Small Social Skills Theatre

Jog-a-thon water station

It’s Jog-a-thon time again folks!  School jog-a-thons are great! (Run, Forrest! Run!).  Forget about raising money for the schools and building in a life full of healthy exercise habits for the children, because nothing beats these school-wide events for the fabulous experiments in childhood personality testing that they are. They are simply designed to reveal the psychological make up of these future citizens of the world. Today marked my 7th annual jog-a-thon. Since I have six kids that means there are only 26 more to go! (I said run dammit! Don’t stop. Don’t ever stop.)

I am happy to report that today’s event had all the usual cast of characters: there’s the kids that totally buy into the process and give it their all, competition etched fierce and intense on their faces as they compete against their own personal best. There’s the one’s who try and game the system cutting around the inside of cones to shave the distance until some authority figure steps in with a lesson in accountability. The are the one’s who treat the whole things as a social event, chatting and waylaying anyone who crosses their path as they check their hair and clothing, and there are the one’s who try to minimize their enforced participation in the whole event by loafing at the water station until they are flushed out by an observant teacher to run another lap.

Some of them live totally in the moment, the Forrest Gumps, god love them. You say “Run!” and they do…backwards, the wrong way, across fields, swarming around teachers, off they go, startled into action, never once asking questions about why they are being made to run in endless circles. And then there are my personal favorites, the ones who pass you on each lap, giving you that look that says they’re going to give up every state secret they know. They’re not sure how it’s happened to them, but they know they have somehow stumbled into some school-sponsored program whose design was first conceived at Guantanamo.

I’m always late to volunteer for these events and that places me at the water station (I guess the thinking here goes, “if you can’t get organized enough to volunteer on time, how will you ever be organized enough to mark laps on the back of their bibs?”). But whatever, I’m just glad to help out. And it’s always the same at the water station. After approximately a lap and a half the entire grade level hits that water station all at once, panting like little Olympians. Kids are great the way they can run a ¼ mile and still look as if they were in the final 100 meters of the New York Marathon. From there on out, they will collectively stop for water on every single lap, and manage to look progressively worse every time you see them until you are finally forced to ask if they’d like the paramedics to be brought onto the field. All this takes place to the high-energy sounds of Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas. The dissonance is thick by the end of it, I can assure you.

And when they’re done they get…a Popsicle. I wouldn’t take that deal any day of the week, so you’ve got to admire their willingness to get behind a call to action, and I’m a big fan of randomly tormenting the children. It gets them ready for life in the rat race glorious world ahead of them. When the music finally dies down and the Popsicle sticks have been collected, they round up these sweaty, sticky, over-stimulated little people and return them to their classes for the rest of the days education. I’ve often wondered what that looks like, but I’ve never had the courage to stay and find out.

Another especially good example of this kind of behavior-revealing activity can be found in the science class. Want to get to know your child and his friends at their deepest level? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Frog Dissection! In our district this year, the 5th graders were broken up into groups of four, given sharp implements and this guy…

Frog Dissection

Let the mayhem begin! Here’s what I saw during that exercise; some kids excused themselves to step outside in discomfort about 38 times, and though many of them just seemed to use it as an excuse to wander aimlessly around, a couple of them stayed out there for the entire class due to a true inability to embrace the spirit of animal autopsy. A few of the kids were very scientific as they went about the business of cataloging frog parts and a small number were unable to complete the dissection due to the gross out factor. And at least one table, made up entirely of girls, never even began the dissection because the group kept breaking down over leadership issues and personality conflicts. And lastly, there were a few boys at work in that house of horrors who did things to those frogs that made me think of a scene from the movie “Con Air” where Steve Buscemi’s character Garland Greene says “One girl… I drove through three states wearing her head as a hat.” Those are the one’s who will probably become doctors one day.

Think back…which one were you? In the mean time, volunteer, you can’t beat it for the opportunity to learn and be horrified. Plus, it helps out the schools.

Lately Found…

Here’s the weekly round up. Enjoy!

The best thing seen this week was this TED talk by Brene Brown about her research on what separates people who do well from people who don’t.  There a post coming on this one. It really struck home. (She has a great website too!) Try this quote on, and if it speaks to you, then hit play:

“There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it. And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy.”  ~ Brene Brown

There were these nifty little vinyl chalkboard goodies for organization from bradensgracewallart over at Etsy. Lots of styles and varieties to choose from!

The Sleep Talkin Man was introduced to me by an old high school friend.  A few years ago, a wife began recording and posting the outrageous things her normally mild mannered English husband said in his sleep.  Be really, really warned about the language, but it is some of the most shockingly funny stuff that lives in this man’s subconscious.  My latest favorite (one of the clean ones):  “I’m telling you, you can’t dance. You just look like a fat pogo stick, now sit down!”

And lastly, The Scar Project: Surviving Cancer. Absolute Reality was nominated nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography.  If you look at these images, you will never look at breast cancer, or your own body, in the same way again. These women are beautiful.


Lately Found…

Here’s the things I wanted to share from the week. Hope you find something that makes you smile…

The most wonderful thing by far was this piece entitled Vivian Maier, Street Photographer and Nanny. It is about the posthumous discover of one of the largest caches of street photography work ever found.

None of it had ever been seen before and some people consider that the woman who took them, a nanny by trade, may have been one of the best street photographers of the era. This is one of my favorites, from the website where they are writing about the enormous project of uncovering her story and work. Utterly amazing…

Vivian Maier in Lately Found

I found WallBling over at ETSY, and I want one. Seriously want one.  Personalized, handmade signs for your home.  I could absolute put a family mission statement, a list of values for our family or a love note to the kids on one of these…like this:

in Lately Found

And for those of you who need inspiration for life’s Second Act, over at More magazine they reminded me of these “Mothers of Reinvention”

And finally, for those of you who need to laugh until your head explodes, try “Damn You AutoCorrect

You’re Welcome…

Handmade Rush Delivery…

Here’s the book that I made for Christmas for the Golf Pro’s Mom. Not bad considering how little time I had. I still have one more to finish this week for my Mum. Of course, I totally should have taken the pages out of the plastic sheet protector before I photographed them, but, well, you get the idea…

Lately Found…

A few “Must Share” items…

My amazing friend up north introduced me to the most amazing food porn ever!  If you visit you’ll make ooh and aah noises like mad…and you’ll distract those around you, but in a good way. You’ll get to see things like this Leek & Gruyere Quiche with Bacon Breadrumbs:

I’ve decided I want my house to look like this, from over at - Homeschooling

I am fascinated by the near brand-perfect site, – particularly the taglines, “Live life outside the box,” “Mindful Spending,” and “Creative Living.”

And the visual imagery used by young photographer, made me long to explore…

I love days where I find stuff like this…


Create…Handmade Christmas

I’m doing the handmade Christmas this year for the most part. So, not a lot of writing.

Instead, I’ll be making things like these and hoping I don’t get snickered at…

"Once Upon a Time"

Scrapbook Mini Album

What Love Is...

The dress she loves...

For Princess Mini Album

All Girl

A little detail

Scrapbook Mini Album

Princess pg

Scrpabook Mini Album


This was the first one of these that I attempted. It’s made from envelopes and it’s been close on to a year since I had time to do any of this.  What do you think?  Gift-Worthy? I hope so…cause that’s what they’re getting.

Merry Christmas Peeps!

A Prayer…

A little prayer I found today:

“Let me change what I can.

Let me accept that which I cannot change.

Let me ignore that which I cannot change or accept.

Let me run away from that which I cannot change, accept, or ignore.

Let me lock myself in the bathroom, hold my hands over my ears, and hum about that which I cannot change, accept, ignore, or run away from.”







Image for a prayer

C’mon, Get Happy!

There are about a million things that I could be writing about today. Things like my current, enormous sense of fear and the fact that I’m having a really hard time getting into the Christmas Spirit and how much I resent it, because I hate tears at Christmastime enough to have a flashback about it – the kind of flashback that’ll put you out in the front yard at night with a flame-thrower searching the hedges for the V-C.

I could write about how unbelievably awesome my kids are everyday, how I know I’m missing some of the good stuff about my life, or how I’m tab-hording on my computer again.   I could write about how I’m struggling right now to remain in line with my own True North, even when so many of the people around me are being total Jackwagons. I could really write about that.

I could write about chronic sleep issues, about how the nuclear blast of my childhood made it possible to parent my kids with more clarity than I could ever have hoped for, or about how I am the ultimate “fair-weather fan” in sports and don’t care who knows it.  I could write about how weight-wise, I’m pushing maximum density and I really have to do something about it, and how I know that I really should have gone 90% vegan by now but have lacked the will to do it

I could write about all of that.…but really, what I most need right now is funny.  Funny is my favorite thing. Funny forgives a multitude of sins and it has gotten me through just about everything.  When there is no place for laughter, then really, abandon ye all hope. I really believe that.  Of course, it helps that my sense of humor is more than a little bent.  But today, this morning, I need funny!  I need happy!  I need to be reminded that the sun is shining and warm…and that I have a place out there in it.

Sunshine wasn’t always a part of my life, and there are times when I feel like I’m still learning how to stand in it.  I think I will practice that today.

And then I will go visit

And I will read some posts

And I will post 5 optimistic things on Facebook

And I will listen again to the Ernest Cline slam poem about how we’re all just a bunch of monkeys

And then I’m going to watch this scene from MIB more than once

And I will think about how two weeks ago the 2 year old stood on my back with a small plastic toy baseball bat and used my ass as home plate by tapping it with the bat twice, which is so wrong (and definitely NOT what they mean when they say “I’d tap that,” which is even wronger still).

And later, I will watch my children attempt once more to negotiate life with their limited skills and allow my mind to boggle once more over how they can’t order a McFlurry without chaos

And I’ll be glad that this is a time in their life when the mistakes they make are more funny than serious.  All that comes later…