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Posts tagged ‘travel’

Picking and Choosing


It’s a good thing I’m not the type of person who panics easily. I should be freaking out about being told today at 6:45 pm or thereabouts that Jay’s martial arts-themed birthday party on Saturday (less than 48 hours from now) may be without a martial arts instructor. The party scheduler didn’t know that the usual party instructors will be participating in a tournament this weekend.

She said she’s trying desperately to book one of two possible substitutes. Hey, a lot can happen in two days, right? I do wonder about the capabilities of the leftover instructors who aren’t participating in the tournament. Does that mean they suck? Would six-year olds notice? If I can fit into Mae’s uniform, maybe . . . .  Well, the scheduler is going to call me at noon tomorrow and give me an update.

This is our first week back from vacation and then I was home sick on Monday and Tuesday, so I’m still getting my energy back and adjusting to our summer routine. Jay and I both picked up some crud. The pediatrician asked me if Jay had had any recent “exposures.” I said, “Between the zoo, pool, water park, beach, and hotel, I’m sure he was exposed to something, but I don’t know what.”

During vacation, my work piled up and I worked last night and I’ll work tonight to get caught up. I had three great colleagues on standby to babysit help my clients. However, the Lovelies left “urgent” voicemail messages despite my out-of-office greeting and disregarded my email auto-reply asking them to contact my co-workers. Ah, to be valued so much that they would have no one else but me!

I don’t feel like being panicky right now. I chose calm for today. I think better in this state. I have too much to do for home, self, and work and not a lot of time to get it done. Like, I have a hair appointment tomorrow after work and I need to shop for and bake a cake for which I still need to decide upon a recipe.

Woosaaaah . . . .

Fade to Black

watching fireworks

As 2012 fades to black, I think back on how blessed we have been this year and in previous years. Life hasn’t been perfect or stress-free. All-in-all, though, it’s been darn good.

I had a glorious time in SC with my immediate and extended families during our short winter vacation. We had a Christmas party on the Saturday before the holiday. The food was good, the games were fun, and spirits were high. One of the things I love most about my big (my mother is one of eleven), crazy family is that we manage to consistently have a genuinely good time, without the drama that is typically associated with big gatherings and without the help of alcohol (LOL).

Mae and Jay got to see all of their first cousins. They played well together, and I’m especially proud of Mae. I think she managed to avoid falling out with her big cousin, who is just 9 months older, even once. Usually, Mae whines or has a meltdown about not being able to play with her cousin’s things or something along those lines. No meltdowns at all on the trip. Growth is a beautiful thing, and she’s been doing plenty of it physically and otherwise.  Lately, she’s been asking questions on topics like periods and the N-word.  She’s becoming less and less of a “little girl,” a term she now detests.

Last week, Mae told me that she wonders if she should tell her friends that she has Asperger’s.  She said, “I don’t know what they’ll think of me.”  I told Mae that she can tell her friends if she feels comfortable, and that it’s more important to focus on what she wants her friends to understand about her and show them who she is without using a label.  I told her that the doctor said she’s barely on the spectrum, so Asperger’s may not be the best way to explain who she is.   Her question is an interesting question given recent media coverage of Asperger’s in relation to the Newtown tragedy.  Mae is aware of the tragedy because her school principal made an announcement the next school day.  She’s unaware of the media coverage and how some have attributed the shooter’s behavior to Asperger’s.  We’re not much of a news-watching household, and that’s a good thing.

After we returned home from SC, we buckled down to Mae’s homework.  She actually completed some of it while we were in SC, bless her heart, with little resistance. She has had so much homework over the past few weeks, more than I could have ever imagined for a 3rd grader.  We spent hours each day last Thursday through Sunday working on a book about the planets. There is a required 15-page minimum with limited use of illustrations, which Mae had to create herself. (Thank you, Microsoft, for Insert>Shapes.)

Last night, as Mae put the finishing touches on the book,  she told me that she enjoyed working on it, that she had looked forward to it.  She’s really had a good attitude about this homework business.  Hubby and I have been the ones grumbling for weeks.  I’ve been trying to think of a way to complain to the school, but I don’t know if it’s me or them that’s being unreasonable.  I wanted an accelerated and advanced curriculum, so maybe I should keep my mouth shut. What I didn’t know was that we’d be trading loads of personal time and family time, weekends and holidays included.

Mae worked so hard on her planets book and still needs to make progress on her science fair project, so much so that I can’t even bring myself to ask her to write thank-you notes for Christmas gifts.  That’s normally one of our projects over the winter break.  I may saddle Jay with writing for both of them, if I can get him to be still long enough. He has been a ball of energy, literally running in circles around the house, for no apparent reason.  He’ll go round and round the kitchen table.  He’s in constant motion, still at five and a half.  I don’t remember his sister being this way.

Yesterday, I surprised him when I told him that I like candy cereal too, but I don’t eat it.   He said, slowly, “That’s strange.”  Then, he added, “If you like something, you should just eat it.”  Oh, my dear boy, I have fillings in the double digits and a pouch to prove that I have done plenty of that.

I’ve got to work on my “just eat it” problem in 2013.  I’m not big on resolutions, but I do need to create a new exercise plan and cut back on sugar.  This year was not good for me in terms of healthy living.  I tried to eat healthy (though the green smoothie project didn’t work for me; I decided that eating should involve chewing.  I like chewing.) and exercise (I quit yoga after one session because one full hour of yoga is just too much).  I got off track, mostly due to exhaustion in the evenings from hard, long days at the job I started in March, and then curtailing weeknight gym visits to help with homework in the evenings.  On too many evenings, I ate salty or sweet snacks for dinner instead of a proper meal.

Despite exercising less and eating more than I should have, I’m ending 2012 with a pat on the back for myself.  I’ve already ordered our photo album for 2012, a year’s worth of pictures bound in a hard cover book.   It’s an annual project that I sometimes don’t get to until the spring.  And, I’ve ordered our Happy New Year photo cards to send to family and friends.  I think our 2012 cards went out in February last year.  I feel like I was more organized in 2012.  Also, I spent more time with the kids, making more of an effort to do fun stuff on the weekends whenever we could.  House and yardwork suffered, but I have no regrets about that.

So, I’m good.  We’re good.  2013 will be good.

37 and Going Strong

We spent last weekend in Myrtle Beach, celebrating my family’s 37th annual family reunion. I love those crazy people! We were close to 160 in number, six generations deep. Reunion is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s amazing that it comes together and gets hailed as such a good time with all of the last minute additions, cancellations, and changes that take place. Planning and execution is now led (supposedly) by my generation. You’d think it would be easy after all these years.

A few weeks ago, one of my cousins and I were “voluntold” to serve as the master and mistress of ceremonies. The head-aunt-in-charge gave strict instructions that we were to begin the program promptly at 6:00 pm. We did as told and then realized after our welcome remarks that Cousin Reverend RD was late and couldn’t deliver the scripture and prayer. Thankfully, an elder cousin stepped up and filled in. My co-host and I plowed through the rest of the program, both hoping it would be our first and last time in that capacity. It’s a role that doesn’t fit me well; I lack the wit, animation, and enthusiasm I think an MC should have. Unfortunately, so does my cousin. Fortunately, the family was kind to us during the program and we can say that we did our part to help. People seem to care more about the fellowship than the ceremony anyway.

It was a short, fun-filled weekend and we packed in as much as we could — mini golf, science museum, amusement park rides, and arcade games. Mae and Jay enjoyed it all, especially the beach and pools. I’m so grateful that they have a high comfort level in the water. It takes away the anxiety I used to feel. Hubby still tells me that I need to learn to swim. At this point, I just need for my kids to be able to rescue me.

The kids seem to have recovered from the trip already. Hubby and I are still exhausted, and probably will be for the rest of the week. I have no major plans for the coming weekend, and I intend to keep it that way. I will rest. I will. I will. I will.

Problem or Opportunity?

Mae making a "bubble sculpture," one of the experiments in her chemistry lab set.

Mae told me at bedtime tonight that she wants to go to NYC for her birthday on March 25.  Hmmm . . . is this a problem or an opportunity?

About a month ago, I asked Mae if she would prefer to take a trip or have a party to celebrate her 8th birthday.  She chose a party.  Reminder to self:  Follow own advice about knowing when and when not to give choices.  I have said this in my personal and professional life.  Generally, some people, children especially, should be given choices only in limited, controlled circumstances.  My preference was for a weekend family road trip, which is what we did for her 7th birthday.  A trip is easier to plan and lets me avoid having to deal with Mae feeling rejected if some of her favorite friends don’t or can’t attend.  That’s never actually happened; I’m just afraid that it might because Mae feels left out sometimes.  I should have told her we were taking a trip and maybe let her have some say in where.

Silly me, I went with the party idea.  Since Mae is all into science and preparing herself to become a chemist, I set about planning a science-themed party.  I visited a couple of recreation centers and submitted an application to reserve space at one.  Just yesterday, I scheduled a company that comes to your location and puts on a science show.  Today, I combed the aisles at a thrift store and found a little toy lab kit ($1.69!) that I plan to use as props on a cake — I haven’t figured out exactly how yet, but that’s a different story.  Mae doesn’t know about any of the party plans because she’ll nag me to no end as well as invite everybody she knows and their brother’s cousin’s nephew.  Sooo, I can cancel the party and plan a trip.  Maybe I’ll make the science-y cake anyway.

Jay’s birthday is in June and he’s already “ordered” his birthday cake and desired location.  Maybe, just maybe, I am creating monsters.  Urrggh!

The little booger gave me a scare this weekend.  He started complaining about stomach aches about three weeks ago, and I thought it was constipation.  He’s still so iffy about dinner, eating only a few items and usually in small quantities.  I pushed more water and vegetables and gave him an antacid a few nights.  Then, on Friday night, I asked him to place a hand on his body to show me exactly where the pain was, and he touched the middle of his chest.  I started thinking ultrasound, surgery, cancer, etc.   Today, I took him to the pediatrician, and she thinks it’s heartburn.  So, now we’re keeping a food diary to figure out patterns and connections, though I don’t know what I can possibly eliminate from his limited diet.  I’m hoping that adding more alkaline will help.  Jay takes authority figures so seriously, and I’m going to use the doctor to the hilt.   Maybe Jay will eat better “because the doctor said.”  Fingers crossed.

Somedays, This Job Doesn’t Pay Enough

What possesses a 7-year old to wake up at 3:30 am and have a 40-minute meltdown? The devil is busy. The devil never sleeps.

Mae had to use the bathroom and she didn’t feel like using the bathroom. She wanted to put on her pajamas and she was too tired to put on her pajamas without help. She was trying to enlist my help and then her dad’s after I refused to get up. Fortunately, Jay slept through the whole thing.

We arrived home from SC at about 11:00 pm last night, all tired, and went to bed almost as soon as the car was unpacked. I helped Mae walk upstairs. She said she was too tired to use the bathroom and put on her pajamas. I didn’t dare mention brushing her teeth.  I let her go straight to bed in her clothes. I had no idea she would wake up 4 and a half hours later and punish me for it.

Mae came to our bed three times. First, she tried crying and wailing and holding my arm, saying that she was too tired and needed my help. She told me that she was upset and I was supposed to help her. Despite the fact that I told Mae she had a choice to sleep in her pajamas or clothes and that she could choose not to use the bathroom (as long as she was responsible for cleaning up any accident), she did not take note of her freedom and independence. However, once I said she would lose computer time, she went to her bed. I thought she would get tired of crying and go back to sleep. When she came back the second time, she went to Hubby. He tried reasoning with her. Finally, I told her that she had lost computer time for a day. She went away again, still crying loudly.

A few minutes later, Mae came back for the third time. She apologized and promised that she will listen from now on if I would just help her with her pajamas. I realize that if I had helped her, we could have all gone back to sleep earlier. I saw it as rewarding undesirable behavior. The last thing I want her to think is that crying like she’s being kidnapped is an effective way to get what she wants. I told Mae that she could earn back computer time if she went back to bed.

There was no school and work today, so we toughed it out. Mae did have a 9:00 am dental appointment this morning. I thought she would be a monster when I went to wake her. Nope. It was as if the whole episode never happened. She was cooperative and, according to the mood watch she was wearing, “serene.” At the dentist’s office, she had the hygienist laughing with her charming and funny self. You would not have known.


As a matter of fact, when Jay cried during dinner about having to eat his broccoli in order to get dessert, Mae attempted to intervene on his behalf. She explained to me that I was upsetting him and that he probably was too full to eat his broccoli because the acid in his stomach hadn’t yet broken down the broccoli. I told her to focus on herself. She then asked if she could speak to me in the family room. As if? Like a private talk would give her a better opportunity to sway me. I said no to the private talk and turned back to telling Jay that I could save his broccoli and dessert for tomorrow.

I’m not saying that I’m looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. But, work will be a breeze compared to this, and I’ll get paid to listen to others whine and cry.

It’s Not Christmas Yet. I think.


I had a great visit with my Florida sister, her husband and their three beautiful daughters. I love when the cousins get together. They had their share of spats, but they all enjoyed the stay too. The weather was fantastic — nice enough for the kids to play and picnic outside. We ate well and within reason (ahem, in my opinion).

One of the most striking aspects of the trip and the days leading up to it is that my kids and nieces seem confused about where Thanksgiving ends and Christmas begins. Or, should I say where Christmas pauses for Thanksgiving and then begins again?

About a week before Thanksgiving, Jay asked if we could “set up” for Christmas. I told him that we would decorate after Thanksgiving because I can handle only one holiday at a time. Last Saturday, he and Mae started writing out their wish lists, and chica is up to 50 items.

On the eve of our trip to Florida, Jay and I stopped at the pharmacy. Of course, there were Christmas decorations galore and all kinds of things associated with the holiday were on display. Jay started whining, saying that it’s Christmas and we need decorations. I told him that it’s too soon. He told me that he had seen other houses with decorations. I had to think about that for a minute. There are houses in our neighborhood where it seems the residents leave Christmas lights up year round. It’s also possible that there are some households where zealous adults have followed the retailers’ lead on getting an early start or anxious children have brow beat their parents into decorating. I didn’t bother to argue with him. I told him that we’d decorate after we returned from Florida, end of discussion.

My sister and I took the kids to a children’s museum on Wednesday, and there were lights, green garland and “‘Tis the Season” signs outside of the entrance. The kids were skipping and singing “Christmas, Christmas!”. The next morning, on Thanksgiving day, my four-year old niece came to me with a sad face. She said, “Is Christmas gone?” I told her no, that Christmas will come later. I reminded her that it was Thanksgiving. L’s mind was elsewhere. She asked, “Why didn’t I get any presents?” I told her that she may get presents for Christmas, but not Thanksgiving.

We went to see the Muppet movie on Friday. Fortunately, it’s a sleepy mall and we weren’t overrun by shoppers. Looking at the decorations as we entered the mall, L said, “It’s Christmas!” Jay told her that it wasn’t. They went back and forth a few times. Finally, I told them they were both right: it’s the Christmas season but not Christmas day.

I know Jay will be on my back about “setting up” shortly after we pull into the driveway this afternoon. We have actually two other celebrations before we can get to that. Today is Hubby’s birthday, and our 12th wedding anniversary. Two grand occasions. Hubby is even more awesome than he was 12 years ago. I’m grateful for him and everything he’s been to me. So, we have to honor him first.

We’re in Atlanta, awaiting our last flight, which I’m sure will go as smoothly as the others went. Then, it’s celebration time for the rest of the day, and tomorrow begins the race to the “C” word. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe . . . .

Up and Away

The kids and I will be leaving in about an hour to spend Thanksgiving with one of my sisters and her family in Florida.

What was I thinking? Flying with them and leaving Hubby here? I don’t remember my exact rationale for planning this way. I think it had to do with saving leave hours to ensure that we have enough to cover winter break, spring break, etc. Oh, well. It’s too late now. I hope and pray that the kids will be their best selves on the flights down. We have their game systems, books, and snacks. Hopefully, we’re traveling with kid-friendly passengers and crews.

Of course, Mae and Jay have been super excited for weeks. Mae has been saving her money for the trip and she has a whopping $29.21 for souvenirs. We’ll see how many times she pulls out her purse or makes me reach for mine. 🙂


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