Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Where There's a Will

It's not something I like to think about or talk about. And, I don't embrace writing about it. But, I wanted to share with you a couple of discussions that recently came up with mom friends, both of whom are 40 something, like myself.

We were out to dinner with a family that has a three year old, and the subject of camp came up. As you know from my previous blog post, my husband and I have been visiting various summer camps and debating where to send Seth this year. Thankfully, we have made a decision on that front, and now it's just a question of how long we are sending him for.

In taking about it with these friends, they said that they, too, have signed their son up for camp, and there is the option that most camps offer of having him bused. It is not in their town, and would probably be about a 20 minutes bus ride, depending on how many children also have to be picked up/dropped off.

I recalled when Seth first got on the bus to go to nursery school. He was 3.5. I cried after he left, but he had a total blast. I got tearful because it was hard to believe he was capable of going on a bus without me. When I shared with these friends my experience and how Seth adored it, the mom said that wasn't her concern. She was worried for his safety. Who is the bus driver? she asked. What kind of driver is he? etc....etc. Her preference was to have her stay-at-home-husband drive him back 'n forth to the camp they selected.

When Seth first got bused, we met the driver and spoke to the school about it, and basically put our trust in this man. Thankfully, it has been ok, and he is Seth's driver again this year.

Then, we had lunch with a mom friend and her four year old twins. She was talking about taking a drive with her husband to go to a meeting they both had to attend. Her children didn't need to be there and could potentially be left home with the nanny, but she opted to take them. Then, she made a comment that I found a bit intriguing/surprising. She said she wanted to take them with her in case something happened. That she and her husband don't typically do things just the two of them without the kids for that reason.

To be honest, I didn't know how to respond. I asked, you mean that if G-d forbid you got into a car accident and got killed that you'd want your children to die with you? Not that she is a doom 'n gloom person and was anticipating this, but yes, that was her thought.

Then I asked, do you have wills? Have you provided for your children? Do you know who would care for them if something did happen to you and your husband? She said no.

Marc, my husband, and I, invested in hiring an attorney last year to draw up wills for us and other paperwork so that we know Seth will be secure, if need be. It is not something pleasant to discuss, and it led us to really examine who is in our lives and who we would want to raise Seth if we were gone. I don't want to think about that. Who does? Mortality? That's a hard nut to swallow. But, I do at least have the peace of mind to know that we've put things in place for Seth.

This leads me to the question...shouldn't we all as parents?! Isn't it our responsibility to have a will and whatever else is necessary, for our children's sake? Sure we want them to be safe, but there's only so much we can do.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Me....a Granny??

I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. I've heard others speak of it, but I figured I would never fit the bill, especially at this time in my life.

I was wrong.

Yesterday I was at our neighborhood diner with my husband, a friend and her two kids, and my son. I had taken him potty, and we were rushing to exit the bathroom. As we washed our hands, a woman entered the bathroom, saw us, and asked if I was the mom or grandmom?

I was stunned. Livid. Totally caught off guard. And, suddenly quite self-conscious. I stole a fast glance in the bathroom mirror before we exited, examining the age of my face. Ok.....I don't look 22. I admit it. I have a couple of frown lines. I certainly feel more tired than I did when I was younger. But, could someone truly mistake me for a grandmother? I could be a grandmom at 47, that is true, but I only became a mom at 42. And, some become first time moms even later than that. It is a personal choice.

I looked at the woman, with a look of horror on my face, no doubt, and responded, "I'm not going to respond to that," as I bolted out the door with Seth.

When I got back to my table, I told my husband and fellow mom/friend what had happened. She, in fact, has a full head of gray hair, and said it has commonly happened to her. I, on the other hand, have no gray (except for some hidden strands)...and I don't color my hair.

So...what was this about, and why did it get to me so?

Do I dress like a grandmom?

Where my mannerisms somehow like one? (whatever that means)

My friend responded that the stranger probably looked at Seth's blonde hair, compared to my almost jet black hair, and surmised I couldn't possibly be his mom.

Why did she need to know? Once you have a child, does it give complete strangers free license to say whatever is on their mind that relates to you as a parent? I have often had the experience, when I'm at this same local diner, of others eating nearby trying to catch the eye of my son....or comment to me that he his cute, etc. It's nice, but I really don't go out to make conversation with others when I'm with him, so sometimes it feels a bit odd.

We go to this diner alot. Does it make me want to go there less now? In a way. Though, I realize that is foolish. Seth loves it there.

I have to shrug this off and not take it personally. People can say or think a lot of things without thinking. I guess they're curious, though it can sure feel insensitive when you're on the receiving end.

Truth is, I can't quite imagine potentially being a grandmom one day. Right now, Seth is my little buddy, and I'd like to keep it that way. So...bring on the Oil of Olay anti-aging Serum. I'll do what I can to keep the years away.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Sick Days

Seth's pre-K called yesterday. I know whenever the phone rings, and it's the school nurse, that it's not good news. Seth had a 101 fever she said, and was very uncomfortable. I had to come pick him up right away.

I have to admit...I lost it at that moment. In my time of frustration, I said to her, "You know...this isn't mom's taxi service. I'm in the middle of some things now. I will get there as soon as I can."

Well...she didn't seem to like that response, and the next call I got was from the school social worker. I explained that I would definitely get there within the hour. That I don't live around the corner, and I work part time from home, and can't just drop everything and run over there this very second. She seemed to understand a bit more, though really, she wanted me there pronto too.

Now...I could see if Seth had, G-d forbid, some awful, contagious disease. And, believe me, I understand that you don't want whatever it is to spread throughout the entire school. That said, I drove him directly to the doctor who squeezed us in before the after school rush. Turns out he has some kind of virus, which you don't treat with medication. I more or less suspected this, but since he had a chesty sounding cough too, I wanted to be safe.

Did you know they can diagnose the flu in a child immediately by popping a cotton swab in their nose and testing it on the spot? Takes about 10 minutes for results. Unreal. Luckily it wasn't the flu. I waited anxiously to hear, since I did not get the flu shot and have never been keen on it. When I was little I recall getting the measles vaccine and wound up with a case of the measles from it. To this day, that left me a bit vaccine phobic, at least for myself.

I asked the pediatrician for a doctor's note for the school, and he looked at me funny. I explained it wasn't because they think Seth might be playing hookie, but rather, more to document to the school that Seth has been seen by a physician.

So, Seth was home sick today. He seems improved, and no fever. Monday is a holiday, so we have a long weekend ahead, with some cold weather coming, so Seth will need to be somewehat housebound to get fully well. This means mommy may go a bit stir crazy too, but Tuesday is another day. And, hopefully a healthier one...and crossing my fingers that Marc & I don't catch this from Seth. We've both had more than our share of awful colds already this season.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Mommy dates

With three kids, I make a point every now and then to carve out special “mommy-only” time separately with each child, like a little emotional litmus test to see how everyone’s doing. It helps them be heard over the din of noise through family dinners homework and rushing here and there driving to after-school activities.

Sunday I took all three on separate “dates” for an hour or so at their designated special place.

Five year old Melanie’s favorite place is a diner in Syosset, Long Island where, like the show Cheers…everyone knows her name. Melanie carried her beloved dingy white blanket lovingly in her arms, climbed up on the stool and ordered her usual: a tiny dish of pickles, side of bacon, toasted bagel with butter. I wondered if I should be worrying already about her arteries. But we ate the fattening food and talked to the Greek man who cooked everything in front of us a la Benihana. There is no kitchen in back. The grill is right behind the counter. “I don’t want to be a lawyer,” she informed him after he suggested that profession because she is so talkative and smart. “I’m going to be a mail carrier,” she smiled saying c.a..rrier melodically long for emphasis.

A mail carrier? I learn so much about my kids on these mommy dates.

Next up was Kelly, now 8 since her December birthday. We ventured to her favorite place the Gourmet Goddess in Cold Spring Harbor Long Island. This place is a girl fantasy with lacey curtains dressing the windows and distressed ladder-back chairs with green vines and purple flowers hand painted on them. The store is chock full of candy, teddy bears, all kinds of trinkets, ceramic dishes, tea tins and kitchen rooster towels and cooking accoutrements; toys for girls both big and small. We sat on the flowered chairs, drinking tea and hot chocolate and I was taken aback when she asked me what it’s like to be a mother? and do I like it?

Hmm. This coming on the heels of a conversation I’d had with my husband over the holidays about not wanting to take an office job yet and to continue freelancing as a writer and budding musician. Kelly clearly heard us and was wondering already what kind of woman she might one day be.

“I wouldn’t put my children in daycare,” she said decidedly, waiting for my approval.

I leaned over, looking into her big blue eyes and said, “Kelly there is no right or wrong way to be a mother, sweetie. When you get there, if you get there, you will do what’s in your heart and it will be the right thing for you. There are many ways to be a mother, you know.”

The questions are getting tougher and the answer was: Yes, I love being a mother.

Thank God Robert, my 9-½ year old son, just wanted to go to Oyster Bay Long Island and climb the rocks. But it was too cold. So instead we got Italian Ices at the Bonanza Stand that has been there over a hundred years. We drove to the bay and sat in the car licking chocolate chip cookie dough ices from our spoons and stared at the unbelievably low tide. We talked about the video game Guitar Hero and he asked if I knew who Axl Rose from Guns ‘N Roses is. The answer was the same. Yes.

Life is good!


Friday, January 11, 2008

Mind Games

If I don't write this blog post now, I may forget what I wanted to write about.

Just kidding......but really I'm serious. My memory isn't what it used to be, and apparently I'm not alone. In the new course catalog I received this week from the Open Center in NY, one of the classes being offered is called Carved in Sand: When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in Midlife. The description goes on to say, "Anyone older than 40 knows that forgetfulness can be unnerving, frustrating and sometimes terrifying....." It is taught by an investigative journalist who has probed this subject for years and shares what the experts have to say.

Another class in the same catalog is called Brain Gym. Certainly an intriguing title. It's enough that I get myself to the gym for my body (not often enough). Do I have to create an exercise regime for my mind now too?

This is all too much to think about. But, I have found it harder to remember little things. I've always been someone who writes things down, and now I've even taken to emailing notes to myself from my cell phone when I'm it's in my face and on my computer when I get home.

I know I'm 47, which is considered midlife, but am I losing my mind? Since I became a mom, my mind is definitely more cluttered, which doesn't help. So much to do...prepare....plan....and not just for me, but my son, our family, etc.

Guess I just have to accept it and cut myself some slack. As long as I don't forget to tell my son I love him, he won't realize that mommy has momentary memory lapses. And, he'll love me whether or not I forget where he put his Game Boy, favorite baseball cap.....etc.

Do you find it more challenging to remember certain things?

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Camp Confusion

We are in the midst of winter here in New York, yet we're shopping around for summer camp for Seth.

It's hard to even think that far ahead when I'm trekking around in my winter coat. Why do these camps book up so early? Is it that we parents play into the convincing sell that some of them present to get us to quake in our snowboots that our child might be shutout if we don't secure a spot?

Last year Seth went to the Samuel Field Y camp, and it served him well. No bells 'n whistles, but it was his first camp experience, and he enjoyed.

He has aged out of that camp, so we need to explore other options. Unfortunately, as affordable as the Y was is as pricey as most other camps are. Camps are a big ticket item and therefore a big decision.

We've thus far toured three....and plan to attend an open house of a fourth this weekend. I had in mind that that would likely be the one with go with...but tonight...after speaking with a friend at the gym, I'm now thinking that might not be an obvious decision. She said that you get what you pay for...and since Seth will be five this important age, according to my friend who has two grown girls in their 20s...that now is the time to invest in a top notch camp where he will master swimming. Her daughters both wound up as summer lifeguards and on the diving team at their respective schools because their camp experience turned them into "fish," she emphasized.

I'd like Seth to be a "fish"...but does it have to cost between $5 - $6K/summer to make that happen? Who knows?! What a business these camps have going! Seth got a stuffed dog from one with a t-shirt from the camp. He got a bag full of goodies from another, along with his photo posted on a penant with their name on it. They're all about marketing and know how to get their name out there, whether you register for the camp or not.

Not sure what we're going to do yet. We'll see how the open house goes on Sunday.

What is your feeling about summer camp for kids, at the age of 5?

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The Scoop on San Antonio

I promised I'd blog more on San Antonio, since a bunch of moms have expressed curiousity about it as a family travel destination, so here goes.

Let me start by saying I would highly recommend it.

From what I hear, places like Orlando get super crowded, especially during school breaks. Many don't realize that San Antonio also has a lot of offerings for kids as well.

If you have a busy boy, like I do, you'll be all the busier. Looking back on our trip, we did so much, it's hard to believe....and we were only there five full days.

Here's a quick breakdown....

(2) boat rides on the River Walk
Trolley rides around town.
Horse 'n buggy ride at night, with the carriage all lit festive.
Lunch at the top of Tower of the Americas....great view.
Lunch at Rainforest place. Could never get in in NY, so this was fun. Though, my son got scared during the simulated tropical rain storm.
Dinner at Hard Rock son is a little rocker, so he had a blast watching the videos and checking out the celebrity guitars on display. Good appetizers!
A visit to the Witte Museum -- great place! Wish they had one in NY. Cool outside treehouse for kids and loads of indoor science-related things to explore, including a weather center. Outstanding mechanical dinosaur exhibit!
Visit to the local firehouse....Seth can never get enough of this. I think my next book will be a family guide to firehouses in the U.S. (just kidding...but we do visit one wherever we go.)
Seth rode a mechanical bull (for kids) at a streetfair, and rode a real horse.
Visit to the San Antonio Children's Museum -- also great! Could spend hours...let's make that days.
The Botanic Gardens -- had a Diego/Dora Exhibit. Didn't love this, but Seth had fun.
Fiesta Texas (Six Flags)- was open at night this time of year, and gorgeous with spectacular holiday lights! Pricey, but Seth enjoyed the rides. The water park end was closed now.
Trip to Sea World -- yes there is a Shamu show! (How many Shamus are there anyway??)
Trip to the oldest amusement Kiddie Park in America (80 years....and it kinda looked it...but very nostaligic!)

And there's more we didn't do.....such as the San Antonio Zoo....water parks....African Safari park....etc.

.......Not to mention just walking the It's a haven for Mexican imports, if that's your style.

You might want to consider it as a future vacation spot. Where have you vacationed with your kids and enjoyed? Would love to hear.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Real R&R

We returned Monday from vacation in San Antonio. How great...and exhausting it was to get away.

I really needed a break from home, but travel with a four year old isn't the easiest. We wound up changing hotels after the first night, since the bed was too hard for me. We had gotten a room with two Queens, and Marc was sleeping with Seth. That proved to be a challenge since Seth enjoyed kicking and rolling all over him. So, we switched from the Sheraton to the Hyatt, where we got a King and a rollaway bed for Seth. This was a better choice.

But, life (six nights) in a smallish hotel room with a busy boy is far from R&R. Not to mention that it was lights out most nights by 9PM, on the early side for me...a natural night owl.

Seth was so hyped up the first couple of days due to the excitement of being away that even getting him to sleep took considerable energy.

I need some real R&R. It got me thinking back to my single days when you could go on a trip and your time was your own. Now it mostly revolves around making sure Seth is entertained on some level.

On one hand, it was cozy and a nice bonding experience as a family....and I do miss having that undistracted time away.

I'll Blog more about San Antonio and the trip itself later in the week, as I do think it's a cool place for families to visit...and a nice alternative to Orlando.

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