Thursday, May 28, 2009

Memphis Most?

Perhaps today isn't the day to bring this up. Then again, maybe it's the perfect day to bring this up.

Currently, over at The Commercial Appeal's website, voting is open for the Memphis Most, that paper's take on the best of the best of our fair city. There happens to be a category for your favorite columnist.

Now, I'm not suggesting you vote for me. I'm just hoping you get out and vote because it's your duty. And because if you don't vote you forfeit your right to later complain about who was chosen the "most" columnist in town.

My kids have voted often this year, which means Geoff Calkins is a shoe-in. I'm simply hoping for second ... okay, maybe a distant third.

You can peruse past columns by visiting here or here. You can read today's "Because I Said So" column here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


What do you do when you're stuck at home with six kids on a rainy day? You stick them out in the rain; miscreants shrink in the water.

See? I went from six miscreants down to only three.

Here are some other photos:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Memphis Zoo Visit

We packed this zoo up this afternoon and headed to The Memphis Zoo.

We saw lions and gorillas, a skink at the gorilla habitat, pandas, budgies and polar bears. We saw pythons, hippos, ducks and gibbons.

I saw a guy with a picture of his kids on his t-shirt. I may have to get me one of those.

We saw giraffes, ostrich eggs, alligators and a duck.

But what was the most exciting item at the zoo for my kids? What commanded all of their attention? Was it the meerkat? The Bengal tiger? The orangutan? No, it was the Radio Flyer wagon we'd brought along to haul GK and Mr. Baby around in. That molded plastic conveyance that sits in our driveway every. single. day.

From time to time at home they'll want to ride in it, be pulled down the drive to the sidewalk and back before becoming bored with its lack of speed, comfort and television. We'll use it to take the kids up the street to the park, and for that it's pretty useful.

But today at the zoo you would have thought it was Evel Knievel's rocket car or the Batmobile. They all fought over it, pleaded to ride in it and sat in it when we stopped to watch a zebra or the sea lions.

We have a family membership to the zoo, but if we hadn't, it would have cost us about $95 to visit today. That's $95 to be pulled around in in a wagon that we own and that sits gathering rainwater most of the time.

Next time I'll know better. Next time I'll pile them all in that wagon and pull them around the yard to see the squirrels, Cardinals, toads and mosquitos for free.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I've played the part of parent well the past couple of days. In public, anyway.

Tuesday night we went to hear JP play in his piano recital at school. He sounded great, just like Thelonius Monk, only less crazy. Slightly less crazy. He sort of slowed down in the middle of his piece, stopped actually. I think he may have gotten lost while reading the notes. To me, it added to the drama of the tune, just a little lull so the gathered crowd in the lunchroom could soak in what he was playing.

He's been taking lessons for two years now and I think he's pretty good. We should probably get our piano repaired and tuned so that when he practices he'll know just what he's supposed to sound like.

On Wednesday, I joined the kids, and all of Downtown Elementary, at the Memphis Redbirds game. It was a beautiful day for a game, no rain at all and full sunshine.

I don't know how their teachers and staff do it. There were kids running everywhere, yet they kept them all in order and, somehow, got them all back to school in tact. Not one missing. At least, not one of mine.

At one point I took two of my kids to a concession stand and almost lost one of them.

The game, and talking with the teachers and the principal, Mrs. Wunderlich, made me sorry that this is our last year at Downtown. We've had a long run of six years at the school and they've been great, from the people to the curriculum to these wonderful field trips the kids go on that they get to walk to - AutoZone Park, the Orpheum, the Rock-n-Soul Museum, Mud Island and many others.

C began school there in kindergarten the first year it was open and his teacher, Mrs. Porter, set in motion his love of education for, hopeuflly, the next couple of decades. I expected nothing but screaming and crying that first morning I dropped him off, but it was just the opposite and for that I'm grateful. She had JP and S in turn as well and they've all become bright and dedicated kids.

We'll have two at Richland Elementary next year and one at White Station Middle, and we're very excited about both schools, we've heard nothing but good about them. But we will miss Downtown. We've had a great time and knew our children were in the best of hands each and every day.

Because I Said So

This is the face of evil in my house as described in today's Because I Said So column in The Commercial Appeal.

Just to disprove me and make me look like an ass, though, GK sat behind me on the carpool run this morning and softly sang "Hush Little Baby" complete with the line " ... if that diamond ring don't talk to you ... "

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Field Trip

In my six years of gnomeschooling, or however long it's been that I've been keeping almost-3-years-old GK and almost-2-years-old Mr. Baby at home on Monday and Tuesdays, I've never left the house with them. Sure, we've gone outside when the frenetic Memphis weather permits to look at birds and argue over swings and flowers and such, but I've never taken them into public.

Scared? Some may call it that, though I regularly, willingly, take four to five kids out and about, so it can't be fear.

It's probably something closer to disinterest, or downright apathy. These two toddlers are happy-ish at home, why mess that up just so they can experience new things and see some of their city? They don't know how big this city is, I'll take them across the yard and tell them that bush is called "Overton Park;" I'll let them wander around the outdoor storage and say, "Welcome to a mall."

But today I took them to Davis-Kidd Booksellers and it mostly went as expected. Upon entering the children's section with its books and toys and, for the moment, serenity, GK declared she had to go potty. So I trudged them both off to the men's restroom where she used a public toilet and I threw up just a little bit at the thought.

Once we were back at the children's section, Mr. Baby declared that all he surveyed was his. He opened his chubby arms wide, held his head up and said, "Mines!" And the arguing over toys that didn't belong to any of us ensued.

Shortly, another parent came over with her child and this stopped GK and Mr. Baby in their tracks. For the rest of the time they just stood and stared at these people as though they'd never come across another human, as though a couple of Morlocks had just surfaced and GK and Baby, having forgotten their cameras, needed to memorize their features so they could describe them in detail to the authorities later.

Sometime during all of this staring the clock struck 9:12, so Mr. Baby pooped.

Eventually the two in my charge returned to playing and bickering and stinking. Not too much later, having finished reading my magazine, I declared the field trip over and headed for the door with the two little ducks following.

They behaved well, overall, which means ... absolutely nothing when it comes to the possibility of future outings because, with the exception of Mr. Baby's bowels, these two are as unpredictable as the weather in Memphis.