If It’s Wednesday, This Must Be Athens

Wednesday, May 30th – we can sleep in today!  Yay!  It’s the first time the whole trip, and Brighid is snoring away.  The sun shines in at 5:30 AM, and when I wake up, outside my window is a group of scruffy looking men doing something nautical. 

And We’re Off…

I haven’t posted anything about this here, just to avoid jinxing anything, but Brighid and I are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to join my in-laws on a 12 night cruise in the Mediterranean.  I am both over the top excited and as nervous as anything!   This is a phenomenal trip for Brighid to take at this age – for anyone at any age, but the thought that one of my children would have these types of opportunities is overwhelming to me.  You always go into parenthood hoping and dreaming that your children have advantages you didn’t have growing up, and Brighid certainly has been given some of those advantages.  She has such generous grandparents across the board, and all of them have helped to give her a nearly enchanted childhood.

We will be visiting the places you hear about and dream about but never dare hope to really see – Athens, Venice, Monaco, Nice, among others.  I can’t imagine I will ever have enough space on my digital camera to capture it all, and I guess I’m lucky that the cathedrals and some museums don’t allow you to take photographs – otherwise, I’d be running out of space that much sooner. 

So, if you don’t see me on any of my email lists in the next couple of weeks, or if you send me a message through MySpace and I don’t answer you back, or if you email me and think I have fallen off of the face of the earth, fear not.  I’m just on the other side of the pond, appreciating the history, the beauty, and ever so grateful for this opportunity.

The Problem With Milwaukee…

I’m sure it’s very nice there and the people are lovely, just lovely.  But I kind of thought I’d get into a routine with Jim working there all week.  I tried.  I signed up for Fly Lady, I’m trying to get the stuff done around the house, and I’m trying to get each kid to her after school activities and me to mine.  Then I came down with a cold.  It would have been so nice tonight to turn to Jim and ask him to drive Eilis to t-ball so I could turn in early, but without him here, having him drive her is no more an option than my turning in early.

I know he’s doing great out there with this assignment.  They really seem to like him, and he’s got a great routine going.  I’m so proud of him for getting to the gym several times a week with his trainer, and for sticking with his diet.  He’s doing terrific.

I do resent that he has all this free time to himself.  I am struggling right now to fit the gym in.  With Brighid at pageant rehearsal on Wednesday nights and Eilis in t-ball on Thursday nights, and Brighid staying late on Mondays and Tuesdays, it’s hard for me to find time for myself.  I’d love to have time to go work out, go tanning, socialize, etc.  It’s also tough knowing he can hop in the shower at his convenience, eat when and what he wants, doesn’t have to worry about taking care of kids if he has a headache or A COLD.  It would be nice to climb into bed some nights, knowing I don’t have to get up an hour before the kids so I have time to get my shower so there’s time to make breakfast and pack lunches. 

So while I’m sure Milwaukee itself is just lovely, I really am not enjoying this assignment.  I guess I will eventually figure out how to fit it all in – especially with summer coming and less running to be done.  I just wish I had a husband home every night to help be a parent.

School Frustrations Boiling Over

I am not a big believer in “requesting” teachers.  I figure that whatever teacher your kid gets, that’s the one you deal with, pimples and all.  Every teacher has things you will approve of and maybe not totally agree with, so you take a little good with a little bad.

When Eilis was assigned her current teacher, I was not happy.  It wasn’t because I knew this teacher or the other teacher, but I knew that most of the other kids in Eilis’ class had parents who were requesting the other teacher.  I spoke with Eilis’ preschool teachers, and they felt the teacher she would be getting was the best one for her, so I defaulted to their judgement and stuck to my belief that there was no reason to request a teacher.

I have not had many problems with Eilis’ teacher, but I haven’t been in love with her either.  There’s nothing she’s doing wrong, but I still remember my kindergarten teacher.  She was the kind of teacher that gave hugs, lavished praise all over you when you did something right, was cautious in correcting you so that she didn’t hurt your feelings, put smiley faces on your papers and gold stars on a chart in the classroom, and basically was an extension of the kind of love and concern your mom might show you.  Eilis’ teacher is about as warm and fuzzy as a popsicle.  She’s nice enough to talk to, but she’s not a big smiley face type person.  I doubt there is any hugging or lavishing of praise in her class.  She does a lot of marking with sharpie marker, but most of it is negative.  She seems much better suited to older children than younger ones.

We’ve gone through nearly this entire year of school, had two parent/teacher conferences (the regularly scheduled, everybody has them, fall and spring conferences), and we’ve been under the impression that Eilis is doing okay.  Imagine my surprise when on Tuesday, just 3 weeks before school ends, I get a letter in the communication folder – NOT FROM THE TEACHER – but from the county educational services office saying Eilis is weak in reading and math and is eligible for remedial education classes.  WHAT?   How does a kid go from the conference in February, where she’s doing great, everything is fine, keep doing what you’re doing to needing remedial education?

So I sent a note to the teacher.  It was a politely worded inquisition.  Why did my child get referred to this program?   Why weren’t we notified that she was experiencing academic difficulties (and frankly, I feel pretty damn stupid talking about “academic difficulties” when we’re referring to a child in kindergarten)?   How did she end up being referred to this program without us being informed?   I ended the note by requesting a parent/teacher conference to find out what the hell the problem was, and this is what I got back:

“Although Eilis can complete the kindergarten skills, her performance in school is inconsistent.  I felt the Comp Ed program would strengthen her skills and she would benefit from it.  The program is voluntary.  You may refuse the services if you do not wish Eilis to participate in it.  Thank you for your concern.”

Where are my answers?   What does inconsistent mean?   In what areas?   Why haven’t you mentioned this to us, Mrs. D, so we could work on things at home?   Why do you not give examples of what areas she is inconsistent in and let me make an informed decision about whether or not she would benefit from remedial education?   And where is the date and time for my conference?

So today, I sent a note in to the principal.  I did not get a note back.  I requested a conference with her, and specified a date, hoping to at least get a yay or nay on her availability on my requested day and time, but I did not hear back from her.  Someone told me at t-ball tonight they don’t think she was in school today, so I’ll cut her some slack.  But I want answers.

When you pay to send your child to school, you get more of an attitude that these teachers have to answer to you in terms of the quality of the education your kid is getting.  I feel like I did not get my money’s worth from this teacher.  Eilis deserved better.

Happy Mother’s Day to Me – SIZE TEN!!!

You do not know how exciting it was to go into the Gap today, wearing a pair of size 12 jeans, thinking I could just TRY the 10’s on, since I might get into them in the next month or two.  THEY FIT!!   I didn’t even have to lay on the floor of the Gap to button them – right on, right up, little struggling – and that was just to get all the hanging bits in where they belong.

 It felt so good – and so worth the surgery and the mutilation my poor body has gone through – to get my butt into those jeans. 

Chicken Caesar Pizza

I’m sure this isn’t exact, but my friend Susan invited me for dinner the other night, and she made this really tasty pizza.  Basically, this is how you do it:

Any pizza crust – whatever your favorite is, or if you’ve had WLS, whatever one you can tolerate

Caesar Salad Dressing – non-fat if you’ve had WLS or if you are watching fat and calories

Diced chicken – Susan gets her’s right off of a salad bar, but you can cook up your own and keep them in your freezer

garlic powder, onion powder, oregano to taste

Fat free mozzarella

Take the chicken and mix it in the caesar dressing, and add the seasonings to taste.  Roll out or lay out your pizza dough (Susan used Pillsbury French Bread rolled out into a rectangle).  Top the crust with the chicken mixture.  Cover the chicken with the fat free mozzarella cheese, and place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 12 to 15  minutes.  When the crust is starting to brown and your cheese melted, your pizza is done.

Food – The Root of All Evil

A post on the blog of a woman I truly admire inspired me to write this.  Go visit her blog now – she’s phenomenally and sarcastically funny, and a wealth of information on weight loss surgery.  And she has kids that are just about the cutest kids on the planet – well, except for the three that live here.  Seriously, go check her out…

http://meltingmama.typepad.com/wls/

Why is it that people feel an obligation to feed us?   As recovering fat people, my husband and I have become acutely aware in the past 9 months of what we eat, what we bring into our home to eat, and what we eat when we go out to eat.  I am hoping that the new found rules we choose to live by are somehow trickling down to my children.  I don’t want them to worry that they are getting fat, but I want them to be aware and conscious of the things they put into their mouths.  I want them to know that bad food does bad things to your body.  I don’t want them to become anorexic, but I want them to look at the size Jim and I allowed ourselves to be and see something wrong with that.

Despite our best efforts at home, during the holidays – any holidays, you name it, Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Pop-Pop walked by the pretzel cart day – my house is bombarded with food.  We’ve received baked goods, chocolates, candies, sugar coated fruit, nuts, popcorn, pretzels, wine, beer, you name it.  And as if that isn’t enough, every time I take the kids to go visit my mother, her and my stepfather feel some obligation to shovel food at them.  They must think I never feed them.  This morning, for example, I dropped by with Gracie, since my mom is having surgery again tomorrow.  I fed her breakfast when I fed the other two.  I TOLD my mother and stepfather that.  They promptly put together a breakfast of eggs and sausage.  When she didn’t eat that (BECAUSE SHE ALREADY ATE BREAKFAST!!), they gave her an apple.  When she didn’t want the apple, they gave her chocolate chip cookies and milk.  She didn’t eat enough of that though, because before we left, my stepfather made her an ice cream cone. 

 I feel relatively powerless.  I don’t want the kids to feel deprived of things – they ENJOY getting the snacks and treats in the mail.  My mother-in-law, especially, sends these adorable tins LOADED with snacks, and the kids go crazy for them.  And I don’t mind Christmas, Easter, even maybe Valentine’s Day or their birthday, that they get these special little treats.  But the rest of the year, I wish people would chill with the food.  I tell my mother EVERY time I go there or drop the kids off, PLEASE stop feeding them.  Eilis doesn’t need a milkshake with breakfast.  Yes, I know she loves them, but no, she still doesn’t need it.  Yes, I know I’m mean to not allow my kids to eat cookie sandwiches, but cookies weren’t meant to be used in place of lunch meat and peanut butter.  It doesn’t matter that you use whipped cream as the “mayonnaise”.  My mother raised a fat daughter, a daughter who didn’t eat through most of high school to stay thin, and another daughter who battled weight issues until she became ill.  Seems to me like she has an unhealthy history with food that is being passed on to my kids.

Does anyone have parents who live only a 20 minute car ride away, but they pack food to bring to visit?   My mom does that.  She and my stepfather show up here with a brown bag FULL of stuff for the kids when they come.  I don’t buy soda anymore, so they always bring a can of soda for each kid; a soft pretzel; bananas; apples; lollipops; cookies – you name it.  I feel tempted to open up my fridge and all of my cupboards for inspection so that they can see that I do feed my children, and I already have most of the stuff they are bringing – well, except the stuff THEY SHOULDN”T HAVE ANYWAY!!

Okay, the rant is over.