Thursday, June 19, 2008

Don't Fence Me In

Well, the contractor who was here to do our fence called DH yesterday, and basically his every answer to DH's comments and questions was that he's been doing this for 35 years and that's how he does it. Gee, thanks. DH said that he was careful to compliment the guy on his installation of the posts, since three of them were put into concrete and the patch work on the areas was really nice, but the guy was just plain defensive and so he couldn't get anywhere.

So, I ended up calling anyway, to talk to the salesman who initially came to the house, thinking that it would be more likely that I would get somewhere with a person who a) wasn't emotionally connected to the work and b) whose income probably relies on customer referrals for new business. I explained to him our concerns (and also praised the good parts of the installation). Get this - when I told him that the pickets were raised six inches off the ground on one end of the fence, he ACTUALLY SAID, 'but that would have required custom cutting of the pickets'. HELLO, isn't that their JOB?! I said, 'yes, it would have, and I have never had a fence installed that wasn't level on both top bottom.' He didn't say anything in response to that. I also explained that we're unhappy that the method of mounting the pickets - on a rail that doesn't go between the pickets but is rather on the inside of them, backwards, for heaven's sake - and he said that they don't do the kind of installation I was describing, so I reminded him that he said when he was here that the new section would match the existing fence, which IS installed that way, and which allows for the pickets to be installed facing OUTWARD rather than inward. Duh. I was also sure to tell him of the reception my DH received from the installer when he tried to call.

However, I was correct in assuming that he would be much more interested in working with us, and he asked what he could do to make things right for us. I said that DH isn't really interested in having them come to the house again, since he doesn't trust them to do what we ask anymore, but that we would like to have part of our money back. He said that he's not sure they can do that, but that he'll look into it and get back with us. Frankly, I don't really want them here again, either, since the last thing I want to deal with is surly contractors who are probably going to be cursing me behind my back out in my own yard. We at least have the materials, and can probably deal with fixing the situation ourselves with a lot less grief in an afternoon.

I am so, so sorry that I didn't go with the person who did the fence at our old place. It was very pretty, and was well-made. If I hadn't been such an emotional basket-case at the time, I probably would have. I just couldn't stand the idea of explaining the situation even ONE MORE TIME, especially to an old man whose nearly brand-new work was going to be replaced with highway. I'm an idiot, I know. D'oh.

(What's up with the spellcheck function?! It's highlighting almost every word I write!!!)

Friday, June 13, 2008

At The Amusement Park

Yesterday I took Josie and her friend, Nora, to the amusement park for the day. This was her trip in lieu of the ridiculous party that parents seem to be required to throw for their kids, and which I am tired of doing. I think she was sick of it, too, because every time I suggested an idea of what to do for her birthday, all I got was, 'nah...'. Finally, I told her that for what I spent on a party, I could probably take her and a friend out for a day to either a nearby museum or to the amusement park, and Cha-Ching! We had a winner. Her birthday was actually about a month ago, but she wanted to wait until the water park portion was open, and it was just easiest to go during the week.

Luckily, not all the area schools are out yet, so the place was nowhere near as crowded as it will be, say, next week, and we were able to get on the rides in fairly short order. I should amend that - THEY were able to get on. I, being the third wheel, rarely went on the rides, which was just fine with me, thank you. I was amazed at how brave my baby has gotten!!! Also, this was the first year that she's been tall enough to go on the Big rides, like the crazy coasters and such, and they did them ALL. They went forewards, backwards, around loops, dangled from what seemed like the international space station height-wise and plummeted to earth, you name it. I went on some things with them, but I have an intense fear of heights, so I opted not to go on a lot of things, but rather witness their near-death from a shady spot nearby, in case I had to describe the scene to the police later.

In doing so, I had ample time to watch people. I love doing this, because it's usually more interesting than anything else in the park. The things I saw, wow. I have to say, many people out there obviously don't own mirrors, because holy crap! I mean, there are things that anyone can wear anytime, things that some people can wear some of the time, and other things that most people have no business shoving their pint-a-day butts into (I fall into this category, but at least I acknowledge it!). It seems to me that the people that have this problem the most are teenage girls and older women. Those of us with smaller children have to wear more sensible clothes out of necessity, I suppose, since it's hard to chase a kid while wearing a glorified band-aid and dental floss. Anyway, I realized yesterday that there's a fourth category: things that NO ONE should wear to an amusement park water area. So, while I was sitting waiting, I came up with a few basic rules for the amusement-attire challenged:

1. If you plan on going on a big inner tube to be flushed down what is basically a giant toilet bowl of a water slide, PLEASE don't wear things that are held together by strings unless you are comfortable with the entire world a) seeing you entirely naked at the bottom and b) having everyone watch you do the 'pick of shame' as you remove said strings from the deepest recesses of your rear cavity.

2. If you are a larger girl, wearing board shorts over your suit will NOT hide this fact. They will in fact make you look several sizes larger once they're wet and plastered to your thighs, making you walk like a duck.

3. If something is tight BEFORE it's wet, please take into consideration how it will feel/look when it becomes so! Bathing suit muffin tops are NOT sexy.

and finally,

4. Please refrain from walking with your hand tucked into the backside of your partner's bathing suit, male or female. I do not care if you're in love, hormone crazed, or just plain crazy; that's not a pocket, and I don't want to think about that when I'm getting onto a ride where I'm going to have to use the same hand rail you have just handprinted with your partner's butt-cooties! Get a car, get a room, and get some hand sanitizer!

In other news, Josie's friend Nora has an interesting personality quirk: she makes up illnesses for attention. This makes it very difficult to know when to believe her. A few months ago, she actually told her parents that she was having trouble seeing, and they freaked out because her brother has a condition where he gets benign tumors. After trips to the ophthalmologist and to get an MRI, it was obvious that she'd lied. Mysteriously, her 'problem' went away within a week, as soon as she started getting all the extra attention from friends and family. Yesterday she tried it out on me, first saying that she was getting a painful rash on her legs (she wasn't), then saying that she had a terrible headache, when five minutes later (after she'd gotten some serious attention from Josie) in the car she was bouncing around and laughing. Interestingly enough, she didn't try the headache thing on me, although I could hear her whispering it to Josie, probably because the rash thing hadn't worked on me. So, today I had a little talk with Josie about how everyone has their faults, and that Nora's is obviously that she likes attention, so not to get so worked up over things that Nora tells her are wrong, because they're probably not, and we shouldn't encourage her to make things up. For heaven's sake, it's not like she wasn't already getting a lot of attention - she and Josie were the only kids with me, and we were all together all day! Her parents have their hands full, because that habit will get her into a lot of trouble someday. As it is, I barely know when to believe her. Otherwise, she's a perfectly nice girl, though, and she and Josie get along well. I'm good friends with her parents, and they're already aware of the problem, so I'm not going to say anything to them, unless they bring it up, because I think it could be awkward.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Things That Make You Go .... WHAT?!

Today I found out that my sister-in-law is pregnant. And it's not my DH's younger sister; it's his older sister, Kathy, who at 45 is ten years older than I am. She's also the mom of Ryan, who was killed a year ago in an accident, and his twin sister, Cori, who is about to turn 18 and take college classes. Kathy's nine weeks along with twins.

I would have been a lot less surprised to find out that my niece was pregnant, to be honest with you. Not that she's slutty, far from it, but she's That Age, and she has a Boyfriend, and you know... things that I don't want to think about my niece doing are probably happening all the time that would result in a baby. My SIL, on the other hand, had previously had her tubes tied, I believe, a few years after the twins were born. She never mentioned to anyone that she was thinking about this, including my niece, who only found out a couple of weeks ago herself. It is a SHOCK.

I want to make clear that I'm not making a *value judgement* on this. Our family as a whole has been through a lot, of course them in particular, so however they make it through the day is good with me.

On the one hand, I'm thrilled. New babies for me to love and care for (that aren't mine!) are always wonderful news. Also, I know that my brother-in-law had always wanted more children, so that's good as well. Maybe this will help them move on from what happened, or it's a sign that they already have.

On the other hand, I'm terrified. At her age, the risks are so huge, and I don't know what will happen to them emotionally if she miscarries. Then, too, there are the obvious risks of Downs, etc, which while all challenged kids are blessings, they are also heartache, and I don't know how they could stand any more of that. Also, by the time the kids are 20, they will be 65. What's the chance of something happening to one of them in the way of serious health concerns before these kids are adults (and by that I mean in their 20s and functioning as a part of society, not just over 18)? My niece will be living at the house while she attends a local college, at least for the first few years; how on earth will she be a college kid, have a job, AND listen to babies up at all hours of the night?

Then I think, no, none of those things matter. If this is what will make their lives OK again, in even the smallest way, then it's a good thing and all those things will be worth it. I know that this is also the impetus they need to clean out Ryan's room, which is the same as it was the morning he died (I know this because I go in there to talk to him whenever I'm there, since that's where his ashes are), and make it into something other than a frozen memory of sadness.

That in itself makes me feel weird, since it will be removing his things to make way for other people. I know that this is necessary and healthy, and his things aren't him, but the idea of that room being for other people, who will never even have known him, is really, really weird. I think that's the whole 'time moving on' thing bothering me again. Of course that room can't stand still forever.

Anyway, dear readers, thanks for letting me spill my guts to you. I am elated, terrified, and terribly sad, because none of this would be happening had Ryan not died. I know they're not the type of people who would try to replace him; they're trying to replace the sadness with hope and joy. I don't know if that will work, since no matter what they do, he's not coming back, so that hole will still be there. Anyway, please keep them in your thoughts, prayers, meditations, candle burning, bubble blowing, or whatever it is that you do, at least for three more weeks until the first trimester is over.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Baaad Blogger!

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, it just looks that way.

I thought, as I do every year, that once school was over, I would be able to relax and stop running around like a madwoman driving the kids to and fro.

As I am every year, I was MISTAKEN.

One thing we didn't do, though, was go to Josie's last soccer game of the season, which was supposed to be this past weekend. I'm sorry, but why if schools are closing because of the heat, and all the news stations are recommending that people stay indoors do they schedule make-up games for kids' sports teams?! I mean, it was literally over 100 degrees on Saturday, and she was supposed to play at 2pm. There is no shade, and she plays goalie, meaning that she would be wearing an EXTRA shirt on top of her regular jersey. Um, no. She was annoyed with me at first, but when I reminded her that she, like me, gets heat stroke easily and so could choose between playing and then having a headache and diarrhea for two days or going to the pool for the afternoon and feeling just great afterwards, she came around pretty quickly. I know some kids' coaches get really mad about things like that, players skipping out on games, but I really don't care, especially since we hadn't missed a game the whole season. There's a reason the season is supposed to end by June 1st.

Something we did do, though, that was pretty cool was go on a tour of a local potato chip factory yesterday with a friend's playgroup. Unfortunately, the place wasn't air conditioned, but it was still fun. We got to see cheesy poofs and chips being made from start to finish, and it was like being inside an episode of How It's Made on Discovery Channel! Plus, we got to sample straight-from-the-oven chips, which should just be ILLEGAL, they're so yummy. Thank goodness I don't know how to make THOSE at home, because if I did, I'd need a semi to haul my ass around!

We've also gone to the pool several times. We have a membership to the local community pool, which only cost $120 for the family for the entire summer because I bought it at early-bird rates. There's a diving board and two slides there, and since both kids swim really well they get a lot of use out of them. It's so funny to see Patrick swimming along; he kind of sticks his butt up and kicks really fast so his suit bubbles up and looks like two puffer fish duking it out. Too funny. Today we also went to a different pool in another town where a friend of mine lives, and there was a slide, a regular diving board, and a high dive platform. Josie went off the high one about ten times!!!!! I couldn't believe it!!!! The first time she chickened out and backed down the ladder, but after that, booyah! I would NEVER have done that, I'm way too wussy. Yes, I have just been shown up by my little girl, but I think that's how it's *supposed* to be.

We also had a security alarm installed last week because apparently there was a break-in somewhere up the street and the company was hoping to drum up business by giving a few houses that sit on corners free systems and installations! So, we got four door alarms, two glass-break alarms, free remotes and the keypad, all wireless, for free! That was pretty nice. Unfortunately, I learned this weekend that the dogs barking at the mail carrier sets off the glass-break alarm. Dang.

I also called our fencing company and told them that if they can't give me an exact date when they're coming, that after waiting SEVEN WEEKS for them to show up, I'm going to want my deposit check back. Seriously, SEVEN WEEKS. Damn.

Friday, June 6, 2008

It's a One-Star Parentig Day

OK, I finally have a DVD-induced moment to myself. The kids are parked safely in front of 'The Goonies', which I hope is an appropriate film. I remember watching it at my age, but I'm finding more and more that what I saw isn't necessarily what I want my own kids to see. I also find, however, that I am increasingly willing to trade some of my parental values for some freakin' PEACE AND QUIET!

Anyway, yesterday marked the official end of 'oh, what a nice day' and the beginning of 'holy sh*t, who turned on the heat?!?!' A couple of weeks ago, we were digging out our sweaters that we had carefully put in storage, thinking 'surely the time for these is over', and now the very SIGHT of those same sweaters makes me break out in hives, for OMG, is it ever HOT.

(holy cow, there is a pre-pubescent Cory Feldman!!!! I remember when I was soooo in love with him!)

Seriously, I don't think it's cosmically fair to break both the coldest- AND the hottest-day records in a span of three weeks. My sweat glands just can't keep up. Since this house doesn't have central air, we're stuck in moisture city until DH gets home and we put in the window units I bought today. It's actually not too bad in here so far, since we have a ceiling fan in the living room, but unfortunately the previous owner left us a remote that is misprogrammed to only work on 'medium', which I suspect is actually the 'low' setting.

(oh, god, in the last five minutes I heard 'sh*t' about three times, saw boys gluing a penis on a statue, and read subtitles of Feldman mistranslating to a spanish packer about drugs - darn, I guess I'm in the bad parent pool after THIS cinematic disaster. If I make a big deal and turn it off, though, that will probably make more of an impression than the words themselves... ugh)

*Bad Parent Report*

Josie just let both dogs out the front door in her desire to pat the dog that had jumped up on our front porch. Now, tell me - if you had 150lbs of dogs behind you barking, would logic tell you to open the door?!?!?! Somehow, I think not. I freaked, of course, because they both took off in pursuit of the other dog, which thankfully lives across the street and ran up onto its own back porch, but as I saw them taking off and heard what happened, I said, 'oh, dummy!' in Chloe's direction while I flew past to try and keep them from being hit by a car. Not the nicest thing to have said, I admit it, but it flew out of my mouth. She was devastated, which was probably half what I said and half the concern that she was in a Heap 'o Trouble when I finally got back. I apologized and said that I shouldn't have said that, no matter how upset/scared/angry I was. I also told her, though, that I expect more thought from a 9yo, and that if one of them had gotten hit, that sight would be in her mind forever, and every time she saw a car or a dog in front of our house, she would relive that moment, and I don't want that for her. Sigh. My upbringing was completely messed up, and I was called names every day; that's not an excuse, definitely, but it's a reason why those things end up on the tip of my tongue. I need to work harder on that, apparently.

Bad Dog Report:

We are having such a problem with the dogs, it's not even funny. The fencing people, who said that they would be here 'in three to four weeks' back in April are STILL not here, so our backyard fence is completely inadequate, which means that the dogs can jump it easily. We put Baci, the pup, on a lead, thinking that 11yo Tyler wouldn't be able to jump, but the other day he apparently had a surge of gumption and got over, so now they both have it in their heads that it's a game to get out of the house and chase the five or so cats that roam freely through the neighborhood (plus the occasional dog). We've NEVER had problems like this with dogs before, and it's driving me crazy! I'm thinking seriously of getting the electric fence in addition to the regular backyard fence just to make double-sure that they know we mean business. It would also be easier for the front yard if I could circle the front porch with the electric thing, since we can't fence front yards inside the city, and even if it didn't keep them on the porch for long, it would probably be long enough for someone to grab them, at least until they're adjusted to our new abode.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Lost and Found

Before I continue with this, let me just say that the Boy is Fine. I, however, will be having nightmares of What Could Have Been for a long, long time.

Yesterday was rainy, so after we went to get our kitchen island, which finally arrived at the local market, we decided to go out to a new chinese place and then to see the new Indiana Jones movie with the kids. Patrick is old enough now to see more action, and young enough that things I wish he hadn't seen pretty much go over his head. Other than having the kids hear more swears in two hours than they'd ever hear in their lives total, it was a great time and fairly kid-appropriate.

High off of the fun time, we arrived home in good spirits. Josie wanted to ride her bike around the block, so off she went. A moment later, Patrick wanted to ride his scooter with her, so out the door he went after her.

Now, in our new neighborhood, and actually in the entire town, there are alleys that go through the neighborhood that link people's garages to the regular neighborhood roads (all the homes are on the street with detached garages at the end of the back yards). They're basically driveways-come-sidewalks, and the neighborhood kids ride their bikes and play in them in almost complete safety from cars. The only time they're really traveled is around 5pm when people are coming home from work, but everyone knows that kids are usually back there, and since they're not two-way, anyway, everyone has to go at most 5mph.

So, the kids are allowed to ride their bikes back there, etc, without my worrying about them overmuch, especially when they're together, just in case someone takes a particularly bad spill or whatnot. Josie is allowed to go farther, of course, while Patrick is supposed to stay just in the area near our house and not turn any corners. (Can you see where this is going?)

While the kids were outside, DH and I took the opportunity to finish installing our new dishwasher sans interruption. About ten minutes into it, one of Patrick's neighborhood friends, Ron, came over looking to play. I told him that Patrick was out back riding bikes with Josie, so head on back around the house. He stood there looking at me and said, 'No, he's not. I saw Josie go by, but not Patrick.'

Come again?

Well, kids being what they are (ie, unable to see through air), I didn't think much of it, and figured that Patrick was probably in the garage switching scooters or something, so we headed off to have a look.

Patrick wasn't in the garage.

He wasn't on the playset.

He wasn't in the alley.

He hadn't come inside the house through the basement door.

I walked a full circle around the block, and ran into Josie. She hadn't seen him.


By this time, DH knew what was going on, and we were quickly going from mad to red-alert status. It was definitely one of those 'he'd better be hurt because if he's not I'm gonna hurt him myself' situations. I mean, I didn't WANT him to be hurt, but it was the only explanation I was willing to accept at this point for his obviously leaving the neighborhood on his own.

After another five minutes had passed, several other neighborhood folks had joined the search. Nothing.

Finally, Josie rode up and said that DH had found him, and was on his way back with him. In a minute, they came into view, and I could see that Patrick had been crying. Apparently, what happened was that Patrick got it into his head to try and follow Josie without telling anyone, including Josie, who had ridden on ahead. When he got to the place where he could turn right, to follow her around the block, or left, he mistakenly chose left, and left the neighborhood. He actually ended up on the sidewalk of the main road, and after a few minutes of trying to figure out where he was, sat down and started to cry. Two women saw him, a grandmotherly type and her daughter, and pulled over to see if they could help; they were walking with him back the way he had come when DH found them.

OMG. What if they hadn't been helpful people!?!?!? What if my baby had been 'found' by a Stranger?! I am so thankful to those women, who I will never know, and can't even thank, for taking my baby under their wings. It could have ended so much differently. Never in a million years would I have thought that he would end up out there; I thought that he had probably run across some boy and decided to play on his swingset or something. He has wandered off before, but not since he was a very small child (when he was a toddler we had to put a chain lock at the top of the door to keep him in the house, because he thought it was funny to run out of the house when I went to the bathroom, and could unlock all the doors). The whole episode makes me want to scrunch him up and stuff him back into my womb.