Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Missing the meltdown

There are some really big advantages to my new work schedule. Converting from a late night to early morning shift gives me more time at home with Faith. Instead of seeing her for breakfast and dinner, I am generally home in the late afternoon or early evening. We can have four hours together as opposed to about 60 to 90 minutes when I was preparing meals and getting her ready for school. Ah... missing getting ready for school - that is certainly a bonus. Although Faith wears uniforms, it can still be a very trying time getting her out the door on time. Case in point - last week's career day. She wanted to dress as a hair stylist, which I thought would be easy. Choose a grown-up style outfit and you're done. But I am sure glad I missed that wardrobe war! By a providential glitch in my cell phone, I didn't hear all four SOS calls from my husband that morning. This is from a man who rarely calls me unless it involves planning for his next meal. I tried to avert the costume catastrophe by picking out Faith's outfit the night before, but I could not find her black skirt. Along with her belt of hair supplies, I left her several outfits. Nothing I chose would do. The tears started flowing and kept flowing and flowing all the way to school. Who knew a career as a hair stylist would be so stressful? Her next dress-down day is Valentine's Day. Her daddy's going to love that!
- Liz Fabian

best idea I've seen in a while

There's a movement afoot in Macon and Warner Robins led by Super Suppers and Dinner by Design. Let me tell you about it:
Instead of going grocery shopping, bringing it all home, putting it away only to take it back out, mix, slice, measure and pour all before you get to actually bake and eat, busy moms and dads have the opportunity to schedule a visit to one of these shops. Super Suppers is on Forsyth Street, Dinner by Design is on Watson. You go in, select several entrees from their monthly menus, and they'll walk you through the prep work at the pre-setup stations. You can choose to leave out any ingredients your family won't touch, or to add a little more of whatever they should be eating more of. At the end of two hours, you can have up to twelve fully prepared meals ready to stash in the freexer. When dinnertime rolls around, all you have to do is defrost and bake! It's not fast food; these are real ingredients and real meals. And you don't have to do twelve meals. Drop in, try one or two. I'm betting you'll be hooked.
Want to try the food without the full experience the first time? Super Suppers offers a freezer full of menu items ready to pick up. And if you know what you want, you can call ahead and they'll make it fresh for you for a small service charge.
I love this concept, if only because the menu items are things I would actually fix for my family if I had the time! Everything is so fresh, you know you're eating for nutrition, too. And Super Suppers offers a few events to get you in the door:
Feb. 19, when the kiddies are out of school for President's Day, there are mommy and me workshops available. Sign up and bring your child in to cook for the family. Teaching them the basics of food prep now will help them during those crazy college days when some students live on pizza and mac n cheese. Also, check Super Suppers calendar online (www.ssmaconga.com) for their Super Suppers 101 introduction courses. Worth your time - hey, make it a date nite!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Consignment sale time

Even though I put Daniel in a hat and mittens this morning, it's time to start getting your kids' barely-worn summer clothes ready for area consignment sales. Today I'm going to share the information for the Almost 2 New sale in south Bibb County. In the coming days, I'll touch on MOPS and any other sales I hear about (hint, hint, send me your information!)
Almost 2 New has grown to the point where it will be held at a new venue: Wesley United Methodist Church on Hartley Bridge Road. Jennifer and Pamela will be receiving items by appointment Feb. 17, 19 and 20. The public sale will be Feb. 23 from 8a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 4-8 p.m. and Feb. 24 from 7 a.m. to noon. Saturday is, of course, the half-price day, so get there early! All items not sold or picked up by sellers go to charity. For more information, contact Jennifer at jennifer.jordan@cox.net (and tell her you saw it on the moms blog!)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Mister Manners

If there's one thing I've taught Daniel that I'm pretty proud of, it's "please," "thank you," "yes, sir" and "no, ma'am." In other words, the art of being polite.
I'm not going to go so far as to say he has good manners - after all he still wants to eat peas with his fingers and run indoors. But in conversation, he's polite. And we're working on "excuse me" for when he wants to interrupt either a long conversation or something dad or I are doing. Most of the time, it comes out more like "'scuse ME!!!"

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Danielus interruptus part II

I remember my mom's frustration - every time she got on the phone one of us kids needed something - urgently! So I have a very calm solution with Daniel. I gave him his own phone.
It gives him something to do while I talk, even if it means I hear my end of a conversation twice. I'll say something, then a mockingbird behind me repeats the whole thing - tone, inflection and all. It's a little eerie, but it makes me watch what I say and how I say it!
When he does interrupt while I'm talking, usually "Daniel, mommy's on the phone" will take care of the situation. But I understand, to an extent, why all the interruptions.
A telephone is competition for my attention. And it's not competition he can directly combat. So often, when he and I are reading a book or something "just us," I choose not to answer the phone.
I have voicemail. I have caller ID. I return messages and calls. And you know what? It's been remarkably freeing! Now, if we're eating dinner and the phone rings, I continue enjoying my dinner. I no longer race to get the phone when it rings. I feel more in control of my time, and that's a good feeling.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Danielus interruptus

There's an ongoing battle at our house. As soon as Chris gets home, he wants to share with me the details of his day and I inevitably have a bunch of stuff to tell him. But Daniel hears the truck pull up and it's "Daddy's home!" - and out the door he goes. An hour later, he could still be chattering away at Chris.
So we're trying to teach him that when mom and dad are having a conversation, he needs to wait until we stop for him to speak. But I'm learning that it's a common issue for parents of small children, and Parent Center explains why:
First, kids don't have a developed short-term memory yet. So if I make Daniel wait five minutes, he's likely to forget what it was he wanted to tell me. Second, from birth we kind of train kids that our world revolves around them. As they gain independence, we as parents have to do some retraining.
But then there's the concept of emergencies. Is it okay to interrupt if he's spilled something? If the dog has the cat by the tail? If he needs a kleenex? It's complicated - especially when you're four.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

So, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Perhaps she's hanging out too much with the multi-faceted Barbie, but Faith is vacillating a bit about what she wants to be when she grows up. Not that career paths are set in stone at six, but we've run the gamut. In her toddler days, she'd put on her best dress-up clothes, hit her tricycle and go to "work" in her playhouse. Back then she was "working" at The Telegraph. Her "day" consisted of miming like she was typing for about 30 seconds and then getting back in the "car" to go home for supper. After she saw Barbie as Rapunzel, Faith decided she would be an artist. Every picture masterpiece had to be hung on the fridge or find some other place of honor in the kitchen. Her doctor kit inspired a career in medicine for a while. Watching "The Nutcracker" and taking dance lessons set her sights on being a ballerina. So, I was surprised the other day when Faith announced she wanted to be a "massage rubber." Aside from a pedicure I treated her to a while back, I'm not sure where she got the idea to be a masseuse. But I reaped the benefits of a massage over the weekend. Not bad. But as I was struggling with how to dress her for Career Day this week, her ambitions changed again. With Cinderella propped up in the mini salon chair she got from her hair stylist aunt, Faith went to work on the doll's blond tresses and announced she wanted to be a hair stylist. At least she has some experience from previous impromptu haircuts she performed on herself. Although I'm not quite ready to be her first customer for a cut. Now we're trying to come up with a "hair stylist" outfit for Career Day. I can't wait to see how Faith "fixes" her own hair that day.
- Liz Fabian

Watch out for your rights

I received this note this morning: California parents could face jail and a fine for spanking their young children under legislation a state lawmaker has promised to introduce this week. The proposal would make spanking, hitting and slapping a child under 4 years old a misdemeanor. Adults could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
All I can think is that this lawmaker must not have spent any time with a child under 4. The difference between discipline and abuse is massive, and I belive parents need room to discipline without the law getting involved. As Daniel begins to understand time-outs and getting grounded, spankings become few and far between.
And as I listen to teachers describe the behavior and attitude of their students, most of the time I can only think, "these kids need MORE spankings, not fewer."


Have you noticed that when your kids are litte you still have your "pre-kid" friends? You still host (and attend) parties, you still participate in your own hobbies?
As your kids get older, you find yourself downsizing to make room for their events. Your parties give way to supervising their parties. Your hobbies give way to attending their games, meets, matches and events. They don't come with you to your stuff, you go with them to their stuff. Is it any wonder that parents with recent empty nests have that shell-shocked look about them? I guess it takes about as much time to revert back from a "child-centric" life as it took to get there.
What brought this on? I'm downsizing my activities. I'm giving up a few things that take up a lot of my time and energy in order to do two things: recover from my surgery (it's taking longer than I expected) and spend more time with Daniel before he actually starts Kindergarten in the fall. There are things I want to do with him this summer, and it means carving out the space in my life. The beauty of it is, I know how grateful he already is for the time we spend together. I expect the rewards for my change will be even greater for me.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Feeling the love

I thought I was losing my mind. While packing for a newspaper conference, my suitcase disappeared. Thinking my husband prematurely packed it in my car, I looked outside. It wasn't there. I started looking all over the house, thinking I put my overnight bag down somewhere while I was doing other things. When I audibly announced my frustration at not being able to find my bag, Faith disappeared down the hall and I heard the linen closet door slide open. Miraculously, the suitcase appeared. Faith had stashed it, hoping I wouldn't leave if I couldn't find the suitcase. It's nice to be loved. Just the other day she warmed my heart in another way. After dinner, Daddy had dished up some ice cream for her after she left the room for something. While she was gone, I passed by her bowl and squirted a little strawberry sauce on top. I didn't expect much of a reaction, but when she came back to the table, her face lit up. "I love what you do for me," she said to my delight. Who knew adding a little sweetness would reap such a rich reward?
-- Liz Fabian

Show n tell rut

Every week, Daniel looks forward to Friday. "Is it Friday yet?"
Friday comes and, inevitably, he comes out of his room clutching either Thomas the tank engine or Emily, the shiny green engine with the big wheel. "I'm bringing Thomas to show n tell!" he announces. And I sigh.
"You brought Thomas last week. Pick something else."
"I'll being Emily."
"No, your friends have already seen Emily. Pick something that's NOT a train."
And so the agony begins. And, because show n tell is supposed to be fun for HIM, I eventually give in. "Okay, you can bring Thomas, IF you put him in your Thomas lunchbox and bring your puzzle to put together, too." It's all Thomas the train, so he's good with the compromise. And teachers, just so you know, I'm trying to break the rut!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Dad's day

Chris called me a little while ago: "I don't know how you do it every morning," he said.
It was dad's day at preschool and Chris visited during small group time. He put puzzles together with Daniel and his little friends, and when it was time for him to leave, Daniel pulled out all the stops. Tugging on his leg. Crocodile tears. Honest-to-God wailing. "Go on," the teacher shooed Chris out the door. "He'll settle down as soon as you leave."
And I'm sure he did. How do I know? Because many a guilt-ridden morning I have slipped out the door to those big, sad eyes only to sneak to the window and watch my little actor turn on the sunshine and play happily, certain his guilt trip had ensured my return as soon as possible.
So dad got a dose of that this morning, and I'm sure there will be quality father-son time this evening. Good thing, too. I have a wedding cake to decorate.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Just playing

Daniel is big into playing right now. I guess it's because he's learning the difference between work (at school) and play. So it's "eat your breakfast." "And then I can play?" "Take you bath." "And then I can play?"
And "play" can mean a dozen different things to him - all of which I think fall into the category of "learning." For example:
Legos and blocks are the tools of a future builder.
Teddy bears, Cabbage Patch kids and Winnie the Pooh are lessons in taking care of a family.
Paint, crayons and Play Doh are all tools of creativity. Plus, he's developing his fine motor skills with those little fingers.
Books and his Leap pad are the first steps to reading. When he can "tell" a story because I've read that book to him so many times he's memorized it, I've done my job in opening that door to him.
Bugs, leaves, "flowers" and berries he collects from the yard - and even the rocks I find in his pockets - are all the signs of a child who notices the things around him.
Even movies are lessons disguised as down time - I hear "I'm Lightning McQueen!" as he races full-tilt around the yard or down the Wellston Trail. The "Cars" speed demon encourages him to run and exercise.
So when I ask Daniel what he wants to do and he says "just play," I'm happy to say "OK."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mid-January motivation

I know what Liz is talking about when she says she's still stuck in the pre-Christmas mode. The season seems to have just gone by too fast this year. Plus, I'm still waiting for it to get cold. While I'm sure I'll be eating these words in March, where's the fun in a January that's so warm I'm walking in shorts and a t-shirt? The daffodils have already bloomed in my yard! I have buds on my pear trees! Winters like this were fun as a kid living in Hawaii, but here in the contiguous 48, I expect a little variety. So give me a cold snap so I can break out the hot chocolate and curl up with someone who keeps me warm in my heart.

Dr. Daniel and Mr. Hyde

Some mornings Daniel and I are up and out the door with barely a word between us. He knows what he has to do, I'm ticking along like clockwork.
Other mornings it's a stuggle to get out of bed, and he doesn't want to get his morning started, either. As much as I'd like to let him lie in the covers and read, the dog has to be fed, cereal has to be eaten, and pajamas have to be discarded for clothes so we can get to school on time. And he fights me every step of the way. "I don't want milk - I DO want milk! I don't want to feed Jennie; you do it. I want to pick out a shirt! I don't want my jacket. I'm cold!" And when people ask me "doesn't it just make you want five more?" they wonder why I bare my teeth.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Merry New Year!

How can it be nearing mid-January? I'm still stuck somewhere before Christmas - right about the time I should have been mailing cards. Don't ask me how I've gotten here already. The wise men have come and gone with the feast of Epiphany, so I don't think there's any way I can send my "We Three Kings" cards now. Although I just learned from the pastor of St. Joseph's that the feast of the Presentation of the Lord used to be the official Catholic end of Christmas. I KNOW I can have the trees down by February 2nd! As for the cards, they may be transformed to valentines. It's worked before. Perhaps I'm just in denial that Christmas is over. Maybe it's because I know everything has to be put away. Where are the little elves when you need them?
- Liz

Monday, January 08, 2007

the best of intentions

When Daniel's preschool sent home notes about free eye exams, I thought, okay, it can't hurt anything. He already wears glasses and has a pediatric optometrist.
The exam came and went, and not surprisingly, he failed. Daniel seems to think eye exams are a game and doesn't like to play by the rules. Then the phone calls started.
The organization in charge of the exams let me know that Daniel's glasses were scratched. Yep, I have two new pair on order. Well, he only tested at 20/50. Yep, he was playing games with you, but his next appointment is this week. Perhaps we should call you after that appointment to make sure he went and check on the results. What? Excuse me? I know my kid has problems seeing, he has an optometrist, and as parents we're doing the things we need to, so kindly get off my back!
I can't wait until they call again, after his appointment.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

surgical lessons part 2

What benefits do you have that you don't know about?
I learned recently that my insurance company offers benefits I didn't know about. For example, when we signed up, we were told that we would receive a phone call from a nurse, employed by United Healthcare, following any hospital stay. "Okay, whatever," I thought. Then she called me.
The first time I talked to Pat, I was two days post-op, had a killer sore throat (intubation sucks!) and was still a little hazy. She was friendly and just checking to make sure I had been trated well in the hospital. Did I have any questions about the insurance? Actually, yeah. In my drug-induced haze I remembered a major pre-op procedure had been denied and the paperwork had been waiting for me when I got home. She'd look into it, she said. We hung up and I went back to la-la land.
This week, she called again, delighted to hear my sore throat was gone, I was walking my two miles a day, and feeling good enough to return to work. She HAD looked into that denied calim, gotten it reprocessed and PAID! Then she started in on what I presume is her REAL job - keeping me healthy. "Have you had your flu shot this year? They'll still give you one if you contact your primary care physician. Anesthesia and surgery could make youmore prone to illness for a while. Do you get your annual physical? Pap? Mammogram? Are there any health concerns you have?" I told her I couldn't wait to get back to the gym because I had a serious plan to drop some excess weight this year and next. "Well did you know we offer a dietician and personal trainer who will consult with you by phone?"
Wait a minute. What? My insurance company offers a dietician? and a personal trainer? Free? Holy cannollis. Where do I sign up?
So Pat hooked me up, and I can't wait to hear what she has to say during our next phone call. After all, she says, it's in the best interest of both my insurer and my employer to keep me healthy - and working!
What benefits do you have that you're not taking advantage of? It's January. If you have dental and vision, schedule checkups for the entire family now. How long has it been since the entire family had a physical? (dad, too!) This is the best time to not only change your smoke detector batteries, but to check out your own batteries.

surgical lessons part 1

Under the heading of "things I thought I hallucinated" were my surgeon's post-op instructions to "walk two miles a day." Mind you, said surgeon had just removed a slice of my hipbone! I though HE was the one on morphine.
But once I got hobbling along, I discovered not only that the orders were not a hallucination, but that they worked. I felt better, could walk easier, and learned a few things about my neighborhood.
For instance, there are a lot of children (or grandchildren) who got toys similar to Daniel's for Christmas. I think it was in Virginia that I learned to break down all boxes and either make them fit in the trash can or haul them to the Dumpster myself if I didn't want everyone to know what new toys I had. So hopefully in the fall we'll meet some more neighborhood kids for Daniel to play with.
Also, in the interest of taking a long walk that DIDN'T involve climbing hills, the dog and I explored a part of the Wellston trail that ends in my neighborhood. Lo and behold, the other end of a little-over-a-mile walk comes out at Fountain Park on Kimberly Road. I had been thinking the trail would be a great place for Daniel to practice riding his bike (see abovementioned hills) and I was right. Knowing there's a playground on the other end of the ride will motivate his little legs to tame the two-wheeler. And if my weight-loss plans proceed as I hope, I'll be joining him on roller skates come Spring.
So what cool discoveries are you ready to make in your neighborhood? Take the kids for a walk on the next sunny day and see what you can see!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

cooking with kids part II

So when Daniel joins mom in the kitchen, I have to come up with something for him to do. Try these ideas when your little ones are underfoot:
Let them mash and "smash" the potatoes. Put out all the ingredients for stuffed potatoes: cheese, sour cream, green onions, bacon bits, garlic, etc. Boil the potatoes yourself and then turn the pot over to the kids with a potato masher. Let them decide which ingredients - and how much - to add. As long as they don't reach for the jelly, what can it hurt?
Let them make dessert while you make dinner. Bananas, strawberries and other fruits can all be cut with a kid-safe plastic knife. So get out the sundae cups, cool-whip, and fruit, and leth the kids assemble their favorites. If it's not to your taste, "Oh, mommy ate too much dinner and is just too full for dessert!" Rest assured, they'll eat your share - after all, they "cooked" it!

cooking with kids

Daniel is at the point where he has to be a part of everything mom and dad do. With that in mind, we got some Christmas toys that are more like parent-and-child projects. Right now, Daniel and Chris are building a new train table, complete with tracks that run up a mountain and beside a lake for all the boy's trains. They've had fun laying it out and tinkering with the design, but Daniel's ready to play on it! Also on tap for father and son: the Craftsman "My first engine." We found it while rambling through Wal-Mart a few months ago, and it's got almost as many pieces as a real 427. The question is, how many will be left over when they're done ans it's running?