Flip Flop Fly Ball

Thursday, August 27, 2009

One of my big pet peeves is baseball hats with the tags and stickers still on them. I don't get it? What is it supposed to prove? That it's new? That it's hot off the rack? To insinuate that it might be stolen?

And what about when the sticker/tag gets all yucky. You never see one that doesn't look brand new? Do they take it off then? I don't really think so because it seems like the sticker is even more stickier than it used to be!?! Which means when Kenneth and Awsumb get new hats even though I remove the sticker immediately there is still just enough residue or something left that you can still see where the sticker was. Annoying!

It's just so stupid to me. I think about it all the time. Kenneth forwarded this website to me. I might just print this out and take it to the ballpark tomorrow night! LOL!

Pool Rules

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In the summer if we aren't at the ballpark you can find us at the pool. We have to drag Kenneth kicking and screaming, but Awsumb and I love it. Our neighborhood pool can be pretty full on a really hot day, but other than that it's often just us. And the neighborhood pool then becomes our private hangout for the afternoon or evening. Summer nights at the pool, surrounded by pine trees with a full moon is the best! I simply love it! I could back float all night long with the sweet smell of fresh pine (and a little chlorine, which I secretly love the smell of).

Small brag - Awsumb is doing so great this year and I officially trust him with me in or out of the water with no floaties! I think months of lessons in a row this spring really paid off.

Anyway, so we are at the pool today and I was reading the Pool Rules sign and noticed it says, "No Horseplay." Ok, so I have heard this phrase a lot and I know what it means... but why HORSE play? Why not NO Hyena Play? Or NO Crazy Monkey Play? I don't get it. What did horses ever do wrong... and have you ever seen a horse play? I guess a pool full of horses would be a nightmare... but I still don't get it.

Anyone? Anyone?

The Family: America’s Smallest School

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

As the beginning of a new school year approaches I find myself pondering about my own choices to educate my child and recommitting myself to the decision we have made. It has been a great sacrifice to send Awsumb to the school he attends and I won't go into the specifics today. The reason for this post is to remind us all that...

"For the Opportunity to Thrive to be realized, and for us as a nation to reach the ambitious educational goals that we have set for ourselves, we must keep clear in our minds that our family is our first and smallest school." -Marc H. Morial

I recently finished reading The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner. Kenneth listened to this educator and father speak a few months ago. He reminds us that when we were growing up our parents told us to finish our dinner because children were starving in ____ (name the place). But today we need to tell our children to finish their math homework because children in India and other places are studying harder than ever.

Our schools are failing. Our schools have changed very little over the past 50 to 100 years. We are still teaching children to be ready for a 1950’s work environment. A basic professional job in the 50’s required an employee to obey their boss and follow directions. Things are different today. Children today need to graduate ready to succeed in college. (a rant for another day). When they hit the workplace, they will need to have critical thinking and problem solving skills, they will need to know how to work in groups with people that may be located all over the world. They will also need to know how to research and sift through a plethora of information and find the relevant, truthful info to complete tasks. I can’t wait to discuss more about this with you…

But, however outraged I might become about what it NOT happening in our schools I always remind myself that it all begins at home. The reason so many charter or choice schools look like good on paper has little to do with the method of teaching or even the teachers. What sets these schools apart is parent involvement. Of course if you group all the kids who have parent support at home they will do well!

I often rant that most all the problems in the world can only be solved if we start with the family. Social, financial, are among these, but especially education. Our country will never pull ahead and begin to change things if we don’t first start in our families. And this means first putting a value on the family unit. The importance of having a mother and a father. The importance of a regular family schedule. The importance of having parents AT HOME. The importance of creating a stimulating environment in the home full of books and free play time. The importance of parents as examples, reading to their child and continuing their own education, formal or informal.

This does not mean taking children out of their homes earlier and earlier as previous programs such as No Child Left Behind. It means teaching families and parents to value education. Kenneth and I listened to An American Life the other day about Baby College in a poor neighborhood. While the program may seem obvious to those raised in middle or upper class families it was amazing to hear the parents realize that not beating their kids and using positive forms of discipline might actually make life easier in the long run… Or for them to realize the importance of reading to their child, talking to them, using real words, spending time with them… These are things that no school program can give a child. We now know that those early developmental years and most important. More than any programs that we can come up with for kids that age. We need programs for the parents of the kids that age!

Follow this link to read more about The Family: America's Smallest School

Whatever the educational options you might have for your child, what you do in your home means more than anything. Continuing to read to your children, guiding them as they research their interests, providing stimulating imagination and play time and most important showing them the value you place on education are a great start. Whether we realize it or not, we are all homeschooling our children!

I Would Die For That

I am not sure how to add video directly into my blog.I know it's been around a while. And I really don't like country music (this song really pushes the limit for me). But I was reminded of this song recently. SO... This is for anyone who has struggled with fertility issues...

I Would Die For That

or copy and paste


Pete and Repeat

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pete and Repeat were walking across the bridge.
Pete fell in... who was left?

Answer: Repeat!

Pete and Repeat were walking across the bridge. Pete fell in...

We used to love this joke as kids. Along with other repetitive antics, like Dad throwing us onto his bed and telling us to get OFF his bed. Of course because we were smaller and giggling it took all our strength to try to get up. And then, right when we were about to get up, he would toss us back onto the bed. Why are repetitive jokes and games so fun for kids? They know what it coming next… Why does a baby think it’s so funny when you say “beep, beep, beep” while you tap from their belly right up to their nose…. over and over again? I remember reading in a child development book that knowing what was coming next was what was so great for babies. They found comfort in knowing the game. Babies love peek a boo. They get to feel a bit of danger and worry when you hide your face, but are all squeals when they find you were really still there all along. And does it even matter if the end isn’t all funny by itself? No.

Living with OCD on a daily basis I have learned to love and hate the repeat. Repetitive Rituals can be comforting and calm me down. A person living with OCD learns to live with and even love many of the tics you have because there is always that hope they are going to make you feel better. But they can also throw me into a downward spin and make me totally loose it. There are certain checking routines that will trigger a mudslide of other checking routines and of course this always happens when I am running late.

And when you live with OCD EVERYTHING repeats. Not just the repetitive rituals and counting, but tunes, conversations you had with people (I still replay converstions I had with various people from 15-20 years ago!) It’s like Ground Hogs day. Well, I can’t say for sure, I never saw that movie.

There are so many things I take comfort in doing, saying, counting, over and over again and then there are the things that drive me insane if I have to hear or think about them one more time. I would be happy listening to the same song over and over. In fact if I have control over it, I almost always repeat a song I like at least once and would be happy with repeating it 5 or 6 times. I also have an annoying way of listening to a new CD… I listen to my favorite song (ya know the one you bought the CD for in the first place) 5 or 6 times, then I listen to the first 20 seconds or so of all the songs and then go back to my “favorite song.” It drives Kenneth up the wall.

I have the same problem at restaurants. I love to order the same foods over and over. Even if I have had many different things on the menu that I know I love just as much, I prefer to just order the same thing. I will also prepare the same thing at home over and over again. This works ok when it is just me, but I have to remember Kenneth doesn’t want to eat the same thing every night or even every 3 days.

Then there are the movies I have memorized, but will still watch over and over again. I often watch 20 or 30 minutes of one before going to sleep. I figured this one out a while ago. Somehow of knowing exactly what was happing, while being lost in the scenery, costume, etc. is just enough to let go and let myself fall asleep (I have suffered from insomnia since I was a little girl).

I have always loved gingham and have it in just about every room of my house. I think because it is the same pattern right or left, top or bottom, front or back. All those neat little squares lined up… it’s just one big REPEAT! And who couldn’t love that!

So, why is it when my son listens to the same song over and over on his IPOD or the same book (this summer it’s Judy Blume’s, Double Fudge) does it drive me absolutely crazy!?! It doesn’t even take me 3 seconds to hear this from across the house before I just loose it! Before that it was a book about a frog who went “ballump, ballump.” Just writing about that makes me want to scream!

What Repeats do you find comfort in?

Oh, what do you do in the summer time?

Friday, August 14, 2009

When all the skies are blue?

The real words say, "when all the world is green."  But you know me, I always sing the wrong words to the wrong tune! And living here in the northwest summer means blue skies (well, most days?! It's pouring rain out this week).

I love this photo of Awsumb I recently had taken at a cheap portrait studio in the mall. This is exactly how you will find him around the house, and I will always remember him like this. When he is all grown up I will still put this picture up in the summer time. And yes, that is a real book that he owns and is reading this summer. (The Little Indian in the Cupboard)

A friend of mine recently noticed I often have photos taken of Awsumb with his toys or belongings. I started doing this after one of the first times I had taken Awsumb into some cheap portrait studio for baby pictures. The photographer handed him a dusty teddy bear to hold in the picture. Yuck!

Around the same time I had read a how to book on photography. The author suggested taking portraits of your child with prized possessions such as instruments, etc. At 6 months Awsumb was not yet an accomplished violin or trumpet player, but he did have a growing collection of stuffed animals and later small toys were his prized possessions.

So that's my parenting tip of the day. Next time you go into a studio for pictures grab something to take you with.  Like most portraits I have done this was a last minute grab and captured a moment in time that I will always treasure.

What pictures of your children do you treasure?

Monopoly Killer

I don't think I ever played a complete game of Monopoly until a few years ago. We had the missionaries over for dinner one night and as it often does the conversation turned to board games. One of the Elders was a Monopoly fanatic. They begged us to play, and we did. We had purchased a nice copy of the game in a collectors tin yeas ago, but this was the first (and LAST) time we played it. Why? It's depressing! Winner takes all. This is definatley why Settlers has over taken Monopoly. But I did learn that I had never really played the game correctly. Who knew you were supposed to auction off the properties? And to find out there was no Free Parking was a let down. (though Kenneth reminded me that's what made the game drag on, big comebacks) Thus, our nice collectors tin of Monopoly will continue to live in the back of the game closet. I will say that Monopoly does have some great bits! It doesn't get any better than the little shoe!

The article from WIRED that I shared in my last post started me thinking about what really makes a cool game. And while good bits are a huge plus, the game has to be fun to play. In Settler, the trading of rescources promotes interaction and team work. To win Cosmic Encounters a player simply needs five bases on other people's planets. This can only been accomplices with allies.

But one of the things that makes a game great is when the game changes it's own rules. This is why I love Cosmic. Each person draws a random Alien with special powers. These powers change the rules of the game. Making each time you play a totally different game. After all, who wants to play the same exact game over and over again? Settlers has enough variables right from the start with the random placement of resouce hexes and numbers for production die rolls.

Could Monopoly be reworked to provide a different experience everytime? Probably not, because the game itself is one person stompin on everyone else, not to mention the elimination aspect as player go broke one by one. That alone doesn't make it a good social game. There has to be give and take, allies, switching sides, etc. Unless of course you play games with us for the first time and Kenneth leans over and says, "Wendy's ruthless, don't trade with her" and from the beginning everyone gangs up on me!

Yes, Kenneth says this to everyone new person that plays games with us. I have recently relized that this is Kenneth's strategy because he is such a terrible board game player! Or maybe it's because his role to to read the rules and try to figure out how to teach us all these cool new games and he doesn't have time to develop his own strategy. Not to mention when we demand he make us all drinks!

P.S. Monopoly Jr. is a great kids game! Basic addition, counting, etc.

Here's a funny McDonald's commercial featurin Settlers of Catan in place of the annual Monopoly promotion...

Board Game Geek

Yes, I will admit I am a board game geek! I have always loved to play games. When I was 10 my favorite was Careers by Parker Brothers. I guess for me this was my “Settlers of Catan.” Settlers of Catan seems to be the new 'gateway drug' or introduction into cool board games.  Unfortunately beside Monopoly and the other basic Milton Bradley games we didn’t have much to choose from. Then there was those year my mother didn’t allow us to play with face cards (Whatever!)  Needless to say I simply didn’t have much exposure to other “cool” card games and board games.

But I always loved playing games with stategy.  My father did have the coolest miniature Monopoly set that he made during the years before kids and when he still had free time for such projects. It was kept up high in the storage/toy closet where I imagine my father also hid the PONG game and other cool things we were not supposed to play with. That didn’t stop me from sneaking in there look at the tiny board and pieces.  And then there was the cool Pente game my Dad kept in his closet and brought out for special times.

When I started hanging out with Kenneth, one of the things that kept me going back (because remember I already had a boyfriend and though Kenneth was a super nerd) was the games. Sundays nights at the Hardy home meant card games. Nertz and Killer UNO were their favorites. While it was simple fun, what those sticky cards really meant to all the kids who hung at the Hardy house was “welcome home, you are all family here,” I knew there must be something more. And the Nerd Krew was just the group I needed to open a new world to me.

The guy who would mysteriously show up at game nights with a box tucked under his arm was Steve Clauson. He always had something new and each time I HAD to have a copy! My all time favorite is Cosmic Encounters. From then on I was hooked and was just as happy to take a drive to hole in the wall game stores as the mall. And even though I still enjoy an evening of a simple card game like Hand and Foot or Killer UNO it’s strategy games that I really live for. And ever gamer knows German Strategy games are the best.  And the games must have 'cool bits' or pieces.

Here is a fun article I just read in WIRED...

Monopoly Killer - WIRED April 2009 (click to read)

I have included a few favorite places to buy and read about board games under the fun and games section of my blog.

What was your favorite game when you were a kid?
And what and your favorite game nowadays?

The Duchess Who Wouldn't Sit Down

An Informal History of Hospitality by Jesse Browner.

The first part of this book contains interesting stories about entertaining etiquette throughout history. The author sums up the book and his finding about being the perfect host by discussing what he views at the perfect dinner party and ends with perfect Thanksgiving dinner. Contrary to what you might think the conclusion is that to give your guests the best evening is to keep it simple. Although Mr. Browner enjoys a nicely catered dinner (who doesn’t!) he reminds the reader that cooking a simple meal for a smaller crowd provides the best experience not only for your guests, but for YOU to enjoy your party along with them.

Perhaps St. Thomas More said it best: "The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest."

Showing our friends and family how much we care for them by simply inviting them to spend an evening with us. Does it really matter how fancy the table setting or gourmet the meal? And at our house, the best part of the evening if after the meal… NO, not dessert (I do not have a sweet tooth and do not bake, I always forget to plan some sort of dessert, which is why if I have ever invited you over and you asked what you could bring, I suggested dessert), but for me and my house GAMES!