Friday, July 31, 2009

Broadway, Almost

Here they are, all set and ready to go to their big show. Ava and Olivia participated in a music and show camp this week at the church next door to our house. About 40 kids had 4 days to learn 10 songs, dances that went with the 10 songs and then perform the whole show for a sanctuary filled with adoring family and friends.

Let me just say for the record that the director was fabulous and was so kind and patient with the kids. The show was well, down right good. My kids? Yes, they were absolutely enthralled with the whole experience and still continue to sing those blasted Christian songs of salvation over and over and over.

And yet, I was conflicted throughout the whole week. Yes, leave it to me to be uneasy and over think any situation where people are being extremely kind and generous to my family and pretty much asking nothing in return. And no it is not lost on me that my children were able to participate in a wonderful singing, dancing performing experience for all of $40 for the week. Where else would they get that much experience and entertainment? If it exists here in the metro area in non-liturgical form, I don't know where.

So, then why was I ill at ease at times? Why was I conflicted as to whether this was the best thing to let them attend this camp? The play had an overtly Christian theme but it was at a church for heaven's sake, forgive the pun. There was talk of where do you attend church? Imagine me with a green nose and two heads as I honestly answered that we don't attend a church. And, pray for forgiveness for our worldly sins. The kids are 7 and 3...I just can't get a grip around how much sinning they've really done. Unless you count the candy stealing and hiding of wrappers underneath the bed until bugs start to congregate incident of 2008. I'm not real big into original sin and punishment as redemption if you haven't guessed.

As the pastor opened the show he did so with a nice prayer. Then he even thanked people from other congregations for "sharing their children" so all Christians can come together for worship and song with our children. I know I know, but I couldn't help but think, wait what if we aren't all Christians? What if someone here is Muslim, or Buddhist or dare I say agnostic gah, athiest? What if someone here worships trees? Would we still all be invited?

My inner conflict has nothing to do with this church really, or its people or whether I agree with everything they profess. It is a more deeply rooted issue that I continue to grapple with centered around spiritual community vs. organized religion. Have you noticed that organized religion does community really well? My goodness, we have several churches within a 5 miles radius that boast membership in the thousands. My inner conflict stems from these places having amazing facilities and a sense of belonging for families...but the old "we believe one thing" that's the part that gets me every time.

Ava asked me recently why her friend attends a church and we do not. I told her it's not that we don't permanently or won't. Gees, her Irish Catholic dad went to parochial school until 12th grade. And, my father still attends weekly mass. But at some point in my life I also found value in having God as a presence in my life but also to be a critical thinker. This is what I want for my kids, critical thinking with a bend towards spirituality I suppose. I don't want them judging others. I don't want them going to college thinking they know "the way". Why yes, because because when you don't know "the way" and you question everything life is just so much easier. Hmmph.

This week I found myself feeling like perhaps I am isolating my children all in the name of being stubborn about organized religion. I would love to know how many folks attend a church and yet believe only 50% of what is being professed each week? 70% what about 30% How many people take their families to a church because they just want that community for their children and figure they will just "unprogram" the stuff they don't necessarily believe over dinner during the week? And is that fair to the church if you take up their resources and time believing that as you go in?

Yeah, this issue was a hell of a lot easier before I had kids. A hell of a lot easier. See, I knew I didn't belong there next door.

Monday, July 20, 2009

And I'll Raise You $.50 Damn It

I think I might have a little bit of an ebay problem. It's a new problem. Under normal circumstances I'm not much of an ebay'er. I don't come by that killer instinct for gambling and auctioning naturally. I'd rather have all the bidders over for coffee and muffins, making sure everyone is comfy while having nice non-political discussion. Then we could split up the goods even steven at the end of the day and I'd be happy. And full from muffins.

But this isn't how the dog eat dog world of ebay really works now is it? One winner, numerous losers, period. The one with the most crap at the end of the day wins. She laughs maniacially.

This new little ebay problem all started with Ava, my 7 year old, earning an allowance. I have taken the liberty of writing up her new "family contribution duties" and pasted them to her bedroom door. My friend Lisa gave me a rousing "Damn Girl, you are running a tight ship over there", when I read Ava's list to her earlier this summer. I call them family contribution duties, because I read in some stupid parenting magazine that allowances are out and family contributions are in. Whatever you want to call it; if Ava does something resembling what is on that list, and I am still sane enough to dole out the $3 bucks on Saturday mornings, she gets her fist full of dollars.

Ava has decided to save up for Littlest Pet Shop toys. which is so hugely ironic in a few ways. First, she really doesn't care for toys, never has. She's your basic "spend every waking moment of your time with ME, I got no time for cheap plastic, love language kind of kid". Second, she had a big birthday party in January and got a truck load of these Littlest Pet Shop toys and returned them all when she figured out she could buy cd's instead. Why she's sort of obsessed with the little creatures now, I have no idea. Call it summer boredom. She has also visited numerous little friend's houses who each seem to have about $4000 invested in these toys providing endless hours of delirious happiness.

Here comes the ebay part. The kid only earns $3 a week. These overpriced colorful bits of animal plastic consumerism are expensive. The poor kid could save up for 6 months and only be able to 1 pet shop house and 10 little animals. So, in my infinite wisdom I explained to her that Mommy would score some serious "gently used Little Pet Shops from smoke free homes" preferrably from a nice family bitten by the de-clutter and simplify bug and then re-sell them to her at the family discount. She's in and a plan is hatched.

Except, I didn't count on ebay'ing for Little Pet Shop crap to become a part time job requiring spread sheets and 2am computer time this week. I was down to the last 30 seconds bidding $5.50 on a lot of 10 animals with only $2.50 in shipping. When literally with 15 seconds some schmo in Nebraska undercut my bid and time ran out on the auction before my very eyes. I had watched those 10 animals for 4 hours people!

The Muffin Man heard me scream and when I went downstairs he rolled his eyes at me, "Whoa what's all the commotion babe?" I lost the Littlest Pet Shop auction I've been watching for hours I explained, using my I've been personally assaulted, I might sue voice. He then turned on his heels and mumbled something about driving my ass to Target and kicking in the extra $2.00 and not worrying about spending hours on ebay. Some people have no imagination, and besides we don't buy the kids toys unless it Christmas or birthdays. Wink.

But, I write this with a light heart as I have just learned that I have won! I have won 2 auctions that will be bringing me 2 packages of those strange little canine/feline/bovine/pandavine plastic pieces in 7-10 business days. Ahh, ummm...I mean Ava has won! This is all for Ava, cough cough.

And now, to re-sell them to Ava with her "family contribution" earnings. Should I make her pay interest for the time my money has been tied up in escrow? Will there be interest if she can't cough up all the cash all at once? What if she decides she's really is into Webkins as she sort of hinted at dinner?

No worries, If I can't unload the goods here on the cul-de-sac I'm selling the lot to Santa...on ebay.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Saying The Darndest Things

Since I've been spending some serious quality time with the girls this summer I've been hearing lots of what's on their minds. This is all fine and good until both of them choose to share the most important thing ever all at the same time. Which is usually about 80% of the time. Both girls chattering away at the same time, both girls frustrated that I cannot respond since I cannot hear anything except chatter, chatter, chatter.

We are of course working A LOT on the concept of how rude it is to interrupt one another. How I simply cannot hear or process what anyone is saying when more than one person is talking, loudly. How, truly everyone will get a turn and my attention if we wait patiently to express that thought. This is a process in our house. Sadly, a rather slow process.

Here are a few gems I have managed to get this summer:

Girl On Girl Inferiority Complexes

Ava says: Mom, you know how you are out and about and sometimes you see a really cute girl? Me: Uh yes, I guess so.
Ava: Doesn't that just make you so jealous? When that girl is cuter than you? It makes me nuts. Me: (rather unpoetically) Are you kidding me? You are seven. Seriously, this makes you nuts? Ava: Yes, it does.
Me: Reeling and thinking I better come up with something resembling a teachable moment. Ugh, Ava beauty is after all skin deep. When that happens to me, I like to think about inner beauty. You know, how good I can be as a friend. Or how hard I try to have integrity as a person. (We were forced to have some serious integrity discussions after this school year, so Ava completely gets integrity.)
Ava: Yeah, but seriously there are some cute girls out there.
Me: Yeah, I guess there are.

So much for teachable moments, bring on the mother daughter botox.

Alternate Methods Of Toy Procurement

Liv: I want roller skates.
Me: Well, put them on a birthday list for next November.
Liv: I NEED them. I can't wait until Kobember.
Me: I know it feels like that but we can't have a new toy anytime we see it on tv.
Liv: I'm telling Grandpa I need roller skates, I can't wait.

She has been asking me to call Santa since she is also convinced that she cannot wait for Christmas either.

Dinner Time Etiquette

Liv after taking one bite of food: Ahhh, this is gross. I can't eat this.
Ava to Livi: Ohhh, if you say things like that you will be offending the cook. And, when you grow up and go to a friend's house you will be so embarassed if you offend the cook. Offended cooks will not serve you food, Right Mom?.
Liv: This is gross.
Me: Nice, Liv.

And so our quest for meaningful proper family discussion continues.

Friday, July 03, 2009

The Candy Parade

The next town over has their Freedom Festival the week before July 4th each year. Ava named it the candy parade when she was two years old since you pretty much get to see cheerleading clubs, Shriners driving mini cars, and John Deere trucks, big ass John Deere trucks. Oh, and everyone IN the parade throws candy at the kids sitting along the sidelines. Apparently this is huge fun when you are under 10, and quite frankly can be the highlight of any red-blooded American's (or Chinese American as the case may be) summer. Thus we have the candy parade. My girls LOVE it.

The snarky adults sitting second row simply toss bets around for just how many cheerleading clubs we will see sweating it out flip flopping through the parade that year. (We've gone to an over-under betting system in recent years...and I placed my over 12 and lost...I still think we should have counted the Cloggers and I want that noted for the record.)

Here is the motely crew before heading off to the candy parade. Livi is dutifully holding her candy bag, notice in red white and blue - for the occasion. We began taking the candy collection thing seriously in 2004 when Ava threw and elbow and took down an unsuspecting 6 year old, all for a necco wafer. This year I got in on the action and made them matching candy bags with the Freedom theme. Livi is doing her part by showing my handywork for posterity. She is my compliant child, and I love her for it.

Waiting, waiting, the candy tossing got off to a slow start this year.

Saw---weeet success. There is a tootsie roll in that bag, just look closer. Personally I can already see the effects of mega sugar intake on her little face.

Yes, that is me. Haven't the hours and hours at the gym done me well? Psst..don't answer that question, it was rhetorical. Despite my best efforts to always remain behind the Canon Powershot, Livi threatened to throw a whopper of a fit if I didn't let her take some photos. So much for the compliant child stuff.

This weekend we are off to our town's parade and festivities. Which actually had the 4th of July celebration on the 4th of July, novel yes?

I'm sure the candy mongers will be able to scam some more goodies to share.