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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Reaunion Threads

Last Saturday was the much anticipated Midlothian High School class of 2001 ten year reunion. The truth is, what you wear to your class reunion is one of the most important wardrobe decision you will ever make, other than your wedding day and maybe a walk down the red carpet. I had a couple different dresses I thought could work, but when they announced that the venue for the reunion had been changed, they also announced that it would be "casual" attire. I wasn't exactly sure if they meant casual like your favorite team jersey and a pair jeans, or casual as in NOT a floor length evening gown. I made a few emergency phone calls the day of the reunion and got the impression that casual cocktail dress was the way to go. This was my first chance to wear this little number that I picked up at the Gap clearance center in Kentucky.
Thank you hubby for taking pictures of the back of my dress so that people could see the adorable buttons.

Then there are the Nicole shoes I got forever ago at Ross.

The necklace was Charming Charlie clearance. I wish it was more bronze, but it worked.


This entire ensemble was under $30 for e-ver-y-thing. That's less than what it cost for me to get into the reunion. I definitely feel like I got my moneys worth. Go Panthers.


This post is linked up to What I Wore Wednesday over at the Pleated Poppy.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

At the beginning of this week I talked about the Sponge Bob controversy and how studies show it can have negative affects on children due to it’s hyper active story lines and some argue that the fast paced speed of the show is actually helping children learn to process things faster.

In the clip, which you can watch on Fox news, we hear Phil Vischer talk about how research shows that the part of our brain that processes facts and data can in fact be trained to go faster, BUT the part of our brain that processes emotion and makes emotional connection can’t be trained to go faster. They can collect data faster, but they can’t have a feeling about it. If you are trying to help someone feel compassion for example, you are going to have to slow down.

Even the article that I dogged on in my post yesterday, quotes child psychologist Douglas Gentile saying "Multitasking is not really good for anyone. Your reflexes speed up, you're quicker to look over your shoulder and notice little noises or lights. This is not what they [children or teens] need when they get to the classroom and you're supposed to ignore the kid next to you. Scanning to see when the next message comes, this may not be good for kids. The more distractions you have, the worse your performance is."

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I read "The Help". I found myself enjoying the book, but having a difficult time settling down to read. I felt like I’d be better off with an audio book so that I could fold clothes, or be productive. I think this was a lesson for me that I need to just to relax every once in a while, and stop trying to accomplish 10 things at a time!

Book that I am currently reading, book mark from the African Children's choir, and fresh squeezed lemonade.

In our instant, high tech society we are blessed to have so many advancements to help us do everything quicker or without much effort. My challenge though, is to try doing things the slower way every once in a while and resist the temptation to multitask while doing it. It took 2 ½ hours to watch "The Help" at the theater, but for me there was so much more depth by reading the book which took about 10 times the amount of time.

Similarly I can get delicious lemonade from the drive thru at Chic Fila, but sometimes J and I like to make it from fresh squeezed lemons.

It means I get to use this gorgeous juicer that my sister in law made just for me. I also love the opportunity to get to use this cute little bag that my mom quickly sewed together from scraps of fabric that I had on hand.

She made it for me when I expressed the desire to have something to keep my clothes pins on me while I hang clothes on the line. Most of the time I throw the clothes in the dryer, and believe me I am thankful for a working washer and dryer, but every once in a while I like to get outside and allow our linens a chance to get fresh air and sunlight.The smell of line dried clothing is something I've never been able to duplicate from a bottle.

I don’t do these things all the time and I know they are not the most efficient, but they are just little ways for me to slow down, decompress, and find some space from the constant barrage of messages flying at me the rest of the day. For you maybe it’s something else like writing a hand written letter or journal, walking somewhere, or baking from scratch.

Throughout this series I hope I have stressed enough that I think all of this change and progress with virtual connection is a good thing. I think that there is a such thing as too much screen time, but what that means might be different for each person. I can only hope that we don’t get so caught up in the digital world that we miss out on all the adventure, romance, pain, fulfillment, and depth that our multi dimensional lives have to offer. That it’s okay to be by yourself and to laugh out loud without anyone even knowing it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Worse Than TV

I know. How much longer can I ramble on about the topic of life in the digital age? I am almost done, really, but here is one last gripe regarding an article that was in the Daily Local News last year. The article is titled "Texting, Facebook, Worse Than TV?" and it examines the difference between this generation of teenagers compared to their parents and whether or not all the screen time is worse or just different than what it used to be. The article claims that not much has changed other than it used to be TV time, and now it's TV, Texting, and Facebook all at once. The headline intrigued me and as I read on there was a statement that really caught my attention,

"Sure, there are real dangers associated with all this screen time — everything from cyber bullying to couch-potato obesity. Not to mention driving while texting, shortened attention spans and Internet porn. But many of today's parents spent hours as kids sitting in front of screens too — only they were TV screens."

Okay, let's back up a second. Key words; cybulling, obesity, texting while driving, all of which can potentially be FATAL. Attention deficit problems and pornography aren't exactly light weight issues either! I was appauled at how they had these things listed like they are about as damaging as wearing flip flops! Or mindless reruns of "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch" to be exact.

At the end of the article the bottom line is "Never mind that your kid is spending two hours on Facebook each night. As long as they do their homework without texting in between math problems, it's probably no better or worse than the hours you spent watching Star Trek." Really, that is the last sentence, following the words "Bottom line".

I don't want to make it sound like I am anti technological or social changes and advancements. Have you seen this picture of my family?
This photo actually needs to be updated, because now all 8 of us each have our very own mac and iphone.

Or, remember when I posted this video of my son talking about angry birds?
Or have I mentioned that I have a blog? So, yeah, I am all about the screens.

My issue was how flippant the article was about something very serious. For me this article was a reminder of how we need to be aware for ourselves and our children that the key words mentioned above are real and so is the reliance and addiction that can come from being oversaturated in screen time. That is why I focused on this topic this week. That is why I feel a little responsibility to ramble.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Our culture seems to be more stressed, rude, and oblivious than ever. iPhone, Blackberry, Starbucks, Google, these are some of the things that come to mind when I think of the staples of our generation. They are the trademarks of our modern society. They may even come across as perpetrators to people like me who long for simpler times and deeper connections. In my quest to find how to cope with the constant changes of our fast paced, high tech world, I discovered the stories of three guys who know a thing or two about the subject.


Martin Cooper introduced the first cell phone in 1973. Although Cooper acknowledges all the good that has come from the development of this life changing invention he is the first to admit that many habits of individuals on cell phones are rude, annoying, or flat out dangerous. He rants,
"Whatever happened to courtesy? What can be so urgent that you have to look down at your phone in the middle of a dinner conversation with people who matter to you? You can't wait five minutes before staring at your phone?" and in an interview with Bob Green of CNN he says
"You should not be a slave to your telephone. The technology is there to serve you, not the other way around. If the technology is not making your life better -- if it is robbing you of experiences in the real world that you would otherwise be enjoying -- then you are working for it, when it should be working for you."

Howard Schultz is the man that transformed a little coffee bean roaster into a coffee shop that we know as Starbucks, the largest coffeehouse company in the world. It was Schultz's dream that Starbucks be the third place between home and work. He has described the company as an extension of your front porch where people come together to connect. Schultz stepped down as CEO in 2000 and overtime the front porch turned into what I've seen referred to as the evil empire. From drive-thrus to automated espresso machines, the once quaint coffee nook was expanding rapidly, and becoming more like a fast food joint. In 2008 the board reinstated Schultz as CEO. Schultz recently released a book called Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul and in it he says "One cup. One customer. One partner. One experience at a time. We had to go back to what mattered most."

Eric Schmidt has been the CEO of Google for the past 10 years. If anyone knows about being wired it would probably be him. In his commencement address to the 2009 graduates of the University of Pennsylvania, he talks about all the technological advancements that have been made at the university over the years and many that he had been a part of. But what he shares with the students at the very end of his speech is what will probably stick with them for life. "Turn off your computer. You're actually going to have to turn off your phone and discover all that is human around us," Schmidt urges them.
"Nothing beats holding the hand of your grandchild as he walks his first steps."

Whether it is the inventor of the cell phone, the founder of Starbucks, or the CEO of Google, it seems the message is clear. All the technology, success, or information in the world will be of no value if we can't stop and connect with what matters most.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Line

Sixteen years ago I was DESPERATELY trying to get a hold of a certain guy because, well, probably because I was a teenage girl. I dialed his number every 10 minutes thinking maybe he will be home this time. The next day he asked me what I wanted because his mom said my number was on the caller ID like 50 times (a bit of an exaggeration I hope). My face was bright red and my jaw was on the floor. CALLER ID!? I had heard of caller ID, but we didn't have it. The thought never occurred to me that someone could see who called, when, and how often! I felt so embarrassed. Violated would be another way to describe it, like secret information about me had been unleashed. That was 1995.

Fast forward about ten years, to the first day I heard about myspace. It’s the latest thing, You will love it, Everyone’s doing it, is what I was told. I didn’t get it. Why do we need a space? Are people going to be able to reach me through this new fangled website? I reluctantly signed on and my profile picture was a photo of a chicken because that is how I felt about the whole experience, like a big scared chicken. It didn’t take long however to become completely engrossed. Then there was FaceBook, and then there was Twitter, and Tumbler, and Linkden...

The truth is when I said hello to my space (or you fill in the blank) I said good bye to my personal space. The person who was shocked about how revealing caller ID was, is now the one who is blogging almost daily to thousands HUNDREDS a bunch of people I don’t even know.

My friend Katie said it well in a post that she wrote about Virtual Life vs Real Life

“I have to wonder how these devices interrupt our daily living so that we can keep up with our virtual living. Suddenly we can’t enjoy a delicious meal without telling hundreds of people about it instantly. We can’t take a trip somewhere without uploading a million photos as soon as we arrive home. I’ve even read Facebook statuses of women updating while in labor, usually telling 400 of their closest friends about the measurement of their cervix or how lovely the epidural is.”

Of course there is a positive element to this additional life that we live online and we all know it. My friend Katie is a prime example.

You'll have to excuse the exposed film in this photo as if the clothing didn't date it enough. I lived with Katie (shown left) and her family for a while when my parents moved to Texas in the middle of my 8th grade year. I shared a room with her sister/my best friend Melissa (on the right, and I am in the middle). We shared clothes, we laughed and ate chunky monkey while watching pop up videos on VH1. I was there when Katie revealed her tattoo to her mother. We talked about our new boyfriends, we cried about our latest breakups, there was even some skinny dipping somewhere in there. With the girls, at night, acting silly. NOT the boyfriends. We were wild, but not like that.

Then I moved away, and we gradually lost touch. Addresses, last names, and phone numbers changed and I didn’t talk to them for years until myspace came along. Thanks to the connectivity that we have through the internet I know that Melissa has two beautiful girls and Katie has a sweet baby boy. Because of Katie's blog, Mama the Reader,I know that the people that I affectionately called grandmother and granddaddy are doing well and growing some amazing vegetables, and have goats now!

I wouldn't have known any of this before social networking and I would be left with our memories, and just hope that they were all doing well. So, I will be the first one to vouch that being connected is not a bad thing, but where do we draw the line? That is what I am currently trying to find out.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Our Virtual Lives

Like many people I can become overwhelmed at times with the digital age that we live in. I feel like we are all somehow being hurled into a space that is so crowded no one can even think, at least not for themselves. I worry that face to face communication and solitude are becoming a lost art. We can’t stand in line, wait at a stoplight, or even take a dump for crying out loud, without getting on our devices.

We have built up a culture of distraction in order to keep us from whatever might happen should we not multitask for once. I say "we" because I am a part of it and it’s all very close to home for me. The instagraming, yahoo, blogging me. For example, I despise texting while driving, but every time I hear the little tone on my iphone alerting me that I have a new text or comment the more I automatically feel drawn to pick it up.

Several months ago I read a book called Hamlet’s Blackberry which is what inspired me to do this series.

In this book, by William Powers, he looks at the state of a generation entangled in hyperconnectivity and then compares it to that of seven different great philosophers from the past. As each chapter unfolds we find out our situation is not all that unique.

For example on page 93 in the chapter about Plato & Socrates we learn

"Even writing was once considered a new technology and just like many other new things it wasn’t as obvious of a step forward as we see it today. Socrates writes of the king’s view of this tool by saying that

'writing is a dangerous invention, because it doesn’t allow ideas to flow freely and change in real time, the way they do in the mind during oral exchange. Whereas conversation is all about back-and-forth, written language is a one way street: Once a thought is written down, it’s frozen and you can’t challenge it or change it’s position. It’s a record of ideas that already exist, rather than a way of creating new ones.'

Thinkers have been analyzing and debating this passage for ages, because Socrates got it so wrong. His reaction to writing is typical of the confusion and anxiety new technologies often cause."

Along with this excerpt from the book I scribbled loads of other quotes on scraps of paper that are now scattered about through drawers and old notebooks. This was my way of trying to cram every thought provoking point from the book into my head, primarily so that I could relay it to you. I highly recommend checking out Hamlet's Blackberry and I hope you will join me by sharing your own opinions and stories this week as I talk about the high tech, over stimulated, plugged in generation that we are all a part it and whether or not the perceived problem is in fact a problem.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"I know you are, but what am I?"

Some of you may remember this saying made popular in the 1980's by the beloved icon Pee Wee Herman. I do, and I wasn't even allowed to watch his show. I may have seen little clips of the mysterious program when visiting friends, but Pee Wee was off limits in our house. He gave my mom the creeps and she thought we could do better in the entertainment department. I don't think we ever actually heard a verbal "I told you so" when I was nine years old and the actor was arrested for {ahem} inappropriate business. And I don't think I ever gave my mom an official "You were right" in 2002 when he was arrested again for child pornography charges. However, there were millions of children that did watch Pee Wee's Playhouse and I am pretty sure that many of them still turned out okay.

I mention this because today Fox and Friends aired another friendly debate, this time about a recent study that shows that SpongeBob SquarePants and similar fast paced programs may be dumbing down our children. The showdown took place between Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales, and a parenting expert that felt that SpongeBob is actually a great addition to your child's media diet. You can watch the clip on Fox's website to see the full discussion.

Basically, the study that showed that kids who watched SpongeBob SquarePants were more likely to be distracted and did not rate as high on tests compared to their 4 year old peers that colored, or watched PBS kids. Of course the results of this research did not go over well with many parents and Viacom investors (who own Nickelodeon). From what I understand the study has as many holes as SpongeBob himself. Either way, I personally am not a SpongeBob fan. We allow such little TV time around here anyway, there's not a ton of room for the smart mouth SquarePants.


What I find fascinating about this debate is that the controversy of SpongeBob has nothing to do with the vulgar humor or rude behavior that is exhibited in the show, but it is all about the pace. It is the constant changing, quick, snappy stimulation that is bringing concern for a generation that is already saturated in hyper activity and attention deficiency. On one side you have experts saying it's great and children need to be able to learn to keep up in this fast paced society and SpongeBob is helping them do that. In the other camp you have studies and pediatricians from the AAP, warning parents to be aware of the pitfalls that this type of entertainment can bring.

I agree with the stance Jeanne Sager takes. Her article for The Stir is titled "I Don't Need Science to Tell Me SpongeBob Is Bad" Or, to quote my own eloquent wisdom from a previous blog post, "study schmudy". We could argue all day about who is right when it comes to what cartoons to watch, but before everyone gets their SquarePanties in a wad, why not consider just going with your gut?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, September 16, 2011

From 3 to 4


I am excited about my little boy turning 4. I really am. I have heard nothing but great things about this age. If I were honest I would say that 3 was kind of a rough age for my little guy.
He understood a lot more than he did at 2 and there were less tantrums, but it was still a time of testing. There was the broken glasses incident which accelerated the upgrade from his baby glasses to his first pair of kids prescription lenses. We also had a couple trips to the ER to discover his first broken bone, and first set of stitches. We experienced a little run in with shoplifting. Whether he knew what he was doing at the time is debatable, but he certainly knows now.
We had a lot of positive milestones too though. It was at three years old that he learned all of his letters and the sounds. He is starting to sound words out and should be able to read very simple words soon! He also knows his street, city and state and what the American flag looks like. He is obsessed with geography. His favorite puzzle is what he calls the TEXAS puzzle, which is hilarious because it's actually the U.S. and Canada and he knows this. Typical Texan I guess.
One time he was drawing directions on his magnadoodle and placing markers on locations saying "this is H.E.B., and here is our Lighthouse (church), and all of this is on Texas." I was impressed and I asked him if he was creating a map. When he said yes I said "is that fun to you?" Of course I am just a little befuddled by his fascination, as an adult I admit to having the WORST sense of direction and have never really figured out how to read maps.

The other day I was updating the baby books and I finally got to fill in his favorite color, and the time he first dressed himself (orange and February 25). His entire baby book is almost finished and I could cry just thinking about. He is not a baby or a toddler anymore. He is a bright, adventurous, energetic little kid though, and I can't wait to see what to see what the next year will bring.




Thursday, September 15, 2011

N&N Fruit Pizza

After multiple request, YUMAZING feedback, and even a pinterest I am sharing the secret to this popular party dish.


First of all it's a really simple recipe.

Ingredients:

8 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. Cool Whip (1 3/4 c.)
1/4 c. powdered sugar
16.5 oz. package of refrigerator sugar cookie dough
1 lg. pizza pan
Fruit of choice: kiwi, blueberries, strawberries, bananas

*For the optional simple syrup coating recipe see below

Directions:

rolling the cookie dough into one giant cookie that fills the pizza pan. Bake according to directions (mine was 16-20 min. at 350 degrees). Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

For the topping you will combine sugar, cream cheese and Cool Whip. Spread over cookie crust. Arrange fruit on top.

Nancy's Cooking Tip: Simple Syrup

You can help keep cut up fruits from turning brown by coating them with an acidic juice such as lemon or orange. Also, a simple syrup mixture, which is made by boiling equal parts of sugar and water, is commonly used for soaking cakes or pastries to make them moist. This same combination can be used to soften or sweeten fresh or dried fruits, and can be flavored with lemon or orange juice.

We coated our fruit pizza with a juice flavored simple syrup to help keep the fruit fresh. Here is an example recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart filtered or distilled water
  • ½ lb granulated sugar
  • 2 oz freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3 medium oranges)
  • 2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 medium lemons)

Directions:

  1. Boil the water and sugar, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool the syrup.

  2. Add the lemon and orange juices, then chill the syrup.


Natalie's Decorating Tip: My favorite part is decorating the pizza. You can get as creative as you want with your design. Cut up the fruit into bite size pieces. Use a variety of shapes to create interest such as, half circles, triangles, and dots. The fruit itself will really do all the work for you in this case because they are already so colorful and unique. Make sure that anything canned or juicy is drained well so that it don't bleed onto your frosting.


This 2011 pizza was for a class of '11 graduation party

and the #4 (shown at top) was for my son's 4th birthday.


The fruit pizza is sure to be a hit at almost any occasion, but let me add one final tip. Make sure you try a piece shortly after serving because this pizza goes FAST!

Today's post is linked up to Things I Love Thursday.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bob Tomato Pinata

For my son Z's 4th birthday I had this idea to make a Bob the Tomato pinata.
I remember doing a craft similar to this when I was a kid so I figured it should be a cinch. Unfortunately, it went through several different stages and repairs before the final product. However, the important thing was the kids had a great time and it all worked out in the end.

Here is what did NOT work for me

1. A regular balloon
It ended up looking more like a roma tomato because baloons are more oval. Next time I would maybe opt for a small punching ball.

2. Using a paper mache adhesive to apply the decorative tissue paper
The paste ended up softening the pinata form and collapsed in some areas making the tomato look a little rotten!

3. A string tied directly through the paper mache
The weight of the pinata was too much for the string to handle, but a little masking tape and extra glue to reinforce the rope did the trick.

Here is what did work for me!

1. An instructional video for pinatas that I found online
I looked up a few different tutorials. I used one layer of newspaper strips which may have overlapped in some areas. I have read to use up to 4 layers, but one was sturdy enough for this group of little kids. You don't want a pinata that is impossible to bust.

2. Streamers and heavy weight paper/construction paper for decorating the pinata
You could use paint or colored paper, but to me the tissue paper looks like a traditional pinata. It is also more forgiving if you end up with a less than perfect form like I did because you can layer it in certain places.

3. Candy and fruit snacks
It takes a lot to fill a pinata, but the fruit snacks worked great because they are light weight, but take up a lot of space, and kids love them.

4. Party Favor bags
I used veggie tales silly bands as the party favor and put one inside each party bag along with a twist tie. Then I stuck a white label on each one so that guests could write their names and use their bags to gather the pinata candy.
This way each child knows which bag is theirs, every one gets something, and everyone has a place to put the candy they collect.


This post is linked up with Works For Me Wednesday over at We Are That Family. Oh, and here is a little video I made of the pinata and cakes. Our yard is usually not a bunch of dirt, but I live in Texas where we have had the opportunity to experience a drought over the past few months. Hopefully it will rain again someday!

video

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Very Veggie Birthday

We celebrated Z's 4th birthday party with Bob, Larry, and the whole Veggie Tales gang. It was vegtastic, vegerific, veg...um, well you get the idea. Here are the top ten ways I had a BIG theme party with a little budget.

1. The invitations
I found some packages of unopened party invitations at the thrift store for a buck!
I just glued the photoshopped image that I made of Z with the veggie clan, and Ta-Da...
super frugal customized invite!

2. Book and Activity Zone

For this part of the festivities I just took a little piece of the indoors outside for kids to read veggie tales books, or do veggie puzzles. We had a variety of ages at this party so it worked out well.

3. Bathroom Signs

We had dozens of guests, many of which had never been over before. The party was outside, so these signs came in handy for anyone that wandered in for a little 'potty time'.

4. Party Favors
I found veggie tales silly bands at family christian stores online for 90% off!
But would you believe they wanted to charge shipping for each one making my total over $75.00?! That's when I called up my family to check out all the christian stores near and far to find 20 of these 50 cent veggie bands and we did it!

5. Pinata
This was way more difficult then I expected it to be, but here is the end result of my home made bob tomato pinata.
It was full of candy and veggie tales fruit snacks.
The back of the fruit snack have games so I cut them out for the activity table. The kids loved the pinata and I plan on doing a how to post on that tomorrow.

6. Cake

I was thrilled when I found that Mary, at Giving Up on Perfect, was doing a Veggie Tales party. Her Bob and Larry cake idea was amazing. She shares how she created them on her blog. The cakes really added to the decorations.

7. Party Food
Along with the cake we knew we would need to supplement with snacks and other desserts for the amount of people that would be attending. To stick with the theme my mom made veggie squares and I decorated her famous fruit pizza with the number 4.
It was all gone in no time!

8. Photo Album

I am a sucker for photographs so I had a picture of Z in a Veggie Tales frame along with a Veggie Tales photo album that I have had since I was 13!
I used it to display my favorite moments of the birthday boy from the past 4 years. I was almost in tears working on this project.

9. Birthday Outfit


I am clearance girl in case you didn't know. So when I had to choose between an oversized $17.00 Larry shirt or clearance bin hat and t shirt for $4 each, I went with the discount items. My mom said the 4th of July garb was fitting for the weekend of 9/11. Works for me.

10. Movies
Veggie Tales have exploded over the past 18 years, but it all goes back to the movies. We had our party at night so that we could project veggie tales movies against the garage. We used a white sheet as our screen and I let the guys do all the technical work with the computer, projector, and speakers. The weather was PERFECT for this Friday night outdoor cinema.




The party was full special memories, and silly fun, but I loved the fact that the message that was there throughout the night, thanks to the theme, was that "God made you special, and He loves you very much."


This post is linked up with Oh Amanda for Top Ten Tuesday. I also want to add a special thank you to my parents (Z's Me'me' & Pe'pe'). Without them this party would not have been possible. Thanks for the time, energy, and creativity that you contributed to this unforgettable occasion!

Z's FOUR

I am officially the mother of a 4 year old. He tried to argue with me about that at first (typical). The morning of his birthday I said "YOU ARE FOUR YEARS OLD NOW!" He said “NO, I’m not. I’m THREE!” I tried to explain and encouraged him by talking about all of his friends that are also four years old and he said “why are you talking about those boys being four when I’m three?” Although as of yesterday he was announcing his new age to everyone and showing off four fingers, which at this point takes quite a bit of concentration.

The big milestone of this year is his FIRST “friends” Birthday party. Up until this point we have celebrated with family only, but this year we also invited all of his little pals from church. I admit I was a little intimidated by the idea of entertaining all of these kiddos. Four year olds don’t shy away from expressing their true uncensored opinions. Fortunately, these were all really sweet kids. For me, the best part of the party was seeing their reactions to all the activities we had planned,



and some that we hadn’t



It was a great turn out and an unforgettable evening. I'm sure it will go down in my memory bank as one of the best birthday parties ever.

I have to admit though, this party did not just come together on it’s own I’ve been dreaming this night up for a long time. I even mentioned it on this blog more than once. I also left a comment at Givinguponperfect.com a year ago sharing my theme idea for Z’s party. And just like my anniversary and SJ’s birthday I will be posting A LOT more photos and details. I just can’t help myself.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Class Reunion

When J's 10 year class reunion was right around the corner (8 years ago) he said he didn't want to go. I remember having this conversation on a sidewalk in downtown Fort Worth. We were all dressed up for a date night. I told J I thought he should go, and he looked at me and said, 'I don't know why I would want to put myself through that. I have absolutely nothing to show for myself.' I just looked right back at him with the slight head tilt. Really? NOTHING to show for yourself?'

I can laugh at his comment, because I know that he loves me and is proud of me, but he also knows how to put his foot in his mouth sometimes. Don't we all? Well, know it's my turn, and although I have been looking forward to my 10 year reunion for about 10 years, I was floored when I saw that the tickets were $53 per person and included 2 drink tickets and light appetizers. I responded to the facebook announcement by sharing that I wasn't going to be able to make it. I wasn't the only one that was put out by the arrangements and there were some classmates planning a separate event that would include some kegs and a bonfire out in a field.

Let's see, I could sip on high priced cocktails at a snooty venue in Dallas, or I could hang out with a bunch of drunk people and a fire during a drought. Hmmmm? I felt like a High School student all over again with no place to fit in.

So in the midst of my wallowing I picked out a movie on Netflix called You Again.
I had no idea what it was about, but it showed up as recommended and it was comedy rated PG. I thought it would be worth a try. It turned out to be about a girl that had a really rough time in high school. After graduation she moves on with her life and becomes successful, but then finds out her archenemy, the popular girl that bullied her in school, was marrying her brother. It really hit the spot for what I was going through!

As it turns out the student council (basically all of my closest friends in high school) changed the venue and dropped the price. So I guess I will be going in about 2 weeks. I am not sure what to expect, but I know that you can expect to hear all about at when it's all over.


Friday, September 9, 2011

The Help

Back when I was watching TV I saw a guy named Myq Kaplan on last comic standing. I remember this hilarious joke he had about movies vs books. He says "Every book's made into a movie. You should go see the movie; you don't have to read a book. But book people are getting smart, they're called authors, they'll re-release the book when a movie comes out. Put a picture of the actor on the cover: trick people who like movies into buying the books. Like, 'Fight Club' is a movie made out of a book; they re-released it, people are like, 'Oh, Brad Pitt's in this book!" He actings like he thumbing through a book and says "Hmmm...So far just words."


J's sisters had all read The Help and one of them tossed me a copy and said here you will love it. I read the back, shrugged and said I will give it a try. She almost snatched the book out of my hands like I wasn't giving their beloved novel a fair chance. I assured her that I would read it and a week later I had the book back in her hands and gave her my review which was "YOU WERE RIGHT! I LOVED IT!"

The last couple days of reading I crammed in a few hundred pages because I knew my friend wanted to see the movie and I wasn't about to watch it without finishing the book. The movie was good, really, but the book was better. I don't know how many times I've head that line about various movies, but I think it's the first time I've ever uttered those words, except for maybe Marley in Me, which I didn't really read (I had the audio version). Now I understand why the book is always better. I spent over a dozen hours reading over descriptions of various scenes, the characters inner thoughts and emotions, and the background or history behind the storyline. The movie however is out of your imagination and into the hands of the directors, producers, and actors all trying to cram 500+ pages into a couple hours. "The Help" movie was 2 1/2 hours long and they still cut out a lot of stuff! They also changed some parts to be a little more of a heroic happy ending, but also more predictable if you ask me. I won't mention specifics to avoid spoiling the story.

My friend Amy and I have a habit of conversing through blog comments. So regarding your last comment Amy, I would go ahead and read the book even though you have seen the movie because it's worth it!