Monthly Archives: December 2007

Be careful what you ask for…..

Well, you know the rest of the saying.

So I just got back from another whirlwind trip to Houston to visit the in-laws and my Dad. As expected, I got the crappy present from my MIL. Once again, even though I have told her innumerable times, she got me something from Bath and Body Works that I can’t use because I AM ALLERGIC TO IT!!!!! On a high note, we took the Things to see the fabulous production of the Nutcraker that the Houston Ballet does. It was as fantastic as I remember.

So, about being careful….

I will now admit something that is somewhat embarrassing. Ok, not somewhat, very. I don’t speak Spanish.

So what, you may say.

Ummmm…..I live less than 300 miles from the border of a large Spanish speaking nation.

Again, so what?

My very white German husband speaks Spanish very well.

Ok, get to the point! What’s the BFD?

My parents both speak Spanish fluently and spoke it almost exclusively at home as children and my maiden name is one of the more common Mexican surnames.

Oh. That is a little embarrassing. I see your point.

Yup. A point of shame in my household. As my Dad would tell it, all of my grandparents were really upset that my parents never taught me or insisted I take it in school (I took really useful things like Latin and Russian). He even jokes that his father visited him in a dream recently and chided him that I STILL couldn’t speak Spanish.

And I always get called on it, too. A lot of Hispanics in Austin will always try to speak to me in Spanish first, and since there are an awful lot of Hispanics here, this happens on a fairly regular basis. I thought I could get away from it when I visited DC a few years back. Oh, was I wrong. I was in the checkout line of a grocery store and the Hispanic clerk spoke to me in Spanish first. When I told him I couldn’t speak, he gave me the old tsk tsk. The best story is when I had some work done on the house a few years back. The crew was mostly Hispanic (ok, I was having floor installed so I’m not responsible for checking their immigration status) and kept trying to talk to me and I had to keep referring them to my husband. Anyway, I had to leave for a bit, so I left them my cell phone number with my first and last name on it. When the crew chief saw it, he turned to one of his guys and said, in Spanish, “Oh, she’s Jewish” (my last name could be construed as such for those who aren’t knowledgeable of German/Central European names). Nice to know I was the topic of conversation.

So, this is more than a little embarrassing. Over Thanksgiving, my Dad was giving the normal shite about not speaking the mother tongue when I told him that I had always wanted the Rosetta Stone software and that if he got it for me, I’d learn it.

He called my bluff, so now I have to learn it. And I know how expensive it was, so I really have to do it or he’ll be pissed. Gulp. More updates as events warrant.


Friday Haiku 12/29/07

Happy Hai-day! The holidays are coming to an end, and I’m in a little bit of a funk. So, here is my funk-y Haiku. If you need more, don’t go all hari-kari on me, click here.

Holiday letdown
Will be setting in here soon.
Party is over.

One last trip to take.
A long drive, then more family.
Dad and the in-laws.

After that, drive home.
Time to get back to normal.
Must look at budget.

Back to school and work soon.
Everything went so darn fast.
But it was so fun.

Memories were made.
A good time was had by all.
Time for the New Year.

What will 08 bring?
The New Year has such promise.
Best wishes to all.

Resolved: Thursday Thirteen

Happy TT everyone! Well, it’s after Christmas and we’re approaching the New Year. So you know what that means, right? The dreaded Resolutions. These aren’t so much resolutions as realizations. Mainly realizing that I am rapidly approaching middle age and I need to make a few changes. So, this week’s theme is: Thirteen things I will do next year (actually, starting now because why wait?) to be healthier.

1. Drink more water and less soda. Pretty obvious there.
2. Be better about taking my vitamins.
3. See a dentist more regularly. I’ve been blessed with really strong teeth, so I’m not as careful as I should be. This needs to change.
4. Refine my workout. It’s not as effective or as fun, so a little shake-up is in order.
5. Get better sleep habits. Need to cut back on the night owl a bit, especially since I can’t make up for it during the day.
6. Eat a larger breakfast and a smaller lunch. More protein at breakfast will be helpful.
7. Pay closer attention to portion sizes.
8. Stop eating after 8, unless it’s a rehearsal night, then a light fruit snack.
9. More fruit and vegetables, and salad doesn’t count.
10. Get my moles checked out. No reason, just a good idea in general as I have never had it done before.
11. Keep my regular physical exam. Don’t need a mammogram this year, but I do need to check all the other stuff.
12. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s almost all small stuff.
13. Encourage my spouse to do all of the above.

So, what plans do you have? What’s your TT? Play along here.

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2007, approx 1 am
Merry Christmas, everyone!

I hope you have/have had/are having (choose your tense) as enjoyable a day as I have. Still have more to go though. Phone calls, cooking, all that jazz. But we had a successful morning and are enjoying our booty from Santa. Which is giving me an unexpected few minutes to blog.

Santa, you say? Aren’t your kids a little old for Santa? How have you pulled off the Santa ideal this late?

Well, it’s not easy, but with some planning, you too can bring your kids into double digits with Santa. You have to be somewhat dedicated to the cause though. One minor slip and it’s all over. I mean, I have kids that are digging through trash and setting up a surveillance system, so I have to be on my toes. Here are my steps for fostering a belief in Santa:

1. Encourage pretend play. This is a good parenting tip in general, but it helps with the Santa thing since they are using their imaginations.

2. Use technology to your advantage. Santa has email, a cell phone, and text messaging. He also outsources to the guys in the mall. Since these kids are used to the concept of FedEx and UPS, the concept of same day delivery is nothing new to them.

3. Never have Santa handwrite anything. Your kids know your handwriting, no matter how young they are. If you must have something handwritten, have a distant third party do it. Better yet, type everything. Especially gift tags. For an added modern touch, add a bar code. Again, since they are used to seeing this, and you’ve already convinced them that Santa uses technology, they won’t even blink when they see a bar code on their present.

4. Use the same paper for all Santa gifts, and never ever let them see the paper. I bought a ton of paper that I’ve been using for the past couple of years. It is well hidden away from other wrapping paper in the house. Every scrap that may fall or be left over from wrapping is taken directly to the outside trash bins so that it won’t be discovered.

5. And don’t forget the snacks, for both Santa and his reindeer. Reindeer are messy eaters, so sprinkling oats around the ground is a nice touch. They also like carrots, which need a little nibbling to get the right look.


freakin’ reindeer, such messy eaters…

Those are the basics. The best tip however, is consistency. Stay on message and you can make them believe anything. Just ask Karl Rove.

Even with all of my efforts, I’m thinking that this is the last year for Thing 1, the ten year old. Thing 2 tried to set up a surveillance camera, but he forgot to turn it on after he set it up and oh well. Better luck next year, Big Guy….

I have another thought coming from all of this….is all of this deception such a good idea? Or is it just fun? Too deep for today, so I’ll ponder it and come back to it soon.

Merry Christmas to all!

Friday Haiku, 12/21/07

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And it’s the most wonderful day…Haiku Day! Or perhaps I should call it Hai-day? Anyway, here is this week’s installment. I know I’ve kept some of you waiting until 4 pm…sorry about that. But it’s been a crazy day! This week’s theme: My holiday letter. I’ve had to redact a bit, but I think it still flows well…

Still need more haiku? Try here.

My 2007 Christmas Update Letter

Two thousand seven
It was a very good year.
A haiku review.

Thing 1 is now ten.
A fourth grader he is now.
Where did the time go?

Soccer, Webelos.
Takes up a lot of his time.
He so enjoys them.

Likes to play goalie.
He is very good at it.
World Cup here he comes!

Thing 2 is now eight.
Second grade is so much fun.
He really likes school.

He plays soccer, too.
And is also a cub scout.
Reading his passion.

Thing loves animals
Says he wants to be a vet.
Asking for a snake.

Spouse is busy, too
Working at a new job now.
Not as much travel.

Still has GTO.
Leader of the Webelos.
Is church webmaster.

Melissa is well.
Cellist in an orchestra
Family Chauffer.

Denver in July.
Visited friends and uncle.
Picture is from then.

Blessings to you all.
We miss you so very much.
Please to keep in touch.

Merry Christmas everyone! Gonna be really busy the next few days, so I probably won’t post again until Thursday or Friday of next week. Later!

Thursday Thirteen, Happy Holidays Edition

Welcome all! Hope you are having a Happy TT. In keeping with the holiday spirit, I present you with Thirteen things I really like about the holidays:

  1. My Christmas Tree. It’s simple, but it really reflects our family.
  2. Baking cookies for our friends. Yummy!
  3. Picking out gifts for my family. I like to come up with something that they never would have thought to ask for, but is exactly what they wanted. Sometimes I achieve this.
  4. Playing my cello at Christmas Eve candlelight service.
  5. The fact my kids still believe in Santa. But Thing 2 is going to set up a video camera for the second year in a row. We’ll get around that again, I’m sure.
  6. Christmas specials like Charlie Brown, the Rankin-Bass Pantheon, the Grinch, and Muppet Christmas Carol.
  7. Getting photo cards and seeing how big all the kids have gotten.
  8. Coming up with a fun holiday letter. I made mine a haiku this year, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Check again tomorrow to see it.
  9. Taking my kids to paint ornaments at the Ceramics Cellar. We’ve been doing this for nine years and we have a ton of ornaments now.
  10. Wondering how bad the Christmas present from my mother-in-law will be. I’d take it personally, but everyone gets a crappy present from her, so it’s actually become a joke to see who gets the worst one.
  11. The party we throw for our friends. It’s easier than buying them all presents, and it’s probably cheaper in the long run, too.
  12. Setting out the cookies, diet coke, carrots, and oats for Santa and the reindeer.
  13. Having the time with my family to relax and reconnect.

    So, what’s your Thirteen? Join us here and here!

Geeks of the world, UNITE!

I don’t know why I’m letting this bother me. I’m a grown-up and I should just get over myself, but this go around it just chapped me. This always happens near a concert series.

What is it, you may ask? Well, it’s about my cello playing. I usually send out a blanket email inviting people and I’ll tell lots of others about whatever concert happens to be going on at the time. And without fail, everyone is really supportive and thinks it’s so gosh darn cool that I play the cello.

So why does this bug me? Well, 17 times out of 20 it doesn’t. But those three…

Those are invariably the type of person, if not the actual person in some cases, who would tease me about being an Orchestra Geek when I was a kid. Seriously.

Playing the cello as an adult is cool. Playing it when you are 14 is not. This comedian captures it beautifully. Watch it, I’ll wait. Ok, it’s not all about being a cello playing geek, but it is really funny.

Hey! Thanks for coming back! Funny, yes? Ok back to the post…

So these adults I interact with now are all over the fact I play the cello. About how cool it is, and how they wished they had either 1) taken up an instrument or 2) kept up with the one they started in middle school. Again, this isn’t most people who express that same sentiment. It’s that certain subset.

And it bugs me because? They are teaching their kids the exact same attitude. That being expressive and different as a child is weird and something to be mocked. These are the uber-Stepford families that do and watch and wear all the “right” things. And they are the ones who end up being “leaders” in PTA, sports, and the community. As time passes, their kids are the ones who are starting to look at my kids and think that they are a bit odd. They aren’t odd. They are individuals and not afraid to show it. So far. Am I doing a good enough job of making them feel secure in themselves so that when the inevitable teasing starts in earnest that their individuality holds sway?

Julie at Using My Words had thoughts on that subject today, which is kind of what lead to this post, although it’s been in the back of my head since Friday. See, on Friday, I received an email in response to a question I sent to the Governance Board of my school district. I had asked them their plans for starting an orchestra program. There have been rumors and all, so I thought I would try and get some straight answers. Well, my answer was that it just wasn’t something the district was interested in doing. Excuse me? Why? No specific answer, but I can tell you that the district I am in is going through some serious growing pains in changing from a rural district with an emphasis on vocational ed and sports to an affluent district with much different priorities. But the subtext of the message is clear to me: orchestra isn’t for this district. Oh, we’ll see about that….

But back to Julie’s point. It’s so hard to keep the individuality of the kids in this increasingly homogenized culture. And that individuality is so important! It’s the “odd” kids, the geeks, the weirdos, that get anything done. These uber-Stepfords think all the latest gadgets are soooo cool. And seeing the Nutcracker is a great tradition. Let’s not forget all of those wonderful holiday specials like Rankin-Bass. Where do they think this all came from? It came from people who not only think outside of the box, but probably don’t even own a box to begin with. What do you think is going to happen when more and more kids succumb to the pressure and stop being themselves? We, and I’m speaking as a culture here, do not place value on the talents that make our society better. Just look at the tumbleweeds in the halls of engineering departments across the nation. And yet we expect innovation and excellence to just magically appear.

And that’s why I’m annoyed. You mocked me as a kid. But now you need me. It’s ok, I’m still willing to give you what you need. Just do me a favor. If you really think it’s cool, and you aren’t blowing sunshine up my skirt, teach your kids NOW the value of being an individual. In fact, maybe even encourage them to be geeks themselves. Just think of the stock options they’ll give you.