Saturday, September 27, 2008

The weirdos are coming!

Recently, I asked a friend in an e-mail, "What are your plans for Halloween?" Later, I started to kick myself upon realizing that I was asking her about Halloween -- and it wasn't even October yet! But it seems that there are people out there who think so. And maybe even think that since Halloween is on its way, it's all right to dress up and wear all this dark and Goth-like make-up.

Lately, when I have ran errands, I've seen quite a few people dressed up all Goth or like a character out of a Highlander movie, wandering the streets or hanging out at the stores. I've also seen them malling. Instead of hanging out at Hot Topic like these people normally do, they've taken to the streets.

I don't really mind seeing people all dressed up like this -- some of their get-ups are pretty creative and interesting -- but, I mean, COME ON! I think they really SHOULD dress normal if they're going grocery shopping or hanging out at the mall. Once, I was even tempted to walk up to a girl who had her hair all dyed and white and black make-up splattered all over her face and say, "Um, it's not Halloween yet."

It IS fun to dress up and maybe even weird people out with different kinds of costume and make-up ideas, but it just seems to be out of place if they're not at some costume party, or something. But, then again, maybe this is like people who dress all in black all the time or go around wearing bling-bling. Maybe it's just a "clothes thing" and not so much an "attitude" or "lifestyle" thing. It's still kinda weird seeing people all dressed up like this at, say, the local grocery store or bank.

Then again, maybe ALL of the "Halloween craze" the stores are doing is starting to rub off on these people.

As for us, we're not going crazy over costumes yet (although we DO know what we each want to be), but I'm definitely itching to start decorating for Halloween. Something more in that area is my idea of fun!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tomorrow night

Jennifer is having her first sleepover AWAY from home tomorrow night. She is spending the night with her best friend Thalia (Jimmy's daughter).

I. Am. So. STRESSED!!!

It's not that I don't trust Jimmy to take good care of her, or anything. I'm just worried that something, ANYTHING, might happen. Jennifer is notorious for wandering off. What if she does that when she's there? Or what if she ends up in the swimming pool??

I get so nervous just thinking about it...

She is excited to go. Thalia has had sleepovers here with us and there were never any problems. I can understand Jimmy wanting to return the favor, and I appreciate that. But it just makes me super nervous about her being away from BOTH of her parents for one whole night....

I am trying to be optimistic. I am trying to focus on OTHER things. I will try to focus on working on my books. Or that side job I start tomorrow. Or watching movies. But I know I'll be spending tomorrow night biting my nails and freaking out over if she is all right. If she's safe. I'll probably end up texting Jimmy every 5 minutes just to find out!

I hope this worry is for nothing..... I am going to put my faith in God to watch over her and keep her safe.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesday Ten

Ten things that happened in my morning:

1. Yesterday, when I started my workout, I was too tired and contemplated putting it off until I got more rest. But after I started exercising, I got pumped up and felt more energetic. Today, however, I woke up ready for another workout but feeling too tired. I started exercising, anyway, thinking yesterday's results would once again take place. It didn't. :<>
2. I told Jennifer my legs were wobbly from exercising. She wanted to know if I'd started up exercising because of a suggestion from my doctor. I told her, "I'm not exercising because my doctor told me to. I'm exercising for me." I patted my stomach. "Gotta get rid of this flabby stomach." At first, I worried if saying such things to her was bad. Was I modeling a poor self-esteem? Was I teaching her to be conscientous about her figure? And all the while that I worried over that, she was laughing and recalling that scene in the movie Click, where Adam Sandler's character is flapping the stomach flab left over from his surgery up and down.

3. Jennifer likes to play her computer game for a bit before going to school. She has a new car racing game and she's totally hooked on it. Well, she's allowed anywhere from 10-20 minutes to play her game in the morning, if she has that free time to spare. And that has worked out okay so far. This morning, however, she kept pleading to race "one more lap" when I told her it was time to go. We kept going back and forth over it and she REFUSED to get off the computer, put on her jacket and kiss her daddy goodbye. Finally, after much coaxing on my part and procrastinating on her part, she got off the computer and got ready to go out the door. She ended up being 10 minutes late. ARGH!! I'm going to have to talk to her about that.

4. When I got Jen to school, I parked the car and started walking her in. She wanted to know why I didn't just drop her off, saying, "I'm 6 1/2. I can go in by myself." (She always says "I'm 6 1/2" and not just 6. The girl CANNOT wait to turn 7. LOL) I explained I had to make a payment on her lunch account and check in at the office to see if they had my emergency contact information. She was confused about the lunch part, saying she knew her number and didn't need me to go in and take care of that. It took SEVERAL repetitions to let her know what I was doing didn't have ANYTHING to do with her lunch number or her picking up her lunch; just buying it. When she finally got it, she asked why I just didn't give her the money instead. There are 2 reasons why: One, she tends to forget about her lunch money kept in her backpack and, two, because she might lose it. But I just told her, "I don't want you to have to worry about that. On that note, in the past, the school has let her through if she had no lunch money and no money on her account, and I paid for it later. I don't know if that's still something they do.

5. My editor lives in Texas, which was recently hit hard by Hurricane Ike. I've been worried about her because she hasn't been online. I realize, though, that power is out in certain parts of the state, but I get antsy reading about the latest Hurricane Ike news. I'm shocked that 25 people died because of the hurricane. I sent her an email to see if she is okay (I don't have her home phone number) and I checked this morning but, no response yet. And she's still not online, either. Now I'm REALLY worried! I am thinking of calling the office to see if I can find out anything.

6. I have made a decision as of this morning: Book chapter or not, review or not, I WILL NOT sit through an entire movie that offends me too much. I turn off a movie if it offends me any other time; why should it be different just because it's for my writing?? No, I won't do that to myself. Watching Night of the Demons 2 really troubled me and I got mad at myself for forcing myself to watch it to the end. I am not a Catholic, but things that happened in that movie that would offend a Catholic offended me, too. I mean, I didn't even read the words when a student was performing a Satanic ritual in the sacristy of a Catholic school. I just kept saying "that is bad!" and waiting for that horrible scene to be over with. Also, I thought the "ninja nun" thing was really stupid. And what I wrote might not even go into the book! So, no, I don't think it's worth it to put myself through something like that. Just thinking about it makes me cringe even still.

7. After I dropped Jen off at school, I went to the store to buy baby food and a newspaper. The cashier was asking about my baby. She wanted to know the age and I told her, "Ten months. Well, almost 11 months. He's getting there."

"Oh, it's a boy," she said.

And I thought, wow, I just told her two facts about my baby all in the same breath. Had she been curious about my baby's gender but didn't ask yet? Or wasn't going to ask? I had to wonder over that.

8. Recently, I went to the Market of Choice because I wanted to try the dolmas they advertised about. I was curious about them so I wanted to try 'em! This was the first time I'd been to Market of Choice -- despite living in Eugene for 3 years! *rolls eyes* It was a very interesting store. The food area, however, just smelled BAD. I mean, they have a bunch of different kinds of food counters you can go to. The bakery, cold deli, hot deli and foreign foods. All of those smells combined weren't exactly very pleasant and I was holding my breath most of the time. Anyway, the dolmas were WAAAAY too tangy but I did enjoy eating the turkey and lamb borkas. I also bought a loaf of cinnamon and walnut bread. This bread is YUMMY! This morning, I had a slice of it with my eggs and juice for breakfast. I nuked a thick slice for 45 seconds and spread margarine on it. It was GOOD! I haven't tried it at room temp yet but I'm curious to try a variety of toppings with it to see which one I like best.

9. I was going to mail something this morning but I didn't get it to the mailbox in time. Bah! So I gotta go to the post office and mail it. Maybe THIS is the kick in the pants I need to FINALLY mail the packages off to Millie, Allison and Timmy? Hmmmmm??? The same packages they've been WAITING so long for. That have just been sitting in my closet...collecting dust. And my poor nephew is going without his ga-uh, GIFT! Yeah, yeah. I'll mail 'em. Today. THIS IS THE DAY I WILL DO IT! And stop kicking myself for not getting off my duff to freaking MAIL them, already....

10. I made it a point that I would not do any online stuff until I worked on my book first. No email. (Guilty.) No MySpace. (Guilty.) And no blogging.



UPDATE! Heard from my editor today. She is fine. Phew! That was news most welcomed. :)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

NKOTB concert in November? We'll see

I have plans to attend the New Kids on the Block concert in November in Portland. I have the tickets and I've been saving money. I have been talking with my sister about it and we've been making plans to attend together (I have her a ticket and I'm paying for the transportation).

Thing of it is, I don't know if I'll even end up going! I mean, I want to go, because it'll be fun. But there are certain issues holding me back. That thing with that poser is one of those issues. I honestly don't know what I'm going to do with myself. I'm so emotionally conflicted because of what happened, and I really, really don't want that to be a chip on my shoulder when I attend and see them in person. See that certain someone another person on the Internet was pretending to be. (Sigh.)

I'm probably making this out to be something bigger than it really is. I bet I'll go there, have a great time, won't have to deal with that sadness/anger/heartbreak/regret/longing, and then me and my sister will leave. If we meet them, then we meet them and I WILL NOT mention what had happened. That is my plan, you know. So maybe I'm just making that out to be bigger than it really is. I tend to do that sometimes!

The other thing is, I don't know if the childcare arrangement will work out. At the time of the concert, my children will be 7 and 1. I've discussed this with my husband. He knows how important it is for me to go. He KNOWS I'll regret it if I don't go....because I really think seeing that certain someone with my own two eyes will bring me closure. But I don't know if he'll be okay with the kids. He's willing to be here for them so that my sister and I can stay the night in Portland, but he is the world's heaviest sleeper, and has a hard time getting up in the morning when the baby cries. Even with the older child shaking him awake. So I don't really know if I can rely on him to wake up with the kids in the morning!! (Sad, isn't it?) That is only concern. Everything else, I KNOW I can rely on him with the kids. So, I have to figure out that problem, too.

As bad as I want to go, I have to accept that I might not. My children's care is DEFINITELY number one on my list. The most important thing to me in the world. (I really DO put my kids first. I'm pretty much used to putting my kids' needs above my own by now.) If this problem cannot be amended, well....I might not go. I mean, I doubt anyone else will be available to watch the children at the hotel room while we're all in Portland. Unless ANOTHER sister drives up out here, too. That is something to think about, and of course I will pay my sister if she agrees to watch my children if that happens.

The sister going to the concert with me is in the same situation. She has 3 kids, but two of them are still babies. She has expressed her concern to me about how to arrange for childcare so that we can attend the concert. (She is a single mom.) We'll have to talk more about this and see if we can come up with a solution.

I hope we find a solution. I hope things change for the better and we both can still go, because I know that I definitely want to go. It would be a dream come true to finally see any one of them in person, and not just that certain someone.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Whole lotta bakin' going on

Last weekend, we had a plan: We were going to have a bake-a-thon all weekend. Jennifer and I put together a list of goodies to bake and talked about other goodies we'd like to try sometime.

Now, that was the plan. Unfortunately, last weekend got to be too busy and we only had the time to bake one item on that list: Brownies. I wanted to share some with Jennifer's teacher and her kindergarten teacher, and I suddenly had a brainstorm: Why not stretch the items on that list out over the week? And share the goodies with the two teachers, as well? This way, we could indulge in making the goodies we wanted to make, and share them so that there won't be leftovers that'll end up being thrown out. (That is one common problem we have been having in this house: Leftovers being left over for so long, they end up getting thrown out. I hate that waste and I'm constantly trying to figure out how to solve that problem. I've already tried a "no leftovers" rule but that didn't work.)

So, for Monday, we took some of the brownies to the teachers at Jen's school. Then on Monday afternoon, we made the oatmeal cookies that we took on Tuesday. Next we made blueberry muffins for Wednesday, pumpkin bread for Thursday, and apple cake for Friday.

That last item proved to be quite the challenge. Now, at the beginning, I told Jennifer, "One rule when you are cooking or baking: Make sure you have all of the ingredients before you start."

I need to amend that rule to include: "And make sure you measure your dry ingredients, too!"

The reason?

The apple cake calls for 1 1/2 cups of sugar (I used 2 cups because I had 2 cups of peeled and sliced apples). I knew we had sugar -- I picked up the bag, shook it and decided we had sugar. But I just didn't know HOW MUCH we had! Turns out, we didn't have enough. And I only discovered this only AFTER I finished prepping the apples into a cinnamon-sugar mixture. (GROAN!) So the apple cake was not delivered to the teachers the next morning, as planned. This was a recipe I had to, unfortunately, make without Jennifer's help. I had to finish it AFTER I dropped her off at school that morning. I ran to the store, got sugar, came home, fed the baby and made the cake. And as I was making the cake, I realized another hold-up: I forgot to beat the eggs BEFORE adding the milk. GAH! I rolled my eyes. Apparently, I was attempting to make The Cake That Would Not Bake. Well, I continued with my work, anyway. And as it baked, it just smelled so heavenly. When it cooled off and I was removing pieces from the pan, I took a bite and almost melted right there in the kitchen. It was SOO GOOD!!! I wanted to stop removing pieces and just eat it now! LOL But I wrapped up some pieces of the cake for both the teachers AND some staff members in the office. (Don't want them to feel left out.) They were all warm and smelled yummy! So I dropped them off at the school, came home and finished the piece that I took a bite out of. There's still a couple of pieces left in the fridge, which should be gone before the day is out. ;)

Jennifer enjoyed this bake week experiment. She loves to play chef and help Mommy cook in the kitchen, so as we worked together, she was able to perfect her egg-breaking and measuring skills. After I'd pick her up from school, she'd ask, "What are we going to make for tomorrow?" I know she loved this experience, but at the same time, it wasn't always easy to fit the baking time in. We get so busy sometimes. But I think if there is that window of time, we should grab it and use it to make something yummy.

As for me, I realized something as I made that apple cake: I was doing something all week a baker would be doing. Getting up at 5 a.m. for my day (or do they get up at 4:30 a.m.?) and baking something EVERY DAY. It's interesting I had this thought, because for some time, I have been wondering if the writing thing is all I am good at. If that is my only trade to offer in the world. Just a skill with words. Granted, there is nothing wrong with being able to write stories, but it's not a trade that brings in income, which is what a good trade SHOULD do. I know for a fact I would NEVER go back to newspaper writing, and the other writing jobs just aren't my thing. And it's taking me a long time to earn a solid advance from my next Great American Novel. :)

So, why not baking? Even if I take up baking as a trade, I could STILL find the time to continue writing! It would be interesting if I took up baking as my trade. I have a great-great-grandmother who had her own bakery in Ireland. I enjoy baking things just as I do enjoy writing stories. And since one of them MUST be a trade to bring in the income every productive adult in this world should be earning, baking seems to be the trade for me. Besides, at least with baking, I could be busy cooking up more stories just as I cook up some goodies. It's something to think about, anyway. As long as it won't take up too much of the "mom time," it's something I can look into and consider. (My children come FIRST!)

And even if I do decide to continue to be a stay-at-home mom taking care of the home and children, I'll continue baking goodies, anyway! If anything, it's a great parent-child bonding experience.

Friday, September 12, 2008

"It was an accident."

If there's one thing parents are going to hear a lot from their kids, it's the line, "It was an accident." Sometimes, their defense is warranted. Sometimes, accidents DO happen. But I feel there is a fine line between what an accident REALLY is, and that children should be able to tell the difference. If it's an accident, you say you are sorry. You try to clean up the mess. You DO something instead of just walk off! Otherwise, when they say it was an accident, then it's either a lie or just an excuse to get out of trouble.

Take, for example, the following incident.

This morning at my daughter's school, as I followed her and a group of children through the hall to their classrooms, I noticed that one boy in my daughter's class was acting moody. My daughter tried to talk to him but he just waved her off. So as we walked through the hallway, I saw one boy in the group the other boy was in come falling to the side and fall to the ground. On his way down, he hit his head on the metal leg of a nearby table.

And Mr. Moody just kept walking.

I suspected the moody child was the one who pushed the boy, but I had not actually seen it. All I saw was the other little boy come falling to the ground. I saw him fall. I saw him hit his head on that metal table leg. And I saw him crumpled up on the floor, clutching his head and crying. I was too stunned to move. I kept seeing him fall again and again in my mind. I was so upset by the whole thing. It's terrifying when kids hit their heads on something. Head injuries can be very serious in children. I was too shocked to move, only explain to concerned parents what had happened.

Jennifer was also stunned. She, too, had seen it. She looked at me, not knowing what to do. I told her, "Go get your teacher."

One parent tried to comfort the boy as he cried. Then another teacher came over to where we were and started to help him. I think she asked him what happened because he was pointing and talking. The whole left side of his head was red and it just scared me even more. I was standing there thinking, "God, please, I hope he doesn't go deaf." (Well, he probably won't, of course. But that's what ran through my mind. Other head injuries could result from that kind of thing.)

The teacher helped the little boy up and led him to the office. I went into Jennifer's class and asked her what had happened. "Did someone push him?" I asked.

She nodded. "XXXXXXXXXX did it, but he said it was an accident."

"How can you accidentally push someone!" I incredulously cried.

I didn't like this. I didn't like it one bit! If it HAD been an accident, he would have helped that little boy up. He would've apologized. NOT WALK AWAY!!

I was so upset. I went over to the office to ask if the little boy was okay. I was told they were looking at his head and indicated where exactly he had gotten hurt. The lady I spoke with said, "He's fine."

I had to wonder over that. How could a child fall and hit his head on a metal table leg and be "fine"?? Maybe he was really hurt. That's what I worry about. What if something happens later on? What if he just falls into unconsciousness while standing in the lunch line? Or starts having a ringing in his left ear?? FINE!!??

I told her that it scared me. You don't know what could happen when it comes to kids and hitting their head. I know kids tend to bump their head all the time, but that was a pretty nasty bump this time.

I had to calm myself down. I was shocked, sad and angry all rolled up into one. I really had to fight back tears after I left the school. I wanted to rant about it on a MySpace bulletin. I wanted to call my sister and talk to her about it. I wanted to send an email to the teacher and ask her if she could please calmly discuss this matter with the child herself. I know I have no authority to step in on this. I have no place telling the child I feel that he should REALLY have said he was sorry. I don't know if doing one or ANY of those things would have helped me to feel better.

The blogging helps, though. At least I can get my thoughts about this off my chest and not keep them all bottled up.

UPDATE: Some time after I made this blog post, I had to drop something off at my daughter's school. While I was there, I talked with the teacher about this and expressed my concerns. She said that after I left, she talked to the students involved. The little boy is okay and thank God for that! The one who did the pushing apologized for it and everything is A-OK once again. Boys will just be boys sometimes. (I'm going to have to remember that now that I have a boy myself!) I guess I overreacted to the whole thing but it was an alarming thing to see. I love children and don't want to see them getting hurt like that. The school IS a good school and I adore the staff. This blog post in no way is meant to reflect anything otherwise.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering 9/11, each in our own way

I sat at the desk today, thinking about the many ways people are remembering those lost 7 years ago.

Today IS a very important day for America. However, I was not able to travel out to the sites to honor those lost. I don't have an American flag to fly at half-mast today. And I don't have a 9/11 videotape or CD to play. But...I DO have a T-shirt about 9/11, and I wore it. I did have a prayer to say for those lost and the families of the victims, and I said it. I had a candle to light in their memory, and I lit it. These are not glamorous ways of remembering 9/11, but they are still gestures that can still be so significant.

I think everyone has their own way of remembering those lost on September 11, 2001. And, by all means, they should do those things. Even if it's just observing a moment of silence to remember them.

We will never, ever forget the tragedy visited upon this country on that day. But, most importantly, we will never forget about those who perished. They are still loved, still missed, and still cherished.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The evil "R" word

The city of Eugene is making a fuss over the recent movie, Tropic Thunder. Specifically, how degradingly it portrays people with mental disabilities and using crude humor along with calling said people "retarded." This, many say, is in very poor taste and reflects the negative stereotype of associating those with such disabilities with the label "retarded."

I have a friend who once wrote a rant about this very same thing. (I am unable to find it at the mo.) I, too, feel that it is wrong, wrong, wrong to label people with mental disabilities as "retarded." Not only is it wrong, but it is also cruel and a sign of ignorance.

In the past, I have had to bite my tongue anytime people would call others "retarded" if they did something wrong. It just REALLY irritates me. Trust me, there are more appropriate words to use, and that word is not one of them. I even got so angry because this man I was talking with kept calling his mother "retarded." I just had to say, "You know, it's really childish to resort to name-calling. And I don't think your mother would appreciate it if she knew you were calling her retarded." (I have no respect for any man who does not respect his mother.)

But I am glad that the citizens of Eugene are stepping up about this. I, too, want to say that I don't feel it's appropriate to portray those with mental disabilities in such a crude, negative way. Now, I have not seen the movie yet -- have to wait until I can see it with captions -- but what I am hearing about it makes me want to avoid seeing it altogether. This is just not a form of "entertainment" at all.

Today, as I was reading the newspaper, my husband saw me shaking my head as I read an article. He wanted to know what was up and I complained about how students at a charter school were playing computer games (specifically, World of Warcraft). He pointed out it was a special needs school. "You know, with retards and..." He waved his hand to indicate anyone else who attends a special needs school. I had to frown over this. It's not the first time he's used this word so casually. I was NOT happy about it. And I haven't been happy with his OTHER use of the word, either. I have expressed my opinion that he should not be using that "R-word" so blatantly. That he should call a disability for what it is and not by some label. (One time, he used it to describe any child who is autistic.) Unfortunately, he doesn't share my views. I certainly DO NOT want my children growing up thinking it's okay to call people such a name (or ANY name, for that matter). Sensitivity begins in the home. I know I have a way to go in getting my husband to understand how I feel about calling people by such a name. But I feel that it is definitely something which I must do.

Years ago, when I lived in the desert, one of my sisters did volunteer work for a local charity called Foundation for the Retarded. At one point, some people wanted them to change their name, drop the "R" word and make it read something else. Their opinion was that it was demeaning to use such a word to represent the members who have mental disabilities. The Foundation's response was that they were going to keep the word in their name, hoping it will gradually make this word not so "evil" in our language and come to be accepted as a serious classification of such individuals.
I don't know about that idea, but as far as I'm concerned, any name-calling is demeaning no matter who it is aimed at. And, for the time being, the "R" word is considered to be one such name.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A song in my heart

This morning, as I was getting Jennifer ready for school, I checked her schedule to see which of her special classes she was having today. I call them "special classes" because these are not classes she has every day. One of them's not even a class. LOL She has library day on Tuesdays, P.E. on Mondays and Thursdays, computer lab on wednesdays and music on Tuesdays and Fridays. Seeing that she had music today, I asked her if she liked her music class.

She shook her head. What the...!

"Why don't you like music class?" I asked.

"Because we have to sing," she said.

I frowned. What's wrong with singing?? When I was a kid, I LOVED to sing! I always looked forward to attending chorus at school, even after I got kicked out of a performance. (This was all before I lost my hearing.) I'd walk home from school practicing songs for my chorus class and my friends and I even made up moves or dances to go along with the songs.

Ah, memories.

And here was my own child, my flesh and blood, obviously not liking that singing business. How shocking! Especially since there's a famous country singer in the family tree. (Whenever I play her CD, Jen always runs to the radio to turn it up. Heh-heh. She still gets a little wide-eyed that, once upon a time, there was a famous singer we were all related to.) And add to this that my grandfather wrote songs. (Luckily, I inherited his songwriting gene. Woot! Now if only I can figure out what to do with the songs that I write...)

But I have a hunch Jennifer prefers to make music, instead of sing to it. She DOES enjoy music. She likes to dance to music and she has been BEGGING me to get her a keyboard for her birthday. (When we go to stores like Target, I always know where to find her if she wanders off: Right in front of the keyboards they have on display, pounding at the keys.) Maybe she will take to singing later on, and she just prefers to create and dance to music for now. i'll have to see if there is someplace that will offer keyboard lessons to a child so young. Or if there's a DVD that will teach her how to play the keyboard, or something.

And on that note: A friend posted a comment on my mySpace today about how she has her kids in music lessons, and that music lessons help math skills. Hey, if that's true, then I better get Jen signed up! One goal for first grade is to improve her math, and with her asking to receive music lessons, now's as good a time as any to get the ball rolling on that!

Still, the whole "we have to sing" thing kinda made me laugh. Especially when I remembered that scene from the movie, Addams Family Values, when Wednesday gloomily tells her uncle and parents, "You sent us to camp. They made us sing."

Well, even if my child doesn't sing, at least in my heart, I'll be singing for the both of us.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Walking vs. the walker

Yesterday, my husband made the following suggestion: Let's get a walker for the baby. Even though the older child had a walker when she was a baby, I had some reservations about doing a repeat with Kid #2. Being a mom for going on 7 years, I am a little more wiser now (at least, I try to be!), and I have heard so many pros and cons about putting babies into walkers. One side said they're helpful to babies trying to learn how to stand up, the other side says they slow a baby's ability to learn how to walk.

I told my husband my concerns and he said we could just look into it before actually buying one. I started to wonder if he's ever come across any of those articles or websites I have read which have explained those very same pros and cons of putting a baby into a walker. But then again, not every expert's advice is right for every single baby. Everyone is different, and what one expert says could be bad could actually be harmless.

At nearly 10 months of age, my son is trying to learn how to walk. There have been times he's tried to stand up on his own (and ended up falling down in the process), but he is definitely working on this walking thing. At this point, he is cruising along furniture and trying to balance himself while standing against the bookcase. Fortunately, he has figured out how to fall on his bottom when he loses his balance, but he has not yet been able to stand up on his own.

Added to this is the turns we all take in helping him walk. We'll hold his hands and gently support him as he takes one wobbly step after another across the room or from one person to another.

Still, I'm not so sure about using a walker to help him learn how to walk. Even with a walker or even a playstation, Jennifer learned how to walk on her own just fine, right around the time she was a year old. And when we were looking at some walkers yesterday, I was satisfied that some of them are not the same old walkers we older folks grew up with. The newer walkers on the market these days are more flexible, roomy, and allow children to actually try to move independently. (A couple of them even had a bouncy seat.)

All the same, my gut tells me that the best way for Jesse to learn how to walk is to just put him on the floor. Let him exercise those arm and leg muscles and work on keeping his balance. He already tries to stand up and he is getting a handle on this cruising business really well. But that doesn't mean I'd be 100% against putting him into a walker every now and then. As long as it's not for an extended period of time. I think it might be best for him to be on the floor more often than in a walker.

But, then again, that's just my uneducated opinion.

It might be best to discuss my concerns with his doctor and see where we should go from there.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Thieving Eugeneans

When we first moved to Oregon, we found an apartment to live in in Eugene after 11 days of living in a hotel. (UGH!) We liked the apartment, the management was nice, but we soon had a rude awakening that Eugene wasn't exactly the paradise my husband kept talking it up as.

One day, we went to the playground that was located in the apartment complex. At the time, Jennifer was 4 years old. She had the habit of taking a "baby" (stuffed animal) with her EVERYWHERE. As it happened on this particular day, she forgot about her baby when it was time to head home. She left it sitting on top of a playhouse slide. By the time we remembered it and ran back, it was gone. It broke her little heart. She cried and cried over the missing bear. Meanwhile, I was steaming over who would do such a thing. We had seen a couple with their baby nearby as we'd left, so I thought maybe they took it. It was horrible and, for several days thereafter, she'd get sad and say, "I miss my bear." What made it worse is that the bear, which was white and had a green Santa hat, was a gift to her from her paternal grandparents. And me being so homesick, I had to wonder if that was a sign.

And with this happening on the cusp of me losing irreplaceable possessions in California, which my family had promised me they'd salvage but never did, it was hard for me to handle this, as well.

This was not the first time we'd lose something. Sadly, the next incident happened at the SAME apartment complex. (And this is pretty much why I will NEVER AGAIN live in an apartment complex!!) I have a friend in California who is a screenwriter and actor. When they were shooting a movie he'd written, he sent me a very cool T-shirt of the movie. I thought it was just so awesome and proudly wore it a couple of times.

Unfortunately, that was the most I could wear it; after I'd washed it in one of the public washing machines, it was gone. I guess someone had taken it, because it sure wasn't in there! (I loathed using the public washing machines. So many of the other tenants would just take my clothes out and set them on other machines. I did not entirely go crazy over some stranger handling my undergarments!!)

Later on, I'd read and hear about other stories of theft here in Eugene. After me and my daughter moved into this house (prior to my divorce), the previous tenants had left some things in the carport. They never came to pick them up and my landlord wanted me to get rid of it. Just donate it. Most of it was junk, but some of it, like a bike frame, was still in good shape. However, I had no use for the bike frame, so I asked a neighbor if he wanted it. He said "sure" and came over to pick it up.

And, it was gone. Oh, well! I guess someone had seen it and taken it! My neighbor, however, did find something he could use, so at least I got rid of that. (Later, my friend's son kept his bike in that carport. It ended up getting stolen, too.)

For a few months, I have had to use the laundromat down the street from my house. I have hated it. Not just hated carrying the HEAVY baskets up and down the street but, well, because of the above grievances with public washing machines, I just hate using a laundromat altogether. But I have had to because the washing machine I have needs to be repaired. (I am keeping my fingers crossed that will FINALLY happen soon!) When I got there today, I noticed something that left me feeling a little uncomfortable. The coin machine was busted open. I guess someone took a hammer or something to it to break it enough to get to the money inside. I was careful not to touch it and not to get too close in case I messed up any footprints or hairs left at the scene. Still, it left me feeling unsettled. A crime had happened right here on my street. Again. (At least there weren't any guns involved this time! I hope.) I thought of alerting the owner but I didn't know where his office was. I'd seen him only once. I thought about calling the police, but what if they started suspecting me? And was it even my place to call them, anyway?? I wasn't sure on what to do, so I left it alone. There were video cameras, so I hoped that at least was enough to let the owner know of the crime.

Earlier in the day, when I'd taken Jennifer to school this morning, she alerted me that the back passenger window had been left down overnight. Oh, great! I was afraid someone might've gotten into the car and stolen something. (Not too long ago, someone cut open the roof of my husband's car and rummaged through the stuff he had inside. Thankfully, nothing valuable was in there, so nothing had been stolen. Good thing the CAR hadn't been stolen!) But I checked and everything was still there. We were lucky this time. I guess nobody needed a car seat! *rolls eyes*

Yeah, I know we need to move. I have WANTED to move for some time...

But I realize that, no matter where you go, no matter where you live, there are going to be people stealing. There is going to be that crime. Stealing is EVERYWHERE and it can happen anywhere. Even on our own street. In our own backyard. How sad it is that it seems to be something taking place a lot more often than I have seen it take place before.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Dusting off the ol' lunch box

Today was Jennifer's first day of first grade. Last night, she told me she wanted to buy lunch but this morning, she changed her mind. As I made her lunch, I made a horrible discovery: WE WERE OUT OF FRUIT!!! OH, NO! Of course, I try to pack Jen a healthy lunch for school, but for good measure, I like to throw in some kind of fruit. An apple, banana or grapes. And even if she doesn't eat the fruit, or only eats some of the fruit, it's enough to keep my conscious clear. So, you can imagine my dismay over the "no fruit" disaster. I tried to talk her into buying lunch, because at least THEN she will be exposed to a fruit AND veggie choice, but no deal.
Thankfully, though, I found some pineapple fruit cups in the fridge, so at least she had that.

When I got her to school, there was only a TINY place available to park the car. Sigh! Oh, did I now remember how "fun" it is trying to maneuver through and find a parking spot in the school parking lot before or after school. (rolls eyes) So we had to park across the street in the church parking lot. With just a few minutes to spare because of the parking hold-up, we had to hurry to her class just to get there before Jennifer would be counted late. And we JUST made it, too. Phew! Last thing she needed was to be late on her VERY first day back at school! (This made me make a mental note to leave earlier from now on.)

I noticed there were parents leaving and some of them carried cameras. I know it's a big deal to "graduate" from kindergarten and start first grade, but I think the picture-taking thing is a bit...much. Just looking at the door to the classroom and seeing the words "welcome to first grade!" was memorable enough for me to embrace this experience my child is going through of being a big kid now. No more baby stuff; it's time to hit the books!

So I lingered in the classroom while Jennifer did her thing of putting her lunch box in the box and getting her stuff into her cubby. But I saw her come out of the cubby area with a troubled look on her face. I walked over to her and asked, "What's wrong?" She let me know that one of the children in her class put their book bag into her cubby. One of the staff came to where we were and told Jennifer to just put her backpack on a nearby crate for now. As she did that, the lady turned and said something to the teacher then talked to some of the kids. Eventually, one of the children came to the cubby boxes and removed her book bag from Jennifer's box. Jennifer was busy getting breakfast at this point, so I put her backpack in her cubby for her. Then I said goodbye but, boy, was it hard leaving that classroom! I kept looking back at her and waving. I literally had to pull myself away from there to leave the school!

I had a mission to go on, after all! Yup, after I left the school, I went to the grocery store and stocked up on fruit. Ah, the world was right again. LOL

After school, we had pizza, root beer and ice cream and talked about how her first day had gone. Jennifer said she was disappointed she didn't get to play with the toys in the classroom for very long. I reminded her that she was in first grade now, and that there isn't so much toy-playing going on at school anymore.

"But, Mommy, they taught us math," she said.

She said that like they were trying to teach her how to build a rocket, or something.

I just nodded my head and said, "That's good. They're supposed to teach you math."

"But I'm too little," she said.

I frowned. "Jennifer, you are not too little to be taught math." It's not like they're being taught algebra, or something.

At this point, her dad took over the conversation and talked with her about that.

Overall, though, as different as first grade is for her, she's happy to be back in school. And I think after a while, she'll get used to the changes and be more accepting of all of the new things she is being taught.