Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hello, yeah, it's been awhile . . .

I confess that while there have been several goings-on in Brewmeisteria, it seems that as soon as I would catch my breath long enough to consider posting here, that something else would crop up—thus banishing whatever tendrils of thought that had begun to take root. Today’s post shall be a summation of the past few months’ events.

The Husband Fixture had a successful hernia operation at the same time a dear friend was having a cancer biopsy done. Thankfully, our friend’s operation went well, too. He still awaits conclusive results, though.

Princess Gingersnap began her youth cheerleading season in August, which involved five nights of practice per week until school began. Practices were then reduced to two nights a week, plus games on Sundays. Her last game was this past Saturday, and her team won the league championship for their division—happy days all around. She also enjoyed holding court at her annual birthday slumber party, which was an homage to her Glee obsession. I have to admit I was rather impressed with myself for pulling off the decorations and slushie cupcakes.

Prince of Distraction lived to see his twelfth birthday, though I would not place any bets on his continued existence. He remains unconvinced that his homework is important and will substantially impact his grades. Husband Fixture and I are, of course, working to disabuse him of these notions.

Other festivities of late have included the Halloween themed game night party I hosted. After several months of denials, I finally got selected to host one of the Houseparty.com parties. This one involved trying two (new to me) board games, Quelf and Logo. I must say that both were fun, though Quelf was definitely more fun to play while intoxicated.

And this weekend shall see me hosting one of my biggest events of the year. It will be my third annual Murder Mystery Event, about which I shall post separately. While I had hoped to have enough time this Thursday (my scheduled day off) to make final preparations, it seems I have more time on my hands than I could have anticipated. Poor Gingersnap has been ill for the past two days, so I took her to the doctor today. She has strep throat, so I’ll end up home tomorrow, too. Either way, I’m still counting down to the weekend.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Steel City Vacation

I’m baaaaaaack! That’s right, folks, I survived what had to be the Busiest. Vacation. Ever. The drive out to Pittsburgh was uneventful, but I wish I could say the same for the return trip. But I’ll come back to that later. After settling into our room, HF and I took the kids to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2. I was quite pleased to see that the series was finished off as well as it had begun. My mother-in-law chose to go to the casino, but was already in her room when we returned.

The next day began bright and early, so we could get to Kennywood (amusement park) as they were opening. Poor Princess Gingersnap was just an inch shy of the tallest height restriction, and therefore had to miss out on the Thunderbolt, one of the best wooden roller coasters ever, and the Sky Rocket, their newest coaster. She did, however, get to ride the Racer, the Phantom’s Revenge, and the Exterminator for the first time. As is our custom, we stayed until closing.

The following day we took the tour of Heinz Field, which not only took us through the team museum, but we got to see the press box, locker rooms, and the sidelines. GO STEELERS!! Afterward, we enjoyed a tasty (and reasonably priced) lunch at Grille 36, Jerome Bettis’ restaurant. Then we walked back to the hotel and napped until it was time to go to the Pirates game.

The game was delayed for about forty minutes due to the rain, but since we had the “All you can eat” seats, the kids were kept entertained until the game resumed. Before the second inning, there were rumbles of thunder, and flashes of lightning, and the players left the field. It poured for another forty minutes or so before the game started again. The Pirates beat the Reds 2-0 and held on to their first place spot in the division. That made for a fun night, and a lovely walk home.

Our last full day was spent at the zoo and the Pittsburgh museum (a local branch of the Smithsonian, which happened to be across from our hotel). I got lots of cute pictures, but my favorite was one of the tigers, lying by a waterfall. I don’t usually have such good luck with photos, so this was especially impressive. The museum was pretty cool too, as they had a sports exhibit with displays from all the local professional and school teams.

As for our trip home . . . For some reason, my MIL seemed hell bent on pushing all my buttons, and I had to exercise remarkable restraint by not cursing her out and/or slugging her. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to pull into her parking lot (so I could be rid of her).

Unfortunately, I was unable to relax at all, because we had to go to the doctor’s office for HF. And wouldn’t you know it, they screwed up the appointment. The gorgon at the desk insisted there was nothing she could do, and that he should come back tomorrow, but I pointed out that we had just driven five hours to make it back for the appointment time that they gave him only the day before. She shook her head at us, and I walked out before my temper got the best of me.
Apparently, that nudged the old battleaxe into gear, because somehow, she magically found out a way to work him in . . . And to think, I actually wanted to do medical office work once upon a time. Yep, it’s back to reality, all right.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sweet Summertime

Normally, our summers are fully booked well ahead of time. But this year, due to some scheduling snafus, we’ve found ourselves making up our plans as we go along. Despite my Type-A tendencies, I’m having a wonderful time. For once, we were home to spend the Fourth of July holiday celebrating with good friends (whereas we’re normally at the beach, but with my step-mother-in-law’s elderly neighbors). And last weekend, we went down to the Jersey shore (yes, that Jersey shore) with some dear friends. The riptides were brutal and the life guards wouldn't let anyone in more than knee-deep water, and we all had sand in places we'd rather not mention, but we all had a marvelous time.

This weekend is our one and only pre-planned trip. We’re heading to Pittsburgh with my mother-in-law. I cannot stand traveling with her, but it's her hometown. So there's no way we could go without her. Besides, the only non-smoking room they had was a king, so the kids will have to stay in her room. Oh darn.

We will, of course, spend a day at Kennywood, and another day touring Heinz Field and enjoying Pirates game. They’re playing the Cincinnati Reds, which should be entertaining—especially since we got the “All you can eat” seats. Another possibility is a visit the Pittsburgh Zoo, to which we haven’t been since I was pregnant with Princess Gingersnap. We’re all excited, and even tie dyed tee shirts in black and gold to wear on the trip. Best of all, we’re using Husband Fixture's Hilton Points for the trip.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Of Thieves and Droids—Part Deux

On Sunday, we attended our friends’ annual Memorial Weekend party.  On the way there, we had to stop and find a wifi signal to hijack so Husband Fixture could post the final paper for his Master’s course, as we had been without the internet since Thursday.  Once completed, we had even more reason to par-tay.  (Yes, I spelled that correctly)

Our host had recently been inducted as an honorary member of a fraternity at his alma mater, so in addition to the usual crowd, his frat brothers attended.  Oh, how amusing it was to watch our dear friend try to keep up with the college boys.  My hubby and I were among the last few people standing at the end of the night.  Good times. 

The next day, we had to run out for a few things, including a new cell phone.  My phone ended up going for a swim the night before, and as they no longer make that phone, I’d have had to wait a few days for a replacement.  Yeah, not happening.  So I bit the bullet and upgraded to one of the Droid based phones, despite my total lack of interest in the, “there’s an app for that,” craze. But a few of my friends own these devices, so I knew I’d have help setting the danged thing up and using it. 

Then began what we now call the Hangover Redeux.  Basically, we invited a few friends to hang out at our place and nurse our hangovers while the kids ran rampant.  And a member of my personal Geek Squad helped me with my phone.  I’ve almost gotten the hang of it . . .    

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Of Thieves and Droids—Part One

First, an update: 

In case you’ve been living under a rock, you already know that Hines Ward won Dancing With the Stars.   Needless to say, I was thrilled.  Now we just need that blasted NFL lockout to end, so he can return to playing football.  

Memorial weekend was rather eventful.  The chaos began on Friday, where I was scheduled to work at the high school library.  I was pumped about this assignment until I arrived to find that a nearby road had been closed and several teachers and subs were going to be late or calling out altogether.  I was re-assigned to a Biology classroom.  As I was reading through the lesson plans, the originally scheduled sub walked in and relieved me. 

My next assignment was for an English classroom, and I actually enjoyed my day—until I went to grab my car keys out of my purse and discovered my wallet was missing!  I dashed back to the classroom (which was at the opposite end of the school from the office, of course) to check that it hadn’t fallen out of my purse or something.  No such luck.  I was telling one of the secretaries that I was going to check my car before filling out a report, and the principal overheard and offered to walk me to my car.  My wallet wasn’t there, either, so the report was filed. 

I dashed home, and began making the necessary phone calls.  Husband Fixture and I were fortunate that I had discovered the theft and were able to report it before any suspicious activity occurred on any of our accounts.    And since I had no cash in my wallet, they pretty much only got a nice Coach wallet out of the deal.  HAH!  Take that, you thieving bastard! 

Not to be deterred from enjoying our weekend, we packed the kids up and sent them off to Grandma’s so we could enjoy dinner and a movie with friends as planned.  Dinner was fabulous, but we did have another snafu at the theater.   The show we wanted to see was sold out, and so was the next one.  So our friend Todd checked the listings for a nearby theater on his iphone and we were in luck.  We parted ways, and I somehow ended up riding with Todd, despite the fact that neither of us knew how to get to this theater.   Mr. Todd’s Wild Ride ensued, as we zipped through traffic and ended up in a residential neighborhood a few streets over from the theater.  I also developed an even more vehement loathing for iphones. 

But we did get to the theater in time to catch Hangover II with the rest of our friends, and enjoyed it thoroughly.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Classical and the Crass

I don’t normally watch Dancing With the Stars.  But when one of my favorite athletes, Hines Ward, signed on to do the do the show I made it a priority to tune in.   It is also not my habit to blog about  tv shows, but this week provided way too much fodder for discussion (even if that discussion was only between me, myself, and I). 

This week’s theme was classical, which I really enjoyed.  Even if the dances sucked, I had the chance to listen to some of the most beautiful music ever composed.  The only thing that really bugged me—besides Hines and Kym getting gypped in their scores, was the whole “Bolero” thing that almost every number contained.  For those that don’t get the reference, I guess I’m showing my age here.  Think Olympic ice dancing with  Torvill and Dean. They earned a perfect score (and the gold medal) with their performance to Ravel’s Bolero in 1984.  The number ended with both skaters lying on the ice.  For a few years after that, it seemed every ice dancing number ended with one or both of the team lying on the ice.   

Speaking of death, Kendra really needs to go the hell home.  Not only does she lack the grace and elegance for ballroom dancing, she cannot keep her mouth shut.  When the judges commented on her lack of elegance, she said, “I just don’t care about it.”  The next night, during the results show, Brook Burke asked her about her performance, and she admitted to not feeling her best due to , “womanly things.”  Really classy, Kendra.  

Something I did notice was that Jennifer Hudson (who performed beautifully) wore a dress that made her look like a Polly Pocket doll.  It seemed like it was cut too short, and I was concerned that there would be a wardrobe malfunction.

And speaking of wardrobe malfunctions, what’s up with Kirstie Alley losing her shoe?  Last week her partner dropped her, and this week her shoe comes off.  She just can’t seem to catch a break.  I hope next week goes a bit better for her (though not so well that she beats my boy).

Last but not least, I have to mention that the Lieutenant Len bit was bloody stupid. For those that were lucky enough to miss it, allow me to spoil your blissful ignorance.  Len, one of the judges, dressed up like George Patton with sequin accents. No, I'm not joking.  How I wish I were . . .   The celebrity contestants were dressed in army tees, hats, dog tags, and camo pants.  He barked "orders" at them, as he explained next week's theme to them (songs about America).   I have no problem with doing a cute bit to introduce the next week’s theme, and I get that Len is the toughest of the judges.  But the theme is patriotic songs, and he’s British!  Did I mention the whole bit was stupid?

That’s it for this week’s rant.  GO HINES!!  

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Of Gimmicks and Godfathers

My followers (all four of you—thanks!) already know my posting here isn’t exactly regular, and the posts themselves are pretty random.  I originally intended to have a discussion topic per week at least, and possibly feature one famous left hander per post.  That obviously never happened.

And after reading some of the other blogs I follow, I think my main issue is that I don’t have a special theme or features for my blog.  As proclaimed in Gypsy Rose,  “Ya’ gotta’ have a gimmick.” Of course, once this realization smacked me in the head, I began wracking my brain to figure out what my gimmick should be.

I guess I'll be saying hello to his little friend soon.

Thank heaven for Facebook.  I stumbled upon blogging gold the other day, when some of my friends began quoting from the movie Scarface.  Upon my admission that I had never seen this film, I was informed that it was a lot like The Godfather, only more violent.  Uhm . . . I haven’t seen that one, either.*  I was threatened with shunning by my obviously cooler and more culturally savvy friends.   Luckily, they took pity on me instead, and an Al Pacino movie marathon was proposed.  It will take place over several months, watching one or more movies a week (in order), and we’ll take turns hosting.  This will also, I hope, garner me a few more followers. A girl can dream, can't she?

Of course, if I come up with any other brilliant ideas, or have something to get off my chest, I reserve the right to do so—regardless of whether I have any Pacino posting to do. 

*In my defense, I did at least attempt to see The Godfather.  Husband Fixture and I borrowed the boxed set from a coworker of his.  But the first DVD was damaged, and kept skipping.  It drove us so crazy, we couldn’t get through the movie.   

Sunday, March 20, 2011


The Husband Fixture and I just returned from a week in sunny, Cancun, Mexico.  We tried to smuggle some of the tropical weather home with us, Customs wouldn’t let us.  Rat bastards!  Since we hadn’t traveled out of the country (by plane) in 15 years, we learned a few things on this trip.  As an educator, I feel it is my duty to share these lessons with ya’ll.  That, and do you really want to hear about what a good time we had lounging by the pool, drinking cocktails all day, and partying every evening?

 We left the house at 0615, dropped the kids at the bus stop/daycare, and got to the airport (Newark) and through security with 1.5 hours to spare.  Gold star for us on that one!

 Our plane arrived late, and we had to run across the Houston (Bush) airport to make our connection--only to have our passports questioned.  (The paper was peeling off the cover from when they got wet on our cruise excursion to Dunn’s River Falls five years ago.)  Thankfully, they held the plane and the Immigration official gave us the green light.  Needless to say, we’ll be replacing our passports when we return.  Grrrrrr!

Travel Tip #1:  If traveling out of the country, make sure your passports are valid and in good condition as soon as you start planning your trip. 

Travel Tip #2:  If possible, take a direct flight to your vacation destination.  The reduction in stress and inconvenience will be well worth the extra cost.

Travel Tip #3:  Make sure you have a pen in your carryon bag, so you can fill out the Immigration cards and your Customs declaration forms. 

Once in Cancun, we had to wait to get through Immigration and Customs, which was mildly annoying. But it was really frustrating to find out that when Expedia changed our flight information (the airline cancelled our original flight), they didn’t update the transport company, so we had to wait for almost an hour to get spots on a van to get to the resort. 

Travel Tip #4:  Unless you booked your   trip with a travel agent, make sure you confirm all reservations directly through the vendor, especially if there are any changes to your reservations. 

Travel Tip #5:  If you book a shuttle service, go directly to their booth.  Do not stop for all the vendors that are near the exit. There will be ample opportunities to book excursions once you get to the resort/hotel. 

Travel Tip #6:  If you bring any liquids/gels with you in your checked bags (ie sunscreen), make sure you put those containers in plastic baggies.  This way if they leak, they won’t get all over everything else in your luggage. 

Travel Tip #7:  A driver’s license will usually suffice for I.D. once you get through Immigration in Mexico, so put your Passports in the hotel safe.  If you insist on keeping them with you, keep them in Ziploc baggies. 

Travel Tip #8:  If you must have your phone with you, check with your wireless carrier about the rates for global roaming INCLUDING DATA so that you’re not unpleasantly surprised with a whopping bill when you get home.   

Travel Tip #9:  Bring snacks with you for the plane rides, as most airlines now charge for any food (even pretzels). 

Travel Tip#10: Pack your shoes in with your checked baggage, because apparently, TSA officials find them fascinating.  (They checked my shoe bag TWICE at the airport in Cancun!)

Travel Tip#11:  For all-inclusive resorts (or at least the one at which we stayed), it’s a good idea to bring your own insulated cups.  They’ll keep your drinks cold, and save you trips to the bar.  Oh, and you can pack your swimsuits in them, too. 

As I said, we had a wonderful time, but the trip home was LONG and tiring.  We lost two hours from Cancun to Newark, and we were still adjusting to Daylight Savings Time.  Blech!  Coming home to a house that looked like a tornado hit it didn’t help, either. 

Travel Tip #12:  Only bother to clean your house before going away if NO ONE will be there while you’re gone.  Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your time. 

Travel Tip #13:  Take an extra day off so that you don’t have to go right back to work the next day after vacation.  It will give you the much needed time to rest and get your house back to rights/do laundry/spoil your neglected pets.  

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mommysaurus Rex

I think it’s time I face facts.  I am a dinosaur.  Oh, this isn’t about my age, this is about the fact that my children and some of my friends have hinted (or stated outright) that I’m behind the times when it comes to my children’s access to technology.

My children do not have cell phones, nor do I plan to let them have one any time soon.  They do not have Facebook accounts, and in fact are rarely on the computer.  We have a “family laptop” that they may use, with our express permission.  Their accounts are parent-controlled, including the times that they may log in (between 7:00AM and 8:59PM).  They don’t even have tvs in their rooms.   

Lest anyone think I am a technophobe, they do have Zunes with the touch screens and Nintendo DS’s.  But they are only permitted to use them on the weekends.   Oh, and . . .  Hello!  You’re reading my BLOG, so I obviously do not object to technology as a whole. 

Part of this is because I feel it’s my job as a parent to monitor how my children spend their time, and to what material they have access.   All too often, I hear stories of kids being cyber-bullied, running up their parents’ phone bills,  or sending/receiving inappropriate texts.  I hear about kids (girls especially) who maintain contact with someone their parents have deemed a bad influence.  I’ve seen evidence of this in the classroom, too.  I have watched kids texting through their pockets, or by putting the phone in their desks while they fake reading.  Yes, if I catch them, I send the phone down to the office.  They know the rules. 

I’m sure eventually, as my kids get older, I may find it necessary (or at least convenient) to adjust my stance on these things. And at that time, you will likely begin to tire of my tirades on the inevitable nonsense that will ensue.  But for now, my archaic foot remains planted firmly in the ground.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

All the Right Reasons

How do you explain doing the “wrong” thing for the right reasons to your kids?   I ask, because I faced that dilemma yesterday.  My mom, for those who don’t know, is in a specialized nursing home approximately two hours from where we live.  She’s been there for over a year now, and is not ambulatory.  This means she has limited options for entertainment.  Those options are limited even further because she cannot see very well. 

She needs new glasses, but getting them is challenging at best.  The doctor would have to come to her, and she has no insurance.  Husband Fixture suggested that we pick up a pair of reading glasses from the drug store, but she has an unusual prescription—she’s near sighted in one eye, and farsighted in the other.   As fate would have it, I have the same problem.  It only just occurred to me this week to have her try on my glasses to see if they helped her at all.  They did, though she’ll need a stronger prescription.   It was decided that I’d go to the vision center and get an extra pair of specs for my mom to use.

You can probably see where I’m going with this by now (pun intended).  I had to bring the offspring with me when I went to the vision center.  It was challenging enough finding inexpensive frames that looked like something I’d wear, but that my mom would like at least a little bit.   And of course, I had the additional challenge of Princess Gingersnap and the Prince of Distraction questioning me about why I couldn’t just pick out “old lady glasses” for their Nana, and why I planned to tell them that the glasses are for me.

I have, of course, taught my children that lying is a bad thing.  They know that doing so will result in a punishment ten times worse than any other transgression—including, but not limited to, a bar of soap in the mouth.  This method must be working, as I got lectured on how thou shalt not lie.  I explained the situation, but that didn’t fly with them.  They felt I should tell the people at the vision center the truth. 

Thankfully, they managed to keep their mouths shut as I went to the checkout counter and told the sales associate that I needed an extra pair as a back-up in case I lose mine on vacation.  Gingersnap even agreed that I have a good reason for needing another pair.  I’ll take that small victory  . . .  for now. 

*NOTE:  Lest anyone think I’m committing insurance fraud, you needn’t worry.  This was completely an out-of-pocket expense.  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sibling Rivalry

A fellow blogger (Donkeys to College) posted a bit about her brother’s exaggerated claims that she somehow maimed his teddy bear when they were children.  This reminded me of some of my own sister’s tales of woe.  I suppose it’s about time to set the record straight. 

First of all, my sister is five and a half years younger than I, and as the baby of the family, she was spoiled bloody rotten.   I had to be responsible and do chores, while she barely lifted a finger.   I was cruelly flogged for even the most minor misdeed, whilst she merely fluttered her lashes and the most heinous transgressions were pardoned. 

She did the typical younger sibling things—making messes and blaming them on me, swiping things from my room, and getting sick right before nearly every vacation . . .   She had a set of those wind-up chattering teeth, and she would actually bite herself with them and claim that I had done it.  It wasn’t until years later (when I got braces) that my folks caught on. 

She claims I was downright cruel to her.  I was merely acting in self defense.   Take the time when I informed  her that yarn contained parasitic worms that would eat her from the inside out.  My mother used to crochet, so there was plenty of yarn around.  Imagine my mom’s dismay when my sister got sick and mom tried to cover her up with one of her afghans (with tassels at each end).  My sister went ballistic.  I don’t think she will wear or own anything crocheted to this day.    

I also managed to exact a bit of revenge when I convinced her that the clothes dryer was a confessional.  I directed her to climb in and talk to the air vents inside, telling God all her sins.  If she heard one “boom” she was forgiven, if she heard two “booms” she had to do penance.  And never mind the whirring sound (as I tried to start the dryer).   And of course, I derived great pleasure in telling our parents all her dirty little secrets.   

For some reason, my sister still holds a grudge and blames me for all her misfortunes.  I figure I was preparing her for real life by alleviating her of her naivety.  A healthy skepticism is a good thing to have.  She was lucky to have a sister whose maternal instincts emerged so early.  

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Morning After

Yes, the Steelers lost the Super Bowl.  And I’m woman enough to admit that Green Bay played the better game, and therefore deserved to win.  Am I upset?  Not really.  Truthfully, we had a house FULL of friends joining us for the game.  And between hostess duties, and the help of a friend who shall remain nameless getting me inebriated, I missed 95% of the game.   

Now, in the cold light of morning, as I survey the post-party carnage, I am grateful that I didn’t get a work call.  My head is pounding and I’m exhausted.  I am, however, slowly getting my house back to rights—taking frequent breaks to post on Facebook and watch the commercials I missed last night. I’m not in any rush, since Husband Fixture will be in Alabama all week.  That is, if he actually makes it down there.  His outbound flight was cancelled.  He’s got another one, but of course, it’s not for a few more hours, so he gets to hang around the airport a bit longer.  Yeah, today is definitely a Monday.  

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhog Day Fun

Now that I’ve managed to chip the ice off my deck and cars (only breaking one shovel), I have the rest of the day to ponder a few things relating to February 2nd.  

Most importantly, I need to do a little shout-out to the Husband Fixture.  As of today, we have been together for eighteen years.  This means if I’d gotten knocked up when we first got together, the kid would be heading off to college now. 

It appears that not only did Punxsutawney Phil fail to see his shadow, but he is quite aware of the goings-on in the NFL (GO STEELERS!!).   As desperate as I am to be rid of this horrid winter, I’m not sure I can pin my hopes to an oversized rat.  But he is kinda’ cute.  Of course, if old Phil is wrong, then I am prepared to dole out an appropriate--yet tasty punishment. 

As I had already gotten the call that our schools would be closed last night, I indulged my insomniac tendencies, and caught a little of Chelsea Lately last night  (around 0200, so technically it aired today).  I about peed my pants over her comment about Charlie Sheen.  It appears he wants to do his rehab at home.  Chelsea suggested that he invite Courtney Love and Lindsey Lohan over, and they could do a remake of Three’s Company.

As it is too miserable for my kids to play outside today, they’ve been watching Season One of Glee.  While part of me is concerned that it’s really not the most appropriate show for a nine and eleven year old, I can’t help but glow with pride when they sing along to Queen, the Beatles, U2, or the Stones. 

Oh, and one more February 2 tidbit.  Two of our dear friends have decided to have their online “wedding” via Facebook tonight.  I plan to break out the champagne to toast to them, eat cake, and make inappropriate comments to the other “guests”.  It promises to be a good night.  

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Empress Island

I have had it with this mother fracking snow in this mother fracking area!  I need to be on a tropical island somewhere, sipping a frozen drink on the beach.  My son asked me which of my friends I'd rather be stranded on such an island with.  I made the dubious error of posting his query on Facebook, and now my friends are under the mistaken impression that I am in possession of my own private island.   Do they really think I'd still be HERE in Snow Hole, PA, if that were true?!?!

That said, I decided that if my friends were going to vie for a spot on my island, I would make them work for it.  And so I give you:

As with the tv show, contestants will be divided into two tribes, randomly chosen.  Each tribe must choose a leader and compete together in challenges.  After each challenge, the losing tribe must vote off one member.   Tribe members and rules may be changed at any given time by the hostess (Me). 

1.       Tent Trials—Tribes must set up camp for themselves.  The best looking/most functional campsite (as judged by the hostess) wins. The losers must clean my cabin. 
2.     Geek  Squad—Tribes will choose three members to fix my laptop, ipod, and whatever other electronic device I manage to screw up.  Prior service in this area does NOT count.
3.     All Tied Up—Tribes will race to complete a ropes course challenge.  Anyone who falls must return to the beginning of the course and start over.  The first tribe to finish (all members have completed the course) wins.
4.     Movie Madness—The tribe that can correctly identify the movie from which the quotation was taken receives a point.   The tribe with the most points wins. 
5.     Book Bonanza—Tribes must race through a maze to find books that match the clues they are given.  The first tribe to find all the books  wins. 
6.     Grammar Nazis—Tribes will send one member at a time to race to a white board upon which a passage is written.  They must correct the grammar, spelling, and punctuation of the passage.  Each tribe member makes one correction, then races back to the line.  The first tribe to correctly edit the passage wins.
7.       It’s Good to Be the Empress—Tribes must take turns pampering the hostess.  The team who does the best job wins. 
8.     So You Think You Can Dance—Tribes must dance for my amusement.  The most entertaining tribe wins.  An immunity idol will be given to the best overall dancer.
9.     Iron Chef—Tribes will be given a set of ingredients and must cook for me.  The tribe who makes the best meal wins.  The losers have to clean up the mess. 
10.  Semi-final challenge—All remaining contestants will compete as individuals.  The details of the challenge are not to be revealed until that time.   Only the winner and the first runner up of this challenge will compete in the Final Challenge.
11.   Final Challenge—The  top two contestants will explain why they feel they deserve to win a spot on my island.  The prior contestants will give their input and vote for who they think should win.  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

No Chinese For Me, Please

After reading this article:  Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, I realized I am not the meanest mommy in the whole wide world, as I so often tell my children.  Perhaps it’s my Western mentality, but I still believe that children should be allowed to be children, not miniature adults. 

Yes, excellent grades are the expectation in our household, much to the Prince of Distraction’s consternation.   And I completely agree that repetition helps children to learn.  But expecting kids to spend all their time out of school being drilled on their school work and practicing whatever instrument/skill the parent has decided the child should play seems almost cruel. 

I’m also not in favor of insulting a child as a means of motivating them.  Yes, I let my children know when they haven’t met our expectations—in spades.  But as long as I know they’ve put their best effort into that endeavor, I will acknowledge that effort in a positive way. 

I believe in the power of positive reinforcement, as I’ve seen the difference that can make, both with my students and my own children.  Most people seem to like feeling appreciated.   Some people do force themselves to improve after being continually insulted, but I think it happens more out of self-defense. Do they really feel better about themselves once they’ve improved, or do they feel like no matter what they do, it’s not good enough?  I fell into the latter category, as a child, and it was not productive.
I think our kids need us to be their coaches in life, not their task masters.  We need to teach them the rules of the game, encourage them to go out there and try their best, and show them where they went wrong.  That may mean yelling, that may mean benching them, but not belittling them because they’re not naturally the best players on the team.

Logically, it’s not even possible for every kid to be the best at everything, anyway.   So by shaming their children for not having the highest grade in their class, or getting first place in competitions, Chinese mothers teach their kids that it’s only the destination that matters, not the journey.  Never mind that the kid made friends on the soccer team or that they had fun playing the sport. 

Oh wait.  Chinese kids aren’t typically encouraged to play team sports, act in plays, or have friends.  To me, that’s an incredibly sad way to grow up, and I would think the lack of social skills would hinder them as they get older. 

While I recognize that Chinese kids blow U.S. kids away academically, and that their methods obviously yield results, I think the cost is too high for my taste.  I want my kids to enjoy their childhood and learn how to make the most out of their lives.  Feel free to remind me of this when my son forgets his homework again.