Thursday, December 27, 2007

Anyone else ever feel this way?

From the Daily Babble:

Bad Parent: Game Over
Shelley Abreu
"You be Ariel, and I'll be Prince Eric," instructs my three-year old daughter Julia. Then she dives down into the pretend ocean that is our kitchen floor and beckons me to save her. I scoop her in my arms, and we swim safely to "Ariel's Grotto." I attempt to return to chopping vegetables, but she begins the game again. I try to get out of it. "Ariel has to cook up some crabs for Prince Eric's supper," I say. But she's onto me. "Ariel doesn't cook the supper," she retorts.

It's not the first time I've dodged Julia's games today. After a short stint playing a mind-numbing game of Dora The Explorer Candyland, I fake a bathroom emergency. When I come out, I casually begin folding laundry. When Julia calls me back to the game, I tell her I'll come back soon. I'm lying.

Sometimes I'm not even that suave about averting playtime with Julia. After a few laps around the house playing Tag, I simply run away mid-lap. For a moment it delights her when she realizes I'm missing. She's thinks I've turned it into a game of Hide and Seek, but after a few minutes she begs me to return. Then I use my arsenal of verbal excuses, including: I need to get the house picked up and make a phone call. When she whines, I urge her to play with her younger sister, Elise, who is old enough to toddle her way through a round of any running game. And that's what siblings are for, right?

I'm not a complete failure at playing. I'm content to do puzzles, and I'll take time-out from any adult activity to read a book. I'm a musician, which means anything musical is pretty much okay with me. I'll also last a good while at "I Spy" during walks through our neighborhood. But generally speaking, I hate playing with my kids. Games of "Horsey" — in which I'm asked to giddy-up through our yard — or "Payer," where we use a toy cash register to enact pretend transactions — are enough to make me lose my mind. Of all the negatives that parenting has brought — sleep-deprivation, a constantly messy house, never a moment to myself — it's the playing that I hate the most.

And yet, read any mainstream parenting magazine today, and you're made to believe that playing with your children is essential to their well-being. I recently read "Fidgety Kids: 10 Fun Games You Can Play in an Instant." The article suggests I pass the time waiting at the pediatrician's office by using the exam table paper to draw a village. It's not that I can't appreciate the inventiveness of this crafty game, but truthfully, I'd rather read a magazine and let my kids entertain themselves with the germy toys (which, by the way, they love).

Another recent article suggests that at holiday get-togethers, adults take all the children outside and enjoy a jaunty game of monkey-in-the-middle. I don't know about you, but when we have get-togethers around our house, we let the kids play with each other while the adults enjoy festive drinks. In his book Raise a Smarter Child by Kindergarten, Dr. David Perlmutter hails the importance of playing with our children to promote intelligence, and in support offers pages of tedious activities.

Luckily, the jury's still out. The Boston Globe recently reported that playing with your children is actually a modern phenomenon and not necessarily all that beneficial. According to anthropological studies, three-fourths of the world's parents don't participate in the kind of parent-child play so popular in our current American culture. In fact, the article, titled "Leave Those Kids Alone," suggests that most cultures think we're kind of nutty.

Still, deep down, I consider playing with my kids something I should do. Not because I think it will raise their IQs or because it will make me a better mother, but because they want me to. After all, what's so hard about sitting down for a tea party with twelve furry stuffed animals and two cute little girls? Maybe it's the fact that as a mother who works from home, I have so much to do every day that squandering twenty minutes on fake tea and pretend friends — while I think about unanswered emails and piles of laundry — makes me fidgety.

And when I think back to my own childhood, I don't recall my parents ever playing with me or my brother. He and I played together, building elaborate forts, rescuing stray animals, hunting for frogs, and thinking up creative ways to execute my Barbies. Would we have done any of this if my mother was right there orchestrating elaborate games instead? I don't think so. So I'm going to follow her lead. I'll stick to the grown-up things — making a living, picking up toys, doing dishes, vacuuming floors — and I'll let the kids have fun for all of us. Although I may not care to swim around the house dressed up as Ariel the mermaid, I'm happy to do all the things that allow my daughters the time and space so that they can.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Introducing the concept of charity

Every year, I have Daniel pick out a toy for "someone else." I tell him this "someone else" doesn't have mommy and daddy who can buy a lot of presents, so it's our job to help out. He always picks out something he really wants for himself, and is then disappointed when I put the present in the Toys for Tots bin. I think the message is sinking in, though; he got a Star Student award for generosity a few weeks ago.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Avoid spoiling the kids

We've all seen them - we've all thought it: The kids who have everything and get everything they ask for and the parents we thenk "are going to regret that later." But how do you know your kid is spoiled? And how do you avoid spoiling them? has some tips - they might even put a stop to that annoying whining!

Set clear, simple limits

Think of it this way: If you leave no room for reinterpretation, you save yourself arguing later. Listen to the difference between "Oh okay, you can have a cookie..." (plenty of room for hope that a second one might be okay) and "You can have one cookie, but don't ask me for a second one. This is it."

Stick to those limits no matter what

One really means one. It's happened to all of us: We say no to more than one cookie, and then we start second-guessing ourselves. The trick here is to take a long-term view. Maybe a second cookie really would be okay just this once, but do you really want to be second-guessed every time you set a limit? That will happen if you change your story.

Never give in to begging

This one's simple — once you do, you've taught your child that begging works, right? Ditto with whining. If your kid is a whiner, chances are that's because they know the tactic works on you. If you're just annoyed enough, they think, you'll give in. Be strong! (Buy earplugs)

Make your child convince you

If she wants something you're not sure about, ask her to make a case for it. She wants to watch a favorite TV show? If she explains that all her homework is done and she's practiced piano, you can feel comfortable saying yes.

Require that chores get done before fun

You don't do your child any favors by being a softy. Studies show that being strict on chores and responsibilities helps him develop the ability to cope with frustration. (Not to mention it instills good long-term habits.)

Don't be afraid to disappoint

We hate to see our kids sad, but the Stones said it best: You can't always get what you want. And studies show that learning to accept disappointment will give your child important coping skills to deal with emotional stress later in life.

Let them work for what they want

Many experts believe that kids become spoiled when things come too easily, encouraging them to take those things for granted. If your child wants a new bike, set up a reward system for good behavior and let him earn it bit by bit. (I remember as a teenager thinking that the kids whose parents or grandparents gave them cars - even used, beat-up cars - didn't take as good care of them as those of us who had to buy our own first cars with our own money.)


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Macho Man

Daniel lost his first tooth last week. Being Daniel, the tooth didn't just fall out. No, my son pulled the tooth himself.
Here's the back story:
He's been pestering me about opening a present since the tree went up. "You may only open a present before Christmas," I foolishly said, "if you lose that wiggly tooth."
Now mind you, the tooth has been loose for a couple of months. It would wiggle, then tighten up. Wiggle, then tighten. But I really didn't think it was that loose.
Well, I made the satement on Wednesday, and Friday when I picked up my little darling from school, he announced: "I lost my tooth!"
"Right," I thought to myself. Then I looked at the now-gapped smile. "Holy cow - you sure did!" I exclaimed right there in the school lobby. "How did that happen?"
"My teacher told me to stop playing with it, so I pulled it out and put it in my pocket," replied the child.
I almost passed out. "You did what? Where is the tooth now?"
"She took it and put it in my agenda," he said.
So the tooth fairy recovered from her bout of shock and gathered up four quarters to slip under the boy's pillow tht night. Bravery like that gets a little reward.
Of course, the tooth next to the lost one is loose, now, too.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

When mom's down for the count

Twice this year I've had pneumonia. While neither time has been a party, the last three days have simply wiped me out. And what to do with Daniel while I'm passed out in a haze on the couch?
Well, dad has stepped up. But I've also been stockpiling "Things For Daniel To Do" in preparation for rainy days and school holidays. So he got a new Hidden Pictures book from Highlights, some finger paints (thank God he can clean up after himself) and all of his trains back.
Of course, now I'm staring a week of vacation in the face. Here's hoping there's good stuff under the tree!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

More on manners

Liz's post on "Please" and "Thank you" reminded me of a pet peeve of mine.
Parents, please teach your children what "RSVP" is and why it's important. I entertain a lot. As a PartyLite consultant, I coach my hostesses in getting their friends to attend shows. And as an event planner (only part of my job description), I regularly issue invitations to everyone from teenagers to lawmakers. The one constant in all these roles is that I never really know who is going to show up
RSVP means simply "Respond to my invitation. Let me know if you're coming. Let me know if you're definitely NOT coming. Just let me know you got the invitation, for crying out loud. And if you say you're coming, then change your mind, or something comes up, let me know of the change."
I know formal entertaining is not a big part of our children's lives. But does a mom need to order (or make) cake for 10 kids or 20? Do I need goodie bags for 5 or 15? Because if I make 15 and then am stuck with 10, I'm going to be irritated.
So if you're attending any holiday events, let your kids see the invitation, then let them see you respond to the hostess. Remember, e-mail is as good as a phone call for most hostesses - e-vite is my favorite means of contact these days. But please don't let this common courtesy die out. Hostesses everywhere will thank you.
--Misty Cline

Monday, December 03, 2007

Thanks, but no thanks

On the whole my daughter is pretty polite but we just realized we need to brush up on her manners. We need a refresher on "please," "thank you," "maam" and "sir." Just the other day, she received some gifts for her birthday and was reluctant to say "thank you." I wasn't there, but I understand she pulled her shy ploy and didn't appropriately thank the giver. As a result, we have stressed the need to show appreciation for gifts whether she likes them or not. Now that she is getting more creative, she is making cards. We're going to work on writing "Thank You" notes in addition to greeting cards. 'Tis the season, after all. Perhaps that will be a good way to encourage her thankfulness. Sometimes I feel like she is showered with so many things that she doesn't fully understand the debt of gratitude she owes someone. I painfully remember the consequences for not sending a note acknowledging a gift from my father's cousins. My brother and I were cut off from future gifts. I'm sure that's a lesson she doesn't want to learn the hard way.

- Liz

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Losing my little girl

I'm trying to be a big girl about it, but I'm starting to lose my little girl. Today is Faith's 7th birthday and I am really feeling the transition into those "tween" years. Thinking back to pregnancy days, my biggest fear was that I'd have a girl who would eventually shun me. She's not even close to puberty and already I see the change. Sometimes it's in the way she says "Nevermind" when I was concentrating on something and didn't hear what she said. Other times it's in the way she rolls her eyes. These incidents are few and far between now but who knows what the future holds. I can't help but feel I'm on a downhill slide. But there are other times when she squeals with glee at my invitation to do something together. Because of her birthday, I'd planned to surprise her by going to school to have lunch with her. Then I learned she had already invited a friend of ours to share the day. I know I shouldn't get my feelings hurt as she does love me, but I also felt a little shut out and should probably get used to it. I've watched a close friend go through some terrible years with her daughter, but now that she's out of college they are best buds. Today I decided to sit out lunch and let Faith enjoy the time with our friend who is visiting for a while. There will be other years, I hope. I'm just afraid I'll have to wait about 15 years until she grows out of this.

--Liz Fabian

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Adoption: Round two

We completed our home study Monday night. Two visits with a very nice contractor, in which we laid bare our souls and told our life histories. She wanted to know about our parents, our step-parents, our siblings, our previous significant others, and our current family dynamics. I think she filled nine pages just on me. She interviewed Daniel, who proudly showed her his room and told her his little brother would be sharing his toys and everything.
She was surprised, I think, by two things. First, we knew what we wanted and had talked about it and thought about it a lot. Daniel was in on the discussions, and his answers showed he'd thought about it, too. "HE's been asking for a brother for almost two years now," I told her.
Second, she was surprised by the fact that we have one television, one computer, and no game systems in our home. We do, however, have two floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. One of them is exclusively Daniel's books. My theory, I explained, is that a love of books and reading is instilled, not instintive. So Daniel sees us reading, he'll be just as likely to want to read as not. It's working so far.
Now we're in witing mode - waiting on the case study to be written, then waiting for review and approval. She offered to put us on the mailing list for adoption fairs; I declined. If I go to a fair and can't bring home a child, I'll just be annoyed.

Monday, November 26, 2007

5 going on 15

Daniel has turned into a teenager on me. When I tell him to do something, there's this great big sigh. Or worse, this "hmpf" noise. We've been dealing with it for a while - talking about how rude that noise is and how being disrespectful to mom and dad is as bad as not doing what we ask at all. It came to a head last night.
I put him to bed - twice. He'd lay there for a few minutes making that "hmpf" noise, then pop up and flip his light back on. I went in again, told him it was bedtime and he was not to get up again or he'd be risking a spanking. "Do whatever you want to do, mom," he said in a tone I normally associate with rude 16-year-olds. Only, his dad heard that one.
"You are going to lose a train for speaking to your mother that way," dad decreed. "Thomas isn't rude like that, and if he is, he gets punished, too."
"Fine," shot back our teenage-posessed child. "Take all my trains. I don't care!"
So we did. And it turns out he does care. But as we were scooping trains into the nearest storage bin and he was wailing away about it, the message was delivered: "You can't just say things to us and not expect there to be consequences. Don't say it if you don't mean it, and think before you are rude to us."
God, let the message sink in. I want my sunshiny child back.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Love my wild child

In his new book, In Defense of Childhood: Protecting Kids' Inner Wildness, Chris Mercogliano argues that childhood is becoming "domesticated": filled up with structured, adult-run activities; overshadowed by ever larger amounts of rigid, test-obsessed schooling; and sucked up by indoor, screen-based entertainment. Mercogliano prescribes plenty of unstructured, minimally supervised group play, time outside, solitude, and not insulating children from all risk. He spoke with about being a voice for children's "inner wildness" in a fear-obsessed society.
REad all about it here:

I enjoyed the book, especially as a former mud-pie eater and proponent of "go outside and play - yes, by yourself". I think when my child doesn't know I've been watching him out of the corner of my eye all day, it encourages him to come tell me what he's been doing. Now if only that lesson will stick through the teenage years....

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

How many shopping days???

Even before Halloween the calendar at Wal-mart was counting down the shopping days until Christmas. Now with Thanksgiving on the horizon, shopping season is definitely here. For the first time, Faith seems to be taking great interest in every circular that comes into the house. When she gets the mail, she starts perusing the daily onslaught of catalogs as she walks up the driveway. With her birthday at the end of this month, there's always a double challenge. She still has money left from last year!
The big ticket item she's pushing most for is the "Little Mommy" doll. She has enough cash to buy it herself and I may take her shopping to do that. But then what do WE get her? We're not doing a "kid" party this year, so that takes some of the pressure off and leaves more time for shopping. I'm still kind of clueless this year as to what to buy her. A garage sale find fulfilled the need for a bike. Last year, one of her favorite presents wound up being recalled this year. Barbie's pooping pooch had problems from the start as I mentioned in previous posts. I felt little kids would think those magnetic poops were little caramel tic-tocs and swallow them. Turns out kids have ingested them and they attracted inside their intestines and caused ulcers and other problems. Are you worried about buying toys this year? Do the recalls scare you?
The Telegraph's Jennifer Burk is researching the scope of the problem right now. If you're changing your shopping habits because of lead paint fears and other dangers, drop her an e-mail at

Thursday, November 15, 2007

explaining the concept

Daniel is having a hard time realizing that two things can be going on at once. "Look at all the leaves, momma!" he said on our way to school this morning.
"That's because it's Fall," I said.
"But November is Thanksgiving!" he insisted.
"Fall and Thanksgiving both happen in November," I explained.
He got that look that said he wanted to argue, but wasn't sure anymore if he was right. Hey, at least he's learning THAT concept!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"I just don't know what I'm going to do!"

The batteries in my old laptop only lasted about halfway home from Atlanta the other day. Faith was distraught. "I just don't know what I'm going to do," she said from the backseat. Judging from the distress in her voice, I thought she had a major problem so I inquired further. She was talking about not being able to watch movies for the remaining 40 minutes of the trip. What a tragedy. I explained to her that "when I was little" we didn't have videos or DVDs available to watch any time, much less while riding in a car. That was little consolation, I'm afraid. I told her we used to look out the window, watch for interesting cars or people and play games. "Let's play the name game," she said. So we started naming people's names that began with the designated letter. The only problem was, as soon as Faith was stumped - which sometimes came in the first round - she chose a new letter. I enjoyed the games anyway. I'll have to keep them in the rotation even after Christmas when her aunt and uncle bring her some new technology for the ride.

- Liz Fabian

Monday, November 12, 2007

Santa's secrets

Kid spolier alert! Believers in Santa Claus read no further!

Poll of the morning: Do you let your kids believe in Santa or not? If you do, how long do you let the myth go on and how do you deal with the inevitable "you're Santa!" accusation?
Click on "comment" below to share your view.

We told Daniel right from the start that mom and dad are his Santa. That if he wants to write letters to "Santa," we'll read them. That some kids don't have Santa, and that some kids don't know their mom and dads are Santa. He seems remarkably adjusted.

Friday, November 09, 2007

assalut of the Christmas commercials

Apparently Halloween passing was some kind of cue for retailers and television networks to ramp up the Christmas message. I say "ramp up" because even before Halloween I was in a store that was playing carols over the sound system. As soon as I realized it, I put down the things I had planned to buy and left.
But while fast-forwarding through the commercials on my recorded television shows last week, I realized every other commercial (or so) was Christmas-related. I can only imagine the message had I been actually watching the shows in real time: "buy, buy buy! spend, spend, spend! Go into debt, mortgage your house, the only think that will make you child happy is thousands of dollars in toys under the Christmas tree!"
I'm pretty pleased with the fact that Daniel is happy with whatever he gets, no matter how much or how little. Sometimes it's only a few presents, but high-quality ones. Sometimes it's a bunch, like the year he got a load of Thomas the Tank Engine stuff and we put it all together to make his train table. This year, he actually wants to downsize, and is asking for a smaller train table with the understanding that the big one will go away. He'll probably get it, since it was what we had planned to do to make space in his room for a second bed. But he's also getting a set of luggage from Grandma so he can go visit!
For the record, the one commercial I did watch - then rewound and watched again - was a vaccuum commercial in which a big, black, shaggy dog walks into a white room, shakes, and explodes into twenty little black dogs. I can't find a link to it, and I don't remember what type of vaccuum it was (shows how effective the commercial was), but I'm sure it'll play again.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

competition - kindergarten style

"Daddy, let's have a milk race," my son piped up at the dinner table one evening. Ewww, I thought. And when Chris turned down the boy's offer, he retailiated: "If we don't have a milk race, I'll throw up!"
Ah, the joys of boys. But apparently this is cafeteria competition, and it's rampant. This morning it was "my tooth is going to fall out!" Except his teeth aren't remotely loose. We had one wiggle a few weeks ago, but it tightened back up and has refused to budge since. And when I pointed this out, Daniel stuck three fingers in his mouth and proceeded to pull on the offending choppers. "Stop that!" I shreiked, imagining a bloody mouth as he breaks every tooth out at the base.
"This isn't a competition to see who can lose their teeth, Daniel," I continued more calmly. "Not everything is a race!"
But I think I was talking to myself - "I beat you finishing my cereal, mama!" "Yes, Daniel, you also started twety minutes before me." *sigh*

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Curriculum cliffhanger

Reading must be like riding a bicycle. Once you learn, you're off and running. For weeks I've been burdened by Faith's struggle to recognize spelling words she already "learned." For a child who seems to have strong cognitive ability, she isn't mastering language arts as quickly as I imagined. I would have thought she would be breezing along with her words and never looking back. Our recent teacher conference has eased my fears somewhat. Faith's teacher explained that she should soon be catching on and taking off. For now, we'll continue to drill Faith on her words and encourage her reading. She has a great interest in books but still shows some frustration when she recognizes a word, but can't seem to sound it out. Phonics can be a funny thing - or is it "phunny?" See what I mean?

- Liz

Monday, November 05, 2007

Saying "no"

It's amazing how making a decision can change your attitude. For months now I've been feeling overwhelmed, busy, stressed out and generally cranky because I was doing too much and I knew it.
Working my day job, my two night jobs, being involved with Daniel's school and Chris' activities - all of it was taking its toll. I had already dropped my officer's position with my sorority, so that was off my plate. But there was still too much. So I'm quitting one of my "fun" jobs. I'll stick with PartyLite, because I've been with them for 9 years and I love the company, the products, the people I meet.
All this thought and decision making came Saturday, after I decided to spend the whole day on myself. (When was the last time you did THAT?) I went shopping, got my hair cut (it had been 9 months since my last cut), came home and ignored the housework in favor of giving myself a manicure and pedicure. I didn't even cook. And you know what? Daniel had a great time with his dad, who was digging out an expansion of our driveway with a backhoe.
Sunday I woke rested, refreshed, and relaxed, for the first time in I-don't-know-how-long. I took care of the housework, took care of some PartyLite business, took Daniel and a friend to Monkey Joe's, cooked dinner and still went to bed feeling rested and relaxed. And you know what? Daniel picked up on all that.
Saturday he went to bed early, just up and "I'm tired, I'm going to bed now." And he slept well. Sunday he was in a good mood, didn't fight with us, ate all his dinner with no problems and, while he didn't want to go to bed, there wasn't the usual whining about it, either. Hmmm, relaxed mom, relaxed kid. I recommend it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

In case you missed it

I have posted about the name game before, but this floated across my desk and I had to pass it along. From the October 27 Telegraph:
"Leonidas Urias Nikkos Angelus Thanos Ianos Choate, born Oct. 9 to Robert and angela (Ruff) Choate of Lizella.
Not only do the initials spell "lunatic," most of the names are mythological demons or Gods. A letter to the editor suggested The Telegraph was pulling a Halloween joke, and the editors responded "It is a real birth announcement." I have to second the writer's question - what were these parents thinking? The child's only escape route is that he can go be "Leo" until he's old enough to hire a lawyer and legally change his name.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

From "I don't care" to activist

My speech before the freshmen went well: they cried, I cried, and we all learned a few things. Before I came to the class, the majority of them raised their hands "no" when asked "Do you think someone should check on you if you are missing for a couple of days?" At the end of my speech, the same question was asked and only two students answered "no."
Further, I had a student ask me today if she could create a Web page with Laura's story (that's Laura in the photo) and a link to Laura's Hope, a charity started to do the work Laura had planned to do. Her dream was to join the Peace Corps and work with AIDS orphans in Africa. While her family and friends aren't joining the Peace Corps in droves, we are raising money to help those children who caught her heart.
So we talked about dorm safety and the things that go on in the brand-new dorm here on campus, and the students agreed to look out for their neighbors. Several sought extra copies of the safety tips sheet I brought with me, to give to their friends. And they agreed to pass the word to their student organizations - maybe forming a "campus watch" similar to a "neighborhood watch" program. Looks like Laura turned a group of passive individuals into an active community. I think she'd be proud.

Monday, October 29, 2007

the story I'm telling

I'm speaking on campus tomorrow to a group of freshmen who think because they're "grown" it's nobody's business what they do, where they go, and when they're comin back. I'm telling the story of my cousin, who was killed in her dorm room last December. Here's the text:

My name is Misty Cline and I work in the office of Marketing and Communications here on campus. I’m here this morning to tell you a story.
But first, I’d like to say congratulations. For many of you, beginning college is your first foray into adulthood. So, well done.
How many of you live in the Wildcat Commons?
How many of you live in another dorm on campus?
How many of you have your own apartments?
Living on your own, another big step into adulthood. Congratulations.
But I promised you a story.
And the story I’m here to tell is one of another young adult, like yourselves, who stepped out of her parents’ home for the first time to attend college. Far enough away from her hometown that she had to live on campus, but not so far away she couldn’t come home for a long weekend, or that her hometown boyfriend couldn’t come visit.
Laura settled into her new life as a first-semester freshman. She joined an athletic team. She made friends, attended classes, did all the things you are doing now. And then, the week before finals, she disappeared.
She went to a Secret Santa party with her rowing teammates on the night of December 12. She drove a couple of teammates home, returned to her own dorm room, and talked to her boyfriend on the phone. She logged onto her Facebook account and looked at some photos from the party she had just attended. Then she went to bed.
Two and a half days later, her dad finally convinced someone in the University administration that not hearing from his daughter for two days was not normal. That not getting phone calls, or e-mails, from her in two days was not normal.
And I can’t tell you how many times we get that phone call from YOUR parents. Either the President’s office, my office in Marketing, but especially the Student Affairs office. A couple of times a day, someone in Fort Valley State University’s administration gets a phone call from a frantic parent, desperate to find one of you. And then we have to embarrass everyone by tracking you down, in class, in your dorms, in your friends’ rooms.
And now that I’ve gone and interrupted my story, I have to tell you that now that you’re adults, you have some responsibilities you might not have expected. You have the responsibility to show up for class, if that’s where you’re supposed to be. You have the responsibility to show up at parties and group events, if you’ve told someone you’ll be there. You have the responsibility to answer your phones and return messages. Because when you don’t, other responsible adults worry about you.
I promise you, if I drop off the grid, people will notice. If I don’t show up to work, my boss is going to call my cell phone. And if she doesn’t get an answer from my phone, she’s going to call my husband’s phone. And if he calls me and doesn’t get an answer, then he’s going to leave his work and come find me. If I don’t show up at my sorority events, someone is going to call me. If I say I’ll be at a party, and then change my mind and don’t go, the host will call me at some point, not just to bawl me out for not being there, but to find out why I wasn’t there. So, as a responsible adult, if I’m not going to be somewhere I’ve promised I will be, I have to call. My boss, the doctor, the party host, whomever I have an appointment with, I call. Okay, if I don’t want to talk to them, I e-mail, but hey, I make contact.
Because a responsible adult doesn’t just “get missing” and not tell someone where they are going and when to expect them back. As an adult, you may not be living with your parents anymore, but you are still part of a community. Those of you living in the Commons, you are a community. If you live in an apartment, you are part of a community. In this class, you are part of a community.
And that brings me back to Laura, and my story.
Missing two days, and no one at her school bothered to check after her. A girl who normally is in every class suddenly misses two days the week before finals, and her professors don’t raise any kind of alarm. Her friends just assumed she was either sleeping or studying. Her suitemate, a girl she shared a bathroom with, didn’t think anything of her sudden absence. She did, however, notice a funny smell in the bathroom.
So, instead of knocking on Laura’s door and saying, “hey, what’s that smell, did you leave something in here?” she cleaned the bathroom.
When that didn’t take care of the smell, she thought it might be a broken sewage pipe. So she calls housekeeping.
It’s December 15 and Laura’s dad has finally talked University officials into opening Laura’s room. But the housekeepers beat the administration to the door. Laura’s in her room, alright. She’s been lying on the floor, dead, for two and a half days.
Laura’s community failed her. Not only did they not check on her when she went missing, they failed her in a larger sense. They let her killer into her living space.
Laura was sexually assaulted and murdered. There’s more to the story, but this is the part that affects you:
Those of you who live in an apartment: if you saw someone hanging outside your apartment door, would you let them in when you opened your door?
Those of you who live in a dorm, why do you let people who don’t have a key in? And I know you do it. You’re going into the Commons, someone is suddenly right on your heels. Instead of turning around and asking “Do you live here?” you let them tailgate into your living space. In some cases, you hold the door for them! Your buddy calls – “I’m outside, come let me in” – and you do. But when he leaves your room, do you walk him out, to make sure he leaves the dorm? Like your “boys” all you want, but know that some of them can’t be trusted.
Ever prop your door open for a visitor you’re expecting? Your boyfriend is getting out of class before you and wants to just meet you in your room? Unh uh. He should meet you at YOUR class and walk you home, ladies. Waiting for your cousin to drop by? Your cousin can wait for you in a common area, you don’t prop your door open so they can “come on in.”
Laura’s killer wasn’t supposed to be in any of the dorms at her school – he’d been kicked out for dealing pot. But the night she was killed, police found security video of not one, not two, but three of his buddies letting him into different dorms, through different entrances. Stairway entrances, not the main ones with RA’s on duty to sign visitors in.
But no one let him into Laura’s dorm. At least, no one he asked to let him in. He tailgated into her dorm behind a student who opened the door with a key. Then he went to the fifth floor – not the first, not the second or third or fourth – the fifth. He took the stairs, which opened right in front of her room. He broke into her room, suffocated her, and sexually assaulted her body. When he left, he took her keys so he could lock the door from the outside.
And no one checked on her for two full days. Even with a funny smell in their common bathroom, Laura’s suitemate didn’t think anything of not seeing the girl she lived next door to and spoke to almost every day.
If I accomplish nothing else today, I want you to not leave here that naiive. I want you to accept the responsibility that comes with being a part of a community of grown adults. That means you care about each other. It means you pay attention to each other. It means you communicate with each other. If you don’t, well that’s a whole ‘nother kind of warning sign. Remember, the one thing generally acknowledged about the Virginia Tech shooter was that he didn’t talk to anybody. He deliberately wasn’t part of any community.
So if you don’t see your buddy for a couple of days, find out why. If your suitemates suddenly drop off the grid - and you live with them, you know what’s “normal” – don’t ignore it.
Likewise, if you’re going to “get missing” for a couple of days – we all need vacations – tell someone when to expect you back. I was 24, decided to drop out for a long weekend. Didn’t want my parents knowing where I was going, but I gave my roommate my flight information. In my case, if the plane went down I wanted someone to know I was on it! But if I didn’t return on time, she’d have raised the alarm.
Now why am I so adamant about this? Why do I care what happened to some girl not on this campus, not even in Georgia?
Laura was my cousin. Her dad raised me until I was three. He has a part of my heart. And losing his only daughter has broken his heart.
Further, Laura’s killer is still free. Because no one checked on her, because she lay for two days in a hot room, her body decomposed to an extent where evidence that could have been used to convict her killer was destroyed. Real crime isn’t like CSI: fingerprints don’t stay where they are placed forever; evidence of assault is destroyed when a body isn’t found right away.
So it’s possible Laura’s killer will not be convicted for his crime. And while her death is his fault, several people share the blame in her tragedy. The person who let him tailgate into her dorm, for example. The suitemate who couldn’t be bothered to check on her. The administration that took two days of convincing to open her door. Laura’s community failed her, and now I’m here telling you her story so you don’t fail your community.
I know you’re grown. I know you don’t want anyone checking up on you. I know you aren’t yet comfortable checking up on anyone else. But if you’re going to be an adult, you have a job to do. And that is to take care of yourselves and the people who care about you. So answer your phones. Return your messages. Be where you say you’re going to be. And when you take a vacation from your life, let someone know when to look for you back. Don’t just be grown up, be an adult.

Feel free to share.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Tying one on in celebration

Hooray! Faith can now tie her shoes. After she struggled last year, she finally has it down. I admit we haven't been diligent in helping her learn as we had this right hand-left hand compatibility problem. But somehow, she's got it down now. Amazingly, while she couldn't quite remember how to get the loops just right over the past few months, somehow she didn't forget that one of us must have mentioned a trip to the prize closet somewhere along the way. While Matt and I didn't recall, Faith insisted we offered the reward. She's not one to lie and her memory has newer batteries than ours, so she was able to pick out a coloring kit from the closet. I stash goodies I've picked up over time and dole them out when needed. Now our mission is to get her riding her bicycle without training wheels. While recently visiting relatives we stopped at garage sale and found a big girl bike in really good condition as her training bike is almost too small. A tumble over the handle bars slowed her progress on that old bike and she's moving slowly on her new bike as long as we hold on to her. The pressure is now on as we just found out her cousin who is more than a year younger recently took off his training wheels and started flying! While still on the phone, my husband told Faith the good news about cousin Conrad. "Uncle John took of his training wheels and he just flew," Daddy said. Without missing a beat or conceding defeat she asked: "Did you tell them about my shoelaces?"

- Liz Fabian

Thursday, October 25, 2007

out of the Halloween loop

I have to admit Halloween has snuck up on me this year. Daniel decided he wanted to wear last year's costume, so I just haven't paid much attention. What are your little monsters going as? I hear Supergirl costumes are hard to come by. Is that because Smallville brought the character on board? What's going on in the goblin world this year? Let me know if you want to post photos of your best costume efforts.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sleeping like a baby?

Daniel has never been a great sleeper. As a baby, dad would put him to bed and I'd get homa about 1 a.m. to feed him. That 1 a.m. wake-up call continued until he was about 3. When he finally started sleeping through the night, he stopped taking naps. And I mean any nap at all. His day care and preschool teachers had a time with that! Every other child in the room asnooze on their mats, and my child tearing through the library area.
Well, he's stepped it up to another level. On a Saturday night two weeks ago, and again last Friday night, the child did not go to sleep. And I mean at all. Up all night, destroying his room in a flurry of activity, keeping me up with him. This past Friday night, I finally collapsed about 4:30, leaving him playing happily in his room and trusting that I'd hear him if he opened his bedroom door.
I though surely this must be a side effect of the ADHD medications we have him on. And thus I made an appointment with his doctor. But no, the doc says, if it were the meds we'd be going through this every night. More likely, he has allergies.
It's like this, stuffy nose, lay down, can't breathe, so he gets back up. And the party's on.
So we tried some allergy medication before bed last night. And lo and behold, we all slept like babies.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Splintering the family

When driving up the driveway last night I noticed an open window in the bathroom. "Mommy stop," I heard Faith's voice call out. I stopped the car and put it in reverse to get back to the open window. "Mommy I have a splinter and Daddy wants to use a needle to get it out. I'm hiding here in the bathroom so please come and get me," she said with only the top half of her face showing out the window. She was genuinely afraid of the needle, but I couldn't help but laugh at her desperate tactic of barricading herself in the locked room. When I told my husband what was going on, he laughed too as he didn't realize where she had gone. While in the bathroom, she got the tweezers and managed to get the little shard out of her foot, but was still afraid her daddy would want to "operate" anyway. My mind flashed back to those days of my mother striking a match and burning the tip of a needle for her own splinter-ectomies. If only I had known about hiding in the bathroom...

- Liz

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

When it doesn't sound so simple

As Faith struggles to learn to read, I've been telling her to sound out the words. That's fine when you hit something as straight forward as "cat." But what about when it comes to a word like "was?" Phonetically it should be spelled "wuz." When she struggled with the word "that" she was sounding it out as "t-hat" instead of putting the t&h together as one sound. I don't mean to confuse her but I can imagine that's how she feels. Last night when she was reading to us, I noticed there are words that she has learned that she stumbles over. I told her there are many words that you just have to memorize and forget about sounding them out. What's even more dangerous is that I see her get frustrated that she doesn't know these words. Then she gets discouraged. I really want her to be open to learning and not shut herself down. She wanted to give up as she was reading her book. Now I am want to come up with a way to motivate her to continually study her list of words. She has a tendency to think she already knows words she learned a couple of weeks ago, so she doesn't want to review. Perhaps setting up a regular time to study even when she doesn't have homework will help her on her way. Any ideas on how to spell relief?


out of pocket

I've been distracted all this week - the trial in my cousin's death started Monday and is being broadcast on Court TV. So I've been glued to the computer, just not BlogSpot.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The name game

Naming your child is probably the most personal thing you can do for them - aside from giving birth. So when everyone asks a pregnant woman "Have you picked a name?" (I'm guilty of this!) and then proceeds to offer their opinion on that name, I know it's got to work the expectant mom's nerves. Chris and I picked Daniel's name, but we also picked a girl name because we opted to not find out gender in advance. And of course, we didn't tell anyone the names we had chosen, either. It drove the grandmas-to-be a little crazy, but unitl she was born doctors swore my sister was going to be my brother, so I was quite content to not get anyone's hopes up (including mine).
I'm thinking about names this morning after a discussion with my adoption class. Up to what age is it OK to change a baby's birth name? We're adopting an older child, so the question is moot for us. He'll come with the name he's got and we'll learn to love it. But there was heavy discussion in class.
What do you think?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Birth announcements

Want us to feature your new addition? Send me a pic and all the stats:
and your little bundle will get his or her own post.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Guilt trippin'

A comment on my "old school" blog came at the right time. When I dropped Daniel off at the day care this morning, he went all clingy on me. And there's nothing like a healthy dose of guilt to start my work day off right.
I like working. I don't do well sitting at home all day with laundry and housekeeping. And while I wish I could be home when Daniel gets out of school, he enjoys his afterschool program and the friends he makes there. As an only child, that's his primary social life with kids his age. And I can't tell you what a relief it is with my new job, to be able to actually pay all my bills and have money for things like the "Day With Thomas" event coming up this month. So I'm going to be a working mom for all of Daniel's little life.
But I find balance and, in that balance, comfort. For Daniel's first three years, I worked at night and my husband worked during the day. Daniel didn't have to go to day care during that time. And I feel like we are closer for having had that time together. And because he knows mommy works, he knows he has to "work," too. His work is school. He has to do well at his job, just like I have to do well at mine. And he understands chores, too. I have work at the house, he has work at the house. So I feel like I am teaching him something there.
And that's nothing against stay-at-home moms. Some of the hardest-working women I know are SAHMs. And don't get me started on homeschooling moms. To run a household AND teach? Your own children? God Bless you. As much as I love Daniel, being with him 24-7 tends to make me a little nutty.
So I choose to work. And I'll accept the guilt that comes with dropping him off at day care when he's not in school. Because not two minutes after I walk out of the room (I know, I've sneaked a peek) he's happily playing and making new friends.

Monday, October 08, 2007

old school

I waited until yesterday to tell Daniel he wouldn't be going to school this week. That instead he would be going back to his "old school" at Children's Friend this week.
"The whole week?" he exclaimed, counting off the days. Yep, the whole week. And, I sweetened the pot, you'll get to see Ms. Melinda again.
So this morning as we stepped into the day care, I wasn't expecting any problems. Silly mommy. HE clung to my leg, acting like he was 3 again instead of my confident kindergartener. He hid shyly behind me in a move from days long past. And I couldn't leave without giving him a big hug, just like when he used to go to that school every day. Amazing, the things that pop back up.
So, Houston County moms, what are you doing with your young this week? Wish I could take the week off with him, but it's Homecoming in the Valley, so I'll likely be putting in longer hours, not shorter.

Friday, October 05, 2007

moms online, unite!

As part of my "homework" for this blog, I belong to some other online moms groups. Also, I drop in on a few sites designed for moms regularly. But I've noticed an unnerving trend on some of them (you know which ones they are):
Moms, and women in general, use the comments and features on these sites to complain about their men. On one site, a woman asked "what's the one thing your spouse does that drives you crazy?" And oh, did she get answers! Some of these women, it seemed, didn't like anything about their men! One actually replied "the list would be shorter if you'd asked what he does that doesn't drive me crazy."
Here's the thing: If you've got a partner, a helpmate, a husband who does hubandly things and lightens you load, shouldn't you be - for the most part - happy you have that helper?
Now I'll grant you I've done my share of raving about Chris on this post and to my girlfriends in person. And yeah, he's human and he screws up occasionally. Guess what - so do I. So do you. So do our kids. But last night, when I got after him an hour after asking him to unload the dishwasher and he was lurking in the living room watching "Grey's Anatomy" with me, he said "I'll get to it. I'll unload the clean dishes and load the dirty - after all, you've been doing laundry all night." Well, hallelujah. He noticed!
So if you've got nothing nice to say about your man, maybe it's time to have a discussion with said man. Venting your spleen online isn't going to solve your problem.
Or am I wrong?
Feel free to comment...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Homework hassles

My latest parenting challenge comes in helping my daughter with homework. When she goes over her schoolwork, she is supposed to practice the answers she gets wrong. The other day, she forgot her practice so we made it up the next day. Faith nearly filled the lined page with repeated letters she had previously gotten backwards and corrected her spelling words. "Mommy, how do you spell sorry?" she asked me. I proceeded to help her spell out - "I'm sorry for not doing my practice." She signed it - "Love, Faith." Although I didn't ask as she was writing, yesterday I asked if the teacher had asked her to write the apology. No, Faith had done that on her own. "What did your teacher say about your practice?" I asked. "I forgot the paper," Faith replied. "I had to do it over." I couldn't believe she didn't make it to school with the paper that was with her folder when I left for work that morning! I'm still not sure what happened to it. If only her teacher had seen that sweet little note. I've got to find a way to increase Faith's concentration. She's been such an intelligent and mature child that I'm surprised when these things are overlooked. We are still struggling with transposing some letters and numbers. On one of her papers, the teacher wrote she was going to start taking points off for those infractions. "But that's the way I make them," Faith said. But that's not the "right" way. Let's hope practice makes perfect.

- Liz

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I've come to believe a Higher Power is telling me Chis and I are not meant to adopt. Of course, that isn't stopping us. But consider the evidence:
Our DFCS coordinator has taken ill and we're being "contracted out" to someone we haven't even met, or heard from, yet. Other couples are done with their first home visits!
There was the whole incident with Daniel's teacher reporting us for suspected abuse. While the DFCS investigator had no trouble filing it as an unfounded suspicion, it still made both myself and Chris leery of the System.
I had pneumonia and the inhalers I was given made my drug test come back positive. A more detailed test - on my hair - came back negative, but still.
My TB skin test came back with a false positive. Turns out I have been exposed to someone with TB, so my blood carries the antibodies that make the skin test come up just a little. The health department says I don't have TB, so I've been cleared, but come ON!
All of our fingerprints were erased in Atlanta. They are taken digitally with this testy little machine, then transported to ATL to be put in the DFCS system. Only someone hit the wrong button. So we're retaking the prints.
I mean, really. Is Someone trying to tell us we're not ready for another child or am I just hexed?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Caught in the act of Googling

My little girl entered the world of Googling today. "Mommy, how do you spell art?" "Mommy how do you spell games?" Those were the questions she asked from the office this afternoon. So where do you find good art projects and activities on the Internet? I'm sure she's looking for interactive sites where she can draw or color on the computer. Her Google search of arts and games for kids turned up only articles , but no place to play. (If anyone has any suggestions, we'd love to hear.)Just a few minutes before, Faith asked me how do you spell mall. It seems Barbie lost her rabbit and Faith thinks it must be at the mall. "Barbie always likes to go to the mall," Faith explained as she typed the letters into Writing and reading can now take my daughter anywhere she wants to go. And it should be no surprise "mall" would be one of the first words she typed other than her name. She is a girl isn't she? Today turned into a Kodak moment, so I snapped a shot of her at her first Google page. Isn't that cute... the Google Scholar page font is in Crayola four-pack colors. Thank goodness she came along before crayons became obsolete. Today was a transistion day in more ways than one. After I told Faith I'd blog to ask other moms if they knew of any good sites, she suggested I blog about her "angel baby kitten" who is such a "dreamer" and "fell asleep on my ankle last night." Her words were uttered in the softer songlike voice she uses to talk to her "baby." Her delivery is much like you'd hear from a great aunt leaning over a bassinet. She petted the purring, nearly full grown "baby" and came to read over my shoulder. Uh-oh. Now I'm really busted in this blog. She'll soon be able to read EVERYTHING. As I started typing, she came over my shoulder and read aloud the first three words. Her little voice asked "my little girl? Ughhh..., " her voice trailed off as she walked away. My BIG girl? I'm really in trouble now. Parlais-vous francaise? Maybe that would buy me a few more years.
- Liz

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Recalls, recalls everywhere

More toys have been recalled today because of lead in the paint. So I've added to out clickable links at your right the government's Consumer Product Safety site. Check it out, then check out your kids' rooms.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Working our way through the System

I put System in capitalization for a Reason. (Ever think that way? Big stuff gets a big letter!)
No, really, any time I'm talking about the Government or DFCS, I think in capital letters. And yep, the System I'm talking about is DFCS.
Those of you who have been with us a while might recall Chris and I are going through the adoption process with DFCS to "get" Daniel a brother. Because I have no desire to go through parenting an infant again, and because there are lots of older kids who wind up in the System and need homes, we're trying to adopt.
You might also recall that a few weeks ago Daniel's teacher reported us to DFCS for suspected child abuse after he had a particularly active night and went to school with both a bump on his head and a black eye (yes, I really do want another boy - I think). The DFCS investigator decided it was just a case of a boy being a boy and we hadn't done anything wrong. So that was case closed yesterday morning. It took him a while to actually close the case because, even in a deferrment case (that's what it's called when the suspicions are unfounded) there's paperwork.
But he's just in time. We have two more classes, then a case worker will visit the house and make her report to say whether or not we should be granted a child. We've been every Saturday and learned about different kinds of child abuse, the different ways our new son could be damaged, and how we can recognize and help him grow to cope with the things that have happened in his past. We've also discussed discipline and different techniques we can use with both Daniel and his new brother. Contrary to popular belief, DFCS isn't against spanking. You can spank your own kids. But you can't spank a kid who's been through the DFCS system. Because hey, maybe hitting a child who's been abused in the past isn't the best of ideas. I can get behind that.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Holy Homework expletive, Batman

Out of the mouths of babes, off times can be gems. But from the homework pencil a misplaced letter can be disastrous. While going over homework in Faith's folder, I noticed her misspelling of the word "hits." Yes, she put an "s" at both ends of the word as she tried to write "The cat hits the hat." I wonder if it was by coincidence that the teacher sent this particular paper home for us to look over. Aside from chuckling with friends, we didn't explain the nature of the error to Faith, just that she misspelled the word. We'll save the whole story for future embarrassment.

- Liz Fabian

False alarm!

Guest post...

When someone tells you that no two pregnancies are alike, believe them!
I'm about 2 1/2 weeks away from my due date right now. Last night, I thought my water had broken. So after spending three hours at Coliseum, mainly in the waiting area watching Spongebob and Home Improvement, we were told,nope
its not amniotic fluid, go home.
My mother, who lives in Florida, was relieved because she wants to be therewhen the baby is born. Since my firstborn was only a seven hour labor, I'm hinking she'll need to speed to make it in time for the event.
The problem with labor is that I can't predict WHEN its going to happen. Youmake all these plans and get all this gear and then you wait. And wait. And eople ask, when are you leaving, when are you due, boy you are big aren't ou? My favorite is, you look like you could go at any time. Officially now I can go into labor without a problem. After 37 weeks, a baby is considered term.
After all the excitement of last night, I have to think it was just a way to get a practice run in. Good thing, too, since I hadn't packed a whole lot, nor had I thought to make a list of things that I needed to take. I wandered around the house for a good 45 minutes trying to decide what I wanted to take.
With my first, I had gone to the doctor for a regular appointment, who decided that I was in labor, told me he was planning to induce me anyways and off I went to the hospital where they broke my water and gave me pitocin.
Here's to hoping that the next time I end up in the hospital its not a false alarm again!

Friday, September 21, 2007

more on reading

I've never really had to worry about creating a reader out of Daniel. Unlike most homes nowdays, our house could double as a library (if it weren't for the air hockey table in the living room, that is.
While my friends and relatives have been expanding thier electronics catalogs, I have been buying books. There's not an x-box or wii to be seen, but Daniel has his own bookshelf full of Thomas the Tank Engine and Dr. Seuss books. On the higher shelves are books for him to grow into - books from my childhood.
He sees myself and his dad reading all the time - books, magazines, comics even. And he's still at that age where he wants to be doing whatever we're doing. So sometimes I'll have him "read" by himself, where he makes up stories to go along with the pictures in the books, and sometimes I'll read to him. The challege is getting him to pick one or two books - he wants me to read all ten that he brings me!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The competitive edge in learning

It's amazing how fast Faith has embraced reading. All it took were a few words to encourage her - words she overheard her parents saying that actually could have discouraged her. We have been reading to Faith since before she could talk and were a little concerned with her teacher's report that she wasn't reading as she should. While Matt and I were talking, Faith must have heard us say the teacher was surprised she wasn't reading better given her skill level in other areas in the classroom. Immediately she chose a book to start reading to us. Plus, when I picked up Faith at school the other day, she wanted to know if we were running errands. When I told her we needed to buy groceries she was disappointed she couldn't go home and read. WHAT? She wanted to go READ? Fantastic. I turned the car around and took her home. I could shop later. We have been waiting for the day we could tell her to turn off the Disney Channel and go read. That day is here. Although she still struggles, she's catching on rapidly. I honestly believe she was challenged by not living up to others expectations of her. I hope this trend continues and she will be motivated to always do her best and reach her potential for success. I hope this enthusiasm continues. I think a trip to the library is in order.

- Liz

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Starburst success

It took me a while, but I hit upon the key to getting Daniel to take any pill.
Starburst candy.
The little squares are soft enough that I can cut off a piece and mold it around his medicine. The flavor is stron enough to get his saliva flowing and he can just swallow the candy whole. At first, I rewarded him with a second, pill-free slice of the candy, but now he just swallows one piece and moves on with his day.
So much for my "no sugar" edict, but hey, whatever works.
As far as the medication goes, Daniel has only had one "bad" report home since he started on the medication. So the fidgeting, squirming, jumping, kicking, throwing, disobedient Daniel has learned to control all those impulses. And while he's able to finish tasks I give him at home, he's still my little chatterbox. Just with a cleaner room.

Monday, September 17, 2007

don't say "cheese"

Just in time for those annual christmas-card portraits (yes, it's that time again) and back-to-school pictures, BabyCenter has come up with some really good advice for taking family portraits and candids of our kids.
The first thing they recommend is NOT to formally pose everybody and command "say cheese!" Have you noticed the wierd smiles you get out of kids that way? Daniel mugs for the camera, and I confess to sometimes pretending to snap the shot he wants me to take while I wait for him to return to his play. THEN I actually start shooting, and I get much better pictures that way. It's no big deal for me to sit still and wait, watching for the moment when he turns toward the camera with an excited "Look what I'm doing!" smile. THAT's the shot I want. And one of my favorite portrait-studio shots of the two of us doesn't have either one of us looking at the camera. We're facing each other, laughing into each other's eyes.
BabyCenter also reminds us of the benefits of going digital. I remember one of Daniel's early photo sessions - I wanted a great shot for his first birthday. THe photographer took 350 photos! But sure enough, there was one that I glanced at and said "That's it." Sure, I had three or four others that I liked and was able to make a scrapbook page out of, but that one photo was the money shot. So don't expect to take one or two pictures and get what you want.
Baby Center also recommends the following:
Don't go for perfection. Our kids aren't perfect - it's better sometimes to see the "real" family. This approach is especially great with kids (and grownups)who hate having their photo taken anyway.
Do go outside. I love taking pictures of Daniel in trees. Maybe it's just because climbing trees is such a boy thing. MAybe it's the way the light plays through the leaves on his blond hair. Maybe it's just because he's so darn HAPPY. Whatever, everybody looks good in early-morning and late evening light. It's almost better than candlelight.
When the kids get tired of the photo shoot, give them a break. You're not going to get good shots with unhappy campers anyway. And who knows, turning them loose to play might net you the shot you're looking for. Because taking pictures shouldn't be a chore.

For more useful advice on photography, check out Danny Gilleland's blog "Almost in Focus." Go to and click on the link.

Friday, September 14, 2007

bummed boy and Grandparent's Day

Grandparent's Day was Sunday, Sept. 9. Well, today, Daniel's class is having a Grandparents' tea. Only Daniel's grands live in Texas, Virginia, and Jackson respectively. And his "pop-pop" works the long hours of a truck driver. So he won't have a grandparent at Grandparent's tea, and he's all kinds of sad about it.
Awww, baby.
So tomorrow I'll be taking him to Jackson for some quality time with papaw - and by Monday I'm sure he'll ahve forgotten all about it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Important recall information

With tragic reports of children being killed or maimed by recalled products, the government wants parents to be informed. Although many of the recalls make the news, often they are overlooked. Plus used toys that had been recalled can be purchased at yard sales to unknowing parents. This morning I saw a television report that announced two Web sites where you can sign up for e-mail recall alerts. You can find information at or for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. If you have a doubt about toy, crib or carseat, you can always do a computer search to see if anything comes up about recalls. Stay safe and have a good day.

- Liz Fabian

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

protecting the boy

Daniel's rough and tumble. He's all boy and all the bumps and bruises that come with. So when we had a bad night last week and he both bumped his head turning somersaults and got hit in the eyeglasses when I opened his bedroom door (he was standing right behind it), I joked with my coworkers that his teachers were going to call DFCS on me for beating my kid.
They did.
So this week I find myself treating the kid like glass. After all, if the case worker finds more bruises when he comes back, I could lose my kid, right? So I'm letting him rot his brain by watching tv, he's spent some quality time playing Legos (made a pretty impressive slide, complete with handrails) and holding my breath until DFCS returns. Daniel seems to think he doesn't have to listen to me or Chris, and he certainly doesn't think he has to obey. It's been harrowing.
And I wonder if I'm protecting the boy, or doing harm by letting him see that DFCS has the power to scare me.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Mommy inked

From "Inked" to "Miami Ink" to "L.A. Ink," tv shows about tattoo artists have helped a hot trend go mainstream. And BabyCenter reports this morning that moms are among the big wave of Americans embracing permanent body art.
I have to say, that when I got my tattoo (Daniel's name along with mine and Chris' in Greek lettering around my ankle), no one freaked out. Even now that I'm working in conservative academia, whenever someone asks about my tattoo and I explain it, the response has been "how sweet." So I guess tattooing has really become mainstream, and moms are definitely keeping up with the times.
What would you get to represent your kids? Pretend for a moment that it's not permanent and your mother wouldn't have a hissy. Just daydream - then share!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Consignment sale alert

I happened upon the Kidz Replay consignment sale today by noticing a flyer in the window of Kangaroo Bob's as I dropped Faith off for a party. There's still plenty of clothes on the cheap so you have plenty of time. Plus Saturday is always half-price day. I might have waited until then, but I'm committed to helping move a friend Saturday morning. Here's the scoop, the sale is in the Riverstreet Corners plaza behind Natalia's on Riverside Drive in Macon. It's not far from the Pierce Avenue exit on I-75. They have set up in a vacant store next to Lipson's Fabrics. The sale is open from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon. Sorry about the short notice. Organizer Becky Oliver told me she had sent me a notice through Middle Georgia Moms, but we figured out she sent it to WMAZ. She had Googled "Middle Georgia Moms" and got Channel 13's website - which is what I feared when Channel 13 named their new segment with the same name as our nearly two-year-old blog. The "Straight from the Heart" folks knew about our blog when they chose the name, I'm told by a newsroom insider. So I suppose they were trying to create confusion and draw from our readers. Otherwise, I can't figure out why a television station that previously had a moratorium on the term "Middle Georgia" in favor of "Central Georgia" would choose the name. Oh well, my mother always told me "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," but from my experience with their management style, I doubt they were trying to be kind. I'm just sorry you all missed out on the early days of the sale. The Martha Bowman MOPS consignment sale is coming up later this month. Mark your calendar for the public sale Sept. 21 and 22 at the Hephzibah Children's Home on Zebulon Road across from Lake Wildwood. Friday's hours are from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. with Saturday's half-price day from 8 a.m. until noon. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment to bring clothes to sell, you can call Kim at 478-986-5669. Both sales are really great so happy shopping.

- Liz Fabian

harder on mom

We've always known Daniel has ADHD. So does anyone who spends more than five minutes in his presence. It's that bad. But until now, I've resisted medicating him. I am afraid it will change his personality.
But after our confrence with his teacher last week, it started to sound like now might be the time.
"He's smart," she said. "And I think he WANTS to be good, but he can't help himself."
I know what she means - he doesn't want me to take away his Thomas trains for in-school misbehavior. He doesn't want to lose chewing gum and tv-watching privileges. But when I look him in the eye and tell him to do something (or more often tell him to STOP doing something) I can see the war between his brain and his body. And the extra energy surging through his system wins every time.
So today we started medication.
And if I didn't already feel bad enough, it took me half an hour to get him to swallow the pill. I tried yogurt, I tried juice, I tried threading it in a cheerio.
"I'll be good without the pill, momma," my little cherub assured me.
Oh, God, somebody just shoot me.
Trust me baby, getting you to take that pill is harder on mom than it is on you.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

My poster child

The day has come. I walked into Faith's room yesterday and saw a poster taped to her wall. Smiling back at me were the faces of the cast of Disney's High School Musical 2. My husband picked up a copy of USA Weekend last month that featured articles about the blockbuster musical. He wanted to read the articles to her as a way of inspiring her fledgling reading, but she initially had no interest, he said. Now, after she's seen the sequel, she zealously rediscovered the newspaper magazine and its poster. Still, seeing the image of that poster on her wall was jarring. My daughter is a premature tween. As a young child, I didn't tack posters on my wall. They didn't jive with my wallpaper's miniature roses. I did make an exception for Rocky Balboa in the seventies but I was already well into my teens. I do take some consolation that my child is more interested in the girls in the movie than the boys at this point. But I know it won't be long before she starts getting starry eyes over the current teen idols. I'm not sure exactly when The Monkees' Davy Jones first caught my eye, but I was Faith's age when they were on television. Then came my crushes on Donny Osmond and David Cassidy. I even had a real "boyfriend" who brought me gifts at Valentine's Day when I was in the first and second grades. Now that I think of it, Faith is probably right on track, it's just a little faster track than Mommy would like for her baby.

- Liz Fabian

fat matters

As the mom of the skinniest kid around - and as a woman severely limiting her fat intake - I was interested when BabyCenter popped an article into my e-mail "Is your child getting enough fat?"
I knew about babies needing more fat than adults. I had my gallbladder out six weeks before I got pregnant with Daniel and my OB had a fit over my strict diet. I had cut out all fat - even went to skim milk - on the advice of my surgeon, and didn't gain a pound until I was six months' pregnant. That's not to say I didn't gain baby weight, I was just losing it from other places thanks to my new eating habits.
And after Daniel was born, his pediatrician made sure I was giving him whole milk after he was weaned. Whole milk for at least the first two years, because babies' brains need the fat in natural foods like milk and fish to develop properly.
And as Daniel has grown - and grown, and grown - I've watched over his diet and worried. Typical kid, he'd rather eat pretzels than lunch and pasta constitutes dinner in his world. But he's also a big salad fan and I'm pretty pleased that he'll try just about anything.
So the bottom line is BabyCenter isn's recommending sugary and junk foods, but they are saying kids need more fatty foods than adults - until they're at least 8. They really do have more energy than us, and they're burning it pretty fast.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Mommy are we there yet?

I expect DFACS at the door at any time to talk to me about child abuse. We drove three hours in the car yesterday and Faith couldn't watch any movies. You would have thought we were making her wear short shorts and sit on black vinyl seats in the sun on a triple-digit day. I never heard her complain about anything so much. We had decided to take my car - the one without the movie screens - as it gets much better gas mileage than my husband's large van. "But I'm going to be soooo bored," Faith kept whining as we packed our suitcases. Poor thing. My husband pointed out we didn't even have videos growing up. We saw movies in the theater and waited a lifetime until they came out on television. Trying to make the best of her dismal situation, she grabbed her "laptop," a computerized learning game and worked all the way to Atlanta. She did pause to check out the tall buildings which is ironic because I just wrote about the skyline for today's Southern Sunday column in The Telegraph. I told you our minds are mysteriously linked at times. She noticed the Marriott's base was larger than its top. My husband told her we'll take her there some time and go inside. He's trying to foster a career in architecture, we'll see. Dancer seems to be tops on her short list right now. Perhaps it's the influence of "High School Musical," which she didn't get to watch again on the trip. Not to worry, it was the first thing out of her suitcase at my brother's in Rome. Maybe she'll get her fill before the return trip.

- Liz Fabian

Friday, August 31, 2007

Worst advice ever

I read something in Thursday's Telegraph that just made me scream.
In a syndicated article about sprucing up your home prior to putting it on the market, the author recommended replacing the carpet with a taupe berber.
In my experience, that's hands-down the worst advice ever.
Because when I moved into my house it had brand-new, creamy-colored carpet. Guess what color it is now?
After only a year and a half, and after two steam-cleanings, that carpet is - in spots - gray, brown, blue-speckled (don't ask, I don't know) and Georgia red clay. Because we LIVE in our house, we don't just look at it. My next big project is to tear up that carpet and refinish the gorgeous hardwood floors beneath. Oh, I'll probably leave the carpet in the bedrooms, but only because beds tend to scratch the heck out of hardwood.
And I'm not the only one. When my mom moved into her house 20 years ago, guess what she had on the floors? Brand-new, creamy white, wall-to-wall carpet. I'm here to tell you she fought that carpet for years. Twice-annual steam cleanings, religious spot cleanings, the endless search for a stain remover that actually worked. Finally, she tore it all up and put down a pretty silver grey that hides day-to-day dirt SO MUCH BETTER. Best of all, it worked with the light silver paint and colonial blue moldings. She still steam-cleans, but she also has babies in the house pretty regularly and hey, they spend a lot of time on the floor.
So please, please, whoever is in charge of giving interior designers and Realtors advice, ditch the white carpet line. It's just bad advice. New homeowners everywhere will thank you.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Lessons for little Miss know-it-all

One of first lessons Faith needs to learn is how to learn. While doing homework, I pulled out last week's spelling words to go over. "But Mommy, I already know those," she said. Well, she could have fooled me as she was not able to quickly read the words she thought she knew. While doing math homework, she wanted to know why the same problems were repeated on the page. "You learn by repetition," I told her, then explained what repetition means. Review is not a welcome new word in her vocabulary. Retention is another word she should master. I'm finding it difficult to be patient as she struggles to sit still and complete her homework without distraction. Does anyone have any tips for keeping her focused? We even have a hard time keeping her in her chair during meal time. So far, her teachers have never mentioned this was a problem so it could be isolated to home. I want to improve her concentration but without discouraging her. She's already getting frustrated as she sometimes tends to write letters and numbers backwards. Her kindergarten teacher said it was likely due to being left-handed. Last night Faith told me that her new teacher has asked if she's seeing the numbers backwards, but she says she's not. One line she'll write a three correctly and in the next equation it looks like a cursive "E." Perhaps we should practice writing letters and numbers repeatedly and I need to learn more patience as she masters reading and writing.

-- Liz Fabian

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Here we go!

Ahhh, here it is, the fourth week of school, and the first note has come home. "I think we should meet. What day is good for you for a conference?"
Daniel has been in trouble 8 out of 17 days so far. He's had to move his bear (it's a discipline chart in the classroom) from honey haven into the woods, up the river, and once all the way to the cave for different infractions. Yesterday he went over the top, though. He was frustrated by getting in trouble YET AGAIN and told his poor teacher "I'm going to tell on you!"
Well, lest you think all this is greeted with ambivalence at home, he gave a supervised apology this morning before class. And every time he gets in trouble at school, he loses a privilege at home. Chewing gum is gone, perhaps never to be seen again. And three trouble reports in a week means the loss of a Thomas train. That's hitting where it hurts, let me tell you.
I feel sometimes like I'm putting too much pressure on him to behave. He's got a lot of energy - hasn't stopped moving since conception as far as I can tell. And I don't want to get to the point where he hates school because it's boring and he has to sit still all the time. On the other hand, if I want to fulfill the dream of my kid mugging for the camera at his college graduation instead of that nightmare where a mug shot of my kid appears in CrimeStoppers, I guess I'd better start now with the pressure to behave.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

much-needed advice

Since Daniel was born, I have been worried about how to talk to him about smoking. See, Chris has been a smoker since he was 13. I'm a rabid nonsmoker. You see the conflicting messages we're sending?
To Chis' credit, he's tried everything to quit. Patches, gum, hypnosis, none of it takes care of a 20-year habit. And he has never smoked in our house or in my car. When Daniel was a baby, Chris had a jacket he'd put on before going outside to smoke and he'd take it right off when he was done. So Daniel has been exposed to as little second- or third-hand smoke as possible.
But the delimma remains: how do I teach Daniel that smoking is bad, but his daddy's not a bad person for doing it?
BabyCenter came to my rescue (as they often do) with a discussion board on teaching your child about smoking. While some of it is still over Daniel's head (I'm not sure he'll understand "addictions") I did get some tips that will work.
And Chris is still trying to quit, bless his heart.

Monday, August 27, 2007

This Mom's play of the game

My heart was beating as if I'd climbed three flights of stairs. I almost wanted to fast forward to the end of the Little League World Series to end my misery. You see, I recorded the games and watched them later so that I could catch everything and speed through commercials. The Warner Robins All-stars really are all stars. I've watched them all this past week and couldn't be happier that they are World Series Champions. As I watched them smack homes runs, snatch balls out of the air and pitch like major leaguers, I was more impressed by their actions than their plays on the field. During one of the games, one of the booth announcers pointed out that one of the Warner Robins team members paused to congratulate an opponent who had just hit a double. "Isn't that nice?" asked the man in the booth. "That's too nice, if you ask me," another announcer replied. Then, last night, Tokyo's pitcher sobbed on the mound following the walk-off homer that ended it all. Others of Japan's finest shed tears, too. Our boys threw their arms around them and consoled them. They were happy for others who did well, and compassionate as champions. But for this Middle Georgia Mom, the play of the game I'd most like my daughter to learn comes from Dalton Carriker. Just before he stepped up to the plate to pop the game-ending home run, he knelt in prayer. "God please give me the strength just to get a hit and help my team out," is how he later described that silent prayer as he lowered his head to his bat. He then launched one out of the park. With arms outstretched he soared like Peter Pan as he circled the bases. He had reached out to a personal living God who listens and loves, while his opponents bowed to a lifeless statue their countrymen mistook for the god of baseball. In the game of life, if you have real faith like Dalton's and pray for the strength to fulfill God's will, you'll never lose. Even when you don't win.

- Liz

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Way to go, WRALL!

Good job to our Little LEague World Champions - and to their parents.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Our dear dozen

There's just something about their faces. There is determination in their eyes yet a childlike countenance shows under their caps. The Warner Robins American Little League allstars are in our hearts and our prayers as they take the field in their quest to be U.S. champions. Their game is about to begin and I can't wait. Win or lose, they will always be our champions. People will be talking about that team for a while - and each and every time some one dinks that guy's bust in the outfield. I'm especially thrilled that we have a family member on the team. Carolyn Umphreyville, David's mom, is a cherished person in our newsroom at The Telegraph. Although we miss all her hard work, I'm ecstatic she's able to catch every magical moment. (All of which are masterfully detailed by my newsroom neighbor Joe Kovac Jr. and captured by photojournalist Jason Vorhees.) I heard an announcer the other night say that David was making some memorable moments for his family. I thank all the guys and their families, coaches and friends for giving us all something to remember. Go Georgia!!!


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ahh, girls

Liz and Faith have been lucky to make it to the first grade before their first ER visit. Daniel was fifteen months the first time we whisked him in in the middle of the night.
Of course, Daniel is unique in that whenever he gets sick - and I mean just a little sick, he spikes a high fever. That has taken some getting used to. "He's 104!" "It's just a new tooth." No kidding.
But I hear it all the time from mothers of boys - the emergency room file is usually on it's second volume by the time they're 10. My husband had filled two files and started a third by the time we met on his 16th birthday. And every time I hear the Tarzan yell I think, "where are my keys?" So out of necessity that we keep at least one full ER copay in Daniel's savings account.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mommy, how do you spell E.R.?

And now the rest of the story of Faith's first day of school. Last night with the promise of buying her Disney's "High School Musical," Faith released her own Health Information Protection Act objections to a blog on the subject of her trip to the emergency room. About an hour into her first day of first grade, Faith nearly fell faint during a tour of the cafeteria. She turned extremely white and was having trouble keeping her eyes open, school officials said in their phone call. Luckily, I was about two miles away as they told me I needed to take her straight to the emergency room which is about two blocks away from school. But by the time I arrived, her color was returning and she was doing better after complaining of stomach pain. The nurse advised I take her to the pediatrician and the principal phoned ahead to alert the doctor. While trying to get a urine sample for the doctor, she turned white again and slumped over in the bathroom. The pediatrician called for an ambulance as she needed an I.V. immediately, he said. His big fear was that she had meningitis. My husband was arriving from Milledgeville hungry for information about Faith's condition as my cell phone died after I initially alerted him about the call from the school. What timing! We wound up whisking her to the hospital ourselves as the ambulance was taking too long and we figured we could get her there faster. Well, put your mind at ease - she's fine. We spent about six hours at the emergency room and Faith perked up right after getting her intravenous fluids. Her white blood cell count was high, but an X-ray and CT scan failed to show any problem with her stomach. A follow-up at the doctor showed her blood count was back to normal. We are sure glad. Of course what exactly happened is still a mystery, but it could have been some sort of reflex due to constipation, of all things. That would explain her stomach pain and - pardon me - but she did pass an extremely large stool later that night. That's probably too much information, just don't tell Faith I shared it. Looking back on the experience, I feel so fortunate to have such excellent care for Faith at school, her doctor's office and The Children's Hospital at The Medical Center of Central Georgia.My mind was at east as I felt so assured that she was getting the treatment she needed. The hardest times were the drive to St. Joseph's school and waiting for the ambulance at the Dr. Seth Bush's office. While driving, I felt my throat tighten and my eyes begin to water. My baby had to go to the hospital? The girl who is never sick had to be rushed to the E.R.? She had been fine that day and showed no sign of sickness. After praying as I drove and putting my trust in God, I realized I needed to be calm for her sake. I did my best to make light of the situation and not upset her. While the hospital can be a scary place, I made sure I pointed out the cheerful wallpaper border in her room and the cool bubble wall outside her door. I had taken a press tour of The Children's Hospital and E.R. suites when they opened years ago. My past experience with The Children's Miracle Network broadcast and my nephew's hospitalizations due to a heart birth defect convinced me she was in great hands. The staff was wonderful and presented Faith with a coloring book and doll while she waited for her procedures. The book explained what happened in the hospital and I think it had a calming effect on her. Her nurse even had glitter around her eyes. How cool is that? With WiFi available in the hospital, I was able to finish editing my news assignments I had been working on when I got the call. I plan to have more conversations with Faith as to why she was so embarrassed that she didn't want to share what happened with her teachers and classmates who were all worried about her. I can understand why she opposed "blogging to the world," as she said, but I thought it was important to share the positive experience we had with the hospital. Now I wonder where I can find a copy of "High School Musical."

- Liz Fabian

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Recalls, recalls everywhere


Picking the best baby products for your family means more than just buying the cutest one, or the cheapest one, or the one that has all the right features. You must also make sure the product is safe and appropriate for your child.
Although the U.S. government does set safety standards for many children's products, and quality manufacturers do safety-test products before they hit the stores, dozens of children's products sold in the United States are recalled each year because of safety problems that are discovered after parents begin using these products. What's more, a number of widely available children's products — such as baby bath seats — are considered dangerous by safety experts but are sold nonetheless.
See if the product has an unsafe track record by checking the Web site of Kids in Danger, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting children from defective products.
Look for a seal from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), a trade organization whose safety standards are much higher than those issued by the federal government. The JPMA certifies a wide variety of products, from bassinets and cradles to infant carriers and walkers. For a complete list of products, visit the certification area of the JPMA Web site.
Find out what Consumer Reports has to say about the product. The easiest way to do that is on the Consumer Reports Web site, where you'll find free and for-fee information about baby products and gear. You can also find the group's reviews and ratings compiled in the book Consumer Reports Best Baby Products, by Sandra Gordon.
How to find out about recalls:
• Visit BabyCenter's free recall database of child-related products. The database is updated weekly and lists products recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and others. Search by category of product, date of recall, manufacturer, name or product, or model number. The CPSC maintains a complete list of recalled products on its Web site. Depending on what you're looking for, click on "Child products (not including toys)" or "Toys." These listings contain important information such as:

• a description of the product being recalled, including product numbers and when and where the product was sold

• injuries that could result from using the product

• steps the manufacturer is taking to remedy the situation

• contact information for the manufacturer

Or, instead of checking the Web site periodically, you can be notified directly when a product is recalled by signing up for the CPSC's free recall alert e-mails.

Play it safe, out there!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Failing my first homework lesson

Because of a sometimes erratic schedule, routines are hard to come by in our house. Before I went to bed last night, I made sure I asked Faith if she did all her homework. She didn't have any, but my husband informed me that we did. The teacher sent some of Faith's school papers home for us to go over. Matt was glad I reminded him and I figured he'd get to it. But, I was up earlier than usual today, so I decided to try my hand at the "grading" of the papers. With a pink pen at the ready, I tackled Faith's first paper. I was appalled by the number of wrong answers I discovered on her paper. I couldn't believe my eyes that she had made so many errors finding words that began with the letter "M." After I reluctantly marked my first "X" I read over the directions again and this time read every word - find words that begin and end with the letter "M." Oops. I got the "whiteout" and covered my mark next the the drum she had circled. This school stuff is hard! It looks like I learned my lesson, all right. Her paper was perfect. I'm the one who needs to study.

Liz Fabian

Friday, August 17, 2007

A kingergarten planner?

Imagine my surprise when all of Daniel's first-day paperwork came home in a neat, spiral-bound planner with pages for every week, notes to and from the teacher, and pockets in the back for just such correspondence. A kindergarten planner - get out!
But it's hands-down a busy parent's most valuable tool. "What did you do in school today" is replaced with "Tell me about the fairy tale you read in school today." "Were you good for your teacher" turns into "I see you ahd trouble staying seated today." And my initials let Mrs. Tolbert know I have read her comments and spoken with Daniel about whatever trouble he's cooked up. Busted, mister.
But one thing I really like about the planner is that it gives me ideas for things he can do at home. Projects that are on his level and relate to what he's learning. Nice.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wait, don't recall me!

I know I haven't posted a lot lately. I have left the Telegraph (gasp!) and taken a position with Fort Valley State University's office of Marketing and Communications. While this leads to a lot of flak from "real" journalists, believe me, it's no easier than putting out a daily newspaper. Plus, I started my first day with a good dose of pneumonia. So it's been a long week.
Add to that long week Daniel's second week in kindergarten, which is going somewhat better, thank you very much, and the 100-plus degrees and humidity, and I don't have the energy to do more than read the little man's homework and make sure dinner makes it to the table. Dad has picked up a lot of a lot of slack this week!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Recall Middle Georgia Moms?

An item on the news caught Faith's attention last night. Mattel is recalling more "Made in China" toys including one of Faith's Barbie dolls. "That wasn't a problem when I got mine, right?" Wrong. I explained that they just discovered the problem with the dolls. You may recall one of my posts from last year on this blog, Middle Georgia Moms, (not to be confused with Channel 13's new feature of the very same name). I wrote about the doll Faith received for her birthday that had a dog that really pooped little ovals that doubled as treats at the other end of the dog. What I didn't realize was the magnetic threat the artificial turds posed. It seems if they are swallowed, the magnets can attract each other, pinch the intestines and cause ulcers or ruptures that require surgery. Unfortunately, Faith also saw a similar Barbie on the news footage that has a cat just like Faith's new kitty. I had to explain how we weren't going to be able to find the doll in the store anymore. After discussing what a recall means, we decided we'd keep her doll since Faith isn't planning to eat the doggie doo doo. But she realized we need to collect all the little pellets anyway as Faith doesn't want her baby kitten swallowing them and getting hurt. What a responsible Mommy my daughter is turning out to be. Here's last year's post in case you can't recall it:

Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Barbie stoops to a new low
While decorating my Christmas tree, I got quite a surprise - doggie doo all over. There was some under the tree, on the floor under the table where I wrap presents and even on the table! "BARBIE! Your dog is pooping all over the house!," I should have exclaimed. Lucky for me, I'm talking about odorless tiny capsules that serve a dual-purpose in the fashion doll kingdom. Yes, moms and dads, Barbie has a dog and the dog does what dogs do-do. Lucky for the blonde babe who walks him, the package includes a pooper scooper to remove the brown ovals from the floor and put them in the doo-doo bin that funnels them right back into the "treat" box. Yes, there's a new concept of recycling at work here. Take that, Barbie's dog - "Eat treats and die." The doll and her doo-doo dog were one of Faith's favorite birthday presents. "Mommy, Barbie's dog really poops," she proudly noted. Although my 6-year-old loved it, be careful gift-buying people. Barbie is a little slack about the scooper and I'm worried about younger siblings swallowing the treats - think brown tic-tacs. They are probably too small for a choking hazard, but who wants their child eating fake doggie doo?
-- Liz Fabian

Friday, August 10, 2007

Back to school

There's a feeling of overwhelming nervousness in the throat. A myriad number of tasks await. Bookbag - check. Snack - check. Folder and signed forms - check, check. Uniforms - check. One piece doesn't quite fit - uncheck. And the list goes on. Going back to school is not just for kids. Last night I read through a stack of papers hoping to be prepared for every contingency. Two years ago, my husband and I were awestruck by the realization that he and I were also going back to school as our daughter started 4K. This year I really wanted to be prepared and not overlook a thing. It's taken us about two years to get the system down. I've been embarrassed by getting caught off guard about some things that slipped by when I failed to read through EVERYTHING! I was quite proud of myself today when I returned signed slips due Monday in Faith's bookbag. If I can only stay ahead of the game, maybe I can make it through first grade.
- Liz Fabian

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Just saying "no"

I'm reading this book by David Walsh - "No - Why children of all ages need to hear it and ways parents can say it." I picked it up in the library when I was looking for a good biography, and I'm glad I did.
There's a difference, Walsh says, between the self esteem a lot of kids are learning these days (I must be good because I get whatever I want, or I'm entitled to x,y, and z because I'm soooo good) and real self esteem.
Real self-esteem, he says, is going to teach kids 1. that they have to actually work for some things in life. 2. that the work will be hard and sometimes painful, but that it will make the reward better. 3. Kids who have high expectations for themselves will push themselves to achieve more as adults. 4. Kids who work through problems on their own learn more about their strengths (and less about mom and dad's strength).
I'm still reading, so expect more lessons as I go through the chapters. But if you have the opportunity to read this book, I recommend it. I not only feel better about NOT allowing Daniel everything he asks for (or everythign the "other" kids have) but I'm gaining strategies for the big battles - the teenage ones.