Monday, February 28, 2011

February, according to Twitter

Winter storm's timing disappoints me for a very selfish reason: I have an overdue hair appointment in the morning. I have crazy hair.

Thankful that Aunt Ami made it safely from Austin last night before the storm hit.

Katie learned the story of "Wicked" before "The Wizard of Oz." She is therefore suspect of Baum's version of the Wicked Witch.

Power out.

Power back!

We're back from a quick walk. Wind chill is 1 degree. KT: "I really want to go to Fiji."

Skyped for the first time ever -- with cousin Tara, who is working hard on school projects in humid Savannah. We showed her some Frisco ice.

Part of tomorrow's plan: Read the last 3 chapters of HP & the Chamber of Secrets & watch the movie. (Not sure I can handle the spiders.)

I have been patient with this weather and its delays. My patience will run out if tomorrow I'm unable to fly to Belize as planned.

KT: "If Daddy were still in the hospital, I would visit him all the time."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Where is the best park? Blogger helps you pick

From today's Briefing:

Helen Bonlie takes child’s play seriously.

For two years she’s been blogging about some of the Dallas area’s best playgrounds, helping her readers find unusual climbing structures and shaded parks across a six-county area.

The blog,, offers photos and commentary on parks from Arlington to Rockwall , DeSoto to Allen. Helen welcomes guest bloggers to fill in on cities she can’t reach as often.

I spoke with Helen this week about her blog and some of her favorite parks, just in time for springlike weather and outdoor adventures. Here are excerpts from our conversation and her blog.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

In the school of parenting, you must be a quick study

From today's Briefing:

Sometimes I get restless for school life. The rhythm, the constant discovery, the guarantee of new people to meet each semester.

I’ll even toy with the idea of an advanced degree, romanticizing the idea of new books, tests, research papers (and ignoring the stress of buying new books, studying for tests and writing research papers).

There are a few obstacles in the way; lack of time is at the top of the list. And truly, I have no pressing need for more formal education.
In the meantime, I’ve got plenty of tuition-free learning opportunities right here at home. I’m constantly learning — or relearning — along with my children.
Thanks to Cooper and Katie, I can confidently discuss the narwhal (also known as the unicorn of the sea) — and not just from frequent viewings of Elf. I know a little about the Caddo Indians of Texas and ancient Mongolians. I have a cursory knowledge of the patent process.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Blue & Gold

(photo by Layne Smith)

Cooper received his Webelo badge at tonight's Blue and Gold Banquet. He has one year until he crosses over into Boy Scouts.

Let's take a moment to let that sink in. I'll help you with this photo, taken in September 2007, when Cooper was a new Tiger Cub.

New Tiger Cub Cooper

Back then, Steve was the Designated Scout Parent. He was in charge of all things Scout related -- uniforms, meetings, activities, achievements. 

A few months later, of course, everything changed. Steve helped as much as he could, but he had to reluctantly give up one of the jobs he loved most.

Since then, I've been the Designated Scout Parent, with a whole bunch of helpers -- Papa, Uncle Jim, Uncle Greg, Wade, Bill, Jackie (who often watches Katie during meetings). I'm proud of Cooper's accomplishments as a Scout and thankful for the help we've received.

Katie and Cooper, before the banquet

Corey, Cooper and Asher

Webelos on stage

Betty, Jim, Cooper and Katie after the banquet

Tyra, Katie and Cooper

More photos are available here.

(photo by Layne)

Friday, February 18, 2011

True comfort is the best nourishment for the soul

In today's Briefing:

I’m a big fan of comfort food, even though I know it’s much better for the soul than the body.
Because I like the eating much more than the preparation, I don’t indulge very often. This week was an exception, when I tackled a from-scratch version of chicken and dumplings.
Years ago, when I worried less about processed foods, I had a quick version of the dish. It required cans of soup, cooked chicken breasts, frozen veggies and a biscuit mix. The dish was inexpensive and quick but too salty, and it wasn’t so delicious that it was worth the extra fat and calories.
My attempt Monday night was purely organic — chicken, cream, broth, carrots, celery, onions, even the flour and corn meal. Full of fat and calories, yes, but at least organic. (And expensive. The whole chicken alone cost $17; one of its nonorganic friends would have cost less than half that.)
I browned the chicken, sautéed the vegetables, boiled it all and then shredded the chicken from the bones.
You know I really want to eat a dish when I’m willing to separate meat from bone. I’m never able to shred it gracefully with two forks like the experts on cooking shows. I tear, rip and pull, leaving behind a mangled pile of bones and fat and a little meat (because I just get tired and disgusted with the whole thing).

Thursday, February 17, 2011

We can't freeze time, but we can live in the moment

From today's Briefing:

I recently found a note to myself, dated April 8, 2004. My son, an only child at the time, was not yet 3.
“I was shopping for the Easter Bunny at Target last night, so sad that most of the baby toys are too babyish for Cooper and so upset that most of the next level of toys are all big-boy toys — hot rods, soldiers, scary-looking superheroes. So I bought yet another Little People set and impulsively and irrationally wished for time to just stand still.”
I can’t count the number of times since that I’ve been similarly irrational, wanting to freeze a moment or two or 10 — and that’s just this week.
Our elementary school celebrated Valentine’s Day with classroom parties. More than one world-wise middle-school parent has warned me that these parties don’t happen past fifth grade. The universal message: Enjoy it while you can. So I soaked up as many details as possible.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Best way to tackle tough terrain: one step at a time

From yesterday's Briefing:

Deep in the jungles of Belize I rediscovered a simple truth: To accomplish a big task, you must take one step at a time — sometimes without even looking beyond the next step.

I relied on that strategy on every adventure I tackled last weekend, when three friends escaped the Dallas snow for the Cayo District of Belize.

Our first challenge was a 6-mile journey from our hotel to the nearest town — in a canoe on the Macal River. The staff warned us that the water level was low (it’s dry season in Belize). They didn’t discourage us but did warn that it could take up to four hours.

We scoffed. Four hours? We were confident we’d make it in three. (I’m not sure how we conjured such bravado; only one of us had navigated a river in a canoe before.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Many parental worries are of our own making

In tomorrow's Briefing:

Friends and I often talk about how difficult it is to be a parent.
We worry about discipline, values, self-esteem, homework, relationships, bullies, drugs, alcohol, materialism, technology, nutrition, health, safety.
We worry about what we can control and the staggering circumstances we’re certain we can’t.
But my concerns have been slightly adjusted by a little perspective, courtesy of a weekend getaway to Belize. I was reminded that most of the worries we middle-class American parents harbor are little luxuries.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Moms who blog are sharing more than just their diaries

In tomorrow's Briefing:

Community is an important concept to mom and entrepreneur Amy Locurto.
The Dallas-area graphic designer is also an active blogger and busy crafter, a nurturer of online relationships and encourager to other women , and a family photographer.
She’s just returned from Blissdom, a national conference of mostly female bloggers who meet to network, to improve their sites and businesses and to share their passion for social media.
Locurto, 39, is co-founder of the popular website, which shares photography tips and sponsors weekly contests that draw up to 1,000 entries at a time. She also manages the website, on which she shares fanciful party ideas, crafts and free templates for cards and stationery. She also sells printable projects.
“I’m a creative person,” she says. “I always have ideas in my head.”

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Winter storm’s silver lining: a rest from all the hurrying

There are few things that will force a family to slow down like an ice storm in North Texas. I’m thankful for the occasional pause.
We’re fortunate in that I already work from home and don’t have to risk my life or others’ by venturing out in treacherous conditions. I’m a Dallas native and have experienced enough winter storms to know that we’re collectively ill prepared to navigate the roads when they’re coated with a layer of ice.
Tuesday morning’s windy, thundery, extra loud sleet forced our household to stop and breathe. To make deliberate choices instead of reflexive ones. To enjoy a day with little expectation.