Saturday, March 31, 2007

Four kids, a mountain of toys and a mere 1200 square feet

... which makes for one fun week!
We knew my sister and her family would be visiting us this week and we knew the consequences would be toys everywhere, occasional toddler warfare and a bevy of sippy cups and snacks. But last week when we had the environmental safety guy come out to check out some mold growing in a never-used closet we didn't know about the consequences of his visit.
He had initially told my DH over the phone that most household mold is simply a matter of spraying with bleach and isn't a genuine health hazard. He also said that the term "toxic black mold" was created by personal injury lawyers and isn't medically substantiated. He was by no means an alarmist, having fun striking fear in the hearts of every mold-growing homeowner.
Then his consequence-creating visit came. He took one look in the closet (which is located off of our sunroom/toy room) and noted that this was not your standard clean-up-with-bleach situation. Instead he offered the enticing alternative of ripping out the room down to the studs and starting over. And he recommended keeping everyone out of the sunroom/toy room. Erck. This with the pending arrival of 2 additional toddler-types and 3 additional adults.
So we moved out all of the toys, washed them down (each and every little part) and moving some into the garage for future use and some into our living room. Oh the joys. I was anticipated a challenging few days with too many kids and toys in too little room. Although we knew our sunroom wasn't well-constructed (that's putting it quite mildly) it has been such a useful room since it harbors all our toys and keeps them from being underfoot. The thought of having 400 square feet off limits was a bit daunting.
But then my brother and my sister and her family came, and... it was fine. Great, in fact. The kids did wonderfully and had a great time playing together. It's been so fun to see them growing up and turning into such sweet little people. Although her current location is much preferred to her previous one, I'd give anything for my sister to be closer than she is now. But since that's unlikely to happen, I have to say it is so fun to see the dramatic changes in kids that a few months can bring. There really wasn't any toddler warfare (aside from the occasional toy ownership issues) and, honestly, no tears (aside from those caused by parents). It was the kind of thing I'd always wished for growing up myself, just 3 1/2 solid days of playing until you're too tired to do anything but... get more wound up.
So, thank you, prrrof, for coming down to see us! We loved it!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

airport update

I'm sitting in the Orlando airport, and because I'm traveling with a cool little laptop and no children, I can actually sit here and write a blog post. So far (knock on the metal chair arm with no wood at all), my trip has gone smoothly. Unlike Bryan's nightmarish recent voyage.

For two nights I have had a hotel room, alone.

This is rare, and very nice in small doses. No cartoons had to be watched, for example. I got to stay up as late as I wanted without worrying about trying to settle down some kids. I've eaten meals slowly and with other adults.

I miss the kids like crazy, of course, but solitude--every once in a great while--is an amazing thing.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Grace is my middle name

To prime your brain for this story, first there's this joke:

A grandson is visiting his blind grandma in a nursing home. While they're chatting, he surreptitiously eats all of the peanuts from the bowl beside her bed. Once they're done talking, he admits what he's done to granny. She replies: "Oh, that's okay son, those are the peanuts that I've sucked all of the chocolate off of!"

Okay. So, on Saturday night, I'm at a social occasion at my colleague's house. I walk into the living room where folks are sitting around a few appetizer trays; my eyes light on a bowl of snow peas. "Yum!" I think, "I love eating those! And how nice to have bowls of them sitting around!" So I grab one and sit down. The snow pea, though, disappoints. As I chew, and chew, and chew on what turns out to be an extremely stringy bean, I tell myself to be polite and swallow it down. Inside, I recoil a bit snobbily from what surely must be cheap Winco beans. How embarrassing, I think, that the hosts served these stale, cheap beans. I continue chewing, swallow, and decide to stick to the Thai toasts.

Then, I look up and notice two things:
1. people are splitting open the peas, which means that they are *edamame* and not stale snow peas.
2. there are large bowls filled with fresh edamame and small ones filled with...chewed-open edamame shells.

So, yes: not only did I *eat* an entire edamame, pod and all, I ate an already-chewed-on-by-someone-else edamame.

That's one way to make a classy impression.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Eye for an eye... BB for a BB

So, this just in from the land of milk and bullets.
This weekend a mother of a 14-year old was arrested for (drumroll, please)... helping her child hunt down the people he wanted to shoot!! Hear, hear for the local police department for stepping up to the plate and stopping her nonsense! Good for them for taking a stand against aiding-and-abetting mothers. Yikes and double yikes, is this what this world (OK, my town) has come to?
As the story goes, a 14 yr old boy and his 3 or 4 pals were riding around with his mother telling her where to go and when to stop. She stopped at one point when he saw someone he wanted to shoot (PS, she knew about the guns in the car, more on that later), he gets out and shoots the person in the face. The mother gets out to check on the victim, gives him a clean bill of health (actually she said "You're OK") and then goes a bit further. She offers the gun to the victim and tells him it would be fine with her if he shot her son. A real big-hearted move since we aren't the eye-for-an-eye society we were in the days of Moses. Our local paper politely reported that the victim "declined" and ran off for help. My guess is that a few four-letter words were flying around when he issued his so-called "declination".
A word about the guns: they were BB guns. It's all just some good, clean NRA-endorsed fun, you think? Ou contraire. The police found a total of 5 guns in the car, one of which was designed to resemble an Uzi. Apparently all BB guns are manufactured with an orange circle on the end of the gun so police and the public will recognize them as the toys that they are. These kids' guns were blacked out so there was nothing to distinguish them from gang-issued non-toys that are so prevalent in this town.
Seriously, what is going on? I have boys. I am appalled at how early the barrage of commercially-endorsed violence begins in the form of Superman (who my 3 yr old is convinced is a bad man because he shoots people), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and a plethora of gun-type toys. On the same token, I must admit that while being far from a card-carrying NRA member, I am not terribly worried about my son becoming violent due to his love for some gun-like toy. I don't buy toy-like guns (he is only 3) but when he's at someone's house and they are playing some shooting-type of game, I don't put an immediate halt to it. (Case in point: he was recently fascinated by a lime-green water pistol. I honestly don't think he's made the connection between that and a deadly weapon). But he doesn't face the 24/7 exposure to violence that his TV-watching peers face. He also doesn't have a mother who, at 3 or 14, will have nothing better to do than cruise around with him and his friends looking for the bad dudes whilst toting a few weapons in the minivan. What I would give to be able to honestly end this post with, "therefore, he's safe as can be." But I can't.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Spring! in March!

So here's the jolly post I promised: it's March, and it's spring. There's something very, very right about that.

There were many things we loved about our years in the middle of the country, but the winters-that-lasted-until-late-April were not one of them.

On the other hand, I don't think we'll ever have a Trader Joe's or IKEA here. And try flying anywhere easily....

Monday, March 05, 2007

Just another light, uplifting post

On Friday night, we were at a local college gymnastics meet. We were there with friends of ours who have two late elementary/early middle school aged girls (maybe 10 and 12?). At one point, I looked over and all of them -- the two older girls and our four-year-old girl--were gone. I initially broke into a cold sweat; I ordered myself to be sane and rational; I said right out to my friend, "this is a new parenting moment. I don't know if I'm ready for this." "What?," she asked. "My child, going off with other children, alone," I replied. I twitched and fidgeted for another minute and then finally sent dh to check on them (I would have gone but darling son was clinging to my lap and saying, "mommy I neeeeeed you.")

The extent of the damage ended up being that our girl ordered a hot dog, of all things, on the other girls' offer of a snack (they got licorice, for goodness' sake, and our girl polishes off a hot dog? At 9:00 at night?) I'm okay with us going to check; I don't think that was too overly neurotic. But it brought up all of those questions all over again: how protective is overprotective? What risks are worth taking, and which ones aren't? It reminded me, of course, of Carrie's thoughtful post on this issue. Then yesterday I found this post, which (while it's about internet child safety) raises other good issues about fear. Danah's observations then led me to this one, which is filled with statistics and charts about (online) sexual abuse and abuse of children. Now, these are not fun topics--but we're so saturated with fear now that it's hard to remember that we're living in relatively safe times in a relatively safe country. Yes, as my sister pointed out on the phone tonight, statistics aren't all that meaningful when you're considering your own kid. But, perception (and misconception) could keep me from letting my kids grow in appropriate ways, while perhaps unintentionally leaving them vulnerable to other incidents. I think I've mentioned this book before--but this is a good one: Protecting the Gift by Gavin de Becker.

That is all. I promise a post filled with hope and jolly goodness next!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Look what someone from my hometown did...

If you have kids, or friends with kids, or think kids might be fun to have someday, check out this cool website created by my friend Emily. She's basically compiled all the info you'd need for raising a kid in her city. I think she needs to expand and have people host it in other towns, because it's really useful stuff...
Happy weekending!