Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Apple Don’t Fall Far…

I grew up culturally confused.  After living my first years in England, not to mention learning to speak there, I moved to the east coast of Canada, where I had to learn to speak all over again to avoid being teased.  Four years later we moved to a valley community in Southern California, where again my accent had to change, and a year after that we moved to a beach community, where my accent made its final adjustment.

My children, on the other hand, have grown up in one community and still have friends they met when they were toddlers.  My husband is American, and I at least look and sound American, most of the time, tea visits with my Mum notwithstanding.  So I was fairly confident that they would at least be stable in their cultural identity.

I apparently underestimated the power of a mother’s influence.  Case in point is the video my 10 year old made, out of the blue, last night.

Which, in and of itself, wouldn’t be so bad, if he had ever BEEN to England.  But then again, my 17 year old has never been to Russia, and she has been known to lapse into a Russian accent now and then. She also does a darned good 40’s announcer voice.

Maybe it’s all the homeschooling.   Maybe all those strangers who stopped me in the grocery store and interrogated me about the quality of my children’s “socialization” were on to something…


Categories: Family, Homeschooling | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Filter Friday

Musée Picasso, Paris, (Hotel Salé, 1659)

Musée Picasso, Paris, (Hotel Salé, 1659) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My friend Brenda over at Once Upon A Truth does this thing called No Filter Friday, which being a No Filter kind of gal most of the time myself, sounds like a dandy idea.  So I thought I would give it a go.

NB: all the photos on today’s posting are generated by Zermanta, which suggests images based on key words in the blog. In keeping with the No Filter Theme, I will simply close my eyes, scroll, and click to insert them in the post.   It could be fun trying to figure out why Zermanta thought the image applied.  Especially when you consider that I deleted some stuff before I published.

Today, my 17 year old daughter is trying to combine every swear word she knows into one word so she can cover all the bases at once and not actually offend anyone.  Yes, I homeschooled her. (Before you get your knickers in a twist, she is joking.) (Mostly.)

Also today, my daughter pulled a framed picture out of someone’s trash can in an alley and brought it into my living room. “Here Mom, I got you a new picture.  Isn’t it pretty?”  It is so old it all the colors have faded to a shade of blue.  I mentioned the homeschooling already, right?

United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates (Photo credit: saraab™)

Today on my Bible commentary blog, I got more hits in Russia than I did in America.  Yesterday someone in the United Arab Emirates visited it.  Also, someone in Pakistan is reading this blog today.  Who are these wonderful people and how do they FIND me?

The little dog has trained the big dog into thinking that raw carrot sticks are a treat.  Now if we can just get her to work on the 18 year old.

The not-screwing-the-lid-down culprit has struck again, this time with a gallon of orange juice.  You know, the kind that says “shake well” on the bottle?  I don’t want to talk about it.

I want to eat dinner at the Country Touch Cafe.  I don’t care if they only serve breakfast and lunch and close at 2:30 p.m.  That’s what I want.  My husband is wise and loving and agreed.  He said we could get a Snickers bar at the liquor store next to the cafe and sit at one of the outside tables.  Pretty sure he heaved a sigh of relief when I didn’t hold him to it.

Brenda at Cafe Window

Brenda at Cafe Window (Photo credit: David Warlick)

The 10 year old just washed his hands in the kitchen sink so he could help me make biscuits.  Which is a good thing, except he didn’t take the draining macaroni out of the sink first.   I rinsed it extra well and put extra butter in the mix.  It should be okay.  Don’t tell anyone.

I found out today that if you play Word Battle on Facebook, you can collect virtual coins, and when you have enough of them, you can click on a button that says “Validate.”  Who knew you could get validation from playing word games?  (This is where I confess that sometimes, when I’m having a Fail kinda day, I play Bejeweled just so I can hear the guy’s voice intone, “In-CRED-ible!.  A-MAZ-ing!”)

Categories: Around Town, Family | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wonder Of It All

English: Wave pool of Boulder Beach

Wave pool – Boulder Beach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was not turning out to be a good day.

The day before, I had high hopes that I would Make The Most Of A Beautiful Summer Day and had even rearranged a piano lesson so that I would have the afternoon off.  Seeing as it was August and the school year was looming ever larger on the horizon, I was feeling the pressure of the whole Make the Most thing.  And I was determined to get the kids away from computer games for at least ONE afternoon this month.  High hopes.

However, by the time the morning lessons were finished, I found myself in a funk, paralyzed by the very pressure that was telling me to perform.  It was too late to call any of my friends to make plans, and besides, I was in too much of a funk to even make the call.  Gritting my teeth, I looked up the start times of Recreational Swim at a nearby pool and told the kids we were going there.

I packed a bag full of textbooks, hoping to spend some quality time in the bleachers planning curriculum while they splashed around in the pool.  We hopped in the van and started off in that direction, but as I began to describe the pool to the kids, the idea seemed less and less appealing.  There was no deep end, so the whole thing was waist-high.  It was sure to be crowded.  By the time we got there, none of us wanted to go in.

“Let’s just go to the beach,” sighed the 10 year old, so we pulled out of the parking lot and headed to our usual spot.  They were a little worried about going to the beach without friends, since we usually arrange to meet up with a crowd when we go there.  Then we discovered that when we left the house, everyone had assumed everyone else picked up the towels off the couch.  We had one towel between us.  Then we discovered that the case of water in the trunk only had one bottle in it. I told them it would be fine, we could just have fun, just the three of us, and our one towel, and our one bottle of water.  We could share.  It wasn’t the end of the world — it could still be a good outing.  I was determined to make this work.

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach (Photo credit: TurtleStay)

When we started pulling things out of the back of the van, we discovered a second towel and a small blanket.  Things were looking up.  We had enough quarters for the meter, and we found a parking space right where we like to park.

The beach was packed, but we spied a spot right where we always sit and yelped our way across the hot sand to set up camp. The 10 year old headed straight for the water, while the 12 year old, who up to this point was known as the family dolphin, insisted that she no longer liked swimming in the ocean and would prefer to sit in a chair and watch us instead.  Muttering something about puberty, I headed for the water.  Without too much wincing I got my body acclimated to the cold Pacific and strode out to the wave breaks.  The 10 year old and I had fun bouncing around, deciding whether to jump or duck with each wave that came, and I kept an eye on the people further out than us, in case any of them caught a wave and we needed to move out of their way.

At one point, there was a brown haired boy right in front of me, about 15 feet away, and as I watched to see what he was doing, he turned his head toward me.  Yeah, that wasn’t a brown haired boy.  That was a California Sea Lion.

California Sea Lion swimmingI croaked and pointed, but the 10 year old didn’t understand me.  I tried using words this time, and actually managed to say “Sea Lion!”  But then the waves kept coming between the sea lion and us, so he never did see it.  A young man a few feet to the right of me was having a similar hard time pointing it out to his friends, and we began to realize that we were the only ones who were even aware of the close encounter we had all just had with nature.  We exchanged a knowing glance and went back to bouncing in the waves.

I was struck by the wonder of it.  I wasn’t even supposed to be at the beach that day.  I had made plans to meet my friends there the next day, but not THAT day.  But here I found myself, desperately trying to capture a piece of summer for my children’s enjoyment, and there I had been, face to face with a sea lion.  As I bobbed up and down in the waves, I felt something inside me grow.  I needed to worry less.  I needed to slow down and appreciate what was all around me.  I needed to live with a sense of the wonder of the world instead of trying to conquer each day and squeeze the most out of it.

After a while, I left the water and sat on the sand with my daughter, smiling as I listened to the chatter of the large group of tourists next to us, choosing to marvel at the cadence of their language, which was foreign to me, instead of getting annoyed that they had parked themselves in front of us and blocked our view of the water.  “The wonder,” I kept repeating to myself, smiling and enjoying the breeze that had picked up.

One of the many umbrellas that dotted the sand came loose and careened down the beach, chased by a couple of harried 30-something women, until it came to rest against a bald, muscular, shirtless man with a giant cross tattooed on his back.  The women stopped short, horrified that their umbrella had just assaulted a possible gang member, but he smiled, grabbed it, and carried it back to their towels, planting it firmly in the sand for them.  I grinned and repeated it again.  “The wonder.”

A beautiful teenage girl exclaimed loudly as she and her sister played in the sand with a small boy, burying him as he lay there trying not to wiggle.  I couldn’t understand her words but I could understand her tone.  It was a lovely moment of family love and sharing.  The wonder.

And then I turned to look at my children.  The 12 year old was sitting in the chair next to me with a towel draped completely over her head.  The 10 year old was scowling at the sand, pouting because he had not been allowed to buy a $5 plate of fries at the snack bar and because his usual beach buddy was not in attendance.

I sighed and realized that sometimes the wonder is more elusive than others.

But it’s still worth looking for.

Categories: Around Town, Family | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Home Grown Greetings – We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Store Bought

It’s a tradition in our family for the kids to make greeting cards rather than buying them.  With a brood of budding artists, it seems like the logical thing to do.  Plus it saves us a good $20-25 per event on purchased greeting cards.

Over the years, the quality of the cards has steadily improved, from the typical kindergarten effort that requires cryptography skills to decode:

Hapy Bert Berthday.
Mom I love you alot

…to the heartfelt artwork of a preteen:

… to some pieces of teenage artwork I would like to frame:

Some of the cards, while undoubtedly sincere, come across a little self-serving:

Some are unintentionally hilarious:

Apparently the author of this is so enamored with me that he/she couldn’t tear his/her eyes away long enough to sign the card.

continued below…

Winner of the Turn Around a Train Wreck and Make Mom Cry Happy Tears At The Same Time award.

Some are just sweet in their sincerity:

Well on his way to becoming a man. Hoo-rah.

And some can only be filed under the heading, It’s The Thought That Counts:

Love how my son tries to capitalize on my vivid imagination by instructing me to “Just pretend, ok” about the rose.

However, this year’s birthday offerings are among my favorites:

While I can see we need to concentrate on spelling in the fall, I do appreciate the sentiment. Especially the part about deserving foot rubs.
And I have to give kudos for the 10 year old philosophy.

The 12 year old has come up with a stroke of genius here — how to get away with not writing a paragraph of mushiness in your mother’s birthday card.

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Of Nail Polish and Land Mines

The 17 year old is having to come to terms with women.  Which shouldn’t be that hard, since she is one, but she, like her mother, seems to be lacking the girly gene.  You know, the one that makes you adore nail polish, fear insects, giggle instead of contributing to conversations and approach life with an attitude of, “Oh, I don’t know, I can’t do that, I’m just a girl.”

Land Mine Museum

Land Mine Museum (Photo credit: Tomomi Sasaki)

Now, I’m not trying to be offensive here or communicate the thought that anyone possessing the girly gene is somehow less than, but it is a fact that she and I don’t seem to have it.  We just find it easier to talk to guys than girls.

Give me that bottom-line, fact-filled, I know right where I stand with you kind of communication any day over the hidden driveway, secret shortcut, land mine ridden, emotional roller coaster that marks the field of girly-girl conversation.

The 17 year old has met the challenge head on by coming up with a list of Rules For Communicating With Girls.  This includes things like:

  • When texting a girl, if there is no happy emotion attached to the thought, add one by means of smiley-face emoticons and pet names.

For example,

“I’ll bring your book to class tomorrow” apparently won’t do when it is addressed to a girl.

“I’ll bring your book to class tomorrow :)” is much more acceptable.  However,

“I’ll bring your book to class tomorrow, sweetie :)” is by far the most preferred.

It gives me a headache just thinking about it.

Which is probably why she just walked through the room, phone in hand, exclaiming, “I’m so glad I don’t have to date girls. I get to hang out with guys.  In fact, I’m going to marry a guy some day.  I’m so thankful for that.  Can you imagine being married to a girl for the rest of your life?  UGH!”

Categories: Relationships | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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