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Showing posts from May, 2012

It's The End of the World As We Know It....

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It's the last day of the 2011 - 2012 school year!  That means in less than 2 hours, I will have a fifth grader and an eighth grader - woot!!!  One more year, I will no longer be an elementary school mom.  One more year, and I will become a high school mom.

Something about today makes me feel as though this is the end of the world as we know it.  Both of my kids keep growing up, gaining faith in themselves as they expand their world.  Both kids now have the run of the neighborhood and the surrounding areas on their bikes; they can bike to the library, to Target, to the swimming pool, and to the bike shop.  Both kids want to learn how to cook more meals, so we already started on menus.
My daughter knows how to solder, and has two or three projects just waiting for her to have the time.  My son loves paintball - luckily the field is close by.  And both kids love science - can you say homemade liquid nitrogen?

The most exciting part of the summer, though, is called Camp Terry.  My s…

Haiku - Mimicry

Tornadoes, earthquakes,
Fire storms, Nature apes mankind,
Destruction, death, war.

I Want You to Want Me...

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"Remember to take care of yourself.  As a mother, you need to be first in order to be there for your children.  It's like they say on airplanes; always put your oxygen mask on first, then help your children get theirs on." 

This piece of parenting advice is found everywhere these days - and I don't disagree with it.  In reality, mothers typically put their own needs dead last on their priority list.  And one of the biggest needs the women leave unfulfilled is the need for physical contact.

By physical contact, I am not referring only to sex.  I mean the daily touches that help cement the emotional bond between you and your partner.  Holding hands, a quick back rub,  even a gentle touch as your partner walks past - all of these let you know that you are wanted, needed, and loved.  And, for all the people out there who do enjoy sex, the daily touches turn into a kind of foreplay.

So don't be afraid of PDAs* - they help everyone feel more physically connected and em…

Cobb County School District Budget

Warning:  This is a rant.

Yesterday, the Cobb County School Board passes the budget for the 2012 - 2013 school year, and to be quite honest the entire budget process rests upon the belief that we should NEVER raise the property taxes in the county.

Why?

What is so wrong with paying a little more money to provide for better education?  Are we so greedy and self-centered that we begrudge the school district a mere $50 more per household?  Is the future of our society too "distant" for us to at least attempt to plan for it?

Children are our future.  Period.  End of discussion. Cats and dogs, while wonderful pets, cannot maintain society after we are too old to work.  Flowers and perfectly cut green lawns are really only decorations.  HDTVs will eventually break down.  Computers and the Internet provide a modicum of companionship, but no face-to-face, hand-holding comfort.

But in our greed and arrogance, we refuse to acknowledge that children need help, need money to get a de…

Short Story: The Visitor

Mama laid a fancy, white table cloth out on the dining room table.  I ain’t never seed such a thing before, and I wanted to touch it, to see if it felt as soft as it looked.  But Mama yelled stop, said she didn’t want no one to touch it and get it dirty.  So I just stared a hole in it as Mama went back in the kitchen to cook.

Onions, garlic, beans - smells came out of Mama’s kitchen that made my mouth water.  I stopped staring at the table cloth and went into the kitchen.  Mama told me to peel some carrots, cause if I wanted a taste I had to help.  So I peel every carrot that Mama wanted, and she gave me some food to taste.

Then I follow Mama upstairs, watching her as she gets all gussied up.  I never saw Mama looking so pretty, I tell her.  Mama smiles at me, and tells me to get a pretty dress on, too.  I do, and Mama braids my hair.  I feel like a princess.  I ask Mama why we getting so pretty. Mama says that Death is fixing to visit, so we need to look nice and have a good dinner on …

Book Review: "Dragon Flight" by Jessica Day George

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Dragon Flight by Jessica Day George
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jessica Day George delivers another breath-taking book in the second book of the Dragon Slippers series, "Dragon Flight". We begin the book with Creel working in her own dress shop, but unhappy with how life is now going. Suddenly, a dragon attacks the city, and Creel (as well as everyone else) learns that a nation far away has been training a dragon army.

Questions arise. How did this happen? Where did all the dragons come from? Is there a second set of slippers?

The plot twists and turns kept me on the edge of my seat the entire story. If you like fantasy worlds and/or dragons, I highly recommend this entire series.

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Promulgation of Plastic Pollution

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On May 9th, biology letters published an article entitled "Increased oceanic microplastic debris enhances oviposition for an endemic pelagic insect".  Translated to regular English, this means that very small bits of plastic pollution have increased the ability of ocean water striders to lay more eggs in the north east Pacific.

What does this mean to us land dwellers?  First, we need a little more explanation as to what is happening. 

The largest collection of pollution, known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch", lays just north of  Hawaii, extending across the ocean in an area called the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG), shown in red on the map.  The actions of ocean current and eddies aggregate solid pollutants here regularly.  As an aside, while this is the largest collection in the Pacific, other garbage patches exist due to ocean eddies and other currents.  
Before the 1970s, the floating substrata of this region mostly consisted of wood, pumice, and se…

Wordless Wednesday - Fire!!

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The Story Behind the Photo:

Last Sunday, my family and I went out to test drive the new Toyota Sienna (I want one!!!).  Afterwards, we grabbed a nice lunch at a local Colombian restaurant and started to drive home.  A huge black cloud of smoke billowed nearby, so we decided to investigate.

We found this burning truck on the side of the interstate, with a man in an orange shirt watching the truck burn, cell phone in hand.  The fire consumed the passenger compartment of the truck, and began working its way down the adjoining hill.

I immediately called 9-1-1, and as the 9-1-1 operator thanked me for the call, the fire truck rolled up.  A firefighter (in the left side of the photo) calmly grabbed a host, walked up, and proceeded to put out the fire on the hill before dousing the truck fire.  It took him less than 60 seconds.

This post is dedicated to the Cobb County Fire Department.  Thank you for once again doing your job, and doing it with style.

If At First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again!

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First found in "The Teacher's Manual" by American educator Thomas H. Palmer, the proverb "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." remains good advice in all stages of life.  But while we adults know this proverb and can apply it at our discretion, children need to be taught to keep trying.  The question is, how?

I know of two ways in which adults unintentionally discourage trying:

Praising kids for being smart.  As counter-intuitive as this seems, if you want a child to perform well in school (the first place for her to shine), praise your child for all the effort she puts into her work, but do not praise her for her intelligence.  Children figure out on their own how intelligent they are in the scheme of things.  No child needs to be told, "You're smart." But every child needs to be encourage to keep trying.  Otherwise when a child is presented with a assignment that feels hard, she quits without really trying.  The internal feeling i…

Golden Rules for Saying "No"

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Children test out their boundaries and rules as a normal part of growing up.  Enforcing the boundaries and rules, while occasionally stressful, leads children to feel safe and protected.  One of the common ways a parent administers the boundaries and rules of their family is use the simple word, "no".   But the aftermath of that statement ranges from a simple pout to full blown temper tantrums.

How you handle the reaction to a "no" varies from a toddler (who you hopefully distract) to a teenager (who you expect to put on his big boy pants and deal).  But there are two golden rules for saying "no" itself:

Only say "no" if you mean it.  - This boils down to the fact that a parent needs to be thoughtful about each and every "no".  It is amazingly easy to use either "yes" or "no" as a default answer, but default answers lead to situations where you either say "yes" or "no" when the other answer is th…

7 Most Common Mistakes in Email

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I remember when email went from a fun pastime for geeks and nerds to an invaluable tool in businesses to a necessity of life.  Suddenly, paper memo and letters turned into rapidly sent electrons as the speed of communication rose exponentially. But with the advent of email also came the inevitable mistakes. After talking with several people, I compiled the list of the seven most common mistakes seen in email:
Misspelled Words:In a day and age where every text editor and email program offers reasonable spell checking capabilities, nothing in an email should be spelled incorrectly. Misspelled words tell the recipient, "Hey, you're not important enough for me to use spell check." Grammatical Errors:  While most people can get away with a dangling participle, mismatched plurality of words, mismatched verb tense between sentences, and misuse of commas irk most people, and send the message that the writer is either a recent immigrant or ignorant of basic grammar.  Inappropri…

Trust - It's Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

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For those of you new to my blog, I avidly read and follow the Free Range Kids blog by Lenore Skenazy.  I raise my kids to be free range, roaming our neighborhood and a few surrounding neighborhoods in an effort to help them learn to be self-reliable.  I rail against the fear mongering as propagated through the supposed news media, as every single little potential incident gets blow up and reported as though it was happening it your own backyard.  I rail against the stupidity of school systems which all but ban a child either arriving at school alone or leaving school alone.  After all, what might happen if a child walks home alone or with a friend??  

But today, I want to ask the question - what happened to our trust in society?  What happened to trusting your neighbors, to other humans?

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, I rode my bike or walked to school.  I had friends to talk to sometimes; I had time to think and enjoy nature at other times.  I learned that I was okay by myself, and th…

Wordless Wednesday - Ice, Ice Gator!

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Book Review: "Ghost Story" by Jim Butcher

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Ghost Story by Jim Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! Just when I wonder if Jim Butcher has written himself into a corner, "Ghost Story" pops out of thin air and suddenly I feel more hooked to the Dresden series then ever before.

At the end of the last Dresden book, Harry Dresden is fatally shot by a mysterious assassin. This novel begins with Harry going to a way station for souls or spirits, where he gets a chance to return to Chicago to investigate his own shooting. Returning as a ghost, Harry realizes that some bad stuff is currently going down, which he must deal with during his investigation.

Mr. Butcher pulls together threads from the entire series again in this particular novel. Details that I had not even realized were left unfinished get mentioned/explained here. In the end, Mr. Butcher created a way to write more Dresden novels without making the plot feel contrived.

Now, I want Dresden #14.

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