Archive for the 'parenting' Category

water logged….

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

A few weeks ago we had a downpour during afternoon carpool. No real biggie but it did create a few issues. First, there were 4 times as many cars in the line. The weather is nice most of the school year here and our zone covers a small geographical area so most parents walk their children to school. But on deluge day we all drive. Second, the extra drivers seem to have no idea how the line works. They just pull their Tahoeburbans in the lot and stop short blocking the entire school driveway. Or they create parking spaces where there are none and, once again, block the entire driveway. Or (my personal favorite) they pull in the driveway designated for the school buses…and, you guessed it, block the whole driveway. They pass right past the  g i a n t  red sign declaring that the driveway is only for buses. I should say the series of signs. There are at least 3. I guess they think that since they could fit the entire 4th grade in the back of their vehicle that the sign doesn’t apply to them. If they saw the look on the bus driver’s faces, their misconception of world domination would be short lived. But I digress.

Another issue is that the rain and extra cars slow down the line considerably. Not a problem for me…we just go home after school. Apparently everyone else in line has somewhere very important to be 2 minutes after the bell rings. They are in a hurry. And they are impatient. You would think that parents picking up their children at the elementary school would be exceptionally aware of their surroundings. Nope. They will drive their car over a curb or jump in front of someone else in a heartbeat if it means they can move up one space in the line. Its like a roller derby out there. Ridiculous. I think most of these parents would be appalled if they watched a video of themselves. I know I would.

Despite these minor aggravations, I picked up the girls with no problem that day and headed for home. Then I saw the most ludicrous thing. There was a mom in an enormous SUV driving down the street in front of the school. This SUV made my van look like it was built for ants. The lady was sitting 15 feet off the ground. Her car had what I call the beefy package. The wheels had been super-sized and the whole thing had been jacked up about 6 feet. She probably needed an extension ladder to get in. Yet she was doing everything she could to avoid a puddle that was maybe ankle deep. I kid you not. Moments earlier, another mom and her two sons had successfully walked through the puddle with no difficulties. They weren’t even wearing rain boots. The woman in the SUV was on the wrong side of the road craning her neck to make sure she was clear of the water. She was so terrified to drive her monstrous car through the tiny pool of water that she held up a line of cars spanning  the length of the entire elementary school. (She didn’t seem too concerned with this fact. Not one…little…bit.) Really? What could the explanation have been? She didn’t want the tires to get wet? She was afraid of flooding the engine? Surely not – the engine was in a different zip code from the puddle. Do you know what SUVs were originally made for? They were mostly made for hunting. For slogging through the muddy woods with dead animals strapped to the front. I promise that they can handle a puddle. They can also manage to cross speed bumps faster than 2 mph without coming apart. It cracked me up. I literally laughed all the way home. People amaze me.

tales from the derm…

Monday, December 20th, 2010

We started the first real day of Christmas break with a trip to the dermatologist this morning. YEA! Abigail has been having a couple of issues and we were due for a follow-up visit. She had some bumps on her knee removed a few weeks ago and today we were facing the removal of one on her chin.

Let me begin by telling you that Abigail does not handle shots well. It started three years ago with a flu shot…the least painful injection in the universe. Out of nowhere, Abigail wedged herself behind the exam table at the pediatrician’s office and tried to throw a chair at the nurse. My skinny little girl has a LOT of strength when someone is coming at her with a needle. I was stymied and mortified all at once. Between me and the nurse we were finally able to get the shot. Abigail’s blood pressure tanked and the nausea began. The nausea was followed by many hours of complaining, wailing, moaning and gnashing of teeth…it was a day-long ordeal.

Since then, we have had several chances to discuss ways to remain calm during doctor visits. Abigail is old enough to understand the importance of vaccinations and the like but that doesn’t mean that she is over her phobia. She has been very lucky with the invention of the flu mist. She has also reached the age where she doesn’t have to get a shot every time she goes for a check up. Nonetheless, we have worked on taking deep breaths and trying to calm her mind so she doesn’t get so worked up.

Today our practice was put to the test because bump removal requires more invasive action than a simple flu mist. To our advantage, our dermatologist also has a 4th grade daughter so she is very in tune with how Abigail thinks. She looked at the bump on Abigail’s chin and explained that it had to go. She also promised a less painful experience than the last time. Abigail was not happy about all of this but she took the news well and was using some of her new coping skills to stay in the chair and remain calm. She asked the doctor if she could see the tool she was going to use. It was a small extractor with a scalpel on one end. I was praying that Abigail wouldn’t see it. But the doctor made a deal that Abigail could see it beforehand but she couldn’t back out of having the bump removed. Abigail reluctantly agreed and it seemed like we were going to breeze through this visit. The doctor held up the tool and Abigail stared at it for a few seconds. Deep breath – all was okay. Or so I thought…

At that exact moment, Hattie, who had been quietly reading her book the whole time, looks up and announces “Boy, that sure does look SHARP!” Are you kidding me? Really? REALLY?? The doctor and I glared at Hattie like it was our job…she quickly shut her mouth and went back to her reading. Meanwhile, Abigail’s blood pressure hit rock bottom. What little color she had in her face had been replaced with a light tinge of green. The clock was ticking toward full stomach upheaval. With swift precision the doctor removed the minuscule bumps from Abigail’s chin and we began the recovery process. It took longer to get over it than the time it took to wait for and see the doctor. All of that hard work reversed in less than 2 seconds. We were so close to a perfect visit only to be sabotaged by the 7 year old.

By mid afternoon, Abigail had forgotten all about the doctors visit. She will forget until the next time she has to see a doctor. I can safely say that before the next visit we will have to practice her deep breathing just to get out of the car and into the building. I think I’ll get Hattie a babysitter….

all tuckered out…

Monday, November 29th, 2010

It is 8:10 and I am ready to drag my tired self to bed. Why? Well…

This morning………after making sure everyone was clean, dressed and fed I greeted the A/C repairmen. We have been without A/C or heat for 3 weeks (it’s a long boring story…trust me). Luckily it’s November in Florida and the weather has been more than agreeable. We have had windows and doors open and have managed just fine. Nonetheless, the big trucks pulled in for the day-long task of replacing all the duct work under the house.

With them all squared away, I took the big girls to school. Back home to get Laura ready for school and get myself together for an errand marathon. I forgot to set the coffee pot so I had to stop and get some on the way to preschool. I got Laura settled into her classroom and headed to the DMV. That’s right. The dreaded DMV. I had already gotten my FL drivers license so all I had to do today was get the car tag done before it expires tomorrow. No biggie. My first trip through the line I found out that even though the van is in both mine and Robert’s name, the SC DMV only put his name on the tag form therefore I have to have a copy of his drivers license and his signature (not a copy, the real thing) or a power of attorney (once again not a copy). Not usually that big of a deal. But Robert happens to be in China for the week. Grrr. So the lady behind the counter said to just give her my proof of insurance and she would issue a temporary tag until he gets back. No problem! I had the proof of insurance….on the counter in my kitchen. Seriously. Fortunately I only live about 1.5 miles from the DMV. Back to the house. Squeeze between the A/C trucks and the house. Try not to step on the workmen or their tools. Get the proof of insurance. Back to the DMV. Of course when I got back the line was five times as long as it was the first time I went through. (Apologies to my Birmingham friends who have it way worse in DMV world!)

Now while in line I had the opportunity to people watch. Admittedly a favorite activity but not one I had time for at the moment. Anyway. One man had been “given” a boat by a friend. (Apparently I need new friends.) He did not have any paperwork and could not find the boat’s identification number. He argued with the teller for about 10 minutes until she finally said “COME BACK WHEN YOU FIND THAT NUMBER……..AND BRING THE FRIEND THAT “GAVE” YOU THE BOAT!”

The next young man in line was really confused. He announced to everyone that he was homeless. Then he proceeded to ask the teller if he brought in his roommate would that count as proof of residence?  He even said that he was living in someone’s apartment. Then he repeated the word homeless about 10 times. Apartment = homeless? I don’t think so. He must have been going for sympathy. The woman behind the desk had none. He was there to get a tag for his new BMW.

I finally got my temporary tag and headed to the next destination. Toy Hell. It dawned on me yesterday that while I was trying to enjoy the end of the Thanksgiving holiday that Christmas is a mere 3.5 weeks away. I am NOT prepared. I started on my list last night trying to find the one thing that my husband and I have agreed to get my oldest daughter. (I am not divulging any secrets because she is smarter than I am and if I write it anywhere she will find it.) I do not like Toys R Us. I am not ashamed to say that. I had to go there because it was the only place in town that still had this particular item in stock. I always feel like that store is taking advantage of me because I am a sucker who loves to see her children get something from their list on Christmas. But I got the LAST ONE in Sarasota so I guess the trip was worth it. Score 1, again, for Toys R Us.

Time to get Laura. Fix lunch. Put Laura in her bed. Agree to let her get up without taking a nap since the A/C men were crashing around under the house and she had been yelling at them through the window for at least 30 minutes. She was also announcing the arrival and departure of every repairman that dared darken our driveway. Fix snack. Pick up the big girls from school. Head to the doctor’s office for a follow up visit. Stop by Old Navy on the way to replace Abigail’s school sweater that she lost. Try not to hurt Laura for loudly singing her new song about sticky, sticky bubble gum while I’m talking with the doctor. Try to keep Abigail from throwing up after her appointment (she’s doctor squeamish). Head home. Carry sleeping Laura from the car into the house. Fix dinner. The whole time I’m fielding emails about PTA, calls from my part time job, chats from my unable-to-sleep husband overseas. Finally it is time for the girls to put on their pajamas, brush their teeth and go to BED. Whew.

I am not complaining. Parenthood is hard but rewarding. And most days are not as crazy as today. Tomorrow is grocery and laundry day. Not so bad. The truth is I love my life. I have huge respect for families who juggle full time jobs and parenting. I don’t know if I could do it. Our situation works for us and that is what counts. A sense of humor and a supportive spouse make it all possible. If I couldn’t laugh I would probably go postal.

Just proofreading about today is exhausting. And it starts all over in the morning. I’ll say it again…whew!


Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Yesterday morning I was writing a check and I wrote down the date. 11/9/10.  I had this strange feeling that the date was important.  I did a quick mental inventory of birthdays and anniversaries and came up with nothing.  A few minutes later I gave up and went about my hectic day.  It wasn’t until a conversation with my father at the end of the day that I figured it out.  Thirty seven years ago on November 9th my sister passed away.  Noel lived just a few short weeks past her first birthday.  I never knew her…but in some strange way I feel like I did.

My father talked to me and to both of my brothers yesterday but they were not conversations of sadness.  It was more of a remembrance of love.  We are not a family of grave sitters.  While her remains may be at the cemetery, we feel that Noel is not really there.  She lives on a little in each of us.

Noel’s life has never been a secret to me.  There are pictures of her in frames around the house and dolls that belonged to her and then to me. There was no big family meeting during which her existence was “revealed”.  She has always been and always will be a part of our family.

Even though Noel’s life ended before mine began, I have always felt an ethereal connection to her.  I am not ashamed to admit that I have shed tears many times during my life because I longed to know her.  Would we have looked alike?  Acted alike?  Had similar handwriting?  Walked a comparable path in life?  Had like taste in friends or clothes?  Would I even be here if she had lived?  It is a great mystery for me.  It sounds like I spend a lot of time thinking about Noel but, like it or not, that is not true. I usually remember her on her birthday each year.  I don’t know why this time was different.  I don’t have an explanation for that tinge of familiarity yesterday morning.  Regardless, she is now on my mind.

I do often wonder how my parents dealt with her death.  Medicine wasn’t so modern then and her condition was not curable.  They had no choice but to accept her fate.  It is not lost on me that if medicine wasn’t so advanced as it is now, my daughter Laura would not be with us.  I cannot even bear that thought.  Now that I am a parent I realize that our time with our children under our wing is so very short.  My oldest daughter was born and before I could turn around she turned 9.  Where has the time gone? Have I impressed upon my children just how important they are to me? One can only hope.

Now it is the 10th and the anniversary of Noel’s death has passed by again. She had a large impact on our little family and we are all lucky, whether in reality or in our dreams, to have known her…

promises, promises…

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

When we told the girls that we were moving to Florida, I promised them that they could have a party with their friends before we left.  Today was the day that I kept my promise.  Between 3 and 5 this afternoon, there were 10 little girls running amok in my house.  Laura had friends over for her birthday party last weekend so today’s bash consisted of Abigail and Hattie’s friends.  Laura was the go between.  As the girls split themselves into two groups, Laura played mediator darting back and forth relaying plans and secrets.  Some of the girls were dressing up in our myriad of princess gowns, some were running around outside.  There were lots of laughs, a few tears and even more squeals of delight.  At the end of the 2 hours, the girls were picked up one by one until it was down to our three.  Abigail, Hattie and Laura were left hungry, smiling and exhausted.

This move is bittersweet for all of us.  We have loved Anderson.  We have made life long friends that we will miss wholeheartedly.  But the job is too good to pass up.  It is a bright opportunity in a cloudy economy and all five of us are thankful for it.

The girls have been in bed less than an hour and they’re already well into the snoring competition.  Score 1 for Mom!

listen up…

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Last night, I did something out of the ordinary.  I colored.  With crayons.  I colored an entire jumbo coloring page featuring Tiana from The Princess and the Frog.  I spent over an hour on my “project”.  I had bought a pack of giant coloring pages for Hattie and Laura while I was out yesterday, much to their delight.  They spent most of the afternoon sprawled on the floor coloring like it was their job.  They could not be bothered.  Laura got frustrated because she had to take a potty break.  She said “but Momma, I have to finish Prince Naveen!”  It was very important.  So, I decided to see what all the fuss was about.  It was wonderful.  I was completely absorbed in my picture.  I can see now why the girls couldn’t “hear” us calling them for dinner!  Once my picture was done and displayed with the ones the girls had finished, I began to think about all the events of the past week.

Abigail is at camp.  She is having a ball but she is away from us for 10 whole days!  After dropping her off, my parents, Hattie, Laura and I went to visit relatives in North Carolina.  My father has 8 brothers and sisters.  My mother has 2 brothers.  We have LOTS of relatives.  It was a short trip and we weren’t able to see everyone but it was a great few days nonetheless.

The biggest observation of the week was that Hattie and Laura play together beautifully.  On a couple of occasions, we spent the morning at the hotel until lunch.  We were in a regular hotel.  There was no suite, no game room and the weather was not conducive to swimming.  I was worried that the girls would get bored.  My Aunt Margaret had given the girls some new little stuffed animals so one morning I suggested that they play zoo until it was time to go.  I thought this would last 15 or 20 minutes.  Wrong!  Hattie and Laura set up the animals under the dresser and zipped off into their fantasy zoo.  Hattie got out her notepad and made pages of charts with all the information any zookeeper might need.  The animals were bathed, fed and put down for their naps.  She pretended to call and order animal food, vet services and zookeeper uniforms.  My parents and I were entranced.  It lasted over 2 hours.  I wish I had a tape recording of the conversation!  I was telling Robert about all of this over the phone that night.  He didn’t believe me until we got home and Hattie showed him her notebook.  They continued to come up with game after game in one situation after another.  They needed no toys, no entertainment.  Just the freedom to be themselves.  It was incredible!

Last night as the girls were stretched out on the floor coloring and playing with their Barbies, we listened a little more closely to what all they were saying.  It turns out that the imaginative play wasn’t new or unusual.  It happens at our house on a daily basis.  We had just never heard it before.  When the girls are in the playroom, we are seldom listening unless they need our help.  It is an oasis and a playground and they are free to spend their time in there playing with whatever they choose.  How wonderful it would be to be able to transport yourself into an imaginary world where all things are possible.  I remember those days from my own childhood and I’m delighted that my girls are able to do this.

Laura and Hattie are in the playroom right now with one of our neighbors.  I think I’ll go listen in!

summer cuts…

Monday, July 26th, 2010

“There was a little girl,

and she had a little curl

right in the middle of her forehead.

When she was good she was very, very good,

and when she was bad she was horrid.”

– excerpt from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

At some point every summer, the girls get their hair cut.  By me.  I don’t know why but when it was time to cut Abigail’s hair for the first time, I wanted to do it myself.  I didn’t have a hard time cutting it so I just kept doing it year after year.  It is an enjoyable experience for both of us.  As the next 2 sisters arrived at the point of needing their hair cut, Momma’s barber shop was still open.  I have cut Robert’s hair for years and I’ve even cut my niece’s hair once or twice.

When I first cut Abigail’s hair she had golden blond ringlets.  Now it is dark brown, thick and wavy.  The waves and thickness come from both me and Robert so hers is really thick and really wavy.  Hattie’s hair is much like Abigail’s.  It is thick and dark brown but her hair is still in ringlets.  If we keep it chin length, the curls stay in tact and it is precious.

Laura, however, is the “black sheep” in the hair department.  Her hair is blond and straight as a stick.  It is darkening as she gets older, just not as quickly as her sisters did.  When it was time for Laura’s first haircut I discovered that it is much easier to cut wavy hair than straight.  Curly hair is forgiving.  Your lines don’t have to be flawless because the hair curls up and evens itself out.  Not so with straight hair.  Laura’s first haircut was not a complete disaster but it was far from perfect.  It didn’t help that she was fidgety.  And giggly.  And squirmy…

Most of the time, we stick to a simple bob.  It is so cute on all of them and easy to wash and wear.  Once I went much shorter on both Hattie and Abigail – I think Laura was still bald at that point!  The girls had asked for shorter hair cuts and I was happy to oblige.  They were darling and happy.

I have learned a lot through the years and I pay attention more when I get my hair cut (Robert refuses to try to cut mine) so that I can do a better job each time.  I know that some day my girls will no longer want me to cut their hair or they will ask for something that I cannot do.  They will want to go to a salon and have it done by a professional.  They will want the whole experience.  When that time comes I will probably be sad to close my “shop” but for now I’m just going to keep on snipping….

the cool of the pool…

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

For the past couple of weeks, Hattie and Laura have been taking swim lessons at our local pool.  They both did great and we are so proud of their progress.

The pool we are members of has 2 indoor heated pools and a large outdoor water park geared towards little children.  There are a couple of large slides and a deeper section for accomplished swimmers.  We chose this facility because it fits our current pool needs.  We’re not ready for the olympic sized pool inundated with teenagers.  Not yet anyway…

The swim lessons were held in the indoor pools but most days we went out to the water park after class for some fun before heading home.  I have been taking my children to the pool every summer since Abigail was in utero.  We love it.  My girls have become part fish.  As we were celebrating the end of swim lessons with a picnic and an extended swim, I began to reflect on my observations over the past 2 weeks.  Big surprise, no?  😉

I was astounded by the number of parents that suit up their children, watch them wade into the water and then cease to be parents.  Just because the pool has lifeguards doesn’t mean that you are released from your parental responsibilities.  This is not the time to tan, text or talk on the phone and completely ignore your children.  Even if your children can swim, you are still accountable for them.  I could not believe the parents who were so involved in conversations with their friends that they did not see their children mowing down smaller children left and right.  The lifeguards are trying to make sure no one drowns.  They are not there to babysit for you or teach your children the word respect.  One woman asked me to watch her 2 year old while she took her older daughter to the bathroom.  Of course I said yes.  However, thirty minutes later, I realized that she was sitting in the shade talking on her phone.  The nerve!  I have no problem with children playing and having fun.  But you still have to be respectful of the others around you.  Especially in a public pool full of people.

There are also pool rules for a reason.  For instance, you are not supposed to bring toys.  It is not fair to expect the line of toddlers at the frog slide to wait for your Barbie to go down first.  It is not fair to leave your boat floating in the water while you go play elsewhere and then come yank it away from the innocent little boy who found it.  It sounds like I’m standing on my soapbox trying to stifle the fun out of everything.  I promise that is not my intention.  Let me ask you this – how can I expect my children to obey rules and respect authority if I don’t lead by example?  I can’t.  I think this applies not only to the pool but also to life in general.

I know that parents need a break.  Trust me, I KNOW.  But the pool is not the place for it.  Maybe the pool in your backyard is, but the public pool teeming with little children is not.

I feel sorry for the ignorant parents because the truth is that they are missing out.  I spent over an hour sitting in the shallow water watching Abigail race down the big slides grinning from ear to ear.  I watched Hattie practice all she had learned over the past couple of weeks in class – her confidence growing by the second.  And I was repeatedly visited by mermaid Laura as she tried to figure out how to swim like Ariel.  It was wonderful and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything!