Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back to School

Today was the first day of school for both of our boys. Mr. Third Grader dropped my hand when we got to the corner and refused to pose for a picture, so I had to settle for a blurry Bigfoot-ish one. Mr. Preschooler was much more cooperative, as were his classmates – they stopped a rather spirited game of field hockey to pose for playground pics. (Preschoolers and field hockey? Yes, it’s as bad an idea as it sounds. I just missed getting a photo of the [inadvertent] high-sticking incident that sent Julia to the sidelines, a fact for which Baylor All Saints Preschool, and its in-house counsel, no doubt are grateful.)

I’m reprinting below the e-mail that I circulated at the end of the last school year, re: Connor and creative writing. Third grade promises to be even more productive in that department, as our teacher is the Drama Club sponsor. (Yes, our elementary school has a Drama Club. No, the members don’t wear black and smoke cigarettes outside of the cafeteria – that comes later.) The theme for her class is “Mission Possible,” and everything is spy-oriented – the computer center is the KGB (Knowledge Gathering Base), etc. Needless to say, the boys in the class are beyond excited!


The Wednesday before classes adjourn for the summer is always entertaining, because it’s the day that creative writing notebooks get sent home from school. This year, I particularly enjoyed Connor’s response to the assignment, “Draw a road sign and explain why the sign is important.” He drew a jeep pulling up to a “BUF XING” sign with two lines of text: “My sign is important because your car may get hit by a buffalo. And I’m sure you don’t want that to happen.”

There’s more – a letter to Mayor Moncrief suggesting that the City of Fort Worth build a water park, and a letter soliciting a job with the Fort Worth Zoo (“Dear Mr. Manager, I would like to work in your zoo. I could help feed the animals. I could also help heal the animals. I could even help clean the exhibits. Sincerely, Connor McGlinchey. P.S., I hate cleaning the exhibits.”). But this last one is my favorite. End notes are mine . . . .

Elvis the Unhappy Elf

Twas the night before Christmas, and the elves were working hard. Except for one, one Elvis the elf.1 When Santa came around for his daily inspections he saw Elvis. Santa got so mad he fired Elvis. And his replacement was a nutcracker. Elvis was ordered to leave the North Pole immediately. Or he could slave over a hot stove all day helping Mrs. Claus make Christmas cookies. He chose the cookie thing.2 But he goofed off and Mrs. Claus fired him as well. So he left the North Pole in Santa’s sleigh. 3 On his way to a new home he saw a unicorn. And it gave him the courage to stand up to Santa. So he ordered Rudolf4 and the other reindeer to turn back. Once he got back to the North Pole he demanded his job back. He got it back, but he had to promise to never goof off again. And he was excited. And the nutcracker got fired. And everybody lived happily ever after.5

1,2 “One Elvis the elf”? “He chose the cookie thing”? Yes, the child really talks this way. God help us all.
3 With Santa’s permission? Or can we add sleigh misappropriation to Elvis’ list of bad acts?
4 I’m guessing that this is Rudolph’s German cousin – or an extra from a World War II movie?
5 EVERYBODY lived happily ever after? I asked Connor about this last sentence (technically, a sentence fragment), and he responded, “Oh, I probably should have mentioned that the nutcracker wasn’t very satisfied in his job.”

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Connor on the Olympics

(Upon learning that the US volleyball coach's in-laws were stabbed by a deranged Chinese man): "Was he on beer, or crack?"

(While watching the closing ceremonies): "Opera music always makes me cry - kind of. Wait, maybe it's just the glare from the lights making my eyes tear up. I can totally see the wires on that acrobat. Ooohhh, COOL - I want pogo stick shoes. Hey, that guy's hanging upside down from a drum. The blood must be rushing to his head."

(Upon learning how much it will cost us to buy tickets to the opening or closing ceremonies when we go to London for the '12 Olympics): "I think we should go to the closing ceremonies, because we'll have more time to make the money to buy the tickets - two weeks, to be exact."

And his dad's favorite comment: "Excuse me? Table tennis is a SPORT?"

Monday, August 11, 2008

Betsy Marie Photography

A friend just had family portraits taken - herself, her husband and their toddler-aged triplets (talk about herding cats!) - and I was really impressed with the photography. Here's a link to the photographer's blog (which contains a link to her Web site). She takes all of her photos in natural light, and she encourages her young subjects to wear bright colors - the opposite advice that you get from most photographers, but with nature as a backdrop, wow, what great results!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

THE Beer Cheese Dip

By popular demand, here's the recipe for the dip that I brought to the Fort Worth Cats tailgate:

2 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sour cream (I used fat-free)
1 pkg. finely shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 bottle dark beer (I used Negro Modelo)
Seasoning to taste *
Chopped green onions to taste

Combine all ingredients (I use a stand mixer) and chill for at least 8 hours before serving with jumbo hard pretzels. (Buffalo wing-flavored potato chips are another good dipping option.)

Note: Forewarned is fair-warned. This dip will not taste like "itself" until it has had time to mellow, so fight the urge to sample right after you've made it . . . .

* The recipe calls for Ranch dressing mix, but I did not have any on hand (yes, I realize that this is sacrilege in a Southern kitchen!), so I put in a couple of shakes of Jess Hall's Serendipity Seasoned Salt (Parker County, Texas, REPRESENT!). Anything with a little salt, onion powder, garlic and parsley probably would do, but if you use the dressing mix, I would stop at half of an envelope.

Poor Pandora

Having grown tired of listening to AOL Radio at work, I decided to give Pandora ( a try. Interesting concept - you advise Pandora of a song or artist that you like, the program suggests songs based on that initial input, and as you rate those choices (thumbs up, "ehhh," or thumbs down) it further develops your profile. Songs that meet with your approval get added to your playlist, and you can manually add songs and artists as well. The site suggests that, for best results, you create multiple channels if you enjoy more than one tyope of music. Nah, that would be WAY too easy. I've opted for one incredibly schizophrenic channel (titled "Purposefully Whimsical," natch!), and sometimes I imagine that I can hear the computer program screaming in frustration as I zigzag back and forth between genres. It's not that I'm intentionally trying to be difficult; it's just the way my mind tracks. An example: The Pretenders' "Don't Get Me Wrong" is one of my all-time favorite songs, so of course I added that to the playlist early in the process. Then the part of my brain that obsessively hoards useless pop culture trivia reminded me that The Pretenders' frontwoman used to be married to the frontman for The Kinks, so I added "Come Dancing" and "Lola." Which, of course, led me to "Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets." So now Miss Pandora is trying to process The Pretenders/The Kinks/Dinah Shore. And then, out of nowhere, I remember that I really, REALLY like Tupac's "California Love." The scary thing is that, after a week's worth of listening sessions, Pandora is starting to get me (which is fascinating, since I don't get myself half of the time?) . . . .

Parkerisms - August 2008 Edition

Insight into the three year-old mind:

"You get what you get, and you don't throw a Caden." (Caden is a preschool friend, who evidently is prone to throwing fits?)

"We live in North Mexico, USA." (No, this is not an expression of a "hot sports opinion" re: US immigration policy. The other day, we were playing one of PJ's favorite games, "What else?" which goes something like this: "Mom, what planet do we live on?" "Earth." "Where else do we live?" "North America." "Where else?" "The United States." "Where else?" "Texas." You get the gist. After running out of obvious answers, Mom started freestyling, and threw in "North of Mexico, south of Canada." "North Mexico" stuck, I guess.)

"'Alphabet and the Chipmunks' was a funny movie." (Parker is obsessed with the alphabet, and will point at words he does not know and say, "Hey, look - ABCDEFG . . . .")

"Ear-wier, we saw 'Bee Movie.'" ("Ear-wier" - "earlier," spoken with a child's lisp, drawn out and followed by a pause - is the Parker equivalent of Connor's go-to preschool word, "actually." It functions primarily as a placeholder. It also can refer to something that happened earlier in the day, last month, last year, or at some point in the Cretaceous Period. Basically, he likes saying it because it puts people on notice: "I am a big boy - I use adverbs.")