Friday, March 28, 2008

Jelly bean bangle bungle

In the category of "I can't believe they did that," I saw an item on the news wire that caught my attention. It was touting a craft project to do with kids to make edible bracelets. Their bright idea was to string up jelly beans with elastic so little girls could snack on the beans while wearing the bracelet. Do you see a problem with this? Maybe I'm being a little too critical, but have you ever held jelly beans in your hands for any length of time? You wind up with a rainbow of colors in your palm as the coating melts away. Plus, consider how attractive that bracelet will look with little bite marks or half eaten beads. Why not string up real beads for a lasting bracelet and serve the beans on the side?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Timeout" at the jail

I just can't wait to hear what Faith told the teacher about her day off Monday. Because my husband's co-worker was out sick, he dropped her off at the newspaper as it was too early to make other arrangements. Faith watched a movie on her DVD player while I made my beat checks. I knew I had to cover a brief memorial for a slain deputy at the law enforcement center, but she had her crayons and could color quietly. The event gave me the opportunity to talk to her about sacrificing oneself for the sake of others. She's a mature kid and I knew she could handle the brief tribute to commemorate the death of Joseph Whitehead who was killed in a drug raid two years ago. His youngest son was a little younger than Faith when he lost his dad. I think that gave her a greater appreciation for the solemnity of the occasion. But by the time it was over, she was ready to go. I had a few more shots to get and some interviews to do. I noticed a chair next to the podium and I told her to sit there and I'd be finished soon. The sheriff noticed her sitting (facing the wall) and thought she was in timeout. He bent over and turned her chair around to be sitting behind him as he talked with reporters. He thought he had emancipated the girl who was wrongly imprisoned in his jail! She said she couldn't wait to tell her teacher about "going to jail." I just hope she remembers the larger lesson of service and sacrifice.
- Liz

Monday, March 17, 2008

the best gift ever

I've always been one for making my own gifts - especially for parents and grandparents. I think the switch was hit after a third-grade project in which we all wrote the sotries of our lives as Christmas presents for our parents. IT was the first time I saw my mom cry over a gift.
So years later, I'd still rather give a scrapbook or photo album than the latest gadget. And finally, someone has caught up with me. lets enterprising writers, bloggers, journal-ers publish their writings in a bound format, perfect for giving (or keeping). And has a more basic book creation kit that lets you insert photos, scan in and publish scrapbook pages, kids' artwork, school papers and certificates, then write a little about them. The books arrive either hard or softbound, in a few weeks. I discovered them during one of Daniel's school fundraisers and thought they'd be a great gift for grandparents who don't get to see the work that comes home from school.
Sure 'nuff, made 'em cry.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What's the point?

The worst thing my mom could do to me as a tenneger was ground me OUT of my room. I would spend hours in there, reading and listening to the radio. "Come out, be social, spend time with your family," she'd say. I can't imagine what it would have been like if I'd had my own phone or TV in there!

But these days, it's typical to see a television in every room of a house - even the bedrooms. And kids are getting in-room television privileges younger and younger.

Daniel is occasionally allowed to take his DVD player into his room, but I don't think that's the same as a tv - where I might not know what he's watching or for how long.

And there's no way he's getting his own computer in there - at least until he's in college and will likely have his own laptop. In college, I guess I'll be pretty limited in saying "now, don't go meeting any crazy people online, dear." At that point, he's either taught or can't be taught.

For me, it's not just a matter of knowing what he's watching and what he's doing on the computer. It's that there are so many OTHER things I want him to do. Play ball, race cars, play board games or read. Go outside and dig in the dirt or ride his bike or his scooter, play with the dog, kick a soccer ball. There's so much more going on in this world that doesn't tie us to a computer - if I let him get hooked on video games and television and the Internet now, how will I show him those things?

Plus, there's the exercise factor. Kids who spend all their time in front to the TV or computer aren't running, jumping, sweating and getting dirty. Hey, I have a boy - at some point in my future I'll be able to say "the lawn needs mowing" and a teenage boy will slouch his way out the front door and do the job for me! (No, I'm not under the delusion that he'll do it willingly, but hey, I'm the mom.) At some point, when there's major yard work to be done Chris and I will have another pair of hands to help us dig the garden, pull down vines and weeds, chop up and haul off small trees and underbrush. Daniel likes to "help" now, but in the grand scheme of things - well, let's just say most of the branches outweigh him. But as I watch him puttering around out there with us, I'm glad he's not in front of the television.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hail to the chef

Faith wanted to know why daddy's scrambled eggs tasted different than mommy's. So recently I showed her step-by-step how to crack, beat and cook the eggs to fluffy tenderness. She was a quick learner and was ready to put her new-found knowledge into practice. The next school day, she told her father that she would be making the eggs. Aside from the butter burning in the pan and nearly setting off the smoke alarm, she made the eggs and more importantly she ATE them. I realize a 7-year-old can not cook unsupervised, but I believe it's healthy for her to know her way around the kitchen. One day, I hope her husband and children will thank me. But more lessons are needed as we had what the airlines might call a "near-miss." The scary part is, no one realized the pending disaster that was looming in the kitchen. Faith decided on a recent Saturday that it was "massage day" which meant she would treat her parents to her version of a massage before we even got out of bed. When I heard her in the kitchen, I told her not to worry about breakfast as I sensed she was getting ready to pour cereal for "breakfast in bed" in addition to our spa treatment. Not long before our massage session was about to come to an end, I thought I smelled natural gas. I did! On really cold days in our older house, my husband puts a huge pot of water simmering on the stove for auxiliary heating and humidification. Turns out Faith decided to add water to the pot (the noises I heard in the kitchen) had spilled some water that put out the gas flame. We turned off the burner and began the continuing lecture about cooking safety. While I want her to enjoy cooking, I don't want her to have a blast!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Online kids

I've had a couple of wakeup calls this week. First, when I went to pick Daniel up from the after-school program on Monday, my child was the only one not online in the computer lab. "He'd rather watch 'Arthur,'" said the teacher. But all the other kids were happily playing games or surfing the 'net.
This morning, I spoke to a middle-school class about blogging and other online writing careers. When I asked how many had a MySpace or Facebook page, almost every hand went up. Wow. Wasn't expecting that.
I guess because I grew up without video games in the house, and before the Internet (it wasn't THAT long ago!), I don't see the need to have my kindergartener wired. He can play board games, or cars and trains, or paint outside on the front porch. He can use his hands for more than steering a mouse, and the more active I keep his little body, the easier he goes to sleep at night (in theory).
He has one computer game that I let him play about once a week. In time, we'll expand that repetoire, and I'm kind of attracted to the new Wii - hello, golf? boxing? tennis? I'm awful at those sports in reality, but maybe I can do better in a virtual world. And I remember playing "Oregon Trail" and "Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego" in my own middle school years.
But I'm not sure I want my kid online and hooked in to the Internet just yet. My discussion turned from careers to "beware" pretty quickly. It seems some of the kids had already gotten into trouble for what they'd posted on their MySpace and Facebook pages. Yikes!
So what do we do about it, moms? And how much computer time do you let your kids have? Next time: computers and tvs in their rooms: yea or nay?

Monday, March 03, 2008

full force response

I was sitting at my dining room table doing paperwork Saturday when I noticed a police officer in my back yard. "Interesting," I thought. So I called the dog and Daniel in and asked him to play in his room before going outside myself.
As I walked out front, I saw a police officer climbing the fence to my neighbor's yard. As I watched, he walked all the way around their pool - a popular place with myself and Daniel in the summer. As he was looking for a place to climb back out of the yard, I called to him that the gate was unlocked. "Thanks," he replied. And around the corner came the dad.
"Have you seen a little girl?" he asked. My heart skipped a beat.
"Blond hair, about this long, blue eyes, named..." and I had to reply that I hadn't seen her, but that there were a bunch of kids playing at the house on the hill behind me all day. So off he went, in the middle of a parent's nightmare.
The point is, he had backup. Lots of it. I continued to watch and I saw no fewer than eight police cars canvassing the neighborhood over the next half-hour. And I guess they found her, because then they all left.
So Daniel and I had a talk about why it's so important that, if he's playing outside, he stay in our yard. Longtime readers will remember when he ran away with the three-year-old next door, and the only reason it was funny to me then is because I found him before I even started looking. But, oh, was he in trouble! And he doesn't even remember it now.
So as the weather gets nicer and the kids spend more time outside, maybe it's time to have a little chat about boundaries and wandering off.
Either that or get a subcutaneous GPS. It'll come in handy when they're teenagers, too. (That's a joke, y'all)