Monday, July 31, 2006

The mommy ping test

In the first 30 minutes of consciousness, Daniel must have called "mommy" 64 times. I'm convinced it was just a ping test.
You know, like when submarines send out a signal and listen for the "ping?"
Because he didn't actually WANT anything from me - he just wanted to know I was listening to him chatter on. Thank God I've got the automatic response - "mommy?" "Yes, Daniel?" "mommy?" "yes, Daniel?" "mommy?" "yes, Daniel?" "Mommy?" "WHAT?!?!?!"

Friday, July 28, 2006

One last summer weekend

For some of us, school starts in a week. Are you ready? Are the kids ready? What are you going to do with your last "official" summer weekend? Here are some ideas (in case you haven't got around to them yet)
1. Have a picnic. Take the kids and their favorite finger foods to the park for an afternoon. Eat, play on the swings, and take lots of pictures. When you get home, pass the popsicles.
2. Paint a picture. "Draw me your summer vacation." Then keep it in their scrapbook.
3. Go to the lake. Or pond. Or beach. Whatever. It's a day trip, and everybody's gotta get some sand between their toes.
4. Movie marathon. It's storming? It's 105? Bake cookies, then make a pallet of blankets on the living room floor for some serious cuddling, tickling and (hopefully) snoozing.
5. Berry picking. Blueberries, strawberries, heck, figs, pears and peaches. Go get a bunch and bake, freeze or can them up.
Whatever you do, enjoy these last few days before the early bedtime/homework grind begins again.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Penny candy and the $100,000 heist

Growing up on the northern edge of Long Island, I remember my trips to the St. James General Store where penny candy was in vogue. There were large jars of all kinds of treats - licorice whips, rock candy and my ultimate favorite, the dots. I'm not talking about the chewy package of gumdrop-shaped colored domes that was my favorite candy of choice at the movies, but the strips of white paper with tiny globs of confection that started in one color and morphed into others. My recent trip down candyland's memory lane came when I looked in a vending machine at work the other day. I did a double-take when I saw the $100,000 bar. First of all, I don't know where I've been all these years since Nestle changed the name to 100 Grand. An Internet search informed me that the candy formerly known as the one-hundred thousand dollar bar was renamed when the manufacturer hit the computer age. Apparently the dollar symbol didn't jive. I don't know, that explanation doesn't make "cents" to me. Anyway, after I got over that shock, I noticed the candy seemed about half its size. I don't think this is a case of the shrinking backyard at my childhood home where everything seemed so much larger when I was little. I really think the candy shrunk as I grew. There was only one thing to do. Buy one. Perhaps it's just the packaging. It was a tight squeeze on its little dark cardboard tray instead of having a little breathing room for the chocolate-covered crunchy caramel chunks. A few days later, I broke down and did a little more "research." Maybe it just tastes great, less filling. I guess it's just a fact of life, $100,000 went a lot farther when I was a kid.
- Liz Fabian

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

School bus safety

Okay, intellectually, I KNOW school buses are safe. Millions of kids, year in, year out, blah blah blah. That being said, the freak me out.
One driver. Up to 40 kids. No seat belts. No way of enforcing the rules, because "I'll pull this bus right over young man!" just isn't real. And have you ever been driving behind a school bus, just watching what those kids are doing?
So, here we go. In the week before school starts, lets drill some rules into those heads.
1. We do not pick on the kids on the bus. We do not pull hair, make fun, take things from others.
2. We stay in our seats. You may not HAVE a seat belt, but you'd better act like you do.
3. Do not run to or from a bus. The law of gross tonnage says any moving vehicle - no matter how slowly it is moving - will do more damage to you than you will to it. Plus, you can see them better than their drivers can see you.
4. Act like I'm sitting right next to you. Or I just might be!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Best baby shower ideas

I've already told you about the "dad's" shower - a poker game with a package of diapers as the "buy in." But here's one for couple's showers that a co-worker passed along:
Hostess: get a number of plain onesies and some fabric paint. You know the stuff - comes in glittery, puffy, slick and a rainbow of colors. Every attendee gets to decorate their own onesie to give to the new baby! This also works with burp cloths - just buy packages of cloth diapers to paint. They last forever - literally. I have some my mother painted for ME 30-some years ago.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

More outdoors fun

Sometimes, I like to see Daniel having a good time making a mess. Now, those times don't usually include anything with food - or crayons. But Crayola has offered one of the coolest ideas since finger paint, and when you and the kids are done making a mess, everyone gets a washdown with the hose and comes out cool, refreshed, and clean.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Daddy's Day Part II

With blue and pink eyeshadow and one of her favorite dress-up gowns, Faith greeted us at her "restaurant." Her special supper for Daddy had its own printed menu, tablecloth and fresh-cut flowers on the breakfast table. She was so cute the way she had chosen a tablecloth and gathered up flowers from the backyard. She had long been planning the event, but was a little short on disclosing details. On my husband's birthday, Faith decided I would prepare the meal, but she had to serve it. Of course, I had to first change into a full length gown after sweating at the stove cooking pasta. I grabbed candles at the last minute as I talked her out of a white chiffon body suit that I usually wear with the long satin skirt. I couldn't bear the thought of tomato sauce on that blouse. Daddy was able to convince her he didn't need a tuxedo. He wore a sport coat, T-shirt and tie with nice slacks and shoes. She made us go outside - where it was about 100 degrees, get in the car and then get out and come to the door. She put on a really pretentious accent as she greeted us. I was leery of letting her dish up the pasta, which had cemented into one big glob by the time we were ready for our fancy restaurant date. She agreed I could dish up the plates. While I excused myself from the table, she made Matt ask where I was. I had to reply that I was in the restroom, but would be back at the table in just a minute. She refused to eat with us. She wanted to eat at the counter like a true server. She did dish up her own pasta and salad which I had also already prepared with dressing and parmesan cheese. At the end of the meal, I discovered her salad and pasta were swimming in a pool of balsamic maple dressing. "I got carried away," she said, "And now it doesn't taste good." I'm so glad I made our plates! As she grabbed Matt's birthday cake I had baked the night before, I envisioned her smashing the whole thing on the floor. She made it to the table without tripping. Daddy blew out the candles and Faith kept turning around and bumping into the coffee buttercream icing. Her sleeve got a good bit of icing and Daddy noticed a gooey glob on his dry clean only jacket. Let's hope the memories last even longer than the grease stains.
- Liz Fabian

Friday, July 21, 2006

It's Daddy's day

I don't think there's ever been greater anticipation of my husband's birthday since the actual day he was born. Faith has been so looking forward to today. She has planned a big event, although I'm not privy to everything she has in store. First she wanted to get out her Easy-Bake oven for a repeat of last year's fabulous cake. (Have you noticed how expensive the mixes are?) Because I don't feel like shelling out big money for a little cake and I'll be really busy getting ready for a baby shower I'm hosting tomorrow, I've convinced her the little microwave brownie mix her grandmother bought would do just fine. She's also taken her popsicle sticks and created a masterpiece frame - although I'm not sure how you keep a picture in it. The treasure is wrapped and hidden somewhere in the living room. Now she's planning to serve us dinner tonight. She wants me to wear a ball gown and my husband to don his tuxedo. Matt's told me that she's been asking him what she should wear to serve us. I wonder if it's going to be a second helping of the watermelon/pickle lunch she served a couple of years ago. Now she's "writing" out the menu. She's already asked how to spell lasagne, Sprite and wine. It's going to be a great day!
- Liz Fabian

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Why hugs are important

I read somewhere that every person needs to give or receive 14 meaningful touches every day. Apparently, it keeps us in "touch" with not only each other, but our own bodies. People who don't get their touches get cranky. They have more stress and can suffer insomnia. No kidding, I thought. So that's why I like to fall asleep with one hand on the cat.
But a meaningful touch is even more important to our kids. A hug is great, but so are pats on the back, shoulder and foot rubs, and my personal favorite - "squeezes." Squeezes are something Daniel and I incorparated into the bedtime ritual. "Hug, kiss, squeeze" - and his little hands clench my upper arms as tight as he can. Only mom gets squeezes; dad gets the "big hug."
And touches between mom and dad - especially in front of the kids - are just as imprtant. It's from his dad that Daniel learned to hold the door open for his mom. And when he sees us hug, he just has to be a part. Amazingly, we all fit in the recliner - although it's a little less comfy when the dog gets into the act.
So is it any wonder that on nights when I can't sleep all I have to do is lie down next to my sleeping baby? Twenty minutes of lying quietly, listening to him breathe and stroking his fingers or hair and I'm ready for peaceful dreams.
The power of touch, indeed.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Don't-miss opportunities

Coming up soon are two great events you won't want to miss. They are the semi-annual consignment sales run by MOPS in north Macon and Almost 2 New in south Bibb County. I'm trying to get information about the MOPS event, but the Almost 2 New event will be receiving gently used clothing, toys and furniture, DVDs and Halloween costumes August 18-22 by appointment only. Sellers get to shop early, but the public sale will be fron 8-10 a.m. and 4-8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25 and from 7 a.m. to noon Saturday the 26th at 209 Willoughby Court. For more information and labeling instructions, call Pamela Browning at 781-7046 or Jennifer Jordan at 785-0103. The last time I participated in these events, I not only cleaned out Daniel's closet, but I made enough to get his whole wardrobe for the next season!

Don't-miss opportunities

Coming up soon are two great events you won't want to miss. They are the semi-annual consignment sales run by MOPS in north Macon and Almost 2 New in south Bibb County. I'm trying to get information about the MOPS event, but the Almost 2 New event will be receiving gently used clothing, toys and furniture, DVDs and Halloween costumes August 18-22 by appointment only. Sellers get to shop early, but the public sale will be fron 8-10 a.m. and 4-8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25 and from 7 a.m. to noon Saturday the 26th at 209 Willoughby Court. For more information and labeling instructions, call Pamela Browning at 781-7046 or Jennifer Jordan at 785-0103. The last time I participated in these events, I not only cleaned out Daniel's closet, but I made enough to get his whole wardrobe for the next season!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Not making a "seen"

My husband and I routinely stop what we're doing and ask our daughter, "Have I told you lately what a great kid you are?" Well, I'm feeling really blessed right now. On Saturday, we went swimming in a friend's pool before we all went out to eat together. While swimming, she was so proud of the way she was riding on Daddy's back and going under the water with her eyes open. Well, when she got in the hot van to ride to dinner, apparently sweat must have gotten in her eyes that were already probably sensitive from swimming. She kept rubbing them, in spite of my pleas to blink or close her eyes for a while. Although our friend's pool is salt water instead of chlorinated, she was reacting as if her eyes were chemically burned. Oh, I remember burning my eyes in a motel pool as a child. I could hardly open them. Well Faith was reacting the same way, and the height of the discomfort hit right in the middle of dinner. She started crying as if she were having a tantrum. People started cutting their eyes wondering why this child was sobbing at the dinner table. I was hoping they could hear her proclaiming, "I can't see. I can't see. I want to go home." I knew there wasn't much I could do for her, but I tried to reassure her and get her to close her eyes and just relax, but she wouldn't hear of it. Of course, I also wanted to stand on my chair and make an announcement that I wasn't beating my child, she isn't spoiled and there is no need to call DFACS. I dampened a napkin with ice water and wiped her eyes and that gave her some relief. She then sat in the booth holding the wet napkin as a cold compress over her eyes. The relief lasted long enough for us to finish eating. Since then, I've been trying to remember a time when she did pitch a public fit. My memory escapes me. Sure, we had to leave a lunch date once when she was 2, and I vaguely remember struggling to get through the grocery store. But I honestly can't think of any time she threw a tantrum that embarrassed me. Wow, let me go tell her what a great kid she is.
- Liz Fabian

Mystery spot update

So, it seems likely that I picked up poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac from the dog when I gave her a bath Saturday. While I am unlikely to pass it along "the plant oil probably washed straight from her to you and down the drain," I am still having to control the urge to gnaw my hands off at the wrist. On the upside, I have a new primary care doc here in WR! Now I just need a good dentist.

Mystery spots cause family panic

Last week, Daniel developed a little spot on his shoulder. I looks like the dry skin spots I get in the winter, and I've been treating it as such. But Friday night, I developed what I thought were hives on my palms. So I changed the lotion I've been trating him with. Well, the "hives" haven't disappeared, and neither has Daniel's little spot. So now I'm afraid mine might be something worse, and since I've been smearing my hands all over his little shoulder it's a sure bet he'll have it too! Aaak!
Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to the doctor we go...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Dad's big helper

Chris has had the week off and is building a new entertainment center for the house. Of course, Saturday, Daniel got a good look at what dad has been up to and wanted to help. So, under (very!) close supervision, he handled some sanding. 4 going on 14?

Somebody stop me

Ever heard the saying: If you want something done ask a busy person to do it? Well, I'm that person. I figure I have five (maybe six) jobs right now. Wife (don't ever let anyone tell you THAT isn't a full-time job), mother (Overtime!), Telegraph employee and blogger, PartyLite consultant (Do You Love Candles?!?) and AVON representative (why pay $6 for lipstick when you can get it free?). If you add in housekeeper, which I definitiely am of all the people living in my house right now, that's six. Oh, I also am in my fourth year as president of the local Phi Mu Fraternity alumnae chapter. But that's more like downtime - I mean, planning events to hang out with my sisters? Um, YEAH! But REALLY - Somebody stop me!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Not cheaper by the dozen

With glee Faith announced from the computer, "Mom, there's a new Barbie movie!" Great. Not that I haven't enjoyed some of the doll's flicks, but it's getting expensive. Each film has its own set of dolls and accessories. How clever Mattel is in getting moms and dads to part with their hard-earned money. Not to sound cliche, but when I was little, I had one Barbie doll. Of course I had a few changes of clothes, but one doll. Faith is up to about three dozen, I think. My brain is straining to remember which doll is which. Rapunzel was easy to identify until Faith cut off her hair. Now she looks a lot like Swan Lake Barbie, or is it Bride Barbie? Anyway, after Faith's announcement, she insisted I had to leave the stove and tell her more about the movie. Before interrupting dinner preparations, I tried to get Faith to research the movie on her own. "But, I can't read," was her reply. To my dismay, Barbie's new motion picture is entitled, "Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses." Oh,Joy. "Why are there 12, Mommy?" Faith wanted to know. I explained that Barbie has 11 sisters in this movie. I really wanted to say that Mattel just wants us to buy dolls by the dozen now. When we first started watching Barbie movies a few years ago, we just bought the main character doll. But the doll-maker wised up and released, "The Princess and the Pauper." How could you resist the blond and brunette dolls that sing and when you push their buttons in unison, they harmonize? Of course you had to buy their future husbands, pets, carriages, castles. Thank goodness we restrained ourselves and stopped at one husband. The Daddy doll from the Happy Family set could double for the handsome tutor suitor. Maybe we can morph her other dolls into this new 12-member cast. It is definitely not cheaper by the dozen.
- Liz Fabian

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

All animation is not created equal

I love going to kids' movies because I feel free to laugh out loud. After all, there are 50 kids behind me talking, so who's going to "shush" me? For the same reason, I enjoy going at the end of a movie's run, or on an off-time (like 11 a.m. on a Thursday) when I'll be the only person in the theater.
But I'm having to learn the fine distinctions between animated movies. For example, Daniel loved "Cars," but couldn't sit through "Over the Hedge." He watched "Doogal" seven times in the four days we had it (I wasn't sending him out to play in 105-degree weather), but "Madagascar" didn't hold his attention once. So I'm dividing animated movies into age groups:
4 and under: Stuff like "Thomas," "Dora," "The Wiggles," "The Aristocats," "Oliver and Company." Also "Cars," "Ice Age" and "Toy Story."
ages 4-8: "Madagascar," "Over the Hedge," "Shreck," "Tarzan," "Aladdin," "The Sword in the Stone" and don't forget all those old "Superman" and "Captain America" episodes you can get on DVD for $1 at Target.
9 and up: Anything with more serious violence. Most of the late-Saturday morning cartoons now fall into this category, as does most of the Japanese-style animation. I actually put "The Lion King" in this category because I'm putting off the "Simba's daddy died" conversation as long as possible.
So there you have it, my Tuesday-morning take on cartoons. God, did my mother have to think about all this?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Got questions?

From where? to when?, librarians are the answer people at your fingertips. Here's a cool site:
It's a real-time Q and A site where you can post questions and get some help checking your kids' homework. Finally! Someone to help me through high school geometry.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Mom's day, dad's day

So I spent Saturday with Daniel, and he got to spend Sunday with his daddy. I took him swimming, and Chris took him to the parts store. The question is, did we wear him out or did he wear both of us out? Here's a clue: he's bouncing in his bed and we're collapsed on the couch, waiting for those batteries to run down.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Bead me up

I know a lot of youngwomen and girls are into making thier own jewelry now, and thaks to a revival fo the '80s, big earrings are back in (the only thing I really missed)! So gather up the young ladies in your charge and take them to one of Bead Me Up's classes or birthday parties. For $12 ($7 for a party) you can make either a bracelet or earrings - both for just a wee bit more. The selection is massive, there's ready-made jewelry for those of us lacking in "skills" and the staff is very friendly and patient! And once again, mom, you'll be the hero.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

And this is what it's really like

So with my sister in town, we decided to have an adults poker party (with alcohol) the other night. We invited my father's other kids, step-kids, and their significant others, but I didn't feel it would be an appropriate place for his 15-year-old stepdaughter. Silly me. The response I got was: if you can't invite the whole family, then none of us are coming." Well, okay. It's my home, and therefore ultimately my responsibility if I'm serving alcohol and she drinks some, gets sick or gets caught, right? So I started a family fight, but I'm sure I did the right thing. After all, some day Daniel will be 15, and there's no way I'd let him attend the party I threw! As it was, he was safely asnooze in his bed before we got going. And Chris and I decided a long time ago that if one of us imbibes, the other doesn't. Thank God it was my turn!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

So this is what it's like...

I live 70 miles from my in-laws and 600 miles from my parents. But this week my sister has been visiting from Michigan and I'm going "so this is what it's like to live close to family!"
Sure, I started a family fight her second night in town. And now I have to figure a way to mend fences. But I was able to make a quick trip to the grocery store and ran to A New You for a massage without having to go into battle-strategy mode. No schedule coordinating, no "what do you mean you'll be late?" Just "Hey, go ahead, I'll watch Daniel for a few minutes." Wow. And I mean, WOW.
A mom could get spoiled!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Theme park revue

Okay, I'll admit to being a bit of a theme park conoisseur. After all, I spent my teenage years a mere 20-minute drive from Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country, USA. So now I've been to our two closes theme parks, and here's the skinny:
Go north.
I have been to Six Flags twice. The park is clean, spacious and easy to navigate. They have awesome roller coasters, if you steer clear of Batman. The problem with that one: there's a long cue that leads you first through a stifling metal warehouse (what were they thinking?!?) and then back down the other side of the warehouse to another back-and-forth cue. And there's no escape hatch. Once you get in line, you're stuck. ANd if you're starting off in the warehouse, you're a minimum of two hours from the ride. And the ride isn't very good, as far as coasters go. So skip it. It's Six Flags' only flaw.
Wild Adventures is only an extra 40 miles than your drive to Six Flags and it's a smidge cheaper. Plus they host some great concerts throughout the year. But the flaws in the park are enormous. First, it's not very clean, in spite of staff's best efforts. Second, it's impossible to navigate. You're going to get lost at least twice and go 'round in circles trying to find your way out. Heaven forbid you're trying to find the exit after the sun sets or with tired kids. Because the park doesn't bother to turn its lights on. There are a few coasters, most of them good, but not great. And as for those concerts: the tickets may get you in the park, but you have to shell out extra for seats. Because you don't want to sit on the grass! I have 45-plus fire ant bites to attest to that!
So spend the extra in admission and go to the better park; hey, the kids will get to see Bugs Bunny and you get out of driving to Tampa (Busch) or Orlando.