Thursday, February 25, 2010

What's In a Name?

At my kids’ school, there are some specific rules, especially in the older grades. For one thing, all the students must shut their mouths and stand whenever an adult enters the room. I didn’t find this odd as it is a sign of respect I thought still took place but apparently it’s not the case.

The other instance is addressing the teachers. Now I personally try very hard to make my kids include each comment, answer, request, etc. with a ‘m’am’ or ‘sir’. Again, something I found common and here in Texas, pretty common. The school is not different. Now there are times students feel very comfortable when the teacher says a joke or the classroom atmosphere gets relaxed.

The other week, one of the boys in Miley’s class addressed the teacher as ‘dude’ as in ‘dude, I had the right the answer’. Immediately, the teacher asked ‘Did you just call me dude?’ and the boy slowly nodded his head. The teacher then said, ‘Sit down and see me after class’. The boy ended up getting written up-- a very big deal at our small school.

My first thought was the teacher was a bit extreme. I see kids in public addressing older people in that manner often--it kind of creates a more familiar, relaxed relationship.

Does it really matter if you call an adult ‘sir’ or ‘dude’?

Well, that depends on the relationship you want. When a child addresses you with a formal title, it keeps in mind who is in charge but when you start to speak as ‘friends’, the person is charge is up for grabs. And the adult’s authority goes out the door.

I am personally a big believer in not being my child’s friend--I am her biggest fan, her biggest helper, her biggest admirer---not a friend. She can walk out the door and get a friend. She can’t just get a new parent.

As a parent (and also part-time home school teacher), I know it is critical to have her respect. I don’t have her respect, she won’t listen. She doesn’t listen and all is lost.

It’s that simple.

So no, a teacher should not be called ‘dude’ or ‘buddy’ or by her first name. Beside the full last name (with the Mr. or Mrs. of course), the only thing that really works is ‘sir’ or ‘ma’m’.

And that is my soap box for today.

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's Not the Pan that Makes the Chef

The rental pots and pans and knives we got from insurance are about the cheapest, low quality stuff you can imagine. I am sure most college kids have a saute pan than me.

Cooking is the one thing I really love to do. The one thing that relaxes me and helps me to focus on the good things in life and forget the bad, at least for a little while. It has been a challenge.

The cooktop and I got off to a bad start. I burnt bacon. I never burn bacon, that borders sacrilegious here. And then I burnt scrambled eggs--who the heck burns scrambled eggs. Apparently me. So I have been adjusting levels, moving around pans, compensating for the very thin tin that makes up the pan and it's gotten a little better.

Last night I decided to go with a classic red beans and rice. I admit I struggled a bit with the cheap chef knife, not my 5 star pro Henkels that can slice paper. Using a cutting board the size of a small writing tablet, I managed to dice the celery, green pepper and garlic pretty well.

The bacon had a bit of issues in the pan but all in all, it worked. (I am not getting into the rice--I'll just say I miss my rice cooker.) The family was happy and felt a bit better about my favorite hobby even if I was a stranger in a strange land ;)

And today my husband brought home the new Jamie Oliver 'Food Revolution' cookbook. I got this book for Christmas and I had barely a chance to glance at it before it went up in smoke. Glancing through the pages, I am actually starting to feel a bit of me coming back. I found quite a few things I could make without all my fancy tools.

I know it might sound silly to so many of you but this small victory is just one step making me feel normal again. And it feels good!

Monday, February 15, 2010


The hardest thing for me to watch during the Olympics is someone falling, no matter what the sport. I can almost see dreams crashing to the ground as they hit the ground in the middle of a jump, down a slope or on the ice. It kills me. I physically put my arms out wanting to hug whoever it is because I can just feel that pain.

The thing is, the athletes don't let a fall destroy their career even if it's at the Olympics, when all they have worked for most of their young life is on the line. They just brush themselves off and try even harder. And when you hear them talk about the fall later on, they consider it something that helped them in the long run. The fall made them a better athlete.

Watching athletes fall is kind of like watching your kids fail. It really sucks to watch. I want to be like the 'Catcher in the Rye' and catch my kids before falling off the imaginary cliff whether that be grades or sports. But if I am always there to catch them, what happens the time I am not there.

There are positive lessons in failure. Last semester, Miley bombed and I mean bombed a geography test labeling all the countries in Africa. She insisted she did not need to know placement. She knew the spelling so she figured it would be a piece of cake. Wrong. I hated driving her home the day she got that grade. She cried and cried and cried more.

I tried not to cry with her.

She decided on her on to study her next continent, South America, much more intently. She made fake maps, found online quizzes, used index cards. And got a perfect. Had she gotten a B on the Africa test, she would not have tried as hard the next time and would not have been rewarded with her amazing results.

It was a lesson for both of us.

So there is a positive side to failure and falling. It's just really, really hard to watch.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Little Tim Gunn

One of my very good friends gave me some sweat pants after I lost my clothes in the fire. I have not worn sweat pants in forever. I do have the cute yoga pants, the stretchy legging workout pants but sweat pants, I have not worn those in forever. Not because I hate them but because in pilates or running, sweatpants just seem kind of cumbersome.

So fast forward to this morning. The snow is pouring, I mean pouring outside. I know I will be going absolutely nowhere today. I pull out the grey sweat pants my friend gave me an put them on, along with a pink hoodie. Because if there was ever a day to dress down, this is it my friends.

I was sitting on the couch enjoying some coffee and in bounds little Spanky. He smiles and gives me a morning kiss and hug. He sits by and then looks at my clothes.

"You should get dressed mommy," he smiles.

I laugh. "Sweetie, I am dressed, see?"

He laughs, really hard. "Those aren't clothes mommy."

I guess the fashion bug has hit him pretty early.

(And speaking of clothing, has anyone see the hoodie-footie? Goodness, if I got that as a Valentine's gift I'd have to question my husband's sexuality or at the very least be concerned about out marriage. )

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Just 5 minutes of the 4 hours spent in the car the other day

"I am going to see Tyrone, and Dino you can see Pablo."

Spanky is jabbering away behind me in the car, deciding his plans for the rest of the day with his brother.

Dino chimes in "Yes, and we will play vikings. Sarah, you can play with Tasha."

Sarah (who may have been annoyed that she was yanked out of the girls' dressing room after ballet class because she was still chatting with her friends about only-she-knows-what for the past 18 minutes after class, or was even more annoyed that after a day of school work followed by dropping her sister off after an activity and then driving for 45 minutes to get to her only class only to find herself back in the car) shouted "The Backyardigans aren't real. They are ani-mat-ed (she accented every syllable). You can't meet them."

"Oh yes I can," Spanky (who was amazingly chipper after spending over 90 minutes straight in the car driving back and forth and back again) disagreed.

"No you can't," screamed Sarah (yes, screamed).

"I know you can't," Dino, the boy sitting in the middle wanted to make peace. "But we like to play Backyardigans."

Sarah wanted no peace. "Well you know Dino, Lightning McQueen is not real either. Did you know that?"

"He is too, I saw him. He's a car and cars are real," my usually very calm Dino was getting his feathers ruffled at this point.

"He can't talk. Does our car talk? Does it? Do you hear it talking?" Yes, she is still screaming.

"Well our car isn't Lightning McQueen," Dino began.

"Just stop OK," insisted Sarah.

And Sarah looked out the window hoping for the tornado that would take her to OZ, which is real (in Sarah's world).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

So there is a country song I like

I'm shocked to even write that. I can't stand country. Really can't. I can listen to all the old time big band stuff with Dino, the rock with Spanky, the showtunes with Miley and the classical with Sarah. But I can't listen to that country stuff with. At least all of it but one song.

The other night I turned on the Grammys to try and act under 35. Didn't work too well, I was lost and confused during most of it. Then The Zac Brown Band took the stage and they were really good--guitar playing that really blew me away. Kind of like a Lynard Skynard sort of Southern Rock.

And it was a lot of fun.

The next day I shocked my whole family and downloaded one of the songs, adding it to the 'morning glory' playlist and the 'hanging out' playlist and yes even the 'clean-up time' playlist. The kids even liked it. And they hate country just like me. Well we did. I just may download this entire cd and enjoy it with some Shiner in my Wranglers and Ropers (OK, more like Joe's Jeans and Sudini Italian boots but close enough, right?).