Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Another Milestone

Yesterday was a big day. Sweet Pea lost her first tooth! It fell out at school and the Nurse gave her this little tooth treasure box to carry home her little baby tooth.

She was so excited, as we were driving home from school she said, “Am I dreaming or did I really loose my tooth.”

The Tooth Fairy left her this very nice letter:

The Tooth Fairy
1 Fairy Lane

Dear Abby,

Congratulations on loosing your first tooth! Loosing your first tooth is a very exciting and special event. For that reason, here is $5 for you. I did receive your letter requesting new markers, but I thought you might enjoy picking them out yourself. So use this money for your new markers, or something else of your choice. Ask your parents to take you shopping some time soon.

Congratulations again and I look forward to more visits in the near future.

Love and Fairly Dust,

The Tooth Fairy

Yes, I know it says, "Fairly Dust," not "Fairy Dust." I guess even the tooth fairy makes typos.

And I know $5 seems like a lot, but you know it was the first tooth - and markers ain't cheap these days.

I've been a mom for just about 6 1/2 years, but for some reason becoming the "Tooth Faily" was one of those truly defining moments for me when you know you are REALLY a parent now. Like a formal initiation into parenthood or something - in case all the poopy diapers, throw-up and whining were not enough to make you feel legit.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Star is Born - if only for the week

This past week was school vacation week. Since JJ's pre-school was open, I decided not to take the week off from work. So I needed to find something for Sweet Pea to do for the week. By coincidence, a parent of one of Sweet Pea's friends mentioned an introduction to musical theater "vacation week camp" at our local rec center. And the production for the week - High School Musical 2. They spend all week learning songs, dances and lines, and then on Friday, there is a performance.

When I mentioned this to Sweet Pea she was excited about it at first. Then when she heard about the performance she was less thrilled. Despite her "theatrics" at home, she is not one to like to be in the spotlight. And I use that term loosely. She doesn't like to do ANYTHING where she thinks all eyes will be focused on her, even if in fact all eyes are not focused on her. But this was High School Musical - perhaps she could get past the rest.

She went back and forth about wanting to enroll. Several of her friends were doing it so that was a big draw and of course they all LOVE high school musical. I was kind of indifferent about her doing it, though the price for the week certainly beat any other childcare options out there. I also thought that once she got there, she'd love it - the songs, dancing with her friends, even if the anxiety leading up to it would be torture for all of us.

So we made a deal. She would go the first day, and if she hated it, or just did not want to go back, we would make other arrangements for the rest of the week. I had no idea what the other arrangements might be - perhaps a day at work with her Dad, a day with me, and a day with her Nana. I did not mentioned this possibility to her or should would opted out right there and then. (She loves to go work with her Dad. She's actually never been with me.) But I did not want this to be a bad experience for her and if she didn't like it. I did not want her to feel forced to be there. I remember that feeling as a kid - it's lousy. Especially when its something that is supposed to be fun, not a "must-do."

The night before the first day she FREAKED out. And you know what the biggest issue was for her? She did not want to eat lunch there. Why, you ask? I have no idea. She had this problem in the beginning of kindergarten too. Lunch was an issue - she hardly ate. I told her I'd send anything she wanted but of course she didn't know what that would be. All this from a child who has been in daycare since she was 6 months old - most of it full-time. UHG!

In the midsts of her freaking out she was yelling, "Sign me off, Sign me off." It was so pathetic. So I reminded her of the "deal" and we agreed not to talk about lunch, at least not until the morning when I needed to pack it. She was okay the rest of the night - if you consider regressing to the point she had to sleep in our bed with us okay, something she has not done in...... I don't even know how long.

In the morning, she seemed surprisingly excited. I think the fact that the day was finally here was a big relief for her. (And another reminder for me that the anticipation of these things is usually WAY WORSE then when she actually has to go do it.) So off we went - early as usual since she cannot stand to be late. (She gets that from of my better qualities I think. Well, at least not one of my worst qualities.)

When we got there, we ended up going up and down steps trying to find the room they were in. By the time we found it, her friends had also arrived and off they went. I was slightly less than thrilled that the teachers were not there yet, as it was already 9 AM. Apparently they were stuck in traffic so one of the center's administrative staff were checking the kids in - if you can call it that. As a side, there is nothing like that feeling when you have just left your kid in the hands of complete strangers and you have to take the leap of faith that they'll be there when you get back. I mean, not that I have ever left them with complete strangers. It just feels that way. And it was the town rec center. They don't really qualify as strangers... Gulp.

So off I went to work.

When I got there to pick her up they were working on set designs, I think, if you can really call them that. I could see them through the window of the door to the gym they were in. She seemed okay. Perhaps a little bleary eyes and dazed from the long day. (They were full days, 9-4). When the kids were let out, we had to sign them out. (I felt much better now that clearly there was some tracking of the kids.) Her first response seemed positive. It has been a good time. We said good-by to her friends and headed off to the car. She showed me the script. I was impressed - this was serious stuff.

And then she freaked again. She had to practice all night long. And by "practice" she meant she had to learn the songs by reading them word for word. When I suggested perhaps we just listen to the CD she said, "That's cheating." Hum. And keep in mind, she already knows most, if not all the songs from seeing the movie a hundred times. It is now entirely clear to me she is beyond exhausted and completely incapable of being rational. So we decided to put it to rest for the night.

It was at this point I felt so guilty about doing this to her. She is an intense person. A nd a perfectionist. These kinds of activities, that are just supposed to be fun, are often not for her. And I guess I hadn't really thought about that.

So I gave her an out. But you know what, she didn't take it. She may be many things, but she is not a quitter.

And so she carried on through the week, and did great! She was exhausted, but excited about each next day. So much so that the anxiety about the performance seemed fleeting. Finally, my guilt was replaced with overwhelming pride for my daughter who over came her own anxieties to just have fun, and with my own personal satisfaction to have exposed her to something that she will look back on and feel a sense of accomplishment about.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pathetic but true.....

That I actually look forward to such things as, my eye doctor's appointment. Why you ask? Because it is the most relaxing part of my day. When else do I get to sit on my a$$, read trashy magazines while I wait to be seen, and not feel guilty that I'm not doing something else like laundry or cleaning up the crap slathered around the house.

It turns out my chronically red eyes are due to dry eye. My contact wear does not help the issue. And apparently the weather too also has an impact. My optometrist inserted these permanent "plugs" - these tiny little umbrella like things (without the sharp edges, eck!) into the corner of my eyes to stop the tears from, as she described it, going down the drain. Hopefully I will no longer look like one of those cartoon characters with the creepy blood-shot eyes.

I think I might have bugged the optometrist too. I was so enjoying my time, ALONE, that I was so chatty. Granted most of my chit chat was about my eye aliment but I kept the questions coming. I think she was happy to see me go.

So sad. I don't get to go back for another 6 months.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Mondays and Pie

I hate Mondays. I particularly hate Mondays when both my kids are on the verge of illness and I have 1001 things that need to get done at work this week, and its ONLY Monday. It is not good. And so now, instead of, or should I say, in addition to simply worrying about the 1001 things that must get done, I am also waiting on the edge of my seat for the call to come. You know the call:

"Hi Mrs. So and So. This is [blank]. [Blank] is okay. But he/she has a 102 fever and you have to come get him/her."

This really gets me. Clearly, if he/she has a 102 fever, he/she is not okay. I appreciate them letting me know right off the bat that he/she is not dead or something, but why start the conversation like that - get my hopes us that perhaps you are not calling to tell me he/she is sick but rather for some other, rather unimportant piece of information. Like, you love the smell of my sons shampoo and you must have it so would I be so kind as to tell you what kind of shampoo I use on his hair. (Yes, this was a REAL phone call that I received at work. Of course I was so thrilled they were not calling to tell me his was sick, I didn't even mind.)

On another note, I think I want to open a bakery and bake pies all day. I have always enjoyed baking but just in the past couple years have I really started to perfect my skills. And I'm talking REAL pie - with homemade pie crust. I have a problem making pie with a store made pie crust. I do it when I'm in a pinch, but I feel like a fraud. If you make a pie, but don't actually make the pie crust - did you really make the pie? I suppose so. But for me, homemade pie crust makes it the real deal.

Jonathan and I hosted a family dinner last night in honor of my sister's birthday. It was just the family.....all 15 of us. It was nothing fancy. Burgers, salad and homemade french fries (which were awesome!). For dessert, at my sister's request I made Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pie. It's become kind of my signature pie. It was SO delicious - not to toot my own horn - anything with butter, sugar, chocolate and vanilla can't be bad.

I wonder if I made pies for a living if I would still hate Mondays. That would be a true test.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A conversation to remember

We've been teasing the kids lately, telling them that if they get bigger they will be in big trouble. They think its hilarious when we get "mad" at them for getting big. The other day JJ and I had the following conversation.

JJ - Mommy, I can't stay your baby. I have to grow big. So I can be Superman and rescue people.

Mom - Oh? Well, who then will be my baby?

JJ - Well, we could get you a new baby, at the Store.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Do we do this to ourselves?

I know I am not alone in my guilty over the choices I make as a mother who works outside the home. (Lord knows all mothers have guilt.) What I cannot figure out is am I creating this guilt for myself? And if not, where is it coming from? Let me explain:

When Sweet Pea was in daycare, or pre-school, there were a few events, maybe 2 or 3 a year that parents were asked to attend during the day. And because our kids went to a full-time daycare/preschool, most, if not all, the children who went there had parents that work. So most of the center-run, or sponsored activities, took place after work.

But when you enter the elementary school years, this is not the case. I am finding there are many, MANY things parents are asked to attend at the most inconvenient times for working parents. There are parties. There are field trips. There are plays. There are “peek weeks” for EVERY “special” class, i.e. P.E., art, music. And of course these class times are smack in the middle of the morning. Granted they only last an half hour but when you have to commute 40 minutes to work and you only work PT this does not leave you with much face time in the office – not to mention work time.

It’s not only the logistics of how to get there that make it so hard, but the emotional stress it adds to an already chaotic life and schedule. It can be so overwhelming. It’s just another item on a long list of reasons why it so hard to be a great mom and a great employee.

I love that our school has all this parent involvement. I really do. But what are working parents supposed to do? Not go? This would never fly with my child – and rightfully so. It doesn’t fly with me either. I want to be there. But how many times in one month can you really tell you boss that you won’t be in until 11 AM, and you leave at 2:30? Again, I’m damned if I do, and damned if I don’t.

Last month, when I had to go Sweet Pea’s P.E. class for peek week, I was planning to lie and tell my boss I had a doctor’s appointment. Somehow in my mind this felt like a more acceptable excuse for being late to work. Why, I have no idea. In the end, I decided the truth was better. I know I am so ethical like that. No actually, I am not. It simply hit me. Was it WRONG to want to go to my child’s school event? Could any rational person really think this was the wrong choice? I didn’t think so either. But it helped that I knew my boss would understand. I have a great boss. She does not have kids but somehow she totally gets it. But I have had bosses that don’t. I know a lot of people who have bosses that don’t.

And what about the Dads? Hey, I mean, if I was afraid to tell my boss what I was doing, I would think there are many a men out there who might have also have a hard time telling their boss they need to miss that important meeting because, “Well I’d really love to attend my child’s kindergarten music class.” Yeah, I'm sure that will go over well.

And it’s only going to get worse. With eventually two kids in elementary school, (I am getting heart palpitation just thinking about it), I’ll never make it to work.

But you know what? I’ve decided I am no longer going to simply add this to my list of reasons why I’m either a terrible parent or a terrible employee (depending on the day). It’s important to me and my kid to be there, at least to as many as possible. This is my priority. I will never look back and wished I worked that one day (or ten as the case may be). I know some of it doesn’t sound all that important. But it is. To be a part of their day, if only for one day, or one part of one day, is something I will always remember. And they will remember me being there. (And they sure as heck would remember me not being there). And until someone has an issue with it, I have decided I will NOT feel guilty about making this choice.

Except that I will. Why do we do this to ourselves?


Finally, a diagnosis. I suffer from "TUI," Time, Urgency/Impatience syndrome. And according to this article I have all the symptoms. I get upset while waiting. I tend to eat fast. (Sometime I think I might actually choke myself). And I generally feel time pressured ALL THE TIME.

I always knew there was something wrong with me. I just didn't know it really had a name. In addition to the above symptoms I have others. I walk fast, always. On Fridays, when I don't work, I still rush around in the morning. When we are driving anywhere, especially when I am not the one actually driving, I cannot stand being behind people who drive too slow. And I hate traffic, to an extreme. It makes me crazy. It makes Jonathan crazy too. Not the traffic, me in the traffic. When I can't take it anymore and I blurt out some obnoxious comment like, "Can't you just go around them?" His response is, "What is your problems? We're not in a rush." But that's exactly it. I AM in a rush. Granted, I have no idea why.

It is kind of funny there is an actually name for this but it really does suck to have it. It's no joke. It's exhausting to always be in a rush. It explains why I an unable to stay awake past 9 PM, sometimes even earlier. Well, that and the two little creatures of mine who suck the life out of me each and every day. It's ironic too because I consider myself a relatively lazy person. You wouldn't think a lazy person would suffer from a syndrome which requires such exertion. But here I am, living proof.

The article does offer a few suggestions to help easy the effects. They recommend taking a one minute pause in your day to read a funny e-mail or dance with your partner. Yeah, I'm a sure a whole minute would do wonders. And ah, yeah, I'll get right on that dancing thing.

They also suggest a simply reminder to yourself to slow down. Yeah, I suppose that could work but I don't think this will serve as any kind cure for people who have spent their entire lives hurrying.

And finally, they suggest the "no-tech zone." You know, put away all those technological devices that keep you so connected so that you take time out to relax. I suppose this too may help for some people. But not people like me who turn to my technology to escape the reality of my life. This is where I read the paper, and those funny e-mails and blogs.

The only time in my life I can remember not being in a hurry all the time was when I was pregnant. I don't know if it was the hormones that somehow relaxed my brain and body or if I was just simply physically unable to move that fast. Maybe both.

I doubt they'll every really be a cure. But I suspect as I get older my symptoms may not be so severe, if again, only because I am physically unable to move so fast. It is somewhat gratifying to at least have a name to put on it. And when Jonathan asks me what my problem is, at least I will have a legitimate response. (Well, I'll think it's legitimate. He'll just add it to the list of reasons why he thinks I'm crazy.)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Playdate rule book

Now let me just say, I realize that some kids are not socially ready to have a drop off play date and so these rules might not apply to them. However, there of many out there, who are in fact ready, yet their parents appear not to be. And so these are for them:

1) If your child is over 4 do not assume you need to stay for the duration of the play date. In fact seize this opportunity to not only develop your child's independence but to give yourself a little downtime, relax and simply try to enjoy the gift of time FOR YOURSELF!

2) If you make a play date with a "friend" and the "plan" is to drop your kid off, do not call the 1/2 hour before the play date is suppose to start, (which may also happen to be a Sunday morning), tell the "friend" that in fact your husband is bring your child, has decided he will stay AND he will be bringing their 2 year old along for the fun.

For those saying, "Well, what's the big deal?" The big deal is, the "friends" may not have signed up for two hours of entertaining other adults and in fact may have had plans to try to get somethings done around their house during the play date. After all, isn't that some of the benefits of a play date? The children can help entertain each other so you can perhaps fold some laundry? Now, I 'm not suggesting you go about your business without properly supervising the children - of course, but many of these kids are now at an age when they can engage in some play independently with you not far away. Right?

3) If you are going to stay, do discipline your children when they start jumping on the beds. Especially when you have had a older child fall off the bed when jumping who had to be rushed to the emergency room when fluid started leaking from his ear. And when a simple, "Please don't jump on the bed [insert name here]," does not work, more effect means of communication may be necessary.

4) When you have already been at the "friends" house for two hours, and they are clearly trying to get ready to go out (as they said they would need to prior to the play date) do take the hint and get the heck out.

5) Don't be surprise that when failing to following rules 1-4, your "friends" do not call you again and invite your child over for another play date any time soon.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Okay, I retrack my earlier post....

I think I may need to relocate. I know I said how much I love those snow days but as I predicted, or admitted, I now feel differently. It is now April and there is a WINDCHILL FACTOR. This is totally unacceptable to me. I need to be outdoors. My kids need to be out doors - without hats and gloves, and frickin long underwear. Did I mention, it is April?

Not only that, I am convinced that if I lived in a warmer climate, not only would I be happier, and a less moody and depressed person but I would be thinner and healthier. You don't see the connection? Well you see, the fresh warmth of the sun would motivate me to run outside probably daily. Okay, not daily, but more often. And you know, I think that would do wonders for me! Yes, I do have a treadmill, that I manage to get on about 3 times a week - on a good week. But let's face it, that is not the same.

Now, if only I could convince the rest of my family to go with me, I'd be good to go. On second thought........