Tuesday, May 31, 2011

16 months old today - What can Sophie do now?

Today, Sophie is sixteen months old. One year and four months ago, she leapt into the world and has been keeping us on our toes ever since. It's so fun watching her grow and learn things!
Here's what she can do now:
  • Feed herself fairly well
  • "Tell" us she's hungry (she'll grab food out of the pantry or refrigerator when we open and shake her high chair tray)
  • She helps with laundry - she loves to put clothes into the dryer and close the door
  • She follows directions (pick up a certain thing, give that to Mommy, throw in the trash, take to your room, take to living room, etc)
  • She gives kisses goodbye and goodnight and says "Ni-ni" at bedtime
  • She holds the door open for the dogs to come inside
  • She "feeds" the dogs and cat by putting their dish in front of them, wherever they are and even if the dish is empty
  • She can also put a scoop of dry food into the cat's bowl
  • She "reads" to herself out loud in baby babble
  • She's learning to jump
  • She knows how to unlatch the dishwasher (thank goodness for childproofing straps!)
  • She eats from her plate and bowl without throwing them to the floor (until she's done, anyway) or putting on her head (usually)
It seems like a few short months ago that she was born! It definitely doesn't feel like it's been over a year already. Her personality is showing more and more every day. She is a bit defiant, and is obsessed with shoes. She likes brushing her teeth and having her nails done, but doesn't like sitting still for hair combing. Baths are amazingly fun, but not face-washing.

I can't wait to see what comes next.

Monday, May 30, 2011

What's a wordle?

Today is Wordle Day in the Blogathon.

What is Wordle? It's a really cool word cloud made up of words used in my posts. I am not technical enough to actually get the picture to show up here, though, (Remember my confessions post?)

It really turned out nice, though, so I saved it to the public gallery and it's viewable here.

Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Happy long weekend :)

Walking to the park

This is fun!

It's my usual bedtime.

All those lights are boats - the lake was full of them!

Why did it stop? Can we go home to bed now?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A nice day

Today is a nice day.

We slept in - Sophie woke at 8, had her morning milk, and then slept until 10. The girl KNOWS what to do on weekends!

After she had her breakfast, we went to a family friend's yard sale. The consignment shop we loved closed a couple months ago, so I had a lot of outgrown baby clothes to get rid of. I also have been wanting to sell her swing and baby seat, too, but hadn't gotten around to it. So, we packed them all up in my car and took down with us.

We spent a couple hours in the sun, and best of all we brought Emma home! She'd been at her grandparents' house since Wednesday.

We came home, she spent some quality time with her Daddy, and then they brought home Chinese takeout for dinner. Soon, we are going to Rockin' the Docks, a popular (and free!) local event. Even though we've lived here 12 years, we've only been once before. I'm hoping Sophie isn't afraid of the fireworks!

Friday, May 27, 2011


I have a confession to make.
Okay, several.
I've been carrying around some secrets, faking my way through some conversations. But now, I'm exposing myself.

  • I didn't watch Oprah. Last show, first show, any in between. I feel nothing now that her show's gone.
  • I am female and HATE Dirty Dancing.
  • Also no American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, Bachelor/ette, or Biggest Loser
  • I looooove Big Brother, however.
  • Over the years, I've somehow given the impression (???) that I'm tech-savvy. Most of the time, though, I rely on my husband to do computer-technical stuff.
  • When we watch shows through Netflix on the Xbox, Emma operates it. 
  • I have a slight addiction problem - it's The Sims. First the original, then Sims 2, now Sims 3. I've also developed a fondness for Lego Harry Potter - but still need someone to turn the Xbox on for me. And then back off again.
  • I can't stand Dora the Explorer, but I see how Sophie responds to it in the pediatrician's waiting room and turned it on for her yesterday morning to buy myself a little more time for getting ready for work. (In less than 5 minutes she was done, though, and in her room playing. Yes!)
What about you? Any deep, dark secrets you're harboring? Share! Don't leave me all alone here!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Henry's injustice

I have wanted to write about this subject for a long time, but hesitated. What else could I say when the crime victim's mother already says it so well? But still, the case is on my mind and heart.

A little over a year ago I saw some tweets among some local people about the teenage son of  local (and well-known, I soon found out) blogger Katie Granju being in the hospital after an assault. The ups and downs were circulated, and the community was in support of this family. Even though I still wasn't familiar with the blogger or what happened, I was sad to read the son had died. The pain, as any parent can imagine, must have been unbearable.

But then I started reading her blog, and understanding what happened. The strength this mother has shown, and the battles she has had to fight - I have no words. You can read the story in great detail and research at Justice for Henry. Go back to the beginning of the blog and start there. Also read her other blog, Mamapundit. For now, though, a summary.

Henry was a teenage boy who struggled with drug addiction. He was not happy as a drug addict,and was trying to get clean. He fell victim to a pair of older adults who preyed on vulnerable teenagers, who gave him a fatal dose of methadone. Sometime soon after, Henry was badly beaten, then picked up by the couple and taken to their home, where he suffered an overdose on top of his other injuries. The couple refused to call 911 for hours, and only finally did so under the threat of police involvement toward themselves by a friend of Henry's. There is piles of evidence, text messages, and witness statements describing exactly what happened to Henry, what kind of people these two are, their actions, and their responsibility for Henry's death. But Knox County is refusing to pursue the case. The whole lack of concern by the sheriff's department and the local DA's office is infuriating, while staff members publish memos saying Katie should leave them alone and worry about her surviving children

Katie has had to investigate her own son's death on her own, and be treated like someone only wanting to stir up trouble, by the very agencies who are supposed to be investigating and prosecuting crime. I'm not sure I could even get out of bed in her shoes, much less conduct the interviews she has, and have the fights she has fought with everyone from the sheriff's office, the DA's office, medical examiner's office, and the 911 center. And  the lack of interest  by the local media is disheartening. Are all the stations and the newspaper really so afraid of small-town politics that they ignore what is being laid out in front of them? The national media is seeing the injustice - there is a list on the Justice for Henry site of media coverage.

This is not just one family's fight, though. This could happen to ANY parent. Knox County is showing a clear disinterest in pursuing legal action against crime victims if they happen to be addicts. The attitude is "he/she deserved it." And sadly, drug use in teenagers is not uncommon. Every parent thinks "It won't happen to my child" but not every parent is correct. And combine drug use with a teenager's developing brain and developing judgment and dangerous things happen in an instant. One small argument can turn deadly, kids can too-quickly find themselves in a situation they can't get out of. Like Henry, they may be preyed upon by an older couple running a sex-for-drugs trafficking ring. In truth, we never know.

It is my hope and prayer that Henry's family will see justice for his death. I truly hope his mother will see a reward for all her difficult, painful research into the circumstances surrounding her son's death. It is also my prayer no other mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings have to suffer like Henry's family has for the past year. Knox County Sheriff's Office and the DA's office need to step up and do their jobs.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Another blow to equal rights in Tennessee

Bill Haslam, Governor of Tennessee

On Monday, Governor Haslam signed HB 600, the Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act, into law. At first glance, it seems rather benign. 
This bill prohibits any local government from imposing on any person an anti-discrimination practice, standard, definition or provision that varies in any manner from the definition of "discriminatory practices" under present law or other types of discrimination recognized by state law but only to the extent recognized by the state. Under present law, "discriminatory practices" means any direct or indirect act or practice of exclusion, distinction, restriction, segregation, limitation, refusal, denial, or any other act or practice of differentiation or preference in the treatment of a person or persons because of race, creed, color, religion, sex, age or national origin.

It sounds like it protects  against discrimination, right? But look closer.
Under this bill, any such anti-discrimination practice, standard, definition, or provision imposed on any such person by a local government prior to the effective date of this bill would be null and void.

And take a good look at the first paragraph again.
This bill prohibits any local government from imposing on any person an anti-discrimination practice, standard, definition or provision that varies in any manner from the definition of "discriminatory practices" under present law or other types of discrimination recognized by state law but only to the extent recognized by the state. Under present law, "discriminatory practices" means any direct or indirect act or practice of exclusion, distinction, restriction, segregation, limitation, refusal, denial, or any other act or practice of differentiation or preference in the treatment of a person or persons because of race, creed, color, religion, sex, age or national origin.

The city of Nashville had already passed an ordinance prohibiting businesses from discriminating against sexual orientation or gender identity. In the language of the new bill, cities cannot have anti-discrimination laws stricter than the state law. Any current laws exceeding the state law are now "null and void."

Instead of protecting all our state's citizens, Governor Haslam has now made discrimination against the LGBT community legal.  Between this bill and the "Don't say gay" bill, I am disappointed in our state.


If you are on Twitter, use the hashtag #IamTennessee to express your lack of support for current discriminatory legislation. Governor, Senators, Representatives, listen up - we ARE Tennessee. #IamTennessee

More about this new law: Knoxville News Sentinel, The Tennessean (Nashville)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Songs that always make me happy

Don't worry, a "real" post is coming soon - I just need to do some more research. In the meantime, enjoy some great music!

1. Born this Way by Lady Gaga
Everyone is divided on Lady Gaga - either love her or hate her, it seems no one is lukewarm towards her. Personally, I love her. I realize many can't get past the costumes or performance to really hear the music, but I think they add to the whole overall experience. I haven't yet heard a Gaga song I didn't love.
This one, though, is at the top of my playlist right now. Never before has a song so succinctly summed up my outlook on life: God made each of us and loves us all, no matter our gender, race, financial status, or orientation. "I'm beautiful in my way/cause God makes no mistakes/I'm on the right track baby/I was born this way"

2. La Vie Boheme from Rent
This is one of my very favorite movies. I can watch it over and over and over again. I love so many of the songs, but this one is my absolute favorite from the movie. I often rewind this scene and watch it again, and it makes me want to get up and dance on a table every time I hear it.

3. Grace Kelly by Mika
Nothing deep here, no message - the song just makes me happy. I love it!

4. Melody by Kate Earl
A nice little glimpse inside my head... I think there is always some song in my head, even when I'm asleep.

5. They All Laughed from The Whole Nine Yards soundtrack
If you've seen the movie (my other very favorite movie), it's the song performed during the end credits. I just love this song. And when Sophie was a colicky newborn, before we found the dietary problem causing it, this song was one of the few that would calm her down at night.

6. Baby Got Back by Sir Mixalot
"Oh. My. God Becky look at her butt" Admit it. You know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. Who can listen to this song and not laugh and instantly be in a good mood? It is so un-PC, and so shallow, but unabashedly so. And if you grew up in the 90s, don't even pretend you don't know all the words.

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's Monday.

I'd really love to have some meaningful, insightful blog today. I really would.

Instead, we woke up with a baby who could keep  nothing down. Even sips of water made her vomit all over. A couple naps, a visit to the pediatrician, and an afternoon of snuggling, and she seems to be better now. She finally just ate a little (pumpkin and cottage cheese) and is again running around the house.

So tomorrow, I will be back to work and back to blogging. Today, though, is a day for taking care of my little one.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Some of my favorites

Back in January, I realized how much I was spending on hair clips for Sophie, and how easily I could make them. After a couple fun afternoons of clip-making, I was organizing her clips and noticed she had nearly 70.


I was having too much fun (and had plenty more supplies) to stop so after some suggesting from friends I decided to sell them on Etsy. I've made a few sales, mostly local, but I still am enjoying making new pieces.

Here are some of my favorites:
Such a pretty color combination!  It makes me smile :)

The center bead doesn't photograph well. It's a pink glass bead from a vintage necklace.

I love the vintage look of this one. The fabric is almost sheer white with white dots.

My very favorite. Another pink glass bead from the vintage necklace, and silver seed beads.

I am NOT a seamstress, but I hand-sew all the yoyos. I did buy one package of premade ones early on, but then I found a handy little gadget that makes it very easy to make them on my own. A family friend gave me a bunch of fabric she had, and I've bought some also. Like my writing, I don't have a set plan of what I'm going to make, but follow my inspiration. I do make sure that I love everything I make, though. And I really enjoy the process.

Now that Sophie is a toddler and into EVERYTHING she can possibly find, I don't have as much clip-making time as I used to. I don't like having needles or my hot glue gun out around her, because she is just too darn quick! I'm still going, though. As long as it is more enjoyable than stressful, I will continue.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Atlanta creates a law against breastfeeding in public!

This angers me.

A new law in metro Atlanta will limit breast feeding in public.
On Monday night, Forest Park passed a public indecency ordinance to prevent public nudity. Previously, the city only had a public indecency ordinance that covered adult entertainment businesses.According to the law, no woman can breast feed anyone older than 2 years old in public. City manager John Parker called the law a proactive step.“It sets up a process whereby we can try to control nudity throughout the entire city," Parker said.
From WSBTV.com
Public indecency?  Control nudity? REALLY??

To keep from beginning to sound redundant, see the AAP/WHO breastfeeding information in this blog post.

I am glad that they have the upper age limit as 2 instead of 1, but seriously - why limit it at all? And why on earth use DECENCY as a reason? Breastfeeding is not even close to indecent!

Yes, these women are SO indecent, aren't they? So much nudity! Heaven forbid someone might see this!

I just don't understand why lawmakers keep trying to legislate breastfeeding. The laws are so backwards and unnecessary, too. Seriously, how often do you see a school-aged child nursing? I mean actually see it, not just a "someone told my friend who told me" story.  It's rare. And even if it was common, what business is it of yours? How do you know it's not a child with special nutritional needs? Sure, the mom can pump milk, but what if they were out somewhere in this hypothetical situation and her pump was broken? Or they were only going on a 10 minute errand but had car troubles and couldn't get back home? (It happens.  Trust me.)  It is becoming more and more common for American mothers to join the rest of the world and nurse up to age 3 or 4. And most children that age only do it at certain times - it is not their main source of nourishment so you're NOT going to see it often in public. But if the need arises, a mother should NEVER be punished for taking care of her child.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Teaching for TCAP, part 2

On Tuesday I posted about the school seemingly teaching for testing, and then nothing the remaining two weeks of school. Bored children is a minor concern, though. There is one result of this that disturbs me more.

At the end of her sixth grade year, we found out that Emma would be in honors math in seventh grade (this year). She was very excited and proud of herself, and we were proud of her. I was elated, because even though I always did very well in school (I graduated 5th in my class with a 4.0), I just didn't get math. I can do basic things easily, like adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing, but get beyond that and I get a bit lost. And forget word problems! While I always excelled at reading, spelling, and languages, I can't mix words and numbers. They just don't mesh together in my brain. The more complicated things? Forget it! If I don't understand it, I can't learn it. And no teacher could make me understand anything beyond Algebra 1. "It just is" doesn't cut it for me. (On a side note, I did great at geometry. Seeing the pictures really made it click for me.)

Math has always been easy for Emma, though. She just gets it. And I still remember getting the call from her while I was at work telling me about being chosen for the honors class. She was thrilled! When we got the school supply lists over the summer, we went to Target and picked out the binders and folders and notebooks and loose paper, all the standard stuff. For the honors math class, though, she also had to have a graphing calculator. The kind I didn't need until college! The expensive one. Ouch. But still, we made it work. Her education is very important to us.

Then, school started. We had the standard assembly-type meeting with the principal. He does one grade at a time, in the gym. Basics are covered for new-to-the-school families, introduces the teachers to us, and then discusses any changes. Before school started this year, they were given the results of last year's TCAPs. It seems that while the school overall excelled in almost every subject, as a whole they did poorly in math. As a result, they decided to cancel honors math. Reason? to spend more time teaching what was specifically on the test, to increase the performance this year.

Now, I can understand this to a point. These tests are supposed to (in theory) measure how well students are learning in school, to evaluate how well the school is doing its job of teaching them. But instead of incorporating the areas the students struggled into the curriculum, or spending more time on those areas, they are punishing the students who don't need extra help. Instead of celebrating and challenging the students who already tested far above average, the entire student body is grouped into remedial-type learning. THIS I have a huge problem with.

Instead of using these tests as a measuring device, schools are almost afraid of them any more. Legislation has put so much weight on 3 or 4 days out of an entire school year that the pressure on teachers and students is unbearable. For the first time ever, Emma was so stressed about a test that her health was affected. As soon as the last test was over, she was back to normal. She said the teachers put so much emphasis on the test days, wanting the children to do so well, that it's all they talk about in the weeks leading up to it. Automated calls from the principal go out frequently  reminding parents to make sure the kids are in bed early, get plenty of sleep and are rested, eat a good breakfast, are at school early, have their sharpened pencils. When truthfully, that should be the routine throughout the year. (Not the pressure part, but the preparedness.)

I just hope that when the test results are in for this year, the school sees fit to bring back the honors class that never was.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My daughter the journalist?

Emma has changed her mind (as I expected).

Since she was eight years old, all she wanted to do was be a veterinarian. She has always loved animals, and when our cat (who she adored) developed diabetes and we spent time with the vet learning how to care for her, she made up her mind. She volunteered a few times in their office, she gives the cat her insulin shots (yes, she's still doing fine five years later), and has read many books on the subject.

Then some harder pet times happened. Our other beloved cat died last year (they were sisters). She had a fatal illness that couldn't be cured, and she was dying before our eyes so we had to have her euthanized. It was so hard to hold her as she went, but what else could I do? Emma and the baby were with me and she and I cried all the way home. The cats were older than she was! Then last month her gerbil - her pet of her very own, that seemed to choose her in the pet store four years ago - was bleeding from his belly. We thought he had scratched himself on a sharp piece of chewed plastic, but when I cleaned him we discovered a large scent gland tumor. It was about the size of a dime, which is huge on a little rodent. She could not bring herself to put ointment on it when I held him, but she did take good care of him like always and worried so much about him. She was heartbroken when he passed away.

She decided that she couldn't deal with the death aspect of being a veterinarian - a very valid concern. That is why I ruled it out instantly in my career musings as a teenager. Instead, she informed my husband that she wanted to be a journalist.

I can totally see her doing that. It's a career I seriously considered for myself, too. I was on our newspaper staff my last two years of high school, and even won awards for my articles. One day, though, a local journalist visited our class and gave us one piece of advice that changed my mind for me - Don't be a journalist if you want people to like you. At the time, I was very concerned about being liked. Now I think it's great but not the only thing to consider, but who has that mindset at 16? I think she would be okay with that, though. She's a very different girl than I was. She is confident, secure, and sure of herself. She doesn't just go along with what's popular. She stands up for others against the "mean girls" even though one of them was her very best friend since kindergarten.

She will probably change her mind again, and more than once. But whatever she chooses, I support her. And with that -

What advice from other women in journalism can I pass along to her?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Teaching for TCAP

I've heard parents complain for a few years now about how schools seem to be teaching for TCAPs (Tennessee's standardized testing) but I never really understood the problem. Now that my daughter is at the end of her 7th grade year, I get it.

These tests are nothing new. I took them in school, as I'm sure everyone else did. They were held in the spring, and lasted almost a week. Bubble forms, freshly sharpened #2 pencils (and teachers checked every student's pencils to make sure) and endlessly boring days with timed tests and no freedom to do anything else. But once it was over, back to business as usual. The last week of school our textbooks were taken up by the teachers, a field trip and a class party, and we were out for the summer.

Now it's a different story. Our daughter's school had TCAP testing in April. Last week were their final 9-week tests (they are on a 9 week instead of 6 week grading period). Since the middle of last week they have not had any textbooks, or homework. No class work either, apparently. They have a full week of school this week, and Monday is their last day.

So what are they doing? My daughter is texting me how bored she is. They do have a field trip this week, but that's just one day. They are playing games and chatting with each other.

I understand that teachers and students alike are ready for summer. The kids are a bit more unruly, teachers are tired, but please don't make their educations suffer! Am I unrealistic to expect SOME sort of learning should still be going on at the end of the year? Review worksheets if nothing else! Yes, I know you have already collected all their books. All you need is one workbook and a photocopier.

There are many, many other issues with teaching for testing - much bigger issues with bigger consequences. This is a relatively minor one, but still an issue for me, anyway.

Am I being unrealistic, though? I'd love to hear other parents' (and teachers') thoughts on this!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Busy mom's recipe corner

It's Monday. Back to work after the weekend. There is always so much to do in the mornings, and even more after we get home from picking up the kids, work, errands, and whatever else must be done.

What's for dinner? Raise your hand if you're sick of ordering pizza.

I'm not a fabulous cook - I'm not bad, but I'm no Giada or Rachel or whoever is the Food Network star of the moment (see how unfabulous I am? I don't even watch Food Network!) But, I have to feed my family. And some things they actually love when I make them! Here are two of our favorite recipes (mine for easiness, theirs for taste).

Teriyaki pork roast (also known in our house as Crack Roast. Will explain later.)

Put a pork roast in the crock pot (I wish I could tell you what kind of roast it was, but I have no idea. It is square-ish, not very large so it fits in my pot, has a layer of fat on the bottom and not much at all in the rest of the meat, if that helps.)
Add a cup of brown sugar, rubbing it in the meat and leaving it all in the pot. Pour 2/3 cup apple juice over the roast. Put the lid on, turn the dial to low, and go to work. When you get home at the end of the day, it's ready.
Remove the roast to a plate for cutting, then strain the liquid into a small pot (for this, you either need three hands or a helper. I use my husband for pouring while I hold the strainer over the pot).
Dissolve 2 tbsp cornstarch in 3 tbsp water and add to the liquid. Cook until thickened and serve over the meat.

My husband and daughter LOVE this so much. The first time we had it, they kept getting more and more, and practically licking up the sauce. My husband joked that I must have put crack in the sauce because it's so addictive. Daughter agreed. So now we call it crack roast, and the sauce is crack sauce. Not politically correct, but it's our house. We can call it what we wish. And yes, it's that good. If there is any sauce left over, it is also good on chicken.

I wish I could give credit for this recipe, since I originally found it online, but I found it with a search of "crock pot recipes" and printed it out, but I have no idea where the printout it and since it's so easy I go by memory now. This was not my creation, though.

Chicken and dumplings

I usually buy bagged frozen chicken breasts at the store, since I can get six for under $6 as opposed to 3 for $8 for fresh chicken breasts. And no, I will NOT buy a whole chicken and cut it up. I don't care if the per-pound price is cheaper - I'd throw away almost all of it and then not be able to eat. Raw meat makes me sick. I can barely eat cooked meat sometimes. Making C&D in the usual way doesn't turn out so good with the frozen chicken, though, so I get help from the crock pot.
I put a couple pieces in the crock pot (really depends on the size of the ones I use -today I used 2 because they were both fairly large). Add garlic, pepper, parsley, and 1 each vegetable and chicken bouillon cubes. Pour in 2 cups of water, put on the lid, and turn on. (If I use still-frozen chicken I start it on high while I'm still home, then turn to low before I leave). Let it cook all day.

In the evening, remove the chicken and strain the broth into a big pot. I add a carton of boxed reduced-sodium chicken broth (after using 2 bouillon cubes you need reduced sodium, trust me) and a little water if needed. Bring to a boil while making dumpling dough from the recipe on a box of Bisquick. The total cook time is 20 minutes, divided into 10 minute segments. I let the chicken cool a bit as I mix the dumplings and put them into the broth, then shred the chicken. At the 10-minute mark I stir in the chicken and cover. After 10 more minutes, they're done! Delicious chicken and dumplings.

This recipe is also easy to increase. I actually make it with 3 cups of Bisquick and 1 cup of milk. it easily feeds two adults, a teenager, and a toddler. For less people, though, use the given amount. It makes plenty.

So now you have two new recipes to add to your dinner rotation. Happy eating!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Do you like being tall?

This is another post from 2008. My daughter is now 13 years old and 5'8" tall herself. 

One day, a while back now, I was making a quick stop at a store during the work day.  As I was checking out, the cashier said “You’re tall.”  No kidding, I was thinking.  I am nearly six feet tall barefoot, and wear heels all the time.  Then she asked The Question:  “Do you like being tall?”

My first thought was what kind of question is that?  What does she expect me to say?  It’s not like I could change my height if I didn’t like it.  I don’t even remember what I said to her as I hurried out of the store.  It did make me think, though.

Would I change my height if I was able?  I have days (more than I care to admit) that  I would love to be a petite, tiny woman who wears a size 2 or 4.  I would love to have darker skin (instead of my Scandinavian skin that will never ever tan.  Ever.) and dark brown or black hair.  I’d love to be able to wear red lipstick and dark eye makeup without looking horrid.  I would love to NOT be the person everyone called when they can’t reach something.  And I would LOVE to be able to buy any pair of pants and know they will be long enough.  I am tired of being man-sized.  I want to be tiny, fragile, feminine.

But in reality,  I am happy with my height.  I can find people in a crowd, I can be found in a crowd, I’m easy to describe if I ever get lost (have to find humour somewhere!), and darn it, if I want something off the top shelf of the cabinet, I can get it myself!  I have a husband who is taller than me, and a daughter who is quickly catching up to me.  I am trying to have a positive outlook on being tall, because at 5’2” and ten years old, she is destined for the same.  I hope I am raising her to be confident and proud of her height, not self-conscious like I was at her age.  And I hope all the strangers who think it’s fine to make silly remarks about it grow up themselves.

And by the way, I avoided that cashier from then on.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Revisiting an old piece

I wrote this in October 2008. It was my first blog post on Skirt.com. I still love the quote, and the sentiment.

I just read this somewhere and loved it:
"We are human, imperfection is the price of admission."
So simple, yet so profound.  Why should we berate ourselves, torture ourselves, starve ourselves, hate ourselves, until (if ever) we become "perfect?"  And who sets that standard, anyway?  Fashion magazines?  Television?  Designers?  Models?
The women shown in magazines, adverts, and on television aren’t perfect either.  Each instance involves hair and makeup tricks, clothing tricks, and special lighting - even airbrushing.  It is not fair for us to compare our real-life selves to the fantasies shown in the media.
We are fabulous of our own merit!  Our differences, our quirks, our “imperfections” make us who we are.  They make us perfect.  Embrace your own perfection!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Got baby food?

Since Blogger was down and I couldn't post here for Blogathon 2011, I posted on my other blog.

Yes, I have more than one. Total blog glutton. (Or glutton for punishment?)

When Sophie was a baby (a younger baby than she now is) I decided to make her baby food. I had books, I had websites, and I had my baby food maker. So, I started making fruits and vegetables, and as she grew we moved on to bigger foods.

For some reason I decided to chronicle the process, and Adventures in Babyfooding was born.

Now that Sophie is a toddler, she is mostly eating table food so I don't update as often as I used to, but I still have a soft spot for it. It is a great record of her life so far, complete with adorable pictures.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ten things that annoy me about Facebook

(Once again, idea found on this nifty list)

I've been using Facebook since the early days - after only Ivy-league schools were eligible, but still when you could only sign up with a valid university email address. It sure has changed a lot over the years, and grown tremendously. I think the changes are great, for the most part. It is definitely more user friendly, and it's become an excellent way to keep in touch with friends and family across the country and around the world.

Some things can be VERY annoying, though.

1. The stupid games. No, I do NOT want to build a farm, village, restaurant, or mafia. I don't want to hunt Easter eggs or pick corn or play poker or some weird game I've never heard of. I don't want to take ridiculous quizzes written by high school kids (who need to pay more attention in spelling and grammar class instead of writing stupid quizzes for Facebook).  If I get requests for these, I block the application. So quit. Too many, and I may block you, too.

2. Whiny posts. You know what I'm talking about. The "life sucks" status updates, or the ones that really contain too much information for such a public venue. Saying you're sick at home today is one thing. I don't want details.

3. cR38iVe sP3L7inG. Creative spelling looks ridiculous, is hard to read, and makes the person writing it look like they have an IQ that would be carded if it was an age. Also in this category are the status updates with swirlies and hearts and flowers that take up six lines to say five words.

4. The "post this if you have a mother/father/sister/brother/son/daughter/husband/wife/friend/randomstrangeronthestreet and love/hate/miss/respect/wishdeathupon them or else you are heartless/mean/insensitive/againstpuppies/reallysmart" status updates.

5. Checking in. (The Facebook version of FourSquare) Seriously, people, it's like asking to be robbed or stalked.

6. An endless stream of posts "talking" to a television show. No explanation should be needed here.

7. Solicitation posts. Yes, I post links to my blog posts and to my hair clip page/Etsy site, and sometimes write in the message box one sentence with a reason (new items added, something like that) but that's it. I hate being bombarded with post after post selling things. Mix it up a little!

8. Bad grammar. The only child I am Facebook friends with is my own child. Everyone else is an adult and should post in that manner! I don't expect formal language, but come on! Don't try to sound like a 15 year old rap artist. Fo realz yall. (See how stupid that looks?)

9. If you send me a text message about something on Facebook , please reference that in the message so I know what in the world you're talking about. Also, if I post something, don't ask my husband what I'm talking about, and vice-versa.  I don't check his profile so I likely don't have a clue what you're talking about.

10. Mean people suck. Seriously, just because you can't see the person you're insulting doesn't mean they aren't real. Be nice or be quiet.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Would I even have a name?

Tuesday morning, as usual, another story about the raid on the Pakistani compound and subsequent death of Osama Bin Laden was on the news. However, one sentence really stood out at me:
Um Khalid, meaning the mother of Khalid, and Um Hamza, the mother of Hamza, are both from Saudi Arabia and have been described as highly educated and apparently content with sharing a husband.
I'm not even touching the multiple wives thing - honestly, sometimes I would be THRILLED to have a sister-wife to help around the house. As long as she kept her hands off my husband and my kids. (Maybe I just need a maid... but I digress)

Growing up in a Christian family in the United States, I admit I am not knowledgeable about Islamic culture. I am quite sure this is a very conservative example, though, since I have known many Muslim women who have their own names. But are the wives really renamed once they have children? And it seems like these are both mothers of sons - are daughters even counted?

I tried to do some research on this, but could not find any mention of it at all. I did come across a similar name of an author mentioned on this site (which is very interesting, and I plan on visiting again just to learn more about these women. I am tired of only hearing speculation and innuendo) but nothing else.

Photo from Bing image search

It's sobering to think, though, that if I was born into this culture I would lose my name completely. We joke about how we become "so-and-so's Mom" once we have children and they go to daycare or school, but in this case it is no joke. And having no sons, what would I even be called?

If anyone knows the answer, please comment! I always welcome opportunities to learn about other cultures.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The plural child quandry

Sunday morning I had my first experience of something that never happened when I had only one child. No matter what choice I made, a child was left upset. Granted, Sophie is still only a year old and wouldn't be traumatized, but it was an eye-opening glimpse of things to come.

On Sundays, I take Emma to Sunday School and drop her off, then come back home to finish getting myself and Sophie ready for church. Even though this Sunday was Mother's Day, it was no exception. Next Sunday is Youth Sunday and the youth group are doing the entire service, so they needed the practice time.

As I was getting ready to leave for church (and we were going to be early, even!) I heard a "thunk" then Sophie wailing, and my husband rushing to get her. I come down the hallway, and learn she had tripped and fallen and hit her face. Her forehead was instantly turning purple right above her eyebrow. I got an ice pack and sat on the couch holding her, trying to keep the ice pack on the bruise, hoping to prevent a black eye. I sent Emma a text message to let her know we'd be late because Sophie had fallen and hurt herself.
Poor baby!

After several minute, she had calmed down, and was done being cuddled. We put her shoe back on (she had taken it off, perhaps why she fell?) and dried her tears, and she and I went to church. We walked in a few minutes late but found a seat. I couldn't find Emma, but a pewmate told me she was in the choir loft with the rest of the youth group. They were singing for Mother's Day!

After church, I told Emma they did a great job. She asked me if I was there for the first song - I had missed it. She barely spoke to me all the way home We later made up and she made me a lovely card explaining her feelings, as I had told her mine in the car. The rest of the day was fabulous.

But I know something like this will come up again. Hopefully not the same situation, although with Sophie's emerging daredevil it likely could happen. But no matter what I did, I was going to be the "bad Mom." If I had left a wailing Sophie at home with Daddy I would have been at church in plenty of time, but when Sophie is hurt or sick she wants MAMA. She loves Daddy, but is the classic "Mama's baby" in these cases. By waiting to care for her, I was late and missed Emma's surprise of singing in church (not solo, but still) and had a very disappointed, upset daughter anyway.

Ok, moms with more than one child - how do you do it? Is there a way to avoid hurting one child to be there for the other? I am an only child, as is my mother. No experience here to draw from ;) Help!

Monday, May 9, 2011


Sometimes, I need ideas. Especially when I am blogging every day. Today, I borrowed an idea from this list.

In the past, I never made E's birthday cakes. Or anything more than just a basic frosted cake. Either my mom made them, or we ordered them. Then I made the cake for her 12th birthday.
She loved it! And said it was the best birthday cake ever!

When we had the ultrasound to let us know that Sophie was going to be a girl, we didn't tell anyone right away. Instead, we had a "reveal" party. The color of the cake was the answer. I had actually ordered this one; and was told it wouldn't be a problem. I wanted a pink cake, but not a strawberry flavored cake. The morning of the party, the cake decorator called and said it was impossible to make my cake. Panic! I rushed to the grocery store and bought a white cake mix, pink food coloring, and pink and blue decorator gels. This is how it turned out:

I had to use LOTS of white frosting to cover all the pink. I didn't want to give it away early!

After making these two cakes, I was feeling pretty confident. I decided to try something new for Sophie's first birthday - fondant. I love the way it looks on cakes. Since it was my first time, I used a prepared fondant instead of trying to make it myself. I did some online research, and made the cake. I used the pink food coloring from the reveal cake to color most of the fondant, with a bit colored green for decorating. It was surprisingly easy to work with!

 Sophie LOVES fondant, too - she pulled the icing off her slice of cake and ate it by itself! Yes, she was up for a long time that night.
Mmm, yummy!

I did have one cake fiasco - Emma's birthday cake this year. She completely designed her cake. She wanted a mixture of chocolate cake and white Funfetti cake, marbled together into one. I had to make it two layers, since it was two boxes of mix. I mixed both cake mixes, and put half into each pan. The problem, though, is that the Funfetti makes a thick, dense batter and the chocolate made a thin, runny batter. As they baked, they didn't bond together, and when I took them out of the pans, both layers crumbled. I tried patching them up with frosting, but we still had a bit of a collapse. The cake looked awful! Emma said she didn't care what it looked like, though, as long as it tasted good. And it did - very good.
Like last year, she wanted green frosting, and I added blue and white sugar crystals. Since I used so much frosting to patch up the cake (unsuccessfully) it didn't cover the entire sides! At least it was delicious.

Any cake horror stories or successes for you? Share them! Someone has to be able to top the crumbling cake, or burning my own birthday cake. (I did this the morning of my 16th birthday party - Mom had made the cake and left it on the stove. I wasn't feeling well, turned on the burner under the teapot to make tea and went back to my room. Came out later to the smell of burning cake and the realization that I had turned the wrong burner on high.) Tell your cake story in a comment.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Since today I am busy being a mom and preparing to make dinner for my own mom, I'm going to revisit an old Mother's Day post I wrote two years ago. I  noticed, though, that even though my number of children has doubled since then, what I want did not. Happy Mother's Day!

The commercials are out in full force.  Mother’s Day is this weekend and everywhere there are ads for stuff –  diamonds, perfume, flowers, iPods, cameras, clothes, anything at all you can think of to buy for your mother.  The ads are louder, brighter, flashier, catchier (is that a word even?) and coming more and more frequently in such a frenzy until the climax on Saturday – buy now before it’s too late or Mom will think you don’t love her any more!  If you care enough you will spend four times the price of your gift for overnight shipping so she can show all her friends how much you love her!!

It doesn’t help at all – I don’t think my mother would want any of the things advertised.  I know I don’t.  (Well, ok, I would like a really good camera, and a new copy of Rent on DVD and the new James Patterson book... but those can be bought anytime and are not “special.”)  Our culture is so materialistic, we feel pressure to quantify our love with monetary spending.

But who asks moms what they REALLY want for Mothers’ Day?

Here’s what I want:  sleep.  All three meals cooked and cleaned up (and chosen!) by someone other than me.  The house tidied up.  A day without tv, video games, or computers – just us and time together.  The park, board games, whatever.  Just together time without electronic distractions. No pressure, no guilt, no being bashed over the head with ads saying my family doesn’t love me unless they buy me more stuff.  I don’t WANT more stuff!

But, who ever asks moms what they want for their day?  

Saturday, May 7, 2011

How schools could use social media

(I found this topic idea here.)

How could schools use social media? I know how I would like my daughter's school to do it. Here is my vision:

Twitter: I would love it if the school used Twitter. Last  Monday, before the storms hit our area, schools were dismissed early to ensure the students made it home safely. Luckily I found out about an hour before the dismissal (just happened to be near a television tuned to a local news broadcast, not common during my workday). I got the phone call from the school telling of the early dismissal eight minutes before school was let out. Also tweetable: upcoming events (socials, sporting events, picture day, report card day), lunch menus, and important notices from teachers.

Facebook: all of the above. Facebook also allows for a better interaction with the parents, and is more widely accepted than Twitter. Pictures from events can be added, too. A Facebook profile could also include the links to Skyward (parent site with our kids' grades, attendance, assignments, etc), the county website, and other links we can have trouble finding in a hurry.

Yes, the school has a website, but it is often difficult to find what I'm looking for on it, and it isn't updated regularly. Social media would go a long way in helping the school keep up with our new, faster-paced world.

Friday, May 6, 2011

My Mother's Day wish list

Guess what is this weekend? Mother's Day!
In case you haven't noticed the endless ads for flowers, candy, jewelry, clothing, and anything else "every mother will love!"

Just in case there is any confusion, here is a list of what I want for Mother's Day.

1. Sleep. I would love to be able to sleep in, and not wake up as soon as I hear my family's voices in the house. That is if I'm NOT the first one awake (which I usually am). Whenever I try to sleep in, and my family is letting me, as soon as they are up I'm instantly awake. I can't help it. I guess it's just a mom thing... Darn biology.

2. I want my house clean, and I don't want to have to do it myself. Or at least not all by myself. Sure, if I ask specifically for help with a specific task, I'll get help - eventually. But I want constant, active HELP. I have a to-do list as long as my arm, and I can't do it alone. But I try, and then I get stressed out and cranky.

3. I want a day of togetherness without TV, computer, or video games. I want to go to the park with the girls. I want to play board games or card games as a family. I want to just spend time together, enjoying each other.

4. I want someone else to decide what we're having for dinner, cook it, and clean up afterward. Even if everything is just hidden in the dishwasher, I don't want to see it!

What don't I want? Flowers, candy, jewelry... all the things advertisers say we must have. I have enough "stuff" to go around. But hassle-free, quality time with the family? Those memories are forever.

I do expect a card, though... Just saying. Doesn't even have to be storebought. In fact, handmade is better.

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Losing a pet

Last month I posted about E's pet gerbil being ill. He had a scent gland tumor that was not treatable due to his age (he was pretty close to 4 years old). He remained a happy, active little guy until this week, when I really noticed a difference in him. He didn't touch a toilet paper tube E had given him (usually demolishes them in minutes), and on Tuesday he didn't eat anything. He sat huddled in his favorite corner of his cage. He also let me pet him, which was unheard of, and I could feel how thin he had become.
Not Sparky, but looks JUST like him

Yesterday morning when I went into E's room to wake her up, I checked on him as usual. Sparky had passed away during the night. I hated having to wake her up with that news, but I didn't want her to find him on her own, either. Since she had a doctor's appointment first thing yesterday morning, and we didn't have a lot of time before leaving, we couldn't do anything with him right away. We planned on a burial after work, though, and she wanted him buried under the dogwood tree in the yard, next to our cat who died last summer.

Wednesdays are "Nana days" at our house. Sophie's babysitter (whose house E rides the bus to after school) is off on Wednesdays, so my mom comes to stay with her every week and picks up E from school. She sewed a nice pouch for him to be buried in, and even made a pillowy bottom, using his bedding as stuffing. E chose the fabric.

After work and her youth group, it was time. She was too upset to go outside with me, but watched from the doorway as I dug the little hole and buried her beloved pet. I made sure he was all tucked into his pouch and laid him in the bottom on the cool earth. As I filled in the hole, I did think it was ironic that the cat and gerbil were laying in rest side by side, when in real life that would never have happened. I put the little gardening shovel away and went back inside.

After washing my hands several times (they just didn't feel clean!) I finished making dinner of some of E's favorite foods - barbecue chicken, macaroni, and peas. Thank goodness she had her science project to distract her, but I know all too well she will still hurt from losing him for a long time. Even I miss the little guy!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My five favourite books

Today is a theme day in the WordCount Blogathon - our five favourite books about ____. Since I don't blog about one particular topic, I'm sharing five of my favourite books in general. And do you know how hard it is to narrow down to just five?! I love reading like an alcoholic loves drinking!

 Organic Housekeeping is an amazing book.  While I am interested in keeping our family healthy, I am not on the anti-chemical end of the spectrum. However, I have Reactive Airway Disease, and probably asthma also according to my doctor (but I can't be tested until Sophie is no longer nursing).  Many household chemicals make it impossible for me to breathe, and exposure to them feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest. Sometimes it even hurts physically to breathe. I found this book at our local library, and after checking out out repeatedly I finally bought my own copy. It covers EVERYTHING! Kitchen, carpets, laundry, bathrooms, pest control, pets, even drain unclogging.

I first read The Great Gatsby in my high school literature class, and instantly fell in love. Learning in our studies that F. Scott was named for Francis Scott Key, an ancestor of his, made it even more special, since he was also an ancestor of mine.  I loved the parties, the society, the houses, the mistimed romance of Gatsby and Daisy. I hated how Daisy's husband seemed to get away without any repercussions. I loved Nick's (the narrator and Daisy's cousin) observations of the people around him, including the emotions that drove Jay Gatsby and the mystery surrounding him.

  I had to include two books here, The Hope and The Glory. I first read The Hope, then later found the sequel, The Glory. The Hope tells the story of the country of Israel, beginning with the 1948 War of Independence, and ends after the  Six-Day War in 1967.  The Glory continues the story, picking up in 1967 and concludes in 1988. Herman Wouk uses actual events as a background of the story, with fictional characters bringing history to life and making real-life political figures come to life, and not be simply names in school books or on the news.  I loved both of these books, and learned so much from them about history, including our own country's history.

This one isn't so serious, and it's really 16 (although 17 just came out) books. The Stephanie Plum series is hi-freaking-larious! I knew I was going to love it when in the first chapter of the first book I was laughing out loud like a crazy person when Stephanie's Grandma Mazur shot the roast chicken off the dinner table and her father just sighed and kept eating. My daughter began reading the books, too, and quickly went through the entire series as well. They are the perfect funny, easy read.

I bought this book without  knowing anything about it. I had read several of Barbara Kingsolver's books and loved them all (except Poisonwood Bible, but that was because my own daughter was the age of the daughter killed in the story at the time I read it). I didn't even know it was not a novel until I started reading it, but I was still absorbed into the book. I had never considered where our food comes from, or what it goes through to get to our tables. I was even inspired to plant my own tiny garden (unsuccessfully, though) and begin composting.