Thursday, January 31, 2008

Biggest Loser: Family Style

So, our family has decided that we all need a little healthy competition to motivate us to lose weight. Although some members, not to be named, have dialed in their weight loss goal as a whopping five whole pounds (please!), the rest of us are looking to drop whale size proportions. 

In an attempt to reach our goals, we have partnered up to see which team will lose the most weight by Easter! Team 1: Sue and Stacey, Team 2: Brad and Sarah, Team 3: Dave and Chrissie. Each person has put $25 on the line. Winning Team Takes All! Teams need to post comments every Friday to taunt and mock (aka. motivate) the other teams with how much total weight they have already lost. If you are in the family circle and have decided to participate, you can still enter with a partner! Just post your name, partner's name and how much total combined weight you hope to lose...again, just so we know the competition. And, family members, please understand that just because Suzie wants to lose thirty pounds, doesn't mean Suzie will, so don't shy away from signing up, thinking she and Dave are a shoe-in!

Good luck to all the teams, and may the biggest losers win! 

Friday, January 18, 2008

Worlds Away

Actually, by looking at these picture you cant tell how different Franklin, Tennessee is than Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I mean, there's a trolley, brick row homes that have been turned into market places, traffic lights. Of course, you can't tell that that is the entire downtown captured in one picture of Franklin. You also can't tell that Philadelphia has a population of over one and a half million people and Franklin gets credit for being the home of a little over fifty thousand. Philadelphia has the second largest Irish, Italian and Jamaican populations and the fourth largest African American population in the nation while only 10% of the Franklin population is non-white.  About 20% of Philadelphia's population is below the poverty line, while less than 7% of Franklinites are in poverty. Actually, Franklin is one of the wealthiest cities in the one of the wealthiest counties in the US.  Benjamin Franklin is one interesting cross-over between the cities. Franklin was actually named for Mr.Ben Franklin, Philadelphia's own. 

The significance about the differences between cities is what seems to run through my head on a daily basis since our family's decision to move back home to Franklin. Desire to be closer to our family and long-time community has spurred our decision, but doesn't make it an easy one. Franklin doesn't have liberti (our fledgling-toddler church community), cheesesteaks or Kelly Drive, but it does have Mimi and Papa Joe. It doesn't have Nam Phong (the cheap Vietnamese restaurant in South Philly) or North 3rd (our favorite wing joint), but its got La Hacienda (Philly can't compete with the Mexican food even though it's got every other nationality in the universe covered) and it's got Country Kitchen on Saturday mornings at Mimi and Papa Joe's. 

My guess is that I am slowly beginning the mourning process of leaving Philly, but still trying to comfort myself with the notables of Franklin. Change is never an easy process. Leaving friends is an impossible one. I expect my experience when we get back to Franklin to be similar to when we left it five years ago: excited for the change and new experiences mixed with the sadness (and, let's face it, down-right depression) at not having access to my people. Of course, in this move,  "my people" will now include the amazing friends we have made over the past five years. 

Culture Shock will be an inevitable for us. Ellie mentions her brown-ness every time we visit Franklin. Raising a brown child in a white world is a challenge we will face wherever we plant, but it will just be more noticable there. The cultural differences are huge at any rate. Gender and race attitudes are certainly more appealing for us in the culture of the Yanks. There is a certain amount of intellectual integrity, social concern and global awareness in the north that has been refreshing here. But, when it comes to the daily grind of life, Southerners really do win the day with community, integrity and just plain niceness. I'll be glad for the slower pace, the kindness of neighbors and, of course, sweet tea. Oh yeah, and parking.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Atticus the Wonderboy!

Local News: Wonderboy Warehouse Sale this Sunday. Ultra-cool boys clothing designed and made by a local artist. And, oh yeah, did I mention that Atticus was a model for their Spring catalog??

Keep an eye out for Wonderboy clothing at children's boutiques! Even stores in Nashville carry this uber-hip line! Check out their website. Hopefully, they will post their spring line soon and Atticus will make his on-line modeling premiere!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

My Buddy and Me

How cute is he?? Atticus is a superior buddy. My little friend standing in front of Independence Hall. We often wait for Ellie to get out of school at Washington Square Park, which is across the street from Independence Charter School. I'm never at a loss to imagine horse drawn carriages and wig-wearing men walking around in capris and tights (of course, this could be due to the fact that there ARE horse drawn carriages and wig-wearing men walking around in capris and tights around this extremely touristy area of the city!) I never thought my kid would see more horses on Chestnut Street than in Franklin, TN! I'm just happy that he is as relaxed and contented in just about any environment...except maybe the Maurice Sendack exhibit at the Please Touch Museum. Atticus is in mortal fear of Where the Wild Things Are. 

Look, Bubba! You are standing on history!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Corner Store Kids

Raising kids in the city is so far from what I'd envision parenting to be like. A highlight of the day for my kids is to go to the corner store. I guess if we are trying to find the suburban analogy to the corner store, i would compare the corner store to the Eckerd's Drugstore. I grew up walking to the Eckerd to buy candy with other kids from my neighborhood. If I was totally honest, I would have to reveal that I was actually the only one who didn't use my allowance on candy, but on a large bag of Doritos.  

But, the corner store is really incomparable to the suburban drug store. Actually, the term drug store may actually be more suitable for our corner store. Mrs. Young, the proprietor of said store, is an old crotchety asian woman who seems to have been hardened by life in the neighborhood. The same clientele come in and out, shouting profane greetings at her, trying to get a rise. Most of the time she doesn't take the bait. She remains stoic and tells them how much they owe her. 

Does she keep IOU's or a running tab on each costumer? It would seem so. She seems to know just how many cigarettes she has sold to each person. Here, in Philly, you buy single cigarettes, since you can rarely afford the entire pack at once. I think the going rate is .25 cents per stick. Blunts might be more. (Philly blunts, the kind with the wacky tabacky, aren't for sale at the corner least, as far as I know.) 

I tried to take a picture of Mrs. Young, but she wouldn't let me. When I asked her if I could, she turned her back to me even though I did not even have the camera out. She refused to turn around until I left the store. I see Mrs. Young several times a week, but she has yet to smile at me. No one on our block smiles at each other. It's a subtle nod and perhaps a quick "How ya doing?", but that's the extent. It seems like smiling is a level of intimacy that isn't risked very often around here. 

Going to Mrs. Young's is a treat for Ellie and Atticus. They can actually buy something they want for a quarter, which is nice and kind of reminds me of Andy Griffith days. Minus the sweetness. Its either ice cream (the cones dipped in chocolate rolled in peanuts kind) or Cheetohs (Atticus' poison of choice). 
I don't think that having my kids go to the corner store is a negative thing, it's just really something that I haven't gotten used to yet, even after 5 years in the city.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

New Year, Carrots and Good Eye-sight

My New Year's Eve in Philadelphia? Oh. I was just laying in my bed, watching the Penn's Landing fireworks out my window and relaxing to the sound of gun shots a block away. Of course, I only assumed that what I was hearing was gun shots until I heard the news this morning that there were multiple arrests made for illegal use of hand guns, as well as news of several critically injured from stray bullets! I guess my first question is always: How then should I live? In light of guns being fired in celebration in my neighborhood, how am I as a follower of Jesus Christ with little children supposed to live? 

It reminds me of an Ellie story...

This time last year, Ellie, Atticus (my 3 year old) and I were on our way down Girard Avenue on the coldest day of the winter. We were stopped at a red light. Up ahead, I noticed a woman walking toward us down the sidewalk. Now, because I was talking on my cell phone, my brain was slow to compute. This was no ordinary woman, but an obese woman without a stitch of clothing. My thoughts slowing disengaged from my conversation to this surreal sight. This naked woman looked like she was out for a Sunday stroll. "What in the world??" I said out loud.

Ellie, on-point as always, quickly sits up to get a look out the front window. "Ellie, cover your eyes!" She immediately obeyed. (Hmm.) 

I then watch as a police cruiser slowly pulls up to the sidewalk and an officer gets out. He approaches the woman with one arm behind her back, gently shepherding her into his vehicle. She gets in and they drive away. The light turned green and it was my turn to go.

I look in the review window and note that Ellie is still covering her face with her hands. I tell her its okay to look. I asked her if she saw anything. She answers, "That police man?" I sighed in relief. She didn't see anything. But, I decided to double-check. "Did you see what that police man was doing, Ellie?" 

You mean, putting that naked woman in his car?

Nothing gets by this girl. So, I then launch into a discussion about why on earth that woman, on the coldest day of the year, was walking down Girard in absolutely no clothes. However, Ellie, true to form, had to disagree with me on those details. Mom, she was not totally naked. She had panties on. I reassured her that she was entirely nude.

Again, I am called to ask the question: How then should I live? WWJD??  Even though I felt pretty much alone in my struggles, I prayed for wisdom and began to connect the sight we had just witnessed to our most recent family devotional. "Ellie, do you remember when we talked about how Adam and Eve disobeyed God and then, from that point on, sin and yuckiness entered the world? Well, that woman is not supposed to be cold and naked walking down the street. It makes God sad. We don't know why she is alone without any clothes, but we do know that God does not want that for that woman. She is made in his image and he wants only good things for her. And, one day, He will heal the world so that will never happen again. Do you understand?"

Yes, Mama. But if she was naked, what was that black stuff in her bottom?

 Ellie, WHAT were you doing looking that closely at her bottom??

 I eat carrots, babe. 

I swear!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Ellie Quotes on Demand

Ever since Ellie, my brillantly warped but beautiful 7-year old, has been quoted in our family newsletter, requests for more quotes have prompted the beginning of this blog. In response to any story or quote, I ask that you follow these suggested guidelines:

1. If you are entertained:  Click on an ad that is posted on our site. The money procured will not, as you might think, go toward Ellie's college fund, but toward her counseling one. She's on her own for college, but I feel vaguely responsible for her therapy.

2. If you are disturbed: Leave some wisdom that might help us avoid excessive costs for therapy. 

With those guidelines clearly stated, I give you the most recent post-worthy quote:

Papa, will I get in trouble if I hold up my middle-toe at you?
-Ellie, age 7