11.29.2005

Parenting is So Much Fun

My 10 year old son came to me for some advice tonight. It is so gratifying to know that he actually thinks I might have something relevant and helpful to say to him. He had a self-described "coming of age" problem. We talked for over an hour and I helped him sort out his feelings and define what he was experiencing. His basic problem is that he's outgrowing his best friends, but is ambivalent about leaving them behind. It was so much fun being a sounding board for him, and helping him understand all the jumbled up feelings he couldn't make sense of. It's also nice to have someone around that I'm a little wiser than. While I know there is more to parenting than ego-gratification, I do like to revel in the small successes once in a while.

My son's blog - Vote on your favorite model train!

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11.27.2005

Things I've Learned

My father suffered a massive heart attack on November 15. He died, without regaining consciousness, on November 16. We buried him November 21. I've learned many things since then.

  • Some people can cling to life, until the last member of the family has a chance to say good-bye.
  • One person touches many different lives.
  • When someone passes away, people will take up the work of the departed.
  • When you get called away from your regular life, people will step in for you.
  • Neighbors will come to your aid.
  • People deal with grief in many different ways. Some people cry, others get to work, and there are some who delay their grief.
  • Family members will surprise you with strengths you didn't know they possessed.
  • Grave-side funerals for veterans are beautiful, a 21 gun salute, a bugle playing Taps, a Bible and flag presented to a widow.
  • The ties to remaining family deepen.
  • Write a will, and a living will, your family will thank you for it.
  • Working through grief takes time.
  • Feelings of sorrow do not know when the proper time or place is to start welling up in your heart.

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11.19.2005

Back in a few days

I'll be posting again in a few days. My father passed away and I've been away helping my mom with arrangements. I never knew how much work there is to do at these times.

My son's blog - Vote on your favorite model train!
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11.14.2005

Do you have a problem Ronald?

Say this phrase: "Do you have a problem Ronald?" to any member of my family, and let the jocularity begin.

It all started last Christmas, we got my son the ultimate, nine-year-old-boy, Christmas gift: look here or it's possible this whole post will make no sense at all.

We brought it with us on a visit to my in-laws. My son tried it out on his grandmother, like me, she was not impressed. He moved onto Grandpa, quite a bit of success there. We went out to Grandpa's favorite breakfast establishment, and slipped the device in his coat pocket with out his knowledge. The entire staff of the restaurant knows Grandpa, since he eats breakfast there almost every day. My son sat ready, his finger on the remote control, waiting for the waitress. When she came over, he activated it. The waitress rolled her eyes and just said "Nice Harry." My father-in-law, always a good sport, laughed along with the rest of us. It didn't take him long to figure out what had happened.

With that success under his belt, my son needed new victims. Since my parents are on the way home from my in-laws, they were the likely targets. We predicted more success with Grandpa, than with Grandma, it just seems that boys and men appreciate this gift more.

My parents had five daughters; I don't ever remember joking about such things while growing up. It just wasn't done, an errant sound was met with mortification. This was a situation ripe for my son's new toy. We plotted the strategy on the way there. I was employed to plant the device, my son, of course, was the trigger-man.

We arrived at my parent's house on a bright and sunny afternoon. My parent's were waiting for us, sitting out in the front yard, a couple of my sisters were on hand. My mother stood talking to one of my sisters, twenty yards away sat my father, the target. I set out to accomplish my part of the mission.

My son held the remote control carefully in his pocket, upon my signal, he pressed on the button, again, and again. The sound was loud enough that my mother could hear it clearly. After the third emission, accompanied by my son's maniacal laughter, she called over to my father. These are the now immortal words of my mother:

Another press on the remote control: "Oh Ronald, stop."
Another press on the remote control: "At least say excuse me Ronald."
My father is sitting there, looking perplexed.
My mother starts walking towards him.
Another press on the remote control: "Do you need to see your doctor Ronald?"
Another press on the remote control: "Oh Ronald, stop."

We are all doubled over with laughter now, except for my mother, who is falling for this gag big time. Our laughter is both perplexing and infuriating to her.

Another press on the remote control: "Do you have a problem Ronald?"
Another press on the remote control: "Oh Ronald, at least say excuse me."
Another press on the remote control: "Do you have a problem Ronald?"
Another press on the remote control: "Do you have a problem Ronald?"
My mother was beside herself with humiliation at her husband's lack of self-control.

Finally, my father stopped laughing long enough to tell her that it wasn't him. My son couldn't hold back anymore and revealed the source of "the problem." We have never laughed so hard in our entire lives. My mother came around and laughed with us too.

An errant sound is no longer met with mortification, it is now met with a question: Do you have a problem Ronald? Let the laughter begin.

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11.13.2005

Blue Ball Machine

I was off aimlessly wandering the blogosphere and I ended up at Blogpulse where this site was listed number 6 for having the most links on November 12. It is fascinating to watch. What is is it and where did it come from?

Norwood Matt posted this about it: Stuff On Fire: Winnar of the Internets!

I went on over to ytmnd site, there is some funny stuff over there. Here you can find a hilarios parody of the Blue Ball Machine.

Unrelated to the blue ball machine, but equally as funny is: Paris Hilton doesn't change facial expressions.

WARNING: Music plays on some of the links. Turn down speakers if you don't want to hear it!

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11.12.2005

Teh Blogfather

Pay teh Blogfather and you will receive a wacky review of your blog. It will only cost you a joke or a quote to get your own review. He recently reviewed the sites of two of my blog buddies, Carol and Joe.

A Revision: Carol "Tha Book Keeper" Holynator "A poeticist, philosophycist and Bible studentist, you better show her some loooove!" Teh Blogfather

JoeC Crash Pad: A member of teh family! "Tha Advirsonator is a car mad, gadget loving, dog petting, cat bathing, tree hugging, tax paying, baby sitting, football watching, karaoke singing...guy" Teh Blogfather

Visit Teh Blogfather and get your review.

Teh Blog Father Free Blog Promotion



Teh Blogfather :: Free Blog Promotion :: Free Blog Review

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Bloggers Young and Old

Blogging keeps seniors current This article talks about the many reasons seniors love to blog, including spreading around their wealth of wisdom. It mentioned many different weblogs maintained by seniors, but it didn’t provide links to them, so I’ve looked them all up for you. Happy surfing!

Dad's Tomato Garden Journal (age 92)
Dogwalk Musings (age 64)
Oldest Living Blogger (age 73)
My Mom's Blog by Thoroughly Modern Millie (age 80)

The Ageless Project Web logs by birthdate. Includes screenshots of the front page of each blog listed

Anita of Fighting Inertia encourages young people to blog. She has her two sons and their classmates blogging.
Any Other Young Bloggers Out There?
The Next Generation of Bloggers

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11.11.2005

Friday Five

Friday Five

1) What is your favorite noise to hear? Silence
2) If you could live in any era of time, what would you choose and why? The future, I can't wait to see what happens
3) You just found $50 while cleaning your house. Where do you decide to spend it? I just use it for lunch money
4) What magazines to you subscribe to/read on a normal basis? Prevention, Psychology Today, Shopping, Marie Claire
5) If you could witness any event in history, but not change anything about it, what would you choose and why? Spirit and Opportunity roving around Mars Home

11.10.2005

Warning: Do Not Let Children Read This

Christmas Posts
By now my regular reader(s) know I have a 10 year old son. What you may not know is he believes in Santa Claus, hook, line and sinker. How can this be? This article says kids usually learn the truth at age seven. He hasn't got any siblings to leak the news to him, but that doesn't completely explain it. He gets above average grades in school, so it isn't a lack of critical thinking, in fact, critical thinking is his strong suit. Like his parents, he doesn't believe in superstitions, preferring instead to look to science for an explanation. I strongly doubt he is pretending to believe in Santa, he's tried lying a couple times, and he's pathetic at it. He asks plenty of logistical questions about St. Nick, but his questions are not to discredit the notion of Santa, but rather to gain a broader understanding.

Here are the reasons I think he believes:
  • His father and I perpetuate the myth. Christmas is hands down our favorite time of year. We put our Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving, just to extend the joyous holiday season.
  • My son is Mr. Celebration. We have to set limits on when we can start decorating for each holiday. Without these limits no one would ever get to appreciate my decorating prowess, my good taste obscured by construction paper shamrocks, hearts, turkeys, you get the idea. The eve of the night before we allow holiday decorating, he gets so excited he can hardly sleep. He gets up early and fills the house with good cheer, just plain happy to start celebrating. Christmas is the holiday that we have the most decorations for, especially Santa decorations.
  • Like most children, my son desperately loves his parents. Like most parents, we do our best at raising him, explaining the ways of the world the best we can. He listens to us, he believes what we tell him, he trusts us. If we say there is a Santa Claus, there is a Santa Claus.

My son has had "the birds and the bees talk" with his father. I find the idea of believing in Santa and being old enough to have "the birds and bees talk" incongruous. For the last few years, I've thought to myself, this will be the last year he believes. I'm happy he still believes. You know why, becauseI believe that Santa is magical, and he helps make the holiday magical. I'm not going to sell Santa out, he's doing a good job.

Did you know Santa has a blog?

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Thursday Thirteen


I've been blogging for a couple of months now
Next week I'm going to think of things to write here through-out the week
I fixed the comments on my blog, no problem leaving a comment now
My umbrella broke in the monsoon rain and wind we had the other day
I back-dated this post so it would look like I posted it on Thursday
I worked from home today, I got more done with no interruptions
I have a Sarbanes-Oxley audit at work next week
A good friend dropped by tonight for a visit
I bought the book Cold Mountain
I didn't leave the house today
This is my first Thursday Thirteen
I used to knit
I once won a hula hoop contest

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!


Neville Farm Shake it Like a Polaroid Picture: Thursday Thirteen-At the Movies Prairie-Rose: Thursday Thirteen Daydreams and Musings: Thursday Thirteen Jen's Horde: Thursday Thirteen #5 Heartsongs: Thursday Thirteen Craig's Reflections: Thursday Thirteen True Blue Semi-Crunchy Mama: Thursday Thirteen Memoirs of a squashedtoad: Thursday Thirteen Leanne - Artist by Nature: Thursday Thirteen Simply Sassy: Thursday Thirteen on Friday Loose Leaf: Notes from a Writer's Journal: 13 Thursday #4 Blog Blah Blah: Thirteen Things The Fountain Pen: Thursday Thirteen Nearest Distant Shore: Thursday Thirteen how 'bout dat ... I'm Just Sayin' What the (Insert Expletive Here)...: Thursday Thirteen

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!
Other Thursday Thirteens

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11.07.2005

The Proclamation

I'm here in the office, listening to my disk drive go crazy, when suddenly my 10 year old son bursts though the door and exclaims:

"Guess what guys, I get to watch a video in health tomorrow where they say the f-word like 6 times."

Me: How do you know they say the f-word 6 times?

Son: Cause the other class said so.

Me: I don't think so.

Please remind me to ask him about the video tomorrow.

11/8/05 I put an update to this story in the comments.

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Friday Five (A Little Late)

1. What is your shoe size? 6 1/2

2. How many hours did you sleep last night? 5.5 hours

3. Area code of your phone number: 585

4. Last grade of school completed: 4th year of college

5. Time it takes you to get ready in the morning: various

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11.06.2005

Kill Blogspot?

From thespamweblog:

Apparently people are fed up with Blogspot "splogs". Splogs are spam blogs, set up only to get read by search engines, not human readers. Blogspot is apparently splog heaven. The idea of killing Blogspot has now been floated into the blogosphere.

I, for one, do not want Blogspot killed. The number one reason is because my blog resides on Blogspot. The number two reason is because a lot of the blogs I read reside on Blogspot.

The people who make money from good search engine rankings are probably most affected by splogs. If splogs are standing between them and profits, could this notion of killing Blogspot take hold?

Should I move my blog? Should you?

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Bad Mother Moments

A few new restaurants have opened up in town, we decided to try one of them out. We stopped by the first two and saw monstrously long lines, so I suggested we try Hooligans.

Ten year old son: It's a bar Mom.
Me: It's a restaurant and a bar, like Applebee's.
Son: Anything that ends in -igans, like shenanigans, is a bar.
Me: Let's try it, if it's a bar we'll go somewhere else.

As we approach Hooligan's...

Son: There's young people here.
Me: Yeah, see, there's other kids.
Son: No, I mean young adults, probably drinking.
Me: It's 5:30, young adults go out at 11:00, it's family time now.

We walk by two Harleys on the sidewalk and go inside...

Son (very insistently): Let's go, I don't like this place, there are people drinking in here.
Me: They are in the bar, we are eating in the restaurant.
Son: Let's go home.
Me: People drink at our house too.

I start hoping that he feels the same way about bars 10 years from now. He went on and on, I felt like I was with a temperance worker.

My husband talks to the hostess, 20 minute wait, she gives us a little thing that lights up when our table is ready. We wait in the bar area. There is a kid my son's age shooting pool, babies and young children around....

Son, crouching on the floor: Let's go, let's go home, I don't like it here. What time is it? This place smells funny. (Repeat every thirty seconds)

Now I'm starting to feel like a bad mother, forcing my son to stay in a bar. It wasn't like we were there at 10:30 at night and had our butts plastered to bar stools drinking the night away, ignoring him. We were simply waiting for our table. There were at least 15 other children in there. Meanwhile, my husband is mesmerized by the three gigantic TV screens and 14 smaller TV's all around the place, all tuned to some sporting event. We weren't going to be leaving. Fifty excruciatingly long minutes later, our table is ready. We go to the restaurant part of Hooligans to eat. Our booth had it's own flat screen TV tuned to a football game. Our table is on an aisle that leads from the bar area to an outside patio area. People are constantly walking by with drinks in their hands. The song "My Sharona" plays in the background. The atmosphere was very bar like. My son asked what time it was every 45 seconds. The service was exceedingly slow.

Son: If we don't get our food in 5 minutes let's go home.
Me: Please,let us enjoy our dinner, stop complaining.

Later...

Son (interrupting me for the umpteenth time with the same question): What time is it, what time is it, what time is it, what time is it?
Me (slapping my hand on the table): I don't know!

Now I feel like an even worse mother, losing it, right there in the bar, I mean restaurant.

My son stopped complaining, the food was good. The check took a long time to come.

As we left Hooligan's, we all agreed, that was our first and last time there. Next time, we go to Applebee's. I'm a good mother there.

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11.05.2005

Raking Leaves

Autumn is a second
spring when every
leaf is a flower.
Albert Camus
< wisdomquotes


We spent some time today raking leaves in our yard. With all of us out there working together, what could be a tedious chore, is instead an enjoyable experience. We've been blessed with awesome autumn weather, the temperature today topping 60 degrees. The nice weather extends the neighborhood social season, children still playing in their yards, parents never far behind. Our neighbors are another blessing, friendly and good-natured. We've lived in this neighborhood for 16 years, every interaction with a neighbor has been enjoyable.

The neighbors, the weather, working together and the autumn scenery, who could ask for a better way to rake the leaves?

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11.03.2005

Ms Chatty Smacked Me

Good thing I worked a little on my blog design or my score might have been even lower on this web critique blog: Ms Chatty Smacked Me. It was my misfortune to post a unflattering comment about British Royalty a mere few hours before my site was reviewed by a royal subject. I'm sure I would've earned 5 "smacks" without that post on my blog. Please take a look, the critique of this blog is the third and last one included on the post.

A bad review is better than no review at all. What do you think?

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Charles and Camilla

I hear that Charles and Camilla are here in the United States visiting. Why don't I like that woman, or her husband?
Is it the lack of fidelity? I don't condone it, but I don't dislike everyone who's done it, so that can't be it.

Is it because she is average looking? Nope - I like plenty of average and less-than-average looking people.

Is it the smugness? That does grate on me.

I can't put my finger on it, but it's going to take a lot more than fancy new hats for me to warm up to her. What is her claim to fame other than being a royal mistress?

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11.01.2005

Runescape: Friend or Foe?

About one year ago my son started playing Runescape, an internet based multi-player game that is very popular with my son's age group. His classmates at school play it, and when they aren't playing it, they talk about it. When they aren't talking about it, they blog about it. The debate wages on about whether it is a boring waste of time or a really fun game to play. The players vs. the non-players used to be pretty evenly matched, slowly the non-players have dwindled to just a few stalwarts.

I have heard varying opinions about the game from the parents of the Runescape captivated children. Some children are allowed only a prescribed amount of time playing the game, others are allowed to play more often. Some are allowed to have member accounts, $5 per month allows your avatar (character) access to members only worlds where the playing options are more richly varied, some have only free accounts with limited access. Some parents are concerned because their children can't handle the frustrating dilemmas that their avatars get involved with. Some view all internet use as inherently dangerous. Some wish their children were involved with more active pursuits.

My son has had mostly positive experiences with Runescape. The popularity of the game and the number of paying members means that there is always new content. The online documentation could fill a score of conventional desk binders, educational opportunities abound. You can personalize your avatar with many different hair and clothing options, plus you name your avatar too. There is a chat bar that allows you to chat and interact with the other players on the same world (server) that you are on. There are adult moderators and ways to report players who are using bad language or finding other ways to make a nuisance of themselves. These players are warned or inactivated based upon the severity of the offense. Runescape has it's own economy, game objects are traded and sold in the game, and on eBay for real money. The avatars can learn and become proficient in many different skills, most skills taking scores of hours to master. Some people earn money doing the tedious tasks it takes to build a strong avatar for other players. The game is quite complex, and my son found it difficult to play at first, never really playing online games before.

He is learning a lot from Runescape. The game requires him to frequently use math to calculate the worth of goods and services, or the length of time to gain the experience to go up a skill level. He is learning to negotiate in an open barter market. He is also learning that it takes a lot of hard work, practice and time to master a skill. He realizes that the avatars must sometimes work cooperatively in order to accomplish tasks and goals. Events in the game don't always have a fair and equitable outcome, and he must deal with the consequences of his actions. It is really a virtual community.

My son must finish chores and homework before we permit him to play, he's learning that responsibilities come first. One of the main reasons I permit him to play Runescape is because it gives him something in common with the other boys in his class. He frequently feels out of step with his classmates because he doesn't like athletic pastimes. Now that he plays Runescape he easily joins conversations with the other children and is known for his ample knowledge of the game. His Runescape prowess has increased his social status, and by extension, his happiness.

I seem to know an awful lot about Runescape for a person who does not fit the typical demographic of pre-teen and teenage boys. How did I acquire all this knowledge? I started researching things online (via Google of course) for my son. He was confused by the dizzying amount of choices the game offered, and I was always close by, monitoring his time online. Then I created my own avatar to help and protect his, because there is safety in numbers in Runescape. Before I realized it, I started playing even when my son wasn't around, making Runescape friends while "fishing" in the Runescape town of Catherby.

Runescape is an insidious game, giving players random rewards for mindless activities, the same way slot machines give gamblers small rewards to keep them engaged, always on the verge of the big jackpot. Most active Runescape players spend four to five hours a day playing the game. The game began tugging at me when I wasn't playing, drawing me in, promising me grand (albeit virtual) rewards. I try to maintain a state of self-awareness, and I spent some time analyzing and trying to gain perspective on the experience. Runescape had a lesson for me, I knew I had to rein myself in, and exercise self-control. I also knew that I must teach my son the same lesson. I started teaching him how to control his time playing the game, how to maintain the ability to walk away from it, how to resist it's calling. I gave the game up completely, even though it is just a click away, the icon still on my desk top. My son is learning to curtail his playing time, often times going weeks without playing. Luckily for him, his father and I won't allow it to dominate his life, but we will allow it to teach him the lessons it has to offer, self-constraint and discipline being the chief among them.

Further Reading:
Runescape Addiction
What if civics class were an online game?
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I Still Love Halloween

When I was a child I loved Halloween. I liked the creative process of making a Halloween costume, and I loved trick-or-treating. My sisters and I would run from house to house in the neighborhood to maximize our candy to time ratio. When we got home the bartering would begin, a mad frenzy of candy trading. Then we would eat as much of it as our mother would let us. It was sad the first Halloween that I felt too old to go trick-or-treating.

For a few years, before I was married, I went to a costume party every Halloween. I had so much fun dressing up as Scarlett O'Hara at one of them. My friend Jennifer dressed up as Mae West that same year. She kept me laughing with all the Mae West one liners. I still remember her saying "I used to be Snow White, but I drifted." Jennifer used duct tape to give herself more cleavage, a move she regretted by the end of the night.

When I moved away there was a dry spell in the Halloween reverie, until my son came along. Now we have a couple of Halloween traditions, one is the costume party we go to every year. It is really a birthday party for a pair of brothers my son goes to school with, but the parents are all invited. They've recently added a DJ to the celebration, and I end up dancing with my son. He loves to dance, so we danced to nearly every song, which is a move I regretted by the end of the night. My knees were so sore I had trouble walking. I can't "Twist" like I used to.

On Halloween night we either host our neighbors for a quick pizza dinner, or they host us. Three or four families take turns with the hosting duties. When it is time for trick-or-treating the Dads take the kids around the neighborhood, the Moms retire to their own houses to greet the trick-or-treaters. My son comes home and dumps all his candy on the living room floor and sorts it, and he eats very little of it, which I find odd.

The night is over now, and I'm sure next Halloween will be just as much fun. In future years, if I don't get invited to a costume party, I'll throw one myself. Halloween is too much fun to miss.

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