Were the 90's really that long ago?

This week I left Jorma and Janie Kathryn to join my oldest friends, who happen to be my cousins, for a girls' weekend in Atlanta. Judging from the leftovers in the fridge when I returned, Jorma's mom kept them fed while I was gone. (Full disclosure: Jorma does more than half the cooking when I am not gone.)
It's always nice to reconnect with close friends, especially when close friends are also family. With these gals, I don't have to excuse my neuroses. They understand my need to be the last person on the escalator. They think it's perfectly normal (for me) to plan Janie Kathryn's birthday party 6 months in advance and Jorma's 40th birthday 8 years in advance. And most importantly, no matter how it dates us, we all openly share a love for music from the late 90's.  

"At home, drawing pictures of mountaintops..."
Girls' Weekend is awesome- amplified by the fact that it can be broadcasted on facebook to prove that our lives are every bit as interesting as yours. [insert smiley face icon here]

It's a bittersweet thing to be away from my loves- my wonderful family who so affectionately cared for my stray kitty and welcomed me back with open arms (clean dishes, made beds, and a fresh pot of coffee). What more could a girl want?  Perhaps a 2012 Girls' Weekend.


Artfully Disappointing

Eight weeks of summer gone, three weeks to go. I'm ready for school to begin!

Janie Kathryn spent week 8 at Memphis College of Art (MCA) Camp. I do not recommend this camp for younger kids. I was very disappointed! Before I elaborate, I will say that Janie Kathryn had fun and wanted to return each day. So, she did enjoy it. With that said, I cannot express how disappointed I was with the organization of the camp and the lack of professionalism on the part of the MCA Camp staff. 

The Skeen Family will attend the MCA Summer Art Camp Showcase to see and collect what our budding Picasso created. However, we will not recommend this camp to our friends and have no plans to try it again...at least not until she is A LOT older. This is the short version of the story. 
[Please feel free to stop reading here.]

On day one, we arrived to wait in a line that spanned the length of the lobby (30-40 people long), to sign in. After I wrote Janie Kathryn's name on a line and signed my name next to it, I was told that Janie Kathryn needed to go downstairs to the auditorium.

So, down the stairs we went in, in search of the auditorium. At the bottom of the stairs we found a dark auditorium full of every child registered at camp, ranging in age from 5-17. While all the campers congregated, a movie (Marma Duke) played on a large screen at the front of the room. When it seemed like the room was nearly full, camp instructors began to appear and call role. When a camper's name was called, he or she would line up and follow their instructor to the classroom. Janie Kathryn's class was the next to last of a dozen classes to be called. Nervous, Janie Kathryn asked me to walk with her to class, where she kissed me and said her goodbyes outside the door.

Janie Kathryn was signed up for a morning and afternoon class. So, when I showed up to retrieve her, she was with a different teacher. A teacher who required no identification, who let every child comfortably wander off with the adult that came for them. This bugged me, but not as much the first days as it did later in the week. We repeated these steps the next morning, though the sign-in line was shorter and the movie was different.

On the third day things changed.
As I turned to walk down the stairs with Janie Kathryn, a young woman stopped me and said, "You cannot go downstairs, it is too disruptive." Confused by this, I explained that we are merely repeating the routine from the days before. She replied, "I understand, but you were not supposed to do that. It's in your contract."  Shut the front door! Are you seriously talking to a parent like this? I paid 300 freakin' dollars for this camp. This chick is either a really pretentious art [insert bad word here] or a clueless moron with no social skills! I maintained my composure and explained that it is a little unreasonable to expect a 5-year-old to walk into a dark auditorium, where she knows not one person, and has to find her own seat next to a stranger. (Mind you, she could be seated next to a 17-year-old boy!) This woman offered no solution and was ready let me walk out the door, since Janie Kathryn was not about to walk downstairs alone. Irate at this point, I suggested that she have someone walk Janie Kathryn to the auditorium and at the threat of missing camp for the rest of the week Janie Kathryn relented and disappeared with another camp employee.

I want to interject here, to say that there were several upset children in the midst of morning roll call. Janie Kathryn was not one of them. And I can understand how parents walking their children to the auditorium could be disruptive. Children who do not have a parent present might begin to cry when they see another child reluctantly saying goodbye to a parent that is present. However, if the camp was organized better, perhaps campers should congregate by age, there would likely be less nervous children!

When camp was over on the third day, Jorma conducted the pick-up. And once again, the sign-out sheet girl required no ID and the afternoon teacher was releasing kids right and left to the adults that came to collect them. Craziness!

In my experience, parents of only children can be more uptight. In my experience, younger parents can be a little more high strung. However, I refuse to believe that I am the only parent that had a problem with this camp! In the future, MCA would do well to take notes from the Memphis Zoo on how to effectively run a summer camp program.

The Skeen Family will attend the MCA Summer Art Camp Showcase to see and collect what our budding Picasso created. However, we will not recommend this camp to our friends and have no plans to try it again...at least not until she is A LOT older.


Oh Baby!

This post departs a little from our summer adventures, it's just that I know so many people that are pregnant this summer. The baby shower invitations are plentiful! Now, I'm not complaining. I enjoy a good baby shower. I get to buy the wittle, itty-bitty, cuteness that my child has outgrown. I participate in the cutesy little games- the appropriate ones, anyway. Ask me to smell a "soiled" diaper and identify the odor and I'm out! But my favorite thing about baby showers is when guests are asked to impart advice to a new mother.

There's nothing like getting a room full of women together and giving them permission to offer advice. I often find that the advice from the people who do not have children is the most entertaining. For instance, I was recently at a baby shower... the mother-to-be was showing off her new and pristine burp cloths, when someone asked, "what are those for?" Obviously, the question came from a person who has not been around babies. I explained, "They're burp cloths, they help catch all the stuff that comes out of baby, like when she spits up." To this explanation another non-mom replies, "Oh, that [spit up] doesn't happen if you do it right."  Touche, Oh wise one. Please go on... do diapers never leak either?

FYI: If you ever want to find out what you did wrong (err, should I say what others do right?) from pregnancy to birth to kindergarten, go to a baby shower! And let me just tell you- A mother has no harsher critic than another mother.

My words of advice to new mothers...
If you are constantly second-guessing your parenting decisions, don't worry, everyone else is second-guessing your decisions too! Just  know that there is no right way. There is just your way.


A Day of Doctors

WARNING: This post may contain unabashed bragging about my child. You have my apologies in advance. 
This is a two-part story, about visiting two different doctors.

Doctor #1: Dr. Mallory Mattice, Dog & Cat Clinic
I needed to take our fostered feline back to the vet and decided to let Janie Kathryn tag along. She's so interested in animals, I thought maybe she'd get something out of it. While I prepared the kitty carrier and the car, Janie Kathryn adorned her self with grown-up accessories. I suppose she wanted to look the part of a girl who gets to go to the veterinarian's office.

When we arrived at the Dog & Cat Clinic, I was pondering how badly the day would be if it started out with a cat pooping in the carrier on the way to the vet and would end with Janie Kathryn's kindergarten shots. Janie Kathryn walked in with her jewels gleaming and her purse on her arm, excited about all the animals she was about to see. 

When it was our turn in the examination room, I asked Janie Kathryn to sit on the side lines with my purse. The wonderful staff at Dr. Mattice's office cleaned the kitty carrier for me. When the examination was over, I went to Janie Kathryn for my purse, at the same time asking, "Dr. Mattice, what do we owe ya today?"

Janie Kathryn stopped me in my tracks and insisted, "I'm going to pay, Mommy." Awwww. I told her that I didn't think she should spend her money on the kitty and that she should save it for something she wanted to buy for herself. Yet, she insisted and, to my surprise, pulls $20 out of her purse that she swiped from her piggy bank before we left the house! I don't know if he was moved by her gesture or if he was just being generous to a couple of gals who are saving a stray, but Dr. Mattice interrupted our payment squabble, "No charge today, ladies." 

Doctor #2: Dr. Lelon (Bubba) Edwards, Peds East
When I was five, my dad took me to get my kindergarten shots. I remember every traumatic moment (even though it wasn't that bad). Afterward, we stopped by a house where there were a half dozen kittens playing on the front porch. At the time, I had no idea why we were there, but when we left, my dad told me I could take my favorite kitty home with me. 

A fond memory like that, combined with the fact that Jorma has taken Janie Kathryn for all of her shots until now... I was really stressed out about this whole vaccination thing. I wasn't sure how to approach the subject, so I checked out a book at the library and we started talking about it a couple weeks ago. On the way home from the vet, I dropped the bomb; Today is the day. She panicked a little at first, but fear gave way to bravery- a chance to prove herself a big kid. And what a brave, big kid she was! Not one tear. Two shots in one leg, two shots in the other. Times like these, tell just how much she is her father's daughter. 

As for a reward for her courage, we met up with Daddy and went out for ice cream. Come on, it's not like I could get her a kitty. We already have one too many! 


Perfunctory Photos to Picture Perfection

Oh man, oh my, oh me, there are a lot of photos taken by this family! And let's get this straight- It's not just that I take a lot of pictures. It's also that there always seems to be no less than 4 cameras directed in the general direction of my offspring. 
Digital Age= Opportunity & Affordability= Photos of Everything 

Do you think there exists a photo of the volcano I made in 
Mr. Lippiatt's class, my fifth grade year? I think not. 
And what about the time I was riding my bike and a horsefly was taunting me...Do you think there are any photos of the resulting crash when the handlebars of my bicycle twisted and turned with the rest of me? Noooooooo. 
May 22, 2010

Consequently, is it weird that I have these photos of Janie Kathryn? I mean, she was really proud of that wound, when she finally stopped screaming. For the record, this photo tells more than the story of her first skinned knee. It also reminds me of that bear, Pinky, which Janie Kathryn so loved, and on which I had to sew a pink cotton ball tail. Pinky was a boy, like most of Janie Kathryn's pink loveys. (However, Pinky is more gray than pink these days). Besides being weirdly nostalgic...what would you do with all the photos!? I try, very diligently I might add, to keep our memories organized and appropriately chronicled. 

It's not as easy as it sounds. I've been stressing out all week about using my photo book Groupons that are about to expire. I stayed up all night, one night last week, to complete an entire book! I needed to get it done before we left for our annual Independence Day weekend in Van Buren, Missouri...where there were no shortage of photos taken. 
Oh man, oh my, oh me. What will I do with all these photos? Does anyone order 4x6 photos anymore or do these pictures only exist on facebook? And if they only exist on facebook, where will they be in 25 years? 

I guess, I should get back to my to finishing my photo journal!