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Archive for the ‘The Girl’ Category

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OK, so with the kids starting middle school, and with the girl already having a Facebook page (she’s too young for it, in my opinion, but her mom gave her the go-ahead), I have started to explain to them the damage that cyber bullying can do. She is 11, but I can already see the “mean girls” attitudes starting to show themselves in some of her friends (as a guy, I was oblivious to this while in school, so I couldn’t say when it usually starts). When I told her (the boy was happily zoning out with some game on his iTouch), she seemed genuinely shocked by what kinds of torment is dished out “all in good fun” and the harm it can cause.

So when I came across this item this morning, it made me think immediately of what I have been trying to convey to my kids and to not let it stand unchallenged (from WTAE-Pittsburgh):

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Jennifer McKendrick, a self-employed photographer in Indian County, Pa. is a photographer who, among other things, shoots portraits for the local high school yearbook. When, by happenstance, she saw four high school seniors bullying other kids on an anonymous Facebook page that went beyond just name-calling, she decided to do something about it.

“It was beyond ‘your clothes are ugly’ or ‘you don’t have any brand clothes’ or ‘you are ugly, your hair is not right.’ It was vicious. It was talking about sexuality,” McKendrick said.

McKendrick was scheduled to take the four senior girls’ yearbook portraits but instead keeping the appointments, she took screen shots of the online comments and sent them to her clients’ parents, saying she saw their children’s behavior on the Internet and was canceling their sessions and refunding their $200 deposits.

“I got a couple responses that said ‘thank you for letting them know,’ that they were unaware what was going on and that they would take care of it,” said McKendrick.

Below is an example of a letter that McKendrick sent to parents:

“I am writing to cancel your shoot scheduled _________ due to some recent events brought to my attention. After stumbling upon a Facebook page called (name removed), I witnessed mean and cruel behavior coming from _______. I am returning your depositing of $212.00 and I’m afraid you will need to find another photographer for your daughters senior photos. I want to protect the image of my business and the mean and hurtful things she has said on there is not the type of client I want to represent my business. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and I hope you understand my reasons for doing so. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss this matter any further.”

Good show, Ms. McKendrick. I hope you get much more business for taking this stand and losing four sessions. I also hope those four girls learned something, too.
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OK, so the kids are now in the 6th grade. I know; where’d the time go? Anyway, they started middle school last week and they both decided that for their elective class—what they call “choices” here—that they wanted to take orchestra. So I went to the Parents-of-Children-Who-Want-to-Take-Orchestra meeting last night at the school.

It was a cozy affair, just me and the mother or father of the other 300-plus kids who have signed up for 6th-grade orchestra. Luckily, there are three teachers and the kids will be divided into four different classes. At the meeting, we learned about what kinds of instruments the kids will need (rentals would be just fine, and in fact, encouraged), as well as other middling details. And oh, by the way, could you have your kid outfitted and ready to play on Monday?

A viola and a violin by Mathias Thir, Vienna, circa 1780. These will be out of our price range.

Well, the girl got a jump on it this spring, deciding she wanted to play violin. So she got one and took two or three lessons before stopping for the summer and the mess of activities on her calendar. The boy, to my surprise, says he’s all for orchestra and came home saying he wants to play the bass.

Cool, I thought… bass—even though one is twice as big as he is—would lead to many opportunities and genres if he actually stuck with it. But now he’s wavering, as a friend who took cello last year told him bass was really hard. So he says he wants to switch to viola instead. He’s got a couple of days to think about it, and when he goes to the music store, we can have him sized for both.

I’m not going to put any pressure on them—but I will make sure they practice—and hope they have some musical talent that skipped me. My bothers brothers both played in band in school, and I have always envied them. I tried to learn piano, guitar, bass, harmonica, mouth harp, tissue and comb to no avail… my love for music will have to be passive only.

Before he makes his final choice, I’m going to show him this video of Stanley Clarke rocking out in an astonishing solo at the Newport Jazz Festival. I don’t know if he’ll appreciate it, but I think he needs to what the instrument can do in the hands of a genius.
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OK, so this morning I began the last day of my week-long vacation with nothing on the schedule. (The first four days, as well as the previous weekend was spent at Cape San Blas, Fla., which was a really, really nice; more on this to come later).

So, with nothing really to do (and not wanting to stay home, as the cleaning lady was there), I decided to do something I haven’t done in years: theater hopping. Yeah, I bought a $6 ticket to the first matinee of the day and stayed for three movies, getting the most for my movie dollar.

I know, I know… that’s stealing… well, I would have left if asked, and since I wasn’t asked, I took advantage of the theater’s hospitality and took in “Cowboys & Aliens,” “Captain America” and the final Harry Potter flick. I could have stayed for a fourth, and maybe even a fifth, but I did make plans to see Johanna tonight, so I took off, leaving something on the table. Having not theater-hopped in who knows how many years, it’s good to know that I could still have made a day of it.

Now, I usually see the Harry Potter movies with the girl, but she had already seen it with her friends. Having sat through the first seven (many of them several times on DVD), I figured I should round out the set. The boy wants to see the Cap movie, so I’ll probably have to watch it again with him. It won’t be that bad to see it again… I won’t sleep through it the second time around, but it was the one movie I would sit through that started in the right time slot. Oh, sure, I could have watched “The Smurfs,” but then I would have killed myself and missed the third movie.

So, as it was, all three were worth seeing, although I don’t know if I would pay full price for any of them, and as it turned out, I didn’t. I can’t say, “OMG! You have to go out and see this movie right away… it’s awe-some!” There was a lot of shooting in all three, be it Thompson machine guns, six-shooters and plasma rifles or swish-and-flicked magic wands (it was kinda funny how the aliens and the WWII-era evil HYDRA organization had the same kinds of laser blasters).

Since the kids are 11, I won’t be explaining the fine details on how to not stand out while spending all day at the movies, with details on how to camouflage yourself with a simple hat and light jacket (it’s harder to do the jacket trick here in sweltering Atlanta than in San Francisco, but the huge, 20-plus-screen metroplexes does help one blend into the crowd). Maybe next year, when they’re 12… That’ll keep them out of my hair for a whole day.

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OK, so the kids are living it up in Costa Rica this week, doing things I wish I could have done as an 11-year-old. Today they did a zip-line canopy tour and they loved it. The tour covers some 3.5 kilometers worth of cables. I’m totally jealous. When I was a kid, the best we could hope for was a road trip to visit family in New Mexico or Idaho… no offense New Mexico and Idaho relatives, but hey, we’re talking zip-lining here!

Anyway, this is what it looks like:
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I totally expect to get a “My kids went to Costa Rica and did all kinds of cool and awesome stuff and all I got this lousy T-shirt” T-shirt.

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Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon.

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“First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”

— John F. Kennedy

May 25, 1961

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The other day, the girl mentions in passing that there is a company in England selling land on Mars, and did I want to buy some.

“They’re selling it really cheap, like, for $29 an acre,” my little real estate developer she continued. “That’s really cheap, right?”

Yes, I told her, but added that unfortunately, our space exploration program has stalled and I doubted that man would get to Mars in my lifetime.

She countered that since we got to the moon in less than 10 years, we could be on Mars about the time she was a junior in college. I told her if she promised to study math and science, I mean really study it, I might buy an acre or two on Mars. And maybe some for her and her brother, too.

So yesterday, when she got home from school, she called to tell me that next year, when she goes to middle school, she’s already been accepted into advanced 6th-grade math and science.

Anyone interested in buying some plots on Mars with me? We could be neighbors…

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The kids and their friend Bre celebrate a birthday.

Hello friends, here’s another restaurant review for the travel web site UpTake.com in which my kids surprise me at how worldly they are becoming:

OK, so the other night I had the kids for dinner. It was a Friday night—not usually my night for them—but given the chance, I jumped. When I picked them up, they had a friend in tow, who was having a birthday party the next day but the girl couldn’t make it and wanted to treat her friend to a birthday dinner. She had everything planned out, she said. All I had to was to drive them there and to pick up the check.

“Oh, alright,” I said. “Just where are we going?”

“Kirin House!” the three of the said in unison, with vigor.

I had never been to Kirin House, a Japanese hibachi, streak and sushi place, but the kids had. Several times. My two kids have been there enough time to know exactly what they were going to have when they sat down at the cook-top table. Their friend Bre, also a Kirin House vet, was ready to order, too. I, on the other hand, was caught off guard and needed a couple of minutes to catch up.

Click here to read the whole review.

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So, here she is with her version of a Chocolate Bourbon Pie... a new Easter tradition?

OK, so the girl is not happy with my earlier post about her deviled eggs that should come with a Surgeon General’s Warning about the salt content. She claims she followed the recipe. Taste buds will argue against her.

But those eggs were not the only thing she cooked up for Easter lunch. She also baked, too. She has a couple of books with dessert recipes, and so far, she has been pretty darned good at it. This weekend, she wanted to bake a pie, grabbed the books and picked a recipe. I wan not in on the deliberation process, nor did I help in any way other than helping to hold a bowl or pot while she scooped out the contents.

It turned out pretty good. There were some things that she might do differently next time, and I’ll make those suggestions later. But for today, she’s very proud of herself, which makes me proud of her.

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