied to Ross men...or maybe the Ross women were just able to keep it under wraps. But one uncle was an alleged college streaker, another had a naked incident in a dorm.... It just seems like there's something genetic there.

I'm afraid Syd's caught it. She doesn't like to wear pants. Really. She just wants to stay in her nightshirt. All. Day. The good thing is that at least she doesn't want to leave the house. I'll start to panic if she wants to cruise Sonic like that some day.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Bug Metamorphosis

A bug metamorphosis. I've seen it with my own eyes.

So this metamorphosis isn't actually of a's more like about bugs.

Sydney doesn't like bugs. I'm not a bug fan myself. I am still laughed at for my first memory of bug exposure. Mom positioned me under a shade tree while she and my brother labored in my grandparents' garden under the hot afternoon sun. I was probably 7, which, coincidentally is Syd's age now. It was one of those trees with pink fuzzy flowers on it and little worms were dropping out of the tree right before my eyes. While they were working in the garden, I was screaming, "Buuug! Bug! Bug! Buuuug!"

Sydney is much the same way. We've worked on her reaction to bugs over the years. We've gone from screaming bloody murder while running to a simple, quick shout, "Bug."

There is some variety in her shouting. Occasionally we hear, "Moth." But most of the time lately, it's been "Millipede."

Those things are creepy with their bajillion legs and crunchy little exoskeletons. Eek.

We've spent the largest part of summer ridding the house of millipedes. "They're just creepy," she said.

But tonight it happened.

Sydney decided to befriend the millipedes. She's got 4 in a jar even as I write.

She's officially a millipede fan.

Their names are Lettuce, Hughes, Jack and Ratpack.

I don't ask questions, I just write what she tells me on their jar.

The hula hoop is in the floor and she has carefully moved them all from the jar into their "center ring" for circus practice. She hasn't touched a single one. I'm amazed at what a kid can do with a piece of notebook paper and a baby food jar.

I'm eavesdropping. I think she just assigned Hughes to be the ring leader. I'm hoping Ratpack will be a clown. That just kinda makes sense to me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day 15 of Homeschooling

We officially started school on September 1. We actually began doing some assessments and reading on Aug. 18 when the schools actually started here.

So far, we've done:

Dinosaurs -- We read about different kinds of dinosaurs, using the science text book as well as supplemental reading; we discussed theories of creationism and evolution; made our own trace fossils and dug for fossil remains; read stories about dinosaurs from 2nd and 3rd grade readers; math included color by number math facts to create various pictures of dinosaurs; social studies discussed the role of the paleontologist in science, specifically in the study of dinosaurs.

Life Cycle of a Chick -- Usually done in the spring in public schools, we did this in the fall to coordinate with our county fair. We learned about the life cycle of a chick, compared and contrasted the chick's life cycle with that of wild birds like robins and kittens. We spent a day at the county fair comparing and contrasting different types of chickens and watching for them to lay eggs in their cages while on display. In the afternoon, there was only one egg. By night, there were 4.

We're still working on a spelling analysis. So far, we've been through Chapter 7 of her spelling book. Journal writing begins next week and so does our study of the weather. She's always complaining about how wrong the weather guys are. I figure this will give her a better idea of what they are up against :) Gymnastics will also begin next week. I'm not teaching that. No way!

We've spent a week on each unit. Things will begin moving more quickly now.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Shaking "ass"

Sometimes what seems like a blessing can come back to kick you in the butt.

Butt, not ass, because that's not appropriate to say.

This is the talk I had with Syd this summer after watching a few episodes of George Lopez. Until this summer, the only shows we watched that didn't involve animation were the Nick shows geared to tweens.

In a way, George Lopez was a blessing. It gave us a chance to discuss words not to say. Different episodes gave us lessons in family dynamics unlike our own, diversity, racial stereotypes, and consequences. One episode even gave us the opportunity to discuss kidney reflux, a condition that I had surgery for as a child that we have continued to monitor Sydney for. Seeing it on TV gave her a chance to see a family other than our own discussing the seriousness of good kidney health.

But the thing that stuck most with Syd was "ass."

I don't even remember the context in which it was used. But as soon as we heard it, she giggled. I told her that's a word we don't say. It's inappropriate. Of course she asked what it was. I told her it's the same as "butt"...a word I'd have had an anxiety attack over saying myself 30 or so years ago.

Naturally, we cut Lopez and other shows from the lineup (like The Nanny, Malcolm in the Middle, and Everybody Hates Chris).

It seems like forever ago. We watched these shows briefly at the beginning of summer when it was fun to stay up late and sleep in the next day. Now, we're trying to get a good routine down for home schooling and those early summer Lopez days seem to have been part of the Jurassic period. Yeah, it seems like it was that long ago.

Apparently, once you've heard it, it's hard to shake "ass."

Last week we were sitting around. I was working on the laptop and she was playing a game on her DS. Then she chuckled. It was one of those quiet, very brief but deep chuckles...maybe even a chortle. It made me ask, "What's on your mind?"

"It's a shame that 'ass' is inappropriate," my 7 year old said. "It's just so much funnier than butt. Mama, why is 'ass' funnier than butt?"

I should have known not to ask.

But at some point in my life I have vowed not to be one of those parents who blows off a question. I want to answer them all.

So I tell her something about how maybe it's because it starts with a vowel and vowel sounds -- especially short ones -- are just naturally funnier than consonants. A is a vowel and B is a consonant. She said she totally understood.

Thank goodness.

It's fair to say that Syd and I have both learned a lot from this experience.

I have learned that TV just ain't what it used to be back when I could sit down with my parents and watch a show like Sanford and Son, M*A*S*H, or Happy Days without any of us being embarrassed or afraid of what word might be said next. I mean, even the Sweathogs -- at risk teens who had nothing but a quirky teacher and chips on their shoulders -- didn't talk the way these "family" shows do now.

I also learned that TV is only what you make it. It can rot your brain if you let it. It can be the best discussion starting ice breaker or teaching tool, too. But you can't park your kid in front of a TV and expect a genius to emerge. Your interaction (and supervision) is vital.

Syd learned that there are families who don't necessarily like each other. Some kids don't have parents they can depend on them to care for their needs. She also learned that it is never right to stereotype someone because of the color of their skin or their gender.

Oh, and she also learned that "ass" is a whole lot funnier than "butt."

That's one theory that's going to be hard to shake.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Working on an Important Post

I'm not gone...just working on a longer blog post. Thought I'd warn ya ;)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

14 of the 101 Things I Want My Daughter to Know

I've been thinking about all the things I want Syd to know when she grows up or as she grows up and have been trying to develop a list of those things. So, here's my shot at 101 Things I Want My Daughter to Know:

1. Life isn't fair. That one took me a while to learn. If you can learn it from me, you'll be ahead of the game.
2. Not every scratch or nick is a "wound." The only things that really classify as wounds are pretty much limited to military injuries or gang violence.
3. Nuns are nuns, not muffises. Nuns have never been called muffises and I'm pretty sure they never will be. So, never address a nun as a muffis.
4. Follow your gut. Sometimes your head will make you over think and your heart will make you under think. The gut is usually right.
5. It's never a good idea to make effigies (voodoo dolls) of your instructors for a class presentation. While they may be hams who love seeing their photos printed online and in papers, they rarely enjoy seeing it printed on fabric while you discuss Celtic curses. It makes matters worse if you give one to each classmate along with the instructions for how to make more of their own. Just make a non-interactive poster instead -- trust me one this one.
6. Do a double check before you leave the house. Make sure both shoes match, your shirt is turned the right way and none of your clothes are turned inside out.
7. Chocolate gravy is not like regular gravy and is actually really good.
8. Always eat before you go grocery shopping.
9. Make a list of things to do, but don't schedule it in 15 minute increments. It'll drive you nuts when the schedule is just a little off.
10. It's never too early to start Christmas shopping.
11. Knowing the Greek alphabet may not win you a stellar job, but it's good to know, especially in college.
12. You can't get in trouble for telling the truth. So, when the snotty little know-it-all kid at the museum calls you a loser, look him square in the eye and say, "My goodness. You are a rude, obnoxious little boy." Tada! Truth. No one can argue truth.
13.Don't go to college for 4 years to learn to write at a third grade level. The good news is that journalism teaching has changed tremendously and you'll probably never need to fear this.
14. Keep your eye on the donut, not the hole. That's a metaphor. Donut holes are actually pretty tasty and looking at them won't burn your retinas or anything.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A New Beginning

It's been a weird day. For everyone else, tomorrow is the first day of school. In our household, that would have made this "The Best Day Ever." We concocted that idea two years ago when Syd started kindergarten to make sure we wore her out so she'd sleep good before her first day of school.

But this year we are homeschooling. We are beginning new traditions.

Why home school? We have several reasons. The biggest is that at the end of the school year, I brought home a little girl who was quiet, disinterested, and generally bummed out. Within a week of summer vacation, I had my snappy, quick-witted kid back -- the one who likes to play and hang out with her dad and me. When she started talking about the school year that just ended,I realized the year had been difficult for her. The kids in her grade were not very accepting and made her feel like an outsider...on a good day.

It didn't help that we didn't live in the district. I worked there part time so she could attend school there. Kindergarten was an awesome year.First grade, not so much.

To keep things challenging for Syd as we homeschool, I've bought several different reading texts and have a heavy concentration on writing (which is what I know) and science (which is where her interest lies now). We're also incorporating public service into the curriculum through social studies.

And since she wants to learn to type, we'll begin technology, too. We'll learn how to design a blog and webpage and how to create custom graphics as part of art.

So, while today isn't the traditional "best day ever," I hope that we will both find this school year to be the best ever. Someday I hope she can enjoy the same activities public school has to offer, maybe even in my alma mater. (Go, Leopards)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

If Paula Deen ruled the world

It's been established here that my husband thinks Paula Deen is the devil and he and the kiddo enjoy poking fun at me because I like Paula.

"What's not to like?"

"She looks plastic," Jim offers. "If she's plastic that means she has no soul...because she traded it to the devil for food fame."

"I just think her eyes look creepy," Syd said.

I went into my Paula-Deen-is-an-Overcomer speech. When I finished, Jim offered a new claim:

"I'm telling you. Paula Deen wants to rule the world. She'll put numbers on all our foreheads and will make us her slaves."

Syd was in the back seat laughing. It got me to thinking...

I'd love to live in a world ruled by Paula Deen. People who needed a job would be put to work in her restaurant or in one of many other projects, like developing cookware, cookbooks, etc. And she'd be all, "Hon, you're not gonna get a check for a couple of weeks so you just bring your wife and younguns down to the restaurant for meals until then. And be sure to take some bread, eggs and milk home with you when you leave. And here. Take this pecan pie. I'll eat the whole thing if you don't take it out of here."

With domestic issues lined out, she'd be all over foreign policy. "Now, listen here, President Hamid Karzai, I am not leaving my folks here during Thanksgiving and Christmas. They're going to all go home with their families to enjoy a traditional dinner with a turkey cooked just right, so I want you to figure out how your gonna handle this mess on your own. Here's a gooey cake. I always think better with a big ol' piece of gooey cake."

Hmmm. A world ruled by Paula Deen doesn't seem so bad to me.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Paula Deen is not the devil

We're in line at Walmart and I hear the kid chuckle. I know it's because there's a Paula Deen magazine close by. Our most recent conversation went like this:

"Daddy says Paula Deen is the devil."

Ha. Ha.

"Paula Deen is not the devil," I explain.

"Well, she looks creepy. Look at those eyes."

"You mean her crystal blue eyes that look like they'd give you the shirt off her back if you needed it? Those blue eyes that have had their share of sadness and now reflect the joy of successful business and a fulfilling personal life?"

Okay. I admit that's a little deep for a 7 year old. She somehow made her eyes look blank, then flashed a wide toothy smile that can best be described as a :D in keyboard language.

"That's my Paula Deen face," she said.


So in the car on the way home, I explain to Sydney that Paula Deen had a rough time many years ago. She suffered from a disorder known as agoraphobia, the fear of getting out in public. It was probably hard for her to go to a parent-teacher conference or to a toy store.

And not that she could afford to go to a toy store. She was a single mother for a while and probably didn't have enough money to get luxuries like toys. That's when she started her first food business.

I glanced in the rear view mirror and noticed I was getting through. The no-money-for-toys bit always hits home with the kiddo. So I continued.

She made lunches to sell to people in businesses so they wouldn't have to leave their offices. But, remember, she couldn't make herself leave the house to go in public, so she sent her kids to sell the lunches for her. Eventually she asked a local restaurant if she could use their kitchen and they said yes. Over time her business grew and grew and so did her confidence. She was finally able to overcome her agoraphobia and has built a successful business that she and her whole family can enjoy.

"And now she has enough money?"

"Oh, yes. Now she's doing fine."

So that afternoon when Jim got home, Syd met him at the door. "Daddy, did you know that Paula Deen used to not have enough money for food and toys and she was afraid to go anywhere so she made her kids sell sandwiches. Now, she's famous and happy."

He looked at me and raised an eyebrow. He and Syd can both do the eyebrow thing. Then he looked at her and said, "Yes, honey. She's happy because she sold her soul to the devil in exchange for fame and fortune."

They both laughed maniacally. I give up.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What's in a name?

We don't get too creative with naming the creatures that show up in our yard. We do spend a little more time and effort on our indoor pets. We have two min pins, Roman Ross Pennington and Candy Alamolicious Pennington (she came from Alamo, Tennessee). We put some thought into those. But we don't exactly get out the baby name book for the squirrels and the cats and kittens that find our way into the yard.

Take, for instance, Tuesday. Tuesday is a cat that showed up one night as I came home from work. Guess what day of the week that occurred? We weren't really sure that she was a "she" until batch one of kittens came along.

The first batch of kittens resulted in one with siamese-esque markings -- Tip (due to the marks on its ears). The next was fluffy, so his name was ...Fluffy. And the gray kitty was aptly named Gray.

Batch two came along. Another siamesey kitten was named Bingo. The striped kitty was named Tiger. And the one that looked like its mother was named Sunday -- the day of the week on which he was discovered.

If we thought we could capture Tuesday and get her to the vet, there wouldn't have been another batch. However, she is a stray. She allows us to pick her up and take a few steps, but not very far. Her contact with us is limited. But she always brings her kittens to us.

Batch three brought another three kittens. Another one marked like a siamese was named Cupcake pretty much because we'd just made cupcakes to take to a school party. The first kitty we found that looked like Tuesday was named Monday, because we discovered her on that day. A kink in our system occurred Monday night, though, when a second kitty appeared that looked like Tuesday. So, we called it Nighty.

Nighty and Cupcake have been missing for a while. Monday is the only one left. But Monday has been renamed by Jim. And it's a name that really fits.

Whenever the cat catches a glimpse of us, it's mouth opens. We can hear it faintly from indoors. As soon as the door opens, you can hear him soooo loud.

So now we've call him Screaming John.

No offense to any of the Johns in the world. It's just the name that popped out and it stuck.

Screaming John screams constantly. He screams to be fed. He screams when he's fed. He screams to be petted. He screams when he is petted. He's certainly a vocal little fella and one who is finally appropriately named.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

No Tea for these Eyes

I started writing this blog for my daughter. She's only 7 now, but I'm an older mom and Alzheimer's runs in my mom's family.

Any way, since this blog is technically memories and notes for her I MUST write this advice for her:


I have bags and circles under my eyes that are just horrible due to a little heredity and a lot of allergy. My 25 yr reunion is coming up this weekend so on Sunday, I had a little down time and thought I'd try the tea bag remedy.

I'll admit that I went into the whole thing as a skeptic. My biggest fear was that I'd have tea-stained skin and would somehow have to tea-stain the rest of my body to match. I'm so pasty white this summer that I figure tea staining might actually be an asset. At least I'd have a little color.

I got a little color all right.

The tea bags were so icy that they were tough to keep on my face. But I managed somehow. And like I always do when I sit still for more than 5 minutes, I dozed off. I woke up in the recliner an hour later, certain that the puffy eyes were gone for good. I was a little concerned with the tingling sensation I felt around my cheeks, but the anticipation of getting to that mirror took my mind off the pain.

Then, the mirror.

That's where the color comes in. Never sleep for an hour with tea-bag-ice cubes on the tender area under your eye. You get contact freezer burn.

And with that comes big red patches that nicely draw attention to the dark circles and puffy bags.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Before treats came in a box

Sydney's really into "rollbacks."

She spies an end cap of Rice Krispie treats at Walmart the other day.

"Look! They're on rollback! Can we get 'em? Can we?"


As she put a box in the cart, I said, "You know, when I was a kid, we had to make our own Rice Krispie treats. You couldn't buy them already made.

Her big, brown eyes welled with tears. "You poor thing," she said.

I didn't laugh at her much as I wanted to.

Then, I realized I was sounding like my mother. I didn't even go into the fact that when I was a kid, Nabisco expected us to spread our own peanut butter on their Ritz crackers.

That might have been too much for her to handle.

Curly cords

I enjoy sharing music from my youth with Sydney. The pop music I listened to in high school isn't much different than the pop music she hears today. When I noticed she kept replaying "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" on our Wii "Just Dance" game, I knew it was my chance to enlighten my 7 year old by introducing her to the music video.

That's not all I had to introduce her to.

As I Googled the song title, I explained to Sydney that when I was in high school, when "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" was brand new, we used to watch it on music videos. I explained they were short videos of the band performing the song. Lots of them were very creative. I found the video and pushed play.

"Will you start it again and go full screen?" That meant that she likes Cindy Lauper and somehow, at age 7, understands the magnitude of this song to my generation. Maybe, we were bonding...all due to this song.

Okay,I take motherhood and my responsibility to teach and share too seriously. Truthfully, she just likes the song. That's fine with me.

Then the video gets to the point where all the girls are calling each other and bopping their heads back and forth.

"What are those things?" she asked.

"What things?"

"Go back. The things they have in their hands."

I was confused. Surely she was seeing something I wasn't.

"The telephone?" I asked.

"What's a telephone?"

Nuh-uh. My kid didn't just ask me what a telephone is. Oops. Yes she did. Then I realized, she's only seen cordless phones in her lifetime.

"When we say 'phone,' it's short for telephone," I explained.

"But what's that?" I paused the video again and looked where she was pointing.

The curly cord.

So we had a lesson in phones, tele and otherwise.

"When I was a kid, my dad bought me a longer curly cord so I could move all over my room to talk on the phone. When I got a longer line to plug into my wall, I could even take my phone into other rooms," I said.

"And you couldn't just use your cell phone?"

"We didn't have cell phones back then. As a matter of fact, I remember where there was only one kind of phone you got from the phone company and it was either black or beige."

"Wow. The old days were lame. Can we watch that song movie again?"

Made me start thinking about all the times I went with my mom to our phone office to pay our bill. It was nice to be able to walk in to a local phone office and pay the bill for your black or beige phone. People you knew waited on you. They told you to have a nice day. While it wasn't an exciting day, it did teach me the concept of paying bills...and it was a nice experience.

Most of our stuff today is auto withdrawal or paid online. Other than the water bill, Sydney doesn't see me pay anything. We can't pay our gas, electric, or phone bills locally any more.

If you ask me, that's what's really lame.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Do You Know the MUFFIS Man?

That's a loaded question, actually. There are no Muffis men. Only Muffis women. Even though I'd never heard of a Muffis before, I spent the morning explaining Muffises (Muffii??) to Sydney.

We were watching TV the other day and she paused it while I was out of the room so I could see something unusual. The screen shot was of an audience watching a play produced on the new Nick Jr show "Victorious." Syd had the giggles.

"Look. It's a Muffis," she said between chuckles.


I saw old people, young people and the guy who plays Spencer on iCarly, and a nun.

"Right there," she pointed out on the screen. The nun.

"That's a nun, not a Muffis."

"What is a Muffis?"

"I don't know. You're the one who said it."

"When did they start calling Muffises nuns?"

By this time, I'm laughing so hard I'm crying. She's laughing at me.

"Nuns have never been muffises. They've always been nuns. Or sisters. Never a muffis."

We giggled until it hurt. About 10 minutes later, we calmed down.

"So what is a Muffis?" Syd asked. I started laughing all over again.

I couldn't wait to tell Jim. He's Catholic and proudly owns a pair of boxing nun puppets. Or boxing Muffis puppets. Whatever.

He chucked. "Muffis? Where did that come from?"

A couple of days went by with no Muffis discussion which is great because she's been going to vacation Bible school at a local Baptist Church. I didn't want her to ask if they have Muffises.

But this morning it started again.

Roman was snuggled by Sydney in bed. I went in to wake her up and all we could see of him was his front paws sticking out of the cover. When he heard us talking, he stuck his head partway out of the blanket.

"He looks like a Muffis," Sydney said.

"You mean a nun?"

"No, a Muffis, like on TV that night."

So I thought it would be a good time to talk about religions.

"Nuns..." I began.

"You mean Muffises."

Okay. "Muffises are very special women who are members of the Catholic Church. Daddy is Catholic. The Muffises are very special to his church. They are teachers and in many small churches do many of the duties a preacher would do. They devote their lives to God and to helping the church."

I wasn't sure what else to say. I'm not Catholic. I always thought I should be. I had a series of dreams when I was 19 that made me think the Catholic Church would have a huge role in my life. So, I went to the library and checked out a bunch of books about the Catholic Church. I always thought you could become anything if you could read enough about it. That's why I never read any of those Hobbit or vampire books. I've never had any desire to be either of those. Maybe a bad decision since vampires are very trendy right now. Anyway....

When Jim invited me to Mass for the first time, I was excited. The first time we went to his old church in Pine Bluff, the priest said, "Now, greet your neighbor with the sign of peace." There was only one peace sign I knew, and just as I was about to flash the Richard Nixon one when my mother in law quickly took my hand and shook it. "Peace be with you," she said, holding back a laugh. That wasn't in any of the books I'd read.

I think it's time to take Syd to Mass again. She went as a baby, but was too little to remember it. Poor Jim. He'll have his work cut out for him. Keeping me from doing the wrong gesture or drinking out of the Holy water fountain was always challenging enough. Now he'll have Muffis patrol, too.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

No Pokemon at Vacation Bible School...So Far

Sydney attended her second night of Vacation Bible School last night. She was reluctant to go until learning it would not require waking up early. But, 5:30, she said works for her.

It's been a solid week of "Pokemon, Pokemon, Pokemon." It's the first thing out of her mouth in the mornings and the last thing she talks about before falling asleep.

So, when I picked her up from VBS Sunday night I felt my stomach flip flop when the director asked the whole group: "So, what did we learn about tonight?"

Sydney likes to answer questions. Her hand was the first to be raised. Since we're not members of the church, I figured the director didn't know her and would probably call on an older child.

"Sydney, tell me what we learned tonight."

Oh, no.

Sydney said they learned that Joseph was in jail and that they learned that God has a promise and we all have hope.

Whew. No Pokemon.

So last night, the same thing happened. Again, Sydney raised her hand. Again, the lady called on her. Sydney said that Joseph told the Pharaoh what his two dreams meant. She talked about the healthy cows and the sick ones and the healthy plants and the sick plants and gave Josephs' interpretation.

No mention of Darkrai.

I think he's the Pokemon that enters people's dreams.

Another whew.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Playing in the rain

I know we're not quite a month into summer vacation, but this has been a really great one. We are so blessed to have a little girl with a big imagination who loves to read (but often would rather write her own books), draw, bird watch, etc. She's never bored.

I've been working hard to complete a lesson plan by my monthly deadline, so she's been an extra good trooper. All she asked is that when I finished, we could play water games outside one afternoon.

I got my lesson plan submitted yesterday morning before she woke up. I'm lousy at nonfiction, but this one was about Stoicism which I like...which must mean I'm not a Stoic because sounds to me like they did not care much for "liking" anything. Then I got the word from my editor -- no revisions!

The water games were on!

So we decide that I will blow bubbles for her to pop by shooting them with her water gun. This translates into "Mom gets wet but I don't." LOL

We head to the door and notice it's sprinkling outside. She thought all plans were off. But it wasn't lightening or thundering, and we were playing water games, right? So, we went outside after all.

Sprinkles turned into a steady rain, still light but heavier than sprinkles. I clicked pictures with my camera phone to send to Jim. It's important that he knows we're having fun while he's working. The joke's really on me I guess -- he was dry.

Pretty soon, the bottom fell out of the clouds and I'd call it a monsoon, only without any damaging winds.

We stayed outside.

I knew we were safe because my mom hadn't called to tell me her NOAA weather radar was warning of a storm here. She always calls when that thing sounds its alarm.

One more picture snapped and sent to Jim: Syd playing in the deluge of water. His text message back was "God won that water game."

We played in the rain until the winds started and we could hear thunder in the distance. As I coaxed her inside, Syd said, "We've really got to play in the rain more often."

I think she's right.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Do they make 'bad word' flash cards?

Why didn't George Carlin write "7 Words You Can't Say on the Playground?" Wouldn't that be great for parents? Maybe the Wiggles could sing them in a song. Dora could teach the Spanish versions of them. A whole Hannah Montana episode could focus around them...something. Otherwise, how am I going to teach my kid "bad words?"

Am I supposed to make bad word flash cards for her now that she can read? That's not a horrible idea but I embarrass rather easily and don't know that I could write them. Does Hasbro or Mattel sell something like that?

I didn't know how little Syd has heard until she repeated a story to me this morning. She was watching "Everybody Hates Chris" on Nick Jr and said that every time something went wrong, the mom said, "Bamn."



I was relieved at first to know that she didn't hear it right. It's hard to notice a word you've never heard before. Then it hit me. Maybe I've protected her too much from TV approved profanity.

I first saw Carlin's list of 7 words when I was 19 years old and working at a small radio station in college. I didn't know what two of the 7 were. One was a compound word and by breaking them apart and assuming, I figured it out. But there was a one syllable word I'd simply never heard before. I pointed to the word and asked my cousin who also worked there, "What's that?" His face turned red. Another coworker asked what we were doing. He couldn't believe there was a word on the list I didn't know. I pointed to it and he couldn't bring himself to tell me either. They went to our boss. "Ronna doesn't know one of the words on the list," they said. He was amused. He would tell me. I showed him the word and he simply walked away with a bright red face. It was like I was actually living the "Zots" story we told as an epic joke when I was a kid. It took me about six months to track down a nursing student with a medical dictionary to help me figure out that word.

So now my kid is the same way. True, she's only 7. But by her age, I'd heard just about all the common profanities (including a few from Carlin's list) because I grew up in a neighborhood full of older boys. And 5 uncles -- two of which were teens when I was young and impressionable. I don't remember anyone ever saying them intentionally when I was around, but I overheard a lot as a kid. And I knew if I was overhearing it, I probably shouldn't repeat it.

I had the bad word talk with Syd when she started watching the older shows on Nick Jr. I explained that the shows used some language that we simply don't say, words that would get her in trouble if she said them at school or around friends. If she had any question as to what a word means, she is to ask us.

Lucky for me she knows exactly what "Bamn!" means.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Summer stink

Summer vacation has officially begun and that means on thing -- so has the summer stink.

Syd's idea of summer vacation is not doing anything, including hygiene. Couple that with the heat, afternoons full of kickball and bubble blowing, and the result is one stinky kid.

I learned today how to get her into the shower without argument.

She was outside blowing bubbles for the puppy to pop. She said, "There's this flying bug that keeps flying around me."

"It's because you're stinky. The stinkier you get, the more bugs that will swarm around you."

That did it. No pleading or begging. She got into the shower without a fight.

I don't remember hating cleanliness so much when I was seven. I asked my mom if I'd ever acted that way, but she never answered. Instead, she talked about when she was a kid.

"When I was a kid, we worked so hard all day long that it felt good to get a bath. Our legs hurt so bad that the warm water helped."

My mom was not only Prescrunchistoric, she was Searsandroebuckhistoric. That refers to an era where the Sears and Roebuck catalog had multiple uses.

One use was for a source of fashion. My mom and her sisters would pick out clothing from the catalogs, then Grandma would make the dress for them. Often without a pattern because Grandma was cool like that.

Another use for the Sears & Roebuck catalog was for toys. Mom and her sisters cut out the women models and cut out various outfits for them, making their own paper dolls. They'd put the paper dolls in a dresser drawer when not playing with them. Sometimes, snakes would get in the drawer and rattle the paper dolls.

The third and arguably most important use for the Sears & Roebuck catalog was for toilet paper. I've heard this all my life and have tried to imagine the effectiveness of glossy paper as a toilet tissue. I finally saw an old catalog a few years ago and it makes a little more sense now. The catalogs of the Searsandroebuckhistoric period were of a thin, not glossy paper. It made a little more sense, but didn't sound comfortable regardless.

I guess the biggest toilet paper difference between my generation and my daughter's is that Mr. Whipple used to pimp out Charmin when I was a kid. He policed the TP aisles to make sure no one was squeezing the Charmin.

Now, it's cartoon bears. I really don't understand the appeal, but apparently the marketing gurus know what they're doing. From the time Sydney was three, she's asked specifically for Charmin Ultra because it's what the bears use.

We were on the paper products aisle one day when I was feeling especially cheap. I was determined to buy a cheaper brand. I tried to break Syd of her TP preference by telling her that when Mamaw was a little girl, they used pages of old catalogs for toilet paper. They didn't have super soft Charmin Ultra.

She got that look on her face. The one where she expects me to hand her a catalog to put the TP holder.

"You know, we don't get catalogs except for the party supply ones," she said. "And I'm marking stuff I want to order for my birthday parties in there." She does. She's got parties planned until she's 14.

I explained that we weren't going to use magazine pages, but I was only trying to point out that toilet paper doesn't have to feel like a quilt on your booty to do its job effectively.

"But the bears use less of the Charmin Ultra because it's thicker," she said.

Thanks, marketing gurus.

This Prescrunchistoric mom has bought it ever since.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My kid said the "F" word

Not that "F" word. The other one. The one that refers to the passing of gas.

I hate that word.

To me, the other "F" word is better. It starts with a sliding consonant and ends with a plosive that just halts the word. It's over. Done. It's been said. You can't take it back, but it didn't take long to say.

Not like this "F" word. The "ar" in the middle just drags out. This is a slo-mo "F" word that kids think is funny. Especially when they see an adult cringe when it is spoken.

I'm trying to act like it doesn't bother me, but my poker face is lousy. She sees right through it.

Thanks, Nickelodeon. Glad you could work my least favorite word into a cartoon.

I was thinking about this word I hate and it reminded me of another time Syd said something. Accidentally. But it was one of those things she kept repeating over and over and over. In public, of course.

We are an info-mercial family. Syd is a marketing sponge. That's why we use Charmin Ultra, drink CapriSun, and why she desperately wants a Rocket Fishing Rod. But the thing that really grabbed her attention a few years back was the Shed Ender. She was super excited to see it in the #6 checkout display at our local Walmart.

I can't even phonetically spell how she said it, although I'm laughing just thinking about it. All the d's were turned to t's and Ender somehow sounded like Eater. And as she kept pointing it out, she kept repeating it.


It's always loud when a kid is excited. This time was no different.

People were starting to look so I leaned down and whispered in her little ear, "It's Shed Ender, sweetie."

"That's what I said!" And naturally she began saying it again. And again.

All we could do was snicker. When she told the cashier that Roman and Lacy would certainly use one of those products, Jim turned away to bust out a good laugh. He regained composure quickly. The cashier thought we were horrible people, but hopefully thought we were this kid's aunt and uncle, not mom and dad. Aunts and uncles can get away with stuff like that.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Apple Cashew?

I met a little girl on Saturday afternoon at a church youth ice cream party. She'll be 2 next month and was so smart. I was amazed and saddened at how self-sufficient this little girl was. She's in the foster care program and has probably learned to fend for herself out of necessity.

She came to me at one point and handed me a huge bubble wand, the kind that makes super big bubbles. Then, she patted the driveway.

I wasn't really sure what she wanted, but we went to blow bubbles. I heard my own daughter call out so I turned to see what she needed. Another nearby adult gasped, but couldn't stop what was happening. The little girl took the bubble solution tray off the small table it was on and put it on the driveway. Naturally, soap was everywhere. She tapped my leg, pointed to the tray (that was virtually empty at this point), then squatted to pat the driveway.


So that's what she wanted. I've never been really good at interpretation like that.

It reminded me of a time when Sydney was just a little older than that. She had only been 2 for a couple of months when we piled in on Mom while our house was under renovation. The great thing was that my mom and aunt lived side by side and Syd got to play with her cousin Faith when she visited her Mimi (my aunt).

Every afternoon, Syd and Faith would go out to the driveway and play in a pile of gravel and in the driveway sand. They'd take their plastic buckets and shovels and play until we had to drag them kicking and screaming away.

One day, Sydney came to me and asked, "Apple cashew?"

She'd never eaten anything made of apples and cashews so I wasn't sure what she was talking about.

I asked her to repeat it again. She got in my face and moved her little mouth slowly, "Ap-ple ca-shew?"

I began wondering if it was something she'd seen on The Wiggles. They were always singing songs about fruit salad and such. Or maybe Dora. But all I could recall from Dora was the chocolate tree. I had no idea where apple cashews came from.

So I got my mom. I told Syd to tell Mamaw what she had told me.

"Apple cashew?"

Mom looked puzzled. "Did she say 'apple cashew'?"


Poor kid. We did this all afternoon. We had no idea what she wanted and all I could do was apologize for not knowing. She knew I was trying.

Finally, Jim came home from work.

"Tell Daddy what you've been telling me," I said.

"Apple cashew?" She looked at him with hope that had diminished several hours earlier.

He studied her face for a minute then said, "Does my baby want to build a castle?"

She jumped into his arms and hugged him.


It was "I build castle?"

So we took her out to the pile of rocks and sand and we all helped build a castle that day.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I AM better than some people

A cousin's Facebook status one day recently was "I am no better than anyone else." He encouraged his friends to copy and paste it into their status. I started to, but didn't. Something kept me from it.

I totally get what he means. I don't believe I deserve any special consideration since I'm a female. I don't believe my educational background alone should open doors for me. I don't believe it's okay for me to park in handicapped spots because my husband could get me out of the ticket. Blah, blah, blah. In that way, it is true. I am no better than anyone else.

Having said that disclaimer, I do want to say, that I AM better than some people. And it's okay for me to know that.

Fueled with a little anger and feeling verbally "stabby" right now, here's what I believe:

I am better than a drama-driven janitor who is so insecure about her own life that she creates situations for others.

I am better than the parent who day in and day out hears their 7 year old child substitute "w" sounds for "r" and "l" without so much as considering speech therapy.

I am better than the teacher who doesn't insist on speech therapy for kids like above.

I am better than the teacher who leaves one child behind to catch up the others to that child's level.

I am better than the person who believes that the "Leopard Cone Man" is the St. Patrick's Day guy with the pot of gold.


I started this blog for the purpose of recording silly family moments for my daughter to remember as she grows up. But, she'll need to know this stuff, too, so I'm including it here.

Back when I was a kid -- back before scrunchees and liquid soap -- public school was an extension of home. It was a learning experience. And it was positive for the most part. The adults were adults...not big people who still act like children.

There's a phrase: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." That does not always apply. It's always better to be true to yourself.

So,I say to my daughter: if you grow up and discover that your Rome is full of ignorance, pettiness, and small people with smaller minds, for goodness sakes -- don't do as those Romans! Make your own Rome. Be your own emperor and don't let small-minded, stupid people in.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Who sings to a meatloaf?

We were on our way home from a birthday party Friday night when Syd noticed that the radio wasn't registering the name of the song and artist like it usually does. You know -- radio caller ID. I told her that when I was a kid, radios didn't do that. She was amazed. When I really want to flip her out, I'll tell her about 8-tracks.

"What's this song?" she asked.

"Meatloaf: 'I Will Do Anything for Love,'" Jim replied.

A few silent seconds went by, then she said, "That's a crazy name for a song."

It dawned on me then that what she'd heard was "Meatloaf, I Will Do Anything for Love" instead of Meatloaf: "I Will Do Anything for Love."

I laughed til I cried. Jim was explaining to her that Meatloaf was the guy's name. He said the singer's father used to call him that because he thought he was worthless.

Poor meatloaf. Not Meatloaf with a capital M. How is it that a food gets such a bad rap? Is meatloaf so worthless? "Shouldn't that have been Meat Head?" I asked Jim. "You know, that's what Archie Bunker always called his son-in-law."

"Or Meat Ball," chimed Syd. "Or Pork Loaf."

Pork loaf?

"Olive loaf," added Jim.

Most families play travel games like looking at license plates or passing cars. We name loaf varieties.They beat me in that game by far. All I could come up with was pimento loaf.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sugar high

To blame it solely on the sugar would be wrong. I know the horses had something to do with it, too.

We got the invitation to Abby's birthday party on Monday. I picked it up in the mail on my way to get Syd from school and let her open it on the way home. It was a horse invitation and the party was going to be at the rodeo arena Friday night. Didn't take her long to figure out what they'd be doing at the party.

"I get to ride a horse! Horsey horsey horsey! Horse horse horse. Horsey horsey horsey horse." That lasted for the trip home, 15 miles. I was really glad I made her watch Mr. Ed with me once. She interrupted her chant with a short rendition of that theme song: "A horse is a horse of course of course and horses can't talk unless of course the horse you are talking about is a horse named Mr. Ed."


Friday night finally arrived and the party was a blast. Syd got to ride the horses twice before dinner and cake was served. The hot dog was a hit as well as the cake Chelsey made for her little sister.

After eating, Syd jumped off bleachers, ran in circles, jumped just to jump, climbed a fence, sneaked in another horse ride or two...talking the entire time. Sometimes there was no one else around her.

As we said our goodbyes, Jim corralled Syd. She ran circles around him while she talked. Then she skipped circles around him. Then she ran again. Just as I was trying to figure out where he gets that kind of patience, he blurted out, "Just how much sugar was in that frosting?"

We all laughed. Except Syd. She was still running in circles.

Sugar high? Maybe. Horse high? Definitely.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Friendships that don't pass the yo-yo test

In my life things go one way -- and it's always the way I don't expect it to go. I'm finally letting go of my optimism and accepting this as fact. I learned this lesson from those stupid yo-yos.

Remember my previous gripe that a self-esteem program was pimping yo-yos at Syd's school? I checked the products out on the NED Program website provided on the handout/order form. The site has only a very brief mission statement, nothing about the importance of today's youth, and features several pages of merchandise for sale. I determined that the products were "jank" after deciding my choice of "crap" and Syd's choice of "suckish" probably weren't good terms to use at school. I figured no one would buy those things.

I figured wrong.

I picked Syd up Friday afternoon and she immediately complained of a horrible headache. On the ride home, the source of the headache was revealed. She'd had a terrible day. Everyone bought those stupid yo-yos.

One little girl in Syd's class wouldn't let her look at the one she'd bought. One of Syd's old classmates from pre-school was taking turns with her yo-yo on the playground with some other girls. Since she isn't in her class this year, they pushed her away and told her she wasn't their friend. The "old friend" from preK let her classmates do the talking. She simply turned her back to Syd.

So thanks, NED Show, for instilling those 3 values your flier (with 50% advertising) says your program promotes:
N--Never give up (focus, persistence)
E -- Encourage others (kindness, shared learning)
D -- Do your best (diligence, excellence)

They say The NED Show is free. It cost my kid a bad day at school and some tears on the ride home. It cost students some wasted instructional time because one teacher had to take the first 20 minutes of the school day to sell more yo-yos this morning. That's right. We got a yo-yo this morning. We were among about 10 kids who bought them today. Kids who get free lunches were in line buying these $6.50 to $15 yo-yos. They're on sale thru Thursday. Know what the school gets out of this? Two free how to yo-yo DVDs (value $7). If someone will ask me next year, I'll pay $7 to keep the NEW Show from returning.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Peer pressure paraphernalia

I tucked my sweet little girl under her covers last night.

"Can I have a hundred dollars?"

Thoughts begin running through my mind. She just turned 7. She can't have a drug habit -- she doesn't even like to take Tylenol. Surely she doesn't owe a bookie for a gambling debt. What on earth could a 7 year old want $100 for (that doesn't involve a Nintendo gaming system)? I mean, if you shop Old Navy on the right day, her entire back to school wardrobe doesn't even cost that much.

I kept the rant in my head and opted to merely ask, "For what?"

Ahh, the Scholastic Book Fair is this week in the school library. All books are half price. There's one about dinosaurs. One about cats. One about something else, and they're all must haves on her list. I was happy to hear she'd passed up the Pokemon guide because she has so many of them anyway.

Oh, and Jalyn got a noodle eraser. They look like swim noodles but are much smaller because a swim noodle would be difficult to erase with. And some other kid got a guy that when you squeeze his belly, his eyes bulge out. And there are posters and bookmarks, too. Some kid got those. And pencils.

"I figure I'll need about a hundred dollars to get it all," she said...seriously.

"I'll give you money tomorrow for the book fair, but it won't be a hundred dollars."

"Well, what am I supposed to do about all the other stuff I want?"

"You could get a job."

"I'm too little to work. You've already told me that."

"I said you're too little to work at McDonald's. (The one on Pine Street never gets her order right and she wants to work there to show them how easy it would be) You had a job working for me but never would do it? Remember my website? All you had to do was wear the leg warmers and let me take your picture."

"Okay. Go get 'em."

"No way. That offer's over. It's summery now. No one wants to think about leg warmers."

Sigh. "Can't you make something else I can wear for the website?"

"No. It's done. I can't work on any of that until this summer."

"People need tote bags in the summer. You could make a tote bag and I could hold it for a picture."

"Go to sleep."

This morning we were all in the living room before leaving for work and school. I slid her book fair money in an envelope and gave it to her. She told me I'd shorted her. I'd have to add some more money for it to be a hundred. I heard Jim choking on his breakfast sandwich. I told her to make do, and that was it.

In the car I explained that The NED Show would have an assembly today. It's one of those self-esteem, make good choices things. They sell crap souvenirs. So I told her I had not given her money to buy a plastic yo yo from The Ned Show. My fear is that every other kid will show up to buy one and she'll be an outcast. So, I explained to her that I checked out the merchandise online and it was all crap.

"But don't say crap at school. I don't think you're supposed to."

"How about 'suckish?' Can I say you said the yo yos are suckish?"

"Hm. I doubt suckish is good for school either. So, don't say crap or suckish."

So, we decided on "jank." Tell them your mom said their yo yos are jank.

I'm leaving to pick her up now. Taking a U-Haul for the book fair merchandise and hoping there's no letter from the principal explaining that "jank" is also not appropriate for school.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I promise. If I'd pierced your ears, it would have hurt!

Syd's got a big lip sync performance at school Saturday and it requires a "frilly" dress. Actually, I was told to dress her in "princess prissy," quite a challenge for someone like me who prefers "funky and frou-frou." Despite my prissy limitations, I found the perfect dress.

I thought I'd surprise Syd by giving her earrings to match.

Neither of us have pierced ears. I finally got the courage to do mine when I was 22. They quickly got infected and once I got those things out, I swore I'd never put any back in. My fear must have spread to her in the womb. She says she'll never get her ears pierced -- ever.

So, I picked out some cute clip-ons and some magnetic earrings.

I'm fascinated with the magnetic ones. They look like pierced earrings since they don't have a bar to clamp around to the back. These tiny magnets are super strong.

I had her close her eyes while she sat in front of me. I slid the two magnet-backed earrings onto her and told her to open her eyes. I held the mirror in front of her face and noticed the "What's my surprise" look of amusement was turning quickly...the wrong way.

Her brown eyes were filled with tears. Then the lip went upside down.

"What's wrong?"

sniff. sniff.

"What's the matter?"

"I didn't want holes in my ears," she cried. In writing classes they always tell you to used the word "said" when telling that someone said something because people don't really cry words. Yeah, right. Those instructors have never magneted earrings onto a kid's ears. When I say, "she cried," I mean it.

"Oh, sweetie, your ears don't have holes in them. These are magnets."

No response.

I showed her another pair so she could see how they work. Still, no response.

"You think I pierced your ears, don't you?"

The crying turned to wailing. The nod of her head made those welling tears finally run down both cheeks.

"Your ears are not pierced, I promise." I said. "If I'd pierced your ears, it would have hurt really bad." Well, that slipped out. Now she'll never want them done.

The tears have long since dried and we've played with the magnetic earrings most of the evening. She actually does like the clip-ons. They have a padded backing, one that quite obviously won't leave a hole in her ear.

Monday, April 26, 2010


"Who wants popcorn?" I asked.

Nobody. Just me.

Okay. I got out a pot, poured some oil in the bottom of it and heated it on the stove top. I poured popcorn in and waited for the popping to commence.

A few short minutes later, the first kernel exploded and hopped out of the pot just as Sydney was getting a drink from the frig.

"What was that?" she asked.


She came closer and I showed her the white popping kernels through the clear lid.

"Daddy! You've GOT to come see this!" she yelled.

They both stood and watched in amazement. Apparently, Jim had never popped popcorn this way either.

As luck would have it, I poured too much popcorn into the pot. As popcorn continued popping, it raised the lid off the pot. They thought I was Houdini.

"This is how we made popcorn when I was a kid," I explained.

"Back before microwaves?" Syd asked. She said she thought we had always had microwaves. Jim's family always used a healthier air popper.

"When I was a kid your age, Mamaw would pop a lot of popcorn and would pour it into a big, brown grocery sack. Then, we'd take it with us to the drive in movie."

"Is that like a Red Box?"

"No. And that's a different story."

Friday, April 23, 2010

"This stuff is gold!"

Back when I was a kid, cartoons only came on TV Saturday mornings. It's hard for Syd to fathom a day without a cartoon channel.

"Were they stick drawings?" she asked.

No, animation was more advanced than that by the time they started showing cartoons on TV. We had a short lesson on Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse 101.

"I know him. He's got the Clubhouse on Disney Channel," she said. So, I found a clip of "Steamboat Willie" online to show her. She said it was lame.

I guess in today's world of 3D animation it does seem lame. But I really wanted her to appreciate at least the evolution of cartoons.

So, I made her watch Tom & Jerry. As luck would have it, it was my favorite episode. She laughed so hard when the flower pot bounced off the table and broke on Jerry's head. When the pie-hidden iron got thrown into Tom's face, she doubled over laughing. When she caught her breath, she said, "This stuff is gold!"

She's right. That stuff is gold.

The animation may not reach out and grab you, but a laugh is a laugh no matter how technology presents it.

So, when she sees an episode that's new to her, she yells, "You've got to come see this!" She doesn't realize I've seen them gillions of times before. The difference now, though, is that I get to hear her laugh.

And that stuff is gold.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Did I yell something about fishing lures in the doctor's office?

I'm usually pretty good about remembering what I say. I'm having particular trouble this time recalling how loudly I said something.

We were in Dr. P's office yesterday, flipping through all the Bass Master magazines in the lobby. Syd was fascinated with the lures and wanted to go buy some when we left the doctor. My first response was no. We don't need any. We don't even have fishing poles.

But when we got into the examining room that changed. The nurse left to get the strep test (i.e. the big long q-tip that gets rammed down your throat) and I knew I had to act fast.

"You're going to have a throat q-tip. If you are a big girl, we'll go get a fishing lure when we leave here." I was confident that worked.

Her hands immediately clamped over her mouth. How could she scream and wail like that with hands covering her mouth? Maybe she'll grow up to be a ventriloquist. Or maybe just an adult with a horrid fear of long q-tips.

Anyway, the nurse comes in and the fight begins. I tried to be calm. Really. I did. At one point I said, "You've lost that fishing lure. Do you want to lose TV for the night, too?"

I think I said it. Maybe I yelled it. I hope not. What kind of mom bribes their kid with bait with dangerous hooks then shouts it for medical professionals to hear?

The doctor came in and seemed a little amused. He mentioned that he heard "the gnashing of teeth" and I began to wonder if it was hers or mine. We got through the appointment and he didn't say anything else about the commotion.

So, we got out to the car and I once again explained how important it is to be still for those types of tests. I told her when I was a kid, we didn't have that kind of easy test for strep throat. She got a little emotional when she said, "I wish I'd been born back in the olden times."

You know. Back before scrunchees and liquid soap.

If you are a rep from Johnson & Johnson, I don't want a letter from you stating that I used Q-tip in the wrong form. That's why I didn't capitalize it. You people have got to realize that you are the industry standard in cotton swabs and normal people in normal homes don't ever write "cotton swabs" on their store lists. We all write q-tips. My daughter's aversion to the "long q-tip" has nothing to do with the standard of your product, which we use all the time at home. I may be jumping the gun on this, but after receiving hate mail from the "resealable plastic bag" people one time, I'm a little antsy.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Possibly the dumbest thing I've ever heard

No child left behind.

Thanks for nothing, George W.

Did you really think our public schools would be able to adjust to get everyone to a higher level? What they've had to do is drop the standard so that no one gets left behind. An administrator recently confided in me that the standard will drop even lower soon.

I've been in an elementary classroom lately. Let me tell you what "no child left behind" really means:

1. The teacher's primary role is to keep peace until the bell rings.
2. The "teaching" gets done through a series of practice worksheets the week before the standardized test is given.
3. Average is good enough. Why do more?
4. The quiet kids get left behind because all the misbehaving ones drain the teacher's attention.
5. Poor performance is rewarded.

And while I'm on this subject, if you're a teacher with a sleepy child in class, here's a hint: If the child asks to take a nap instead of doing another worksheet, it's not because he/she was up late disco dancing into the wee morning hours. Look at the kid's grades. Are they all 100's? Does he/she get in any trouble? Hmm. Maybe you have a bored student on your hands. Not that you can do anything about that, since you can't leave any child behind.

Okay. I feel better now. Not really, but at least I put it in writing. Ugh.

When I was a kid, you know -- back before bath scrunchees and liquid soap -- school challenged us. Our teachers expected a lot out of us. They came to school to teach us...not to hopefully make it through the day without being mentally, physically or emotionally drained.

There were good students, average students and below average students and we all knew it. We never made fun of each other. We all played together at recess. By the time we hit high school, some of our classmates had dropped out. They needed to in order to help with family obligations. Or, they hated school and wanted to get on with life. Or maybe they got in trouble and school wouldn't keep them. Regardless, we all made our place and some chose to be "left behind." I'm good with that.

Not everyone is college bound. Who cares? There's still something to be said for being a contributing member of society. How will today's kids learn that when they get a trophy just for competing in a pageant or race or a goody bag for showing up at a birthday party? Or when a school puts their name on a poster to celebrate the fact that they are average or proficient?

Sigh. Too bad we couldn't have left you behind a little sooner, Mr. Bush.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Child labor ain't cheap

It's like my kid was born with the knowledge of child labor laws. When she was a little younger and I'd ask if she wanted to help me rinse dishes or something, she'd say, "No, that's what you do."

So I love making stuff, especially funky, fun stuff. So I figured out a way to make awesome leg warmers with a neat design motif and very little sewing. I was going to take pictures and put the directions for free at my website,

If you go there, you won't see a photo of the project or any directions. I never got that photo.

I thought it would be great for the kiddo to model them for my website. She wasn't thrilled with the idea of becoming famous like Carly and Sam, probably because she can smell a marketing ploy a mile away. But she agreed...with conditions:

"How much does it pay?"


"You'd pay me to take my picture, right?"

"Sure. $5."

I figure $5 to a 6 year old kid was pretty good money. She laughed in my face.

"I thought it would be more like $30 or $50." Somehow $40 got left out.

"Nope. Just $5," I said, hoping my cheery voice would distract her negotiating skills.

"Well you always take a lot of pictures and that's time I could be playing," she explained. Before I knew it, I'd talked her down to $20. Now who's the better negotiator?

Why aren't the pictures on the site?

I'm not paying until I take the pictures. She's not being photographed until she gets paid.

Embarrassing Wednesday

Let me justify my most embarrassing moment this month by saying this first: I've only had this car for two weeks. Keep that in mind.

I ran into Walgreen's on Wednesday on my way to pick the kiddo up from school. As I was walking in, I noticed a car like the one I just traded pulling into the slot in front of the Red Box. My old car had speakers that were broken in the back, so I inconspicuously rubber-necked to see if it was my old car. Wasn't. Went in and didn't think another thing about it.

So I leave with a bag of half-price Peeps and sodas for my sick brother-in-law, and I stand in front of my car and the stupid clicker won't work. I click and click and click. Stupid clicker.

You've figured out that I'm standing in front of the wrong car. The car that looks like my old car. In the split second that it took me to realize what I'd done, I also made the quick decision to act like I was intentionally doing this by talking to myself. Another split second goes by with me beating myself up over how stupid I must look talking to myself in front of not-my-car. My only saving grace is that the man who had driven the car wasn't in it. Other people were nearby, but he didn't see me talking to my stupid keys, asking them why they wouldn't let me into his car.

All this occurs just days after I lost my clicker for a couple of days. The kiddo asked how we'd get in the car and I explained that we'd just use the plain, old key.

"We didn't have remote keyless entry when I was a kid," I said. "That means a clicker."

"Did you have doors?"

"On the cars?"


"Of course we had doors They even had windows that rolled up and down." Do I dare touch on the fact that we cranked them? No. Not today.

Even the Flintstones had doors, right? I wonder sometimes just how old she thinks I am :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Kissing pigs and Gretchen Wilson

The kiddo is super excited. If they all do well on their standardized test this week, one of the school administrators will have to kiss a pig.

Didn't PETA protest something like this already?

Why do pigs get stuck kissing school administrators and elected officials?

My daughter says it's because chickens would peck you.


So I enter the school on Monday afternoon, the day before testing begins, and I hear Gretchen Wilson's "I'm a Red-Neck Woman" blaring into her classroom over the intercom. I stick my head in and see some of the kids up dancing.

I backed out into the hallway.

Then I heard the words. It was something like "I'm a Benchmark student" or something like that. No one believes me. I've been searching for it online to no avail. If anyone else heard it, PLEASE let me know. I think she replaced the words "Hell, yeah" with "Amen" or "Ace it."

I guess I'm just an old fashioned test taker. The teachers should teach all year, then let the test measure the student's learning.

Monday, April 5, 2010

I Predate Plastic Eggs

We died eggs Saturday night. It was a fancy, schmancy kit from Paas. Bright color dyes, glitter glue pen, crayon, beads and sequins -- plus stickers and plastic shrinky sleeves (which, btw, are great for bandaging broken eggs).

Syd is 7 now and we dye eggs every year. I really don't know why. We take them out to hide and dogs eat them before they're all hidden. We hunt the plastic eggs. We were having a family chuckle about this when I said, "I remember when we didn't have plastic eggs."

Even my husband stopped to look at me. I'm a few years older than he (I'll take your virtual high 5 now). He and the kid can both do that same raised eyebrow look that means, "Are you serious?"

"It's true," I said. Plastic eggs would not have been efficiently produced in the early 70s, I imagine. Or maybe the rest of the world had them and Malvern, Arkansas just didn't. That could be it -- it was the same way with cable TV.

"I even remember when Paas ran TV commercials," I added. This, my husband could recall.

"Tell me another story from the olden days," my daughter said.

I should have seen that coming.

"Well, we used to watch 'Here Comes Peter Cottontail' every year on TV."

"Was that on Cartoon Network?"


"Nick Junior?"

"No. We didn't have those channels then. We had 4, 7 and 11. Oh and 2 until about dark."

"Wow. I bet kids were bored back then. Did you play with sticks like Mamaw did?"

Thanks, Mom, for sharing those stories.

So I went on to explain that we had toys like baseballs and hula hoops and jump ropes and jacks. And we played foreign games too -- Chinese checkers and Chinese jump rope. We rode bikes, too.

"Kids aren't all that different now," she said, "Except we do most of that stuff on the Wii. But not those Chinese games. You'll have to show me those."

I'm looking forward to a summer full of Chinese checkers and Chinese jump rope!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Buying a car

The family took a road trip yesterday. We're searching for the new family car. This isn't easy since the kiddo is attached to our 8 year old Camry. I can't say that she started the day with an open mind.

Once on the car lot, one caught our attention. I liked it because it's a hybrid. It claims incredible gas mileage. She liked it because of the color. Clear sky blue metallic. My husband scratched his head and looked at both of us. This is nothing like what we'd set out to find.

"I remember when cars were only red, blue, white or black," I said without thinking.

"Did they have cars when you were a kid like me?" she asked.

"Yes," I said. "Except Uncle Tim had a metallic purple one that looked like a grape."

She didn't ask more questions. I think I threw her with that metallic purple reference to my brother's mid-70s VW Bug.

I really dread trying to explain the 70s to her. A lot of other moms of kids her age were born in the 70s. They don't remember much. I was 36 when we had the kiddo. I was around for all of the 70s. I remember watching news coverage of George Wallace being shot. Not the comedian, but the Alabama governor. I remember Watergate and the second wave of feminism that was responsible for the girls at Malvern High School getting to wear pants.

Wow. I really am starting to feel like a dinosaur!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Where do I fit in the world's evolution?

I've always been perplexed by where I fit in the history of this big ol' world. As a kid, it was hard to put things into perspective. Silent movies and an era without a telephone seemed as distant as the ages when cavemen discovered fire. Lucky for me, my 6 year old daughter put my place in history into perspective for me.


That's the time before bath scrunchees and liquid soap.

Let me explain.

Things are always crazy at my house. I am a freelance writer so I work from home. Which means I feel like I should always be writing something. One morning I took a shower curtain down to clean, then decided I'd get back to writing as it soaked in bleach. I never thought about it again until time for the kiddo's bath that night.

So, she got bathed in the master bathroom. I could have gotten her bath pouff from her bathroom, but instead I grabbed a wash cloth. Her brown eyes widened with concern.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm washing your face."

"With THAT?"

"Yes. It's a wash cloth. That's what you do with them. You wash."

"Have you ever used a wash cloth?"

"Yes. We used these back before bath scrunchees."

I reached down and grabbed the bar of soap and rubbed it on the wash cloth. She started asking questions again. I heard panic in her voice.

"What's that stuff?"

"THIS?" I asked, holding up the bar of soap.

"Yeah. What is that?"

"It's soap. Just not the squirt kind."

"Did you use that before scrunchees too?"

"Yes. We didn't always have liquid soap, you know."

Her eyes widened again. This time her voice expressed something else. Wonderment.

"Mama, will you tell me another story about the olden times? Back before scrunchees and liquid soap?"

Yep. That's when I knew my place in this world.