Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Shenanigans

So last week I had posted about our awesome son.  His lively personality helps ensure there is *NEVER* a dull moment at our house...

Yesterday afternoon, he caught me completely off-guard when he asked, "What's inertia?  And is it a property of matter?"


Then a few hours later, he came downstairs with a giant pile of socks that he'd excavated from the bottom of the closet.  He dumped them on the floor, then proceeded to sniff each of them individually and proclaim them either clean or dirty.

I laughed entirely too hard at this activity, but did manage to grab the camera.

In other news, our daughter missed out on a nail painting birthday party last weekend, so she asked me to help her do her nails on Monday evening.  Love that she still likes to do things like this with me...

* * We now interrupt this normal blog post for a mini-rant.  I hate manicures and pedicures.  I don't find them relaxing or fun, I think they're a waste of money AND time, and I am constantly gobsmacked by how much people spend on their nails!  And frankly, I hate that little girls are thinking this is normal to shell out $20+ each week.  I can say with complete certainty that the only manicure party A will ever have would include a basket of supplies from the Dollar Store on our kitchen table.  OK, deep breaths and step away slowly...

On a funny note, we were having a little family chat after dinner last night about how some of the kids' friends are allowed to do different things - specifically stuff like playing M rated video games, watching whatever they want on TV, or staying up late at night.  We told them that we set rules for them because we love them... A shocked me when she said something like, "I think the strict parents are the best."  That is not something that you expect your 9 year old to say.. and while obviously we're not parenting based on their approval (ha!) it was nice to know that she does understand that we love her and those parameters are for their own good.  Kind of wish that I could have recorded the moment so I could play it back to her in the future when she complains that we're too strict ;)

Finally, I share a photo of our living room a/k/a the laundry station.  This is what it looked like 4 minutes before I had a group of ladies arriving for an informal Bible study.  And know what?  I didn't freak out and stash everything in our bedroom.  I knew we'd be sitting around the kitchen table rather than in this room, and I chose to be real.  And know what?  One friend actually told me she loved that I'd left it sitting there, because she felt more comfortable about the piles she had at her house.  Our living room doesn't always look like this (although it has been pretty crazy the past month or so as I've been selling off a ton of unneeded things, and I swear the process of sorting always means it looks 10x worse before it gets better!!) but I'm learning to let people in even when it's not perfect.  Because here's a little secret: *I* am not perfect, and pretending to be is ridiculous and exhausting.  And frankly I could use a few more friends who are accepting of my imperfections -- and what better "test" is there than airing our laundry? :)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Our not-so-little boy...

Our son will be turning 11 next month.  How did this happen?!?  He is a great kid - he's very creative (he's made some pretty awesome LEGO creatures/structures/weapons :) and throws himself whole-heartedly into whatever he's doing.  He's also closing in on puberty (gahhhhh!!!!!!!!!) and is also starting to have more opinions on his personal style.  Right now, for instance, he really wants to have longer hair.  He came down on Monday morning and announced that this bedhead look was totally awesome, and he was wondering if I could help him gel it this way each day.  No, he was not kidding.

Random side note: I love this photo because it's a real smile - I shot a bunch to get one natural grin rather than a goofy "cool" look or a pained grimace.

So back to crazy boy.  As he climbed into the car yesterday, he announces he had the worst day ever.  This usually means that he got in trouble, so I asked how many tallies he'd received (teacher logs issues, and their total count over the quarter basically determines their rating for behavior).  Answer: zero.  Hmmm, I'm now confused, so I ask what happened. He wails back: "They have me down as white!"

(Pardon me while I struggle not to erupt in laughter because obviously this is upsetting to him)

Turns out that they'd distributed the standard annual school report with its summary of test scores and EEO breakout.  He's quite proud that he's a mix of Italian, German, Slovak and Scandinavian - and I then explained to him that just means our ancestors were from those different areas.. and well, they're all European, which means he's *white*.  And he's the only one classified that way in his homeroom (although he pointed out that there are several in his class that "look about as white as me" but still classify themselves as Hispanic even if only Mom or Dad is Mexican).  Holy cow, I cannot remember the last time I laughed so hard!

Anyhooo, he'll be going into sixth grade in the fall, and last evening was the orientation at the Middle School.  I have to admit that it was boring and frankly uninformative - the highlight was the 3 minute walk-through tour (we were in a group with one of the assistant principals, and she at least had a sense of humor: "And here are our A/C units - oh good, you all ARE paying attention!").  UIL (university interscholastic league) is a big deal down here, and essentially it's competitions between schools in various topics... I had to laugh when I read the handout and saw "Calculator Skills" (it's actually advanced problem solving in math, but they are allowed to use calculators in this portion), and then there are also speaking/drama categories. Including "Spanish Poetry Interpretation" in which "students prepare a piece of... poetry to read out loud (not memorized) in front of an audience. Gestures, voice, and facial expressions will be utilized to bring the story or poem to life."  I may have threatened to sign him up for that particular topic if he started misbehaving ;)  Seriously, though, he's having a hard time deciding between choir or band, so is planning to take a survey among his friends.

After we endured all the monotone speeches, I took him over to Orange Leaf for Frozen Yogurt.  I had a smidgen of sugar free chocolate topped with fresh strawberries.  He had, um, - peanut butter swirled with salted caramel, pineapple, and cotton candy yogurts, topped with M&Ms, sprinkles, gummy worms, brownie chunks, and I can't even remember what else.  My stomach hurts just looking at that thing!  Oh well, it was a fun outing, and we even brought our spoons home for A to use as Barbie shovels :)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Another episode of "Life in the Valley"

We've been here for over four years now, but I still occasionally have moments where I shake my head and mutter, "We're not in Pennsylvania anymore..."

  • The former owners' "tree guy" stopped by (again) to ask about trimming the large tree in our front yard. I have clearly but nicely (I *thought*) told him that we were not interested in his services, and last time he came by, I told him that he was welcome to do the work for free (convey your point with humor, right?!)  This time he tried to hug me REPEATEDLY and said, "for you, I will do for free." Um, NOOOOOOO.
  • I volunteer at our kids' elementary school once a week.  A number of 1st and 2nd graders are identified (through test scores and teacher recommendations) and get a little extra help with reading and such.  Many times these kids speak only Spanish at home, so their English vocabulary/exposure may be fairly limited, so simple tasks like matching words/picture may be slightly harder (words like bud, quilt, fog, etc.).  I also need to remind myself that we're just in a different climate, so plants, weather, etc. are also different.  Today, one of the worksheets we did together had a sketch of green beans - both of "my" kids identified them as mesquite pods.  Neither of them knew what beets were, and both completed a sentence where a boy was giving something to a girl with "beans" ("Why yes, a pot of charro beans would be lovely, thank you!!")
  • A friend lives one school district over; it is a smaller community. Her son attends public school, and consistently is a top scorer.  He also repeatedly gets notice of violations because his somewhat wavy hair starts to brush the tops of his ears.  They were also off yesterday for Mexican Constitution Day (of course no vacation for Martin Luther King Day, President's Day, Veteran's Day, Memorial Day...)  This is the same school that had the theme "Keep Christ in Christmas" for their float in the community holiday parade last year.
  • I still long for more variety in our restaurant choices, particularly in regard to ethnic food.  Olive Garden ≠ Italian! There are Mexican restaurants on virtually every corner, but how about Vietnamese, Portuguese, Thai, or even plain old American diner fare? Well, we *ARE* getting a Cracker Barrel and Popeye's soon ;)
To be fair, I will say that I do enjoy the fresh citrus, generally mild winters, proximity to the beach, having a pool, and the lower costs of housing... but I don't know if this white chick will ever truly fit in.