This is the word that will haunt 13-year-old Neetu Chandak for the rest of her life. She misspelled it during the National Spelling Bee Championship finals. But, if the word was pronounced as it should have been, with it's Spanish root, rolled double "rr," would she have gotten it right? The announcer even pointed out the lack of rolled "rr" in their pronunciation of derriengue, but dismissed it as an Anglicized form of the word. Really? It seemed like there were an abundance of French words in this round: blancmange, baignoire, Neufchâtel, and they were all pronounced with French gusto, er, flaire. I would think the "American" pronunciation of Neufchâtel would include a hard, audible "F." Same with the "C" in blancmange. Maybe the announcer was just using "Anglicized" as a euphemism for "lazy."

And what of all the Spanish-speaking newscasters who have no accent whatsoever, until they come to a Spanish word, at which point it's like we've switched gears, to Telemundo? But it's still Anglicized news, right? By these standards Cesar Chavez Street should be "See-zir Chavez," not "Say-czar." It will be interesting to see what is considered "Anglicized" pronunciation in a few years, if we continue on this bilingual route, in states with large Hispanic populations. Speaking of, what ever happened to Esperanto? Has that ever taken off?


Lesson learned: I will never again judge a book by it's cover, or discriminate against amphibian main characters. The Frog and Toad books are adorable! Short, sweet stories of friendship with just the right amount of mood and humor. We have the collection, which consisits of about 15 stories - Kennedy asks for her favorites by name. She knew about these books from school. (And to think my batrachophobia almost banned this children's literature from my house for eternity!) I was even able to read some at the dinner table the other night - RIGHT BY MY FOOD. What if this is the first step in overcoming my fear of frogs?!?!? Face your fears, and all that, right Frog? Right, Toad?


Bring on the Grackles

Grackle Deterrent, originally uploaded by melissa.coats.

These blackbirds are everywhere, and they're loud. Their call is a high pitched, fast chicka-chicka-chika-chika. They travel in herds, much like cattle. And this spring they feel welcome on our porch, helping themselves to the dog food, bathing in the water bowl. Then, they leave their poop trail everywhere. One even had the gall to fly in our backdoor and scare the daylights out of us in our own kitchen. We found this lovely plastic, creepy-eyed solution at our local hardware store. So far, no grackles. Although, Turner did say he saw them all huddling in our tree, most likely planning their attack for when we walk out to our cars, out of range from the glassy eyed predator. He needs a name...I'm thinking Alfred....

What we've been up to lately, or Why I think my daughter is so amazing and can't stop talking about her

In addition to the usual play dates, we've been spending a lot of time as a family in front-yard water holding water balloon fights, sometimes with friends and neighbors. This has proven to be a great aggression-reliever, as well the perfect activity to foster vocabulary: "busted," "spigot," "arsenal." She's talking like a regular pirate these days.

Spring is almost at it's end, and with it came the last swim class. It was the first class in which I did not go IN the water with Kennedy. This does not mean I was down the street at Starbucks, but rather four feet from the waters edge, cheering her on, and holding my breath right along side her. They start each class with a baptismal DUNK under water. With the amount of chlorine in those pools, I am surprised she didn't have pink eyes for days afterwards. I sure would have. After just the second class, we ran into a fellow swim-class mate and her mother at a restaurant. She commented that she recognized Kennedy as "the one who always volunteers to go first." That's my girl - the eager beaver. I don't know if was a love of the water, a love of learning, or just a desire to please her superiors, but it was obvious that she was teachers pet. Or trying to be anyway. Let's hope this carries through to REAL school. She'll be the one in class everyone loves to hate.

Mother's day was spent with my mother, who hadn't seen Kennedy since September. A lot has changed since then. Instead of ABC's and Patty Cake it's now Knock Knock jokes and pinkie promises. And mother's day couldn't have been more pleasant than that. (Despite the debacle of a dinner out at a very crowded Salt Lick in Round Rock, but that's another story.)

Our most recent adventure was taking our daughter with us to a dinner party at one of Turner's friends' houses. He and his wife just returned from living in Japan. The first thing they said when we came in the door was "She is so big!" I think they were expecting a toddler, not, as the wife put it, a girl who looks like she should be in elementary school. She was a wonderful host, cooked a lovely Japanese dinner on the table, and made her own miso and sushi. It was delightful. So fun, in fact, that I finally got that electric skillet I've been wanting for pancakes, because now we cook on the table, and who doesn't love that?!? I'm just pleased that Kennedy was on her best behavior and actually ate, kiddie chopsticks and all. She was thrilled to receive some Hello Kitty Japanese cookies and to play with their new kitten. The little guy was no bigger than my foot, and ran out to greet her as soon as she came in and they pretty much played together the whole evening. By the time we left, we wanted a kitten, and they wanted a child. If only it was this easy HALF of the time. Then, we'd want another kid too!