Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dirt Drawin’

Most people tell me I am over reacting when I talk about how nuts it makes me that my son spends the majority of his time in the outfield during baseball practice playing in the dirt.

He's only five-years-old,
they say, give him a break.

He's out there to have fun, not to set records.

I agree with these statements for the most part. I do want him to have fun and I don't care if he never makes the JV baseball team but I still want him to pay attention. I want him to learn to play the game and keep his focus on the ball for the duration of practices and games. I don't think that is too much to ask.

All of this came to a head last Saturday at practice when my son, crouched in the outfield drawing pictures of the family pets in the dirt, got clunked in the head with a fly ball. It was nothing serious. My son didn't cry and was more ticked about the interruption into his dirt-based masterpiece than any potential injury but the incident did serve the coach rather well in his continued plight to warn parents of the dangers of outfield dirt-playing. I sat on the bleachers for the duration of the speech, red faced knowing it was coming. And it came, "Don't be like poor T out there today. He got hit in the head with a baseball b/c he wasn't paying attention to the game. Now, thankfully, he's got a hard head and wasn't hurt but, Moms and Dads, we've got to teach these kids to pay attention to the ball." 

So, I've got two missions during the upcoming baseball season:

  1. Avoid any contact between the baseball and my son's noggin.

  2. Never hear my son's name used as the coach's cautionary tale again.

I'm thinking I may need to invest in some sort of tunnel vision safety goggles that hone in on the baseball and force my son's head to move in whatever direction the ball goes. If these don't exist yet, I need to invent them. I'm sure they'd sell like hotcakes. If anyone has any sage little league advice, I'm all ears.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Descriptive Naming Syndrome

My children have an ailment that they inherited from my beloved in-laws. This condition, which shall henceforth be called Descriptive Naming Syndrome (DNS for short) forces the creativity center of their brain to freeze up whenever they are in a position to name a stuffed animal or toy. I cannot relate to DNS because I was the queen of thoughtful names as a child. My cat had kittens once when I1351109_008
was 10 or 11 and I carefully studied each of the kitten's behavior to come up with the perfect name. There was Balboa the fighter, Hanz and Franz, the twin chocolate colored kittens, Butch, the big, fat tabby and Nanook the calico (named after the dog in the movie, The Lost Boys because of my mad crush on Corey Haim). I did not take naming animals, even the stuffed variety, lightly. I resented Xavier Roberts for pre-naming Cabbage Patch Kids and took it upon myself to make up nicknames for each of mine, refusing to give credence to the ones on the birth certificates. Yeah, I was a rebel.

My kids, not so much. Each of them received a Webkinz in their Easter Baskets and their names are simple descriptions of what the animal is. My son, who received a reindeer (thank you clearance aisle!) named it, "Deer," even after my repeated attempts to make descriptive, yet creative suggestions.

How about Rainy? It tells everyone that it's a reindeer but still makes a good name.

What about Dasher or Dancer? Prancer or Vixen?

My suggestions fell on deaf ears and the poor animal was dubbed, "Deer" officially by the resident Webkinz adoption agent. My son's two other Webkinz are Puppy and Kitty, respectively. Try to guess which is which. Just try!

My daughter received an adorable little white terrier in a Webkinz purse (thank you consignment sale! What can I say, I'm an Easter bargain hunter!). After careful consideration, she named her Puppy Girl. I made some desperate pleas in the form of upbeat suggestions:

How about Fluffy?

What about Pinky? Cutie Pie? Cinderella? Tinkerbell?

She didn't fall for my tricks and her dog was aptly named, Puppy Girl, birth certificate and all.

My husband finds this behavior perfectly acceptable. Growing up, his pets had such fantastically creative names as Black Cat, White Cat, Brown Dog,
Spotted Dog and my perennial favorites, Dog and Cat. Come on Hales! Throw a Mama a bone, no pun intended. And stop passing on the DNS gene!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Fear of Furries


My tummy not feel better!

My tummy not feel better!

This is what my daughter says every time she feels vulnerable. It started about a week ago and, like any good neurotic mother, I ran through all of the worst-case scenarios in my head:

  • Stomach cancer

  • Obstructed bowel

  • Constipation due to a diet of chicken nuggets and bread (she's at that stage where she boycotts all nutritionally valuable foods)

  • Anxiety

With the help of some careful observation and sage advice from an experienced YMCA child watch center worker, I have come to the conclusion that none of these scenarios apply. What is happening when my daughter utters these five words is nothing more than pure manipulation. At the ripe old age of two and a half she has figured out how to play me like a fiddle. She senses my hypersensitivity when it comes to her well-being. She knows that her one ace in the hole is her health and I will always err on the side of caution when she cries "sick."

In the past week, my daughter's stomach has hurt during the following scenarios:

  • when I drop her off in the Y nursery

  • when I deny her request for candy

  • when she sees the Easter Bunny (she's terrified of all furries)

  • when she is in the company of someone new and feels shy

  • at bedtime 

Anyone detecting a pattern here?

I'm wise to her games. It took me seven days but I've finally decoded the two-and-a-half-year-old mind. Impressive huh? Now I just use her fear of furries against her. Whenever she feigns illness, I threaten a visit to the Easter Bunny. It works like a charm! Sure, I might be damaging her enjoyment of Easter for life but, oh well, it works. I never liked the Easter Bunny all that much anyway. He gives me the creeps with his giant head and ridiculous outfit.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The DB

Cimg0084_2For the past two years we have gone camping with our good friends, the Byrne's, over Memorial Day weekend. We go to Stone Mountain in Georgia and have three days of fishing, talking, drinking and having a laid back, fantastic time. We always book the same campsite: a little slice of heaven on a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water. The site boasts the perfect spot for our tent as well as

a landing for the Byrne's and their, we're-too-good-for-a-tent-travel-trailer (just kidding Jacquelyn and Michael). It is a perfect campsite and we rebook it each May a full year in advance.

As some of you may remember, there was some rain on our Memorial Day parade last year in the form of a dead body we found floating in the waters of our campsite on the last day. In order to protect our children from what happened, we lovingly dubbed her, "The DB." Suffice it to say, the DB cast a black shadow over what was otherwise a great vacation. It took me a month or so but I was finally able to face what happened with some semblance of humor and not have "I see dead people" visions of that woman anytime I found myself in the dark. I was worried I would never be the same again but, alas, I am.

I'm the same chic with the same campsite booked for the same weekend this year and I desperately want to go. We have had lengthy discussions with the Byrnes about the possibility of returning to the site this year. Should we do it? Can we handle it? Will we freak out? Will I see her face as I walk the 100 feet to the bathhouse in the dark? Will I have panic attacks every time I walk out of my tent? Will we sit around the fire at night discussing every detail of the DB incident, obsessing about it? And, my personal favorite, will we find another DB floating in the banks of our campsite on Monday morning and find ourselves trapped in a LOST-like slice of the space/time continuum?

Will the DB cast a dark shadow on our return trip to Stone Mountain?

The site is booked and we want to go. What would you do?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

For Daddy

My son surprises me sometimes with his capacity for generosity. About two weeks ago he did something that was especially sweet. The kids and I had lunch with my Mother and we took the kids to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things. In an effort to keep them at bay, I offered a treat to any child 67206a_f
who remained reasonably calm and quiet for the duration of the shopping trip. Yes, it is bribery. No, I'm not ashamed. They had their moments but, all in all, the kids were well-behaved so I bought them a package of Airhead Extremes (one of my son's favorites and easily divided among two kids). I gave the kids two strips each when we got into the car and we began our 10-minute drive home. My son and I had the following conversation:

Son: These airheads are SO good!

Me: I'm glad. Can I have one?

Son: Uh huh. Has Daddy ever tasted them?

Me: Thanks. Yes, he's had them before.

Son: I'm going to save one for him Mommy.

Me: That's sweet honey but you don't need to. He's had one before. Plus, there are two more left and I was going to give one to you and one to your sister.

Son: I'll save some of mine for him.

Me: That's really nice. I'm sure he'll appreciate that.

We got home and my son had saved about an inch and a half piece of his last Airhead strip. He wanted to make sure that his Daddy got it so, without any prompting, he took out a piece of paper and a marker and asked my Mom how to spell, "For Daddy." He wrote it on the paper and then drew a circle. He put the paper on the arm of the couch right by the front door and put the piece of candy inside the circle. There was an arrow pointing from the words to the candy.  It was painfully sweet. My Mom still talks about it to this day and boasts about my son's unprompted sweetness in a way that only a grandmother can. She told me it was blog-worthy and I have finally given the incident its due web-based validation. Mom, this one's for you!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

1 in 4

Let's talk about this new study claiming that 1 in 4 teenage girls has some form of STD. I was floored by this and very disturbed. Maybe it all goes back to my naivety and the fact that I can still measure my daughter's age in months but this seems like an epidemic. I'd like to get the back story on the numbers. The sample was 838 young women but I don't know if they were taken from several regions or how they were obtained. Regardless, these numbers are scary, really scary.

I wonder what the same study would have shown if it were taken during my teen years: 1988-1994. Would they have been much different? I think so but I may be naïve and was, without a doubt, a total prude at age 16. I can only hope that my daughter is a naïve prude like I was. Now I've got to decide on a tactic. Got any ideas? Open communication? Threats? A pregnant suit? Fear? Religious fanaticism? My options, at this point, are wide open.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Adventure Hills

I am a fan of creative urban outdoor play areas. I found the mecca of one such structure in a city near and dear to my heart and my front door, Chattanooga. My husband and I took the kids to the zoo yesterday for some sad yet enjoyable animals-in-captivity fun. We both needed some recovery time after an unfortunate and very disturbing encounter at the Chimpanzee exhibit. I'll spare you the details but it involved poop, lots and lots of poop. We brought the kid's kites and decided to drive to a nearby park on the Tennessee River. We hadn't been in a while and the construction on the Tennessee Riverwalk, a 22-mile paved trail that runs along the river, had come a long way since our last visit. After some failed attempts at kite flying due to lack of wind, we decided to take a stroll. Just about a quarter mile from the park we saw a large grassy hill with lots of activity. We decided to take a closer look. The activity, as it turns out, was a bunch of kids with sleds hauling them up and then riding them down the hill. Some sleds were plastic, meant-for-that-purpose kind of sleds. Others were panels from large cardboard boxes that seemed to work just as well. My son was intrigued and desperate to give it a go.

We grabbed some cardboard from the communal pile and hit the top of the hill. My husband rode with my son the first time and then he wanted me to come. On that run a kindly stranger taking a break from sledding offered us the use of his fancy plastic sled. My son was thrilled. We tore down the hill with equal parts screams of fright (from me) and laughter (from my son). It was fun and I ended up going down a few more times. My son went down upwards of 25 times and made friends with several other sledders, including some tweens who will most likely star in their own Jackass-esque reality show in a few years. They were nice, though, and very entertaining to watch so I decided to withhold judgment on their death-defying antics and enjoy myself. My daughter was content to watch and have one close encounter with a mini-Johnny Knoxville. No harm was done so it was all good. Here's some pictures of the aptly named, Adventure Hill. That's me in the fourth picture waving like a fool:





Friday, March 7, 2008

Days of Vomit and Roses

Sunday, Monday, Vomit Days.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Vomit

Thursday, Friday, Vomit

Saturday, Vomit Day.

Vomitin’ all week with you.


I could go on but I’m sure you get the picture. I’ve
lived the past week of my life in a vomit cocoon. I’ve done my best to break free
but I just can’t seem to disinfect my way out of this one. It started on
Saturday night with my son. Tuesday night my daughter got it. Wednesday night I
got it and last night my husband and my daughter were both hitting the
porcelain. Anybody want to come over for a playdate? How about a dinner party?
I’ll be serving crackers and ginger ale. Yum!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Velcro and Character Endorsements

I used to have an aversion to character tennis shoes. I don’t
want my kid walking around with a Spongebob endorsement on his foot.  Plus, I think they are hopelessly dorky.  A horse on his lapel? No problem. Just no
characters. Things have changed.

About a year ago I took my son into Stride Rite. I'm a sucker for a good marketing campaign. He followed the salesperson’s directions, obediently removing his
shoes and placing his foot in the metal contraption that tells me what size
shoe I should drop $50 on. Everything was going great until the salesperson had
the audacity to attempt to put a shoe on my son’s foot. He freaked. He screamed
and made sounds similar to those he makes when the nurse is coming at him with
the flu shot. It’s a non-human sort of bird noise that is high pitched. I’m
pretty sure there were stray dogs howling at the mall entrance that day. I
reacted like I always do when faced with immediate stress: I had a mild panic
attack and got angry. I realize this is not the most healthy approach to this
type of thing but it’s not something I think about. It’s reactionary and
apparently I’m not mature enough to react appropriately.

I do care what people think of me so I tried to maintain
some semblance of outer calm. I took the shoes from the salesperson and
attempted to calm my son using soothing words and logic, “It’s just a shoe.” “It
will make you run faster.” This gradually evolved into, “What is the problem
here?” (voice raising), “It’s just a shoe for the love of all that is holy!”
None of this worked so I counted to ten and tried to get inside my son’s head
to find out why he was having such an adverse reaction to a shoe. After he
regained his composure and let out the last bird noise and a few sobs, my son
told me, “I don’t like shoes that tie.” I was floored. I had no clue. How could
I not know about this phobia? Clearly, he must wake in the middle of the night
in terror from dreams of a large pair of Chuck Taylor’s coming at his head. Did
he need counseling for this phobia? Is there a word for this phobia? (There’s
not, at least not one I can find.)

I decided that buying shoes with Velcro was a small price to
pay for my son’s sanity. I found a cute pair of Velcro shoes and have fought
him since the day I brought them home to wear on school days. He hates to wear
them. It’s a constant battle. Yesterday I was at the mall at the Disney Store.
It’s going out of business and I was taking advantage of the sales. My son was
with me and a pair of Velcro tennis shoes caught his eye. They were hideous:
green and blue with a picture of Buzz Lightyear on the side. Plus, they light
up. Talk about a double whammy. I took note of his enthusiasm about any pair of
tennis shoes and decided to let him try them on. He loved them. Sold. I paid
the cashier $7.50 for them, hung my head in shame for just a minute and went on
my merry way. My son had school this morning. He got dressed, down to his
obnoxious light-up shoes with no argument whatsoever. It took every ounce of
self-control not to bend down and kiss his shoes but I held back. I’ll keep my
newly found character endorsements to myself.