My Convertible Life

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Convertible Life in Review

Given that my last post for 2010 falls on a Friday, I'm giving myself creative license to expand this Friday's 5 to a Friday's 12. Inspired by Adventuroo's year-end list, I bring you my favorite posts from each month in 2010.

These aren't necessarily the posts that garnered the most comments or earned the most page views -- but they're the ones that (for me, at least) capture the year that was.

This first edition of Saturday Strategery contains advice I hope you'll never need. But if you've got a toddler and you ever give said toddler a bath, it's entirely possible that this disaster will happen to you, too.

It's sappy, but what do you expect from a mama whose baby girl turned two? With the second child, it's such a different ride -- and she's such a different personality. Plus you get a peek at how enormously pregnant I was with her.

This post sums up my views on the political mess our school board made this year. But it also connects today's issues in Wake County to a powerful lesson I learned from my students a decade ago in Charlotte.

Sometimes it's hard to see past my kids' craziness to realize what's really going on in their busy, busy brains. Thankfully, we stuck with Music Together classes long enough for me to get a glimpse. (Check out my attempts to be a Runner, for another favorite.)

Junius graduated from preschool. And somehow I didn't cry. (For more sappy Junius posts, see the J-Fest 2010 series in July.)

Pippi got her first haircut. It was sassy and she loved it -- and it's not a Dorothy Hamill. (And in case you missed it, my close second-fave post for the month involves a drag queen.)

I wrote a lot in July, partly because of J's birthday -- lots of posts I liked. But I think this one -- where I described how hard it can be to make friends when you're the new mom in town -- was the one I most needed to write.

This post -- modeled after the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" books -- still makes me laugh. Of course, it's easier to smile now that most of the heavy construction is done. But more about that in 2011. In the meantime, read this post if you're considering any home renovation projects.

Yes, I actually went to a pole dancing class. No, there are no pictures to prove it. (If you want something more romantic, check out my wedding photo instead.)

This is probably the toughest post I wrote this year. Thankfully, it has a happy ending.

One of the reasons I like writing this blog is because it helps me remember the funny things my kids do that are so easy to forget. This quick story about Pippi makes me laugh every time.

I don't often rhyme in blog posts, but I do like to wax poetic about my awesome neighbors. I mean, who else would think to turn leftover pumpkins into a Christmas tree?

Thanks to all of you for reading (and sometimes even commenting) -- I love that you're out there. If I've missed a favorite post of yours, let me know. And I'll be working to make the blog worth your time again in 2011.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The 12 Days of Mommy's Christmas Wish-List

On the first day of Christmas,
my children gave to me
a chance to pee in privacy.

On the second day of Christmas,
my children gave to me
two smiling faces,
and a chance to pee in privacy.

On the third day of Christmas,
my children gave to me
three whine-free meals,
two smiling faces,
and a chance to pee in privacy.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my children gave to me
four great big hugs,
three whine-free meals,
two smiling faces,
and a chance to pee in privacy.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my children gave to me
five FULL nights' sleep...
four great big hugs,
three whine-free meals,
two smiling faces,
and a chance to pee in privacy.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my children gave to me
six days a playing,
five FULL nights' sleep...
four great big hugs,
three whine-free meals,
two smiling faces,
and a chance to pee in privacy.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my children gave to me
seven toys a cleaned up,
six days a playing,
five FULL nights' sleep...
four great big hugs,
three whine-free meals,
two smiling faces,
and a chance to pee in privacy.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my children gave to me
eight easy bedtimes,
seven toys a cleaned up,
six days a playing,
five FULL nights' sleep...
four great big hugs,
three whine-free meals,
two smiling faces,
and a chance to pee in privacy.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my children gave to me
nine "please" and "thank yous,"
eight easy bedtimes,
seven toys a cleaning,
six days a playing,
five FULL nights' sleep...
four great big hugs,
three whine-free meals,
two smiling faces,
and a chance to pee in privacy.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my children gave to me
ten laughs a tickling,
nine "please" and "thank yous,"
eight easy bedtimes,
seven toys a cleaning,
six days a playing,
five FULL nights' sleep...
four great big hugs,
three whine-free meals,
two smiling faces,
and a chance to pee in privacy.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my children gave to me
eleven "Love you, Mommy,"
ten laughs a tickling,
nine "please" and "thank yous,"
eight easy bedtimes,
seven toys a cleaning,
six days a playing,
five FULL nights' sleep...
four great big hugs,
three whine-free meals,
two smiling faces,
and a chance to pee in privacy.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my children gave to me
twelve solo trips shopping,
eleven "Love you, Mommy,"
ten laughs a tickling,
nine "please" and "thank yous,"
eight easy bedtimes,
seven toys a cleaning,
six days a playing,
five FULL nights' sleep...
four great big hugs,
three whine-free meals,
two smiling faces,
and a chance to pee in privacy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday's Five: Customer Service

I'm a firm believer in the power of good customer service. Whether it's going the extra mile to make customers feel special or taking customer complaints seriously, the companies that pay attention are the ones that get -- and keep -- my business. It's why I love PSNC Energy, but hate dealing with Time Warner Cable.

During this crazy shopping season, here are five happy customer service experiences I've experienced recently. And as someone who worked retail (anyone shop at Limited Express in the late 80s?), I ask you to please be kind and patient to the store clerks you see during the coming days.
  1. Great Goods: I found Doris' Etsy site through a Google search for aprons a year ago, but finally ordered one for my birthday this year (thanks, Mom and Dad!). Not only is the apron beautiful, but it arrived quickly and was packaged beautifully with a handwritten note and a family recipe tucked inside. There's not much left on her site now (clearly I'm not the only one who likes her aprons), but she has some really great fabrics.
  2. H*Lea*Designs: Okay, so Heather is a friend of mine. But still, I trust she gives this kind of service to all her customers. The adorable hand-knit hat I ordered for Pippi arrived on time and was custom-fit to her head. She has styles for boys, too, and will customize colors on request.
  3. Mabel's Labels: Not only did I get a conference coupon for free labels (which are fantastic, by the way), but I also got picked as the "Customer of the Day." Even before my labels arrived, I received a package with a great double-end pen, a reusable shopping bag and other treats from Mabel's -- I felt so important.
  4. Marriott: This story didn't actually start out so happy, as you may remember from our ill-fated pack-n-play incident over Thanksgiving. But I give Marriott full credit for responding quickly, listening to my concerns, tracking down a solution to the problem and giving us some bonus rewards points as a make-up gift. Companies make mistakes sometimes -- great customer service is what makes us forgive them.
  5. Quail Ridge Books and Music: I realize that not all of my readers live close enough to Raleigh to be able to enjoy our local book store. But I hope that you'll support your independent bookseller wherever you are -- or just order online from Quail Ridge. Their staff is knowledgeable and helpful, the store is lovely, the gift wrap is free (year-round) and the children's section is top-rate. Check here for some of my suggestions of what to buy.
So, what's your best customer service experience lately?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

'Twas Friday Night in Lakemont

Alternate Title: Why You Wish You Lived in My Neighborhood
With apologies to Clement Clark Moore or Henry Livingston, or whoever wrote the original

'Twas Friday night in Lakemont --
A night in, you see --
My husband and I
Turned on the TV.

The renovation mess
Would eventually be great,
But it meant no holiday
Decorating to date.

The children were nestled
All snug in their beds,
While visions of presents
Filled up their big heads.

And my husband in sweatpants
And I, in my jammies,
Had just settled down
For some TiVoed programmies.

When out on the porch there arose such a clatter,
Hubby sprang from the couch to see what was the matter.

He peeked out the window, then walked 'cross the floor,
Turned on the porch light and opened the front door.

When, what to our wondering eyes -- not a fright --
But a green pumpkin tree clad in garland and light.

From a fabulous neighbor, so clever and arty,
I knew in a moment it must be Ms. Marty.

More rapid than eagles, she'd smuggled away
The pumpkins on my porch since an October day.

And now it's tradition, we'll hope every year
That our favorite craft elf will bring us this cheer.

As if just her friendship weren't enough,
She does fun things like this and shares tasty stuff.

So we send her, as thanks for all these delights,
A most Merry Christmas and many peaceful nights!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Baby Wants to Drive This Car

Several weeks ago, Pippi and I ventured downtown to City Plaza to preview the all new 2011 Ford Explorer coming out this winter. As you can see from the photo, she loved it.

Loved. It.

As in, did not want to get out of the driver's seat. As in, mommy had to peel her little fingers off the steering wheel and drag her wiggly body out of the car to give other people a chance to test it out.

To be honest, Pippi wasn't the only one who was impressed. The Explorer is clearly no convertible, but seems like a great alternative if we decide to go for a vehicle with more seats. It's loaded with safety features, including second row seat belts that inflate to soften the impact in a collision. The third row seats move at the touch of a button, hiding one or both seats to allow for more storage space. And it's a sleeker design than past Explorers, which makes it seem less hulkingly big.

When I did manage a brief turn in the driver's seat, I was pleasantly surprised. Don't get me wrong -- it's still a big ass vehicle, particularly compared to the convertibles I love best. But it didn't feel as big as I expected. As in, it felt like something I might actually be able to drive and maneuver into a parking space without crashing into everything around me.

They're claiming it will get better gas mileage than any other SUV -- which may be true, but is still a far cry from my Honda Accord. One of the Ford promotion guys hanging around told me there's a second version of the SUV scheduled for release in summer with an EcoBoost engine that will get even better mileage (you won't be able to tow anything, which is not a problem for me). That option has me intrigued.

When I asked the first few guys my most important question -- can you fit three car seats across the middle row -- no one knew the answer. But when I got to the VP who was at the event, he assured me that you can. Sadly, they didn't have three car seats on hand to test his answer, but I'm hoping he's right.

For now, we're going to keep driving the (paid-for) cars we have. But I'll be watching the release of this new Explorer and am curious to have a chance to actually drive one.

Maybe Ford would like to let me (ahem) borrow one for a few weeks? You know, take all those cup-holders for a spin and see how comfortable I could get? Lure me in so that I can never go back to not having seven seats again? Give my kids a taste of riding in big-rig super-safe luxury? Anyone?

Note: Ford did not pay me to write this post. They did give me a free Jimmy John's sandwich at the event, but they were giving those to everyone who walked by to look at the car, so I hardly think it counts as a bribe. However, I would happily take a loaner Explorer for a bit to see how it fits.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Birthday Five: Keeping Me Young

I realize it's not Friday, but it's my birthday and I'll post what I want to.

I'm 38 today. So there.

Not that long ago, 38 sounded really old. Almost 40 (gulp). Almost over the proverbial hill.

Yet now that I'm here, I don't feel nearly as old as I thought 38 would be. With my husband already in his 40s and my parents now in their 60s, I've shifted my definition of "old" to somewhere around 93.

Here are five people (or groups of people) keeping me young this week:
  1. My children. They're exhausting and probably adding gray hairs and wrinkles to my look every day. But they also make me silly and happy -- and they remind me of how much fun the world can be.
  2. My husband. For the second birthday in a row, he's given me running related gifts. Last year it was the iPod to get me started. This year (now that I'm actually a Runner), it's a high-tech running shirt and hat to keep me warm through the winter months. Also, he tells people I'm his "child bride" because I'm several years younger than he is -- don't you just love him?
  3. My friends. Most of my friends are my age (give or take 10 years). I figure if they seem young to me (and they do), then I must be young, too. And they do sweet things like take me out to lunch and sing "Happy Birthday" on my voicemail -- that makes me happy, which makes me smile, which (I hope) makes me look younger.
  4. My dermatologist. This one falls in the "for better or for worse" category. I started getting these bumpy, flaky spots on my chin two weeks ago. Turns out it's stress-induced acne. And acne is for teenagers, right? So I must be younger than I thought. Thankfully the antibiotics and cream are bringing my face back to normal -- and even perioral dermatitis is better than this visit.
  5. My hair colorist. Thanks to some nudging from my husband and a deal from Redeemio, I became (more or less) a redhead on Tuesday. Lane at ds Parada salon took me from blah brown to a sparkly red that shows up more in sunlight than it does indoors. It's kind of different and fun -- and it covers the grays referenced in #1, above.
So what's keeping you young these days? And, more importantly, what do you think of my new hair?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday's Five: Not Enough Time

There's just not enough time in the day. And there are lots and lots of reasons for that -- but here are five photos to explain why I haven't written all the posts that are stored in my head recently.

1. We started our downstairs renovation project. It's going to be spectacular, but right now it's a big, chaotic mess. Yes, that's my stove in the middle of the kitchen.

2. Keeping my children out of said renovation project is nearly a full-time job. Particularly when our contractor brings Junius his own hammer and tool belt. Notice the proper use of safety glasses.

3. Keeping Pippi out of my makeup bag takes more focus than I've apparently been able to devote. Note the mascara unibrow. Guess I should just be glad she didn't paint the carpet with it.

4. Despite the mess, I'm trying to get into the Christmas spirit. My husband helped put up little trees with lights in the kids rooms, plus I'm working on holiday cards.

5. And the sweetest reason that I've been distracted during my usual blogging time -- earlier in the week, I got to snuggle with my sweet baby from up the street during Pippi's nap time. He's just discovered his toes, which is every bit as adorable as you might imagine it to be.

So what's keeping you crazy busy these days? Or have you figured out a magical way to slow down time?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Even Santa’s Elves Use Shutterfly

I’d already set up my Christmas cards when I found out that Shutterfly was offering this great deal for bloggers to get 50 of their beautiful holiday photo cards. So I thought – in the true giving spirit of Christmas (ahem) – that I’d see about helping my parents set up their very first Shutterfly cards for the holidays.

Every year, my mom talks about having photo cards printed, but then she’s intimidated by the process and quits before she even gets started. I think the last photo card she sent for Christmas used our family photo from my wedding – and I’ve been married for nine years.

After Junius was born, I started using Shutterfly for making photo books (they have the best options for designing your book of any photo site I’ve tried) – as a second child, poor Pippi doesn’t have any yet, but I have two really beautiful books for Juni. Last week, I set up our 2011 calendars on Shutterfly (shh… I'm giving them as gifts, but keeping one for myself). I'm also considering using Shutterfly for Pippi's birthday invitations in February.

Despite having used Shutterfly for so many photo projects, this is my first time trying them out for holiday cards. I'm really impressed with the range of designs available now – and I’m not just saying that because of the deal they’re offering. Whether you want one photo or five, traditional or funky, they’ve got plenty of styles to choose from.

Because we actually have ONE recent photo with my parents, my brother, my husband, my kids and me ALL in it AND looking in the general direction of the camera (and did I mention that my dad’s eyes are open, too?), we'll have to use an option with only one photo.

Personally, I like the fun designs (check out With Glee or Antique Ornaments), but I think my parents may want something a little more classic – maybe Stirling Snowflake or Classic Flourish. Tonight I'll set up a few different options for my mom and show them to her tomorrow.

Cross your fingers that we can actually make this work! Then head over to Shutterfly and get your cards and holiday shopping done in one easy place.

This post was sponsored by Shutterfly's holiday card promotion -- but you can still trust that the opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Also, the kids in the photo of the card shown are not mine -- but they are cute.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Travel Tips: Addendum for Avoiding Failure

So when I wrote about how successful we'd been with get Pippi to sleep in hotel cribs, evidently I missed one critical step. Pay close attention now, because it seems there was a fatal flaw in my plan.

When you reserve your hotel room and request the crib, you have to specify that by "crib" you mean an actual crib. Not a pack-n-play. 

Because apparently, if you don't clarify that seemingly obvious but critically important detail, you might get a pack-n-play.

And when you get to your hotel room with two tired kids and your exhausted selves and the hotel desk clerk brings you a pack-n-play, your husband will have to politely but very firmly explain to the bewildered clerk why that pack-n-play is completely unacceptable.

Then said clerk will desperately call other hotels in the area asking to borrow an actual crib and your husband will have to drive to a nearby hotel to pick up the crib because the clerk is the only person working at the hotel and can't leave.

And you'll be disappointed all over again when your husband calls from the car to say that the other hotel thought they had a crib, but turns out they only have pack-n-plays, too.

So you'll cram your almost-three-year-old into the pack-n-play, where she can't stretch out all the way because she's longer than the available space. You'll explain to her that it's not a good idea to keep climbing out and then jumping back in from the bed. And you'll cross your fingers that maybe you'll all get two or three hours of sleep before she climbs out and refuses to sleep any more.

If you know anyone at Marriott, please teach them the difference between a crib and a pack-n-play.

And say a prayer, y'all. It's going to be a long night.

Image borrowed from Traveling Baby Company, which seems like a great idea if they're where you are.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Travel Tips: To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Today's post is part of the inaugural Blogging Friends Road-Weary Traveling Tips Compendium, founded by Evelyn at Momsicle. If you're traveling for the holidays this week (or even if you're not), you'll want to check out the other bloggers linked below who are offering great tips today.

We're fortunate to live in the same state with our parents -- close enough for a day trip now and then. But we still find ourselves needing to spend the night away from home, either visiting friends and family or taking a vacation. And the hardest part for us has consistently been sleep.

We moved Junius to a big boy bed when he was two, so he's been the easy one. And when Pippi was a baby, she survived in the pack-and-play okay for a while.

Then we took her to stay with friends in Charlotte.

She had just turned two years old -- still sleeping happily in her crib at home, but probably too big for the pack-n-play we parked at the foot of our bed. She tossed, turned and sobbed all night. "I go home. Seep my crib," she wailed. It was so pitiful. She was miserable, we were miserable, no one slept. We left after lunch the next day to avoid another disastrous night.

For months after, we simply didn't travel overnight. But then there were vacations and other trips we couldn't pass on. And thus began our trial-and-error approach to solving the Pippi problem.

Here's what I've learned about sleeping away with a toddler who's too big for a pack-n-play and not yet ready for a bed:

  1. The very cute toddler-sized air mattress with built-in princess pink sleeping bag was not the answer. She loved it when I pulled it out of the box, wouldn't get off of it when we inflated it in, snuggled right into the sleeping bag when we zipped her up. And then she was done with it. Took forever to get her to sleep, then we found her like this (photo above) an hour later. She's sound asleep in that picture -- on the floor, with her head on the mattress. We slid her back into the sleeping bag, but she was awake and in our bed an hour after that.
  2. Putting her in the trundle bed at her grandparents' house next to her brother was not the answer. They talked and giggled and wouldn't go to sleep. They switched beds back and forth. And in the middle of the night, when we thought they were finally sleeping, she hopped up, ran into the living room and retrieved a pile of toys to take back to her bed. She ended up in bed with me and her daddy slept on the trundle with Junius that night.
  3. Same scene, different day at the other grandparents' house when we tried putting her in the twin bed (with rails on both sides) beside her brother.
  4. Tucking her into the queen- or king-sized bed with us meant she eventually slept -- but we didn't. She rolls around, throws elbows and kicks in her sleep. Oh, and she wakes up at the crack of dawn, ready to play.
  5. And finally, the solution. If she sleeps fine at home in her crib, then get a crib. Duh. On a weekend trip to Virginia Beach, we asked the hotel to set up a crib in our room. Worked like magic. She slept so well, we didn't even mind when she woke up smiling with the sun at the foot of our bed and sang out, "Hi Daddy!" Later in the summer, we stayed with a friend who still had a crib in storage -- magic again. And on our end-of-summer beach week, we rented a crib from one of those places that rents beach chairs and umbrellas. Ta-da! Even at naptime, it worked like a charm. 
I realize we'll have to move her to a bed at some point -- but I've decided not to sweat it until she turns three. And Thursday night, she'll be in another hotel crib, hopefully sleeping soundly after a wild day of playing with the cousins and eating too much dessert.

Now, CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE for where to go next:
  • Evelyn at Momsicle, who embraced the red-eye and mood-altering substances
  • Sue at Motherhood and Me, who won't let a little in-flight poop get in the way of traveling all over the country to see her family
  • Kim at Let Me Start By Saying, who believes that with the right packing list, a little compromise and some red wine, you can successfully travel with two kids
  • Sandhya at Literary Safari, who tackled international travel with a baby and lived to tell about it
  • And more later this week from Lauren at Fizgiggery
If you want to join in the fun, leave your tips in the comments here or write your own travel tips post and leave the link in the comments.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday's 5: Children's Books to Enjoy

It's been several months since I wrote about any children's books at my house, so seems like a good time to share some of our recent favorites from the library. There's no real theme to this list, but both of my kids have enjoyed all five books.

Sometimes I catch myself reading car books only to Junius and doll books only to Pippi -- then discover that they both like listening to "boy books" and "girl books." It's a good reminder not to pigeon-hole their reading interests so early.

If you're looking for other suggestions of children's books to buy for holiday gifts, check out the blog's "books" category -- it's mostly books for kids, but there are some grown-up titles thrown in, too.
  1. Roy Makes a Car by Mary E. Lyons and Terry Widener based on a story collected by Zora Neale Hurston: If you're a fan of the writing that came out of the Harlem Renaissance, then you must have this book. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then you'll still enjoy the great illustrations and the clever story in this book about a man who can make a car fit for the angels.
  2. Fanny by Holly Hobbie: From the author of Toot & Puddle comes this sweet book about a girl named Fanny who makes her own doll after her mom says she won't buy a "Connie" for the her birthday (Connies look like a scary cross between Barbie and Bratz dolls). Fanny's doll comes to life in a lovely way and reminds Fanny that girls can be more than just an overly-stylized, pretty face.
  3. Pssst! by Adam Rex: The concept, the dialogue, the illustrations, the style... everything about this book is funny and clever. But what sold me completely was the chuckle that bubbled up from Pippi the first time we got to the part about the sloths. You'll have to read the book to find out what secret project these zoo animals are up to.
  4. Sunny Boy: The Life and Times of a Tortoise by Candace Fleming and Anne Wilsdorf: Inspired by the true story of a tortoise that went over Niagara Falls, this silly book follows a tortoise named Sunny Boy from his early peaceful life to death-defying adventures with a daredevil named Biff. There's also reading Latin, collecting stamps and growing orchids. Somehow, it all works.
  5. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston and Barbara Cooney: Yes, it's too early for Christmas books. But the kids picked this one out and it ended up being really sweet. The illustrations are lovely and the sweet story, which takes place in 1918, tugged hard at my mama-heart-strings. It also takes place in the North Carolina mountains and references details familiar to those who know the area.
As always, all links take you to Quail Ridge Books & Music -- it's the best independent bookseller around, but you can order from their website if you don't live close enough to wander in. They don't compensate me in any way for linking to them. I just love them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

And Now... A Message from Our Complaints Department

Despite my earlier whining complaints (and because of the store's responsiveness to changing the floor plan), I've grown to like my new Harris Teeter -- it's super close to my house, the customer service is great and the covered parking is a life-saver on a rainy day. Oh, and they keep sending me $10 coupons each month, so who am I to say no?

On Tuesday, Pippi and I were on our way through the parking garage toward the store, when I noticed a young-ish man who had just closed the trunk on his BMW after unloading his grocery bags. He then carefully pushed his empty cart between his car and the car next to him, parking it against the wall between the parking spaces. The man was alone and did not appear to be in a hurry as he climbed into his car.

The cart corral (photo above) was two spaces away.

I mean, really, was it THAT far to walk? With no screaming baby or wild toddler pulling on your arm? Were you just so worn out from being cool that you couldn't make the trip? Or were you staging some sort of quiet protest against people telling you where to put your cart?

Because I'm pretty sure it took you longer to slide that cart in beside your car without scratching it than it would have to just put it where it belonged. And now everyone else is going to be jittery about parking in that nice space you just vacated.


Okay, I'm done. And I realize that I've got a pretty easy life if this is the worst thing I have to complain about.

But a pet peeve is a pet peeve, and this one's on my list. So tell me -- what's annoying you these days?

P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that after I finished giving the man my worst stink eye, I proceeded to violate my own rule about not using a double-seater cart when you only have one child. But they have a lot more of those rocket ship carts now than they did at the old store, so I've rationalized that it's okay. Mea culpa.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Honors from the Ladies

Is it lame to start off an acceptance speech with an apology?

I hope not -- because I want to thank Pam and Brenna for honoring me with The Versatile Blogger award and I need to apologize to both for taking many weeks to write this post.

It is an honor, right? Not just a scam for writing a list post? I mean, there's prize money in the mail, right?

Regardless, you should help me recognize both of these ladies by clicking through to their blogs: My Pamtastic Life and Suburban Snapshots. I discovered Pam through her very kind Twitter encouragement of my Couch to 5K running program, and you may already know Brenna from her brilliantly famous Why Having a Toddler Is Like Being at a Frat Party post.

I'm going to assume they both think I'm a Versatile Blogger because I write about a broad range of topics including school board politics, strategies for poop, home remodeling, recipes, children's books and pole-dancing. Guess I need to work on my niche.

In keeping with the rules of the award, I want to officially thank Pam and Brenna for reading, commenting and tweeting with me, even though they've never met me -- and for their great contributions to the blogging world. Below you'll find a list of several random things (depending on the award-giver, it's either supposed to be 7 or 10 things that I like or things about me) and a list of (up to 10) deserving, new award-winners.

In case you didn't already know...
  1. I have an extra kidney (sort of).
  2. As a kid, I broke my left arm in four places by jumping off a swing set.
  3. I could eat cereal and milk for three meals a day.
  4. I prefer not to wear socks, except with running shoes. That's one of the reasons my husband loves me.
  5. I get more nervous at the eye doctor than I do at the dentist.
  6. People tell me I look just like my mom. Growing up, I never knew what to say when people told me that. Now I think it's a compliment.
  7. I've never smoked cigarettes. Or anything else for that matter.
And the new winners are all recent discoveries worth your time to click, so click the links already...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Recipe: Roasted Eggplant-Feta Dip

We got a lot of eggplant in our Produce Box this fall. Since my kids and I are not big fans of eggplant parm, I needed another easy option for using it. A quick Google search revealed this recipe from Eating Well, which includes one of my favorite ingredients: feta cheese.

I took it to a bloggy ladies event and it was a hit. My kids don't love it, but I do -- served with pita chips, it's a great substitute for lunch. Here's the recipe, with my substitutions and notes added.

Roasted Eggplant - Feta Dip

1 medium eggplant, (about 1 pound) -- I usually had two or three smaller eggplants, which worked fine.
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil -- Depending on the size of your eggplant, you might need less oil.
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, preferably Greek
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion -- Red onions would probably be better, but I used whatever white or yellow was in the fridge and they worked fine.
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small chile pepper, such as jalapeño, seeded and minced (optional) -- I skipped this.
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar, (optional) -- I added this. It's helpful if your eggplant is a little bitter.

  1. Position oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source; preheat broiler.
  2. Line a baking pan with foil. Place eggplant in the pan and poke a few holes all over it to vent steam. Broil the eggplant, turning with tongs every 5 minutes, until the skin is charred and a knife inserted into the dense flesh near the stem goes in easily, 14 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board until cool enough to handle.
  3. Put lemon juice in a medium bowl. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and scrape the flesh into the bowl, tossing with the lemon juice to help prevent discoloring. 
  4. Add oil and stir with a fork until the oil is absorbed. (It should be a little chunky.) 
  5. Stir in feta, onion, bell pepper, chile pepper (if using), basil, parsley, cayenne and salt. Taste and add sugar if needed.
  6. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. I actually kept mine longer -- it's not as pretty, but still tasty.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Waiting Rooms

In the past month, I've spent more time in more medical office waiting rooms than I've ever visited in a four-week period.

Dentist. Optometrist. Allergist. Orthodontist. Dentist again. Pediatrician. Gynecologist. Urologist. Radiologist. Dermatologist. Urologist some more.

As a result, I've learned that: no one in the family has a cavity, my contact lens prescription is the same, Junius is still allergic to peanuts, I qualify for invisalign, both kids qualify for the flu mist, my UTI wasn't actually an infection, I need to stop drinking cranberry juice because it's a bladder irritant, I don't have kidney cancer and my skin is clear.

Oh, and I was born with three functioning kidneys.

That, my friends, is known as burying the lead.

Okay, so it's not exactly three full kidneys -- more like one full one on the left and two half-kidneys working together on the right. But it's funnier to say that I have three kidneys.

According to the urologist it's an "anatomical variant." Turns out that my left kidney is all normal with one ureter, but my right kidney has two parts with two ureters connecting to my bladder. Yeah, I know, really not the same as three kidneys -- but again, SO much funnier to say. says it's something that happens in about 1 in 125 births. In my case, it's not really a big deal, except that it means I'm more susceptible to infections. So I'm drinking lots of water, eliminating tea and soda (sniff, sniff) and hoping for a healthier month ahead.

There you have it. That's what I've learned this week -- what's your news?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Do Your Share

I'm cleaning house today -- trying to sort through the six-families-worth of toys that we own so we can clear out the den before the renovation project starts on Tuesday (yikes!). Okay, technically right now I'm blogging, but I had to take a quick break to capture this moment.

Pippi is "helping" me. She's wearing a polka dot dress, the stripper shoes, a frilly apron, a cupcake hair bow and an assortment of plastic jewelry. I am similarly decorated (plastic jewelry and a butterfly hair bow, of course), although I'm barefoot and wearing sweats.

She finds a plastic earring and asks me to clip it to her belly button -- when that doesn't work, we clip it to her diaper in the vicinity of her belly button.

And while I attempt to sort toys into piles that will get them out of the house (or at least out of the den), she's pretending to be my doctor by peering into my ear with her plastic compact mirror. Periodically she stops to dance to the mix CD that's playing and shake her UNC pom poms along with the music.

Then she moves on to doctoring Elmo.

It would be a whole lot faster to do this clean-up project alone. But it wouldn't be nearly as entertaining.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Halloween Weekend

A brief photo journal from a busy weekend:

Glasses courtesy of Daddy's co-worker.
Because not every cool Halloween treat has to be candy.

The boys pose with the Durham fire fighters,
who completed the Climb for Life with 50 extra pounds of gear.
That's 56 flights of stairs.

Batman tries out the violin before the NC Symphony kids concert.
Even superheroes need a talent.

Spiderman and Miss Ladybug hit their first target,
 then are surprised when the bowl grabs back.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Back Away from the Candy

There's something inherently hilarious about hearing a kid say something to a parent that normally the parent would say to the child. At least, that's true when said child is two. It probably gets less funny when your 15-year-old is parroting parenting phrases back at you -- but thankfully we're not there yet.

Recently Pippi has taken to looking at her father and saying, "You know what, Daddy?" with a very earnest look on her face. "You are a Good Boy."

I'm not sure where she got it from because I don't think it's something we say (at least, not quite like that), but it's funny regardless. The other day I went into her room to get her out of the crib after naptime and she did it to me, putting weighty emphasis on each word: "You know what, Mommy? You are a Good Girl."

So this past weekend, all four of us were in the kitchen enjoying a little Halloween candy and Junius did something nice (the details of which I can no longer remember). Whatever he did prompted me to give him a big grin and say, "You know what, Juni? You are a Good Boy."

My husband (who was on the other side of the kitchen from us at the time) then added, "You know what, Pippi? You are a Good Girl."

Without skipping a beat, Pippi leaned a little closer to her pile of m&m's, set her hands up around them like a fence, shot her father a stink eye and said sternly, "I am NOT sharing."

That girl is funny, she knows her Daddy well -- and she is a second child through and through.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday's 5: Busy Weekend

I really want to have a week off from my life so that I could write all the blog posts that are in my head and on various lists around my desk. I'm afraid that by the time I get to all the topics I want to post about, they'll be old news -- and my list will just keep getting long in the meantime.

But, for better or for worse, my calendar is packed right now -- regular job, freelance job, parenting, homemaking, socializing, exercising, and probably lots more -ings that I'm forgetting. Here's a quick look at just the social events for this weekend:

  1. Office party: Took the kids to my husband's office Friday afternoon for trick-or-treating (see photo). You know, because you need to start two days before Halloween to ensure that your kids are appropriately hopped up on sugar ALL weekend.
  2. Climb for Life: Husband is running up 56 flights of stairs on Saturday morning to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. We'll be cheering from the ground floor. You can make a donation here if you like.
  3. NC Symphony: I won tickets from The B Keeps Us Honest for the kids series (yea!), so all four of us get to go to the concert mid-day on Saturday. They're also having an instrument petting zoo before the concert and a costume parade at the end -- Junius can't wait to check out the trombone in his Batman outfit.
  4. Spooky Trail: Our neighborhood pool puts on a "haunted walk" around the pool grounds, with a little kid-friendly version in the late afternoon on Saturday. I love that Pippi calls it the "Pooky Trail" because she can't say the s-consonant combination sounds. She loves that they're selling hot dogs.
  5. Halloween Parade: The second-annual neighborhood friends parade takes place Sunday afternoon. Will probably involve 50 children under the age of 10, which likely sounds more terrifying than the Spooky Trail to some of you.
Oh, and it's 11:15 and I'm writing this instead of going to bed like any sane person would do. So how about you -- what's keeping you busy this weekend?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Recipe: Purple Potato Risotto

If you need a lovely dish to take to an ECU Pirates dinner or a Northwestern Wildcats party, have I got the recipe for you: Roasted purple sweet potato risotto.

Actually, the recipe called for regular NC sweet potatoes -- I found it in a deck of recipe cards courtesy of the NC Sweet Potato Commission.What, you didn't know North Carolina has a Sweet Potato Commission? It is the state vegetable, after all.

But anyway, I had all these purple sweet potatoes left from our Produce Box, so I just substituted them in. And WOW, is it purple. Also, quite tasty (despite the fact that my photo here makes it look like a dumped-out can of cat food) -- my husband even had seconds.

And, did I mention it's very, very purple?

Here's the recipe, with my usual amendments. Will probably try it again with orange sweet potatoes to see if it changes the taste or just the color.

Roasted Sweet Potato Risotto

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes [I used 3 because they seemed slightly smaller than medium.]
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups hot vegetable stock, divided [I used chicken stock because it was in my pantry.]
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion [I mis-read this ingredient and used 1/2 an onion. I think it was fine.]
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic [I used elephant garlic from my Produce Box -- worked fine.]
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice (12-oz package)
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary [I used dried. Fresh probably would have been better.]
  • 1 1/2 tsp thyme leaves [Dried again.]
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese [I used shredded because it was in the fridge. Also added a little more as a topping when I served it.]
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  1. Preheat over to 350. Peel sweet potatoes and cut in half.
  2. Cut half of the sweet potatoes into 1/4-inch dices and set aside.
  3. Cut the remaining sweet potatoes into 1-inch chunks and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil. Roast until soft, about 30 minutes. Puree in a food processor with 1/4 cup vegetable stock; reserve.
  4. In a large saucepan, heat remaining 3 tbsp oil and sauté onion and 1/4-inch diced sweet potatoes over medium-high heat. Cook about 3 minutes until softened but not browned.
  5. Add garlic and arborio rice and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in wine and cook, stirring until completely absorbed. In the same manner, add hot stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until each addition is completely absorbed and stock is use up.
  6. Add sweet potato puree, rosemary, thyme, butter and Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Let me know what you think if you try it out. Or, if you have a favorite sweet potato recipe, add it here in the comments.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday's 5: Lessons from the Fair

We took the kids to the N.C. State Fair yesterday -- it was their first trip and they were jumping out of their skins from excitement.

As this was only my second trip to the Fair and the first time with kids, I learned a lot from the experience. A trip to the Fair is a lot of fun, but it's also some serious work for the parents. Here are five lessons from the day.

  1. Bring a stroller. Even though Pippi never uses a stroller anymore (unless I'm trying to exercise when she's home), I realized too late that we should have brought one with us. My arms are still aching from carrying her30 pounds of fabulousness to the fairgrounds, around the event and back to the car.
  2. A footlong hot dog is not too big. At least, not for one five-year-old Junius. Kid barely stopped to talk between bites because he was enjoying it so much. Seriously, just look at how happy he was.
  3. A map counts as a prize. Junius was very excited to have his own copy of the Fair map. Probably even more excited than he was about the Nemo look-alike he got from one of the fishing games. And it was free.
  4. Look for friends. Even with thousands of people streaming through the gates each day, it's still possible to run into someone you know. We ran into friends from our neighborhood and didn't even know they would be at the Fair. And while you're watching out for friends, you can enjoy the people watching. Because there are some crazy-looking interesting people out there.
  5. Don't be afraid of the kid rides. And I mean that advice to the mommies. I was very hesitant about letting the kids get on the tiny roller coaster (and by coaster, I mean a little dragon train that goes up and down around the circle), but they LOVED it. Was totally worth it to watch them cracking up and yelling around the curves together. 
And one bonus tip for watching the fireworks: Before we actually went to the Fair yesterday, Junius and his Daddy watched the fireworks show on Tuesday night. Because Juni isn't really old enough to stay up until 10:00 at the Fair, the two of them drove to a nearby (free) parking lot around 9:30, put the top down, enjoyed a milkshake, and watched the show from outside the Fairgrounds.

So how about you -- what's your best tip for going to the Fair?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Pet Peeve, Part 2

Photo of Christmas decorations appeared around
the entrance to Crabtree Valley Mall this week. 
This, the third week of frickin OCTOBER..

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Honesty Is Hardly Ever Heard

A good friend of mine did a very brave, bold thing last week.

She told me that she was disappointed in me, that I'd hurt her, that she was heartbroken.

Even writing it down now makes my own heart hurt again.

Still, I'm glad she did it, because it's better than the alternative. She could have just swallowed her unhappiness, then drifted away and acted polite until we weren't really friends anymore --  I suspect that's what most people do. I would have been left wondering what happened, making assumptions that we were just busy, that life's craziness got in the way, that it didn't really mean anything, that it simply slipped away.

But I would have missed her.

She is funny, talented, smart and thoughtful. She does amazing work in her chosen profession. She manages motherhood like a pro. And she has a quick, dry wit that she delivers with deadpan brilliance.

So as hard as it was to read her message, I am thankful that she is so brave, that she valued our friendship so much to be so honest, that she trusted me enough to tell me. And I am particularly grateful that she accepted my apology, understood my efforts to make things right and even appreciated my (somewhat lame) attempt at a joke to lighten the reply.

Thank you, my friend. Thank you for being my friend.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saturday Strategery: How to Build a Fish Pond in Your Backyard

Step 1: Build a large wooden sandbox in your backyard.
Step 2: Cover the sandbox with a heavy duty tarp to keep the neighborhood cats out. Hook the tarp onto the sides of the sandbox, using a staple gun along one side and small hooks on the other sides.
Step 3: Wait for Noah's rain to fall.
Step 4: Add fish.

Please be aware of two caveats to today's strategery: 1) we did not do this on purpose and 2) it's probably not really the best approach if you're actually going to do step 4. But it still made us laugh.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Friday's 5: Pork Tenderloin All Week Long

One of my favorite ways to cook is to fix one thing and make it last through as many meals as possible. That's the beauty of cooking pork tenderloin -- there are so many ways to serve it that are easy to prep, once you've done the initial cooking.

Whenever Harris Teeter has the Smithfield pork tenderloin on sale, I usually buy one and keep it in the freezer until I'm ready. They tend to be close to 3 lbs (because they actually put two in a package), so it's way more than we can eat in one or two meals. Thanks to tips from my friend Ms. S, I've come up with five different meals from one package of tenderloin.

  1. Pork tenderloin with veggies: For the first meal, I cook the tenderloin in the oven (according to package directions) -- sometimes I marinade, sometimes not. Here's a good recipe (and a borrowed photo above) I found online. Slice and serve with whatever veggies you like best -- we often use broccoli and mashed potatoes.
  2. BBQ pork pizza: Get a ready-made pizza crust or the great pizza dough at Trader Joe's (near the cheese section). Use BBQ sauce instead of tomato sauce. Chop up or shred some of the pork and layer on top with some red onion (you can cook them a little to carmelize if you like) and shredded Italian cheeses.
  3. Pork and peach salad: Use your favorite mixed greens. Add slices of pork along with peaches (I like to warm them a little first), walnuts, cranberries and feta cheese. Toss with a little vinaigrette.
  4. Pork and black bean burritos: Whatever your preferred ingredients are for burritos, use the same approach. Here's a good recipe -- just add pork.
  5. BBQ pork sandwiches: The key to this very simple meal is to get nice, soft sourdough bread (I like Pepperidge Farm) and some smoky gouda or muenster or provolone cheese. Toast the bread, layer with pork, BBQ sauce and cheese, then let it get warm and melty under the broiler. 
What's your favorite way to serve pork tenderloin? Or better yet, what's your favorite item to cook once and serve all week?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Insult to Injury

It was a rough morning over at Chez Convertible today. Not worth explaining the details (except to accept my share of responsibility for the mess), but let's just say I was feeling a little beaten down by the time I got in the car to drive to work.

I switched on NPR as I turned out of the driveway, hoping to distract myself with the morning's news. After a story on the Chilean miners rescue and another about people losing their jobs and homes in the Gulf, I was starting to get my life back into perspective. I mean really, what's one bumpy morning compared to people who are really struggling to stay alive or buy food for their families?

And then, just as I was pulling myself together, BAM!

Frickin pledge drive.

C'mon, NPR. It's not nice to kick a girl when she's down -- and then ask her for money, too.

For the record, I love NPR. I just really hate the pledge drive.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Public Schools Need Sound Policy, Not Drama Queens

A recent New Yorker article by Nicholas Lemann described the American education system in this way:
"The creation of the world's first system of universal public one of the great achievements of American democracy. It embodies a faith in the capabilities of ordinary people that the Founders simply didn't have. It is also, like democracy itself, loose, shaggy, and inefficient, full of redundancies and conflicting goals. It serves many constituencies and interest groups, each of which, in the manner of the parable of the blind men and the elephant, sees its purpose differently. But by the fundamental test of attractiveness to students and their families, the system--which is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and decentralized--is, as a whole, succeeding."
As I read this article, which goes on to discuss the need for measured, research-based solutions to the very real challenges in public education rather than take a "Noah's Ark" approach in which we wash everything away and start anew, I kept thinking that Lemann must have been writing about Wake County. Except that nowhere in his article does he call anyone a prom queen.

At last week's school board meeting, the majority's 5-4 voting alliance splintered into name-calling and snide remarks as Debra Goldman (along with the four members who have been in the minority since December) put the brakes on a train-wreck of a "plan" (and I use that term loosely) for student assignment in Wake County. While I'm relieved that the board's decide-now-ask-questions-later, destructionist approach to "planning" is on hold, I have no confidence in Goldman or the rest of the former Gang of Five.

What amazed me most about all of this drama is how apparently shocked and surprised these five board members are to discover that creating a student assignment plan is hard. Really?! Did you think that the people in those seats before you weren't trying? Or that maybe they delighted in screwing with families and students to see how much hate mail they could generate? Or that somehow they were just oblivious to the challenges facing our schools?

The truth is that, as Nicholas Lemann observed in his article, public education is complicated. Every parent rightfully wants what's best for his or her own child -- but our public schools have to serve ALL children. And what's best for one child or one family might not be the right answer for another.

If there were a simple solution to student assignment in Wake County -- one that sent every family to their closest school filled with magnet offerings while staying within county budgets and ensuring that every school fostered a healthy, effective (uncrowded) environment for teaching and learning -- don't you think someone would have tried it by now?

There is no simple solution. Believe me, I wish I had one to offer. I only know that this "Noah's Ark" approach of throwing out the old plan and bull-dozing ahead without research or data to support the new plan isn't going to help more students graduate with the skills they need for college and careers. And petty commentary between board members certainly won't help my son and his classmates learn how to read.

It's time for the school board to move beyond campaign rhetoric, roll up their sleeves and get to work on the business of setting policies that help students learn. Ms. Goldman, I hope you'll prove me wrong for doubting your intentions and take the lead on making a positive difference for all 143,289 of them.

PS - If you missed the photo gallery of the one-minute post-meeting Goldman-Tedesco chat, you absolutely must check it out. Add your own voice-over captions for entertainment. And yes, Tedesco really did publicly call Goldman a prom queen. She has reportedly denied ever having been one.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Perfect Way to Welcome Fall

Today, while doing laundry, I found four hardened kernels of corn at the bottom of my washing machine. Under normal circumstances, that might seem strange -- but we spent last Saturday at Hill Ridge Farms, so I actually knew where they came from.
Apparently when you let your kids play in a huge sandbox filed with corn instead of sand, they're likely to bring some of it home in their pants. They're also likely to have an absolute blast.

Despite other people's recommendations, I've always been a little skeptical about the hayride-pumpkinpatch-cornmaze-farmanimals events that get publicized each fall -- just sounded itchy, smelly and cold. But some friends invited us to join them and the weather was perfect, so I agreed to go along.

As it turned out, I couldn't have hoped for a better day. From the moment we turned off Tarboro Road in Youngsville, the staff at Hill Ridge Farm was friendly, organized and attentive. We had an easy time in the parking lot, quickly got our tickets and were inside playing without any trouble (think Caniac Carnival, not that other family outing). We even arrived early enough to get in our train ride and hayride without waiting in line.

At $10 per ticket, it's not a cheap outing -- but each ticket gets to take home a pumpkin, so it's not a bad deal either. Plus I didn't feel as guilty about taking pictures while my kids wandered around the pumpkins as I do when we're pumpkin shopping at the farmer's market.

After all that playing and pumpkin-picking, we needed a break and a snack. Pippi begged for kettle corn -- and again I was suspicious, as I'm a traditional movie-theater popcorn kind of girl. But oh-my-delicious-freshly-popped-sweet-and-salty-goodness, I take it all back. The suspicion, that is, not the kettle corn. Because we ate it all.

And we didn't feed any of it to the animals, even when they tried showing us their most clever tricks. Because the signs say not to share people food with the animals, and it was hard enough sharing it just among the four of us.

The morning's big finish involved a slide built into a hill, complete with little burlap sack to help the ride along. In the not-too-distant past, Junius would have been too afraid to try this on his own, but here's my big boy now. Might have made me a little misty-eyed if he hadn't been having so much fun.

All in all, it was a spectacular morning for the whole family, plus we all took glorious naps when we got back home. A perfect fall Saturday, if you ask me.

A few final tips, in case you're planning to head out there this weekend:

  • Go early. Farm opens at 9 on Saturday -- be there.
  • Wear sunscreen. It may be fall, but little faces still get sunburned on a pretty day.
  • Buy the regular tickets plus one train ride. The super pass is more than you need (at least for little kids).
  • Bring a picnic, if you want to save a little money. Plus, your kids may fall asleep on the ride home, so it's easier if they've already had lunch.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Would You Send Your Child to School Wearing This?

One of the unfortunate ironies about blogging is that people with the best stories or the most interesting lives are often too busy living those lives to have time to write down any of those stories.

So today, I bring you a guest post via an email from a friend who is a high school social studies teacher. For the purposes of this post, we'll call her Ms. T (so as not to get her fired because she's an excellent teacher and goodness knows we can't afford to lose her) -- otherwise, the story is relayed here (in italics) as she shared it.

A freshman boy (yes, a 14-year-old) in my 4th period was wearing a t-shirt today that said: “Boobies make me happy.”

I’m not sure what is the worst part of this scenario:
  1. That he, and possibly his parents, thought this shirt was appropriate for school.
  2. That he got rude with and then yelled at the SRO [school resource officer, basically school police] who spoke with him about the shirt being appropriate after I sent the student to the office.
  3. When the student’s administrator was called (after the yelling) and told what the shirt said, the MALE ADMINISTRATOR said to the school secretary, “Well, they do.”
So there you have it. And people wonder why teachers feel under-paid and under-respected.


Note: When I did a Google search to see if I could find the shirt (available from Cafe Press), I also found a series of the same shirt with the breast cancer ribbon included in the background. I'd like to believe that this particular kid was just showing his support for breast cancer survivors, but somehow (call me cynical) I don't think that's really the statement he was trying to make.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Everything You Never Wanted to Know (and Then Some)

Admit it. You're curious, you've got questions, but you've been too polite (or just afraid) to ask.

Who exactly is this person who thinks she's got so much to say and expects people to read it? Who is this Convertible Girl?

Well, now thanks to Sue, you can get some answers. Author of Motherhood and Me, Sue invited me to participate in her regular feature called "Well, I Didn't Know That," where she interviews other bloggers. So head on over and check out Sue's interview with me on her blog.

While you're there, be sure to leave Sue a comment and check out her other posts, then come back and let me know if you actually learned anything new and interesting about me.

Go ahead, now. I'll wait.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday's 5: Great Things About Type-A Mom

When I got home Sunday night, I had grand visions of posting something each day this week about my time at Type A Mom conference. Monday started off strong -- and that was the end of that.

So now it's Friday, and I think I'll try to sum up a week's worth of never-got-written posts with a list of five things that made the conference worthwhile.
  1. Clearly, the best part of the weekend was the people. From famous bloggers to newbies, friends in real life to people I've only read online, it was a really interesting crowd. Those lovely ladies above all write from here in the Triangle, bloggers came to Asheville from all over the country. Much has been written this week about whether or not the "popular bloggers" were approachable or elitist (two of my favorite posts are from Jessica and Abby) -- personally, I found them all to be lovely, witty and kind.
  2. Thanks to the Mom Market, I got a head start on my Christmas shopping. And by head start, I mean that I picked up business cards so that I can do all my shopping on these ladies' websites. Trust me when I tell you that you want to check out Lemons with a Pea (and her hilarious blog), BabyPop Designs (what kid doesn't want a custom superhero cape and accessories?), Sweet Sadie Marie (love all the little chalkboards), stringbean17 (creator of Pippi's adorable new backpack, which you'll just have to ask for because it's not on her etsy site), Studio Jewel (I'll take one of each, please) and Cranky Pants (two words: monster booty).
  3. Okay, let's be honest, the swag was fun. Came home with cool shopping bags, new running socks, a Disney clubhouse towel and notebook, tasty snacks and much much more. Oh, and (brace yourself), a Build-a-Bear. An actual, free, full-sized, snuggly soft Build-a-Bear. You know, because Maxine Clark is just that kind of awesome.
  4. I learned a lot, both in the sessions and just in conversations with other bloggers. I've already bought my url and set up a Facebook page for my blog (click over to "like" me if you want) -- other changes might take longer to implement. (Scroll through Everyday Baby Steps for details and transcripts from some of the sessions.)
  5. Coming home. There's nothing like being away for a couple of days to make your family miss you -- and vice versa. My sweet husband sent text messages with photos during the weekend so I could see what the kids were up to. And the hugs I got (along with hand-made cards) when I arrived home were enough to power me through the crazy week ahead.
So thanks to Kelby Carr and all the presenters, volunteers, sponsors and participants who helped make the weekend a success. Here's hoping I can live up to the potential.

Photo by Canape's husband, featuring (L to R) Abby, Andrea, Fadra, me, Jessica, Marty (with her cutest accessory) and Sue.