Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Have you ever wondered how some children fall through the cracks at school? I have. Maybe it's just me, but if a child needs help in school, it should be given to him or her. I know a few people who have had issues trying to get basic skills instruction (BSI) for their children who clearly need it. In fact, I know one child who as a result of not getting the help he needed failed and had to repeat the grade he was in. The parents pleaded with the teacher to get their son the help he needed and the requests went unheeded. Another family I know couldn't get their son who was struggling into the BSI program at our public school. As a result, they had to pay a tutoring service to give their son the help he needed.
So imagine my shock when a letter came home telling me that my child who gets A's and B's in math has been placed in the BSI math program. Yes, the child who can do math that hasn't even been introduced to the third graders has been flagged as needing extra help. The lowest grade she has received in math this year is an 89% on a timed math facts quiz. She gets checks and check plusses on all of her homework and classwork. Does it not seem odd that she was placed in the BSI program?
I called the teacher and discussed the issue with her. She told me she feels Madeline does not belong in the program under any circumstances. She spoke to her sister, Madeline's second grade teacher, and she saw no reason for her to be receiving BSI either. So I asked her why Madeline was selected for BSI. Can you believe that they're basing all of this on one end of year test (that I'm betting they told the kids didn't count)? Madeline's teacher feels this is a poor way of assessing whether a child needs extra help. She also told me that there are other children in her class that actually need the help and didn't "qualify" for it based on the test.
I asked her teacher how we go about opting her out of this and I was told that we can't. Isn't that crazy. I let her know that if my child can't be opted out of the program that I'd just pull her out of school and homeschool her. After talking at length with her, we decided that the best course of action would be to write a note stating that we do not grant our consent for her to participate in the BSI program and to give the spot to someone who needs it. Her teacher tells me she will talk to the BSI teacher and explain to her that Madeline is more than capable of doing the classwork with no special instruction.
If our request to have our very bright and capable child removed from BSI is not granted I may be a homeschooling mom in the near future. I hope the BSI team feels stupid when they read my letter detailing how flawed their selection process is. I also listed all the areas of math we covered while I homeschooled her over Summer vacation. Yes, put the child who can do multiplication, add and subtract fractions, and do decimal work in BSI. That makes loads of sense!
Monday, September 28, 2009
I sat down to check my email once I got home from dropping Madeline and Ellie off at their schools. As I scrolled through my email I noticed Madeline's name in the subject of one of the emails. I found that rather intriguing until I saw that it was from her teacher. Can that possibly be a good thing? Anytime I get an email from her teachers with her name as the subject it's usually not a good email. Sadly, this email fell into line with all of the others.
We have an ongoing problem with Madeline at school. Some years are better than others, but the truth remains that I am the parent of one incessant talker. She does not care if the children around her are trying to learn, she doesn't care that the teacher is trying to talk, she couldn't care less that everyone is trying to concentrate on a test. The child likes to talk. In many ways, she's like Donkey from Shrek. In most cases, I believe she lacks the capacity to be quiet. On Thursday night when I picked her up from her first CCD class for the school year, my neighbor, her catechist, informed me that she had to separate Madeline from her friend because she wouldn't stop talking. Quite frankly, I'm thrilled that one of the CCD teachers finally made it clear to my child that she is not there to talk to her friends. I let my neighbor know that I have had to reteach every lesson for the past two years because of the talking issue, and if she wants to make my child sit all by herself so she can't talk to anyone and I don't have to teach what she should have learned in class that I'd be happy with that arrangement.
So back to the email from the teacher. Turns out that dear sweet motormouth Madeline talked so much when the substitute was in her class on Friday that she lost several good behavior tickets and the substitute left a note. That's never a good thing. Even worse, two children who sit near Madeline went to the teacher this morning and asked if they could be moved to another seat because Madeline talks too much and they can't focus because of it. I feel their pain. I have hurt myself on numerous occasions because a certain someone couldn't just shut up for 5 seconds. Sometimes I think Madeline is afraid the world will end if her voice isn't resonating around her.
I think it goes without saying that I'm not happy at the moment. I have been reminding her since mid-August that she needs to be quiet at school and that school is not a social club. I put notes in her lunch reminding her not to talk in class, and to make sure she brings her homework home (another issue we have). It's frustrating. She's a totally different breed. I was a talker in school, but the prospect of a detention or a letter home to my parents was enough to keep me in line. I was the kid who sat up at night worried that I might have forgotten my homework (even over the Summer I worried about this). I worried that I'd talk or call out at the wrong time and get detention. (I got a 2 minute detention the second week of second grade because I called out that I wanted a strawberry scratch and sniff sticker. I'll never forget it.) I don't get Madeline sometimes. The child does not fear consequences at school. She just wants to socialize and have a good time. This drives me insane and makes me worry.
Last year, we solved the talking problem by having Madeline clean up the tomato garden. She had to go out there and pick up all the rotting tomatoes. It took her about an hour to do and left quite the impression on her. Our tomato garden is once again at that stage. After hearing the news about the teacher's email, Bryan has declared today tomato garden clean-up day. Guess what lucky girl earned herself the job as the rotten tomato removal specialist?
Friday, September 25, 2009
I have probably mentioned on a few occasions that Ellie comes with her own self-generated theme music (like Kronk from the Emperor's New Groove). She frequently breaks out into song. Madeline does this, too, but it's not quite as frequent as Ellie.
So I was just watching Enchanted with the girls (love this movie) and I find myself sitting here thinking that I really need that soundtrack. I love the songs, my little stars of their real life musical love the songs too. So why don't I have this? Prior to having kids I brought just about every Disney musical soundtrack.
It's probably not surprising that my girls break out into song. I do it, too. How much more fun would we have if we all burst out into song for no particular reason. Even better if we also broke out into a totally unexpected dance. And yes, I do spontaneously break out into dance. It's not always graceful, but I have fun with it.
Two days ago Madeline brought home a timed math quiz that had a note attached. The note explained that since this was the first timed match facts quiz of the year that it would not be counted. Given that my child got 100% on the test, you could say that I was more than a little irritated that it would not be counted. Really, if you get a 100% on something it should be counted.
Today was the second math facts quiz. Madeline has been diligently practicing her math facts all week. She gets a sheet of math facts for homework each night, and I usually have her do one or two more timed tests each night. She can do them within the alloted time or 10 seconds over in any given time trial at home. On our way home from school today Madeline told me that she started to worry that she might not get all the problems done during the alloted time. So because she worried she missed 11 freaking problems. This is one of those things that I find totally unacceptable and downright insulting. Yes, I feel insulted when my child does not work to her capacity. I spend a lot time working with her on school related things so when she fails to attain at least a B, I am incredibly disappointed.
I'm sure I feel this way because I was a competitive student. I needed to get all A's. I'd accept the occasional B, but I was never happy to get one. After all, a B is second best. It's like asking for candy and getting a spoonful of granulated sugar instead. It's just not the same.
I want Madeline to be a straight A student. She's capable of it, but she's just not driven. She told me yesterday that she decided that she's going to get all A's this marking period, but I have my doubts this is possible when she worried herself into a C (at the very best) on a math quiz. Maybe the teacher will decide not to count this math fact quiz as well. Is it wrong to pray that all the other children did poorly, too?
It amazes me how personally I take my child's grades. (I really need to work on this.) I guess I feel like they're a reflection on me, my parenting and my intelligence. I'm sure it's not easy to be the child of two very smart geeks. My parents never put any pressure on me to succeed academically. I'm not sure that they even worried about my grades. I do know that C's were seen as good grades by them (that's not an acceptable grade in our house) and they thought A's and B's were both great.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Celebrating the little things in life that add up.I have to say that I'm in shock that Summer has passed us by. I woke up on Sunday morning to 40 degree temperatures and was in a mad scramble to get weather appropriate clothing selected for me and Ellie since we had to head off to the first day of Religious Ed.
1. I survived my first class as kindergarten catechist. There were a few bumps in the road (wrong activity was copied for my class which screwed up my lesson plans like you wouldn't believe), but we survived, and by the end of the class several of my kids wanted to spend the day with me. It took nearly 15-20 minutes to get the children to even speak to me. I'm pretty sure you could hear crickets off in the distance. I can still remember what each child looks like (even the very similar looking fraternal twins) so I think on Sunday I'll know who everyone is. That will be a major success for me. I'm terrible with remembering names. I even get my own kids mixed up.
2. I swapped out the girls' Summer clothes for Fall this week. That is no simple task! I had to make sure I left enough Summer clothes in case we get hit with some really hot days. Doing this for Ellie is a tad complicated. I have to dig through bins of Madeline's hand me downs and figure out which things fit. I also have to rummage through those bins to see if I can coordinate some of the new clothes with the old ones to save a little space in the closet and a little money, too. I just discovered this morning that I have polka dot tights from Madeline that match the cute jumper I just got Ellie yesterday at GAP, so I can now go and return the $9 tights I got yesterday that we clearly don't need. I even discovered a few tops in the hand me down bins that go perfectly with two adorable skirts I got for Ellie at Children's Place yesterday for next to nothing.
3. I got all of the Christmas presents that have arrived at my house, so far, wrapped and hidden away where little eyes will not find them. I also ordered Ellie's big present (it is supposed to arrive today) this past weekend. I have to buy a few small things for Ellie, and some stocking stuffers for both girls and I'm totally done shopping for them. I'm hoping to have all of my holiday shopping done and wrapped before Thanksgiving. It's a lofty goal, but I think I can do it. I brought all of my wrap and gift tags on clearance at Target this past December and January. I'm set in the Christmas wrap department for at least the next two years.
Bonus: I actually made baked BBQ chicken for dinner two night ago. I touched the raw chicken breast (I wore gloves) and even sliced the gross feeling chicken flesh in half since the breasts were too thick for our liking. So I successfully made one of my favorite childhood dishes. My mom and best friend walked me through the process and each of them called me while it was cooking to make sure everything was going well. It goes without saying that everyone was shocked that I made chicken. I think I could make this every week. I guess this cooking thing isn't so bad after all. I doubt I'll ever enjoy it, but I think I can handle making dinner. It's so much cheaper than take out.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Right now I'm hiding in our family room with Mr. Furkins tethered to me. Why? Well, I have four 8 year old girls down in my basement right now. You cannot even begin to imagine how scary this situation is.
After school today, Madeline and approached me with two of her classmates and asked if she could play with them today. I thought she meant she'd be playing at their houses (they're neighbors and live at the far end our our block). It wasn't until she had finished her homework that I was informed that the friends wanted to play here. Of course they do. Who doesn't want to play at my house? We have good toys, lots of snacks and the mom who doesn't like having her house invaded by the roving neighborhood children.
Imagine my shock when Madeline returned with not two, but three little girls. I knew who two of the girls were, but I was not familiar with the mystery child. Mystery child introduced herself after I asked her what her name was. I don't know where she lives, nor do I know her parents. I don't know one of the other girl's parents, either. I'm familiar with the third girl's mother from seeing her drop her daughter off at CCD. She's not the warm and friendly type.
About 15 minutes after the invasion started, a white minivan pulled up. I figured it was one of the parents looking for their child who scampered into the home of an unknown family. I was right, but only partly. The mother, who wished to remain anonymous (I introduced myself, but she did not reciprocate.) was simply here to swap out cell phones. Nice. *Here's a nice little fun fact I found out just before the little girl went home. She's only 6 and in 1st grade. Who lets their 6 year old just wander the neighborhood and play in stranger's houses?*
I think I'm a normal parent. I like to know who my child is playing with, who the parents are, and where she is playing. I generally like to visit the house of her friend the first time she goes there to play. I want to know the names of the parents, and their home phone number. I don't think that makes me overprotective, but maybe it does. I'd like to think that I'm just an interested parent. I also don't allow my child to roam the neighborhood without supervision. There are a few families in our neighborhood that allow this. Three of those children are at my house right now.
So why am I scared right now? Well, I'm always a bit uncomfortable when I have tiny invaders in my home. I don't know if I'll ever feel comfortable having the friends of my children over to visit. I'm not sure why having kids over freaks me out, but it does. Add to that the fact that my daughter is now playing with the kids who I feel are a little too grown up for their age, and you have one freaked out mom here. To quote my neighbor, these girls are "more worldly" than my children, and I don't necessarily think that is a good thing. I'd like to preserve innocence for as long as I can.
Small children who freak me out and get my dog all riled up, please go home. You make me want to go hide in a closet and wait for you to leave. Why oh why must my Madeline be a social butterfly?
I finally got around to downloading the pictures from this past weekends soccer games. Madeline played really well and I got a few good shots of her that I really like. Ellie's pictures didn't come out all that great.
Madeline is number 8. I love this picture.
Holding her own against her old team.
About to send the ball flying.
She looks so grown up to me in this picture.
Ellie is number 4.
I think she was having a good time.
Coming off the field hoping for another nacho. The poor kid was spent.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I've had quite the packed weekend. I survived two soccer games, Mass with a poorly behaved four year old (Oh the joys of being the only parent at Mass with the kids!), a kindergarten religious education class and a bunch of other usual weekend activities. It's a wonder at this time that I'm still kicking.
The soccer games went really well. Madeline scored a goal for her team. She played like she was a rock star. The kid was up and down the field doing a smashing job. She had several shots the went just slightly wide of the goal post. I spent the entire game screaming my head off. I think it's safe to say that I'm no longer a reluctant soccer mom. I'm now that obnoxious mom on the sidelines who won't stop screaming. But I'm the good kind of obnoxious mom. I cheer my daughters and their team on, and I also cheer for the girls (or boys, in Ellie's case) that I know on the other teams. Sure, I'll also yell out to my child that the other kid doesn't need the ball or remind her that it's her ball. (Thanks to last season's coach for getting "MY BALL" stuck in my head.) We played Madeline's old team on Saturday and our girls did pretty well. We had to borrow girls from the other team since we were short a few players and had no subs (this level doesn't keep score). We talked with Madeline's old coach and it looks like we may very possibly have her on his travel team this Spring or next Fall. She's going to start practicing with him on Tuesday nights just to get more help with her skills. He's such a great coach and I love that he's willing to take on kids that aren't on his team. I think that's very generous of him. He even invited another one of our team members (who he hasn't coached) to come and practice with him.
Ellie played her first game. She seemed to have fun, but she was hanging back from the action for the most part. She was more concerned with trying to grab a nacho snack in between shifts. Coach had to tell her to put the nachos down and come play a couple times. She's such a funny kid. She played against one of her classmates and the daughter of friends we went to high school with. Such a small world we live in.
My religious ed class went pretty well considering my lesson plans were thwarted by a mistake. I put my copy order in on Thursday for my worksheets and craft project. Somehow, my mobile craft copies weren't the page that was copied for me. Instead I got a "My name is _____" coloring page. Ugh! I spent a good amount of time tying strings to hangers last night. Bryan even took pity on me and helped me out. Since I wasn't given a class list in advance, I had to scramble this morning to get name tags and folder labeled. I got to the school early, but so did all of the parents. I felt incredibly unprepared for this first class despite the fact that I spent many hours preparing for it. Even though things didn't go as I had planned, I think it still went well. I have eight adorable kids in my class. I have two of the chattiest boys I've ever met, a set of incredibly cute twin girls, two very shy children, and two kids who I'm pretty sure think I'm a little goofy (they're right, but I'm the fun kind of goofy). It took about 25 minutes to get these kids to warm up to me. Once I got them going, they were really happy. I'm just hoping I didn't bore them to death. I introduced my pal Flat Father Stanley to them and I have to say I think he's going to be a hit. I had one kid who wanted to bring him home today. Another child informed me that he can't be a priest because he can't pray since he's paper. Ah, the joys of facetious five year old boys. I'm looking forward to next week. I just have to pick a cool foam craft from the plethora of foam sticker crafts I have down in the basement. (I stocked up this Summer.)
I'll be posting pictures of the girls' soccer games tomorrow. I'm too spent to upload pictures tonight.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Since it rained a lot last Friday, soccer was cancelled last weekend. That meant that opening night ceremony and both opening games were wiped off our calendar. As a result, everything got pushed to this weekend. This weekend also marks the start of the new Religious Ed school year. Talk about having everything thrown at you at once.
Last night we spent a couple hours standing around on the soccer fields waiting for the girls to walk under a little carport with their team holding their team banner. It was a night that left some of us feeling a little bitter. In fact, it was kind of like rubbing salt in a wound. Madeline was on a great soccer team this past Spring. The coach was great, the families were great, and we all really enjoyed ourselves. For some reason, our team was not allowed to stay together for Fall soccer. Madeline and one of her current teammates were among the girls who were not able to stay with their coach. It was bad enough that they didn't have a coach for their team. Bryan stepped up and volunteered to coach, but it took nearly a month of constantly emailing the director of the division to finally get somewhere. That means the girls on Madeline's team were deprived of an entire month of being able to practice. Last night, we discovered that half of the spring team was still together, and in our place, were new "Mighty Ducks" families. The old team walked behind Madeline's team last night singing the team chant and blowing their duck whistles. The other outcast Ducks mom and I stood there feeling more than a little jaded as we watched our girls wistfully looking over at their old team. Even worse, we discovered that we play our old team this afternoon. Madeline has been upset that she's not on her team anymore for over a month. Our team is playing with no subs today (three of our players can't make it) against a team with great players and a lot of practice time under their belts. Madeline's team has had just three practices. I'm not looking forward to this afternoon. I know it's not a good attitude to have going into a game, but I don't expect the "Mighty Storm" to win. Madeline will likely spend a lot of time on net. She's a good goalie and we're going to need her.
I was supposed to be taking Ellie to a birthday party this afternoon, but we're going to have to forgo it. It's Madeline's first game of the season, and I need to be there to cheer her on. I'm team mom, so I think I probably belong at the game.
Provided Madeline's game ends early enough, I'll be able to rush her home to shower and get dressed so I can rush back out and take the kids to Mass. Since Religious Ed. starts tomorrow morning, I'm limited in when I can get them over to the church. If we don't get over there tonight, I'm going to have to drag them out of bed early tomorrow and take them to the 7:45AMMass. That's a scary prospect. I have a class to teach at 9:15AM, and I'm still not done preparing my lesson plan. I was up until Midnight last night working on my Flat Father Stanley's for the class. I made the prototype months ago, but I never got around to making the ones that I need for the class. I have so many things left to do before tomorrow morning. I'm praying that I don't get attacked by a pack of 5 year olds.
Tomorrow afternoon, Ellie will play her first soccer game. Her team is a pretty lively bunch of kids. They had a pretty good time playing with each other last night. I suspect she's going to have a lot of fun playing soccer this Fall.
Here's hoping the weekend goes smoothly. If I survive, expect to see some account of the events here tomorrow or Monday.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
If I go insane this year I'm fairly certain that Madeline and her math homework will be to blame. We are on night three of third grade homework. I'm ready to run away or bang my head against a wall until I'm unconscious.
I may have mentioned in the past that Madeline seriously dislikes math. I'm not sure why she doesn't like it. She claims it's hard. I say she isn't willing to try. She's a smart kid, so there really is no reason why she should have any problems with math. And to be perfectly honest, she really only ever has problems with the incredibly simple math.
I think the issue is Madeline gets it in her head that she doesn't want to do the homework and then she drags her feet the entire way. The past three nights she's had about 15 minutes of math homework. This is a sheet of math that was covered in class and 50 math fact problems (this part should be completed in 3 minutes or less). If my child would focus, she could be done all of this work in under 10 minutes. Instead, she psychs herself out and spends about an hour on the worksheet. I am seriously going to go insane. Today she started freaking out because she couldn't get the last problem. It was multiple choice. The question was "Find 17-8." Madeline read this as Find 17 to 8. How on earth did she not understand that the "-" was the math sign for subtract?
I have a feeling this is going to be a long year. I need to learn to be more patient, and my child needs to learn to accept that math homework is a part of her life and just do it. I know a lot of the theatrics involved in the homework spectacle that Madeline puts on are her way of trying to get me to come in and do the work for her. I made it clear to her that I am not doing her homework, but she still tries to get me to give her the answers. If she tried half as hard to just do the work as she does to get me to do it for her she'd be in good shape.
My head hurts. I hate homework that isn't my own.
Celebrating the little things in life that add up.
It's Thursday today? Seriously? I was just frittering away time online and wandered on to Faith and Family and realized that it's Thursday. Funny how some days just sneak up on you.
I've had a rather productive week.
1. I slapped together a birthday party for Madeline on Friday in under 8 hours. Eleven hours after I got the idea to see if I could throw her a party that day all of the guests had already left my house. I'm still amazed that I pulled it off and people were able to make it to the party. Madeline was surprised when she found out she was having a party.
2. I am caught up on all of my laundry backlog. I even got the girls bedding washed this morning as a little bonus.
3. I spent all day yesterday cleaning and organizing the basement. It's looking pretty good and only needs a little extra work.
Bonus #1 I have just about every Christmas gift I brought for my girls wrapped already. (I started shopping in January.) I'm waiting on a few packages to arrive and I have two items that aren't wrapped because I can't decide which paper I want to use. I am essentially done shopping for Madeline. I'm going to buy her an outfit and a few candy treats for her stocking and then I'm finished my shopping for her. Ellie isn't quite so easy to shop for. I wish I could say I was done shopping for her, too.
Bonus #2 I stopped procrastinating and got my lesson plans in order for the Kindergarten RE class I'm teaching starting this Sunday. I finally got over to the parish office this morning to drop off my copy order forms for the worksheets. I'll be praying that I survive my adventure into the realm of Kindergarten Catechist.
Monday, September 14, 2009
I recently had the opportunity to review the Three Brothers and Three Sisters Tote Set for The Catholic Company. This set includes seven books (one for each Sacrament), a Go Fish! card game and a laminated family prayer activity card.
The books are really cute. Each book features either the three brothers or the three sisters and a selected Sacrament. The books explain each Sacrament in a clear, concise way that will allow your little ones to understand the Sacrament and how it is administered. I liked the illustrations in the book. They were all done by the author's wife and children. They're mostly paper, felt and yard cut outs (like a scrap book) of people. Ellie, my four year old, found the illustrations rather amusing. On the whole, I think this set of books is geared towards the pre-school to first grade set. It would make a great gift for a child who is preparing for First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. My eight year old wasn't as interested in the books as her little sister was. She was happy to sit down and read these books to her little sister, but I think they're a little too babyish for her to want to sit down and read them on her own. I have plans to incorporate these books into my lesson plans for the Kindergarten Religious Ed class I'm teaching this year. I suspect the children in the class will probably enjoy the books as much as my four year old does.
The Go Fish! game has been an instant hit with Ellie. She loves the pictures (they're taken from illustrations in the book) and she's learning the names of the Sacraments and members of the clergy while she plays. This kid is getting a kick out of collecting deacons and bishops. My eight year old has enjoyed playing with this card game as well.
The tote bag that comes with this set is cute as well. It's the perfect size for a little one to carry around. It is small enough that you could bring it to Mass to entertain your little one. I like to bring a variety of children's missals to Mass with us each week to keep my little one occupied and quiet, but I think these books would be an appropriate alternative.
As a reviewer in The Catholic Company's Book Reviewer Program, I was given the Three Brothers and Three Sisters Tote Set in exchange for my honest review.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
It's hard to believe that Madeline has been here for eight years now. It's amazing how much a tiny person can grow in eight fast years.
Yesterday, I tossed a party together for Madeline at the last minute. Thanks to inclement weather that forced opening night for the soccer season to be postponed, I was able to squeeze in a birthday party for Madeline. I had wanted to throw her a party, but my illness got in the way and nothing got planned. I'm happy to report that I managed to throw a party together in under 8 hours. I started planning at 9:30am yesterday and by 8pm the party was over. The house was back in order before 9pm. Not too shabby.
Today we took Madeline to the Rainforest Cafe for lunch in Atlantic City. She really wanted the Volcano dessert. The waitstaff sang to her and she was beaming from all of the attention. After lunch we headed to my mom's house for cake and presents with my mom (My dad had to work.) and brother. She was thrilled to have her fourth celebration in two days. Yesterday she had soft pretzels with her class. The teacher put a candle in her pretzel and she got to blow it out after the class sang to her. That was pretty cool in her book.
I was struck last night by how much Madeline has grown over these past 8 years. She's not a little kid anymore. As she sits next to her little sister who is half her age, I am keenly aware of just how much she has grown up. I remember thinking she was so big when she was 4 and now I can see that 4 isn't really all that grown up. My 8 year old is just ten short years away from being an adult. In just 8 more years, I will have a daughter who will be celebrating her sweet sixteen. If the first 8 years have flown by in the blink of an eye, I can only imagine that the next 8 will go by just as fast.
Eight years ago when I held you in my arms for the very first time, I could scarcely believe that I actually had a little girl. At that time, I couldn't even imagine what you might be like at age 2 let alone age 8. In the 8 years that you have been the focus of our lives, you have taught us so much.
I am so proud of the young lady you have grown to be. You are compassionate to your friends. You treat others with a kindness that makes me feel that Daddy and I are doing a good job in raising you. It is our hope always to do right by you. If in 10 more years you can go out in the world as a confident well-rounded young woman, I will be immensely happy.
In the coming year, we will continue to try to provide you with lots of enriching experiences and fun things to do. I hope you will remember fondly the year you were 8. Happy 8th birthday Madeline!
Friday, September 11, 2009
I already started to write about this, but it was a post that could go on forever. It's a date that is still surreal to me. It holds a lot of significance to me. It is the date that marks a total change in my world. I woke up on September 11th expecting it to be like every other day, but hoping the day would hold a major change for me. It was a date that I had been fixated on for over two months. It was the date I was expecting to go into labor.
I got up at 8am that day to watch Rugrats on Nickelodeon as I did every morning that Summer. (I love that show.) My routine was to watch Rugrats and then immediately flip to TLC to watch Baby Story for the next hour. I had a 2pm appointment with my midwife that afternoon and was hoping she'd strip my membranes so I could go into labor two weeks early. I was desperate to hold my baby in my arms.
Rugrats ended a few minutes early that day and since Bryan was home, I decided to flip channels (So I didn't look like a robotic couch potato on a fixed TV schedule) from Nick to TLC. In doing this, I came across the footage of the World Trade Center with a plume of smoke coming out of the side. I yelled for Bryan to come watch. I was certain that a terrible mistake had just happened. As we sat and watched the story unfold, we sat in disbelief as we watched a second plane fly into the other tower. At that point, I was convinced that a sadistic air traffic controller was behind this. How else could two planes fly in to the WTC? The thought of a terrorist attack never even crossed my mind.
For the next 4 hours Bryan and I were glued to the TV. I watched the twin towers collapse. I watched footage of the Pentagon engulfed in black and orange flames, and I watched footage of a black plume of smoke coming from a plane that crashed in PA. When you live on the East Coast near a major city, seeing this strikes panic into your heart. I have family who live in Staten Island and Long Island, NY. So while I was slightly removed from all of this living in Southern NJ, I had family who were personally affected by this event. Before I left my job due to pregnancy related issues, I sent financial documents and had daily contact with people who worked at the WTC. It was something that would stand out to me later when seeing people pleading for help finding their loved ones who perished in the collapse.
By 5pm on 9/11 I was in labor with Madeline. I had reached a point where I realized that I was not bringing my child into a world that I knew. It's a horrible feeling. By this time, I knew that the attacks were terrorist attacks. I honestly didn't understand why anyone would want to attack us, and I was terrified that I was about to bring my child into a world that would see a war. At 9pm Bryan and I made our way to the hospital. The next 4 hours and 33 minutes found me focusing on the news and the recovery efforts being made in NYC, instead of worrying about my labor. Apparently, a good news story can take your mind off of labor. I can vividly remember pushing and simply focusing on whether or not they were going to find anyone in the wreckage.
The day is still vivid in my memory and amazingly surreal. About 16 1/2 hours after the first plane hit (1:33am EST), I sat in a hospital room holding my firstborn, Madeline. I felt helpless. I was in awe of my beautiful child, but I felt guilty that I brought her into an uncertain world. I can say that the world I woke up to the day before I had Madeline is not the same world that I woke up to the following morning. I'm sure lots of people can say that about their transition to parenthood, but for those like me who had their child hours after a watershed event like this, the world didn't just change for us personally, but for those around us as well.
Every year I tell Madeline about what happened in our world the day before she came. She doesn't understand why someone flew planes into a building. I still don't understand it. She finds it amazing that planes did not fly in the skies from the afternoon before she was born until she was a couple of days old. How many people born in this day and age can say that no planes (other than military planes that were authorized to be off the ground) flew on the day they were born?
We have a huge stack of papers from the day Madeline was born. Many of the papers are filled with disturbing images of people falling to their deaths. I was deeply disturbed by these images when I finally sat down and looked at them months after her birth. The local paper for the day she was born had the headline that sticks out the most to me. It is a quote of George W. Bush's speech from the night before. "Today our nation has seen evil." What a headline for the day you were born.
Words will never fully express the way I feel about this date. They're totally inadequate. I will never forget the events of 9/11/01. The images and sounds of the day are ingrained in my memory. I'll never forget the sobering feeling of that day. Surreal is perhaps the only word that can come close to describing my feelings on the whirlwind of emotion and activity of that day.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Medicines can be amazing things. They can take a body that has been racked with a stubborn fever for eight days and make it feel invincible just four hours after they're consumed. Those same medicines can then take the short lived joy over their amazing abilities and turn your world upside down again.
I had about 40 hours of medicated bliss earlier this week. I felt like I was on top of the world. I could function, I could eat and I could finally work on getting my house back in order. I could even play with my kids and stop feeling guilty for being sick.
Those good feelings started to go away Tuesday. I was in denial that morning that things weren't as great as I was pretending. I couldn't eat my cereal because I was nervous about the first day of school for Madeline. Not because my appetite was gone. Then my reason for not eating was cleaning the house and the litany of other things I needed to do. Turns out I was just in denial of all the nasty side effects of the medicines. The antibiotic has wreaked havoc on my intestines. What goes in, almost instantaneously comes out. And one of these lovely medicines have killed my taste buds. I LOVE food. I miss the flavor of food. Drinks taste like diet versions of what they are (a taste that repulses me). I'm pretty sure I've temporarily lost the ability to taste things that are sweet. I feel lost without my sense of taste. I'm like Capt. Barbosa in the Pirate of the Caribbean.
The only food I ate today that did taste good wound up having a bad ending. While eating, a spice from the chicken and pasta dish I was eating hit me in the back of my throat. I started coughing and couldn't stop. I think Oscar thought I was about to die (I thought this, too.). I've never seen him look so frantic. I tried to drink juice and it wouldn't go down. So I headed to the fridge for water. That's when I vomited on the freshly mopped floor. FUN! And still, the coughing wouldn't stop. So this time I call Bryan to try and tell him that I might be dying and I had the pleasure of vomiting in my kitchen sink. Thank God for garbage disposals. So happy I did not have to scoop that out of the sink. Not that it's funny, but this all happened at a point in Bryan's day when a lot of stuff was going wrong at work. Poor guy. He really had a rough afternoon between me and work. I did however manage to finish my lunch. I couldn't pass up food that tasted like something.
I'm just very bummed about the side effects of these meds. I can handle the intestinal issues (to a degree), but I can't handle the itchy irritation that is also a side effect of this antibiotic in a certain area, the loss of appetite and taste. I called and got a different antibiotic prescribed for me (one I have taken in the past that doesn't bother me). I am really anxious to just feel better.
On top of all of this, I'm also worried about what to do for Madeline's birthday. I have no party planned for this poor child. I'm not sure what we're going to do to celebrate her birthday yet. She was such a huge help to me last week when I was unable to do anything and I just feel terrible that I don't have anything special planned for her. I'm sending her into school tomorrow with soft pretzels to celebrate her birthday with the class. On Saturday we're going to have munchkins and celebrate with her team after their first soccer game of the season. If all goes well I'll be able to get some of her friends over here soon to have a little party or maybe she can take a few friends to see a movie.
My wonderful neighbors helped me out a lot today. Kelly took Ellie for several hours today so she could play with her two younger girls. That allowed me to rest and almost kill myself with my lunch. Joanne has been concerned about me and has been calling me all day to check on me. She was kind enough to pick Madeline up from school. It's amazing how these little acts of kindness can do so much to help me. I'm certain that I feel better today than I did yesterday because of the help they offered me. I'm used to trying to play super mom and do it all. It really isn't easy for me to accept help, but I'm finding that sometimes letting people help me when I clearly need it is precisely what I need to be doing.
Celebrating the little things in life that add up.
2. I'm feeling better. Not great, but I'm able to function. I felt like I was on top of the world on Monday and Tuesday, but the antibiotic seems to be wreaking havoc on my intestines. I suspect that the steroids that are supposed to be helping my bronchitis didn't stay in my system at all on Tuesday night. Wednesday left me feeling like I was two steps away from being as sick as I was yesterday. I'm doing better today, but I don't feel as well as I did on Monday or early Tuesday.
3. I mopped the kitchen floor and got the countertops and stove cleaned on Tuesday. I am thinking that I may have overdone it a touch on Tuesday and that may be why I don't feel so great now. I can never just do things in moderation. I really need to learn to take it easy from time to time.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Ellie's meet and greet for Pre-K was this morning. I'm now the proud parent of a Cheery Chipmunk. Madeline was a chipmunk in Pre-K, too.
Ellie was rather excited to go to school today. She got to see most of her friends from last year. Her little circle of friends all got together for a bit to play at the blocks table. I love that she's got both girl and boy friends. Madeline only played with the girls at this age. She loved playing with all the great toys in the class, too.
Her teachers were excited to see her and had lots of questions for her about Madeline. Ellie was only two months old when Madeline started Pre-K so these teachers got to see Ellie transform a lot over her first two years.
Ellie was also pretty excited that she got to see Miss Susan, her teacher from last year, this morning. Miss Susan is pretty funny. She came to the adjoining class room door and did a silly little dance and all her Busy Bears from last year came running over to say hi. Ellie has been telling me she wants Miss Susan to be her teacher, but I think she'll be content to just stop by and say hello.
Here are some pictures of Ellie's first day:
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Today is back to school day number one of two in our house. Madeline is sitting in a third grade classroom right now. It's hard to believe that I have already taken her to the first day of school five (six if we count her one day of Kindergarten at the public school in our old neighborhood) times already and she's not even 8 yet. Where on earth has the time gone?
I wasn't planning on taking you down a memory lane trip this morning, but now that iPhoto is up and running, why not? It will save me the time of having to do this on Saturday when I do Madeline's birthday post.
Here you go:
Kindergarten (public school, don't ask)
Kindergarten (private school, the very next day)
Third Grade (this morning)
It's amazing how much she has grown over the past four years. And, tomorrow I start this cycle all over again with Ellie as she enters pre-K at the same school and same classroom you see Madeline pictured in at the top of the photos. Ellie went to preschool last year for three year olds so this won't be her first day of school tomorrow.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Yesterday I unwillingly answered the phone from "Private Caller" (I hate those types of calls, I want to know who you are before I pick up.). It was a nurse practitioner from the Take Care Clinic at my local Walgreens. She cheerfully asked me if I was feeling better now. Seriously? I go there on Friday morning, see a 72 year old nurse practitioner who tells me every thing looks great and I probably am on the down side of a nasty viral thing who sends me home with nothing to even help me feel better.
So I proceeded to explain to this other nurse practitioner that I feel like my airways are inflamed (have been since Wednesday), I'm coughing so much that when I'm not hacking up a lung, I'm sleeping. I have a fever that hasn't broken in 8 days even with me taking Tylenol and ibuprofen together (our pediatrician's trick to battling tough fevers in the kids).
She went on to tell me that she thinks I should have been given an antibiotic. She says that 60% of the time my symptoms are viral, but they could also be bacterial. (That's exactly what my neighbor outback said to me about 30 minutes before when she called to see how I was doing. What a thoughtful neighbor, by the way.) She asked me to stop in and see her that day or today and gave me the locations where she'd be both days. The caveat for yesterday, was that I needed to get there within 30 minutes to make sure I could be seen that day. Not too much of a problem, but we needed to pull Madeline away from her friends outside. I think we were at Walgreens 10 minutes later. If you're going wave something in front of me to make me feel better don't expect me to dawdle.
Turns out I coughed myself in to bronchitis. Yay! My throat is raw (I don't think I can feel my throat over all the other worse pains, to be honest.) Inside my nostrils are swollen. (Isn't that odd? I've never been told that before.) And I'm told my oxygen levels are down. I was getting 94-96% oxygen while they monitored me, and at one point I got down to 90%.
The nurse practitioner felt that I was on my way to pneumonia if I continued on my unmedicated (not counting my "fever reducers" if we're even going to call them that) path. She put me on a steroid to help with the bronchitis, a cough syrup that is being replaced with Mucinex DX (It is the foulest medicine I've ever taken and I clearly remember this lovely yellow liquid from when I was 7.) an antibiotic that is big enough to choke me, prescription strength ibuprofen, and an inhaler. Right now I'm only using the steroid and the antibiotic. I have not used any fever reducers in 18 hours and as of last night I saw 98.6 for the first time. I felt like celebrating. This morning I was 98.9, but I can live with that. I'm feeling better already. I'm told the steroid can do that to you. I don't like to pump my body full of medicines, so I'm going to do my best to recover and only use that is really necessary.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
That is the question today. Precisely how many days of essentially being stuck in the house watching messes accumulate around me while I'm too weak to do something about it can I endure? Around 5pm EST tonight I will hit the 8 solid day mark of being sick. I honestly cannot tell you when the last time (if ever) I was this sick occurred. I really don't think I ever had a fever for more than 6 or 7 days. And even then, the fever would break for a bit here and there. My body temperature has not been below 99 for nearly 8 whole days. Considering I'm one of those people who typically run around 97.6 I'd say that's bad.
When I went to the Take Care Clinic at Walgreens on Friday I got the impression that the 72 year old Nurse Practitioner thought I was in pretty good shape. Sure, waking up every 40 minutes coughing or drenched in sweat is normal for a 31 year old. My ear that has been killing me is supposedly clear, my chest that feels raw from coughing is just fine and my rather unproductive cough was labeled as productive because I brought up phlegm twice in two days. Oh yeah, that's productive.
I still have things to do to get my kids ready for school. Things I wanted to have done last week. Madeline needs the little beaded tags that I make for her book bag and lunch box with her class number and her name. I also still need to get her a back to school outfit for the first day. At this point I suspect that's not going to happen.
It's killing me that I haven't been able to spend much time with my girls. They come and visit me in my room a few times a day and they talk to me a little when I relocate to the family room for a change of scenery, but I'm not getting to play with them. I miss chasing them around the house and acting goofy. I miss pestering Mr. Furkins. Even he knows something is going on.
This weekend is our last weekend with nothing scheduled until the week before Thanksgiving. Starting next weekend we have a soccer game on Saturday and Sunday, and starting the next weekend I begin teaching my CCD class and Ellie's class begins, as well. Life is about to get very busy here. I feel like the last week of Summer vacation has been squandered.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
I'm sick of you. You have been living in me for seven days now against my will. I hate you and I think it is time that you move on. Just so you are aware, my body is not supposed to linger between 101 and 102 for the majority of the day for several days with a fever reducer. This problem, is your fault. Also, please be aware that I don't like waking up drenched in sweat. I don't think it's cute. In fact, because of you, I feel rather disgusted with myself right now. Is that what you were aiming for? Also, you irritating virus, I'd like you to know that you have horrible timing. Were you aware that this was the last week of Summer break for my children? You, to quote Ross Geller from Friends, are a "crap weasel".
Because of you my house is a mess. I have piles of unfolded laundry and piles of dirty laundry. My kitchen is a disaster area. My youngest child has had one bath all week. I'm sure you find all of this to be rather amusing. I am not amused. I am ready to kick your sorry butt to the curb. I strongly suggest that you move on.
I'm sure you and all your little virus friends feel invincible now, but I'm sure modern medicine will find a way to obliterate you in the future.
Friday, September 4, 2009
I got my minivan two months before Ellie was born. By the time she was a year old the van didn't exactly look new inside anymore. I had glitter from preschool projects all over the middle row. The car was covered in a layer of dust, and it smelled like sour milk from all the times that Ellie had spit up in the car. I cleaned the car (really, I did), but it became evident that my days of driving a car that perpetually looked brand new were over. How I managed to keep my first two cars looking pristine is a mystery to me now. The final nail in the coffin for my car was when Ellie somehow managed to get chocolate milk to spray all over the roof of the car when she was a year old. I have tried on many occasions to clean it off, but it looks like it is here to stay. Add to that the juice box that exploded in the little compartment on the driver's door that my husband still has not cleaned up for me despite me pleading with him numerous times over the past two years, and I've got one totally "Mom"ed ride.
I saw this video on a cousin's Facebook page today and I just had to share it here:
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Yesterday I blogged about my feelings on Mr. Obama and his scheduled address to our nation's impressionable youth on September 8th. Those of you who have been reading my blog are aware that I've been sick most of this week, and this little tid bit of news was not making me feel better.
I decided this morning that I needed to call Madeline's school and ask if my child was going to be required to watch this speech which I firmly believe is a propaganda video. For some reason, our school hasn't been answering the phones since last week. It's a mystery. They're there, but no one is picking up the phone.
I don't want to bother the class room teacher and create a situation where the teacher dislikes my child because she's got the annoying mother. (I suspect this was part of our problem with the 1st grade teacher. That and the fact that the woman clearly had some serious issues to work out with herself.) So emailing the new teacher was out. I already emailed her last week asking what if anything I could do to help out with classroom supplies. (I'm a kiss-up, I'll admit it.) And, I'll be emailing her before school starts to see if I can send cupcakes in to celebrate Madeline's birthday next Friday. (Her birthday is next Saturday.) So I don't need to make a pest of myself before school even begins.
I decided to look up the principal's email address on the school website and ask her about Obama's speech. I met her at church during Madeline's First Reconciliation last February when she was the vice principal of the school. She seemed very nice and I liked that she had a son Madeline's age. I sent an email to her asking if the children would be required to watch the speech, and if so how can parents who are concerned that their children are being indoctrinated opt their child out of watching the speech without parental supervision. I expressed to her my concern that I did not feel any children should be exposed to speeches from politicians at such impressionable ages without parental consent. I hoped that I would not come across as a right-wing extremest. I don't believe that I am. Given my experience in public schools, both my own and my child's, I am well aware that most educators lean to the left. I was not hopeful that I'd receive a response from the principal, nor was I expecting one that would be favorable.
Imagine my shock when I checked my email a few minutes ago. I actually got a response from the principal. As I went to click on it, I braced myself for a response that would get the back of this feverish (101.1) mom up. I was shocked and delighted when I read a response that told me that I didn't need to worry. Our class rooms do not have access to cable, and (here's the best part) teachers were advised not to show it to the children online. Sounds like this school is not going to bend it's knee to Obama. I am very relieved. It is probably the most cheerful news I have been given in the past 4 days. Now if this fever could just break I'd be over the moon.
Celebrating the little things in life that add up.
1. I've been sick since Sunday afternoon, but somehow I've still managed to function (barely). I've been on top of the laundry (folding will have to wait) and even emptied the dishwasher. I wear myself out each time I do one of these things, but they have to be done.
2. I got the girls' hair cut on Monday morning for back to school. It's amazing how Aleve made me feel like I wasn't too sick that morning. Too bad it doesn't have that effect on me now.
3. I have Madeline's book bag and all her school supplies sitting in their school year place in the living room. It's just innocently waiting for the first day of school to come around.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
If there's one thing about me you should know, it's this: Don't dare to politically indoctrinate my children. It's an issue that I take very seriously. Don't presume to tell my child that our current President is great or wonderful. Don't tell her to come home and talk to me about his latest and greatest scheme to destroy our great country that members of my family have fought for since the Revolutionary War. In short, watch your step around my kids when you talk politics.
I got a call from my mom today asking me if I heard that Madeline will likely be forced to watch a speech from Mr. Obama on her first day of school. It just gives you the warm and fuzzies that you can only get from a Communist or Socialist party. I'll be calling the school tomorrow and asking if I can opt my child out of the brainwashing session. The school already did it's best last year to tout Obama as the new god. Of course, once my child was made aware that a certain someone is in favor of killing unborn babies, she hopped off the Obama-wagon.
Here are two lovely stories I picked up about this atrocity that will happen in schools across the nation on September 8th at 1pm EST. (I may be signing my child out early that day.) Click here and here to see them. The second link has a disturbing video of a teacher abusing her authority in the classroom. I can vividly remember going up against hard line liberal teachers as a young school child. This Republican didn't back down easily then and still doesn't.
And to top if all off, I find that good old liberal Ben and Jerry's has come out with a new name for their Chubby Hubby ice cream. In the past, little old lactose intolerant me, has supported them because they don't use milk from cows treated with rBST (artificial growth hormone). I haven't agreed with their politics for a while now. Something tells me my Ben and Jerry's ice cream days are long gone. (I can't tell you the last time I ate their rBST-free ice cream.....it's been a long time.)
I need to go make sure my child who isn't even eight yet understands that as of right now, she still has the freedom to speak her mind. She understands propaganda and how it is used to brainwash people. She's been warned that the school may try to indoctrinate her again. (This bothers her, a lot.) I made sure my child understands that it is not unpatriotic to dislike or disagree with our nation's leaders. You can love your country and dislike the persons running the government. That's the beauty of a democratic free society. In four years, I hope all the freedoms I had last December still exist. For now, I worry that the very freedoms members of my family fought to protect are being threatened. I will do my best to protect the minds of my children in the meantime.
There are a few things that make my not being well right now really awful. First off, this is the last week of Summer vacation. I had planned to take my girls to the beach since most of the Shoobies wouldn't be there this week. I was also going to load my girls up on fast food lunches (Yeah, I know Mom of the year here!). Once school starts, Ellie and I will visit Chick-Fil-A once a week for lunch after school. And we will visit Mc Donald's every Thursday night after Madeline's CCD class is over. That will be the extent of our fast food dining for the majority of the school year. Sure, I'll squeeze in an extra Chick-Fil-A trip here and there, but it won't be as frequent as I'd like.
I was just over at Faith and Family Live and I saw this video (which I know I've seen before) and it just makes me feel even worse that I'm still not well enough to make the ten minute drive over to Chick-Fil-A so I can get some of their delicious nuggets and lemonade. I could cry. I've been craving Chick-Fil-A since last week, but I just haven't been able to get there. Even the girls keep asking when we're going to go there. Sigh.
I'm still not feeling better. My body is clearly fighting something off. I woke up about every 30-45 minutes starting around 4 O'clock this morning drenched in sweat in my very chilly bedroom. I've been up and moving around a little bit for about two and a half hours now. I got a call from Madeline's friend's mother asking if she could take Madeline to the park this afternoon. I'm so grateful that someone is going to occupy one of my kids for a few hours and have her do something fun this week. I feel so awful that I'm sick this week. The girls and I should be packing as much fun as we possibly can into this week. Sadly, they're watching me lay around and barely function.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
The past few days Madeline's friend has been calling our house almost daily. The girls chatter away on the phone for about an hour each day about anything and everything. They're best friends. Last week we found out that the girls will be in the same third grade class this year. They became fast friends on the first day of first grade when they were both new to the school. Madeline went to a private school for K and her friend went to an area Catholic school. Last year they were pretty disappointed that they weren't in the same class, but they still found time to talk at school and get together for play dates.
Her friend just called and I was about to do Madeline's hair. So I had Madeline put the phone on speaker so I could quickly brush her hair and send her on her way. That's when I heard it. "Madeline, we have to get all of our talking out now. We don't have much time until school starts." In first grade Madeline got in a lot of trouble for talking excessively. (I wonder where she gets that from.) Last year she did better, but she still talked a lot. This friend is generally a very quiet kid, but that doesn't stop Madeline from talking at her and getting herself in trouble for talking.
I really like that her friend is telling her that they need to get it all out before school starts so they keep themselves out of trouble. If only all of Madeline's friends thought this way. Heck, if just Madeline thought this way we'd be in good shape.
I love how thoughtful her friend is. How many eight year olds sit there and contemplate whether or not they'll have the self control to stay quiet during class the week before school begins? I can assure you that Madeline has one thing on her mind...socializing. At least her friend is looking out for her.
I got a call from my neighbor this morning. Sara, my neighbor from outback called me and told me about a small crisis they accidentally created. She's taking care of the pets for my neighbor around the corner and across the street (Sara's across the street neighbor) while they're on their cruise. This morning when Sara was taking care of the dog and cat she accidentally locked the key to the house inside the house. She was hoping that I had the neighbor's cell phone number since that was also locked in the house. I had the cell phone number, but I had to explain to her that you generally can't get a cell signal when you're out on the open sea. My step father-in-law works on a tug boat, so this is one of those factoids that I have picked up along the way.
The neighbors were concerned that a locksmith wouldn't open the doors for them since they don't own the house and they have nothing from the neighbor stating that they are taking care of the house while they're away. That could be a problem since getting in touch with the neighbors will likely be impossible. I know they make port in two more days but that's a long time for a dog and a cat to wait for their next meal.
I decided that I'd take a stab at getting into the neighbor's house. Yes, I decided to see if I could break into someone else's house. Nice, huh? I practiced on my own house first. I found that I could open a locked door with a credit card. I think I saw that on a show before. It worked on one door in my house but not on another door. I figured it was worth a shot. It didn't work at the neighbor's. Then I decided that we should take a look at the windows. If the windows were unlocked I figured we could easily get in and cause the least amount of damage. Shockingly, all of the ground floor windows were unlocked. So I picked a screen to rip (while the pool guy was there taking care of the filter timers) and got into the neighbor's house. It took me less than two minutes to break in since my neighbors had handy tools on the deck that were perfect for ripping the screen open. So now I can add breaking into a house to my list of valuable skills that I have to offer to my neighbors. My neighbors out back are getting a second key made to leave at my house, and I'll be replacing the neighbor's screen once the other neighbor gets the spline I need to secure the screening in the frame. I guess it's a good thing for the neighbors that I know how to repair a screen, too.
So the crisis for the day is adverted. My neighbor will get a disturbing text followed by a reassuring one once she gets into port. It amazes me how I never have a dull moment around here.
I did learn that children are not discreet in the least. While Joe and I were trying to figure out what we should do to get in the house, my girls and his kids were chanting "Break-in!" over and over. Yes, I took my kids along with me to demonstrate how to break into someone's house. I'm sure that's a valuable lesson that will stick with the four impressionable children I had watching me. I can hear it now. The kids out back are probably going to tell their mom that they watched Miss Karen break into Miss Joann's house. They made sure they told me I was really good at it. Gee, thanks. If this honest living thing doesn't work out for me I guess I could turn to a life of crime. I clearly have the aptitude for it.
So I guess I'm the hero for the small dog and cat that live at the neighbor's house. And, I helped my other neighbors out so they didn't have to stress out anymore about locking the keys in the house. If you are going away and someone is taking care of your house for you, give them two sets of instructions (one for your house and one for them to keep at their home) and two keys. It will save people like me the trouble of having to break into your home.
On a more upbeat note, I'm still alive. I'm still not feeling well, but I'm hanging in there.