Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Google Named Yahoo!

So if you have kids between the ages of 5-12, you probably know that yesterday was the official Webkinz Extravaganza! Our local giftshop was offering a Buy-One-Get-One Webkinz sale, so Tootsie took her babysitting money downtown to buy a new one. She chose a Google Lil' Kinz (which is supposed to be a platypus), one of the more...uh, abstract critters. Then she announced she was naming him "Yahoo!", which was pretty clever since he is a "Google". My amusement continued to grow, however, with the following conversation:

Tootsie: Does Yahoo look like a boy or a girl to you?

Me: Well....

Tootsie: 'Cause for some reason, I just think of him as a boy!

Me: Really? (trying not to giggle...or wince as she strokes it)

Tootsie: Yeah, I don't know why. What do you think he looks like? Girl or boy?

Me: Uhm.....yeah...I'm gonna go with boy...

When I started this blog, I told myself I would try not to put anything too embarrassing to anyone in here. So....well....moving right along...

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Monday, April 28, 2008

In Which Global Warming Sounds Like a Good Idea...

April 28, 2008

Dear Mother Nature,

I'm writing you on behalf of all concerned citizens in the Michiana region. It has recently come to our attention that this year's long-awaited Spring is in danger of being temporarily revoked, and the earnestly struggling buds & sprouts residing herein are under threat of imminent peril. The overnight forecast predicts possible freezing temperatures with a slight chance of snow.

I offer my heartfelt plea that you reconsider this foolish plan, and strongly urge you to fully weigh and evaluate the devastating consequences of such an act. It is the end of April, Mother! The window for acceptable action has expired!

As a gesture of good faith while we work towards a peaceful resolution, I hereby pledge to nip my whining in the bud, in exchange for your promise that you will not nip our buds with frost.

What do you say, Big Mama? Can't we all just get along?

I am also legally obligated to inform you in writing that in the absence of a favorable response from you, I will be forced to dump the entire contents of our recyclable plastics bin in the yard and burn them in a massive off-gassing, pollution-filled, carbon-footprint-producing bonfire in an effort to warm things up a little faster around here.

Please reconsider your actions, post haste!


Chair, Citizens for Global Warming

Signs of Spring

This past winter brought record amounts of snow and bone-chilling lows to our neck of the woods. We were all getting a little sick of being stuck inside the house, frankly, and are thrilled that spring has finally sprung!

It's as if our moods are linked directly to the thermometer; they both rise in perfect correlation. The kids are downright giddy to feel warm air on their skin and green grass beneath their feet, while playing with friends in the backyard. (And I'm quite enjoying it, myself!)

Red Buds are blooming.

Branches are leafing out.

Ferns are unfurling.

There is another side to spring that isn't quite as photogenic, however. Like the yard, suddenly bursting forth with balls, and bats, and bikes, and lone, forgotten shoes...

...or the little blooms of crimson, popping up on knees and elbows...

...or the billowing fields of Kleenex, stretching as far as the eye can see.

This particular pile is mine, created while I took photos for this post. Yeah, gross, I know. The combined effects of Zyrtec, Sudafed, and Afrin have made me feel a bit too foggy and weary to deposit each one individually in the trash can all the way over there. So now I must go; I have some cleaning up to do. Then I think I'll lay down for a bit. Right after I pop over to e-trades to buy online shares of Kleenex stock. (I just can't quit you, Spring!) *sniff*

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Chaperoning 101

I spent the last 36 hours acting as a chaperone for a portion of my daughter's 5th-grade camp trip. It was actually quite fun, though rather exhausting. (Sleeping in a small cabin with 7 girls and 1 other mom in connected, CREAKY bunks while trying not to cough & sneeze all night is just not restful.) But other than the poor night's sleep, and a handful of kids out of the entire group that were just a little harder to appreciate, I really enjoyed my time there. Plus, I learned some important stuff.

For example, I learned marsh water may look really dirty and icky....

...but it's actually full of sphagnum moss and microorganisms that filter it quite efficiently, resulting in sparkling clear water you can drink. The process it goes through takes some time, but the results are impressive.

And I learned that Tootsie is not afraid of snakes, and can swing on a rope without falling, and has nimble fingers for macrame, and can paddle a canoe, and catch a fish, and is a well-mannered, smart, polite, independent kid that is easy to be around. Well, some of that I already knew, but it's always good to have my opinions supported. (and there has been a slight air of doubt surrounding one or two of those lately...)

I learned that my daughter has some really neat friends. Friends that I hope will carry over into next year when they enter the giant, overwhelming territory of Middle School together.

I learned there is an enormous range of shapes and sizes and maturity levels in her age group...and I realized that she is growing up. Fast.

It all got me thinking. We have marshy territory (so to speak) looming in our immediate future, and even though I know it can be a magical filtering time, I'm still having a hard time seeing past the potential ickiness of those teenage years to come. Murky waters of unknown depths with unfamiliar life-forms operating in an entirely different microcosm. Middle School! High School!!

I know that millions of people before us have gone down the very same path... but I'm just a bit anxious about where it might lead. What is up ahead?

I find myself wishing for a map. One of those really helpful camp maps that's labelled with distances, and difficulty levels, and time estimates, and dead ends, and short-cuts! One that has a list of what to pack, and expected weather conditions, and what to do in case of an emergency. After all, I've been through those parts before, but I'm not entirely convinced I know my way around well enough to safely lead someone else.

But, of course, there is no map like that. So I'll settle for the hope that we will be able to explore that marsh together, too, and that she will continue to let me chaperone -- quietly, watchfully, steadily in the background, ready to step in as needed.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Gender Differences

I took Tootsie (my 11-year-old daughter) and Bubbs (my 9-year-old son) shopping for spring clothes. Tootsie was excited to go, as she generally enjoys picking things out and trying them on. Bubbs, on the other hand, does not enjoy it. He would rather wear last year's too-tight shorts than waste all that time looking and then be forced to endure the torture of the dressing room, to top it all off! He doesn't particularly care what he wears, but he's reached a size where I can no longer simply pull something off the rack and assume it'll fit. He really needs to try things on first. So after some haggling, we set off for the store, a minivan filled with mixed emotions.

Now, we are a family who tries not to have many gender-based stereotypes. I don't automatically assume that all girls love pink or that all boys love sports, or other similar blanket statements. But I have learned that for our family, at least, there are undeniable gender differences when it comes to shopping. Here's the evidence.

Tootsie was very excited about this pair of Old Navy shorts which she picked out herself (one of the very few pink things she owns, by the way):

Bubbs was very excited about this contraption he made out of found and discarded parts scoured from the Old Navy floor:

For the record, he got new shorts, too. But the size he actually tried on was too big, so I just bought the next size down straight off the rack. He was too busy having fun shopping.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Rude Awakening

This morning as I was waking up, I sensed that the bed seemed really quiet...or empty...or something. I listened with my eyes closed, not daring to move, then carefully turned my head and peeked. With one eye. While holding my breath. (you know what I'm talking about here if you've had kids with sleep issues, right?) Sure enough. Junior's usual spot was empty. (He has chronic sleep difficulties, and for the past 6 months or so he's stumbled into our room and climbed into bed with us every single night.)

I did a tiny celebratory dance, and then suddenly my grin vanished. Is he really in his bed? Did he make it outside somehow? Is he missing? Is he sick? Was his door stuck, and he couldn't get out of his room, and he screamed and cried for us for hours and hours and we didn't hear him and then he passed out from sheer exhaustion?? Well, ok, that's ridiculous. Even as I'm thinking these things, I know they're ridiculous. But seriously -- is he ok? Just as I'm laying there, talking myself out of going to check on him, he stumbles in the room with his scruffy bedhead, and pillow creases on his cheeks, and a sleepy little grin on his face. (Exhale...)

Now, let me back up just a bit and tell you that last week I was awakened at 5:38a.m. by an unusual rocking & shaking sensation. My daughter ran downstairs from her 3rd-story bedroom, just totally freaking out. My husband was already at work, so I quietly comforted her and had her crawl into the bed with me (and Junior, of course). She asked what was happening, and I told her I didn't know. It felt like an earthquake, but we don't get those here in the midwest, and I was too groggy to consider the matter more. We all promptly went back to sleep, and were amazed to hear later on the morning news that a rare earthquake had, indeed, rocked the midwest earlier that morning.

So here's the weird thing. When I woke up & realized Junior wasn't in the bed this morning, my heart nearly skipped a beat. Seriously -- I could feel the butterflies in my stomach and my adrenalin kicking in. But when there was a RARE EARTHQUAKE rousing me, I simply patted my daughter's hand and went right back to sleep.

Perhaps it's time for Sleep Intervention, Round Gazillionty-Two?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring Break-ing Away, Part 2

(...and the story continues)

The nice weather held, and for two more days they continued with their Spring Break Camping Adventure. The kids went exploring together.

Bubb learned to split logs and how to build a proper fire. (neither of which can ever be done without supervision -- got that, mister?!?)

Tootsie finally learned to enjoy Tortellini Soup (which apparently tastes much better when you are outdoors, cold, and pretty strongly opposed to hot dogs). And she read some good books.

Pop relished in his freedom to lounge outdoors and listen to his beloved Cubs broadcast, with not much more on his To Do list besides 1)keep the fire going and 2)produce something to eat now and then. Did the Cubs win that day? I'm not sure... but for once, I don't think it really mattered to him.

By the third day, Junior was feeling better, so I decided to head back to the campground with him to join in the fun. He was happy to see everyone, and thrilled to be outside. He kept stirring up trouble making messes very busy.

We are down one camp chair now. Although there is some question as to whether that is actually due to Junior or to the gusting winds we had that day. I have my suspicions.

Everybody was pretty tired by evening, and I decided to head back home with Junior in hopes of a more restful night. One that involved a hot shower, cushy bedding, and heat. And possibly even sleeping in with such an empty, quiet house. Turns out Junior had a little wish of his own, too...

Yep. You guessed it.

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Spring Break-ing Away

While most everyone we know went away to someplace warm and exotic over Spring Break, we settled for something a little more....well, cool and rustic. But it was still away! We loaded up a mountain of food and firewood, our two oldest kids and our two nieces, and made a beeline for a local state park. (Junior stayed with grandparents that first night to simplify things.)

Schools may call this time of year "Spring" Break, but let me tell ya, there was nothing springy about it that first night. It. Was. Cold.

...and kinda soggy. But we put all our faith in the local forecasters' promise of a warm weekend ahead. And you know what?

It happened! The warm front moved in the next day, just as promised. Our stir-crazy, winter-weary, house-bound kids finally got to run around the campground and play in real, actual SUNSHINE. That was outside! And...sunny! And the playground was directly across from our campsite, so the kids could freely explore & roam. It was lovely.

But, like all good things, it had to come to an end. At least for a few of our Happy Campers. The nieces had to head home (planned), and so did I (unplanned). Turns out Junior had developed a fever. It had, in fact, been already present when we left town the previous afternoon, but nobody had noticed, and Grammy was nice enough to keep it her little secret for 24 hours so we didn't worry. But once I heard the details, I knew my personal camping trip was over. I headed home to take care of the the poor little guy while the rest of the family continued on with their camping adventures.

Pop took the kids on a 2-mile hike he read about on the campground map. Only apparently the trail merged with another trail....which added another 1/2 mile UPHILL to reach their destination. So the 2-mile hike turned into a 4 1/2 mile trek. The threats bribes encouragement was provided freely, from what I understand, and upon their return to camp the kids celebrated with ice cream from the camp store.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Junior and I settled in with a box of kleenex, a bottle of Tylenol, and his favorite movie playing on a continuous loop.

(to be continued...)

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Jujy & The Fruits of My Loom

I am Jujyfruit. I am a middle-aged SAHM, although I am extremely reluctant to define myself that way. I have 3 kids, 2 cars, and 1 husband. I have been changing diapers and doing the mom thing for 12 years now. I am experiencing life with all three kids in school for the first time this year. I always thought I would be back at work by now. I'm realizing that's a problem, because I don't know what I want to do when I grow up. I love words, puzzles, creative projects, and laughing; this blog is my attempt at combining those things. I also love reading other blogs (& books), stumbling across entertaining websites, and bargain-hunting IRL; those things will probably show up in here, too.

My husband, Pop, and I have been married for 18 years. He is mildly amused by my blogging foray, as long as I don't embarrass him too much. (Truthfully, I think he's actually more worried that I will embarrass myself.)
Tootsie is my 11-year-old daughter. She is a loving, tender-hearted, responsible kid, who enjoys being in charge of her brothers. And sometimes I even ask her to!
Bubba is my 9-year-old son. He is rather serious & often quiet, with a good mind and a great sense of humor. Sometimes I think he is a weary grown-up stuck in a kid's body.
Junior is my 6-year-old son. He has special needs and makes our lives MORE of everything: more frustrating, more satisfying; more complicated, more simple. He is both incredibly active and non-verbal, a recipe which tends to produce interesting results. You can read more about him here.

(Editor's Note -- All names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

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Here Goes Nothin'!

I've been thinking about starting a blog for some time now, but always thought it involved way too much techie stuff for me. Well, turns out I was wrong! I went to our small-town public library recently, and found these two books that explained the start-up process very neatly. Seriously, who knew?! I guess everybody really is doing it!

So I've been puttering around here, creating and saving drafts....but I am nervous about pushing the "publish" button. I need to work on the layout & appearance, search some more great tutorials to find answers to some of my burning questions, and figure out creative ways to turn the ideas in my head into actual content. (And then hope I don't run out!)

Plus, I thought I should put some kind of meaningful Mission Statement, or helpful Content Description, or at least a little blurb about what I plan to put in here. But the pressure seems to have paralyzed me a tad. I woke up today and realized the pressure was all in my mind. (I'm really good at doing that, unfortunately.) (The all in my mind part, that is. The realizing part I'm not so good at.)

So here's the deal. Today is the day I hit the Publish button. I'm gonna have a blog! I'll figure out the rest as I go along. The appearance will change, and the content will be tweaked....just all the more reason for you to come back again, right?

Just up and at 'em. No reason to chicken out. Been a long time comin'. The grass isn't getting any greener, ya know! uhm...let's see, what other cliche would work here? Right. Ok. Now where's that code I need? Gonna do it in a second, folks. One more thing yet. What -- stalling?? No way! Ok, Bye!

Ha - gotcha! I'm still here! No, really YOU go first & I'll just wait right here. Ok, we'll do it together. For realsies this time. Ready? I mean it. I'm gonna do it -- you have to do it, too! Let's countdown. OK. 1........2........3....... PUBLISH!