Wednesday, May 30, 2007

One bad choice...

I was reading the obits last night and came across one for a kid that I went to high school with. I was never friends with him, he was actually a year ahead of me. I always knew who he was, one of the cool kids, kind of cocky, you know who they are. Hell, maybe they were you. This particular high school elite was memorable to me, and the rest of our school, after one fateful night. This guy had spent the night drinking at some party and then decided he was perfectly capable to drive home at an obscene rate of speed. Unfortunately, high school kids are dumb and the drunk ones even dumber. He drove straight into a tree, totaling the car and permanently damaging his brain.

I can vividly remember girls crying in the hallway when they heard the news. Girls that never got the time of day from this guy were so upset they tried to leave class early, or not go at all. A few people thought he'd be back to school in few months. "He just needs some physical therapy." they said. Most of us knew better.

The reality was that this perfectly healthy, popular, 17 year old boy would be confined to a wheelchair. His brain damage so severe that he would be unable to return to school, or our world as teenagers, ever again. I remember the night that his parents decided to bring him to the school talent show, Avant Garde. It was many months after the accident and he hadn't been back to the school yet. The whispers started that Sean was here and everyone wanted to see him. I edged around the crowd to sneak a peek at him and I was pretty horrified at what I saw. He was sitting in a huge wheelchair with a head rest, his hands in fists at his chest and some sort of towel around his neck. It was a sobering image and must have particularly hard on those kids who had hung out with him. I walked away shocked. I had never seen anyone like that before.

High school went on after the accident. People forgot about Sean and the talk died down. When I was a senior I did a presentation on the dangers of drunken driving, citing Sean as an example. "It can happen to any of us," I said. "Actually, it already has."

So here I sit. Married, three kids and a cat. My life went on because I didn't make the same choices Sean did. I always saw him as older than me but he really was just a kid. I was just a kid. I made plenty of bad choices, just not extreme enough to take my life. Or mostly take it and leave the rest of me behind in a wheelchair. I look at kids that same age now and think about what babies they are. It's terribly sad that one cocky kid made a bad choice and paid for it the rest of his life. His short life. But, babies or not, we let our kids out in the world and let them make all the choices for themselves. They're going to get it wrong sometimes, it's impossible for them to always get it right. It just seems very unfair that a 17 year old should be able to get it that wrong. The only thing I can do as a parent is teach my children about making good choices and what the consequences are of the bad ones.

Then cross my fingers and let them go.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Of course, that means no more poopy diapers either. Ha!

The warm weather has brought on one of my favorite times of year - yard sale season. I just love picking through all the junk and finding something good. That's how I started my collection of vintage Pyrex bowls. Of course, I have to distract my sister and my mom from them first. Usually an "Ooh, look over there! Jewelry!" will send them off in the wrong direction. Hey, you snooze, you loose, right?

This Saturday was beautiful and sunny. A perfect day to do some spring cleaning. Yeah, everyone was thrilled here, too. I was able to get rid of so much stuff. The kids were at my mom's house so I threw all kinds of crappy toys in the trash. I was able to give a ton of stuff away, too. My husband dragged all of Violet's baby stuff out of the basement and I cleaned it up so we could stick it by the side of the road with a free sign on it. As I was standing there cleaning that highchair, I got to thinking about how many times I'd done that before. I got the chair as a baby shower gift when I was pregnant with Lila. The girls from the office chipped in and bought it for me. It was really nice, one of the expensive ones. I always tried to take good care of it. I washed it up at least three times a day for meals, and all the little in between times for ice creams, painting, and whatever other messes that babies made while contained.

I remember thinking what a pain in the ass it was when the thing got dirty. The pad and cover would have to be removed and washed. The tray scrubbed, the seat scrubbed out. It got to the point that I loathed cleaning that highchair. I was so glad to move it to the basement and get Lila in a booster chair at the table.

I don't think I even gave the highchair another thought until I found out we were having Violet. Then I did a mental inventory of our baby stuff and remembered it was in the basement. I was glad we had saved the highchair. It held up so well through Lila's babyhood that we could certainly use it again for Violet. And soon enough, we were. I wish I could say that my feelings about cleaning it had changed, but they didn't. The first day that I had to scrub peaches and baby cereal out of all the grooves I thought "Right, I remember. This sucks."

I washed it up at least three times a day for meals, and all the little in between times for ice creams, painting, and whatever other messes that babies made while contained.

Saturday, I washed it up for the last time. It went home with somebody else. Some other baby will spill spaghetti sauce and pudding all over it and some other mom will clean it up.

I won't miss the scrubbing, but it's an end of an era. No more babies in this house. I knew that after Violet was born, of course. We made the choice and had the surgery to ensure that fact. Some how putting all that stuff outside for other moms to use with their babies just drove it home. Made it real. Final. Fact.

No more babies for us.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Big Party

So last Saturday I hosted a surprise party for my husband and two of my daughters. Darryl and Violet share the same birthday and Jasmine is just a couple of weeks earlier than them. It went very well. My husband was surprised, I don't know how, but he was. I kept accidently leaving little things out (like the guest list!), but he never noticed. Jasmine already knew about the party but she and Violet were happy to see all the gifts.

Here are some photos of the day. Many, many, many thanks to all the family and good friends who helped me pull this off. I would have gone nuts if I had to do this alone!

Violet's Pinata. Lila helped stuff this sucker full of chocolate & toys.

I bought 3 journals and left them on a table with some family photo albums of my girls and Darryl during his childhood. There was a note on the table asking people to leave a message for Darryl, Jasmine and Violet. A big thanks to my MIL for spending two days going through photos and putting an album together of my hubby.

Ok, this is a crappy picture. Me, my friend Mary and Darryl's sister Tammy made party favors for all the guests. Little boxes that were stamped and had chocolates in them. The chocolates were wrapped in stamped sticker paper. It was A LOT of work but worth it. Mary was very instrumental in this. I'm not sure it would have gone as easily with out her!

We had so much food! Yum, it was all great.

I made 8 center pieces. My husbands favorite thing in the world (besides me, of course) is M&M's. Each bowl was filled w/ candy and had a picture of all three birthday people when the were young. Which for Violet was pretty easy, since she's just three!

Darryl, my husband, is in the middle. My friend, Jeremy is on the left. He and I have been friends since kindergarten. His wife, Mary is on the left. Mary was a little afraid of us when she and Jeremy first started dating (we can be a bit loud and crazy) but we won her over. I enlist her help when ever something crafty, stampy, or artsy needs to be done. She's pretty darn good!

This is Darryl's Uncle Ken on the left and his Dad Neil on the right. Ken and his wife Jane came up from Massachusets for the party.

Lila Grace. Done, tired, finito. She woke up with a cold that morning but was a trooper all day. She didn't complain at all. This was as we were packing up the car to go home and she was pooped out.

I had the party at the Surry Town Hall. Behind the hall was a very cool, very old cemetary. Some of the headstones date back to the 1700's!

One of the coolest ones was for Ichabod Crain, the main character in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow story. As legend has it, that story was based on true events. Ichabod was so scared by all that happened, he and his family moved to from NY to NH. He owned and operated a general store until he died. Several years ago the town replaced the headstone with his full name on it to prevent tourist. As I said, some of the stones are hundreds of years old and they were worried about them being ruined. If you google Ichabod Crain, you can find a picture of the original stone.

Some of the headstones from the 1700's were very poetic. The were all hand carved on thin sheets of slate. You could even see the lines they carved in them to keep the letters straight. You can see on this one was missing the Jr. so someone had to add it in. Here's the poem in case you can't read it:
Behold and see as you pass by

As you are now so once was I

As I am now so you must be

Prepare for death and follow me
Some how, there are just no pictures of me from that day. Darn! Oh well, maybe at the next event.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Jennifer and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days

The day started off with spiders. I hate spiders. For some reason the house has been full of them lately. And not just the tiny little ones, or the dust ones, but the big fat-butted ones. My dad mowed our lawn recently. I think he scared them into the inside of the house. One jumped out of the dishwasher soap bucket while I was filling it and made me cry (seriously!). I told my husband we need to move.

There's a 1st grade teacher at Lila's school that many people are complaining about. "She's tough, she's mean, she's insensitive," they all keep saying. "Make sure Lila doesn't end up with her!" They keep telling me. So at PTA during the "questions, comments, and suggestions about our school" segment - I brought it up.
"What's going on with this teacher?" I asked. "I've been hearing a lot of complaints. I'm starting to get concerned for Lila next year."
*crickets chirping*
Did I mention almost every other parent on the board is a 1st grade parent? No one said a word. I felt like an ass. A giant, fat-butted spider ass.
The principal shot me down and said that PTA meetings were not a good place to discuss these matters, even though it's a parent-teacher organization and there's no other forum around to discuss this stuff. We moved on and I felt this big. Stupid parents. They left me twisting in the wind.

There was another spider in the living room before I went to bed. I kept one eye on American Idol and one eye on him. I left a note on the door for my husband to kill him. "Take no prisoners!" I said. And I meant it.

Violet and I had music class this morning. That went well, except for the fact that I was wearing socks with holes in them and we have to take our shoes off in class. I tried to hide the holes, but Violet kept saying "Look a big hole! And another one there too! Are there holes in your shirt too Mom?" Which there wasn't, but you know everyone was looking just to see if there was. They all looked like they got dressed right out of the Lands End catalog and the kids were all sporting Baby Gap. I had holes in my socks and Violet was rocking the Hand-Me-Down chic look. Oh, and she wouldn't let me brush her hair either. Then Violet kept plucking the teacher's guitar while she was playing a song. Nancy (she's the teacher. Very nice, lovely voice) had to keep flickingViolet's hand away. Oh, and there was that one incident when Violet got bored, pulled her pants up to her boobs and said "I look like Nanny!" Apparently Nanny needs some Lands End Lo-Rider Trousers.

When I got home from music class there was a message on the machine from a parent that was at last night's PTA meeting. I called her back and she gave a small chastising for bringing the subject up. "That's not really what I feel PTA should be about. I'm uncomfortable talking about a teacher behind her back." Did I mention she's one of the parents complaining? She did agree the subject needs to be discussed, but not there, and she has no idea where. She's a nice lady, very friendly and all, but I think she needs a spine. Can she get that at Lands End?

There was a spider over the bathroom door this morning. I had to kill it myself and I hate doing that. I also had to throw a stack of books at a big black ant, too.

Terrible. No Good. Very Bad.
An Alexander day

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