Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tell Me Why

An open letter to the children's clothing industry:

I've been shopping for clothes for my kids lately and I have a few questions.

Why are girls clothes so tight and short? I do not want to teach my girls that they should dress to flaunt their bodies. Could you make something a little less form-fitting for those of us who want our girls to be girls and not miniature women? (Actually, could you talk to someone about making women's clothes a little looser-fitting, too? Thanks.) And another thing...

Why is it nearly impossible to purchase a dress for a teenage girl with some length and sleeves? Don't make me get out my sewing machine. Seriously.

And why is it so difficult to find a nice pair of sturdy leather sandals in a size 2.5 without HEELS? My daughter likes to run and play in the summer. She's not a runway model. And those plastic "croc" type shoes are NOT sandals. Please stop calling them that.

Another thing - could someone open a store called "In Season"? Because when I want to get some capris or a one-piece swimsuit in the middle of the summer and they're all clearanced out to make room for school clothes, that's a little frustrating. I mean, I'm shopping for things we're going to wear NOW, not two months from now.

Thanks for listening. I'll look for these improvements next year.

Until then,
Gerb

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Zippadee-A and Hi-de-ho!

Guess who turns 15 this Saturday?

My biggest boy.

The same kid who used to be called "La-la".

The boy who wanted to marry me when he got big.

The one who used to profess his love of dinosaurs and paleontology to the world!

Until he wanted to be a secret agent.

Or Batman.

Or a tennis player.

The same kid who wrote me this Mother's Day note:
(You probably can't read it. It says: Dear Mom, I love you. its Mother's day! I bet you forgot about my decorated beer bottle(?). Well its a mothers day present! And my favorite part, down at the bottom of the card: nose blood)

The kid who used to write me poems.

The teenager who (ok, I'll admit it) can beat me in ping-pong.

This boy is turning 15! Fifteen!

Next year, he'll be old enough to date. Hoo boy. I'm not ready for that.

He thinks he'll be able to drive, too, but the jury is still out on that one.

He is such a great sport.

I told him I wanted a shot of him without his braces, and he indulged me with this picture:

and then said, "Great. That's the one you're going to use on your blog, isn't it?"

Your wish is my command.

At least I didn't use that other picture you loved so much.

(By the time he gets home from scout camp and reads this, it will be Saturday and he will be 15. So...)

Happy Birthday, Coolister!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rollerskating Dream

So maybe I'm a little too excited about getting my new skates. They haven't arrived yet, but last night I had a very vivid, crazy dream...

My skates had arrived! I opened the box in eager anticipation and discovered they were actually plastic Barbie skates. This seemed completely normal and I was undeterred. I strapped them on (a perfect fit!) and went outside to give them a whirl. I started to skate and realized they were actually an AMAZING pair of skates - I could move quickly on them and they made me feel so alive! After a while I realized I was not skating in my neighborhood, but through downtown Clinton, Iowa, where I grew up. I began to have a feeling that I needed to get somewhere quick, so I skated faster and faster, relishing the speed and fluid motion of the skates. I had a mixture of emotions - the urgent need to get somewhere or find something, yet a complete feeling of peace and elation as my skates took me all over town. I skated through parks, over bridges, inside of department stores and even did a couple laps at The Shamrock roller rink. I never got to where I needed to go, and I never figured out where that was, either - but it was important.

My question (and challenge) for you is this: what does it all mean?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Seriously... ROLLERSKATES!

I used to be quite the skater in my day. I would pull on those beauties and skate around my neighborhood, The Shamrock (our local rink back in Cali), and as I got older, The Strand. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Southern California, The Strand is miles and miles of sidewalk that runs along the beaches. It is also the perfect place for people-watching, which is a super fun activity. And so, I could skate myself ragged, checking out all the interesting characters that shared The Strand with me - bikers, skater boys, runners, dog-walkers, and fellow skaters. I can't remember what happened to my prized skates, except that they must have been left behind in my quick move to Utah. I probably assumed people didn't skate up mountains and they wouldn't be needed. Pity.

A few months ago, while I was still pregnant, I had a strong desire to rollerskate. No, not roller blade, roller skate. Rollerblades and my ankles do not get along. Anyway, I dismissed the thought because I did not want to harm my growing bambino, but the idea has continued to grow. So I started to do research - where could I buy skates? Other than the local skating rink there were only skates for kids available. And I was NOT going to pay $300 for a pair of professional rollerskates, as I am not a professional (yet). Apparently the market for 'quad-skates' (as I discovered they are called) is all in kids age 6 and under.

Aren't the 80's back, though? I mean, all the other things I loved as a kid are cool again - Care Bears, My Little Pony, Rainbow Brite, I even saw some Garbage Pail Kids cards the other day. 80's music is all over the radio, girls are even wearing those Madonna-type clothing styles and leg warmers again. And so I ask...where are the rollerskates?!

Online, of course.

I looked on the internet and found an amazing array of skates available, although I did not want to purchase them without trying them on or seeing the real thing. I mean - ROLLERSKATES! This is a serious purchase. I decided to forget about it. And then the longing grew... so I caved.

The skates pictured above are on their way.

So if you see a 30-something lady skating down the river trail (or around my neighborhood, for that matter) like a crazy lunatic with a smile on her face, it's probably me.

Just smile and wave.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hard-Headed, Thick-Skulled - Call It What You Want

I took my kids to the park today. My plan was to let them play while I watched from the sidelines with Baby O, but he fell asleep in his carseat and didn't need any attention - and why should they have all the fun? So I started to run around and goof off a little and then I turned and... BAM!

Stars.

Where did that bar come from?

Then, "Are you OK, mom?" (giggle, giggle)
Me: "No... Yes. I'm fine." (forced laughter)
Them: (giggle, giggle) "Don't laugh at mom, she got hurt." (giggle, giggle)
Me: "I'm going to go check on the baby and sit for a minute."
Them: "Watch your head on the way..." (loud laugh)

And of course, in a few seconds I was fine. It got me thinking that I have a long history of hitting my head but suffering no serious bumps or bruises or headaches (etc.) afterwards. So, if you care to know, here's a brief history of the bumps I remember in chronological order (and summarized form).

  • Age 5 (or so): Hit side of forehead on the corner of a table at parent's friend's house. No stitches needed.
  • Age 8: Hit back of head on the corner of a wall at church when I tried to kick a ball but somehow fell backwards. Stitches needed.
  • Age 9: First time skiing, forehead vs. tree. (Tree won.) Stitches needed, loathing for snow skiing continues today.
  • Age 11: Hit in forehead by a baseball during P.E. Felt fine, but went to the nurse to avoid the remainder of P.E.
  • Age 13: Hit head on side of pool in Bay Village apartments - caused a nosebleed and severe embarrassment. (They're not kidding when they say not to run by the pool because you can slip.)
  • Age 14: Passed out in the bathroom at Young Women's camp while waiting for a shower, (combination of altitude and heat got to me, apparently) hit my head (HARD!) on the sink on my way down. No bump, no medical attention needed - however, my friends covered me with my towel and got the father of a guy I liked to come help. Embarrassed again.
  • Age 16: Goofing around in a VW in a parking lot with friends after a youth dance, driver slammed on the brakes. I was in the front passenger seat without my seatbelt on and cracked the windshield with my forehead. I felt fine. He felt terrible, and so did I when I realized that he would have to replace his windshield. It looked really bad but my head was fine.
  • Age (sometime after marriage): Running with my niece at a splash park under a rainbow made of metal bars when WHAMMO! it stopped me cold. I guess I thought the bars were higher than they were. We have that one on video somewhere. No damage, just some tenderness for a few days.
  • Age (sometime in the last 8 years or so): Started to back the suburban out of the garage and some (very large) particle boards or MDF or something heavy stored against the wall started to fall on the suburban. My initial reaction was to jump out and stop it from hitting the hood of the vehicle. So instead it hit me (in the head and shoulder, knocking me to the ground) and the hood. (note to self: Hard head, but no superhuman strength. Dang.)
  • Age 36: Today's playground mishap. Still a bit tender where it hit, but no bumps.
I'm sure there were more incidents in there, but those are the ones that stand out. I remember all of these accidents because the initial pain of the hit was always enough to make me go blank for a second or two, then I was fine. How did this not cause severe problems?

Oh. I get it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It's All About Attitude

Teenagers.

By the end of July, there will be 3 of them living in our house. (Technically, Thumbelina will only be 12, which doesn't end in 'teen', but once they're in middle school and want braces and contact lenses and have an ipod permanently attached to an ear andandand... they qualify.)

It's a funny age, isn't it? When I had 5 kids between the ages of 0 and 10 people would always say to me, "Just you wait until they are teenagers. They won't be so fun and precious then." And, OK, life is not always perfect with teens, but I still think my kids are pretty awesome. I think it has everything to do with attitude.

My mother-in-law once told me that she enjoyed her kids as teenagers because she chose to. I decided I would do the same, although I slip at times and become frustrated and ornery. But you know what I realized? That just makes them frustrated and ornery, too. When we laugh with each other and listen (really listen) and consider each others' feelings, it's amazing what kind of a relationship I have with these kids.

Like I said, I am not perfect - and neither are my teens - but we can sure have fun working on it together. There will still be times when my oldest sUn (misspelling intentional - he often thinks the world revolves around him) drives me insane and my 2 "big girls" roll their eyes over how insensitive and uncool I can be, but I think being a mom to teenagers is pretty grand.






(and having 3 live-in babysitters is just a bonus)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Forecast: Sunny




NO PICTURE TODAY

(USE YOUR IMAGINATION)


Note to self:

Sunglasses and bangs are much more effective sunblock than the purchased kind and may cause strange-looking sunburns to appear on your face - the kind that make people look twice and giggle a little.

Do something about that next time you plan to be outside for any period of time.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Free Hot Dog Friday!

Who doesn't love free stuff? It's Free Hot Dog Day at Hot Dog on a Stick TOMORROW, Friday, June 13 from 5 to 8 p.m. They are giving away free hot-dogs-on-a-stick to celebrate their 60th Anniversary. Take the whole fam!

I will go enjoy one to celebrate the 20th anniversary of my quitting working there!

(I was the favored lemonade-maker, for your information.)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Brownies For Everyone!

ElemenoB asked me a question last week - a question that isn't asked around here too often.

"Mom, I'm going to whatshername's house to watch a movie. Is it okay if we watch thatonemovie, even though it's PG-13? Whatshername said it's only PG-13 because there's some blood. It's really a good movie."

My answer: "Want some brownies?"

A smile, an eye roll, and that was the end of that.

First off, let me explain. Awhile back we decided as a family not to watch PG-13 movies. All of us. Even Allen and I, because can we expect our kids to live up to something that we do not? Anyway, we kicked off our non-PG-13-watching with a little story that many of you may have heard. It's one of my favorites. For your reading pleasure I bring, "Special Brownies".

A family had a rule that they could not attend PG-13 or R rated movies, but two of the teenagers wanted to see a particular movie that was playing at local theaters. It was rated PG-13.
The teens interviewed friends and even some members of their family's church to find out what was offensive in the movie. They made a list of pros and cons about the movie to use in convincing their dad that they should be allowed to see it.

The cons were that it contained only 3 swear words, the only violence was a building exploding ('and you see that on TV all the time', they said) and you actually did not see the couple in the movie having sex - it was just implied sex, off camera.

The pros were that it was a popular movie - a blockbuster. Everyone was seeing it. If the teens saw the movie then they would not feel left out when their friends discussed it. The movie contained a good story and plot. It had some great adventure and suspense in it. There were some fantastic special effects in this movie.
Many of the members of their church had even seen the movie and said it was really good. Therefore, since there were more pros than cons the teens said they were asking their father to reconsider his position on just this ONE movie and let them have permission to go see it.

The father looked at the list and thought for a few minutes. He said he could tell his children had spent some time and thought on this request. He asked if he could have a day to think about it before making his decision. The teens were thrilled. They thought, "Our argument is too good! Dad can't turn us down!" So, they happily agreed to let him have a day to think about their request.

The next evening the father called his teenagers in to the living room. There on the coffee table he had a plate of brownies. The father told his children he had thought about their request and had decided that if they would eat a brownie then he would let them go to the movie. But just like the movie, the brownies had pros and cons.

The pros were that they were made with the finest chocolate and other good ingredients. They had the added special effect of yummy walnuts in them. The brownies were moist and fresh with wonderful chocolate frosting on top. He had made them using an award-winning recipe. But...

The brownies only had one con. He had included a little bit of a special ingredient. The brownies also contained just a little bit of dog poop. But he had mixed the dough well - they probably would not even be able to taste the dog poop and he had baked it at 350 degrees so any bacteria or germs from the dog poop had probably been destroyed.

Of course, none of the teens would eat the brownies. Now when his kids ask permission to watch something he is opposed to the father just asks, "Would you like me to whip up a batch of my special brownies?"

Works for me, too.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Happy Free Donut Friday!


Aren't you glad you read my blog today?

It's FREE DONUT DAY at Krispy Kreme and if you live close to me, our local store is participating in this SWEET deal. And it's not just the glazed kind. It's a donut of YOUR CHOICE to celebrate National Donut Day! How did I not know this day existed? Could there be a SWEETER DAY of the year? I think the kids and I will go drop in to celebrate.

Happy National Donut Day!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

15 Minutes of Fame

ElemenoB and I were doing a little grocery shopping yesterday when approached by a cute gal who works for the Daily Universe, our favorite universitY's newspaper. "Could I take your picture?" she asked.

Pictures? Of course we said yes.

My sister-in-law Nancy called us this morning to let us know that we made the front page!

If you'd like an autographed copy, feel free to stop by.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

It's Raining...But I'm Not Complaining!

I love the rain.

My kids had swimming lessons this morning at our local outdoor pool. They were hoping lessons would be canceled due to the weather, but the rule is If there is no lightning then lessons go on! Awesome! I mean , were they worried they would get wet or something?

Most mothers huddled inside the building while their kids learned to kick and bob and dive. But me? I enjoyed the rain for a full half-hour from a poolside chair.

My love affair with rain started at an early age when my parents would pop some corn and sit with us on out front porch during rainstorms in Iowa. We would sit in silence, munching popcorn and watching the rain fall, and then enjoy the beautiful rainbows the rain would leave behind as a farewell.

As a teenager I loved listening to the rain from under the lifeguard station near Knob Hill at Redondo Beach. It was my special place to go when the rain came - I would pack my journal as well as a few snacks and ride my bike or drive to the beach in the rain, then run through the sand for the cover of the small wooden building. I could spend hours there recording my thoughts, ideas & poetry to the steady beat of a good rainstorm.

Have you ever thought about how many great songs there are that talk about or refer to rain? I love the way songs can put to words and sweet melodies what is in my heart.

I love the rain.

Monday, June 2, 2008

You Got Me...

My 2 oldest kids wanted to purchase school yearbooks this year. ElemenoB is in middle school and Coolister is in his first year of high school. And yearbooks are so darn expensive! I told them that they were welcome to purchase yearbooks with their own money if they wanted, but we were not shelling out the cash for such a purchase. ElemenoB ended up getting one, but Coolister did not.

I spent time explaining to them what an unwise purchase yearbooks are. Sure, while you're attending the school they are kind of fun. And it's fun to have people sign them. But you could also bring a notebook to school and ask people to sign that and it would save you a whole lot of cash. I argued that there were plenty of other ways they could spend their money - like on clothes or shoes or music downloads. I told them how my yearbooks have been stashed at the bottom of my hope chest since graduating from high school. I did concede that it would maybe be nice to have a yearbook from their Senior year of high school, just as a memento, but that was even debatable.

Then it happened.

ElemenoB has talked about boys at her school, the ones that all the girls like. I'll call them Thomas and Jeff and whatshisname. At ElemenoB's honors night last week, I got to see these boys. They were decent looking and all, but they didn't compare to the boys of my time...I mean, they were no Aaron or Jeremy!

She disagreed.

But how can you judge, I reasoned, when you haven't seen them? I am talking about Jeremy-who-was-in-a-Poptart-commercial and Aaron-surfer-boy-extraordinaire!!

You guessed it - out came the yearbooks. They prompted all kinds of fun conversations with the kids:

Kids: What does "scamming" mean?
Adults: What? You don't use the word scamming? What do you call it when you're checking out the opposite sex?
Kids: "Hitting on someone"?
Adults: No! That requires actual face-to-face contact! Scamming was more like checking someone out, seeing what's available...

Kids: Who are Michael and Joe and Spencer?
Me: I have no idea.
Kids: Then why do they say you are good-looking?
Me: What?! Someone said I was good-looking in high school?! I don't remember that...

Kids: Who is KIT?
Me: Let me see... oh, that's just an abbreviation for Keep In Touch.
Kids: Oh, like HAGS.
Me: What is HAGS?
Kids: An abbreviation for Have A Good Summer...

And on and on. And you know what? My old yearbooks are still out, being read and looked at and "Check out the tall bangs!" and "Look at those nerdy shorts!" Even I have been reading messages from old friends and pictures I had long forgotten.

Sooooooo........

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe yearbooks can be a really worthwhile investment.

About 20 years after-the-fact.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

One Crazy Week in a Nutshell

Last week was the last week of school, and it was a crazy week. The good kind of crazy, but crazy nonetheless. ElemenoB was invited to her middle school's Honors Night where she received a certificate for maintaining a 4.0 GPA the entire year, as well as an award for Outstanding Performance in SCIENCE! Science, people! And yes, she is my biological daughter. Considering I passed science class by bribing Mr. Beck with a small carton of chocolate milk and 2 chocolate chip cookies from the school cafeteria in order to avoid class any time we dissected anything... she must take after her Dad. Crazy! (in a good way...)

We also had 6th grade graduation for Thumbelina. Here she is after the ceremony with 2 of her friends.
Her teacher also had a class program where she received awards for the "Foot Hall of Fame" (reading a whole bunch of books to equal the height of her foot 5 times over) and the "Soaring Dragon" (completing 13 of 17 goals throughout the school year). Here's my favorite picture from the evening of the class program. It shows you why I considered "Granny" as a blog nickname for this little spitfire. Her teacher and a friend are trying out her unique style of wearing glasses. Kind of makes it hard to see, don't you think? Crazy kid. (Crazy in a good way.)

This week I also registered All-a-boy, Cowgirl and Princess at a new elementary school. It was a strange feeling, walking into a new (aka: different) school and making the decision final that it was where my kids will now be 'starting over'. They have a few friends who will be attending the school as well because of boundary changes in the district, but for the most part it will be a whole new world. I think they'll like it once they get used to it. It'll be a little crazy at first, but crazy in a good way.

Throw in a pack meeting, a doctor's appointment, family home evening, church activities for the teens, a parent meeting to discuss summer plans, a birthday party, summer reading program sign-ups at the library and the regular craziness we face daily and you've got one crazy week!

But hey, crazy is good.

I like crazy. They know me there.