My new office

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I love this time of the year.  I also love wireless.

May 09-02

My staff during our morning meeting.  Notice the casual dress code (pants optional).  Casual is what I am all about as a manager.  I got the table on a whim (on sale too), and we have used it a lot.

May 09-04

The reception area.

May 09-05

The boss’s office.  Notice the snazzy new RED planner.  I can see that I need to have the maintenance crew come in and do something with the floors.

We went home to see my family for Memorial Day.  It is virtually impossible to get four kids to look decent for a photo, but add one great grandmother and voila!  Maybe some day I will take a photo where all of my kids are wearing clothes.

May 09-09

Going home at this time of the year only serves to remind me that I live in the corn-infested end of our state.  We saw all kinds of wildflowers (notice the new profile photo).  It makes me homesick.  Of course they have had incredible amounts of rain, like 2 inches in one shot, it has done wonders for the grass and flowers.  Be looking for additions to my 100 plants!

Mom gave me a Stephanie Plum book.  I am re-reading it.  I think I am going to swap it for the one where Ranger…well you know.  Do you know which one that is?  This one is so funny though, I might keep it at that!  I like Ranger best, but Joe is okay too.

Mady’s Treasure

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They announced the winners of the 24 hour writing contest this evening.  Indeed a watched inbox never boils.  I got an honorable mention, in the top 31 but not the top 3 out of around 500.  I am esctatic.  I get a magazine subscription and a book.  Cool huh?  Well, it isn’t $300, but I didn’t expect to win, since I don’t write this kind of thing as a rule.  I read the top three entries, and at the end of two I said Eeeew. They were good stories…As good as this?

 

 

 

Mady’s Treasure

 

 

Mady crawled on the ground behind the woman she called Mam.  Mam was a poor replacement for her mother, but neither Mady nor Mam had another choice.  “I am lucky to be here and not in the fields,” Mady reminded herself as she sprinkled celery seeds in the trench Mam had just plowed.  Being a yard slave was much better than being a field hand, even if Mam was a harsh taskmaster.

 

“You putting dem too close together, lazy girl, spread dem seeds out more,” said Mam.  Mady sat on her haunches and stretched her back.  She had learned long ago to hold her tongue when Mam criticized her.  Any protest only brought anger.

 

The Georgia sun beat down on the kitchen garden, and created mirage lakes in the distant fields. The tiny leaves on the oaks trembled with a passing breeze and Spanish moss fluttered in the branches.  She could just see the south field where the slaves planted cotton.  The cadence of their song rang across the valley.  The throbbing rhythm pushed her to work at a steady pace.  It would be a lovely day if only she didn’t have to work.

 

With a sigh, Mady pushed her toes into the soil to bend over again when her toe bumped something hard. Turning so she could scoop the dirt aside with her fingers, she found a tiny, tattered purse. As she held it in her palm she could feel something inside it.  Glancing at Mam to ensure her secret treasure was still a secret, she slipped the purse into her apron pocket. 

 

Mady spent the next few hours wondering what could be in the purse as she helped plant the garden.  As she sowed carrots she wondered if she would find a coin.  What would she do with a coin?  While she followed Mam down the cabbage row she dreamed the purse contained shiny beads.  Planting lettuce reminded her that the purse might contain a lacy handkerchief.  The anticipation brought excitement to an otherwise routine day.   

 

Throughout supper, Mam complained bitterly about having to raise such a lazy child, who wasn’t even her own daughter.  “If that Molly hadn’t have gotten uppity, she would be raising her own chillen,” she muttered to her husband Felix, who grunted in reply.  Mady had been living with Mam and Felix for five years, and Mam had voiced the same complaints every night for five years.  Mam and Felix had been asked to take Mady in when her mother left, and Mam was none to happy about it years later, although Felix didn’t seem to mind.  Mady tried to be as good as she could, but it really didn’t matter, Mam just didn’t want Mady around.

 

After washing and drying the dishes, they usually sat around the fire for a brief spell.  Finally she couldn’t wait any longer.  With a yawn Mady stood and said, “I am going out to use the privy then I am going to bed.  Working in the garden all day plumb wore me out.”

 

“Don’t know how you could be tired with all that day-dreamin’ you done,” Mam replied tartly.

 

“Hush now, you two.  People is tryin’ to sleep,” said Felix.

 

As Mady stepped outside the shack, she slipped her hand into her apron pocket, the small purse felt like a secret fire.  The purse itself was exciting, but the thought of something in it was incredible.  She raced down the trail to the sprawling crabapple that guarded the privy.  At the base of the tree she collapsed, clutching the purse in her hand.  She held her breath and opened up the clasp.

 

Inside the purse she found a lump wrapped in paper.  She peeled back the paper and stared in amazement at the tiny porcelain doll in her hand.  Never had she seen anything so lovely.  It had black hair and pink cheeks and pouty lips.  Her dress was pale green with miniature roses on it.  Even her tiny black boots were perfect.  Mady had no idea such a beautiful thing could exist.  As she made plans for her new doll, Mady scratched a hole in the dirt and buried the purse under the tree where nobody else would find it

 

In the failing light Mady peered at the wrapping paper, she could see something written on it.

 

Follow the creek north until the second bridge, then, follow the woods to the west.  The third house you see will be a safe house.  Give them this doll as payment and they will take you to safety. Molly.

 

Mady decided to take the note to Jerome to see if he could read it.  It was rumored that he knew a few words, but nobody spoke of it since her mother’s banishment.  When Master found out that his children’s maid had learned to read he sold her to the first slave trader who stopped.  That had been so long ago Mady could barely remember her mother’s caress and soft lullabies.  Mady snapped back to reality.  What if the note revealed the doll belonged to Young Miss?  Mady would never see it again.  She couldn’t risk loosing this treasure.  Quickly she folded the paper and tossed it down the privy hole and pocketed her doll.

Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy

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Skenazy is the mother who let her nine-year-old son make his way home from Bloomingdale’s in NYC.  I remember hearing about this.  My first reaction was, “Oh, my!  I would be scared to make my way anywhere in NYC alone!”  Then I realized that it was his hometown and he had been traveling it with his family for years.  The more I thought about this the more I thought she might not be crazy after all. 

 

When I was a kid my mom let me loose in thousands of acres of hills rife with dangers including rattlesnakes and coyotes, drowning in the crick, breaking a leg in a hole, poisonous plants, getting chased by mean cows; all nature of dangers lurked in our back yard, and few were within yelling distance.

 

When I heard Skenazy had written a book, I found it on Amazon and bought it, new.  (I don’t even GIVE new books as gifts to my family, much less buy them for myself.)  I started it the day it came and finished it less than 24 hours later.  When I got to page 45 I thought, “I want to remember this, maybe I should…gasp…fold the page down.  No, there were some good things before this too,” so I got a pen and started underlining.  I haven’t done that in a book since college.  The first line I underlined was, “Normal childhood has become just too risky to permit.”  This was said in sarcasm.  But is it is true?  Mothers my age said that 70% of us used to play outside everyday, but only 31% of us let our kids play outside regularly.

 

The point she hammers is, “The statistics cited by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children itself show that the number of children abducted and killed by strangers holds pretty steady over the years-about 1 in 1.5 million… .00007 percent…if you actually wanted your child to be kidnapped and held overnight by a stranger, how long would you have to keep her outside, unattended, for this to be statistically likely to happen?  About seven hundred and fifty thousand years.”  It does happen, but almost never.

 

Skenazy’s book is really funny and a clear headed look at why we parent the way we do.  She has some great examples of people panicking over things that nearly never happen, like not remembering that your child is much more likely to be in a car accident while you are taking him to school than to be abducted while walking to school.  Her big tips were…turn of the news (and anything produced by Jerry Bruckheimer) and trust your kid and others to do the right thing. There is nothing wrong with talking to strangers.  Just don’t go off with them.

 

I am going to do my best to follow her advice as my kids get older, she makes a lot of good points.  I highly recommend this book.

 

We read Corduroy tonight and the little girl, Lisa, goes to the department store by herself to buy a toy.  I always kind of wondered about that, but it was written in 1968.

 

Randomness Volume II

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I am just warning you, I have a book review coming.  I am reading Free Range Kids, and I haven’t laughed so much at a book in years, maybe since I read Red Sky At Morning the first time (or the last time, it is still hilarious).

Dad updated my virus program today.  It ran out a few weeks ago, and I have been internexting without any protection.  Maybe my junk emails will go down too.  Sheesh I hate finding all that crap in my inbox.  Anyway, I found out that I am not allowed on Xanga or Facebook because they are too “adult.”  (Dad did break down and give me the password.)

Randomness Volume 2

 

Why don’t they put the contents on the narrow side of cake mix and cereal boxes?  My cupboard space does not allow me to store my boxes like a grocery store where you can see the face of the box.  I would really like to open my cupboard and know what kind of cake mix I am reaching for.

 

I think I figured out why Leo’s favorite color is yellow. Construction equipment is yellow!

 

I wish it were possible to buy a left handed mouse, you can change your mouse on your computer, but switching back and forth is a drag when you have two lefties, two righties and one computer.  I have settled for making the touch pad left handed. Drives Dad mad, but then he isn’t left handed, and he rarely uses it, unless he is updating my virus protection.

 

Do they make left handed underwear for men? (they don’t for women)

 

I have two universities in a bidding war to do an archeological dig in my van.  Unfortunately they are Kid’s Kollege and Toddler University (home of the Screaming Tantrums) which neither have much of a budget for research.  It doesn’t look so bad until you realize that the blue coat is at the same level the arm rests are, and it is on the “floor.”

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I started drinking my Coke straight out of the box in the garage.  I guess I like lukewarm, flat Coke better than lukewarm, flat, watered- down Coke.

 

Doesn’t it seem dangerous for the bunny in Goodnight Moon to have pet kittens? 

 

I love books that have maps in them.

 

I figured out why Rachel Ray uses Extra Virgin Olive Oil (E-V-O-O).  I looked on the shelf above my stove and noticed I have Pure Olive Oil.

 

We have a skunk visiting us.  He has been around the last two evenings, although I haven’t seen him.  The .22 is ready for when I do.  I don’t recall killing anything except maybe a rattlesnake, but I could kill a skunk easily.  I have not heard the dog notice him, so that is good, but Jake is more friendly than smart so it is just a matter of time, and where is he anyway?  It is past his bed time, he should be home protecting his family.

 

Testify

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Tomorrow I am the featured speaker at MOPS.  I am to “give my testimony.” 

So I have practiced a couple of times, I think I have it down pat.  My concern at this time is that I will either scare away all of my friends, or just scare them.  I was on the speech team in both high school and college, so I am at ease speaking in public, even if I don’t know what I will be talking about.  I am hoping that it won’t be too much information…

We are having High Tea, so I have to bring my own tea cup with a story (I will have to make something up here because the only tea cup in the house is from GD’s family) and devilled eggs.  They are cooling in the fridge now.  Unfortunately they are pretty bland.  I made them pretty gummy so they would travel better, and that took the taste out of them.  I am bringing 30.

Useless information Dec/Jan edition

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    Did you know?

   In 1926 Herbert Sellner tested his idea by putting his son in a chair on a table and rocking the table back and forth.  Over the next year he constructed 14 wooden Tilt-A-Whirls in the back yard of his Minnesota home.  The ride is based on unexpected or “chaotic” motion. 

230px-Tiltawhirl

  Since 1927 Sellner Manufacturing has produced over 1000 rides with over 600 still in use.  Tilt-A-Whirls now feature steel and aluminum construction and seven cars operated by electric motors; rather than a wood frame, nine cars and gas engines.

   If you like to ride vintage carnival equipment, Tom Evans United Shows, a traveling carnival, still operates a 1927 model.  If old carnival rides make you nervous, you can buy yourself a new Tilt-A-Whirl for the low, low price of $300,000. 

 

The Breakfast Dilemma; the Cereal Aisle

            As I was paging through the Sunday coupons a couple weeks ago I saw a coupon for whole wheat PopTarts.  Whole wheat?  Does this make them remotely healthy?  Our local grocery manager Pablo says they devote 72 feet of shelf space to PopTarts alone (this would be square feet).  Their cereal aisle is 82 feet long, totaling 328 feet of shelf front filled with a confusing array of breakfast cereals.   

            Is bagged cereal as healthy as the boxed stuff?  Is whole grain better than low sugar?  Does anyone actually serve cereal as “part of this complete breakfast”?  What makes cereal healthy?  I asked Cami, Dietician with the County Extension Service these questions.

            “Look for whole grain as the first ingredient…and at least three grams of fiber per serving”, said Cami.  Some companies advertise that their cereals are made with whole grain, but it might be low on the ingredient list.  Enriched or wheat flour is not a healthy first ingredient.  Corn meal is also not considered a whole grain.

            Guidelines vary about the suggested amount of sugar, from less than 5 to less than ten grams per serving.  According to Cami, “It is hard to find cereal with less than 5 grams, so I recommend focusing on the whole grain and not worrying about the sugar as much.”  You can make a “fun” cereal more healthy by mixing a whole grain cereal in with it.  I suggest doing this in a container, rather than as you pour, so your kids are none the wiser. 

            Also pay attention to where in the aisle you find your cereal.  Cereals aimed at kids are placed at their eye level and slightly above.  Healthier choices tend to be on the top row.

high fiber cereal

Healthy Cereal

 

 

Yummy Cereal

 

 

Past Its Expiration Date Cereal

Team Meeting

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 A friend of mine has been asked to teach a parenting class, focusing on discipline, to our local homeless shelter.  Tonight I was reminded of my biggest triumph as a parent.

We were at my grandmother’s house, she was 90.  My entire family was there, my brother (who has no kids) my dad and his friend, my uncle and his four kids and their spouses.  My kids had toys scattered from Hell to breakfast and it was time to go.  I called a meeting.  The kids sat down on the floor in a semi-circle around me.  I called roll.  The kids love roll call.  If the baby is asleep I call for him then I determine we have enough for a quorum and we continue the meeting.  He was present this time.  We discussed the fact that we were leaving to go to Grandma and Papa’s house and we needed to pick up the toys so Great Grandma wouldn’t fall over them.  * My family is a little amazed that I have four kids, and sometimes I think they wonder if I am up to it.  I often feel exactly the same way.*   My children agreed that the toys should be picked up.  They all got up and proceeded to pick up all of the toys, no whining, or stalling or anything.  They just picked up the toys in an orderly fashion.  When I got my jaw out of my lap I looked around the room and saw my cousins admiring the way my children behaved and my brother standing there with his eyebrow raised.  My children couldn’t have picked a better time to be angelic.  I am still proud. 

Team meetings make people feel they are part of a bigger thing, a team, rather than just four kids running amok. 

I just got done reading The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen and my, oh my, can that woman write.  I love to read a book that has me asking, “Now where is this going?”  I should not check any more of her books out for a while, since I got nothing else done while I was reading it.

 

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