Thursday, April 22, 2010

Up and Away

In a few moments, I'll be off to Nashville! The plane ride itself will give me some quiet time on the plane to read and think about Lost and this ongoing discussion.

And then I'll see my two siblings who live far away (Amanda and James) and the two who live here (Chris and Gina) and my two parents. I think I might cry. (I will)

And then we'll run our little marathon (Gina made us matching shirts, so, get ready for that!)

And then we'll shop, people watch, and eat. What we do "best." Amanda's promised deep fried cookie dough. This idea has intrigued me for several weeks now.

Don't tell me who wins Project Runway! I'll be watching it later. . .

(Side note: Isn't it funny how much preparation it takes to leave for a short trip? Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but who are these people who just "up and go?")

Friday, April 16, 2010

Famous Friday: "Um, the 80's aren't really going away!"

Well, I know you're getting itchy to go through your closet and purge it of all its heavy sweaters and boots in hopes that Spring is here to stay. . .

So the lovely and vivacious Amanda Valentine (my little sister), Nashville's hottest stylist and fashion designer has some tips for you for what to look for this season! Check her out!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Women's Conference

Here's some news (that awakens me with a startle in the mornings) that I feel some on you on the world wide web might want to know: I'm speaking at Women's Conference this year.

It's a 2 day conference held April 29th and 30th at (the) BYU, they have many different speakers, they do some huge service projects, and thousands of women attend (I think I'm going to throw up now.) My topic: "Don't Let the Digital Dominate Your Life" (stop laughing) and I am presenting with the super-cool Jon Mott. We've emailed and met IRL once and I'm excited to hear what he has to say, and very excited that he knows how to set up the powerpoint presentation because I'm not particularly up-to-the-know with the latest (yes, the irony is not lost on me and yes, I still think powerpoint is fairly new. Stop laughing.) He's assistant to the academic vice president for academic technology, he has a PhD, he's a father, he takes his kids to cool concerts. He made THIS SITE.

I think it goes without saying (but that rarely stops me) that I feel horribly inadequate to speak at this conference, but I'm happy to do it (because I like talking and an excuse to buy a new outfit). Just do me a favor and when you see me IRL=IN REAL LIFE, don't comment about how "weird" or "totally random" that it is I'm doing this and "How did they ever come up with your name? Because it's SO WEIRD. . ." like someone asked me to build a supercomputer with some tinfoil and a few bobby pins because, trust me, I'm doing the best I can to just show up with my talk and powerpoint presentation all prepared and ready, hoping no one says "Just kidding!" because a part of me thinks that just might happen.

This is our course description:

Don't Let the Digital Dominate Your Life (Elder David A. Bednar)
Internet social networks can connect adults with family and long-lost friends. How can we be wise with the time we spend online? What are the dangers of spending more time in the virtual world than in reality? How can we use technology prudently and wisely?

We speak in the de Jong Concert Hall, HFAC at 12:30-1:30 pm on Thursday, April 29th.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring Break, YO!

I just got back from looking at my cousin's pictures from HER Spring Break vacation to the Caymen Islands and listening to my friend tell us all about HER trip to Disneyland. Well, it was NOTHING like MY vacation (for one day) to Summit County, Utah!

When the kids are in 4th grade around here, they do a "county report" and so far we are 2 for 2 in visiting the county to help give them some awesome pictures for their horribly homemade posters to accompany their report. And as an educator, I want my kids to realize the importance of good visual aids. Powerpoint, shmowersmoint. Good, old-fashioned posters with some glossy 4X6's are where it's at! It's the future of education, I'm just sure of it! Here are some highlights of our trip:

First thing's first: let's eat! Here we are at a historic diner transported from the east coast, right to Summit County! We are impressed already! At this point in the trip, we're still enthusiastic. We're throwing snowballs, we're laughing. We hit the road while spirits are high.

Our waitress was super great (drinks always full) and friendly (you know how I feel about talking to strangers--I like it), and served Topher the best reuben sandwich he's ever had.

Margaret's not in this photo because she's too busy throwing glass salt and pepper shakers and jumping on the antique tables.

Here's Owen at the Summit County museum. Luckily, no one was manning the store, so to speak. We could wander in and out at our leisure and not worry about any museum representative judging me on my parenting skills as I yelled at Margaret to stop touching all the antiques and passive-aggressively rolling my eyes at Topher. My favorite part of this museum was a framed newspaper clipping from the late 1800s advertising a nutritious vegetable compound for "women who are too tired to do their work!" One testimonial stated, "Now that I drink (this special "vegetable" snake oil), I now weigh 165 pounds and I feel so energized and healthy! I can finish all my household duties and chores!" Can you imagine that ad running today?! Then I cracked open a diet Coke and took a nap in the car.

This is the outside of the museum. My kids always want to climb on things and have me take a picture. I'm not sure if it's for artistic reasons: like, it improves "the shot," or if it's just so they have an excuse to climb on something they're not sure they can. We're on vacation so anything goes!

We thought this looked like a still shot that belongs in an episode of "Parks and Recreation." Yeah, Pawnee!

Here are the kids experiencing some interactive learning at the Park City Olympic museum. It's free and I highly recommend it because kids can touch stuff and it teaches you what to do in case of an avalanche which is something I'd been meaning to cross off on my "stuff my kids should know" mental parenting list. Done and done!

Owen is awesome.

Here's a historic (old) church in Summit County. This is the point in the trip when half of the car had fallen asleep and the other half were lamenting that we didn't let them bring their DS's and Topher told everyone to "LOOK OUT THE WINDOW!" and enjoy the beauty of Utah, as any good dad would. Then we took a picture.

We love Summit County!

Incidentally, this is how our trip both started, and ended.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mars Needs Paper Towels

Scene: The kitchen. "Mom" (enthusiastically played by me) dramatically unravels a paper towel wad left by her son, Miles (played with spunk, charm, and sarcasm by Miles, himself) and exclaims:

Mom: You've GOT to be kidding me! Let's count them: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 squares of paper towel to dry your hands. Wow.

Miles: (sheepishly) Oops. . . sorry! But I needed them, my hands were really wet.

Mom: (not buying what this little matchstick peddler is sellin' and just having recently balanced the checkbook) Do you know how wasteful this is? How much money paper towels cost? No wonder I'm going through so many! USE ONE!

Miles: (gaining confidence) Well, fine. . .

Mom: (ready to really drive the point home) I mean, I thought you cared about OUR PLANET! It's the only one we've got, you know.

Miles: (gaining too much confidence): Yeah, well, there's Mars. We could just live there.

Mom: (thinking, Oh, I'll see you one nerdy remark and I'll raise you one nerdy science fiction teacher): Mars doesn't sustain life.

Miles: (exponentially nerdifying the conversation) Well, we can discover a way to sustain life on Mars. . . the technology exists. . . we're close to figuring it out.

Mom: (won't be conned out of making her point) We won't have time to figure it out because we're all too busy buying paper towels!


Thursday, April 1, 2010


Today Miles, who will be 12 next month, is touring middle school in anticipation of being a seventh grader next year. Tomorrow I will sign up Hugh for kindergarten classes.

Miles is excited about signing up for elective classes: communications, maybe journalism, but anything to do with computers. He has poured himself all over the pages of the class description catalogue and talked excitedly about riding the bus and meeting up with friends from other elementary schools. He's so excited and I am, too. I think he will take off in middle school. Its his time to grow up a little more and he's ready and I think the transition will be okay. Well, FOR HIM, at least.

It seems that I was registering Miles for kindergarten just days ago. I realize that's a trite mom thing to say, but it doesn't make it less true. Miles' kindergarten assessment was unusually stressful for me. He was my kid who taught himself to read at 3 1/2 and lived in England the year before and, as a result, didn't get together with other kids his age very much for very long. He had spent most of his time translating Owen's indecipherable language for the rest of us and telling us the order of the planets in the solar system. What a sweet, innocent little boy, and I was sending him into the awful, mean cruel world of kindergarten, or so I thought at the time. When the kindergarten teacher came out of his initial assessment and said "I can't teach this kid anything! He's ready for first grade!" My heart sunk. We talked the issue over with a first grade teacher, Mrs. Hale, who was a friend of mine, luckily, and decided to try first grade the next day.

That night I ran to Walmart (which is always a mistake) and bought him a Spongebob lunchbox and first grade supplies to make it special. In my mind, I kept thinking, "I'm not ready for this. This means I get one less year with him. One less year before he's off to college. I lost a year!" I put on a brave face and walked him to first grade the next day. It was the second day of school for everyone else and Mrs. Hale had a place all set for him. I went home and cried all day. I know it seems dramatic, but I really did. I thought about him and his little moon baby face and his constant enthusiasm to try anything and I just cried. I went to pick him up at the end of the day and he was standing there with Mrs. Hale who just put her hands on his shoulders shaking her head back and forth saying, "No, no, no, no, no!" She told me, "He's not ready for first grade. He's a foot shorter than the rest of the kids. At recess he just clung by my side all by himself and didn't play with anyone." I fought back the tears imagining Miles all by himself on the playground. Ouch. But Miles just smiled up at me like nothing bothered him in the world. When I asked him how it went he just said "Great!"

We put him back into kindergarten and he had a great year. His reading improved. Turns out, just because you can read, doesn't mean your comprehension rate is as high as well, so he did learn a lot. He has always excelled in school, but this year turned out to be great because he learned to make friends and be silly and use scissors and learn to take turns when talking. Stuff that some kids never learn. I still believe that if I had kept him in first grade, he would have been fine. That's Miles. But I'm so glad we didn't. Because I still get that "one more" year.

Miles is a wonderful kid to have come first because he's so confident and takes transitions well unlike his mother who struggles with transition. So he can spend the day being excited about 7th grade at middle school, and I will go to Target (I've learned my Walmart lesson) and NOT buy him a Spongebob lunchbox (or give it to Hugh), but something "cool" instead and try not to take his growing up on me so personally, which is apparently a lesson I have to learn over and over again.