Thursday, December 17, 2009

Celebrating Christmukah

e with her menorah (I can't figure out how to turn this right side up!)

E climbing the ladder at the rock wall climbing gym


e out sledding last weekend

E and e in front of our tree.

I have been taking every opportunity to take inventory of all the gifts and do some wrapping. I'm done shopping for the kids and pretty much done shopping for my friends' gifts. It's a challenge to get everything right. Eight gifts each for Hanukah, then at least three for Christmas. Every year, I say I'm not going to go overboard. Every year, I think I do! The Hanukah gifts are not all big. They get one big one and the rest are little or medium sized gifts. The important thing is that the each gets the same number!

E's big Hanukah gift was a DSi. He LOVES it. I didn't even think about the fact that it is a huge investment! The DSi itself is not cheap, but then you have to buy lots of games! At about $20-$30 a pop that really adds up fast! I guess the games will have to come slowly.

e's big Hanukah gift was a talking doll - Amazing Allyson. Allyson responds to your voice, can talk to you, do what you tell her, you can play games with her and even have somewhat of a conversation with her. Voice recognition is a pretty amazing thing. So, yesterday I had to go out of town for a meeting. I got back around 9:00 last night to find a note on the table from E. It said something like this: Mommy, I'm sorry I ruined e's toy. I know you work hard to buy us nice presents and I will appreciate that more in the future. Apparently, E and e decided to decapitate Amazing Allyson! A $50 doll goes right into the trash. I guess the babysitter had a conversation with them about how Mommy has to work to buy them presents (not sure what she was doing during the decapitation process). You can bet the kids and I had a similar conversation about respecting each others toys!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

She Has a Zucchini!

The kids sometimes say the funniest things. Two days later, (even sometimes two hours later!) I can't remember what they said. So, I'm going to try to document them...I'll add to this as I think about it.

1. 12/8/09 we were watching tv and a cartoonized commercial comes on. Some of the women in the commercial had on bathing suits. e says "that lady needs to put a top on!" E says "No, she has a zucchini!" Yes, zucchini and bikini are pretty close!

2. several months ago we were driving past a cemetery...e says "look mom, that's where people get married!"


Monday, December 7, 2009

Living in a Quaint Town


There are so many things that make this town very strange to me (see earlier post - The Local View http://theeshaveit.blogspot.com/2009/08/things-i-see-in-central-pennsylvania.html), and yet so many things that make it so quaint. Last week I took the kids on a horse and buggy ride to dinner. The University sponsors the horse and buggies to get the students to go downtown for holiday shopping. So, I took advantage of the opportunity. The kids had a blast. We got on the buggy and rode it downtown, had dinner, enjoyed the sites a little, but it was pretty cold out, so we rode the buggy back to campus. It was a lot of fun and something I look forward to doing with them each year.

Some big news...Last weekend I had a date....I know those of you who actually know me are now reading very attentively....maybe even those of you who don't know me very well. I joined eHarmony about six months ago. Corresponded with one guy for awhile and at the last minute he decided there was something in my profile that didn't sit well with him. Coincidentally, this was the same time that I told him that I used anonymous donors for my children and that I had never been married. So, I waited awhile and was recently contacted by someone else (I decided not to be the aggressor here and just be open to meeting people). Recently, I was contacted by another man, I'm going to call him Rodney. I call him Rodney because he kind of reminded me of Rodney Dangerfield! Not so much the looks department, but his accent...they must have both grown up around the corner from each other.

If you read Care's posts, you will note that awhile back she gave an overview of what it's like to do online dating...and how truthful men are...or are not. So, here are the details. The date was okay. I actually really enjoyed his company, but of course there are always some things that hit the radar. He was definitely older than he claimed. Okay, not a big deal...He was severely overweight...I don't know that I have the right to complain about this given that I need to lose quite a bit of weight, too. I am actually going through the process of getting bariatric surgery soon, so I'm looking forward to losing all that excess weight. I am at the lowest end of being accepted for the surgery so it's not like have have 200 pounds to lose. I think Rodney does - or close to it. Still, I wanted to keep an open mind. Personality should be the most important thing.

He's been extremely successful. He told me about how with his last company he had two planes, an 18000 square foot house, was number 8 on Inc's list of successful companies, palled around with Ronald Reagan, the whole uber-rich thing. A series of events in his personal life led him to have to be Mr. Mom for several years which, along with the recession of the 80s, caused his company to tank. He says he lost everything. Now, "everything" I think is quite different from what most people think. Meanwhile, he drives a car that costs well over $100k and has three more fairly expensive cars at home. He has five kids, four of which are his biologically, the fifth one he adopted. An interesting story but suggests his values are in the right place.

So, I've agreed to go out with him again, although I don't see any chemistry between us. I also think that chemistry is sometimes something that develops over time, so that is why I want to give him a chance. At this point in my life, though, I'm not one to put up with a lot of BS...I say it how it is. I'm going to gently encourage him to lose some weight next time I see him. Not so much for appearances, but mostly for his health. I really don't want to get involved with someone who is going to be dead in five years.

Monday, November 23, 2009

One Hundred Hugs

E LOVES to get dressed up...he said he looked like a "man."

e, showing off her face paint last weekend.

E at Tae-Kwon-Do practice

I measured E again this weekend, and he's grow another almost two inches in the last three months. He is six years old and one month and is four feet two inches tall. e has also grown over the past few months but has not hit her big growth spurts yet. Still, she is tall for her age. I am raising a couple of giants.

Saturday mornings are the one time we can sleep in. The kids often end up in my bed at some point during the night anyway, so we get to do a little cuddling in the morning, instead of me trying to get them out of bed and ready for school. This past Saturday, E came in to snuggle with me and decided to give me a hundred hugs. So sweet. When we got to about 50, I asked if the hugs came with kisses...and, they did! So, fifty more hugs with kisses. I need to figure out how to bottle that sweetness so I can pour it on him when he turns 13.

Saturday afternoon I took E and e along with a couple of the neighborhood girls to a local playground. Usually, this playground gets a pretty good clientele, but there were these two women there with their kids who were clearly from the other side of the tracks. When we got there, I kept hearing one of them yelling at her son, calling him a liar, and just barking orders at him. The two moms just sat on the bench while their kids (I think there were a total of four of them) played.

At one point the two girls (C & M, who are in fourth grade) that I brought were going on one of the slides and one of the woman's daughter, we'll call the daughter PB (because she had a plumber's butt), kept telling the other kids not to follow her. C & M, of course just told her that they just wanted to go on the slide. When I saw that there were some problems brewing, I went over and quietly told C, M and E to go on the bigger slides which were better anyway. I could tell that, as I was going over there to talk to them, the mom gave me a really dirty look. She obviously thought I was going to say something to her kid...and obviously she has to defend her kid often! So, C, M and E went onto the bigger slides. A little while later, PB decided to go on the bigger slides, too. She blocked the entrance to the slide and it was clear from the looks on all the kids faces that something was going on. So, I went over and asked if everything was okay. PB said yes and I told all the kids that the slides were for everyone to use. PB went down the slide and the others followed but didn't want to go on the slide anymore now that PB was there. That's when PB's mom comes over to me and tells me that she would appreciate it if I wouldn't tell her daughter what to do. I was a little confused so I told her that I didn't tell her what to do when the mom says that PB told her that I told her to get off the slide. So I told the mom what really happened, but it was clear there was no trying to rationalize with this woman. So, she said, "well, just don't talk to my daughter again." Okay, I won't talk to your daughter anymore.

WTF? At that point, I told all the kids that it was time to leave because we didn't want to stay where there were mean people. It was clear that PB was telling stories the whole time we were there. At one point, she was pointing to e and saying to her mom that e did something. Come on! What is a three year old going to do? The kids were constantly lying, using bad words, and just not playing well. The moms were encouraging the bad behavior, so it just wasn't worth staying around and watching a bad situation get worse.

THEN, Sunday afternoon I was in a store trying to buy some holiday gifts. I was at the end of an aisle and another woman was going towards me. Both of our carts didn't fit well, so (since were were just about a foot from the end of the aisle) I said that it might be easier if she moved back (into the open area). She said she was going in my direction, so I said okay and we continued to maneuver our carts until we could pass each other. That's when her daughter (probably around 18 years old or so) says "that was totally rude!" Again, WTF? Is it the holidays that bring out these crazies? Am I wearing some kind of label on my forehead that says if you're crazy, come interact with me? I always feel like saying something like "Merry fu*%ing Christmas to you, too" to them.....but I think I might get decked.

I will take one hundred hugs any day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Meeting

So, I met with the President of the University yesterday. Since I only had a half hour with him, I knew many of my points would either not be made, or lost since it was was so hurried. I put together a five page letter that outlined the reasons why he should not go with the Committee's recommendation not to grant my Sabbatical.

Two of my main arguments were that there are no examples of successful petitions available to look at. When I went up for tenure, there were several examples of successful tenure packages in the library. I could look at them as a guide to give me an idea of how much information to include in my package. There are no such guides when it comes to letters requesting Sabbatical. But, I felt my strongest argument was the fact that the Committee's reasons for turning me down had nothing to do with what is listed in the Faculty Handbook as reasons to grant Sabbatical. Their reasons all focused on wanting more detail about why I chose Australia. In the Faculty Handbook, there is no reference to the fact that I need to justify the location I choose.

I still think it was an inside job and I have a pretty good feeling who led the charge against me. I am not at all confident that he will go against the Committee, though. I just don't think he has the spine, even though I tried to give him plenty of easy outs in my letter. I have a strong feeling I'm going to have to file a grievance on this one. I still may not be successful, but I think I need to scream loudly on this one...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ready For The Good

My new backsplash

I think it's true that bad luck comes in threes. My first bit of bad luck is still a little personal to discuss here, but number two and three came quickly thereafter. The Faculty Personnel Committee denied my petition for a sabbatical for the Spring of 2011. This REALLY pissed me off because they did not deny it for concrete reasons like we don't have the money, or we can't cover the classes while I'm gone. They said there was not enough information in it. So why the f#@k didn't they ask for more information!? They wanted more information on the research that I will be doing, why I chose Australia, and why this location helps with internationalism. Okay, isn't the answer to that last question fairly obvious? And I did tell them what research I'd be doing and why I chose Australia. All legitimate reasons. But, even if it wasn't enough information, why wouldn't they just come back and ask for more? That just really pisses me off. So, now I have a plan to meet with the President of the University. The Personnel Committee just makes a recommendation to him. Of course, he's never overturned their recommendations, but I'm hoping there's a first for everything. His decision is final. If he doesn't overturn it, I plan to file a grievance. This is so trivial, yet it could lead to such dissatisfaction on my part.

Number three....E got a little rash on his head last week...it turned out to be a fungus. So, I just put some antifungal cream on it and it was gone overnight. I broke out in a rash on my back and side at the same time. So, I figured it was the same fungus and treated it the same. Only mine got worse. I finally went to the doctor yesterday who confirmed I have shingles. If you've never had it before, I hope you never do! It feels like a constant jellyfish sting...itchy and stingy pain at the same time. She gave me some medication to help control it and some vicadin for the pain...apparently, I just have to let it run it's course since there is no cure.

I'm ready for more GOOD news!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Proud Mom

e and E at Homecoming

E and e for Halloween. E was a ninja and e was an angel...but also a goldfish for trick-or-treating.

I met with E's teacher yesterday to get his grades. Academically, he is doing outstanding! He got A's in 15 of 17 categories. In kindergarten, A's mean "Advanced." There were a couple areas where he needed work, but even between the time the report card was filled out and I met with his teacher, one of those other categories had been mastered. I was SO proud of him! When we got home last night, I gave him a very serious look and told him that I needed to speak to him. I told him that I had met with his teacher to see how he was doing. E looks at me and he says with a big smile "I did goooood." I laughed and told him he didn't just to good, he did GREAT! So, I gave him $5 to put in his piggy bank and told him he could go anywhere he wanted for dinner the next night. So, tonight we are going out for Japanese. He wanted to pay with his $5 but I insisted he put it in his bank.

While we were at the mall last night, e said she wanted to get her ears pierced. So, off we went! She hardly flinched when they put the earrings in. I just hope she keeps them in! They really look adorable. E said he wanted to get his ear pierced, too, but I told him he can do it when he turns 18. It sounds like a double standard, probably, to him...and very hard to explain why he can't get his pierced when e can. Of course, there are also other boys his age and younger who have their ears pierced which makes it even more difficult to explain. Hopefully, he'll get past this one quickly!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Counting

Well, I think I'm finally starting to see the end of this stupid flu. Almost two weeks and my chest is still congested and I'm still tired. UGH! I don't know how people with chronic illnesses do it. All I want to do is rest. I feel so bad that I just can't keep up with the kids. Thank goodness I'll be back to full energy soon.

e likes to count....a lot. I don't think it's an obsession in an autistic way. I think she just likes to count. I have a hard time getting her to go to sleep at night. At daycare, they still let her nap for a couple hours during the day. I have asked them to not let her sleep, but the most they will do is wake her up early. On days when she has an hour nap, she'll go to sleep around 9:00 or so. On days when she takes the full two hour nap, I can't get her to go to sleep until about 10:30. So, when we all lay down to go to sleep (I lay down with them until they fall asleep), E is out pretty quickly and e just wants to fool around. She knows she has to be quiet so E can sleep, so she always asks if she can count "in her head." Well, she hasn't quite gotten it that "in your head" means silently. So she whispers.

At her three year check-up, the doctor seemed really surprised that she could count to 12. Now, she can count really well. She can count to 29 without help, and then she just needs help figuring out which set of numbers comes next. She'll say ...28, 29...then wait for me to give her 30. Then she'll count to 39 and wait for me to give her 40. When she says her 30s and 40s they sound the same, so she always says "again?" when I say 40. I keep trying to tell her that 30 and 40 are different, but I guess since she can't hear a difference when she says it, she doesn't get that there is a difference. When we get to 100, she has figured out that we need to start again. I wonder if all this counting is helping her math skills. It appears to be helping her logic skills at the very least.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Birthday Party That Was...And Wasn't

Well, last Wednesday, I started to come down with something...feels like the flu, but I'm being told it was not H1N1...but he didn't do a swab. I had the fever, the sore throat and congestion, but not the aches...with all this paranoia about H1N1, when I went to the doctor's on Thursday, I was given a mask to wear in the office. I kind of felt like a leper! He gave me an antibiotic and some (really great) cough medicine to help me sleep at night. Here it is Monday, and I still feel like crap!

The two most challenging parts about being a single mom are trying to keep an eye on my children while in public places, and being sick. When I don't have the energy to keep up with them, or even get out of bed, for that matter, things are really tough. I slept all day Thursday and Friday...luckily, one of my friends picked up the kids from school and kept them for an hour or so before dropping them off at home. It's good to have good friends to help out when things are tough!

Saturday, I was still having trouble getting out of bed, but E's birthday party was scheduled for that evening. I put E in the shower and e in the tub to get them clean. E is finally doing everything for himself in the shower, so I didn't have to worry about him, but once I got e in the tub, I didn't have the energy to get her clean! So, I just laid down on my bed and let her soak for awhile. Then E comes out of the shower and says that he'll wash e's hair for me. How sweet. He got her all washed and dried and even helped to get her dressed.

Then E started complaining that he didn't feel well! Oh no...not on party day! He was running a temperature of over 102. I had no way to get in touch with all the party-goers, so I had to let the party go on. I decided to just tell people as they came in and let them make their own decision as to whether to stay or not.

E gets to the party, puts his bowling shoes on, and is all excited to get going when he breaks down and says that he wants to go home and that he's just not feeling well. And he was still running a fever, even after giving him some tylenol. So, I packed all the presents into the car and told everyone to please stay for the party even though E wouldn't be there. I had already paid for the lanes and ordered the pizza, so they may as well enjoy it. That was that...E had a wonderful birthday party (so I hear) without him. Poor guy.

His fever broke yesterday and was feeling fine, so he went back to school today. Phew. Glad he's feeling better. Still keeping my fingers crossed that e doesn't get what either of us went through!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Like Trying To Herd Cats

For my own sanity, I try to make sure the weekends are full of activities...especially in the winter. Around here, there is very little to do once the snow falls and the days get shorter. The kids have swimming lessons on Saturday morning...this weekend was the last lesson until after the new year. Saturday afternoon, e started her dance class. She loves it, but it's a challenge to keep E occupied for the hour while we watch. Before her class, we spent a couple hours at my office to get some pictures of the kids. A friend of mine needed to take some medical looking pictures of kids getting shots to help promote her company. So, she asked if E and e could be the models. The kids had fun, but were well sugared by the time we finished!

Finding things we can all do together and where I can watch them to make sure they are safe is a challenge...I can't be in two places at once. I avoid taking them to amusement parks by myself because E is a runner...I turn my head for a split second and he is off. I can't run after him and watch e at the same time, so those kinds of activities have been off limits for awhile. E is starting to get better at staying close to me, but he still runs off. Only once have I had to call security (at a mall) to help me find him, but there have been plenty of other times that I was REALLY thankful I had a second set of eyes watching him and keeping up with him.

So, after e's dance class on Saturday, we went to a small local Fall Festival. I should have known the kids would be tired and that the sugar would take effect. Usually, they don't have bad reactions to sugar, but I think the fatigue was starting to kick in, too. As soon as we got there, we got some hot dogs and pizza for lunch. e ate half of her hot dog and them gave it to me. E looked at his pizza and said he didn't like it...these kinds of things make me crazy. I just bought the pizza...couldn't he have told me he didn't want it before I bought it rather than insisting that that's what he wanted? I waste enough food in a week to feed Somalia, I think! Actually, he is getting better, but it still makes me nuts! So, I gave E e's half of a hotdog. Then e claims that she wasn't done with it and she wants it back. But, E dropped it on the ground, so then neither one got it. Then e didn't want to share her french fries with E even after I told her that they were for everyone. So, E and e started fighting over the fries. You know, of course, what happens next. Yes, all the fries end up on the ground, too. So, after all the arguments about the fries, the hotdog and there were some arguments are who is sitting where, I said it was time to go.

Well, you would have thought I had just cut up her favorite stuffed animal. NOOOOOOOOO, I DON'T WANT TO GO HOME! The two of them started to run away from me as I was trying to get them into the car. It was like trying to herd cats. E is running in one direction while e is running in the other. I finally catch E and put him in the car while keeping my eye on e (luckily, the car was close by!). e continues to cry and scream that she doesn't want to go home. I go back to get her and chase her around the pizza stand a few times before a finally catch her. You can imagine how entertaining we were to everyone sitting and watching. Me running in one direction and then the other, trying to catch a screaming three year old. I found it pretty funny, too, which makes it more difficult to discipline them!

When I finally get her back to the car, E is hiding. So, after finding him and calming them down, we had a little talk about behaving and hiding and left the festival. Phew.

Sunday mornings we have Sunday school. When e is in the more advanced class, this will be a great time for me to have a couple hours to myself. Right now, though, she likes me to stay with her. So, I help around the temple. We tried another festival after Sunday school with much better success. The kids had a great time, then it was off to rock wall climbing (a regular post-Sunday school event) for a couple hours, then to a reptile show with a gourd hunt. A very busy Sunday but the kids were great. E's birthday party is this coming weekend, so that should keep them busy on Saturday! I got more RSVPs but still only about half at most.

Oh, and Bugsy died...he is now buried next to Redhead...maybe my flowers will grow better in the Spring.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Party-Goers

Okay, E's birthday is coming up next week and I'm having his party next weekend, the 17th -- a Spongebob party at the bowling alley. I sent out about 30 invitations. The RSVP date was today and I think I've heard from about five people so far. WTH? How am I supposed to plan a party when people don't RSVP. Do I just assume they are coming? Assume that half of them will come? Now, I know people are busy, but come on! All they have to do is send me an email or give me a call. Maybe I sent the invitation out too early, but I figured three weeks was about the right time. I guess it's also enough time for people to forget about RSVPing. Maybe I'll have twenty phone messages on my machine when I get home. Ugh. Well, the good thing is that instead of goodie bags, this year, I got Target gift cards. I bought 23...hopefully, that will be enough. If it's too many, I can always use them myself. Ordering the pizza will be a challenge, though....

Monday, October 5, 2009

Go Fish

Thanks to everyone for the condolences. In the Jewish religion, it is customary to bury a person within 24 hours of their death, or as close to that time as possible. So, her funeral was on Friday. Funerals are always a great time to see people you haven't seen in a long time. I saw some people I haven't seen in probably 30 or more years. She had quite an impact on so many.

When I returned home, I found we had two new pets for the house. A friend of mine, who had been watching the kids while I was away, bought E two fish - a white one with an orange head and a black one. They are appropriately named Redhead and Bugsy...Bugsy because the fish looks like it is bug-eyed. They apparently didn't last the night before they made it back to our house, though. I got a call from my friend saying they were sick (she was on speakerphone in the car, so the kids could hear her) and that she was going back to the store to get them some medicine. I guess the two fish she returned with looked very similar to the original two because E didn't know the difference. Hopefully, these two will last a little longer!

UPDATE Oct. 6: Redhead went belly up during the day. We buried him (her?) last night in the garden. E dug a hole and put some rocks on top for the gravestones. Then we said some words..."Redhead, you were a good fish. You were a good swimmer and a good pet. We loved you and we'll miss you. Goodbye, Redhead." E didn't know quite what to say, so he asked me to go first. After I gave my little epitaph, he said something similar and we went inside to eat dinner (don't worry, it wasn't fish!). He went out ten minutes later to check on Redhead...who was still dead....and say some more words. Very cute.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Circle of Life


e with Aunt A -- taken about a month and a half ago.

My aunt is on her deathbed. All of her children (except for one, and I can't figure that one out) have gathered for the vigil. She has been slowly withering away in the Hospice ward in the hospital for about five days now. She can no longer talk and just slowly goes downhill every day.

She is the last one of her generation. It's always weird to see an entire generation die. My dad (her brother) passed away six years ago. I was three months pregnant with my first child and he didn't even know. It was a very emotional time for me. One of their sisters died just before dad, from cancer. She had fought it for many years and just decided it wasn't worth the fight anymore. I think she was probably in her mid to late 70s. Dad was 88 so he lived a good life. Always healthy right up to the end. He had a brother who died probably in his 60s and my aunt, who is now in the hospital, just turned 84 a few days ago. Not the greatest way to spend a birthday, but at least she hit it.

In just less than two weeks, it will be 11 years since my mom passed away. Watching her die was, by far, the most painful thing that has ever happened in my life. She fought diabetes and heart disease for so many years. In the end, we took turns taking care of her, bathing her, feeding her, helping her go to the bathroom. It just really sucks getting old. Eleven years later and I still think of her pretty much every day. I still want to pick up the phone and call her...tell her about what the kids are doing...tell her about my day...tell her how much I love her. When she died, she was the last of her generation, too. No more of her brothers and sisters around.

Aunt A. (the one in the hospital) was always one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen. Even after five kids, she had a beautiful figure. In her old photo albums, I see her on her safaris in Africa...she looks just like a young Katherine Hepburn, but even more beautiful. Even as she age, she was one of the most beautiful women. I always wondered why she didn't go into modeling or something like that. I will always remember her that way and the wonderful things we did together.

When she was younger, my father gave her a book for her tenth birthday. Inside, he wrote her a poem. She has since framed the book (so we can't tell what book it is) to have the poem as a keepsake. Here is the poem (I believe my dad was 20 at the time):

9/27/1935
To A on her 10th birthday. From S.

To A in rounding out half a score:

From now till when
You are three-score-and-ten,
May this book's light
Guide your steps right;
For after the biblical three-score-and-ten,
You'll be what is known as "just an old hen."
And though surrounded by wine, men, and song,
If you stood on your ear, you couldn't do wrong.
The moral of this pretty ditty
Is live and laugh; be gay, be witty.
So that when your life is claimed by the reaper,
Every friend will be a weeper -
Weeping not because you are dead -
But ended is the pleasant life you led.

As I have written this, apparently she has passed away. Earlier this morning with some family by her side.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Learning Italian

It's beginning to look like we will be spending more and more time in Italy. I'm hoping we will be able to spend most of our summers there in the future. I usually have a standing offer to teach over there, and I am putting together a cross-cultural immersion trip for the students at my university. The plan is to go there shortly after the semester ends in the summer, and spend a month or so there...until I have to return to run my summer camp in July. The kids will go to camp while I work. Beginning this summer, E will be old enough to go to camp in Italy.

So, it's time for the kids to learn Italian. It will be very difficult for E to go to an Italian camp if he can't communicate with the other kids and instructors. Last night, the kids had their first Italian lesson. I hired one of my students to come over for an hour or two every week to spend time speaking to the kids in Italian. She is their Italian babysitter, and as far as they are concerned, she speaks absolutely no English.

It looks like the first night went well. They totally believe she is Italian and they even learned a few words here and there. I'm learning some, too! I'm going to try to do some more online, like Rosetta Stone, so I can get up to speed, too. This should be fun!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Just Busy!


The goats LOVED to eat clothes!
E hanging from a tree.
These are some random pictures from a visit to the zoo we took
this month to meet up with one of E's half siblings.


I have been very negligent on my posting. Things have been pretty busy at work, and I never have any time to myself in the evenings. This past weekend we met up with one of E's half siblings and her mom. I really love them both and consider them part of our family. As E and e grow up, I hope they see them the same way. I told E that the girl's mom had used the same donor that I used, and he just said "Oh yeah. I remember them." We see each other about once a year. It seems a year goes by so fast. Hopefully, we'll have time to see each other more often in the future! We had a great time together.

Things have been busy with work, too. I have several events that I'm planning this semester. Last year, I got a fairly large grant from the State. I have to spend the money by the end of this semester! While it sounds really great to have received the grant, it's a LOT of work to spend the money! I used part of the money to start a company (this was part of the grant process). I hired a company in India to make my web page and they have been really great. However, I don't know enough about web design to know what I'm missing. I've been at a road block for several months now and feeling very frustrated. I finally found someone local to help walk me through the process so I know what to tell the Indian company to do. Phew. Let's hope it's finished in the next couple of weeks so I can move on to the next phase! I still need to change the company address to a PA company, trademark the name, and do some email blasts...all after the testing phase. I'll keep you updated.

Finding extracurricular activities is always a challenge around here. We live in the middle of nowhere. E does not want to do soccer, e will be old enough to start soccer in the Spring. On Monday, I started E with Tae Kwon Do. It only meets once a week, but he seemed pretty happy with it, so we'll continue. I thought e might want to try it, too, but her attention span just wasn't there yet.

E LOVES rock wall climbing, though. When we were in Italy this past summer, he tried it and was clearly a natural. I finally found a place about thirty minutes away that has some good walls, so we'll try that soon...maybe this week, we can start to get into some sort of schedule there. They don't have any classes for E's age, but at least we can get some practice in and see what else they can offer. e is now starting to want to do something, too....I thought the Tae Kwon Do would work with her, but no luck....maybe we'll try a dance class.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Bad....But THEY'RE Bad, Too....

Okay, I made a mistake. We are probably the only university in the United States that has classes on Labor Day. The local schools and daycares, of course, are closed. So, every year I find myself trying to figure out whether to cancel classes or find coverage for my kids. Over the last two or three years the daycare (which also has the after school program for E) has agreed to be open for the University people who need child care (and who are already getting care at the center). We pay our regular rate, and the University has agreed to pay the over-time for those who get called in (obviously, the University noticed that we were all canceling our classes that day). The center agreed that E could come this year, as well, but not next year since he will be in first grade at that time. Okay, fine. There are usually a total of about six kids who go in on Labor Day.

So, I did not read the memo clearly that said we would have child care until 4:30. I got a call at 4:45 to pick up the kids. I apologized profusely and was at the center to pick them up less than ten minutes later. My bad. I should have read the memo more clearly. The two girls who were watching the kids didn't seem overly bothered by the whole thing.

The next morning, I get this email:

Leann,

It came to my attention this morning that you picked up yesterday twenty-five minutes after the agreed upon end time for the Labor day child care (4:30). A staff member had to call you to remind you about the pick-up time and when you arrived you stated that you thought care was available until 5:30. I've been assured that the correct start and end times for care yesterday were communicated to all participating SU families. Your late pick up and lack of attention to the details of this special day of child care service created unnecessary hardship for our staff. SUMCD reserves the right NOT to provide Labor Day services to your family next year, our decision will depend upon your compliance with parent policies during the coming 12 months.

Thank you,
Bob L*ng
Center Director


Okay, I was assured by the girls that I did not cause unnecessary hardship. They indicated that they had nowhere they had to be and were consequently not late for anything as a result of my tardiness. Also keep in mind that Bob is not one of my favorite people. I think he's a total bozo, so when I get things like this, it really pisses me off. I made a mistake. Get over it. I've been using the center for over five years now and have never been late. I make a simple mistake and all of a sudden, I'm being threatened that my behavior will be monitored for the next year.

As a management expert, I am so tempted to say something to him. Something that makes it clear to him that this is not a great way to treat one of your best customers. I pay my bills on time, I pay full price for the services, I'm never late, my kids are good. Writing a nastygram and threatening me because of one incident just pisses me off and makes me more unhappy with the center (and him). I'll probably just leave it, but he just continues with the stupidity. Am I being overly sensitive because I got nailed for something I did wrong (and to make it worse, from someone who I think is a total idiot)? I hope not. I just think it was the wrong way to handle the situation.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Random Thoughts About Discipline

Does anyone else think that sometimes they are too hard on their kids? Or too soft? Sometimes I think I'm too hard on them, other times, not hard enough. Okay, my house is always a mess, so I don't think I'm hard enough on them to clean up after themselves (thank goodness for the cleaning women!). On some things, though, or sometimes, I think I'm too hard. I often wonder if it's just the mood I happen to be in, or is it because I have to be hard sometimes since I don't have another authority figure to fall back on.

For instance, last night when I was trying to get the kids to go to bed, they were running around being crazy...like kids. I'm so thankful that they get along so well and love to play with each other, but I have a low tolerance for the multitude of delays that occur at bedtime. I'm hungry is always a big one, I have to brush my teeth (for the fourth time), I have to get this, I have to get that, there's always something else that keeps us up for another hour. I always lay down with them in E's room to read at least one chapter of the book we are reading. Right now, we are reading Lost On The Moon. It's an old book, probably written in the 40's or earlier, but as adventurous as 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (which is coming up on our reading list - can you tell I'm loving the free books I get on my Kindle?).

I asked if they were ready for me to start the chapter and they said yes. They were both laying down ready to listen. Then E had to go to the bathroom - for the third time in fifteen minutes. Another delay. e, of course, has to go with him. I continue to read, then they start fooling around. Since they are not listening to the book, I asked e to turn off the light (her job every night since she can now reach it). E freaks out and says he will listen now. He continued to cry about hearing more from the book and that he will now listen. Sometimes, I think I should budge on things, but most of the time, I know I should stick to my guns. I think E was really over-tired at this point, because he just got more and more upset - to the point where I had to tell him that we were going to leave the room to give him some time for time-out. Five minutes later, he was calm and ready to listen to me tell him to go to sleep. I told him that if he was good, I would read the rest of the chapter AND the next chapter the next night. That seemed to suffice.

I feel bad when I hold some things back as discipline, when I know they are good for them...reading, for instance....Does anyone else think that disciplining our kids is one of the more difficult parts of parenting? It's so hard to know whether you are doing it right, being too hard, or being too soft. I suppose I should just look at how my kids are turning out to get the answer to that question. They are well behaved...most of the time. But, that's just part of being a kid. If they were well behaved ALL the time, I guess I would think that something is wrong...like they are not having enough fun.

Isn't fun the goal for a kid? Isn't it really the goal in LIFE? In the classes that I teach, I try to make them as fun as possible. Learning should be fun, too...I often see some of the other professors poo-pooing the students for being childish in class. I just say to myself - get over it! They are just having fun! For goodness sake, life doesn't always have to be that serious! Okay, that's another story altogether....

Back to the kids and disciplining. I guess I do have my pet peeves...getting to bed is one of them. I don't think I would care so much if I didn't have to lay down with them...that's my fault for making them dependent on me in order to fall asleep. At the same time, I think it's really great bonding time with them. We talk, we cuddle, we read. Once they fall asleep, I go into my room. When I was little, my mom would just put me in my room, say goodnight, and go downstairs to get work done. Of course, there were four of us, so that makes it more difficult to lay down with all four at once. Anyway, while I have a low tolerance for delays at bedtime, I really enjoy my time with them at night.

Okay, that's the end of my discipline post...Maybe I've answered my own questions by now.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

He's Growing Up Too Fast


Well, I dropped off my baby to his first day of Kindergarten today. He was a little nervous, but he was so preoccupied with looking at everything and checking out his desk that I'm sure he didn't even notice his mommy crying away.
Okay, am I the only wimp? How come I didn't see any of the other moms crying when they were dropping off their children to the first day of Kindergarten? This is such a big day for him! E did great. I was surprised that he had no trouble falling asleep last night. This morning, once I reminded him that this was his first day of school, he popped right up and got dressed. I gave him a new shirt to wear, outfitted him in his new backpack, and off we went. When we got to school, I walked him to his classroom and he found his cubby right away. Apparently I can only walk him to his classroom this first week. Next week, he's on his own. School gets out at 3:00, at which time he will take the bus to the daycare center for his after-school program. It's nice that I can pick him and e up at the same place!

No more little boy. :-(

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kindergarten...Already!????

E with his new Kindergarten teacher, Mr. McGuire

I look at pictures that I took of my kids just six months ago and can't believe how much they've changed. E is looking like a kid already, and e has lost all her baby look. She is as sassy as ever but I still love the three's. I'm convinced there is no such thing as "Terrible Two's." It's all in the threes.

E starts Kindergarten next week. Last night, we went to his school's open house so we could see where his classroom is, meet his teacher, and see the school a little more. E was very nervous but seemed to be really looking forward to going to school next week. Poor e doesn't really understand why she can't go with him. She keeps saying that she's going to kindergarten, too. I think she's really going to miss playing with E during the day and having his company.
E and e in front of E's new school

This is the first year that the Kindergarten has been in this school, so there is still a lot of construction going on. Hopefully, the playground will be up by the time school starts...for the teachers' sanity!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Twenty-one Holes


The ground in this area is like clay mixed with rock. Not the easiest to dig. So, I hired one of my neighborhood kids to start digging holes in my yard for the 21 trees I bought. Yes, 21 Thuja Green Giants will be planted along the property line between my house and the pool. Apparently, these trees (part of the arborvitae family) are fast growing and the most highly recommended for a privacy screen. I found some on ebay delivered to my house for almost half the price as I would have bought them locally. I'm paying my neighborhood kid $100 to dig the 21 holes (12" around and 15" deep!). The trees are 3-5' tall already, so it shouldn't be long before I have a decent screen. They should arrive on Thursday.

The kids had a great time this weekend. Saturday night we went to one of the local amusement parks for the evening with some friends. It was really humid and hot but we still had a good time. Yesterday, was the annual picnic at my university. Every year, the week before school starts, they have a welcome back picnic for everyone. It's potluck plus a lot of food provided by Aramark, our food provider. There is always a ton for the kids to do, usually at least two large inflatables and several games, as well as snow cones and popcorn. The kids are disappointed when the inflatables have to be taken down, but they sleep well at night after all that running around!

Friday night was interesting....somehow a yellow jacket got into the house. We were watching tv and I felt something kind of pinch my leg. It was the bee giving me a little sting. I shooed it off my leg and it hit E's toe and stung him a little, too. Fortunately, it was not a full sting for either of us, so it didn't have the hurt. E didn't cry, but he did start to break out in hives a little. Poor guy, he had also gotten stung earlier in the week while at school. He apparently thought he killed a bee and went to pick it up. Of course, it gave him a good sting on his finger. No hives, though. That's why this one was so strange. Anyway, I am not so lucky with bees. I am severely allergic and carry an epi-pen wherever I go. Since it wasn't a big sting, I wasn't sure whether I should take the injection. I called my doctor and told him that I was feeling a little short of breath but wasn't sure if it was from the sting, or because I was focusing on it so much! I've never had to take the injection before. This is the first time I've gotten stung since my first anaphilactic reaction which was over ten years ago. Well, to make a long story short, I finally gave myself the injection, took some benedryl (also gave some to E) and waited...I was having more trouble breathing, so I was glad I took the injection. I called a friend over to stay with us just until I was sure it worked.

This was LATE Friday night. Poor kids, they just can't go to bed without me laying next to them. And, I couldn't lay down with them until I was sure I wasn't going to have more of a reaction since I didn't want to fall asleep myself. So, there we all sat and watched tv until about 11:30. They were both a little tired the next day, but everyone was healthy.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Local View

Since I moved here six years ago (I still can't believe it's been that long), I've seen a lot of things that I just don't see too often (or at all) in other places of the country. Since I was born and raised in CT, I'm still a New England gal at heart, so some of these things seem pretty strange. So, I've decided to start a list...it probably won't be too long, but I'll add to it now and then. Some of the things help to give this place a quaint charm, other things just make me scratch my head and go "hmmmmmm......"

  1. Amish families who come to your door to deliver baked goods, eggs, and veggies - Yes, for many, they pull up in their horse and buggy and come a knockin'.
  2. Testicles hanging from the back of trucks - Don't ask. I have no idea.
  3. Mullets. Lots of mullets.
  4. Halloween parades - every year there are several Halloween parades in the area full of homemade floats, local politicians, youth groups, LOTS of firetrucks and whoever wants to march. They are pretty long, usually lasting a good hour or so. Most in the parade throw candy out to the kids, who often dress in their Halloween costumes. Santa Claus marks the end of the parade.
  5. Christmas parades - same thing at Christmas. The kids gather outside the local mall where a parade, similar to the one at Halloween, is held. This one is a little shorter, but just as hokey, and still a LOT of fire trucks and candy thrown out for the kids. Santa Claus again marks the end of the parade.
  6. Chicken and waffles - obviously a savory dish?
  7. Menanite families arriving in droves to shop at WalMart - They just pile into their minivans and come as a group.
  8. The Nascar trucks - every year, after the Nascar race, the trucks carrying the cars come through this area to get to the highway about an hour south of here. People pack the streets to watch the trucks go by, cheering for their favorite drivers. Now remember, most of the time, the actual drivers of the cars are not in the trucks, and you can't SEE the racecars. It's just the trucks that carry them that form this sort of "parade". Also, it is not a formal parade where things are planned. People just "know" that the trucks will be coming through about two and a half hours after the race ends and then they start to line the streets. I haven't seen this phenomenon yet, but I suppose I should go for the experience at some point!
  9. No school on the first day of hunting season - all the schools are officially closed (except the Universities).

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Pool Saga Continues

video
Okay, so last weekend M had her birthday party and, of course it was a pool party. Both E and e were invited. Finally, an invitation to use the neighbor's pool! E was great. Even though he was the only boy at the party, he had a great time. He really showed everyone that he is a very strong swimmer and loves being in the water. Since the kids were having such a great time, we even stayed a little later so they could play after all the other kids had gone home. So, you would think that J & J (the parents) would see how much my kids liked to swim and play with M. E even did really well with S at the pool. They got along great and even spent a fair amount of time playing tag in the pool.

That was last weekend. Now, three days later, we are back to the old situation. Last night, when we got home, their family was in the pool. By the time we finished dinner and got outside, there were about three or four other kids in the pool and three of the other moms were sitting by the pool chatting. These other kids were more M's friends than S's. So, I thought for sure E and e would be invited into the pool.

I told E and e to go get their suits on and that we would go outside and play. If they weren't invited to the pool, we would play with our sprinkler (which, unfortunately, we couldn't find!). So, up they went to get their suits on. e had a box of mints she wanted to share with everyone. I thought this would be a good opportunity to go over and have a little bit of an ice-breaker. e and I walked over to the fence. I said to S that e has something to ask her. She immediately assumed that we wanted to ask to come into the pool. She gave me an unhappy look and said "I'll ask my dad." I said, "No, S, e wants to ask YOU a question." "I'll ask my dad." "No, S, e wants to ask YOU a question." "Daaaaad" she yells for her dad (who was also by the pool) and points to us. So I said again, "No, S, e wants to ask YOU a question." To which she starts to walk away to ask her dad if we can come into the pool. So I just told e to forget it and to ask someone else if they wanted a mint. e asked one of the other little girls, L, if she wanted a mint. S looked confused and then realized what we wanted. Of course, then S and all the other kids lined up on the other side of the fence with smiles on their faces to get mints from e. J (the father) even mentioned how they looked like zoo animals lining up to be fed, but there was absolutely no attempt to invite the kids to swim. I just don't get it. There my kids are in their bathing suits, looking at the other kids swimming (who are also friends with my kids), and J and J do not invite them over.

A friend of mine says that I should just "be a man" and say something (calmly, of course) to them...like ask them if they have an open pool policy and say that I don't want to just take my kids over there without an invitation. I think that it's just polite, friendly, neighborly and obvious to give a verbal invitation to people when you see them standing there. Either way, the arbor vitae are looking more and more attractive. I think I might have to get them in sooner rather than later. I wonder how hearty they are if I planted them this late in the season. A wrought iron fence around a pool is as good as no fence at all when it comes to privacy. It just makes things very awkward....still.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Health Update

Summer is my time to take care of all the things I don't have time to do during the academic year. Since I am a college professor, the semesters are crazy and the summers are fairly relaxing. I have known for years that my cholesterol was high but I didn't want to start taking any meds for it until after I had the kids. So, two years ago, I finally went back to the doctor to start monitoring it more closely. Of course, it was much higher than it had been before I had the kids, so I started taking a statin drug. It did the trick and lowered my cholesterol to 175.

Now that I am 45 and as overweight as I've ever been, I'm becoming increasingly concerned that I am going to turn into my mother. She was diabetic, had heart disease, and many of the complications that are related to those. It was heartbreaking for me to watch her be ill for so many years while I was growing up. She died when she was 68, much too young. She had her first heart attack when she was not much older than me. I see many of her same habits in myself and that scares the shit out of me.

I have tried diet after diet and each time I lose some weight, but when I go off the diet, I gain back all the weight and then some. I just finished being on JC for about the last year. I lost a max of about 17 pounds but then started to inch back up to my pre-JC weight. When we left for Europe, I was so frustrated with the program (or myself) (even though I really do like the food) that I decided to take a break from it. Because I do so much walking when I travel, I usually lose weight. Not this time. I was really surprised when I weighed in. I'm now the heaviest I've ever been.

So, before I left for Europe, I had already scheduled a physical for when I returned. I wanted to get everything back on track. I asked for all the blood tests in the world so I could really watch things more closely and make sure there were no more signs of heart disease or diabetes creeping in. I find it so amazing that I need to ask for these things and that the doctors are not even suggesting them to me. I also started to go to the GI clinic (AKA fat clinic) at the local hospital and had my first appoint there last week. I go back every month. I wasn't feeling so bad about my own weight when I saw some of the other people in the waiting room, but I still know that I'm heading for trouble. My cholesterol test came back as elevated again, so I'm increasing my dosage of the statin.

And, have I mentioned that I'm REALLY tired of this damn cast on my leg!? Okay, yes, it is removable and it is a walking cast, but it's still REALLY hot, uncomfortable and impossible to sleep with. Maybe I should give it a name and be happy I'm sleeping with someone else besides my children. Three more weeks...ugh.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pink Lemonade

E asked if he and e could have a lemonade stand yesterday. It was a hot day and the clouds were just about to roll in. Fortunately, the rain only lasted for a few minutes. So, off to the store we went to pick up some lemonade, cups, ice, and poster board. E said that he and e would split the money they made.

We brought their little picnic table and all the supplies to the entrance of our neighborhood. They set up camp there. I even gave them a bag of potato chips so they could offer them for free to customers. I figured this was a great business learning experience for them. They learn how to attract customers, how to treat customers, and to not be too frustrated if people didn't stop. They waved at passersby to get their attention (most people waved back, of course, not all stopped!). e had her tutu on, and I found it hard to believe that anyone could resist her in that! E was a great businessman. He even offered to help one woman carry her three cups to her car. They charged 75 cents a cup - most people let them keep the change. In all, they made about $18 and sold about a gallon of lemonade! Not bad! I think they were out there for about an hour and a half.

When E and e got home, E started to count his earnings. One of my neighbors works for the state and is not getting paid right now until they figure out the budget. E knew this and decided to split his earnings evenly between himself, e, and the neighbor. Very cute. Of course the neighbor did not accept his six dollars and all the money went right into both of their piggy banks. I thought for sure they would want to take a trip to the store to buy something, but they didn't even think about it. I think that's a good sign!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Awkwardness

We live in a great neighborhood. Most Saturday nights in the summer, someone has the "ice cream flag." That is where the neighborhood will gather at 7:00 for ice cream. The kids love it. Sometimes, there will be an outdoor movie after ice cream, at one of my neighbors' houses...she has a tarp hung over her deck to show movies. Everyone just brings a lawn chair or blanket, some popcorn, or whatever, and watches the movie. We also have a block party every year...just a great community.

About a year or so ago, my neighbor's little girl started bullying E. I have no idea what triggered it, she just all of a sudden started bullying him - not including him on things, telling others to do the same, pushing and sometimes hitting him. She was eight at the time and E was four. Her mother and I had a couple talks and I do believe her mom tried to nip it off at the bud. However, she can only do so much. Things have definitely improved, but S (the girl next door) still bullies once in awhile. The sad thing is that she drags all the other neighborhood kids in on it because they are all afraid of her. She is one of those kids who is extremely athletic and will beat just about any boy in any sport. She also dresses and acts like a boy. Anyway, the kids follow her. E is one of the youngest kids in the neighborhood, so I guess he's a good candidate to pick on.

This summer, that same neighbor put in an inground pool. The fence they put around it is just wrought iron, so, while it prevents any accidents from occurring, it does not provide any privacy -- for them or us. Our backyards just blend together. When the pool was being built, they told us we could come over any time. But, I feel really awkward doing that without a formal invitation each time. So, when we go out to our backyard, my kids just look over there and watch everyone else jumping and playing in the pool. Of course, the other kids in the neighborhood, just show up in their bathingsuits. I'm fairly sure they are not formally invited either. And, I don't think we would get a formal invitation if S is in the pool with her friends.

Now, S has a younger sister, M. I can see M looking over at us with a look in her eye that wants to play with E, but she has hardly spoken to us since we returned from Europe. I can only wonder what kind of brainwashing S did while we were away. M and E used to play well together. Now, nothing. So, even if S were in the pool with her friends, it would be logical for E to go over and play, too, with M (who is just two years older than E).

So, we now have an awkward situation. My kids are constanly staring at the pool, but don't get invitations to come over. I'm thinking I should put some privacy bushes between their yard and ours, but don't want to create tension between our families. We really do like the family. In fact, M is having a birthday pool party this weekend, to which E and e were invited. I just don't really understand what is going on there. It seems to me that if it were our pool, and I saw M or S outside, I would tell them to get their suits on and come over.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dating...help?

Okay, for anyone who is trying to get into the dating scene, I could use a little help here. With a lot of persuasion from a friend of mine, I decided to join eH. They send about a half dozen matches a day for me to look at. I have to admit that some of them look interesting.

Part of me really wants to date, and part of me really doesn't want to deal with it. In so many ways I am happy with the way things are right now. However, I know the kids are getting older, and it would be good for me to have a partner in life.

So, how to go about doing it....it's really scary! Do you contact people who look interesting? Or, do you wait to see who is going to contact you? What if you're not interested in the ones who contact you? Do you indicate you are not interested (for whatever reason)? Or, do you just ignore their inquiries? Any other suggestions? Yikes is all I have to say!

Catching up


We're finally back. Four weeks traveling through Europe. We returned a week ago, late Thursday night and I started teaching my summer camp on Sunday. No rest for the wicked! The kids were great in Europe. For the week or so in Italy, we did a lot of hiking. We had a little apartment on the mountain. When we walked out of it, we could see the Lake and a beautiful view of the villages below. It was breathtaking. There was a good pizza restaurant within walking distance. All the villages are cobblestone and very old. We had a great time!

I think the highlight for E was the rock climbing wall. He had absolutely no fear and easily went up the 55 foot wall. He was anxious to do every zip line in the place, too, but got kicked off because he forgot to have at least one campon clipped at a time. He'll remember next time! He's clearly a natural, though. I'll have to look into getting him more lessons.

e just liked to play all the time. Can't blame her. It was a tough trip for a three year old. I think she did enjoy all the hiking we did. She didn't seem to complain during those times. But, she was not too happy about all the city walking in 100 degree weather when we were in Athens.

The hotel we stayed in in Cyprus was wonderful. It was a truly a vacation for me. Included in the price was a Kids Camp where they went for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. That gave me some time to wash clothes, do work, get a spa treatment, or just lounge by the pool. In the evening, they had kid oriented things to do, too. All for free. We spent a lot of time by the pool, did some walking on the beach, and did a lot of the events sponsored by the hotel.

Egypt was really cool. There are no words to describe how awesome the pyramids really are when you see them in person. To think that people made them thousands of years ago is just astonishing. We took a short cruise to Egypt from Cyprus. The little girl sitting next to us during meals was adorable. E could not keep his eyes off her and just stared at her during meals with a dreamy look on his face. After awhile he gave her a napkin rose and she made a napkin swan for him. Very cute.


Athens was totally unimpressive. It's worth it to see the Parthenon and Acropolis, but the city itself is busy, hot, dirty, and there is graffiti EVERYWHERE. It's actually not a whole lot different than being in New York City, but I thought is was not as clean as NYC. Go figure. I was happy we only spent a short length of time there.

Turns out that three days before we left Athens, I broke my foot. I did not want to go to the hospital there and have to deal with the insurance problems, so I waited until after I got home to have it taken care of. So, there I was, walking miles a day in Athens, sometimes carrying a sleeping three year old for an hour or so at a time, hobbling along with a broken foot. Oh well. Didn't our parents walk for miles in bare feet in the snow just to get us food? Or something like that? I only walked on a broken foot for about ten days...could have been worse!

I am hoping to spend more time in Italy next year. I want the kids to get fluent in Italian so we can start spending a significant amount of time there. I guess I need to start learning Italian, too!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hotels, hotels, and more hotels...

We are leaving on a trip to Europe next week. Italy, Eqypt, Cyprus, Athens...There is SO much research to do to put these kinds of trips together! Mostly, at this point, which hotels to stay in and exactly how much time to spend in each place. Fortunately, Italy is completely taken care of, so I don't have to worry about accommodations there. Eqypt is a short cruise, so that's also taken care of. I decided to stay at the conference hotel in Cyprus since it is on the beach and has a pool...and it's more like a resort hotel. The kids will be kept busy.

Still, I had to research lots of other hotels in the area to make sure that was the RIGHT one to stay at. Then, the big question was when to go to Athens..should we spend a week in Cyprus? A week and a half? I have about 2 and a half weeks to split between the two countries. At first, I didn't think there was going to be much to do in Athens, aside from the usual ruins. That, apparently takes up about three days. I wanted to be sure to have plenty to keep the kids occupied. Anyway, to make a long story short, I believe I have decided to spend a little over a week in Cyprus and about a week in Athens (I found a resort hotel there, too, that is on the beach). I know, life's rough when this is all I have to think about. All in all, we'll be gone for four weeks. I'm really looking forward to it but suddently realizing how much I have to do before we leave!

Well, there are other things, too! I'm in the process of starting a new company. I FINALLY decided on a logo. That took forever. The logo designer had the patience of a saint given that I kept going back and forth, and asking him to make the slightest modifications so I could see them. I'm sure he's glad to have me off his list! Now, is the web page. That's going to take a lot more work. I hired a company in India to put it together and they have been great. It just takes a lot of time for me to review it and figure out what's missing and what's not...I'm sure I'll drive them crazy, too, before long. I'm learning a lot throughout the process, though!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Caterpillars, Caterpillars....

e has a thing for caterpillars lately. The poor things. About a week ago she found one in the yard and decided to keep it. First she lost it in the house. Fortunately, a couple hours later, I found it crawling on the living room floor. She decided she had to save the caterpillar. Since I wouldn't let her keep it in the house, she put it in a cup outside on the patio....with a few almonds, in case it got hungry. Then it rained...and rained, and rained. The caterpillar drowned, but she didn't really care. She still wanted to keep it. So, she walked around with the dead caterpillar for a couple days. Then, over the weekend, she found another one at a friend's house. I told her it was already dead, but she still wanted to keep it. In her haste, she broke it in half. So, into the cup, the two halves went. Fortunately, we "forgot" to bring that one home.
This is my first post! I think it's about time I started one of these things since they are a great way to keep track of what is happening with the kids.

We went to the Barnum and Bailey Circus last weekend. WOW! What a multimedia event! Lights, lasers, great singing and music, incredible talent! I'm never sure who has more fun at these things - the kids or me.