Crab Rangoon

Finally!  A website that translates all those silly Chinese/Japanese character tattoos.  I spent the better part of the afternoon (between running routines, of course) reading through the idiocy some people put on their bodies!

Are you sure your tattoo says what you think it does?  It could very well read “Moo Goo Gai Pan!”

I recently had this discussion at work.  Why would you put a foreign language on your body?  If you want the word “Strength”, find a great font and write “Strength”  in English.  Having a tattoo in Arabic or Chinese or Japanese doesn’t make you look deep or mysterious.  Try being a little creative with what you want permanently on your body instead of picking something dubious off the wall at the tattoo parlor.

Hanzi Smatter dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters in Western culture.  Thanks, Tian, for the entertainment.

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The Worst Camping Trip Ever

Our annual camping trip with highlights in no particular order of importance.  All spelling errors are intentional

Fresh mountain air

Smoky blazing fires

Gooey marshmallow s’mores

Drink of the day

Food cooked outside

Fishing on a misty lake

Propane lanterns

Sharing coffee

“The other day…I met a bear…”

Gathering for dinner

Pear and walnut salad

Sandy volleyball games

Ranger Stan

Big old lap dogs

6 a.m. pasta salad

Lake swimming

Scooters and Ripstiks

Forgotten stoves

My Dad, the hero!

Dunkin’ Donuts

Perc’d coffee, not drip!

Hot pushbutton showers

Yummy orange brownies

Scratchy sexy beards

Black dyed feet

All day hangovers

Shipoopi

Paddleboats and kyacks and conoes

Hot chocolate fondue

Newts, frogs and toads

Porkchops at the Pavillion

Messages in a bottle

Messages from home

Toasting weiners

Drippy tarps

Omlettes in the rain

Mud puddles

Freezing nights

Imaginary skunks

Waking up too early

Going to sleep too early

Skinned knees

Catching catfish

Green lasers

Name calling

Obnoxious boys

Irritating girls

Felt food

Sliced fingers

Speckled fawns

Divorce court

Once a day crying

Michael Jackson imitations

Sleeping in the car

Crashing into DEC trucks

Laundromat hag

Yelling at kids

Immature pranks

Wishing for pork-fried rice

Wishing for chili

Wishing for tie-dye

Wishing for hikes

Washing dishes in cold water

Muddy clothes

Paddleboat hogs

Is he OCD?

Hoedown Throwdown lessons

Borrowing kids to keep warm

Really bad ghost stories

Music Man vs. Oklahoma

“Pretty pretty five”

Mopping out tents

Visiting neighbors

Gathering firewood by the armful

Buying firewood by the carload

Overpacking and U-Hauls

Wet, tired and cranky

We’re outta here…a day early.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Yes, well, it doesn’t look like I’ll be writing those reviews of our adventures in Puerto Rico anytime soon.  I’m stuck trying to meet the deadlines of projects at the job, and working on a few super-secret projects in the little spare time I have. 

It’s also been a hassle trying to get pictures into Work since Big Brother doesn’t allow the use of flash drives or CD’s.  I’m looking into photo sharing sites like Flickr that a) don’t cost too much, b) can be accessed at work and  c) can hold my many, many photos.  I even stopped putting photos on Facebook because loading them was incredibly tedious and time-consuming.  So until I can find a site that satisfies, pictures on this blog are going to be few and far between.

Adding insult to injury- or coming up with more excuses why I don’t post more often- I’ll be away at our annual Soccer Family Camping trip in the Catskills for five (long) days.  Yes, this is the trip I look forward to every year but by the third or fourth day I’m ready to string a few people up in the trees for the bears to eat.  I have to put up with whining, complaining, immaturity, squabbles and attitude.  And then there’s all the kids to deal with.  Add to the fact that MR has either the flu or a really bad cold and I don’t feel all that well myself.  I think it’s because I’ve been begrudgingly eating meat. 

In Puerto Rico, it’s hard to follow a vegetarian diet if all you want to eat is mofongo or rice and beans.  So I had a little chicken here and there.  We’ve been so busy packing for camp that I haven’t been making special meals for myself- I’ve just been eating what everyone else was eating.  Now my bowels are making me pay for it.

I’ve loaded up on the fruits and veggies for camp and hopefully I’ll be back on track and feeling better in a week.  My bowels will be happy, but I still may want to put out bear bait…

So see you in a week.  Unless I can get reception on my Droid.  Then I’ll put up a post from the woods!

…To a Tree

Okay, let me clarify my thinking on yesterday’s post. 

I was so upset about this act of vandalism against my daughter’s former school, I couldn’t even go with MR, Zombiegirl and Beena to watch the fire.  I really thought I would cry.

I’m hyper-emotional these days.

I was also angry at the parents of these kids.  Did they know their children hung out at the school every night?  What did they think they were doing?

I started writing yesterday’s post on the train going into work.  (Thanks, WordPress App!)  I couldn’t concentrate on my book, or Suduko or even sleeping-which I needed since I was also nursing my first migraine in two weeks.  All I kept thinking of were those kid’s parents.

I really don’t think I’m an expert in raising kids.  Our family has absolutely had our share of highs and lows.  The steps I wrote about were not my own personal guides to child-rearing.  I took some from my parents, some from friends and some from my extensive and exhaustive time on the internet reading countless numbers of (mostly) good Mommy Blogs.  We do try to have sit-down dinners almost every night, and that is where we have most of our best discussions and try to catch up with each other.  Other than that, we fly by the seat of our pants and pray our kids won’t need TOO much therapy.

I will be going back to re-edit that post since it was written on a bumpy LIRR train in a haze of pain and pills.  And then edited on the fly between chargeback routines and printing requests at work.  Please, I didn’t have anyone specific in mind when I wrote it, and I was not singling anyone out for bad behavior or the inability to hold a fork properly.  Don’t take it personally.  It’s just advice.

Now I really have to get back to the land of Cocqui and Coconuts.  Reviews and pictures to start soon!

Stapling That Jello…

We interrupt the reviews of Puerto Rico to bring you this public service message inspired by last night’s events.

Zombiegirl’s elementary school was torched last night. A group of kids were seen hanging out in the schoolyard and the next thing you know, the first grade annex is on fire.  While surveying the firefight, which included five fire departments, the Superintendent of the schools falls to the ground suffering a heart attack.  He’s rushed to the hospital where he remains in ICU.

The police are asking for information about this act of arson.  Who were these kids?  (We can be almost certain that adults are not responsible for this crime- what would be the point?)  Will anyone come forward with info? Will we be surprised when we find out who did it?

Summer mischief, you might say.  Summer fun getting out of hand.  Kids being kids.  We’ve heard all the excuses…but really…what if this was an experiment for something bigger?  Witnesses say they heard explosions- what if this was a practice run for the High School?   Zombiegirl is going into Middle School next year-what if that school is the target?

So who did this?  And why?  Could it have been your kid?  Mine?  Would they ever do something like this?  Could yours? 

Ugh.  This is driving me crazy.  I can think of half a dozen little cretins that would set fire to their school.  And I know with a little guidance from thier parents, their behavior could be curbed.  So… I’ve compiled a few common sense steps in raising kids.  Follow them and it may help keep your child (and you) on the path to sanity.  At the very least, keep them out of trouble…

Step #1:  Have sit down family dinners at least five times a week.  Use this time to talk to your child about what they are doing in school, who their friends are, their hopes, dreams and desires.  Use this time to talk about your day and ask about theirs.  Listen to what your child has to say and don’t use dinnertime as a time to criticize.  And moreover, use this time to TEACH THEM HOW TO USE A DAMN FORK CORRECTLY!  Manners start at home.

Step #2:  Know who your child’s friends are.  Don’t let them out of the house until you know who their “peeps” are.  Don’t be afraid to embarrass your child and show up where they say they’re hanging out.   Their safety is YOUR concern.  Try to meet the parents of the kids your child is friends with.  Above all, make friends with like-minded parents.  Do things together as families.  Your children may not become BFF’s, but they will be close and it may help deter bad behavior when they’re with other groups of kids.

Step #3:  Set a good example.  If you don’t want your child to curse, don’t you curse.  If you don’t want your child to start drinking, don’t drink around them.  If you don’t want your child to smoke, don’t smoke.  It’s not good for you anyway.  Be a hard-working, conscientious, kind, thoughtful person and your child will learn from you. 

Step #4:  Don’t be in denial.  Your kids will lie through their teeth to convince you they are perfect, that they do no wrong.  Don’t believe them.  If someone comes to you with a complaint about your kid’s behavior, don’t deny it.  Your kid is not an angel- they will mess up sometimes.  Accept the complaint with an “I’ll look into it, thanks” then confront your child.  Don’t ever dismiss a complaint.  Investigate thoroughly.  If your child says someone (a teacher, a neighbor) doesn’t like them, there has to be a reason why.  Find out.

Step #5:  Set boundaries.  Clear, concise rules should be set for a child’s behavior at home and at school.  Life has rules, why shouldn’t families?  If you let your child get away with everything, how will they learn to cope when they are forced to adhere to rules in the job market when they get older? 

Step #6:  Let them express themselves without being critical, yet adhere to those boundaries in step #5.  Zombiegirl wanted to streak her hair blue in fourth grade.  I checked with the school principal and her teacher to see if this was okay.  We then told her she couldn’t do anything “freaky” until she was 16- no piercings, emo makeup, tattoos if she dyed her hair.  She was okay with that compromise and she’s been doing her hair ever since.  Does it hurt anyone?  Nope.  Does it give her a little self-confidence?  Yup.   Let your child try different things.  They’re trying to find out who they are.  Don’t be over-protective, either.  Not letting your kids grow will stunt their independence later.

Step #7:  Don’t be afraid to punish.  If your child has overstepped their boundaries, or broken a rule, they must be held accountable.  Threatening to punish bad behavior is not a punishment.  Take action.  Don’t wuss out. 

Step #8:  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Your child’s teachers are not idiots.  They will deal with hundreds of children in the course of their careers.  If they tell you your child has a learning problem or a behavior problem or a speech impediment, get professional advice!  Better to nip that problem in the bud when they’re young.  Remember Step #4- don’t be in denial.  There is no shame in medication, dieting or therapy.  This should all be done for the good of your child.

Step #9: Get involved.  Get involved with whatever your child is interested in.  Sports?  Be a coach.  At the very least, go to the games.  Don’t just sit in your car, either.  Cheer them on.  Show them you care.  Extracurricular activities?  Don’t be a drop-off parent.  Walk them in.  In the few moments it takes to get out of the car and go inside, you could ask about their day, or get a little feedback on how they’re doing.  If you work, and rely on someone else to take your kid, then volunteer at any event those activities have (dance recitals, cub scouts jamborees, karate tournaments)  Show your kid that you’re interested and not just a taxi service.  Volunteer at school- PTA, teacher’s assistant, cupcake baker, etc.  Be active in the one thing that takes up most of your child’s time.  You’ll be able to then check surreptiously on your kid.  DON’T BE OVERLY INVOLVED, however, and neglect your kid.  Volunteer time is not an excuse for excessive socializing.  Remember you’re doing this for your child, not to go out drinking with the girls…

Step #10:  Ask and listen.  Ask your child questions about their lives.  Tell them you expect honest answers.  Listen when they speak.  Sometimes it’s hard to listen to a child- they haven’t perfected their storytelling abilities yet.  Be interested- don’t get that glazed look in your eye- they can tell.  Most importantly, ask others about your child.  Get impressions from their Girl Scout leader, their Sunday School teacher, your neighbor.  Tell them you expect honest answers.  Remember Step #4.  They see your child differently from you and may have a different insight than you into what makes your child tick.  Don’t get mad when you hear something you don’t expect.

Do these steps make sense?  I’m not a child rearing expert, or a child psychiatrist.  My children are far from perfect, but they’ve never been in any sort of trouble, either.  Mostly, it’s just common sense.  Unfortunately, most of us are common sense deficient.

I hope they catch the little bastards that did this.

Isla Del Encanto

Hola, mis amigos buenos. Ha sido un rato desde que yo he escrito.

It’s always hard to come back to reality after a week long vacation.  It’s hard to get up in the morning to go to work, it’s hard to deal with the long commute, it’s hard to go through your 179 emails when you’re thinking about drinking piña coladas poolside.

I’m not going to go into a play-by-play of our trip to Puerto Rico last week.  Yes, there were palm trees, pools, beaches, good food, drinks and music.  Yes, it was expensive, hot and the drivers were crazy.  Yes, now I have a better understanding of the Puerto Ricans in NY.

I’m going to use the blog to review the places we stayed, the things we did and the restaurants we visited (except the American ones, like Chili’s, Subway, Cold Stone Creamery, McDonald’s and Wendy’s.  Well, maybe I’ll review Wendy’s…and Cold Stone) so that anyone doing a search can get my unbiased opinion.   And pictures.  So what will I be reviewing?

Stay tuned.