Sunday, October 25, 2009

Weekly Pic--Empire State

This time last year we were in New York. The Empire State Building had on its Halloween attire. I love NYC in the fall.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Creative Discipline--According to Hallie

Two weeks ago, after Hallie had been upstairs all afternoon "cleaning" her room, I went to check on her. I don't go upstairs very often and this is the reason why. When I walked into her room, let me rephrase, when I stepped to the door of her room I immediately felt my blood pressure soar to new heights and the only thing that kept me from completely losing it was the thought of being on the 10 o'clock news. She'd supposedly been working on her room for three hours and I still couldn't see the carpet!
I was livid. I was able to refrain from doing anything that would merit a visit from CPS, but I did unplug the the TV and confiscate the phone and her computer. All of these things are distractions and I thought by removing them she'd be able to focus on accomplishing her task.
Like I said, that was two weeks ago. Two. Weeks. The child has now been without television, without the computer, without talking to her friends on the phone or setting foot outside this house for anything other than regularly scheduled family activities such as school and church for two weeks. And has she made a dent in the wasteland upstairs? No. It turns out, she does not need TV, computer or phone to distract her. Those things are just easy. Now she has turned to much more creative outlets.
One afternoon, she was particularly quiet and I just knew she was really making progress. When she came downstairs beaming with pride I felt sure it was to announce that her room was spotless. Instead, it was to show me the Native American inspired dress she'd fashioned for her American Girl doll out of fabric scraps she found in the craft closet. They were doing a group project at school on the Jumano Indians and since she couldn't do research on the compter, she decided to contribute by demonstrating traditional clothing. However, I don't think the Jumanos really wore green satin dresses and shawls woven with silver thread, unless of course Scarlett O'Hara was of Jumano descent. In fact, she'd done such a good job on the dress that I bought her some muslin and let her recreate it in a more reasonable material so she could take it to school for the group presentation.
What else has she done to occupy her time? Play the piano. A lot. She's played through old books. She's learned new songs. She's taught herself songs by ear. She's made up her own tunes. In fact, instead of struggling to get her to practice, I've actually had to say, "That's enough for now. No, you can not play any more songs!"
And perhaps the best thing that's come from her "incarceration", is that she's finally discovered reading can be fun. I've worried about her because, although she's an excellent reader, she doesn't like to do it. She never finishes a book and it is like pulling teeth to get her to do her required reading homework. (On second thought, she actually LIKES pulling teeth so that analogy is inaccurate.) However, without the Wizards of Waverly Place mesmerizing her into a catatonic Disney daze, she has been reading a lot. Last night I finally had to say, "Hallie, it is so late. You must stop reading and go to bed." So this morning, she jumped up bright and early in order to finish her book before school. She finished a book! A chapter book. With 186 pages. And she's decided to start a book club with some of her friends at school. Will wonders never cease?
Herein lies the dilemma. I feel like a bad parent because I know that two weeks of being grounded is unreasonable. I didn't set the time, I just told her that she's grounded until her room is clean. Which it still is not. But the things she is doing are far more profitable, in my opinion, than a tidy room. I'm tempted to go and clean the room myself, while she is at school, which in and of itself will be quite a punishment. She trembles at the thought of my cleaning techniques. When I'm finished, she can't help but keep a clean room because there is nothing left with which to make a mess. But then, will she fall back into her old ways of excessive TV/computer/chattering on the phone? I'd almost overlook a dirty room in order to avoid that. Almost.
There has to be a place between "mush for brains" and a "toxic dump". What a happy place that would be.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Tall Tale

This week's "Ticked Off Topic" is dedicated to all the vertically challenged folks out there. I do not necessarily think of myself as being short. I am about 5'3-ish. When buying pants, this means that "Petite" sizes are too short after one wash, but regular sizes still have to be hemmed about 5". When attending concerts, it means tall people gravitate to the space directly in front of me. Always.

A few weeks ago, we went to Denver for Elizabeth's Big Birthday Roadtrip. While there, we went to see Rain: A Beatle's Tribute at the performing arts center. The production was amazing. The venue was amazing. Except for one thing~the Freakishly Tall Man sitting right in front of me. Even though he was one row/level/step below me, he was still taller than me and so I spent the entire evening leaning on Paige so I could see around the Jolly Green Giant.

This past weekend, BigJoel scored us some tickets to see Family Force 5 at the House of Blues. (In case you didn't know, the House of Blues is, for all intents and purposes, a bar. And I took my 14 and 9 year old daughters. I might just be Mom of the Year. But I digress...) Anyway, it was "general admission standing room only", which really means "short people need not bother". At first we had a pretty good view, but then the Daughter of the Freakishly Tall Man from Denver arrived and pushed her way in front of us. Here is a picture from Elizabeth's camera of the back of tall girl's head. Did I mention that she parked herself di-rect-ly in front of me? Notice how she stands "head and shoulders" above the rest of the crowd. The good news is, she was only there for the opening bands and left before FF5 took the stage.

Having an obstructed view at a general admission show where you got the tickets for free is one thing. But now let me tell you about the long-awaited U2 concert at the new Cowboys Stadium. We did not get these tickets for free, but our seats were reasonably good. The opening band, Muse, was much better than I had expected and I got lots of great pictures. When U2 took the stage, naturally everyone was on their feet cheering and waving and singing along. The couple in front of us were especially excited. They kept jumping up and down hugging each other. It reminded me of contestants on The Price is Right. After the first few songs, people started to relax a bit and sit down. (Thank goodness) But not the happy couple in front of they had linked arms and were swaying back and forth like they were singing drinking songs in an Irish pub. Eventually, every person in our entire section sat down to enjoy the show. Every person except~you guessed it~the pair right, directly, exactly in front of me. Here's my view:

Only it was worse, because they weren't just standing there. They were either jumping up and down or swaying back and forth...the whole time...the entire time. And do you know that U2 does an amazing show that lasts almost two hours? That's right. Two hours. Behind these people. Come to think of it, the problem wasn't that they were tall. The problem is that they were rude. I understand they paid good money for their seats. But SEATS is the operative word here...which implies that one SITS. They could have paid a lot less money for standing room on the floor, but instead my "rights" to a comfortable chair took a back seat to their rights to "act a fool". They never once stopped jumping or swaying to look around and see that everyone else was seated, and yet still enjoying the concert just as much. Except for me...because all I could see was them...NOT the ground-breaking, multi-million dollar production by one of the greatest bands of all time.

So I started out blasting tall people, which really isn't fair. Tall people can't help being tall any more than I can help being 5'3-ish. The real culprits here are inconsiderate people. Yet, in my experience, most inconsiderate people seem to be pretty tall as well. I'm just sayin'...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Goodguys Don't Always Finish Last

Last week, the Goodguys Rod & Custom Show was at the Texas Motor Speedway. BigJoel looks forward to this every year and if his schedule permits, we do our level best to make it out to see all the amazing hot rods, muscle cars, and my personal fave~the rat rods. The weather could not have been more beautiful and we had the most wonderful day. Here are two of my favorites from the show.

Can you tell I like "surf wagons"?

I must admit that I'm not as much of a die-hard fan as Joel. I had a great time, but after a few hours, everything started looking pretty much the same. However, the cars weren't the only "old" things at the show drawing a lot of attention:
This lady's shorts were very short. The picture doesn't fully communicate just how short they were. I was trying to be discreet in taking the photo. (Discreet and I think she could've beat me up.) But I'm pretty sure I have underwear that cover up more than that. And she was much older than me. In other words, she really should've known better.
Overall though, it was a great day. Perfect weather, awesome cars and spending time my very favorite "good guy"~BigJoel.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009


A while back, I started a thread called TOTs, Ticked Off Tuesdays. I was afraid that once I gave myself license to complain via the blog-o-sphere, I might go a little overboard; so I decided to limit myself to one "crazy" per week. However, this Tuesday timeline is not working out for me. As a matter of fact, Tuesdays usually seem to be pretty good days. Therefore, I've decided to change the topic to "Ticked Off Topics" so now I can rant any day of the week. Consider yourself warned.
And here we go...*ahem*
Today's topic is (dun, dun, duuunnnn) standardized dress at Hometown ISD (eeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!) When our school district first instituted standardized dress four years ago, I have to admit I did not have a strong opinion on it one way or the other. At first, it wasn't so bad. Hannah wasn't particularly fond of it, but Hallie thought it was the best thing ever. She was so cute in her little jumpers with long socks and mary jane shoes. And it didn't take long for HannahKate to settle in to the routine of khaki pants and a polo shirt every. single. day.
Now, however, it is a much different story at our house. Can we just say that Hallie will only be able to pull off the jumper-long-sock-school-girl look for, maybe, the remainder of fourth grade? After that, it's no longer cute and they no longer make jumpers in her size.
Which leads us to the next dilemma~tucking in the shirt. Really, who tucks anymore? I know I don't. I understand the reason for the tucking rule. Its those dang hoodlums who wear their pants 12 sizes too big and shirts that come down to their knees in order to cover up the "sag" in their jeans (or the weapon they're concealing). However, for a child like Hallie, there is no such thing as a pair of pants 12 sizes too big. And its pretty much impossible to find a shirt that comes down to her knees. And let's just be honest and say, it is not attractive when she tucks her shirt in. I suppose I could make peace with the dress code if they would simply allow shirts of a reasonable length to be untucked.
And "reasonable" is the operative word here...
The thing is this: our district had a dress code in place before standardized dress, but it was enforced in a haphazard, subjective way. Standardized dress was supposed to clear all of that up. My children, along with most of the other students in HISD, would be properly dressed and operate well within the confines of a much more lenient policy. However, in order to control the small population who's parents don't know or don't care what their children are wearing, the rest of our children are subject to unreasonable and unneccessary requirements.
By no means am I opposed to a dress code that prohibits gang affiliation or promotes modest dress in order to curtail distractions throughout the school day. But as I watched students filing out of the high school yesterday, it struck me that you cannot mandate morality.
Ok, so here's the thing now: I've been working on this post over a week now trying to tie it up neatly and get out with some sense of closure. But I can't. And today, my nine-year-old gets in the car with a warning from the guidance counselor about the necessity of socks. Socks! Hallie wore a polo underneath a sweatshirt (the loophole in the tucking rule), a skort, leggings and zebra print ballet flats. We knew we were pushing the envelope with black/white shoes, but apparently the greater offense was that she was not wearing socks with her dress shoes. Apparently you are required to wear socks until you are in the seventh grade. At that time, however, zebra print shoes are no longer acceptable because its too difficult to tell if they are black with white stripes or white with black stripes.
Like I said, I'm not opposed to a reasonable dress code...but what do socks have to do with gang prevention and modest dress?!?! Sheesh! I'm just gonna hit "Publish Post" before I say something I'll regret.