Saturday, December 31, 2011

And on to 2012...

Tim is working tonight and while I had some inquiries, I thought it better to stay home with the minions and call it an early night. With two in bed - we'll have no staying up to see midnight simply so I am saddled with cranky kids tomorrow - I thought I would take this moment of quiet to write about hopes for 2012.

Improve. I was struck by all the people I spoke to (or read their postings) who were, starting tomorrow, going to be a better person, lose weight, whatever. I resolve to make every day a day for resolutions. Not to wait. To make changes for the better every chance I get.

Patience. A quality I lack and one I will continue to pursue while apologizing in advance for not making any progress.

Simplify. So much in life doesn't matter. I hope I can concentrate my efforts on only what does.

Appreciate. I live a charmed existence filled with the best people and experiences for which one could ask. I need to remember that every day.


And I hope that 2011 was everything you wanted it to be. May 2012 exceed all your expectations. Love, Katie

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Countdown to School

No, the days aren't dragging....

Maggie: What are we doing today?
Me: We went to the gym. You wanted to stay home.
Maggie: But what are we doing with the rest of the day?
Me: Assembling the ridiculously expensive Lego that has been occupying my dining room table for two days?
Maggie: That was from Santa.
Me: Don't give me that Santa crap. You lost all credibility when you ratted out the Tooth Fairy.
Maggie: Can we do something else?
Me: What about a movie?
Maggie: I don't want to go to the movies.
Me: How about this - I clean the house, do the laundry, and make dinner while you decide what we can do to quell your boredom.
Maggie: I think I'll go to my room.
Me: Good plan.

Four more days left!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Wrap Up

I love Christmas - cards, present shopping, cooking, parties. But inevitably, all the planning and work leads up to the Big Day and then it is past, leaving you with some serious pick up and cleaning and 364 days until next year's celebration. The good news here is that our holiday totally lived up to the hype and was worth the clean up, which is done - thanks for the help Tim, and we had an excellent time.

Tim's Mom & Dad flew up from Florida a few days before Christmas. Nancy & I did some shopping for the kids and everyone, it seemed, got to make just one last trip to the grocery. 

We had fantastic weather the whole time they were here, high 50's, unless you asked my kids who missed the snow terribly and threatened to move north. Empty threats - they wouldn't survive a real winter. The balmy conditions allowed us to get out and about. We discovered many things are closed on Christmas Eve downtown.

But we had plenty of fun at home anyway.

That night we went to Ann & Hans' for their extended family get together. This new tradition is perfect. Just when you've been cooped up long enough, you get out and have a whole new group of people with whom to talk!

When we arrived home, we made the kids promise not to get up before sunrise and put out all the presents from Santa, who has a nebulous foothold here. We were ready!

As you can see in the pictures of the carnage from the next morning, we should have clarified the sun had to be all the way up.

Eion was tremulous with excitement. We thought he was cold but he said, "I am just too excited for Christmas!"

We seem to have escaped with no major disappointments. It was a blur of lego, clothes, Angry Birds, Robert Pattinson posters, books and assorted Star Wars merchandise.

We had some surprises as well. Maggie got a pair of highly prized Uggs. That she loved them was no surprise. That they fit me was! If the girls outgrow them before they wear them out, I could soon be the recipient of some gently used Uggs. I need to start shoe shopping in the kids' section.

We also found out, sadly, that the much ballyhooed Dippin Dots maker did not include even one mix with which to make said dots. While the fine print on the package did say this, we had not realized that fun was not included. But this disappointment was taken in stride and generally drown out by the glory of Christmas.

That night, we went to an annual Christmas party - always a perfect way to close out the day.

Boxing Day was spent looking for Dots mix, unsuccessfully, and hanging out with family and friends, successfully. Tim is back to work, his parents are back in Florida and the house looks a little stark without all the Christmas gear but it was a great ride this year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Pictures

Alright. We're through hosting parties, basically done shopping, the fridge is full and the house is clean. We are ready for Christmas. Tim's parents arrive tomorrow and their room is ready after booting Morrigan out and undertaking some major cleaning. That girl is a slob.

While we had a picture on the deck for our Christmas card (as you saw a few weeks back,) I like to get "real" Christmas pics taken each year too. When the kids were younger, I would have portraits done more often but as they got older and we all got busier, we are down to birthdays, Easter and Christmas. Some years and sessions are better than others, but, as a picture girl, I'm always happy we went through the trouble.

So without further ado, here is this year's batch, complete with commentary!

The designated picture day was close enough to my birthday that I was able to strong arm Tim into coming with us and being in the pictures - not his favorite thing. But luckily, he loves me a lot and will give in every once in a while. I promised no silly pictures where we were all over the floor. So naturally, this was the first shot:

Oops, sorry Tim. The next one has us off the floor but with a Christmas background that I can't say I love. I did have to buy a copy as I think it is an incredible study in the power of DNA. Could Morrigan look more like me and Maggie like her Dad? (And Mags also looks like she is on drugs. This seems to be her new posed picture look. You'll see it again in the others.)

Then a couple of the kids together:

You thought I was kidding about the flying high look but I totally wasn't. 

Last, some individuals:

With a full house and all the kids home, I may be offline for a few days so let me wish you all a Merry Christmas a few days in advance. I hope your travels are safe and your days are full of love and holiday cheer!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Who Came Up With This %&^%#(& ?

Last night, Eion lost a tooth. It is only his second and he was almost as excited as the first time around. Being a pathologically bad Tooth Fairy, I tried to convince E to leave it in the kitchen. "Really," I assured him, "the Tooth Fairy will appreciate not having to climb the stairs." But no, seeing as she could fly, he was not worried about that. And since we could not locate the Tooth Fairy pillow which generally saves me from rooting around under my children's pillows while trying not to wake them, he was insistent that it had to go under his actual pillow.

I managed to convince him that he should leave it on his dresser so it didn't accidentally get lost. After I kissed him goodnight, I immediately put four quarters next to my toothbrush so as not to neglect my duties.

I got to thinking, who made this crap up? If I had to go back and change one thing I've done as a parent, it would be getting involved in these shenanigans at all. When the kids lost a tooth, just pay them outright and  throw the tooth into the woods so it can go back to the earth.

Alas, it is too late for such a (brilliant) decision and I was stuck feeling around in the dark for a tiny tooth.

Today, E came down the stairs and told me, "YOU are the Tooth Fairy!"

Me: Whatever gave you that idea?
E: Maggie told me.
Me: So next time can we just leave the tooth in the kitchen?
E: Will I still get a dollar?
Me: If I don't have to remember to go get your tooth, you bet.
E: Deal.

And that friends, is the door closing on one of the more moronic chapters of parenthood.

Everything That Glitters

And it is time once again for the Tacky Christmas Sweater party! While I felt all three hostesses, Ann, Kirsten and myself, had some real humdingers, I had no idea the lengths to which our attendees had gone. Behold the Elf on the Shelf come to life and all manner of fabulocity. 

Me, I had just slapped on a really shiny and unflattering Christmas sweater and called it good. It does appear I need to step my game up!

Ann spent the last six weeks infusing vodka with cranberries and other yumminess for our martini of the night. Delicious and deadly - best to stop at one!

It was a fun night to catch up with the girls before (yikes!) the last week before Christmas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Concert

Last night was the Holiday Concert for the girls' school. And yes, this was the best picture I could get. Stupid lighting. But anyhow, it was, as ever, an experience. Before they went there, I was used to the average school performances - the kids get up there, they sing off key, parents video as is this were Carnegie Hall. I assumed this was just the way of the world. Ah, but not so, I found out.

Standard behavior includes shouting out to your kids, by name, before, during and after the song their class is singing, regardless of whether or not said child has a solo. And if you are looking for the audience to be silent, forget it. A running commentary on whose kid is where, how well they are doing, and how great their outfit is goes on, at full volume, the entire show.

But then again, I brought the kid (cougheioncough) who was dropping stink bombs so fierce they were causing people near us to comment, "Oh my god, what is that smell?" so who the hell am I to talk.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My 40th Birthday Weekend

I would have totally posted this sooner but fell victim to a nasty stomach bug Sunday night which had both myself and Tim bedridden yesterday (and in his case, most of today.) Now there was some free range parenting. As I lay in bed, praying for death, wondering how it could possibly be that my skin hurt, Eion was off on his own, existing entirely on leftover cokes and his gingerbread house. Makes a Mom proud. But they lived and I lived. Sorry for the delay.....

Friday night, we went over to friends Christy and Andrew's to decorate gingerbread houses. Did more candy end up in mouths than on houses? Probably. But fun was had by all.

[Aside: E's hair is starting to look like he is the boy in The Shining again. Need to get on that.]

Saturday morning (read: my 40th birthday) was the Santa brunch at the Club. Thought we may have outgrown it and could skip it but found out otherwise when howls of distress came up from the wee ones here. You see, we were having this little shindig that night and I had plenty to do, but that was not swaying even one child. So off we went.

Now that it is all said and done, I'm happy we went. One of these days, they will outgrow it and the complaints will be mine. That being said, we did need to get home to prepare for THE PARTY.

Our Cocktail Club had a three month stretch where no one wanted to host except us. We originally planned to have our party in October but the kitchen remodel left us exhausted and needing a break. As we considered other dates, we settled on my birthday but I didn't really want to advertise it that way. Bill it as a cocktail party and anyone who knew, that was fine. Mostly I didn't want to have people feeling obligated to bring me stuff. 

We made up the invite list and were in a rather expansive mood. While we wanted each and every invitee to attend, it was the second week of December. There had to be conflicts, and lots of them, right? 

Wrong. That would be 116 confirmed merry-makers. We had some prep work on our hands.

In the end, all but six of those people showed up. But there are worse problems to have. You could plan a huge party on your 40th birthday and no one shows up. Not to mention, we loved it. Kirsten took over my normal position as team photographer and left me with tons of great pictures, but you only need a few to see there were smiles abound.

(Just look at that Tim wearing his holiday pants I love so much!)

Facebook had clued a whole lot of people in to the birthday part of the day but other than the idea that this meant I should do shots, that was ok too.

I am not sure the evening could have gone by faster. It was a blast. It's been a while too since we threw a party and heard, "Wow, I haven't been to a party like this since college." which, whether they meant it that way or not, I am taking a high praise. One party guest told me they could hear the house "thrumming" from the street. We had fun. To top it all off, we had successfully farmed out all three kids for the night. (Thank you, thank you for that very special gift, friends!)

The next day, it was massive clean up, sadly starting at 7:30. I seem unable to sleep in. Then Maggie and I were off to a Mother Daughter tea.

This may indeed be the only moment these girls 
strayed from the chocolate fountain.

Last stop: Super Supper Club!

Not surprisingly, it was an early night - we had all been up past our bedtimes the night before. Best anyway since I ended up later ill with the sickness that postponed this post. But even given falling prey to a virus, it was just about the best birthday weekend for which a girl, or according to my kids, an old woman, could hope.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Me and the E

Eion and I have, I mean get, to spend an awful lot of time together these days. A lot. And certainly, there are days when I think I might gouge my eyes out if I hear one more sentence that starts with "Mom..." [Or better yet, "Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom!"] But overall, he's been a champ.

When it comes to getting his learn on, things are going swimmingly. Reading and math are chugging right along and we have finished the Virginia science and social studies SOL topics for 1st grade in their entirety. That has E especially stoked as we are now free to move on to explore anything we want. First stop: outer space!

But what may have been an even bigger part of his problems in the 1st grade was a simple lack of maturity. On that front, I'm hoping we're making some progress too. He wants to be my little assistant all the time. Just yesterday, we had to drop off a (postage already attached) package at the FedEx store. He insisted on taking it in alone. I could see him through the glass while I waited in the car. While everything shiny seemed to distract him, he eventually made it to the counter, successfully delivered the box, and returned triumphant with a receipt.

At our next stop, we needed to pick up some shredded cheese (home made pizza for dinner!) We were just at our local little (beloved) grocer, Tinnell's, and I knew E couldn't reach where the cheese was and I was unconvinced he would select the right cheese. We went in together and I had just picked up the mozzarella when Eion sprang into action. "Mama, give me the cheese and I can buy it while you wait in the car." Seeing as we have a charge account there (one of the many reasons for the beloved status) I figured he could handle it. I waited outside until E completed the transaction and joined me.

Not every day is like that but I keep hoping these incidents are signs of maturity to come. For so long he had no interest at all in being anything other than a baby. And in spite of the fact that he did request payment for his services, I'm going to call it improvement!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Decline

From the trips to school files....

Morrigan: How old will you be on your next birthday Mom?
Me: I'll be forty.
Morrigan: Ah forty, the age at which people reach their peak and begin the slow, inevitable decline. [I'm not kidding, that is a direct quote.]
Me: I was hoping I had a few productive years left.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Free Range Success Stories

The whole free range kids concept was appealing to me from the start in part because I was already espousing many of the tenents already. But putting real, hard core freeing of children into practice? Not as easy a path, but one so far, filled with success.

Friday, much to the girls' chagrin, we stayed at the playground after school so Eion could play with other kids. One of Maggie's friends wanted to stay and play but the girl's sister did not. So her Mom granted her permission to stay and told her to walk home afterwards. I was about to say, don't worry about it, I'll drive her, when I realized that walking two blocks, in arguably one of the safest neighborhoods in America, was completely appropriate for a nine year old. When we left, we sent her on her merry way. And she survived!

Yesterday, Morrigan was, largely independently, baking cookies. She was halfway through the baking process when we realized it was time to pick Maggie up from a party at the Y. We were about to divide and conquer when we rethought it, and decided she could finish baking on her own. As we drove way, we considered the worst possible outcomes. The first was that she would burn down the house. While bad, we considered this unlikely. She could also burn her hand or arm. This was more likely, but if she was to become a cook, was going to happen eventually. [I personally have two scars on my arm from the oven, both of which I gained after the age of thirty.] I told Tim she would call us if she burned herself. Ah, he pointed out, not if she had burned her hands too badly to dial the phone!

We fretted a bit and prepared for the worst.

When we returned home, the house was not aflame, she had finished baking, turned off the oven and stood triumphantly with her cookies. I'm not sure she had ever  looked so proud.

Now Eion, he may need some work. I found a booklet on the table last night. When I asked E where it came from, he replied, "Some stranger brought it to the door." But he's still alive too.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Inside My Bubble

Ok, let me first tell you how disappointed I was to return home after dropping off the girls and find Eion awake and waiting for me. Would that he had done me a solid and slept in today. It is really the only thing about homeschooling him that gets old - no breaks. (Well, almost none. Tim did take over the educational duties so I could play tennis yesterday.) But while E finishes up his Cheerios, I've got a few minutes to type.

It's interview season for the residency program at Tim's hospital. While I am largely unaffected by this process, I do get the chance to meet many of the potentials at the weekly mixers (that's so sorority but I can't find a better word this morning) that the hospital hosts for them each week during the application process. Having no knowledge of the program really, I generally chat it up with the recruits about Roanoke, living in a smallish town, and what the transition is like going from North to South. [On that last one, I am always surprised how many people are concerned that they will not be accepted here because they are Northerners.]

The conversation invariably, and naturally I guess, ends up at a point where they ask What I Do. When I tell them that I stay home with the kids, their reactions routinely remind me that I live in a, very nice thanks, bubble.

I would say the overwhelming majority of my friends also are stay at home Moms, with a sprinkling of stay at home Dads too. Being a SAM is totally normal around here. But when I tell the young residents-to-be What I Do, more than a few look at me with clear surprise, as though I am some exotic creature who time-travelled to the present from the 1950's. Most aren't sure how to respond and, somewhat awkwardly, say, "How nice" when their facial expression and overall reaction say something completely different.

I think many of the women just can't see how someone who was born and raised in the era of modern feminism could have chosen, and by the looks of things, happily so, such an antiquated path. It probably wouldn't help them understand to add that since we were engaged, when I was 23 and barely out in the working world, Tim and I had already decided this was the plan.

Sometimes I try to explain why it makes sense for our family in financial terms or how if I held a 9-5 kind of job I would never see Tim. (Though that second explanation was lost entirely on the woman who was willing to accept a residency in a different town than her husband, placing them apart for years.) Mostly I just smile and leave them baffled as to why I seem so at peace with something they find so foreign.

PS Clearly, I didn't get this done before we started school for the day but I have to tell you how Eion has this sense for knowing when I am at the end of my rope. On those days, he always provides the best behavior and learns the most, giving me reason to soldier on. The E knocked it out of the park today. And just came over to hug me.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I Love (and Hate) the Holidays

I just seem to be of two minds about everything these days. But before we get to Christmas, let's recap Thanksgiving!

We had no familial visitors this year. But no need for a pity party here. We were taken in by friends King and Fiona and had an excellent time. The kids all played well together, generally leaving the adults alone. The actual meal can be a wild card when you have kids who trend picky, as mine do. When Fiona asked what sides they wanted, I explained that last year, Eion had a Gogurt. There is simply no point in trying to please them. But we had no complaining (hooray!) and they each ate the items they liked. In Eion's case, his meal consisted entirely of rolls. Morrigan was a tiny bit more adventurous, having turkey, rolls and pomegranate seeds. Maggie ate what could be construed as a downright normal plate of food, dominating a drumstick, cauliflower, rolls and pomegranate seeds. But best of all, they praised it as "the best Thanksgiving meal ever." 

When we left, I was planning to head home but the kids insisted Hans had invited us over so we had to stop by. They had lots of family in town and we were happy to join the fray. It was an excellent day.

So back to my love/hate relationship with the holidays. Let's start with hate so we can end on an up-note. 

I hate the commercialization of Christmas. The two stations on my radio presets that turn to 24-7 holiday music a full two weeks before Thanksgiving. The fact that this was ever made:

Why use just any old plate, mug, paper and note holder (seriously?) when leaving a message for the fictional man in red? [Sorry, should have added a spoiler alert there but if you didn't know already, I'm doing you a favor.] Take any creativity out of the whole exercise and buy a box of crap from China. Make sure your kids know what is important here. It's not the gift and personalized letter to Santa, it is the delivery method. Yuck.

And further in the soulless category, we have these, for when you care, well, really not at all but you have to give this person something.

Then there are these non-food items. Having the whole family over? Don't bother with real food. Here, eat this processed, alarming crap.

Let's not forget Black Friday, a day wrong in, let's face it, all ways. You have the original incarnation which was people getting up crazy early on Friday to score a discounted tv (6 available at each location!) Every year people, up extra early to get in that holiday spirit, are pushing, shoving and shouting to buy things they desperately need, like a blue ray player. But it keeps getting worse. People are camping out days early, missing Thanksgiving, in order to shop. The stores, responding to the insanity, decide to open even earlier and earlier before dropping the sham of a holiday at all and just going ahead and opening on Thanksgiving. So we've taken a day to reflect, give thanks and be with the people we love and made it into a shop-a-rama. That is what I hate about the holidays.

Slow down there, you say. Where is the love, so prominently advertised in the title of this post? While the over-commercialization makes my teeth itch, I really truly love Christmas. 

I love decorating. The day after Thanksgiving, we were out there (though not at 5am) getting a tree. Which, by the by, made it home safely and quite secure. 

The kids and I couldn't wait to get started. [As a measure of full disclosure, I did buy one Black Friday deal. The Home Depot had 6" poinsettias for $1 each (limit 10.) But I promise, I was not there at the crack of dawn and injured zero other shoppers when I acquired them!] So many of our decorations have a history: latch hook Santa, crafted by Tim's own hands (as I found out the year I tried to get rid of it - never again), the nativity set made by Great Grandma in her ceramics years, and the ornaments Tim and I have collected over the course of our marriage. (Mostly I collected but he was kind enough not to balk at my affinity for sterling silver snowflakes.) It's like a trip down memory lane each year.

I love shopping for presents. I am not much a shopper in general, as my wardrobe will attest, but I dig shopping for others. My stash for the kids grows daily. If you need to know where it is, just ask Eion. He already told me he found it.

I love holiday parties. Tim and I are hosting a party and I am co-hosting, as always, the bad sweater party for the ladies. And I love one of our newest traditions, the Christmas Eve extended family get together. With a few other families, we pick a house and whoever can shows up for snacks and drinks.

The things I love about the holidays are the important and sometimes overlooked: the joy of giving, being with friends and family, and celebrating just how fortunate we are. The next month is one of my favorite times of the year - I can't wait.

And now that Thanksgiving is over, I will happily listen to the all-carols stations.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful, And Not

(Yum! Dinner!)

Oh let's get the negative out of the way. I am grumbly that, as he does every other year, Tim is working Thanksgiving. No matter how many years I've been through this, it always sucks. (Though realistically, probably more for him than me.) And we don't have any visitors coming in town so it is me and the kids.

That being said, when you put it all in negatives vs. positives columns, the pluses so heavily outweigh the minuses that I am already feeling guilty for complaining. Today, I am thankful for:

1) Timmy. Tuesday, even knowing he had to work the holiday, he took over the homeschool duties so I could play tennis. Truly, a prince among men. I am (including the dating years) 20 years and counting with the best guy ever.

2) Friends. Our status as holiday orphans did not go unnoticed and we are being fed and cared for by King and Fiona. If that weren't enough to make me feel all warm and fuzzy, we had other offers too for Thursday and beyond. I am blessed with the best friends for which one could hope.

3) Those friends again. Did I mention I only have to cook one dish?

4) My kids. While routinely driving me insane, they are great. (Even the boy.) E continues to thrive in homeschool. He told me he loves it so much he never wants to go back to Crystal Spring. [To which I have to say, slow down. Love you and all, but in a year or so you are totally going back. Just sayin.] And the girls today spent our whole trip to Kmart (needed some shoes for the Christmas pic) trying to find things for Eion - while asking for nothing for themselves. Mags even said she really didn't need anything for Christmas. I am thankful for my three beautiful, smart, and wonderful kids. [Not biased at all by the way.]

4) My country. The greatest country in the world. Not because we are born with some inherent genetic advantage that makes us better, but because we are born in a nation that values freedom, individual rights, and provides us with almost unlimited opportunity.

5) All of You. Over the years, the support, love, and encouragement from my readers kept me afloat in some tough, in a first world sense, times. Thanks for stopping by.

I could go on and on, but by the time we reach my thankfulness for butter, bacon, podcasts and smart phones, this post might start to wear. So we'll call it a night. And I'll wish you a Thanksgiving full of your own blessings.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Grandin Holiday Parade

Oh, I shouldn't have liked it, mostly because it was held a week before Thanksgiving, but it was a good time. Eion, psyched he had a coke, was chatting up the other attendees. One woman looked over at me and mouthed, "He's just the cutest thing!"

Morrigan's Girl Scout troop was in the parade and the leader was nice enough to let Maggie join in too.

They handed out candy and felt important.  It was especially nice when Eion brought over candy his sisters gave him - it seemed a long exercise to get some Hershey's kisses from home into his possession. But I was proud that Morrigan's troop had made their own banner. It just seemed to have more character than the preprinted ones.

E also saw his reading tutor in the parade and called out to him as if he were a rock star.

In spite of my doubts, the parade was very sweet and the kids had an excellent time. Seeing as the birthday party Maggie was scheduled to attend was cancelled due to the flu, we ended up at the Civic Center ice skating.

All three kids got after it in their own way - Maggie led the charge, E was in the center with a cone as a helper, and Morrigan stayed largely on the perimeter. But after a while, all the kids were out on open ice. We stayed til the bitter end with the kids disappointed to leave.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Home on the Range

Did you ever have a point in your life where you read/heard/saw something that just put your whole world in perspective? A moment after which you felt you couldn't turn back? God help me for the reference, an honest to goodness Oprah AH-HA moment?

I have.

Amy, y'all might know her as fraught, lent me a book the other day. It's called Free Range Kids, by Lenore Skenazy. It is all about how we are holding back and stifling our kids by over-protecting them. As I read it, I felt I had found my parenting soulmate.

It is all about how we are paralyzed by fear. How we unnecessarily shelter our kids and the damage our "protection" brings. Maybe I just love it because she is, in this case, preaching to the choir. I have spent many years (read 11- 10 parenting and 1 pregnant) being told I was a "bad" parent. Often with a smile but always with the undertone that I was just not caring enough because if I did care, you see, I would helicopter around my kids, sheltering them from harm.

Instead, I've always taken the stance that I value self reliance. If they can do it themselves, maybe they should. And every once in a while, someone might fall down. They might even get hurt. If we spend our whole parenting experience protecting our kids from any failure whatsoever, they are utterly unprepared when they do fail, as we all do eventually, if not regularly.

Reading the book, I felt emboldened. No, I wasn't a slacker all these years. I was instead refusing to bend to crazy levels of "safety." From here on out, I was going to [totally lifting from the book] world proof my kids rather than child proof the world.

So I've started to do some crazy things. My kids are cooking by themselves - with the stove. They are packing their own lunches. They are learning to do laundry. I have set them loose with kitchen knives. Just today I sent Eion into Tinnell's alone to pay our bill.

They love it.

If their reaction was not enough to convince me, I've been talking to people about the free range kids concept. One of the teachers told me a story about how, on a field trip, they were out to eat and a 5th grader was horrified that she had access to a butter knife. She was 11 and had never used a knife. Are we raising responsible someday-adults or Howard Hughes?

And the reaction around me has been interesting as well. I was at the bank with E [aside: don't let me forget to post about a not free range kids part of that trip later] and he was playing with a rubber band he found. I told him to stop it as he was going to wing it at either me or the branch manager. He asked if he could go outside with it. My initial thought was no but I quickly changed my mind. "Sure," I told him, "just stay on the bricks and don't go into the parking lot." Almost immediately, a teller came up to me, panicked, asking, "Do you know your son is outside?" Her panic turned to confusion when I told her, of course - I sent him there.

At the mall today, Eion wanted to look at some Angry Birds hats at one of the (annoying) kiosks outside the stores. I sent him on his way and told him to meet me back in the store when he was done. The cashier told me (again with the panic) "Your son left the store!" When I explained that I knew that and he would come back when done she just looked at me like I had lost my ever-loving mind.

My mind, thankfully, was fully intact. But what I knew was that he, realistically, was in very little (or no) danger being at a kiosk right outside the store. Lord knows if anyone did try to kidnap him, E is one loud fella. And really attached to his Mommy.

It's a little radical. But I think my kids will be better off for the freedom. I remember working at the used clothing sale the PTA had last spring. I was manning the checkout and a Mom and her daughter came up with several items. I asked the little girl if the dress they were buying was for her. She did not answer and refused to make eye contact. Her Mom, very proudly, told me how she had trained her daughter not to talk to strangers.

How utterly freaking sad.

This little girl had been raised to think the world was so full of danger that she couldn't talk to an adult even when her Mom was right there to prevent kidnapping or whatever the hell else her Mom thought might befall her.

I'm not going to raise kids afraid of anyone that has not been fingerprinted and background checked. Kids who bathe in Purell and won't ride their bikes up the street. Kids who are afraid of butter knives.

So if you see three kids unattended in our cul de sac, those are mine. And yes, I know they are in the street.

Thank You God or Karma or Whatever Smiled on Me Today

[You know, E's school pics alone are a reason he can't homeschool forever.]

I was decidedly NOT FEELING IT today. Dropped off the girls and returned home to find Eion still asleep. Thank goodness - I was back in bed in a flash where I proceeded to have a major pity party. Among my complaints:

Tim is in Florida leaving me to deal with kids, activities etc all alone. Not to mention, we rarely travel alone so I am just not used to being left like this.

The 24/7 being with E is getting a bit old. While intellectually I know this is the right move, I could do with a trip to the mall since...

I have come to realize that the vast majority of my fall/winter wardrobe has some age on it. Like about 5 years. When I lost my Eion baby weight, I bought new jeans and generally updated my closet. Since then? I've gone with the mantra that I'm not Princess Di and therefore do not need a new outfit for every occasion but when I can't find anything purchased in the last three years, I get irritable. 

As I bemoaned my First World Problems, Eion woke after his 13 hour slumber and went to get breakfast. I generally dragged my feet and put off as long as I could the start of the day.

But then, E was the best guy ever. He read his words without sounding them out. We crushed an entire Science SOL and an entire Social Studies SOL. He knew all his spelling words but two. He killed it at Math. We were done in record time and it seems everything was sinking in. After which he happily played iPad games while I shopped for some new clothes. 

The fates seemed to know I needed a day like that today.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tootles Courtney or Why You Should Watch Your Mouth on Social Media

[Says the authorette, and sufferer of intermittent and persistent diarrhea of the mouth/keyboard, with self deprecating laugh.]

Today we are going to talk about how Courtney is going to be unfriended on the facebook later today, something I almost never do. I'll happily wage day long comment wars with people who post quotes from Elizabeth Warren (which sometimes lead to me being unfriended) and will read with dismay and amazement when a friend from high school bemoans the clearing out of Zuccotti Park (I wasn't even going to touch that insane comment stream) but I very rarely take any of it personally.

But then we have today's post from Courtney. She is a 20-something gal who used to babysit for us. She had her own baby so we don't have any business transactions these days but seeing as I had no beef with her, she remained my facebook friend. Until this gem popped up today: [Disclaimer - all posts are sic so grammar and punctuation totally not mine but the comments in brackets are!]

Courtney: back in the er with grandma, she's in severe pain again and really sick, praying that the drs actually do something this time around

[As she is taking aim at Tim and his ER doc co-workers, you know my hackles are up.]

Now we'll get into the comment stream.....

Friend 1: did they do a cat scan on her
Courtney: Yeah, back on Friday

[Note: doctors did do something on last visit.]

Friend 1: did they put her on meds or are they waiting to see if it passes
Courtney: They did that and still nothing! I swear I'm going crazy, that stone is 5 mils
Friend 2: They need to help her and do it right this time. And not send her home in pain
Courtney: Yeah that's all they [know] how to do is send people home in pain

[An aside here. ER docs CANNOT FIX KIDNEY STONES. Sorry for yelling but all the ER can do is try to ease pain. If you want this problem fixed, you need to see a Urologist. A second trip to the ER does not change what the doctors there can do. Just saying. Now back to the story.]

Friend 2: That they Do need new Drs in there how is she now
Courtney: The whole hospital needs new drs! Lol!
Friend 2: Amen the one here does to [(sic) nice grammar sweetie]

You know, I am aware that I am, as the wife of an ER doctor, exceptionally biased here. That being said, I am not a honk for the ER. Seriously, it is a miserable place. The doctors, nurses and staff there are doing the best they can, even if their efforts are not apparent to the outside world. Tim will tell me stories of the bureaucratic and administrative hoops he has to go through in order to treat his patients and it sounds positively maddening.

But back on point, we have in Courtney, a perfect illustration of what is wrong with the modern medical machine. Her grandmother shows up in the ER. She has a problem that HAS to be fixed by a specialist. The ER doc does his/her best to verify that she has a kidney stone and gives her pain medication. S/he can't do anything else. Grandma needs a specialist. But rather than see one, she shows back up at the ER four days later, where they still can't fix her problem but they are open and you don't need an appointment.

And her granddaughter sets out to slam the medical community on facebook.

The doctors in the ER are not magicians, they are doctors. And, in general, the ones in the ER are trained to keep you from dying. They are really good at keeping people alive. But if you show up with something requiring the care of a specialist that, while painful and awful, will not kill you, there might not be anything they can do, other than treat pain.

So Courtney, we are through.

One of these days, when you are done with school and are a Pharmacy Tech, you'll have some one in your place of work, angry about something beyond your control, that you couldn't fix if you wanted to. You'll do everything you can to help them but they will still leave angry, go home and slam you on social media. Maybe then you will understand.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mary McK 1911-2011

Tim's paternal grandmother passed away today. Grandma lived to be 100 years old and was a fighter until the very end. 

My first memory of Grandma was when Tim and I were dating. Truth be told, I don't know if she and I  had even met yet, but Tim told me that she had slipped him a twenty when she found out I was Catholic.

And apparently, she used to write what was inside the gifts she gave Tim, his brother and his father for Christmas on the outside of the package. You had to look, but it was there. They would make a big show of shaking and otherwise investigating each package before declaring, "There are jeans in here!" She never did discover how they knew.

Then there was the Christmas when we gave Tim's brother the Fart Machine, a small device that could be activated remotely and made, naturally, farting noises. Grandma, then about 95, found this to be tear inducingly funny. You had to love it.

We were fortunate enough to see Grandma on her 100th birthday. We gave her the option of any place in town for lunch. She chose the land of fried fish and gigantic margaritas. A woman after my own heart.

Love you Grandma and we'll miss you. Our lives were better for having you in them.