Friday, June 29, 2007

Why 3 year olds are so great

For starters, we have a pool that looks just like this...

Set me back about ten bucks at Target and although the grass tends to die under it, it's been worth it... The boys and their friends and cousins have splashed around in it, and my kids have spent the better part of June in their swimming trunks on account of this piece of plastic. But apparently I had underestimated the amazing-ness of this pool. You see, last week we went to the house of one of DH's firefighting friends. His pool looks more like this...

(Disclaimer since I know DH might read this and say "That's not his pool!": OK, this is a slight exaggeration, but not by much and it was the closest picture I could find. Moving on...)
Set him back a lot more than ten bucks for sure. Boy #1 had a great time with the other kids and his dad in the water and enjoyed the spa as well. So the next day he said how much fun he had "at those people's pool", and I said to him, "Maybe someday we'll get a pool too." He looks at me like I've lost my mind and says, "Mooooooooom, we already have a pool." Oh, how he melts my heart.
In other news, parenting is not for the faint of heart or weak of belly. Especially when a certain 17 month old throws up A LOT with no warning in his car seat on a day that is around 100 degrees. I think I'm still smelling barf on my hands. He's better though, so all's well. Although I'm not feeling too well tonight...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Summertime buzzyness

My mother-in-law spells busy-ness that way sometimes, and it fits--especially for summer. It's been sweet so far: a mix of too-much-work-to-do panic with wow-this-is-great summertime moments.

Summer is that time when people ask me, "don't you have the summer off?" Of course, it's a reasonable question--I'm not teaching, and most professors aren't even on contract, so what else would I be doing in the summer? I *do* get to work slightly less in the summer, and my time is much more flexible--an aspect of academic life that I do not take for granted, believe me. I get to spend even more time with my kids--a good thing.

I also have, for work:
2 articles to fully draft
3 to revise
1 human subjects proposal to finish (if you don't know, and you don't need to, any academic research project involving human subjects -- ie students, in my case-- needs to be reviewed by a committee at my school to make sure that I'm not drawing any blood samples. This involves writing lots and lots of explanations and consent forms and sample interview questions and...)
2 classes for fall to plan, including one that starts before school does for eight 9-5 days
1 wiki to start (related to one of the courses)
1 big, important (in my tiny universe, at least) report to write
1 newsletter to initiate and write
4 letters of recommendation to write
several memos to write
2 conferences to attend (one down, one to go)

I'm not complaining--believe me, I'm not. But in case you're wondering, this is how I spend my time when I can--at least a few long days a week, and all evenings as soon as the kids are in bed.

In the meantime, we also have a 1981 house needing lots o'updating (where to start?) and painting. And of course, there is ice cream to be eaten, fiction to be read, fairs to be attended, summer library reading forms to fill out.

But, here's the this-is-great part. We had a relaxed, fun lunch yesterday with some good friends, out on our deck (with our run-down folding chairs and half-chopped-off railing). The food was fine, the company was great--we laughed a lot, which is my signal of a good time. At one moment in lunch, I thought, ah--now this? This. is. good.

Happy summering!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Apparently my work here is done... almost.

At least that's what my 3 year old informed me of this morning.

Him: "I can do everything by myself. Everything except get off my tank top."
Me: "So I guess you don't need me anymore."
Him (very matter-of-factly): "Nope. Just when I need to get my tank top off."
Then said boy runs off to play, leaving me in a sobbing heap.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

((( Charleston's firefighting families )))

The news about 9 firefighters who were killed in Charleston last night is horrific. Not to be overly dramatic, but I really can't imagine running into a huge warehouse full of sofas and mattresses especially after your training has taught you just how flamable those materials are. Charleston's department is similar to my DH's. It has 236 firefighters, DH's has around 250. They have 17 stations, DH's has 14 (I think...). I'm sure Charleston has older sections of town that aren't well maintained (like our fair city).
It doesn't look like arson, and likely no one is to blame. Sure, there should have been sprinklers in that warehouse (they aren't sure there were any), but the fire may still have raged out of control. I wonder if, in the short-term at least, events like this would be much easier to deal with if there is a villain in the story that can turn grief into anger. Someone who caused the men to die, someone whose actions were attrocious enough to distract those family members away from the hurt they are going through right now and focus instead on the anger they would feel toward that person. Instead, there are spouses, parents and children left with memories and sadness. In the long-term, maybe that will be easier.
Because of this news, I'm making today an official Love Up Your Family Day. Extra kisses all around, because I can't imagine what 9 families in Charleston are going through. I can't imagine getting the news that your spouse has gone off to work and won't be returning home. I can't imagine knowing that he probably faced sheer terror in his final moments of life. Just can't imagine...

Monday, June 11, 2007

gross bugs

One cool thing that happened to me in the past few weeks: I witnessed a once-every-17-year cicada hatch in the midwest. If you want to know what they look like, click here. They're almost the size of my little finger and they covered every tree. The best way to walk across grass, we decided, was to just go and not look down.

One flew at my face and I bent my glasses trying to swat it away.

They sound like a million car alarms going off, far in the distance.

They're fascinating in a weird way. For a second I considered trying to capture one to bring to the kids, but then that thought passed.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The season for Small Town America

It seems like big cities are always glamorized in popular culture, as if Manhattan or LA are the only places to have a good time. I disagree. Theoretically, big cities have more to offer. But when summer rolls around, so do the good times in small towns. For example:

  • Rodeos: There's no one to impress, so you can unabashedly enjoy a bubble-gum snow cone with a little dirt (see above). Three year olds don't care that they aren't at the Grand Nationals (although I hear they are amazing). Instead, they get to ride the bucking bale of hay, barrel race a stick horse and they even get a competitor's number for their efforts (see below).

And, it's only 12 bucks to get in and kids under 7 are free. Can't find entertainment that cheap for miles around. Good times.

  • Pet Parades: When we visited my parents, the Pet Parade was scheduled, so we had to go. After all, that was where I made my own parade debut at the tender age of 10 (or so) with my friend Alicia. It was about 1984, so we carried our ghetto-blaster playing Madonna (during the uber-'80's "Like a Virgin"-era), dressed up her dog in punk-ish clothes and wore ripped fish-net stockings and reflective sunglasses. (Now that that secret is out, I'm off to live in a cave somewhere. I'll miss you all.) I remembered walking and walking and walking the parade route... for what felt like hours. This time, we arrived at 1:02 pm (it was to start at 1 pm) and we saw the last entry at... 1:06. No kidding. I was stunned to realize that someone actually took the work to put together a parade that was five. minutes. long. And the best part: the horse category. There was a person who carried a sign that introduced each category (Small Animals, Large Dogs, etc.). So when the last category, horses, came up, I knew our kids would love it. And they did. All one horses in the category. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has nothin' on a 5 minute parade in a small town. Maybe it's the fact that the crowd I'm running with has a 5 minute attention span (at best), but sometimes less is more.
  • The Dairy Queen (reverently referred to as the DQ where I'm from): Back in the day, we used to go there every Wednesday night after Bible study. There's a table with class pictures from our high school from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. I LOVED looking at those pictures, and sometimes we'd find someone who was someone's aunt/mother/grandmother, etc. It's still there. A little more sun-faded, but it's still there. (On the green table with the wire-back chairs, prrrof, you remember?)
  • School pride, even in the summer: There's always some sign on some businesses' billboard saying, "Boys' Soccer #1 at State!" or "Congrats to Billy Bob, State Spelling Bee Champ!". More often than not, however, a simple "Go Tigers!" suffices.

There's more, really. Like going to 12 yrs of school with the same kids. Like knowing everyone's parents, grandparents and siblings. Like being known as your big sister's little sister which somehow made you feel so much better. Public swimming pools. Community softball games. Library story-times. So happy summer, Small Town America. Eat a Dilly Bar or a bubble gum snow cone on me.

Friday, June 01, 2007

TB, Part III

This just in. And since I'm apparently the only person interested, I promise I'll stop now. I just think this is proof that somehow we as humans don't *really* know what we're doing. Evidence: a whole bunch of intelligent, educated people (doctors, lawyers, and heads of agencies like the CDC) can't figure out how to operate without miscommunication. I'm done now.