Thursday, July 31, 2008

Are we teaching socialism to our children?

I got the list of school supplies yesterday, for my kindergarten age daughter. It was faxed to a friend who in turn called me with the list. I was bit suprised to see that the kindergarten teachers do not want anything labeled this year. Last year, when my son started kindergarten at the same school, everything had to be labeled with his name. Right down to the last pencil. This year, they want these things to come to school unlabeled and they will be distributed as needed. Problem is, you know some kids will come to school with sub-par school supplies. There is nothing worse than a cheap box of crayons. I was an artist in my former life, and cheap crayons suck. They are too waxy and don't produce vibrant colors. Cheap glue, thats even worse. They specify Fiskars scissors, which run about $3 a pair, but what about the kid who brings in dollar store ones that don't cut. Is my child gonna get stuck with those, along with crap crayons and non-sticky glue? Ok, let it be know that I am not a stingy person. I would be the first to buy a child a box of crayons or anything else they may need to start school. I am just that kind of person. But is if fair to make the kids who bring in the good stuff use the crappy stuff just because someone was too cheap to take care of their kids? Worse yet, what is the school system teaching these kids who don't have supplies and know that they will be taken care of? As my husband put it, it is teaching the kids socialism. No matter what, you will be taken care of. I know that teachers sometimes have to step up and buy things for the kids that don't have much. That is not fair either. Life is expensive these days. The schools should foot the bill for that, not the teachers. I know that is probably why they chose to work the supplies that way this season, but it is not fair to those of us who work hard for what we have with no goverment assistance. If the teachers need parents who have more than someone else to help out a bit, they just need to ask. I would gladly throw in another box of $.20 crayons for a child in need. But lets not teach our children that they will aways be taken care of in the schools. These are more than likely kids that already come from families that are receiving all sorts of government assistance (you really really don't want me to elaborate on that one) where things are handed to them, so are we teaching them more of the same? The main issue here is that socialism rewards failure and people will become complacant if there is no pressure to succeed. Is this what we want for our children? Neal Boortz has a piece on this, check out "Marx in the Classroom" here. Anyone have feeling on this out there? Let me hear from you!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Losing my Religion

I received an email this evening from a fellow member of my church that really really disturbed me. Before I go into a tirade, I am a Christian, but my church going has just started to really be a major thing in my life. There is always so much drama in the church that it has, at times, but a very bad taste in my mouth for those who say they are Christian and attend my church. I have been a member of this particular church since I was born, and I was married there, my husband transfered membership to this church, and both my children were dedicated in this church and will hopefully be baptised there when the time is right for them. The events that have gone on as of late are really not that much different that what has happened in the past. The major thing for me is that our Minister is one of the primary reasons Chris and I have become so active in our church in the past few years. Let me back up...

A few months ago, accusations were made against the minister that were eventually investigated by the police and found to be totally untrue. The women who brought forth these charges were asked to leave the church and never come back. It was ordered by the courts. He (the minister) held strong and had supporters and those who did not support him. If you could meet this man and his young family it would make sense why this is crazy. He has brought so much to our church, which, up until his time, was filled with older generation church members. Not too many young families and children/teens were members or active in church life. The turn around in our church has been amazing under his leadership. He gave me the desire to learn more, to know more, to be more involved in the church, to be part of something larger than myself and life itself. Now, it seems another group of people has started to stir the pot again and the minister has accepted a job at a church in Texas. He will be leaving soon. I am sick and sad and angry. I would like to see any one of these people lead this church. They have not liked the fact that he has brought the church to where it is, that there are young families involved, that the music is not all traditional, but they have incorporated praise music complete with drum kit and electronic keyboard. GASP!!! Welcome to 2008. Don't like it? Too loud? Turn your hearing aid off. Better yet, Lynchburg is full of churches. Find a new one. Leave my church alone. We don't need you and your negativity. These people are Christian?? Whatever. How can they be? Christians don't do that to one another, at least not in my book.

I know it is too late to do much about what has happened. I am just sad to hear that people are so mean. The man is a man after all, not a saint. He can only take so much. He has a family to protect. Before he leaves, he will know what he has done for me though. I only hope I can find the strength to continue on at this church. Here is a quote that just seemed to fit what I am feeling right now. I need to take it to heart...

"When you come to the end of all the light you know, and it's time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: Either you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly."- Edward Teller

Monday, July 28, 2008

Maia Models for Mom

Saturday, right after Maia's professional photo shoot with local photographer, Jack Henley, I decided to head down to the Old City Cemetery to do my own photo shoot. We have been going to Jack since Harrison was born. He is almost 7. I have a Once Upon a Lifetime album for both kids and I have been adding to them ever since. However, as my interest in photography has grown and my funds have not, I am trying to do more of my own photography. Thus the reason for the trip. I am in no way kicking good ole Jack to the curb (he is great with the kids and great with a camera, plus I want to build the albums until they are seniors in high school), but he is quite expensive so I am not able to buy all the photos that I wish I could. Maia had to be bribe. Horrible of me as a parent, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I have bad bad memories of past trips to Jack... Lucky for me, she had her heart set on a $6 paint a piggie bank... But i digress...

Playing coy for mom

Maia loved this big pink flower we took along for the photo shoot

I love love love this photo of my beautiful daughter

Back to the Cemetery photo shoot... Maia was a trooper. It is something I have wanted to do for some time now, and just never had the right moment to take her. I want to take my son as well, but he was skateboarding with his dad, so I made Maia feel like a princess and lavished tons and tons of attention on her for several hours. Lucky for us, it wasn't too hot and the cemetery is mostly in the shade. I know, I know, sounds kinda creepy to take a child to a cemetery for a photo shoot, right? Well, it is beautiful grounds to say the least. Great architectural detail abounds, a fish pond full of fish, lilies, frogs, complete with rock walk and wrought iron benches. Not to mention the historical aspect that is associated with the cemetery. Fascinating to say the least.

the cute little frog cooperated for me too

sitting near the fish pond

the lilies in the pond were really really pretty. This reminds me of a logo I designed once upon a time. If I had it in digital format I could post it. That was a LONG LONG TIME AGO!!

looking at the fish

Sitting pretty on the wrought iron bench by the fish pond

So so serious for only five years of age

the rotunda in the confederate section of the cemetery

Posing for mom at the rotunda in the confederate burial section of the cemetery

Chapel and Columbarium, honoring religious leaders buried there since 1806

A Kids Haven memory garden is the home of a HUGE tree swing. There is a beautiful chapel ( I was hoping it was open for more photos, but it is closed unless there are walking tours), a train depot, and a rose garden/nature walk. Check out the link for more detail. It is one of the many historical sites in Lynchburg that visitors frequent. Maia enjoyed being princess for the moment, and mom got to indulge a bit and pretend that I was a real photographer.

Love the pout on this one! She really was happy, really!!

Having fun on the swing. I think she would have stayed on it for hours...

We spent about half an hour on the tree swing, and then the heat just got to be too much and we had a birthday party to attend as well, so we headed out. I did make a quick stop downtown for a few photos at an old warehouse. Photo quality started to dwindle at this point in the day.

I know, I am such a wanna-be, but I have fun doing it and Maia didn't seem to mind the attention she was getting either. Maybe one day I will get even better with a camera...Maybe...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Me, Me, Me

One evening, while browsing a few of my favorite blog sites, I ran across one that my neighbor posted. She talks about how moms get lost in their kids and that is all a lot of the "mommy blogs" as she calls them, talk about (the kids). I must admit that I am one of those people. She also makes the comment that moms once had a life and had their own interests before kids, so what happened??

Sorry Kelly, if you are reading this, but your blog got me to thinking, which is something I rarely have the luxury of doing these days. I found it to be inspiring and eye opening, so thank you. I am sure my blog is one of those that a lot of you may find boring, but the sad fact of the matter is, that yes, I use to be my own person with my own interests, but since having kids and having a job that is devoted to the care and well being of kids, there really is not much time in my life for much of anything else. Do I want it?? SURE I DO!! I welcome any outlet that anyone can provide me. It's just that I so rarely have the time to do anything but care for my kids. I have a husband who works two jobs, so he is away alot, especially on the weekend. The next problem is that since becoming a mother almost 7 years ago, I have been so wrapped up in the life of my kids that I have in essense "lost myself". I am no longer sure of what my interests are and who I am, if not the mother of two beautiful, super kids, and the wife of Chris. I am 36 and have no idea who Jennifer is! Kinda scary.

In light of this, I have set out on a quest to try to find time (that is the biggest obstacle to overcome) to rediscover who I am exactly. Other than the obvious, of course. Here are a few things that I like to do...

*Photograph my kids, and other interesting things, esp. wildlife and nature.
*Digital Scrapbooking and traditional scrapbooking
*Drawing (I am usually much to much of a perfectionist to just let loose though)
*selling on ebay
*having a good girls night out (rarely happens, seems everyone has my lack of time problem)

How do some of these moms seem to "do it all"? I am inspired, in awe and extremely impressed by you women! I have seen blogs that show insides of houses that make mine look like a junk pit. These women have children!! And, they are crafty, can decorate, have some sort of job, etc. One thing I do know about myself... I am a packrat. I define the word. I hate clutter, but seem to have it in abundance around my house. I think part of it comes with the job (I am a private childcare provider). I have an endless array of toys for all ages laying in just about every nook and cranny in my house. My kitchen always always looks like someone dumped all the contents of the trash out into the floor. We have light colored linoleum, so anytime a juice cup or bottle or piece of food hits the floor, well, it leaves a dirty spot. The dishes are endless. The baby clutter is endless. Diapers, bouncy seats, exersaucers, beds, wipes, etc. Some tell me to get another job and end all the chaos, but this job has enabled me to spend the better part of my children's short lives thus far at home with them. Plus, after working in the corporate world for five years, there is something to be said about being your own boss. You don't like how I do things?? Yeah?? Then find another sitter, etc. Power is in my hands. It's not all fun and games though. I am usually so tired by the end of the day that the house gets overlooked, and exercise for me goes by the wayside. I crave some good adult conversation too, but rarely get that. I am only complaining a little bit. Really.

I guess it all goes back to losing myself. I am up to my arse in kids. It's easy to lose yourself in that I suppose. I know to someone reading this, this must sound like an incoherent bunch of ramblings, and I suppose it is. That is the way my brain functions most of the time. Finish a though? HA! It has already taken me half the day just to type this. I have had several breaks, to eat, to feed, to wipe (butts, noses), to shower, to clean, etc.

Is there anyone out there in a similar situation? I know I am not alone. I envy you women who have a life and have more to write about than your kids. I really really do. I also envy you that have a clean, put together house. Lord knows I need help in that department. How about you together women help a gal out?? I could really use it. I know I don't have many readers, and most of you know me, but if anyone has any suggestions or advice, please feel free to leave me a comment.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

User Error...

Ok, so that last post?? I had a ton of photos to include, as I alway do, and somehow (user error) I managed to delete the photos in the middle of all the drama with my car. I am SOOOOOOOO MADDDDDD that I did that. Oh well. I guess there is a first time for everything. You will just have to use your imagination on that one. The best was of Harrison eating S'Mores. He was COVERED in marshmellows.

From the Shore to the Mountains... one week! Wow! My kids and I have done quite a bit. First the beach (see older posts). This past weekend, my kids and myself headed to Mount Rogers to camp for the weekend with my Mom and Dad at Beartree Camp Ground. Let me tell you, this is some beautiful country! Do I sound like a hick?? It is located off I-81 at the Abingdon, VA exit. You pass thru the quaint little town of Damascus, VA which thrives in part due to the Va. Creeper Trail, that passes right thru this cute little town. (Have you guessed that I like the Hyperlink option?? I REALLY REALLY like it!) My hubby was working the skate park all weekend, so I decided to drive the three hours to the campground with kids in tow and expose them to a little nature. We arrived around 9:30pm Friday night and stayed until 10am Sunday morning. While we were there we visited Green Cove Station, the lake at the campground for a little mountain lake swimming, the playground for some tire swing and fire pole action (my Dad decided it would be a good idea to spin me around on the tire swing, yeah, maybe not. I almost puked!), and the kids took a short hike with my Dad while Grandma and Mom got some much needed R&R. They loved the hike, and my four legged brother, Spike, managed to find his way to a mud hole where he decided to take a dip. He didn't like the bath that came after the fact.

Saturday night, the kids had a ball roasting marshmellows and making their first S'mores. I got great pleasure just watching my kids revel in things I use to do on a regular basis as a child. I remember playing with my older brother on our family camping trips in the same mountains. Our favorite was taking matchbox/hotwheels cars and making roads, bridges, and such complete with stick guardrails around the campsite. Harrison found pleasure in the same. So much so that he didn't want to leave on Sunday when it was time for us to go. He ended up staying with my Mom and Dad and coming home with them on Monday. Maia and I headed back down the mountain and to Roanoke (and 100 degree heat) for a little girl time shopping and using our Gymbucks on some new digs for school. Quite a fun weekend for all!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

What a Way to Start the Morning...

Monday morning, I woke up to find this...

Needless to say, I called the cops. They filed a report. They informed me that they had already had four calls that morning, same damage, nothing stolen. Looks like someone had a little fun at other's expense Sunday night. Why are people so mean?? Do they not realize (i guess they just don't care) that it is a huge inconvience to have to deal with this kind of thing, not to mention the money involved. Thank god I have a low $100 deductible for this kind of damage. Did I mention that last week someone broke into my car and stole a bunch of my favorite CD's?? In the five years we have lived here, I have had this happen to my car five different times. Anything from items stolen out to the side mirror being knocked off, to nails and other items in tires. A hazard of street parking to say the least. Just kinda sucks. Not a way to start a Monday morning, that's for sure!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Surfside Myrtle Beach

Harrison and Maia's Sandcastle

*** Warning: Lots and Lots of Photos of Cute Kids***

I have been a slacker on this blog lately. Ahhh, summer. Lazy days and lazier nights. We got back from the beach a week ago tomorrow. What fun. The kids had a blast and we got some good quality family time in around the area. We went to the "strip" as mentioned in my previous post. Kids played some skeet ball in the arcade and walked on the beach. Thanks to my hubby's Aunt Pat who works at the Crown Reef Resort, we were able to get super deep discount tickets for the four of us to go to The Dixie Stampede one night. We had front row seats and Harrison got to participate in the chicken races that they do for the kids. He had a ball and even got a medal and a book for taking part in the fun. Maia was suppose to join him, but backed out at the last minute. If you have never been, it was well worth it. The show was fantastic and the food wasn't bad either.

Inside Dixie Stampede. Mom, of course, rarely gets in a photo since I am ALWAYS behind the camera. If it wasn't for me, we would have no photos.

Inside the Gay Dolphin Gift Shop

Miss Hollywood posing in her getup

Harrison and Maia really enjoyed the ocean and the sand. I was convinced that Maia would turn into a sand monster the way she rolled around in it. Her bathing suit is still full of sand, even after a washing and several dips in the pool. Harrison really was brave in the water. Showing practically no fear. A huge change from last year. He was a little pro riding the waves on his boogie board and a little body surfing for good measure. Me, I love the ocean. There is nothing like coasting over the waves before they break on you and the sensation of rolling along with them. I could do without the sand though. Here are a few photos taken on the beach on various days. I am a freak with a camera. I really like the ones of Harrison with the boat. Yeah, I am an amatuer photographer at heart...

About mid-week, we took the kids to Family Kingdom. It is a great amusement park, very clean, very family oriented and mostly full of kid rides, minus the scary park workers. This is definitly a place you want to visit if you have young kids. I can't say enough about it. The kids have a blast and got to ride just about every ride. Harrison said his favorite ride was the roller coaster and Maia liked the bumper cars. Harrison cracked us up by putting his hands up in the air as the coaster went down the hills. Too cute.

Riding the bumper cars at Family Kingdom

Harrison was pretty much over the "photo shoot" at this point. His face says it all.

Maia on the Carousel

If you are going, a great, off the beaten path to eat is Nibils at the Surfside Pier. It is small, so if you go and have a large party, call ahead. The food is great, and the service is superb.

After we ate at Nibils, I attempted to do an amatuer photo shoot of my kids. Boy, I could never be a professional photographer of kids. I would be arrested to what might happen to them. Mine were determined to make it difficult, chasing each other, throwing sand, etc. Anything but what mom wanted them to do. If it had been sunny, fine, but there was a light rain and it was getting dark. I did manage to get some great shots (IMO) though. Let me know what you think!! In the photos are my MIL, Judy, my FIL, Wayne, my kids, Chris, and LOOK!! I got in one photo!! (though i don't know how flattering it is!!)

One night, we headed down to Garden City Pier one night in hopes of seeing the fishermen and their catch. The fishermen throw the fish heads off of their catch of the day, and when they do this, sharks will come to the surface to eat them. Harrison was sooooo excited, but alas, the fish were not biting, so no shark sightings this trip. Harrison and Maia did get to jump on one of the trampoline/bungee jump things. I have never seen a kid go so high as Harrison did. Maia looked a bit scared or unsure at first, but once she got the hang of it, she loved it!

The last night of our vacation, we were going to head to minature golf, but it rained. The kids were disappointed, but all was well when we pulled out the Wii and taught them how to play the bowling game. I am not a video game person, but i swear, it was like being in a bowling alley, minus the 10 ton ball that I can never hold. Harrison and Maia really got into it and I have never laughed so hard at them. They were so cute and serious. They topped Chris and his Dad's score at 100 and 103 in the final game. The look on their faces during the game was priceless.

I love the beach and love a vacation even more, but there is something nice about coming back home when all is said in done. We came home on Friday, so we had the weekend to recover from our adventures and get back in the swing of things.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Welcome to the Freak Show!

So, my family arrived in Surfside Beach (near Myrtle Beach) today. After we got settled into the house of My hubby's aunt and uncle Chris and I decided to take the kids to the "strip" for some fun. We were not there long, but long enough to witness quite a freak show of people. As we drove down the main stretch looking for somewhere to park, hotel after hotel (not the nicer ones, but the run down skank shacks) were running over with redneck guys and gals drinking beer in cans (is it not illegal to have an open beer can on the street?) baring their chests, gals too people! The gals did have on tops, but some may as well not have had on anything at all. Mullets galore. Missing teeth, dirty babies. Gross. Not kidding.

We stopped and went to my favorite place as a child, The Gay Dolphin, and let the kids wander thru the endless maze of cheap junk. I swear some of it is the exact same inventory they had when I was a child. If you have never been there, it is definitly a place to stop on the next visit to the area. It is an amazing multi-level tower of junk. Some of it is actually pretty cool and expensive to boot. Something for everyone.

After that, we went to the arcade and played a few rounds of skeet ball, and the hurricane thing that you have to stop the light in between the arches. Chris is a big fan of the quarter push things. We got some tickets, the kids got some junk for them and then we headed out to the boardwalk for some more freak watching. On the boardwalk we encountered a woman wearing practically nothing, big, african american (no i am not prejudice at all, but the facts are the facts) woman, wearing a black tank top with little to no bra to support the girls, and I *think* she may have had on shorts, but they were too short to tell where the shirt ended and the shorts started. Add to that the wedge heel laced up the leg espadrilles, and some gold teeth, and boy was she a sight!

When we were leaving the strip to head back to our car Hulk Hogan almost ran us over in his big obnoxious yellow pick up truck. No kidding, he looked just like Hulk Hogan and was no more concerned about pedestrians than the man in the moon.

We did have a great time despite all of this. I have always been a big fan of people watching, and boy was there plenty of that to do tonight!!

Tomorrow we are hopefully off to the shore to catch some rays and dig up some sand. Harrison got a fish net tonight and he is looking forward to catching a fish or two. Maia is ready to take a dip in the ocean, rain or shine! I am glad that Surfside is freak free for the most part. Scared to think of what may lurk on the sand during the day!!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

This evening my family went to Riverfront Skatepark for a private get together to celebrate the 4th. It was a fun evening of hot dog eating, fireworks and sparklers, skateboarding and just hanging out and chatting and laughing. The kids (adult male variety included) had a great time riding their skooters,razors, and skateboards around the park, and the grown "kids" entertained us all by trying to ollie the little tykes picnic table that we took along for said purposes. Harrison cracked us up "jumping" over the corners of the ramps and Maia found a friend in little Lance. Such a cutie. Harrison declared at one point that it was past his bedtime, but he wasn't tired and he wanted to burn something else (fireworks). Crazy piromaniac child of mine. Maia just ran away. She is not a huge fan of fireworks. At least not the kind that you do yourself. Here are some photos from the evening! Hope everyone had a great Independence Day!

Dressed for the Fourth and ready to go party!!

Moms token photo of herself at a family event.

Maia being herself.

Chris doing a trick on the half pipe.

Lance hanging out at the table.

Lance's Dad, Jeff, hanging on to the side of the bowl. It thought it was a funny photo.

Craig jumping the little tykes picnic table.

Jeff takes a turn...

Jeff goofing off...

Harrison jumping the corner of the ramp

Maia riding her Dora skooter

Maia looking thrilled to death. I am pretty sure at this point in the evening she was pooped!

The little piromaniac!

Tiredness...Nothing a little sugar from a cupcake can't cure!

Fireworks in the parking lot. Happy Independence Day!