Timeout for Sisters

These are my children — my two daughters. They are beautiful young women, inside and out. How I came to be so lucky as to be their mom, I have no idea. But I’m glad it turned out that way. Younger Daughter, on the left, recently celebrated her 24th birthday by getting a new job and heading out of town to follow her dream of becoming a sign-language interpreter. She’s moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to live with my brother & his family while she looks for an apartment, wows ’em at her new job and figures the school thing out. I’m in awe of her adventurous spirit and boundless enthusiasm. I’m also in awe of Older Daughter, on the right. This week she’s fighting a nasty sinus infection, teaching her dance classes and keeping up — as always — with our grandson, 2 1/2-year-old Capt. Adorable, and still had time to teach me the secrets of hula-hooping (shift your weight side-to-side and keep your upper body stable). This photo is so them, too. When they were little, I used timeout to get their attention, but it was a different timeout for each of them. I sent one daughter to her room with her door closed because, as a definite people person, she considered being deprived of other people to be a dire and serious punishment. I insisted the other daughter serve her timeout right beside me at all times because she’d be perfectly happy all by herself in her room and so being forced to be with people was a major infringement. I think this photo shows exactly which daughter is which!

Band Geeks — and Nashville, Tennessee

In our house, we are Band Geeks. Both my two daughters were Band Geeks in high school, my younger daughter was a Band Geek in college and I was a supportive Band-Geek Parent for years. But you know you can hang up your “I’m a Proud Band Mom!” T-shirt and throw out recycle your calling lists but you can never entirely lose the Band Geekiness. It’s there, just waiting for a chance to resurface and turn you into someone who gives up free weekends for band competitions and says things such as, “I think I’ve got a spare vibraphone string in my purse.” It happened to me. It could happen to you. Read more at my weekly newspaper column, http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100326/ARTICLES/3265000.

And while you’re clicking, check out Gwyneth Paltrow’s Part II of her trip to Nashville, Tennessee, at http://goop.com/newsletter/75/en/. GOOP is her newsletter/Web site and she usually writes from the I’m-a-famous-and-rich-movie-star-and-you’re-not-you-poor-things perspective. However, I was impressed with her Nashville Part I — she recommended several affordable and authentic Nashville spots for eating and drinking, whatever your beverage of choice. Part II looks at shopping and family activities and I’m on less solid ground here for seconding her suggestions. Except for Hatch Show Print, I’ve never been to any of the retailers she likes.  But that’s not surprising since the clearance rack at Belk’s is about as upscale as I get. Her choices for family fun, though — the Cheekwood Botanical Garden, the Frist art museum and the Adventure Science Center — get my vote, too.

Spring

I am not a fan of Spring-Forward Sunday. For one thing, I’m pretty much a lazy person and when we’re off Daylight Saving Time and it starts to get dark at 5 or 6 at night, it’s quite easy to put the ol’ pajamas on and call it a day — literally — by 8 p.m. But in Daylight Saving Time, you’re sort of compelled to keep going until 10 p.m. or so. I mean, isn’t that why Daylight Saving Time was invented — so we’d have more time to do work? Whose bright idea was that???!!! And when I was a young mom, I dreaded the spring-forward time change that wreaked havoc with those lovely early bedtimes. However, now that I’m Grandma Ka-kee and treasure every moment I can spend with my almost-2-year-old grandson, Capt. Adorable, I say the more daylight, the better. That just gives me more playtime to hang out with the Captain in his backyard and his ultra-cool new playground equipment his mom and dad got him for an early birthday present. It’s got slides and a climbing wall and a fun underneath space for hiding. Plus, it offers the chance for scientific exploration, such as “Why has rainwater gathered in this little hole and I wonder what would happen if I put my finger in it?” And when it’s spring and nice weather, you can also have your  snack of yogurt-covered blueberries outside — definitely worth giving up an hour or two of sleep!

Learning

The thing about hanging out with other people is that you can learn from them. And learning is good — something about keeping your brain cells strong, I think. Take, for instance, this arrangement of seashells and dried grasses. A friend of mine who loves to collect shells at the beach put some of her best ones in this clear large-mouthed glass vase and used the shells to anchor a couple of bunches of grass she bought at a craft store. Result? Simple, easy and inexpensive with a definite wow factor. She just sort of threw this together while I sat and watched, amazed. The main requirement is a clear vase or container that’s wide enough for your shells. And if you don’t have any shells, you can buy them in bulk at most craft stores — although I bet you’ve got a forgotten box of them tucked away in the garage from your most recent vacation when you found these lovely shells on the beach and dragged them home because you knew you could do something with them. Well, you were right! See, you can learn tons of things from your favorite people. Such as my 23-month-old grandson, Capt. Adorable. Every day I spend with him is a learning experience — from repurposing toy boxes into comfy reading chairs to innovative uses for mashed potatoes (clay, glue, finger paint, hair gel). Read more lessons the Captain has taught me in my weekly newspaper column at http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100305/ARTICLES/3055005.

Family

Remember back when I showed you photos of Younger Daughter’s Valentine’s Day party-for-10 this past weekend (scroll down to see again)? Well, everybody had a great time and the food and decor were awesome but the best part for me was what YD, 23, learned from hosting her first party all on her own. She planned and organized everything and I didn’t even make one suggestion — even when it was the day before the party and not very much had been done and I asked her gently if there were anything I could do to help her AHEAD OF TIME (hint, hint) and she said, “Oh, no. I can get everything done tomorrow.” But the payoff was the day after the party when she realized the benefits of day-before party prep. Yes! Another maternal lesson learned. Read more in my weekly newspaper column, http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100219/ARTICLES/2195005.

Family

Here in northwest Alabama, we seem to really be getting winter this year. Usually we can count on mild and sunny with only a couple of freezing wet and dreary days here and there to remind us what winter is. But this year I’m starting to understand terms such as “winter blues” and “cabin fever” — we’ve had several runs of bitterly cold temps and wintery mix precipitation and looks as if that’s continuing. Ugh. The good news is that it doesn’t take much to amuse us — when my ugly winter raincoat is the most-worn item in my closet, I’m up for any bit of fun that comes my way. Luckily, Younger Daughter is hanging out at home before grad school starts. She’s taught me to play two-person Nertz (I even win every once in awhile), convinced me to take a tap-dance class with her (and has the grace not to laugh) and joined me in unhealthy addictions to “reality” TV (we think Jake the Jerk Bachelor deserves to end up with Vienna the Car-Wrecking Daddy’s Girl). Plus, she’s always up for a batch of chocolate-chip cookie dough — the perfect antidote for too much winter. And go here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nertz to find out about Nertz. I think it goes by many other names and many variations, but we play fast and simply: Get rid of your stack first and you’re the winner. Because we need more time to eat that cookie dough.

Family

At 22 months, grandson Capt. Adorable already is rocking cool pre-preschool fashion.  Wednesday afternoon was a little bit warmer (in the low 50s!), a little bit drier (no rain for 24 hours!) and a little bit sunnier here in north Alabama so we all headed out to the park for some rare outside fun. Let me tell you, there is nothing like chasing a little guy around a playground maze of slides and steps and balance beams to chase away any adult-onset winter blues. And what does the well-dressed pre-preschooler wear to the playground? A cozy striped hoodie topped off with the perfect pair of shades. I was laughing too hard to snap it, but the Captain somehow did the pull-the-glasses-down-a-bit-and-peer-inquiringly-over-the-top move so smoothly that I wish I had taken notes.

Magazines

I love food. I love magazines. And food magazines? Cannot resist. That’s why I’m still mourning the loss of Conde Nast’s Gourmet. But there are a bunch of other magazines that entice with gorgeous photos, informative articles and innovative recipes. But how to know which ones are worth your hard-earned dollars? Chicago Tribune food writer Judy Hevrdejs has written a fun and helpful story comparing seven of the top-selling food magazines. She looks at such variables as average number of recipes per issue, usability, typical reader and her gut reaction. Your local paper might have printed it. If not, read it online at http://www.twincities.com/food/ci_14229780?source=rss. My favorites are Cook’s for intriguing reads, Food & Wine for inspiration and Everyday Food for how-to guides.

And while you’re online, stop by the TimesDaily Web site and read my column at http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100129/ARTICLES/1295001. This week I wrote about an experience I had this past week, while Younger Daughter and I were babysitting 22-month-old grandson and nephew Capt. Adorable.  The Captain was overdosing on TV and the results were not pretty. I had two choices: 1) Fall back on my old parenting habits and be too lenient and indulgent or 2) employ the good parenting techniques I’d seen Older Daughter — the Captain’s mom — put into play. Read and find out what happened.