• Flashback Friday Instrux

    A while ago I was looking back at old posts, and I realized I have lots of hilarious old stories and photos back in the archives.  I even have unblogged tales (horrors!)  that I haven’t thought about in years. The specific post I was reading was Remembrance of Things Past, which marks the only time I’ve set our life to poetry with accompanying photographs.

    Of course, when the twins were covered in blue yogurt I didn’t have the time or the technical know how to blog our adventures, which is how I hatched the idea of hosting Flashback Friday– a chance for you to look back through your pictures or old posts and post one on your blog with a short sentence or two explaining what was going on way back when.  Hey, if you want to tell a whole story, go for it. You can flash back a week or a century, to the time before blogs existed – it’s up to you.

    Here’s how it works– I’ll set a theme for each week, and on Thursday night I’ll post my Flashback Friday post.  There will be a Mr. Linky so you can add your name and the URL of the post containing your photo and/or story, and we’ll end up with a list of Flashback Friday participants right here at My Tiny Kingdom.

    Here are some things to remember:

    A.  Feel free to join in!  No need to ask permission. Read up on blogging carnivals here if you want.

    B.   Put your name and a SHORT description of your photo or story in the “Name” box, and the URL of your Flashback Friday post, not the main page of your blog, in the “URL” box. Example:

    Anne Glamore (Wild & Crazy Times)
    www.mytinykingdom/2009/01/13/flashbackfriday

    C.  Please mention “Flashback Friday” in your post and link back to My Tiny Kingdom in your post.

    D.  If there are technical things you do not know how to do, please use Google or the help forums with your blogging platform to figure them out before you email me.   (Example: Google “How do I upload an image in a WordPress blog?” or “How do I link to another site?”)  I am a terrible technological teacher, as I figured out these things on my own and am probably not doing half of them correctly.  I’m a step ahead of John McCain, computer-wise, but that ain’t saying much.  Melanie at Blogging Basics has good information.  For example, “What is a permalink” is here.

    I suppose if a jillion of you email me with the same question I’ll start some FAQ’s.

    E.  No pornographic pictures, please.  I reserve the right to delete links to obscene photos, and I will use Justice Stewart’s  “I know it when I see it” test.  Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964). (I rarely get to cite cases on my blog.)

    Here are the upcoming themes: (interpret as broadly as you wish)

    January 16: Feeling Red, White & Blue

    January 23: This Makes Me Giggle

    January 30: Free For All

    February 6: Remember It’s Inner Beauty That Counts

    February 13: Love, Look at The 2 Of Us

    February 20: Free For All

    February 27: What I Was Doing X Years Ago, Where “X” = Any Positive Integer

    March 6:  Snow

    March 13:  Free For All

    March 20: NO FLASHBACK FRIDAY!

    March 27:  Oops!

    April 3: There Once Was…

    April 10:  Free For All

    April 17: The Letter R

    April 24: Warm Thoughts

    If you have ideas for upcoming themes, email me or leave them in the comments.  If you can think of a group of bloggers who’d be way into this (scrapbookers? genealogists?) let them know about the project, too.  Tweet, promote on your blog, etc.  I hope this is fun for everyone!

    Can’t wait to see how you interpret “Feeling Red White & Blue!”

    ******************

    FOUR years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Fish.   Talk about a flashback – this is maybe the 4th post I ever wrote!

  • I Thought The Boys Were Thrilled By The Virgin Mary

    I’m not much of a collector, but I’ve tried to pick up a Nativity scene from places I visit.  We’re up to three, and they’re currently displayed on the mantel.  The boys have been enamored with them.  There’s the Mexican Nativity that I got after my mother died:

    mexican

    (Joseph is absent as he’s still decapitated but I hope Porter’s Webelo skills will help remedy that situation.)

    And the intricate and fascinating nativity from Kenya:
    african

    And finally, the expensive and somewhat staid creche from Lisbon:
    portugese

    It’s this monochromatic one that the boys cannot pass without stepping onto the fireplace to peer a bit closer. Why? It’s got none of the fancy weaving of the African version, or the snappy color of the Mexican one. And it’s teensy. That lamb? It’s smaller than the size of the first segment of my index finger.

    titillating
    So the Virgin Mary’s nipple? It’s tiny, too. But not too small to be eternally thrilling to the inhabitants of my house.

    **************

    The holidays have snuck up on me this year.  We just got the tree finished last night and I haven’t wrapped the first present.  I have purchased several, though, sticking to my tried and true rules for gifts.

    I don’t know of anyone who isn’t cutting back this year, and we’re no different.  The boys are getting plenty of books and clothes (though I’m having to give Porter books early as he snarfs them up.  I’m going to get some really lengthy books to add to his pile and see if I can’t spread out my trips to the library a bit.)

    We made our annual trip to Target during which the boys split up and bought presents for each other (as recounted in “Present Perfect” which you can read at the Lipstick site– or pick up a free copy at your local spa/salon/business.  Here’s a picture of the activity – this is the cart with Porter’s present in it, hidden with towels while Drew and Finn decide what else to buy for him.  Smart readers will know immediately what is hidden under here.)

    target

    If you’re still struggling for gift ideas, here’s a link to all my best ideas, including the Hall of Fame!

    I’ve also hit on another series that Porter is loving – the books by Cressida Cowell, including How to Train Your Dragon and How to Be a Pirate.  She’s written tons of books and I checked out as many as I could from the library today so I could stop giving Porter books from his Christmas stash.

    **********

    Last Saturday Bill and I went to a party for our dance club.  It’s a Tiny Kingdom tradition– every three years, a new dance club is formed, but the members don’t dance or do anything philanthropic.  Our Christmas party was at a friend’s house, and the house is posh.  Everything was clean and decorated and there were no piles of papers and sporting goods in the corners.  I peeked in the hostess’s bathroom and there were two walk in closets and a separate tub and shower.  The tub had no legos or inexplicable wood shavings in it, as ours often does.

    I heard several people duck out early, explaining that they had another party to attend, thrown by a couple I’ll call Jemison and Mary Adair.  I don’t know Jemison and Mary Adair, but I recognized their names.  No matter.  Bill and I had a marvelous time, ending the evening with dinner with Marathon Mom and her husband.

    Today I was at the sporting goods store running an errand that had NOTHING whatsoever to do with Christmas, Finn, if you are reading this, which you should not because you are in the middle of exams and should not be reading blogs on the computer.

    A couple were in there shopping for Christmas, and after they called each other “Jemison” and “Mary Adair” I put on my CSI-Birmingham sunglasses and determined that they were the party-givers of the previous weekend.  Which would have been no big deal if they had not told the cashier that they had invited 400 people to their party, which made me think, “TINY Kingdom?  They had almost half a thousand people and I couldn’t even wrangle an invitation? ”

    Maybe they are MUCH older than I am.  Droopy, even.

    Maybe you have to do the magical elf thing with your kids to be invited.

    Maybe the Kingdom is bigger than I thought.

    Maybe this is a sign that it’s all well and good to be known for your sex talk, to be a vermicomposter, and to go to the Webelo Top Gun Competition, but all that doesn’t get you invited to the big galas.

    But I what I really think it means is that in 2009 I need to get out more.

    **************************

    Two years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: No TV For You!

  • Our Neighbors, The Drug Dealers

    We didn’t immediately catch on to the fact that the neighbors were selling drugs.  Of course, we’d just moved in and had a three-year-old, six-month-old twins, and I was starting a year of treatment for hepatitis C.   I had plenty to keep me occupied inside and no time to check out the other houses on the street.

    Also, the Tiny Kingdom isn’t the first place I’d look for a drug dealer.  Sure, there are kids in the community  with plenty of money, and drug use isn’t anything new, but I figured they got their drugs downtown or at any rate, somewhere else, not right across the street.

    But as the years passed, my boys spent more time in our driveway, which has a clear view of the driveway across the street.  Kids don’t miss a thing.  At first their reports were tame.

    “The guy in the house across the street was drinking a beer and he doesn’t look like he’s twenty-one,” Finn announced one time.  He was about eight at the time and was shocked.  I tried to act shocked, too.

    “You know the house across the street?  All these teenagers are sitting in the driveway smoking.  Should we call the police?” Porter asked another day, as I was putting away groceries.  “I mean, cigarettes can kill you.  And if the smoke drifts over here and we breathe it in and die that would be murder.  I’ll call 911.”

    I restrained him with great difficulty.  He was perplexed by my attitude, and summoned his brothers.  They shared his indignation.  They all put bandannas on their noses  to protect themselves from the fumes and hid in our bushes so they’d have a front row seat when other sins were committed.

    As time passed there were late night parties, some broken up by the police, some with abrupt endings.  The driveway beer and cigarette gatherings continued. My boys began coming home from school and grabbing their air soft guns, playing Capture Osama in the front yard while keeping an eye on the happenings across the street.  They grew familiar with all of the cars that made regular stops at the house.

    airsoftnof

    Then cars began stopping by briefly during the day.  The occupants weren’t staying to smoke or drink.  They’d get out, glance around, disappear behind the garage, and emerge moments later looking satisfied.

    No one ever bothered us, and we couldn’t call the police simply because teens were sitting in a circle smoking in the driveway.  Still, the house gave off a scary aura.  When Porter had to draw a map of the neighborhood for his Webelos Travelers badge, he marked the house with a skull and crossbones:

    Closeup neighbors

    His map key helpfully noted that this house contained “bad peaple.”

    On several occasions we’d see police cars circle the block several times, slowing as they passed the bad people.  I instructed the boys to wave at the police, to refrain from peeing in the bushes when the police were around, and not to strangle each other while the police were watching.

    Yesterday I left the boys playing air soft in the yard while I ran a quick errand.  When I left, Drew and Porter had teamed up on Finn, who was hidden behind a tree and running out of ammunition fast.  When I returned, they’d forgotten all about the game.

    “Yo, Mom, you should have seen all the cops hanging around here right after you left,” Finn said.

    “I want to tell it, I want to tell it!” Drew said.

    “So first one police car started cruising around the block and my heart started pounding really fast because I thought maybe the cop thought my air soft gun was a real gun and I was trying to kill my brothers even though for once they were beating me,” Finn said.

    “Yeah, we were beating his behind so bad,” Porter said.

    “So I held up my air soft rifle and waved to the policeman to say, like, no real killing going on here, but he wasn’t paying attention to me.  He was all talking into his radio and looking up at that house.”

    “Yeah, he was holding this phone thing up to his mouth and talking into it,” Drew said.

    “It’s my story,” Finn said.

    “I was there, and I was hiding in the ivy and I saw the other police car park down the street and stay there,” Drew said.

    “Yeah, so this other cop car comes and just, like, parks right past the house and the policeman just sits there and waits.  And we were all like, whoa, and stuff, and so we got in the garage so we could watch.”

    “And I made popcorn and chocolate milk,” Drew said.

    “Yeah, Drew made us popcorn and stuff and we three just sat in the garage and took in the show,” Finn said.  “Hey, did I tell you about the time I saw a guy walk up the driveway and come back with a bag of powder?  I didn’t know what it was then, but now that I’ve watched CSI:Miami, I bet it was cocaine.”

    “When was that?”

    “Maybe a year ago,” Finn said.  “Come to think of it, that was kind of stupid for me to just stand in the middle of the yard and watch this big dude buy drugs.”

    “So did the police ever go up to the house?  Did you see anyone come out of the house?” I asked.

    “No, we ate all our popcorn and the police drove around and the other guy parked and watched for a while, and then they left.”

    It’s hard to know what to make of all this.  Until now, the neighbors have seemed to be more of a nuisance than a danger.  Of course, all I’ve seen is the groups of teenagers hanging out, and the occasional late, rowdy party.  I don’t know whether Finn’s account of the powder purchase is true, but I do know that there have been a lot of strange comings and goings at the house lately.

    All I can do is hope for the best and look on the bright side.  There have been a rash of burglaries in the Tiny Kingdom lately.  The increased police presence around our house may not be intended to thwart the thieves, but it’s making me feel more secure on that front.

    air softno finn

    Plus, I have a battalion of air soft soldiers ready to protect me.

    ****************************

    One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: G-Strings and Tube Socks

    ***************************

    It’s hard to believe now, but I was one of those moms who said, “No guns in our house! I mean it.” It’s a losing battle. Boys pick up stuff and say “bang bang” whether they’re holding a spoon, a stick or a feather.

    My guys are way into airsoft guns (they shoot soft rubber round things) and they like both the Rifles and the guns like the 44 Magnum.   Overall it seems like harmless fun, but make sure your kids are wearing Safety Glasses at all times.  Plus, put them in charge of sweeping up errant round ammo. It’s a pain in the ass and you don’t want to do it.

  • 2008 Gift Guide For Everyone

    I’ve gotten into the habit of doing a gift guide each holiday season, and this year I managed to keep my wits about me most months and jotted down a few notes here and there about what has had staying power and which gifts have been duds. I’ve included links wherever possible to try to give you a one stop shopping experience.  I welcome comments about gifts that have worked for you.

    Here are the gifts for boys which have been so successful through the years that they are hereby going into Anne Glamore’s Gift Hall Of Fame:

    Anything by Lego, smaller kits for smaller kids and more intricate ones for bigger kids. This includes Bionicles as well as small items like the Lego Police Motorcycle #7235 and bigger ones such as the LEGO Star Wars Republic Gunship. You can’t go wrong with the Ultimate LEGO Building Set as a starter set for budding architects.

    Klutz makes all types of cool things- books that show you how to make cool letters, or stencil, but the Window Art (Klutz) was the best gift Drew got one year, and the designs he made are still on his window. Inexpensive, creative fun.

    Klutz is also responsible for the Encyclopedia of Immaturity (Klutz)which Finn received last year, but both of his brothers have stolen it at times to learn how to curl their tongues or build a bridge out of pennies.

    Guys love their gadgets, and Porter still uses his headlamp. We all do.  We’ve used it to read in bed, to look for things in the dark, and to wear when hiking. The boys have put theirs on at twilight and run around in the bushes. We need a couple more.

    Remember when we got Finn a Safe for Christmas one year? He’s still using it. I followed my own advice and got the kind with two keys, not a combination. I kept one key, and every once in a while I check to make sure there are no illicit substances in the safe. I was tempted to steal a Baby Ruth one time, but I refrained.

    By far the best outdoor toy we’ve gotten has been the RipStik. Porter has spent hours on this thing, sometimes with a parakeet or two on his shoulder. He can shoot baskets while riding it. Neither of his brothers can get very far on it, but if you have a kid who’s exhausted the bike, the pogo stick, the moon shoes and needs a new challenge, the Ripstik is portable, durable and fun. I recommend pads and a helmet to go with it.

    The boys are wearing out all the Calvin and Hobbes books we’ve purchased, and I love them because I believe they trick boys into reading while they think they’re looking at comic books. They’re funny, smart, under $15, and the boys read them over and over.

    Don’t your kids always steal the Flashlights? That’s why you give them a couple for Christmas, especially the kind that hook to your backpack or belt so you look all official and stuff.

    For babies and toddlers of the male variety, my top gift would be the Fire Fighter Dress Up Set. All three of my boys wore the same one for ages until it finally disintegrated. Cowboy Boots are a close second, their main drawback being that they hurt when used to kick a brother.

    Smaller babes are endlessly entertained by the Busy Ball Popper, which pops the balls out of its gut over and over and over. Drew couldn’t get enough of this invention.

    As for older people, a few gifts made the Hall of Fame.

    Enough with the Tervis Tumblers, you say? But I can’t get enough! This year we gave up bottled water for ecological and financial reasons. I discovered that you can purchase a Tervis Tumbler 16oz. Plastic Lid, thus allowing you to take your water to Jazzercise, to the baseball or soccer field, and in the minivan with nary a sprinkle on your clothes. These have improved my quality of life.

    L.L. Bean tote bags are classics for good reason.  This link takes you to the page where you can design your own, specifying the size, colors, and whether you want long handles (yes!) and a zip top (yes again!)  I got one this summer and use it to hold all my audio-visual stuff when I travel: camera and blackberry chargers, iPod speakers, and so forth.  Then again, if I’m heading to a party I can load this sturdy bag with several bottles of wine and a hostess gift.  My youngest sister loads hers with baby and toddler gear.

    We kept hearing about Table Topics Conversation Cards and didn’t see what the big deal was until we received some of our own.  Now when the boys talk about farts and burps at the dinner table, I steer the conversation to more acceptable subjects simply by drawing a card.  We’ve discovered that as a family we’d prefer to live near the beach rather than in the mountains, we’d prefer a life of adventure to a life of safety, and all but Bill would prefer to have great musical skill.

    Finally, the last Hall of Fame gift is a magazine subscription. The boys enjoy their Sports Illustrated Kids although Finn is old enough for the regular magazine. Of course, I can’t survive without The New Yorker and Bill is a devoted reader of Triathlete (and little else)! There’s a magazine out there for just about everyone.

    Other popular gifts have included gas cards, Starbucks Gift Cards, Apple iTunes Gift Cards and Flash Drives. Many people enjoy a certificate for a free carwash or detail.

    **********

    Some New Ideas

    I rarely recommend toys, but Drew got a Hasbro Electronic Hyper Slide for his birthday and we all had tons of fun with it. It looks like a bridge with four different colored checkers. A voice tells you which color checker to slide under the bridge and gives you a limited amount of time to do so. Somehow, it manages to keep up with which colors are on which side, and thus, who has screwed up.

    We also love Monopoly, but I bet I’ve thrown away over two kajillion multi-colored dollars over the years, as they end up scattered about the house driving me mad. The new millennium has brought changes to the old game.  Monopoly Electronic Banking Edition features debit cards instead of bills, and made the game new again for my guys.

    Another big hit was the Rocket Balloon with Pump. The set contains long skinny balloons and a small pump to blow them up with. When they’re released, they zoom away, emitting a shrieking sound that’s the epitome of fun.   Some people race them, but my guys flew them out the window and awarded points to anyone in the yard who caught one before it hit the ground.

    If you have a boy who adores building things, your local Boy Scout store is a treasure trove of inexpensive kits. Birdhouses, trains, airplanes made of wood to be hammered, glued and painted. Leather kits that end up as key chains, wallets, knife holders, or slippers. I have to drag Porter out of there.  Ooh, look!  I found a link to the Boy Scout craft store, too.

    I’ve touted several books this year, but the big favorites were Al Capone Does My Shirts, and the Percy Jackson books, which incorporate adventure and mythology. Porter tore through them and is searching for the author’s address to ask him to please write faster.

    If you have a collector in the house, A Pocketful of History: Four Hundred Years of America–One State Quarter at a Time would be fun, especially if you gave it along with something to hold one quarter from each state.

    Anyone who’s been a third-grader or had a third-grader will laugh at 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny: Life Lessons from Teaching. It’s a light-hearted look back at twenty years of teaching, and contains lessons that are funny, wise and universal. Don’t think teachers are the only ones who will enjoy this book– it’s sure to appeal to all ages and genders.

    If you have athletes, you’ll want to check into the Road ID.  They make ID tags that go on the wrist and the shoe so your biker or runner will have his contact information with him at all times.  Bill and the boys each have one, and I feel a lot safer that someone will be able to reach me immediately if one of them should have a biking accident.

    Is this the year that Wood Burning Kits make a comeback? It might be in the Glamore house. I’ll let you know if we end up with 70’s style crafts or branded hands.

    Past gift guides are here:

    2006:

    The Ultimate Guide To Boy Toys (still the best, most comprehensive guide, featuring the ever popular headlamps, safes, flashlights)

    2007:

    Holiday Gift Guide: A Kajillion Ideas! (Ideas for teachers, babies and toddlers)

    Gift Guide Part Deux: You’re So Hard To Buy For (funky, practical, collections, cookbooks, and a smattering of this and that.)

    Gift Guide For Good Kids (Or Even Merely Tolerable) (books, games, technology).

    ******************

    One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Elves: Round 2 (The boys are trying for an elf again this year, but all they did was stick a one line note and some stale Wasa bread on the fireplace so I tossed it.  Still no elves for us!)