Monday, November 29, 2010

Doing Fine at Nine

Indulge me, oh dear blog readers. This blog has turned out to be a vehicle to document special moments with my daughter. I started writing when she was 4 and now she's 9, and every day is still a delight. It's great to see her turn into a tween with a stream of questions and her own answers. Tonight she asked me about when I had my first date ever and my first glass of wine. I told her that my first glass was with my father, and my husband said that she should have her first glass with him too. She's cute enough to say she wants both of us.
  • She's announced she wants to travel the world and live in hotels. However, she's asked I keep her room though. She wants to definitely see Paris. (Drat that Madeline!)
  • She's really into the "spy" thing these days. I got her a Pink Spy kit from Scholastic books and she has a lot of fun with her friends, talking about invisible ink and reading stories about famous spies. So, she announced she wants to be an FBI agent. "It's perfect..I get to travel around the world, do different things. The only thing is that I would first design the outfits for the FBI agent." Yes, FBI agents are lacking the sparkle.
  • She watches toy commercials and says, "It's amazing how many cool things they have now that they didn't when I was little."
  • We recently got stopped at the mall by two modelling agencies scouting for children. Mine happened to be wearing a sequined beret, layered peace sign shirt and jeans with sparkle low-tops. She was so excited when the person said the director of their agency will call in a few days. Somehow, the only word that stuck is "director" and she assumed a movie director is going to call her and she'll be famous. (Drat that youtube generation!!)
She talked nonstop into the next stores about how she'll be famous, become friends with Selena Gomez.
"Do I need an agent?" No, it's ok right now.
"Do we have to tell Daddy." Uh yes.
"That's right, he'll see me on the magazine cover and know." While I would love to have her dreams of celebrity come true, I'm not committed to this (getting pictures, taking her to auditions in NYC which means skipping school). She's got a magnetic personality -- I'm always shocked at how many people know her (adults and children). I fly under the radar, while she jumps into it. There's big stuff in store for her anyway.
  • She's gone through different names for me - Mom, Mummy, Mother. Nowadays, it's back to "Mommy", but she's so full of energy, it comes out as "M'y". In a way it's kinda nice because as an only child, I am only hers.

  • In a few short months she'll be 10. Same age as Harry Potter was when he joined Hogwarts. And, remember how the other wizards said "Has it really been ten years?" Yes, that's how I feel.

    Sunday, November 28, 2010

    Anti-Bullying Intervention

    I've wanted to write about this topic for sometime, but haven't had the chance. Oddly enough, by waiting I have a different angle and more material about this.

    There's been a heightened state of attention on bullying in the media, due to the suicides that came about from bullying across the country.

    I've been very pleased with my daughter's elementary school for strongly promoting an anti-bullying agenda starting with KG. They used to make posters, learn about different words they could use to battle the offenders (e.g., "when you say that, I feel hurt") and how to take recourse. They recognize the bullying as not just physical, but verbal. The 3rd graders had "lunch bunch" in which a small group of students had lunch with the guidance counselor and they discussed friendships and relationships. The school encouraged us to continue the conversation at home.

    Recently there was an incident with a girl C. She is fairly new to the school as she joined the spring of last year. Now, she's in my daughter's class and she started circulating a sign up list for an "Annika X" club against my daughter. My daughter told me that all her good friends said no and they told her about it. One of her friends said she'll join as a 'spy' and take the information back to the guidance counselor. Annika is a confident, independent and social girl. So, she was initially comfortable with this because her friends supported her.

    I stepped in and told her I'm going to contact her teacher and guidance counselor and her friends should stay out. I pointed out that today C has a list against her. However, tomorrow she could create a list against another friend (I named a really sweet and shy girl). All of a sudden, Annika understood that this could happen to someone else for no reason. Something kicked in and she was after me to send that note immediately.

    I sent an email to the teacher and guidance counselor; the teacher was upset this had happened on his watch. The student C was taken to principal, and the guidance counselor talked to Annika. C was obviously upset and crying. The teacher "isolated" her in the classroom that day.

    However, rather than creating resentment between the girls, the school is encouraging them to be friends. They are back at the same table. Annika told me that C's mom wants her to be friends also. This is still early in the year and hopefully things can smooth over.

    People always talk about how mean girls are to each other. It obviously comes from jealousy and insecurities. I once watched MTV's "If You Really Knew Me" series ("The Breakfast Club" meets reality tv) and one of the girls bragged how she was "the mean girl". To me, I saw a girl that is hurting inside, which is why she was so negative and abrasive. When she opened up, she revealed a broken home and feelings of loss. The meanness and tough attitude is just a symptom of deeper problems within. Girls don't have to be mean by nature. They have to be helped.

    As I said, C just joined the school last spring and she doesn't have the existing relationships the other kids have since KG. She was probably jealous and needed to make her own stand in the social structure. I'm glad that we really have to step up and intervene early. In 4th grade, they can just pass around a list like this. In a few years in 6th or 7th grade, they could post a list like this on Facebook or Myspace.

    Maybe all this early "anti-bullying campaign" will work or maybe it won't. There are probably deeper problems kids have that can't be resolved so easily. However, i do think it's something worth trying to create the group effort not to accept certain behaviors.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010

    What happens in Vegas.. gets blogged

    I recently had my first trip to Las Vegas and it was definitely interesting! I've been wanting to go for so long and never had the opportunity. My husband has to go there frequently for business, so he doesn't see it as a vacation spot. Since it was an elusive destination for me, it obviously becomes more enticing. My husband once read a quiz to me: "What is your dream vacation? A. an island retreat B. European tour C. weekend in Las Vegas". He was surprised when I said Las Vegas. Of course I would've said Europe, but I pointed out Las Vegas because I hadn't been there yet!

    The first surprise to me was the airport is adjacent to the main strip. Most cities are built first and then they had to squeeze in an airport somewhere outside of the city. Given the Las Vegas location in the middle of nowhere in the desert, there was plenty of space for an airport. Airport itself is ordinary, but I wanted to stay in the baggage claim area of airport and just people watch! What a diversity of people congregating here. There was a man and his son wearing slick cowboy hats and they had a special hat case carrier . I reminded myself i was in the southwest now, not northeast, where cowboy hats are haute couture. But, lo and behold! There are a couple of Staten Island guys sporting the gelled and sprayed "Jersey Shore" hair and talking on their cell phones. (Note: I did see a Snookie lookalike at one of the hotels) There were Europeans and American families, each can be distinguished by their fashion sense.

    Las Vegas is like a magnet that draws people from all over the world. Everyone there is essentially a tourist. That's why everything can stay there because people will just go away and back to their normal lives wherever they live. It's a bit bizarre to realize the whole downtown city functions for one reason - tourism.

    I was excited to see the hotels and architecture there. I remember my husband telling me about New York, New York and how they recreated the Statue of Liberty and other buildings. I've seen pictures of the Venetian with its bridges. A colleague has night shots of The Excalibur hotel as his screensaver.

    However, when I went there, I felt like it was cardboard. Nothing seemed solid. I've seen all these places in real life and it seemed too artificial to me. Folks say you have to see attention to detail, and I agree that is incredible. I loved the Luxor's pyramid and was absolutely blown away by the interior with its unfathomably high ceilings and Egyptian details. I did fantasize for a minute with the idea of being a casino designer. I could definitely improve on Trump's Taj in Atlantic City with its cheezy New Delhi Deli.

    Couple of my tips:
    Ask, and ye shall receive, else you don't: I indulged in The Bathhouse spa at THE hotel. I have to point out I had been scoping out different spas and looking for good deals. After chatting with one of the employees, he had told me about a 'buy one get one 1/2 off" on their services. Awesome! The next day I came for my services and received the bill for the full price on two. I questioned it and got it adjusted. So, this "deal" is only available if you know about it. It wasn't an automatic discount you received, so all the other women who were there that day paid full price. (Caveat Emptor!)

    Don't let appearances fool you: So, we were getting really hungry for lunch after walking around a bit. We finally settled on a burger type joint with outdoor seating. We got really lame and ordinary sandwiches for $13 (fries would've been $4 extra had we not been health conscious). We've had better sandwiches at the convenient store. Fortified with a little bit of food, we ventured to the Bellagio. We saw the posh cafes inside the old European settings. Sandwiches were $10-13 each and actually appetizing on fresh bread and gourmet ingredients. We assumed the hotels would be expensive, but if the roadside joints are selling for the same price, might as wll go upscale.

    Don't let appeareances fool you (Part II) : We saw a few shows - Lifehouse, Criss Angel & The Divas (female impersonators of celebrities). We had gotten the tickets for the Divas from someone and when we went to the casino, we were turned off. It was older casino and had smell of smoke and mustiness. The crowd there was not the Bellagio crowd. We had our concerns about going there later, but decided to go. We even dressed down because we figured our clothes would stink. However, the show was a lot of fun. The dancers were extremely good and the performers were memorable. For an hour or so, we just enjoyed the impersonators who brought the celebrities to us.

    It's Disney World for grownups: Yes, Vegas is the new family hotspot, but I'd be hestitant about bringing children there. Hotels such as the Mandalay Bay are ideal - huge pool area, and "Lion King" and Colby Caillat performances. At some point, one is going to have to leave the hotel to go to neat attractions such as Bellagio's fountains and Mirage's volcano. However, you're going to walk down "the Strip" and see billboards for adult shows, alcohol promotions and Mexicans workers handing out flyers for call girls. You could plan to be strategic, but I'm not sure how much fun it would be for adults or the children.

    And, then we left the city and headed out to Hoover Dam. I haven't been to American southwest before so it's just exciting to see mountains of boulders. I'm used to Pennsylvania's rolling green hills. To see these jagged dry rocks was amazing. It is awesome because of the little geology that I know, the earth's pallettes shift and when they come together, mountains and canyons are created. I felt as if there was a lot of energy released from the earth, but it was simply forgotten. We thought of going to the Grand Canyon, but time didn't permit us to.

    We ended my trip with drinks atop The Mixx, a rooftop restaurant/bar on the 62nd floor of the hotel. We looked out over the city with its lights and contstant movement. I do hope to return there one day!