Monthly Archives: November 2008


Yesterday upon arriving at Ethan’s preschool, I knew I was in trouble.

I was in trouble because when the teachers saw me coming, they said, “There she is.”

Oh, boy. Never a good sign.

In the past three months, Ethan has received an ‘incident report’ three times. Each time it has more or less been because he’s a rambunctious kid who has no respect for others’ sleep needs.  During nap, he jumps from cot to cot, is loud, climbs on the air conditioner, shelving, and unused cots, and is generally the life of the party.

And as we all know, the life of the party gets obnoxious after awhile.

The teachers do not require naps, but they do require those not napping to sit quietly on their cots and engage themselves in quiet activities.  For Ethan, that is just generally impossible.  So now they want us to go have a conference with them and the director, which is like being summoned to the principal’s office.

Thing is, we’ve been through all this before, I know what they’re going to say, and it is just tiresome.

First, they’re going to tell me they think Ethan has attention problems.  They’re going to recommend that he needs to be evaluated for the much over-diagnosed spectrum of attention disorders.  I know this, because I heard the same thing with Laurel. But with Laurel, it was that she was bored and needed alternate schooling. Maybe it is the same with Ethan.

I was so frustrated last night after his teachers requested this meeting that I was just beside myself.  I also was not feeling well, so I believe my response to the teacher’s request was something in the vein of, ‘You know, this is just getting ridiculous; you can do all the write-ups and we can have conferences until we’re all blue in the face, but WE CANNOT BE HERE TO BABYSIT HIM and keep him on his cot and quiet, so I don’t really know what you all want from us here.’


We like the teachers; we do. But Ethan (and Laurel) need a stronger sense of authority than these teachers give. This is probably not their fault.  This is the fault of our culture, wherein parents are so damned permissive that they cannot stand a teacher giving firm authoritative instruction to their child. Greg and I are able to impart that authority at home, and therefore are able to reach them by ‘putting the hammer down,’ so to speak. Our kids don’t need Mr. Rogers, they need Gunnery Sergeant Hartman:

After a good night’s rest, I decided to see if I could keep Ethan entertained today. We started with coloring, and we had a breakthrough. Ethan wanted to color pumpkins, and he wanted to color them purple.  Cool, okay, I’m fine with that.  He colored this:

ethan coloring 1

But then I gave him 2 minutes (really, no more than that) of advice on coloring within the lines, and he colored this:

ethan coloring 2

Hmmm.  I think maybe we’re onto something here. My theory: Ethan’s very energetic and doesn’t see his teachers as authority figures.  He’s bored at school, and frustrated because he needs more stimulation but can’t provide that for himself without more one-on-one instruction. I’m going to have to step it up at home.  It’s time.

Grade School Cliffhangers

I remember once, in high school, I walked right out of Wal-Mart, leaving my purse behind. It probably wasn’t the first time I had done that — I know it wasn’t the last. Once I left it next to a kiosk in the mall.

Anyway, in the parking lot I realized I left my purse in Wal-Mart, and my mother called me “scatter-brained.” Boy, did that ever make me mad. I still remember the injustice of it all (everything is unjust when you’re a teenager, remember — but I still maintain I was never THAT forgetful).

Things have come full circle. Here is an inventory of what Laurel has lost or forgotten in the past month:

  1. Lost: A 3/4-size violin shoulder rest, one week after receiving it (replacement paid for with her own money);
  2. Lost: A book from a book order, on the same day she received it (later recovered);
  3. Lost: A recorder. It appears she actually has a concert coming up in which she is supposed to play said recorder. When I asked her how long she’d been without the recorder she was supposed to be using to practice in music, she responded with a shrug, “Uh, I dunno. Maybe two or three classes.” The replacement was also paid for with her own money;
  4. Forgotten: What she did in school today. And yesterday. And for every day in the previous month.
  5. Forgotten: Her street shoes and socks, which she would have to wear after playing soccer. Multiple occasions.
  6. Forgotten: To turn in permission slips and money for a field trip and for Holiday Extravaganza tickets. She did, after three days of stern reminders and idle threats, remember to turn them in – she claims. I know they finally disappeared from her folders.  These permission slips are now AWOL at the school, without any determination as to who lost them this time. I am flatly refusing to replace the money.

Oh, Laurel.  I love you, kid, I really do.  But good grief.


Will she or won’t she get to go on her field trip tomorrow? 

Stay tuned.

The First Hour is the Hardest.

For the past two years (three for me), Laurel and I have participated in Old Newsboys Day. Last year’s post is here.

The first hour is always the hardest — it’s the darkest, it’s usually the coldest (not this year), and we haven’t yet acclimated to the weather.

At least Laurel remembered her gloves this year.

Anyway, we set out early with a temperature of 37 degrees and I-don’t-know-how-much-wind-but-I-do-know-the-wind-chill-was-in-the-20s, and manned the same station we manned last year. The 6 o’clock hour was cold and dark, and we longed for the warmth of our home, but we managed by reminding ourselves of all the homeless who are out in the cold all the time. The 7 o’clock hour brought many, many more commuters, so we were much busier and time went by much faster. After 8:30, though, traffic was sparse so we packed it up.

We didn’t do as well as we did last year.  I blame the economy and the much better stoplight timing at that intersection. heh – dang old traffic engineers.  Next year we’ll have to see about changing locations to get more people stuck stoplights.

This year we only made $131.07, which is a little disappointing, considering last year we were close to $250.  Laurel got one $20 bill, and several fives and tens.  She, unlike her mother, is still cute enough to get the sympathy money. 

In spite of the reduced take, we still got to have time together working toward a good cause, and we still earned a decent amount for the greater metro area children’s charities.

And that, friends, is a fantastic start to the holiday season.

Again with the Apple and the Tree Business.


Most of you know Greg is the progeny of a certain heating and cooling empire.

Many of you know or could probably guess that each room of our home is on a separate HVAC zone, can be independently heated or cooled at our choosing, and each room is on a programmable timer to allow this.

Some of you may know we have a germicidal UV light and a whole-house humidifier, and have pretty much priced ourselves out of the neighborhood where HVAC is concerned.


Greg works out of our basement, almost directly beneath our half-bath.  Now whenever Ethan wants Daddy and Daddy has locked the basement door to work in peace, Ethan resorts to other means of communication — namely, this:

ethan yelling down the register

ethan yelling down the register 2

Yeah. He removes the register grate and yells “DAAAAAADDDDDDYYYYYYYY!” at the top of his lungs. Greg finds this particularly charming when he’s on the phone with a client.

So I have to lock the bathroom door to keep him out.

And now he has my car keys, trying to unlock the door.

Regarding Santa.

Me: Laurel, do the kids in your class talk about whether or not they still believe in Santa?

Laurel: Yes, except for Parker, and he tries to convince everyone else they shouldn’t believe.

Me: What do the others say to him when he does that?

Laurel: They say he’s stupid. I don’t say that, though. That’s no different from when kids say I’m stupid for not believing in a god.

Me: That’s an excellent point. Do you think Santa exists?

Laurel: Yes, I think so, but I don’t understand how he manages to get all those presents to all those places so quickly.

Me: It’s a conspiracy.

Laurel:  What?

Me:  Nevermind. What if Parker were right? What if Santa didn’t exist?

Laurel: Well, I wouldn’t care. I like the idea of Santa.




I just did one of the funniest, most terrible things I’ve done in awhile.

I was cleaning, cleaning, cleaning the house while listening to Howard Stern on Sirius (yes, we pay for satellite radio). With two kids and a dog, our sofa and rug get pretty ripe, so I reached into the cabinet for the bottle of fabric refresher, sprayed it all over the sofa and rug, and put it back into the cabinet…


…only to realize…


…I grabbed the wrong white bottle.  Guess which one I used to spray liquid ALL OVER the sofa and rug?



The bleach cleaner.


Now I’m holding my breath to see if we need a new sofa and rug.

See?  Like I said — funny AND terrible.  Nice!

A Conversation Between Siblings.

[in the truck on the way to the store]


Ethan:  “You need glubs.”

Laurel: “I don’t need gloves, Ethan.”

Ethan:  Yes, you do!  You need glubs, Lauwel. It’s cold.”

Laurel: “Well, you are presenting a reasonable argument, but I’m just not a person for gloves.”

Ethan: “But when you say, ‘Brr,’ it’s cold and you need glubs.”

Laurel:  [no response]


Ethan:  “I have glubs.”

Our First Official 5K Run.

Today Laurel and I completed our first official 5K Run.

Laurel trained for this most of the semester with a group from school as part of Girls on the Run, and I trained for it, well, um, last week.


Okay, that’s not entirely true, but last week was the first time I actually ran a test 5K — I had done treadmill work and stuff, but I hadn’t actually run a 5K and in fact I ran 4 miles, so I was a little over.

But today I ran it with Laurel.

I went back and forth about whether to run it with her or not — would she feel too much pressure to keep up?

So I just asked her.  And she said I should run. So I did.

It was COLD this morning. 37 degrees when we awoke, but we sucked it up and arrived in Forest Park raring to go, dressed in our finest.

michelle and laurel pre-race

Yeah, so we’ll leave the fancy clothes to the serious runners.

After securing our numbers, we found Laurel’s running group and proceeded to the start line, whereupon I shed my coat and saddled Greg with all our stuff. We ran….

michelle and laurel running

…and ran, and Laurel, nearly in tears, insisted she was going to barf.  My response?  “If you have to barf, go to the side of the road and barf, but you’re not gonna barf. You’re going to KEEP RUNNING.”


By the middle of the race, Laurel was hurting pretty bad, and needed to walk needed to walk neededtowalk.  “No, you don’t!  You can do this. You’ve trained MONTHS for this. KEEP RUNNING.”

“But Mom,” she wheedled, “I’m not going to get a trophy anyway.”

“No, probably not, but you’re going to have the best prize of all.  Know what that is?” I asked.

“Knowing I can do it?” Laurel answered.

“You bet, kid.”

And so she ran.

That kid ran the entire race without stopping, and I stayed with her — I wasn’t about to leave her behind (though I threatened to do so if she walked).  We crossed the finish line holding hands at 36:21.

holding hands

Not bad for a 9-year-old, eh?

No, of course we didn’t get any trophies or accolades or anything. We weren’t the first in the pack and we weren’t the last in the pack.

Laurel got something better — pride in herself and faith in her ability to achieve anything.

And that’s why, after the race, I was feeling my oats when Greg snapped this photo:


Laurel, I’m so proud of you. Great job.


Yesterday the citizens of the United States made an historic decision.

Really, either way, it would have been historic — we would either have had a not-100%-caucasian  president-elect or a female VP-elect.

We chose the former, and for that I am grateful. We needed something other than what’s been bumbling around the past 8 years, and the McCain-Palin train wreck was not it. I mean, seriously, what do people see in Palin?  Just because her traits include “hot” and “folksy” does not mean she’s presidential.

Time will tell, I suppose.  But I could not fathom another 4-8 years with the type of administration that twists the US Constitution to fit their meaning (the Prez can declare war all by himself?  Huh?  The VP is part of multiple governmental branches?  Huh?  Methinks somebody didn’t do well in Civics class).  McCain’s camp didn’t fool me. That whole ‘maverick’ schtick was another word for ‘rogue,’ which makes me think of our current administration.


Here’s to the dawning of a new day. We can only go up from here.