Yes, it is!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Neighbor Drama

In all the years that I have owned a home, I have rarely encountered problems with neighbors.  In fact, I have been very blessed with good neighbors.  But lately, I have been feeling a little stressed about the drama going on between the neighbors on either side of me.  And I do not like the feeling of being an unwilling participant in the drama.
A few months ago, the house on the west side of us was rented out to a very nice family.  The family includes 2 daughters, one of whom is 11 years old. (I'll call her A) The other little girl is just 2 years old.  The family is also military.  They spend a lot of time outside and are very friendly and don't hesitate to talk to us. 
The neighbors to the east of us were really good neighbors when we moved into this house nearly 2 1/2 years ago.  The younger girl, T, is 8 years old (18 months older than Jackie), and she and Jackie hit it off right away.  It was so nice that Jackie had a playmate right next door.  But, as time went on, I noticed that Jackie seemed to be more whiny and would cry more often while and after playing with T.  I learned that T had some struggles but I didn't want that to be the force that would prevent my children from playing with T.  So, I just continued to monitor while the kids played and I had no problem reminding or even reprimanding T whenever she started to step out of bounds.  I really tried to work with T to be a better playmate.  I know what it felt like to be an outcast as a kid and I didn't want T to feel like that in my home.  I wanted T to feel welcome  and loved in my home.  And she seemed to respond well to me whenever I had to intervene.  T's mother and I seemed to have a good relationship and we would share what was going on in the relationship between our girls.  I really liked having these people as neighbors.  But lately, I have been wondering about it.  When Spring/Summer rolled around and the kids started getting out more, I had no problem with T coming inside my home to play.  But I started to notice that whenever Jackie asked if she could play over at T's house, the answer was no because their house was a mess.  Whatever.  It's not as if a little 6-year was going over there to critique the state of their home.  And plus, T always helped to leave Jackie's bedroom and my living room in disarray.  That started to get old.  It didn't matter if I reminded everyone to clean up after they make a mess, T always seemed to suddenly have to leave before taking time to clean up.  I finally told T that Jackie was limited to having one friend inside and if somebody else was already over, then they would all have to play outside.  So, when T started to become good friends and playing more with the 11-year neighbor, I was sort of relieved because it meant less whining and crying from Jackie.  Jackie and Ben were already good friends with the kids across the street and they played so much nicer when T was not there.. 
Unfortunately, the friendship between T and A started to deteriorate after a short time.  Unfortunately, knowing the history of one of the girls, I can understand why the relationship went under.  But I also am not going to take sides. I like and care for both of these girls.  If it involved my own child, then of course, I would get involved.  But I could totally understand why A's mom refused to let her daughter play with T any longer. But, I am not going to stop being friendly to either mother just because their girls are not allowed to play with each other.  Whenever I am outside and if I see both girls outside, I just monitor the situation, especially if either one tries to involve my daughter, which has occurred.  My little girl, who is not even 7, has been told by one of the girls that if she talks to the other girl, then she will no longer be her friend.  I had a little chat with this girl and told her that she will not be permitted to give my much younger daughter an ultimatum.  I am the mother and I am the one who will give ultimatums. 
A couple of weeks ago, we had a situation such that Tim came inside from mowing the lawn, to ask me to call Jackie in.  It appears that one of the girls was trying to start drama again by trying to get Jackie involved in the conflict between these 2 older girls.  Gah!  I just didn't know what to do as I have never been faced with this until recently.  So, I called Jackie in and explained to her that she is not to listen to T or to A whenever they try to get her to take sides.  Of course, I explained it on her level.  I also reminded her that she is friends with both of these girls but that it was rude to start out playing/riding bikes with A, only to run over to T when T called Jackie over.   Already, my daughter is being told her she can be friends with and Mama Bear is coming out.  It was quite stressful for me because I want to keep my relationships intact with both neighbors even though I have felt a decline with T's family.  I think the reason for that is because I will no longer use their older daughter to babysit for reasons that I am sure they are very aware of.  
The other neighbor girl, A, came over later to see if Jackie would ride her bike with her.  Sure, no problem.  I explained to A that I don't want Jackie involved in any of these older girls' conflicts to which A readily agreed.  Interestingly, I have never had a problem with A being inappropriate with my children.  I told A that she was also welcome at our home but that if T was also there, I wanted them to at least be cordial to each other.  A was in total agreement. 
So, tonight, all the neighbor kids were outside playing and riding bikes.  It was a beautiful evening.  Another neighbor came walking by with her cute little dog and she stopped to chat with me and A's mom.  A's little sister was also out there with us.  T was also riding her bike around.  Then all the kids decided to play in the front yard.  My kids, the kids across the street, A and her sister, and T.  My front yard was milling with activity.  After a few moments, I noticed T leave but didn't think anything of it until a few moments later.  My neighbor and I were still chatting with the dog-walking neighbor when I heard T's mom yell something to T, who was back in my yard.  Then I noticed A and her sister come walking back toward where I was still chatting.  I could see by the look on A's face that something was wrong so I stepped over to where the other kids were and noticed they were all eating popsicles.  All except A and her sister.  A's sister had already started to cry.  When I asked who brought the popsicles over, T admitted to it and then immediately said that she had just enough for herself, my kids, and 2 kids from across the street.  Hmm.  I immediately explained to T that if she was going to bring popsicles over to MY house to pass out, then she must bring enough for EVERYONE who was at my house.  It was not right to leave others out, no matter how much disdain she may have for certain people. So, I went to my basement freezer to get a handful of popsicles to send home with A and her sister.  As I handed the popsicles to their mom, she started to exchange a few words with T.  Then she started to tell me how she felt about T and what she has witnessed and how terrible it was that T's dad even witnessed some of the inappropriate behavior toward A and did nothing about it. And on and on.  Ugh.  I know she wasn't yelling at me but I almost felt as if she was wanting me to take sides.  I feel terrible about what has happened between these girls but I am not surprised that it ended this way.
All I want is to be friendly with both of these neighbors without either one of them trying to get me involved in their conflicts.  I just want my children to be able to play in peace and harmony with whomever they are friends with.  I don't want my children to suffer the consequences of other parents' actions.  I just want to be good neighbor.   And I certainly hope that both of these neighbors can respect that.
If any of my readers have any advice, please feel free to share.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Shameless Brag

Jackie has always been a good student.  In preschool, her teachers would tell me that Jackie is a smart little girl.  She is also very gifted in the arts.  Of course, I am a proud mom, especially knowing how much Jackie has been through in her short life, so far.  Early on, Jackie's neurologist gently warned me about the potential for learning disabilities, even though it was evident that Jackie was smart.  All I could do was pray that Jackie would not have to struggle with learning.  Learning always came easy for me and I had difficulty understanding the possibility of Jackie having learning disabilities.  But thankfully, with Early Intervention treatment and then the Early Childhood program, Jackie seemed to excel.  Jackie did so well and her speech improved to the point where I felt comfortable enrolling Jackie in a private preschool program the year before she started Kindergarten.  It was at this preschool that I realized Jackie's aptitude for art.  I was amazed at some of the drawings and paintings that Jackie would bring home.  She truly does have a gift in music and art.
During Jackie's Kindergarten year, Jackie continued to excel.  Jackie resumed going to speech therapy to "clean" up some lingering issues.  It was during this time that I noticed a few minor issues and I couldn't help but worry about the potential of them becoming major issues.  In fact, one of the areas Jackie went to speech therapy for was to work on comprehension and paying attention to directions.  Still, Jackie continued to receive high marks in class.  
This year in 1st grade, the first few weeks were mostly just review.  Jackie complained about how easy the work was and I began to worry that she would soon become bored and start to slide downhill.  But thankfully, Jackie's teacher started to expand to other learning areas.  Jackie has homework sent home nearly everyday.  It usually takes Jackie around 10 minutes to finish it. But lately, I've been getting frustrated because Jackie started to make mistakes with her homework.  I realize now it is because she's in a hurry and not paying attention to the instructions.  Any fleeting thoughts of homeschooling in the near future have thoroughly been tossed out the window.  Jackie responds so much better to other teachers as evidenced by the work she brings home.  She has made all As, so far. 
This past Friday, I was asked to substitute for another teacher at Jackie's school. The classroom where I was to sub was right across the hall from Jackie's class.  Jackie was disappointed that I wasn't subbing in her class.  Me?  Not so much.  Unless it's an emergency, I won't be a substitute teacher in Jackie's class.  Today's substitute teachers actually teach, not babysit and I just know Jackie will not like me very much if I had to teach her in the classroom. 
During a break while all the first graders were at their "specials", I went over to Jackie's class to talk to her teacher. I found out that Jackie made 100% on that day's spelling test, which I was not surprised about.  Jackie's teacher agreed with how smart Jackie is.  In fact, Mrs. W said that if she was allowed to rate her students, Jackie would be at the top.  That made me feel so proud of Jackie.  And it was a sign to me that Jackie is on the right track and that she may not end up experiencing learning difficulties, thanks so much to Early Intervention and Early Childhood.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jackie's Prayer

Jackie is almost 7 years old and lately, I've been thinking that she is probably ready to start saying her own bedtime prayers.  I used to say bedtime prayers with her on a regular basis until a couple of years ago.  I was not very consistent over the last couple of years and pretty much had quit until recently when I started to say a short and sweet bedtime prayer with Ben and Jackie.  It's usually the same prayer: prayer for good behavior, prayer for Jackie to continue to become stronger, prayer for safety at school, etc.  Just simple and to the point and on the childrens' level. 
Tonight, I gave Jackie the opportunity to say the prayer.  She smiled shyly at first.  Then finally she started to say something.  Her prayer started out like this: "um, (whispered sigh), um, (a little squeak), dear Jesus, um, please make Ben stop hitting me, . . ."
I couldn't help but chuckle at Jackie's serious and innocent request.  But let's hope that God answers her prayers.  Poor thing cannot get a break from the hitting her brother inflicts upon her.  We have done everything we can think of to extinguish this behavior to no avail.  We have even given Jackie permission to reciprocate but she is just too sweet and loves her brother too much to inflict harm. 
So God, I hope you heard Jackie's request. If you would kindly do us a favor and knock some sense into Ben about the hitting problem, it would be greatly appreciated, especially by Jackie.  As you can see, it was the very first thing she prayed about.  Thanking you in advance.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Eye Rolls For Pat Robertson

Here it is, nearly 2 days later, and I am still quite bothered by a statement made by the infamous Pat Robertson.  He believes divorce is okay in the case of one spouse having Alzheimer's disease.  Whatever happened to the "better or for worse"?  Divorce is already rampant enough and now this quack of an evangelist is advocating divorce because of an incurable disease.  In case you missed it, here is a link.  Just unbelievable.  Reprehensible. Hypocritical.  So a person suffering from Alzheimer's is just as much as dead in Robertson's eyes.  I find this man disturbing on so many levels.  Robertson professes to be such a strong christian.  I'm trying to live a christian life but this man almost makes me feel ashamed to even profess that.  I will say that that supposed christian man does not speak for me.  
My grandmother died nearly a year ago.  She suffered from Alzheimer's disease.  I resent the idea that Robertson is saying that my grandmother was already "kind of" dead.  So disturbing.  My grandmother was alive until she took her very last breath.  I'm pretty sure Robertson will be advocating euthanasia next.  Let's get rid of all the Alzheimer's patients by euthanizing them.  Let's free up the healthy spouses so they can move on with their lives.  After all, we're such a throw-away society for imperfect humans, anyway. 
Pat Robertson came up with his crazy idea for divorce in response to a question regarding a man who began seeing somebody else after his wife began to suffer from Alzheimer's disease.  Instead of advocating divorce on Biblical grounds because of infidelity, Robertson responded that the man should divorce his wife and start all over again because the wife is already pretty much dead. I want to know where in the Bible does it state that Alzheimer's disease is the same as death.  But we've got to give the quack credit for making sure that he reminded the caller to make sure that somebody is taking care of the wife with Alzheimer's disease.  Now this part really makes no sense. On the one hand, Robertson is saying that Alzheimer's is a kind of death but on the other hand, he is making it clear that custodial care for the "kind of dead" wife should be set in place.  Uh oh, my wheels are turning again.  Is there such a thing as a "kind of death"?  I thought one could either be dead or alive.  In my opinion, you are alive until you take your heart stops beating and you take your very last breath.  I mean, we don't bury people unless they really are dead, right?    Like, no heartbeat, no breaths, no brain activity dead, right? At least, that's what I thought death was; cessation of life.
But I've been thinking. In a way, Pat Robertson might be right.  He just gave the wrong answer. (Or maybe, he just doesn't know what he's talking about as indicated by his statement that an ethicist should be consulted in addition)  After all, if a man was already seeing somebody and he is still married to the wife with Alzheimer's disease, then there is biblical grounds for divorce.  Am I right? 
Pat Robertson, you just might be onto something. And you might be even more onto something if you give some of your millions to start a foundation to help take care of the "sort of dead" Alzheimer's patients who will surely be abandoned in droves because of your outlandish comments. 
Okay, now I'm going to get off my soapbox and share a link to a beautifully written commentary on Pat Robertson's comment.  It's a must read.  Here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

MOPS

I heard about MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) several years ago when Jackie was a baby.  I never got involved with it except for one year when I helped out in one of the toddler classes.  The meetings took place every other Monday during the school year. I can't tell you why I never got directly involved with MOPS.  Perhaps it was because I was still in my own fog of depression after a year of post-partum depression and dealing with a special needs baby who also happened to be very colicky. Looking back, that was probably the time that I most needed to get involved.  I think I had a difficult time being around women who seemed to have it all together and whose children were perfect. 
Yesterday, my neighbor invited me to check out the MOPS group at her church which happens to be located right next to our subdivision.  I told her I would come to the next meeting to check it out.  That next meeting just so happened to be this morning.  So, after I got Jackie off to school, I got Ben and me ready to go to MOPS.  Unfortunately, we ran a few minutes behind and we ended up getting there 20 minutes late.  I was sort of relieved that the meeting had not yet started.  A lady showed me where Ben's class was meeting. I got him signed in despite Ben's protests.  I should have taken this as my first sign as Ben usually does not protest getting the opportunity to play with other kids.  I went to the room where the other mothers were at.  I looked around and most of the tables were already full.  Many of the other mothers looked up at me as if they were questioning who I was.  But nobody welcomed me in.  They just watched as I limped around looking for a seat.  I felt quite uncomfortable.  Was it my boot on my fractured foot?  Was it my lack of style?  Did I stink?  Who knows what was going on in those women's minds.   I found my neighbor and let her know that I was there. And I recognized another mom from the speech therapy center.  I quickly scanned around for an available seat. Since it was quite full in that room and nobody seemed willing to help me, I just left the room. I went into the hallway for a few moments pondering what I should do.  I finally decided to go get Ben and leave. So that was my 10-minute experience with MOPS.  I didn't feel comfortable right away after we got there anyway and I should have gone with my gut instinct..  So, Ben and I won't be going back.
I've heard that MOPS is a great organization for mothers. And I'm sure it is.   I was sort of looking forward to meeting other moms that I could possibly relate to and possibly even make new friends.  Unfortunately, it just was not a good fit for me and Ben. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I'll Never Forget

I'll never forget where I was and what I was doing on the morning of September 11, 2001.  At that time, I was telecommuting for the company that was I employed with.  My morning routine after waking up included turning on my work computer, taking my dog outside while my computer booted up, then coming back and turning on Good Morning America.  I was still living in Florida at the time and my then-fiance (now husband) had just been deployed to Egypt.
The morning started out as a beautiful September day in Florida.  I had my TV tuned to Good Morning America (GMA) while I worked at the desktop.  Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson were still anchoring GMA at the time.  Since we were on Eastern time, GMA was shown live.  I remember a few minutes before the broadcast was to come to a close that morning, Charles and Diane came back on with breaking news that it appeared that a small plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers.  My eyes moved away from my work to the TV.  At that time, there was speculation that it was an isolated incident.  Then, just a few minutes after 9:00, as I sat there watching the TV, I noticed in the background behind Charles and Diane a plane fly into the other tower.  I knew at that very moment that this was no accident and that the WTC towers were under attack.  Again.  I immediately called somebody in the personnel department at work.  I told her to turn on the TV because the WTC towers were on fire. Within minutes, news hit the airwaves that a third plane had been flown into the Pentagon and that another plane was currently unaccounted for.  Soon afterward, that 4th plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.  I was in disbelief.  I could not take my focus off of the TV.  I was scared.  Scared for the many people who I was certain had perished.  Scared for Tim because I was not sure where he was at that moment.  And most of all, I was scared for our country.  I also became angry.  Angry at the senselessness of the attacks.  Angry that nobody caught onto the terrorists' plans.  Anger at the profound loss of life.
MacDill Air Force base, where Tim was stationed at that time, was put on immediate lockdown.  I was taking a class at the local university.  The university at that time was embroiled in a well-known case involving a professor who was linked to a terrorist group.  Because of that, I was a little anxious about the safety at the university.  Thankfully, everyone was released from classes and the campus was closed for the remainder of the day.
After the initial shock of the attacks wore off, I started to worry about Tim and his fellow airmen.  He had left the states, in a military cargo jet, from Dover just the day before the attacks. All I could do was pray for their safety and that I would hear from him soon.  Tim's mother called me the next morning, asking if I heard from Tim.  I had not. Tim's middle brother had been stranded in Canada because all flights had been canceled.  When I told Tim's mother that I had not heard from Tim, she immediately broke down crying.  She knew Kevin was okay by now but she was scared for her baby boy.  I finally heard from Tim the following day.  Each person on this deployment had just 4 minutes to call one person each.  Tim had just enough time to let me know that they were safe in Egypt but were not unloading the plane, yet, until they received word about  any changes in plans.  It was possible that everyone would be sent back home to fight war.  When I called Tim's mother to relay the news to her, she immediately cried tears of relief.  By this time, Kevin and his colleagues were able to obtain a rental car for the very long drive back home to Florida.  Needless to say, Tim's mother was very relieved that the 2 sons who had traveled out of the country were safe. 
A few days after Tim's initial call, I received another call from him.  This time, he was able to talk a little longer and update about the deployment.  They were going to keep the mission going in Egypt but I had to prepare for the possibility that our wedding plans may change.  Since security on all the military bases was drastically increased, we may not even be able to get married at the base chapel.  So we discussed the possibility of going to the courthouse to get married in case Tim was sent to war upon his return from Egypt.  I just had to believe that everything would work out.  I continued with the original wedding plans.  I had to include a note inside each invitation informing of a possible sudden change in plans. Thankfully, Tim and I were able to keep our original wedding plans.  However, we were unable to travel for a honeymoon.  The Air Force had imposed a travel restriction and Tim had to be able to arrive at base within 2 hours.  So, we just stayed for a couple of days at a nice hotel at a local beach.  I admit that I had some anger toward those hijackers for causing such disruption in our lives.  But how selfish that was when so many lives were lost and so many families were broken up on that previous 9/11.  I should have been thankful that Tim was alive and well and that we were able to even have the wedding. 
I will never forget the thousands of images that were shown on TV during the ensuing days and weeks following 9/11.  I will never forget where I was when it happened.  Or what I was doing.  I'll never forget watching that second plane, in the background behind Charles and Diane, crash into that tower.  I'll never forget the images of people, so desperate, jumping out of windows to their ultimate demise.  I can't really tell you which images are more disturbing. It was difficult to sleep.  But most of all, I'll never forget the unspeakable pain that our nation experienced on that day, September 11, 2001.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Holiday World

We had this trip planned for the last month and a half.  It was nearly derailed a week ago when I suffered a fracture in my right foot and bone spurs in my left heel.  I was in extreme discomfort. Tim asked me throughout the last week if we should cancel our weekend trip.  I refused.  I did not want to let my children down, especially Jackie.  Jackie has been looking forward to and talking about playing in the giant water park and riding some of the wild rides in the other park.  She has become my adventurous girl and I love it.  I knew Jackie was very excited about this trip because beginning earlier in the week, she kept bugging me to bring up her suitcase so she could get pack.
Then the weather forecast predicted a blistery hot day for Saturday and scattered storms on Sunday.  Tim and I went back and forth about whether to just make it a one-day trip (it's just 3 hours east of us) or go ahead and keep it a 2-day trip.  Finally, late Friday evening, we decided to just keep our original plans for the 2-day trip.
We arrived at Holiday World on Saturday afternoon after getting a little bit delayed start in the morning.  Jackie couldn't contain herself and immediately told us her plans for which rides to visit.  Heheh, we had to remind her that there were other people in our family to consider.  She was just so excited.  We visited some of the rides in the main park for a couple of hours before we finally ventured over to the water park. I noticed the park seemed to be more crowded than on any of our previous visits, even despite the extreme heat. And full of rude people, too.  One of Ben's favorites in the main park was the bumper boat ride. He could ride that thing all day if he was allowed to.  And this was where I had my first encounter with a rude person.  I was walking (er, hobbling) around to the other side of this ride so I could better see Ben.  I began to go around this man who was talking to another person when this man suddenly started to back-up.  I stopped because I didn't want him to step on my fractured foot. (Even with the boot on, it still hurts when it gets hit or stepped on).  Then I said kindly "excuse me" since this man was obviously clueless that he was starting to back over me.  Well, he whipped around, looked at me, then said sarcastically with an Arab accent and a snarl, "excuuuuse ME!"  I just shook my head, thought "whatever" and "RUDE!", and then walked away.  Any man who is going to force his wife (I'm assuming it was his wife) to wear covering from head to toe (in the extreme heat) doesn't get much respect from me.  You could only see this woman's eyes but I could sense that she kept casting lofty glances toward me.  I did finally sneak a picture of that but out of respect, I won't post on my blog.  Her husband might come after this rude American, anyway.
We finally ventured over to the water park where nearly every square foot was filled with a body.  Since I was limited on which rides I could go on, I hung with Ben in one of the kid pools while Jackie went with her daddy on some of the bigger water rides.  After a little while, Ben and I went to another section where we were to meet up with Jackie and Tim.  As I pulled Ben in the wagon to our next destination, I felt a slight tug on the wagon and when I looked back, this woman had one of her stroller wheels stuck under my wagon.  Then the woman looked at me and shouted at me "EXCUSE YOU!"  I just looked at her and told her, not so sweetly, "Excuse you, I couldn't see behind me" and I continued to hobble along. I was just hobbling along the railing, intentionally trying to stay out of the main traffic.  And this RUDE woman had the nerve to think that I was in control of her mistake when she was the one who was trying to get around me because I wasn't moving fast enough for her.  Whatever.  I just hope that she has a little bit more consideration if one of her family members was ever diagnosed with 2 lame feet.  But, I was not about to let rude people spoil the fun for my children.  Ben and I finally found Jackie and Tim at one of other kid water areas.  Ben ran to his dad while I took the boot off of my foot.  As I hobbled along the water's edge to catch up with Tim, I noticed this young woman walking toward my direction starting to veer into my path.  I tried to move out of the way but with my feet problems, I was not able to move quick enough and she bumped hard into me.  I stopped for a moment because I nearly lost my balance.  The young woman did say "excuse me" sweetly but I guess when I stopped to regain my balance, I must have intimidated her because then she said "but you ran into me, too!"  I just said "it's okay" and hobbled on.  I was ready to go at this point.  But my kids were having so much fun and it made me so happy to see my kids having so much fun.  I just wished that I was able to run around and have fun with them.
After spending about 4 hours in the water park, we finally convinced Jackie that it was time to go see some of the other stuff in the other park.  Whew! I was ready to get out of that water park.  Just way too many people for me to deal with right now.  The main park was crowded, too, but it was bit more tolerable than the water park.  And not nearly as many rude people.  However, I was a bit uncomfortable with so many people gawking at my boot.  I know it's not pretty.  I think even my kids and husband are embarrassed by it.  I know I am.  But then a few others commiserated with me.
The next day at the park, we were greeted by severe weather.  After the lightning passed over, most of the rides re-opened, even despite the rain.  Thankfully, the park handed out rain ponchos (or you can buy a better one at one of their shops).  The rain continued off and on until afternoon with the occasional rain drop/drizzle until evening.  But the kids enjoyed the rides and Jackie, being my adventurous girl, went on some of the bigger rides with her dad.  I can't believe that my little girl is tall enough for nearly all of the adult rides now at Holiday World.  But as skinny as she is, Tim and I couldn't help but chuckle about our fear of Jackie just slipping right through some of the security harnesses/belts.  The only rides that Jackie was not able to ride with her dad were the big roller coaster, Pilgrim's Plunge, the tower ride, and the big swings.  I have to admit that I do feel a bit anxious whenever Jackie rides on one of the bigger rides.  But, I am not going to let my fear hold Jackie back.
All in all, it was a nice weekend for us as a family (even despite Ben's unwillingness at times to cooperate) but we will make sure to avoid such a busy holiday weekend next time.
I highly recommend Holiday World to all my friends, preferably during a weekday. And especially if  you take children.  Entrance is fairly affordable, especially compared to other amusement parks,parking is free.  The park also provides free sunscreen and free soft drinks throughout the park. The kid rides are spread throughout the park, not just in one section.  Very family-oriented, it is clean, safe, alcohol-free, and most importantly, it is smoke-free (there are a couple of out-of-the-way smoking areas).  The park usually doesn't tolerate offensive clothing or language.  I say "usually" only because I couldn't help but raise my eyebrows at some of the clothing choices.  I mean, one lady had this swimsuit on which made me wonder why she even bothered to put anything on.  It was that bad.  And this boy, who couldn't be more than 5 years old and weighing at least 120 pounds, wearing swim trunks that kept creeping down to show half of his butt crack and his belly hanging quite a bit over.  The swim suit was obviously too small.  Seeing that boy makes me appreciate the effort I put into trying to teach my kids healthier eating habits.
This was our third year of visiting the park and we have enjoyed it every time.  And Jackie is already talking about going again next year.  Hopefully, I'll have stronger-than-ever feet by then and we won't encounter so many rude people then. I love watching my kids having so much fun and I love it even more when I can fully join in the fun.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Labor Day?

After I picked up Jackie from school this afternoon, she asked me if there was a holiday on Monday.  I told her, yes, there is.  I then asked her if she knew which holiday it was.  Labor day, she said.  I then asked Jackie if she knew what Labor day was about.  Jackie proceeded to tell me that "they" were talking about it at school.  When I asked Jackie what "they" talked about, she couldn't quite tell me.  So, I told Jackie that Labor Day was all about me.  I could see through the rear-view mirror that Jackie was in deep thought.  I told Jackie that day was to celebrate all the moms who went through labor to have their children.  And I told her that we were going to celebrate "Mommy" on Monday.  I could see Jackie through the rear-view mirror sort of pondering what I just said.  Then:
Jackie: "Well, I wish I could have just a sister.  Not a mean brother.  Put him back." 
Ben:  A resounding, throaty "Noooo".  Actually, it was more like a growl. 
They really do love each other.  And yes, I really do know the real reason for Labor Day. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ben II

My son has a new friend.  Ben named him Ben.  Ben II, to be exact.
Yesterday at school, Ben's class made little people.  It was actually sort of a cool idea that the teacher used.  The little people are made out of paper bags and old wallpaper samples. When I picked up Ben from school, he was excited about his boy.  We put the boy in Jackie's booster seat for the ride home.  We forgot to bring the boy inside last night and when we got into the car this morning, Ben immediately noticed his boy and started laughing.  He was so cute. When we arrived at our first destination this morning, Ben grabbed his boy hoping to bring it along.  Uh, no way.  I told Ben that his boy would be much safer in the car.  Can you imagine the sight of us entering through the ER doors?  I mean, here I am with 2 lame feet and limping like a 90-year old, Ben had purple eyes from an allergic reaction, and then there is paper boy.  Thankfully, Ben was convinced that I told him the truth.  I'll just re-educate Ben later about the dangers of leaving little people alone in a car.
When we got home this afternoon, Ben brought his boy inside.  He was so proud of that thing, except that the boy had lost both of his plastic eyes by the time we got home.  I figured Ben would toss paper boy aside shortly and forget about it.  But, as luck would have it, Ben is attached to paper boy now.  He insisted paper boy needed to sleep with him tonight when I tucked him into bed.  And we gave him a name.  I asked Ben what his boy's name is.  Ben said "Ben."  Ben like you?  Ben nodded affirmative.  Ben really likes his name. So, Ben II it is. 

Oh Happy Day

Oh what a happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away.  Remember that song?  Well, it's a good thing I do because I need Jesus to wash my sins away after the day I had today. Gah!  Frustrating!
Last evening, Ben's eyes suddenly started to become swollen.  Then they started weeping.  Then Ben started to cry and complain of a headache.  I doctored him up with tylenol and allergy eye drops.  The tylenol seemed to help Ben until he woke up crying again before midnight.  I gave Ben some more tylenol and put more drops in his eyes.  He kept crying that he wanted to sleep with his daddy.  After having slept on the couch with my foot elevated for the last several nights, I had planned on relocating back to my own bed.  But alas, my baby boy needed his daddy so I gave up my spot.  Again.
I woke up before 6:30 this morning just so that I could place a call to the appointment line at the base pediatric clinic (which opens at 6:30).  Finally after being on hold for nearly a half hour, I was told that there were no more acute appointments available for today.  Great!  I called as soon as the lines opened and I still was turned away.  This has happened the last couple of times that I have tried to make acute appointments for the kids.  I was told that I needed to go to either the local urgent care or the emergency room.  I refused a referral to the urgent care clinic because the minimum I or my kids have waited has been 3 hours. And that was just to go to triage.  So, it was off to the ER.  When I walked into the ER with Ben, we were quite the pair, Ben having purple eyes and I limping in with my foot in a huge boot.  Needless to say, the staff were initially confused about who the patient is.  Thankfully, we did not have to wait very long before we were called into an exam room.  A little while after vitals were taken, a very nice doctor came and examined Ben.   Ben was smitten with her.  She looked at his eyes and in his ears.  Apparently there is some kind of mold or pollen that has been causing problems with the kids.  I can't remember the name of it.  It makes sense because earlier this week, Jackie had a very mild allergy attack that affected her eyes, too. Ben also has a bit of an ear infection. Even as pathetic as Ben looked with his alien-looking eyes, everyone thought he was so cute.  The doctor sent us on our way with prescription for eye drops and oral antibiotic.  The doctor recommended that we wait to see how Ben does with the eye drops before we start him on the antibiotic.  I agree as I am not one for seeking treatment for mild ear infections. 
After Ben and I left the ER, we went to the base pharmacy to get the prescriptions filled.  I also had my prescription with me to get an anti-inflammatory cream for my left heel.  The pharmacy was quite busy and I had to wait a little longer than usual after I got our line number.  Finally, our number was called and I handed our prescriptions to the clerk.  When the clerk handed me the information sheet for my prescription, I realized that it was not for the cream. It was a prescription for pain medication.  I asked the clerk to cancel it as I already had pain medication at home.  I didn't care much for the orthopedic doctor I saw on Tuesday and now I'm even more disappointed.  I remember the doctor explaining how this cream works and how often I can use it on my left heel and he warned me not to take too much of the oral pain/anti-inflammatory medication that I already had whenever I use the cream.  So, apparently, the doctor was not paying much attention when he handed me my prescription.  And I should have double checked the script.  The clerk then entered Ben's prescriptions.  Then he informed me that this pharmacy did not have the right eye drops for Ben, not even a substitute.  Gah!  Just my luck.  I left the antibiotic prescription to be filled and left to go to Walmart. Thankfully, Walmart was able to fill the prescription for the eye drops. 
Being that Ben looked a bit scary, I wasn't sure if I should send him to school in the afternoon.  He felt and acted like his normal self.  Physically, I think he could have attended but I didn't want to make any of the other parents paranoid.  So, I ultimately decided to keep Ben out of class today.  Ben was so disappointed.  I was, too, as I had a lunch date, the first one in awhile.  I was really looking forward to some adult time since I've missed out on my gym times. I thought about calling Ben's regular daytime babysitter but I didn't want her to worry about Ben spreading anything to the other kids, even though Ben was fine.  So, I called and emailed a friend but never got a response. I tried to call Ben's teacher but the call wasn't going through.  I decided to just go by the school to let Ben's teacher know that he wouldn't be in class today.
Since I had nothing else to do, I decided to just go ahead and take care of getting my temporary handicap tag. I dread going to the DMV as you will see why next.
As soon as I pulled up to the parking lot, I knew I was in for a wait but I didn't realize just how long until I received my line number. I waited.  And waited.  And I waited even longer.  After more than an hour, I even called another DMV office 45 minutes away from here and was told that there was no wait at that moment.   The Belleville DMV, I don't have kind words to describe that place.  After today, I vow to never step foot inside that place again.  It is always my experience that the employees are unhappy (rude) and they waste customers' time by chit chatting between customers. And I'm not talking about just a few words being exchanged.  I'm talking about these people sitting there in their chairs carrying on long conversation about whatever.  Or they will sit there in their chairs and wait 10-15 minutes before they decide that they should probably wait on the next customer.  And they are SLOW, like intentional SLOW, when they fill out paperwork or sign off on something.  I hate that place.  And, the WEIRD really comes out there.  I'm not sure which is worse, Walmart or the DMV.  For instance, Ben and I were sitting in front of a couple of young mothers with their very young infants.  A dad and a grandmother were among the mix.  The two young moms were strangers but started to talk about their new little ones (birth date, measurements,etc.) Then the mom of the baby girl asked the other mom if she circumcised her baby.  No whisper, nothing.  Just normal conversational voice.  Almost as if she was asking what color eyes.  Weird.  Actually, beyond weird.  I'm fine when friends talk about that stuff but to outright ask a perfect stranger such a personal question is just bizarre.  Well, the other mom said "yeah, and he didn't like it one bit." 
Ben gave me a break today and was pretty good there so I didn't turn into the quintessential Walmart mom.  Whew!  Thank you, Lord.  I definitely didn't want to add to the weird mix there.
Weird things happen at that place ALL the time.  I'll never forget the time when this lady (actually not sure about that) came in strutting her stuff, in front so all could see, wearing some sort of pink outfit.  She was wearing very high heels and black fishnet stockings, too.  The skirt of this outfit was so short that it literally came up to the butt line. LITERALLY.  No lie!  I recently told about this to a friend and she didn't believe me because it just sounded so outrageous. But outrageous it was.  I mean, even the people sitting next to me sat there with their jaws almost hanging.  We all sort of looked at each other and none of us spoke words.  Just a few raised brows.  People! The weird seriously comes out at that place. 
After I finished filling out my forms, I had to change seats and I unfortunately ended up sitting next to a little bit smelly person.  Finally, after nearly 2 hours, my number was called.  I actually ended up with a nice guy. He asked how my day was going and I honestly told him that I was aggravated.  He asked if somebody was messing around with me and my son. Nope, it was just from being around weird people and having to wait for nearly 2 hours amidst the weirdness.  And my feet were hurting. He apologized.  That's the first apology I've ever received from a DMV employee.  But still, I will never set foot inside that place again.  I will gladly make the 45 minute drive to another DMV office where the employees actually work and get the people out in a timely manner.  At least, that's what I've been told about that particular location. 
Illinois is in such terrible financial shape.  There are many reasons for that. I have my opinions about how restructuring school districts can help improve that.  But that's beside the point.  I think the state ought to take a good look at the Belleville DMV and they will see our tax dollars hard at waste.  Wasted to pay employees who roll their eyes at customers, who watch customers continue to wait unnecessarily long times, who carry on conversations in between customers.  I'm always amazed at the number of employees and the amount of time wasted by those employees just standing or sitting around.  It's just plain ridiculous. 
And I hope Jesus forgives me for the words that formed in my brain and at my lips after such a frustrating day.  Oh Happy Day cometh tomorrow.  Hopefully.