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.