Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"I'm sorry, you must have my child confused with someone else."

"What's going on here, Mom?" my 7-year-old daughter asks in a commanding voice.

Frankly, I'm intrigued that's she noticing a change so quickly.

You see, earlier this week I started reading a book entitled, How to Have a New Kid by Friday.

Don't get me wrong. I love my kids and don't really want new ones (well, if the new ones came with owners manuals and big bars of chocolate, maybe...) but I admit I've had my moments when I was ready to pack 'em up and ship 'em off to anyone who would take them.

Simply put: I can't handle the attitude.

When they're little, it's the tantrums and the whining. When they start school they get tired, cranky and apparently lose the ability to communicate like a human being. When they're elementary age, they begin to believe they know everything. At every stage, however, they think they are the BOSS.

Of course they're nearly angelic for anyone else in authority. School teachers report a well-behaved student working hard to meet or exceed expectations. Sunday School teachers rave about how well they get along. Mothers from birthday parties comment about their good manners.

Huh?!? Where's that kid?

I get the one who forgets how to use a fork at virtually every meal, and can't seem to eat over their plate even if it were 3 feet in diameter.

I get the one whose photo is next to "sibling rivalry" in the dictionary, finding just the right action to completely set off World War III on a daily (or hourly) basis.

I get the one who refuses to take responsibility for their actions, and works hard to meet or exceed the pathetic excuse from 2 hours ago of why it "truly wasn't their fault."

So yes. When I saw the title of the book, I was more than just a bit curious.

And guess what? The book makes a lot of sense, and I understand why it can work.

So I begin implementing "the plan" the author proposes. And I have to admit, it is kind of refreshing.

Instead of a morning of exasperation and fits, there are boundaries.

Instead of time-outs and idle threats, there are loving responses.

Instead of a day filled with fights and screaming, well, there's still fights and screaming...but I'm handling it differently than I ever have. And it seems to be working.

We had a very tough day, but toward the end I think perhaps we achieved something...a desire to make tomorrow a better day. Genuinely better.

I'm not expecting my children to morphe into little cherubs with these parenting techniques, but I'd like to think we're on the road to recovery...recovery from a world where I felt so out of control that I had given up hope that parenting could be any different.

Because when my daughter asked that question, I felt like I was doing something right. And that maybe, just maybe, things were going to be okay.

And maybe...just maybe...

I'll recognize that kid their teachers rave Friday.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The doctor will see you now.

I am not a fan of doctors.

Now I'm not talking the person. Truth be told, the doctors I've spent the most time with are pretty nice people. But their job makes them...well, annoying.

I really dislike the fact that you have to go through an appointment before you can get anything. Need to see a specialist? Sorry, have to have an appointment with that primary doctor first. Need antibiotic? Sorry, have to drag your sick self into their office before you get any glimpse of relief.


It sure seems like primary doctors are passing just about everything onto specialists these days too. Got a sniffle that won't go away? Better go see the ENT doctor. Skin has patchy red spots? Better get to a dermatologist.

What happened? Did primary care physicians start getting sued like crazy so now they just reliquish all responsibility? Or are specialists sending them really big baskets of chocolate and muffins?

Seems like any visit to the doctor lately is a 30-30 plan. 30 dollars of a copay and 30 seconds of a doctor's time. Basically, you're left with a piece of paper and an appointment to see someone who may be able to actually help you. (And I emphasize the word 'may'.)

But then you go to that specialist appointment - you know, the one that took 3 months to get into in the first place - only to spend about 3 nanoseconds with the guy and have him say, "Come back in 2 weeks and we'll do some tests."

Huh?!? I didn't need a formal introduction to Dr. Earnsalot. One that cost me another $30, I might add. Would it be so wrong to actually take care of the problem on the first visit?

Problem is you expend so much time and energy trying to work the appointment into your schedule, only to find out you'll have to come back again so the dear doctor can actually do something.

My daughter had a procedure done this summer ...on the 2nd visit, of course. The first visit was merely a short chat with a doctor whose first language was certainly not English. In fact, Rachel kept asking, "How do you know what he's saying, Mom? He's not speaking English." I shushed her as my cheeks turned a lovely shade of crimson... where she was surrounded by nurses ready to put things into motion.

But we had to wait.

For yet another doctor.

Who pushed a button and then left.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! I was in such a state of shock at what I just witnessed, I said, "Wow. I want his job. He walks in, pushes a button, exits, and collects his check." A couple nurses replied with nervous chuckles, and one just nodded.

So essentially the nurses did all the work but Mr. Whitecoat gets all the glory. So not fair.

Because I'm beginning to question the competency of today's physicians.

Case in point: the annual physical. We're supposed to get one of these every year - thus the term annual, hello. I worked for a health insurance company once and learned that 'preventative care' is what keeps health care costs manageable - the theory that if you see a doctor regularly so they can catch any problems, it saves a ton of money in the long run. Makes sense. So our insurance company encouraged one annual exam per year, covered at 100%.

Naturally, I send my husband to the doctor.

The nurse takes his vitals and asks him what he's there for.

"I'm just in for a physical."

She pauses.

"Are there any concerns you have?"

"No, not really."

"Okay, the doctor will be right in." Which is standard dialogue apparently, as it is what we hear regardless if the doctor truly will be right in - like THAT ever happens - or if there are 14 other patients ahead of you.

As he sits in the stark, cold exam room, my husband begins to hear voices outside the door.

"Why's he here?"

"He said for a physical."

"A physical? You mean there's nothing wrong with him?"

"He said he has no concerns."

"So there is nothing to diagnose?"

After painful silence, the door swings open.

To make a long story short, this doctor has no clue what to do with a patient only wanting an 'annual physical.' He literally asked my husband what he'd like him to do.

Um, gee. I thought YOU were the expert on this, doc.

Not that it comes as any surprise, but we were not billed for an annual exam covered at 100%. The guy dug up some tidbit to use as an ailment and jotted down a diagnosis, thus leaving our wallets lighter yet again.

This incident happened prior to children. Once you have children, the whole medical game intensifies.

Because, let's face it. Kids are germ magnets and if it isn't an ear infection or strep, it's swine flu or pneumonia.

I just wish doctors would do what makes sense. Let me come in with one kid, and then prescribe enough medication to cover all three. Frankly, it is only a matter of time before they all get it.

Or trust me that I know what is wrong with my kid sometimes and call in the prescription. Enough with this, "Come in for an appointment first" nonsense. Come on. Moms know. I'm not an idiot. One kid gets pink eye...two days later another one has red, goopy eyes. Duh. Would it be so hard to think I may actually know you need to call in the eyedrops prescription?

One day last Fall I had to literally beg for a new prescription for my daughter. She had an infection, so she was prescribed the typical antibiotic. Her face swelled up so much that she looked like the Elephant Man.

So obviously, I call the doctor.

"Her face is swollen? Well, are her eyes itchy?"


"Okay, well let's stick to this prescription and see what happens."

So I reluctantly send her off to school. (Fortunately, it's just kindergarten. Had she been in junior high she would never live this down.)

I do some checking on the internet and become convinced she's having an allergic reaction to the medication. I grab the Benadryl and head to her school.

Her eyelids are merely slits at this point.

She tips back the Benadryl and I pray she won't go blind by recess.

After I arrive home, I call the doctor and explain that my daughter cannot continue on that medication for another minute.

"Oh. Okay. Yeah, she's probably allergic."

Her nonchalance makes me want to reach through the phone and tighten that stethescope.

"I'll call in a different prescription."

I know people like to joke that doctors are "practicing medicine," but sometimes I think there may be some truth to that.

And that's annoying.

Because I'm a walking pharmacy these days, and I just wish someone knew how to fix the problems instead of creating more.

Monday, December 14, 2009

'Tis the Season to be Teary

Is there anything better than a children's Christmas program?

I don't think it is possible to walk out of something like that without a smile on your face. There is just too much entertainment!

My husband and I attended our two oldest children's Christmas program at church on Saturday afternoon. Prior to their debut, the preschoolers - now picture it...we're talking super cute 3 & 4 year olds - had their own little program of a handful of songs and actions.

Your eye naturally zooms in on the little girls in their adorable, frilly Christmas dresses. The velvety skirts and shimmery lace make you want to whip out your camera in haste...oh, wait a second. None of these kids is mine.

I put the camera down and enjoy the show.

And what a show it is. I applaude the mother who knew her daughter would be one to play with her fluffy dress and pull the skirt up, so she dressed her in a layered dress so the sweet girl only lifted the top toule layer. Whew...embarrassment evaded. Nicely done, Mom-of-fluffy-dress-girl.

But you can't overlook those dapper little boys, either. Vests, ties and sweaters that morphe them immediately into little men. And yet, you can take the boy out of the t-shirt and jeans, but you can't take the t-shirt and jeans attitude out of the boy. Even in their "Sunday best" they are poking at each other, grabbing ears and giving a good punch here and there.

They may be singing about the peacefulness of Christmas, but boys will be boys.

In this particular program, all the children were wearing shepherd head-dresses to go with the theme of their show. Albeit, cute. But not practical in every case.

By the time they got to the last song, there were a couple children whose headgear had gradually slid down over their eyes so they couldn't see a thing. Apparently they were told not to touch them because you didn't see them even attempt to adjust the slipping drape. What good, obedient little shepherds!

The problem with the headgear from my standpoint is that you can't always identify a child with one of those things on their head.

Case in point, a little boy in the back donning red and green plaid Christmas pants was a hoot to observe. My husband is pretty certain the kid was conducting a healing service in the back row as he had his hands gripped to the top of the boys heads next to him.

After the program, we came to discover those little plaid pants were sported by our very own nephew! It's good to know our attention was at least drawn to a relative!

Once those pretty little people marched off the risers, it was time for the 'big event.' Rachel and Caleb mosied on stage with the rest of the school-age kids and took their places.

I'm not sure what it is about seeing your offspring on stage, but for some odd reason pride wells up inside so strongly that it forces tears from my eyes. And they weren't even doing anything yet! They just walked in!!

The music they had practiced singing in the van for weeks had finally come to fruition. And it was awesome!

Incidentally, I don't know how the people who write these programs get their ideas, but they are incredible. Year after year they create such amazing entertainment. This ain't your Grandma's Christmas pageant of yesteryear, believe me. This is FUN stuff.

As the program comes to a close, it is time to present a live nativity...courtesy of the kindergarten class.

Which includes...


My son.

And here we go again. My little 'Joseph' steps into the stable and my eyes are too blurred from tears to tell if my camera shot is even in focus.

Am I proud? You bet.

But it's more than that.

It's the realization that my children aren't the size of Baby Jesus anymore and they can actually learn all the words to a bunch of songs.

And wear costumes.

And actually stand still. (Well, sort of.)

They're growing up and I know these Christmas program memories will be just that. Memories.

So I lift that camera again and start snapping pictures of my 'babies.'

Because that candy cane lawn ornament wrapped to resemble a shepherd's staff will only look like such for a short time - my son is growing and he will dwarf that staff in what will seem like no time at all.


Oh well. I'll always have pictures. And you can too. Check out my family blog at for photos and video from this entertaining event!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Don't let the cold freeze your brain.

I was really enjoying the 50+ degrees of November. And then I turned the calendar and God turned the thermostat down. Brrrrrrrrr. I was hanging up Christmas lights on Monday in gorgeous weather. By Wednesday, we were shoveling snow. I am continually amazed at how quickly we forget what winter means.

Cold weather means...

You will be unable to retrieve a mint from your purse while driving. Why? Because your gloves are so thick and bulky that grasping one of those morsels from its tin is impossible. (I know this because I attempted it this morning. Frustrating.)

Small children suddenly weigh 80 pounds more. Carrying Noah from the van to a building is the equivalent to an intense, hour-long weight room workout. Not only is his extra clothing adding to the weight, but my own puffy coat and gloves tip the scales, too. I am literally panting by the time I get indoors.

Since we're on the topic of children - drop-off and pick-up of my kids at school evokes a strong desire to just back up the U-Haul on school property. Backpacks, water bottles, gloves, hats, earmuffs, boots, homework, library books, show-n-tell items, the neat bubbles they got from the birthday kid, the classroom sink...okay, maybe not the sink, but you get the idea. And all of this stuff is weighing them - oh, who am I kidding?! It's weighing me down, I'm the pack mule for them - while swarms of children run screaming down the halls to the exit. Visualize my kindergartener finally getting a grip on his snowboots only to have a hyper 3rd grader run past and bump them out of his hands. AARRRRRRRRGH! School hallways are painstakingly narrow. We should just buy two sets of everything and leave one at school at all times. Enough with the traipsing back and forth for heaven's sake.

I also forgot how quickly fingers can freeze in 15 degree temps. I think to myself, "Oh, I'm just running into the gym. It's not far." Even if I get a close parking spot my fingers are nearly too numb to pull the door handle.

But what's the point of gloves or mittens anyway? I personally haven't found any that insulate enough to really do the job. I'm sure if I found some they'd be so thick anyway that not only could I not grab a mint, I would be rendered incapable of shifting my vehicle into drive.

Apparently people also forget that when it snows, it is inevitably icy. And that means you can't drive like a maniac anymore.

My outdoor excursions today only included a drive to the gym and back and some trips to school, but on each trip I either came upon a car that had been pulled over for speeding, or an accident due to road conditions. Come on folks. This is no time to put the pedal to the metal.

So the sad fact remains: winter is here. The cold. The snow. The ice. But it's not all bad. Think: Hot cocoa. Toasty fireplaces. Cozy slippers.

And frankly, the farther we are from swimsuit season, the better. After all, I just polished off two Christmas cookies without taking a breath.