Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Substitute Diaries - Serendipity

On Wednesday Grams substituted for Ms. Story's second grade class. The night before, at the PTA meeting, the second grade had presented their annual program. So the next morning, they performed the program again for the entire school.

It was serendipity. There is little I love more in this world than primary school programs that include singing and dancing. This one did not disappoint. The theme was Surfin' Safari and it had everything ... hula girls in grass (plastic) skirts, sharks, straw hats, cardboard surfboards, leis, tropical flowers, limbo dancers and a few other things I probably don't remember. 

Leis, flowers & sunglasses
Hula dancers in grass skirts

Cardboard surfboards

The director of this musical extravaganza was Betty Murphy. Betty has been a PE teacher at our school district since my kids were in elementary school. You can just see her in the photo below leading the audience participation section of the program. She has been involved in these programs at least since My Favorite Christmas Pageant Ever which would have been sometime around 1986.

My favorite part of the program was Ms. Murphy's instructions to the students in the audience who were all primary school students. She spent the first few minutes explaining to them how an audience behaves. Her instructions included how to applaud properly, the importance of staying in your seat, and being respectful to the performers. She touched on how it's not polite to laugh if a performer makes a mistake and how proper audiences don't hoot and holler. I was very impressed.

She also took a moment to speak to the performers about the example they were setting for the other students. She explained that the kindergarteners and first graders would be learning how to put on a performance from watching them.

Grandad and I regularly attend live theater performances in Corpus Christi and occasionally in San Antonio.  I am often appalled at the lack of proper etiquette exhibited by audience members. I can only hope that these young people grow up to be proper theater patrons.

These photos were all taken with my HTC Evo Shift phone. Considering that I was sitting at the very back of the cafeteria, they're not too bad.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Discipline & Bitchiness

There are a few things that make me absolutely crazy. Over the years of our marriage, I have tried to identify and minimize these things. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not so much.

In the 36 years we've been married, we have spent countless hours searching for keys. That was easily remedied by hanging a set of hooks that are designated for keys. No one is allowed to put their keys anywhere else. I even had to impose this rule for our adult children and their spouses when they visit. Life is too short to spend it looking for keys.

When our kids were little we once lost a set of keys at my in-laws' house. One of the toddlers had been carrying them around and playing with them. After many hours of searching, they were found inside of a pair of cowboy boots in a bedroom closet. From that day forward, keys were no longer toys for the babies.

Now that the key problem has been successfully solved, there are places in our home that have become "drop spots" for a variety of things. The worst, and the one that's making me crazy right now, is the dining room table. When the kids lived here, we ate dinner at the table every night so it was not a problem. We had to clear it every night before dinner. Now that it's just the two of us, we eat in the living room in front of the television so the table doesn't get cleared regularly. We come in from the garage, through the kitchen, and drop whatever we're carrying on the dining room table. I can't blame it all on Grandad, we both drop stuff there. Here's what is on and around it tonight.
  • a stack of t-shirts I picked up Saturday at Goodwill's half price clothing sale (to be upcycled for my Etsy Shop)
  • an old non-working VCR that Grandad took out of our bedroom two weeks ago
  • two bags of candles from Bath & Body Works sale last weekend
  • a Tupperware cake-carrier that's been wating about a month to be returned to storage
  • one of my sweaters which needs to go back to the car
  • a new jacket that needs to be put away
  • a bottle of Tylenol that should be in the medicine cabinet
  • a metal repair kit that my son left there when he was home last about three weeks ago
  • two baseball caps
  • my purse
  • the bag that I take to school when I sub
  • a couple of empty plastic grocery bags
  • a couple of reusable shopping bags that I made last week
  • several note pads
  • a few receipts that need to be put away
  • an e-mail that Grandad printed
  • the dirty t-shirt and shorts that Grandad wore to mow the lawn on Saturday
  • a folding cooler and a clock that we got last week at our electric co-op's annual meeting
  • and, on the floor right next to the table, Grandad's huge Crocs (size 15 shoes are a tripping hazard)
The two pedestal cake plates with covers are the only things that actually belong there. Everything else needs to be put away. We just don't seem to be disciplined enough to do it on a regular basis.

I don't really have a solution for this other than discipline and bitchiness. I will have to discipline myself not to drop and leave things there or to clear it off every night. And, if Grandad doesn't take the hint, I'll have to get bitchy about it. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It's A Big Day

Today is a big day in the Valenta household.

Yesterday, Grandad saw his cardiologist here in Corpus Christi. They discussed the results of the nuclear stress test he had last month. I am so happy to report that the results were really good. They have taken him off of Coumadin (warfarin), the blood thinner he's been on since his initial heart surgery about five years ago. He is now off of all prescription drugs except for two that keep his blood pressure and heart rate under control. The really big news is that she released him to begin exercising for the first time in a long, long time. The last two or three times they send him to a medically supervised cardiac rehabilitation program. Each time they made him stop within minutes because of irregular heart beat. We started walking tonight. Last time we tried walking, he had to tell me to slow down. If you take our 16" height difference into account, it should be the other way around. Tonight, we walked for 25 minutes, which is not very long and not very far. But we did it ... and he kept up. That's a big deal!

The other thing that happened today is that I shipped my first order from my Etsy shop. My shop has been open about two weeks and I've been eagerly anticipating my first order. When I got home from work yesterday, there it was in my inbox ... my first order. I got so excited I called my kids to tell them and I confess, I did a little happy dance. Here's my first shipment ready to go in the box.

I made a quick trip to the post office this morning and it was on its way! So, I guess I'm actually in business. That's another big deal!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Liver and Peas ... Like Mother, Like Daughter

Her Highness is five months old now and is eating baby food. As instructed by their pediatrician, they introduce one new food at a time over a period of several days before adding a new one.  This allows time for any food allergies or sensitivities to show up and be isolated quickly and easily. So far, so good.

When we were there a couple of weekends ago, it was time to introduce a new food. And the new food of the week was peas. Katy was cooking dinner so she handed me the container and asked if I would mind feeding Her Highness. She's not quite sitting up without support yet, so we put her in the Bebepod chair and set her on top of the dining room table. I'll get back to this story in a minute, but first let me give you a little background.

Flashback about 30 years to Katy at about the same age, sitting in another infant seat on another dining room table with her dad feeding her. She's been eating for a while now. As a matter of fact, back then, we started feeding babies cereal at about six weeks old. But on this day, she was about four or five months old. She had already been eating different kinds of cereals, fruits, and vegetables. We had recently introduced baby food meats, chicken, beef, pork, all ground to complete mush, with limited success. She ate them less than enthusiastically. But on this night her dad had decided that she should try liver. Yep, that's right, they actually make baby food liver. GROSS!

(As an aside here, let me just tell you that Grams doesn't eat liver. I don't like the taste and the texture is yucky. Because of my distaste for liver, I would never offer it to anyone, but especially not to my precious baby girl.)

Dad took the spoon, dipped it into the baby food jar, and gave Katy a bite. She took it on her tongue and closed her mouth. He turned around and gave me a self-satisfied look as he said "See I told you she would like it."  Just about the time he turned back around to give her another bite, Katy opened her mouth and stuck her tongue out. The spoonful of liver was still sitting atop her tongue. She proceeded to scrape her tongue across her top gums, pushing all the liver off and out of her mouth where it then plopped onto her bib. She then closed her mouth and with great determination refused to take another bite. I had to retreat to the kitchen because I was laughing hysterically and trying not to say "I told you so."

Now, back to Her Highness perched atop the dining room table in her chair. I dip my spoon into the container of baby food peas and give HH her first taste of peas. And, you guessed it, she spit it right out. I tried again, and she took it tentatively before spitting it out again. On the third bite I could tell that she was tasting it and testing it and she swallowed it. But I don't think she really liked it.

Parenting has changed a lot in the thirty or so years since Grams and Grandad were starting out with babies. Parents today seem so much more knowledgeable than we were. And there are so many more gadgets and goodies. Our granddaughters eat organic and often homemade food. We'd never even heard of organic food and, in our day, only the most fanatical moms made their own baby food.

What are the biggest changes you've seen in parenting babies?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Eating Soup With Chopsticks

Last time the entire family was together we were in Houston at Nick & Marie's house. They have a lovely home that has plenty of room for everyone. We usually cook in their fabulous gourmet kitchen. On this particular day, the guys had been golfing and the girls had been shopping all day. No one felt like cooking, so we went out to dinner. The kids chose an Asian restaurant that specializes in sushi. We were all tired, but Our Little Princess and Her Highness were exhausted. Not a problem for HH, she just took a nap in her car seat. OLP was almost falling asleep at the table, but she was determined to eat. Needless to say, the sushi didn't appeal to her. I don't really eat sushi either, so I ordered a meal which came with miso soup. She wanted the soup which was fine with me.

If I had to eat all my meals using chopsticks, I would undoubtedly be much thinner. In fact, I might starve to death. But both of my children and their spouses eat with them quite skillfully. OLP was determined to use them too AND she was tired and grumpy so we just let her do what she wanted in order to avoid a meltdown. Did you know that you can eat soup with chopsticks? Well, more specifically, with one chopstick. It also helps to have a spoon. Please allow Our Little Princess to demonstrate.

First, wear your new dress that Grams made for you, especially if it fits in with the Asian theme of the restaurant. Then you'll need one bowl of Miso soup, one chopstick, and a spoon.

Second, dip your spoon in and fill it with soup. Use your chopstick to push the soup onto your spoon. Be sure to concentrate!

Third, keep one eye on Mommy. She'll sneak her fork in and try to eat your mushrooms while you're not looking. If you're alert, you can block her with your chopstick while still eating with your spoon.

Fourth, be sure to use the proper technique. Bring both the spoon and the chopstick to your mouth for each bite. Be careful not to stick the chopstick into your nose.

Try not to fall asleep until after you've eaten all your soup.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Day At The Zoo

Last weekend, Grams and Grandad joined Our Little Princess and Her Highness, along with their parents, for a day at the San Antonio Zoo. We started early, before it got too hot and only stayed until early afternoon. Our Little Princess enjoyed showing Grandad all the animals.

I especially like the butterfly pavilion. The butterflies are so colorful and delicate and sometimes if you stand very still, a butterfly will land right in the palm of your hand. We tried, but didn't have any luck this time.

There are so many interactive exhibits and things to do. Our Little Princess fed the birds, went fishing, played in a babbling brook, got a close up look at a snake, played with other kids, and climbed on the lion sculpture.

It may be fall on the calendar, but in South Texas it's still the season of blooms. The beautiful flora was everywhere around the zoo.

Her Highness was along for the ride and she really seemed to enjoy it. We hardly heard a peep out of her. She seems to love being outdoors in the fresh air. The children's area even had a frog waterbed where she could roll around and stretch out for a while. Of course, her big sister had to get in on that fun too.

And no outing is complete without a little snack, so we stopped for popsicle and to cool off a little bit before finishing up.

I highly recommend spending a day with your grandchildren at your local zoo. There is little to compare to a wild family adventure at the zoo.