Best time for a pedicure

I get a professional pedicure about once a year, and the Wednesday or Thursday before Easter is the perfect time–nice feet for the Maundy Thursday foot washing, pretty toes for Easter sandals, and flip-flop ready for spring!

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So much to say

I went off of Facebook again this year for Lent, and I had made a list of blog topics and made mental notes during my day of things I wanted to write about — thinking since I wasn’t recording my every thought on Facebook that I’d put them on my blog. Instead, I just spent time alone with my thoughts sometimes and talked a whole lot more with friends and family (and strangers) as I went about my days. Facebook is such a part of our culture now. John kept me up to date on big news, and I made sure that close friends due to give birth during Lent knew to text me. And they did. 🙂

I wrapped up the school yearbook this week. Yay! Even thought I’ve been a yearbook person for pretty much my whole life — middle school yearbook staff (we just met in a teacher’s classroom once a week during PE to work on the book), high school yearbook staff, Aggieland staff, and middle school yearbook adviser, I learned so much this year. It is AMAZING how much technology has changed. Sure, it’s quite different than the cropping tools and red pencils we used in the middle and high school days, but even in the eight years since I did O. Henry’s yearbook, it has changed. So, since the first time is the learning run, I’m planning to do it again next year. I know, I know, I said I wouldn’t, but having it done and thinking of all I’d do differently next year inspired me for one more time. Of course, as soon as I submitted the book for publication, closed the online orders, and did NOT include a sales announcement in the weekly email (which has been announced every week this school year), I had a parent email asking if she had bought a yearbook (she had not) and wondering if she still could. Oh me, oh my! Seriously? I wrote her back and said “Sorry Charlie. I know you were just waiting for the one week that you didn’t read BUY YOUR YEARBOOK NOW. ORDERS WILL CLOSE SOON AND WE ARE VERY CLOSE TO SELLING OUT, WHICH MEANS ORDERS CAN CLOSE AT ANY MOMENT to see how to place your order, but it seems that isn’t going to work out for you this time.” (not my exact words.) I’m also on the PTA Officer nominating committee for next year. Most of the officers are coming back for a second term, which will be super duper, but we still one position filled…Anyone? Anyone?

Oh, no Diet Cokes during Lent (well, I had two — one each morning of Spring Break that I stayed up way too late with my SILs drinking wine and then woke up to ten kids under ten in my house. So much fun, seriously! Only thing I’d do differently next time is have everyone drink only from cups with lids. Live and learn.)

Presence strengthens it

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I had to snap a picture of Elizabeth’s fortune from lunch today. My first thought was my kids, and I saw it as a reminder how important it is to be present for them, to be with them. Then I thought of John and our getaway together recently but also just our day to day mundanities and was inspired to view that time as more important. And then I thought of my relationship with God, and how important that quiet time with Him is, even in the business of life, and my relationship with my Christian family, which made me appreciate and value our Sunday worship a bit more. LOVE. That’s why we’re on this third rock from the sun — to love.

Math Apps

Loading up the iPod Touches (and now the iPad) for long car trips was always daunting to me. With so many apps to choose from, I didn’t know where to start and chose some good ones and some not-so-good ones. Common Sense Media‘s app reviews are helpful, and I thought I’d share my favorite math apps for my girls (that I reviewed.)

PRESCHOOL MATH: Neither of my kids has been a big Sesame Street fan. Caroline, elmo loves 123s main imagesweet sleeper girl, was never awake early enough to watch it, and Elizabeth, who is up by 7 am, just isn’t interested. But as a parent, I think it’s great. And as annoying as I find Elmo, Elmo loves 123s for iPad is a great preschool math app. (Click the link to read the review I wrote for Common Sense Media.)

ELEMENTARY MATH: As part of Caroline’s daily homework, she has to practice her math facts for five minutes a day — addition, subtraction, multiplication. Hmathworkoutmainimageer teacher gave us some web sites of quizzes that we used early in the year, but since I discovered Math Workout, Caroline has been using that for her daily practice. It’s nothing flashy or gimmicky — just plain old timed math practice. Now, she’s not racing to play it in her free time or anything, but it is a handy app to have.

For fun, though, she enjoys Wild Kratts Creature Math. It combines taking care of the ecosystem, making sure each animal is fed and keeping the area frwildkrattscreaturemath mainimageee of litter, with math practice. I enjoyed playing it, too, as it’s a real challenge to keep each animal’s food supply steady — you know, the beavers eat a certain tree, and the wolves eat beavers, and the falcons need smaller birds, and the whole circle of life. My review has not been published yet, but you can read about the app at PBS KIDS.

We have a Spring Break road trip next week, and the girls will be well-occupied with their mobile devices.

Girl Time

John is out of town this weekend, and, while we miss him dearly and can’t wait for him to get back, the girls and I do enjoy a leisurely but busy schedule when he’s gone. I think it’s more leisurely because we don’t worry about being home at certain times or having meals prepared at certain times. I view weekends when he’s gone as times when we’ll have Chick Fil A or order pizza for dinner. Or maybe even both in the same day. I am too embarrassed to do that when I have another adult around, which is another why it’s really important, as I’ve said before, to have two parents in a household. But it’s hectic because we tend to go-go-go when he’s gone since we aren’t worried about being home and having things picked up and meals prepared at certain times. Again, not that John mandates that, it’s just what I think I should do for him.

Yesterday, Elizabeth had a friend over to play in the afternoon, and we picked Caroline up from dance at 5:00. Then we came home and they played a while until the pizza arrived around 6:00. We watched High School Musical 2 and ate dinner. Then they got in (my) bed with books and fell asleep while I did a little yearbook editing. I was asleep by 10, too, so Elizabeth’s 6 am wake-up wasn’t horrible. We were all out of bed by 7, and I made Caroline’s request — chocolate chip pancakes. Elizabeth wanted plain, though. I refrained, thinking I’d eat healthy today. (just wait.) I had a couple of bites of sausage. Then we did a few chores around the house (like changing the battery in the chirping smoke alarm) and headed to the Y for my workout. (doing great so far on the weight loss front!) I came home and quickly showered and dressed while they played, then we headed out for our day-of-fun. Schlotsky’s for lunch, library for book check-out (I had put the newest Captain Underpants on hold for Caroline and it was ready), Dr. Seuss’s birthday at Lakeshore, and and IMAX movie at the Bob Bullock.) We made it about ten minute early for the IMAX movie — just right. To find they changed the times March 1 (and I had looked at the schedule Feb 28) and the movie had started an hour earlier and the next wasn’t for three hours. No problemo. It was Explore UT day, so the museum admission was free, and I had tickets to see a movie at the Spirit of Texas Theater. We saw Texas Weather, which was super, and then walked through the museum. We had two hours, then, until show time, so we walked across the street to the Blanton, which was also participating in Explore UT with free admission. We had enough time for a sandwich in the cafe before we decided to get in line for the movie. We were first in line with another seven year old right behind us. The girls made fast friends, so we all sat together in the show, of course. It was beautifully hilarious to see, though my 3D glasses, all the little hands grabbing at the butterflies flying at us. We saw Flight of the Butterfly. Amazing! My wonderful friend Colette is a member of The Bob and gave me a inch of tickets last Easter for the girls. We’ve gone a few times and have so many tickets left. Such a treat!

I cherish the little conversations we have, in the car or just off hand. I learned today from Caroline that at least two girls in her class have cell phones that can text. “Who do they text?” I asked her. She didn’t know, and really didn’t seem to think it was a big deal that they had them and certainly wasn’t asking for one of her own. It came up because I didn’t take my phone to the Y that morning, and Caroline wondered what I’d do in an emergency. I told her that people didn’t have cell phones at all when I was a little girl and I thought we’d be fine for an hour without it. I went on (of course) to say that we can’t seem to live without our phones now, and that some kids even have phones! That’s when she mentioned her friends with phones. I’ve certainly thought about when I’d get the girls their own phones, and Megan has one for texting now, in fifth grade. I figured for middle school, for sure. I’m so glad Caroline is non-plussed that these girls have one and doesn’t see the need for one now. I hope we can hold that attitude for a few more years…or forever.

I have a bio! I’ve been reviewing apps for Common Sense Media since November, and I must say I love the work. It is fun. It pays well. I used the site as a parent to check on movies I wanted to watch with the kids and support the mission of informed media consumption. And I feel like my background is great for them, too — journalism degree and experience taught me concise and precise writing, graduate education program and teaching experience taught me about pedagogy, and motherhood taught me to be choosy about what my kids see, hear, and do.

Most of the reviews I’ve done have been for learning ratings, so not all are listed on my bio.

I do plan to post a few more blog entries in the coming weeks of a few of my favorite preschool and elementary level learning apps. There really are some amazing apps available.