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:


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 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 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. :-(