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.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

first week exhaustion

I know I have been falling off on the bloggin this week - it's been a bit hectic around here. First week of school - Daniel made it to day two until his teacher sent home a "bad" note. Daniel was having a hard time sitting still, paying attention, so on. Plus, in case you've been living under a rock, the Warner Robins Little Leaguers are one game away from participating in the World Series. So the phones at work have been ringing off the hook - just in case we didn't know how slighted every other parent feels. Plus, Monday I start a new job - with Fort Valley State University. So to say I'm overwhelmed is to put it mildly. Check back with me - I'm not going away, just clinging to sanity by my fingernails.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Welcome to your new school

More guest bloggin'

Its amazing how children adapt. Since February and I moved to Bonaire, I have been telling my son he's going to Bonaire Elementary School. We even went and registered him, drove by the school every day and he was pretty excited. I have been looking, along with my significant other, at buying a house. I DID try to find one in the Bonaire district that I liked, but most were above the price range we wanted to spend. We ended up getting a contract just yesterday with a house near Lake Joy Primary.

And then yesterday, at 3:30, I drove my son to the school, registered him, sat in the office while the principal found him a teacher and he got to meet his teacher at the open house. He loves that there is a huge rock wall there, the media center is really big and the building looks really new and the best part is that their mascot is the Lions. They have stuffed lions, paintings of lions, lion books, you name it. And to boot, his teacher said that two kids from where he went last year are in his class. This is aside from the three kids he saw in the hall that he knows from the YMCA camp this summer.

In my opinion, all my child needed to see was that mommy was excited and comfortable with the school to give him the right attitude. From what I've seen from the office staff, teachers and up to the principal, the year is getting off to a wonderful albeit new start!


Friday, August 03, 2007

Getting it off my chest

If you knew of a proven way to improve your baby's health, growth and security, wouldn't you jump at the opportunity? I'm sure some mothers would shell out big bucks to decrease the chances a child will need braces in the teen years. So why don't more moms breast-feed? A recent study shows although three-quarters of new mothers start, they quit too soon. My husband will tell you that nursing was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do, but I was determined to succeed. Doctors recommend six months on breast milk alone, but the sad truth is that we are no longer a breastfeeding culture. A CDC study shows low-income mothers and blacks have some of the lowest rates of exclusive breast feeding. Isn't it ironic the people who are least able to afford formula are the ones reaching for it? My milk was slow in coming and I never would have gotten the nickname Elsie, but I persisted and have reaped huge rewards. Our pediatrician comments that he never sees my daughter except for yearly check-ups, and we like it that way. I nursed Faith longer than my friends, family and even strangers thought was necessary, but I have no regrets. A dear friend who was my inspiration, convinced me it's not all nutrition but bonding and security. From the time our daughter was very little, she's never been afraid to leave us in a church nursery or for mother's morning out. I believe her security is a direct result of nursing, increased bonding and gradual weaning on her terms. My physician even disapproved of my nursing into the toddler years and made her feelings known when I rejected antibiotics and other procedures. Sure it was tough juggling a job, but pumping at work and being able to work at home by computer helped. I actually found breast-feeding convenient as you always have something to feed the baby. It doesn't have to be mixed or heated and it's FREE. Plus, the human body was designed to run on breast milk and I don't believe man can come up with a better formula than what God intended. So why don't more people nurse? I wish I knew. When I see someone put nursing equipment on their baby registry, I am quick to buy it and offer my support. But often the recipients have been just as quick to reject nursing as an option once the baby arrives. "It's not for me... I didn't have enough milk... I saw what it did to my breasts after the first child... That's sick," these are just some of the excuses I've heard. I don't mean to judge others as I know from experience it's not as easy as you would think, but it's best for the baby. No doubt about it. That was enough for me. Plus, having had a weight problem most of my life, I didn't want to do anything that might contribute to Faith having the same issues. Besides, the breast is for nursing. It wasn't intended to be just a sex toy, but that's what it's become in many people's minds. Don't be just another boob - NURSE!
-Liz Fabian

Thursday, August 02, 2007

great daze

So I took Daniel to the open house at his new school and managed to leave $95 lighter. Add that to another two pairs of glasses, school clothes and shoes and I'm glad the supply list is short!