Monday, January 30, 2012

Random Memories

Easter 2008
Rachel 5, Megan 3, Emily 7 months

This is one of the few matching outfits I have ever bought for the girls.  Aren't they cute???

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Friday, January 27, 2012


I recently found out about a trip my hubby and I get to take in a couple months to a beautiful, sunny, beachy place.  I am super excited!  However, my excitement is marred just a bit by the thought that I will have to don a bathing suit in front of unfamiliar people.  I am extremely annoyed with myself for letting this thought put even the slightest damper on what is sure to be a great experience.  So, why am I doing this to myself??  Well, here's a thought a few thoughts on the matter.

Several days ago I was thumbing through a stack of women's magazines my mom had passed along to me. I was overwhelmed by the number of articles and advertisements promoting weight loss.  "Drop pounds without dieting."  "Don't sabotage your weight loss!"  "Lose the weight and keep it off!"  There were countless ads for Slim Fast, Weight Watchers, and Jenny Craig.  These were, of course, followed by pictures of stylish clothes fitting perfectly on beautiful models.  (Ironically, there were then pages of recipes for us to try.)  Why is this??  Well, because it makes money.  An article on Webmd says that 63% of Americans are overweight or obese and an article on the CDC website says that 33.8% are obese.  Also, according to BusinessWeek Magazine, Americans spend about $40 billion per year on weight loss programs and products.  That's $40 Billion - with a "B."

I suppose we all have our crosses to bear.  Personally, I had psoriasis for many years, including those formative adolescent years.  It seems to have been "in remission" for several years now, but I believe it permanently scarred my self image (that sounds very psychological doesn't it?).  Basically, I spent years looking in the mirror and seeing something negative - psoriasis.  Now that it is gone I still see the negatives.  There is too much here, not enough there.  This sags, that flabs.  The facts, however, contradict my lack of self-image self-esteem.  The average American woman is a size 14, which is larger than the size I wear.  In November/December, I had two separate doctor appointments and was told at both of them by medical professionals that I have a very good BMI.  When I posted on my personal Facebook page about my bathing suit angst, I got many comments from friends assuring me that I have nothing to worry about.  But still, I don't see it.  Being constantly bombarded by images of way-skinnier-than-average models and suggestions of losing weight, does not help the situation.  Even without a history of psoriasis or some other image damaging condition, the not so subliminal messages come across very loudly and very clearly.  They say we all need to be skinnier.

Then, I look at my three beautiful daughters and want so badly for them to have a positive self-image when they look in the mirror.  They should.  They are beautiful.  I even "preached" to them about it in my Lessons I Want to Teach my Daughters post.  I said "everything about you is wonderful and perfect."  I wholeheartedly believe that, however I can't help but worry that eventually these media images and suggestions will affect them, too.  (Especially, my Megan who is so tender-hearted and appears to be developing my blasted psoriasis.)  My two oldest have both actually made comments already about "being skinny" or "not wanting to get fat."  They are 9 and 7.   And what about me - their primary female role model??  I try very hard not to talk about losing weight or disliking my body in front of them, but kids are intuitive and I'm sure, on some level, they sense it.

So how do we get past this??  How do we overcome the self-doubt that is preyed upon and perpetuated by the media?? How do we become better role models for our daughters?  Well, obviously, I don't know the answers and I am not going to sit here and write that I vow to never succumb to the hype ever again - that's not realistic for me.  What I can vow, though, is to try and take some small steps that will, hopefully, lead me to a better self image.  I suppose I can start by trying to find something positive in the mirror instead of just focusing on what is, in my opinion, negative.  I can absorb compliments rather than deflecting them and assuming they are just "niceties." I can make a point of affirming, out loud, the beauty I see in my girls each and every day in hopes that it will "sink in" and speak louder than the media suggestions.  I think we all need to focus on being healthy - not just being skinny.

Do other women struggle with this as well??  Is it just me and my "damaged" vision of self??  If you are a woman who is more confident than I am, where do you find that confidence and security??  And the million dollar question . . . .

"Borrowed" this from a blog I follow called A Beautiful Mess ~

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

A girl and her dog . . . 

Rachel and Sophie

Monday, January 23, 2012

My Kids Don't Clean, But I Do!!!

Back in November, I posted about how My Kids Are Slobs and my cute little chore chart that was a total bust.  Well, here we are two months later and nothing has changed.  They are still slobs and it is still driving me CrAzY!!!  I am so tired of being the nagging mom who follows them around saying "Clean this up, Put that away, Stop making a mess!!"  The only other option is to do it myself, but then I get frustrated and they don't learn to take any responsibility.

The good news is it's not just my kids!  I got some comments from my original post from moms who shared the same frustration.  Plus, I had lunch today with some fabulous ladies from my Bible Study group and we had a rather lengthy discussion about this topic because their kids are slobs, too!!!  (No offense, ladies!)  I got some good ideas today and I'm still mulling them over to try and come up with a solution that will work (or at least help) with my kids.

In the meantime, though, I had just had enough today. I had to do something. We are extremely blessed to have a wonderful house.  The garage of the house was converted into a "rec room" many years ago and, today, serves as the girls' playroom.  It is a very large room and 90% of the time, it looks like a bomb went off inside it.  I ask them to clean it up.  I beg them to clean it up.  I threaten them.  I offer rewards.  All of it to no avail.  I tend to be a bit of a real neat freak, so it drives me insane.  I decided to take matters into my own hands this afternoon and I spent two hours cleaning and organizing the girls' playroom.

It went from this:

To this:

Now the only problem is that I don't want to let my kids go in there to play - EVER!!! :-)

If you have any suggestions for me - chore charts, rewards vs. punishment, etc. -I'm all ears!

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Random Memories: Megan's Broken Leg

I don't have a good memory, especially for details.  That's one reason I started this blog.  However, there are some days and/or events for which I can remember every single detail.  For example, I, like most moms, can recall the tiniest specifics of the births of each of my girls.  I can also recall with great clarity the afternoon of August 1, 2006; the day Megan broke her leg.

Isn't she cute with her pint-sized cast?
Although I could rehash every single detail, I will try to summarize. 

We had some friends over for a palydate and, just after lunch, Megan, who was then 20 months old, was standing on our ottoman.  Her big sister, Rachel - then just a few days away from turning 4 - decided to "help" Megan get down.  Somehow, Megan came down on her knees with her right leg twisted up underneath her.  There was no loud pop or anything, just crying - lots of crying.  Since I had never had a broken bone, I wasn't sure what to look for, but my friend (the other playdate mom) and I carefully examined Megan's leg and foot.  We saw no deformity, swelling, or bruising.  However, her crying continued despite my multiple attempts to comfort her.   (At some point, I called DW because he has had several broken bones.  When I explained the symptoms over the phone, he said it was probably just a sprain.)  After about 45 minutes of crying and attempted consoling, I called the pediatrician who referred us to an orthopedic.  When the orthopedic's office said "can you be here in 30 minutes?" I threw some snacks in the diaper bag and quickly loaded both kids into the van.

Things got worse from there.  At the doctor's office I had to manipulate Megan's leg (with help from a nurse) and hold it in about three different positions so they could get x-rays.  Rachel waited in another room with an unfamiliar nurse to avoid exposure to the x-ray radiation.  Finally, the doctor came in with the diagnosis - "It's broken."  Now I realize there are many things worse than a broken leg.  At that moment, though, it felt like I had been sucker punched right in the gut.  My sweet little 20 month old girl with a broken leg??  Oh my!!  The doctor assured me that she would be fine.  "Young bones" are soft which means they heal quickly.

Then, we were off to yet another room where nurses would apply Megan's temporary cast.  This was possibly the worst part of the day.  We were exhausted - physically and emotionally.  Yet, in this final room, I had to sit on an exam table with Megan on my lap and Rachel by my side while one nurse held Megan's leg at 90 degree angle and the other nurse wrapped it.  Truthfully, it probably only took about ten minutes, but it felt like so much longer.  Megan sat on my lap so bravely and, through more tears, repeated one of the few phrases in her 20 month old vocabulary; "All done Mommy.  I all done!"  Indeed, everyone was "all done" on so many levels.  By the time the cast was finished everyone in the room was in tears.

Back in the minivan, I took a few minutes to collect myself and call my hubby (the guy who said it was surely just a sprain).  Then we headed home where we almost literally collapsed and melted into the couch.

Just as the doctor promised, though, her leg healed quickly and completely.  It was, however, a sign of the future.  You see, Megan has always been rather accident prone and the broken leg was just the beginning.  Fortunately, we haven't returned to an orthopedic or ER for another cast or stitches, but Megan has fallen down stairs, walked into walls, and tripped over her own two feet more times than I can count.  It has gotten a little better over the past couple years, but still, I constantly find bruises and scrapes on her - sometimes in very odd places.  Half the time, she can't even remember where, when, or how she got them!

Despite her bumps and bruises, she is always smiling!  Even when she had a hot pink cast on her little bitty broken leg 5+ years ago!

By the way, tuck this tip somewhere in your mommy memory.  If your child ever needs a cast, ask for one that is waterproof!  I got that advice from a good friend before Megan got her "permanent" pink one and it was truly a lifesaver.  She was able to bathe and swim with it, no problems.  It may cost a little extra, but will be worth every single cent!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Minivan Conversations: Christmas Lights and Soldiers

Yes, I realize that Christmas has been over for a while.  However, when I overheard this conversation in the minivan tonight, I had to share.

We were on our way to pick up Rachel from her horseback riding lesson and we passed a house that still has some Christmas decorations in their front yard including a lighted snowman and some other lights.  Emily asked, "Why do those people still have Christmas lights in their yard?"

Megan responded in a very serious, 'I know what I'm talking about' kind of voice.  "Probably it is because their dads are in the army or the navy and they have to go fight in wars so our country will be better and be safe.  These wars don't stop for Christmas so their dads don't get to be home at Christmas.  So, what these families do is they go ahead and open some presents on Christmas, but then they leave the lights and decorations up because they are waiting for the dads to get home."

Of course, Emily had to ask, "Does Santa come then?"

Megan very thoughtfully said, "Well, I really don't know.  Santa might wait and come after the dads get home, but they still get presents to open on Christmas.  Anyway, that's why they still have the Christmas lights on, Emily."

I'm still not sure whether to laugh or cry over this one, but God bless our kids and our troops!

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mommy Frustrations

Most moms I know have frustrations that come in waves.  One particular issue will drive us batty for a week or two.  Then it will subside and another problem will rear its ugly head.  My current frustration is one that is really ongoing, but, from time to time, it really gets under my skin - packing lunches.

My girls won't eat the cafeteria food at their school, so every night after I get them to bed, I trudge back to the kitchen - the kitchen I most likely just cleaned up after preparing a meal I most likely painstakingly planned - and face down the three lunchboxes of dread.

They don't really look that intimidating, do they?

Here's what I have to deal with:

First of all, there's Rachel, the vegetarian - the vegetarian who eats no fruit and very few vegetables.  I mostly end up packing her carbs and some dairy, but even then there are complications.  She doesn't eat pb and j (gasp - what kid doesn't eat pb and j??  I have THREE of them!), she only eats certain flavors of yogurt, and doesn't want anything kid-like (goldfish, go-gurt, etc.) because, apparently, fourth graders are just too mature for that stuff.  Her teacher also allows her students to have a morning snack, but it must be finger food and water.  So, I have been packing her a small bottle of water everyday for the entire school year so far.  This week, I noticed that the same bottle of water kept coming back home unopened.  When I asked Rachel about it tonight her response was, "I just don't like that water anymore."  Huh???  What does she mean "that water?"  Water is water, isn't it??  Sometimes, I think she is surely just torturing me.  I mean, where does she come up with this stuff??
Next, there's Megan.  She really isn't that picky, but she eats a lot.  I usually have to pack her a main item (thermos, chicken nugget, etc.), chips or crackers, yogurt, and fruit.  She is not without quirks, though.  She doesn't like sandwiches.  She gets tired of things more easily if I pack the same thing over and over.  This one you'll love - she wants a separate spoon for each item in her lunchbox. (i.e.  yogurt, spaghetti O's, and applesauce = 3 separate spoons)  If I don't pack them, she will go get them from the cafeteria!   

Then, there's Emily.  She attends preschool at our church four days a week.  Our preschool is completely nut free (which doesn't really affect Emily because she is so darn picky to begin with).  The thing that is difficult is that the preschool puts all the kids' lunchboxes in the refrigerator until lunchtime.  That may seem like a good thing, but spaghettiO's and pizza are two of the only things Emily will eat and she won't eat them cold.  That means, I have to pack the cold stuff and the warm stuff separately.  Since she is already super picky, that just adds insult to the injury.

Finally, I have one more gripe about the whole situation.  All of their likes and dislikes; all of their food quirks are different!!  It's not like I can put the same menu out three times and just toss it in their lunchboxes.  Each one has "stupid special requirements" and I have to figure this out 5 times a week! 

I want them to eat healthy, of course.  However, I also don't like the thought of them being hungry at school because mommy didn't pack anything they like in their lunch.  Where's the balance??  Does anyone else have this much trouble with packing lunches or are my kids just super weird unique??  Am I totally blowing this out of proportion???  Seriously.  I'm going bonkers here, folks!!!  Suggestions are welcome! 

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Money Matters

A couple weeks ago, Rachel came home from her horseback riding lesson in tears.  Basically, the pony she was used to riding was getting ready to leave the stable because nobody was leasing him and the owner of the stable just couldn't afford to keep him.  She, of course, asked if we could lease him in an effort to "save him."  We just had to be honest and tell her no because we can't afford it. As parents, we want to give our kids everything, but sometimes that's just not possible and it's important for them to understand that, I think.

However, the whole concept of money is difficult for kids to grasp.  Once, my Megan wanted something and when we said we can't afford it her response was "Well, just go to that machine where you put your card in and get some money out!"  They think it is that simple.  They think that moms and dads just automatically have money.  They give no thought as to where that money comes from.

Money management skills are, obviously, a very important life skill that everyone needs to learn.  I even told my daughters that in my Lessons I Want To Teach My Daughters post.  The question is how do we do it??  Well, I'm definitely no financial expert, but here are my suggestions.

1)  Don't be afraid to discuss money with your kids.  As part of the conversation about leasing the horse, my hubby actually ended up listing for Rachel all the bills we pay each month.  "Daddy gets a paycheck.  Out of the money in that paycheck we have to subtract money we pay for our car, our house, electricity, riding lessons, preschool, etc.  Also factor in 'spending' money for groceries, gas, doctor and dentist appointments, birthday presents, and anything else we end up needing."  (He actually gave her a very thorough list.)  Kids don't realize the ongoing nature of bills.  Once we drove home with the new van, it was paid for, right??  You mean we actually have to pay for the lights to come on??

2) Help kids understand the actual value of money.  My kids are 9, 7, and 4.  To them, $100 is a lot of money.  As adults, we know that $100 won't even buy the groceries to feed my family for a week.  Although we don't want to make our kids stressed out about finances, it is important that they have a real concept of numbers.  Tell them how much the grocery bill was for the week.  Tell them how much riding lessons and preschool cost each month.  As their concept of number value increases, they will have a better understanding of just how far a buck will go (or won't go!). 

3)  Be honest.  There is no shame in admitting that you just simply can't afford to buy some things.  It might be something big (like the fancy vacation one of their friends just took) or it could be something small (a new, cool pair of shoes they don't actually need).  I think this helps them realize that money is not limitless and that there is a budget.  It is also a good way to introduce the concept of planning and saving.  For example, "We can't afford to get a new Wii game right now, but if you save your allowance/birthday money to pay for half, we can probably get one next month."

4) That leads to the next point - helping them learn to manage money on a small scale.  My kids don't get an allowance, but they do get birthday money, money for lost teeth, Christmas money etc.  Megan saves all her money and is very reluctant to spend any of it.  After Christmas, she wanted to use some of her money to buy clothes for a doll she got.  When we went to the store, checked the price, and she realized that she would only have a few dollars left if she bought the clothes, she decided against it.  On the other hand, when Rachel gets money, it seems to burn a hole in her pocket until she finds a way to spend it.  She even says she wishes she could get a job so she would have her own money to buy things she wants.  It is our job as parents to guide them.  This may actually include letting them make some mistakes from time to time.  It also includes teaching them how to save up for something they want (maybe even give them some extra chores to earn some cash).  We need to teach them, too, about giving to others when we can.  Finally we have to teach them how to spend responsibly.  

5)  My last tip is that, like everything else, parents have to set a good example when it comes to money management.  If parents spend recklessly, they are not teaching their kids to set spending limits, etc.  Conversely, if parents plan, budget, and talk to their kids honestly, they will set an example that, hopefully, their kids will follow.

Like I said, I am no financial expert.  DW and I have made some money mistakes, but we have learned from those mistakes.  I hope that we can set a good example and build a solid foundation for our girls so that, when facing the "real world" of economics and budgets, they are educated and prepared.

For additional help, there are actually lots of books for kids about money like this one and and entire series by Dave Ramsey in which "Junior" learns about saving, debt, investing, and more!

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Mama & Emmy Time

Emily goes to preschool four days a week.  On Friday, she stays at home with me and has dubbed those days "Mama and Emmy Time."  They really are special days because I know they won't last long.  Believe it or not, she will be in kindergarten next year and these kind of days will be hard to come by.  I try really hard to make sure that on these special "Mama and Emmy Days" we get some truly quality time together doing some of Emily's favorite things.  Sometimes that is playing board games.  Sometimes that is lunch at Chick-Fil-A.  Sometimes that is just snuggling on the couch and watching t.v. or a movie.  This morning, we are doing something that has become one of her new favorite pastimes - bird watching.  Here are some the views from our big picture window that looks out onto our back deck:

And here's my favorite view of all:

Just look at that smile!! Even with bed head, she's cute!

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Megan's Song

Megan loves music.  She sings all the time and quickly learns all the words to new songs.  Some of her past Christmas list items have included a microphone, an iPod, a new microphone to replace the first one that broke, and, this year, a purple guitar.

I love music, too.  That's why I can sincerely and very lovingly say that enjoying something doesn't necessarily mean you are good at it.  Megan participates in the children's choir at our church and somehow Mr. Tom gets her (and all the other kids) to sing on key.  At home - well, not so much.

A few days ago, Megan took her love of music to a whole new level and decided to write a song.  She only focused long enough to write a few lines.

Just in case you can't quite make it out, it says (her misspellings included):

Tern on the light,
bring up the camra
Lisen, I tell you to lisen
I don't no your name
and I don't want to 
because your weird
but at the same time
your my littel sisster

I wonder what Taylor Swift's first song was like???  Oh well, it's good to have big dreams, right?!?!

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

It's been a while since I did a recipe post, but this one is very deserving.  It finally feels like winter here in NC (well, it did the day I made this), and I have been craving and making some true comfort food.  This Chicken Pot Pie is not too difficult, but definitely takes some prep time.  However, it is completely worth it!  Enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie

Here's what you'll need:

1 cup of diced potatoes (about 1-2 Russet potatoes)
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup half and half
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 pre-made pie crusts (I use store-bought, refrigerated ones.)
4 cups chicken (I use a rotisserie chicken and just pull all the meat off.  It always equals right about 4 cups!)

First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and pull all the meat off the chicken (or cook and dice your own chicken.) Set aside.

Then, get to work chopping all those veggies!

Next, melt the butter in a large saucepan and saute the veggies for about 10 minutes, or until they are tender.

Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and stir it together for about one minute.  Mix the broth with the half and half, and gradually add the mixture to the veggies.  Cover it and let it cook until it gets thick and bubbly (about 5-8 minutes).

Now it's time to stir in the chicken, salt, and pepper.

Finally, pour the chicken/veggies mixture into a 2 qt. casserole dish.  (I usually do it in my oval, French White CorningWare.)  Unroll the two pie crusts (if necessary) and place them - one on top of the other - over the dish.  Pinch off any excess dough.  Use a fork to seal the edges and cut a few slits in the crusts so steam can vent out.

Bake it in your preheated oven for 40-50 minutes.  (Watch the crust.  If the edges start to get too brown, just place a piece of foil loosely over the pie until it is finished cooking.)

Here's what you get . . . . . . 

Oooohhhhhhh . . . . Ahhhhhhh . . . . . . 

Like I said, it's really not hard, but it does take some time and effort.  The end result is delicious, though!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

An Update on My Dilemma

On Wednesday, I wrote a blog post about my Parenting Dilemma.  First of all - WOW! - I asked for advice/suggestions and you all delivered!  I got comments on the blog, comments on Facebook, emails, and phone calls.  For a while, it was a bit overwhelming.  I guess that's why they say "be careful what you ask for. . . "  Anyway, I thought I would give everyone an update.

Lots of people suggested Locks of Love.  I had already suggested this to Rachel a couple weeks ago thinking that she is always ready and willing to help others in need.  She was interested at first, but when I mentioned the 10-inch requirement, I thought she might just pass out.  She quickly nixed the idea.  In all fairness, 10 inches would have put her hair above her shoulders and I know she would have disliked it intently.

After taking in everyone's advice, I mulled it all over.  Basically, I had a very blunt discussion with Rachel and explained that it was really about the bigger picture - how you present yourself.  Having unkempt hair (especially coupled with the yoga pants and t-shirts she wears almost every day) make you appear lazy; make you appear as if you don't respect yourself.  I told her, "You don't have to be like everyone else.  I love that you want to be unique.  Right now, though, your look doesn't reflect the beautiful, intelligent, creative person that you are.  It just says you are lazy and sloppy."  I told her that she would be getting a haircut, but she would have some choice.  She could get 3-4 inches cut like Mommy & Daddy wanted, and, if she did it cooperatively, she could then get a feather.  If she didn't want to cut that much, she could just get two inches cut, but she would not get a feather and if she did not cooperate, she would be grounded.  I told her that afterward, she was going to start doing her hair herself and I was going to do a better job of getting her regular trims, so we won't have to deal with such "dramatic" lengths again.

After a while, she came and asked me to show her exactly how much four inches would be.  I took her to the mirror and, with a ruler, showed her exactly how much it would be and how long her hair would still be if four inches came off.  Then, I did the same for two inches.

Believe it or not, she agreed to the four inches!!!  So, today, we went to my hair stylist.  Rachel sat with a scowl on her face for the majority of the time, but four inches came off and she eventually left with a smile and a neon green feather.  As a bonus, my stylist also straightened Rachel's hair with the flat iron which Rachel loves, but I rarely have time to do.  It turned out to be a lot of hubbub over something very small.  (Which seems to be a bit of theme with anything having to do with Rachel!)  Unfortunately, I don't have a picture to share.  Rachel hates to have her picture taken and, I may not have all the right parenting answers, but I do know enough to not push my luck. :-)

Thanks, again, to everyone who offered advice!

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Dear Unengaged Parent

Dear Unengaged Parent at an Unnamed Fast Food Restaurant,

I sincerely hope that you enjoyed your lunch today while I unwillingly baby-sat your child in the restaurant play area.  However, I feel it is necessary that I share with you a few pieces of wisdom common sense that might be useful to you in the future.

First of all, dropping your child(ren) in a play area and "watching" him through a SOUNDPROOF plate glass window while eating your lunch and talking on your cell phone is NOT proper parental supervision.  (Lucky for you, a highly qualified, former teacher was available today to pick up the proverbial ball you dropped.)

Also, you should be made aware that tapping on the glass and signaling to your child with non-descript hand gestures and/or mouthing words to him, does NOT count as discipline.  Just in case you were actually speaking to him, consider this a friendly reminder -  the glass is SOUNDPROOF, and HE CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!

Finally - and this is very important - you really should consider teaching your child some basic manners.  For example, your approximately 7 year old son jumped in my 4 year old daughter's face and growled at her like a monster.  While I'm certain he was only attempting to play a harmless game of "Scare the Pants Off Little Girls I Don't Know," it scared my daughter (and me) just a little.  Since I was the only adult supervising your child (and the other 7 children in the play area who also did not to belong to me), I very politely, yet firmly, asked him to please not do that again because my daughter didn't like it.  Now listen carefully - here's your part.  Growling at an adult who is making a simple and polite request is NOT an appropriate response from your son!!  It's YOUR job to teach him that!!!!  (I'm sure that phone call is very important, but so is raising your child.)

In closing, I would just like to add that it has NOT been "my pleasure" serving you today and I truly hope that your family and mine do not dine together again in the near future (or ever).  Having said that, good luck to you and your son (along with the other 7 children I supervised and their parents).


A Rather Highly Annoyed Parent/Former Teacher/Unwilling Baby-sitter    

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Never too big. . .

to be Daddy's little girl.  :)

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A parenting dilemma

As parents, we sometimes have to pick our battles and let go of the less important stuff.  However, we still have to assert our authority without "giving in" to our children all the time.  There is a very fine line that separates those two approaches.

Here is the dilemma I am currently facing and trying to decide which path to take.

  This is my oldest Rachel.  She's beautiful isn't she??  I love her freckles and her green eyes.  She is not smiling in this picture because she is hiding her braces.  The other thing you might notice is her hair.  It has gotten super long (keep in mind this picture was taken 3 months ago!) and, since it is fairly curly, this makes it extremely difficult to take care of.  Every morning I comb out the tangles (ohhhh the tangles) while she pouts and squirms, thinking all the while, "She is going on ten years old.  Shouldn't she be combing her hair herself?!?!"

So here's the dilemma.  She needs a haircut.  Desperately.  However, my oh-so-headstrong daughter who is teetering on the verge of being a full-fledged, tree-hugging hippie refuses to get a haircut.  She attempted to propose a compromise a couple of weeks ago - she will get two inches cut if she can get a feather put in.  I think that anything less than three inches is pointless because it won't make any difference or get rid of the scraggly ends, so I'm not taking the deal.  At this point, I am honestly thinking it is just not worth the battle.  (And I do mean BATTLE.  Picture me literally sitting on this child while she cries and thrashes in the stylist's chair and the stylist carefully tries to avoid cutting ginormous chunks out of her head or mine.  Oh and the poor stylist!!  Perish the thought that my beloved stylist would be so stressed and terrified by this child that she runs away in terror anytime she sees either of us in the future!  I am not exaggerating here, folks.  Seriously. It has the potential to be that bad.)  DW, on the other hand, is ready to lay down the hammer and force it upon her.  I told him that he could take her then, to which he replied "Fine!"  (However, the previously described scene becomes even more horrific when you factor in an irate father who doesn't have any patience for this kind of girl-drama along with the afore mentioned child & stylist.)

So, what is the answer??  Force her to get her hair cut at least 3-4 inches??  Forget about it and let it grow and grow indefinitely until she is "ready?"  I need some help here folks.  Please - I'm begging - leave a comment and give me your opinion.  Even if it is a harsh criticism of my apparent lack of parenting skills - I need to hear it!  If you were in my shoes, what would you do???

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012


The days leading up to Christmas were hectic as usual for us.  Christmas was great as we spent lots of time with family and got lots of great presents.  However, it is this week after Christmas that I want to remember.

For the past several days, we have been blissfully unencumbered by appointments, errands, and extracurricular activities.  The girls have actually gotten along with each other (for the most part) and have even played together cooperatively for large chunks of time (especially Megan and Emily).  We have slept in and stayed in our pajamas until late in the mornings.  We've had family movie night and family game night.  We've gone out to eat and gotten frozen yogurt.  We've laughed together and relaxed together.  It has been simply wonderful!

Often parents (including me) are ready for "vacations" like this to end so we can send our children back to school and get a little breathing room.  Not this time.  On Wednesday, we will once again go back to the early mornings and crazy days; the hurried evenings and stressful schedules.  Our "stay-cation" will end.

If only I could freeze this week in time, I would gladly repeat it over and over.  I don't remember being so relaxed since this summer when David and I went away for a long weekend without the kids.  My house is dirty and there are commitments looming, but right now - just for this short time - I don't care.  This time with my family has been the greatest gift I could imagine and I am holding on tightly until the last possible second!

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Dear CeCe

This is CeCe (also known as "Squirt").

Before I had my own kids, I taught special needs preschoolers and CeCe was one of my students.  After several reports to and meetings with Social Services, CeCe was removed from her home and placed in foster care.  However, finding a placement for her was difficult because of her health concerns.  Eventually, when her third placement in two months was falling apart, the case worker called me in desperation.  On impulse, I said "Can't you just give her to me?"  A week later, after some legal stuff was taken care of, CeCe came home with me on the last day of school and lived with us for the next nine months.  After that nine months, we had found out I was pregnant and Social Services had found a permanent family for CeCe.  The day she left was terribly bittersweet - one of the few times I have seen DW cry. 

Yesterday, December 31, 2011, was her 16th birthday.  It is truly amazing how quickly time flies.  We haven't seen CeCe in ten years, but my heart still hurts for her like it was yesterday.  We don't know where she is, whether she is still healthy, or even if she is still alive because of the health issues she had. We wonder about it often, though.  In honor of her Sweet Sixteenth birthday, I wrote her a letter.  She will probably never see it, but here goes anyway. . . . . 

Dear CeCe,

I hope you are well and happy.  I want you to know that we think about you often and keep a picture of you prominently displayed in our home.  We now have three daughters and they all know about you.

When you were with us, we were all learning as we went along.  I know we made some mistakes.  I hope you can forgive us for those mistakes and know that, above all else, we loved you.  We still do.  One of the mistakes we made: we thought it would be better for you to have a permanent home with an African American family where you could "fit in" more seamlessly.  We realize now, that didn't matter.  We had hoped to stay in touch and be kind of like your godparents, but your new family didn't want that.  They quickly stopped connecting with us.  I hope they followed through and adopted you like they had promised.  I hope that, during the past ten years, you have had security, stability, and love. 

I would love to find you someday, embrace you, and see the young lady you have become.  I know that is unlikely, but I still hope.  If that did happen, I hope you would return the embrace and remember us fondly.  I would love for my daughters to meet you, too.

You will never know how you touched our lives and the lives of others around us.  We learned so much from you about strength, about reality, and about love.  We will be forever grateful for the things you taught us.  Wherever you are, please know that you are loved and prayed for often.  There will always be a place for you in our home and in our hearts.

                                                                                                            With sincerest love,

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