Friday, February 26, 2010

School District Woes

I grew up in one of the top school districts in the country. I admit it, I'm a total snob about it. When my husband and I were househunting last summer, my one requirement was that we stay in the Shawnee Mission School District for when our babies are old enough to start kindergarten. I begrudgingly agreed to look at Blue Valley schools, but refused to go to Olathe. We found our dream home, and though it wasn't within what I consider to be the best high school lines (Go Raiders!), it is still within SMSD, so I was thrilled. Until I started to find out that the once top-notch program is in a downward spiral and in desperate need of saving. It began with seeing signs on the medians of the bigger streets that said "Save SMSD!". I checked out the website on the signs which led me to more sites with even worse statistics. One of them says:

" reporter writes in regard to a Newsweek Ranking of the Nation’s Top Public Schools: 'Some notable absences from the list… the five Shawnee Mission high schools, the former Rolls Royce of suburban Kansas schools.' "

Now I'm questioning my decision. My husband went to Catholic school and hated it (too much religion being forced on him). When we met he swore he would never subject his children to it. But now he's suggesting that as an option. It's tough because even though our school district isn't tops anymore, it's still excellent in comparison to the rest of the country. On one hand, I feel ridiculous even considering spending the money to send our kids to private school - religious or otherwise. But at the same time, to knowingly enroll them in school with the quality continuing to drop seems irresponsible. If it keeps heading in this direction, by the time they are in high school, it really will be one of the worst schools in the country.

But even the other districts that are outshining ours at the moment - Blue Valley and Olathe - are facing the same budget cuts that everyone is in this dire economy. The state has put off cutting school allocations for as long as possible, but now it sounds like one teacher in every grade will be let go in some places. That will be pushing our classes sizes to their limits.

I wanted to know if there was anything I could do to improve the situation, so I kept looking and found this link:

How You Can Help

I'm planning to participate in the ways listed there. If your school district is suffering, do what you can to help. We don't have to sit idly by. Especially if your kids are still too young. Hopefully by the time they are ready for school, with our help, our schools will really be ready for them.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?

Friday, I was chatting with a friend on Facebook about Tiger Woods. That morning he had his first press conference responding to the news that he was having multiple affairs, and we had tuned in. I was only half-listening - I feel like that is between him, his wife, and God, but I know our society makes it everyone's business. It did, however, get me to thinking about things.

My friend has had the misfortune to be on the receiving end of a wife who cheated repeatedly which resulted in their divorce. I cannot imagine. But I am surprised that almost everyone I know has had some experience with unfaithfulness. My friend actually cheated on a girlfriend once when he was young. I never cheated on my significant others, but I was the "other woman" twice. Never with married men, but still, certainly not something I'm proud of. Having a small bit of experience with it, I do see how a crazy drunken fling can happen, or someone can be in a relationship and discover that their true love is another. Especially before marriage. While I don't condone those actions, I can understand them.

But after marriage? I believe, once you make those vows, they are forever. For better or for worse, for drunk times and for sober, for meeting new people and the grass being greener on the other side. Regardless of what comes into your life, you chose that person and they chose you, and you can't just change your mind because circumstances change. Disloyalty while single is decidedly sinful, but it becomes an even greater transgression after marriage.

Considering the number of friends I have who have cheated, been cheated on, or have been the third person, I have heard lots of possibilities for the one-time indiscretion. Usually, I could see how they could rationalize their choices. But what is the motivation behind a repeat offender? Are they bored? Does the fear of getting caught excite them? Is monogamy just not their thing? Are they searching for an outlet for fetishes they're afraid to ask their partners about? Do they feel neglected by their mate? Is, as Tiger claims, sex addiction a real thing, or just a scapegoat for his wrongdoings? I knew a girl who had a long-distance relationship with a guy, and it was just easier to stay his girlfriend, than break up with him. And I think she thought once they were in the same town again, it wouldn't be an issue, they would just be together. But I struggle with the concept of someone like Tiger and my friend's wife - people who choose to get married, the ultimate symbol of fidelity - and then have affairs. If you know you aren't the monogamous type, why put yourself (and your loved one) through that? Why not choose to stay single? Or at the very least, end things after the first transgression?

Another friend suggested that it's because cheaters are selfish and don't care about the other person's feelings as much as they do about their own. To give them a little more credit, maybe they think if they've found the right person they can stay settled down. I guess it comes down to the age old question, once a cheater, always a cheater? What do you think?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Potty Training

After a little research, I had decided to try the 3 Day Potty Training. This seemed like a good approach because our daughter knows how to use the potty, and will use it to do #1 and #2. So a down-and-dirty, all-or-nothing plan seemed like the best choice. I knew it couldn't possibly be as easy as three days (could it?), but I thought it might work.

For those who are unfamiliar with the 3 Day strategy, you basically let the kid go naked, and follow her around and as soon as she starts to dribble, take her to the toilet. DH was less than enthusiastic about the idea of pee-pee potentially getting all over the house. Since I was still on maternity leave when I began this endeavor, I decided to do a Friday, Saturday and Sunday. My parents came over on Friday to help me with the baby so I could focus on our toddler. She was pretty excited about it. I made her a chart, and we put little stickers on it whenever she went to the potty, and if she was successful, she got a big sticker (hallelujah!).I kept her in the kitchen on the linoleum for the most part, though, so we only had one accident on the carpet which was minimal. She only had one other accident - in the kitchen (whew!) - and I felt like she was really getting the hang of it. I was positive that with more work over the weekend with my husband being home, she'd be diaper-free by Monday. She even didn't want to wear a diaper for nap time, and stayed dry! (Ta-da!)

And then at the end of the day, she was asking for a diaper for bedtime. That was ok; I figured she'd had a long day, plus I was planning to keep her in Pull-Ups overnight anyway. So Saturday morning, we got up and I asked her if she was ready for another day of being a big girl without a diaper, and she said... No, I want to wear a diaper today. (Brakes screeching.) My vision of a trip to the store without buying diapers started to slip away. But what can you do? She'd made so much progress the day before, I wasn't about to ruin it by pressuring her. So I let it go and asked again Sunday. Nope. (Balloon deflating.) I decided to wait another day and propose a different plan. What if we use up the rest of the diapers we have and don't buy anymore at the store? She was ok with that. (Yes!) Unfortunately, we ran out of diapers at the same time that I had the stomach flu, and had to let other people care for her and more diapers were purchased. (sigh)

Now I'm back to work and it's difficult because her care providers aren't keen on the naked baby plan. Putting underwear on her doesn't work yet, because she thinks they are like a diaper and just urinates in them. So we have random times without a diaper. Part of the problem is that I missed my window of opportunity. She was really ready to start potty training about 9 months ago. But between moving in with my in-laws while we were househunting and being pregnant, I just wasn't up to the challenge (slacker!). Now she can physically do it, but would sometimes rather wear a diaper so she doesn't have to stop playing to go to the bathroom. It's an issue of convenience. Just need to figure out a way to make it more enticing, and I think we'll be set. Surely there's a way...

Monday, February 15, 2010


I've not kept up on this as I'd planned to. Maternity leave with the second sure is more hectic! No time for the computer. So here's a recap of the last three months:

The Birth
With the C-section postponed until 11/16, we were planning another well-prepared trip to the hospital, so we were quite surprised when we had to make a middle of the night run. My water broke around 2:30am on Friday, the 13th. When I called my dad, he said that was funny since I was born on a Friday, the 13th as well. I hadn't packed yet, so while we waited for my parents to arrive at our house to be there for S, I put everything together, and R paced anxiously. We left, and R said he wondered if he could get away with speeding to get me to the hospital. I said if we hadn't stopped at QT for coffee, they might buy the frantic first-time-dad routine.

We got there and checked in, and I kind of expected to be delivering in about an hour. But that's not quite what happened. By the time they took me to the OR, I was having some pretty serious contractions and about to ask for the drugs. Miss R was born at 6:19am. She was 20 inches long (although I don't think they measured her very well as she was an inch longer at her 1 week checkup), and 8lbs 4ozs.

I was initially adamant that my DH stay overnight at the hospital with me every night I was there based on my memories of how difficult it was with S when she was born. But the more people I talked to, we decided it would be best if he stayed the first night with me and the rest of the time at home with S to help her with the transition. It worked really well, and I actually enjoyed the solitude. Everything was so much easier this time around. The C-section recovery went so much more smoothly, breastfeeding wasn't stressful, though I was getting less sleep, it wasn't as much of a shock to the system. The toughest part was that we were now in a 2-story house, and I was unable to go up the stairs for the first couple of weeks. Luckily I was able to shower at our friends' house down the street and at my parents' house as they both have ranches. It also necessitated R being solely in charge of S's bedtime. She now only takes about 15 minutes to put to bed (plus the occasional calls for us to come to her a couple of times later). Rarely is there a tantrum, and it doesn't take us all night to get her to sleep. Whew!

An unpleasant unexpected surprise happened two days after I got home from the hospital. I got a fever and chills. I thought for sure I had an infection and would have to have surgery again. However, after talking to the doctor, she assured me it was probably just my engorgement. I was skeptical, but just took some Tylenol as directed, and it went away. I didn't expect that to happen since it didn't the first time, and I would think my body would know what it was going through this time.

One of the best things about having a new baby in the house is seeing S as a big sister. She's wonderful! I thought she would be, but had a small fear that she would be insanely jealous and have a real struggle with the transition. She adores baby R and is always lying down next to her and asking me to take their picture together. So cute!

The Holidays
I was so excited to host most of Thanksgiving and Christmas at our home. Although it was hectic, it was easier than trying to take the girls elsewhere. For Thanksgiving we went to my DH's aunt's house for dinner. It was nice to see everyone. Friday, my family came over to celebrate. Christmas Eve was spent at my in-laws, and we got a foot of snow that night so we had a white Christmas! Although it almost caused us to have to cancel the family celebrations. It was nice having the morning to ourselves. It was the first time S really understood what was going on. She had played with the Nativity and would get a blanket for baby Jesus. She also knew that Santa was coming. She loved singing carols and baking with me. We went a little overboard with presents. She got sick of opening them. My in-laws came over for brunch and my family came over for dinner, so we opened presents all day practically.

My sister had the week between Christmas and New Year's off, so I thought I'd take the girls to St. Louis to visit. No problem, I'd done the same with S when she was a baby. Here's a tip: don't take a toddler and a newborn on a trip by yourself if it's at all possible to avoid doing so. It took us 5 hours to get there from KC. Should take about 3 1/2. But I realized I couldn't have taken my DH with me anyway because with all the stuff the baby needs - Pack N Play, bouncy seat, big stroller system - there literally was not room for him in the car. We had been tossing around the idea of getting a minivan before, but now it is definitely in the plan for this summer.

For New Year's, DH and I went on a double date with his best friend and his wife. We went to dinner at Paulo and Bill's and then came home and put the kids to bed, and then they came over and we hung out and watched the ball drop. Last year I thought it was admirable that Dick Clark helped host after his stroke, but this year it was just depressing. He really needs to be done next year. Can't believe we've been through a whole decade in this new millenium already. Crazy!

I finally started making notes in a notebook after the first of the year. So here they are:
1/6 - S has picked up on my phrases, most of which are pretty lame. But it was funny because the other day she said, "Okey, dokey, pokey and turn yourself around." DH usually sneezes 3 times in a row, and both the girls do, too. The other day, S sneezed and a millisecond later, baby R did, then S, then R, then S, then R. Wish I'd caught it on video. Baby R has started holding her head up and babbling in the last week. She also had green stools the other day which freaked me out. After looking it up online, I found that it's an abundance of glucose from getting too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk. Made perfect sense since I'd been a little engorged and switched sides without emptying just for my own comfort. Now I know not to do that again.
S, of course, likes to imitate everything I do, and that includes nursing. It completely weirds out DH, but he's getting used to it, even though she's sometimes extreme. The other night she was getting ready for bed and she said she had to feed her baby, so she lifted up her shirt, and held her. Then she said, oh, wait, I need a pillow. So she propped the baby up and then burped her, and said she had to switch sides. Too cute!

1/7 - More snow last night. I think we have a total of about 18" on the ground. It's too cold to let S play outside, though, and it's powdery, so not really fun since you can't make snowmen or forts with it. When we were in St. Louis, S added a new word to her vocab when we were washing our hands before eating lunch at Qdoba - "sanitize". Too cute.

1/9 - Dad's 70th birthday! Dinner at Nick and Jake's. This morning I talked to S about not being able to have nuts until she turns 3 next summer. She said she's already 3 and will be 4. DH said it's probably because he gives her as many kisses as her age so after 2 she says 3. :) Our next door neighbor's car got stuck in the snow, and DH helped dig her out before we left for dinner. He is so thoughtful. Couldn't quite get the job done and we had to leave, so he told her he'd be back with our brother-in-law after dinner, so they finished getting her out in the dark.

1/11 - S has an imaginary friend named Gug-Gug. He's been around a few months, but I just figured out that's what she was talking about within the last month. She's so observant. When I picked her up at the sitter's this afternoon, she saw a Border's membership card that goes on a keychain on the driveway amid the snow and muck. So aware of the details - just like her daddy! She's also very patient and perseverant. The sitter commented on how she dressed a doll today and stayed with it until it was completely done.

1/12 - Baby R is much more sensitive than S was. If she bumps her head agains my shoulder when I'm burping her, she starts to cry. Not sure if she's just a drama queen or not as tough as S was. Trying not to compare them, but it's difficult! Bunko was at our house tonight! Fun! Not feeling very well now, though. Think I ate too much junk food...

1/13 - R is 2 months old today! We went to watch DH bowl - he subbed on a friend's team. S really enjoyed it. Found out my blog will be featured on Mamapedia! Also found out Dad's going to be laid off again. Hoping he can qualify for unemployment.

1/14 - Went to Fritz's with C and the girls today. She asked me about nannying for them if she got accepted to anesthesia nursing school. Would love to be home with the kids, but not sure we can swing it financially. DH got Skype set up on our computer, and I used it to talk to my friend, S, in Des Moines.

1/16 - Earthquake in Haiti was Tuesday. DH and I argued about what kind of supplies to provide. He said you shouldn't send them Bath and Body Works and lasagna when they're used to lye soap and rice. I said if I was them, I wouldn't care if we got caviar as long as it was something to eat. Besides, don't they deserve nice things, too? A boy at S's daycare had a birthday party today. It was at Sylvester Powell Community Center. They had a room where we had cake and then got to play in the gym for awhile. S rode the firetruck the first half of the time we were in the gym. She didn't want anyone else to use it. I could tell she wanted to do other things, but she just didn't want to lose the firetruck. I'd ask her if she wanted to do something else, and she'd say yes, and start to get out, but then she'd say she had to find somewhere to park first. Finally she got out and played with the other kids and had a blast. They had way too much sugar though. We tried to start the 3 Day Potty Training yesterday. She did ok most of the day but wanted to wear diapers again by the end of the day and all day today. We may try again tomorrow.

1/17 - Friday DH made a fort in our bedroom with sheets and the chair and ottoman and told S she could sleep in it. She did most of the night but ended up in bed with me. And now she's back to wanting to sleep on her floor. At least she's started saying that she likes her pink room. Today she didn't want to potty train in the morning at first, but finally did. She wanted to take a nap without a diaper and I told her she could, but she couldn't sleep with any stuffed animals just in case she wet. She woke up dry! Tonight was classic. She told DH to get his shoes off the couch (good girl!), and then a little while later said, "You're killin' me, Dada!" Classic!

1/18 - I have had a couple of friends ask me to make letters for their kids' rooms like the ones I made for S. So I worked on that today. Hung out with Baby R. Used the sling a bit. Need to work on turning her head. Dr. says the back of it is a little flat. We had a great day until S and DH came home. He was disappointed with dinner and S had a meltdown. Partially because she was tired, and partially jealous of baby sister. Walked on the treadmill today. Up to 10 min fast pace with a 5 min. warm up and 5 min. cool down. Pathetic, but better than nothing, I guess. Excited for my friend to move back from Des Moines to exercise with. Need someone to get my butt in gear! My friends' 21 month old daughter is having open heart surgery tomorrow. Praise God for blessing us with healthy children. Praying for a successful operation.

1/20 - I made lemonade today, and said "Lem-o-nade, lem-o-nade, lem-o-nade, woooo!" like the guy at the Royals/T-Bones games. S started saying it. Very cute. Had my company Christmas dinner at Cinzetti's tonight.

1/23 - Thursday I went to see my friends and their daughter at Children's Mercy. It was all I could do not to cry walking through the halls there. So many sick kids, some of whom will never go home again. What incredible people must work there. I don't think I could take it. Their daughter, J, was sleeping. She hadn't slept much at all the night before. Her tiny chest had the same stitches I'd seen on my dad 20 years ago when he had his triple bypass. Clearly a lot of advancements have been made in that time, but I was surprised she was able to go home after only 4 days in the hospital! I was there 3 days with just a C-section! Crazy.
Last night the girls from high school came over for our Party of the Month (POM). It was great because everyone could make it, and all the husbands as well except one. With all the kids there, it reiterated our need to finish the basement. I had taken the girls to Hen House to get some stuff for the party, and was incredibly frustrated to learn that it's almost impossible to shop there with a toddler and an infant. I tried the car shaped cart first, but the basket wasn't wide enough to fit the carrier in. So I tried a regular cart and put S in the basket, but the carrier didn't attach to the top seat section correctly. I gave up and went to HyVee. My DH says he got them to fit, so I'll have to try again another time. Ugh!
Baby R laughed for the first time this week. So adorable!!
Today we went to my sister's pottery store and made some examples for her to display as well as a present for DH for Valentine's Day.

1/29 - Yesterday S buckled the bottom buckles of her seatbelt by herself. She's been trying to open and close the car door by herself. It's somewhat liberating that she can do the buckles, but I'm terrified she's going to pinch her fingers in the door.
Yesterday was also Mom's 66th birthday. We were supposed to take her to dinner tomorrow, but due to some financial errors on my part, we're completely broke. Like, we had to borrow $300 from our daughter's savings account. I feel like a terrible parent. But I know we'll be putting it back soon since I go back to work next week. Boo.
Today DH took the day off of work and took S to Sesame Street Live. I was so thrilled that he wanted to do that. He's such a great dad. While they were there, I met with our Prudential guy and got my life insurance policy. Such a relief to have that taken care of. Now if I can just get DH to do our wills...

2/1 - S has started opening the front door when Gug Gug (and her new imaginary friend Zuh Zuh) come over. We have to hold it open for their moms to come in, too. And she's so cute, because she will say, "Come on in!" However, it's freezing out, so I've been having to limit the open-door time. R still isn't sleeping with her head facing the right side much. Going to call DH's cousin who does PT for advice.

2/3 - S is sick. Thought it was an ear infection, but it's not; just a fever. Praying it's not the flu. My high school boyfriend found me on FB yesterday. Crazy! Baby R slept from 4pm - 7:30am last night, only waking up twice to eat. Girl must be growing! Took the girls to have lunch with DH today since I'll be going back to work Friday. Need to go by the office for a couple of hours tomorrow to get the down low from my colleague who was covering for me since she'll be out Friday.

2/4 - Glad to ease back into work. Missed my girls today. :( S had a meltdown after her nap. Think she's anxious about me going back to work and jealous of baby R.

2/5 - First full day back at work. Nothing to do. Nice to not be overwhelmed, but frustrating because I felt like I should be at home with the girls instead of sitting there doing nothing. Got set up in the "pumping room" (really our prop room). Focused on photos of the babies to get the letdown, and felt something wet on my thighs. Forgot to attach the bottles! Milk everywhere. So embarrassing!

2/6 - S opened the refrigerator. Yikes - a whole new arena of childproofing needed. R's tummy was upset and took forever to put to bed last night. S and I built a snowman today, and then she wanted to knock it down, so we did. Then she wanted to build another one. Sigh. So we made a mini one and set it on the porch. Left the carrot there, too, for bunnies. No takers yet.

2/7 - S insisted on not wearing a diaper to bed last night. I told her that was fine, but that she probably would wet, which was ok, too, since we can change the sheets. She woke up around 3:30am soaked and crying. Ended up changing just her and having her sleep with us.
This morning she wanted to eat a jalapeno (DH bought some at the store this week). Let her try it. At first it was ok, then too hot for her. I wanted to clean upstairs since we have friends coming to stay with us next weekend (and it just needs to be done), and she helped me dust her bench in her room. She's such a hard worker! The Super Bowl was tonight, and for the first time ever, the New Orleans Saints won. The commercials weren't that great this year. A good one with Betty White for Bud, and a decent one of the babies for Etrade, but that was about it.

2/14 - I had the stomach flu this week - ugh. Started feeling yucky Monday evening, and threw up all night (plus the runs). Had a fever Tuesday morning with aches but couldn't keep anything down until about 1pm when I could finally take some Tylenol. Got some sleep and started feeling better, but felt really week. Wednesday I went in late because getting ready wore me out. Bless my parents - they came and watched Baby R for me and took S to the sitter's. I gave 3 boxes of conversation hearts to my dad to give to the sitter and the other kids, but when DH picked her up Wed afternoon, she was eating some. Not sure if she ate all of them or just one box. Crazy girl.
Another goofy thing she did this week was play with my pumping bra. She talks about needing to pump all the time which, like imitating me nursing, is perfectly normal. But it was funny when she tried to put that on. Good thing DH wasn't around! :)
Luckily, it's Chinese New Year so work is still slow.
Baby R busted out of her Swaddle Me the other day by just forcing the velcro to pop open - like a little baby Hulk! I had to laugh a little. We used to call S Houdini because she could wriggle around until she got her little hands free. So we have a Houdini and a Hulk.
Friday I came home from work and R had gotten me TWO dozen roses - gorgeous! He also got the girls each a rose bush - so sweet. We'll plant them in the spring (if we don't kill them first). And he got S a box of chocolates. That night my friend and her husband came in from Des Moines and spent the weekend at our house. They are moving back to KC in a few weeks - yea!! We watched a little bit of the opening ceremonies for the winter Olympics in Vancouver. They're having a rough time. One of the lugers died in a training run earlier that day. The opening ceremonies were odd - we only watched a bit. Lots of reference to the Indians. Grandma must have been rolling over in her grave.
Saturday our friends went apartment hunting and R's best friend came over and helped him install sister supports to some joists in the basement while I took the girls to see R's cousin's wife, T, and get some advice about the baby's torticollis. They live in the inner city in an urban revitalization neighborhood. The inside of their home is beautiful! Old style architecture with updates like granite countertops. But the bars on the windows would be tough for me to live with all the time. They bought us lunch from a deli called M&M - delish!! T checked baby R out and said she had a mild case and might be eligible for free PT from Jo Co Infants and Toddler Services, so I'm going to call them next week to get her evaluated. She also gave me some stretches to do with her on my own. That night we went for a double date with our friends at the Copa Room. It was nice, and then we went to Wallaby's, the neighborhood bar, and watched most of the KU game. Rock chalk!
Sunday we went to church at Holy Trinity since our friends are looking for a place to go when they move back. So thankful that DH went!!

2/15 - More struggles for the Olympics - a speed skater fell and his hand got run over and sliced open - blood all over the ice. There was too much rain so there's not enough snow to do some of the ski competitions so they had to refund spectators' tickets.
S cracks me up because that carrot from the snowman is still on the porch, and every day she comes downstairs and says, "It's still there!"

2/16 - Ugh - more money issues. I wasn't thinking that I would only get half a paycheck since I didn't come back to work until the 5th, so we are tight again. Don't think we'll have to borrow anymore from S (hopefully), but will need to continue being frugal. It's good for us, though. Helps us appreciate how lucky we are to not have to worry about that most of the time. Tonight we had a playdate with A & A and their boys. S was playing with a stroller most of the night and then one of the boys took it and put it on the couch and she gently scolded him saying it needed to be on the floor. It was very cute.

2/17 - S learned how to use scissors at the sitter's this week - and cut up her socks today. Not sure how that's possible with safety scissors, but we discussed what it is and is not appropriate to use scissors on. :) Had my follow up appt with the hematologist today - platelets are at 216,000! Definitely appears to be pregnancy related, so I'm clear to go on with life.
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