There have been some fabulouso writing articles on the web recently and I’m gonna share ’em – just in case you missed ’em.
That’s it for now. Happy Weekend!
There have been some fabulouso writing articles on the web recently and I’m gonna share ’em – just in case you missed ’em.
That’s it for now. Happy Weekend!
Well, Lexile will make choosing a book a (much) easier undertaking.
You can read the full details here – but I will try to break it down for you quickly.
Lexile analyzes the difficulty level of a particular piece (book, magazine article, etc) and assigns it a number. For example, Harry Potter has been given the rating of 88OL. (The “L” stands for Lexile. Clever, huh?) Read more
There really is no need to panic and lock your children in the basement just yet. It seems that these have been isolated incidents which occurred pretty far away from each other and, thankfully, no-one was actually taken because the girls were able to get away. Truthfully, we don’t need stories like Penn State and this one to remind us that the sad reality is, whether it’s on the news or not, we have to teach our kids to be careful. The boogie man is, very unfortunately, real.
But we also have to teach them to live and laugh and enjoy.
So, how do you effectively scare the hell out of your kids so that they are watchful, but also insist that they relax enough to not need anxiety pills every time they step out of the front door? Welcome to the hard-core world of parenting where that kind of balance simply does not exist.
For example, yesterday Flower had a friend over. They wanted to go to the playground. They are old enough to go to the playground. They should be outside in the fresh air rather than sunk in a couch simultaneously texting (probably each other) and playing the Wii.
So, in attempt to master that impossible balance, I said to them, “Yes. You can go to the playground. But, girls, stay together. Come back when it’s dark. It’s not enough to have your phone, you must also answer it if I call you. And, if someone walks up to you with a picture of a puppy and asks you to get in the car to help him look for it – RUN!”
And then I added, “Oh yeah, now go have fun.”
We did seriously have a little chat about how unlikely it was that someone would warn them that they were about to be abducted and how much more likely it would be that they would be presented with a plausible, compelling reason to let their guard down. And how important it was that they not do that. It was really a light-hearted talk about being careful – we did laugh a little bit in between my bullet points. They walked out the door without trembling and had big smiles on their faces.
Surely that was balance achieved – wouldn’t you agree?
On their own, they decided not to go to the playground. There was someone there and they didn’t get a great vibe. So they opted to play in front of the house.
And then it happened.
A woman walked up to them and asked them if Flower and her friend had seen her little dog. It was already dark at this point and they could not make out her face.
No, I am not lying.
That is exactly what happened.
They looked at each other and looked at the woman. They were very quickly trying to figure out what to do. Clearly they had been paying attention to my presentation. But they didn’t recognize her and they didn’t run. Maybe it was the fact that she wasn’t in a car that threw them off. Or maybe it was that she didn’t have an actual picture in her hands. AURGH.
The woman must have sensed that they were a little spooked so, as she walked closer, she put the flashlight on her face. Flower realized it was a neighbor from our street.
They were freaked out. Flower’s friend thought I might be a witch capable of seeing into the future. (Which is clearly not the case, because I would have never let them out of my sight if I had a vision that a stranger in the dark asked them to help her find her dog.)
When the girls came inside they were at least giggling but still pretty nervous.
We all laughed about it. Okay, I pretended to laugh – I actually nearly threw up when they said a woman had really asked them to find her dog.
I am not sure I am cut out for this parenting nonsense. 😉
Oddly enough, my family was at Penn State when the news broke of Jerry Sandusk’y alleged child abuse. Either the campus had not yet heard the news or not yet realized the full reach of the story. No one was talking about it yet. Maybe it was just that we enjoyed isolation from the news because we were sequestered in the Natatorium and that isolation protected us from really understanding all that was unraveling.
But before I get too comfortable on my own high horse, I want to say that we all need to be careful here. I know there have been times when I was concerned about a child (or an adult for that matter) and did nothing because I simply did not know what to do. I want to be sure to say I have not been worried about abuse or egregious behavior but I have surely seen neglectful behavior or over-reactive behavior. I have been very concerned. But that mystical dance between being worried about another person’s child and crossing the line of that child’s parental responsibility is impossible to gracefully maneuver.
However, Joe Paterno is nearly a God at Penn State. He is certainly larger than life and I suspect that those poor children were likely lured to Penn State and to Jerry Sandusky’s care under the full shadow of Joe Paterno. They may have been there with Jerry Sandusky, but the reason they wanted to be there was likely to bask in the glory that was Joepa’s alone.
While we were in State College, we ate at a local restaurant. The largest picture in the dining room was Joe Paterno’s. There were quotes from him surrounding it. There was a sandwich named after him – The JoePa. The waiter even joked with us that if someone innocently mispronounced it “hoepa”, he would walk away from the table snickering and shaking his head in sympathy for the poor customer who just didn’t know. That sometimes it was fun not to correct them and just imagine them walking around campus embarrassing themselves until some kind soul felt sorry enough for them to let them in on the secret – it’s pronounced with a “J”.
I saw on the news today that there were student riots near the campus. I can only imagine that those students who were taking part just don’t understand why Joe Paterno should have been fired because they are not parents yet. They don’t know that their own parents are worrying what kind of place they are paying to send their children to. I don’t want to believe that we are raising a generation of young adults who think that football legacies are more important than the safety of young, innocent kids.
A lot will be revealed in the coming months and maybe we will learn that Joe Paterno did a lot to try and stop what he seems to have known (or at least suspected) was happening under his watch. I hope so. But it will be hard for me to believe that he could not have done more. When Joepa talks, people put down their sandwiches named after him and listen. He has the weight of all of this on his heart. The least of his worries is never coaching football again.
I often start these posts by saying how hard it is to really explain life here – but it really, really is. No really – it really is. It sounds exotic and privileged and fascinating and it is absolutely all of those things. But life here can be difficult to manage. I miss the conveniences and the independence. Never mind family and friends because that is another blog post entirely.
This week Flower has been pretty sick. She just got over chicken pox and jumped right into some unknown something or other that nobody can really seem to pinpoint. When your kids are sick in a third world country and you cannot exactly define what is going on, the adventure becomes a tad less appealing. I want to be clear that I have never felt she was in any danger (that is for the grandparents who read this blog) but it has been frustrating. Flower just really doesn’t get sick – so to see her really unable to get out of bed just stinks. And to have everyone just sort of shrug their shoulders with a “oh, this is normal, come back in a few days” attitude is just not what I am looking for in medical care.
Flower had her appendix out when she was 7. She was very close to it rupturing. In the emergency room, the doctor practically stood on her stomach. She had no reaction at all. He was walking out of the room, convinced that she was going to be just fine because there was absolutely no way that a child with appendicitis would not react to that kind of pressure, when the CT scan came back. We were in the operating room 10 minutes later – it appeared she did in fact have a very infected appendix.
She just doesn’t get knocked out. So to hear the doctor(s) say – she looks listless, but she just isn’t that sick – augh. I want to jump through my mommy skin and send them back to medical school. Isn’t the first thing they learn to trust the mother’s instinct? If it isn’t, it should be. Something is going on with her.
And of course, if we were home, I wouldn’t be so worried because the chances of getting Dengue Fever, Malaria, Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Encephalitis, and all those other scary things are just a wee bit less.
Then if you add having staff working for you it gets so flippin complicated.
My cook knows just what is wrong with her. He has not even been to culinary school, much less medical school but he knows just what is wrong.
Francis: She has a fever?
Francis: This will take a week – maybe 5 days
Francis: But don’t worry ma’am – last night I prayed for her
Me: thank you, that was very thoughtful of you
Francis: Jesus will take care of it.
Me: I believe that
Francis: Jesus will make her better
Now, I want to be clear that I am very glad Jesus is on it. And I didn’t realize that Francis had such tight connections. But I am not leaving it to prayer – I have been doing that myself too – but we can also take some a.c.t.i.o.n.
One of the really nice things in India is that I do have the cell phone number of our doctor. So, I called her directly and made an appointment (yes that is crazy). She was able to make an appointment for us in half an hour (also insane). That means we need to leave right away.
However, our driver had gone out to get mosquito nets for our beds because Bear is getting eaten alive when he sleeps (and, yep, we have taken many precautions so that mosquitoes don’t enter our house – but they are persistent little buggers). He went to the market near us and felt that the nets were too expensive – so he decided to drive to a market that was quite a distance from our house to save us about 200 rupees (that would be $4). Nope, he did not ask first – just decided that would be the thing to do. So now he cannot get back quickly to get our daughter to her doctor appointment and the doctor is leaving shortly. Yes, I am frustrated. While I really appreciate the fact that he was trying to save us money – getting our daughter to the doctor is a m.u.c.h. bigger priority. M_U_C_H B_I_G_G_E_R.
We ultimately figured it out. Hubby took Flower in another car with another driver and I met them at the doctor’s office. On my way, I got to hear all about the cost savings and the available colors of mosquito nets and all about traffic and how this vendor did this and that vendor did this and holy four dollars, batman. I was polite – but really – not caring so much about the whole story. Just. want. to. get. to. the. doctor. yesterday.
The doctor looked her over and really felt we needed to wait a couple of days to do any testing. See how Flower does. Keep her in a cool room. No school. Lots of liquids. You know the drill.
So Hubby took Flower home and I went to buy Gatorade. This involved 3 phone calls. You just cannot assume anything – in the U.S., I could tell you 18 places that sell Gatorade within walking distance of my house. Here – you better check first. So, I found out where I believed the Gatorade would be. Went there. And they had it – yeah! And they also had the Starbucks coffee drinks that Hubby loves.
I thought I would get him a few. So I asked if they had the “coffee-flavored” coffee drinks.
Me: Do you have the “coffee-flavored” coffee drinks?
Him: Yes, how many do you want?
Me: I see Mocha, Vanilla, and Caramel – but not Coffee – do you have that?
Him: Yes, how many do you want?
Me: I want the “coffee” flavor – you have Vanilla, Mocha, and Caramel – see right here on the label (picture me pointing to the label) – I want the one that says “coffee” – I can see why it is confusing because they all say “coffee” but there are different flavors.
Him: How many
Me: I looked at all of the boxes here – I don’t see “Coffee”. Do you have “coffee”.
Him: Yes, how many do you want?
Just a note here – Indians don’t seem to make 15 varieties of the same product – so I want to be fair that it is not their fault that Starbucks has complicated the simpleness of a coffee drink. But even in this land of “oh sure, they all speak English” sometimes it is very, very difficult to get your point across. Finally, after he took all the boxes off the shelf (and yep, he watched me do the exact same thing just moments before) and realized there wasn’t actually a coffee drink called “coffee”.
He disappeared around the corner and – wahlah – and after (quite) a few minutes – came back with 8 “coffee-flavored” coffee drinks. I am not sure when the understanding of what I was trying to say kicked in but hubby is glad it did. At least the guy did not promise me the drinks “tomorrow” or compliment me on being the “first customer of the day”.
Hubby also asked me to pick up a pizza. I was weary of this because the pizza joint he wanted pizza from is a more of a “by the slice” kind of place. But I thought I would give it a shot.
I went up to the window and there was a whole cheese pizza sitting in the display case. I think I actually let out a sigh – this is not going to be as complicated as I thought. Yahoo for me.
Me: I would like a pizza
Her: That will be 75 rupees (that is $1.50)
Me: Really, for a whole pizza?
Her: Oh, you want the whole pizza?
Her: That is eight slices (with a completely confused look on her face)
Me: Yes it is – that’s what I would like
Her: But that is eight slices
Me: Got it – I would like a whole pizza puhleassssseeee – in fact this one in the window will do nicely
Her: No, we’ll make you a fresh one – it will take 3 minutes.
(Just another note – if you are thinking, “that is amazing – they can make a pizza in 3 minutes” – my dear friend, I have a lovely bridge I would like you to consider buying – you are my first customer of the day and I will give you my very best price – tomorrow.)
Me: Honestly, this one is good
Her: You don’t want a fresh one?
Me: Nope – pretty sure this one that is already done is just great
Her: We’ll add cheese to it
Me: It has cheese on it – can I really please just take this one – as it is – now?
Her: Do you want it in one big box or each slice in its own box
Here is where I faltered. I was thinking about all the trash that eight slice boxes would be. So, I opted for the big box. But that changes what they normally do – it threw them for a little bit of a loop. The guy working there climbed up a ladder and went into a very small ceiling compartment. He did bring down a box. A very, very dirty box. It was dusty and greasy – I’ll spare you the details – but let’s just say you probably wouldn’t spit your gum out in it much less use it for a pizza that you actually planned to eat – and feed to your already sick child.
Me: Yeah, that box is kind of dirty
Her: You don’t want this box
Me: I am thinking hell no not exactly – is there another one up there?
Her: Okay – we’ll get another one
And they did get another box. It was better. But I am not kidding when I say they spent 5 minutes trying to put it together. It was apparently a broken box – still better than a dirty box – but broken nonetheless. So they performed box surgery and taped it 18 different ways. All of which came loose before I got all the way to the car.
The bottom line in this is that it took me 15 minutes to get the pizza that was already cooked and ready to go. Of course, it was worse because I really just wanted to get the Gatorade to Flower. But sometimes it is difficult to accomplish simple things here. And it is hard to understand why it is so complicated.
I finally got home and now Bear’s mosquito net is up over his bed. My first thought was – great, now we live in a Tarzan movie.
We ended the day by taking Flower to another doctor just to make sure we should not be concerned about anything scary. He had a completely different impression of what was wrong than doctor number 1. And no, I did not pick up a pizza on the way home.
It was a long day of complications. So, most of the time I am jumping right in and enjoying our experiences here, some days are tougher than others.
I went to high school in Columbus, Georgia near Fort Benning. My mom was a college professor helping many of the soldiers earn their degrees while they were completing their military training. There were lots of men in her classes (and I am pretty sure she never called any of them Blondie 😉 ). She often came home singing this chant….
I want to be an Airborne Ranger.
I want to live the life of danger.
Blood. Guts. Sex. and Danger.
That is the life of an Airborne Ranger.
She never actually sang the 3rd and 4th lines – at least not out loud – but I included them anyhow.
It’s funny how memories can come flooding back. When we were in Bangkok, I saw this little boy and this chant ran through my head 8 million times. How adorable is he?
What do you think he wants to be when he grows up?
This guy is either flirting with me or preparing to stab me.
If you have more than one child, more than one parent, more than one boss, more than one friend, more than one sibling, more than one pet, more than one plant, more than one pair of earrings – let’s just say that, if you are breathing, there has to have been at least one time in your life when you felt torn about who to choose.
Especially as a parent, this kind of choice can rip you apart. It’s super – duper – extraordinarily tough. Friday, I had just such a choice. Yippee Skippee.
Flower had colonial day at school (a big deal where all the kids/teachers/parents don colonial garb and have an old-fashioned day). Angel woke up not feeling 100 percent. Number one hubby is not even on the continent – yeah, that equals a big fat no help there.
Here is the gist of the initial conversation:
Flower: are you coming
Angel: are you staying
Number One Hubby (via phone with honest-to-goodness sympathy):
sometimes you just can’t get a break, can you?
What are going to do?
I realize that some situations just will not solve themselves.
First things first – it all started at 6:45am – I need to have myself dressed all colonial-like and all my chilrins in the school by 8am to help set up. There is a lot to do in 75 minutes. The clock starts ……… now – I am off to assess the situation and make adult-like, parental decisions. It’s also way too early for this kind of thoughtful action.
Angel had no fever – but a pretty hacky cough. You know the kind that you simply cannot fake. She also went to bed later than normal the night before- so throw some really tired grumpiness into that mix. Just what the mix needed. Great. She got glass of water, some cough medicine, a blanket, another blanket, and the tv turned on – her pick this time.
Bear had a typed assignment due – you guessed it – the same day as colonial day. Okay – he is in 6th grade – his projects are all supposed to be typed – but he has not been given a typing class. Guess who needed to type it? Let’s say it together now – Moi? I know he could do it himself – but it would take him longer to type one paragraph than it would for him to solve pi. Ain’t gonna happen. And really, not necessary. He wrote it in time for me to type it up the night before, but I went to bed early – being exhausted and all.
Next, Flower’s lunch needed to be authentic for colonial day. So, she was hoping for banana bread – something I could have also done the night before – but remember, I was exhausted – went to bed early – brilliant. That was proving to be a really good decision. So, I needed to make banana bread. And wrap everything in paper towels tied with ribbons. Apparently aluminum foil, juice boxes, saran wrap, and individually wrapped snacks are fairly recent inventions. Really, is that true? Those poor women. How did they manage without uncrustables? Spreading that peanut butter all the way the to the edge of the bread is exhausting work.
Number one hubby likes to talk to the kids on Skype on the computer every morning. They love it too. This particular morning my computer was celebrating colonial day too. Apparently, there were no microphones in the days of colonial. He could not hear a thing. Crap. The colonists probably just yelled to each other really loudly from across the colony. But the better half of my colony is now in India – yelling was not going to work. And I did not have enough string, empty cans, or (any) time to make an old-fashioned tin can telephone.
Meanwhile, Flower, Angel, and Bear are asking me what I am going to do – over and over and over and over and over again. Did you get that? They KEPT asking. Thanks guys, that was really helpful. Bear was coming up with some really good – completely impossible solutions. Which was very sweet of him – since he normally could give a rat’s arse what Angel is doing. Thanks honey, hugs and kisses.
What would you do? Flower was in tears because she wants to me to be at colonial day. I know there will be days when she doesn’t want me anywhere near her – so I certainly do not want to miss out on this little – I love my mommy – moment.
Angel was in tears because she wanted to stay home – with me. But,Angel had no fever and had stopped coughing – well at least for the most part.
I figured I was going to be at the school. If Angel needed me, I would be right there.
Colonial Day was great. Lots of fun! I am glad that I could participate. Very glad. Even if I did have to wear this. (I look pregnant in the picture – I can assure you that is not the case – the apron was really long and I had to wear it really high up. The poofs are in just the right place. This is what we do for our kids.)
Angel survived another day in first grade. Well, it turned out to be just half a day. The guilt got the best of me – immediately after the parent volunteering part of colonial day was over, I went to Angel’s class and brought her home. Her teacher said she seemed fine – she did not say it but I could tell she was surprised I was there. I did not have it in me to explain that I was the one who was not fine. I was torn between two daughters and I did not want either daughter to feel less important than the other. So, I wanted to take her home and let her feel the mommy love – even if she was no longer sick.