Friday, August 29, 2008

injury prevention

Too many boo boos. That is usually the description of Bug's body, but right now it describes Pook's knees. Poor kid. Seems like since Bug took off his training wheels Pook has been taking the spills.

Once a friend told me that he was worried at his first baby's well child visit because the child had several bruises. He was afraid the doctor would think they beat their child. By the time the second child was going to well child visits he realized that if there were no bruises the doctor would think they kept the child locked in a closet.

When my sister and I were preschool age, a couple that were friends with my parents decided to adopt. They were, as my mom puts it, "older". (I think in those days, that meant 'in their thirties'.) They asked several of the moms in the neighborhood for advice in preparing their home for a baby. Just that day a neighbor boy, my age, had slammed into a wall head first and needed several stitches. My mom's advice? Remove the walls.

Injury prevention: remove all walls, floors and ceilings, all toys, furniture and trees. Once in this empty but safe setting your child will be LESS prone to injury. No guarantees.

brainwashing of the best kind

I had no idea that we had brainwashed our children so well.

Last night a chicken-fast-food-branch had proceeds going towards the school. Since CD was going to be out, when Pook came home and asked me if we could go, I relented. Except for road trips, I don't think the kids have ever had fast food for a dinner. (Yes, I'm incredibly old fashioned, but there are several reasons for our cooking and the kids' health is really only one of them.) On the way home Bug asked me why there was a prize in his bag. Sarcastically, I said it was so the kids would beg the parents to go back all the time. Pook immediately jumped on this and gave me some examples of his friends doing just that. He even knew which places gave what!

Pook: But we wouldn't do that.
Bug: Cause we shouldn't be eating junk food. It isn't growing food.
Pook: And we'd be tired all the time if we ate junk.
Bug: If you eat junk food like french fries and stuff then you won't be healthy.
Pook: But potatoes are ok if you eat them other ways.
Bug: Yeah, but french fries are the worstest kind of potato. And chicken nuggets are the worstest kind of chicken.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

what else could I need?

CD went to trivia with his buddies. The kids are in bed. This is the table in front of me: wine, the end of the hot fudge sauce (and the spatula used for finishing it!), nail polish and foot massage lotion. The phone isn't in the photo but it and the remote were also involved.

Not a bad way to spend an evening!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

of birds and tires

Fall sports really get the great team names. Pook is a Lugnut this season in baseball and Bug will soon be starting soccer on Team Turkey. No need to be worried about Turkey's survival as Thanksgiving approaches since I was informed that it was "the country, not Thomas Jefferson's favorite bird". Thanks P.

The Turkeys Turkey was to begin yesterday but the hurricane rains are here from Florida and the fields are in a flood plain. Enough said. With Labor Day next Monday, it looks like Bug may have a game before having a practice. Hopefully they'll at least get to meet each other somehow. A good friend is coaching; we wouldn't have agreed to a fall sport for him otherwise.

The Lugnuts have begun their season. Practice every Saturday and a game every Sunday. Pook is in great form. An extra teaching season is just what he needed. I'm happy to see him enjoying his abilities so much. I was excited that the rainy game on Sunday had a final score of 1-3. Yes, they lost, but that was my kid who made the run!

Spring ball, in the league by us, is pretty serious stuff. This will help. Plus he needs to be in top shape when Bug hits the diamonds this spring. I'd like him to be the big brother who gets to give advice and help out the little brother. I want him to enjoy the admiration of his younger sibling. But he'll have to hurry. Bug is more physical and is working to close the gap on many motor skills.

Monday, August 25, 2008

why do I bother?

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

don't tell

I've been ruminating about family privacy. I have a family website full of photos from every minute since my children were born. We label pictures with names and places for all our far-flung family to enjoy. For friends in the photos we've stuck to a first name only policy. I've kept the family website separate and unlinked here. (But if you email me I'll share it.) On this blog I took tips from blog-friends and I've stuck to pseudonyms for everyone. I've started calling my kids Pook and Bug much more often since I started blogging here!

What I haven't been private about are family stories. I've laid out Pook's first day of school tantrum and his no-applause rule from swim team. I've talked about Bug's behavior and heart chart. They are why I'm blogging. I need to vent about some of their doings. I also want to share some of the funny things they say and do. But I don't want to embarrass them. And I'm not sure of the line there.

Occasionally when he does something (bad or good) Pook will specifically say, "don't tell anybody". He knows I'm a chatter. He knows I often talk about him. If he knew what a blog was and knew his life was being written out for anyone to see, he'd be mortified. This would be much worse than having us applaud at a swim meet. It would be worse than hearing me tell his grandparents about him. It would even be worse than his reaction yesterday.

Yesterday a friend was telling me about her son's first day of school while our kids were yelling and playing outdoors. She'd been less than impressed- downright unhappy -about meeting his teacher. She said she'd cried when she left her son because she didn't want him to be with her all day. It happened to have been Pook's kindergarten teacher and since I'd been very happy with her I told her what I could to make her feel better. I asked her if she really wanted to trade first days of school. I started to tell her about our first day. When I got to the part about having to give a consequence for "unpleasant behavior" (which I named) I heard crying in the den. Pook was right there listening, not outdoors.

I talked to him in private about my reason for sharing the story. I wanted him to know that I'd been miserable all day, like my friend had been, and that by telling her about it I might be able to make her feel better. I knew that he'd had a good day even though I'd been a mess and I suspected that her son was going to have a good year despite her misgivings. He agreed to let me finish my story as long as I stuck to the script, "and he had a good day anyway, just like your son probably will."

Question is: will Pook ever forgive me if he learns about this blog? Is it fair to share my life online when it involves him? Most of my readers (the huge number that I have...) know me and know him. He is only anonymous to a few of you. But he wouldn't want any of you to be reading about him. Please, even if you aren't usually a commenter, leave your ideas and opinions here today.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

two wheels

"Daddy, can we take my training wheels off today?" "Today?" "Can you take off my training wheels today?" "Will you take my training wheels off?"

CD finally did it. Pook had given up his training wheels in June, after turning seven, and Bug is just four (and a half). We didn't really think he was ready, but the Aklympics were calling to him and the cycling he watched online fascinated him. We had to watch the crash in the women's road race again and again. So, with a whopping 15 minutes of bike time on Sunday, CD pulled out the tools and took them off. Bug's bike (given to Pook at his 3rd birthday and overshadowed by a pair of scissors) is small, a substitute for a tricycle. The tires are less than 12". The good thing about learning now, on a small bike, is that the ground isn't far away.

He was psyched. And he biked. By himself. CD got him started each time and then let go. Off he went. He only lost his courage when presented with a slope. But Monday afternoon he couldn't wait to go back outside. I let him practice in the noon sun for as long as I could stand it. I showed him how to put one pedal at the top, ready to push down quickly and he worked on starting alone until he had it. In the afternoon he and Pook went out biking together in the parking lot across the street. (With the pool already closed, it might as well be useful in other ways.) He was doing laps around the lot at high speeds, up and down a small slope, starting and stopping independently.

I had reminded him at the start of the activity about the Olympic racer who fell. I told him that big kids who ride two wheelers also have big crashes. I said I expected him to be brave if he fell and to not scare the entire neighborhood with screams. What I forgot to do was remind Pook. He was needing to do better than Bug. I'm sure it was important to be able to do things that little brother couldn't. He was cruising fast, taking sharp corners and trying too hard. And he wiped out. Scrapes on knees, thigh, elbow, chin and cheek.

Monday, August 18, 2008

a hole in my gut

"Are we almost there? I guess I ought to get ready to jump out."

"Yes, we're almost at camp, and no, you can't jump out. For the first day I get to walk you in."


Wow. They yank your heart right out sometimes. Pook broke it with his emotional reaction to his first day of school and Bug has left a hollow spot where it used to be. Maybe I'll do better on his first day of school in two weeks having just felt like this. I'm already worrying about his first day of kindergarten-- in a year and two weeks! This year will be change enough. They'll both be gone every morning. If I don't fill my time I'll go crazy with loneliness.

Lonely? Bored? While they're both possibilities, I somehow doubt I'll have trouble filling my days. Frittering them away is more of a concern. I want to spend at least one morning committed to helping out at the elementary school and one at the YMCA. If I try to approach one house project a week, errands will fill the rest. And blogging.

I headed to the grocery after dropping off Bug at Forest Friends Camp . I eyed the enormous truck grocery carts I hate to push. It may be a year before I use one of them again. I said 'hi' to an employee. "No, no kids today. One's in school and one's in camp." I'd been answering people's questions with "Only three/two/one more week of shopping with 'company' and they'll be in school!" Suddenly I don't feel so excited. Why did I tease them about wanting them gone? I contemplate filling my hollow insides with donut holes, but resist.

I had all the groceries unpacked and put away in less time than I can shop with two kids. But for what? Laundry? I succumb to the cinnamon sticks I'd had out at last night's meeting here. (Never underestimate the power of butter and sugar.)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

new venue

Bug has a new venue. Michael Phelps (his new hero) has encouraged him to pursue his backstroke career. In the bathtub tonight he tried out the new skill and had a great first heat. He announced that he'd gotten a silver.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


We made it to the Aklympics! And the boys are competing in so many sports there is barely enough time to watch them all. Bug is a Tumbler, a Flipper, a Sommersaulter, a Yachter, a Windsurfer Guy, a Really Strong Weight Guy, a Synchonized Jumper, a Swimmer, a Water Polo-er, a Bow and Arrow Guy, a Horse Rider, a Biker, a Fencer, a Guy-Who-Does-The-Rings, and of course, a Medaler and a Champion. There will be other competitions announced during the next two weeks.

Being fast is very important at all times. The new tennies are fast. Some socks are faster than others. Some clothes are faster. Bug has been hanging out in pj's a lot since they are tighter in the sleeve and therefore make him faster. I can tell that other clothes have been important too- there are sweats and soccer shorts, tank tops and "shirts with numbers" scattered all over. He took from his bulletin board the number which was pinned on him when our family ran the 1K Dino Dash last summer and needed it pinned on his shirt today.

The downstairs of our house is a loop, affectionately named for "Happy Laps" since Pook learned how to walk. This is the site for many events. The upstairs "bouncy bed" is arranged just so: at the end of the bed is a reading pillow and in front of it on the floor is my old yoga mat. There is even a stuffed audience already and seats for the human audience who will (if they know what's good for them) be showing up soon. The medals (ribbon and foil and lots of glitter glue) are ready to be presented as soon as they dry.

We've been using the Tivo to record Prime Time and watching video on MSNBC of some of the less well known sports. We can fast forward four hours of prime time coverage in about two hours. The cheers that erupt when the US wins are amazing. Then the "Oh yeah. That's what I'm gonna do when I'm in the Aklympics" starts afresh.

(The "bouncy bed" idea saved us when Bug, at 18 months, learned to jump- saving my furniture, saving his head, and getting rid of an old queen mattress. We keep it on the floor of the playroom and they use it for rough play. Since it is "floor" it takes up no play space.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

bye. I'm sorry

First day of school. Awful. Crying, screaming awful. I don't even know what happened. I have to assume he was nervous although he denied being at all worried or even excited when we tried to talk about it last night. He seemed mellow, as usual, and ready to go. Until 6:45 this morning.

We have a tight schedule to get to school on time. Up at 6:45 and in bed with me to wake up. Dressed by 7:00. Shoes on before breakfast. Out the door by 7:25.

I aimed for 7:20 this morning, knowing we had to find parking and carry in twelve pounds of school supplies. He sobbed while getting dressed about how badly I was treating him. He broke a few really big family rules and I almost let him slide but decided it'd be a mistake. He did not deal well with the consequences. He was arguing instead of eating and I almost had to shove him in the car, crying and without breakfast in order to get there.

He moaned about the discipline I'd given him all the way until we entered the school, interspersed with complaints that Bug didn't have to start. Once indoors he was silent. No "goodbye" no nothing. I gave him our secret wave and left.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

where's Waldo?

I am obsessive about lost children. I had a scary experience as a teacher when in one of our Special Education preschool classes there was a child with autism who was low enough functioning to be non verbal but high enough to think it was funny to run away. Our school was in rural area with an enormous area beyond the playground. Daily, he'd try to run away from his teacher- turning back to see if she'd chase. The administration didn't take us seriously when we tried to express our concern, although they were quick to blame when he'd escape the classroom and get up to the front office (or once, outdoors). The teacher tried to keep him on a "leash" but not only did it not give him any freedom on the playground at all, but the administration "thought it looked like he was being treated like an animal."

Then one day he took off from the playground and got far enough away from the teachers that we were afraid to chase him. If he went further, he'd be leaving the school grounds. And the area was unfenced. He did. Help was called, teachers struggled as to whether they should be watching their own class or helping her, but in the end he did get too far away to be followed. A police helicopter found him, about a mile from the school, across a road. (This doesn't have much to do with my post, but the administration's reaction to this was to fence three sides of the playground.)

Now I have my own kids and I worry about them getting lost. Maybe I started this because of work, but ever since I started going on field trips with my kids, I've made them tell me the What To Do If You Get Lost Rules in every parking lot ever since. They roll their eyes at me when I make them verbalize the rules. But I do it anyway. The Rules are:

1. Don't move.
2. Yell my name. Not "Mama" but my name. (They review)
3. Find a mom with kids and ask for help.

I also usually put a piece of masking tape or a mailing label on their backs with my cell phone number on it. I prefer to not put a name, but with my phone in my pocket it should be all they need.

And then Bug gets lost. Often. And he forgets all the rules, every time.

I'm about to throttle him. He got lost today at Stone Mountain. I thought he was in the bathroom, his dad thought he was with me, so neither of us even knew to look for him for a good five minutes. I think he was in tears and a family/some adults held onto him until I located him. I yelled his name and an oncoming family told me he was up ahead. Quite a ways. What he was doing in that direction I'll never know. Like I'll never know the whole story from Fernbank, from Little League Opening Day, from Busch Gardens, from Conner Prairie (twice in ten minutes) or any of the other scary places he's gotten lost.

He is a very loud child. (I am wording that tactfully.) He talks to adults and unfamiliar kids easily when I'm around. But he has never, at any of those times when he's been lost, remembered the What To Do If You Get Lost Rules. Clearly when he's scared he clams up, wanders around to find us and is intimidated about asking for help. I am not sure what else to do with the boy. Is it leash time?

Friday, August 8, 2008

fish mom

As The Fish Mom at Pook's school I don't have to feel guilty if I ignore the fundraisers, I can schedule the work to fit my own life and I am not on any committees. CD and I set a limit on how much was reasonable to spend on it, but the pet store has been more than willing to gain free advertising by donating items so I didn't spend even half of our limit last year. At home I have a ten gallon tank I've had since my 18th birthday (it's a few years old now, but in fine condition). But I've always wanted a big tank and never had the house for it. Now I have a 55 gallon tank. With help from the pet store I filled it, stocked it, dealt with a horrible algae/phosphate problem and then successfully maintained it every two months or so for a whole school year.

The custodian who feeds the fish called me a few weeks ago to tell me it "needed attention". Yes it did. One serious cleaning later, it looked good. I decided it needed more fish (I suspect a few have died in the past year although it's hard to count) so I dragged the kids to the pet store and bought more today. We agonized over which ones to get (all African Cichlids) and the guy had a terrible time catching them. Finally he got out his pen to write the cost on the bag and I realized we'd chosen fish that were $30 apiece! I hesitated, but I had him put them back and select the easiest ones he could catch in the $5 range.

Then I caved in when the boys found some pirate items for the tank. One had a pirate with a cannon and one was a skeleton with a treasure chest. I try to remember that it isn't my tank and "tasteful" is a term that means different things to elementary school kids than it does to me. They were kind of cool, but rang up at twice the estimated price. With the addition of some chemicals for the tank, I left the store with a receipt for $65.

We took the fish to the school and as I unwrapped the cannon I began to think about the reaction the school might have to a cannon. Technically it is a weapon, even if the fish are unlikely to shoot it off. I wasn't sure if this would be a problem but I went to see the new principal just in case. The cannon didn't bother her. But, no skeletons. I forget that I live in the Bible Belt and skeletons, while they don't seem to bother anyone while sharing their body with one, are "demonic" when shown in a Halloween-ish or, in this case, Pirate-ish way. So, I'll return them. I'll be $25 richer afterward. Or maybe I can find a cool castle...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

it's live!

Since we deprived our children of TV for their first three years (yes, poor Pook really didn’t see much of anything on a screen for six years) they really don’t have much viewing experience. Until we bought a Tivo they only had the occasional video or DVD. For August, we've set the Tivo to record prime time Olympics. I'll show it to them the following afternoon or night if it seems worthwhile. I may not watch it live myself since the commercials annoy me.

I read a bit about the Opening Ceremonies online and the conversation that followed went like this.

Adult: It feels strange having the Olympic opening ceremonies over already.
Kid: Why is it over already?
Me: The daytime is already finished in China, so they've already finished.
Kid (probably Bug): ?!

I pulled the globe down and tried to explain where the sun is for us when it is daytime in China. I even used a flashlight to try to explain.

Adult: We can watch some of the ceremony on TV.
Kid: Is it on yet?
Adult: No it won't start for another ten minutes.
Kid (probably Pook): But you said it already happened.
Adult: Yes, but it isn't on yet.

The kids are totally confused when presented with live TV. "Live" when the Olympics are in China with a fourteen hour time change isn't even exactly accurate. Confusing stuff.

buy me, buy me!

I got out of Registration Day for $130. Not kidding. I still had to kick in a box of tissues, two bottles of hand sanitizer, a box of gallon ziplocks, a box of Chlorox wipes and a wardrobe of school "uniform colors" that fits my child. A school logo shirt, the PTA membership, "class dues" and other items (one even tax deductible!) made up the rest of the cost. This is a public school! I can't imagine private back-to-school costs. What do parents with fewer means do this time of year?

Plus we've already been hit up to sell wrapping paper. And even though I was willing to pony up for all the other items (and even bought a box with four containers of wipes which can be donated to the office, the library and the gifted teacher's room) I draw the line at selling things. They make it clear that they don't want kids to go door to door. They just want parents to pressure grandparents and neighbors into buying the stuff. I am a lousy sales person. My sister won prizes selling Girl Scout cookies but the only ones I sold were from the break room when my dad took the form to work for a day.

Wouldn't it be better to just ask for cash? I hate the idea of a fundraising company getting most of my money. I will turn in my form empty. The first year I wrote a $20 check to the PTA and didn't buy any wrapping paper. I decided I preferred if they got all 100% of any money I spent for them. But last year, just as the fundraiser was getting advertised, they also sent out a call for help: they needed someone to set up and maintain the aquarium. I don't feel guilty now about ignoring the fundraisers. The tank is in the front lobby, so the office staff and anyone walking the halls sees me working. Highly visible job without much effort. Perfect.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

all good things must come to an end

--When did you two last have a bath?
--Um, maybe in Indianapolis at Nana and Papa's house?

Now, to defend myself from receiving Parent of the Year vetoes, we certainly showered them a lot while at the beach. The house just didn't have a tub. And they swam in the sterile (?) salty ocean regularly there. And after Indy and before and in Nashville and before the beach they swam in the pool almost daily. But a real, proper, clean you all over and especially the underneath parts? Hmm. Not sure. They might be right. Into the tub gentlemen!


We met Pook's teacher for second grade. She is certified in Gifted Ed which pleases me. They didn't put all the gifted class kids in one room, which is fine. He's got lots of good friends in the room and I'm pleased with the diversity. The summer homework is finished without any significant tears. I think he's ready to start school even if he doesn't want summer to end.

Not only does Bug have to wait until after Labor Day, but our neighborhood/public pool closes for weekdays this Friday. They stay open weekends until Labor Day, but any private school kids and all the preschoolers are up a (dry) creek. This is Georgia. It is hot. My car temp said it was 100 degrees in the school parking lot today. We need the pool through at least September! I know the lifeguards have to go back to schools too, but... but what about me?


I looked at our Things To Do When Bored list that I created in May. We hit about half the items on it. Almost half of the field trips. I'm taking them to Stone Mountain tomorrow I think, and Bug and I will probably do at least one more without Pook. Not too bad, really. It was an extensive list. I think I rationed the fun field trips in June so we wouldn't have a boring July, but we got so busy in July that we didn't get any further into the list. But we did have lots of excursions with my parents, and we did add in a trip to Nashville (weekend in the cousin's pool) and we did have an excellent time at the beach. If I added all that to the list then I could cross off more than half of the total. (This sort of thing is tempting to a list maker like me)

So here we are. All good things must come to an end. And my kids will at least be starting anew cleanish.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

home again, home again, jiggety jig

We're home. About ten hours in the car with a crabby Bug, but we're home. Fabulous week, lots of time on boats and in the ocean. I'd bought end-of-season snorkels and masks for the kids and they were a hit, especially with Bug. Pook preferred the days at the "wave beach" on his boogie board. We built sand castles-- both drip castles and molded ones-- and we buried our feet in the sand, only to explode them out again. We explored the old part of town and dripped ate ice cream at the General Store. We went to the aquarium and a lighthouse. Oh, and I never had to cook; we ate fabulous seafood every night. The boys discovered they loved not just shrimp, but flounder and scallops too. Not a single kid's menu all week. I can't have asked for a better time.

And now we're home. The laundry is started. The back-to-school thinking is started. Unfortunately the summer homework is barely started (and causing turmoil). But, in general, the vacation has taken. I feel good. Relaxed. Ready for what is to come. School starts for Pook on Monday; he'll meet his teacher tomorrow. Bug has until after Labor Day. It'll be rough, but he's got a camp for one of those weeks.

We went school shoe shopping today. Pook wears a size 1-1/2 and Bug (at age four wears a 13.) I've warned Pook that his little brother is catching up with him. Another couple of years and they'll wear the same size. The child can't wear Pook's hand-me-down much of anything. Shirts work- I'm putting him in a 5/6 already though and Pook is in a more age appropriate 7/8. I've just decided that underwear has no owner and they can both wear it all. I gave away all the size 4 slim pants last fall when I realized they didn't and wouldn't ever fit Bug. Who knows what pants he'll be in by the time it gets cold here (October). He's so sensitive about the way clothes feel that I assume only half of what I buy for him will be successful.

The neighbors are gone. Very gone. The house has a For Lease sign in the yard. But, to remain optimistic, I've already seen a couple come look at it. Can I even hope for age appropriate children? more little boys? kids I like? Have I used up my luck? The path worn between the houses never got any stepping stones. I was going to let each boy make one. I hope the plants don't get a chance to grow back. Leave the growing to the kids.