Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Big Girl Glasses

I did it. I headed to Target today and bought grown up bar ware. For some reason, when Drew and I registered for wedding stuff, bar glasses did not make our list. We had 3 mismatched wine glasses, a couple of novelty shot glasses, your basic household tall drink glasses, and a variety of plastic cups. Sad, I know.

Drew likes to drink his Captain and Diet Coke in a 32oz brightly colored Target plastic cup. Makes me giggle. You know the ones, right? The ones that just scream SPRING at you as you wander the isle dressed in your winter coat, hat, and boots certain that the snow will never leave and the sun will never shine again. You see them and your hands reach out and you grasp them to your poor frozen chest. Just the act of putting them into your cart gives you a breath of hope that someday soon you could be sitting in the yard in shorts watching the kids play with the hose while you sip an ice cold glass of something. So you buy them. Not because you need more cups, but because you need the promise of spring. These are my hubby's drinking cups enjoyed all year long and definitely ready for replacing by the time the next ones call to me.

But this year, after placing the fabulous new cups into my cart I took a detour into the glass ware. And I bought a nice simple box of big girl glasses. 4 beer steins, 4 wine glasses, 4 shot glasses, 4 martini glasses, and a mixing container with strainer. Yes, I did. And then (on some sort of cocktail possibility high) I headed over to the alcohol isle and picked up the ingredients for lemon drop cocktails. *snap* oh yes, I did. On a Tuesday. And I am having one tonight.

Recipe: 2 shots vodka (citrus one if you can)
1 shot sour mix
1 shot sprite
shake with ice and strain into glass.

and if you want to get fancy, put sugar on the rim of your glass.

As soon as the kids are in bed, I am pulling up a cocktail and settling in for a bit of American Idol and some relaxation. Grown up drink in a grown up glass--not that I do not remember the lemon drop body shots of my youth fondly, but in this case, grown up feels good.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

my photo studio

Making a photo studio has been on my todo list for quite some time. Reading this month's Scrapstreet mag (yes, I do read it too!) really had me eager to get to work. I was having some trouble finding the seamless photo paper anywhere close to me, so I sent a note to our photo dude, James, and he sent me to Dick Blick art supply.

Since I am not going to be doing large group shoots, a 4 ft wide by 50 ft long roll of paper would be just right for me. I headed over to the local store--only 15 min from my house and I had no clue they were there. I purchased 3 different rolls of Tru-Brite art paper: red, blue, and black for $21 each. Next stop was Home Depot for a thin piece of PVC pipe, 2 lengths of chain, and 2 hooks. Total: $9.

Zack and I took all of 15 minutes to hang our photo studio. Used the power drill to poke 2 holes in each end of the pipe and some needle nose pliers to close the chain on one end. I left the other end open so I can trade out the paper easily. Total cost if I chose only one color of paper would have been $30. Here is a glimpse:

And my first couple of shots of Zack:

Allie just got home from school and raced upstairs to change into something for her photo shoot. Excuse me! Gotta run!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Better to give than to take

Every Mommy has a little something different in their bag of tricks. We have to, after all, to stay ahead of the fray. One of my tricks is the "sorry gift" or "minutes". Let's face it--everyone hurts a loved one now and again. And when you have siblings, the now and again can come every few moments. So we moms need something in place to turn the tide.

I tend to use a lot of the same tricks that I used as a teacher with my kids--mostly because I know they worked and because I understand the psychology behind them. This one always managed to confuse students and then to strengthen bonds. In class, I called it simply "minutes."

If a student wrongs another--teasing, pulling out a chair, namecalling, etc.--typical teacher response is to punish the student that is committing the action. He took something from someone else so you take something from him. It is the "eye for an eye" mentality and is a method as old as time. It is also one that students expect. By high school, they know the punishment and commit the crime already willing to endure it (if they get caught). Early on in my teaching career, I flipped it on them. Instead of taking something away from the student, they had to give something to the student they wronged. They owed them "minutes". Perhaps 15 minutes to do flashcards or to study for a vocab quiz. Perhaps time to peer edit. Repeat offenders could end up owing lunchtime to cleaning a locker or teaching a new dance move.

Think I am crazy? You aren't the first, I promise. But it works. The students learn that if they torture someone, they will then "owe" him or her and they hate being in debt to another. And often, they would bond and realize that the person they were picking on was a real person--with feelings and intelligence. Sometimes the oddest of friendships grew from some minute requests. And I was always impressed by the things students chose.

At home, I do this with my kids. If Allie swipes Zack's outfit, she owes him 30 minutes. And he gets to choose what he has to do--anything from one of her chores to spending some special time with him. If Zack breaks one of her toys, he owes her. And if Mommy speaks crossly when she shouldn't or forgets something she promised to do, then mommy must pay up too. Works great with the hubby as well. Some of our best memories started with one owing the other some minutes. I had to learn to golf once. He had to plant roses. Giving and growing together.

So, friends, got tricks? I would love to hear all about them.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Better In Blue

During our latest shopping trip, we discovered that Zack and Allie can now wear some of the same sizes. He may be 3 years younger, but baby brother is growing fast. Both can fit in a size 7 in tshirts and workout pants, which happens to be both of their favorite outfits. They each chose 3 new suits and we headed home all happy.

Fast forward to a week later and Allie bounces downstairs wearing her brother's new pants and hoody. "Excuuuuse me," Zack announced in his best abused brother voice, "but those are MY clothes."

"I know, but I like them," she answered authoritatively, as if that was going to be the final word on the subject.

"But they are blue. And blue is for boys. Everyone knows that." Oh, isn't that cute. He is going to try logic with his sister. So young, so many lessons to learn when dealing with females.

"I look better in blue than you do." And with that pronouncement, she sashayed out of the room to search for hair bows in just the right shade.

I quickly bit the inside of my cheek to stop the laughter as he turned to me with big eyes, shocked and confused by what had just happened. I could see the wheels turning as he tried to figure out what to say to make me step in and defend his clothing honor. Finally, he sighed. "I know. Life isn't fair."

Oh my poor baby. He has already learned so many lessons at the ripe old age of 5 1/2. And life not being fair is just one of them. Today we add: girls love to swipe boy clothes, blue is for girls too, and logic may not always be your friend. Someday he will find that having a big sister gives him an advantage in dealing with women. But today is not that day.

Later that afternoon, I had a chat with Allie letting her know that we do not borrow without asking. She apologized to her brother and he received 30 minutes of her time as her "sorry gift". He chose to have her read to him and they giggled and bonded over stories. Still, when I bent to tuck him into bed, I found his other 2 new outfits tucked underneath his pillow for safekeeping.

One more lesson learned: if she can't find them, she can't borrow them. Good thinking, sugar.

As usual, I was inspired by my kids. I am certain I will scrap the story later, but first I couldn't resist making a new digi kit: Better In Blue. You can snag it in the ScrapStreet Store.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


What is a momstone? The cajones you need to be a mom? No, although those help immensely. Momstones are those milestones that your children reach that are important to you. The ones that give you back just a bit of life.

Do yall remember those first months of motherhood? With a baby in one hand and a baby book in the other? Checking to see if your precious pumpkin could lift his head or roll over at the right moment? Ah the pride you felt at those first milestones.

Momstones are even better. The first day that you wake up and do not have a diaper to change. Heaven. Never have I heard a mom say, "gee, I really miss changing diapers." And bidding farewell to the disposable pants can also mark the momstone of tossing the diaper bag. No more lugging a bag bigger than the child along with you. Other fun momstones? How about when they learn to dress all the way to shoes allowing you to shout "get ready" as you jump in the shower? Or one of my own favorites: make your own breakfast and turn on your own cartoons. Ahhh Saturday morning peace and sleep--a gift that never gets old.

Each age can bring a new momstone and allow you to reclaim a few minutes back from your busy day. From goodbye to the carseat to hello to the driver's license, each one is an important day in your life as a mom. And each one means that you are doing your job and doing it well. With a baby's first breath, Mom is needed for 24 hours a day because that little bundle is completely helpless, completely dependent. But children should not remain that way. They should grow to be independent adults and then capable of a solid interdependent relationship with their chosen love. Anyone who has ever dated a momma's boy can tell you that she did no one a favor (and they will tell you in detail. I can entertain you over cosmos for hours, trust me).

So kick up your heels and celebrate those momstones! You are not being selfish as you lounge around on the couch watching your children do laundry and fetch you a coke--you are making stronger adults. I promise.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

20 years later

I stand in front of a room of college freshmen. Only now, I am not one of them, but the professor. Yes, a full 20 years and so many of the questions are the same: do we really need a thesis? do you really have to cite your quotes? a full three pages, is she kidding? And then my favorite of them all: do we need to type this?

Now, kiddies, 20 years ago when I arrived at college THRILLED to have an electric typewriter in hand after learning on a manual one in our ancient typing classroom, I asked this question. Ok, so I only asked it during fall semester; by spring semester I understood the answer would always be a rousing yes. In the age of computers, I thought this question would be rendered obsolete. After all, my students will type texts to each other from across the room if I let them rather than speak. Yet, the question persists.

And thinking of it reminds me of how many other things have changed since I was that student. We had no internet (kind of obvious since we had no computers, but it seems to need to be said). We had to go to the library to do research and look through microfilm for "current" answers. And we had to know things since we couldn't dial up the trusty google on our cell phones. Oh, that was because we did not have cell phones. Or pagers. Or answering machines. Or tivo.

By this point, anyone under the age of 35 has fallen into a stupor wondering what we could possibly have done with ourselves. Shall I rouse them for a spirited game of pong or just let them zone out contemplating a world where coffee came in one flavor and cost a mere quarter?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

All about people

I love people. I just cannot help it; people are so interesting.

All mothers know that you put the same ingredients into making those babies of yours, but get entirely different dishes out of them. Oh sure, both of my kids are blond with blue eyes. Both will probably be tall. But they are so different. Zack is left-handed, left brained. An organized soul with a love for math, yet he has an eye for fashion and color. Allie, on the other hand, is all social all the time. With a wicked sense of humor and a sweet word for everyone, she draws people to her like bees to honey--but don't ask her to count them or she will run screaming from the math homework. These differences make them such fun to watch as they grow. Where do they stem from?

This is one of my favorite weeks as a professor. Week 3 of a new semester. By now, I know a bit about my students likes, dislikes, personalities. They have let down the "first date" front and are more comfortable being themselves. Leaders emerge, class clowns offer giggles, slackers try sliding by me with charm--ah yes, the semester has truly begun. And I am genuinely interested in learning about all of them.

The student in me is constantly studying people--live and in books--to learn more about what makes them tick. How much is nature and how much is nurture? Do we moms really have the power to create good students/citizens/people? Can we damage our children beyond repair? I have to say the answer to both is yes. But neither is as easy as society would want us to believe. Raising a good adult is a day in/day out task that is neither easy nor instant. It is, to borrow a slogan, the hardest job you will ever love. And ruining a child is not easy either. It is not because you let them watch too much tv, fed them too much fast food, or left them with a sitter for Cosmo night with the girls. It, too, takes day to day work or day to day neglect to cause to happen. So, have a Cosmo night with the girls, but don't take your little girls to Cosmo night. It is a good first step.

So, darling friends, I wonder: How do you know how to parent? Do you raise your children the way you were raised? Or the exact opposite of how you were raised? Do you feel as if you just flounder along? Do you let common sense be your guide? Or are you, like me, a student of the game?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday, the beginning.

Well, here it is. The blog. I avoided it for a long time thinking there is nothing that I do not say on ScrapStreet, so why would I need a blog? Perhaps I can find a little something new to say every day or so. It will certainly be easier for me to keep track of my goals and goodies--or at least that is what I am telling myself. So here I go into the wide world of blogging.

Be gentle with me.