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Monday, February 22, 2010

Uh-oh, Jesus

Last year Leo just sat in a carseat during Ash Wednesday mass and didn't seem to notice when the priest put ashes on his head:

But this year he kept saying "Ashes! Ashes!" and wanted to play ring-around-the-rosie so he's getting closer to understanding Lent. He kept looking at me and saying, "Mama has ashes." Then we looked in the mirror and he said, "Ee-oh has ashes."

He also seems to get that something not-so-great is going to happen to Jesus. He kept pointing up to Jesus on the cross and saying, "Uh-oh, Jesus." I said, "Jesus is okay." Leo said, "Jesus is otay." And isn't that what being a Christian is all about? "Jesus is otay."

Accidental Environmentalists

My late grandma was the first ever environmentalist. No, you probably never saw her at an Earth Day rally or rubbing elbows with Leonardo DiCaprio but trust me, she was green long before Al Gore could even say 'global warming.'

You see, grandma didn't mean to be earth-friendly; she did it all in the name of being cheap. When you visited her house and opened her kitchen cabinets, hundreds of plastic containers once filled with margarine, cottage cheese and sour cream spilled out. She used these to store all the leftovers that she would never, ever throw away. I don't think she owned one piece of Tupperware; she didn't need to. She owned a set of plates but that was just for company. She would reuse the same one all week. If we used a paper plate and it didn't get too dirty, she would reuse that too. I won't get into the stories of her actually taking things out of the trash that she deemed reusable. "I don't waste anything!" she would say. Sounds like an earth-loving mantra, right? Nah, it was all about penny pinching. The green stuff was just a bonus--one I don't think she was even aware of.

My father-in-law is another accidental environmentalist. If you asked him why he keeps the house sweltering hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter, his response wouldn't be about the planet. It would be about his bill. Why does he water down shampoo, reuse Ziplock bags and pick up things off the side of the road? It's definitely not to "reduce, reuse, recycle." But just like grandma, he's minimizing his carbon footprint.

If you're an AE, good for you. You may think you're just saving green but really, you're saving green. (I think I accidentally came up with a great bumper sticker!)

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's not just black history month...

It's also "Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket" Month! At least that's what my friend Liz told me when she forwarded me this article on one of my "soapbox issues" as she put it.

February is Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month
Friday 02-19-2010 8:29am CT
It is true, February is the month to return those shopping carts. And just in case you don't know how to return a cart, has step by step instructions for you.

Every year, millions of shopping carts are left all over the place and abandoned from their supermarket homes. Carts are found on the side of the road, by schools, random driveways, and in sewage ditches. All of these missing cards need to be replaced by the store; and with an average of $100 per cart, the money damage can add up.

1.Return your cart to a designated "cart rack" or aisle. These can be found in various places throughout the parking lot or nearby the store's entrance.

2.Leave your cart near the entrance and carry grocery bags to your vehicle by hand. It'll be courteous to another customer by exchanging hands on the cart.

3.Take a cart that is near your vehicle to shop with instead of taking one by the entrance. This method helps out the courtesy clerks and avoids the homeless of capturing a cart.

4.Ask the cashier or bagger to double the bags. If you have to walk somewhere, don't use a cart to assist you in carrying things. Try taking in your own canvas tote bags, instead. You may find them easier to carry, and they can double as your basket as you shop.

5.Have a bagger escort the cart to the vehicle to help you unload groceries. He or she then will wheel carts back to a designated area. Only if they offer though, don't be demanding.

6.Take a walk. If there's a cart in your neighborhood and you live near the store, walk the cart back.

7.Make a call. If you see a cart loose around your neighborhood, look around for the store whose cart it is. Many carts have numbers right on them for cart pick-up. Some cities also have shopping cart hotlines. Phone this number and be prepared to explain where the cart is.

Back to Writinggal: I have noticed that cart abadonment is high in the winter since people make the excuse that they're too cold to take responsibility for their carts. Here's what's been going on in my cart crusade lately: I found a cart across a busy street from a Kroger and I walked it back. I passed a policeman and I told him, "I'm not stealing this cart. I found it and I'm returning it!" He acted like I was lying but come on, do I look like a cart thief? I did have a couple of encounters in parking lots (one in the rain where I told the guy, "Hey, I know it's raining but you could still take back your cart!") But rather than risk a parking lot punch-out, I've taken to praising those I see walk really far to return their carts. If you've been doing your part and taking back your cart, keep it up...even after February!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Snow Slide Lives On

Leo misses the snow but he has created a snow slide with his chair--totally his idea! I think he was inspired by the winter olympics. He may have a shot at the games someday, if not as an athlete, as a commentator.

Translation: "Okay, okay. Watch."

Even his Thomas the Train book gets in on the action!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Elsa Valentine's Day

I woke up Valentine's Day morn to a heart shaped cookie cake on the kitchen table. Yummy, yummy, yummy, yummy--my favorite! I opened the box and debated about eating it for breakfast. There, in delicious-looking chocolate and white icing was the message:

I went to go wake-up Frank so we could have a good laugh about the stupidity of the Great American Cookie Company workers. "Happy Frank Valentine's Day!" I said. "Huh?" he asked, still half-asleep. "Thanks for the cookie cake! I love the message, 'Happy Elsa Valentine's Day.'"

"Huh?" he asked again.

Oh, no. I saw what was happening here. It wasn't the staff at the GACC after all. It was Frank. He ordered it like this and he didn't see what was wrong with it. He confirmed this when he asked, "What's wrong with that?"

I soon learned how it happened: Frank went up to the mall on Saturday morning and said, "I want a cake that says 'Happy Valentine's Day, Elsa.'" The guy said, "Well, I've got a cake that already says 'Happy Valentine's Day.' If you want me to add in the name I'll have to start all over." Then Frank got what he thought was a brilliant idea: "Hey, there's some room over there next to 'happy.' Why don't you just write 'Elsa' there?" Without hesitation, the GACC employee did as he was told.

After Frank told me the story, he asked again. "So what's wrong with that?" I said, "You don't think it sounds weird? I mean, what if I said, 'Merry Frank Christmas?'"

"That would be fine! All the components of the message are there!" he replied.

I couldn't argue with that. And I also didn't want to complain since the addition of my name--even if it was in an awkward place--meant more icing for me! So Happy Blog Readers President's Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Snow Scenes

Snow is just gorgeous--especially when it only happens once a year and is gone after a couple of days!

The family in the snow:

The view from Writinggal Headquarters this morning:

Our snow cottage:

Our backyard this morning:

Silly dads racing down the snow slide:

More snow scenes on my expanding blog!

Snow Scenes

There's nothing cuter than southern kids enjoying a rare snowfall. I'm including myself as one of those southern kids!

Frank and Leo built this snowman in front of our house!
It took a village to build this snowman!
Reagan (with a cute hot cocoa mustache) posing with Leo

Check out the make-shift "snow slide" (as Leo calls it) our neighbors made in their backyard!

The only kind of ball Leo hasn't encountered--a snow ball!
Debbie, me and Claire with our bundles

The trio is quickly approaching two! John (22 months), Leo (21 months) and Dawson (almost 23 months)

Leo preferred snow basketball to the snow slide.

Dawson hugged Leo but claimed it was just for warmth.

John and Leo when they first stepped out in the snow--not sure what to think.

Leo, braving the "snow slide."

For more snow scenes, check out my other blog!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Easter Basketball

Leo's fancy, expensive Easter basket arrived today. I started to explain to him what an Easter basket is but all he heard was "basket" and he immediately got a ball:

And speaking of basketball, Leo had a sub in Mother's Morning Out today who had been a basketball player at Kennesaw State. As Leo started playing with the basketball and hoop (as he always does when I drop him off), I told her, "Leo loves basketball." She said, "Oh, I know." She had gotten the run-down on all the kids from his teacher! She was impressed with Leo's b-ball skills and told me to encourage it--he might get a scholarship like she did. I brought up the subject of his height but she stayed positive: "There's a point guard in the NBA who's 5'6," she said.
When I picked Leo up he was holding the same basketball. The teacher said he NEVER put it down--for two-and-a-half hours! Leo said (as he always does), "I missed!" The teacher said, "But he made it a lot too. He liked to dunk it."
With all that encouragement, we're ready to sign Leo up for the NBA--or maybe the NEBA (National Easter Basketball Association).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Video Montage

The original purpose of this post was to show you how Leo can say "I love you." I've learned, though, that videos more than 45 seconds take FOREVER to post. I'm talking all day, all night and it still doesn't post! So I decided to just post three videos that would actually work (although they are completely unrelated, aside from the lead character).

1. "I love Rah Rah." This is the sequel to "I love you" where Leo said he loved me, dada, Popsy, Granny Jo and Nana. I told him to say that he loved Rah Rah and he laughed hysterically. A few minutes later he started saying "I love Rah Rah" so I got a quick video of that:

2. Dancing at Tia's House:

3. Chatting with best friend John:

Aging Out

Here is the hierarchy of women's retail clothing stores, in order of age-appropriateness:

1. Forever 21 (12-21)
2. Express (18-35)
3. Ann Taylor (30-60--I had to make this one a big range since Granny Jo and I both like to shop here!)
4. Talbot's (50+)

This should give you a good guideline for when you're trying to categorize other stores. For instance, The Gap is most on par wtih Express so it's #2. Charlotte Russe is like Forever 21 so it's #1. And please note that I do allow for some cross-over time. There are times in your life when you can shop at two levels.

I really should have formed this list long ago because for some reason, I thought that, at age 33, I was still allowed into #1. I was wrong.

I was at the mall and I wandered into F21. The other people in there weren't just college kids or teens, they were tweens. Again, I'm 33. They're 12. It would take two-and-a-two-thirds-tweens to make me. I think I saw some two-thirds-sized girls in there. Plus, the clothes were just small and weird and disposable-looking. I walked out after seven seconds and sought refuge in Express--a store I thought was more mature, like me.

Now I still like the clothes in Express and I still think I can pull them off. But when I found myself wanting to go up to the sales clerk and say, "Could you PLEASE turn this music down?" I knew I was on my way out. I've got two good years left. I better stock up on Editor pants and camis.

Then I'll spend the next 15 years at Ann Taylor--unless I have a daughter. Then I can sneak into F21 with the other two-thirds gals.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


We knew Leo could sing "Twinkle Twinkle." It sounds like this: "Tinkle Tinkle uh uh TOW." And while we're mildly impressed with that, we do sing it to him every day before he goes to sleep. We're also moderately proud of how he can initiate other songs like "Itsy Bitsy Spider" ("Ittie Bittie Spi-dah") and "Muffin Man" ("Muh-in Man"). My point is that we're not easily wowed. We have high expectations for this little man.

So today when I was getting him out of the car after Mother's Morning Out ("Schoo!") he said, I mean SANG, "Baa Baa Black Sheep." And he didn't just sing the first line; he sang the whole first part: "Bah Bah Black Sheep, have you any wool? Yes sir, Yes sir, three bags full." Now it wasn't that clear but it was clear for a 21 month old. And clear enough that I knew exactly what song he was singing.

Well, I was majorly impressed. And not just because he sang so much of the song but because that's a song I NEVER sing! I knew that he had heard it a few times in his life but I seriously never sing it. I said, "Did you learn that at school today?" I thought for sure they must have just sang it. I wanted to email his teacher and ask but thought she might get annoyed.

He sang it again and I asked "Who taught you that song?" He said, "Rah Rah!" Well, I immediately called my mom and asked her. She said she sang it to him a few times when he was visiting. That was two weeks ago! He was singing it so well that I thought he must have just heard it minutes ago.

Later, I actually caught it on video!!

We just got back from the Y where he performed the song for all the amazed playcenter workers.

And here are just a couple of cute pics of our little singer. He earned those fake cookies today!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Catholic Cool

It's Catholic Schools weeks and the Atlanta paper has a big article today about how the demand for a Catholic education is growing. They mentioned one reason is that the Catholic "flock is increasing." A decade ago there were about 300,000+ Catholics in Atlanta and now there are over 800,000. They didn't specify any reasons for the increase but I guess they just assume (and assume that readers assume) that it's because Catholics have lots of babies.

But I know better.

The Catholic church has a brilliant strategy for recruiting new members. While other churches beg prospects with lots of sales-pitch-style pressure, the Catholic church plays hard to get. Also, other religions take anyone with a pulse and the registration process is speedy. Catholics are picky and you have to go through a rigorous nine-month training program just to join.

See, when you make it harder to join something people are more likely to want to join. For instance, "Auditions for the dance team will be held on Friday. Only four spots available" is much more enticing than "Join the dance team! No talent necessary!" Everybody wants to be part of an elite group.

That's why, over eight years ago, I accidentally became Catholic. It sounds impossible: "Oops, I'm a new religion!" But yes, it happened to me. Not that I regret becoming Catholic. I'm totally down with it all--the saints, confession, the rosary. (Okay, I hardly ever pray the rosary or go to confession but I feel guilty about that which makes me 100% Catholic.)

I grew up Episcopalian but I didn't get confirmed as a teenager because I didn't want to have to carpool with this other guy to take the classes. Fast forward to 2001 and Frank and I were trying out different churches in Dallas--one week we'd do Episcopalian and one week we'd do Catholic. They're pretty much the same, really.

On a trip to San Diego at Easter time, we attended the vigil mass and saw adults being confirmed. "So it's not too late for me!" I thought. When we returned to Dallas I called one of the Episcopal churches and asked if they had adult confirmation classes. They said no. I called a Catholic church and they said they had them on Thursday nights. That was my favorite TV night. (Life was so funny before DVRs!) I called another Catholic church, St. Rita's, and they offered confirmation classes on Tuesday nights. Perfect. I signed up.

The first night of class the Deacon said, "I can't believe so many of you want to be Catholic!" (This was during all the priest scandal stuff.) "Now, some of you might take a few classes and decide, 'I'd rather be Jewish. I'd rather be Baptist.' And that's fine. Being Catholic isn't for everybody."

After this intro I learned two things:
1. By signing up for confirmation classes at a Catholic church I was actually signing up to become Catholic. Who knew?
2. If they were going to be this no-pressure about it, I totally wanted to be Catholic.

For the next nine months of classes I learned about the religion, met other prospective Catholics and really enjoyed our weekly lectures. It was more like a college classroom setting than a preachy-church setting. And never, ever did the Deacon bad-mouth another religion. I had visited other churches with friends growing up where the minister or preacher spent the entire sermon ridiculing other faiths. That feels very brainwashy to me.

But at the Catholic church it's more like, "This is who we are. Take it or leave it. And if you want to take it, you're gonna have to take classes. And by the way, we don't really care if you join. We've got plenty of people."

And that's how I became part of the flock.