Monday, November 10, 2008

Back in business

I'm not sure how I dropped off the face of the blog, but I'm back. I wasn't planning on taking a sabbatical when I wrote my last post but it turned into an extended leave. I wasn't abducted by aliens or held hostage by a mature 7-year-old who is increasingly frowning on her dirty laundry being aired for the public. Judging by my daughter's habits, dirty laundry belongs stuffed in desk drawers, thrown under the bed or anywhere else other than the hamper. After inquiries from regular readers and an interview request from Georgia Family magazine, I thought it was time to get back at it. In the past few months I have been settling into a new routine that gets me up almost an hour earlier than my former 4 a.m. wake up call. In addition to covering any breaking news for our site, I am providing news for the Kenny B. and Charles E. Mix in the Morning show broadcast on three radio stations from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. and on WPGA-abc Macon from 6 a.m. until 7 a.m. Now Faith shares her breakfast with me by getting in front of the television set and eating while I'm doing the news. It's still no substitute for being there in person but that's the dilemma of being a working mom. There is a slight trade off in this case as Faith is very excited that her mom is now on television again on a regular basis. If only I could have a brush with some of the famed Disney stars, my mommyhood stock will go through the roof.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Skippyjon Jones

by Judith Byron Schachner, Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated (2005) - Paperback - 32 pages
"My name is Skippito Friskito." "I fear not a single bandito." "My manners are mellow," "I'm sweet like the Jell-O," "I get the job done, yes indeed-o."
And the rest of the book just rolls off your tongue, too. There are three books in the Skippyjon set right now, with a fourth coming soon. And I have loved them since my cousin, a first-grade teacher, introduced me to the darling Siamese (who lives a rich fantasy life as a Chihuahua). When your kids outgrow Dr. Seuss (or you need a change of pace) try Skippyjon on for size. Some of the books come with a CD for reading along. It's hilarious.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Focused laserlike

It's a delight for the parent of an ADHD child to watch that child actually focus on something for a change. Case in point: Saturday morning dad forgot to give boy his medication when the two got up. As result, Daniel was a hurricane of activity by 9 a.m. He flitted from room to room, toy to toy, leaving a disaster area in his wake, even though he wasn't feeling his best. Sunday morning he received his meds on time and proceeded to build Lego vehicles - buses, planes, helicopters and cars - for four hours. Which meant I got to clean the house in peace. Nice.

Monday, August 11, 2008

please and thank you

I am always proud when Daniel uses courtesy words without being prompted. He's pretty good at it, which is not something I can say for a lot of people anymore. If you want a real hit with the culture-shock stick, watch some of the old shows on TV Land. The courtesy with which even family members treated each other in the days of black-and-white television are a wake-up call.

Monday, August 04, 2008

How quickly we forget

Michael Lemon's arrest has local UGA fans turning on him. The "comments" under the story are just nasty, for the most part. But I remember when the Lemon family was in the Telegraph for a tragedy - the boys' mother killed and the family home burned. At that time, the comments were all about supporting those boys.
Where has that support been? Did the boys get the help they needed to deal with the tragic loss of their mother? It's beginning to look like that answer is "no."
I don't profess to know exactly what has happened in Lemon's life for him to end up where he sits today. But even I can see the turning point - from good kid and great athlete to kicked off the team and arrested. It's when he lost his mother's guidance that a good kid's life got off track.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Fighting fear

We're not getting much farther trying to get Faith to learn to ride her bicycle. She wasn't even up for trying last night. After weeks in the balancing act of encouraging her to go for it and trying to keep her calm as we explore the world of wheels, she is now apparently afraid of diving. During swim class this week, another young man was really scared of going off the diving board and Faith is now reluctant to take the plunge. I'm surprised because I thought she had conquered her diving board fears a couple of seasons ago. Maybe it's the head-first position that scares her. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with it, but during a recent conversation about Faith's fear of falling from her bike an adult cousin shared that she does not dive because of her fear. Turns out Daddy also does not like to dive. Now I'm no Greg Louganis but the only fear I've had is losing my bathing suit top heading into the water. (It's happened a time or two with strapless suits.) The other day in the pool Faith was ready to dive, but didn't want me watching. I heard the splash but don't know if she jumped or dove. For so long she seemed fearless when I was scared. Take all those times she would climb up on her high chair when I was worried she'd fall. Matt was thrilled she was being adventurous and learning to climb. She'd plow down a flight of stairs in now time as a toddler. So it's time for the speech - "The only thing to fear is fear itself." If I could convince her that overcoming her fear will mean hours of fun and a great sense of accomplishment, perhaps we can move forward. It still amazes me that my girl who often thinks she can do anything and pushes forward in so many ways is content to not even try.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

now what?

I got a wild hair and started reading my old blog posts. I went ALL the way back. You know what? the thing reads like a diary of "memorable Daniel moments."
So I spent several hours copying and pasting the posts, in order, into a Word document. 126 pages later (in 11 point type), I have a "book" of mom memories. I'm planning to have it printed and bound for the future, just like a scrapbook. Someday I'll love sharing all that stuff with my boy - and blackmailing him by threatening to show it to his dates!

Friday, July 25, 2008

What not to do

When talking to your child who is spending the week at Grandmas: "Are you ready to come home?" "Do you miss me?" "I miss you!"
My well-intentioned husband made all these mistakes in one phone call, thus incurring the wrath of grandma as she had to contend with the tears afterward.
Oh, dear.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ups and downs

"I didn't like the ups and downs, mommy," said my boy after landing in Newport News. Safe in his grandma's arms, he called me right away. While he sounded a little shaky, it was pretty much from a bouncy landing.
But a couple of hours at Grandma's house and the flight was just a memory. "I went in Grandma's pool!" he reported that night. "We're going to the zoo!" "I rode the teacups twice!" All reports I've gotten from the boy in his absence.
Then there were the quiet days. "How many times does he watch Cars? Asked my mom. "I only let him watch it once," was my reply, but then, I'm pretty adamant about limiting television time. "I miss you mama," was his lament the next morning when I called from my conference in St. Louis. Oh, baby.
On busy days, he's fine. Quiet days are harder. But grandma reports he's been eating well and sleeping even better, so that's all good. And this morning it was "I'll see you Friday!"
This time, we'll drive.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The gift of giving

Faith has learned an important lesson. It's better to give than to receive. Well maybe not really "better" than getting presents, but at least she's recognizing the benefits of sharing. It's not an easy lesson for an only child who has no one at the house to , routinely share toys. But I was surprised how much enthusiasm she had for finding things to give to a 5-year-old girl with little more than the clothes on her back. Faith was scouring her toy chest, closet, drawers and even the attic to collect Polly Pockets, Barbie dolls and other toys. While I see my daughter as always wanting more, it's nice to know she can really do with less. It's obscene how many different dolls have been marketed along with her favorite movies and shows but it's refreshing to know that she is maturing enough to realize there are things she has outgrown. My friend has been routinely giving me clothes her daughter has outgrown, but I have seen her protest some of her favorite clothing items. "That still fits," she would say before her mother added it to the pile when she wasn't looking. When it came to Faith choosing the things to part with, I probably could have come up with a larger sampling for the girl, but maybe not. I get sentimentally attached to things more because of who gave them to me than for what they are. Maybe there's hope for the offspring of two pack rats after all.

Friday, July 11, 2008

What a trip

I'm sure Misty's little Daniel is going to have a blast as a big boy all by himself on an airplane. After our recent vacation I asked Faith what the highlight of the trip was for her. The airplane, she said. We flew from Chicago to Atlanta and she didn't even have her portable DVD player hooked up as the battery pack was stowed in Matt's carry-on bag. She enjoyed listening to Radio Disney, munching on pretzels and slurping down a Sprite. Keep in mind this is after waiting at the airport for about 4 hours before we took off following weather delays. It was pouring in Atlanta and by the time we had to wait for a second shuttle when the first filled up before we could get to ground transportation we got home close to 1 a.m. My husband and I both agreed that the drive up to Indiana didn't seem so bad compared to spinning our wheels waiting for planes, trains and automobiles to get us home. Grandpa was attending a convention in Orlando so he picked us up and we drove about 11 hours the first day and about 4 hours the next. Faith whined a little bit at first about the lack of room in the backseat but managed to make herself quite comfortable around the suitcases. She had WAY more room than a tiny airplane seat. On the drive she watched movies back-to-back and didn't start the "how much longer" mantra until we had almost reached our destinations. Grandpa thought it was amazing we hardly ever heard from her during the drive. The magic of movies!

- Liz

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Boy with wings

I've made an apparently controversial parenting decision.
Later this month, Daniel will fly, unaccompanied, to my mother's in Virginia. That means I will put him on a plane in Atlanta, a flight attendant will check on him regularly (this is a service the airline offers), and my mother can go through security to pick him up at his gate in Newport News. He'll be the first one escorted off the plane, and she'll have to show the pass the airlines give her to take custody of him. It all seemed relatively innocuous to me; after all he's been flying since he was five months old. And Newport News isn't exactly a big airport - six gates, last I was there.
But everyone I tell (including my husband's family) is horrified. I'm guessing they've never witnessed all the divorced mothers at Christmas, standing in the airport after putting their children on flights to visitation with dad. Or maybe they aren't used to flying. Me - I'd rather fly than drive any distance more than six hours. And with the price of gas, it's now cheaper to fly if you watch for a Travelocity sale. The cost of flying Daniel to Newport News? $69 plus the $25 unaccompanied minor fee. The cost of gas for a 1200-mile round trip? $300 And that's not counting meals on the road.
So he's flying to grandma's, alone. For the airline's sake, I'm sending him with his DVD player, headphones and a selection of movies. He's gotten adept at changing discs and starting the movie on his own. It's a 9 a.m. flight, a time at which he is usually pretty calm. I'm not worried.
But go ahead, tell me what you think. Have I lost my marbles?


Monday, June 30, 2008

"Mommy, have we left yet?"

Forget about the "are we there yet" question. Faith hasn't even left for a trip to visit her cousins and she is already counting the days before departure. "Can you believe it's only two days?" she was asking. She has already stacked a bunch of clothes in her room for my approval. I put her off last night, but I won't be able to get away with that today. I imagine as soon as I get home from work we'll have to start packing. The questions keep coming. What will she do on the plane as her DVD player is malfunctioning, how many sets of underwear should she pack, does she have red, white and blue clothing for the 4th? Sometimes I think it was easier when she was a baby and I could control the situation. Now as she grows, she wants more input in her wardrobe and I'm willing to work with her on that. I have made the mistake of letting her pack herself only to find out she left out her toothbrush or other essential item such as shoes and socks. I'm usually not a days ahead kind of packer, but I find I need the extra time now to get my stuff together and supervise her packing. I do have the answer to what she can do on the plane - study spelling words and read. What a novel idea!
- Liz

Friday, June 27, 2008

Why bedtime's such a bear

I hear a lot of moms bemoan bedtime. "It's so hard to get Susie and Johnny into bed at night! They have a dozen excuses for getting back up, and I can't believe how much energy they still have!"
I've put my finger on why bedtime is such a trial. It's not really that the kids are doing anything out of the ordinary, anything they don't do at other times of the day (I mean really, how many other things can your kids find to do when you ask them to feed the dog?). It's that WE, the parents, are tired, too.
By the time bedtime has rolled around, we've put in a full workday. We've put in overtime as wife, mom, chief cook and bottlewasher. We've fed the dog, entertained the kids, answered what seems like five million questions from every direction. We've worried about money and weekend plans, about nutrition and tooth decay. We're ready for fifteen minutes to ourselves before joining the little ones in the Land of Nod.
And they're ready to play.
So we enforce the bedtime ritual. We humor the first couple of calls for "mommy, I need..." Then we get stern. Then we threaten. It's all tears and guilt trips from there. If only their bedtime were preceeded by a powernap - for mom.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Bad mom: I ran out of patience

In a takeoff of the ParentCenter "Bad Parent" series in which perants confess their bad behavior, I'm sharing my mea culpa from this weekend.
Somewhere between the humidity, PMS, and the two hundredth "mommy, come look a this!" - I lost my patience. It just flat ran out. "You have a friend over today, Daniel." I replied - not in my nicest tone of voice. "Go play with him or he'll have to go home!"
What's the big bad here? I wasn't doing anything worth blowing my kid off for. I was huddled on the couch, watching a movie my roommate had rented. I didn't know if it was kid-friendly or not (turns out it would have been OK) so Daniel couldn't just stand around in the room with me. I had arranged for his friend to come over because they don't see as much of each other as they did when school was in. Frankly, I had hoped to buy myself a couple of "me" hours. And when I didn't get my way, I got cranky (sound like any three-year-olds you know?). So now I have guilt. I'll wallow in it a little while and Daniel will feel the benefit. I did apologize to him klast night: "I know mommy wasn't much fun today, baby, and I'm sorry." He took it in stride: "Can we go to the Toys R Us tonight?" I'm not feeling THAT guilty. "No, but tomorrow after work I'll take you swimming."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lost in summer

I seem to be on a little motherhood vacation. Faith has been going to Vacation Bible School with a friend each night this week. Because her friend's mom helps prepare supper for the volunteers, Faith leaves at about 3:30p.m. and arrives home later than 9:30 p.m. when I'm already in bed. It feels a little odd not having her around at the house in the afternoon and evening. Today she went to the morning free summer movie with another friend and then will be picked up in time to go to VBS. What a busy girl. I hope she's enjoying her summer. We have squeezed a little bit of reading time into her schedule and one trip to the library. I'll have to really start refreshing reading and writing skills next week. We also bought Daddy and Mommy new bikes yesterday to help encourage Faith to work on losing those training wheels. She's still awfully timid after a bad fall, so if anyone has any tips for getting her back in the saddle please let me know.

School calendar

I read with a little bit of horror both the news story about State Superintendent Kathy Cox requesting that local school districts push back their start dates and the ensuing "suggestions" posted online from sometimes well-meaning readers.

First, I don't know about all the other moms out there, but I have made arrangements for child care up to the day school is scheduled to start. Push back that date, and I'm left with a certain amount of time to scramble for child care. Now I'll agree that in Houston County we seem to have been inching toward year-round school for some time. I wish we'd just get on with it and adopt a year-round calendar. I'm ready to take the hits for being in a minority there.

Second, there was a lot of chatter about going to a four-day school week. Now I know all the sound financial arguments for that - it would save a fortune in gas and electricity and school lunches. But as a working parent, again I'm horrified. You think my boss is going to let me go to a four-day workweek simply because my kid is out of school on Mondays? Or Fridays? Not a chance. So again I forsee a large number of parents scrambling for childcare. That is, unless some enterprising teachers band together to offer child care. But it can't be at the schools, can it? Because that defeats the purpose of "saving money" by not using the building that day. And frankly, if I'm a teacher and get moved to a four-day week of classes, I'm going to spend that extra day off grading papers, filling out the required paperwork (there's a mountain of it), studying for my own continuing education classes so I can stay certified, and so on. I'm not likely to take on a child care job for my students' parents.

So Superintendent Cox's request left me, and apparently a lot of readers, with much to think about. If you care to continue the discussion in the "comment" section below, be nice, don't tear down anyone else's idea, and don't make personal comments like "so and so doesn't know what they are talking about" and don't bash teachers (that's my own personal pet peeve).


Friday, June 13, 2008

Parenting workshop

If you are like me, you aer always looking for something to help you become a better mom. As I am raising Daniel, this one caught my attention:

Parenting the strong-willed child
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday June 14
Southside Community Church
4162 Roy Ave. Macon

Parenting the strong-willed child, indeed.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

There is such a thing as a free movie

After promising to check on the free summer movies, which took some time, I finally found a reference written by my colleague Rodney Manley in last month's Out & About entertainment guide. I had noticed banners up at Regal Rivergate, but couldn't find the listings anywhere online. I checked the sites of both Amstar and Regal. I was hoping to give you the rundown of movies being shown, but I haven't been able to put my hands on it.
Here's what Rodney wrote - The morning matinee has become a rite of summer for kids - and welcome respite for stay-at-home moms.Two Macon theaters - The Grand Cinemas on Zebulon Road and Regal Rivergate 14 on Tom Hill Sr. Boulevard - are bringing back the midweek movies this summer. Both theaters will feature showings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.Among the season's offerings are "Over the Hedge," "Ice Age," "Alvin and The Chipmunks" and "Bee Movie." Admission is $2, which includes a soft drink and popcorn.Rivergate will show a G- and PG-rated movie each session of its Free Family Film Festival, which begins next week. Its lineup includes "Night At The Museum," "Pirates Who Don't Do Anything - Veggie Tales," "Evan Almighty," "Shrek The Third" and more. Admission, as you might guess from the name, is free.For more information, call the AmStar at 474-4443 and the Rivergate at 477-8117.

- Liz

Monday, June 09, 2008

"Everyone was Kung Fu fighting"

In the heat of Friday afternoon, Faith and I ducked into the cool movie theatre and caught "Kung Fu Panda." Wow. It seems to be a common occurrence now that when we are leaving the theatre Faith asks if she can get the video. This is one movie I'm looking forward to seeing again. The action sequences move so fast, I'd like to rewind. It was a very pleasant film but on the short side at just 91 minutes. I hadn't done any research into the movie and was surprised to see Dustin Hoffman's name in the credits along with Angelina Jolie. I certainly didn't recognize their voices as I watched but will likely pick up on that the second go around. Once inside the building, I directed Faith to the life-size cutouts of the "High School Musical" crowd. Looks like the gang will be heading to the prom and we will be heading to the theatre to shell out a few bucks to see Disney's mega-movie this time instead of just turning on the TV. Kung Fu Panda is our first summer flick. I haven't seen any listings for the summer movie festival this year. I'm going to research the low-cost flicks and will let you know what I find out. With temperatures in triple-digits already, we're going to need a break. Just one side note to our Kung Fu experience - after I told Faith we were headed to the movie, I kept singing Carl Douglas' "Kung Fu Fighting" song. You know the one - Whoa-o-o-ohhhh, Whoa-o-o-ohhhhh. Everybody was Kung Fu fighting. Yah! Those cats were fast as lighting..." Faith finally asked why I kept singing that and I told her that I thought we were going to hear that at the movies. Sure enough, Douglas' one-hit-wonder has new life in the credits of the film. By the time we got home, Faith was singing it herself!

- Liz

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sew what's new

On Faith's first day of school, I had to go to the fabric store to buy material for a wedding present. She left me to go look at patterns and came back with a precious combination of tunic/pants/dress. Remembering last year's pledge to teach her to sew, we headed to the remnants and found some great stuff. In the past 10 days we have sewn two pairs of cropped pants, a dress and a tunic. Faith assisted in the straight stitching while I did the more intricate trim and pieces. Last year I took out my old childhood sewing machine intending for Faith to take it over but the AC cord was missing when I retrieved it from my mother's attic. Instead, I let Faith practice on my machine by following lines on paper. As with everything as long as she takes her time, she does great. Now that we've exhausted our latest material (which cost about $21 including thread for all four items) we are going to work on last year's pattern. I will make the dress and Faith will sew some shorts and a halter top. It works better if I run the foot control and she guides the fabric. When I was about 12 I learned to sew one summer through a course at the local high school. But now it seems as though the only time I get out the machine is to make a costume or mend something. This time I've really enjoyed myself - except for a very shear knit we bought that gave me fits as it would pucker and I'd have to continually rip out seams. As Faith will likely be at least 6 feet tall, it will come in handy for her to know her way around a sewing machine as we might have a hard time finding clothes long and slender enough. Although now that I also taught her how to bake Seven Layer Bars, we might not need the slender sizes!
- Liz

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mom's failing report card

Faith's standardized test report card gives me reason to celebrate and hang my head in shame. I don't mean I am ashamed of her, but of me. While she more than excelled in the high 90th percentile in math, social studies and science her reading grade was about 40 points lower. That is my fault - totally. If only I had read with her more, reviewed spelling words frequently and insisted we study even when she said she knew the material. While she is of good character, I shouldn't have trusted a 7-year-old with her skills assessment. There is cause for optimism, though. She does retain information extremely well so I'm sure her trouble comes in not recognizing words she should already know. My husband and I did drill her on each week's spelling words and she did well on tests but it's the cumulative knowledge that's tripping her up. Summer home-school is in order. I am pledging to take time to go over all vocabulary and spelling words while we tackle as many books as we can over her vacation. Wish us luck. I don't want to let her down again.
- Liz

Friday, May 16, 2008

Missing Mom

Liz's post about Mother's Day got me thinking about the change Daniel goes through when he hasn't had enough "mommy time." He cries, too. And whines. And acts like he's never heard of table manners.
I can always tell when I've been spending too much time away from my boy - whether I've been out of the house or just too wrapped up in myself at home. For example: my grandmother died this week. She lived in Michigan, and I wasn't able to get there. She didn't want a funeral, so I didn't go afterward, either. But it's put me in a strange headspace. Funerals really are a mourning tool for the living, I guess. And Chris has been home from work early every day this week. So he's been picking up Daniel, overseeing homework, handling the bedtime thing. And Daniel has turned into a complete hooligan.
Now, I'm not saying anything about Chris' parenting, by any means. Daniel has been well fed, clean and his schoolwork has been completed. He has, in fact, enjoyed his daddy time. And Lord knows I couldn't do this parenting thing without Chris. But let's face it, too much testosterone does not a civilized kindergartener make. It turns out my boy needs the downtime, the quiet activities, the strict structure I typically enforce. And I do mean enforce. If left to their own devices, my son and husband will revert to bachelor form. It's not pretty.
So, this weekend, Chris will be working and I will be spending both quality and quantity time with Daniel. We'll do laundry and yardwork, then spend some time painting, most likely. Sunday we have a lunch date with a good friend of mine and her little girl. And by Monday, we'll have our balance back.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day - Gone with the wind

This year's Mother's Day really flew by. My presents are still wrapped on the table in the dining room. After tornadoes ripped through Central Georgia I left the house at 6:30 a.m. Sunday with video camera in hand. I have only been home with my family in the light of day for a few brief minutes Monday morning. Without electricity, I've been fumbling around at night with little time for anything but getting ready for bed. Sunday night, with Faith already fast asleep, I noticed a card by my dresser. She wanted me to see it that night. With an emergency lantern in one hand and the card in the other, I read: "Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, You're the best Mom of all." It was pinwheel that dialed around to different pictures of us fashioned in brilliant crayons. It is my masterpiece. Mind you, I'm not complaining about missing out after what I've witnessed in the way of destruction. But I am extremely disappointed for my daughter who had a number of surprises in store for me. We have discussed taking a rain check and a special day will be on the horizon. Before the disaster I had planned to take Monday off to go on a field trip with her. Because school was closed it was canceled without the promise of a makeup day. I told Faith maybe I could make it if they rescheduled before Summer vacation. No such luck. When I got in bed last night and checked phone messages, I heard today was the makeup day so I missed that, too. Faith cried when her daddy told her they reset the field trip for today and I was at work. I called her and tried to explain that it was important for mommy to help the many people who were affected by the storms get information. When I get home tonight I'll tell her about the woman in Twiggs County whom I just interviewed. As the tornado ripped off her roof, she held on to the closet doorknob with all her might with a 2-year-old and 4-year-old with her. It's time to count our blessings.
- Liz

Six Flags offers a deal

Last week I found out Six Flags has dropped their prices for the 2008 season. Something about offsetting the price of gas, what my understanding. And with their debut of a "Thomas the Tank Engine Land," we had been planning to go for Daniel's birthday anyway. So imagine my happy when I went online to find an even better deal on tickets!
I don't know how long it's going to last, but Six Flags is offering all their tickets purchased online at $29.95. That's the price usually charged for kids, and about $20 cheaper than an adult ticket used to be. For roller coaster nuts like myself and Chris, that's too good to pass up. And for moms with little Thomas fans, it makes the trip a little more feasible. Thanks, Six Flags.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Suitors already? "Get used to it"

The late afternoon and evening calm as been broken by the sound of the doorbell on recent nights. As our house is up a hill, it's rare someone other than the UPS man comes calling. But lately, the little boys from the next street have been coming to ask Faith to play with them. She eagerly changes out of her "girlie" clothes and scrambles out of the house to go play. It's an adjustment to go from a semi-quiet house to the commotion that naturally comes when three to four young men enter the picture. They are well-behaved boys, but they are still boys. Last night Faith caught me off guard. Because Daddy had meetings Monday and Tuesday, I decided to skip the gym and stay home with the family. Wednesdays are big nights at our house since we discovered "Big Valley" reruns on television. For some reason - likely the lovely Linda Evans in fancy dresses - Faith loves that show almost as much as her father did as a boy (for the same reason, I'm sure). Usually, we all gather around the television as a family to watch before I have to go to bed. Well, Faith made plans to rendezvous with her friends again after supper last night until I mentioned "Big Valley." "I'll have to go and tell them I have to cancel," she said. Later she reconsidered and asked if we could tape the program so that we can view it tonight. When the doorbell rang again, I looked at my husband who said: "Get used to it." I can only imagine how she's going to ditch us when the boys really come courting.
- Liz

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Car safety

Maybe it's because Daniel and I spend so much time in the car, but I am rabid about car-seat safety. It's the one thing that's likely to make me honk at another parent - when I see those kids bouncing all over the car, hanging over the driver's shoulder, or leaning up against the dash IN A MOVING CAR.

So when sent me my daily bulletin and it was about car seat safety, I had to pass it along.

Here's the link, and the topics.

Not using a safety seat consistently
Using an old or secondhand seat
Turning your child to face forward too soon
Moving your child out of his car seat or booster too soon
Not installing a safety seat correctly
Not using a locking clip or using it incorrectly
Not securing your child in the seat
Not buckling a car seat into the car
Holding your child on your lap
Letting two kids share one seat belt
Letting your child ride in the front seat

To the lady in the red Blazer I pass every morning - I don't care if you're just driving in the neighborhood, those kids need to sit down and buckle up! A huge percentage of accidents happen within five miles of home.


Friday, May 02, 2008

Goodbye Rainy and Sparkles

We've had a death in the family - make that two deaths. Our 7-month run with goldfish is over. At our friends' fall festival, we were the lucky recipients of three goldfish that we put in a small aquarium near the kitchen sink. Goldie, the first to go swimming down the porcelain grave in our bathroom, died a few weeks after the homecoming. We were never quite sure what happened. This time, we were having a horrible time keeping the tank clean as Rainy and Sparkles grew bigger and bigger. On the way out for our family reunion, my husband changed out a bunch of water and vacuumed the gravel but it was still pretty murky. We hoped the water would settle and clear, but by the time our house-sitter arrived a couple of hours later, the fish were floating. We've concluded our small tank and filter were no match for hungry-all-the-time growing goldfish. These were Faith's fish but we're all a little blue. Coming into the kitchen, there are no little fins wagging hello and orange mouths opening and closing as if they were saying, "Hello, now feed me some more." We're still not sure where Rainy and Sparkles are in the garden, but Faith wants to know. Our friend promises to take us graveside the next time she visits. We're not giving up and hope to adopt some new fishies soon. This time we'll try some tiny neons or fancy guppies for our own little home school.

- Liz

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tooth Fairy - boy or girl?

Just when I thought I dodged the tough questions about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, Faith lost her first tooth. The lower left tooth she yanked out in Spanish class was closely followed by the lower right she snatched out of its socket when she got home. As she was the last first grader in her class to lose a tooth, she started with a double whammy. I suppose the fact that a classmate lost a tooth that morning spurred her to take matters into her own hands and top his conquest. The time for wiggling had ceased. I started to squirm when Faith started firing off questions. One of the first inquiries was: "Is the Tooth Fairy a boy or a girl?" To be honest, as a child I never considered the Tooth Fairy was anything but a girl. In these days of equal opportunity, the question begs to be asked but I'm not sure how it's answered. Faith wanted to leave a note for the fairy asking him/her to check a box stating whether he/she was a boy or girl. But it was late when we went to bed that night, so that question will have to wait. Weeks ago at the Cherry Blossom Gift Shop, we had found little "Tooth Fairy" dolls - a blue boy and a pink girl which probably sparked her curiousity. The little fairy has a bag in which to deposit the tooth and also contains a cardboard registry book to record the tooth and the reward received. I thought it was a great idea as the doll makes it easier for the Tooth Fairy to retrieve those tiny little teethies. Faith got a pink girl fairy in her Easter basket. (When I bought a blue boy fairy for her male cousin, he quickly rejected it and refused to accept the doll.) Well, after tucking Faith in with her doll and teeth, sometime between lights out and morning she decided to take back one of her teeth. She wanted to hold onto it to show her cousins. Needless to say, the Tooth Fairy - who happened to be male that night - couldn't find the second tooth in the pouch. He left the reward for two teeth anyway. When Faith woke, she didn't understand why she got two dollars if there was just one tooth. Well, obviously the Tooth Fairy checks the mouth for verification, I told her, because otherwise kids who swallow or lose their teeth would be cheated. Plus, I had already recorded which teeth were missing on the card so the Tooth Fairy could read for herself/himself. As to the gender dilemma, I told Faith that I figured there must be numerous fairies who cruise the skies and get some sort of page when there is a tooth to recover. Depending on who is on call, it could be a boy or a girl. Of course this whole quest for the truth started when her teeth first became loose. Then came the big question, "Is the tooth fairy real?" I told her I didn't know for sure but that when I was little, I always got money under my pillow when I lost a tooth. My parents told me it was from the "Tooth Fairy" but since they were both dead I couldn't ask them if they were the ones loading coins under my pillow. Looks like I escaped the interrogation by the skin of my teeth and I left myself some wiggle-room for later!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fighting over the oxygen mask

Before the attendant started her spiel on a recent flight, my daughter, Faith, leaned over and asked me a question. "Do you mind, if that thing falls down," she said pointing up to the compartment overhead, "Can I try to put it on myself?" In the many times we have been on the plane to grandpa's, she has always been a serious student of flight safety instruction. As a toddler, she took out the laminated card and looked intently at all the pictures, stopping especially at the giant slide coming out of the open door in the fuselage. She knows it's protocol for "adults traveling with children to put the mask on themselves before helping the children." That always seemed so selfish to me, but I guess they don't want the adult croaking just as she pulls that elastic out to stretch over her head. Faith isn't worried about dying, I don't think. She wants to put it on herself because she wants so much to be independent and she's only seven! I'm still walking the tightrope of wanting to encourage her confidence but not wanting her to fly before her wings are strong enough.
This airplane memory and the parenting lesson behind hit came to mind when I got an e-mail news release from a colleague at Macon State College. I thought you might enjoy this:

"Putting On Your Oxygen Mask First: Contemporary Narratives of Motherhood" will be the topic of a lecture by Dr. Lisa Hammond, associate professor of English at University of South Carolina-Lancaster, at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 24, in the Macon State College Theater. This event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Women’s Studies Association and the Office of Student Life.

For more information, contact Dr. Monica Young-Zook (471-5735) or Dr. Heather Braun (471- 5774).

"Putting On Your Oxygen Mask First: Contemporary Narratives of Motherhood"

Isn't it always mom's fault? Mothers are consistently blamed in contemporary media and politics for a wide range of troubles in American culture, at the same time that they are held up as romanticized angels in the house. When contemporary women write their experiences of motherhood, they face many preconceived notions of their roles, both with their readers and with their own lives. Negotiating those varied roles and staying true to their own experiences is almost as challenging as comforting a toddler who's fallen off the swingset or a middle-schooler who asked a girl out and got turned down... maybe more, because first Mom has to find out who she is herself.

Lisa Hammond earned her BA from Francis Marion University and an MA and a PhD from the University of Alabama. Dr. Hammond’s scholarly research focuses on American women writers, composition and technology, and gender issues in culture. Her work on parenting rhetoric has appeared in the National Women’s Studies Association Journal; and her latest article, “Revisioning Gender: Inventing Women in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Nonfiction” appeared in Biography. Dr. Hammond, who is also a poet, won the 2006 Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize, for her collection Moving House, which was published by Texas Review Press in 2007. She is currently on sabbatical working on her book, Books, Babies, and Blogs: Contemporary American Women Writing Motherhood.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Financing parenthood

When Daniel was little, his biggest expense was diapers. I think that's the case for a lot of new parents - we all go through a little sticker shock over the cost of diapers and formula. But the phrase "bigger boys have bigger toys" is coming into play now. And what's a mom on a budget to do?

Do we keep up with his frieds and enroll him in some sort of sports program? (Keeping in mind the kid's a klutz - he gets that from me) What about summer camps and programs? He's too old for basic daycare; it's no longer the educational experience it once was. What about music lessons? Pick an instrument - anything but the drums, please.

And then there are the TOY toys. Bikes, scooters, soccer balls. Everyone who knows Daniel knows he loves Thomas the Tank Engine. He's expanded his interests to include anything with wheels - and yes, he can tell HotWheels from the knockoffs. Dad and boy spend hours creating the most amazing things out of Legos - trains, biplanes, big rigs, pirate ships... And let's not forget the movies and cartoons. We're on his second DVD plaver, and it's a little wonky. But hey, we travel a LOT, so I consider that an investment in sanity. Plus, it's a good way for me to watch "Buffy" without exposing Daniel to strange things he won't understand.

But everything is getting more expensive, and between the prices of milk and gas, there's a lot less left over for toys. So at what point do we say "I don't care if all your classmates have a Wii - you're not getting one?"


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Nancy Grace as mommy to twins

Last year when I first heard CNN legal anchor Nancy Grace was expecting twins, I penned a "Double Trouble" blog post on June 26th. I surmised the Macon native would have a double dose of attention due to her celebrity status and that her new role as mother would increase her tenacity when dealing with heinous cases involving children. From the 2007 post: "Already, Nancy wears her heart on her sleeve and is fairly loose with her emotions. I can only imagine how motherhood will increase the fire in her belly for child victims and hone her verbal darts toward predators. Hell really hath no fury like a Mother Grace scorned." My suspicions were confirmed during a recent interview for the Mother's Day edition of Belle magazine. Grace says motherhood has indeed changed her. While she says she has developed more patience, she has increased anger for those who prey on children. While covering stories of abuse, abduction and murder she takes it all to heart. Now she envisions her own precious babies in those scenarios and it rips out her heart. She was candid about her biological clock, seemingly perpetual single status and her difficult pregnancy. Be sure you pick up a May edition of Belle magazine due out next month.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Hurry for Cherry Blossom deal

Because my daughter is off on spring break, I took her to Central City Park for a couple of hours before I had an assignment there yesterday atfernoon. I was told by festival officials there was no "wrist band day" for one-price unlimited rides but there were deals before 3 p.m. Here's the scoop, but today is the FINAL day for the discount. Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., you can buy a $10 ticket for unlimited rides until 3 p.m. After 2 p.m., you will spend $20 for unlimited rides for the rest of the day, which is what we did. Although she only rode until my assignment was over, it was still a better deal. I just wish I had gotten there early enough for the $10 deal then we both could have ridden for the $20! Have fun.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Jelly bean bangle bungle

In the category of "I can't believe they did that," I saw an item on the news wire that caught my attention. It was touting a craft project to do with kids to make edible bracelets. Their bright idea was to string up jelly beans with elastic so little girls could snack on the beans while wearing the bracelet. Do you see a problem with this? Maybe I'm being a little too critical, but have you ever held jelly beans in your hands for any length of time? You wind up with a rainbow of colors in your palm as the coating melts away. Plus, consider how attractive that bracelet will look with little bite marks or half eaten beads. Why not string up real beads for a lasting bracelet and serve the beans on the side?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Timeout" at the jail

I just can't wait to hear what Faith told the teacher about her day off Monday. Because my husband's co-worker was out sick, he dropped her off at the newspaper as it was too early to make other arrangements. Faith watched a movie on her DVD player while I made my beat checks. I knew I had to cover a brief memorial for a slain deputy at the law enforcement center, but she had her crayons and could color quietly. The event gave me the opportunity to talk to her about sacrificing oneself for the sake of others. She's a mature kid and I knew she could handle the brief tribute to commemorate the death of Joseph Whitehead who was killed in a drug raid two years ago. His youngest son was a little younger than Faith when he lost his dad. I think that gave her a greater appreciation for the solemnity of the occasion. But by the time it was over, she was ready to go. I had a few more shots to get and some interviews to do. I noticed a chair next to the podium and I told her to sit there and I'd be finished soon. The sheriff noticed her sitting (facing the wall) and thought she was in timeout. He bent over and turned her chair around to be sitting behind him as he talked with reporters. He thought he had emancipated the girl who was wrongly imprisoned in his jail! She said she couldn't wait to tell her teacher about "going to jail." I just hope she remembers the larger lesson of service and sacrifice.
- Liz

Monday, March 17, 2008

the best gift ever

I've always been one for making my own gifts - especially for parents and grandparents. I think the switch was hit after a third-grade project in which we all wrote the sotries of our lives as Christmas presents for our parents. IT was the first time I saw my mom cry over a gift.
So years later, I'd still rather give a scrapbook or photo album than the latest gadget. And finally, someone has caught up with me. lets enterprising writers, bloggers, journal-ers publish their writings in a bound format, perfect for giving (or keeping). And has a more basic book creation kit that lets you insert photos, scan in and publish scrapbook pages, kids' artwork, school papers and certificates, then write a little about them. The books arrive either hard or softbound, in a few weeks. I discovered them during one of Daniel's school fundraisers and thought they'd be a great gift for grandparents who don't get to see the work that comes home from school.
Sure 'nuff, made 'em cry.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What's the point?

The worst thing my mom could do to me as a tenneger was ground me OUT of my room. I would spend hours in there, reading and listening to the radio. "Come out, be social, spend time with your family," she'd say. I can't imagine what it would have been like if I'd had my own phone or TV in there!

But these days, it's typical to see a television in every room of a house - even the bedrooms. And kids are getting in-room television privileges younger and younger.

Daniel is occasionally allowed to take his DVD player into his room, but I don't think that's the same as a tv - where I might not know what he's watching or for how long.

And there's no way he's getting his own computer in there - at least until he's in college and will likely have his own laptop. In college, I guess I'll be pretty limited in saying "now, don't go meeting any crazy people online, dear." At that point, he's either taught or can't be taught.

For me, it's not just a matter of knowing what he's watching and what he's doing on the computer. It's that there are so many OTHER things I want him to do. Play ball, race cars, play board games or read. Go outside and dig in the dirt or ride his bike or his scooter, play with the dog, kick a soccer ball. There's so much more going on in this world that doesn't tie us to a computer - if I let him get hooked on video games and television and the Internet now, how will I show him those things?

Plus, there's the exercise factor. Kids who spend all their time in front to the TV or computer aren't running, jumping, sweating and getting dirty. Hey, I have a boy - at some point in my future I'll be able to say "the lawn needs mowing" and a teenage boy will slouch his way out the front door and do the job for me! (No, I'm not under the delusion that he'll do it willingly, but hey, I'm the mom.) At some point, when there's major yard work to be done Chris and I will have another pair of hands to help us dig the garden, pull down vines and weeds, chop up and haul off small trees and underbrush. Daniel likes to "help" now, but in the grand scheme of things - well, let's just say most of the branches outweigh him. But as I watch him puttering around out there with us, I'm glad he's not in front of the television.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hail to the chef

Faith wanted to know why daddy's scrambled eggs tasted different than mommy's. So recently I showed her step-by-step how to crack, beat and cook the eggs to fluffy tenderness. She was a quick learner and was ready to put her new-found knowledge into practice. The next school day, she told her father that she would be making the eggs. Aside from the butter burning in the pan and nearly setting off the smoke alarm, she made the eggs and more importantly she ATE them. I realize a 7-year-old can not cook unsupervised, but I believe it's healthy for her to know her way around the kitchen. One day, I hope her husband and children will thank me. But more lessons are needed as we had what the airlines might call a "near-miss." The scary part is, no one realized the pending disaster that was looming in the kitchen. Faith decided on a recent Saturday that it was "massage day" which meant she would treat her parents to her version of a massage before we even got out of bed. When I heard her in the kitchen, I told her not to worry about breakfast as I sensed she was getting ready to pour cereal for "breakfast in bed" in addition to our spa treatment. Not long before our massage session was about to come to an end, I thought I smelled natural gas. I did! On really cold days in our older house, my husband puts a huge pot of water simmering on the stove for auxiliary heating and humidification. Turns out Faith decided to add water to the pot (the noises I heard in the kitchen) had spilled some water that put out the gas flame. We turned off the burner and began the continuing lecture about cooking safety. While I want her to enjoy cooking, I don't want her to have a blast!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Online kids

I've had a couple of wakeup calls this week. First, when I went to pick Daniel up from the after-school program on Monday, my child was the only one not online in the computer lab. "He'd rather watch 'Arthur,'" said the teacher. But all the other kids were happily playing games or surfing the 'net.
This morning, I spoke to a middle-school class about blogging and other online writing careers. When I asked how many had a MySpace or Facebook page, almost every hand went up. Wow. Wasn't expecting that.
I guess because I grew up without video games in the house, and before the Internet (it wasn't THAT long ago!), I don't see the need to have my kindergartener wired. He can play board games, or cars and trains, or paint outside on the front porch. He can use his hands for more than steering a mouse, and the more active I keep his little body, the easier he goes to sleep at night (in theory).
He has one computer game that I let him play about once a week. In time, we'll expand that repetoire, and I'm kind of attracted to the new Wii - hello, golf? boxing? tennis? I'm awful at those sports in reality, but maybe I can do better in a virtual world. And I remember playing "Oregon Trail" and "Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego" in my own middle school years.
But I'm not sure I want my kid online and hooked in to the Internet just yet. My discussion turned from careers to "beware" pretty quickly. It seems some of the kids had already gotten into trouble for what they'd posted on their MySpace and Facebook pages. Yikes!
So what do we do about it, moms? And how much computer time do you let your kids have? Next time: computers and tvs in their rooms: yea or nay?

Monday, March 03, 2008

full force response

I was sitting at my dining room table doing paperwork Saturday when I noticed a police officer in my back yard. "Interesting," I thought. So I called the dog and Daniel in and asked him to play in his room before going outside myself.
As I walked out front, I saw a police officer climbing the fence to my neighbor's yard. As I watched, he walked all the way around their pool - a popular place with myself and Daniel in the summer. As he was looking for a place to climb back out of the yard, I called to him that the gate was unlocked. "Thanks," he replied. And around the corner came the dad.
"Have you seen a little girl?" he asked. My heart skipped a beat.
"Blond hair, about this long, blue eyes, named..." and I had to reply that I hadn't seen her, but that there were a bunch of kids playing at the house on the hill behind me all day. So off he went, in the middle of a parent's nightmare.
The point is, he had backup. Lots of it. I continued to watch and I saw no fewer than eight police cars canvassing the neighborhood over the next half-hour. And I guess they found her, because then they all left.
So Daniel and I had a talk about why it's so important that, if he's playing outside, he stay in our yard. Longtime readers will remember when he ran away with the three-year-old next door, and the only reason it was funny to me then is because I found him before I even started looking. But, oh, was he in trouble! And he doesn't even remember it now.
So as the weather gets nicer and the kids spend more time outside, maybe it's time to have a little chat about boundaries and wandering off.
Either that or get a subcutaneous GPS. It'll come in handy when they're teenagers, too. (That's a joke, y'all)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Getting together for a good cause

As more kids enroll in college, I'm hoping every college is planning for more scholarships. Tomorrow, a group of home-business consultants will open up shop on the campus of Fort Valley State University to benefit the scholarship fund there.
You are familliar with the companies - Mary Kay cosmetics, Cookie Lee jewelry, PartyLite candles, Tastefully Simple foods, Pampered Chef kitchen products, Creative Memories scrapbooking supplies, and Weekenders clothing. You've probably even met some of the consultants who will be there. But this time, instead of working for a paycheck, the consultants will be taking home the hostess credit usually given away at home parties and giving their profits to the school. How cool is that?
So if you've the opportunity, stop by the C.W. Pettigrew Center on the campus of Fort Valley State University tomorrow between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Your purchase helps a kid (maybe yours) go to school.
Directions: IF TRAVELING NORTH: Take Interstate 75 north and exit at Perry/Fort Valley (Exit 136). Turn left at the end of the ramp and proceed about ten miles to Fort Valley on Route 341. Pass the Industrial Park and turn left on University Boulevard. Travel to the first stop sign, which will be State University Drive. Turn right onto State University Drive. The campus is on the right. The Pettigrew Center is the second building on the right. Enter through the first gate in the brick fence. Parking is in two lots behind the building (unless otherwise instructed by Campus Security).
IF TRAVELING SOUTH FROM MACON: Take Interstate 75 south, bypass Macon on I-475S, and exit at Byron/Fort Valley (Exit 149). Turn right at the end of the ramp and proceed eleven miles to Fort Valley on Route 49. Pass the Blue Bird Body Company and continue straight through the downtown area on Route 49/Camellia. Cross the railroad tracks and turn left on State University Drive. The campus is on the left less than one mile away. The Pettigrew Center is at the south end of the campus. Enter through the gate at the end of the brick fence. Parking is in two lots behind the building (unless otherwise instructed by Campus Security).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

a boy's "firsts"

I'll spare you the pictures, but we had a male milestone in our house Monday. Daniel got his first stitches.
Now, I know you mothers of girls out there are simply appalled, or laughing and thanking God you have little ladies. But mothers of boys are asking "how old is he? You made it that long?"
Because moms of boys and girls have different milestones to mark sometimes. I won't be waiting for the first time my daughter "becomes a lady" and I won't have to demonstrate feminine hygine products. But I will get to discuss how many broken bones, stitches, ER visits, etc. my son has had. I will go through first car agony in a different way, as well, I suspect. Because Daniel's first car is likely to be up on blocks getting rebuilt for a couple of years before he actually gets his driver's license. (Not all moms of boys go through that, but moms of boys and wives of old-car fanatics get SPECIAL treats.)
So, he ran into a tree (on foot - longtime readers will remember this isn't his first headlong pelt into a tree) and the school called for me to pick him up. Three hours in the MedStop waiting room (I've avoided the flu this long but I'm pretty sure I'm doomed by that one visit) and three stitches later, we have new bragging rights.
Ahh, the joys of boys.

Friday, February 15, 2008

To shield or not to shield

We had a very close call with Faith's beloved kitty, Xiang. Seems he was run over by a neighbor's car but managed to miss all four tires, tumbled a bit on the road before running off. As I searched for him for about 20 minutes, I agonized over how I would tell my daughter if he were dead. Thankfully, he was under a bush in our backyard with a stunned look on his face. Aside from not meowing for about a day, he only had a slight limp that quickly disappeared. Another neighbor up the street recently lost a cat that didn't fare as well with a vehicle encounter. Seeing the cat's body on the side of the road, I stopped and pulled him off onto the shoulder. I later stopped to ask the homeowner across the street if it was their cat. It was. They told their little girl who is about Faith's age that the cat ran away. They wanted to spare her the grief. People may think we're morbid, but we actually took Faith to her first funeral before she turned 3. A dear friend and surrogate grandmother died after battling cancer. During the later stages of her illness, Faith would crawl up into her hospital bed when we would visit. We were honest with her that she was dying. We were also open with her about my mother's illness and she took her death in stride. She probably handled it better than all of us. I'm not sure what the experts will say, but honesty has worked in our case.
- Liz

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Homework "help"

Daniel has already discovered that he can wheedle his way into getting me to help with his homework.
"I don't know how to do this, momma," he whimpers with those big blue eyes focused on me. "Will you help me?"
I usually just go over the directions and make sure he does the first one correctly before continuing with dinner prep. But then comes time to check the paper.
"Look at this one, this one and this one," I'll say.
He gets busy with the eraser and then works his wiles again. "How do I do this one?"
Usually, they are careless mistakes, so I get all stern and "you can do it" on him. But I know parents who hit their limit at about this point, and walk their child the rest of the way through to correct answers.
I'm still tough, though - if Daniel misses more than half of the problems on his first time around, I make an extra bit of practice up for him. (He hates it when I do that, but it's just the teacher in me.)
Here's my question: Is it more important to you to have your child turn in perfect homework - even if you have to provide some of the answers, or is it just important for them to have the practice and get MOST of it right on their own?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Consignment alert

A friend in the newsroom just asked about upcoming consignment sales and I do have dates from two of my favorite sales in Macon. Kidz Replay, which is located in the Riverstreet Corners shopping center next to Lipson's Fabrics, runs Wednesday and Thursday, March 5th and 6th from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., Friday March 7th from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and Saturday March 8th from 8 a.m. until noon when many of the items are half price. The following week, the Martha Bowman United Methodist Church will hold their Mothers of Preschoolers sale at Hephzibah Children's Home on Zebulon Road across from Lake Wildwood. It is open to the public Friday March 14th from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Saturday March 15th from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. which is also a half price day for most items. If you can't wait until then, my friend advised she got some really good deals this week at the Children's Friend Outlet Store at Tanger on I-75 North. Many of their winter items are reduced to just a few dollars or less. The consignment sales offer spring and summer clothing for boys and girls. Happy shopping and Happy saving!
- Liz

how do you handle it?

I was listening to Family Life Radio this week and a woman came on talking about a division between herself and the rest of her family because she's a Christian and the rest of them aren't. Her situation was pretty destructive.
There's a division in my family: it started when I married someone my parents didn't (and still don't) approve of. The hostilities have waxed and waned over the years, but they're still there - like an elephant in the parlor. Everyone's convinced he or she is right, and there have been periods of estrangement over it.
Here's my plea for advice: How do I fix it? How do I live with it? How do I share my son with grandparents who act like they hate his father? How do I ask my husband to share his son with people who seem as though they can't stand him? I know some of you have faced similar situations - maybe with an ex's parents. How did you handle it? I literally have nightmares about this part of my life.
And yes, the parties I'm talking about do read this blog. So it's not like we haven't all recognized there's an elephant in the parlor - holding a bazooka.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Things to make and do

Houston County parents are staring another week of school vacation in the face. Pick up a Family Fun magazine for a whole slew of things to keep the kiddies busy while they're off.
For example: It's not too early to get the garden ready for planting. They can dig around in the mud, clearing leaves and twigs and making rows for summer veggies. Or, just pick up some plastic pots and they can spend part of one day painting them, the next day filling them with dirt and seeds for window pots.
Spring cleaning anyone? I get the bug to rearrange furniture kind of often, so this weekend we'll be reformatting the living room. BUt Daniel's room has devolved into such a mess that I haven't even run the vaccuum in there for a couple of weeks. So come time off from school, guess which room we'll be tackling together? You can spend most of a day playing "try this on to see if it fits" and making a list of new summer clothes needed. And don't forget the teachable moment: too-small clothes and toys that haven't been played with in oh, a year, go to the charity box for kids who don't have good clothes or toys. Just don't turn that toy donation into a battle - if they insist they must keep it, insist they must play with it. Bang, another activity that'll keep 'em busy while you pay bills or organize your closet.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Mom's mortal, too

It shouldn't take a brush with death to make us consider what would happen to our families if were were no longer there to take care of them. But as I experienced a severe allergic reaction and waited to see if I would be able to take my next breath yesterday, I kept thinking "Wait - they're not properly trained yet!"
Because that's what I've been doing. Training my son to live on his own, take care of himself, keep his own house. And, of course, at 5, he's not ready. But I'm not done training his dad, either. Dishes don't have to wait until you've exhausted every clean utensil, you shouldn't be out of clothes before you do laundry, and women need wooing - not just to get one, but to keep her. Of course, his heroics in the Taking Care of Me department yesterday earned him a lot of bonus points - metaphorically speaking.
But here's another question I am left with - do I have enough life insurance? And have I told the people around me about my wishes for final arrangements? Morbid, yeah, but also just being prepared.
The biggest question of course is: Have I told them how much I love them? And there can never be too much of that.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Josiah's gone to see Jesus

He was barely one pound. Baby Josiah lived for about 15 minutes but his story will never die in the lives he's touched. Since word first broke of the disturbing sonogram, the family, their friends and their friends have been praying for God to heal him. They rejoiced when someone discovered "Josiah," the name the mom had picked even before she knew the sex is translated - "Whom Jehovah heals." But Josiah died. "It wasn't quite like we wanted it to be, but he's healed now," the father told the pastor's wife, who happens to be a retired obstetrician. If she had been the doctor in this case - once the mother lost her mucus plug, started having contractions and labor pains, she would have prescribed a steroid shot to try to help Josiah's lungs form quicker in case of early delivery. Monday, doctors performed an emergency c-section once all the amniotic fluid had leaked out which left Josiah and his mom vulnerable to infection. But once outside the womb there wasn't a breathing tube small enough for his tiny throat. He got out one little cry before he died. But he has already spoken volumes for the faith of his family's church. For weeks, they have been praying and declaring Josiah would be born whole, healthy and of sound mind. Doctors have been telling the parents to abort. The mother fought back tears over the weekend as she retold the advice she'd gotten. This woman, after hearing the sonogram showed fused hands and feet and Spina Bifida, told her doctor she wasn't going to refuse God's gift just because it wasn't perfect. When a woman at the specialist's office said the second opinion was not covered, she asked wouldn't the mother be better off if she just terminated? It wasn't long after that she was fighting back labor and trying not to lose any more water. Even if doctors and their nurses had given up, the family and the friends did not. Some unbelievers might scoff at a God who chooses not to heal a baby or of people who pray for the impossible. But little Josiah's hands, feet and face were normal. So either the doctors were wrong about the formation of his extremities or God healed him. The parents know they did all they could do. Josiah did not die in vain, some good will come out of this, they said.
- Liz

Friday, January 25, 2008

Mom at home and school

How does being a teacher affect your kids?
RESA and others are holding teacher job fairs in the coming days and weeks and I thought: what if you work where your kid goes to school?
When I was in 9th grade, I went to school with two great friends whose mother taught social studies at our school. They were the top students in their classes. How much of it was the fact that mom was just a hall away? I don't know, because they both went on to excel in the medical field. But I imagine the emphasis on education must have been very high in their home.
So teachers - got kids? How do you separate school and home? OR do you?
Inquiring minds want to know.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

When 1+1 doesn't equal 2

My newest parenting challenge is finding patience when helping my daughter with school work. Last week she brought home a math paper with more red X's than a needlepoint sampler. More subtraction problems were wrong than right. She's been taught to use a number line to add and subtract but I have to wonder whether she's using it incorrectly as most of the wrong answers were one digit off. It's been so frustrating because I know she has a good memory yet these math equations and her spelling words aren't sinking in. How do you learn those things without memorizing them? I once met a little Indian girl at a wedding who wanted me to remember her mother's cell phone number so we could arrange a play date. "Put it into your mind," she told me. If only it were as easy as that. It appears some things go in Faith's mind and right back out. She has a hard time concentrating on which problem we're working on let alone finding the correct answer. The teacher has advised us to use flash cards for 10 minutes each day. When flashing certain equations, Faith just says, "That's so hard." I remember having to write out long tables of 1+1 and 1+2 and memorizing my multiplication tables. I don't know how else to help her memorize these numbers. Does anyone have an advice for helping a youngster concentrate and learn?
- Liz

Friday, January 18, 2008

Looking to the future

High school seniors are deep into college application territory. So here's my question: what do you look for, as a parent, when your kids are looking at schools? Is cost the major factor? Are the programs offered your main concern? What about size of the school?
Drop me a comment, start a discussion. I know Middle Georgia parents are super aware of the importance of their kids' educations!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

All better

It's amazing what a note to the teacher can do.
I wrote her about Daniel's concerns about bing called "stupid" and that he was coming up with excuses to not go to school. She had a chat with him that day.
"While I couldn't get Daniel to name the student who was calling him 'stupid,' I did tell him he is one of the smartest in my class," she wrote back.
And sure enough, he was all smiles when I picked him up that afternoon. "I'm smart, mama!" he crowed.
Yes, dear, I've been telling you that. But apparently, some things take on more meaning coming from a teacher.
God bless our teachers.

Friday, January 11, 2008

PDAs of a different sort

Before you had kids, you probably had a policy about Public Displays of Affection between you and your significant other. And I bet he knew where the line was, too.
But when it comes to babies, all our rules go flying out the window. We coo, snuggle, kissy-face and baby talk in public without thinking one bit about the impression we're making on others. Why is that?
Is there something about kids that makes even normally nondemonstrative people give hugs freely? Is there something about babies that makes even the best grammarians lose years of education? And here's the biggie: is it cute or just stomach-curdling to see a normally rational adult go ga-ga over a newborn?
For the record, I'm guilty big time of allowing PDAs with my kid that my husband would never get away with. He gets hugs and kisses on demand, although at 5 he's making fewer demands every day. He's allowed to crawl in my lap, or hang on my shoulder, or wrap his arms around me wherever we are. But I never used baby talk, and at four he was using words like "mistaken" properly. But that's another blog.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bullying worries

What's the difference between being bullied and just plain being picked on?
Daniel hasn't wanted to go back to school at all this week. "The other kids call me stupid" was what I got after weeding through the litany of "my head hurts, my stomach hurts, I don't feel good" complaints. So we had a discussion about those kids not being his friends and how his friends don't call him names, and he's doing so well in reading and writing, so why don't we give it a try just today?
But I don't know how to fix the base problem. My child used to love school. He loved his teacher, he loved learning. Now he only loves learning at home. We read together, he and his dad spend hours constructing elaborate Lego projects, and I have no problem getting him to write letters to grandma at home. He just doesn't want to go to school anymore. Help!

Monday, January 07, 2008

A sonogram's sobering stillness

My eyes didn't want to blink fearing I'd miss the expected movement on the screen. But there was none to see. When you are pregnant, bleeding can be an ominous sign. So once I got to the doctor's office, he quickly ordered a sonogram. Unlike my first procedure there was no anticipation of joy. Dread had a grip on me as I bellied up to the machine. Scheduled sonograms are often eagerly anticipated. Expectant moms and dads can drag in grandmothers, siblings and friends to view the baby bouncing around in the womb. But during my first miscarriage those sound waves showed me something I didn't want to see. I think doctor's call it a non-viable pregnancy. I call it heartbreak. All the hopes of a giving birth to a healthy child were stuck on that screen. Although my experiences came about nine years ago, a dear friend is reeling from the images formed by sound waves bouncing off the baby boy growing inside her. His hands and feet are fused, spina bifida is present and doctors suspect brain abnormalities. She has no plans to terminate the pregnancy. "Why should I refuse God's gift just because it isn't perfect," is her attitude. Instead, she and her husband are joining forces with family and friends in prayer. Believing in miracles, they are determined to pray for baby Josiah for at least 21 straight days. They know God works all things for good for those who love and serve Him and are called according to his purpose. They are not willing for this child to perish for lack of faith.
- Liz

Friday, January 04, 2008

More movie magic

Although Faith never once asked for it, a portable DVD player has become one of her favorite Christmas presents. When my brother asked if she had one, I was thrilled they were planning to give her one. No more whining about riding in my car without drop-down screens! In advance of the gift, I made sure she was getting plenty of new DVDs. Much of our holiday vacation has been spent in scintillating cinematic escapades. On New Year's Eve, I set Faith up in her bedroom with her player and a couple of favorite flicks. In the meantime, I curled up with a book - a luxury usually only reserved for vacation on the beach. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I've even read on vacation since I've been a mommy. We also took an afternoon to catch "Alvin and the Chipmunks" at the theater. I've been a fan of those critters since childhood. I was amazed once again that in the preview was another throw-back from my early days - Speed Racer is coming to the big screen and the animation sequences look awesome. Add that to Curious George, Nancy Drew (why isn't that on video yet?) and Underdog for the most recent examples of Hollywood remakes. It's nice to feel like a kid again.
- Liz

Party Time's Over

Daniel and I were both happy he went back to school this morning. We had a little discussion about the things I expect his teacher will ask: "What did you do over the break?" And I reminded him he could color pictures of teh movies we went to see, the trains he spent literally days playing with, the friends he went to visit. I'd be willing to lay down money, though, that he'll come home with another picture of Thomas or Gordon the big blue tank engine. Oh well, at least I know what I'm looking at.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year's Restitutions

My New Year's resolution is usually the same: Get everybody healthy, by God.
Because by this time in the season I'm sick of being sick. LAst year, it was major surgery. This year, it's pneumonia. And every year, poor Daniel walks around sniffling and coughing any time he's in contact with other kids. It's like we have signs on our forheads: "Weak Immune Systems - Germs take up residence here."
But it's not a bad idea to make this your New Year's resolution: Take everybody to the doctor for an annual checkup. That means dads, too. Because while mom will put her doctor's visit off while she gets everyone else squared away, at least she'll go. Research shows dad just won't bother. But as most families' primary breadwinner, dad can no more afford to be hit with a surprise illness or disease than the rest of the family. So that's my take on the whole New Year's resolution gig.
But Tigger has a different view - and a different vocabulary. During one of Daniel's movie-watching sprees this week, I listened to Tigger explain "New Year's restitutions" to Pooh. And I thought: That's not a bad idea. So I'm also going to seek out someone to whom I was not nice, or whom I failed in this past year, and make a restitution. I may not make up for the hurt I did, but I plan to try.

Thanks a lot

It was just a month ago that I was having trouble encouraging Faith to show her appreciation and gratitude when she receives a present. What a difference some creative thinking makes. For Christmas, Faith received a box of thank you notes and some other make-your-own stationery. Before I knew it, she was asking me how to write "thank you for the gift" and writing out her notes. At a friend's house the other night, she started writing the note before she opened a gift. "Thank you for the _____" was on the card until she opened, then she filled in "book." Before we left, Faith had hidden her note on our friend's doorstep. Now that she goes back to school tomorrow, we need to set aside some time today to write a few more notes. Of course, now it seems like work so I might have to get creative again. One of my best incentives is my own personal story. One year my brother and I failed to send notes to my father's cousins and we were cut-off from gifts from that point out. It's a hard lesson, but one that will certainly resonate with my 7-year-old.
- Liz

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2008. Did you know there is no cleaning allowed on New Year's? It follows suit from my daughter's rationale that there is no cleaning on Christmas which she loudly proclaimed when my husband prompted her to pick up her messes before company came Christmas morning. My husband says there is no such "no cleaning" rule, which drew tears from a sleep-deprived holiday warrior known as my 7-year-old daughter. She detests the thought of cleaning and teared up again today when her dad suggested she spend the day organizing and putting things away. I tried to stress to her that straightening up is a daily routine not to be dreaded. I, too, have been blissfully out of my routine for weeks now. I apologize for running off into festivity fairyland without much of a mention or note on the blog. Blogging is something I do when I've finished my chores. During Christmastime, the chores never seem to end until well after the 25th has passed. On this, the 8th Day of Christmas, I'm ahead of the game and had a few minutes before starting on Black-eyed pea and Collard preparation.
I want to wish you and yours a very happy 2008!
- Liz