Wednesday, April 29, 2009

u at 50

If you are at all creative, or if you just admire creativity, you will like this video. Here is the message a friend sent with the link.

At a meeting of the AARP (American Association of Retired People) they showed a video that was submitted in a contest by a 20 year old. The contest was Titled 'u @ 50'. This video won second place. When they showed it, everyone in the room was awe-struck and broke into spontaneous applause. So simple and yet so brilliant. Take a minute and watch it. Be sure to read along both forwards & backwards. Sound on!

I think the message is spot on, but I also admire the creativity. To be able to write a poem that makes sense when read both forward and backward -- and sends the message you want -- is truly amazing.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Butterfly Family

Overhead at our house...

Blond Twin: Mom, I drew these butterflies. The blue one is Daddy. The red one is you. The pink one is me. The purple one is Sissy.

Mommy: They are beautiful. How sweet.

Blond Twin: I had to draw the whole butterfly family because we like to fly around together.

Mommy: We do, don't we?

Blond Twin: Look, we are flying to this tree.

Mommy: Are we all going to fit on that tree?

Blond Twin: Of course, we'll snuggle.

Mommy: What's that blob on the bottom of the page?

Blond Twin: Poop.

Mommy: What?

Blond Twin: Poop. Mom, everything poops.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Random Act of Kindness

The girls and I were in a sandwich shop recently with a group of friends. There were six children under the age of 5 and four adults eating lunch, giggling, and generally having fun. As they stood up to leave, the table next to us started talking to the children.

One woman said to me, "I want to give you something. I have a CD of lullabies that I think the kids would enjoy." She gave me a CD called "A Lullabye in My Heart." She then said, "I'm the artist, Sara LaCombe, and I would like your kids to have this."

I was stunned for a minute because it was such an expected gesture. She was so kind and sweet to share her music with us. The girls have enjoyed the CD tremendously.

It's those little, random acts of kindness that remind of how nice people can be sometimes. I hope some day someone does something as nice to Sara.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What was the #1 Song on Your Birthday?

Okay, this is so fun that I have to share it.

You can look up the number one song on any birthday. It's so fun to go back and look at different birthdays.

I've looked up several family members and a few of the songs made me laugh. I hope it brightens your day too!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Why we need newspapers

Every time a newspaper closes or folds, I wait for the outrage. I always feel like something has died, and it's a huge loss to our democracy. Yes, I know that sounds dramatic considering how people like to brag about the fact that newspapers are dead and they haven't read one in some time.

Then, a newspaper breaks a story that took months of research and hours of time putting the pieces together until the reporting team finally discovered the answer. In Chicago, here's the latest story broken by one of our two great newspapers.,0,3074699.story

In suburban Crestwood, it turns out officials were cutting corners with their water safety. They mixed clean, purified water with water from a contaminated well. While they did save money, they also, likely, poisoned the town's residents. It's all just an allegation right now, but the paper trail leads to that conclusion, and so did the reporters.

People say bloggers and online sources will replace newspapers, but how many of these news sources will take the time to investigate these types of stories? It's something more people should be alarmed about, but unfortunately, too many people don't realize the importance of "the Fourth branch of government" anyway.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Just Ignore the Screaming

Anyone near our house has to wonder what is going on in our backyard. There is a lot of screaming. The "I'm in pain screaming." Some high-pitched shrieking. The occasional yell of "Mommy." You might assume something bad is happening in our yard. Yet, we just ignore it all.

We're not being mean. It's just that all the girls' games involve some screaming. This used to freak out the neighbors. Small girls screaming, "Don't let me drown" usually brings out the neighbors, but in our case they only look on in curiosity. You see, we don't have a pool. Instead the neighbors look out the window to see the girls grabbing at each other as they go down the slide.

There's also a game that seems like tag, but involves a lot of screaming and piling on each other in the middle of the yard. Some of it is high-pitched screaming. Some of it is giggly shrieking. In any case, it's loud. And, it goes on and on and on.

The neighbor girl who comes over lives right behind us. Their house is slightly higher than ours, so her parents can watch the action from their deck. Her father used to turn every time his daughter screamed, "Help sister." First, he wanted to make sure she was okay. Second, he wanted to see who she was calling sister as she's an only child. Now he just ignores it. He knows they are never alone, so if there is a real problem, my husband or I will intervene.

It's not like we don't say, "stop screaming" all the time, but we're talking about a group of five-year-old girls. I swear it must be in their DNA because all the parents talk about it.

One day I fully expect someone to call the police. It won't be a neighbor who can see our yard, but someone walking by. If I walked by a house were there was so much screaming, I'd probably call for help too.

If I'm lucky, the girls will be on the play set screaming for each other. If I'm not, I might be blogging for bail money soon.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

In My Easter Blue Jeans

Did you ever have an immediate reaction to something you saw or heard and the next day it didn't phase you at all? Well, I had an immediate reaction to something I saw on Easter Sunday as we were going into brunch. I let it sit for a couple of days to make sure it still annoyed me, and it does, so here goes.

Everywhere we looked as we were walking into brunch, we saw people dressed for the ocassion. It wasn't a fancy brunch. Most people were dressed in "business casual" as you might call it. The men wore kahki pants and button down shirts or golf shirts. Some women wore dresses; others wore pants. The girls wore spring dresses and the boys wore cute outfits.

We were just about to go into the restaurant, when I saw the family that caused me to stare. The father wore blue jeans and a t-shirt. His daughters wore the same outfits, with gym shoes. I tried not to, but all I kept thinking was, "IT'S EASTER. PUT ON A SHIRT WITH A COLLAR. CLEAN UP THE GIRLS."

I know, I shouldn't be so judgemental. (Didn't I learn anything from the Susan Boyle video I posted a few days ago?) It's an epidemic, though. People don't know how to dress for the occasion anymore. Easter should be a special occasion. It wouldn't hurt anyone to dress up a little once in a while.

We see this all the time. We've been to "fancy" restaurants where we saw people in flip flops. We've been to plays where people showed up in jeans or sweatsuits. Yes, we saw a couple in matching sweatsuits. It wasn't a good look in so many ways.

How are children supposed to learn how to dress if their parents' don't provide a decent example? I realize we're a more casual society now, but there are still times when you should dress up a bit and I'm pretty sure going out for Easter brunch is one of them.

Will this change anything? No. I'm pretty sure the blue jean family doesn't care what I think. I feel better now. Sometimes you just need to vent.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chasing the Dream

This is the kind of story that makes parents question so many things. You have a dowdy, middle-aged woman named Susan Boyle talking about living by herself with her cats. I read in another interview that she was picked on in school and never did much with her life by which most people would define success. She's a simple person. Can you imagine what school was like for her? We've all been there, so we know how cruel school children and young adults can be.

For some reason, she put herself in the mix for a show called "Britian's Got Talent." You first see her sitting backstage waiting for her turn. You can see the judges and others just trying not to mock her. You know they included her on the show just to have someone to make fun of. They are barely holding back, but you can see it in their faces and gestures. It's almost sad. And then she starts to sing. People stand, clap and cry. It's amazing.

These stories make parents crazy on so many levels. First, you feel protective of her. When I watched the pre-performance interviews, I just wanted to take her out of the back room and protect her from the pain of being humiliated in front of the crowd. And, I felt this way even though I had heard she did a bang-up job.

Second, you cannot wonder what her life would have been like if someone had been on her side at a younger age. What if a teacher had heard that voice when she was in high school? Would she have been a music star? Would the kids have been nicer to her? How different would her life have been if someone discovered her talent before she hit middle-age? It took Susan Boyle 47 years to stand on that stage, but she said her dream was to sing in front of a large audience and when she finally did, she blew away everyone.

It's the kind of thing that makes parents chase every possible interest their child might have. I have to admit I've done it. When the girls were really small, they loved to sing and dance, so I signed up for Kindermusik classes. Now they want to learn to golf (like Daddy), so they are going to golf camp this summer. They love their Lincoln Logs, so we bought a bigger set.

It's not that I think they will be Broadway stars or play in the LPGA, but if it interests them, I want them to have the opportunity to try it. I could see the blond twin growing up to be an architect. She loves to build, destroy and rebuild. I could see the brunette twin playing on the high school golf team. The key, though, is it has to be their dreams coming true. It's what I hope most as a parent -- that something we do will help them find their place in the world and make their dreams come true. And I hope it doesn't take them 47 years to have an opportunity to live the dream.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Targeted Requests

Yesterday, after a lovely church service and indulgent brunch, we spent the rest of Easter out in our yard. It was a nice day, so we took advantage of the weather and did some yard work.

A little while after we came outside, the blond twin came up to me and whispered, "Mom, I have to ask you a question, but don't tell Dad." She then took me by the hand and moved me a few feet from my husband to make sure he didn't hear her question. She whispered, "Is it okay if I bring out a few dishes, please? We want to play with them in the little house." I said, "Sure, but only two each." She smiled, reported my response to her sister and the two of them went into the house.

A moment later I started laughing. I said to my husband, "Well, that was quite the targeted question." His answer would have been "no."

I realized that there are patterns to which parent gets asked which question. I see it all the time when we are driving and one of their favorite songs comes on the radio. Just yesterday the brunette twin said, "Mom, we can't turn up the music because Daddy is in the van, right?" She knows that Mommy lets them crank up the volume for certain songs. She also knows that if she wants to hear Taylor Swift sing Love Story six times in a row, Mommy better be driving. Daddy will put up with the song two times in a row and that's it.

What kinds of things come to Mom? Here are a few I can think of right now.
  • Turning up the volume on their favorite song
  • Play the same song over and over again
  • Playing a game in three rooms (aka making a mess in three rooms)
  • Painting or other messy crafts
  • Painting their nails
  • Setting a "pretty" table with the cloth napkins, good dishes, etc.
  • Wearing clothes that just don't match
What comes to Dad?
  • Watching television
  • Wearing out-of-season clothes (short sleeves in March, sure...)
  • Going outside to play
  • Eating cookies
  • Eating anything unhealthy (hot dogs, cocktail wieners)
  • Having a picnic while watching TV or a movie
  • Picking movies for movie night
It's interesting to me that they are already working on how to get their way with the least resistance. Clearly we have our own prejudices because they figured out who will do what -- and how often. What makes me laugh is when they have a side conversation about who to ask. Sometimes they agree and sometimes they don't. Just the other day the brunette twin asked me something and I said, "Not now." She reported this back to her sister who said, "I told you we should have asked Daddy."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Who needs jelly beans?

We learned an important lesson tonight. We need to start shopping for Easter candy sooner. It's not like we wanted to wait until Good Friday to buy Easter candy. It's just that we didn't quite get around to it sooner.

We're in the grocery store a couple of times a week. The last few times whoever went would come home and say, "I forgot to pick-up Easter candy." This never caused any panic as in years past, there was an abundance of candy. You could go in the day after Easter to buy bags and bags of leftover candy at a 50% or 75% discount.

Not this year. I called my Mom to say, "You won't believe this, but we could not find any jelly beans. We went to several stores and every one of them was out!"

My Mom replied, "I know. I went out on Wednesday and couldn't find any either. I went to five different stores." Huh? I was counting on her having jelly beans in the Easter baskets she makes for the grandchildren.

Now, the girls will have plenty of candy on Easter morning. We did pick-up some chocolates shaped like Easter eggs and those great pastel, sugar-coated marshmallow eggs. I know they will hardly notice the missing jelly beans, but you can bet that next year we remember to buy our Easter candy a bit earlier!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Musical Adventures

Okay, I admit it. I really don't want to hear another Hannah Montana CD. The Miley Cyrus music isn't any better. I realize I'm not her audience, but I still have to listen to it if the girls are listening to it. I don't know why the Hannah music bugs me. There's something about the Hannah/Miley songs that annoys me.

I'm not this way with all kids music. I'm okay with The Wiggles, Dave Rudolph, Miss Laurie and other children's performers. I can sing all the songs from every Disney movie. We went to the Dan Zane's and friends concert last year. I think my husband and I had as much fun as the girls.

Lately I'm looking for new music to add to the collection. I'm really happy one of our nieces introduced the girls to Taylor Swift. I like her music. It's country/pop with songs you can sing and lyrics that don't embarrass anyone. From what I've been able to read, Taylor is a nice, normal young woman. All in all I think she's a pretty good influence, so all is well there.

Now I just have to figure out how to "lose" the Miley/Hannah CDs. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It Really Works

Overheard at our house...

Mom: "Why are you wearing those pants? That's not what you were wearing this morning."

Blond Twin: "I had to change my clothes. Sissy tickled me so hard I peed in my pants."

Mom: "What?"

Brunette Twin: "I just kept tickling and tickling and tickling her and then she peed in her pants."

Blond Twin: "It was fun."

Mom: "Don't do it again."

A bit of background...I always threaten to tickle them to until they pee in their pants. I just never knew it would work!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Doing the Chuck E Cheese

I know as soon as I post this I'll break a streak I'm quite proud of, but here goes. The girls have never been to Chucki E Cheese. Their only exposure is from PBS Kids. If you watch children's television on PBS, you know that there is a non-commercial* with a bunch of kids doing jumping jacks and a voice over announcer talking about how Chuck E Cheese supports a healthy lifestyle for kids.

The girls think jumping jacks are called Chuck E Cheese. Yesterday one of them said, "Do you want to do some exercise? Let's do the Chuck E Cheese." The next thing I knew, they were doing jumping jacks in the family room and asking about their form. I just laughed and complimented their effort.

We used to go to Chuck E Cheese before the girls were born. The nieces and nephews had birthday parties there. All I remember is that it was loud and, well, loud might be all I remember. I think there was some animal band playing music, which made it louder. The blond twin can hardly sleep after she watches the Little Mermaid. She's up all night crying about Ursula and the eels. Can you imaging how little sleep we'd get if she watched the animal band sing? It would scare the @#*!! out of her. I wouldn't sleep for days.

Yes, I know I'm a bad parent. It's nearly a rite of passage for children to hang out at Chuck E Cheese. I have friends who take their children there during the week, when it's not so crowded. They don't love it, but it's one of those things you do for your children.

Me? I'm on a 5 1/2 year streak during which time I've managed to avoid the place. I figure if I can make it another year or two, the girls will be nearly too old for it. I don't know if it's possible, but I have my fingers crossed.

*Why a non-commercial? PBS technically doesn't have commercials. It has sponsors. It's a fine line, but we'll go with it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sorry Disney!

Once upon a time I was in public relations. I worked as the media spokesperson for several organizations during the course of my career. Right now, I'm feeling more than a bit sorry for Disney because it is the middle of a p.r. nightmare that it didn't create and cannot control. This sounds like an odd statement until I give you a bit of background.

We live in Illinois, a state currently the source of much entertainment due to our recently impeached Governor, Rod Blagojevich. As expected today, Blago (as he is known) was indicted in a 75-page United States criminal complaint. We knew it was coming today, so no one here is in an uproar. In fact, you can bet that most people spent much of the day checking their favorite news source to see what they "got" him on.

The reason I feel sorry for Disney is that at this moment, our former governor is hanging with the Mouse in Florida. Yes, it was announced this morning that the governor and his family are visiting Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. In fact, because he's such an egotistical maniac, he's even registered under his own name. Several radio stations tried to reach him this morning. Yeah, we agree. He's not the brightest bulb in the pack.

All day long the news reports on every radio and television station, as well as the newspapers and web sites have been talking about what Blago is doing at Disney on the day he knows he's being indicted. The speculation has been hysterical. Is he having lunch with the Princesses hoping Jasmine will spirit him away on the flying carpet? Trying to escape Earth via Space Mountain? Perhaps he's trying to hop a raft to Cuba? Oh, the lines have been both funny and sad. It's the kind of publicity no business wants, especially one that is supposed to be the happiest place on Earth.

Since I've been in their shoes, you can trust me when I say that the Disney public relations department is really wishing Blago was anywhere else right now. So, this is my public apology to Walt Disney World. We're sorry he's there right now, but the reality is it will probably get worse before it gets better.

Blago has been a great source of material for Saturday Night Live since this story broke. Can you imagine what they will do now that he's in Disney on the day he is indicted? Personally, I'm setting the DVR so I don't miss it.