Formerly the Birchfield family blog, this space has been taken over by Sydney B., hip-hop dancer, softball player, fashion designer and youngest of the Birchfield clan.

There will be an occasional note from mom when something of interest pops up, but most of the commentary/photos/drawings will be from the young mind of Sydneyboo, diva in training.

No spelling or grammar critiques, please!

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Well, I wrote a little blurb back in the late summer about my little part-time job with this great photographer named Christy Bonifacio. If you don't remember it, scroll back. It's down there somewhere!

Anyhoo, Christy is due to have her third child in May and is sort of doing a re-structuring of her life right now, kinda feeling the crunch to spend as much time with her little ones as she can while she is able. So for that reason, she is cutting back on her sessions to only two per week at the most and then pretty much shutting down after Baby Ally arrives -- for a while at least.

Because her work load is lessening and her need for my services will be minimal in the near future, I've decided to re-focus my attentions on the kiddos this semester and give up the little bit of part-time work I had left. As some of you know, Kelsey went through some *emotional* stuff early this school year right after I started working. At first I blamed it on early puberty, but after a while I wondered if it didn't have something to do with my new schedule. I was missing field trips because of work and really pretty disorganized as far as school was concerned because I was spending a lot of time getting acclimated to the new job, trying to learn the new computer programs, answering work e-mails, etc. And I truly believe she was really having trouble adjusting to the shift in my focus.

I have been off for the last six weeks or so for the holidays and while Christy took some vacation time, and since I have been home Kelsey is a totally changed girl. Back to her old self again. And I truly believe it is because I have settled back into the routine of being present at school a lot, being more prepared for the school days instead of forgetting this or that assignment and just basically being attentive instead of distracted.

When I first decided to do this little part-time job, I was feeling like I needed something for me, something more than just wife and mom, something that validated my worth, I guess. I go through these phases where I feel like *some people* have the attitude that running the household, teaching my children, feeding my family, etc. is without real value. I mean, it's not like I'm getting PAID or anything, so it's like I'm slacking or something, right? Okay, that's my paranoia sometimes, but sometimes that's truly what people think. Stay-at-home moms have it MADE IN THE SHADE. I've heard it many times.

So I guess I thought this part-time job thing would allow me to bring in a little tuition money and make me feel like I was earning my keep. The funny thing is that while I was doing it, I felt like I wasn't earning my keep at all, that I was letting everything go. So my thinking now is that feeding, clothing, bathing, teaching, loving these kids and being a wife to this husband is what my purpose truly is. I have lots of things I love to do otherwise, creative outlets, but the reason I was put here on this Earth was to care for this family and I am good at it because I enjoy doing it and I am passionate about it. I truly believe it to my very core.

And from now on, instead of feeling *less than* because my daily job doesn't pay the bills, I think I'm just going to be grateful that I am able to do this *non-profit* job with full attention and not just at night after I have to work an 8-hour day. So starting today I am a full-time mom, wife, maid, pharmacist, physician, taxi driver, teacher, disciplinarian, entertainer and cheerleader. I do it for free because, for right now, I am blessed to be able to do it for free. And I am thankful to Joe for continuing to reassure me that the job I am doing is important and worth more than money.

So I'm a little sad that my weekly visits to see my new friend, Christy, are ending, but I am feeling good about my decision to put our household back in order (okay, chaotic order, but still...). I know in my heart I'm doing the right thing. So I guess what this means is you guys will probably be subjected to more blogging since I'll have some more at-home time during the week. I can feel your excitement now! Really, no need to thank me...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunday Morning

I love Sunday mornings. Lazy, easy-breezy Sunday mornings. Joe and I slept in this morning (9:30) because we were up late watching a really bloody movie on HBO last night -- Smokin' Aces. Not bad, a little Tarantino-esque, but it captured the attention enough to keep us old badgers up way past our bedtime -- Okay, kept Joe up way past his bedtime. I have always been and probably always will be a little bit of a night owl. I like it when we stay up late.

Anyway, I sit here now while Joe is making breakfast for the whole family. The girls are playing quietly in their rooms. The dogs are curled up together on their big pillow in the living room. The sun is shining outside, giving the impression that it's a warm, inviting day. Truthfully, it's 10 degrees outside. Yes, I said 10. So Joe decided to make biscuits and gravy with eggs this morning, the perfect Southern breakfast on a cold winter's day. Okay, I can hear you all right now. Didn't I just write something about Resolutions and being healthier? Of course, I did, but that was weeks ago, people. Resolutions, schmesolutions! My husband (or my wife, as my brother likes to call him) is making me breakfast and I'm going to enjoy it!

So this post is not a rant or very informational this morning, just a little note about how sometimes life is good just because it's calm and peaceful and there's food in our tummies. After breakfast, it will go back to normal, hectic, laundry, homework, getting ready for afternoon softball practice with grandmother visits squeezed in (hopefully). But right now it's perfect.

Gotta run, my friends. Breakfast is served!!

Friday, January 18, 2008

E-mail Insanity

Be forewarned: Rant in progress!

Okay, let me start this all off by saying I love my family and friends that send me e-mails regularly. Most of the *chain* e-mails I get are sweet, Jesus Loves You, pictures of angels or puppies or babies type messages. I don't mind those. They're benign enough and if someone thinks enough of me to add me to their distribution list when they're sending out a "You're My Best Bud" or "I prayed for a miracle for you today" e-mail, well, I am grateful to be remembered.

But I also get the OTHER e-mails as well. You know what I'm talking about. The "Everyone should have to speak English around here" and "Let's all rise up because Lowe's doesn't use the word Christmas as many times as they use the word holiday in all their ads" e-mails. The ones that DRIVE ME TOTALLY INSANE! People, if you have my e-mail address you must know that I am a LIBERAL person. I am not a *crazy Christian* and I most certainly am not, never have been nor ever will be, not even for five million dollars and a free night pass with George Clooney (I must admit I did hesitate on that one) a Republican.

Here is my belief. We live in AMERICA, land of the FREE, the place that gives you the right to put down the Mexican people, the Cuban people, the French people, the Middle Eastern people, whoever, in your e-mails to me. Why does it matter if Jose speaks Spanish while he's here? Do we speak French when we go to France? Of course not. If I go to Brazil for a year as an exchange student, will I be fluent in Portugese? Absolutely not. And that would be difficult for me, but it would be MY problem.

If Jose wants to apply for a job where English is a requirement, then Jose should learn English. If he wants to become an American citizen, he should have to take the test in English because English is the chosen language for America. This applies to me applying for a job as a personal trainer -- I MUST LOSE WEIGHT and learn the ins and outs of working out. But if Jose comes to America, has taken his citizenship test and passed it, or is here on a visa and is working legally, and he has a job where he is not required to speak English, a job in his own Spanish community, why in the name of your mama is it any business of yours to say he has to speak your language? This country is founded on immigrants -- Italians, Irishmen, all of them. We are no longer the land of the free, people, we are the land of the judgmental, dictating what people should and shouldn't be doing, forcing our own beliefs down the throats of others. I can't imagine why anyone would want to come here from another country anymore. We are becoming the land of the persecuted.

I got an e-mail this week about some kids in California somewhere putting up a Mexican flag and putting the American flag upside down. Oh, the outrage! Desecrating the American flag. I get these e-mails from the same people who put the American flag on their clothes, on their shoes, their beach towels, flower pots, their Christmas decorations. How is that any different? Is that respect for the flag, wiping your sandy butt on your red, white and blue beach towel? Me thinks not. If some idiot wants to turn the flag upside down, write horrible things on it, whatever, then he's just an idiot, period. But we live, again, in AMERICA, where we have the freedom of expression. Just as an e-mail can say these flag-torturers are idiots, those same flag-torturers have the right to turn it upside down and get their moronic grins sent 'round the world via the Internet.

And then the *boycott any store that says holiday* e-mails. These are my favorites. Guys, come on. Christmas is a holiday, fact. Not everyone is a Christian, fact. Just because you might be a Christian doesn't give you the right to dictate how I might greet my fellow shoppers in December. Here is my little thought for the day. If you are a true believer in Jesus, a Christian, then why is it okay to judge every person who doesn't believe the way you do, look the way you do, speak the way you do? Would the people you are shunning, putting down, sending hateful e-mails about not be the exact people Jesus would bring into his arms and show love to?

Spouting that you are a Christian and you have been to church 432 Sundays in a row does not impress. Striving to show compassion, tolerance, acceptance, understanding and love to people who are not like us, people who have wronged us, people who need us, well, that is being Christ-like in my book. This other stuff, this sitting in judgment of others because they're not *Christian* enough for you, well, I guess you could say that makes you god-like, just not like God.

So here you sit reading this saying, Kristi, you are judging us. How are you any different? I am not different. I have my own beliefs, too. But being able to come here and rant about it for a minute keeps me from firing off an e-mail back to the sender saying, "Don't send me this b.s. again. Don't you know I'm not like that?" It gives me a place to set it down and leave it so it won't drive me insane.

Okay, people, don't be sending me I'm anti-American comments because for one, that's a sticks and stones kinda thing and that's just not gonna hurt me, and for two, I'll just delete 'em. I'm not anti-American. I'm just not a big supporter of this new *anti-anyone who isn't like me* movement that seems to be sweeping the nation and sweeping through my e-mail box. Nope, not a big supporter of that. Next thing you know, the crosses will be burning again and there will be a shortage of white sheets at Walmart. I guess maybe why I don't support it is because I'm different, been that way my whole life, probably always will be. Conformity is not my friend, girls and boys.

So if you need to tell me what a great job the little elf in the White House is doing or how if you don't support the war it means you don't support the troops or how Jesus hates all people except the Southern Baptists, please take me off that e-mail list. However, if you've got a nice e-mail about how I'm your friend and you sent this to me to bring me luck or because I need a hug or because you know I love pictures of cute puppies dressed in funny costumes, keep 'em coming. Everybody knows I can't resist a pug in a nun's habit!


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Bragging Rights

Okay, people, I am taking a minute to brag on my child. Today Kelsey, who is in third grade, competed in her school-wide spelling bee. The bee consists of classroom winners, grades 3-8. Kelsey won her class bee and, after much back and forth, decided she would give it a shot.

The bee was at 1:00 in the chapel after school. Fourteen students were expected to compete, but only 11 showed up for whatever reason. The chapel was pretty empty, mainly parents and siblings of the participants. I was the only overzealous parent with a video camera, but since Joe couldn't leave work to be there, I thought he might like to see it (because, honestly, who knows if she'll ever be up there again like that?).

So the bee started and within about 20 minutes we were down to three or four students. Kelsey was hanging in there, having spelled words like "mantilla", "virtuoso" and "libretto". Finally, it was down to her and a middle school student. The girl competing against her was tall and lanky and a confident speller. I thought as they were going back and forth for what seemed like eternity that Kelsey was sure to fall to this willowy girl.

But just as I was sure the end was near, this other girl mispelled "calypso". Kelsey's face turned bright red when she missed the first A in the word. I knew she had realized the girl had spelled it wrong. Then Kelsey stood up, spelled it correctly and waited on the final word. The moderator said, "benevolent." My heart sank. Kelsey had had trouble with this word all week, going over it several times. She stood up and began spelling slowly. I was unsure if she remembered that it was an O and not an A in the middle. I was looking at her through the video camera's lens in black and white, so deep in concentration, looking so little standing there by herself. Then it was over and the moderator congratulated her on being the winner!

OH MY GOD! Kelsey is the school-wide winner! She gets to go on to the Scripps Regional Spelling Bee on March 8 at UT. At first she said she didn't want to go on and the older girl could go, but she has now decided she does. She has until morning to make up her mind, but she seems pretty set on it. So I guess we'll be spending the next 8 weeks spelling, spelling, spelling!

I can not express in any words how full my heart is today. It's not much, a little school spelling bee, but for her it was a big deal. It was a big accomplishment. She overcame her apathy for participating and buckled down, worked hard, writing words and studying each night, going back over words we had spelled a million times before just to be sure we got them right. We spelled in the car, in the bathtub, even during dinner. And because of her effort, she saw success. A life lesson that can't be bought, my friends. And that is why I am so thrilled for her today. She has learned that hard work brings reward. And her mother has been reminded once again how blessed she truly is to be here to witness it!

Monday, January 7, 2008


Kelsey takes art class on Tuesdays. Her teacher is a lady named Sandi Van Winkle. Kelsey started taking these classes back in the fall at the Fountain City Art Center. The art center is in the old Fountain City Library building at Fountain City park.

When Kelsey started taking these classes, she was really just a tagalong for Sydney, who was wanting to take art classes. After going through the first six-week session, however, Kelsey was the one who stuck with it and Sydney bailed. Weird, I know. Kelsey has never been the super-creative one, never really showed a lot of interest in coloring or anything resembling *art*. But since she's started these classes, she's really blossomed.

I have to say that I think the whole reason for Kelsey's newfound interest in all of this creative stuff is her fabulous art teacher, Sandi -- or Miss Sandi, as Kelsey calls her. It is funny how small the world is really. After talking to her one day after class, I realized that Sandi knew a lot of the same people I did, having grown up (and still living) in the same part of town as my mom.

Sandy is an artist. I mean a REAL artist, not just like the Bob Ross kit at Hobby Lobby kinda artist. I mean she's the real deal. She's a graphic designer for income, but in reality, she writes, illustrates books and does just about any kind of artsy, creative stuff you can imagine. As I found out today, she's also a video game geek and evidently there's some interesting footage floating around town of her showing off her talents as a Rock Band gamer. And she loves working with kids. After seeing the change in Kelsey creatively, I can testify that she has the magic touch.

So today, I spent almost two hours just chatting on the phone with Miss Sandi, just about this and that. We chatted so long her battery on her phone gave out. It may seem weird that we would have that much to talk about, but after a while it became obvious we sorta share the same outlook on things -- from religion, to kids, to school, to books, even video games!

It's hard as an adult sometimes to make new friends. I think it's especially hard to make them when you have kids. Parental competetiveness is a horrible, horrible disease and it oftentimes will prevent any real friendships from blossoming. So I was glad to make a new friend in Miss Sandi today. Her kids are all grown up now, so I think the ship might actually sail on this one. She is a blogger herself, so I'm going to leave a link to her site in case you might want to check her out!

Sandi's Art

Saturday, January 5, 2008


My first entry of the new year, 2008, WOW! Do you remember when we were doing the countdown to 2000 -- Y2K? I can remember sitting in high school biology chatting with my friends trying to figure out how old we would be in 2000, like it was some far away time when aliens would inhabit the earth and we'd all drive those hover vehicles like Marty drove in Back to the Future II. Now it's 2008.

Sydney loves the change of the year because she likes to announce that is how old she will be this year. She was born in 2000, so figuring out how old she is seems like a fun thing -- *It's easy to figure out how old I am going to be, Mom, because I'm always the same as the year*!

And as for it being the first entry of the year, I sorta fudged on that a bit. I did post a family rant for about 4 hours yesterday and then thought better of it. Nothing too harsh, no bad language, not even the mention of any names. Just a rant on the dysfunction of my real family and my in-law family and how some days it just makes me vibrate all over like I've got some sort of neurological disorder where I can't control my physical self. But after I got it all out on the virtual paper that is this blog, I let it sit. Then I came back to it and let it sit some more. Then late last night I decided it could go wherever Internet garbage goes when it's deleted -- Where does it go, I wonder? I hit delete and *Poof*, like Jeanie blinked her pretty pink eyelids, it is gone, vanished, evaporated. I digress...

Anyway, after cooling my jets for a minute -- well, for hours, I decided it was okay to let it go. Maybe not let it go completely because here I am still babbling about it, but at least let it go to the point that it stayed within my four walls. I'm sure at some point, I will just *get over it*, as my Mom is so fond of telling me to do.

Well, school starts back Monday, as much as I hate it. Art class for Kelsey starts Tuesday again and dance class starts back Thursday for Syd. Kelsey is representing her class in the school spelling bee Wednesday (Are YOU smarter than a third grader?) Indoor softball practice starts this weekend -- two practices a week and pitching lessons on Fridays. Joe and I will both start back to work this week after the wonderful holiday break. We are BACK IN THE GROOVE, you might say.

What do you think we'd be doing if we didn't have kids? What would we do with our time? Would I have some big career, building a big fat nest egg for myself somewhere? Or would I still have chosen to play Harriett to Joe's Ozzie? I doubt it. I'm not a natural at the housewife role. Anyone who has visited my laundry room in the last 4 or 5 years can tell you my level of procrastination has reached Guinness Book proportions. And I have no guilt when the pizza guy wheels into my driveway and my neighbor is standing on her porch calling her kids in for dinner. I just wave and think, "Sucker!" We probably would travel more, work more, workout more, sleep more, but I think it wouldn't feel right. Like when you borrow your girlfriend's lipstick when you left yours on the vanity at home. It gets the job done, but it just doesn't feel right.

So I hope everybody is enjoying the first week of 2008, getting on top of those resolutions, hitting the gym and organizing, organizing, organizing. What is it about January 1 that makes me want to buy plastic bins and a label maker? That, my friends, is a question for another day...

See ya' soon!

Oh, yeah. I'm hoping to put up some video here soon from Sydney's little video camera. She has taken some of the funniest videos over the past few months. Especially the Joey/Joe dance-off playing Dancing with the Stars for the Wii. Priceless, people, PRICELESS!