Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Gift of a Day

As many know, my mom has dementia and has been living in a nursing home for a little over a year. Last year at this time I was in such a bad place. My mom was having bouts of paranoia that sent her over the edge. She'd rip apart her room as well as other residents' rooms looking for my daughter, my niece, whoever she thought was missing and needed help. She was hospitalized several times. A year later, she is still very mixed up about life's details (that's not going to get any better and I've come to accept that) but the paranoia is gone. She thinks she's living in a hospital and that she'll be going home after she "gets better". The past month and a half or so have been very good - she's been in good spirits, able to hold a conversation, recognizes my children and myself; it's lifted some of a weight off of me. I was laughing at something at church a couple of weeks ago and my Pastor said that it had been a long time since he'd seen me smile.

The past month and a half have been so good in fact that I had a crazy idea and decided to go with it. I made reservations to take my mom and Jess to the Ritz Carlton in Boston to the Sugar Plum Tea. I invited my MIL to come along and I am so happy she did. In addition to Jess's love of spending time with her Grandma and my enjoying her company as well, her coming with us enabled me to let Jess participate in the activities without leaving my mom alone at the table. Given her not very tight hold on reality, I don't trust that my mom wouldn't forget why she was there and get up to leave the table if she were left alone. Jess decorated an ornament which was hung on a tree that will be donated to the Pine Street Inn (tricky moment explaining to Jess what a homeless shelter was), shook the bells while a man played the piano and sang Jingle Bells, played on a humongous stuffed bear, and took pictures with Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Nutcracker from the Boston Ballet. The food was wonderful and the service was outstanding. I am so happy that I took the chance and did this.

Jess being goofy. My mom made the cape for me when I was a toddler.
Jess decorating a star ornament.

Dessert course
Jess with the nutcracker and the sugar plum fairy
The bear was a big hit with the kids.
Jess with Clara and the nutcracker.
Shaking the bells to Jingle Bells - one of Jess's favorite carols
Ruth, Jess and my mom

Saturday, November 06, 2010

I frequently go to several messageboards and forums (some may even say I spend too much time on these places. Some may say that, but not me*S*). Parenting styles is a common thread on these boards and an area of much debate. Here are my views on parenting:
* I will never be a helicopter parent but I feel that as a parent I have a responsibility to my children to keep tabs on what's going on and guide them when necessary while still giving them the freedom to screw up when there won't be irreparable damage done to them.
* I feel the free range movement is bordering on neglect. Yes, let's all drop our 7 year olds off at the park alone. To make it even more interesting, let's advertise this event on the radio so all the pedophiles and freaks in the city know about it.
* I am not an advocate of homeschooling, the Montessori method or the Waldorf method. I acknowlege people have the right to educate as they see fit as long as the children are taught but I am still an advocate for traditional schooling. I feel "unschooling" is an inappropriate homeschooling method and may well produce children who are far below their peers (this is my blog so I am entitled to voice my opinion)
*I think all children should be vaccinated and that religious exemptions should be done away with.
*I think spanking is wrong. Should anyone ever raise a hand to one of my children, they had better be able to run pretty damn fast.
*I think forcing children to eat foods they don't like or to send children to bed hungry is wrong. This doesn't mean I run a restaurant for my children. It does mean that my picky child has learned to cook for himself.

Monday, November 01, 2010

October Happenings

October is one of my favorite months. I love going to pumpkin patches, going to hayrides, carving pumpkins, drinking apple cider, and everything about Halloween.

I took Jess to Bog Hollow to get a pumpkin. We took a hayride and she explored the pumpkin patch until she found the perfect one. We almost weren't able to carve it because she became quite attached.

The fire engine at Bog Hollow was from Melrose. Jess was very patient waiting to play with this hose. I felt like I was giving a Behavior 101 lecture to the parent next to me. He kept saying to hs kid "Oh Baby XX (can't remember the kid's name but dad referred to him as Baby Name). Do you want to share? Oh, not yet? Okay." After about 10 minutes I'd had it. He turned to me and said "He hasn't learned how to share yet." I replied that kids don't learn how to share by themselves and need their parents to teach them. The boy put the hose down for a minute and Jess got it. The boy had a fit because he wanted it back but Jess stood her ground. She didn't yell or push but she didn't let go (You go Girl!) The father seemed put out that Jess didn't give in but that little boy (and his father) need to learn to share!

Jess brushing the pony.

Jess and her cousin Alison at Mike's aunt and uncle's birthday party. It was a surprise for them; they were both turning 65 within a few days of each other. The next day we had a surprise retirement party for MIL. I didn't tell Jess about the retirement party until we'd returned to the hotel after the birthday party because I didn't think it was fair to expect a 5 year old to keep the secret and I knew she'd feel bad if she told by mistake. Jess and her cousins danced the night away.

I had no clue Jess could do a split.

Jess had 2 parties on Friday the 29th. First she went to daycare and had a party. Then her daycare provider brought her to preschool where she had another party. She wore her Tinkerbell costume because I was afraid she'd rip or spill something on her Cinderella costume before the big night.

My friend, Cathy, her daugher Megan, Jess and I went out to eat after Jess dance class in Chinatown. Here they're posing with the female foo dog at the entrance to Chinatown. We thought we were going to go out for regular (Americanized) Chinese food but ended up going for dim sum. While there's a lot I won't eat, I really enjoyed having real Chinese food. We chose 6 things off the carts going around. Three of the things didn't end up appealing to me (the beef and chicken were really fatty and the small dumpling type item was filled with odds and ends) but the other three I really enjoyed. Those 3 consisted of leaf wrapped chicken and rice, steamed pork buns, and baked pork buns. I can't wait to go again! When I got home that afternoon, another friend had written on her facebook post asking if anyone wanted to go to dinner in Chinatown. I told her I'd just gotten back but that I'd love to go in a few weeks (next couple weeks are crazy).

Jess carving her pumpkin.

On Halloween, we went trick or treating twice. Here, she's getting ready to go to the mall in the afternoon. We went with a neighbor and her 3 kids and had a blast!

Jess fell asleep on the way home from the mall and stayed asleep while I carried her into the house. She slept over an hour in preparation for her big night.

It was cold out. Typically Jess doesn't use a carriage anymore but I thought it would be good to put her fleece blanket in it and let her wrap up between houses. Between her turtleneck under her costume and her sweater over it, using the fleece she didn't need to wear a jacket or coat. If I'd thought ahead of this, I would have gotten an orange fleece so it would be like Cinderella's pumpkin.

Jason decided not to go out trick or treating this year. Instead he handed out candy. He put a small folding table on the front lawn with a tablecloth on it and the bowl of candy on that. Then he hid under the table with just his hand by the bowl. When people got near the bowl, he grabbed them. He said he didn't do it to any little kids.
Jess with her haul of candy.

The front of our house. The purple light was too low wattage but I liked the skull windows.