Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

It's not truly a holiday without a visit to the emergency room, right?

A door attacked son D's head soon after Turkey dinner, creating a deep, bloody gash in his head. No one is exactly sure how it happened, the adults were all talking downstairs while the kids were running around upstairs. But it sounds like it involved a group of 6 year old boys wrestling, falling, a kick or two, and a door in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It was pretty scary to look at - lots of blood and a deeper cut than one should really be able to have on one's head. (Who knew there was that much skin between the scalp and the skull?)

This is yet another example of why our particular family needs two parents. One of us becomes more clear-headed, stronger and calmer when met with a child with blood pouring from his head.

That would NOT be me. I provide the dramatic flair, the "OMG - there is blood streaming from my baby's head" cries. Ying and Yang, right?

The boy thought the ER was the coolest place ever to spend a holiday. The hours we spent waiting just whizzed by as he had both parents at his disposal - and a Pokeman book - and games on the iPhone.

Then, just when he thought it couldn't get any better - it turns out that his doctor was the goalie for the UW-Madison women's soccer team, back in the day. Staples *and* soccer talk. Someone pinch me, we must be dreaming.

We took some photos to pass the time:

He's still wearing the bracelet, as a memento from the best Thanksgiving night ever.

Oh, to be six again and find joy and fun in every single experience you have....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Why is it such a shock to me when my eldest turns another year older? Why does "9" sound so much older than "8"? It's not like we don't know that this is going to happen each year. We've got plenty of time to prepare for the inevitable. Yet, each year - it seems like it sneaks up on me, these birthdays of the eldest child.

There are two boys with whom Daughter D gets along with really well. They live in our neighborhood, are on her summer swim team, and are in her math group at school.

But - she's been too embarrassed to invite them over to our house. In Kindergarten, we went through some minor bullying on the bus. A 5th grade boy taunted her incessantly about her relationship with another good friend/neighbor with whom she sat on the bus and who happened to be a boy. Lots of "boyfriend" talk and some of it inappropriate. We got through it, but the embarrassment remains.

After much convincing and pleading, I convinced her to invite these two boys over. They are really sweet and she enjoys their company. They are as obsessed with math as she is. They like Pokeman as much as she does.

Daughter D doesn't really like all the girly-girl stuff that has started to go on. The girls her age are all creating "clubs" and D. won't join them. She thinks the fake clubs are silly and says that they are only making them to exclude people. (I suspect there is a grain of truth in that.) But you can imagine how well that goes over....what could possibly be worse than creating an exclusive club, inviting someone to join and having her say, "No Thanks." It doesn't go over well. They feel rebuffed. D. feels ostracized.

I keep telling her "hang out with the boys! They don't pull that shit." (except I say "stuff" - really I do.) order to get her to agree to invite actual boys over, I also had to invite another friend of hers who is a girl, and all of their younger brothers. That gives us 8 kids who will be getting off the bus on Friday and staying through dinner. (D. insisted on the younger brothers...I suspect because they are all the same age as her younger brother...)

Oh, and I also had to buy all the kids a Pokeman Booster Pack. Hey - I'm not above bribery to kickstart the gender-neutral friendhips.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Please Congress, don't bail out the auto industry

Megan McArdle says it well:

But whatever your feeling about government intervention in the economy, or the correct level of income inequality, I think there's one thing we can all agree on: for the world to get better, things that don't work have to fail.

The Economist had the best argument I've read for saying "yes" to a bailout of the financial industry and "no" to a bailout of the car industry. With the financial industry - the 'bad' would have taken out the 'good' - they are so intertwined. A collapse in confidence in the banking system would hurt everyone. Your honest local bank, in your little town, may have gone under due to the mismanagement of a few bad apples. (And picture this on a global scale.)

But the auto industry is different. If GM goes under, the plant in Tennessee that is making Toyotas will be fine. It will be terrible and awful for anyone associated with GM. But it won't completely kill the rest of the industry.

The Big Three aren't working. Propping their bloated bureaucracies and their unwieldy unions won't help our country.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Halfway there?

Last night at dinner, we were discussing Daughter D's upcoming birthday. She stopped us in our tracks by remarking, "I'll be 9 - that's halfway to 18!"

That is simply not possible.

18 is college, driving, dating, voting, moving away from home.

So, really? We're halfway there?

There is a small part of me that simply can't fathom a world that isn't centered on my children. Good thing we have 3 cats.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Revenge of the Nodes

As a child, I had swollen lymph nodes. Constantly. If I even got the slightest cold, the nodes would plump right up. My dad was in the Coast Guard so we moved around quite a bit. Every town had a new doctor and a new person to explain about the swollen lymph nodes. According to my mother, some doctors thought I had lyme disease. Another insisted it was "cat scratch fever."

I have survived, swollen nodes and all.

So, my reaction can be forgiven, when the school nurse called me today in an absolute panic. Son D's lymph nodes were swollen. Scarily swollen. Visibly swollen. "Oh, yeah," I said, "that happens."

The school nurse seemed surprised by my ambivalence to my son's condition. He'd gotten a crick in his neck earlier this morning that was bothering him. He was in a bit of neck pain. She called me back at work 3 more times. She was convinced that it was an excessively swollen left supraclavicular lymph node. Evidently that can be the first sign of something really bad. She suggested we get it looked at immediately.

Luckily, husband D could drop everything at work and go get him. I managed to get the boy to the Doctor later this afternoon (at the school nurse's insistence.)

I explained to our doctor, "my family - our nodes - they swell" but had written down the school nurse's concerns word-for-word, just to be safe. Our Doc checked him out thoroughly and said that he is perfectly fine. The school nurse had mis-identified the particular swollen nodes - They are not the supraclavicular nodes (although to her credit, they are on the left.)

So, as annoyed as I was to disrupt our daily schedule for an overly cautious school nurse, I was deeply grateful, too.

Somewhere in this great big world of ours, I suspect there was a mother today who didn't get to feel annoyed. Instead, she had her worst nightmares confirmed - some kind of serious illness in her child.

It's amazing how just the flicker of possibility of something bad happening to your child immediately rearranges all of your priorities. In the blink of an eye, that "Top Priority Project" at work doesn't even matter.

And can I say that we have the best Kindergarten teacher in the world? She called us at home tonight to make sure he was OK. Say what you will about the quality of education in a high-poverty urban school...but our teachers, they care.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

election night jitters

My kids are coloring in their electoral college maps as I type. I'm trying not to look, or listen, for just a minute. Blue, then red, then blue again. I've had to resharpen the blue and red pencils twice, already.

My neighbor wrote another great piece about our kids.

We went to vote as a family this morning. I took son D into the booth with me, Daughter D went with her father. I lifted son D onto my hip so he could see better and watched as his eyes scanned the ballot. Then, he saw it - "Obama!" he yelled. (so much for the private ballot?) He watched as I drew my line. I am not ashamed to admit that I got a little teary-eyed.

My whole life I've been voting "against" someone. (Usually with the last name of "Bush") I've never really voted "for" someone before. It's a really great feeling to vote for someone.

When I picked the kids up from school today, there was a man in the parking lot who looked confused. He came up to me and asked if this was "whitetail" middle school? in very broken English. No, I replied, it's a "another name" elementary school. He looked crushed.

I looked at the paper in his hand. It was an Obama flyer in which he had scribbled the name of the local middle school. I quickly deduced that he had never voted before and didn't know where to go. I drew him a map to get to the middle school.

Our eyes connected and I teared up again. I'm a middle-aged white mother. He appeared to be an older Hispanic grandfather. I gave him the thumbs up and said "Obama!" He gave me the biggest smile I've seen in years and went on his way.

I am full of hope for the world tonight. However the election turns out - I am am full of hope.

Monday, November 3, 2008

pre-election night jitters

I'm trying not to think about the election. We've done all we can, right? Whichever side you are voting for, it's all in the hands of the voters now.

This afternoon, though, I realized that Daughter D turns 9 in two short weeks. With all the election/political/school stuff going on, we sort of forgot all about that. I've done nothing to prepare for her birthday.

So, I asked her what she wanted. She only had one request - a Kindle. I gently explained to her that 9 year-old children do not get $350 gadgets for their birthdays. She understood. (In her defense, she did not know the cost.) We caught a bit of Oprah the other afternoon, while I was folding laundry. (Oprah is my one vice. I don't really like much on TV, but at least once a week, I must catch one of our recorded Oprah episodes. It is the best laundry-folding show ever.) Oprah was singing the praises of this device. I was left unimpressed but Daughter D was transformed. Utterly transformed.

I tried to reason with her about the pure beauty of reading books on paper - the tactile joy of turning the page. I'm old school, I guess. (or 40...) She would have nothing to do with that argument. To her, the very concept of having all of her precious books in one place was nothing short of nirvana.

I miss being 9. This is her schedule: She wakes up - and reads. She goes to school (with 3 books in her backpack) - and reads. She gets home from school - and reads. She has a snack - and then reads to her brother. They go outside to play, come back in - and read some more. We have dinner, do homework, practice piano, bathe,....and then read to the kids before bed. We put her to bed...and she turns on her light and sneaks in some more reading.

Her life is basically reading - interrupted by meals, school, and the occasional soccer practice. She's not allowed to watch TV during the week, and isn't yet obsessed with the internet. So, all that's left are books.

So, I went to Amazon and ordered her a bunch of books. Books with pages. And ink. Old school reading - the kind you can touch.

I wonder if this is this where the generation gap starts? I'm up with Facebook, WebKinz, Twitter and Poptropica. Will that be enough? Or will she always be one step ahead of me, technologically, from here on out?