Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tom's Boots are Made for Walking

So much for Tom and I buying each other cowboy boots for Christmas…

Last week Tom texted me the following message:

“Can I buy some boots for $___? Found some that fit and they’re pretty decent. Could be a bday present…”

I said yes (the price was reasonable), and then designated the boots as Tom’s Father’s Day present. Saved myself a trip to Lowe’s to shop for a grill.

Here are the boots…

…and here’s Tom, trying out the boots with his new boot socks.

For the record, he only wore the boots with shorts this one time, and it was just in our backyard. We have rules in this house, and one of them is no boots with shorts.

I know I’ve already said it once this week, but I’ll say it again: what a stud.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Baseball...Has Been Very, Very Good to Me

Growing up I hated baseball. Watching it on television, watching it live, playing it. I suppose these feelings stemmed from a few negative childhood experiences (twice I nearly knocked people – my dad and my cousin – out when my wildly inaccurate throws hit them in the head, and I was the worst player on my team the one summer I played co-ed baseball), and since my parents and friends weren’t really interested in baseball there was no reason for me to change my opinion of the sport. Tom, on the other hand, loved baseball and was very good at it. Still is, actually – what a stud.

When Tom and I moved to Michigan he convinced me to start watching Detroit Tigers games with him, and before I knew it, we both became Tigers fans (despite the fact that they were pretty bad for nearly all of the six years we called Ann Arbor home). We watched games on television, bought t-shirts and hats for all four of us, and even drove to Detroit for quite a few games. I still don’t like to play baseball, because I’m TERRIBLE – I have the hand-eye coordination of a drunken grizzly bear (Tom’s analogy) – and I’m afraid of the ball, but I’ve become a huge fan of watching the game on television and in person.

We’d heard good things about the TAMU men’s baseball games, and since everyone in our family now enjoys the sport (or at least the food and the singing and the mascots), we decided to check out one of their preseason games (you know, before the regular season started and the rowdy college students decide it might be fun to see if one of my kids would bounce as easily through the student section as a beach ball would). The crowd was, at least based on my experience, HUGE for a preseason college baseball game – it seems the team has a lot of regular community fans, and hundreds of college students attend the games as well. We arrived in time to snag great seats in the general admission section and stock up on hot dogs, popcorn, and the sweetest pink lemonade I’ve ever tasted (not sweet in a good way, but sweet in a heavens-no-my-teeth-are-rotting-right-here-in-my-mouth kind of way), the sugar content of which kept the kids up late enough that we made it through six whole innings.

Will’s highlights were “when they (the Aggies) got hits” and “when they (the Aggies) were up to bat”, and I’m fairly sure Hallie’s highlights were the popcorn and marching back and forth in front of Tom and me in the bleachers. My highlight was when Hallie finally stopped marching back and forth in front of Tom and me in the bleachers.

Cheering on the Aggies to victory.

If you follow college baseball you’re probably already aware that the TAMU baseball team qualified for the College World Series, played every late spring/early summer in Omaha, Nebraska. We didn’t make it to any more Aggie preseason or regular season games, but thanks to ESPN and ESPN 2 (as well as one restaurant, one bar, and DVR) we were able to watch a few of their qualifying and World Series games.

Unfortunately TAMU lost its first and only two World Series games and was eliminated early on in the tournament. But the fact that the team made it as far as they did – they were the only unranked team in the tournament – was a big deal, to us as new TAMU fans, and to the TAMU and College Station communities. Next year, when the team makes it to the tournament again (fingers crossed!), we’ll pack up the family and head north to Omaha, which is coincidentally less than an hour from where Tom’s parents live in Lincoln, to watch the Aggies bring home the trophy. (Is it a trophy? I have no idea.)

It’s been a good few months for our “local” teams: National Champion TAMU Women’s Basketball, NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks, and World Series-qualifying TAMU Men’s Baseball. Not a bad year to be a Texas sports fan!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Texas (Road, or Honeysuckle Lane)House

When we first decided to move to Texas we had every intention of selling our house in Michigan lickity-split, traveling to College Station before the move to purchase a house, and then moving directly into our already-owned, permanent residence when we arrived in College Station in December/January.

But selling our house in Michigan, the state with the worst economy in the country right now, was easier said than done. Despite the blood, sweat, and tears we put into the house and the nearly pristine final product (I’m not just saying that because I loved the house – nearly every realtor who came through provided us with that feedback), the sour economy plus the split-level floor plan kept our house on the market from mid-April through mid-December.

Since we weren’t prepared to own two houses – sounds like fun, doesn’t it?! – we decided to rent for a few months. I hated this idea, mostly because the thought of moving twice made me want to stick a pen in my eye, but also because after owning a home, “regressing” to renting (no painting or hanging pictures on the walls, having to ask permission to tighten a screw on the leaky sink, paying ridiculously high rent but also having to pay for “extras” like air filters, lawn maintenance, lawn watering, etc.) felt like a slap in the face. To add insult to injury, the laws in Texas STRONGLY favor landlords over tenants, which meant we nearly had to sign our lives away to finalize our seven-month rental contract. I’m still a little unclear about whether or not we’ll be allowed to take Hallie with us when we move from the rental next month.

After about six weeks of renting we knew we’d be getting the heck out of dodge the minute our contract expired. Hallie and I started neighborhood shopping (taking into account school districts and walking distance to schools, parks, swimming pools, shopping, and restaurants) while Will was at preschool, and after I’d narrowed down the neighborhoods, Hallie and I started house shopping. I looked at close to 100 houses online, walked through six, and picked one. Tom came to see the one I picked and loved it, and we made an offer that afternoon. (Coincidentally, that’s how Tom and I shop for nearly everything – I do the research, I visit the stores, I narrow to a few choices, and I pick the one I think would be best. Tom confirms that yes, he likes the one I picked, and yes, he likes the price, and then we buy it. Except for with electronics, that is – then the responsibilities are reversed.)

I learned a few things about houses in Texas during my house hunt…

Let’s start with basements. Did you know there are actually people in Texas (most likely people who have not lived outside of Texas) who don’t know what basements are?! I don’t mean that condescendingly – it’s just shocking to me that someone could have not heard of a part of a house I’ve lived with my entire life. Because the soil in our region of Texas is primarily clay (which shrinks when dry and expands when wet, creating tremendous pressure on buried structures like basement walls and floors), basements are expensive and potentially dangerous. I was VERY disappointed to learn this, as #1 on my things-I-want-in-my-new-house-when-we-move list was BASEMENT.

Moving on to second stories. The house I grew up in has four livable stories, so I was again surprised to learn that most houses here are built on a single story – because of the extreme heat (and because heat rises), second stories are VERY expensive to cool. Can you guess what was #2 on my things-I-want-in-my-new-house-when-we-move list?

I also learned that while a pool would be nice to have on days like today (record high temperature of 105 degrees), I’m not willing to take on the maintenance or the liability.

And lastly, I learned that mowing thick, St. Augustine grass growing in clay soil is as difficult, if not more so, than say pushing a football tackling sled.

I’ll leave you with a few in-progress pictures of our house. We’ve owned it for about three weeks now, and though we’ve already put A LOT of hours of work into both the house and the move, we still have a little ways to go.

Guest/kid bathroom, painted

Will's room, painted but awaiting Batman cityscape

Living room, painted

Master bedroom, painted

Master bathroom, painted, new mirrors and light fixtures

Backyard, cleared, landscaped, and mowed

Kitchen, painted, new countertops and backsplash

Back porch, new ceiling fan

Finished product pictures to come!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Leapin' Lizards Part Deux

I had another post planned for today, but then, well, my second encounter with a lizard happened, and I thought I should share.

I was carrying swimming bags, gym bags, diaper bags, zip-lock bags - just a whole lot of bags - in from the car, and as I set down the ridiculous load of bags I saw a little lizard scamper across the kitchen floor. Just as I did last time, I let out a high-pitched squeal/yelp/gasp, which prompted a "what's the matter, Mama?" from Will. So as to appear like I had everything under control - which we all known was NOT the case - I hurriedly but calmly explained to the kids that a lizard had ventured into the house, and that I had to help him get back outside. And then I went to work.

A cup. I needed a cup. At any given time I could open any cupboard in my kitchen and find at least five cups. But for some reason I was certain I needed a specific cup - a University of Michigan football cup (the kind sodas are sold in at athletic events) - because it was big, sturdy, and I didn't care if I had to throw it away. (What?! You think I'm going to keep a cup used to capture a lizard?!) I instructed Will to keep his eyes glued to the lizard while I frantically searched for the correct cup. When Will yelled "he's moving!" I panicked and grabbed his Handy Manny, party favor cup ("please don't mess up my cup, Mama!") and slowly approached the lizard. I was totally hyperventilating, and mini-screams kept escaping my lips.

My first attempt to trap the lizard was a bust - I was too slow and he was too fast - but my second attempt was successful. The lizard was trapped under the cup, and I was once again safe in my kitchen, but I was perplexed about what to do next.

I finally decided to push the upside-down cup across the floor to the back door, at which point I would "scoop and throw" the lizard out into the back yard. Lizards can fly, right?

Unfortunately, as I pushed the upside-down cup across the floor, the lizard would semi-escape my trap every time the cup traveled over the grout between the kitchen tiles. (For the record, I'm nearly hyperventilating as I type this.) I decided I'd need to apply pressure on the top of the cup as I pushed so that as we went over the grout there would be no way out. The extra pressure worked, however it also amputated one of the lizard's legs. Do you know what lizard legs do after they've been amputated? They keep on wiggling. For a LONG time.

Despite my hatred for this lizard, I felt really bad about his leg and therefore came up with a new way to move him to backyard. On the counter was a page I'd torn out of a Pottery Barn Kids catalog - it had on it a picture of a Batman beach towel that I'd decided to buy for Will for his next birthday. I carefully slid the catalog page under the cup, successful trapping the now three-legged lizard under the cup but also on top of the picture of the Batman towel. I folded up the sides of the catalog page around the cup, said a little prayer for mental strength, and picked up the trap I'd created.

"Open the door!" I yelled to Will, who obliged. I set the entire apparatus down on the grass, lifted the cup, and ran back inside.

Will picked the moment I slammed the backdoor shut behind me to speak up: "I really liked that little lizard!"

Really? Really?! Then next time you can catch him.

And after all that, I think the little lizard died - probably from the trauma of having his leg amputated by a crazy giant lady - on the back porch. He's still out there, resting on my Pottery Barn Kids catalog page, which means I can't even get my picture of the Batman towel back. I guess it doesn't matter though, because I'm not buying Will a Batman towel unless he catches the next lizard.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ah, Summer...

If I had it to do over again, I would seriously consider becoming a meteorologist. I’m obsessed with the weather. I watch the local weather report during The Today Show every morning, and I check and The Weather Channel every night before I go to bed. When my sister and I were little we used to quietly make fun of my grandma’s husband for watching The Weather Channel ALL DAY LONG; now I’m only a little embarrassed to admit I could very easily do the same thing. (Or I could if I didn’t have a husband, two kids, and two houses to take care of.)

In addition to being obsessed with knowing what the weather will be, I also really like weather itself. I love splashing in puddles during cool, spring rains. I love playing at the swimming pool on sunny, summer afternoons. I love picking apples and pumpkins on crisp, autumn mornings. And I love – as hard as it might be to believe – bundling up and playing outside after snowstorms during the cold, winter months.

Playing in the rain.

Splashing in the pool.

Picking pumpkins and apples.

Snowball fight!

Snow angels.

Trouble grasping the correlation between mittens and cold hands.

But I don’t love – can’t stand, actually – heat, humidity, and wind. And do you know what the weather is like in Texas? Do you? It’s HOT and HUMID and WINDY. As I type this post, the temperature outside is rapidly climbing toward today’s record high of 105 degrees and the wind is blowing so hard that my son’s basketball hoop just crashed over on the back deck. Goody.

And to make matters worse, we’re moving this summer, at the end of July to be exact. I’m super excited about doing loads of work on our new house and yard, clearing out and cleaning up our rental house and yard, and moving all of our belongings across town in 100+ degree weather. I’m also super excited about paying for air conditioning in two houses during two of the three hottest months of the year. (Through the end of July we are still under contract with our rental house, but as of the end of May we own the new house. And yes, I turn off the air conditioning when I’m not in the houses, but there will be times when Tom’s working at one house and I’m working at the other and both systems will be running.)

In Madison, Wisconsin, where I grew up, summer temperatures often climb into the upper 80’s and even the low 90’s, and because Madison is home to multiple lakes, the humidity is fairly high as well. I thought summers were rough in Madison, but I know now that “Wisconsin Erin” knew nothing of what it means to experience a rough summer. “Texas Erin” doesn’t actually know what it means to experience a rough summer either though, because it’s only June. Summer and I have never been friends, and I’m pretty sure that by August we’ll enemies.

So in a nutshell, spring in Texas is hot, and summer in Texas is going to be hotter. Too hot for this Midwestern Girl. Bet y’all want to come visit us now, don’t ya?!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mystery Reader

A few weeks ago I wrote about the bluebonnet flowers that blanket Texas each spring. I mentioned in that post that the most well-known Native American legend about the origin of the bluebonnet had been turned into a children’s book called The Legend of the Bluebonnet, and that our local library didn’t carry a copy of the book. Turns out Germantown Hills Elementary School (outside of Peoria, Illinois, for those of you unfamiliar with the Midwest), where my sister teaches second grade, has a copy though, so she and I put together a plan and just a couple of weeks later I was sitting in her second grade classroom reading The Legend of the Bluebonnet to her students.

I didn’t travel all the way from College Station, Texas to Germantown Hills, Illinois just to read The Legend of the Bluebonnet to 20 second graders. My kids and I had a trip to the Midwest planned already, and we decided to throw a couple of days in Illinois with Sara, Jeff, and baby Lily (my sister, brother-in-law, and niece) into the middle of our Wisconsin vacation. My mom and I ended up taking care of Will, Hallie, and Lily for a full day, which was terrifically fun and terribly exhausting.

Sara has a regular “segment” in her classroom called “Mystery Reader”. Parents and family members of her students sign up to be the Mystery Reader, provide Sara with clues about themselves to help the students figure out their identities, and then arrive with a favorite book at their scheduled time. My mom had been a Mystery Reader last year, and though I’d always wanted to do it, I was never able to because I couldn’t make the drive from Michigan to Illinois during the week. Finally, this was my chance – I’d be in Illinois on a weekday during the school year. I provided Sara with my “clues” and scheduled my time.

As my Mystery Reader debut approached, Sara and I brainstormed books for me to read. We talked fairy tales, song books (Sara and I both love to sing), and Magic Tree House chapter books…and then it came to her – I should read The Legend of Bluebonnets.

I read the book for the first time the night before, therefore I didn’t know the story well and was nervous when my mom, Will, Hallie, Lily, and I arrived at school that morning. Sara had just presented the students with the clues about me (many of which had to do with moving to and living in Texas) and they’d made their guesses. When I walked in they clapped and cheered (probably because they’d guessed correctly, but I pretended they did so because they were just so excited about the book I was about to read). We moved to the reading rug, and I told them a little bit about what it was like living in Texas and why I’d chosen to read them The Legend of Bluebonnets.

Throughout our time together the students were attentive, interested, engaged, and enthusiastic. The Legend of Bluebonnets was a resounding success, and I hope that learning about the legend, and a bit about the Great State of Texas from this transplant Texan, cracked open their windows to our country just a smidge.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Go Mavs!

For all the sports I love, there are a few I can’t stand.

I’ve never liked watching ice hockey. My dislike for watching the sport on television has no basis and is odd, considering I enjoyed playing as a child (my dad, sister, and I loved playing – with miniature hockey sticks and in pink pompom-adorned white figure skates) and I grew up in one of two regions of the country that produce incredible hockey talent. While my high school (2,000+ students) football team was TERRIBLE, our ice hockey team qualified for the State Tournament nearly every year and we were released from school to attend tournament games. In Wisconsin, ice hockey is a big deal.

I’ve also never enjoyed watching professional basketball. But unlike with ice hockey, my dislike for professional basketball has plenty of basis: SO many of the players are jerks (I root against Kobe and the Lakers, regardless of who they’re playing), the season drags on and on and on, and I have this weird issue with all those big men on such a little court. I just don’t think the game is as exciting (compared to college basketball, or peewee basketball, for that matter) when the players can basically reach up and touch the rim or run from one baseline to the other in six or seven steps.

So now that you know how I feel about professional basketball, I’m sure you can imagine my lack-of-enthusiasm with regard to the Dallas Mavericks playoff qualification. I wasn’t about to miss episodes of The Event, Grey’s Anatomy, or Chelsea Lately to watch the big Mavs play against other big basketball players on little courts around the country.

But then the Mavs started winning. Against Kobe. And suddenly I was hooked. Not so much on professional basketball in general – I’m still really troubled by the big-men-on-a-little-court thing – but on the Mavericks. On a team made of up “good guys”. On a team without a traditional superstar (think LaBron), a pompous a$% (think Kobe), or a cocky, foul-mouthed coach (think Bobby Knight).

I have always chosen and continue to choose my sports team affiliations with three factors in mind:
- Where I’ve lived (Wisconsin Badgers, Michigan Wolverines, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Green Bay Packers, Detroit Tigers)
- Where I’ve attended school (Iowa Hawkeyes)
- The type of people the players and coaches are OFF the field

The first two factors help me choose teams to root FOR, and the third factor helps me choose teams to root AGAINST. For example, in addition to rooting against Kobe and the Lakers, I also root against the Yankees, Ohio State, Warren Sapp, Terrell Owens, and sadly, Brett Favre, because I don’t support what they (the teams) collectively stand for (or don’t take a stand against, for that matter) or how they (the individuals) behave off the field. My kids love sports, so I’m trying to direct them toward athletes who are positive role models.

I stumbled upon this article the night before game five of the NBA National Championship Series, and after reading Rick Reilly’s take on why we should all “Pull for Big D”, I was fully on board. The Mavericks represent what sports – even professional sports, where the players are paid more money to shoot a single basket than I’ll probably make in a lifetime working for nonprofit organizations – should be about: commitment, hard work, and a love of the game.

Congratulations, Dallas Mavericks, on your NBA National Championship. This time the good guys came out on top.

Oh, and you gotta love the guy wearing the cowboy hat at the trophy presentation.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Green Texas

In the three Midwestern cities where I’ve lived for extended periods of time – Madison, Wisconsin; Iowa City, Iowa; and Ann Arbor, Michigan (I also lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for two years; Brant Lake, New York for one summer; and traveling the country for one summer) – everyone and everything was green.

And by green, I mean eco- and environmentally-friendly, though now that I think about it, all three cities are probably pretty green in color right now too, what with all the rain they’ve had this spring.

My family (as in my parents, sister, and me) has been recycling for as long as I can remember. My mom insisted on it, despite the fact that it didn’t used to be easy to recycle. We collected aluminum cans, as well as cardboard and paper, in large paper bags in the house, and when the paper bags were full we carried them out to the garage. When the garage was full of recyclables we loaded the bags into the trunk of the car and drove them across town to the recycling center. At the recycling center we sorted all of the cardboard and paper according to weight and distributed it to the correct dumpster. Then we emptied all of the aluminum cans into large garbage cans, waited in line to have them weighed, and waited in line again for our deposit money. (Usually my mom let my sister and me split the deposit money – all $0.45 of it.) Talk about a pain in the butt. But we did it anyway, at first because my mom said we had to, but eventually because we’d learned what recycling actually meant, and believed – as my mom did – that it was the right thing to do for our planet.

Over the years, recycling has become, in least in the three Midwestern cities I’ve called home, quite a bit easier. About a year before we left Michigan, Ann Arbor made the transition to single-stream recycling, which meant that nearly everything (all paper, all glass, all tin and aluminum, and all except #3 plastics) could be recycled and all recyclables could be combined in one large recycling can. On garbage day our recycling can was always full and our garbage can was never more than 1/3 full.

It was also extremely easy to recycle when we were out and about. The universities in these three cities make recycling a priority; there are recycling bins next to nearly every garbage can on campus, as well as in nearly every lecture hall, classroom, library, cafeteria, and office. There were also recycling bins at the mall, in city buildings, and next to the garbage cans at the park.

I was surprised and frustrated to discover that recycling doesn’t seem to be a top priority here in College Station. We can only recycle paper, clear and brown glass, cans, and #1 and #2 plastic, and everything has to be sorted and bagged separately. (At least the city picks up our recycling – I’ll give them that.) On garbage day, at least 50% of the garbage cans on my street are overflowing with trash AND RECYCLABLES, no doubt because recycling here is time consuming and people would rather just throw their recyclables in with their trash then take the time to sort and bag them every week. I’m considering a ninja-ish intervention in which I sneak out on garbage-day-eve and on the doors of houses that don’t recycle place notes that read “Did you know that cereal box you’re throwing away could be recycled?” I’m still working out the details – mainly those surrounding finding a sweet ninja costume – but will keep you updated on how this plan plays out.

In my husband’s office building at TAMU there is only one recycling bin. It’s a four story, fairly large building, which means that in order to recycle, most students, faculty, and staff have to trek to a different floor and end of the building to recycle. Do you think they do that? When they’re running late to class? When they’re swamped with work? Probably not. Tom often ends up bringing his recyclables home with him – which means carrying them from his office to his car a couple of blocks away – because it’s easier than taking them to the one recycling location in the building. I realize that setting up strong recycling programs at large universities is complicated and expensive, but I also feel like its money well spent. Money well-spent on making sure our planet is livable for our children and grandchildren.

I’m not a perfect recycler by any means. But I can say without a bit of reservation that, at least in my home and with my family, I’m doing the best I can and I’m teaching my kids to do the best they can as well. I’d like to do SOMETHING to start improve recycling throughout College Station though, but with the exception of my ninja plan, I’m not sure where to begin. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hotter than ______

With regard to spring weather:

Wisconsin/Iowa/Michigan = 1
Texas = 0

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Birthdays Gone Wild

From what I can tell, kids’ birthday parties, at least most kids birthday parties here in College Station, are similar to the parties I remember having and attending as a child: party hot spot (bowling alley, swimming pool, gymnastics facility, Chuckie Cheese restaurant, movie theater), pizza and lemonade, cake, presents… You get the picture.

Birthday parties in Ann Arbor (at least for preschoolers), however, were a little different. We went to one birthday party at a bounce house, but the rest of the parties we attended were held at people’s homes or local parks. The parties were laid back and relaxed, and kids entertained themselves in the backyard, in the playroom, or on the jungle gym. The meal, if there was one, usually involved grilling and coolers full of juice boxes and soda. And best of all, EVERY SINGLE party invitation indicated that guests were NOT to bring presents. Until we moved here, Will had never had or been to a birthday party (except his own family birthday celebrations) that involved presents, and you know what? He still thought birthday parties were awesome.

You can imagine Will’s surprise and overwhelming excitement then, when at his first College Station birthday party he realized that the birthday girl was about to open the 20 presents sitting in front of her. It didn’t matter to him that the presents were all dolls and princess dresses and art supplies – he was in awe of the process and I could almost SEE the dream bubbles above his head as he began imagining the huge stash of Transformers and superhero action figures he would surely rake in come October.

As an adult, I prefer present-free (friend) birthday parties for kids. They’re pure, simple, and focused on the birthday boy/girl and their friends instead of on how extravagant and the number of presents. Don’t get me wrong – I love presents, especially buying them for my kids. But I also love the idea of teaching my kids that life is about what we give, not what we get, and the present-free birthday party helped me teach this lesson. (The present-free birthday party also helped me keep the toy/game/doll/stuffed animal chaos under control. And saved me a little money.)

I asked my sister Sara, who lives in Peoria, Illinois, about the present craze, because even though her daughter Lily is only five-months-old, Sara is my go-to for all things preschool-child-related. (Sara taught preschool for four years, and now teaches second grade – I guess she’ll be my go-to for all things second-grade-child-related as well). Sara mentioned that a co-worker of hers tried to start the “no gifts please” trend when her kids were little, but it never caught on and each year her kids were confused and sad because while they brought presents to their friends’ parties, none of their friends brought presents to their parties.

I don’t want to go completely present-free. I think it would be confusing and hurtful for Will, who attends multiple present-filled birthday parties every month, not to receive a single present at his own birthday party. And I don’t want guests to contribute money or toys that Will is supposed to donate to charity. I think it would be awful for Will to grow up hating philanthropy because it robbed him of his birthday presents. So I guess my only choice, at least for now, is to just embrace presents along with presence, and focus on teaching life lessons after we’ve cleaned up the wrapping paper.

Disclaimer: Please don’t take this birthday party/present talk as me thinking AA is “better” than CS, or that our friends in AA are “better” than our friends in CS, because that’s not at all what I think. This way of celebrating preschoolers’ birthdays is just a difference between the two places I’ve lived with kids, and I like one way of doing things better than the other.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Is it Bright in Here?

We’re a sunglasses family.

It’s my fault, really. When I was in high school I learned that lighter colored eyes are more sensitive – something about blue and green irises scattering and transmitting more unwanted light into the retinas than brown irises (surprising what we remember from high school biology, isn’t is?) – and from that day forward the sun seemed a little brighter to me. Sunglasses became part of my everyday wardrobe, and still today are the one thing I never leave home without.

(If I’m not wearing sunglasses between the hours of 8am and 8pm I am perpetually squinting, as evidenced by these not-so-great pictures of Tom and me in front of Old Faithful and Alcatraz circa. 2002.)

Since both of my kids have light blue eyes I figured they had the same sensitivity to sunlight and started putting sunglasses on them soon after they were born. Since they’ve never known anything different, they insist on wearing sunglasses whenever they’re outside. And sometimes when they’re inside. Even when we lived in Michigan.

The sun’s rays are especially bright down here, seeing as the state of Texas is only about 23 miles from the sun itself, which makes sunglasses all the more important. Will wore his sunglasses every day at preschool, and I overheard two of the preschool moms having the following conversation back in January when Will was still “the new kid”.

Mom 1: I heard there’s a new little boy in class!
Mom 2: Yes, his name is Will, and he moved here from Michigan.
Mom 1: Which one is he?
Mom 2: Just look for the kid in the sunglasses.

Oh, and Will is also the only kid in his swimming class, out of 16 kids, who keeps his sunglasses on for the entire lesson. I'm looking into tinted goggles.

So I guess sunglasses are just our “thing”. Will and Hallie can be “the kids with the sunglasses”. (This is better, I promise, than being “the kid with the retainer”, “the kid with the head gear”, or “the kid whose bangs go so far back on her head that she looks like she has a mullet”. I know this because I was THAT kid.)

AT LEAST once a week another parent asks me how I get my kids to keep their sunglasses on. I used answer “super glue”, but since no one thought that was funny (lighten up people – OF COURSE I wouldn’t actually super glue sunglasses to my children’s faces), I now answer “my kids are really concerned about the health of their eyes”. No one thinks that’s funny either.

You want your kids to wear their sunglasses? Make it fun.

And if that doesn’t work, maybe don’t move to Texas.