Monday, July 30, 2007

Lots and Lots of Shots

This morning, Ann was subjected to that other birthday rite of passage, the annual physical. I was warned by the receptionists when I made this appointment that the four-year-old visit would be rough in terms of shots and blood drawn.

I tried to play up the exciting parts of a well-visit to Ann early this morning: "Dr. L. has known you since you were born! I remember when he held you on your belly suspended over the palm of his hand to see you holding yourself up! Now that you're bigger, you can talk to him yourself and answer his questions about how nicely you're growing up!"

Ann knew there were shots coming, and sure enough, after the hearing test, vision test, blood pressure, weighing (still a skinny beanpole! 32 lbs. at 4 years, Ezzie!), etc., it was time for drawing blood from her fingertip (will the squeezing never stop?!), a forearm PPD (heading back to check it on Wednesday), a tetanus shot (aaack!), booster shots (I think it was 3 boosters and they combined 2 of them into one shot). Yikes! For her part, Ann was a real trooper, stoic at times and quietly whimpering a few times. I don't think I'd be able to take it as well myself.

I'm glad I was able to be there for her, and I'm glad it's over with!!

On an unrelated note, Happy 100th Post to me!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Crumb Coat

Later today we're having a small family barbeque in my parents' backyard for Ann's birthday. I'm glad that despite having attended a few more party-ish parties, this is what Ann has been most excited about related to her birthday every year. I do realize that as she grows up, she may change her mind . . .

With a 50% chance of scattered thunderstorms for this afternoon, we may have to bring everything indoors in a hurry at some point. I hear some thunder rolling, so chances are, we'll be indoors! We've got the paper goods, we've got the meat, and I even had a few of those infamous party favors left over from Ann's camp party (how many parties are we having here?!) to give out to the cousins who'll be there.

The only thing left to do is to finish decorating Ann's cake. For now, I put on the crumb coat, which is a thin layer of frosting that apparently should help the chocolate cake crumbs not show through as much in the final layer. I'm not a cake professional by any stretch of the imagination, but I think we'll wind up putting together something cute. I got the idea for a CandyLand-board type cake from a parenting magazine, and decided to try and adapt it for this party.

Although there'll be an excessive amount of sugary, nauseating candy (on top of a frosted cake!), I don't imagine too much of the candy will actually be eaten. Ann tends to lick a couple of pieces and then sort of hide them in a napkin. On the other hand, Andy may just have a field day with this cake! I'd better tell my brother and sister-in-law to bring along some toothbrushes for their kids!

The semi-finished product (minus the writing in the top-left corner and some lollipops in the middle of the left edge that will make it too tall to transport):

Monday, July 23, 2007

Conference Call

Conversations that involve a combination of medical and halachic issues usually sound like some version of this:

Doctor: "Look, RaggedyMom, I'm not your posek, but . . . "

Rabbi: "Listen, RaggedyMom, I'm not a doctor, but . . . "

I'd say that the two of you kind (other) men in my life need to just get together and talk it all out!

Imagined conference call (sounds a lot like planning a date):

Doctor: Hey Rabbi, what do YOU want to do?

Rabbi: Dunno, Doc. What do YOU want to do?

Okay, guys. Give me a call when you're done.

In other news, I had to run a brief errand today before bringing Ann to camp. The rain was at its prime out-of-control phase right then. Mistakenly, I parked not out on the street, but in a back parking lot. The lot had basically turned into a giant cess pool of slimy, deep puddles full of garbage and who knows what else. By the time I realized this, though, Ann and I were immersed and surrounded by the puddles.

Poor Ann got totally soaked. At one point, I thought I lost her in one of the puddles! I wish the store had had the consideration to post a sign at the parking lot entrance that it was open only to deliveries. Of course, we went straight back home afterward for clothing changes before heading to camp. What a dripping disaster! As for me, I got drenched too, diving in to rescue her. There'll be no leaving the house for me and the kids tomorrow, though. Video, anyone?

I'm wishing everyone to whom it applies an easy, meaningful fast tomorrow. Hopefully, this will be the last year we fast on this date.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Competition Blues

A week from today will be Ann's fourth birthday. (Same as yours, Ezzie). On the day of her birthday, I'll be going to her day camp with the standard school/camp party implements as dictated by the school.

The school asks for either a bought cake or bought cupcakes, and a half-gallon of juice. They provide plates and cups. Elsewhere on the memo, clearly stated, are the words "We do not permit the distribution of any party bags or favors. Each birthday child may present the class with a gift of a small book or tape if you wish."

Ann and I went to choose a CD of children's music ($5.99) and wrapped it for the occasion. I've got juice in the house, and we'll get the cupcakes next week. The usual cupcake choice has been mini-cupcakes that come 18 to a package, with alternating rows of rainbow sprinkles and chocolate sprinkles on top. They are small and don't cost much.

I was quite surprised when Ann came home from camp today with a substantial "goody bag." It was the first birthday party this summer, and I'm really ticked off that by flouting school policy, this child's mom has upped the ante. A party hat, a few little chachke toys, a sheet of stickers, some crayons, and, my personal least favorite, a giant lollipop, all came home with Ann today. Grrr.

Ann is not a demanding child (though I can already see that Andy's got a whole different temperament). And until now, we've celebrated her birthday by making a small barbeque in my parents' backyard for us, my parents, and my brother who lives locally with his family. (11 people, mostly cousins, in total at this point) I either bake the cake or buy one.

When we go to Toys R Us for diapers, or Amazing Savings for foil tins, and don't buy anything else in the face of toys and chachkes galore, I almost never hear any protests or requests from Ann. But of course, after camp today, Ann told me that she was excited to give out "surprises" to her friends next week too.

I know how kids are at four years old, and if I stick stuanchly to my original plan, Ann will certainly hear from some of the other kids about why she didn't give anything out for her birthday when "Child A" did last week. She's not a fighter, but it will hurt her. And why should she always be the one to be the understanding "big girl" that I'm often asking her to be? I don't think it is fair or realistic to expect a child Ann's age to have the grace and fortitude to calmly reply, "Well, I did give a CD to the class, and besides, we aren't supposed to give out goody bags."

I can think of a couple of other bloggers who are likely to disagree with me, or at least strongly share in my frustration, but I think that at this point, my hands are tied and I need to come up with some modicum of party favor. Perhaps something actually useful or appreciated, like an inexpensive little book or coloring book (I'm open to ideas). It won't be because I wanted to.

I had no issue with the goody bags when Ann was invited to a birthday party held outside of school. I felt that it was unneccesary in that child's case for the parents to go all out at a dance studio, but it was not subject to school policy, and fortunately, it was the only party as far as I know.

Tonight, (before I lost my nerve!), I called the head counselor in Ann's group, who was also her ganenet/teacher the previous year, and expressed my surprise and disappointment that this had occurred altogether, and a week before Ann's own party to boot. She agreed with me, although I understand that from her perspective, having this other mom simply show up with a birthday boy with 20 prepared yet unnanounced bags really barred her from creating an ugly scene and prohibiting her from distributing them. She understood where I was coming from, sympathized, and understands why I'll be showing up with something for Ann to give out (albeit small). Thanks, teach.

Sigh. The whole thing irks me, though.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Yesterday, on the spur of the moment, RaggedyDad and I decided to take the kids to the beach. Since I am a Very Pale Person, even more exacerbated by the fact that I am mostly relegated to my couch for the next few weeks, I broke out the SPF 50 and we all got ready.

In truth, since I'm not very good at being spontaneous, I really would have preferred to have our bags ready and sandwiches sitting in the fridge from the night before. But for yesterday's outing, we hadn't had much of a prior plan, so there was an early morning flurry of activity trying to figure out what we needed to bring along.

To me, the logistics of the beach are very complicated with small children. More extra clothes, more mess, and more damage control (of course, not wanting to turn the RaggedyVan into its own private beach). Let's estimate our 'plastic bags of stuff' count at about 6. The cleanup proceedings for leaving the beach are lengthy and gritty. As always, I took home the award for Most Dressed Person at the Beach.

It was certainly a far cry from the daily routine my mother and I had until I was 5, hopping on the bus and going to the beach in Tel Aviv for the brief morning hours when my brothers were at school. I don't think we ever brought much more stuff along than a pail, shovel, and busfare. The choko-banana ice cream pops sold by beach-walking vendors was more than enough provisions.

Thankfully, a few simple toys were more than sufficient. Due to their ages and temperaments, it really was enough for Ann and Andy to just be somewhere special, without necessarily doing anything in particular. Splashing with their Papa, coming back to my outpost for a bite of sandwich, and digging until they could reach the water provided more than enough fun for a couple of hours. And I got to see the progress the kids have made since last summer. Instead of treating the sand like lunch, Andy used it more sparingly, perhaps as more of a condiment.

As we were leaving, a family was setting up a few feet away. Three adult women and four kids (aged maybe 4-11?)between them, they were probably well suited for a show like this. Cursing, smoking, rudeness, and carrying on were the order of the day. The language of the oldest two boys was yikes-inducing, as was the extreme chutzpah with which they spoke to the parents. And of course, there was the hard plastic ball they chose to bat around with force right near us until a few choice glares we sent their way put a stop to it. During our short overlap time, one boy in this family in particular did not stop carrying on, kicking sand in anger, complaining, insulting his mother, and whining about nothing to do and nobody to play with.

My concern is this: How do parents make sure that their kids don't morph into these types of creatures as the years go by? I know it's a matter of chinuch, but what,if any, are the specifics that successful parents can identify in the quest to avoid these results? I realize that my kids are very small, which makes them satisfied with the basics. There is definitely a culture of respect, of appreciation, and of not having every little thing that RaggedyDad and I try to cultivate at hom. But at some point, our children will grow into their own identities, and we just have to hope that they stay more beauty than beast.

What do some of you, parents or not, think is the key to brat-proofing?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Raggedy Road

For about the past month, the Raggedys have been enjoying the sounds of a metro-New York summer. Including, but not limited to: jackhammers, drills that bore holes through bricks, roof overhauling tools and materials, and the like.

The large apartment complex where we live has been actively trying to justify the high maintenance fee we pay, and it has translated into major work projects throughout the summer. While I'm not opposed to the eventual beautification of the grounds, the arduous work being done in the meantime feels endless!

Giant tarps, mesh enclosures, precarious hanging ladders, and men in the windows for much of the day - it gets a little intense! At times, the noise has been mind-numbing. Often, I'm scared to watch what these guys are doing and I'm busy cringing and hoping that none of them get seriously hurt.

On the bright side, Ann and Andy have been very entertained and fascinated by everything giong on around them. Ann is at camp for a good deal of the day, but Andy has been more or less homebound with me for weeks. It has been a sort of blessing in disguise to have these guys out here for him to watch with awe. Especially cute is when some of them respond to his excited shouts of "Man-worker! Hi mans! Hi worker!" etc.

Today's project was one of the more invasive ones. In front of our apartment is a concrete path that leads to all of the apartments on this stretch of the block. The path is being repaved in sections, and for the time being, there is no paving over much of our area. It was pretty tricky navigating getting in and out of the house with the kids, Andy loving the newfound pile of dirt and Ann insisting on avoiding the dirt while staying on the narrow strip of grass near it. Of course, as Mommy, I get the honor of walking on the rockiest or messiest part while holding the 'stuff' and frantically trying to keep everyone from tripping and maintain hand-holding at all times. While whistling Dixie.

When the workers pack up for the day come nightfall, and the kids finally stop talking from their beds and conk out, I'm pretty sure I'll head to bed myself.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Happily Ever After

It's official. RaggedyDad is a wuss-Papa. I know this because of the box of cereal sitting on top of our refrigerator right now.

A week before yesterday, my husband traveled to visit his family in Belgium. Originally, we were all going to go together, as we often do in the summer, but that trip will have to be saved for another lifetime. I mean, year. Have I mentioned what a pleasure it is to travel with small children and babies?

When it became clear that we weren't all going to Belgium, the question remained whether any of us would go. As in, just RaggedyDad. We'd briefly contemplated sending Ann along with him, but ultimately, the timing was wrong for me to have her go, and we felt that she's a little bit young (very almost 4) for that sort of thing.

After exhaustive deliberations, we came to the conclusion that since there were extenuating family circumstances in Belgium, and this was an important trip for RaggedyDad, he would go alone for a week. Sunday to Sunday. He even managed to work remotely from his mother's apartment in Belgium on Monday, thereby saving a vacation day.

As for me, let's just say that I hope not to be in my situation without him again for a long time. Or ever. I hope I was enough of a good sport about it, but I am just . . me. Most of the time, between school, work, and saving the world, RaggedyDad is not home at all during the kids' waking hours, except for about 20-30 minutes in the morning. And I do have parents, friends, and neighbors closeby. But let me reiterate that this was not a picnic. Unless you like picnics that are scary and lonely.

In any case, RaggedyDad gallantly did a major supermarket/fruitstore shop shortly after landing and arriving at home. Andy was sleeping, and Ann, ever the 'Papa's girl' went along with him on the outing. I usually bank on a few exchanges, ommisions, and extra items coming home when RaggedyDad does the shopping. I'd be a fool to complain about these, and he knows which things on the shopping list are really urgent and non-negotiable.

But one item that came home made me smile and took me back to my own days of tagging along on grocery trips, and the ensuing begging and bargaining that little kids are so good at. A box of cereal called Disney Princess Fairytale Flakes. Seriously. They're actually like Frosted Flakes, but dusted with . . pink. Also, less tasty than Tony the Tiger. "She said that she's my princess, and I'm her prince," he explained sheepishly. Did she now? Sigh.

Welcome home, RaggedyDad the Valiant.