Archives for category: kids

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For my youngest, this is her last week of school before the school breaks for summer. This morning, she turned to me and said, “Momma, it’s my LAST week of school. I just realized I have the whole summer ahead of me.”

And you know what, she’s right. What a delicious time of year that was when you were a kid…those last few days of school before the start of summer vacation. Where you did next to nothing in class other than watch movies and talk with friends. Recess would be 2 hours long.

The summer seemed almost endless. Long days spent at the pool, riding my bike up to the corner store to buy candy or ice cream, afternoons filled with bottles of diet Pepsi and bags of Doritos while watching Match Game.

And then, vacation would come. Like real vacation – packing up the family and heading to Martha’s Vineyard for 2-3 weeks of gloriously good times. We never went to the Jersey Shore growing up. My dad hated it. I don’t think I had ever been to the Jersey shore until I was in college. Who needed it when you could romp in the surf of South Beach.

Every aspect of our trips to the Vineyard were magical. We would always have an early ferry, so we would leave our house in the middle of the night. I remember as a child going to bed that night in giddy anticipation of being woken up at 1 or 2 am, piling into the back of our station wagon fixed up with pillows and blankets, and heading north towards Cape Cod.

Dad would usually stop at the Howard Johnsons at the Mystic Seaport exit, where we would get muffins and hot chocolate. And those next few hours in the car were blissful…the cool night air and the anticipation of the ferry ride that began the official start to vacation.

We are heading up there again this year to spread my father’s ashes. It’s really where he belongs. While this trip will be the highlight of our summer, I’m hoping there are many other trips that my daughters will cherish over the course of those short summer months.

Things like visits to Kings Dominion, hiking and swimming at Blue Hole, and a trip to DC to take part in the Truth March. Yeah, I think the summer of 2017 might turn out okay.

Oh wait…I still have to buy a bathing suit. Groan.

In response to the Daily Prompt, Locked

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When my youngest daughter was around 4 years old, we took a vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, and stayed in the million+ dollar house that my cousin lives in. We wanted the girls on their best behavior so we would neither annoy nor cause my cousins to think we were bad houseguests.

About two days into the trip we were all getting ready to go to the beach, but my 4 year old had to go to the bathroom. There was a powder room right in the foyer, so I told her to go there and to hurry it up – we didn’t want to be the cause of everyone having to wait.

Five minutes later, I banged on the door to see what was taking her so long, at which point she told me she had locked the door and could not get it open.

Fuck.

The doorknob was a lever handle, as shown above, but the lock was not your typical push-button variety. It was a separate lock under the door knob…the type you had to twist right to lock and left to unlock. And for some reason, my baby girl could not figure this out.

There was a window to the bathroom, so we went outside to try and coach her through the window (which of course, was locked). After 10 minutes of us shouting instructions, she sort of gave up and just sat on the floor.

Hubby began to freak out. It had been at least a half an hour, and the crowd was getting restless. This was super embarrassing for him…the day was getting ruined and it was our fault. He told me to call the steamship authority and see if we could get on a ferry today…we were leaving the island.

This, along with the fact that my child had pretty much mentally shut down in a small bathroom, made me lose it. I paced back and forth outside the window chain-smoking and crying.

My cousins had decided to call their handyman, who was on vacation, to come to the house and drill through their very expensive bathroom door in order to free our daughter. The thought of OUR FAMILY costing them money and damage to their new home rattled my husband to the core, so he took action.

He drew a picture of the lock, and then an arrow pointing in the direction to unlock the door, and slipped it under the door. Then he quietly coached his little girl, and within a minute or two, the door opened – and none too soon. The handyman was standing their, goggles on and a drill in his hands.

She’d been locked in there for over an hour, and she didn’t cry once. I wish I could say the same. Then I had to talk my husband into letting us stay – that we would look way worse if we turned-tail and ran.

Because these are the types of things that happen when you have kids. Hell, I got locked in a bathroom the same exact way when I was a kid when we were visiting some friend of my fathers. I had to be rescued through the bathroom window.

One good thing came of the incident…My daughter got a new knick-name. To this day, my husband calls her “Locked.”

 

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Today my oldest daughter, a senior at VCU, hosted her very first radio show on the campus station.

She had mentioned a desire to volunteer for her own show last semester, but with classes and her involvement with Phi Sigma Pi, I never thought she’d make the time. Plus, she tends to procrastinate – doing and saying are like Earth to Mars many times for her.

But not this time. Earlier this week she met with the station manager, familiarized herself with the board (which she pretty much knew from her communications classes) and today, at a shade past 10 am, she was on the air.

She played music…and lots of it was pretty good. Some Beck, Vampire Weekend, and Talking Heads. She mentioned her sister and her love of the Beatles. She talked about how it feels to attend a concert, using her time working at the Charlottesville Pavilion as an example. And she admitted it was her first broadcast, and that she knew her family was listening.

And we were, thanks to live streaming. Her dad, myself…even her Aunt Judy in Florida tuned in to hear the show. I sat there listening to her sweet voice – high and clear – sort of like the mew of a kitten, and I was fairly bursting with pride.

Because there was my girl, on the radio. My girl who until she tried out for her first play in high school, was as shy as they come. My girl who continues to take chances and push herself in order to build experience and create opportunities for herself.

And this is the same girl who, while snuggled in bed, will call me to her room only to ask for me to hand her the TV remote that is 3 feet away.

And as for the prejudice part? Yeah, her show wasn’t perfect, but it was really good. And it’s only going to get better. If you want to listen, she’s on the air Wednesdays at 10 am on WVCW.

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Out of all of my siblings, I was the one, by far, who wound up in the hospital the most. I’m actually curious as to what the final tally of my trips to the ER were…so here goes. Let’s list ’em!

Losing My Two Front Teeth – an unfortunate accident on my tricycle resulted in my teeth hitting the pavement and breaking them both into pieces. I was rushed up the street to the dentist on the corner where what chunks were remaining were pulled. I spoke with a lisp until my teeth grew back in, and even then had to go to a speech therapist at school. This calls for a Brady Bunch reference; “Baby Talk, Baby Talk, it’s a wonder you can walk.”

Stuffing a Shell Up My Nose – One day when I was obviously very bored, I decided it would be fun to take a small shell, that had come from a broken bracelet, and shove it up my nose and blow it out again. I did this repeatedly until I shoved it up too far…no amount of blowing could get it out. I had to be taken to the ER where I kicked and screamed on the table while a doctor attempted to pluck it out with some sort of tweezer.

No clever Brady Bunch reference for that embarassing tale….

Cat Scratch Stitches – I’ve written about this incident before. I was afraid to tell my mother that I’d picked up a stray cat who then used my forehead as a springboard to make his escape. His back claws had left a few serious gashes by my scalp, but I lied and told her I’d fallen down. I needed stiches and had very swollen eyes for a few days.

The Broken Fingers – When our neighbors got a new refridgerator, we used the box in as many creative ways as possible. First it was a club house. Then we used it to climb inside and roll down the hill in their backyard. Once it really fell apart we opened it all the way up and used it as a slide. We’d run down the hill and slide on top of the box. But when I did this my hand got caught in one of the many tears along the side, so as my body was headed down the hill, my hand wasn’t.

My three middle fingers swelled up at an amazing rate…all I had to do was race in the back door, show my mom, and she was grabbing her car keys and her insurance card. I had a cast on my right hand for more than a month, and had to learn how to sort of write left-handed in order to do homework.

Stitches on my Knee – while playing Eeyore in a improv production, I donkey-kicked my legs in the air and my knee came down on a nail that was sticking out of the stage. My pale grey pants were soon turning red, so I improv-ed my exit stage left. I got four stitches and very painful tetanus shot.

Apendix – I was a 7th grader on my first real date – we went to carnival up in Fort Lee, NJ and what do I do? I get sick on a ride. After throwing up all over myself, and collapsing behind the goldfish toss tent, my date and my friends called over the paramedics who loaded me into an ambulance. By that evening I was sans my appendix, but had upped my stuffed animal collection considerably.

Complications Follwing Appendectomy – Something went wrong a few days after I got home from the hospital. I had horrible stomach cramps and a fever, so back to the hospital I went.After a thoroughly embarassing rectal exam, they determined my intestines weren’t functioning properly. So they had to snake a tube up my nose and down my throat to pump out all the rotting food in my stomach that wasn’t going anywhere. I was stuck in the hospital for at least a week, and couldn’t go home until I took a proper shit.

Ovarian Cyst – I was diagnosed as having an ovarian cyst when I was a sophomore in high school. The cyst, which was the size of a grapefruit with hair, was removed, but thankfully I was able to keep my ovary. It left me with a horizontal scar from hip bone to hip bone, but thankfully fell right below the bikini line. Cause you know, I could still wear a bikini in those days.

That concludes my list of childhood maladies resulting in trips to the hospital. While it might not be impressive to some, this list far outweighs anything my siblings went through combined, although I have to say, my sister Judy had a few major accidents of her own.

And I wasn’t even a dare-devil. I was just a normal kid doing normal things, and somehow it resulted in 8 trips to the hospital. I don’t know how my mom did it. My kids are 20 and 13 and once my oldest daughter needed stitches. That’s it.

Wow…I guess I should consider myself lucky!

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Today my 13 year old started high school. Sorta.

She’s actually in the 8th grade, but they attend our county’s high school. This is a good thing for many reasons.

  1. The high school is TONS closer to our house than the middle school – the drive took just about 10 minutes this morning.
  2. The 8th graders have their own wing, so they don’t interact all that much with the upperclassmen. Except for at lunch. I wonder how that will work out…
  3. They start an hour later than the middle school. This means that not only does my daughter get to sleep later, but I still get to take my morning walks. If I’m out the door by 6 in the morning, I am back in time to wake her up at 7.

Having experienced my first day with this new schedule, I was amazed at how wonderful my morning was despite the fact that I was up at 4 a.m. with killer cramps that 6 Advil and 1 Meloxicam could not conquer. I just felt like I had so much time!

The one thing that wasn’t different? My daughter’s crappy attitude. On the ride to school she was sullen, with her head against the window, not talking. When I asked her what was wrong, she said she didn’t feel well. This is the same commute I made a hundred times during the 7th grade.

My girl does not like school.

I try to tell her it’s her job…school is her 9-5 until she graduates and gets to join the real world…which isn’t nearly as fun as she thinks it is. I would kill to be done by 3:45 with nothing more to do than some homework. Try working a full day and then having to cook and do dishes. School looks like a pretty sweet deal.

But even if she’s miserable, I’m not. I LOVE this new schedule! I love High School!

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I first heard the term “Helicopter Parent” a few months back, I was like, what the hell is that?

So I looked it up. And found out it was pretty much me.

It was a sucky realization – I’m a term – like Tiger Mom or Cougar. Those little pop culture labels that we love to assign to groups of people. So I hover…there is little to nothing I can do about it. Cause once those little girls were plucked from my womb, the world became a much different place.

I was the youngest of four, so by the time I got to the age where I could start doing stuff on my own, I could leave the house and not return for hours. I think as long as my mom knew the general vicinity I was headed to, she was cool and with a wave of her hand and a “be home by 5” I was out in the world on my own.

Lots of times I took my bike and rode miles and miles into neighboring towns, many times on very busy and dangerous roads. Other times I just went up town to the library, or the park, grabbing a slice or an order of fries for lunch.

But our free-rangeness went beyond what we did on our own. When we were out with my dad we would indulge in many activities that could lead to possible injury. Tree climing, walking along the Palisades cliffs, wandering through the streets of New York City on a Friday night, and swimming in an ocean that was way too rough for kids our age.

When we were on Martha’s Vineyard he used to let us ride in this big metal box that we kept on the top of car for the luggage. One bump on a dirt road and one or more of us could’ve popped right out of that thing. I also remember this red convertible we had – it’s a wonder none of us died with the stunt Dad used to let us pull in that thing.

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He’d let us ride sitting on the back hood with our feet on the back seat while we rode down what we called the “whoops whoops hill” – a long, steep hill that would drop down, and level off, and drop down, and level off. We’d wave our arms and scream, and Dad would be going pretty fast – sometimes you almost felt like you caught air.

And here I sit at 50 years old – I somehow managed to survive with no seat belts, no bike helmets, no antibacterial gel.

So why in the world am I such a nervous Nelly lunatic with my girls? Well, here’s a few reasons.

1. I have super shitty health insurance. Therefore, if something happens to my girls from a broken arm to a knocked out tooth I am screwed. So when my youngest asks if she can try riding daddy’s bike, I tell her she should just walk because she’s less likely to hurt herself.

2. I want to avoid the blame game. I would NEVER hear the end of it from hubby if anything happened to my girls because I let them do something that lead to them getting hurt.

3. There are monsters out there. Regardless of whether you believe that there are more pedophiles/murderers/psychopaths out there now, or if it just seems that way because the world is so über connected, the fact is, they are out there. When my youngest walks to the park with the next door neighbor or goes on a scooter ride, I WORRY ABOUT HER. A lot. I let her go, because I know I have to. And still, I worry.

Here’s the simple fact: I know if my girls are home with me, they are a lot less likely to be aducted, or lured away, or hit by a car, or bit by a snake, or beat up by roaming street thugs.

By the way, If I sound bad, you should see my husband. I’m Lenient Lucy compared to him.

So I don’t know how it happened…how I made that transition from a child who could ride her bike halfway across the state as long as I was home in time for dinner to the mom who makes her kids check in every hour. I guess the answer is, I’m just trying to keep my kids safe – Is that so wrong?

Hell, I only have a few more years of this anyway. With kids 19 & 13 how many more years of hovering to I have? But until then, I’ll just take my cue from Arnold….and get to the chopper.

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This morning I was taking my usual 2.25 mile walk around my neighborhood. The street I predominantly walk on is somewhat busy, especially in the morning with folks heading to work and school buses picking up kids. So even though I am usually listening to a podcast or an audio book, I keep my eyes and ears open to what is going on around me.

I was coming up to an intersection and noticed a car was approaching but wasn’t concerned because she has a stop sign and I was pretty much already 1/3 of the way across the street. She’s rolling up, and rolling up, and her car begins to turn (towards me) and turn and she’s still coming, and I’m still walking and she’s still coming.

I pretty much had to stop dead in my tracks to avoid being hit. As I peered into her driver’s side window to be sure a zombie wasn’t behind the wheel, I see a woman, head down, fiddling with stuff in her middle console.

Her head was down. And she was making a left hand turn onto a busy street. She never even stopped.

I began to yell things like, “Hey watch it!” and  “You almost hit me!” as her car moved on down the road. I was pissed, and I felt the need to tell her so. I raised my bright green gloved hands and gave her the double middle finger.

As I began to turn back around, I noticed her put on her brakes and pull to the side. So I stopped, took off my headphones and watched as she made a U-Turn and came back my way.

She pulled up along side me, lowered her window and began to apologize. The first thing she said? “I wasn’t texting.”

Apparently she had spilled her coffee and was too preoccupied with that to notice me. Okay, I guess that can happen. We’ve all been distracted while driving from time to time, and luckily nobody got hurt. Then she volunteered the information that she was breast pumping – I am assuming it was an automated thing – but I guess she needed it to add validity to the fact that she blew through a stop sign and almost killed me.

Being a naturally forgiving person, I was telling her that all was okay when she said, “But I have to tell you, it was very inappropriate for you to give me the double finger when I have kids in the car.”

Um….what?

For a split second, I felt a pang of shame, but then my rage took over. The rest of the coversation went something like this…

ME: Are you kidding me? You almost ran me over!

IDIOTIC DRIVER: But I have a four year old and a baby in the car – that was very rude.

ME: Well gee, maybe you would’ve been happier if you had actually hit me. Then your kids wouldn’t have been subject to seeing the middle finger. Instead they’d get to see a mother of two put into an ambulance because their mom doesn’t know how to pay attention.

IDIOTIC DRIVER: Yes, I was wrong to not be looking, but you were wrong to give me the finger.

ME: I had every right to do that! YOU ALMOST HIT ME! Besides, how am I supposed to know you have kids in the car? I was too busy watching my life pass before my eyes to take note of how many passengers you had in your car and the ages of each!

IDIOTIC DRIVER: You should ALWAYS assume there are kids in the car and never gesture like that.

ME: Why would I ever assume you had kids in your car WHEN YOU ARE MAKING A LEFT HAND TURN WHILE LOOKING AT YOUR LAP? What lunatic drives like that with KIDS IN THE CAR?

Inner dialogue: Ok moron – here are a few things I can assume.

  1. I can assume that when you come to a stop sign, you are actually going to stop, especially if there is a person in front of you.
  2. I can assume that if you did spill your coffee, the responsible thing to do is to put your fucking car in park and take care of it. NOT to just keep on truckin’ while you mop up your shit.

If I can’t assume those things, I should not feel the need to assume that your precious kids are in the car. Kids that you are so fearful of maybe knowing what the middle finger means rather than a mom who drives distracted.

She was apologizing over and over, but she was asking me to do the same and I just would not. In the end I might have said something like “Fine Sorry. Whatever. Keep your eyes on the road.”

Bottom line was, she was wrong. Dead wrong. Yet somehow she was incenced that I had flipped her the bird. I’ve been in her shoes – but when I make a boneheaded driving mistake I beg forgiveness and take whatever crap the other guys throws at me. I have it coming.

Because after she almost hit me I was not going to let this lady continue on with her busy toddler toting, breast pumping day without letting her know just what I thought of her. And short of chasing her down, which I could not do, I resorted to the international sign for go fuck yourself. Sue me if you disagree, but in my book I had the absolute right.

And as I walked back home, it dawned on me that her kids couldn’t possibly have seen me flip the bird. They were driving away; the kid’s backs to me. Unless her kids are owls, or Linda Blair, there is no way they could’ve seen it. But I failed to think of it when I could have used it to shut her big trap.

And that is so Typical of me.

Old News

This morning while watching the Today Show they did a story about boys who insist on wearing shorts to school in the dead of winter.

I turned to my husband and said smuggly, “Hmph! I blogged about that two years ago.”

And if you go on the Today Show’s website, the story is “trending.”

My husband, while supportive of my blog, thinks it’s boring. He’s not alone. I had this comment from some asshole who I hope is an ex-reader a month or so back…

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I answered with the typical “If you find it meaningless, then don’t read it (shithead).”

And the things I wrtie about? They’re not meaningless – not to me. They are my thoughts and memories and observations from my little corner of the world. And I was tickled pink to see that a social phenomenom that I had blogged about in the past made it to the main stream.

And is trending.

Kids Knees

 

 

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2014 – I have to admit it was kind of a cruddy year. We lost a pet, I learned that Obamacare is not in any way affordable, and in turn am stuck driving the Sloviemobile, at 235,000 miles, for God knows how long. But in an effort to end it on a positive note, I’ll talk about the good things the year had to offer.

I’m still alive. That’s always good. Although I finished off yet another year not losing a single pound, I did manage to walk over 400 miles in 2014, so much so that I actually wore a hole in my sneakers.

I saw my friend John. My trip to NYC in June was probably the best 72 hours of the entire year – I only wish I’d had 24 hours more – then I might have been able to eat a hot dog at Hirams. Best of all was sharing a few hours with my oldest buddy John, and finally meeting his significant other over several drinks and fabulous Chinese food.

The Week at Flagler Beach. During our annual visit to my dad’s in Florida I came to the conclusion that I absolutely adore Flagler Beach. It’s kitchy and unspoiled and a mere 10 minute drive from Dad’s house. If I ever decided to do the senior move down to good old F-L-A, Flagler Beach is where I’ll place my Welcome mat.

The Big Breakup. My daughter finally got her head together and broke up with her manipulative boyfriend who was wasting a ton of her time and bringing down her GPA.

Summer Days at King’s Dominion. I really had a blast this past summer with my girls at KD, the big amusement park an hour away from our home. With a season pass it was fun every 10 days or so to take a few hours, go on rides and leave without feeling like we didn’t get our money’s worth. If the park was empty, we stayed all day. If it was crowded, we’d split and spend the day shopping instead. We already have our season passes for 2015…and it is my goal to ride the Intimidator.

As this year ticks away its last few hours, I wish my readers a fantastic new year filled with love, health and happiness. And here’s hoping 2015 is a year very untypical to Tracy.

Wishbook

When I was a kid there would come a time each fall when my mother would bring home the Sears Christmas Wish Book—600+ pages long and as thick as a phone book. The arrival of this book would trigger a month-long “it’s my turn!” between us four kids, because this book had a killer toy section.

I had all of these, by the way. Sigh…I wish I still did.

Page after page of Barbies, Fisher Price Little People playsets, doll houses, slot car sets, play kitchens, record players, puppets, and tons and tons of games. As a child you practically drooled as you turned each page, eager to see what “it” toy was going assault your “I want that!” senses next.

I think we had this too. If not I know we wanted it badly

I think we had this too. If not I know we wanted it badly

But you didn’t get to dawdle when you had the wishbook, not at first anyway. Once a sibling saw you with the book in your hot little hands, you were asked to hurry up, and sometimes not so politely. Of course, every so often when you took too long, the coveted book was simply ripped out of your hands, leaving you staring at the linoleum counter top as opposed to Malibu Barbie.

One of the creepier pages in the book - I don't think I'd be happy opening the Seance game on Christmas morning.

One of the creepier pages in the book – I don’t think I’d be happy opening the Seance game on Christmas morning.

But eventually there would come a time when the book was all yours. My brother and sisters had had their fill of rod hockey and Jerry Mahoney dummies, and I could take the Wishbook in my hands and do what I did best…pretend.

I would stare at each page that held a toy I wanted and imagine playing with it. I’d just look at the toy and actually pretend that I was opening little Barbie kitchen doors or bringing a plane in for a landing at the Fisher Price airport. I could spend hours in a pre-Christmas fantasy land. What a dork I must have looked like…sitting in a corner talking to a catalog.

bad fashionsAs time marched on and we got older the Wishbook was less alluring. We spent more time glancing at the front of the book which displayed “today’s hip fashions.” However, let it be known that I did not spend much time imagining myself wearing any of the clothes.

With the exception of a bathing suit when I was around 13. I loved that suit. It was my first maillot.

I highly recommend visiting the site wishbookweb.com. Pick a book and flip through the pages—you just might lose yourself remembering all those great toys you got one Christmas.