Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Under the Weather

If you want a quick update on things in ChockleyBlogLand, here it is: We're SICK. And not in that fun way that X-Games announcers use the word sick. Since last Sunday (11/21), when Connor first got the flu, no one has been quite right. Chloe and I have had colds, and as of today I can tell you that mine is worse than hers. (And getting worse by the minute.) Connor no longer has a fever, and he feels okay, but the virus is struggling to leave his system completely and has manefested itself as a nasty rash. The rash comes and goes to varying degrees, but last night at bathtime it was literally covering him from forehead to ankles. And speaking of yesterday, Chip woke up Monday morning around 3:00 a.m. with Connor's original flu- the one with the high fever, chills, body aches, etc. He didn't get out of bed until it was time for the Showcase Showdown on TPIR. But he couldn't actually sleep, because his fever was so high that it made his skin hurt.

And yet, somehow, we're all at work and school today. Nothing you can prescibe for me is going to get rid of my cold. And the doctor didn't seem concerned with Connor's rash. And Chip's fever is under control today. And Chloe is just excited to have an excuse to drink Dimetapp. So here we are. For now.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A New Face for an Old Broad

Yesterday the fam took a trek to Broad Avenue. A few years back, this would've been a bizarre thing to do, seeing as how the area was not very family-friendly. Recently, there's been a bit of an arts-based renaissance in the area. Slowly, the strip is changing from vacant old buildings and vagrants to art galleries and interesting bars and restaurants.

Livable Memphis and the surrounding neighborhood put on "A New Face for an Old Broad" yesterday-- a street festival of sorts, with lots of "pop-up shops." Lots of old vacant places were opened for one day, and artists and independent retail folks set up in them. The goal was to show what the area will be, when the transformation is complete. Generous bike lanes were drawn on the street, and there was a cool bike parade during the festival.  I haven't done an adequate job describing it really, go read the shpill here to read more.

Our friend Melissa Sweazy opened a cool little "Happiness Store" for the day, which sold happiness by the pound. There was a climbing wall, lots of street food vendors, families, animals, bikes, balloons, and... happiness.

Check out the whole slideshow of my pics here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Downtown at Dusk

After a string of particularly beautiful sunsets over the river, I decided that I needed to lug my camera to work so I'd be prepared to capture one.  Of course, that day had the most mundane sunset I'd seen in weeks, so I decided to point my camera at buildings instead.

The new University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphries School of Law, with its even newer sign:

The Falls Building (aka "Falls Bvilding"), where my office used to be:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

HP Renaissance

In December of 1999, I finished up my student teaching and was all ready to take over a fourth grade class that January. As a "welcome to teaching" gift, my step-sister, Robin, gave me Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, a book that both she and her students loved.

When I read the book to my first class later that semester, I was amazed at the response. Remember, this book was still relatively new (released in the US September 1998) so it was new and exciting to my students. I will never forget the following story:

One morning, the mother of a child named Brandon came to me to thank me for starting the Harry Potter book in class. She explained that the night before, she had come home from work, hung up her coat, and asked her kids about their day. Brandon to her, "We're reading this cool book at school- can you buy it for me?" So she put her coat right back on, grabbed her keys, and said, "Let's go." Apparently, in his nine years of life, Brandon had never asked her to buy him a book. She wanted to do it right away before he had a chance to change his mind.

No pun intended, but that was a magical moment for me. When you become a teacher, you imagine your career will be filled with stories like these, when you touch a child's life and change it for the better. (Then you continue teaching at a public school where they DON'T ALLOW Harry Potter books in the library because they are anti-Christian, and long story short you eventually move on to another career.) It was the first time I felt I had made an impact, and it was fantastic.

The Harry Potter series was always important to me, not just because of Brandon, but because I truly loved the characters. I will admit that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is in my top 10-15 favorite books of all time. I'm the dork who read the entire series in anticipation each time a new book was released. And for the first few movies, I re-read the books in advance of going to the theater. (And now I'll pause and let you do the math. Yes, I have read them that many times.) I love this book series.

Now I have my own young children. They have expressed an interest in seeing the movies, but I've resisted. The main reason is that I don't really like the movie series. The first few movies were made without knowing how the book series would end, and that really led to some weird editing choices, especially regarding Snape. (Why was he so cartoony? He's scary!) Plus I didn't love the casting of Hermione and the natural sexual tension that arose between her and the actor playing Harry in the movies. And just in general (as usual), I felt the movies were not nearly as good as the books. So for the reasons I just described, I really wanted the kids to read the books first, before seeing the movies.

I never said all that to the kids, of course. I just told Connor that the books were above his reading level and we'd tackle them later. But recently, he finally asked flat-out if he could read the Harry Potter books. I checked the Accelerated Reader website and determined that the first book wasn't too far outside of Connor's reading level, and told him to have at it. And he did. For the first time in his short life, he spent the whole weekend reading. He read at home, he read in the car, and he asked to take his book to Grammy's house. Each night, he looks forward to reading, first on his own while Chloe is in the shower, then with a parent during our traditional nighttime reading session. Just like Brandon so many years ago, he has been enchanted by the magic of Harry Potter.

And just like his mom, he's in no hurry to break the spell.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cruelty to Animals

About a week ago, I stumbled into the "90% off" Halloween section at Target. Behold, the best $2.58 I've ever spent.

Bumble Bee

Banana Split

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Arcade

The Arcade, on South Main, is Memphis's oldest restaurant-- opened in 1919.  Along with the Rendevous, it might also be its most famous restaurant.  The place is a movie star:  Mystery Train, Great Balls of Fire, The Client, The Firm, 21 Grams, Elizabethtown, Walk the Line all have scenes filmed there.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sick Days

I've spent the past two days at home with a different sick kid each day. Their reward for throwing up everywhere was to lounge on the couch with their pillows and blankets and watch whatever they wanted all day long. I found this torturous. Cleaning up errant puke was the delightful part of this assignment compared to spending a day watching kid/tween TV programming and the accompanying commercials.

Chloe would like everything she sees in every commercial. And there's no more Noggin, which is a now-deceased channel that showed no commercials.

I love iCarly. Easily my favorite of the kids' current favorites.

Connor likes to kick it old school, and laughed his fool head off at hours of Pink Panther and Tom & Jerry.

Did you know there's tween version of Entourage that airs on Nick? It's called Big Time Rush. It's about some kids from Minnesota who was move to LA together to become pop stars. And they live in a hotel that's like a young Hollywood hotspot. I was made to watch an episode in which the lead singer of the band and his girlfriend, an actress, were made by their managers to pretend to break up so that the girl could pretend to be dating another young star. So they spent the whole episode hiding from the paparazzi so they wouldn't get caught together when she's supposed to be dating the other guy. Seriously? My kids are entertained by this? I guess I'll get them a subscription to US Weekly for Christmas. At least they'd be reading instead of watching all this crap.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Rock n Romp

Chip recapped the afternoon here. Go read it. Then go to Flickr and look at his pictures.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Lately I've been letting Chip's pictures do the talking. It seems like kids get less interesting as they get older, ya know? We all just plug along and Chloe grows out of another pair of shoes and Connor reads another Magic Treehouse book and Chip and I load and unload the dishwasher and each day runs into another.

But that's not good enough for the grandparents and other interested parties, so let's see if I can spice things up a bit for you. (Spoiler alert: No, I can't.)

Connor is really happy to be in CLUE. It's the highlight of his education to date, and he actually looks forward to it. Looks forward to school! I never thought I'd see the day!

Chloe is not making an easy sartorial transition to fall. She refuses to wear a long-sleeved shirt or dress, but will grudgingly agree to wear a cardigan or hoodie over her short-sleeved/sleeveless clothes. But only long enough to go from the car to her school- it comes off as soon as she steps inside the building. And forget about leggings or tights. Or pants of any kind, if she can help it. It's supposed to be 29 overnight Friday- I can't wait to finally win this battle!

Connor has started taking drum lessons.

Chloe has been trying to get sick for about a week now. She doesn't have a fever, but she has a lot of sinus trouble and a very bad attitude. We love her anyway.

Connor finally watches sports, actively and with great interest. He was sincerely disappointed when the Titans were on Monday Night Football, which is past his bedtime, and he was unable to watch the game. And he's been begging me to take him to the Celtics/Grizzlies game. It's so exciting!

Chloe continues to be a total girl who complains loudly about her boredom while football is on the TV. However, she refuses to play by herself or do anything to occupy her time other than sitting in front of us doing the aforementioned complaining. So her future husband has that to look forward to.

Basketball practice has started, and games will be on Saturday morning from December through February. In case you want to come.

Chip keeps taking pictures, and I'm working on finishing up my Christmas shopping. And that's about the size of things in ChockleyBlog Land.