Saturday, May 20, 2006

Enough Already!

I never thought I'd be in this position, but I'm going to defend Britney Spears. I have to. This is getting ridiculous.

Yes, all the evidence points to her being an idiot. Her taste in men is obviously crappy. Her music has always been pretty sorry, and the bits of her horrible reality show that I saw convinced me that there is some essential character development that doesn't happen when you spend your late teens and early twenties surrounded by sychophants instead of working at low-paying jobs, living in crappy apartments and maybe struggling through school or something.
But I also think she's getting a raw deal in the current media obsession with her parenting skills. Okay -- driving with the baby in her lap? Terrible idea. I'm definitely not giving her a pass on that one, and I'm not buying that crap about her having race away from the vicious paparazzi.
But then -- okay, poor Sean apparently hit his head when something went wrong with high chair and he fell. He was with the nanny at the time. Well, guess what? Stuff like that happens. One time when Reasonable Man and I were right there, we were getting Mermaid out of her high chair and I still don't know what happened, but the tray was off and she fell forward and hit her forehead on the kitchen table. It was awful, and of course we felt terrible.

Last week, Britney and Sean were photographed riding down the road in a convertible. Britney was driving, and the baby was slumped over asleep in his carseat in the backseat of the car. Andhis carseat was facing forward. One article said it appeared he didn't have straps over his shoulders, and another said that he obviously wasn't fastened in properly. Well, maybe so, but unfortunately, babies slump over in their carseats like that sometimes. And yeah, they recommend that you keep the kid facing backward till they're a year old, but I'll go ahead an admit right now that I turned both my kids forward before that myself. Neither of them liked being in the backseat facing backward and not being able to see me, and often that lead to a lot of crying that I decided was not worth it. Sometimes you make that kind of a decision as a parent, you know?

And the latest is -- *gasp!* -- Britney was holding the baby in one arm and had a glass in her other hand, and she tripped. She freaking tripped, people. Yeah, clearly that makes her an unfit mother. I mean, I don't know about you, but I've never tripped since I became a mother...
Oh, except that one time when I did. And I actually did drop my baby. I was carrying her up to our third-floor apartment and caught my toe a few steps from the top. I had to make a quick decision -- drop Mermaid on her back on the landing in front of me so I could catch myself, or fall on top of her. I chose dropping her -- it was only a few inches, and fortunately there was some of that nubby industrial carpet that they have in store and restaurants and stuff to soften her fall a little bit. She started howling and I felt horrible, but she was fine.

Mermaid also fell off the couch when she was a baby. And one time I accidently dropped the cordless phone and it hit her in the head. We all want to protect our kids from those kinds of things, but there's only so much you can do. We all get a bad bonk once in a while.

Maybe Britney gets all the media attention she does because her behavior has been questionable in the past, but I was a young first-time mom too, and I'm just grateful I didn't have the paparazzi following me around and watching me screw up back then. If this keeps up, what's next? Is there going to be an article every time Britney takes her baby out in the sun without a hat? A few years down the road, are we going to hear about every time he fights with his little sister, goes out to play without a jacket, or gets less than 100% on a spelling test?

Maybe I'm a hypocrite that it doesn't bother me if the press beats up on Britney about KFed or her dubious fashion choices, but all this bashing of her parenting skills just doesn't sit well with me. Raise your hand if your parenting could stand up to the constant media scrutiny hers gets?

Yeah, I know:

It's been a while.

Life has been pretty eventful lately. In the good news column, last night was our school carnival, featuring (for me anyway) the used book sale. That means there is no longer an ocean of brown paper grocery bags full of books in my living room. It also means I no longer have to look at the pile of papers sitting on my coffee table (aka my desk) and guiltily think about what I should be doing to prepare for the used book sale. It all came together in the end. The bad news was, it poured rain on the carnival. The good news was, the used book sale was under shelter. The bad news was, the books kept getting wet anyway. We had to keep running around wiping them off with paper towels. The good news is, people bought them anyway. Only maybe a third of the books I unloaded from my minivan at the beginning of the afternoon went back into it at the end of the evening. Also, my lack of volunteers turned out to not be a problem. One lady who showed up to work her shift from 5:45-6:30, and both she and her husband hung around till closing. Her husband wasn't even signed up to work, and he both went around yelling that all books were ten cents a piece during the last half hour we were open AND helped up pack up at the end. I love that guy.

After the carnival was the talent show. A whole crowd of people was huddled in the sheltered spot outside the MPR where the show was going to be just to get out of the rain for quite a while before they unlocked the doors and went in. It was a pretty soggy crowd in there, and we nevered did get a seat, but we watched the whole thing. Mermaid's performance of "When I'm 64" went off without a hitch. She kinda stood there looking away from the audience without smiling the whole time, but she sang it nice and loud, and the lyrics only got away from her once. She was really pleased with herself and we were proud of her. And when the talent show was done, we were able to grab both kids and make a quick break for it, due to the fact that our minivan was still parked right outside the MPR, right by the sheltered lunch tables where the used book fair had taken place.

Priorities when I got home were: change into sweats, pour a glass of wine, and count the money from the book sale. We made $181 -- woo hoo! I feel it was pretty successful, which is good since I've already been informed I'll be running it again next year by the person who volunteered me to do it this year without my permission. That's what I get for being good friends with the PTA VP of Events.

In other news, it's been a rough week for my grandma. Come to think of it, it's been a rough month for her. A rough year, even. She's been in a nursing home since early April, and I've been going to see her every week, which has been kind of nice. I've enjoyed spending time with her, and bringing her stuff to eat (she doesn't love the food at the nursing home), and having me visit seems to give her a boost.

Unfortunately, after my parents went on vacation for two weeks, Grandma ran into some health problems and got sent to the hospital twice -- once with a blood clot in her leg a week ago Wednesday, and then again this past Tuesday night with congestive heart failure, which has been a problem she's had pretty regularly over the last few years. The first time she went in, the nursing home called my parents' home number, left a message, and didn't bother to call any of the zillion other numbers on the list. So none of us even knew she was at the hospital having surgery until two days later, when my aunt and uncle came down from where they live in the mountains to visit her and found her bed at the nursing home empty.

Grandma came through that okay, but started having problems breathing almost as soon as they sent her back to the nursing home Monday night, and she was back in the ER 24 hours later. By this time, my aunt and uncle had had to return to the mountains. The hospital assured my aunt that Grandma was comfortable, but because the hospital was crowded, she was in the hallway of the ER. Big Little Brother, who lives just a couple of miles away from the hospital, went over to see her, and called and told me I should come down, so I did. It was awful to see poor Grandma, lying there in the hospital. She wasn't hardly moving at all, and when I went to talk to her, she told me "I just want this to be over." I stayed there with her in the ER, and fortunately they had a room ready for her about an hour after I got there. On the way up, she said they weren't supposed to be taking her upstairs because "I didn't want to go." Even though she did seem to understand that they couldn't just leave her in the ER hallway indefinitely, she continued to insist that she'd been told she wouldn't be moved once she got to the hospital.

I stayed with her for the rest of the afternoon, went to BLB's for a few hours for dinner and such, and then returned to the hospital to spend a couple of hours with her. The next morning I was back again, and I stayed all day. My aunt and uncle were on their way back down from the mountains, and my parents were flying back from Hawaii a few days early. In the meantime, Grandma was actually getting a little better, much to her dismay. She wasn't eating or taking her medication, and I think she thought that would just finish her off. I was supposed to leave around one, but once the doctor came in and told her she was actually improving, I decided to hang around. Poor Grandma just didn't know what to do, and it was pretty hard to know what to tell her, but I'm glad I was there with her. Once my aunt, uncle, parents and BLB arrived, it was decided Grandma would go back to the nursing home the next day and stay there -- no more going to the hospital. In the meantime, she felt like eating, and went ahead took her meds again. She was pretty tired by then, so we left to let her get some rest and went out to dinner.

I'm really proud of my family. Everyone appreciates what everyone else is doing, and there's no complaining that this person should be doing more or anything like that. Everyone was glad my parents were able to go on their long-planned trip to Hawaii, and they didn't mind coming home a few days early. Reasonable Man didn't mind holding down the fort up here in Davis while I was there with Grandma for almost two days. BLB didn't mind running around, getting Grandma settled in nursing home on Monday night and everything else that followed. And I'm so glad I was able to go down and be with her on Wednesday and Thursday, even though she kept encouraging me to go home. I know she was glad I was there, and I was glad I could be a comfort to her and that she didn't have to be alone. I don't know what the next few weeks will bring, but I'm awfully glad to have my school stuff over with so I can concentrate on more important things and be available for my family as needed.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Spring Has Sprung...

... and it's kicking my butt. If I spend more than a few minutes outside this past week, I sneeze for an hour. Running is out. So is yardwork. I actually don't really like going out to the mailbox all that much, truth be told.

Just one more reason to be looking forward to summer...

Jump Around!

Rewind several weeks back to spring break, when we were spending a morning at the home of my friend Crazy Karin. Moms and kids had finished dyeing Easter eggs and were scattered in various places around the house, and I asked Crazy Karin if she knew where Mermaid was (I knew where Enthusio was: at the computer. He is obsessed with video games and will choose playing them above all else most of the time, even if he's in a girl house where most of the games available involve kitties or ponies or something). CK said "she's out there having a merry old time on the trampoline." And indeed she was. I had witnessed Mermaid on that trampoline many times with other kids, but it was the first time I'd ever seen her on it alone, and "bliss" does not adequately decide the expression on her face.

"I don't know why you guys don't have a trampoline," CK said.

"Neither do I," I replied.

And so, less than a week later, this suddenly glaring lack of a trampoline in our lives was rectified. I did some research online, chose a safe model, ordered it, and returned from a busy morning one Wednesday to find three enormous boxes'o'trampoline (and safety net) waiting for me on the front porch. Being me, I almost immediately set to work assembling the contraption, and about 7 hours later, I had this to show for my efforts:

Also, this:

And so our bouncy adventure began.


The kids are getting lots of exercise. That first evening, when they came in for dinner all red-faced and sweaty, I knew this was going to be a good development. It would be fair to say that our whole family struggles a bit with our weight, and what with all the media hoopla about how we are raising a generation of fat kids, etc., I am happy to add another activity that is actually, you know, active to their life.

Tons kids have passed through our backyard since the trampoline came into our lives. I really like having a yard full of happy kids. A week or two ago, I was coming back from a run and because of the open space next to our house, as I came up the street was was treated to the sight of 5 kids bouncing into view above our back fence -- how fun is that? Jumping on the trampoline is an activity that keeps Mermaid engaged with other kids a lot longer than a lot of other things, so that's great.

Several times we've had dinner with friends and then brought everyone back to the house so the kids could jump and the parents could just sit and hang out for a while. So the tramp has added a new dimension to our social life, and that's always a good thing.


This isn't completely a minus, because it only bothers me a bit and the kids not at all, but 2 or 3 kids on our street who previously had zero interest in playing with Mermaid and Enthusio are now knocking on the door to play with them just about every day. One of them is at least diplomatic enough to ask Mermaid to come out and do things other than jump on the trampoline once in a while, but generally they end up in our backyard. It's really not a huge deal, just a little irritating.

Enthusio seems to end having a lot of meltdowns when the tramp is full of kids, depending on his mental state, how tired he is, etc. When a group of kids gets together out there, they always seem to want to come up with games where if you do this or that or whatever, you're "out," and that situation is always rife with peril for Enthusio -- at this point in time, he absolutely cannot handle finding himself on the losing end of anything, and between his lack of confidence in his physical abilities and his current belief that EVERYTHING is unfair, it just turns into a mess over and over. Reasonable Man and I disagree on how to handle this: he says we should just ban those kinds of games for right now, and I can see the wisdom of that (it's our trampoline and Enthusio should be able to feel safe and happy when he plays on it), but I'm also wary of removing every obstacle from his path and communicating to him that a) we don't believe he can learn to handle things better and/or b) all he has to do is cry a few times and we will make sure he gets his way. I am constantly torn between wanting to let him have his emotions without making him feel he is wrong to feel the way he does, and wanting him to learn to control them already. As always, it's a tough one.