Monday, June 29, 2009

A Couple Kid Stories

During lunch, the kids and I were discussing which months we like and why. I said I like all the months except February (the word "February" is one of my least favorite, and the month itself isn't much better). Sarah asked, "Do you like March?" I said, "Oh yes, I love March. My sweet baby girl was born in March." She looked confused, so I added, "March 15, 2004, to be exact." Sarah looked shocked and said, "You mean she was born on my birthday?!" She doesn't have many bimbo moments, but that one sure qualifies.

The kids, neighbor kids, and their friends made a big mess this morning, and Noah used the last paper towel on the roll during cleanup. Knowing full well that he is terrified of going downstairs by himself, I told him to go down and get a new roll of paper towels. He kindly invited his sister to go with him, but she saw right through it. She said, "I'm braver than you, right?" and he answered shamelessly, "I should say SO!"

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Who Knew Parenting Was So Hard?!

Sarah and I went on a rollercoaster ride of emotions today. She and I, along with Noah and two neighbor girls, were enjoying a nice morning at the lake. We were playing in the sand, chasing minnows with our nets, and fishing. Noah caught a nice-looking bluegill and a big bass. The neighbor girl got her lure caught on the rope bordering the swimming area, so I was trying to free that without having to swim out there fully clothed. Meanwhile, with another pole, she hooked her sister's shirt, so I gave up on the lure and started working on the shirt.

While I was thus distracted, Sarah said, "Mom, can I go pee?" and I said yes. Several minutes later, all the hooks were secured and lines untangled, and I looked around to account for all the children. Sarah was missing. I started calling for her. No answer. I didn't panic, because I assumed she was doing something naughty and not in any danger. Nonetheless, I scanned the lake quickly for her bright pink shirt.

I told the other kids to stay at the beach but out of the water until I could go home and look for Sarah. I was sure that she had gone home, because she had been whining about wanting to go home most of the morning, but I had told her no. Sure enough, as I was walking toward home, there she was coming out of the house and walking back toward the lake. I was infuriated.

She had the nerve to call out, "Hi, Mom!" to which I hissed, "You get yourself down to the lake, pick up your toys, and get yourself back home while I'm thinking about your punishment, and it's going to be huge."

After everyone was back home again, Sarah went to her room and lay down on her bed. I went in and asked her if she knew why she was in trouble. She said she didn't. I told her to sit there and think about until she figured it out and then I would talk to her about it. Meanwhile I called Mike and told him the whole story and asked what he thought her punishment should be. We agreed that a huge punishment would be to not let her go to the neighbor girl's birthday party tonight.

After that conversation, I went back to check on her and found her sound asleep on her bed. Noah and I had lunch, and I had time to cool off and think (hmmm...maybe I should do that more often). I wondered why on earth she didn't know WHY she was in trouble. Usually when she does something wrong, she can tell me exactly what it was. This time she seemed genuinely clueless. Then I remembered that I had told her she could go pee, thinking she meant in the bushes by the lake, but I realized that she could have meant at home in the bathroom. So when I said yes, she thought she had permission to go home, and the next thing she knew, Mommy had turned into a big angry beast for no apparent reason.

When she woke up, I put her on my lap and asked her, calmly and rationally, why she had left the lake and gone home. She said, "I had to pee." Then she said with a quivering lip, "What is my punishment?" I explained that the whole thing was a misunderstanding and that she didn't do anything wrong and wasn't going to be punished, and we all lived happily ever after.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Grandma's Dress

The women in my family keep old clothes for years. (I don't have the space or the desire to continue the tradition). My grandma recently gave my daughter a dress that she had made for her daughter (my mom) over 60 years ago. It's cute and looks brand new. I told Sarah that it was very special, because her great-grandma made it, and her grandma wore it when she was a little girl. Sarah was duly impressed and said in awe, "Grandma must have been a neat eater. There aren't even any stains on her dress!" OK, so that's another reason I don't keep my kids' clothes. They are messy, and stain removal is not my forte. Here's a picture of Sarah wearing the dress.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Police and Chickens

My children have been asking for months if we can get a chick as a pet. My automatic response to any pet request is no, because I'm at my maximum capacity for mess, noise, and living creatures demanding my attention. The chick idea did appeal to me, though, because chicks are so darn cute, and it would be a good educational experience. Plus, when it grows up, it could actually give back a little, in the form of eggs. I told them we'd check with the boss. I assumed he would say no, but he said we could do some research on it.

I looked up some information about where to get them, what supplies they need, how much it would all cost, and how much work it would involve for me. It was starting to sound pretty good. Then I found out that a family we know just received a shipment of 26 chicks. They even invited us over for a field trip! I know that when we go see these chicks, the kids are going to want to get one for ourselves, so I wanted to have my answer ready.

I called the city zoning board to find out if it's even legal to keep chickens as pets in the city. I didn't think it was an especially funny question, but after the woman finally stopped laughing, she said I would have to call the police department, because they handle animal control. So I called the police, and we had this conversation:

Me: Is it legal to keep chickens as pets in the city?
Woman: You'd have to call the zoning department about that.
Me: I just spoke with the zoning department, and they referred me to you.
Woman: Hold on.
(I'm on hold for awhile, and then someone else gets on the phone)
Woman: What is your name?
Me: Janel
(I didn't give my last name, because for some illogical reason, I didn't want the police to know too much. Besides, I reasoned, what's the difference what my name is? Do they determine my chicken-worthiness based on my name?)
Woman: Last name?
Me: Janes
Woman: Address?
(Now I'm starting to freak out, thinking maybe I broke the law by simply MENTIONING chickens, and they're sending the cops out to get me. I consider giving a fake address, but I figure they already know it anyway. Then I put aside the paranoia and think maybe chickens are allowed only in certain parts of the city, so I give my address.)
Woman: Where is the chicken?
Me: What chicken?
Woman: The chicken you're reporting as a pet!
Me: I'm not reporting a pet; I'm getting a pet! (At this point, the kids look at each other, very excited, so I revise my statement). I mean, I just want to know if there's any city ordinance against it.
Woman: I'll have to call you back.
A few minutes later, she calls back and says, "According to ordinance 6-11-3, it is NOT legal to keep chickens as pets in the city."
Me: Oh, good. Thanks.
Woman: Good? I thought you wanted to get a chicken?
Me: My kids want a chicken. Now I'm going to tell them no, but it won't be my fault, it'll be yours!

Now if only there was a city ordinance against ALL pets....

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Big School Day

I took the kids to the Ag Lab this morning. That's an interesting place. That was the forced part of school, but the spontaneous education took place at the mall and Naturally Yours Grocery.

I avoid the mall as much as possible, so I think my kids have only been there a handful of times in their lives. We had to go there today to get something for Father's Day that could only be acquired at the mall. The kids were fascinated with average things like mannequins, escalators, and security tags on clothes. There was even a woman having her eyebrows waxed or shaved or something out in the middle of the mall. The kids asked non-stop questions. We read a couple books in the bookstore, and I said "no" about 39 times to the things they wanted to buy.

At Naturally Yours, there was a wonderful customer who latched right onto my kids and asked them to "help" her with her shopping. I love it when other people educate my kids! They were writing down numbers off the bins, bagging things up for her, twisting twisty-ties, making friendly conversation, doing math, and learning about nutrition. We ordered a smoothie at the deli, which turned into a great lesson in patience for all of us.

Using the whole world as our classroom is great fun!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Health "Care"

Having had a lousy run-in with the healthcare system today, I'm thankful that I'm not seriously ill. All I have is a hideous mole to be removed and tested for skin cancer.

I made an appointment with Dr. Soderstrom's office. I arranged our whole day around this appointment and dropped my kids off with their grandparents. When I arrived at the office, I had to wait 20 minutes just for the privilege to start filling out the mounds of paperwork (which were supposed to be mailed to me in advance, I found out later). After another 15 minutes of filling out forms, the receptionist informed me that my insurance doesn't cover the provider I was scheduled to see and I would have to reschedule for another day with a different provider. She wasn't sorry or even pleasant about it. I said I wasn't going to reschedule, and I left.

I came home and called Central Illinois Dermatology to make an appointment. I asked them to verify that my insurance was acceptable to them. It wasn't. They accept my insurance but not through my husband's employer. ??????

So I called the last available dermatologist in the area. Good news! He takes my insurance and likes the place of employment. BUT...he requires a doctor's referral before I can make an appointment. So I have to pay a doctor to tell me that I need to see the other doctor, even though I already know I do!

Mike's boss is kind enough to refer me to her doctor, so I call to make an appointment. Good news! My insurance is acceptable, and I don't need a referral for the referral. BUT...she's not taking new patients. I threw around Mike's boss's name to no avail. Apparently this is one case where it's not "who you know".
I asked what number would I be on the list. The receptionist said, "Oh, I have no idea. The list is pages and pages long." I said, "I have no chance of ever seeing this doctor, do I?" and she said, "Probably not." I felt like I was in a bad Seinfeld episode.

I told Mike that if I die of skin cancer, he should sue someone.