Friday, June 28, 2013

Weird Picture Round-Up

I'm bad about taking pictures or screen shots of things I think are funny or weird and then they just live on my phone or on my computer and I never do anything with them. Sometimes I share them on Facebook or Twitter, but mostly they just sit around, gathering Internet dust. I thought I'd shake off the mothballs and see if there are any treasures.

A couple weeks ago, I took the kids to CVS and naturally, the Boy and the Baby decided that they needed to use the bathroom. There were several Successory-type posters in the hallway outside the bathroom, but I liked this one the best:

And that someone will be a vampire...
Why else would he have a blue hand?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ten Things That Have Prevented Me From Blogging

Nice. Where have you been? Guys, I'm so sorry that I've been a bad blogger the last couple of weeks. I have many excuses for what's been stopping me from putting fingers to keyboard and providing you all with a couple minutes of distraction. Here is what I've been doing:

1. The Movie - If Dad were a dog, he would turn 525 today and I tried to get the children to make a movie for his birthday. I took some video on my iPad and tried to get them to say "Happy 75th Birthday Granddad." Here is how it turned out:

video

So, clearly that wasn't going to work. I found an old video from three years ago of them singing Happy Birthday and spliced that together with the only decent current video of them and put in some titles and music in iMovie. I had no idea what I was doing, so it ended up being very amateur-ish:

video

This took me an absurdly long time, but I'm sure that I will win an Oscar, so it will all be worth it. Alternatively, Dad will enjoy it, so it will all be worth it.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Please Stop Making That Dreadful Sound - That's Six Words, Too

Do you all know about the six words you're supposed to say to your child? To my surprise, these six words are not, "get it yourself; I am busy." Rather, according to the Hands Free Mama blog those words are, "I love to watch you play," which is what you should tell your child after a sporting event or activity. Rather than criticizing or critiquing your child's performance, you should just say, "I love to watch you play," and leave it at that. This frees a child from feeling the pressure to perform to a particular standard to please her parents. Of course, reading the blog left me feeling like I was not performing to a particular standard to please my children. What does it say about me that my list of six-word phrases for my children would include: "take the bag off your head," "please stop making that dreadful sound," "shut the door, I hate mosquitos," and "doing that might lead to death?" Clearly, it says that I will not be winning the same mother-of-the-year award that I expect the Hands Free Mama will be receiving.

I totally agree with the premise that kids don't need the pressure of feeling like they're going to disappoint their parents if they don't play well. I've seen my share of parents who berate their kids during a game, and I can only imagine that the berating is worse in private. I am totally on-board with not screaming at your kid about that ball he dropped. My problem with the blog is that Hands Free Mama makes me feel like I should be sobbing with pure joy watching my children's sporting events even if I've driven two hours to get to the game and the game has been called after 45 minutes because we're losing 24-0. If I have to be honest, sometimes I don't love to watch them play. Sometimes I'd just rather be at home reading a book.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Baby Talk Quiz

One of my favorite stories about the K's childhood is the time when he was about two and his aunt babysat for him. When it was time for bed he insisted he needed his "fi-fiar," but she had no idea what he was talking about. She would hold up a stuffed bear, "fi-fiar?" He'd shake his head. A bottle? No. She ran around his room picking up different toys, "is this a fi-fiar? How about this?" He kept shaking his head. She was never able to find the elusive fi-fiar and the K gave up trying to tell her and fell asleep. Have you guessed what he meant? He wanted his pacifier.

Communicating with small children can be very difficult. Even the most articulate kids lack the context and often the vocabulary to describe things, so you are left trying to guess what they are trying to tell you. To demonstrate, I decided to ask the Baby to describe the plots of some of her favorite movies and television shows to see if you can identify them from her description. It's sort of like playing $20,000 Pyramid with an alien.  This quiz does require some knowledge of family movies and Disney Junior, so if you aren't familiar with these genres, you may want to come back when I ask her to describe the plots of different Tarantino films.

Apologies in advance if this post reads like an outtake from Kids Say the Darndest ThingsGive yourself one point for every correct answer. Check your score at the end of the post.

1. Description: "There's a girl and there's at the first part it's black and white and then the bad lady turns into a witch and there's a yellow brick road and she walks on it and it's a circle and it goes round and round and she finds a scarecrow and something that's metal."

Friday, June 14, 2013

Omens

I have been trying to read Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. It's a fictional account of the life of Thomas Cromwell who was an advisor to Henry VIII during the time he was trying to ditch his first wife so that he could marry Anne Boleyn. It's slow going, especially because every so often I decide that I need to spend an hour on Wikipedia "researching" things like how many women foolishly agreed to marry Henry VIII (six), whether Anne Boleyn actually had six fingers (probably not), how Oliver Cromwell was related to Thomas Cromwell (great-great-great nephew), and why Elvis Costello wrote a song about Oliver Cromwell (it's about British imperialism). Oh, Wikipedia, why I can't quit you!

One thing I have found interesting in Wolf Hall is how in the Middle Ages, people saw omens in everything. I guess when you don't have a much scientific knowledge, you look for guidance wherever you can find it. Someone catches two big fish: An omen. A dead bird falls in a chimney: An omen. Thomas Cromwell didn't believe in omens, and I'm pretty sure I don't either, but if I did, yesterday was full of them:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Speaking My Language

After nearly 20 years in the south, I've lost a lot of my nawthern speech patterns, but one thing I can't shake is "sneaker." No self-respecting southern says, "sneakers." They say, "tennis shoes" regardless of what they'll actually be doing in the shoes. Example:
"I'm going for a run."
"Great! Don't forget to tie the laces on your tennis shoes!"  
I have this fear that someday I'll be in a Waffle House far OTP and I'll slip and tell the kids to get their muddy sneakers off the bench. Whatever Miranda Lambert song that was playing will screech to a halt, there will be an ominous silence, and the fry cook will stop smothering, covering, chunking, and dicing the hashbrowns, stalk over to my table and shout, "Out! We don't serve Yankees here!" And he'll point at the door with his enormous spatula and I'll slink away like a cowardly dog.

Basically, it'll be like that scene in Inglorious Basterds at the bar when Michael Fassbender (British, but pretending to be a Nazi) orders three glasses of scotch and holds up his hand:


and gives away that he's not German because apparently in Germany they indicate three by holding up their thumb, index and middle fingers. So, my Waffle House encounter will be like that, except no one will get shot. However, I do think that Diane Kruger may be there, smoking cigarettes and shaking her head.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Chipmunks and Cats Should Never Marry

A couple weeks ago I was watching television (which means I was also folding laundry) and I saw this Cheerios commercial:



Cheerios posted the commercial on YouTube and it received so much negative feedback that the comments section was disabled. Just in case you were too lazy to watch the ad (I'm not judging), the negative commenters were in a huff because the little girl's mom is white and her dad is black and the little girl is, well you can see, tan.

I don't want you to think that this is going to be post in which I debate the points of interracial marriage.  That sound controversial and aside from an occasional good-natured dig at Utah, I like to use this blog to build consensus, not create controversy. So, no, like any good, wimpy lawyer, I'm going to attack the negative comments on procedural grounds so that I don't have to reach the merits. Here we go: The interracial marriage ship has already sailed. It is steaming across the ocean as we speak, with a crew that looks like a 1980s Benetton ad. The negative commenters really need to find a cause that hasn't already been played out, like preventing chipmunks from marrying cats or making peanuts illegal. Complaining about interracial marriage in 2013 is like living in 1920 and pining for the horse and buggy or living in 1999 and wishing away the Internet. Our president is biracial. Three out of four of Heidi Klum's kids are biracial. Let's move on.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ten Workplace Skills I Learned Being a SAHM

Lately I've been thinking that I might need to get a job. Yes, I know what I'm doing now, raising kids, is a job. I'm talking about a job that pays in money instead of in grey hairs and happy memories and a job that requires you to leave the house without an entourage of small children. These thoughts began about the same time school ended two weeks ago; coincidentally, I'm sure. It was also around the time that we were all enjoying a summer evening, playing whiffle ball in the backyard. The Girl ran up to me, excitedly:

Girl: Mom, I can switch hit! Daddy says I'm a natural!
Me: That's great. I wish I could do that.
Girl: Why?
Me: I don't know. I think it sounds like a cool thing to be able to do.
Girl: Do you think it could help you with your sweeping?

It irks me that my kids don't think I am qualified to do anything but fetch snacks, wipe noses, go shopping, and clean. If you think I'm exaggerating, I have visual proof:

The kids in the Boy's pre-K class were asked what their mothers
liked to do. Obviously, I love to vacuum!
I have to admit that I do look happy in the picture. Of course, I'm also missing a nose, an arm, and feet, so accuracy isn't its strong point.

More recently, the Baby was asked all about me for Mother's Night at her school:

BTW, my eyes are actually blue. She might have noticed if I hadn't
spent so much time at the grocery store and Target. I also totally wish
that I could fly, especially in Atlanta traffic.
Clearly, this is not an ideal time to think about reentering the workforce. No one is hiring lawyers who have just graduated from law school and actually know law-type stuff, so what chance does this give someone like me who hasn't practiced law in eight years? I'm pretty sure my experience as a room mom and frivolity blogger isn't going to do much to boost my credentials. The irony is that if I went back to work, I would be a far better employee now than I was before I had children because having kids has taught me so many skills that would be useful at a job. I've made a list...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

It's Raining Shoes aka The Great Camp Debacle

Last summer my strategy was to sign up the kids for as many camps as possible. They went to tennis camp and video game maker camp and junior scientist camp and animal husbandry camp and cheese making camp. Okay, I made up those last two, but I guarantee that such camps exist. Probably at Waldorf. The camps scene is also very overwhelming and there's a risk of feeling like your kid is missing out on something if he's not signed up for a gazillion different camps. Remember when camp was just a place to swim and weave a lanyard? Now they promise that your kid will learn how to write a computer program, build a scale replica of the Eiffel Tower, or knit a scarf out of alpaca wool. It's almost as if the camp programs are targeted to assuage parental guilt rather than deliver on their lofty goals. Why feel guilty that you're off-loading your kid for eight hours when he'll be NBA-ready at the end of the a week of basketball camp?

I succumbed to that pressure last year and our summer felt very over-scheduled and rushed, which is not what summer is all about, amiright? This summer, I tried to be more choosy with the camp selections, especially because all three of the kids are camp-aged, now. Even with my mediocre math skills, I realized that it would be less expensive to pay a babysitter $15/hour to watch the kids for 40 hours a week than to pay camp tuition of $250/week for each of the three kids. So, I decided that each kid would get two weeks of camp, we'd go to Maine for two weeks, and I'd try (with assistance from a babysitter) to keep them from physically harming each other for the remaining 5.5 weeks.

The one camp that the big kids loved last year was the Amy Bryant Tennis Camp at Emory. It must be a fabulous camp because despite running around outside for three hours in 90 degree weather, they both raved about the camp. And the Boy doesn't rave. So, as soon as the early bird registration was available, back in February, I emailed some of their friends' parents to see if anyone else was interested in the camp. This was the first year that the Boy and the Girl would be split up by age; the Boy would be with the 5-8 year old campers and the Girl would be with the 9-14 group. Despite the fact that the Boy and the Girl try to tear each other limb from limb on a daily basis, I know that they take some comfort to being together in unfamiliar places. So, I was especially happy to find a tennis camp friend for each of them.

I registered them for camp using the on-line system, which I found a little bit wonky. But, in the end, I believed that I had successfully registered the kids and noted that they'd like to be in a group with their friends.

You know what that is? That's the first shoe dropping.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Where do you Summer?

Here's a statement to make you feel all stabby: "I summer in Maine." I'd put it a close second to, "I go to Harvard" as a conversation killer. Have you noticed that people who go to Harvard can be a little sheepish about admitting they attend Harvard? Years ago, I had a conversation with a guy on a train that went like this:

Me: Where do you go to school?
Guy: Um, I go to a liberal arts school in the Boston area.
Me: Oooh, I love guessing games. Boston College?
Guy: No.
Me: Emerson College?
Guy: No.
Me: Northeastern University?
Guy: No.
Me: Boston University? Regis College? Mount Ida College?
Guy: No, no, and no.
Me: I give up.
Guy: Harvard.
Me: Cool. Do you pahk your cah in Hahvahd Yahd?
Guy: Um, no.


I have a lot (well, several) friends who went to Harvard and they are all very nice, normal people, but I think that there's an assumption that if you went to Harvard you must be some kind of socially awkward super genius or from a famous and mega-wealthy family. I'm sure that sometimes these Harvard stereotypes are true, just like there are surely some people from New Jersey who resemble characters from Jersey Shore. But, I'm equally sure there are some Harvard grads who would happily engage with me in a discussion about Kim Kardashian's maternity wardrobe.