Storytelling with Issa: A Dragon in My Backyard

My daughter Issa and I sometimes opt for storytelling at bedtime versus reading. Last night we pretended a dragon lived in our backyard. For a visual of the dragon, think Night Fury from  How to Train Your Dragon.

The dragon living in my backyard . . .

flies me to school every morning. On the way, he picks up my friends Keefer, Ashley, Ally, Emily, Paul, Brandon, Alex, Gino and Ella. At school while parked in the bus lane he receives curious glances from the principal, teachers and parents. But, everyone stays cool. They all know there is no reason to freak out. My dragon is friendly.

Until school dismisses, my dragon plays hide-and-seek with my younger brother, Riff, and eats lunch. My dragon’s favorite food is fish. His meal includes crab legs, water and double-chocolate cake.

At dismissal, the dragon returns to pick my friends and I up. He drops everyone off and then flies me around the neighborhood. One afternoon we went to Debbie’s Dollar store. My friends Justin and Andrew came along for the ride. We bought him some little plastic dragons to play with.

Before returning home for dinner, my dragon flew us to DQ. Justin, Andrew and I ordered chocolate-fudge sundaes; my dragon ordered fish-flavored ice cream with sprinkles. Yummy!

Fat Tuesday Italian Style

My neighbors are owners of Tringali’s Bakery in Warren, Michigan. Their amazing cannoli-filled Paczkis were featured on Fox News. The mocha-flavored, cannoli-filled ones are my absolute favorite. However, Issa and Riff beat me to the two in our box this year. Oh well.

The elliptical in my home gym is loving me today. I did 5 miles. But, still need to do about 15 more to make up for these yummy treats I consumed.

Check them out.

Tringali Bakery Makes Cannoli Paczki

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Good People, Good Neighbors

A WTF Moment: A Call From School You Do NOT Want

I have been battling my two inner voices on whether or not to blab about a WTF moment, I experienced one week ago. One voice keeps saying this is information neighbors need to know. It deals with a rather serious issue — the safety of children while at school — so it’s more than just coffee-break gossip about what so-and-so did at work one day.

A second voice says people make mistakes. It’s not right to blast their errors megaphone-style into the public. I probably would have sided with this voice. But, then, I did some on-the-street interviews at the bus stop. Two of my neighbors, who have children attending the same school experienced similar — but much scarier — WTF experiences, recently.

So, here I am. I am going with that first inner voice. A bonus with  this choice  is linking you to one of my favorite bloggers. Kelly, from Dances with Chaos, posts WTF moments she experiences during her trials as a parent almost each Friday. They are pretty humorous.

While my WTF recount is not humorous, it definitely deserves a replay. So, without further delay …

It’s 10 am on Friday, February 10. I am whizzing around my house taking care of Riff. He’s my five-year-old, son; and he’s been home sick all week. I called him in absent at 8:30 am. He attends a different school than my daughter, Issa.

The phone rings … It’s one of the secretary’s from Issa’s school.

School Secretary: Is Issa absent from school, today?
Me: No, she went to school
Me (thinking and checking my phone number list): I called Riff’s school to report him absent. Did I call the wrong school? I could have experienced a brain fart. I was up until 3 am helping him nurse a bad cold. But, I didn’t call the wrong school.
Me (out loud): She’s not at school? Where is she?
Secretary: Did she come in late?
Me (starting to feel a freak-out coming on): No, she rode the bus with her friends this morning.
Secretary: Oh. Let me double check the (attendance) sheet.
Me: Well, is she at school?
Secretary: Oh. There she is.
Me: Go check and make sure. Call me back.
Secretary: Okay.
Secretary calls me back: Yes. She’s here. I hate it when I do this.
Me (thinking): You’ve done this to a parent before?
Me (out loud): You just gave me a heart attack!

Do you think she’s still thinking about this little mistake like I am?

After considerable research and thought, I have decided something needs to be said to the principal. Here are some additional reasons fueling my blog as well as my fire about having a chat with school personnel.

  • Other parents with students at the same school reported receiving similar erroneous phone calls.
  • Just last week local news reported an attempted abduction at a bus stop, which a bus driver prevented. Also, in May/June 2011, local police alerted school officials about reported attempted abductions in our area.
  • Calls to confirm absences — not called in — are not made until 10 am ish. So, what happens if a child is abducted while walking to school or after getting off the bus. School starts at 8:25 am. That’s a scary amount of lead time to give a predator.
  • Parents said voice mails were left asking parents to confirm an absence. While I feel this step in the school’s process is reasonable and valid, I am questioning whether leaving a voice mail is enough. Perhaps calls to other numbers listed on the student emergency cards would be better protocol. One parent I spoke with said she and her husband were out of town when this voice mail was left. Fortunately, the student’s grandmother checked the voice mails and immediately contacted the school to confirm the child was there. A second parent received a voice mail. But, no one in her family heard the message until 5 pm that day. What if their child had been abducted? What kind of chance would this have given the parents/family of a positive outcome to that type of scenario.

Staying Home

One month prior to the birth of my daughter, Issa, who turned nine yesterday, I sat at the dinner table with my husband. We discussed the decision I had make: stay home or keep my full-time marketing communications position at an information technology company.

Part of me wanted to stay home because excelling at my current position often required long hours and overnight travel. Even with a new baby at home, I would still be expected to perform just as I did prior to becoming a parent. I knew I wanted time off to bond with my daughter. But, another part saw others balancing rewarding careers and parenthood simultaneously. After all, I spent nearly 10 years ascending the corporate world and achieving marketing communications success. Why would I want to leave all those accomplishments?

Part-time hours weren’t an option because the position really required full-time attention. The option of telecommuting was refuted despite my employer’s reputed success with helping blue-chip clients work with remote employees. So, I did the math on what it would cost to send Issa to day care. It just didn’t add up. After paying for day care, my take-home pay wouldn’t have compensated me for all those hours missed with my daughter. So, I kept thinking about why I would work just to pay for day care?

In addition to the internal voices talking the issues out in my head, there were — and still are — plenty of outside influences — from both sides — clamoring to be recognized. Some favored the more traditional choice, which was to stay home exclusively and parent, while others thought I would go nuts without an escape to my corporate cubicle each day.

My financial situation — at the time — gave me the option to chose. So, in the end, I took time away from the corporate world to stay home with both of my children. While I would not flip my decision, I still have conflict with my choice. Do you?

On the pro side I have time to volunteer at my children’s schools, write creatively, and advocate for a local non-profit. The con side says I will have to work years to recoup income loss and to regain professional ground. Plus, I miss the live daily adult conversations about business issues, current events, movies, television shows, and style.

Nine Years Ago

Nine years ago, I waited. The medicine the doctor gave to induce labor had started to work. I was told, it could take hours or even days before I would meet my baby. I was about to become a mom for the first time.

Up until the previous day, my pregnancy had been a breeze. I felt good, could eat anything and still maintained a fairly active lifestyle. But, at 38 weeks and at my weekly OB check, my blood pressure was way up and there was protein in my urine. My doctor directed me to the hospital. While I felt a slight twinge of fear, I was optimistic. Surely, the hospital staff would check me out and send me home.

Upon my arrival at the mom/baby unit at the hospital, a nurse promptly informed me of my situation. I had developed pregnancy-induced hypertension (i.e. pre-eclampsia or toxemia). Symptoms included high blood pressure, protein in urine and swelling due to water/fluid retention. I would not be leaving the hospital until after I delivered my baby.

While my ordeal with toxemia was scary, my husband who also served as my delivery coach, kept worry out of my mind. He helped me focus on breathing through labor pains, staying still while receiving the epidural, and enjoying the first few moments of my daughter’s life.

When I delivered my beautiful, baby girl, Issa, she was incredibly sweet, just like she is today. I was thrilled to be mom to this little angel who continues to  grow into a smart young lady who loves her family, friends, planet, snakes, roller coasters and the solar system.

Recovery from toxemia took longer than I expected. I suppose I really didn’t appreciate how sick I was. Prior to this experience, the only illnesses I ever experienced were brushes with common ailments such as the flu. This experience taught me to count my blessings: family, health, faith, and a positive outlook.

Isn’t it interesting how the birth of a child can teach us so much about ourselves and about the world?

Happy Birthday to my Issa!

A Seemingly Harmless Flirtation: Angry Bird

Angry Birds
Image via Wikipedia

It all started before 2011 came to an end. I was basking in some much needed downtime after dinner. As I read through the front-page headlines at Huffington Post, cheers, giggles and snorts from the other room penetrated my thoughts. Once again, Riff and his dad were captivated with the silly, obnoxious Angry Bird scenes playing out on my husband’s Droid.

Disgusted with reading — for the 364th day — about gridlock in D.C., GOP primary speculations, and tabloid fodder, I succumbed to the temptation to check out Angry Bird. It was just a harmless flirtation with a pop culture segment that I define as a plague on human productivity and time management.

I told myself one peek would not plunge me into an abyss of addiction. Looking was not cheating on my responsibilities as parent, wife, writer or friend.

But then, a quick look turned into a wink and a smile. Before I knew what happened … a link developed. Those comedic angry birds must have known about my preference for a good sense of humor and pretty feathers.

I took the flirtation a step further and clicked on the “play” link. Again, I told myself, one game wasn’t a step toward a demise of my professional ambitions or attentive parenting skills. It was just one game.

Let it be said. The decision to “play” is not one that would make my list of Top 10 Brilliant Moves. One click lead to a second, third, fourth, tenth and a … I quit keeping track.

Perhaps it was the feeling of instant gratification. Pigs exploded all over the screen. Each dead pig earned me 5,000 points. Plus, there were bonus points for destroying walls, taking out boxes of TNT, and pulverizing watermelon. Good, life-saving deeds were rewarded generously as well. I earned 10,000 points for each bird saved from sudden death as a suicide-bomber.

Whatever these angry birds have that my husband, children, family, friends and writing do not is beyond my comprehension. But, a wink and smile has now turned into a toxic love affair. My daily desire to free my pretty-feathered friends from a world of snarky pigs is constantly nudging at my resolve to make dinner each night, share my desktop with my children, write blog posts, and pay attention to my husband.

Wednesday at 10:49: So Much to Write

There is so much to write, so much to say and so much to do. Here I sit. The notes from this morning are there. I went old-school and grabbed a pen while listening to Riff sing the Mat Man song during snack time this morning.

As ideas and phrases came to mind, I jotted them into my journal. After all, I live with children, a husband and a dog. If I don’t write it all down, I’ll forget those precious thoughts.

But, now, I’m not loving the ideas or phrases I did back at 10:30 am. Maybe that’s because I’m in a different place. I’m always thinking.

Here are some thoughts…

Keeping up with Issa and her evolving interests is equivalent to tracking technology advances. It’s nearly impossible. Change occurs so quickly. But, it is so exciting to witness and to participate. Her interests are so academic and mostly trend toward the sciences. In chronological order — from earliest to now — it was the alphabet, ducks, elephants, mice, dinosaurs, space, and now snakes.

Laughing matters. It breaks up the stress and makes living with children survivable. I sent Riff to his time out spot for a five-minute respite. He was pretty pissed off and began throwing things that were within his reach.

He eyed a pair of my shoes and said, “He’s going to throw your shoes.”

Three inches of snow is finally being forecast for Southeastern Michigan. We have experienced nearly three weeks of 40-plus temps and sunshine.

What I Meant to Write: Yesterday’s Post

I meant to write this post yesterday. But, then I cleaned the house during the morning hours. My five-year-old, son, Riff, was willing to help me make beds, sweep the floor and vacuum. So, how could I not oblige him. I take help when I have it.

Then, morning turned into afternoon. Riff got on the bus for school. I managed to write the title for my post, What I Learned Today. Also, I scanned the Internet looking for some stuff to learn. Did you learn anything, yesterday?  I did.

A woman filed a claim against Starwood Hotels. She was allegedly, sexually assaulted while staying at one of the hotel’s properties in Finland. The commentary following articles about this lawsuit are as interesting as the story itself. I have never been impressed during any of my stays at their hotels.

But, instead of writing, I walked the dog, ate second lunch, read a few pages from John Sallis‘ What You Have Left: The Turner Trilogy on my Kindle, and shared some love with Your Shape on my XBox.

Afternoon turned into evening. Issa and Riff were both home from school now. My duties now involved officiating television time, playing games online, making dinner and getting ready for an evening meeting at church.

For the record, I did not play Angry Bird. The games I played were for educational purposes at this fun and excellent website, http://www.starfall.com. I learned it has reading- and language-skill games to help elementary-age children improve literacy. I was nicely pleased to see Issa spend about 30 minutes playing around here as well.

Then, you know what happened? Afternoon turned into evening; and then evening into night. I came home from my meeting at eight and waited to claim the television from my husband.

While waiting I learned Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire GOP primary, but with only 39.3-percent of the vote. Also, David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is getting positive press. Friends from my blogging and neighborhood networks all say its better than expected. My husband and I have a date night scheduled for Saturday, which may include a movie. I’m trying to decide between this one and Sherlock Holmes.

After claiming the television I watched a couple on-demand episodes of Once Upon a Time, ABC’s new show about fairy-tale characters caught in limbo between reality and fantasy. I re-learned about characters such as Snow White, Prince Charming, and Rumpelstiltskin.

So, what I meant to write yesterday at 9, didn’t happen until now. Stay tuned for today’s post…

Monday at 11:50: Blue, Lions, and Three Supermoms

Living north of the “D” has been anything but normal this January. Temps have surged toward 50 for several consecutive days. The Detroit Lions made their first post-season appearance in more than a decade, and two fellow supermoms and myself won a 3-on-3 and horsed around Friday afternoon.

Blue, Brilliant and Green

This morning blue skies and brilliant sunshine greeted me while walking Issa to the bus stop. Usually, winter’s bleakness is a constant companion until early April. Snow, ice, and cold have yet to arrive. I guess upgrading to a pair of snow skates will have to wait.

Lions and Sanders’ Chocolate Stout

Last Saturday at 8, my beloved Lions roared into the Superdome to test themselves against the New Orleans’ Saints. After the half, I felt that glimmer of hope for a win quickly fade. Thank goodness I had an ice-cold Sanders’ Chocolate Stout at arms reach. Despite the loss and early-out from the NFL playoffs, I am truly impressed with the progress demonstrated from this young, talented team. Hopefully, off-season tweaking and practice will return the Lions in September to continue their quest for greatness. I am looking forward to an unstoppable 2012 season.

Supermoms Reach Close 3-on-3 Victory, Horse Around Hoops

It was Friday afternoon. Three fourth-grade boys wanted to practice their three-point and dribbling skills. So, they challenged two of my mom friends. To give the two teams an even number, I was asked  join them. The new team — Supermoms — took to the driveway half-court and clinched a very close victory: 21-18. As the boys left the court for snacks and some XBox fun, the Supermoms continued with a game of H-O-R-S-E.

 

Happy Birthday: Riff Celebrates Five Years

Five years and 2 hours ago, my husband and I welcomed Riff to the world. There are not words to express the joy I experienced at that moment nor the joy I continue to experience every moment he spends with me.

There is no other exactly like him. He is a blessing; a precious miracle gift. His beautiful heart shows in wide smiles and infectious giggles. As he continues to grow his personality evolves. Today, his interests include dancing, watching and playing sports, music, police cars and anything with buttons.

He is still too young to appreciate the words I string together in his birthday cards declaring my unconditional love. I didn’t appreciate the depth of this love from my own mom until I became one myself.

As I continue in the triumphs and challenges of parenthood, I realize there are no others that have taught me so much about life, love, people, and myself. Both of my children enrich me.

At some point, the rest of the world will see and know what I already do. Riff is exceptional. He is love and so very special.

Related previous posts …

Just Say It

Thoughts About Children and Multiple Choice

Charming the People

Time to Fly