Sunday, February 28, 2010

Okay, Sweetheart.

PART 1:

Lara-boo. Lara-chka. Wawa. Boo boo. Wawa de Hut.

My parents had all sorts of terms of endearment for us kids, and though I may have occasionally protested using my pet names in public I always secretly enjoyed it.

Now as a wife and mother I'm usually just called Honey or Mom, which I adore of course.  Glen is  Hunny (yes we spell our versions differently to differentiate) or occasionally Glenny-Boo which inexplicably always sends the entire house into hysterical peals of laughter,  but over the years I find myself subconsciously lavishing more and more pet names on the kids.

Buster Brown, Ems, Ellie Bellie, Camikins, SpenceBence, M & M, CamCam, Elles Bells, Sweety Petey.  

Some of them may be indecipherable to non-family members, but they all know who I'm referring to when I use them and I like to think they secretly like it too.

PART 2:

  Although the Washington DC area is a pretty cosmopolitan place itself, you don't have to look far to realize that we live squarely in Dixie territory.  Confederate monuments and battlefields and sweet old ladies that call everyone, "Hun," dot the landscape and remind us that we are, indeed, officially southerners.

At first I thought the whole southern tradition of calling people you didn't know by a nickname like, Honey,  to be a little too familial for me, but then the other day I overheard Cami and her friends talking:

"It's so cute.  Your mom always calls me sweetheart or sweetie."  
" I noticed that too.  I think it's kind of weird."  
"Oh I never noticed, but I guess you're right.  She calls everyone that, even Spencer's friends. "  
"Ew, now that's really weird." 

CONCLUSION:  

 A)  Being called a sweetie is better than being called weird.

B)  When you stop eating sweets, then everyone and everything turns to sweeties before your eyes.

C)  I have every intention to continue to refer to all of my children's friends as sweeties until they're 87 years old.

D)  If I ever happen to call you sweetie, please don't slap me.



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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ladybug Valentines

Ever since finally finishing my photo-a-day project, I've been wondering what to do with this blog.  It seems too sad to just let it go by the way-side, so based on an idea from a friend I've decided to make this my "Project Blog".  Since I already have project in the title, I won't even need to change the name. 

So these are the little Valentine's that my four and seven-year-olds made for their classes this year.  I got the idea and template from here.

 

I was surprised at how much Ellie and Adam were able to help with creating them.  Both of them did all their own cutting (Adam made 28 and Ellie made 14) and Adam also stuck in all of the brads.   


  
Twisting the black crepe paper around the lollipop, attaching it to the back of the card, and hot gluing the eyes were things they needed help with, but after spending over two hours on cutting and writing Ellie and Adam were glowing with pride at a job well done.

  


 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Flash to the Future Friday

Attention!  Attention!  I interrupt the regularly scheduled Friday posts ( Flashback Friday ) and bring to you a special edition of Flash to the Future instead.

This video is of an elderly couple (married 62 years) who upon arriving at the atrium of the Mayo Clinic, discovered this piano, and....



Although I can't play the piano like that and I hope not to ever have to hang out in the Mayo Clinic, I do hope that in 46 years that Glen and I are:

a)  That spunky and energetic
b)  That deliriously happy
c)  That madly in love

I hope you've enjoyed this one and only special edition of Flash to the Future Friday, now back to your regular programming.  
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

An Ode to Costco




Thank you, Costco, for all the things
That mean so much to me--
For prices low and ginormous sizes;
You sell to me abundantly.
 
Your cheese and milk fill up my cart;
Along with Tide and juice and socks so new;
And I always feel so doggone smart
When my T.P. stash lasts through the next blue moon.
 
It's plain to see that I may be your biggest fan, 
But I wonder if you could please explain,
With all the money which on you we spend;
Why, oh why, Costco, are you still not my friend?

It's true that  you torture me so
With the painful way you make my wallet drain;
And for the crowded aisles and lines so slow!
 
But, this dear Costco, is just too much!
Strawberries and apples rolling down the street
Along with meat and juice that squashed my feet.
 
My aching back, my tired legs,
All from chasing after errant eggs.
Don't you think it's time to call a truce,
And at least send me to a nice masseuse?
 




Monday, February 22, 2010

Philosophical Ponderings

I remember feeling unspecial for the first time in my life.  It was back in one of those big GE classes my freshman year of college.  I remember getting back my first test grade, an 83%, and crying for the rest of the afternoon.  There I was far away from home in a place where I felt that everyone was way cooler, way richer, way cuter, way smarter, and way more disciplined than I was. Just like that, I went from feeling like I was the creme de la creme to feeling like I was a shred of moldy cheese on a slice of Little Caesar's pizza. 

That freshman year of college was also the first time I realized how musically disinclined I was.  Up until then, I had had a great love for music and for singing.  I joined choirs, sang along to the radio, and even aspired to be brave enough to sing a solo one day.  It was 2 days into dorm living, that I realized that my family was either saintly or just as tone deaf as I am.  {FYI--I decided it was the tone deaf part, not the saintliness.}  My kindly roommate would try to harmonize with me and would have to keep stopping because I wasn't singing it right, while my impatient roommate just took to telling me several times a day that I should "keep my day job".  While I've never totally given up my dream of singing a solo one day, I've now amended it to singing it at a school for the deaf.

Of course, after a period of adjustment I regained my confidence, put aside my American Idol-esque dreams, learned how to study the college way, and grew to love the wonderful people that surrounded me, but I've never forgotten that sinking feeling of realizing that I was the proverbial little fish in a much bigger pond than I was used to.

Now, as a mother, I reminisce on these life-changing experiences, and wonder how I can relate them to parenting my children.  I wonder if it is better for kids to be academically challenged more rigorously, but be bogged down with homework, in a competitive classroom filled with other go-getters?  Or is it better for kids to bloom where they're planted, being a top student (and leader) in a less challenging, but more diverse environment? 

On the one side I see the value in the challenging academics pushing them to greater heights (like being a year ahead in mathematics), but is it worth it if we're prematurely making them the little fish in the bigger pond? 


And what about the educational value of being a leader?  Could that not be more valuable than the challenging curriculum? 
 

I don't really know that there is a right answer to these questions and what's right for one child may not necessarily be the right thing for another, but I am curious as to what your opinions are.  Do you remember ever feeling like you'd suddenly become a peon?  How old were you and how did you deal with it?  What do you think is more important for children--the best academics possible?  Or possibly less challenging academics balanced with more opportunities to lead?


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Sunday, February 21, 2010

I ♥ Hands: Mother and Daughter


Music had always been an integral part in their lives, but old age with its accompanying ailments had made it increasingly difficult for Grandma to be able to play her beloved organ. This duet of mother and daughter playing, "Pachelbel's Canon" on the piano was a moving experience for all of us in attendance. I was thrilled to capture this beautiful moment, which unbeknown to us at the time, would be their last duet in this lifetime.

Be sure to check out I ♥ Faces for amazing hand entries this week.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Are you a gazillion dollars richer tonight?

In answer to the Super Hard Quiz from yesterday....   

1.  I've had 20+ hours of sleep over the last two days.  Yes, it's true.  My germ du jour laid me down flat, but alas reality has struck hard the last 24 hours and I'll be lucky if I get that much sleep total the rest of the week.

    2.  I've been commissioned to make Valentine's treats that are nut, milk, egg, gluten, and gelatin free.  Yep, but it'll be the last time I ever do that.    I made Corn Chex marshmallow treats that were everything, but gelatin free then brought gelatin kid a cookie.  Turns out the kid who's allergic to nuts, milk, and eggs doesn't even like sugar, so there's really no point in catering to his allergies anymore. 

    3.  A plane crashed 100 feet from my brother's house this morning.  100% true.  My brother Nate lives in East Palo Alto, California and was getting ready to walk out the door to work when there was a huge explosion and fireball where a small plane crashed into several neighboring houses.  His roommates took many of the pictures you see in online news reports.  Read more about it here and here and here.  It really is quite a miracle that no one on the ground was seriously injured.
Photo courtesy of USA Today


   4.  I've read three of the five Percy Jackson books since Sunday.  Yep, and I impressed a whole bunch of third graders today with my superior Percy knowledge.  Turns out I can be cool in certain social circles. 
Two of the five people on earth who think I'm kind of cool now. 

   5.  I've been on a sugar-free diet for three weeks now. Can't believe I'm saying this, but this is also true.  I realized that I was addicted to sugar much like others would be addicted to tobacco and I decided it was time to go cold turkey.  It hasn't been easy, but it's interesting how much more level-headed I've felt since beginning.  I think I've finally deluded talked Glen into joining me too, which will definitely make my trek much easier.  Now if I can just get Cami to join the quest too....


   6.  It's 9:30 and all my kids are in bed.  A couple of them hadn't been in bed very long, but somehow they were officially all in bed by 9:30.   Of course, it was a short lived triumph as it is now 10:30 the next night and I've still got one up...
Okay, this picture is totally off topic, but here's a little glimpse at my idea of humor when I stay up too late working on the church programs.   It came off about as well as most of my late night blogposts (aka bombposts), but, on the bright side, I did feel like quite the comedian for 10 minutes or so while I searched for a scripture about "snow" on lds.org


   7.  I've listened to "Defying Gravity" from the Wicked soundtrack 6 times in the last hour    It should've been obvious to everyone, but I think I tricked you all.  While I love listening to "Defying Gravity" (Glee version) and play it loudly several times a day, six times in one hour would indicate that I had control over the playlist for an entire hour, which we all know could not be true with an Ear Smitten Teenager in the house.


Never mind that the guy sounds like a girl (or the one sour note at the end which is not in the itunes version), I really, really like this song.

 
 No one guessed correctly, so I'll keep Spencer and Cami's gazillion dollars to myself.


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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Super Hard Quiz

Can you guess which of the following statements are NOT true? 

    1.  I've had 20+ hours of sleep over the last two days.

    2.  I've been commissioned to make Valentine's treats that are nut, milk, egg, gluten, and gelatin free.

    3.  A plane crashed 100 feet from my brother's house this morning.

   4.  I've read three of the five Percy Jackson books since Sunday.

   5.  I've been on a sugar-free diet for three weeks now.

   6.  It's 9:30 and all my kids are in bed.

   7.  I've listened to "Defying Gravity" from the Wicked soundtrack 6 times in the last hour


 Correct answerers will win a gazillion dollars donated equally from Cami's babysitting and Spencer's shoveling funds.    Stay tuned tomorrow night for the correct answer to be revealed....


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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Surefire Signs that the Day is a Wash

  • Your pile of used kleenex is almost as high as the laundry pile
  • You reread the grocery list you just made and realize that most items are written down at least twice
  • You think your friend keeps saying two-thirty instead of tooth fairy and she can't understand why you keep correcting her and saying, "No, two-twenty NOT two-thirty."  (By the way, I completely deny that it was me who kept sneezing through the 2:20 showing of Tooth Fairy on Monday.)
  • You keep scolding the kids for dozing off during family home evening, then catch yourself snoring three minutes later.
  • You realize after eating 2/3 of a 1000 calorie chipotle burrito that it tastes no different than a bowl of plain rice to you.
  • You try to blog and end up writing a long, rambling post that makes no sense (don't look for it, it's already deleted and you'd know what I was talking about if you'd read it)
  • Your sister asks you to preview her blog post, which is a job you normally love, and you decline because it would require moving five feet to get your laptop.
  • You go to take your temperature and realize after noticing the thermometer tastes a lot like Old Spice deodorant that you've grabbed the wrong thermometer.
  • You find that while trying to write a humorous post making light of your germ du jour, that you've come off  sounding like the whiny toddler du jour.  (forgib me pwees)

Wednesday morning update:  I'm up before the crack of dawn to get Spencer off to his first day back to seminary since Snowmagddon hit and I already feel much, much better than I have the last couple of days.  I attribute the quick recovery to the fact that my family has taken very good care of me the last few days--cooking dinner, going grocery shopping (and not buying double of everything), and running errands for me.   Thank you to my awesome family!

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Once Upon a Time...

Once upon a time, there was a mom who had a routine.
It was busy, but it was a good routine.

Wake up.  
Send Spencer off to seminary.
Wake up Cami.
Send Cami off to school. 
Wake up Emma, Adam, and Ellie
Pack lunches, make breakfast, send Emma and Adam off to school.
Clean up from breakfast, check email, hang out with Ellie. 
Ellie gets picked up for preschool.
I do my thing--volunteering, grocery shopping, laundry, errands, chores. 
Pick up Ellie and friends from preschool. 
Hang out with Ellie.  Read books, math workbook, more chores.
Kids start coming home from school.
Homework, friends, evening activities, cook dinner.
Glen comes home.
Bedtime with the kids.  Scriptures, prayer, read books.
Clean up.  
Blog. 
Go to bed. 


Then February came and the new routine became:

Wake up whenever Ellie crawls into bed and starts chatting.
Change out of pajamas and make breakfast around 10:00. 
Clean up from breakfast while kids start phoning friends to plan their days.
Chauffeur kids over ice packed one lane roads to friends' houses.  
Wipe up puddles from entry way and shove snowpants, gloves, hats, and coats off to side 47 times a day.
Find crafts and activities to entertain the kids. 
Let kids  fend for themselves for lunch.  
Police kids' computer, Wii, and TV time.  
Figure out where to put bags of trash, since trash man hasn't come in over 10 days.  
Make, eat, and clean up dinner while kids start begging for a movie.  
Say "No", then play "Ticket to Ride"  to make amends.
Put kids to bed an hour past their bedtime.
Watch Olympics. 
Blog while Spencer and Cami walk in and read over my shoulder and ask four times, "Where are you going with this post?"
Go to bed whenever the best Olympic sports are done and Spencer and Cami are starting to wind up for the night.

Repeat over and over and over again.

My kids have been to school a total of two times in the month of February and there still isn't any school tomorrow.  The neighborhood roads are still a mess (Mr. Snowplow Hero vanished for the second storm), the sidewalks are all covered with 3+ feet of packed down snow, and we're expecting another inch or two of snow tomorrow. (NOTE:  I wrote this post on Sunday night and was speaking of the snow predicted for today.  There is not more snow predicted for Tuesday.  Sorry if I caused any locals to panic.)

Anyone have any Calgon I can borrow?


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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Oatmeal Pancakes with Lemon-Apple Topping

Lucky you!  You get a sneak peek at one of my upcoming recipes on the Recipe Shoebox.  These wholesome pancakes were yummy in and of themselves, but topped with the lemon-apple topping they were out-of-this-world.  Certainly perfect for a cold winter morning (like today)! 

 

Click here for printable recipe.


The ingredients:

OATMEAL PANCAKES: 
1-1/2 cups hot milk
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
egg, beaten
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 Tbs. molasses
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
egg whites














LEMON-APPLE TOPPING: 
2 Tbs. butter
5 medium tart apples, peeled and sliced (I used Granny Smith)
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

Directions:  In a large bowl, combine milk and oats; let stand for 5 minutes.  Stir in egg, oil, and molasses.  Combine dry ingredients; stir into oat mixture just until moistened.



Beat egg whites until soft peaks form; fold gently into batter.
 Set aside.  

For apple topping, heat butter in a skillet until foamy.  Add apples, lemon juice, and peel; cook, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Combine sugar, cornstarch, and nutmeg; add to apple mixture and cook 2 minutes longer.

While apple topping is cooking, cook oatcakes by pouring batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a hot greased griddle.  Cook until bubbles form; turn and cook until browned on other side.  Serve warm with hot apple topping.  
 Serve warm over oatmeal pancakes.  Makes 6-8 servings.

Enjoy!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Another Long Boring Post About Too Much Snow

Once upon a time there was a day when snow was a sought after novelty.  The kids would wear their pajamas inside and out and backwards at the mere mention of snow in the forecast, hoping for a snow day.

But that was before Snowmageddon/Blizzard 2010 arrived.  Now with more than three feet on the ground and only two days of school in two weeks' time, the kids are getting kind of tired of Winter Break #2.     

Part of the problem is that there's so much snow on the ground now that it's harder for them to play in it.  The sleds sink into the snow instead of racing down our hill...

 


Today I went outside promising them that I'd help them make a sledding track, but....
  
Yep, I sunk thigh deep down into the snow with every step I took.  So what do you do in snow that's too deep to sled in and you've already built 38 snowmen this year? 


  
Adam jumped up and down to see if he could sink as low as I did, but his jumping was no match for my heavy girth.  


  
Ellie tried to bury her legs in the snow, but spent way more time giggling about Adam's jumping antics than actual burying. 


Emma found that freshly fallen snow makes for a tasty snack. 


 
Then, when all the jumping/burying/eating got a little boring we all came back in to give our hand at this puzzle that hasn't seen the light of day since Ellie was a tiny tot.


We were shocked when all was said and done that after sitting unfinished in the attic for four years that there was not a single missing piece.  Now we just need to get some puzzle glue and hang up this masterpiece somewhere in our house.   Pretty sweet puzzle, eh?   :)


  
Then the kids entertained themselves with some good old-fashioned hunks of clay. (Never mind all the junk on the table.  Between the puzzle, the clay, and Glen working on our taxes all day the table did not see the light of day until dinner time. )


  
They made all sorts of cute little creatures that have first and last names.  

And what about me?  

Not much here.  Mostly, I've just been searching for new ways to bore the world wide web with a surefire cure for insomnia. 

zxcbczzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mission Accomplished


 I could go on and on about how time consuming it was or how I was really, really sick of it by the end of the year, but my brain is more on the blah, blah, blah wavelength right now.  So, blah, blah, blah....


Project 365:   ☑  IT'S ALL DONE!!!!!!!

Woo Hoo!!!
(thanks for the final kick in the pants Alex)
 
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Monday, February 8, 2010

Traversing the Town

Take a walk with us through our neighborhood....


First, I want to point out that a minor miracle has occurred.  In storms past, our neighborhood is 19,381st (or so) on the priority list for snowplowing and usually gets plowed about 3 days after the snow is melted. 
 
(looking right from our driveway)

This storm, however, we had a guy with a snowplow attached to his pick-up truck go through our neighborhood every hour or so during the storm.  Since we know several people around town who haven't seen a plow at all yet, we figure that it was somebody in our neighborhood who decided he wanted to be able to leave the neighborhood before Easter and bought his own plow.  Whoever he is, he is my new hero!  
  
(looking left from our driveway)

Walking on a little further we found several evergreen trees that had split or had large branches broken off.  Thankfully, none of them looked like they caused any damage to property.   
  

A little further on here and you'll find the main entrance to our neighborhood.  Normally, we use it several times a day, but whenever there is snow or ice of any kind we completely avoid it.   It's a rather steep incline right into a busy street and they rarely, if ever, plow or treat it.   As per usual, it is still a hazard. 
  

Then a little later on, if you happened to notice some giggly girls dangerously traversing a large snow mountain at a busy intersection today, that would be us (except I was taking pictures instead of giggling) with no sidewalk to stand on.



Cami and her friends were feeling pretty tall after being able to touch the crosswalk thingy (does it have a name?) before crossing the street.  After tomorrow's growth spurt, er,  storm they probably won't even have to lift their arms to reach it. 
 

It was shortly after crossing the street that we discovered that the minor miracle mentioned earlier was more monumental than originally thought.  Our little street is actually plowed better than this major local thoroughfare.  
  

After a little grocery shopping where people had once again emptied the shelves of basic necessities (like eggs and bananas) we went home and greeted Ashton Kutcher who had made more than $300 in the last few days shoveling driveways with his friend.  
 
What's that you say?   You didn't know that I gave birth to Ashton Kutcher.

  Truth be told, I didn't really know that either, but when I logged onto facebook this week I found this photo as my son's profile picture.   I was quite impressed with the fabulous genetics I seemed to pass that way and then figured having an in in Hollywood these days may not be such a bad thing. ;)


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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Top Ten of Being Snowed In

10--The peaceful quiet of the outdoors. Except for the hum of traffic on a couple of nearby highways, our neighborhood is normally quiet, but with the sound muffling effects of two feet of snow and the almost nonexistent traffic volume, our neighborhood is now as silent as a day in the country

9--The sense of community.  A snowstorm of these epic proportions (we got about 24-inches) takes our diverse community and puts us all in the same boat.   Neighbors that we normally rarely see have no choice but to spend hours and hours digging out and somehow that experience binds us together.  The divorced mother next door, the widower across the street, the Asian family that barely speaks English, Mormon family with five kids...we're all in this together!

8--Forced winter exercise.   Normally exercising in the winter's cold is kind of a pain in the patootie, but when two feet of snow are on the ground merely walking across the yard becomes an aerobic workout.   Add in a good dose of shoveling and you've taken it to a major kick-butt routine.  Who needs the gym when you've got your own heavy, white, although somewhat cold, personal trainer in your front yard?

7--Hot chocolate.  We've been accused by a visiting five-year-old of making a wimpy hot chocolate, but there's still nothing that brings a smile faster to my kids' tear-stained faces after a sled crash than a steaming mug of our wimpy hot chocolate.

6--Christmas presents get a second chance.  Winter Break #2 is giving the kids a whole lot of free time to foster new interest in all their mostly forgotten Christmas loot.  Board games are getting a new life.   Lego sets are reappearing.  Craft kits are being tried.  It's every toy's dream come true!

5--Cooking.  It's cold, there's nowhere to go, trying new recipes seems like only a natural thing to do.   I've knocked off delicious buttermilk biscuits that rivaled my mom's, honey-lime enchiladas that the kids went gaga over, and an all-in-one hearty breakfast dish that filled us up until mid-afternoon.  Watch the recipe blog for a whole batch of snowy day recipes coming soon!

4--Sleeping in.  With no school, no church, and no work I see no earthly reason to set my alarm clock.  I love the distinctly satisfying feeling of waking up whenever I  feel like it for once, instead of being at the beck and call of a busy schedule.  

3--Snuggle time.   Kids come in from being outside, they need a snuggle.   We don't have to wake up early so my husband wants to snuggle late in front of a movie.  The kids wonder when I'm going to finally get out of bed, so they snuggle in next to me until I wake up.   I find myself secretly wishing for arms like Elastigirl's, so I could snuggle all day and get the laundry done too.

2--Comfort over fashion.  I am never one to miss an opportunity to remain in baggy sweats 24/7.

1--Beauty.   Our yard and house never look better than just after a snowstorm.  There's something about a  sparkling blanket of freshly fallen snow that makes even our 8-year-old Toyota Sienna look somehow romantic.


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Friday, February 5, 2010

Snowpocalypse 2010!

It's here.

Snowpocalypse.
   Snowmageddon.  
   Snowtastrophe.
       Snowtaclysm. 
                2010  

Since 1870, they say the DC area has only had 13 storms with a 12+ inch total and now with an expected 20-30 inches before tomorrow night it looks like we're in for a record breaker.

The fridge is full.   The DVD player is on standby.  The toilet paper stocked.  Shovels are poised for action.  

  BRING IT ON!
Our backyard on Friday night:  ~5:00pm (with 24 more hours of snow to go)


Our backyard on Saturday morning: ~9:00am

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Help, me. Pleas.

   I am a woman who prides myself in knowing the difference between there, their, and they're.  I scoff at stationery stores that hawk their wares as being immobile and I love to brag about the fact that I was the  school district spelling champion in fourth grade.

 There's no two ways about it:  I am a grammar snob.

I feel certain that if it weren't for my lucrative career as a prolific blogger, that I easily could have been a bigwig magazine editor.   Reader's Digest, Highlights, Ranger Rick.  I could take over the world.

But then, I got a reality check.

I was sitting in Emma's classroom sorting through piles of homework for her teacher, when the teacher began a lecture about the proper usage of commas.

I smiled smugly as he taught them about how to list objects in a sentence,  and to separate the city and state in addresses.  Dates, two adjectives in a row,  introductory words....got it.

But then he started babbling on about interrupters, weak clauses, and conjunctive phrases and I realized I don't know beans about commas.   Or grammar for that matter.

Good, buy Reader's Digest.  I'm going back two, third grade, too learn about, conjunctivitis.


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