Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

We had a very busy but good Thanksgiving this year.  This year's festivities began on Wednesday when we attended Liam's Thanksgiving puppet show that was put on by the kindergartners.  They did a really fabulous job and it was super cute.  Liam played a pilgrim using his Jamie The Pilgrim puppet and every time he had to do his part, it looked like his pilgrim was doing a hip hop dance routine.  We were giggling insanely.  It was awesome.

Since Jamie was at daycare that day, we took Liam out to lunch to celebrate and then came home and had a lazy afternoon.  Although I should have been cleaning, I spent most of the afternoon taking a nap.  Sometimes being lazy is the most wonderful thing ever.  Sleep rocks.

Thursday was Thanksgiving and we spent the day with Scot's family (Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother-in-law, Niece) and his Mom made a really wonderful dinner.  It was a lovely day.  Jamie was pretty fractious that day for reasons I'm still not sure of, but we made it through.  We invited people up to our house the next day, mostly so that the cousins could have a romp.

Friday morning I got up and did all the cleaning I should have done on Wednesday (oh look!  The cleaning found me!) and just as I was vacuuming the family room everyone arrived.  I escaped upstairs to get acquainted with the shower and some clean clothes.  We spent the day hanging out here while the kids played.  Liam and his cousin were playing tackle games that, while giggle-worthy, were almost on the inappropriate side of things - good thing the kids are only 4 and 5 years old.

Scot's Aunt came and joined us at our house for most of the day and it was wonderful to see her.  It's been quite awhile since we've seen her and she's always fun to have around.  That evening we all trooped off to dinner together and had a lovely time.

We made plans to take the older kids to see Tangled on Saturday so Scot stayed home with Jamie while Liam and I went off to meet everyone else.  We had lunch before hand and then headed to the show.  I bought everyone's tickets ahead of time and I'm glad I did so because the show was sold out.  We were lucky enough to get to the theater early and get great seats.  I liked the movie and thought it was a fun telling of the tale with fun songs.  Liam thought it was OK and a little scary in parts.  Towards the end he leaned over to me and said "I don't think we need to get this one on DVD, Mommy."

After the movie the kids got a ride on the carousel at the Mall while I stood around watching people at the food court.  I got to watch a big dude with a tiny little dog walk his dog INTO THE MALL and then allow it to POOP IN THE FOOD COURT.  He kept trying to pull it along to keep it from pooping and all he got for his trouble were poo balls all over the mall floor.  I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it.

I invited everyone up to our house in the evening for a fire and s'mores and we parted ways with that being the plan.  We had a few hours of quiet at home, got some supper and all that, and then everyone showed up again and I broke out the toasting forks and marshmallows.  It was nice to just sit quietly by the fire and take it easy.

I got to bed late last night but, in a miracle of gargantuan proportion, the kids slept in today and I didn't have to get up until 7:45.  I have spent most of the morning with my butt parked in a chair while the kids run around.  There is no rush.  There is no place to be.  There is nothing so urgent that it can't wait a little bit.  It's sheer and utter bliss and I'm enjoying it.  [raising coffee mug] Here's to a Sunday Morning Laze!

As always, at this time of year, we spend time giving thanks for all our blessings and while I'm thankful for all the usual things (friends, family, health, wealth, love, and life) I have two things in particular for which I'm thankful this year.  The first is the continuing good health of my friend's baby post-transplant.  She seems to be doing quite well and I'm so pleased that they are beginning to be able to find a new normal.  The second thing I'm thankful for is the news that after 4 years of waiting, a couple who we are close friends with have learned they've been matched with their adoptive daughter.  They've waited long and patiently and I'm so happy for them that they are finally getting to expand their family.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Friday, November 26, 2010

70 Degrees and Sunny

A few days ago, it was gorgeous here in Pittsburgh.  In late November it was 70 degrees and sunny outside.  After his nap, Jamie insisted on going outside so off we went.

It's probably the last day this year we'll get that kind of weather so I'm glad he enjoyed it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


1.  The kids got their flu shots on Friday and oh the drama.  Liam was understandably nervous about it and it bothered him enough to wake him up in the middle of the night.  I worked it out with him with gentle words and lots of cuddles and some lost sleep on my part.  When we went to the doctor's office in the morning he did just as I asked and sat still while the nurse did her thing.  When it was over he said, "That didn't hurt at all, Mommy!  It was great!"


I'm glad it was better than he was anticipating it would be but I would have preferred to keep my sleep.  I did point out to him that next year he didn't have to be so scared.

Unfortunately, the kids then proceeded to spend the next 36 hours doing their very best to be their very worst.  I am honestly amazed that I did not spend those 36 hours screaming my fool head off at them.  Slowly, oh so slowly, I am learning patience.

2.  I raked up 20 bags of leaves this weekend.  TWENTY.  I have completed about half of the front yard.  I haven't even touched the back patio yet.  I hurt all over and my hands are covered in blisters.  I HATE RAKING LEAVES.  I detest it.  I abhor it.  I loathe it.  I despise it.  It is an abomination.  I am sure that the total number of bags I will rake will be 666 for this chore is The Beast and that is his number.

In other words, it is evil.

3.  I made apple pie today.  Homemade crust, northern spy apples - the whole shebang.  Om nom nom.

4.  Jamie believes in safety first.

5.  Pittsburgh has its own lexicon.  After living here for 10 years, I am still learning new and interesting jargon.  Just this week I learned about "dippy eggs."  (That's over easy to the rest of us.)  Well, I ran across this at a local Dunkin' Donuts this week and, well, only in Pittsburgh would someone do this:
"Caution: Wet Slippy Floor"

6.  It bears repeating:  Raking leaves is the devil's chore.

7.  I'm going to go eat pie now.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Santa and The Magic of Giving

I believed in Santa Claus until I was 11 years old.  I'm sure I must have had people in school tell me that he wasn't real, but I refused to believe them.  My parents, bless them, played with it for all those years, never once letting on that they were playing the role.

Then, one late fall day, I was in the car with my mother and she was listening to the radio.  I wasn't listening all that closely to what was being said and I was daydreaming as I stared out the window.  But the words "Santa Claus" made my ears perk up and I realized the DJ's were discussing the non-existence of said figure.  I didn't believe my peers when they tried to tell me I was wrong, but hearing it on the radio was something different.  Those people I went to school with couldn't possibly be trusted and I was sure that they were pulling a prank on me.  I was positive they were doing it just to make me look like a fool.  But when I heard it from the DJ's, it suddenly clicked.  They were right!  Santa wasn't real!

I turned to my mother (who *must* have been expecting it) and said, "Mom, you're Santa Claus aren't you?"

I could tell she was trying not to laugh a bit at my indignation but she said, "Yes, honey, we are.  But that's not really the point of Santa Claus is it?  It's not about the presents, it's about how giving is a good thing and we should give to others instead of always taking for ourselves."

My parents had taught this lesson to us from the time I can remember.  We worked with our church during the holiday season preparing food and gift baskets for the needy in our community and we did it at both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  After those baskets were prepped, we'd go with Mom and Dad and deliver them to the families that needed them.  It was eye-opening.  We were never privileged as far as our income was concerned, but we always had what we needed and even lots of things we wanted.  We never had to wonder about where our next meal was coming from because Mom and Dad were sure to provide.  We walked into homes where that wasn't the case and it made me realize that not everyone had it the way we did in a way that words simply couldn't do.

So, when Mom told me that Santa wasn't about presents, I could understand what she was trying to point out to me.  I felt a little foolish for believing the lie for so long but in the end I became proud of the fact that I was so old before I found out.

Now that I have my own kids, I wonder how long the magic of Santa's visit will last.  Kids grow up so fast these days - surely the kids will find out before they hit double digits.  Liam will be 6 in February and he's in school now.  There's bound to be some kid that comes to him with the news that Santa isn't real.  How long will it be before that happens?  What do I say to him if he comes asking about it?

In the meantime, I know that I'm safe for at least this year.  Kipperbuckles is soon to make his reappearance and Liam is already asking me if he's been good that day because he wants presents from Santa.  Pretty soon I'm going to have to introduce him to the notion that it's just as important to give as to receive.

I have a twitter friend, Burgh Baby, and she loves to play Santa for kids in need.  She's running her Christmas Crazy fundraiser again this year to benefit a local women's shelter and Toys for Tots.  I gave a donation both last year and this year because of those lessons my parents taught me.  The same lessons I hope to teach my children.  She's very near her goal and if you could spare a dollar or two, I know that she will use it to make a lot of kids really happy this Christmas.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

From Ridiculous to Completely Absurd

I was complaining a couple of weeks ago about the stupidity of the school schedule during parent-teacher conferences and I should have kept my fat trap shut because it has only gotten worse.  I'm starting to think that whoever does the scheduling for my district is on some really good drugs.  I wish they'd share because then this might make sense to me.

The entire month of November is screwed up.  We will not have a single normal week for the whole month.  It started during that first week with parent-teacher conferences.  By day three of that schedule, I thought I was going to fall over in a heap.  Everything felt so hectic.

The week after that we had our regularly scheduled once-a-month early dismissal Friday.  I *hate* early dismissal days.  Lunch is always super rushed because I have to shove it in really fast.  Liam has to be at school at 11:30 and he gets home at 1:30 - so he's there right when he should be eating lunch but kindergarten doesn't get a lunch break so the kids just have to make do with early or late lunch at home and the regular snack at school.  It just throws the whole day for a loop and I can't stand it.

That same week, Scot and I went to see Ben Folds which fell on a Thursday night - a night we would normally have been at the dojang.  Since that wasn't going to work out, we took Liam to a class on Saturday morning to make up the class.

This week, Open House fell on a Tuesday.  Again, this is a TKD night.  So, once again, we had to skip class and we'll make it up on Saturday morning.

Next week is the real kick in the jewels, though.  First, there's no school Thursday and Friday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.  Second, the entire kindergarten is putting on a Thanksgiving puppet show on Wednesday.  It's being held at 10:15 am and that means that all afternoon session students have to attend the morning session instead.  I thought that meant a change in schedule on Wednesday only.  Oh, how very wrong I was.  In order for them to practice for the show, all sessions of kindergarten (that's 40 kids, folks) must attend morning kindergarten ALL THREE DAYS next week.  I think I may just stab something.

I don't understand how the kids can be learning a damned thing with all these short days, schedule changes, days given over to show preparation, etc, etc, etc.  There have been days when they've only been in the classroom for 45 minutes.  WHAT IS THE POINT?!  Couldn't they have spread some of this stuff out a little bit more?  It's already beyond annoying to me that our district insists on half-day kindergarten in the first place, but cutting down on instructional time even further - and for an entire month - makes me stabbity.

I've said before that Liam is a creature of habit and routine is his saving grace.  When routines are off, he has trouble adjusting.  We do our best to help him through it and prepare him for upcoming changes, but we still end up with a kid in tears.  On Saturday, while I was trying to get him ready for TKD, he broke down into tears about going.  He loves going to TKD and to see him resisting to the point of tears was so unusual.  When I asked him about it, he eventually came out with the fact that he is used to going at night instead of in the morning and that he was scared of not knowing anyone.  Translation:  I don't like this change in my routine, Mom.  I worked through it with him and reassured him that there would be people there that he knew and he calmed down and by the time class was over, he was bouncy and happy.

Yesterday he cried and whined that he didn't want to go to school.  Normally the kid is pushing me out the door, bouncing up and down, completely revved up to go to school.  Yesterday he was upset, sullen, and all out rude to me.  Obviously, I made him go and he was happy when he got home, but I have no idea how things went in the classroom yesterday.

The holidays are always a rough time of year anyway - with all the excitement and family plans and whatever else.  But now school is pitching in and helping to make things so much worse.  Anyone else have a kid like Liam?  How do you prepare them for things like this?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Open House

And the school commitments just keep rolling along...

Last night was Open House.  Liam was super, super excited to go and show us all around.  I thought the poor kid was going to vibrate right through the walls.  The truth is that we probably could have been in and out in about 15 minutes flat.  I was a little shocked at how little there was for us to do.  I have no recollection of open houses when I was a kid.

Anyway, I knew going into the evening that Liam had made a pilgrim and an Indian to hang in the hallway outside of his classroom.  His teacher told me that he had decorated his pilgrim to look like Jamie and named him "Jamie the Pilgrim."  All together now, "awwwwwwwwww!"  I had to get pictures.

Some thoughts:
1) Yep, he got the red hair right - I think it was the only redheaded pilgrim in the bunch.
2) The pig-like nose is hilarious to me.  He insists on drawing all noses that way and it's particularly appropriate for what a porker Jamie is.
3) When Scot heard it had been decorated "just like" Jamie, his comment was "What?  With devil horns and everything?"  HA!

His Indian is sporting the same pig nose.

Last, they had a project they had done about what they were thankful for.  I would have expected something to see something like "Star Wars" or "Lego Star Wars" or "Star Wars books."  I was wrong.

Good to know, kiddo.  I'll hold off on turning her out of the house for peeing in your room.

After we toured his classroom we went to check out the snack table.  Liam stood there telling everyone "My Mom baked THOSE ONES [point, point] and they're really good!"  Scot said we should have made him a name tag that said "Liam, Pastry Pimper."  Maybe I've managed to regain my Cari Crocker title.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cari Crocker No Longer

Long ago a friend of Scot's dubbed me "Cari Crocker" because I love to bake and I'm pretty good at it (if I do say so myself).  The moniker stuck and when I get my bake on, it inevitably comes up.

I may have to resign my position after yesterday's mishap.

At the beginning of the school year I volunteered to be a baker for various school events that needed baked goods.  Well, Open House is tonight and Thursday night so (among many others) I was asked to provide some cookies.  I thought "Great!  I'll whip up some chocolate chip cookies, send the requisite 3 dozen to school, and have a few left over for us."

Yesterday afternoon, while Jamie was napping, I got to work.  I normally use the Toll House recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag and the only thing I change is to use all brown sugar instead of a mix of white and brown.  I threw the softened butter in my mixer, grabbed the 3/4 cup measure out of the drawer, and proceeded to measure 1.5 cups of brown sugar into the bowl.  I then started creaming the butter and sugar.

While that was churning away, I pulled out a separate bowl to measure out the dry ingredients.  When I looked for the 1 cup measure for the flour, I got confused because I couldn't find it.

Then a horrible thought occurred to me and I turned to look more closely at the cup I had used to measure the sugar.

1 cup.  Oh damn.

So instead of using 1.5 cups of sugar, I had put in 2 full cups.  At that point I was too far in to go back, I didn't know how to adjust other proportions to fix it, and I didn't have the ingredients to start over.  Moreover, Jamie was taking a monster nap and I was not about to wake him up so that I could go to the store for more.

I chose to push forward and hope for the best during baking.  I tasted the dough before I baked it and it tasted just fine.  I hoped that if they baked OK I could salvage them.

It was not to be.  The first batch came out of the oven as flat as roadkill.  They barely had enough integrity to maintain cookie shape.  They went in the trash.

The second batch were no better despite the fact that I baked them for slightly less time.  They were a tiny bit puffier but they were raw in the middle.  It was clear to me that these cookies were not going to work out.

I tossed the second batch in the trash along with the rest of the dough.  Then I tried to figure out what I was going to do.  Scot offered to stop for replacement ingredients on his way home from work so I could bake later in the evening.  It wasn't ideal but it was looking like my only option.

Then I realized I had another recipe I could use for which I almost always have all the ingredients in the house.  I looked at the recipe and I had everything except the required 2 cups of flour.  I called a neighbor and she generously gave me some flour.  I whipped up those cookies (being careful this time about how I measured!) and ended up with exactly 3 dozen cookies for Open House tonight.

Crisis averted.

For someone who can make pies and cakes and cookies of all kinds, this was a colossally stupid mistake.  Cari Crocker?  Maybe not so much.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Holiday Craze Is Almost Upon Us

This week I say good bye to normality until January.  Yes, I hear you back there in the peanut gallery asking me when I ever was normal.  Good point.

Anyway, this week we have Open House at school - for which I have to bake - and that means changing our TKD schedule since it falls on a night we'd normally be at the dojang.  I'm going to be madly trying to really keep on top of the house because next week my sister-in-law and her family will be in town for Thanksgiving.  They're not staying with us but if they come over, I'd like the house not to be a complete pit.

Next week, there's no school at the end of the week for either of the kids and on Wednesday the kindergarten is putting on a Thanksgiving puppet show in the morning.  That means that Liam will have to get ready for school in the morning instead of going in the afternoon - a complete change in the normal schedule.  He's already expressed difficulty with the constant change of routine lately (the school schedule this month is beyond ridiculous) so we're going to have to navigate these waters as carefully as possible.  Liam does best when he has routines and schedules he can count on being the same from day to day and this time of year generally messes with that.

After Thanksgiving, the Christmas insanity starts in earnest.  I have baking, decorating, cleaning (more than usual), shopping, wrapping, and hosting to do.  The good news is that we have almost totally completed our Christmas shopping.  We have a couple of people left on the list to finish and it would probably be good if I shopped for Scot but otherwise, we're sitting pretty on that score.

[taking a deep breath]

[diving into the next 6 weeks in 3. . . 2 . . . 1]

Sunday, November 14, 2010

School Pictures

When I was a kid school pictures were such a stressful time.  I remember thinking that I had to get it just right or I was going to end up with a horrible picture and be the butt of everyone's jokes - even more so than usual.  I remember sitting down with the photographer and having just a single click of the camera to get it right.  It felt like so much pressure.

Back in September, Liam had picture day at school and it happened to fall on a day when Jamie was in daycare so I was able to volunteer to help out.  Watching the photographer work with the kids was so different than what I remember.  Digital cameras are a wonder because instead of having just a single frame of film to get it right, the photographer took 3 or 4 shots of each child.  He'd have them smile, he'd have them make a silly face (and take a picture of it), and while they were giggling, he'd get another shot or two of something more natural.  He was quick and efficient but still managed to get a few options.

I have been waiting and waiting for the pictures to come in and I have been eaten alive with curiosity as to how they would turn out.  They finally came home from school this week and the verdict is they came out fantastic.  It was so much better than I remember any of my school photos looking.

So, here's Spud, in all his kindergarten glory.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Intolerance Makes Me Stabby

Today, while I was at the dojang for Tae Kwon-Do with Liam, an incident occurred that really cheesed me off.

During a discussion among a few parents that started about health care reform and then ranged to bad presidents, impeachment, and waterboarding, the opinion was put forward that "Islam is the religion of 'convert or be killed.'"

For those of you that don't know, I've lived in a predominantly Muslim country and been friends with everyday Muslim people.  I am not ignorant of the religion and it absolutely sends smoke out my ears to hear opinions like this one.  I've heard it since the 9/11 attacks and it is ignorant, racist, and ridiculous.

I cannot sit silent when I hear such things.

"Actually," I replied, "that is not what Islam teaches.  I have lived in an Islamic country and that is not what the Koran teaches."

Then I stood up and walked out.

It generally seems to be the case that people who spout such opinions like to conveniently forget a few things.  First of all, Christians can't claim a peaceful history.  Have these people ever heard of the Crusades?  The forcible retaking of Spain?  The Inquisition?  The history of Christianity has been just as bloody, if not more so, so there is no high horse on which to sit on that account.

Also, Christians have just as many fundamentalist nutjobs as any other religion.  That is essentially what Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups are.  Hatred is not what mainstream Islam preaches, teaches, or practices.  If any of the people claiming that Islam is a religion of "convert or die" took an even cursory look at the Koran they would be disabused of their opinions in short order.

Furthermore, despite many terrorists' association with a religion few in this country take the time to understand, there are grievances that go far beyond a basic difference in belief system.  Our government has done things over a long span of time to upset these people and it is only natural for them to be disgruntled by that.  It in no way excuses terrorist action as retaliation but given the history is it really any wonder?  Many people want to act like the United States is innocent and we need to understand that we are not and that we have our part in the way things have transpired.  Again, there is still no excuse for things like 9/11 but we would make far greater progress to making peace if we could understand and accept our own culpability.

We were a country founded on the tenet of religious freedom but too many of us say "freedom of religion" and mean "freedom of MY religion."  We must respect one another, learn from one another, and build upon our commonalities instead of dwelling on our differences.  Beyond that, we must reject the notion of religious persecution wherever we come across it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

To Quote My Husband, "Ben Folds RAWKS!"

When the children are not around, we are lovers of Ben Folds in this house.  He has a tendency to use adult language in his songs, particularly his more recent stuff, so we haven't really exposed the kids to it.  Of course this means that I haven't even heard the last two albums he's released and only know a bit of the album before those.  But, hey, that's ok - I still like his stuff.

Last night, Scot and I left the kids with Grandma and trooped off to Club Zoo to see Ben live.  I am 34 years old and I had never in my life stepped foot in a nightclub.  Luckily, there was quite an age range at the show so I didn't really feel out of place.  However, being that it was a club show, there was no such thing as seats.  Standing for nearly five hours nearly crippled me.

That said, Ben puts on an awesome show.  He interacts with the audience and truly gets his rock on.  Scot and I kept saying that his piano tuner must hate him because of the way he beats on that thing.  In the same breath he is a truly talented keyboardist. 

He played old favorites like "Army," "Kate," "Zak and Sara," "Rockin' The Suburbs," and "Still Fighting It" as well as about half of the brand new album.  He made up a song on the spot about tambourine soloists (you read that correctly) that was bluesy and hilarious. 

With each tour, Ben picks a song to cover during concerts.  At one time it was Elton John's "Tiny Dancer."  Well, for this tour they had trouble choosing a song so they decided to go to iTunes and see what the #1 song on iTunes was at that moment - that would be their cover song.  The song was "Sleazy" by Ke$ha.  Because I hate Ke$ha, I had not heard the song but it was awesome listening to Ben perform it.  I came home and looked up the song and I can only say that Ben Folds covering Ke$ha is far, far, far superior to anything Ke$ha herself can do.

We've been trying to get to a Ben Folds show for years now and we finally made it last night.  I have a feeling it won't be our last because it was fun and raucous and hilarious and amazing all wrapped up in one really awesome concert. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vive la différence!

Liam has always been a crappy sleeper.  He went through a period during his infancy where he took 3 30 minute naps a day and was up at least 3 times overnight.  We sleep trained at 7 months.  He didn't sleep through the night until well after he turned 4 years old (it was after Jamie arrived).  We must adhere to a strict schedule with him.  Nap time was always sacrosanct and if you missed the tiny little nap window you were screwed.  Bedtime was also inviolate because going to bed late meant crappy (crappier?) sleep.  Try to wear him out so he would sleep?  Guaranteed up-6-times night.  We went through a phase where Liam hit the floor at 5:30 am every single day.  Being so incredibly strict about sleep bought us nights in which we were "only" up twice - with a 3 year old.  He fights sleep tooth and nail and I can count on one hand the number of times that he has voluntarily said he's tired and wants to go to bed.  We are only now capable of monkeying with his bedtime slightly.

Jamie is the antithesis of this - at least once he decided to give up the colic and we got his reflux under control.  He reliably took 2 naps a day, both of them at least 90 minutes long.  He goes to bed and sleeps all night - he has done so since he was 11 months old.  He now takes one nap a day that is generally 90 to 120 minutes long. 

What's more amazing to me is that from the time he's been able to walk, Jamie will run to the stairs if you say "Jamie, are you ready to go take your nap?"  He runs towards sleep, not away.

So today I was blown away when I was upstairs grabbing something and Jamie followed me up the stairs, ran into his room, and pointed emphatically at his crib.

"Do you want to take a nap, Jamie?"

 [vigorous head nod]

"I'm sorry honey, we have to leave in a few minutes to take your brother to school.  You can take a nap as soon as we get home."

Then, we headed back downstairs.  I had at least 20 minutes until I needed to leave to get Liam to school and Jamie ran around finding his shoes, his hat, Liam's backpack, Liam's shoes, and throwing them all at me in an effort to get us all to hurry up, dammit!  Let's get brother to school so I can take a damn nap, Mom!

Not only does the kid want to sleep but at less than 2 years of age, he's got reason enough to figure out that if we have to take Liam to school before he can take a nap then let's get this wagon train moving and get out the door!  Liam blew me away with his smarts (and still does), Jamie is actively scaring me with how much he understands.

I have said for years that I wanted my second child to be three things:  a sleeper, an eater, and an easy teether.  I got two - the sleeping and the eating.  To quote Meatloaf, "Two out of three ain't bad."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I'm Calling This A Time Change Miracle

If you know me or have read this blog, you know I hate time change.  If you're new around these parts, let me 'splain:  I hate time change.  No, actually I despise it.

When I went to bed last night I was dreading what the morning would bring.  Not only were we gaining an hour of sleep - meaning the kids would be hitting the floor at the very butt crack of dawn - but Jamie went to bed by 6:30 pm because he was melting down from being tired and worn out.  He's fighting a slight cold and he played at Grandma's for most of the day yesterday so he was practically begging to go to bed by then.  However, with a bedtime that early on time change night I was fearing the worst.

We told Liam before he went to bed that there was extra time to sleep last night and that if he woke up before the rest of us he should play in his room quietly until we got up.  I wasn't holding out a lot of hope, but it was worth a shot.  Usually when we ask him to do this, I get asked "Mommy, is it morning yet?" two or three times before I finally give up and get out of bed.

In a happy twist of fate, THE CHILDREN SLEPT IN.  Jamie didn't wake up until 7:15 am.  That's 8:15, by the old time.  He never sleeps in that late and certainly not on nights that he's gone to bed early.  That means the kid got almost 13 hours of sleep last night.  Straight.  He never woke up overnight.  When I got up with Jamie, Liam came out of his room fully dressed - right down to his socks.  He was up a bit earlier than the rest of us (I heard him hit the bathroom) but he did exactly as we asked and played quietly until we got up.

I hope to God this doesn't bite us in the butt with a crappy night of sleep tonight because this was perhaps the most awesome fall time change I've been through since the arrival of Liam.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Parent-Teacher Conferences and the Schedule From Hell

This week was completely insane.  It was parent-teacher conference week and the schedule they had us on was bizarre.

Afternoon kindergarten on a normal day runs from 12:35 until 3:15.  When Liam first started school, I thought this meant we needed to be at school for drop off no later than 12:25 so that the kids could get unloaded and then into the classroom by 12:35 to start their day.  I also thought that since they were not released from school until 3:15 that the bus would not arrive until, at earliest, 3:30.

I was wrong.

Drop off begins at 12:35 on the nose.  My child steps off the bus at our stop (which is admittedly the 3rd stop on the route) at 3:15.  This means that they do not really get down to the teaching until 12:45 and they knock off around 3:00 so that the kids can get their stuff and get on their buses.  He gets around 2 hours of instructional time a day.

You can imagine how I felt when, for three days this week, he had to be at school at 11 am and was home at 12:30.  He was barely at school long enough to turn around twice and take a pee before it was back on the bus to come home.  It was ridiculous.  I don't even know how they can get away with calling that a "full" day of school - they might as well have not gone at all.

It also messed with our lunch schedule and I was having to feed him a snack before school and lunch when he came home.  It completely threw him for a loop because he was totally unused to doing things this way.  Liam is not one to take to such schedule changes with ease.

On Wednesday, the schedule was even more crazy.  He went to school at 11:00, came home at 12:30, had 20 minutes to shove down lunch, and then we turned around and went back to school so that we could do his conference.  My neighbor and I scheduled on the same day so that we could tag team it with the childcare.  After the conference, we went to the book fair.  Then, we finally made it home.  It made for a strange day.

The good news is that he got a good report from his teacher and he's doing well in school.  I could go on and on and bore you with the details of his assessment but so far he's landing somewhere in the middle of the pack - albeit on the higher end of middle.  He's doing what he should be and that's what I'm looking for.

I'm really hoping that by the time Jamie goes to school, they'll have found a better way to go about scheduling conferences because this schedule was just dumb.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

So, Yeah, There Was An Election


I admit, yesterday was disappointing for me.  I went to bed last night knowing that The House of Reps had gone Red, the Senate was still in play, and that the good citizens of PA had just voted Tom Corbett in as Governor.  I had nightmares last night about the idea of bequeathing this screwed up country on to my children and OH MY GOD, what had I done by having them!?

Then I got up this morning and found out that Pat Toomey won the senate race in PA (when I had gone to bed, Sestak was winning) and to top it all off, the only person I voted for that won his race was Jason Altmire.  Voting for him in the first place turned my stomach.  It was not even the best of two bad choices but the ok-kinda-sorta-not-as-bad-as-the-other-guy choice.  I did my duty.  I voted.  And I felt defeated by the end of the day.

Lots of people have had a lot to say about what went down.  I think, so far, the best I've read came from Red Pen Mama over here (with the exception that I'm a little pissed at Obama over a few things that have nothing to do with how fast the economy is or is not recovering).  For me, about the best I can say is that the huge majority needed to do things like repeal Health Care Reform simply doesn't exist, especially with the Senate still nominally Democratic.

That said, I would like to see the Republicans fix the economy, replace several million jobs, balance the budget, do it all without raising taxes, and accomplish it within the space of the next 18 months.  This has been the large part of their rhetoric this campaign season - that Obama didn't deliver on his promises and it's all his fault things aren't perfect yet - so, now that they've gotten the victory they've striven so hard for it's time for them to walk the walk they've been talking so loudly.

I won't hold my breath.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hodgepodge: Halloween Edition

1.  It's possible that we have finally broken the Halloween curse in our house.  Almost every year since Liam's birth, Halloween has been cursed.  Only the first one was relatively normal.  When he was 9 months old, he sat out with me a for a little bit but that was it.  After that it was bedtime.  When he was 21 months old, it rained so hard we couldn't possibly go trick-or-treating.  Also, Scot got rear-ended on his way home from work that night.  When he was 2.5, he did half the street and then it was time for bed.  When he was 3.5, he flat out refused to go trick-or-treating.  When he was 4.5, he spent the entire night before Halloween puking all night long.  We gave our bowl of candy to the neighbor to hand out and stayed in.  This year finally seemed to work out.  I handed out candy while Scot took the kids.  Scot came home with Jamie after about 30 minutes and Liam stayed with the group of kids and adults that were working the neighborhood.  He came home an hour later with a such a haul he said "Mommy!  It's so heavy I can't even lift it!"


2.  Speaking of scores, when did Halloween candy go so upscale?  I thought I was being a good house by buying the good candy (no dum-dums, tootsie rolls, or bit o' honeys here!) and giving out at least 2 pieces per kid.  Apparently that's the chintzy way to go about things, these days.  Liam got more than one full treat bag in his candy.  How much time and money do these people have that they are handing out whole bags of treats to each kid?!  He also got several full size candy bars, including a Dove bar.  Now, what 5 year old is going to appreciate that one?  I'm pretty sure that's going to make its way into Mommy's emergency stash.  Also?  Not a single dum dum sucker.  No tootsie rolls.  Nary a bit o' honey.

3.  He did get one thing that is making me shake my head.  Let's call it the Christian Tootsie Roll (because it's a piece of poop).  He was given a fake piece of money in the amount of $1,000,000.00.  On the front it says things like "Department of Eternal Affairs" and "All Saints Eve, October 31."  Then, on the back, in small letters around the edge, it says the following:

The million dollar question:  Will you go to Heaven?  Here's a quick test.  Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God's name in vain?  Jesus said "Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."  Have you looked with lust?  Will you be guilty on Judgment Day?  If you have done those things, God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer-at-heart.  The Bible warns that if you are guilty you will end up in Hell.  That's not God's will.  He sent his Son  to suffer and die on the cross for you.  Jesus took your punishment upon Himself.  "God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."  Then he rose from the dead and defeated death.  Please repent (turn from sin) today and trust in Jesus, and God will grant you everlasting life.  Then read your Bible daily and obey it.

My problems with the Christian Tootsie Roll are numerous.  First of all, I don't think most kids know what lust is.  And what if they're looking at a man in lust?  Is that OK?  Also, don't you dare tell my kid how God sees him.  How are you to know what God thinks?  Are you God?  Running around in righteous indignation about sin makes you just as bad as the sin you keep pointing out.  See you in Hell with my kid.  Furthermore, stop threatening my kid with Hell just because you think Halloween is a sinful, awful, pagan holiday.  It is, but if you don't like it, don't participate.  

I'm just glad Liam can't read well enough yet to understand what the Christian Tootsie Roll is trying to shame him about.  I'll be shredding that little bit of propaganda toute suite.