Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Back up plan

Yesterday MiniMe told me she has a back up plan. For a little more than a year now, she's proclaimed that when she grows up she wants to be a photographer. Which I encourage, or course. And actually, she's already pretty good at it. She's been taking pictures and video since she was only in the single-digit age.

Anyway, yesterday she said that just in case she doesn't make it as a photographer, she has a back up plan. To which I replied, "Well, that's good. There's a lot of adults I know who don't have a back up plan, so I think that's a good idea."

What is her back up plan, I inquired.

"In case photography doesn't work out, I plan to go to law school and become a judge," she says in all seriousness. "I think I'd make a good judge."

Yes, I agree, you would. 

Monday, September 28, 2009

Special Offer for Florida Residents

Beloved and I will be making our 4th annual trip to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival soon. We've always just purchased tickets for the park for the day. But this year, I got an e-mail reminding me of a special offer for Florida residents (like me!). Disney is offering its annual pass for 15 months instead of 12. So I did the math (with my trusty calculator) and figured out that since Beloved and I were spending two days this year at the Food & Wine Fest, it actually worked out cheaper to buy the annual passes. That's because, since it covers 15 months, we'll get to go to the Food & Wine Festival a couple of days this year AND a couple of days next year with the annual pass. And we can visit a few other parks this year in between, all for about the same price. Believe it or not, Beloved has never been to the Magic Kingdom. I guess he'll get to go now. 

So if you're considering making a trip to the "World" for any of the upcoming special events (Food & Wine Fest, Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween, Christmas events, etc), and you're a Florida resident, check out the special offer. 

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fall in Florida - No Waiting!

Enjoyed the local waterpark with the family yesterday. Beautiful day, great weather, and no waiting in lines for the rides since the tourist season has wound down. The lazy river wasn't a crowded bumper-car like experience. I even rode a few rides with MiniMe. 

The strangest thing, though, and this really happened, unfortunately. There were two women at the park, sitting not far from me on the pool deck. I happened to talk to one of the women, who told me that she and her friend were there to have a fun day without their kids. Not exactly the place I would have chosen to go on a kid-free Saturday with my girlfriend - a waterpark with nothing but kids surrounding you. They were sitting at the little tiki bar at the waterpark for a while. About an hour later, I come strolling by and now one of the ladies is dancing, drunkedly, around the bar. Uh-oh, I thought to myself. Another hour later and now both of the ladies are dancing drunkedly and suggestively as children scamper past. Cut those two off, I thought. 

I get back from a trip around the lazy river, and now there's a small gathering of park personnel around the ladies. One has passed out on the pool deck after getting sick. The other is apologizing to the park personnel while sitting half on and half off her lounge chair. 

Geez! What were these two thinking? "Let's each pay $20 to go to a family-filled waterpark on Saturday, spend a fortune buying overpriced shots and mixed drinks at the poolside tiki bar, and then show the local kids the effects of binge drinking up close." 

We're steps away from the beach, which has several bars for adults along the boardwalk, and the family waterpark is where these two decide to booze it up?!? Stupidity runs rampant. 

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Blog gets a mention

My other blog, plainbrowndog, got a mention in the Daytona Beach News Journal today. Here was the conversation around the breakfast table this morning.

Nativemom: Hey, check out this article. I spoke to this reporter yesterday and he mentions my blog in his article.

Beloved: Really, let's see. (reads the article). But this is your Bloggie (which is what he calls my plainbrowndog blog), not your NativeMom blog.

Nativemom: Yea, I know.

Beloved: This seals it. You're now officially a "crazy dog lady." Ha, you've been doing that Bloggie for only a month and that's what you get publicity for? You've been doing your NativeMom blog for almost two years. Ha, ha. You're a crazy dog lady!

Nativemom: People read my NativeMom blog! Just because it hasn't been mentioned in the newspaper, doesn't mean that it's not popular.

Beloved: Crazy dog lady!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Smile & Wave

MiniMe had a friend visiting for the day (damn those teacher duty days!!). So off they went with me while I ran my errands on a Friday morning. First stop, the bank drive thru. And of course, it was 2 or 3 cars deep in each lane, because it was Friday. 

We finally get our turn with the teller and we're in the lane that is farthest away from the giant window behind which the tellers are working. 

"Mom, roll down my window please" asks MiniMe when she realizes the child lock is engaged on the windows in the back seat. I roll the window down and continue preparing my deposit. Off I send it with a whoosh! From the backseat I hear giggling, and some chatter.

"Helllloooooo! Beautiful day! Hellooooo!"

I look in my rearview mirror and see MiniMe encouraging her girlfriend to join her in something that looks a lot like the Queen's wave with the beauty-queen-acknowledging-the-masses-from-her-parade-float posture. 

"Smile and wave, smile and wave" she encourages her friend, who's now fully involved in the princess posturing as well.

What are you doing? I ask. 

"This time, I'm gonna make sure the bank teller knows there's cute kids back here so we get lollipops! Helloooo!"

Next thing I know there's a statically crackle and the teller's voice squeaks over the car-side intercom, "How many lollipops would you like?"

Giggle, giggle . . ."YES!!! It worked!!"

I'll take two please. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ballroom Dancing . . .the New Soccer

I was taking MiniMe to her swim class this week and we were discussing this and other after school activities. 

"You know what my perfect week would be, Mom?" asks MiniMe.

No, what.

"A week where I have an after school activity every day."

Hmm, I reply, that's funny. Because you've done nothing but complain about this after school activity. 

"Well, I'd be happy doing after school activities if I could go to ballroom dancing class after school each day."

Damn that Dancing with the Stars I thought to  myself. 

But MiniMe, I replied, I don't think they offer ballroom dancing to kids. I think that is more of an adult thing. 

"I could do it. I could do the salsa!" she happily points out as she wiggles her little white butt.

Well, I don't think you would really like ballroom dancing, since you didn't like the ballet and jazz classes you took a few years ago.

"But Mom, ballroom dancing is different. I'd get to dance with boys."

Heaven help me when she turns 16!!!

Florida's First Theme Park Closes

Known for beautiful Southern Belles in period costume greeting visitors in the expansive botanical gardens, Cypress Gardens closed its doors on Wednesday. The state’s first theme park opened in 1936 and featured daily water ski shows that defied gravity.

So in honor of Cypress Gardens, I want to encourage everyone to give some of Florida’s classic theme parks and roadside attractions a visit before they disappear from the Sunshine State landscape.

Weeki Wachee Springs, my personal favorite, home to the underwater mermaid show and one of the deepest freshwater springs in the state.

Gatorland, a roadside attraction that pays homage to Florida’s native alligator.

Marineland, the world’s first oceanarium, opened in 1938. Today you can swim with dolphins and learn about ocean life in a unique oceanfront park.

Silver Springs, where the glass bottom boat ride originated, is a great wildlife and wilderness park and yes you can still take the boat ride.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm, which began way back in 1893 as the first animal attraction of its kind.  See alligators, Gator Wrasslin’, snakes, turtles, monkeys, birds, and much more along with educational shows. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

End of Summer

Today's high is 82 degrees with 86 percent humidity. Partly sunny. Yep, it's definitely the last day of summer! As if.

I'm thinking of taking MiniMe to the waterpark this weekend. While it is still summer-like conditions, the summer crowds have thinned, so it might be the perfect time to use those waterpark coupons I have had pinned to the bulletin board for 3 months. 

I saw the first ad for the Epcot Food & Wine festival in today's paper. Our motley crew will be there for two days this year, instead of just one. I'm counting down . . .because attending the Epcot Food & Wine festival is a real sign that fall has arrived. At least for me. 

Friday, September 18, 2009

Intimidating Old People

So you don't feel intimidated being surrounded by all us old people do you?

That was the question posed to me on a late Friday afternoon after I made a short day of work and stopped by a local picturesqe old Florida bar on the intracoastal waterway. 

"Not at all," I replied. "Am I cramping your style."

I mean, after all, it was 4 p.m. and that means happy hour and dinner time for the over 65 set around here. 

"No, we just don't get a lot of young people around this time of the day."

Well, I thought, that's because you've never met a slacker ass mom like me who will call it a day on Friday mid-afternoon. And you know this crowd was old, because it's not like I'm under the age of 40 anymore and he's referrring to me as a young'un. 

But what I really said was, "Old people are much more interesting to hang out with."

But the most amusing part of my senior citizen happy hour, was when 3 old codgers sitting at the bar (probably since noon), spotted me across the room and got all excited. One tried to get my attention and raised a glass to "toast" my 'youthful' beauty (or at least that's what I imagined he was doing). Only the ice had melted in his waterglass and he only succeeded in pouring water all over himself. Which almost sent his senior companions off their bar stools in laughter. 

So, I'm definitely back next Friday, right?!? Only this time, I'm taking Mammaw with me. Husband No. 5 for her has got to be there somewhere . . .

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Signs of Fall

My husband has scheduled a vacation for us in October that will hopefully allow us to see the fall leaves changing in the north Georgia mountains. I've never really experienced it. Beloved is a yankee, so he grew up experiencing the change of seasons. Being a Florida native, we experience the change of seasons, too, but fall isn't one of our "seasons."

Since the temperatures in late September here in Florida are still in the high 80s with a humidity level of about 90%, my husband gets very wistful for the temperature change and other signs of fall that he experienced in his youth. I try to empathize. I'm sure if someone transplanted me to the north, there are a lot of things about Florida I would miss. 

So I try to point out the "signs of fall" in Florida to Beloved. Certainly these things can't replace the fall remembrances of his childhood, but at least I can try to reprogram him to identify the subtle signs of fall in the Sunshine State. Here are a few I've identified, feel free to comment with your own.
  • High school football season starts, which means most parents/grandparents spend their Friday nights at a stadium someplace getting eaten by bugs.
  • The lines at Florida Theme Parks get shorter. 
  • You get your tax bill. 
  • Halloween decorations start appearing in neighbors yards, wilting under the Florida sun. 
  • Kids in the neighborhood start hitting you up for sales of wrapping paper, popcorn, candy, etc. to support their schools and activities. 
  • Your local TV weatherman/woman starts to look as if they're getting a little more sleep as hurricane season winds down. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Where are kids safe?

Where are kids safe anymore, you may be asking yourselves after hearing the story of Jaycee Dugard resurfacing after being abducted for 18 years. I say kids today are safe playing in the front yard. Safe in our neighborhoods. Safe walking to and from the bus stop. To use Jaycee's story as proof that good parents should never let their children go anywhere alone - even the front yard -  is shortsighted. 

I mean, if you use that logic, then you have to consider the story about Yale graduate student Annie Le, whose body was found yesterday in the high security medical school building at her school. Then say to yourself, our kids aren't safe at Yale!!!

Thank goodness for people like Lenore Skenazy over at Free Range Kids. She may seem like the only voice shouting in the wind as a supporter of allowing our children to be raised with independence, but she's not alone. Many moms, like myself, support her ideas about raising free range kids. Helicopter parenting may be popular, but does it really make sense? Especially when you consider that a helicopter mom who drives her child to and from his bus stop, is actually putting her child more at risk in the car than he would be walking through the neighborhood. That's because in America, a child is 40 times more likely to be killed as a passenger in a car than by a kidnapper. 

Children who are raised to be independent are in turn more confident, better at problem-solving and are self aware. Which makes them safer. 

I'm just sayin'.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Battle of the Theme Parks

Our Sunday newspaper had a huge article about what Disney World is doing to try and brace itself for the attendance drain that will come as a result of Universal Studios opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - a theme park within a theme park. Or at least that's how the Universal folks describe it. I have to say, this is the very first time I've seen a legitimate threat to Disney's theme park dominance in Florida. But don't worry fellow Floridians, it will all be good for us. Because Orlando will be overrun with tourists when that Harry Potter World opens next year. Little muggles and wizards from all over the world will be flocking to Central Florida to experience Harry Potter world. More tourism for Universal means more money for Florida. The travel and tourism of our state will definitely get a boost from Harry's magic wand. 

So what's Disney doing to prepare for the spell that Universal will cast on tourists near and far? It's overhauling Fantasyland. This Fantasyland redesign will rely heavily on the Disney Princess franchise, which is a powerful force, speaking from experience. Between the Little Mermaid, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Belle and now Tinkerbell, if you're the parent of a little girl, you cannot escape the Princess Fantasyland! 

I can't wait for the Harry Potter - Snow White throwdown! It's going to be magical!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

the board game that's never boring

Left hand RED! Right foot GREEN!

How many kids can you see in the photo? It's like a giant, 6-legged kid spider!

Friday, September 11, 2009


What a very, very long week. Now that the weekend is here, my family is up to its usual tricks.

Stepson has taken off for a two-day fishing trip. There will be junk food, fishing, lots of silly young guy hi-jinks and no parents around. I think they're gonna camp or sleep in the bed of the pick up truck. 

Beloved is itching to get out on his new surfboard. When my motorcycle loving man found a used surfboard that had red and gold flames painted on it, I knew it was a mute point to put up any argument on whether or not he should splurge on the purchase. 

My soccer crazy teenage stepdaught is .. .playing soccer this weekend. What else? 

And MiniMe and I are going to ride our bikes and enjoy a family reunion of sorts. My mother's side of the family, whom I haven't seen since I was probably MiniMe's age, is all coming into town with their kids, grandkids. So it will be a Florida Native family reunion. I figure there will be a lot of good southern homecooked food. Count me in ...burp!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Boil Water

I arrived at Wondertwin's house tonight for Gin Night. Head Gin Girl & I found a notice hanging on her door knob warning that she should boil her water because of possible contamination.

"Hmmm, I don't think Wondertwin knows how to boil water," I said. 

"I know. How am I supposed to keep a straight face when delivering this news to her," responded Head Gin Girl.

So when Wondertwin arrived (we have a key and had made ourselves at home), we broke the news.

"Does that mean I can't use my ice cubes?" she asked.

Gotta See - Alien Milk

What do you get when you combine a big black dog, a bowl of milk and some dry ice? A great video from Florida Cracker. See it now

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thanks for Crushing Our Dreams Obama!

So I asked MiniMe if she got to watch the President's address to school children in her classroom today. Of course they did. And if you're one of those whack job conspiracy theorists who made an anonymous call to your school district demanding that the school not expose the kids to the speech . . .you wasted your dime on that call. Idiot!

Anyway, MiniMe said she thought it was a good speech and that her favorite part was when Obama "told a little about his life." She also said that there were a few audible groans from some kids in her fifth grade class when Pres. Obama spoke about not counting on becoming professional athletes, rappers or reality show stars when they grew up, because most likely they wouldn't. 

"Thanks for crushing our dreams Mr. President!!" MiniMe giggled. 

I listened to the speech on the radio today. I only caught about 20 minutes of it. He didn't say anything new, at least nothing I haven't already heard him say before. I appreciated the straight talk he doled out to kids about "doing their part" for themselves and their country by staying in school, staying out of trouble and giving their best. Somebody has to remind kids that success doesn't just fall in your lap. You have to work for it. And the fact that U.S. kids got to hear that fantasy-crushing, soul-sucking, reality-smacking pep talk from the President of the United States, well, all the better. Cause let's face it, they don't listen to their parents. 

My first beach cruiser

MiniMe got her first beach cruiser this weekend. I had been trying to get her to ride bikes with me for a few weeks, but she just kept saying she didn't like riding her bike. To her credit, her bike is a few years old and is getting a little too small for her. So I took her out to shop for a new bike on Saturday. MiniMe was very reluctant. Didn't even want to get out of the car when we got to the bike shop. Eventually I coaxed her inside (which means I ordered her out of the car). 

Once she sat on one of the cool, new, bright colored beach cruisers she began to warm up to the idea. And when the bike shop manager selected one that would be just right for MiniMe (not too big, not too small, not too expensive) and lowered the seat, she agreed to take it for a test drive. 

The humongous smile on her face let the bike shop manager know he's made his sale. We switched out the seat for one that was a little softer. Adjusted the new seat and the handle bars. Then loaded up the purple beach cruiser and headed home.

Even though it was sprinkling just a bit, I convinced her to break in the new bike with a ride with me to the park. We rode for nearly an hour. On this bigger bike, she can actually keep up with me. In fact, she passed me several times. 

"Mom, I love this new bike! It's so easy to pedal and I sit up straight, I'm not all hunched over," MiniMe exclaimed as we toured through the neighborhood. "I just love the feel of the wind in my hair!"

I guess having the right size bike really made a difference. Should have thought of that before. So now I have a new bike riding buddy and maybe I'll get in shape and put in some quality mother-daughter time, too.

Friday, September 4, 2009

VOR Needs Wine!

So my friend VOR called this afternoon. She is really ready for this 3-day weekend to get started. She invited me to accompany her to a wine tasting this evening. Unfortunately, MiniMe has a friend spending the night, so I can't just disappear and leave MiniMe and her friend home alone. 

Not one to give up so fast, VOR came up with a solution. She quickly (a little too quickly if you know what I mean) offered up her own teenage daughter as a babysitter so I could attend the wine tasting with her. She even offered to PAY for the babysitter herself. 

Wow, that woman really needs wine! So, looks like I've got a (free) babysitter and us ladies will be out on the town tonight after all. Woo, hoo!

The power of the internet

Wow! Never underestimate the power of the internet. I took in a foster dog this week and built this dog a blog to promote adoption. The blog has spread like wildfire and I've had 2 people contact me this week inquiring about her. We've got a couple of meet & greets with prospective owners set up for this week. Thanks to all you NativeMom readers for passing along Misty's request for a family. Go Misty!! Plain Brown Dogs Rock!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Introducing Plain Brown Dog

I took a big step this week. 

Animal rescue is close to my heart. I've been a volunteer for the local humane society for about 3 years. I adopted my dog Boo Radley 2 years ago, and although he's a velcro dog (he's stuck to me 24/7) and afraid of thunderstorms, he brings me a lot of joy. I'm an energetic advocate for adopting pets and I try to walk the talk. 

Last week my humane society called me and asked if I would consider fostering a dog. Misty has been at the shelter since February. She's a good dog. A senior dog whose owner surrendered her due to job loss. But like many dogs at the shelter, she hasn't been adopted because she's simply a plain brown dog (PBD). No particular breed. She's not teacup size, she's not a puppy. She's a medium sized PBD. So despite the fact that she's housebroken, very gentle, doesn't bark much, is good around dogs and kids, she still goes unnoticed. 

And lately she's gotten depressed, has stopped coming to greet the volunteers when they visit her kennel. She even started pulling her toenails out in distress. It was time for a change for Misty.

So I took Radley down for a doggie meet and greet last week. It went well. My stepson has agreed to help me out with the fostering by working with me to find a home for her and by helping out with her care. I brought her home today after she had her surgery (spay and neuter folks!!!). She's confused. A little sad. But I figure in a few weeks she'll be happy & healthy and ready for a forever home.

In the  meantime, I'm putting on my PR hat and marketing this great PBD out in the community. Of course, she now has her own blog, which I will use to help attract a new family. To raise money for her adoption and for adoption of PBDs like her, I've opened an online store. You can find the link to my store at the bottom of NativeMom and on the new website PlainBrownDog.

If you, or someone you know, would like to adopt a friendly, sweet, gentle, kind, low maintenance PBD, let me know! She deserves a forever home. Don't we all? Wish us luck!