Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
If you've never attended the Epcot Food and Wine Fest, plan to go. It started this past weekend and runs through the middle of November. My favorite part is working my way "around the world" and sampling all the different foods, wines, and beers from the kiosks set up in each country. There are also wine tasting events, seminars, celebrity chef appearances, and grande tasting events. Maybe one day we'll attend one of those but for now, we're just happy to taste our way around the world.
I've already mapped out some of the items I'm looking forward to trying. Africa's bobotie with mango chutney, Shanghai's ginger ice cream, Louisiana's crawfish etouffee, New England lobster roll, Irish cheese selection, and the French champagne selections. The first year we attended, Florida had a special booth set up featuring Florida shrimp. It was excellent. Which reminds me of another reason I love this event.
The Epcot Food and Wine fest attracts mostly Floridians. Usually, as we work our way around the world, we end up getting to know the other visitors as we're all traveling in the same direction and stopping to sample along the way. We've met people from all over Florida and most of the people we've met are attending the event for the sixth, seventh, or twelfth consecutive year.
A word of caution, this is not an event for kids even though it takes place at a Disney theme park. You can certainly take the kids, but it's not a lot of fun for them. Standing in line, tasting strange foods and mingling with lots of adults is just not so entertaining for the under 16 age group. And who can blame them. But for adults, this is heaven!
Another tip, pace yourself. Otherwise, you can find yourself a little overbeveraged after only a few countries. I pace myself by shopping in each of the individual countries' gift shops. It's a great place to find unusual stocking stuffers, gift items, etc with the holiday season approaching. I usually buy my kids candies from all the different countries. They love receiving these in their Christmas stockings.
So, my recommendation, take some time to attend the Epcot Food and Wine fest. It's a great big Florida party!
Friday, September 26, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
My Mammaw reads my blog every week (Which is why it’s so PG). She reads it from my mom’s computer (mom lives next door, has a computer, and Internet access. Well if you can call dial-up having Internet access). So she and my mother are checking in on a regular basis, reading NativeMom (did I mention that I keep things PG), and Mammaw is really enjoying it. So much so, that she wants to share it with her sisters in Texas. Only her sisters don’t have Internet access. Or computers for that matter.
So she and my mom print out all of my blog posts, using up an entire ink cartridge and possibly killing a tree in the process. She then mails the printed copies to her sisters. That’s right, by snail mail.
Now at the start of this blog post I said that Mammaw had found a new way to share information ON the Internet, not WITH the Internet.
Generation Gap be damned! Ooops, I mean darned!
Now I can see how that would be annoying to jump in the shower and realize your shampoo is empty or missing altogether. There’s toothpaste squeezed from the tube and now glued to the counter of the sink. You have no more clean socks left and the likelihood of ever getting them back – both socks in the pair – is now slim and none.
I, myself have the opposite problem. I’m not sure which is worse.
I rarely make the climb upstairs at my house to the kids’ rooms and bathroom. Maybe once or twice a week I pop in their room, but I hardly ever use their bathroom. A couple of weeks ago I was putting clean towels away in their bathroom when I noticed the toothpaste tube had been squeezed dry. A quick look around and I find several more things: no shampoo, no soap, no toilet paper on the roll.
Hmmmm. So I ask.
MiniMe, how long have you been out of soap up here?
“Ummm. I don’t know. I use the bathgel or the shampoo.”
Well, how long have you been out of shampoo?
“Ummm. I don’t know.”
Well, let me ask you this, when was the last time you used shampoo on your hair when you took a bath?
“Ummm. Maybe a couple of days ago?”
So apparently, for at least a few days, but I suspect longer, there’s been no soap or shampoo in the kids’ bathroom. I don’t know how long they’ve been out of toilet paper (and maybe I don’t want to know). I suspect that the toothpaste tube has been squeezed dry for a while.
It’s not as if I don’t keep extra toilet paper (I buy in bulk), shampoo, soap, toothpaste, even new toothbrushes stockpiled in the house. All they have to do is get it or ask me for it. What’s wrong with these stinky, halitosis-ridden kids!!!
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Wondertwin and I are going shopping for charity.
“Shopping for charity? How in the hell do you shop for charity? You're making this up.”
Actually, Wondertwin sits on the board of a local charity and bought passes that get you a special discount at a certain department store in town on Saturday. She purchased the passes from the charity. The charity keeps the proceeds from selling the special discount pass. Wondertwin and I get to shop and get a tax deduction at the same time. Bonus!
“Now I’ve heard everything. You sure are getting more creative in finding an excuse to go shopping.What’s next, Spa Day for Charity?”
Friday, September 19, 2008
I came across two Florida art exhibits that I wanted to mention today since this is Florida artist week on NativeMom.
First, a well-known Florida photographer whose award-winning works capture the true Florida landscape (a shout out to Florida Cracker, also a great photographer of natural Florida, you'll appreciate this exhibit). Clyde Butcher has been documenting the natural beauty of Florida for more than 30 years (that's Clyde's work in this post). His large-format black and white images capture the rapidly disappearing beauty of Florida, especially the Everglades and Big Cypress region. He uses 8 X 10 and 12 X 20 view cameras, which give him the ability to capture elaborate detail. Butcher says the goal of his work is to encourage conservation of Florida's natural places. His home and gallery, Big Cypress Gallery, are located on 13 acres in the middle of the million-acre Big Cypress National Preserve. See his works on exhibit through October at Fort Myers’ Southwest Florida Museum of History.
Now, for something completely, er, different. Art by Florida inmates. Really.
Florida’s correctional facilities inmates and former inmates get a platform for their creative side in Art from the Inside. The exhibition runs through November 13 in the Division of Cultural Affairs’ Gallery for Innovation & the Arts in Tallahassee (R.A. Gray Building, 3rd Floor, 500 South Bronough Street). The gallery is dedicated to showcasing Florida artwork that is educational and demonstrates inventive ways of using visual media to convey new ideas and highlight often unheard voices.
Fall is art show month in Florida. There's a great art show just about every weekend now through Thanksgiving somewhere in the Sunshine State. A few I'd recommend you check out include:
- Hyde Park Village Art Festival, Sept. 27, 28, Hyde Park Village, Tampa
- Melbourne Main Street Masters of Art Festival, Oct. 4-6, Historic Downtown Melbourne
- Autumn Art Festival, Downtown Winter Park, Oct. 11-12
- Halifax Art Festival, Nov. 1-2, Historic Downtown Daytona Beach
- DeLand Fall Festival of the Arts, Nov. 22-23, Historic Downtown DeLand
- St. Augustine Fall Arts Festival, Nov. 29-30, St. Augustine event grounds
Thursday, September 18, 2008
You fell down on your duties last night and should be ashamed of yourself! What were you doing last night that was so important that you couldn’t swing by to reward MiniMe for losing not just one tooth, but two teeth in one day? Beauty Sleep? All night rave party? Blind date?
There’s really no excuse. The one and only job you have to do each night is sneak into sleeping children’s rooms and replace their little baby teeth, safe and secure under their little pillows, with some spare change (or a dollar or two). MiniMe was counting on you and you let her down.
C'mon, the life of a fairy can’t be that difficult, especially in comparison to the life of us working moms. For instance, yesterday, I got up, made breakfast for MiniMe, myself and fed all the pets in our house. I walked her to the bus stop while taking the dogs for their morning walk. I then drove for an hour to meetings with two different clients. Lunch in the car on the way to another city with another client. Then rush back home in time to pick up MiniMe and attend the Open House at the elementary school. Home by 7 p.m. and time to feed everyone (including the pets again). Clean up kitchen, check homework, and finally at 9:30 p.m. I’m done. I collapse into an exhausted heap and fall asleep immediately, all the while counting on you to do your job as MiniMe sleeps soundly with two little teeth under her pillow.
This morning she comes into the kitchen for breakfast in tears, holding the little bag with her teeth, her face red, tears streaming down her little cheeks and says “Mommy, the tooth fair didn’t come!”
Lucky for you, Mommy had five dollars, a lot of hugs and a unique way of making everything right again in her little world.
Shame on you tooth fairy! Shame, Shame, Shame!
Monday, September 15, 2008
Terri Lawson and Murphy, Halifax Humane Society's humane education dog.
Today is the start of what I'm calling "Florida Artist Week" here at NativeMom. Today's featured Florida artist is Terri Lawson. I had the privilege of chronicling Lawson giving an art lesson to the Halifax Humane Society's humane education dog, Murphy today. It was all done in fun and to promote the humane society's upcoming animal art auction.
Terri works in a unique medium, paper clay. Her whimsical sculptures are the embodiment of her positive and fun outlook on life and her love of animals. Her artwork has been featured at the Museum of Florida Art among others.
Friday, September 12, 2008
With professional teams losing their family audience due to high ticket prices and the economy, I think this new tool in keeping the fan experience a positive one is great. In fact, I'd like to see it used in other places. Wouldn't it be great if . . .
The person in front of you in the bank drive-thru must be attempting to take out a loan they're taking so long. TEXT!
The movie you've just paid $9 to see starts and 6 teens sit down in the row behind you, talk loudly, kick your chair and proceed to chat on their cell phones. TEXT!
You're in line at the register of a retail establishment when the person in front of you starts spouting off very rudely and loudly on the teenage customer service employee behind the counter for no good reason. TEXT!
You're attempting to merge on I-95 during the morning rush. The car in front of you, instead of getting up to speed to merge safely with oncoming traffic, slows to a stop like they're waiting for the light to change. TEXT!
Hmmm. Those cell phone bills might actually be worth it.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
But MiniMe, oh my, she's one young lady in demand. She has two, count them two, birthday parties to attend this weekend. One of which is at the indoor playground place (bless you mom of birthday child who chose this event location!!!), which means I can drop her off, leave and when I pick her up later, she'll be tuckered out. Kool! I love the kind of birthday parties where parents don't have to stay. For the cost of a present, you get a couple of hours of free time. Kinda like babysitting, but much more fun for my daughter.
The other party, I'm a little confused about. It's supposed to be a sleepover. This Friday night. The birthday girl's mom called and left a message that MiniMe was invited. But, and here's where it gets confusing, no printed invitation was sent home before or after the call, which I'm now referring to as a "mystery message."
I have confirmed that A. My daughter knows the "alleged" birthday girl and 2. That other kids have been invited to the party and are planning to attend. I called the mystery mom back and left a message saying MiniMe could attend, but that I needed information on time and place (ie directions to your home would be nice). Haven't heard back. Haven't gotten a note sent home. Nada, nothing, squat! And it's now 48 hours until the "alleged" birthday party.
Perhaps this birthday girl is some sort of celebrity and, as such, providing too much advanced notice on the time and location of the party would attract swarms of paparazzi. Or maybe her mom is in witness protection. I don't know, but it's getting a little irritating having to hunt this woman down for information on this alleged party. Who do I look like, Mrs. Sherlock Holmes?
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
These are just a few of the things I recently learned about my grandmother when I spent an afternoon with her. It was just the two of us and we had plenty of time to talk. I don’t often get the opportunity to spend much time with my grandmother as we live about an hour apart and because of my busy work and life schedule. But I can’t believe that after all these years I never knew my southern grandmother didn’t like biscuits.
This may explain why it took my mom, who is a great southern cook, years and dozens of failed attempts before she mastered biscuit making from scratch. Not that making biscuits from scratch is easy. I don’t think I’ve ever done it (but I make a mean Pillsbury Crescent Roll). I just didn’t realize that mom probably never learned to make biscuits because her mom didn’t make biscuits. Why? Because the very sight of a biscuit makes my grandmother ill. At least that’s what she says.
I have tried over the years to learn more about my grandmother. I think she has a fascinating story. She is one of four sisters and grew up in Louisiana. She was married four times. Her first husband died in a plane accident. Her second husband died of a heart attack in his 40s. Her third husband died of cancer, as did her fourth and last husband. She also lost her only son to the Vietnam war. I’ve always marveled at how one woman could withstand such loss of the men in her life. I think that maybe her natural spunkiness has something to do with her resilience and longevity.
She is rather spunky. Let me illustrate. When MiniMe was two years old, my mom and dad gave her a spring horse. You know the big plastic kind attached to a stand by springs that kids sit on and bounce up and down? Well, for some reason known only to her, grandma decided she’d give the bouncy horse a go. She saddled up, bounced once, twice and off she went. Bounced herself right off it. It may be the only time in history an 82-year-old woman was bucked off a spring horse. Once we realized she was ok, we laughed and laughed and laughed. I think grandma laughed hardest.
It’s a sight I’ll never forget. And I guess it just proves that my grandmother knows, perhaps better than anyone else, that life can bounce you in many different directions, but it’s best to take it in stride and get right back on the horse. (Though we never let her near that particular spring horse again!)
I got to enjoy the outdoors on Saturday by motorcycle. And just when I thought I'd seen everything, I wandered across this.
It's a little hard to see because I had to get Beloved to take a photo with the cell phone, but this is a surfboard strapped to a motorcycle. For real. Now is this guy a Florida biker or what? I'm not quite sure how he rides with a surfboard strapped onto his bike. We saw this at an event called "The Redneck Games" in New Smyrna Beach. We didn't intend to end up at the Redneck Games. It just happened.
Other unusual sights at the Redneck Games included a Daisy Duke contest, a Mullet contest (the haircut not the fish), Redneck Horseshoes, which involved tossing toilet seats around spikes in the ground, and my favorite, Port-O-Let Fishing. Ewww, right? Actually, instead of trying to catch something out of the port-o-let, this event had people throwing real frozen fish into open port-o-lets with the goal being to "sink" the fish in the toilet. Who thinks of this stuff?
I was actually part of "one of those things you don't see everyday" this weekend. I took part in a ladies-only motorcycle ride Saturday morning. There were nine ladies and we rode to DeLand for lunch. We caused quite a stir. Fellow motorists slowed and gave a thumbs up as they came alongside our group. Patrons in the restaurant parking lot stopped to stare and take pictures as 9 lady bikers came roaring in. One elderly fellow actually exclaimed as he got out of his Buick in the handicapped parking space "Now that's something I've never seen. I've never seen a group of bikers and all of them ladies!"
You just never know what you'll see along the backroads of Florida.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
First, I came across an article by the Associated Press on Florida's Bright Futures scholarship, the state scholarship that rewards Florida students for academic achievement by paying either 75 percent or 100 percent of tuition at Florida's community, state and vocational colleges. Bright Futures is funded by Florida Lottery proceeds.
I was intrigued by what one critic of the scholarship program had to say, former Florida university system chancellor now California university chancellor Charles Reed.
Critics sometimes call it the "BMW scholarship" because the windfall allows parents to use college savings for other purposes such as buying their children fancy cars.
"Go around the universities and look at the BMWs and Corvettes," said Charles Reed, a former State University System chancellor. "It's embarrassing."
"It does not have any need-based criteria, so the upper-middle class and the wealthy get rewarded," Reed said in a telephone interview. "It has to be one of the best giveaway programs in America."
Hmmm. I wonder what kind of car Reed's driving these days?
I happen to love the Bright Futures scholarship, and yes, we benefit from it. Our son qualified for the 75 percent scholarship and it is one reason he is doing so well in college. He knows that if his grades drop and he loses the scholarship, we're not paying his tuition. We're also not buying him a BMW. But we weren't going to do that anyway.
The article, which by the way points out that Bright Futures is so popular, no politician will touch it, also included another supposed criticism by Bright Futures opponents. That the program "helps the children of the rich at the expense of the poor, who buy lots of lottery tickets but are least likely to qualify for scholarships."
Did this line, which was not a direct quote, make it through the editing process as a joke? I mean, the last time I checked, the people at my local 7 Eleven and Winn Dixie buying lottery tickets were not purchasing under duress (unless you count having to wait in a line 20 minutes long because the lottery is so popular as duress) . It's not like any one's holding a gun to Granny's head to get those weekly Quick Picks.
Anyway, as I finished reading the AP article, I got an e-mail from Wondertwin that had a Florida Lottery connection. Seems that at her place of employment, a staff member takes it upon himself or herself to let other employees know when the lottery rolls over from week to week by sending a helpful email. Wondertwin, who doesn't often find herself "feelin' lucky", decided she'd had enough and sent the following e-mail to her fellow co-workers (which she agreed to let me share with you since I found it so amusing and it's Florida Lottery day on NativeMom):
I've given this a lot of thought, and well, I just don't feel comfortable with a lot of wealth. Statistics show that within 5 years I'd be depressed, broke, questioning my personal relationships and generally lacking direction in life. To that end, I ask that you please remove me from the Lotto e-mail list, but know that when you win -- and I feel certain that one day you will -- that I'll be here for you, holding down the fort while you trek to Tallahassee to collect your winnings.
(You're all coming back to work, yes?)
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
My generation is diligent, or you might say fanatical, about using sunscreen. Which got me thinking, when did sunscreen become so available and widespread? The group by my pool couldn’t remember our parents putting sunscreen on us much if at all when we were kids, which partially explains the growth of the dermatology industry.
I often tell MiniMe that her mom grew up in “dangerous times” and that I’m lucky to have survived at all. As a kid, I didn’t wear sunscreen, a bike helmet or a seat belt. The only thing our parents protected us from was sitting too close to the TV (You’ll ruin your eyes!), making funny faces (your face will freeze like that), and drowning due to cramps caused by entering the water after eating without first waiting 30-minutes.
But back to sunscreen. I did a quick bit of research and determined that no, our parents weren’t throwing caution to the wind in sending us out as kids without sunscreen in Florida. In the 60s and early 70s, only suntan lotion was available - a lotion or oil designed to help you achieve a golden tan, not protect you from harmful rays. It wasn’t until the mid-70s that sunscreen with SPF factors started to appear on the market, and most were only at the 2, 4 or 8 level. The FDA didn’t begin regulation of sunscreen until the late 70s. Researchers didn’t discover that ultraviolet-B and ultraviolet-A rays initiate cancer until the 1980s, which is when sunscreen got serious.
I did discover in my walk down sunscreen memory lane that Florida has a unique connection to one of America’s most iconic sunscreen brands, Coppertone. The suncare maker sealed its place in U.S. advertising history when it launched an ad in 1959 featuring a little girl in pigtails whose dog was tugging her bathing suit bottoms down to reveal a tan line. The ad campaign, launched Coppertone to become the most successful sun care brand in U.S. history and the Coppertone Girl is one of the most beloved and recognized symbols of commercial art ever created.
So what’s the Florida connection? The artist who created that iconic image was Joyce Ballantyne Brand. The artist moved to Ocala in the 1970s where she lived until her death in 2006. Joyce created the Coppertone Girl illustration, for which she was paid $2,500, using her 3-year-old daughter Cheri as a model. As an artist, Joyce enjoyed a long and successful career illustrating commercial art, with no thanks to Disney. The Walt Disney Company rescinded a scholarship to attend its famous animation school that Joyce won as a teen by entering an illustration contest. According to Joyce, when a Disney representative realized their winning art contestant was female and a teenager, he told Joyce she could not receive the spot at animation school because women got married and had babies, not careers.
Joyce lived into her 90s in Florida under the shadow of the Mouse who was slow to recognize the potential of women as a gender. Funny how today the company benefits from all us mommies who plan the family vacation and cover our kids with sunscreen along the way.