Hip 365 – Week 2

More adventures in my life, chronicled with my iPhone and the Hipstamatic app. You know, a lot of people are of the opinion that photos should be a certain kind of interesting.  They think that taking pictures of your food or of other things that aren’t interesting to them should not be done. To them I say this:  It’s my blog, my pictures, and my life. Sometimes I look at my picture of the day and wonder why my life doesn’t produce more interesting shots.  But that’s the thing – it’s my life.  Sometimes its exciting, sometimes its boring – ebb and flow. Sometimes food is exiting to me.  Lord knows, my cat often is.  The point is that these photos chronicle a year in my life, not someone else’s.  Don’t like it?  Don’t read it.


357 – A perfect day for a nap in Mom & Dad’s bed.

The older they get, the less likely they are to nap, period.  Which is a shame, really, because some days are just perfect for a nap.  When that nap takes place in a warm bed, cuddled between flannel sheets, and under a giant fluffy duvet, then how can you resist?  She certainly didn’t.  I should’ve suspected something was up at the time, but ignorance is bliss – much like a mid-day, weekend nap.

356 – Still small enough to fit in the fun shopping cart.

Nearly every time we go to the supermarket, she begs to ride in one of the car carts.  She’s getting too old for it, but apparently not too big.  If you look closely, you can see the huge bags under her eyes.  It was a rough night capped off with an early morning visit to the pediatrician.  Turns out she has strep.

355 – At the pediatrician’s office. Again.

When we got back from the doctor’s office yesterday, I asked the older two how they felt.  Strep tends to spread like wildfire around here.  No issues – then at least.  By the next morning, the eldest was moaning in pain and discomfort.  Back to the pediatrician’s office for another positive strep test.  The Son never did get it.  I guess there’s some advantage to his preference for solitude.

354 – 15 minutes before school ends and already a long line at kiss and ride. What are we all doing here so early?

Although the younger two technically could take the bus to school, the bus stop is halfway between our house and the school.  Since the school’s less than a mile away, it seems slightly ridiculous to wait at the bus stop every day.  Instead, I wait in line at the kiss-and-ride entrance at their schools.  Not that this option is any less ridiculous.  The line to pick up your kids starts early and fills up fast.  I’ve seen people in line over 30 minutes before school ends.  Craziness.  Even on this day, the line was long when I got there 15 minutes before school ended.  Why do we all like to hang around in our cars for so long?

353 – “A snuggle is good for a Weechin’s life.”

The youngest, still not feeling well, climbed in my lap for a long snuggle.  The quote is her own.  Her father called her Weechin (wee children) after something a friend once said.  It’s a fitting nickname.  She is quite the petite child.

352 – Self portrait, shorter hair

Finally got everyone back to school and had a moment to myself.  What to do?  Get a haircut, of course.  Having my hair straight is a luxury.  Usually it’s quite wavy.  I had to take a picture to celebrate the occasion.

351 – Ready to slay the boys at her first dance.

The eldest is enrolled in Cotillion classes this year.  The National League of Junior Cotillions sponsors classes at the local country club. She, along with several friends, goes once a month to learn basic social graces, dance steps, and how to interact politely with kids and adults.  It’s a great opportunity to socialize with kids her age outside of school in a civilized environment.  As part of the  course, two balls are held.  The Winter Ball was her first opportunity in a while to dress up.  We’d gone to get her hair cut and styled.  Her hair, like mine, is very wavy, so having straight hair is a rarity.  The salon had a complimentary make-up artist that day, so the Eldest also had her first professional make-up application.  Such excitement for her, but a little scary for her father.  While we were taking pictures, he handed her one of his swords to remind her just how to handle the boys.

Hip365 – Week 1

In a valiant attempt to catch up, I’m going to post all of my 365 photos from earlier this year in a week-by-week format. Maybe then I’ll be able to keep current. Ha!

One of the challenging things about taking on this project is that I’ve had to come up with ideas on a daily basis. Yeah, that’s kind of the point, but going into the project I didn’t realize how much it would affect the way I look at my life.

364 – Country roads, take me home…

Heading back from West Virginia to our home in Virginia, we always have time to appreciate the lovely scenery. This is partly because the police force in Wardensville, WV is notorious for insisting that the speed limit not be exceeded. They even ticketed their own congressman for going slightly over 25. Nothing like regular enforcement to ensure compliance.

363 – It must be January again.

If this isn’t a typical slice of my life, then I don’t know what is. Time to try sticking with a diet and exercise plan, yet again. After action report – I stuck with it a few days before coming down with hives from an unknown source. Between the itchiness and Benadryl-induced stupor, I wasn’t good for anything for a few more days. I never did get back to exercising regularly. Maybe that should be my new goal, now that I’ve actually managed to stick with another activity (pictures!) for more than three weeks and made it become a habit.

362 – If it’s Tuesday, it must be time to stuff folders.

Every Tuesday during the school years, students at my younger two children’s schools send home a folder containing completed homework, school information, and other announcements (the eldest’s school sends them home on Thursday, which means I can’t even refer to them as ‘Tuesday folders’ safely anymore). I volunteered to stuff the folders in the youngest’s classroom, thus fulfilling the need to occasionally volunteer in the classroom. Otherwise,I don’t spend too much time in their schools. There’s a reason I didn’t become a teacher.

361 – Home sick, but still doing his reading homework.

‘Sick’ is technically correct. Really, the school sent him home because he’d thrown up. He’d thrown up because he didn’t eat enough before taking his meds. Every morning, the Son takes Strattera and Concerta. He has to eat a full breakfast before taking them, both to ensure he gets some food in before the medication affects his appetite and to ensure that he doesn’t throw up. Guess breakfast didn’t go so well that morning, but at least he had a nice day at home afterwards.

360 – EEG

We often refer to The Youngest’s membership in the “Disease of the Month Club.” We joke about it, but really she has a bigger medical file than the rest of us combined. This day, she was getting a sleep-deprived EEG to check for seizure activity. Her teacher had noticed some seizure-like activity a couple of months before and the neurologist ordered the test. In preparation for the test, she hadn’t been allowed more than four hours of sleep. Later on, she and I took a well-deserved nap. In this picture, she’s trying to sleep but had to wait until the approved time during the test until we’d let her drift off.

359 – Either a dead body or a stylish homeless person. Neither option makes me want to shop in this store.

You see the strangest things at the mall. I’m not a fashionista by any stretch of anyone’s imagination, but I think this window display was a little odder than most. Torsos and appendages sticking out of boxes – what were they trying to advertise, anyway? If you lived in a box, you could afford to buy this outfit? Weird.

358 – Let it snow! (but not too much – this is Virginia)

Oh, the South. Not a place that snow should ever touch. Admittedly, we have a better chance of dealing with it now that we’ve had so many big storms recently. Coming from New Jersey, where it can snow one foot at night and the streets are clear and dry the next day, I find the whole process a bit disheartening. But, the plow drivers here have finally figured out that the snowplow blade can touch the pavement, instead of hovering several inches above it. Much more effective street clearing that way. There’s hope yet, but snow should still stay up North. This was just the right amount of snow for Virginia – a pretty dusting that melted by mid-morning.

Won’t Let Nobody Hurt You

And so it came to pass, on the day before the day before Thanksgiving break, that some little shit decided it would be a good idea to sexually harass my baby in the middle of their sixth grade classroom. It was not the best decision he’s ever made.

This boy exhibited the kind of behavior that would get you punched in a bar. In a workplace, it would get you fired. In the classroom today, it got a look of shock and a quick avoidance from the Eldest. She felt too shy to tell the teacher and instead waited until she got home to tell first me, and then both of us. The reaction was swift – first we told her that his behavior was unacceptable and that she was right to come to us. Then my Bestest wrote a strongly worded email to the Principal and her teacher. It’s a letter I could’ve written as well, but he’s better at that sort of thing and besides – a letter from a concerned father about his baby girl being sexually harassed tends to be taken more seriously than when the mother writes the same letter.

The response from her school was just as swift – her principal emailed us back, assuring us that it would be taken care of. He added the guidance counselor to the email. Her teacher emailed and called us, reassuring us (and the Eldest) that things would be taken care of and that if the Eldest had any concerns ever, she should feel free to talk to the teacher or guidance counselor. The guidance counselor emailed us as well. We’re happy with the school’s response so far.

It just infuriates me that we have to have this conversation with the Eldest now. She just turned 12. Except this isn’t the first time we’ve talked about it. She had a similar, though less invasive, experience in third grade. What the hell is wrong with kids these days? If the Son ever did something like that, he’s be grounded forever at best. We talk to all of them about how to treat each other and others with respect. Are other parents not having these types of conversations?

We can’t protect our kids from everything. What we can do – and what we did over and over today – is reassure them that we have their backs. The Eldest and her siblings know that we’ll fight for them. Granted, we did have to tell her that calling him a “Fucking pervert” was unacceptable (just “Pervert”, thanks – she’ll get in trouble for the curse word). Any other action necessary, though – go for it. We told her to protect herself when and if she needs to, even in the classroom in the middle of a lesson. We’ll take care of the rest. We’ll always stand by them.

Now I Lay Me Down (Not?) to Sleep

My Bestest has been taking extra good care of me for the past several weeks/months, both pre- and post-plica removal surgery.  He’s done most of the grocery shopping, school pick-ups and drop-offs, a lot of the cooking, and all of the heavy lifting.  Now that my knee is almost healed at three weeks after surgery, it’s his turn to be sick.  Poor thing has pneumonia.

I’m grateful the universe has at least provided us with good timing.  I just hope the rest of us don’t get sick too.  The Youngest seems a bit sniffly already, which is significant.  She also has a tummy ache, which may or may not be.  Such is life with Eosinophilic Esophagitis – maybe she’s getting sick or maybe she’s just reacting to something she ate.  Time will tell.

It’s looking like the elder two will outlast the rest of us.  My Bestest is exhausted, I’ve been up since 3:30 am (oh, hey there early menopause!), and the Youngest is crashing.  Hopefully a few good threats will get them through the night with few disturbances.  Otherwise, I’m hearkening back to our theme song from when they were little – the Barenaked Ladies’ “Who Needs Sleep?”

When I’m Stuck With a Day

I think I’m finally approaching Zen Parenting. I doubt I’ll ever be fully zen – I’m way to much of a stress puppy for that – but I am finally learning to occasionally just roll my eyes and keep going after I get bad news instead freaking out and freezing. Yesterday’s episode was yet another of the Youngest’s efforts to keep her health status as “interesting.”

We’ve long since given up trying to list all of her illnesses, except on medical history forms. Even then, it’s a challenge to keep them all straight. While she was in the doctor’s office yesterday, I commented to the nurse that the best part of their computer system is that there’s finally space to list all of the conditions she has. They ran out of room at the top of her paper chart a few years back; she’s 8 now. I guess most kids have only a few, if any, items of concern or note. She’s certainly picking up the slack.

So yesterday, when I got a call from her teacher detailing an episode of what we all think were two seizures, I just took notes, called the doctor, made an appointment, and kept going. No freaking. Just a call to my Bestest to keep him in the loop. Lesser things would wait ’til the end of the workday, but this one was important. Besides, he was able to leave work early so I could take the youngest to the doctor on her own. Oh, and I thanked her teacher for being observant. I love her teacher.

In the past, I would’ve freaked out a lot more. Not that it would’ve helped any, but it’s a natural reaction. I can’t decide if I’m becoming numb to all of this or if I’m just treating this like a business transaction. It’s just one of the things that we’ve dealt with early and often since the Youngest was born. She shows no signs of slowing down. Thank goodness nothing has been very serious. Concerning, yes. Oh, heck yes. But nothing life-threatening and that’s what’s important.

The Youngest is a remarkably resiliant child. After all of the IVs, injections, and blood tests she’s had, she’s no longer afraid of needles. Last year, while they were getting their flu shots, the Son was nervous. The Youngest just looked at him and said, “Let me show you how it’s done!” She walked past him, rolled up her sleeve, presented her arm to the nurse, and took the shot without a wince. After that performance, there was nothing left for the other two than to emulate her. I don’t know if she really wasn’t scared or was just acting like she’s not, and I don’t care. She’s dealing with it. I’m very proud of her.

The Reigning Queen of Pink is her nickname, and I can’t think of a song that represents her better than “Tomorrow” from Annie. No matter how bad things are, nor how bad her mood, you can always count on her to bounce back with a smile. Sometimes (ok, often) I feel badly that she’s dealing with all of this. Then I think that maybe she’s the one best suited to deal with it. She’s spunky, just like Annie. Here’s hoping she finds her own ‘happily ever after’ someday.

And You Run and You Run

“Appreciate, people, appreciate!”

That was the rallying cry from the Eldest today as we made our way through the mid-day crowds at Whole Foods. I don’t usually get to shop there this time of year; usually by mid-November it’s so encased in cinnamon-scented goodies that I can’t risk it. Despite the lack of cinnamon (yeah!), there was ample evidence of the upcoming holidays. Both Christmas and Thanksgiving were well represented. We’d already been to Borders, passing through the gaudy pink and purple glittering trees as we entered. A trip to Bed, Bath, and Beyond was thwarted by a quick recon mission by the Eldest, who decided that she wanted me to live a little longer. Yup, more cinnamon. (Whatever happened to pine-scented goodies? Too religion-specific? Of course, someone’s probably allergic to that too.)

While all of the holiday decor is probably meant to promote cheer and purchasing, what it did to the Eldest and I was promote a feeling of frustration. Why can’t we celebrate one holiday before the next starts? Christmas decorations go up in stores long before Halloween. Halloween stuff started appearing about the time back-to-school shopping was going on. Retailers get a double-bonus with Memorial Day and Fourth of July – between those two holidays, patriotic gear reigns supreme for several months. Easter stuff appears before Valentine’s Day ends, and Valentine’s Day kicks in as soon as Christmas is over.

This constant barrage of celebratory swag adds up to holiday overload. It’s as if the retailers can’t survive without a holiday to promote. There’s no time to celebrate one holiday. Everything has to overlap. Why can’t we just appreciate what we have in our lives right now without the urgency to prepare for the next big thing? What’s the rush?

The never-ending holiday rush leads to us feeling like we’re somehow behind, like if we’re not prepared soon enough we’ve failed. We seldom take the time out to enjoy the holiday. It’s reminds me of the beginning of Pink Floyd’s “Time,” when all of the alarm clocks are going off at once.

Every Year is Getting Shorter
Never Seem to Find the Time

Perhaps if we took the time to enjoy each holiday, one at a time, instead of having them flow into each other, time would seem to go slower?

Making Something out of Nothing

Last night, we let the newly-minted 12-year-old watch the movie version of Rent with us. She’s been begging us to let her watch it for a while now. Given that it’s rated PG-13 and she’s a very mature 12, we finally gave in.

She’s seen clips from the movie on YouTube (I’m just a little bit of a Renthead) and she’s heard both the movie soundtrack and Original Broadway Cast recordings, so her father and I wondered what questions, if any, she might have about the movie. It turns out there were only a few. She asked what masturbation was – clearly a parenting and Family Life Education failure. She wanted to clarify that Maureen is indeed Bisexual. She asked what a Drag Queen was. She also wondered if New York was really that depressing looking in the 80s.

The New York question was easy – I grew up an hour from The City and went there many times during the 80s. It really was that ugly. I remember going into Bryant Park once. It was a barren, scary place. These days it is a lovely park. Times Square has been thoroughly Disney-fied (another term I had to define for her). NYC is a far different place now than the time the movie was set in.

Defining a Drag Queen was easy with Angel on the screen. Maureen’s bisexuality was similarly easy to confirm. An explanation wasn’t required – The Eldest already knows about sexual preferences.

Oddly, one thing I tried to clarify, but was rebuffed with a “yeah, I know that,” was the drug use. I suspect Discovery Health is to thank for that. Masturbation proved a bit more complicated, but she and I got through that one just fine. Fathers aren’t usually consulted where little girls’ bodily functions are concerned. I did make sure to tell her that not only could Daddy be trusted to understand if she ever needed to talk to him, but that there are many other females in her life that she can trust.

All of this is on my mind not only because we just watched it last night, but because there is apparently a big uproar over the introduction of an openly gay character on Glee, and the increased emphasis on the fact that there are other gay characters on the show. Apparently it was fine to have a gay character on the show as long as he wasn’t shown doing gay things. How very Catholic Church of these people.

Why in the world would people object to two gay guys kissing, yet be perfectly ok with their little darlings watching all of the other hyper-sexual behaviors on the show. Teen pregnancy, premature ejaculation, all kind of sex – that just fine. Gay kissing? Oh noes, my child will be scarred by the homosexual agenda.

Give me a break. The only reason the kid will be affected at all is that you are against it. They don’t care – or wouldn’t, if you hadn’t conditioned them into thinking that following their heart, mind, and soul was wrong. Why should there be a “homosexual agenda”? Why isn’t this viewed as just another kiss? Because some people make it into a big deal, that’s why.

We’ve never made a big deal about sexuality – it just exists, like any other thing about a person. Hair color, eye color, sexual preference – these are all things we can choose to mask but don’t truly change. You can wear blue contacts but underneath you still have brown eyes. I can dye my hair as often as I’d like but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m going gray. My hair is turning gray waaaaay to fast for my liking, but there it is and it keeps coming. It’s just like homosexuality – people can try to ignore it, ban it, hide it, protest it, but it’s still there. It won’t go away. Someone won’t magically turn straight because you want them to be anymore than someone is going to turn gay just because they saw two guys kissing on tv.

The absurdity of it all leaves me shaking my head. I’m glad we’re not dealing with that sort of nonsense in our house. If we had, we would’ve missed out on this gem of a movie (yeah, yeah, not as good as the play , but way more accessible).

Leave My Past Along the Way

It’s Tuesday – in our house, that’s Glee night. Glee is one of my favorite tv shows right now, for two reasons. Most importantly, its something I enjoy watching with the eldest. She and I started watching Glee together when it first aired and decided it was our show. The youngest watches it too now, but the eldest and I have the most time invested. We like to talk about the episodes, characters, spoilers, songs – everything. It’s a fun thing to share.

The other reason I like Glee is that it reminds me a lot of the 80s series Fame. Fame was a musical show, just like Glee. Like the eldest with Glee, I played Fame songs and talked about it with my friends. The eldest is getting way more out of her time with Glee than I did with Fame. After all, there were no instant downloads or DVR to maximize my enjoyment of the show. Sometimes my tape recorder made a guest appearance in front of the tv, but it wasn’t until the later seasons of the show that we had a VCR to record it so I could have sound and video.   Some of the songs from Fame I recorded survived on cassette until recently, when they were replaced by YouTube versions. The song “Miles from Here” was in the pilot episode of Fame and remains my favorite.

Laugh at Yesterday

So I forgot to mention – and maybe by Day 6 I don’t need to anymore – that this month’s edition of NaBloPoMo posts are all inspired by songs. Music is inspirational. It makes you think, feel, dance, SING, and so many other things. I couldn’t go a day without music. Even if it’s not playing out loud, there are always songs in my head.

What I’m listening to depends largely on my mood, unless other forces intrude. With five people in the house and even more outside in the world, that’s a pretty large influence. The music in my head is usually mine. The music I play for myself on my headphones is mine too. As a mother of three, “mine” is an interesting concept. Now that they’re getting older, I definitely have more “me” time. When they were younger, “me” time was a precious commodity. Sometimes the only way I got some peace and quiet was to put everyone in time out, including me. Being on my own, in my own room? Priceless.

Even now, I sometimes tell the kids to go up and “clean their rooms” or whatever they want to call it, just so they get to be in a place by themselves, where their thoughts can roam untethered. The Eldest likes to play her music and dance around. The Youngest likes to play with her dolls or read a book. The Son likes to pace back and forth and tell himself stories. In short, they do whatever they want to do. The rest of the house is designated as a public area – you have to deal with each other’s behaviors. In your room, you are free to do your dreaming and your scheming, your crying and your sighing. “In My Room,” by the Beach Boys, is the perfect soundtrack – that is, if you want it to be. Your room, your choice.

Spread Sunshine All Over The Place

As I mentioned the other day, I’ve been watching the relationship of two people close to me further disintegrate. There’s really few things worse than watching someone suffer and not knowing how to fix it. The bottom line is that they’re both miserable people. I can’t fix that – it was to come from inside. So, instead of fussing constantly over the state of their marriage, I’ve decided to try to make sure that my marriage is and will remain on solid ground.

In the spirit of that goal, I asked my Bestest what I could do to improve myself and make me a more likable person. His answer – cheer up and stop worrying so much about other people’s troubles. Do what you can but then know when to let go. Easy for him to say. He’s the laid back one. I’m hyper. But it’s a worthwhile goal. Even the eldest says “don’t read that!” when she sees me looking at an email from one of the aggrieved parties. She knows it upsets me. How is my behavior affecting her?

Numerous studies have shown that maintaining a positive attitude can help you lead a longer life. There are days when I’m not sure a longer life is what I’m after. But it’s not just me I need to think about anymore. I need to stand up, be strong, and put on a little good-mood music. It doesn’t get much better than “Put on a Happy Face” from the Broadway musical “Bye Bye Birdie.”

Gray skies are going to clear up, right? Right?