Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

And tomorrow everybody gets a new toothbrush.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Run-ins with the law

What is it with me and Daniel and Georgia sheriffs deputies? First it was Macon County and the window-tint incident, now it's Henry County and what I'm calling the Speedway incident.
I'll start at the beginning. Saturday was Daniel's preschool Fall Festival. But dad procured box-seat tickets to the truck races in Atlanta. So we made a brief appearance at the festival, Daniel picked up some candy, and we headed north.
We got to the box, and Daniel was jazzed. My fault, he ate the candy in the car and was high as a kite on sugar, which isn't a normal part of his diet. So he's bouncing off the walls. And the chairs, and the floor ... you get the picture. But the box wasn't crowded, and there were a bunch of other parents and kids there, too. No one seemed to mind as we kept the Boy in our little corner of seats. But he'd occasionally get too out of hand, and require a little discipline.
So he got warnings, spent a little time in the corner, and finally was tucked between our feet on the floor. Then he got mouthy. Dad stepped in, and was in the middle of a stern talking-to when Daniel mouthed off to him. So he got a two-finger tap on the cheek. You know the one - "I mean business, and I'm your dad. There will be no more warnings young man, so you'd better pay attention to what I have to say right now!"
Well, the Henry County sheriff sitting in the press box next door saw the tap. And you'd have thought we'd taken a wire coat hanger to the Boy. He LEAPT over the back of his seat, and the seats behind him, came charging into our box, and called Chris out in front of the entire room. I thought for sure we were all going to jail.
So Chris follows the sheriff out of the box onto the balcony. Where he receives a stiff dressing down from a man with his hand on a gun. And God bless him, Chris held his temper better than I would have. He explained about our attempts at discipline leading up to the attention-getter. He explained that if the officer had been actually watching, he would have seen the lack of force behind the slap, and he would have noted that Daniel wasn't even fazed by it. In fact the kid was more scared by the officer's actions.
Back in the box, I'm surrounded by people talking among themselves. "What happened? I didn't see anything" and so on. I finally announced to the room in general that we got caught disciplining our child. And you could have heard a pin drop when the sheriff came back in the room. Nothing quite like a room of hostile parents when one of their own has been done wrong!
Chris received the support of the room, Daniel continued to misbehave, and I'm still fuming over the whole incident. Is it any wonder our teachers have no control in the classroom, that our pre-teens are going to jail for heinous crimes, and that our children are out of control when we, as parents, are not allowed to exact discipline? There's a wide wall between discipline and abuse, and when public officials can't tell the difference we as a society are in a heap of trouble. Further, parents are a self-disciplining lot; if we had been out of line with Daniel, you had better believe one of the other parents in the room would have stepped in. Families are just like that.
So I'm still wondering if a phone call to the Henry County sheriff's department will net me a formal apology or not. At the very least, the department needs a little training, I think.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Halloween candy confessions

I deliberately buy the candy I don't like to pass out for Halloween. That means no chocolate. That way I'm not tempted to eat the leftovers - or to break into the bag early!
Of course, Halloween night all bets ate off. The "inspection" of trick-or-treat bags includes a healthy amount of confiscation!
Tell the truth - have you opened the bags you bought for trick-or-treaters yet?

Halloween candy confessions

I deliberately buy the candy I don't like to pass out for Halloween. That means no chocolate. That way I'm not tempted to eat the leftovers - or to break into the bag early!
Of course, Halloween night all bets ate off. The "inspection" of trick-or-treat bags includes a healthy amount of confiscation!
Tell the truth - have you opened the bags you bought for trick-or-treaters yet?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Saying goodbye to grandmother

The tiny brown insect shell clung tightly to our front pine tree. Faith inspected the old skin left by a cicada that moved on to enjoy its adult life free from confines. Just a few days later, I used that image to explain my mother's death. After months of declining health, Faith's "Mia Mia" went to sleep one afternoon and didn't wake up. When I found her lifeless body, I calmly called for my brother in the kitchen as I didn't want to alarm Faith. She was first at the bedroom door anyway, so I sent her back to get her uncle. It turns out I had nothing to worry about. While I went to the kitchen to make the necessary phone calls, my daughter slipped unnoticed into her room. She emerged moments later after changing into a black skirt and top. I chuckled at her wardrobe change, remembering how Faith had seen Shirley Temple put on a black dress when she got word of her father's death in one of Faith's videos. My kindergartener took death in stride. She was more worried about my coming sadness. Faith knows her grandmother awoke in the arms of Jesus. After 76 years in her earthly body, she is now living the life of her destiny. Faith will help me through my tears.
- Liz Fabian

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Witching Hours

They are aptly named, those hours between when the kids get home from school and when they go to bed. During that time, moms are supervising homework, approving or disapproving play time, cooking dinner, feeding the dog, and saying "no" more times that it seems they've said it all day.
So what to do? There are only so many hours in the day, and so much, it seems, gets crammed into the five hours after 3 p.m.
My mom kept a routine: Homework got done first, supposedly while the lessons from school were fresh. That was hard as a kid, especially when the days got short and it was dark before I was finished. But she stuck to it, and it usually meant I didn't fall aasleep doing the homework. Other parents let their kids wait until after dinner, which I think is a good idea if only so that the kids get some playtime during the day.
I say moms can take it a step further by releiving themselves of the dinner burden. Have dinner in the oven or crock pot by the time the kids get home. Try it at least twice a week, and see what a difference it makes.
By reducing the number of things you have to do during the witching hours, you can spend more time putting out the fires caused by the tired, hungry and cranky that come at the end of the day.

Friday, October 20, 2006

THE place to be Saturday

As promised, here I am to tell you about the best Saturday stop for you and the kiddies this weekend. Sacred Heart Academy here in Warner Robins is having their Fall Festival. It's free, open to the public, and promises to be a ton of fun. Fair booths, baloon rides and games, the works. If you missed both the state fair and the national fair the laast four weeks, here's your chance. So get out of the house and go, go go!
I won't be there, I have the chicken pox.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Halloween poll

Never before have I seen so much anti-Halloween sentiment. Yes, it's a pagan holiday. But carving your pumpkin with a cross? A local magazine actually suggested that, and I thought: What's the point? Either celebrate the day for its intent, honor your dead on All Saint's Day and glory in the harvest, or forget it!
The trunk-or-treating some churches do I understand. It's a little (a lot) safer than knocking on a stranger's door. And I'm all for being as safe as possible on Halloween night. Lock up your cats (especially black ones) and if you don't want to celebrate, turn out your lights. I also avoid Halloween TV, because Winnie the Pooh's Halloween is about as scary as I can take.
But what do you think? "Trick or Treat will rot your teeth?" or "All's fun for a night of let's pretend?"
e-mail mcline@macontel.com

I love Fall

As much as I love Spring - the warm weather, the blooming plants and flowers, the fresh air after being cooped up all of January and Feburary - I love Fall more. After all, with Spring comes pollen and - all too soon - summer. But Fall is sweet relief after those hot, hazy dog days, and with it comes the smell of falling leaves, warm soups and holidays.
Plus, it's possibly my most active season for yard work.
Digging out the old, preparing the ground for the new; planting bulbs and taking cuttings; raking all those leaves! It's a great workout, and since Daniel LOVES to help...
Of course, leaves can be done with a blower; you still get a pile to jump into!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

quick hits

I gather up a bunch of mom and family oriented publications every month. Here's the most interesting items from the bunch:

At what age do you start getting your kids' teeth cleaned? There are pediatric dentists in both Macon and Warner Robins, and those of you who have been with me from the beginning remember my trials with Daniel and the dentist. Sounds like a song...

Curious George is coming to PBS! Hallelujah! 8 a.m. weekdays, right before Clifford.
Also, if you haven't caught Little Einsteins on the Disney Channel, give 'em a shot. Daniel was fascinated last Sunday morning.

When did birthday parties go over the top? Dose it have anything to do with those awful MTV shows "My sweet 16" and the like where spoiled little girls fly to Paris and still can't find the perfect dress? Give me a break. Cake, ice cream, party favors and an afternoon playing games with your buds - that's all most kids REALLY need - and more than some kids get. If your pre-teen wants something special, try Bead Me Up or the new Amphora Pottery studio on Zebulon - where guests can create something special to remember the event and the birthday kid can get something to remember each of their friends. Kangaroo Bob's, the Children's Museum, and the Ga Bear Factory (by Kohl's) are also reasonable options.

Keeping active in the winter months - without committing to a sport. Not every kid is going to be an athlete. Heck, most parents aren't athletes. So when summer playtime is over and your youngster is spending eight hours a day sitting at a desk (ask your child's teacher if the school still has recess - you might be surprised!), how to you keep yourself and junior active? Think about trying on a karate uniform. Classes seem to start between $35 and $60 a month, plus uniform. You commit to a month of movement at a time, which means if you're going to be on vacation or something, you can skip a month. Also look at gymnastics (boys need to retain their flexibility, too!) and horseback riding. Or do what Daniel and I do - "work out" together in the living room. He handles my yoga tapes without the grumbling and keeps me from cussing at those perky aerobics instructors. Plus, the first time I saw him do a sit-up beside me, I couldn't stop laughing for five minutes. For older kids, skateboards appear to be back in fashion, so think Christmas present.

Coming up: yard work, a Halloween poll, and THE place to be Saturday.


Monday, October 16, 2006

tween bloggers

Like we really need to introduce our pre-teens to MySpace, the compay has set up a site specifically for kids ages 8-14. While I'm not a big fan of kids spending that much time on the computer for non-homework purposes, imbee.com at least requires parents set up the account, emphasizes safety, and supposedly blocks spammers. Parents can drop in on the "clubhouse" anytime to see what junior has going on. So if your tween just has to play like the big kids, try imbee.com...and supervise, supervise, supervise.

Friday, October 13, 2006

when mommy can't

I've got a ruptured disc in my neck. And while I don't mind avoiding heavy lifting for some time (hello - no laundry!), I miss being able to pick up my "baby."
After all, he's fast approaching the stage where cuddling is no longer cool, kisses are "yuck, mom," and he'll be able to pick me up instead of the other way around. So when my doctor said I couldn't pick up anything heavier than so-many-pounds, I was a little heartbroken. And when I drop Daniel off at school in the mornings and he doesn't get the great big hug to last us both through the day anymore, we're both a little sadder.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Marketing just a dozen years too early

Faith hasn't turned six yet, but the political advertisements have already turned her head. During a family conversation with cousins about the Georgia governor's race, my husband was talking about the current governor, Sonny Perdue. As he referred to him as Sonny, Faith kept trying to interrupt. I couldn't figure out why she wanted to chime into the conversation about gubernatorial politics. "Daddy, it's not Sonny, it's 'Sonny-do-list,'" Faith said. Where in the world did she hear about the governor's to-do-list theme in his campaign? On television AND the computer, she said. Wait until she sees challenger Mark Taylor, the "Big Guy," playing with all those diapered babies. She loves babies.
— Liz Fabian

Living in real time

One of Faith's favorite questions of late is - "Is that soon?" It usually follows another question, such as, "When is the fall festival?" While Misty is explaining the frequency of holidays to Daniel, I'm trying to teach my daughter the concept of time. We used to equate the length of car trips to "Barney" episodes. For the record, it was six Barnies to grandmother's house. Her festival at school is Oct. 27th. That's 752 Barnies away from this very second. I need another guide.
— Liz Fabian

No, it's not your birthday

Daniel is learning about holidays - most recently Halloween. But he doesn't yet "get" that they only come once a year.
"Is it my birthday?" He asks almost daily. "No, it's not your birthday."
"Is it my Christmas?" he asks. "No, it's not Christmas."
"Is it Easter time?" "No, it's not Easter, either."
"Well, what is it then?" he demads, sure there must be some occasion for presents.
"It's Tuesday."
"Oh, well is tomorrow my birthday?"

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

the only-child blues

"Mommy, can I have a sister?"
It's not the first time he's asked, but it's also still a surprise when I hear those words. Saturday, he wanted to get one at the fair. I told him we could get a lot of things at the fair, but a sister wasn't one of them.
Fortunately, Daniel is easily distracted. But the question remains: What's best for him - only child, one of two, or one in a a full house? My vote: whichever makes mom and dad happy. The kid will adjust.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

watch out for parent traps

We were doing so well at the fair; I'd gotten my new gardening calendar and Chris had turned in a decent showing at the Krystal contest. Then we walked into trouble.
The model train enthusiasts had a huge display. Along with the Cherry Blossom train, there was Thomas, Annie and Clarabelle. They made one pass, then got taken off the rails for work (or play - I'm not sure). So we stood at the exhibit for another 30 minutes, hoping Daniel would get his fill of the trains. No dice. When we finally dragged him away, he cried. But we were in good company; there were a number of parents and grandparents having the same problem.
So, while there's mich to see and do at the fair, watch out for the parent traps.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Goin' to the fair

When it comes to full-on family entertainment, nothing beats the fair. We're going tomorrow, and we all have our agendas.
Dad stops at the Krystal eating contest and anything with wheels, so Daniel will be with him for that. It'll be my opportunity to check out the crafts and art shows and drop in on the Master Gardeners.
Mom will then take the boy and head to the barns. Sheep, pigs, cattle, horses and whatever's at the petting zoo. Prime picture-taking time, and Daniel loves to pet anything that will sit still long enough.
We'll meet back up at the playset vendor, where Daniel can climb slides and swing to his heart's content while mom and dad catch a breather at the picnic tables. Then it's off to the midway.
There are a few rides Daniel is tall enough for, and even fewer he's brave enough for. Anything mom can get on with him is cool, and if it spins, well so much the better. It's a sure way to finish wearing him out so we can all get a good night's sleep.
So if you're headed to the fair, look for the Middle Ga Moms - next weekend I'll be manning the Telegraph booth from 11 to 3. Come share your stories and show me your baby pics!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

sugar and spice and everything nice

It's amazing to me when I visit homes where little girls live. Last night at a Tastefully Simple party the 4-year-old "hostess" of the show passed trays of dips and breads for tasting like a perfect princess. Considering my young man made a beeline for the swing set and only made it inside as we were leaving, I was awed by the contrast.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A mix-up mess-up

A couple of years ago, I remember a child safety advocate demonstrating the simularities between child-friendly products and potentially deadly products. It was an eye-opener back then, but I have some real-life experiences to share. The other day, Faith was "cleaning" my mother's room. The problem is, she picked up some sort of air-freshener or cleaning product and sprayed it on the furniture. It did not deliver a wax-free shine, but permanently marred the finish of the cabinet. We're still trying to figure out what she used. I only got the shrug of the shoulders. I'll have to do some more detective work. Refinishing the furniture seems the only solution. Then comes the horror I discovered in the bathroom. A container of bleach wipes was left open on the tank of the toilet. If you don't close those pop tops, the sheets will dry out. As I was questioning Faith about whether she was using them, she readily admitted it. I told her to make sure she closed the top. "What were you using them for?" I casually asked. "I was using them to wipe," was her response. "OH NO. Not WIPE," I thought. Yes, she had WIPED. Thank goodness she didn't seem to burn herself. We had a long talk and hopefully she will NEVER do that again.
- Liz Fabian

he's got the look

A photographer coworker of ours is a new dad. Of course, we received photos right away. One of them was of the new father's first moments holding his son. And you know what? He had "the look." You've all seen it, you've all felt it. That "wow, look what I did. Oh, my God, look what I DID! God, don't let me screw it up." Isn't that every new parents' prayer?

Monday, October 02, 2006

good junk mail

If you receive junk mail and find it useful, is it still junk mail?
Someone who lived in my house before me must have been a teacher. Because I opened my mail box the other day and found a Frank Schaffer catalog. Now, for those of you who aren't home-schoolers, Schaffer is a popular producer of learning materials. Workbooks, practice tests, flash cards, science project books, posters and more. And it covers all ages, pre-K to high school. In fact, I'm considering ordering some of the spanish materials to teach myself the language.
So whether you're interested in giving the kids a head start or need to offer them some at-home practice, visit www.frankschaffer.com to check out the tools available. They are reasonably priced and can help fill those long fall break days next week.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

back to normal?

Daniel's sleeping pattern this past week might have been an aberration simply to make me pay attention. This morning, slept until 7. Yesterday, 6:30. Thank God.