Thursday, January 31, 2008

So easy, even I can use it

I am a bit of a technophobe. I just learned how to send text messages from my phone last year, and could never figure out how to do it without using ALL CAPS. In December I purchased my third Canon camera. Canon is a great brand and the cameras take great pictures, but the main reason is because I've used Canons and I know how they work. I've had the same Palm Pilot since 1996 or 97. Granted I haven't used it since 2004, but I haven't purchased a new one either.

And I've always been a PC user. I've barely given the cool-looking Apple products a second glance. I passed on the cute little iMacs that came in different colors and even my boss' offer to purchase an iPhone and MacBook for me last year. I kindly refused and claimed my Samsung phone and old little Dell laptop were just fine with me.

However, last year I did purchase a cute little iPod. I loved that thing, then it was taken from me prematurely last month when our house was broken into.

So when my boss put out the offer again earlier this month for an iPhone, I seriously reconsidered. Especially now that I was sans iPod. Plus I thought it would be kind of nifty to have a camera, PDA, Internet access, phone AND my music all with one device. I replied back, "Yes, I want one."

I got it on Tuesday. And just like with my iPod, it came with a small booklet of instructions, with the friendly name "Finger Tips" - simple instructions with full-color photos for things like "Silence the ring" and "See the web up close". Everything is so damn intuitive, even for someone like me, that I haven't had to look anything up yet.

I brought it home and Lucas and I sat down and played with it together. He played with the calculator, took pictures and even learned some new lingo, "What's an icon?". Then he helped me re-arrange them on my screen. He was having fun and it was super easy for him to use it too.

I love everything about it:
  • I love that I can add photos to my contacts so when my sister calls, a cute photo of my niece pops up. It makes you want to answer the phone.
  • And I can't wait for more people to leave me messages so I can browse through them and listen to them in whatever order I want.
  • And I love love the fact that I can send the same text message to multiple people at the same time, instead of having to type in, "CHANGE OF PLAN, LET'S MEET AT 6:30 INSTEAD" over and over again. And now I can do it not in ALL CAPS.
Yesterday I went with some co-workers to the Apple store and we pimped out our new iPhones. I got a bright cyan rubbberized case for my iPhone and a tape player gizmo so I can listen to it in the car. I need to be good to it so it will be good to me.

So far, I've received three compliments me on my iPhone:
  • My boss after seeing my new case - "Wow, that's way too cool for you." (Okay, so he was complimenting my case and undermining my own marginal cool factor.)
  • My co-worker asked me to help her add her work email to the iPhone. Wow, someone finally asking me for technical help. So this wasn't really a compliment on my iPhone, but a high nonetheless.
  • Lucas said, "Mommy, I really like your iPhone. It's very cool."
I feel so fancy and high-tech I can hardly stand it.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

"The interview"

We're applying to a couple private schools for Lucas. It's been an interesting experience all around for Kevin and I to tour these schools, meet current and prospective parents, and discuss the whole public vs. private school topic with friends.

And of course there's Lucas, who knows nothing about any of this. He assumes he will go to our local public school, aka "the school across the street", and there's a chance he will.

Last weekend I took Lucas to the playground of one of the private schools we're applying to. It was suggested by the school, to get them used to the place before his "interview". As we were driving home from the playground I asked if he wanted to come back with me on Friday, since "I would be meeting with some other parents". He could play on the playground and in one of the classrooms with some other kids. (Yes, it's a slight twist on the truth, but I decided it would be better than, "We're coming back on Friday so strangers you don't know can take you in another room with 9 other kids you don't know. They'll observe you, ask you to perform some academic tasks, and ask you questions, to see how smart/charming/curious/whatever you are, and to see if you will be one of the 25-30% of kids who they will deem worthy of paying the price of a new car every year so you can benefit from their school.)

I admit, I have been somewhat anxious about the interview since I learned that it's part of the admissions process for private schools. Lucas can be shy and is not usually willing to off with someone else, especially someone new. Like a lot of kids, it takes him a while to open up in new situations. And again like all kids, sometimes wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. And with an interview starting at 9, I thought about how I would have to wake up Lucas, who sometimes he sleeps in till 8 or so and DOES NOT like to be woken up.

So all week I have been feeding Lucas propaganda about our "fun" Friday. In the morning, playing with other kids then, and after that, going to work with me to have lunch and 'work" (for some reason, Lucas loves to come to my office).

Yesterday Lucas woke up before 7 and was fairly chipper as well. As we drove to the school in the pouring rain, I told him he wouldn't be playing outside when we got there because it was too wet, he agreed. The only coaching I did for Lucas was "Listen to the grownups and remember to share with the other kids," which is what I usually tell him before we go on play dates, etc.

We got to the school and we went straight to the parents waiting room, which was actually the tech lab. We were the first ones there and Lucas was unusually adventurous and wandered around the room on his own.

My jaw practically dropped when I saw the second child and parent walk in. The poor girl looked very uncomfortable, all dressed for a holiday party -- patent leather black Mary Janes, red/black plaid dress, bows, and a red coat. I looked at Lucas in his pull-on pants, pj top under a sweatshirt. My mind went back to what I've heard about "snooty parents" at some of the private schools. Luckily, my mind was at ease as the other kids/parents trickled in - normal looking parents with normal kids with wet pants, rain boots, t-shirts, and typical kid clothes.

An adult came up and started talking with us, then asked Lucas if he was ready to go play some games. Surprisingly, he said yes and went away with the woman.

There were parent volunteers in the room with us to answer any questions we might have. I sat with some other moms and we all chatted. Contrary to what I've heard about some parents of private schools, the other prospective parents at my table were super nice and very interesting: a bird biologist, social worker working with at-risk-youth, and a stay-at-home mom.

However, in my focus on getting Lucas out the door that morning, I forgot one thing -- that I was probably going to be observed as well. While the three other women chatted while knitting super-impressive handiwork (the bird biologist was doing some needle felting to make, what else, a goldfinch), I just sat there with my idle hands and talked (observer notes: mom cannot multi-task and is not as crafty as the other moms). At one point I looked in my bag to see if I had something to read, but I just pulled out a handful of old parking tickets (observer notes: mom has racked up a collection of parking violations). I shoved them back in my bag and decided it was safer to just talk.

After the two hours were up, the kids came running back into the room. Lucas was all smiles as he told me that he had fun, and had a juice box AND graham crackers.

On the car ride on the way to my office, I gently questioned him on what went on in the other room. It was all pretty much what they told us would happen - drawing, circle time, puzzles, etc. Lucas shared some anecdotes with me:
  • "After I drew a picture, one lady was very funny. She asked me to give it to her so I did. Then she gave it back to me and said, "Now give it back to me and put your hands on your head," I did it, but isn't that so silly?"
  • "One man showed me a picture of the sun and he said, tell me what you see in the picture, but don't say the word 'sun'. So I said 'shiny'. And he said 'good job'. Why do you think he didn't want me to say 'sun'?
  • "First the man asked me to read some words. Then he asked me to spell some words, like 'dog', 'cat'. Then I showed him that I can spell 'Yoda'. He thought that was funny.
It sounds like he had fun and it went well. So if we happen not to get into this school, I'm sure it will be because of me (admissions feedback: Son would have been a perfect fit, but unfortunately, we can't accept non-crafty moms with excessive unpaid parking tickets.)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

How to entertain your kid without getting off your butt

No, we haven't purchased a TV, but we have a new game at home called, "Bowling for Mommy".

It's not as painful as it sounds. Actually it's one of the few games we play where you barely have to move. The game is very simple actually. Lucas stands on one side of the living room (the "arena") with the yoga ball and kicks it at me. If I catch it or stop it from getting by me, I get a point. If it gets by me, Lucas gets a point. If he knocks me down with it, he gets two points. And the best part? I can sit or lay on the ground and don't have to move (except of course to block or catch the ball). I tried at one point to include some isometric abdominal work for me, but that got too tiring.

Another good thing about this game is Lucas has let go of the idea that he always has to win. We talk to him about how playing the game and having fun is more important than winning. In fact, he's given me points. This game also incorporates math concepts, like simple addition (adding 1 point to your total points). Lucas also keeps the score card, so we can remember where we left off when we resume playing after dinner. Our current score card is 100 (Lucas) to 199 (me). We've been playing this for four days now. Lucas says we need to play to 880.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


When I was little my mom would darn my socks, which fixed the hole, but made them very uncomfortable; I told myself that when I grew up and had a kid with holes in his socks, I would never make him wear them and would just buy him new socks. (When I got a little older, I would try and trick my mom by throwing them away. I'd stuff them at the bottom of the garbage bag. But she always knew. After a while, she stopped darning my socks.) Needless to say, I toss Lucas' socks the minute I see holes in them (also, I'm super lame with a needle and thread).

And it's been so cold lately that when Lucas is done with his bath, I have toasty pajamas ready for him, straight out of the dryer. Yes, it wastes electricity and is super indulgent, but he loves it. And again, when I was little, and it was cold outside I would hold my clothes over the heating vents to make them warm before I put them on.

I was telling him the other day how I wished that someone would have made my pj's warm for me when I was little, so he said, "When you get to be old, I'll put your pj's in the dryer for you." I thanked him and told him that when I'm a little old lady I'll love it if someone could help me with that.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sometimes it pays to wake up early

You could wake up early and become $300 richer, okay, maybe not quite $300, but here's how you do it.
  • Wake up super early, futz around on the computer for a bit, then decide to go to the gym.
  • Look for your car, which was parked in front of your house when you came home the night before.
  • Believe that your car was stolen and call the police.
  • Listen to the cop tell you that your car wasn't stolen, but rather towed (intrigued? read on)
  • Call your good friend who will give you a ride to the police station, but not before you both walk over to Semifreddi's for some morning libations (you'll need it).
  • Send your husband a text message to let him know the scoop, but also to ask him to tell your son nothing of what's going on so he doesn't think his mom is a loser, or that cops are assholes.
  • Your husband assures you that you're not a loser, but you don't believe him.
  • Your friend will drive you to the police station, only to have them tell you you have to go to the DMV first to get your registration tags (which expired six months ago, but you were too lazy to deal with it)
  • Call City Car Share to reserve a car for you to drive that day so your friend doesn't have to cart you around.
  • Listen to CCS tell you that your account is suspended because of an invalid credit card number on file.
  • Remember that after your house was broken into last month, you changed all your accounts, but forgot to call CCS with your new card.
  • Give CCS a new card, but they'll tell you that it takes 24 hours to process. You ask them to expedite and they say they will see what they can do.
  • Your really good friend will drive you to the DMV and wait for you while you go inside.
  • The DMV agent will ask you for your license plate or VIN number.
  • Tell her you don't have it because it's in/on your car.
  • She'll let you know that your registration will not go through until you submit proof of car insurance, and even after you show proof, it won't be processed for 72 hours!
  • You let her know that you have car insurance and have had it this whole time.
  • She'll repeat that she has to have your plate or VIN number or she can't help you.
  • You'll call your husband and ask him, but he doesn't know those numbers either. Then he'll rummage around in the stack of papers to be filed and will find the VIN number.
  • He'll give you the string of 16 numbers.
  • Wait in line, only to have the agent tell you that you're missing a number.
  • Call your husband back, slightly peeved, and ask again for the number - BINGO, you get the missing number.
  • While waiting in line, call your other good friend to ask her to take your son to school - she agrees.
  • Get a message from CCS that your new card was processed and you can reserve a car now.
  • Give the DMV agent your 17-digit number and after she looks up your car, she confirms that you actually DO have insurance, AND the DMV owes you $300!
  • You get in the next line to get your new, rightful registration!
  • Happily, you come running out of the DMV (in less than 15 minutes) and your friend drives you back to the police station.
  • You pay your $100 to get your car out. You ask the police what they were doing looking at registration stickers at 2:40 in the morning. You remind them that your home was broken into less than a month ago, and ask if they have caught those thugs, or have anything better to do with their time. You don't get an answer.
  • Your friend drives you do the impound yard.
  • You pay your $225 fee and are at home with your registered car by 9:30am.
Okay, so actually, it turns out that you actually may come out $25 in the hole, but that's what happens sometimes when you wake up early, but do things later than you should.

Finding the right word

Lucas: Mommy, I know why I'm cold in the morning.
Me: Why?
Lucas: Because my pajamas are (searching for the right word, while feeling his pj top)
Lucas: ...flat.
Me: Flat?
Lucas: Yeah, flat.
Me: Do you mean thin?
Lucas: (laughing at me) No, not thin. I said 'flat' not 'fat'. You're funny.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Royalty has its privileges

I know princesses, especially of the Disney variety, are super popular among my friends' daughters. In fact, it seems that most girls, especially around age 3 and 4 are totally wrapped up in the princess phenomena.

For Christmas my friend's daughter got a Dancerella Disney Princess Dance Studio, which is the princess version of Dance Dance Revolution. She also told me at least three times about her Ariel nightgown, which she proceeded to put on towards the end of her playdate with Lucas.

Well, Lucas will have you all know that a real princess lives in his house.
He made this for me yesterday.In case you are wondering, it's a princess tiara, on the inside he wrote, "I love mom".

When talk turns to princesses, I overhear Lucas say to his friends, "You know my mom is a princess...for real life!". Not sure what his friends make of this since I'm usually just standing there in my yoga pants and fleece, certainly not done up with a fancy hairdo, make-up, and a sparkly bejeweled gown.

I wonder what he thinks a princess is. Especially since my princess-ness seems to only include having tiaras made for me and him telling his friends I'm a princess. But would a true princess hear things like this?

"Can you carry me to the car? It's too rainy."
"I'm getting tired of cleaning up my toys, you do it."
"I wipe my own bottom at school and when Daddy's home, but when you're home, you can do it."

Hmmm...what would Cinderella do?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Air McKay

After being cooped up on a recent rainy day, we took advantage of a small break in the downpour to go out and jump in puddles.

The boy can jump!!