Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Aborted Apostrophe Rescue Mission

I really appreciated all the comments on my last post. It was nice to hear from other people experiencing the same thing. Too bad we don't all live in the same town, huh?

Jenna's out of school for the summer, which isn't easy for either of us. I miss being able to mop the floor uninterrupted, and she asks "Am I going to school today?" every morning. Julia goes until June 4 (thanks to snow and tornado days that pushed the date back) and then we leave for Houston the next day. We're looking forward to seeing our Baytown friends at a certain wedding on June 7.

From the apostrophe abuse department: Every Tuesday/Thursday at Jenna's school since January, I've been walking down the hall past a bulletin board that says "PARENT'S" on it. Nothing after it, just PARENT'S. Meaning, I guess, that the information on that board is for parents. Which means the apostrophe is completely unnecessary. (Unless the board itself actually belongs to a parent. In which case, why is it hanging there?) All semester, I tried to get up my nerve to reach up and rescue that poor piece of punctuation from its incorrect usage. I never did. As far as I know, it hangs there still. I just really like the director and I really, really appreciated her getting Jenna into the school there (because I had just had a negative experience at her previous school and didn't want to take her back there. For what it's worth, the incident had nothing to do with punctuation.) I hope to keep Jenna in this school for the next two school years, and I think the director NOT thinking I'm an obsessive psycho freak would work to my advantage.

Also related to abuses of the English language, we received some coupons (yay!) in our paper yesterday that have "Stock-up on savings!" printed across the top of the page. Why is "stock-up" hyphenated? I'll tell you why. It's because Americans are losing their grip on their native language. I wonder if this is happening in other countries. Are people in Japan forgetting how to read, write and speak Japanese? I know the world has other problems, but it's troubling nonetheless.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008


1974, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1983, 1989, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2006.

Those are all the years that I have moved. Either with my family growing up, going off to college, or moving with my husband or husband and child/children. As much as I dislike moving, and as much as I never want to move again, you could say I'm a pro at it.

A big part of moving is making new friends. I can look at all of those years up there and know which town we moved to and who my closest friends were in that town.

Except for one.

While hanging out at the mall with Julia and Jenna this past Saturday, and then again while eating lunch with them after church (Chad was out of town) on Sunday, I had a startling thought. My best girlfriends, right now where we live, are my children.

Of course I have adult friends. There's Carol, my BFF since college who lives in Waco. There's Lois, my best Baytown girlfriend. I still talk to the two of them just about every week.

And I have friends here that I go to lunch with every Wednesday while we're doing Community Bible Study during the school year. I have friends who live close to me -- some from church and some who are parents of my daughter's friends -- who are quick to help with different things, like picking up kids from school or checking on pets if we're going out of town. I really enjoy being with these people. I'd like to get to know them better. I just haven't yet.

I believe there are several reasons for this:

1) Moms of young children are busy. I kind of wish we were like 1950s housewives, who gathered for coffee in someone's kitchen every morning after the kids left for school. But our culture left that behind a long time ago. I got a bit spoiled in Baytown, because my best friend there was retired. I could call her up at 11:45 a.m., say "Want to go to lunch?" And she pretty much always said, "You bet!" We've both really missed those lunch dates over the past two years.

2) I work at home. There are a lot of great things about this, but one problem is that it can be quite isolating.

3) It's easier being friends with people online that in real life. On Facebook, I've reconnected with my best friend from elementary school as well as a lot of people from high school and college over the past year. I'm even Facebook friends with the guy who was my second-grade boyfriend. It's so easy to sit down at the computer, type out a quick message to someone, and then be on my way.

4) I have an innate shyness that has gotten much better over the years. But it still causes me to aware of the fine line -- whether it's real or imagined -- that exists between "getting to know new people" and crashing a long-celebrated, close-knit party to which you aren't sure you are invited. The "new kid" complex. I guess I've existed there for a while now.

5) I could say that the people we know here are spread out across Little Rock and its surrounding areas, which could make it hard to get together with on a regular basis. But the Houston area is like that, too, and I still managed to have friends in Baytown, Houston, Clear Lake, La Porte, Deer Park, Cove and Barbers Hill. (OK, so Cove is a two-square-mile area. But it really is amazing how many people I knew in those two square miles.) But now that I think about it, gas didn't cost then what it does now.

I like hanging out with my girls. But I don't think they need to be my best friends. Besides, the oldest is just a few short years away from junior high, at which point she will begin thoroughly hating me for no particular reason. So something needs to change before then.

Which brings me to my summer plans. My goal is to hang out with people I haven't hung out with yet. And hang out more with people I have hung out with. I'll either end the summer with closer friends, or a whole lot of people who just want me to leave them the heck alone. We'll see what happens.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Mom vs. Wild

It's not like we live in the middle of the woods, so I don't know why these things keep happening to us. In the past week, I've had unexpected encounters with wildlife in the comfort of my own home. Last week, I opened my front door to get the mail and apparently startled a bird that was in a bush in our flowerbed. The startled bird must have also been confused because instead of flying away from the door, it flew right in. We have vaulted ceilings in the living room and kitchen with high ledges, and the bird spent about twenty minutes flying back and forth while I ran around opening doors and using a broom to try to "encourage" it to go back out. (Jenna ran back and forth yelling at the bird, which probably didn't help.) Finally, after leaving some bird poop for us to remember him by, it flew out the back door.

Then yesterday, I was leaving the house to go have lunch with Julia. I opened the front door and heard, very close to me, a high-pitched, breathy sound -- sort of like a little girl gasping. The noise scared me to death and I yelled. It was especially unsettling because even though the noise sounded like it was right in front of me, I couldn't see anything that could have made it. I started to step out and peek around into the flower bed to see if something -- or someone -- was there. That's when I saw a turtle on the walkway right in front of me. I guess when I opened the door and scared it, it suddenly pulled its head and arms and legs into its shell, causing the high-pitched whoosh I had heard.

It could be worse. In Baytown, we had the occasional alligator walking the neighborhoods.


Friday, May 09, 2008

My British Daughter

To the woman at the pet store yesterday:

No, my daughter does not have a foreign accent. She has a speech impediment. A speech impediment that makes her sound British.

She's about to end her fourth year of speech therapy, and her "R" remains as elusive as ever. But hopefully before junior high, she'll be sounding like an American.

And yes, she is a little sensitive about it. I just wanted to explain the awkward silence that followed your comment.


I also struggled to find my "R" in elementary school. I wouldn't say my middle name (Carol), and I would only name the state we had moved from (New Mexico) because the actual town (Roswell) had an "R" in it. I heard the passing comment every once in a while from kids outside my circle, but my friends were cool about it. Especially my best friend, whose name was Lori. Yep, as luck would have it, Little Miss Speech Impediment had a best friend whose name had an "R" right in the middle of it. I couldn't avoid saying her name. She was my best friend. So I just called her "Low-ee." We both knew I was saying it wrong, but she never said a word about it. That's the mark of a true friend.

Julia has also been blessed by good friends who have never poked fun at the way she talks. She just gets occasional comments and questions from strangers (usually adults, like the pet store lady) who are surprised to hear a British accent in central Arkansas.

However, Julia is getting close to the age that I'm afraid she will get made fun of if she doesn't conquer "Mt. R" soon. Maybe it would be easier for us to move to England and have everyone wonder about my accent instead of hers.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Letter from the Prez

Back in January, Julia wrote this letter to President Bush after she was mortified to learn that her grandmother cannot get health insurance because of a mental illness.

Well, Chad went out to get the mail yesterday and came back in with a big brown envelope that had "THE WHITE HOUSE" as the return address! It was a form letter that basically said how he appreciates her thoughtful suggestions, and how she can grow up to build a better America with her compassion, character and education. "Mrs. Bush and I send our best wishes. May God bless you, and may God bless America." It's on official White House letterhead with the Presidential seal and his signature, and a picture was also included. How cool is that!

Also this weekend, this was the first year that Julia got very interested in the Kentucky Derby and she really looked forward to Saturday's race. This was also the year that a horse had to be euthanized right after the race. Yuck. Julia and I have both been sad about the Eight Belles tragedy.

On a happier note, it's time for some Sunday night silliness at the Nall house:

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