Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tails versus Trails

I did it!  I have figured out what is the underlying problem with kids now days.  Why these kids seem disrespectful, unsocial, the reason why they have no feeling for others or do not work well in groups. The answer is simple really and it has to do with one thing everyone has always thought was the problem.  Video games.  My take on this touchy subject is MUCH different than what the “experts” have to say.  They say there is too much violence, too much time playing them, or not enough creative thinking while playing these games.  I disagree (all besides the creative thinking one).  
With a world leaning towards technology in every aspect of our lives, taking away the video games is just ludicrous and nearly impossible. You can’t get away from them.  They have DSI’s and iPads.  Games follow them everywhere.  There are games you can download on your phone and guess what kids know this!  So you can kill yourself by trying to get rid or block every video game you come in contact or you can figure out a way to deal with it! 
My proposal for the change in video games came to my when my two year old son was forming an addiction to the app Angry Birds. He wakes up in the morning gets my phone and continues to play Angry Birds.  Now if you haven’t seen this game or have been living under a rock with no Internet connection signal, I will explain it to you. This game had 180 levels and you can show off your achievements by Facebook or Twitter.  The whole object of the game is to get revenge on the egg stealing green pigs who stole the bird’s eggs by using a sling shot to rocket the now “angry birds”.  First, I want to state that my boss introduced me to this game so it is addicting for all ages. Second, I have never actually seen these green pigs “steal” the bird eggs, so I almost feel bad for the little hammies.
I can’t help but think how pointless is this game and what is it teaching the world.  The answer: Completely pointless and absolutely nothing.  **Side note I have found myself playing this game, I would be a hypocrite to say otherwise and it is fun** Still, it is completely stupid.  This game though made my wheels start spinning; we played video games in school on the huge computers when we FINALLY got them.  We turned out just fine, well most of my generation and a few years younger.  Then it hit me; the game we played was Oregon Trail!
Oregon Trail, now there is an educational game teaching you everything you need to know!  So this is my proposal: let your child play video games but make sure that Oregon Trail is a requirement!  Now let’s define this game, so pull up your socks, we’re going back to elementary school. You take a journey of 200 miles across the Oregon Trail in a pack with other people in their fashionably covered wagons, through the plains, rivers and mountains.  You and your family, slosh through the mud and water, with your trusty oxen that you bought at the local market and pray that you are not swallowed alive.  You get to hunt buffaloes and bears but not before you buy supplies to allow you do to so. There are chances that your wagon might burn or that thieves steal your cattle or that you or your family members die of polio.  But hey let’s make it even more realistic and let you put messages on your tombstone.

You learn math at the market.  You learn responsibility as you protect your family and have to feed them.  You learn loyalty. You learn the hardship of accomplishment and you learn the loss and to remorse.  All these things are necessities that all kids should learn eventually. You learn while your play, and don’t even realize it, much better than playing that Mrs. Crabtree’s Friendly Fraction game. J  Also, much more than I can say about Sling Shot Bird game!

So there you have it my input on how to create world peace: Implement the Oregon Trail. What can I say I am one smart woman who is trying to figure out how to impact our youth one video game at a time!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

We have a floater...

A few months ago, right after we moved into the new house, I decided to get Teague a pet.  Tybee already has her cat, French Vanilla Milkshake, and the family has Styx the Beta fish.  A dog was out of the question for a minute, at least until Teague is potty trained!  I cannot be potty training two  at a time.  That is just a recipe for disaster. Well Mr. Teague was weighing his options between a frog and a fish.  Ultimately, after what I am sure what the HARDEST decision of his life up to this point, he picked a fish.  We went to three different pet stores to find the perfect supplies for his new pal.   Teague picked out a little blue fish tank and the bottom was lined with black rocks to match his Batman room, of course.  This, itself, was an accomplishment.  Later we picked up a fish at Pet Smart.  They had the most selection of the type of fish we needed for his fresh water tank and they had a 30 day guarantee on their fish (anyone with a two year old knows that a guarantee for any type of animal where a child can play in its water is a good thing!) 
We looked at every fish tank trying to find the perfect fish for Teague.  He quickly lost interest after I told him Nemo would not survive in the tank he picked out.  Finally we see black goldfish.  He immediately says “It’s Batman.”  That was it.  This was the one we were taking home.  The Pet Smart Lady (who was a little too fond of animals for my liking -I mean taking the phrase “Pet Smart” to a whole new level) was kind enough to tell us everything we had to do to get Batman in his home.
We set up the tank and had everything ready, and then the moment came to put in Batman.  Teague shrieked with excitement.  He stares and talks to it, which by the way is the sweetest thing ever.  I start packing their bags to go to their dad’s house and all too soon they are on their way there.
  When I get back home, I start to clean the house.  I get to Teague’s room and Batman is barely moving.  I nicely tap on the glass, even though I know they hate that, any reaction even negative would be good at this point.  Nope, he was a goner.  I knew what I needed to do.  I needed to take Pet Smart up on there so called “Guarantee”; I rushed back to the store again to get a replacement fish before the kids got home in the morning.  This poor guy didn’t even last 24 hours.  I took in the fish that had seen better days in a Ziploc with a little bit of water.  They tested the water when I got there to see what the problem was; ammonia was too high, but the kid helping me said that it could have been just because the dead fish was in the bag also.  Let me tell you, right now I was actually missing the crazy pet lady who had helped us previously because the kid acted so confused.  Anyways, I head home with a new fish and am told to put a little more of the Ph balancer in the tank. And so I did.
A fresh start, a new batman and the kids had no clue the next morning that this wasn’t the same fish.  I was in the clear.  No melt downs, no heart aches, just two happy children with a new little guy to love. Well guess what, this darn fish only lasted three days. Dang it!   How I found out this time: Teague comes to me and says Batman is sick, sure enough he is floating on top no longer Batman black but more of a silver color.  Okay, so let’s think about this: I have been through the Michael Keaton Batman and now the Val Kilmer Batman.  Let’s try again with George Clooney… not feeling much hope with this guy though… he was the worst of the Batmans.
I talked to the original crazy pet lady this time and gave her my sample water with no fish and tell her what has been going on.  She advises me to let the tank run fish free for 3 days.  I do just that.  I tell the kids that Batman is at the doctor and they totally buy it.  I pick up Batman (George) in exactly 3 days.  This guy lasts for one day.  We all know that it can’t be Cat Woman hurting this Batman since she doesn’t like water.  Now I don’t know what to do… Do I even attempt Christian Bale or is this water infested by the Penguin himself?

Almost buried treasure

Ally’s little soggy hands clutched the yellow flashlight swinging it back and forth on the concrete path. To hold our loot, I came armed with a large stained white pail dangling from my left arm.  Her four year old figure shivered from the cold as we desperately searched for signs of anything foreign on the ground surrounding us. As we stood there, I looked straight ahead trying to see my hand directly in front of my face. Nothing.  It was complete darkness all around us.  Only two illuminations were to be seen in what else was considered a black sheet covering the night.  One ray of light came from the corner of the street and the other beam leading back to the flash light grasped tightly between my little sister’s hands. Our eyes moved rapidly scanning the concrete while we paced back and forth. I took a deep breath in; my chest expanding. The cold air almost pierced my throat as I inhaled.  I recognized the smell of mud and the freshly cut grass that lingered in the air. 

My sister and I would have been completely silent if it had not been for the sound of water cracking underneath our feet.  As we disrupted each and every puddle, a warm sensation rushed over our little bare feet. The water ran across our feet like a running stream. Underneath the mud felt extremely soft as it squished between our toes with every step we took, as if we were walking on little mounds of pudding. The rain that continued to come down lightly had now become just a vague warm mist. With each droplet that continued to fall, our clothing began to feel like we were carrying heavy baggage on our shoulders.  It was imperative we find what we were looking for.  Our future depended on it.  Just then out of the corner of my eye, I saw a glimmer of hope. There all over the ground lie our valued treasures. I scanned the perimeter, making sure no one threatened our fortune.  I rushed to grab the money; as fast as I could blink our treasure would disappear.  Ally then spotted another one.  We had stumbled onto a gold mine. She reached for her coin almost dropping the only source of light we had into the water.  We still had no luck. Again, our plunder had vanished into thin air.  I grabbed for one.  I had it!  Almost.  The gold slipped right through my fingers, but not before my skin had begun to crawl. I glanced down to pick up the treasure again.  There was nothing where my precious jewel had landed just seconds earlier.  The ground must have swallowed it whole!  I couldn’t believe my eyes. Our victory looked hopeless.

Ally and I began to feel defeated and scared that our payment would never come. Our future was in jeopardy.  A prize we had dedicated much of our time and energy to seemed to be out of reach.  Gone.  I felt so vulnerable at that very moment in time.  However, just as I was ready to give up, I heard a high pitched shriek coming from my sister’s direction. As Ally patrolled the ground with light, we just smiled.  There in the glow we saw the ground littered with money.  This time we worked much faster and worked together.  I placed my bucket on the ground so I could dig into the treasure with both hands. Ally and I were not just soaking wet but also covered in filth.  With each jewel we tossed into the pail we could in vision our reward getting closer and closer. This fortune we had been collecting was absolutely meaningless to us, but to others these jewels meant the world. It meant a means to a whole other fortune.  To my sister and me, this was just a job.  Merely a task we had to complete to get us one step closer to our real treasure. We worked together diligently, tossing one and then another until the bucket was half full. The pail was getting so heavy; we could barely lift it up. We decided to call it quits.  We were in desperate need of rest along with a set of clean, dry clothes.  We agreed to exchange the fortune first thing in the morning. 

The following morning could not have come soon enough.  Exhausted, Ally and I headed uptown to the local store to trade our findings.  With a radiant glow, we proudly handed over the valued treasure. We sat quietly on the edge of our cold metal chairs as Grandpa counted out each and every piece.  I could vaguely hear him counting underneath his breath.  198… 199…200.  200!  As he said that number my heart jumped.  That was just enough!  Ally and I could hardly contain our excitement.  Grandpa took his two hundred pieces and in our tiny palms placed ten dollars in each of our youthful hands.  Twenty dollars was exactly what we needed to buy our precious “The Littlest Pet Shop” store! 

We walked triumphantly into Wal-Mart. We knew exactly where our treasure rested. I stepped on my tip-toes and grabbed the huge box filled with our very own pet store.  We marched up to the counter and slapped down our money victoriously.  Now we had our pet shop and Grandpa had all the worms he needed for his fishermen.  Our goal had been achieved.    Or so we thought.

At the time we believed our little pet shop was the true treasure.  But we were mistaken.  The real treasure was right beside me the whole time.  It has taken me years to figure out why this cold wet night is embedded in my mind.  That bucket of worms was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.  It was the first of many times my sister and I would work side by side.  We had many adventures, catching tinker bell (fireflies), making dandelion bracelets, and hunting for mushrooms.  None of these things still exist and yet our sisterly bond remains.   As adults we now have a relationship that is more valuable than any bucket of worms. 

Recently, I saw that very pet shop again at my mother’s house.  My Daughter, Tybee had sat down to play with it.  Oblivious to just how much effort and time it took to get this toy fifteen years ago or the relationship that was made that day. She just played and played treating it like all the other toys surrounding her.

Today Tybee is outside in her sprinkler running around carelessly.  I am watching her from the porch with her baby brother in my lap.  All of a sudden she stops dead in her tracks.  The water is still flying all over the yard and landscape.  She stands still.  Tybee spotted the very same treasure crossing her concrete path as Ally and I did years ago.  As she was frozen in time, I caught myself lost in thought. I wondered.  Will she pick up that slimy worm to start her very own treasure hunt?  Or will she realize on her own that her most valuable treasure was the little worm sitting on my lap?

Friday, March 4, 2011

The case of the missing rubber duckie :)

     I am not one to complain and I am certainly not one to point fingers at other peoples parenting.  I think today that may have to change for just one split second, just long enough for me to rant about this one.  I know all parents think their child is the cutest kid in the world. (Trust me; I am one of those people except mine really are the cutest ;)  I am also one of those people who think that ALL children are cute.  I see a child and I am immediately wrapped around their finger, even not so “cute” children. J  SO PLEASE KEEP THAT IN MIND AS I CONTINUE!
    Yesterday, I was on my lunch hour at Von-Maur looking for a new jacket.  I have a limited amount of time and am really concentrated on the task at hand: Finding a new Jacket!  As I am speed shopping through the racks, I hear this: “squeak, squeak, squeak” Now I am looking around to find where are earth this ridiculous noise is coming from.  I still can’t find the source; however, I did notice that I was not the only women wondering what this horrendous sound was.  It sounded like a dog was viciously murdering a rubber duck, and the duck was squeaking for its life.  Fun, huh. You know you want to experience this heavenly sound now after I tempted you with that wonderful description.   For a split second there was nothing, I took a deep breath and continued my exploration. It started again.  This time the beat was faster and one squeak was a smidge louder than the other. “Squeak, SQUEAK, squeak, SQUEAK. What the heck was this noise?  I am by the clothing rack closest to the door and all of a sudden this mom comes from the children’s clothing area. (Happens to be right by women’s clothing)  The sound seems to attached to her somewhere because it is getting louder the closer she comes to me.  Just then, out pops a little girl from in between the clothing racks!  This noise is coming from her.
     I frantically looking her up and down and check her hands.  Nothing.  No duck. No dog chew toy. No Wheezy from Toy Story (I should’ve known about that one, since he no longer had a squeaker!)  Where is it coming from?  HER SHOES!! With every step this precious little girl took, a ridiculous noise projected from her feet!!! I thought something must be stuck to her feet or something, then I overheard a woman close by tell another lady about the shoes.  I thought “you have to be kidding me, someone would do this on purpose?”  If you are a mother, you know that your kids are never quiet; they are noisy enough without some silly shoes.  On a side note, the shoes themselves were adorable but if I bought these and heard this crap I would have immediately returned them.  I do what I always do and research it the moment I get back to work.  Sure enough, these were actually shoes and they had a brilliant name “Squeak Me Shoes”.  WHAT!?!?!?  Oh wait it gets even better, not only is there a whole website for this lovely foot work but it also comes with a catchy little slogan “Hear your child at all times”. Really? Have the makers of these shoes ever been around children?  Do they have their own children? I understand what the makers were thinking: “O you’ll never lose your child and they will always be in ear shot.”, but we all know that the majority of the times when you need to worry about your child is when they are completely silent!  Those shoes will not help you then.  Try keeping an eye on your child instead.  Furthermore,  I am going to go out on a limb here and say that you ALWAYS hear your children!!!
  After I come down from my pedestal above the shoe making company, I then start to think about it. Let’s say they do make this annoying shoe, WHO on earth would buy them.  Lets then say that maybe grandma bought them for their sweet first born grandchild…. What mother in her right mind would then put these darn things on their feet?  Could you imagine if you were that child?  I would be eternally scared from this, every time I watched Ernie on Sesame Street I would have an uncontrollable urge to gallop and not know why! Hehe
  Even if you were not worried about your child’s psyche and were deaf to high pitch sounds, wouldn’t  you think of others as you were swiping your credit card to purchase these teeny little noise makers? 
    So the question remains… Why on earth would you buy these?  If someone can give me a LOGICAL explanation, I will retract my opinion on these ridiculous creatures!  Hey, I’m open-minded!