Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Conclusion of Fall Break

My dear daughter has had the week off school for Fall Break. It has been glorious. I love having her home. Even thought she is in the midst of her second year in school (and loves it) I miss her terribly each and every day that I have to send her to school. It is not a feeling that has subsided as the days have passed. The thought of sending my little man off to Kinder next year is enough to render me inconsolable for at least ten years. But that's another story for another day.

This week has just been a fun week of spending time together. Last weekend to start her break she had a birthday party for a classmate, which was a lot of fun for her. The next day my husband and I took our kids and my almost 6 year old niece down to the University of Arizona and then out to dinner. It was a wonderful day and evening and the kids had a great time being together. My husband was off Monday so I loaded the day with doctors appointments: dentist visits for the kids and flu shots for me and the hubby. The kids got to spend some time at their great-grandma's house, which they (and she) love. My daughter also got to spend the night with the aforementioned cousin, and then today we had my nephew's 4th birthday party. My dad is also in from DC so they were able to spend some time with him as well. Tomorrow I am going to take the older two kids to see Dolphin Tale.

I am really sad to see this week come to an end. I love having our daughter home during the day and I really, truly miss her when she is gone. So, I am glad we had such a great week to spend together.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Your Christians Are Not Like Your Christ

My faith is important to me. It has shaped who I am and who my husband and I are raising our children to be. We are Christians and my husband and I were both raised in Christian homes, by Christian parents. Lately, though, I find myself thinking a lot about the quote by Ghandi where he stated, "I like your Christ. I don't like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."
While my faith is important to me and while there are convictions I have based on this faith, I also like to think of myself as a fairly decent, accepting person. I don't begrudge anyone their religion (or non-religion) or personal preferences. I tend to take the approach that while I believe this way and my life is a reflection of that, you also have the right to believe and live how you want. That being said, as a Christian, there is a certain "code" I live by and expect others who claim to be Christians to live by as well. Some of that includes helping those in need, working hard, and generally treating others how we would want to be treated. There is a verse in the Bible, in the book of Matthew, that states, "Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." I take that seriously and think that we as people, but especially as Christians, need to treat people better. All people. Not just those we like or those we agree with, but people we may not like, or people we may completely disagree with or even struggle to tolerate.

This past year has been very bumpy for us personally and professionally and the people who I would have expected to offer support didn't. (And by this "support" I am not referring to anything tangible. I'm referring to emotional support, checking in, etc. As a disclaimer, let me also publicly state that I am not referring to my family. They have been wonderful and amazing and things would be unbelievably worse were it not for their help). While this hasn't rocked my faith it has caused me to take a hard (and painful) look at the church to which we belong and those we considered our church family. While there was initial concern, after a few months we heard nothing from anybody there. Nobody checked in to see why we hadn't been to church in a while (serious health issues with our son and my husband's work schedule being the two primary reasons) except for a really snarky email from our pastor after missing a few weeks of services. I had made mention to the pastor early on that as a result of what we were going through we were feeling rather depressed. He never once followed up with either of us to see how we were doing. Outside of one man who was wonderful to my husband in the early months not a single other attempt at outreach was made.

While I have pretty thick skin this hurt a bit. The other part is that it made me wonder if this was really a church I wanted to be a part of. If other people are hurt or struggling or ill do I want to be associated with a church that is viewed as cold and callous? The irony in all of this is that this church (and many religions in general) criticize the government and always advocate for private charity, church help, etc. This argument presumes that the church is willing or able to help. It was very disappointing to me, after hearing all my life, how Christians are supposed to help others, care about others, treat others as we would treat Christ, etc, that the church put none of this into practice. It will be hard for me to sit through another sermon hearing about how we as Christians are supposed to behave and treat others when I have witnessed and experienced the hypocrisy first hand.

This is not an indictment of all Christians, of all churches, of all religions, or even of all people in the church I am referring to. My husband and i had attended a few services at another church a few weeks leading up to the start of our "year from hell" and when I opened my email I had offers from people to bring meals, offers from people to help watch my other kids while I was running all over town to doctor's appointments, offers for people to do my grocery shopping, etc. These offers came from women I had met briefly and in some instances never met. These are the types of people that epitomize my perception of Christians. These are women with a servant's heart looking to treat others as they would treat Christ.

I have been a member of my "brand" of Christianity all my life. Considering leaving is not something I take lightly. There have been incidents throughout the years that keep bringing me back to a place where I really feel I need to make the move and start over. This may have been the final straw that serves as the catalyst for that move.

I am interested to hear your thoughts. Have you left a church or religion altogether? If you are not religious how does my experience match up with your impression of Christians? If you are a Christian how would you handle this situation?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hall of Fame Induction Speech

My high school basketball coach is being inducted into the Hall of Fame here in town. A few months ago he asked if I would give his induction speech. I was and am very honored and of course agreed to do it. The ceremony is tomorrow night and I am a bundle of nerves. Despite being a decent public speaker it gives me intense anxiety. I'm sick for days about it.

He was a wonderful coach and is a terrific man and was truly the ideal high school coach. We had unprecedented success and to this day some of my former teammates remain my closest friends. I look back fondly on those years and my basketball experience is the primary reason for that.

So, while I am incredibly nervous about sweating profusely, stumbling over my words, or blushing with embarrassment (pale, white people have a tendency to do that) I am also thankful for the opportunity to publicly acknowledge the impact he had in all of our lives.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Foot Loose and Tonsil Free

Our 4 year old son has his tonsils out yesterday and it has been a rough 38 hours since. The procedure itself went fine, but he came out of anesthesia fighting mad. They rushed out to the waiting room to get me (I would have preferred they came and got me first and then woke him up, which likely would have prevented the events that followed from occurring).

Anyway, when I walked back there he was swinging at the nurse, SCREAMING at her, completely incoherent. He was wild-eyed, scared, and in pain. It broke my heart. I ran to him, scooped him up, and laid down in the bed with him. He went right to sleep.

Then they woke him up to try to get him to drink or eat a popsicle, both of which he refused. He then also tried to rip his IV's out. The nurses finally gave up and removed them for him.

He vomited on the ride home, all over himself, the car, and the Albertson's parking lot.

Poor kid.

Thankfully he slept on and off for most of the day. He woke up rather frequently to vomit. After the 8th time in as many hours I called the office, where I got a medical-assistant who informed me that it is "normal" to vomit every hour for up to 48 hours. Whaaaat???? I'm not a doctor, but if the number one concern after surgery is dehydration then it seems to me that throwing up 48 time sin 48 hours would be a bit of a problem.

Last night was pretty miserable. I got a total 1 hour of sleep because his fever rose up to 103, he continued to vomit throughout the night, and he was pretty much just miserable. At 3 am we came downstairs and watched cartoons until 9 when he finally fell asleep for an hour.

The on-call surgeon I called at 7 this morning told me he wouldn't call in an anti-nausea medication, but I should instead take him to the emergency room, where they could both hydrate and medicate him. I wanted to be able to control the vomiting at home in the hopes that he would then start to be able to keep down what he attempted to drink. Long story short, the nurse from the surgery center ended up relaying my frustration to our actual doctor who finally at 2:30 called in a prescription for anti-nausea meds which I promptly gave him He then slept for the next 4 hours. Since he's been given two doses he has not vomited once and has even been able to take three bites of an icee.

He is not consuming anywhere near the amount of liquids he needs too and if his fever doesn't stay under control we will likely end up in the hospital anyway, but I am working my ass off trying to avoid that.

I just really hope having these tonsils out makes a difference for him. I asked the surgeon to save the tonsils so I could see them. They were pretty bad. Huge, cryptic, pockets of bacteria. It made me feel better about subjecting him to such misery.

All in all, having your tonsils and adenoids removed is quite the ordeal.

My son is loud, rowdy, and rambunctious. I am constantly telling him to quiet down or calm down. Right now I would kill for that loud, rowdy, rambunctious boy to be running through our house. This listless, miserable, upset child breaks my heart.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Addison Rerecich, The Pink Ninja, Gets a Second Chance at Life

A young girl, 11 years old, who is a member of the church I grew up in became very ill last May. She ended up in the ICU where she still remains. This was written by her mother on a Facebook page that people around the world have been following, "Addison Rerecich was a normal, healthy 11 year old girl, until late last May, when she was suddenly stricken with a dangerous bacterial infection in her bloodstream. Although she has survived the initial infection, her lungs were horribly damaged, and she has been in the Intensive Care unit at UMC's Diamond Children's Center for more than 3 months, fighting for her life. She now is waiting for a lung transplant, her only hope for recovery."

She has been dubbed The Pink Ninja because by all medical accounts she should have died months ago. The fact that she is still hanging on is nothing short of a miracle. I have spent a lot of time checking the Facebook page for updates, hoping and praying, that this little girl is given the life saving transplant she needs, while acknowledging for that to happen someone else has to say goodbye to a loved one and make the difficult decision of whether or not to donate.

Yesterday, Addison underwent a double lung transplant that will ultimately give her a second chance at life. It won't be the same life this once healthy, athletic girl had, but it will be a new life nonetheless. It was indescribable the relief I felt when I read that she was in the operating room. I was also incredibly sad that for this to happen some other family had to grieve the loss of a loved one. It also made me incredibly grateful to that family that in a moment of such sorrow they were able to make such a selfless, life-giving decision. Her family has been very cognizant of this fact through the entire process.

Today, I am just incredibly thankful that this child who has fought for months, is breathing air through lungs that aren't riddled with bacteria and punctured with holes and that were rendered useless. She has been kept alive by machines. Without those the doctors said she would have died within seconds to minutes, not hours, not days. While she is still on a ventilator her lungs are able to finally take in and expel equal amounts.

Today is a good day. Today is the first day of a new life for an 11 year old girl and her family.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tonsils are Coming Out

Our 4 year old son has had a host of health problems since about 8 months of age. He is sick all the time. Our doctor finally referred us to an ENT after realizing his tonsils are always swollen and red, even when healthy. Bottom line is he needs them out.

This makes me really nervous. I know statistically it is a really safe surgery but it still freaks me out. I don't like the idea of him undergoing anesthesia. I don't know why it bothers me so much, but probably just because there is the smallest chance that something could go wrong. If anything happened to any of my kids I really don't think I could go on.

I left the appointment knowing that the surgery is necessary and the rational part of me thinks that if diseased tonsils could possibly be the cause of all of his illnesses then it is totally worth it to remove them. If this will give him the chance of being healthier then I owe it to him to allow the surgery. But as his mother, it still worries me immensely.

I talked it over with my husband who pretty much thinks the surgery is a no-brainer. He didn't even hesitate. He told me to call the scheduler first thing in the morning and get it done.

What say you? Have you had your tonsils out? Have your kids had theirs out? Did it make a difference? Any horror stories I should be aware of?

Monday, August 22, 2011

August Randomness

Our first grade daughter is beginning her third week of school. So far, so good. She loves it and her teacher is terrific. I feel very blessed to have had such great experiences with her teachers in both Kindergarten and now first grade. One bad teacher can make for a miserable year.


Our 11 month old started walking a couple of weeks ago. It is adorable and amazing how quickly it happened. Our other kids took a while longer and toddled a bit. She just decided one day to start walking and that was it. It may have had something to do with the fact that our 4 year old son slammed her hand in the door, practically ripping off one of her fingers. She was unable to crawl, so she just stood up and took off. I guess that is one positive after the trip to the ER.


This same 11 month old may send me to an early grave. She cries the majority of the day. It's unreal. She as the most calm baby in the entire world until about 3 months ago. It's insane. I think part of it is frustration in that she wants to do what her older siblings do, but she just isn't physically able. Some of it is communication. I was convinced there was something terribly wrong and took her to the doctor. I figured a child who cries this much has to be in pain somewhere. We left with the official diagnosis of "general fussiness." The doctor said, "She is perfectly healthy. It looks like you are just going to have to wait it out." So, I've started drinking.....kidding, I kid!


Our 4 year old son is insistent that he start Kindergarten next year (we had been considering holding him back). I started my pre-school curriculum with him and academically I don't think there is anyway I can hold him back. He'd be bored to tears. We'll see though. It breaks my heart having to think about sending him off to school.


This year has been to date, the most difficult year of our lives. Many changes, disappointments, illnesses, and unknowns. Things finally, slowly seem to be stabilizing. However, there will be lots of changes and adjustments occurring in the coming months. I'd appreciate prayers, good thoughts, etc. We could use them!

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Note to My Daughter's School

Dear School Personnel,

Please take care of my baby this year. Be kind, compassionate, challenging, and fair. Foster her love of learning and her love of school in general. Encourage her inquisitiveness. Protect her, care for her, demand her best and be a good example. Most of all, treat her as if she were your own.


Her Mother

Friday, July 29, 2011

Kindergarten Redshirt Year

All of my kids have summer birthdays and in Arizona meet the age cutoff (must be 5 by Sept 1 or else they have to wait until the following year to start) to start school right after they turn 5. However, by doing that they are young for their grade. Our daughter who has a July birthday started school in August after just having turned 5. She went to school with kids who were already 6 and kids who would turn 6 a few months in. She was the second youngest in the class with a little boy turning 6 a few days after she did. I didn't worry about sending her because she was more than ready both academically and socially. She thrived in school and had a wonderful year. I expect her 1st grade experience to be more of the same.

Our son just turned 4 at the very end of May. He is slated to start Kindergarten in August 2012, so next school year. I have recently been having discussions with my husband about "redshirting" him and waiting to start him until August 2013 instead, so he would start school having just turned 6. My reasons for doing this are many but primarily while I have no doubt he is likely ready academically I do worry about him socially in the sense that I feel schools are set up for how girls learn. They are not necessarily conducive to what is best for young boys. I don't know that he could sit still for 20 minutes and listen or work on an activity and I don't know if in a year from now, when he is able to start, he'll be ready then either. He's a well-behaved but highly active boy and I don't want him "beaten into submission" at school if giving him an extra year can harness and tame some of that energy naturally. There is a ton of research to back up that boys who wait a year and start a bit older tend to do better in school long-term. There is also the whole NFL Hockey thing where statistically NFL Hockey players tended to be older for their grade in elementary school. The theory goes that they are more physically developed than some of their peers, thereby becoming the better players in high school and college. There are also cons which we are well versed in too.

I've started mentioning my dilemma to a few friends only to find out that many of them are struggling with the same decision and for many of the same reasons I have mentioned. I go back and forth but I keep coming back to the fact that I have never once heard a parent say, "I wish I wouldn't have held my son back that year." However, I have heard many, my mother included, say, "I wish I would have held my son back and given him an extra year to mature a bit."

I am curious if you have any experience with this? Did you hold your son back? Do you wish you did? Were you intentionally held back?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Part II in the Age Appropriateness Saga

The more I thought about the whole issue, the more bothered I became. I was certainly bothered by the video shown but I was more bothered by the Pastor's response. Prior to this experience I had really liked him, thought well of him, and would likely have never questioned his judgment. However, this decision and more specificially his continual defense of his decision has made me realize that there are deep pedagogical and practiccal differences in what he views as appropriate for children and what my husband and I view as appropriate. My husband and I, as I am sure most parents, make judgments all the time about what we feel is appropriate to expose our kids to. Sometimes we have been wrong and we acknowledge that and we know to do things differently next time. I don't feel that this was the case here. While he ultimately removed the Kindergarteners (and my daughter who is going into first) from further viewing of the movie in subsequent days he continued to defend its appropriateness for grades 1 and above. I feel like at home we work hard to protect the innocense of our children. Even sending her to a public school, where the fear among evangelical conservatives is that their children will be exposed to inappropriate content, be it sexual, violence, etc, she wasn't exposed to anything close to this. It is very bothersome to me that the place she was unapologetically exposed was at a church. (The irony is that my particular brand of religion, at least the one I was raised in, is pretty critical of public education and the influence of people affiliated with it. The irony is not lost on me that the place where my child was first exposed to grpahic violence was not at the public school but at a church. If my daughter's Kindergarten teacher would have shown a video with a similar graphic nature she would be out of a job. But that's another topic).

We were made aware that there were other parents who also were bothered by this showing and expressed concern as well. It was suggested by multiple people that maybe that time could be better spent doing something other than watching the video. This suggestion was rebuffed. My husband emailed the Pastor that evening after viewing the video himself and wanted to make sure our daughter would be revmoved from the viewing the following day. He also called into question the educational value of such a long clip (25-30 minutes) for that young of an age group.

A flurry of email exchanges took place. The Pastor's initial email response was pretty strongly worded and pretty defensive, which only served to escalate the situation a bit.. He continued to defend his choice, standing firm in his insistence that it has educational value. In fact he believes "the movie in general does a fantastic job of reinforcing the tied in completely." He went on to say, "We thought so highly of the tone of the movie that it was worth the time to take to view." (To be entirely fair he did apologize for the "difficulty it has caused you and your family." However, there was no apology for the actual showing, just our perception of it being inappropriate).

My husband's concern at this point, with the Pastor's continual defense, was that:

As a parent who entrusts my children to the Pastors who are charged with protecting, teaching, and nurturing them it concerns me you find this appropriate and continue to defend its use.
I think it best that this discussion simply end. Much of this exchange could have been avoided had your response been different when my wife first brought the concern to you or even your initial response to my email. A simple, "I am sorry you were offended. Maybe we shouldn't have shown this. We won't do it again." would have shown a more genuine attempt on your part to understand and address our concern. Both my wife and I feel you have been more concerned about defending your decision than legitimately addressing our concern or showing any amount of empathy.
My husband and I were then a bit conflicted. We both would have liked to not send her back but we also didn't want her to know there was a conflict. So, we did send her on Thursday and she did not view the video. They put the Kindergarteners (and my daughter) in with the 3-4 year olds. When my husband went to pick her up yesterday grades 1-6 were watching another segment from the film. Those aren't my children so it wasn't really my business anymore, but because of this experience I would likely not allow my children to attend another function at this church. Or if I were to reconsider I would definitely want to view any curriculum or instructional aides ahead of time. If I can't trust the Pastor's judgment about what is age appropriate then I feel like I am playing a game of Russian Roulette each time I send my kids off there. It's a shame all the way around.

I don't want to bash religion or Christians. I am a Christian. We raise our children in the church. However, it is difficult for me when Christians behave in ways that are so antithesis to what the Bible instructs. Why would anyone who is not a Christian ever want to be one when things like this happen? VBS is used as a community outreach. The goal of every church who puts on a VBS is to not only provide Christian instruction for its members but also to maybe get unchurched visitors who would consider joining. While I am not a member of this particular church, I am at this church's sister church. What if I were just a random member of the community and this was my exchange with a Pastor? I would never go back. If that was my only exposure to Christianity and Christians I certainly wouldn't want to be one. Right or wrong, people are judge on behavior and in this instance I feel there were multiple opportunities for this Pastor to back off his stance that this video was age appropriate. But he didn't. He continued to defend it and continued to show it despite having concerns brought to him by multiple parents. To me that just seems like someone trying to dig in his heels and not someone who is interested in truly trying to understand where anyone else was coming from.

Bottom line is the issue is over. It happened. I now know that this is how this particular Pastor responds to issues of concerns brought by parents and knowing that I will make decisions regarding my children accordingly.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

An Issue of Age-Appropriateness

So, I want to share with you an experience I had today and get some feedback on both my reaction and the response I received. My almost 6 year old daughter attended Vacation Bible School today at a church affiliated with our usual church. At the end of the day they were watching a video about the story of Joseph and Potiphar's Wife. A quick recap for those who are unfamiliar: Joseph is sold by his brothers to Potiphar. Potiphar's wife seduces Joseph and then lies to Potiphar, telling him the reverse and making up other lies about Joseph's behavior. The portion of the movie I walked in on was when Joseph was being whipped for his supposed transgressions. I included the video below (please fast forward to the 2 minute mark and watch until the 2:32 mark). This was shown to the class today, including kids as young as 5.

I was bothered. I felt it was a little intense for that age group. It further bothered me when the entire first row of little kids gasped and put their hands over their eyes (my daughter included). We are very careful about what we let our kids watch. Their exposure to television is very limited and we certainly don't let them watch shows with graphic, violent content.

At the end I approached the Pastor, who in general I feel is a very nice man. However, his response today was very disappointing. In a very non-confrontational way I told him that I was a bit concerned about the graphic nature of the video as that is not something I would choose to show my children. His initial response was that because it happened that way in the Bible he does not believe we should alter, modify, water down, change, etc. the specifics. I pointed out that, while I agree that the stories shouldn't be changed, I didn't think it was then necessary to show the visual reenactment of something that could possibly be upsetting to young children. I stated that while my children knew the details of Jesus' crucifixion I wouldn't go home and show them Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ until they were older and it was more age appropriate. He disagreed. My response was that when I was teaching in a public HIGH SCHOOL I would not have been allowed to show that clip (and not because of the religious nature, but because of the graphic content). I further pointed out that any clip I did want to show had to be approved by the principal first and then I had to send out permission slips that gave parents the opportunity to opt their child out. I explained that I felt like we should have been given some notice that this type of video was going to be shown.

His “solution” was that tomorrow I could put my 1st grader in with the 3-4 year olds because they watch a cartoon version. I just wanted him to understand that while some kids are exposed to that or aren't bothered by that, I KNEW that this was something that was going to bother my daughter. He dismissed that concern. There was more, but essentially he disagreed, which is fine, but also completely dismissed and invalidated my concerns about the content and the fact that he made a decision about what he felt was appropriate for my child to view without giving me the opportunity to have any input. Further there were some very patronizing “solutions” offered.

My daughter, who had no knowledge of my conversation with the pastor, came and found me and the first thing she told me was about this “terrible movie where this bad man whipped Joseph and his blood went all over.” She was very bothered and has talked about it ALL day. Further, she drew a picture for my grandmother depicting a man getting beat. She explained, “This is Joseph. He's getting whipped and this red part is his blood going all over.” Not really something I am happy about.

While the showing of the video bothers me, the Pastor's response bothers me even more. He could have said, “You know, I made a judgment call. I felt it was appropriate. I'm sorry if it offended you. Next time I will ask.” End of story. Instead he made excuse after excuse and pretty much tried to make me feel like it was ridiculous that I would be concerned about the content.

So, I am curious about your take on this? Mainly, is this content that would bother you if your child viewed it and what is your take on the Pastor's response to my concern?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Catch Up

Things have been nuts here. My 5 year old daughter had strep throat, then our 8 month old daughter became very ill and ended up in the hospital. Turns out she had a bacteria infection in her blood. No one knows how she got it. She is fine now, thank God. Then I injured my back pretty badly and ended up in Urgent Care after trying to suffer through the pain for days, where they gave me an injection of a powerful anti-inflammatory that I had a VERY adverse reaction to. They also send me home with a million prescriptions for a ton of meds that knocked me out entirely. I'm still pretty much out of commission but am finally able to actually walk a bit. So, it's been all bunnies and rainbows here in our neck of the woods.

In better news my husband and I will have a first grader in 2 days. Typing that seems so weird. I was so worried about sending her off to Kindergarten. I fretted for a year in advance. Turns out it was all for nothing. Her teacher is wonderful and watching our daughter come into her own was a beautiful thing to witness. She is sad about leaving her beloved teacher but also excited to be a first grader. Definitely bittersweet.

Our son will turn 4 next week. How that is even possible is beyond me. He will always be my baby. I love seeing the boy he is becoming. So sweet, kind, and sensitive and fiercely protective of his baby sister. Since those two are home with me during the day they have become very close and it makes me so happy to see how much our baby adores her big brother and how much he cares for her. It's a beautiful thing.

So, what has been consuming your days as of late?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

We did Easter a little bit differently this year since my parents have their time split between Arizona and DC. So, Saturday we went over to my parents' Tucson home along with one of my brothers and my sister and her family. The kids got baskets, hunted for eggs, and my dad grilled out. It was low-key and the kids had a great time with their cousins.

Easter Sunday we went to church and then I made a big Easter lunch for my family, my mother, and my brother. Salad, mashed potatoes, gravy, pot roast. I also made some delicious bread that no one got to eat because I forgot about it under the broiler and it caught fire. :( The rest of the day was spent lazily. Playing with the kids, watching movies, dozing on and off.

Easter morning: Our youngest celebrated her first Easter today. She loved her big sister's pillow pet.
Yes, I finally caved on the pillow pets. My daughter has been asking for one for close to a year now. And I will be the first to admit that they are super comfortable. But seriously my kids have more stuffed animals that any any other child I know. Pillow pets are the last thing they need, but they love them!

Here is our almost 4 year old with his monkey pillow pet.
And here is our 5 year old with her unicorn pillow pet.
Two of my three favorite people. My girls wore matching dresses to church and while I am sooo biased I thought they looked adorable and my son just makes me want ten more little boys.
Hope you all had a wonderful Easter.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Daughter the Drama Queen

The high school I used to teach at has a terrific fine arts program. The kids involved with choir, orchestra, choraliers, drama, etc. are amazing. If these performances weren't set in a high school auditorium you would have little clue that you were watching high school KIDS perform. This weekend they performed Disney's Beauty and the Beast so I decided to take my two older kids. My daughter, who is a lover of all things Princess related, was beyond excited at the prospect and my son, who likes "The Beast" was eager to see him in person.

The performance was incredible so I was glad I had the opportunity to see it. However, even better was witnessing the utter joy and amazement on my daughter's face. When the orchestra began playing the opening notes to the play, which are the same from the Disney movie, she looked over at me in awe. She was on the edge of her seat the entire performance. The kid who played Gaston was a stud, but he was despised by my children...due to the character he played, not due to his performance. He was a bit too real for my kids. He did a terrific job and at the end when each character came out to receive his/her applause my daughter refused to clap for him because she said he was mean and tried to hurt the Beast. The girl who played Belle also did a great job. She was very pretty and had a great stage presence and my daughter instantly fell in love with her.

One of the best parts was at the end all the performers lined up in the lobby to meet the audience. My daughter was enthralled with Belle and wanted her photo taken. My daughter wore her Belle gown to the play and received quite a bit of attention for her ensemble. When the photographer for the school wanted to take her picture with Gaston for their drama department my daughter refused saying he was too mean. She was more than thrilled, however, to pose with Belle and the Beast.

She spent the rest of that night and all of today talking about all of her favorite parts, the parts that scared her, the similarities and differences between the movie and the play, and all sorts of different impression she came away with. Knowing how well she enjoyed it makes me want to take her to the theatre be it high school or otherwise. After hearing about how much my daughter enjoyed it my father decided to take her and a couple of her cousins to a Broadway production of Les Miserables in June. She is stoked!

So, all in all we had a pretty good weekend. How was yours?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

It Takes a Village.....Part Deux

After this experience my husband and I talked at length about our main points of contention, which were primarily the time, place, and tone of the conversation and that is what we wanted conveyed to the principal. She was very responsive. She, of course, tried (albeit not very hard) to defend the secretary, but also acknowledged that the time and place were not appropriate and the tone was questionable as well. As far as the medical records go she said the only time the school generally requests documentation is when there is a long term absence (she defined long term as 30 to 40 absences which we are NO WHERE close to) due to a medical reason OR if multiple absences are affecting student performance. She acknowledged neither was the case in our situation so she seemed a bit dumbfounded as to why we were asked for this type of documentation.

The "funny" thing about educators is they (we) are always trying to explain how our system works to people outside of the education system. I understand why they (we) do that; it's because there are a lot more complexities to the inner workings, funding, budgets than people realize or politicians want to admit and acknowledge. However, I always find it funny when educators try to explain these inner workings to other educators, as is the case with me and my husband....not that she necessarily knew that.

Not truly pertinent to the story but a little funny was when she started to explain the role of the attendance clerk (which the receptionist doubles as...essentially pulling calls off the attendance hotline and recording the absences in the computer). My husband stopped her (politely) and just said, "My wife and I have both worked in many school districts as teachers so we are well aware the role of the attendance clerk. However, at no school we have ever been employed has the attendance clerk confronted a parent in the front office in front of other parents. Are you saying that here in (School District name redacted) School District the role of the attendance clerk is to confront parents publicly?" The principal reluctantly acknowledged that no, that was not the appropriate way to handle it.

She also began to explain the budgetary importance of attendance. Schools receive money based on how many students attend on any given day. When students are absent the school loses money. So, she began explaining that. My husband's counter to that was that in the state of Arizona school attendance isn't mandatory until a child is six years old. Our daughter is five. She is not required to be in school at all. Further, Kindergarten isn't mandatory in the state of Arizona. Again, she is not required to attend any school, so any money they receive from her attendance is gravy and should be viewed as such (according to my husband in his point to her). The principal had to reluctantly acknowledge this as fact as well.

Overall, we made sure to state that as a whole we were very pleased with the school. We wanted her to know we were happy with our daughter's teacher, the school culture and "feel", and that our daughter loved coming to school as well. So, while there were a couple of "moments" of differing opinions, she did understand where we were coming from and was responsive to those concerns. And having worked in schools and seen different principals interact with parents, this isn't always a given. There are principals who have very contentious relationships with parents and who don't validate or address their concerns. That really only breeds resentment and distrust. I can honestly say that despite little things here and there that irk me, the principal has always been responsive and does promptly address parental concerns while simultaneously defending her employees (as much as she reasonably can). Having been on both sides of that I know it is a balancing act. However, having worked for a principal who routinely threw teachers under the bus, myself included, in disputes with parents it was refreshing to see that while she understood our point, she also tried to make us understand the receptionists point as well, even though in the end we still didn't agree with it at all.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

It May Take a Village, But Sometimes the Villagers Need to Mind Their Own Business

My older daughter, who is in Kindergarten, is a pretty healthy kid. Or at least was until she started school. She has been sick more times this school year than in her previous five years of life combined. In fact our pediatrician even made a comment to the effect of "I've seen her more this year than I have ever before." I know much of that comes with the territory of starting school and having a wider range of exposure, coupled with kids who are visibly sick who are sent to school when they clearly should be kept home. As a result waves of illness have rippled through our house almost all year long. So, our daughter has had some absences, not more than the 10 percent of total school days allowed by state law but we are cutting it close.

Today my daughter had a half day. I scheduled a dentist appointment pretty close to dismissal time so I went in to grab our daughter 10 minutes early (the Kindergarten students line up at 10 till anyway). As I was waiting for her to come up to the office, the school receptionist, and her position is important to my story, the RECEPTIONIST, not the principal, teacher, or even principal's secretary, but the RECEPTIONIST says, "Your daughter has had a lot of absences." She says this in the front office, where other parents are also waiting and listening. The following is an almost verbatim exchange (I began recording the conversation after the initial sentence because I was so angry).

Me: "Yes, she has unfortunately been sick a lot this year."
Her: "Yes, but she's had a lot. Most of them sick and some personal" (For the record, she missed three days when she stayed with m parents when I gave birth to our third child and the others were illness related, all of which I have documentation to support if I felt it necessary to provide).
Me: "Well, she has been sick more this year than she has been in her previous five years combined. I don't know what I can really do about that."
Her: "You're not concerned about her absences?"
Me: "No, she is doing fine in class and her teacher is not concerned about her progress so I am not concerned."
Her: "So you don't think attendance is important?"
Me: "I didn't say that. What I said was I am not concerned with her progress as her absences are not negatively impacting her performance."
Her: "You never took her to the doctor any of those times?"
Me: "Yes, I took her to the doctor for most of them. She was in the hospital at one point."
Her: "Well, can you bring in documentation to support that? You know to prove that they were medical absences?"
Me: "I don't feel that I am obligated to provide you with my daughter's medical records to support or justify parental decisions that my husband and I made in regards to the care of our daughter."
Her: "Well, if you had them they would support the absences."
Me: "Well, in the state of Arizona Kindergarten isn't even mandatory so I see no reason to provide medical documentation to excuse absences from something that isn't even mandated."
Her: "But don't you think that her attendance at school is important?"
Me: "Yes, but it is what it is. She has been sick. We appear to be one of the few families who actually keeps our sick kids home. I resent sending my kid to school and having her constantly ill, then spreading that through the rest of my family, because students who are clearly ill are not only sent to school by their parents but then allowed to stay here by the staff who can clearly see they are ill. I further resent being publicly questioned about the legitimacy of my daughter's absences. She is doing well in school and that is the bottom line. If her teacher isn't concerned I find it suspect that you are."
Her: "Well, it's just my job to let you know."

At that point my daughter had arrived and we left. I have multiple points of contention with this interaction. First, we just got my daughter's 3rd quarter report card yesterday. She received the highest marks possible in EVERY SINGLE category. She is clearly doing fine academically and socially. Additionally there is a spot on the report card that says, "Do absences or tardies affect performance?" Her teacher answered, "No." Secondly, the school has half days today and Friday for parent conferences. We received a note last week from her teacher stating that our daughter is doing well and the teacher has no concerned and thus doesn't deem a conference to be necessary, but we could request one if we had concerns. We declined. Along those lines I volunteer in my daughter's class once a week. I am present and involved and the receptionist knows this. Generally speaking, the kids who miss for less than legitimate reasons usually don't have parents actively involved at the school. It is also worth mentioning that her teacher has never once mentioned any concerns about our daughter and she and I have a great relationship. If she had concerns she would have absolutely mentioned it.

I am further bothered by the fact that the receptionist broached this topic with me at all, but additionally chose to do it publicly where the other parents in the office were privy to personal health information about my daughter as well as the contentious discussion between myself and the receptionist. I also have serious doubts about whether her job description entails confronting parents at the front desk about their children's attendance. The thing that she doesn't know is that my husband and I are both educators. We absolutely understand the importance of attendance and how vital that is to educational success. However, I don't know what the options are when our daughter was sick as often as she was (and I'm not talking colds; I'm talking Influenza A, Norwalk virus, Sinusitis, Bronchitis, and other viruses that caused very high fevers). Further, I don't understand why one would choose to make a point about it when she knows nothing about our child's academic progress. It would be one thing if her academics were suffering as a result, but they aren't and she doesn't know that because she isn't privy to that information which further calls into question why she is having this conversation with me. No other staff member has ever expressed any concerns about her absences. This includes the teacher and the principal and it includes the receptionist. If it really were her job then why did she wait until a chance encounter in the front office to broach the subject with me? If it really were her job why hasn't she called me before? She had no idea I was coming into the office today. She obviously looked at my daughter's absences in the computer when I signed her out and chose to make a point of it.

I just don't think that in any scenario it is the job of the receptionist to confront a parent about the cause of absences, especially in the presence of other parents. I find it to be beyond inappropriate and unprofessional to further question the medical necessity of such absences.

When I got home I pulled all the documentation from her doctor supporting each absence. I don't feel like I am under any obligation to provide this to the school and at this point because I am so angry I feel like I want to refuse simply out of principle. However, the other part of me wants to take them in and smack them down on the desk in front of her face and yell, "How do ya like them apples?"

I called my husband and told him the exchange and asked what he thought. He was just as upset and called the Principal immediately who agreed to meet with him tomorrow. I don't want to make a huge deal but I do want the principal to know that the receptionist crossed a line. My husband and I overall have been really pleased with our experience at this school. Our daughter's teacher is great, the principal is visible and consistently responsive, and our daughter LOVES school. Which irks me all the more that someone who is not even directly involved with my child's education is the cause of this sour feeling.

So, I'm interested in your opinion. Are we overreacting? How would you have responded if you were confronted in such a manner?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Hodge-Podge of Thoughts

This week is Spring Break for my daughter. Months ago we had grand plans to take the kids to Disneyland this week, but due to some other circumstances that didn't happen. So, we've tried to do some fun things around town each day. We've gone to the park, an outdoor mall, we saw Rango, and the kids have been able to spend some time with both my mom and grandma. It's really nice to have her home.


This was the week we got to reintroduce milk to our son's diet to see how he responded. It did not go well at all. The horrible skin condition on his mouth flared up after just one exposure, he broke out in a rash, and his nose started running. We gave him a couple more small doses of food containing cow's milk just to be sure, but by the second day he looked terrible so we stopped. We are giving him a couple days to recover but then we are supposed to reintroduce him to peanuts and then soy to gauge the reactions. I'm pretty nervous.


When I was in first grade we lived in Boston. I have terrific memories of living there, going to school, and traveling. A man my dad attended Tufts with lived in New Hampshire with his family and so much of our time there was spent with them. We have photo albums that contain picture after picture of our families at each others homes, at get-togethers, etc. I was six when we left there and their oldest daughter was three. Through the power of Facebook I have come back into contact with her. Facebook bugs me for a variety of reasons, but it's not all bad. After all, it is pretty cool to reconnect with a playmate I had 27 years ago.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Recent Days in Pictures

My husband accompanied our 5 year old daughter to her first Father-Daughter Dance at her school. She had a great time and according to my husband was the first one on the dance floor and she apparently danced her tail off the entire time their were there. Judging by some of the video he shot on his phone, she knows how to get down.The weather is warming up and so the kids have been spending quite a bit of time outside. Here they are swinging at my grandmother's house. While the swing is new the spot where the swing hangs is not. I took my first swing there in utero and grew up swinging on my grandma's porch. Glad that my kids get the opportunity to do that too.
Here in Tucson, the last Thursday and Friday in February we celebrate Rodeo Days. Kids get out of school and there is a literal rodeo in town. When I was a little kid my great-grandmother used to make me and my sister "Rodeo Outfits" that looked similar in nature to the outfit our youngest daughter has on below. When our oldest daughter was 7 months old she celebrated her first "Rodeo Days." I found this outfit at Ross and had to buy it because it reminded me of my great-grandmother's handmade outfits. I kept it and now daughter #2 gets to wear it also.
During one particularly festive Spirit Week there was a Hollywood Day. Since we didn't want to sent our Kindergartener off looking like a hooker ala Lyndsey Lohan or Miley Cyrus we decided to do classy, 50's movie star. She got quite into it and had the whole diva pose down.
I love this picture. It makes me happy just looking at it. Our son is an amazing big brother. He adores his baby sister and is great with her. He's a wonderful kid in general, but seeing him with his sister is amazing. He will make a fantastic father one day.
This picture cracks me up. She was previously sitting on my lap and smiling. When I handed her off she immediately began to scream and kept screaming. We have a sequence of about five photos in which she is in various stages of hysterics, all the while my husband and other daughter are smiling away.
Happy St. Patrick's Day from our house to yours!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Testing for Food Allergies

My poor son's lips started looking like this shortly after he turned one. They started out as just little cracks on one corner of his mouth and shortly thereafter it spread along half of his bottom lip. A few months later it affected his entire bottom lip. Shortly after that it spread to half of his upper lip. We took him to the doctor who thought it was because he licked his lips. We saw multiple dermatologists who said the same thing. They gave us creams, ointments, pills, chapsticks, antibiotics, steroids, anti-fungals, anti-bacterials, prescriptions, over the counters. Everything. Nothing helped and they only seemed to get worse.

After battling it for a year and a half and seeing countless doctors who basically said they had no clue, he was put on a dose of prednisone for asthma difficulties. A few weeks later it cleared up and remained clear for 8 months.

Then in August of 2010 it started coming back. A few weeks later he became very ill with mono and I wondered if the two were related. We went back to the doctor, were assured that it was unlikely they were related and got referred to four different dermatologists who each proved to be less helpful than the last. Our son has battled asthma and seasonal allergy issues for years and as a result also has super sensitive skin. So, I started doing my own research and suspected it may be eczema, triggered by some type of allergy, be it something he comes into contact with regularly or food. So I started making my own laundry detergent, removed the likely environmental culprits, changed his toothpaste.

Around the same time a friend contacted her brother in law (a doctor in another state) on my behalf who took a look at his medical history and the pictures of his lips. He kindly called me and offered some helpful suggestions, one of them being changing his toothpaste, which we had already done, and told us to avoid a few other things he was likely to come into contact with. He mentioned that if none of that helped then it could be a food allergy. When I mentioned this to the four dermatologists here they were quick to dismiss this as a possibility. They assured me this wouldn't be likely all the while I had this nagging feeling that it was related to food. The last dermatologist we saw I asked if he would allergy test him for the most common allergens and he said he did not feel it was necessary. I insisted; he declined.

Occurring concurrently with this was increased sensitivity to so many things he was coming into contact with. The underwear band was causing horrible rashes and hives around his waste. We spent weeks trying to track down underwear that didn't have a rubber band exposed (Thank you H and M). He was having horrible reactions every time we went to visit his great-grandmother. She has an inside dog and his face would break out into hives and swell until his eyes were mere slits each time we'd visit. We knew a dog allergy was unlikely since we have an outside dog at home, but suspected environmental allergies that the dog tracked in along with dog dander. Then, we went to the store to try on bicycle helmets. A few of the ones he tried on had rubber pads inside. A few hours later his head had a horrible rash in the pattern of the way the pads were placed on his head. A few hours after that his face was swollen.

I called his doctor who ordered an epi-pen over the phone and who then called in a referral to an Allergy specialist for the next day. Monday he was tested for 20 different allergens. We go back in six weeks for a more expanded panel. The allergist took one look at his lips and is fairly confident it is a result of a food allergy. The results came back showing he was allergic to a host of environmental things as well as Cow's milk, soybean, and tree nuts.

Our plan is that for the next 4 weeks he can have nothing that contains or has been in contact with any of those items. And let me tell you it was SHOCKING how many food items contain those things. It took us 3 hours at some specialized stores to find him alternatives to regularly consumed foods. Soy or soybean oil is seemingly in everything! After those 4 weeks we should see improvement in his mouth, if in fact a food allergy is causing it. At that point we have to start adding the known allergens back to see if we can figure out which group of foods in triggering the reaction.

Truthfully, it was incredibly disappointing to know that he is allergic to so many things, but it was also a great relief to finally have some type of answer. It seems like I had tried everything with no results and was at whits end. To finally have a glimmer of hope that we might be able to heal and then control this is a huge weight off my shoulders.

So far he is doing well. We replaced his milk with Rice Milk, which he likes. I have made my own bread for him to use with sandwiches. I had to also make my own mayonnaise. He eats a lot of fruit for snacks and as parts of meals so that was good. Many of the Boulder and Kettle chips don't contain allergens so that was also a "treat" for him. There's not a good cheese alternative so for now it has just been eliminated from his diet. We've had luck with the Enjoy Life brand in finding him some snacking food and my husband actually found non-dairy, non-soy, non-tree nuts chocolate chips and I made cookies (using canola oil in place of butter) as a treat that were actually delicious. Better than the regular chocolate chip cookies I usually make actually.

It is definitely an adjustment and may prove to be for life, but it is doable and necessary and he has been great about it. I'm definitely hopeful that his lips will improve and we'll be able to identify the trigger and know to avoid it in the future.

Interestingly, many of the creams I had been rubbing on his lips contained soybean oil. So, all this time while I have been trying to help him I could have inadvertently been causing more problems. My heart is crushed with this realization.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's a Lifestyle

My kids caught the end of iCarly the other day and apparently there was some exchange of dialogue where one character says, "It's just a stupid game" and the next character says, "It's not a game, it's a lifestyle." Well, our 3 year old son has now applied that phrase to EVERYTHING. Anything he is playing is now "not a game, it's a lifestyle."

He was playing with his superheroes the other day and I asked him what game he was playing with them. He looks at me very seriously and says, "Mom, it's not a game. It's a lifestyle."


Sunday, January 23, 2011

In a Split Second

Fear can be crippling. The what if game a paralyzer. It can cause normally sane, rational people to become illogical, irrational, and paranoid. In the wake of what has happened here in Tucson I find myself to be fighting against these slivers of fear that seep into my life. There's that feeling of, "It could have been us." Or, "You never know when or where something like that could happen again."

I don't like it.

I'm generally pretty cautious. I think I have a healthy sense of fear without being paralyzed by it or allowing it to influence my daily life. So, I really don't like that something like this has shattered my illusion of safety. I realize the chances of something like this happening aren't great, but I'm sure no one in that parking lot that morning ever envisioned it either. I guess you really just never know. But lately I find myself struggling with that.

I think twice about taking all the kids with me to the store, opting instead to go myself when my husband can stay with them or sending my husband out himself. I realize as the "freshness" of this incident fades a bit so too will my "fear" but I don't like that in the meantime it is turning me into someone that really isn't me, or that I am allowing it affect me in such a way that makes me feel powerless and not in control. The fact that life can change so drastically in literally seconds is probably the part that really causes me to struggle.

Has something ever hit so close to home and affected you in such a way that you felt yourself altering your usual behavior out of fear of the unlikely?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


We have been a den of sickness 'round these parts since Thanksgiving. It's been one illness after the other, all relatively minor but lasting. Then our older daughter, who is regularly pretty healthy, became really sick a couple of weeks ago. She seemed to get better for a day or two but then got slammed with a really high fever, congestion, sore throat, chills, cough, the whole nine yards! We ended up in Urgent Care today where she tested positive for the flu (Yes, we got a flu shot months ago). So, Tamiflu has been prescribed to the whole family, except that I can't take it because I am breastfeeding and there is nothing safe for our 4 month old so we are just crossing our fingers and praying she gets through this unscathed. It is scary how sick our older daughter has become and how quickly it has happened!

The thing is....I realize people get sick. People can catch germs anywhere: grocery store, library, school, out in public anywhere really. However, I volunteer relatively regularly at my daughter's school and the number of children sent to school sick is high. The school policy is such that a child should stay home if he/she has a fever or any other visible signs of illness outside of minor sniffles. Apparently, I am one of the few parents who actually follows this rule. Each time I have been on that campus and in my daughter's classroom in particular there have been kids with green snot literally dripping out their nose. Last Thursday there was a child sooo sick in her class that when I came home I told my husband that I knew, KNEW, our daughter would be sick within days. (This child sits next to my daughter and was picking his green snot and then reaching into the community supplies that my daughter then used as well). She was sick by Saturday.

My frustration with this is two-fold. First, parents! What the hell are you doing sending your sick kids to school? Second, school officials! Why the hell don't/won't you send them home? I resent the fact that I go to great lengths to make sure I don't send a contagious kid to school and yet I feel like every time I send my healthy child to school I am sending her into a petri dish.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Play dates, Strangers, and other Such Things

I would consider myself a cautious parent, perhaps a tad overprotective. I obviously want my kids to experience things on their own but I also want to ensure that my children are safe and I am not doing anything that could put them into harm's way. An issue that has come up a lot since our daughter has started school is 'after school play dates.'

Prior to this year "play dates" meant either going over to my sister's house so she could play with her cousins, her cousins coming here or getting together with friends I have known for years. She has made some great friends at school and I have little reason to believe any of their parents would wish any harm to befall my child. However, I don't know them. I know that different parents have different philosophies and what might be allowed in their home might not be allowed in ours and vice versa. Our general rule has been, since quite a few of her school friends live in our particular neighborhood, that they can play outside in front of houses, but not in each other's homes. This has worked out well as the few girls she plays with have parents with similar philosophies.

Lately though I have had repeated offers from one of the girl's family members (not her mother, but another member who watches this little girl after school) to have our daughter come over and play. Truthfully I am not comfortable with this at all. They live close to us, but not in our neighborhood and the little interaction I have had with the mother and her husband was uncomfortable enough to give me pause. This family member asked me a week or so ago if my daughter could come over. I explained to her that our general rule was to not allow play dates unless either myself or my husband went as well. She seemed okay with this, however this would also require that I take my son and other daughter over as well, which I don't want to presume is okay with them and frankly, and this sounds bad, but it's more hassle than it's probably worth.

So, any advice on how to handle this? I don't mind going over a couple of times and truthfully if I had a better feeling about the girl's mother and step-father I would not be as nervous about this but we have very different ideas about what is appropriate, etc.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Favorite Gins

I'm not really a drinker......anymore. Primarily because the majority of the past six years I have either been pregnant or breastfeeding. However, my drink of preference is a gin and tonic with a twist of lime. Easy, simple, refreshing!

Over the years I have tried quite a few different brands. With Christmas and my birthday falling within a week of the other I decided to ask for a few bottles of gin: some new brands I have not tasted before and a few other tried and true favorites.

So, here are my preferences:

1. Plymouth Gin: Supposedly the drink of choice for Winston Churchill. It's my favorite! Retails for $25.
2. Tanqueray Ten: London Dry; makes a wonderful gin and tonic. Retails for $23.
3. Hendricks: Infused with cucumber. Often said to be the gin to convert vodka drinkers. Delicious. Retails for $27.
4. Citadelle: Described as the Grey Goose of gin. A solid gin. Retails for $23.
5. Hayman's Old Tom: Much sweeter than traditional dry gin. Nice to have something different every once in a while. Retails for around $20.
6. Beefeater Summer Edition I"m not a fan of Beefeater. However, this is pretty good. Supposedly more botanicals were added for a lighter flavor. It makes a good gin and tonic but the actual recommended mixer is cranberry juice. I'm a fan of cranberry and vodka and was a little leery when I thought of mixing gin with cranberry juice. However, it was surprisingly good. Retails for $25.
7. Tanqueray and Tanqueray Rangpur are both pretty decent gins as is Bombay Sapphire. I know many consider Sapphire to be "The Gin" and while I think it is good I think Plymouth and Ten are better.

On my list to try are Magellan which is a naturally blue gin, Quintessential, G'Vine, Junipero, Bull Dog, Right, and Martin Miller.

So, what is your drink of choice? For those of you who drink gin what do you think of my assessments? Have you tried any of those on my "desired" list?

** All prices are based on current prices at Total Wine.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

MLK, Jr. Goes to South Park

Our daughter, who is in Kindergarten, came home from School on Friday with this picture. She made it in class and was incredibly proud as she explained, "Martin Luther King Jr. is a Jr. because his dad was named Martin Luther King. He's important because he said that people look different on the outside but we're all the same on the inside. And he had a wish (I think she meant a dream). So, I made this picture. He's really considered black but he looks kinda brownish so I used brown paper. Plus if I used black, his suit is black too, and you wouldn't be able to really see him."

My husband says it looks like a South Park character. Since he has said that neither one of us can stop laughing (only when aforementioned daughter is well out of ear shot).

So what do you think? South Park?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Giffords Shooting In Tucson

I am sad. So sad. I live in Tucson. I live just a few miles away from where the horrific shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, members of her staff, and my fellow citizens occurred. We frequent other establishments in that parking lot weekly. People use words like "safe" and "upscale" which just goes to show you that these things can happen anywhere, safe and upscale or not. Like most in the nation right now, we cannot wrap our brains around the senselessness of this tragedy.

This morning I took my daughter to the dentist and then out for a milk shake. As we were pulling out of the parking lot I was overcome with unbelievable sadness. Sadness that literally made my heart ache. I thought that there is a mother in this city right now that will never again get to do something as mundane as taking her daughter to the dentist and out for milk shakes. That's the thing about parenting. It is those little things that we take for granted that I imagine those who have lost children miss the most. Tucking them into bed, making them breakfast, cuddling with them while watching a movie. Things that we never imagine will be our last time doing with/for our children. Heartbreaking is the only word that comes to mind, although I feel that word grossly understates the tragedy of it all. How someone loses a child and is then able to get up the next day and put one foot in front of the other is nothing short of miraculous. I don't know that I could do it.

I think about the people who were out going about their business only to be violently gunned down. I think about the judge who has left 5 poor children without a grandfather and how deep that absence will be felt. I think about the adult children who lost parents and how painful that would be if I were to lose mine. I also just can't fathom how miraculous it is that Giffords is alive, let alone responding to commands and can't help but get my hopes up for a recovery and "normal" life again for her, however unlikely that may seem at the time. I also think constantly about the heroes who stopped the gunman from causing further bloodshed. I can't predict how I would react in a situation such as that. I would like to think I would do something to stop the shooting, but honestly I don't know if I would have the guts, strength, bravery, or resolve.

There is political rhetoric on both sides, finger pointing and blame. Frankly, I don't think political rhetoric and asinine accusations have any place in this terrible tragedy. Lives were lost, people in this community and across the nation are shocked and devastated and really all we should be doing is praying for these families. Or if you are not the praying kind, wishing them well, sending good thoughts/vibes, hoping for recovery and healing. Tucson is still "small town" in many ways (admittedly not all those ways are good) and that fact never becomes more evident than in times of tragedy and strife. People come together. I just hope that the politics that people are infusing don't tear us apart.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Greasy Center Mom

I volunteered in my daughter's Kindergarten class today. Those kids are a crack-up. When I got there they were about to say the Pledge of Allegiance. The "Pledge Leader" takes his (a boy was this week's pledge leader) job very seriously and you can tell all the other kids do too as they give him his proper respect as he begins.
Last night as we were driving home I told my husband I needed to shower so I wouldn't have to do it in the morning. Our daughter says, "Yeah, you don't want to be a greasy 'Center Mom'." True dat! So I took my non-greasy self to her school this morning to help out and hang out with the kiddies.

One little girl tells me that she is going to go to Disneyland once her mom graduates from college. Then quickly says, "But that'll never happen. She has HUNDREDS of days left." Another kid was trying to say "I know who your daughter is" but kept tripping up on her words so she finally said, "I know who your sweetheart is."

A little boy had to hold my hand the entire time I read to him and then patted my hand when I was finished. Like I'd done an adequate job for him. :)

I'm trying to get in the classroom once a week. It's hard with an infant who is breastfed because I can't be gone for too long and having someone to care for her is inconsistent. But I am glad I got to go today and the look on my daughter's face and the million hugs and kisses I got when I arrived and left was sooooo worth it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

In Which I Make the Tooth Fairy a Pimp

Our daughter lost her first tooth a couple of days ago. She put it in a special container on her dresser and the next morning woke up to find a whopping $1.75 which she promptly spent on a bag of Starburst at the Dollar Store.

In September during her routine dental visit the dentist noticed that her two bottom permanent teeth were growing in behind her "baby" teeth. He wanted to give them around 3-4 months to fall out on their own; if they didn't, he'd have to pull them. Well, it's been three months and the one tooth isn't even loose and her permanent tooth is almost completely in.

Anyway, I was telling her today that we may have to have it pulled. The conversation that ensued left me feeling total unqualified. Also, my daughter is going to figure out pretty soon that I'm full of it.

Daughter: "Mom, where does the tooth fairy get all money?"
Me: "Um, I guess she just has it."
Daughter: "Mom, she can't just have it. It has to come from somewhere." (man, she's been paying too close attention to my conversations with my husband).
Me: "Well, I guess she gets it from her boss." (at this point I can tell the conversation is not going to just drop off with simple answers).
Daughter: "Okay, so what does she do with all the teeth she takes?"
Me: "I suppose she keeps them."
Daughter: "That doesn't make sense. Why would she want teeth?"
Me: (beginning to panic a little bit now....racking my brain trying to think of something, anything to say) "Actually she sells them to a man who collects teeth and then he gives her money."
Daughter: "Then she gives us the money?"
Me: "Exactly!"

Yeah, I'm going to hell for lying. It's all fun and games until she goes to school and tells her friends that the tooth fairy sold her teeth to the man who collects them and then she got paid. It's like the tooth fairy has become some sort of pimp.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


2010 has come to an end. It's bittersweet. In many regards 2010 was a fantastic year (the birth of our third child comes to mind) and in others it has been incredibly difficult and disappointing. Overall, I am glad to be "starting fresh" in a sense. New Years Eve was my birthday. I turned thirty, ahem, THREE! Yikes. I pretty much quit celebrating my birthday once I passed 30. It just got depressing to keep recognizing the fact that I was getting OLD. So, we stayed around the house, went out for frozen yogurt and called it a night. I barely made it to midnight and really only did so because I was up with the baby. Yeah me!

So, how was your New Years? What did you do?