Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Where Does The Time Go . . .

Yesterday in my post I vowed to blog faithfully every day - and it seems like minutes ago that I wrote it! Time goes by so quickly! Today was the first day of September - a week until the boys go back to school. Instead of staying home and cleaning the house (which needs to be done) I decided to take them to a playground to enjoy the last few days of freedom. Laundry and dust bunnies will always be there!

One week until school, which hopefully will be a good year. DS1 always has good years - great teachers, good grades - and is sad when the school year ends. DS2 gets excellent grades, but seems to try the patience of teachers, prompting phone calls to home and difficult parent/teacher conferences and looks forward to a vacation of any kind from the school rountine. Although his behavior is sometimes an issue - at report card time he always brings home very high marks.

Two weeks from today is DS1's 11th birthday, and I don't know where those 11 years went. It seems like days ago I was visiting daycare centers in order to find the perfect one, and the baby car seat was sitting empty on the hearth (sometimes with Eleanor the cat sitting in it!) - waiting for the the little prune to arrive. Now he doesn't like to acknowledge us in public, watches YouTube and has his own cell phone. But I did have a weepy moment today when I went downstairs to do laundry and saw him playing with some Matchbox cars - my little boy is still in there somewhere!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Summer Vacation . . .

Time for summer vacation - sun, sand, travel! Also - no mosquitos, sidewalks and 7-11! The second group may seem strange, but they are what I look forward to the most.

We live in a rural area, of which I have complained about in the past. When vacationing, we stay in a condo in a beach community in New Jersey which makes it possible to sit on the deck and walk around outside - day or night - and not be assaulted by bugs. There are sidewalks, making it possible to just go for a walk and not have to worry about being mowed down by a vehicle. There is a 7-11 variety store a block away - making it simple to get morning coffee, slushees, candy - without ever having to get in the car! This may seem crazy to some, but when you can never do any of these things at your own home - it is a treat!

It is also great to be in a home other than your own. You don't have to be constantly faced with the projects that need to be done, the pets that need attention in some way (although they are missed!) and the mail - it makes for a low stress level!

But, alas, it only lasts for a week - then back to bugs, dust bunnies, and unfinished home projects!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Home Sweet Home . . .

Do you ever wonder what people think when they enter your home for the first time? When I am getting ready to entertain at my house I am always aware of what people's first impressions will be. My first worry - is it clean enough? Unfortunately, that is what I judge the first time I enter a house so I immediately think others do the same. Secondly, I look at the family photos, which I love in other people's homes but strangely enough have very few of in my own.

When it comes to decorating I have always been a "less is more" person, and I'm sure some people thing my style, especially in my living room, is sparse. To me, the fewer tables = fewer places for junk to accumlate. Another decorating issues I have is getting caught up in a theme - I have gone through many in the 15 years I have owned my home - undersea, baseball, Normal Rockwell, golf. Two of my current themes, ocean liners and dogs, may seem strange to some. But I do know one thing - I am the only one in my town (probably in my state) with a QE2 themed kitchen, complete with cabinets, countertops and appliances chosen to mirror the colors in her hull.

When and if we decide to sell our house - I will have to change my themes. For now, I rather enjoy the ecentricity of it!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It's quiet . . . too quiet . . .

It's summer camp week, and it is tough being back in a schedule - up at 7:30 AM, out the door by 8:20 AM, and not home again until 4:30 PM (actually longer than a school day for the boys!). The previous two weeks were baseball camp for one, mornings only, a couple of towns away - lots of driving! This particular camp is great for him, so I don't mind all the driving - he learns from some of the best college baseball players in country. The players give all the kids nicknames; this year he was "no sox" and he loves going to games to hear the players call him by his nickname!

This week is full days, both boys. During times of bickering and boredom complains, I looked forward to this week - no fighting, time to myself, and getting projects done. Well, as of Wednesday of the week - not a single project has been started, let alone finished. I'm a little lonely and it's just too quiet - which is why as I write this I am the first parent at camp pickup - 28 minutes early!

Next week is family vaction - a week of sun, sand and historical adventures. I will probably re-read this post and think "what was I thinking!!".

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pediatrician Visit . . .

The old saying goes, "from the mouths of babes" - I thought the "babes" in that saying meant that once they reached a certain age, they would be able to edit the information that goes from their brain to their mouths. Not so. My youngest still blurts out whatever he is thinking - whenever he is thinking it.

Case in point: When he went for his annual physical the other day he was told that he would have to leave a "specimen". He was so excited and thought it sounded like great fun! After having his full physical, we were headed to the rest room for the specimen experience. Before parting ways with his doctor, he asked her if he could have another cup - because he wanted to take a specimen home with him.

Needless to say, she said no.

Quicksand and Slime . . .

Before I had kids, I thought I could never handle having boys. Sports, messes and robot cartoons - nothing that I grew up with. The rain has pretty much taken over the summer so I am in constant need of things to keep them occupied and away from television. While craft shopping yesterday, we dicovered kits in which to make quicksand and slime - which they immediately thought would be great.

We brought them home, opened the packages and and started mixing. Well, one started mixing without reading the directions - if he had read them, he would have realized that the jug of water was there to be trickled into the corn starch - not poured! No worries - two cups of wheat flour and some brown rich and we were back in business! For $5.99 each, these kits provided at least two hours of fun last night, it being played with right now, and the slime has its own "carrying case", so it can travel with us!

I think if I can handle my boys making quicksand and slime in my kitchen, with its fairly new hardwood floor without having a near nervous breakdown - I can handle pretty much any mess they can cause!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Caller I.D. . . .

How did people every survive without Caller I.D.? It is one of the technological advances that I love - being able to screen your calls, to see who has called while you were away, avoid surveys and collection calls - is a great convenience.

But like Facebook, it does create some level of obsessiveness. Today while at the beach, I decided to call a friend. Because of the glare, it was difficult to see the screen of the phone and I inadvertently dialed the wrong number. After one ring - the call disconnected and I decided to try the call again later.

Five minutes later - my phone rang. It was a rather serious sounding man who said: "This is Joe Something-or-other, WHO IS THIS? WHY DID YOU CALL ME?" Without identifying myself (which I didn't have to - OBVIOUSLY he has Caller I.D. or he wouldn't have realized he didn't know me and wouldn't have had my number to call me back). I quickly apologized and said I must have dialed the wrong number. This explanation was not good enough for him. He stayed on line - my apology met with a long silence. Not wanting to hang up on him I, too, stayed on the line - but what the heck was he waiting for? A better explanation - I didn't have one! Did he think I was targeting him - calling him to annoy him? Or does he have so few people call him that he has to make the most of every call he actually gets? After giving it some thought, it was probably the latter - with an attitude like that - who would actually call him?

Swimming . . .

It always looks like fun - splashing in the waves of the ocean, floating leisurely in a lake, tubing down a river. But me - I worry about what is lurking in the water below me, unseen, waiting to prey upon me. Rationally, I know that most things in the water are more afraid of me that I am of them. I'm not rational - I can't get past the thoughts of a crab biting my toes, or an eel wrapping itself around my leg or arm!

Thankfully, my sons have not inherited my fear of the water. They run in, diving on their inflatable rafts (which they always name - for a few years we had "greenie deenie" - who sadly met his demise at the end of last summer; this year we have Steve and Betty. Although they are wary of walking in the "muck", they will spend hours splashing, racing and competing in Survivor-like challenges until the shadows overtake the clear spot.

Hopefully, it will stay this way. They will surf, compete in triathalons and snorkle - and will never figure out that the story "Jaws" supposedly happened within our state!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independence Day . . .

Our July 4th was spent with family and friends, some of which we hadn't seen in many years. It is great thing to reunite with people you played with as kids, and have your kids play with their kids! We celebrated a 50th wedding anniversary (only 37 years to go until ours!), visited with the QM2 and swam and sunned.

At the Summer Street bridge, I photographed the kids wearing their "I Love QE2" badges!

After that, we headed off to the 50 anniversary party. The boys loved the sparking cidar in the champagne glasses!

When asked where his glass was, after he had walked around with it for a long time, he said "I put it back where I found it" - back with the clean glasses! Oh well, at least he tried to put it away!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Another Season Ends . . .

The little league season came to a disappointing end last night for my 10 year old son. It was the championship for the AAA division, and it ended in a crushing loss of 11-0. All season long, through injuries and bad weather, they persevered to be one of the top two teams in their division. They try to act tough and mature during the season, whether it be to not cry when hit by a rogue pitch, or to impress the girls that hang near the dugout. But when faced with agony of defeat in the final game, they momentarily turn back into little boys - with red eyes and faces streaked with tears. It is hard not to cry along with them and to tell them that in all the disappointments they will face in life, this will not even be a blip on their radar screen. At that moment, all they see is the other team cheering and celebrating, and the world is a little darker for them.

Resiliency is strong in little boys, though. After an ice cream at the local Dairy Queen and a promise of a banquet where they will receive second place trophies, spirits seem to brighten. As they say goodbye to their friends on the team, they think forward to next year; another year of opening day, green fields, mosquitoes, Big League Chew and cheering fans in the bleachers. So, let's wait until near year . . .

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Camping . . .

Because of the end of the school year and travel, I haven't posted in a over a week! Well, the travel I speak of was camping - not exactly my favorite type of travel, but because the other members of my family seem to love it - I try!

People love camping - the fires, cooking outdoors, being one with nature - sounds good in theory. I can't get on board with it, though. Why would someone spend over $100 a night, after you figure in gas, food, supplies, etc., to do fun things like share bathrooms with perfect strangers, get bitten by bugs and try to cook dinner in a lightning storm? I think you have to be raised in a camping family to understand the fun of it. Growing up, my family's idea of "roughing it" was a hotel that had no pool. We spent our vacations in various hotels, not all five-star, across the country, swimming in pools, getting ice from the hallway machine, and wondering if we would be on the second or first floor of our next stop.

Unfortunately, camping brings out the worst in me. I try to jump on the bandwagon and be excited about it - but I just cannot. When rain is in the equation, it is even worse. So today as I unpack the cooler (that came home with a slug on the lid!) and the other muddy items from the campsite, I tell myself that it is over for this year, and try to think of nicer things - like having my dog back home again, having my own shower, and having a computer again!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Today is the 99th anniversary of the celebration of Father's Day. The idea for a holiday celebrating dads was introduced by a woman in Washington state who had been raised by her father for most of her life. While listening to a sermon on Mother's Day, she thought it was important that a day be set aside to recognize fathers for the sacrifices they make for their children.

Unfortunately, due to distance I don't get to see my Dad on Father's Day, but consider myself lucky that I could call and chat with him on the phone this morning. For some people, Father's Day is a just a time to remember their dad and to share memories perhaps with their own children of how great their Dad was.

Now we celebrate Father's Day for my husband - breakfast, cards, gifts (a Shamwow among other things!) - and try to show him how much we love and appreciate all that he gives us and sacrifices for us on a daily basis. Although we may not always show it, we appreciate everything you do for us - the lack of sleep, the time commitments to scouts and sports, and the patience you to try show us when we are being annoying!

Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Always follow your instincts . . .

"A smart mother makes often a better diagnosis than a poor doctor". This quote by August Bier, a pioneer in the field on anesthesia, accurately reflects my feelings about our experiences with the medical professional over the past two years.

My youngest son was diagnosed with ADHD in kindergarten, and went on to be treated with over seven different medications in varying levels of strength for the next year. ADHD is a condition that has no medical test to back up the diagnosis; it is based on testing, opinions, and a leap of faith that your pediatrician knows what he is talking about. When the diagnosis was made, both my husband and I felt that putting him on medication was a drastic step and asked the doctor if there was anything else we could try such as diet changes or therapy. We had done some research that said these changes could made a positive impact. "No, you will see such a change in his behavior from the medication that you will thank me for it". Wrong. We saw a poor little boy who was took hundreds of pills that made him lose his appetite (and weight), develop a tick and become so depressed that at times we hardly recognized him.

During this time my husband and I felt horrible that we were actually the ones giving this medication to him. We would complain to the doctor that we saw no positive change in his attention span. He would just insist that the medication dosage or type be "tweaked", and a positive result would soon follow. It never did. Increasing pressure from the school system (whose first question when they found out he was diagnosed was: "is he on medication?") and the doctor kept us going down a road we were not comfortable with. Finally, after he developed a throat clearing tick that was so disruptive to him the he couldn't sleep, we decided to cease all medication and change doctors.

Our new pediatrician suggested we see a pediatric neurologist from one of the top children's hospitals in the world, which we did yesterday. She met with us for one hour, read all the testing that had been done, and did further testing on her own - and said that she was sure he did not have ADHD, and went on to say that if the first couple of medications showed no improvement in his attention span, it should have been clear that it was not ADHD and the medications should have been stopped. His attention problems are behavioral and will be deal should by behavioral specialists, and she suggested neurological/psychological testing to see if he has any learning problems (even though he is a straight A student - problems can still exist).

Growing up, my family would never doubt a doctor's diagnosis. I had bought all the books, read all the Internet research, and talked to other parents - I thought I was well informed. It never occurred to me to question the medical community. There are plenty of children who are accurately diagnosed, and for who medication is the answer. This situation taught me to follow my heart - that if something feels wrong - it probably is. Always follow your instincts . . .

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The grass is always greener . . .

Over the past few weeks I've become involved in a message forum about one of my interests, ocean liners. Most of the people who belong to this forum are people who have either traveled on or crewed aboard the QE2, along with some who never got the opportunity to travel aboard this great liner and are interested in the stores of those who have. Through this forum, I have met (in the computer sense) people from all over the world, but mostly people who live in and around London.

Anyone who knows me knows that it would be my ideal to live in London or its outskirts, and that I constantly complain that I live in an dull place, etc. In talking to these people, it is interesting to me to see how they view where I live. When asked where exactly I am from I tell them I live on the East Coast of the USA, outside of Boston; they usually reply with "how lucky you are". Sometimes it takes someone else to point out to you that yes, where you live is really a great location (maybe not the town, but the geographical location). Within a matter of five to seven hours I could get in my car and drive to Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Portland and many other places, and am just a short ride to the ocean. It would be difficult to imagine living in a place like Kansas, where a five hour car ride may get to you one large city, but not more than that, and you could never hop in your car and visit the ocean.

Unfortunately, life being what it is, it is not easy to just jump in the car (or on a bus, train, etc.) and travel to these places; but I think in the future I should try to take advantage of my geographical location more often, hop on a bus to New York every few months, just to be a part of it. And, sorry, Kansas - I don't mean to offend - you were just the first state that came to mind!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Is it ever enough?

When we were kids, we were given presents for our birthdays and on Christmas. What happened to that custom? Today kids are given gifts for every occasion, whether it be large or small Had a bad day school? Let's go to Target and get a new action figure! Had a great day at school? Let's go to Wal Mart and get a new toy! And we wonder why our children are so spoiled!

As I write this, I have two brand new Star Trek action figures sitting next to me. Upon going to a local store to buy windshield wiper blades for the family car, my husband spotted the Kirk and Spock toys in the store (Spock with an extra “live long a prosper” hand so you can switch them!) and immediately said “the kids would love these” (translation: I would love to have these). So now they will have another toy that they really don't need, and really did nothing to earn. Kids today think they are entitled to get something every time you walk into a store and in some cases will drive you to the edge of insanity until you finally break down and buy them something just to keep them from making a scene (come on, everyone has done that at one time or another).

To kids today, everything is replaceable. They have so many toys that I can clean out there room and dispose of an entire green trash bag of items – and they never even miss them until weeks or months later, if at all.

Although the conveniences of modern life can be nice (being able to write this from the front seat of my car while my husband hits golf balls at a local driving range), I wish life was simpler. Having one truck or doll to play with would guarantee that great care would be taken in putting it away every night, not thinking that if it breaks, I will just get a newer, better one for my birthday or Christmas (or Easter, first day of school, lost tooth, bad mood, etc).

It would be nice if we didn't live in a disposable society – where everything is used until it no longer works or we lose interest in it. Landfills would not be overwhelmed, children would not be so spoiled, and adults would teach children that good behavior is rewarded with compliments and love, not toys.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Money can't buy happiness . . .

It has been said that whoever coined (no pun intended) this phrase probably didn’t have much money – but I don’t think so. After being poor and wealthy, I think it was written by someone who had seen life from both sides. Recently there was a television documentary about people who have had major cash windfalls by winning the lottery and, subsequently, how their lives had been ruined. One woman won the lottery for a large amount of money not once – but TWICE. After losing it all by gambling it away, she currently lives in a trailer in New Jersey. A man who won what was supposedly the largest lottery payout in history has lost family members, lost his drivers’ license because of an alleged DUI/failure to appear, and faced criminal charges for assault– all this from someone who probably lived a quiet, normal life before money changed his life for the worse.

Most people dream of having more money. Not having to work, being able to buy homes in great locations and decorate them without looking at prices, travelling, buying expensive cars would certainly be nice. The question is does quality of life actually improve because of a higher bank balance? I’m sure stress levels about certain things (i.e., paying the bills!) would disappear. On the other hand a new set of problems would appear. People would know you have money (part of the deal with the lottery is that they give you the big check with the press taking photos – anonymity is not an option). People you know (and some that you don’t) would suddenly want to be your closest friends. Worry that some crazy person would try to kidnap your children because they know you can afford to pay ransom would be a new concern.
Although I would love to have a brownstone on the Upper West Side, a summer house on Nantucket, a Volvo SUV, a yearly trip to Europe, etc., I think my happiness can be achieved on a fairly small budget. Living debt free and having enough money to pay the bills on time, having a small vacation every few years, having enough money for my sons to go to the colleges of their choice when the time comes and living comfortably in my modest but nice home would be enough for me (with one exception – I still would want the Volvo SUV - you have to have dreams!).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bugs and Rural Living . . .

Ogden Nash once said, “God in His wisdom made the fly and then forgot to tell us why”. I have to agree - I could easily live without bugs. Growing up in the suburbs, I had my share of mosquito bites, bee stings, etc., but never really understood being overcome with bugs until I moved to the country. When I was a kid, bugs came out just before dark, right when you were getting ready to go inside anyway, so they weren’t too much of an annoyance. Where I live now, the bug attacks begin in the early morning hours and continue on for the entire day. By the time dinnertime arrives, they have completely taken over, preventing any kind of gardening or relaxing outside.

Some people enjoy rural living, the fact that they cannot see their next door neighbors, except for when the trees shed their leaves in winter. Others aren’t bothered by the fact that you take your life in your hands trying to walk down the street because of the lack of sidewalks. But now that I live in a country setting, I rather miss the suburban setting – houses twenty feet apart, yards that can be mowed in less than an hour – they are all a thing of the past.

My ideal living situation would be one of being getting up in the morning, walking my kids to a local school (on sidewalks), then moving on to specialty stores where I would buy foods for that evening’s dinner. Bread, produce and meats would be purchased from local shops, where they know what I want and put it aside for me, rather than walking into a supermarket and choosing produce and meats that are not of the greatest quality, but purchasing them because they are the only ones available. Spring and summer evenings would be spent on my rooftop balcony, gazing over the rooftops of the city, wondering what the other rooftop dwellers were eating or drinking, with only the occasional bug flying through to bother me.

For now, my lifestyle must consist gallons of mosquito repellant (with DEET to keep away ticks), making sure the dog is never far from me after dark (coyotes), looking out for turkeys, and staying out of tall grass in spring and summer (SNAKES!!).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

To blog or not to blog . . . .

Every morning I faithfully check my favorite blogs - it is a normal to me as checking my email or the local weather. Sometimes they make me laugh, sometimes they make me cry, but they always entertain. After much debate (internal - I'm not going to let many people know that I am blogging) I have decided to embark upon this blogging journey. Hopefully it will be an interesting and colorful trip!