Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Grammar PSA

Today is National Grammar Day!

I love grammar. I'm a geek like that (and in other ways, too). It certainly stems from my love of language and writing. But not only do I love grammar, I'm really very good at it. I got my undergrad degree as an English major, and my graduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. I started my IT career as a technical writer. To this day at work, I'm called The Grammar Queen. During document reviews, I'm the one who always does the grammar check while reviewing.

In fact, I can't help but notice grammar mistakes whenever I read, including published books which have been through a gazillion reviews and edits.

Don't be scared, though! I may notice the mistakes, but I will point them out only if you ask me to. Not only that, I fully believe in different levels of writing, some of which don't have to adhere to grammar standards like text messaging/IMing. And in blogging, emailing and other forms of casual writing? I totally believe in breaking those rules of grammar (as is evidenced in the previous sentence). I prefer to write as I would speak on my blog. In addition, I'm awful at spelling and am constantly using spell check or looking up words in online dictionaries.

However, there are some common mistakes I've noticed over the years in the blogs I read. So I thought I would do a Grammar Public Service Announcement (PSA) in honor of National Grammar Day. Here are some grammar mistakes that we all should try to avoid:

1. Comprise/Compose.
Many people misuse the word "comprise." I use this simple phrase to remember when to use which:
-Part comprise a whole; a whole is composed of parts.

Correct: Many pieces comprise the toy.
Correct: The toy is composed of many pieces.
Incorrect: The toy is comprised of many pieces.

2. Punctuation with quotation marks.
Here's the thing about American English quotation marks: the punctuation goes inside the quotation marks. If you are writing for a British audience, then you put punctuation that is not part of the quote outside the marks. But in American English, the only punctuation that can go outside the marks is a question mark if it is not part of the direct quote. Also, American English uses single quotation marks only for quotes within quotes (unlike British English).

Correct: My daughter says "ballerlay" instead of "ballet."
Incorrect: My daughter calls her socks with lace ruffles "ballerlay socks".

Correct: Did my daughter just say "ballerlay socks"?
Correct: My husband ask, "Is she talking about her socks with ruffles?"

Correct: I also started calling them "ballerlay socks."
Incorrect (unless you are writing in British English): I hope she never stops calling them 'ballerlay socks'.

3. Misuse of commas:
I am one of the few people I know who know, and use correctly, commas every single time. I know when they are required, I know when they are optional but still fine to use, and I know when they are just wrong. I don't expect everyone to use this perfectly every time. Heck, I might misuse them on purpose to make something more clear--no, no I wouldn't.

Here are the general rules for commas:
-If you have two independent clauses (phrases with a subject and a verb), you have to use a comma before the conjunction (the "and," "or," "but," etc.).
Correct: The Pookie woke up only once last night, and the Pumpkin didn't come in our bed until after 5:00.

-If there is only one subject for two verbs, you do not use a comma.
Correct: The Pookie is sitting up and crawling!
Incorrect: The Pookie looked at his sister, and laughed.

-Use the comma for introductory phrases and for both sides of parenthetical phrases.
-Correct: This morning, I was woken up, at least once, by each being in my house.

-The serial comma (the comma that comes prior to the conjunction in a series of items listed in the sentence) is a stylistic choice. Either use it or don't, but be consistent throughout what you are writing.
Correct: I was up with the Pookie, the cat, the Pumpkin, Londo's alarm and the dog.
Correct also: I had to nurse, clean up throw up, escort my daughter into our room with books, try to sleep through loud music, and get throw up in a towel.

There are more, but this is SO long already. And who wants to read about grammar? For those rare people that do, check these out:
-Top Ten Grammar Myths
-How to Use a Semicolon

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Like Father, Like Daughter

I am more and more amazed all the time at how much my daughter is like my husband. In looks, everyone says she is a mini-me. She has my features and hair, although she does have my husband's skin and eye color. But personality? SO much like him.

The other night, I got home just barely in time for dinner (which is 5:30 in our house because the kids go to bed so early these days). I took over the responsibility of feeding the Pookie, and Londo set up the Pumpkin with dinner (which she actually ate for once). Usually, we try to have Family Dinner, but this night was a lax night. I spent the time watching my husband while I ate, feed the baby and watched my daughter eat.

First of all, he didn't eat dinner. He had a late lunch so wasn't hungry. This is fairly typical for him. It is an early time for adults to eat dinner, and it is not unusual for him to wait until after the kids are asleep to eat, usually around 7:30 or 8:00. I do that sometimes, too. He has also been known to skip some meals entirely, which I DO NOT do. But my daughter does. She often does not want to eat dinner or doesn't eat much or isn't hungry.

During this particular dinner which he was not really participating, I don't think he sat down at the table once. He was distracted with his computer and blackberry. I think something work-related was going on, or he was just taking a bit of a break after having both kids for over an hour and a half. But again, it was interesting to watch him walk to his computer and pace with his blackberry. He was constantly up and moving. Just like our girl. It's been a struggle to get her to sit and eat her dinner. It is very hard for her to sit still for any length of time. And even when she is sitting, she often start playing games with her food and utensils and/or fidgeting in her seat.

When I did catch my husband's attention, I started asking him about his day to engage him. He immediately, switched his attention to me and the kids. He is really great about that. But the conversation we had went from this topic to that topic, and he started talking about some things he was interested in in great detail. It so reminded me of having dinner conversations with the Pumpkin.

Our daughter has my husband's energy, perseptiveness, inquisitiveness, need of time to adjust to changes in plans and interest in what's going on around him. I see so many examples of all these things, and more. I will own up to the fact that she gets her sensitivity, both physically and emotionally, from me. And she is definitely her own person.

But the best of all? She gets her humor and desire to make people laugh from my husband. The Pookie and I both get to sit back and enjoy the entertainment from both of them!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Question of the Week - Let's Get Physical

Yesterday, I got my hair cut short and styled in a bob.

This may not sound like a huge deal to you if you don't know me IRL. But prior to cutting 11 inches off for Locks of Love, I had long hair for over 20 years.

I was the girl with the long (usually brown) hair.

It was part of my identity, that long, wavy hair of mine that I could make curly or straight. It was the hair I wanted growing up, the hair I loved once I had it, the hair I will again have in the future. But not just yet.

Afterall, I've spent the last 20 some years seeing cute hair styles for short hair, yet never getting them. So as long as my hair is short-ish, I want to take advantage of it. And it's super cute, in a chin-to-shoulder length bob with chunky layers. I can hardly believe it's me in the mirror!

Is there something about being a mom that makes us want to cut off our hair? Do you fathers out there go through the same thing? I can't imagine having this short and styled hair is easier than my long hair which I could so easily put in a ponytail, bun or braid. There are so many natural changes that come with becoming a parent. But there also seem to be some choices we make as parents to change our appearance.

Which is why this week's question of the week is:

What changes have you made to your appearance now that you are a parent?

In addition to being the girl/woman with the long, brown hair, I was also the one with a belly ring since I was a sophmore in college. I WAS, as in I am no longer. My belly ring hole closed after having my second child. And I just let it go.

When I was pregnant with the Pumpkin, I kept my belly ring in as long as I could, but it had been over ten years since I'd had it done that I figured it would stay open. After having the Pumpkin, I put the ring back in only a few weeks post-partum because I wanted to make sure it didn't close. I debated back then whether or not I should let it go now that I was a mom, but I wasn't ready. And Londo encouraged me to keep it.

But my belly popped out sooner with this last pregnancy. And after having the Pookie, I hadn't even thought about putting my belly ring back in until months later. And then, one day, I noticed it had closed. Was actually in the process of closing--a process I probably could have stopped, but didn't.

What about you? In what ways have you changed your appearance? Do you think it's because you are a parent now or just cause you are older (and possibly wiser)?