Monday, September 29, 2008

What I learned from Bad Grandma

Bad Grandma died a few weeks ago. I use the word "bad" in reference to her, because she was BAD. Those who've known me for quite sometime, also refer to her as "bad grandma". The service was in California over Labor Day weekend. I actually am not sad that bad grandma is gone. I'm embarassed to say, I never even shed a tear. No, I'm not cold and heartless - it's just that nothing we ever did was ever good enough for her. If I sent a card, it should have been a phone call. If it was a phone call, I should have sent a card.Every call, visit, or note there was a complaint from her about something. She bad-mouthed my mom, dad, and grandpa at every chance she got. It was exhausting.
The past few years were a little better. This was only due to the fact that I was done tolerating her crap on the phone. So, if she started complaining (rather 'bitching') about mom, dad, or grandpa, I gave her a fair warning that if she continued, our call would be over. And, yes, for the record, I did hang up on her a time or two. I'd always call back a few days later and it would be a better conversation.
So, what did I learn from bad grandma? I learned that before you die, you better confess to the truth regarding lies you've told AND throw away stuff you don't want anyone to see (since you won't be around to explain it). In going through old pictures, letters, etc. I've come across all sorts of stuff. I've stumbled upon pictures with people torn off. Hate mail to people (that she copied and saved). Hate mail from people. Letters with unanswered questions. Letters from old relatives we were told NEVER wrote to her. Other things. Just things you really don't want laying around for others to find when you die.
At my age, I really don't have anything to hide. But, I'm a saver. I save cards I have received. I keep Christmas cards (truly, had some I saved from 1996 to the present). So, I went through and tossed three bags full of stuff. I kept some special items. Kept all the "congrats on the wedding" cards; cards from Mark; cards from the parents, grandparents, and anyone who passed away, etc. But, the rest went into the trash!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The tooth fairy

Earlier in the week I noticed that Mason's bottom two permanent teeth were coming through. If his bottom baby teeth were loose, that would be a good thing. But, they're not. Lauren was elated that Mason's big teeth were coming in. Mason kept telling us the tooth fairy was coming. But, we had to keep explaining that his teeth had to fall out before the tooth fairy would come. Anyway, I had scheduled an appointment with our dentist for this afternoon. Lauren knew he was going - and also that he might have to have his teeth pulled out. She is always eavesdropping, so I'm sure she heard me say the dentist would have to remove them - and I guess she assumed it would be today.
Mason & I went to the dentist. To make a long story short, he'll have to have his baby teeth pulled out at Children's in the not-to-distant future. So, we came home (all extra teeth and baby teeth intact). Mark picked her up from school and told her Mason still had his teeth. When she came home, she went right to her room. I followed her in to discuss her day. She wanted nothing to do with me and wanted to be left alone. After begging and pleading to talk about what was wrong, she burst into tears. At school today, she had written two notes - in her best pemanship ever. The first note, which she retrieved out of the garbage was addressed to me (correct address and all):

Dear Mom,
Did Mason loose his teeth? I'm worried. I am going to write a note to the tooth fairy. Love ya, Lauren.

Here was the next note, addressed to the tooth fairy (which she retrieved from her "paper bin"):
Dear Tooth fairy, I, Mason Ponte want to keep my teeth. Please instead of money give me Star Wars Toys. And give the teeth to my sister Lauren. Mason Ponte

As she was crying about the non-lost teeth, she explained she was sure Mason would prefer toys to money. She also explained that she wanted to keep the teeth to make sure Mason wouldn't put them in his mouth again and choke. She then had questions about how they would take out the teeth. Unfortunately, for her exposure to all the medical world and Children's, she had too many questions! All in all, she wanted to make sure he wouldn't feel them take them out, and that he would be OK during the surgery.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Is everything still current?

When calling doctor's offices, a standard question is..."is everything current"? Since Mason sees many a doctor (pediatrician, pulmonologist, endocrinologist, E.N.T., ophthamologist, etc), I experience this question frequently. So, if I answer "no - nothing has changed", why do the receptionist feel they must continue in the line of questioning? And if I repeat "no, nothing has changed", why do they tell me "oh, we have to ask anyway"?

Take today's conversation with the eye doctor's receptionist (who we saw in August, mind you). Here is how the call went:

Me- I need to schedule a follow up appointment with Dr. X.
Rec. - Your child's last name?
Me - Ponte. That's P - O - N- T- E.
Rec. - First name?
Me - Mason. Date of birth....
Rec. - Is everything current?
Me - Yes, everything is current
Rec - Are you still at (address).....
Me - Yes, nothing has changed. Everything is current.
Rec - Oh, I still have to ask. Is your phone number,
Me - (As I interrupt her & neglect to answer her last question) I'd like to schedule an appointment with Dr. X, in November.

You see, I consider myself fairly well-versed in notifying people of things. If insurance changes, I actually call the doctor's offices and notify them prior to an appointment. This past January (when our insurance changed), as soon as I had the information, I called Children's, the pediatrician, etc. Then, I also verify if our current providers are still covered by the new insurance or if we need to change. The other thing is, we haven't moved in 11 years. I'm guessing if we did, I might actually notify the doctor's offices of that too (since, in order to get copies of Mason's notes from his doctor, they do MAIL it to our home address). The other factor, is do the receptionists truly think I don't understand what the question means? To me, current means the address, insurance, guarantor, and ,phone number haven't changed. But, maybe I'm wrong! So, forgive me for being a bit uptight when asked "is everything still current".

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Free at last

Tonight we received notice. School WILL start tomorrow - Monday! After 9 days of striking, the strike is now over. Is it wrong that I'm singing praise songs related to school starting?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

day 8

Today marks day 8 of the teacher's strike. Or is that day 80? It all seems the same to me. So, what else to do, but go to the zoo. Again. With the Andersons. Now, for those of you who "zoo" with us, our crowd likes to be at the zoo at opening time (9:30). When Meghan and I looked at our watches, it was 11:30. Guess how many animals we'd seen? FOUR! The flamingos; lemurs; gorillas; and jaguar. Oh, we did see the zebra at the Savannah too. Not too many animals in a 2 hour time frame. That is because en route to Bug World (which I despise), the quartet of children decided to play in the forest play area. They were running through the tunnels. At first they were pretending to be ants. Later we figured out it was not a replica of ant tunnels, but beavers (I think). They ran up, down, around. They climbed up the rope spider web. They spent a good hour frolicking happily in this area. They battled good and evil. They protected the tunnels. And no one was bossy. And no one argued. There was finally peace, love, and happiness amongst the adults watching and the children (who should've been in school) playing. In the end we bribed them to eat lunch and see just a few more animals.
As we were eating our "brought from home" lunches and Meghan was ordering her standard pretzel, three unusual zoo-goers passed by. Make that three unusual zoo-goers and their dog (who was on a regular leash and was a bit unruly). To describe the men in more detail, read Meghan's blog for today. But, let me just say, I'm sure if I would have given them a hug, the odor d'alcohol and body odor would have rubbed off on me. Now, how they were able to get their black dog inside the zoo...claiming it was a "helper" dog, I'll never know. But as they teetered off (with security close on their tails), one rambled something about "if this would'a been a white dog, we wouldn'a had no problem". I guess the zoo must discriminate against black dogs. Wonder if the Sun Bears, Sloth Bears, and Gorillas will have to find a new home, in exchange for an arctic hare and other white animals. Hmmmm.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Day 7

Day 7 of the strike! Well, what should I do with the hoodlums on day 7 of the strike? Let's start with a few timeouts! Lauren earned two timeouts by about 8:15am. Let me also say, that this was AFTER I told the kids that we would go to the Puyallup Fair. I expected "yeah mom" or "whoohoo". What I received from the oldest child, was "you are the worst mom ever". Why? Because in preparing them for the fair, I wanted clear guidelines. The first guideline (or rule) was that I was not buying them crap. No, I did not use the word 'crap'. But, I made it clear that they would not be receiving any Sponge Bob inflatable balloons, crazy hats, sand birds, plastic swords, tieras, or any other "toy" from the fair. Lunch and scones, yes! Crap, no.

I then told them that they could each pick one ride of their choice to go on (having already discussed that the fair costs money). Since the ride tickets are $.85 each, and the most "expensive" ride was 5 tickets....they could each pick one ride to go on. I thought that was fair. And furthermore, that is the usual deal. Apparantly Lauren had other ideas. She craftily discussed bringing her own allowance so she could go on more rides. I nixed that quickly, as a 40-second ride for $5 doesn't seem like such a great idea for a child who saves about $2/month. I discussed other items she wants to buy in the future, etc. Anyway, long story short, Lauren threw her tantrum and sassiness over me telling them I'd take them to the fair to have scones, lunch, see the baby pigs, etc, and go on a ride. I explained that she was being selfish and ungrateful, and to look at a way to be thankful. Then I sent her to time out! Mason on the other hand looked at me and said "oh, mommy. One ride! Thank you". "We go to fair and I go on one ride". He was as sincere as could be too. I guess that's one of the benefits of being "chromosomally gifted".

Well, after the morning scuffle, we did indeed head for the fair. Mom & Grandma came too. The pigs were cute. The cows were huge. The scones were excellent. The Krusty Pups were good too. And Lauren didn't ask for one thing! As it ended up, it was cheaper buying 7 rides total, than the 5 individual coupons for the rides. So, the kids went on three rides. The Tiger Growl (or something like that...the roller coaster); Scrambler; and Giant Slide. We also met up with Mason's friend from school last year, Zach & his family.

We were there a few hours and came home. Lauren had Girl Scouts. Then we had dinner. Mom babysat and I went to a mom's group at Kindering Center. The end.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Day 6

Don't let the picture fool you. No one at this house is in school yet. It's day 6 of the teacher's strike. I'm still crossing my fingers for an agreement to be reached soon. Very soon. Very very soon.

So, for our day of "togetherness" Lauren ended up with "strike 3" before 9am. Yippee. So, she lost all screen time (T.V., computer, video games). Mason forgot to put his listening ears on and ended up with a time out. It's been a terrific day. Or not!

Today, we did get to look inside Mason's school! The principal gave us a tour this morning. Luckily, there were no picketers at the school today, so we didn't have to cross any lines. We toured his classroom, bathroom (where he's almost too short for the sinks - or so the principal said - it was quite funny), library, gym/lunchroom, art room and music room. His desk is already set up with his name on it. His cubby is ready for his coat and backpack. The classroom is ready to go. All we need now are some teachers.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Day 5

Today marks Day 5 of the Bellevue teacher's strike. It seems like day 50. We started the day with an exciting trip to the pulmonologist. Followed by folding clothes at home and cleaning the bathroom. That was followed by going to the gym (my only moment without the duo). Next was planning girl scout stuff with Deanne & the twins. Later was a trip to swim at the pool...which I might add was just too cold for me. I wonder what excitement day 6 will bring?!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The weekend events

This weekend we had things to do and places to go. After speech on Saturday, we headed to Home Depot to get a swing set kit. Yeah! Mark finally caved in and decided we could get new swings. The old swingset was fine, but Lauren was just getting too big to swing on it. It was starting to sway front to back and that is never a good thing! We bought the swingset about 3 years ago when Jackie was in Oak Harbor. It cost us $50 from a neighbor of hers who no longer needed it!

At the Depot, we found the basic 'A' frame kit and the lumber and came home. Let me add my disclaimer now. Just because the most simple instructions say "can be completed in 3 hours", it doesn't mean it will. We worked for about 3 hours yesterday and seemed to make progress. That is until you looked at what still had to be done. Well, quitting time came, so we stopped.

After showers and the babysitter arrived, Mark & I headed to the M's game with Adam & Meghan. Good game. We saw a 3-run homer.

We also saw a very interesting woman with some strange type of respirator device on. It was purple & green. And she had orange hair. Orange...not red! Quite the site. We spent the moments before the game trying to figure out what her deal was. Was she waiting for a terrorist attack? Bird flu? Multiple chemical sensitivity? We had quite the time trying to figure it out. When people sat behind us, they started doing the same thing. As the game started and continued, this woman would take off her respirator, talk or drink, then put it back on. We left the game still not knowing what the purpose was.
After Church, we came home and I cleaned the old swingset. I posted in on Craigslist on Saturday night for $150. I had two people call me last night wanting to purchase it! Today by noon it was gone and we pocketed the money, which will go towards the new swingset. Mark & I spent the entire afternoon working on the "easy, 3 hour" swingset. Well, it is now in the ground and functional thanks to another friend of ours who helped us stand it up right & dig a few holes.

Day 4 of the strike

Not much excitement to report on day 4 of the teacher's strike. We had errands to run -costo for glasses, etc. In the afternoon we watched the Andersons boys. Needless to say...there is never a dull moment when the 4 kids get together.

Mark was actually in-town most of the week (as I mandated him to do so because of the first day of school...which hasn't happened). He was out of town on Friday. So, after a long day and a week of no school, I decided it was time to treat myself. So, I took the kids to dinner and had myself a strawberry daiquiri! Amen for blended drinks.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Day 3

Day 3 of no school.

Yesterday (Thursday...aka day 3 of the teachers' strike) we took a field trip to The Outback Christmas Tree and Kangaroo Farm in Arlington. It was about an hour drive. When we arrived, there were peacocks (male, female, & babies), chickens, and turkeys roaming around. The tour started at 10am. Luckily, we were the only 3. Apparantly last week, some of their tours had 50 people. But, by now, those lucky parents have children who are attending school! Anyway, we watched the ring tailed lemurs. We saw a group of 1+ week old ducks.

Next was the "main event". The kangaroos (one named Kangaroo Jack), wallabies (2 were named Luke & Laura), and wallaroos (2 were named Sophie, Kate Moss). We were able to feed them, pet them, take pictures with them. It was wonderful! Then we saw goats and donkeys. The end of the tour we say llamas, alpacas, emus (named Monica & Bill), ostriches, a cockatoo, and a parrot. The llama (named Mr. T) even "kissed you". The last part was holding the baby joey named Bella. It was by far the highlight!

I would highly encourage
the trek up there on a sunny day. Their website is http://christmastreesand

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Goodbye to Martini

In July we "adopted" (or paid for) Martini our little long-haired chihuhua. Today he is no longer ours. He has had food aggression issues that we have been working with and handling. However, his aggression overall has gotten worse. His warning sign was to growl. He has nipped and growled at kids & adults. But today, he bit Mason. It was unprovoked. He was on his pillow and Mason laid down on the floor near him. Martini lunged and bit him. Luckily it was more surface scratches. The inside of his lip and near his nose bled a little. It could have been much worse. After consulting with our veterinarian, he advised that we bring him to the Humane Society. So after many tears, we took him there this afternoon and said our goodbyes.

So, if any of you feel the need to "smirk", "gloat", or act indifferent towards our situation, please don't! I've already had one call earlier today which was less then empathetic - and it's been a tough day.

Today was also day 2 of the teacher's strike. Aside from the dog trauma, Mason had swimming lessons.
And, we received this late this afternoon: "Bellevue teacher contract talks continue through Wednesday afternoon.
Whatever the outcome of today’s negotiations’ session, there will be no school tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 4."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Day 2

Today we spent what should have been the first day of school at the zoo with our friends. The Siamangs put on a great show. The baby gorilla was out frolicking with her mom. The animals were out and about. It was a good zoo day.

This just in: (to my in-box at 4:22pm): District and BEA negotiators met this afternoon. The discussion was productive but did not lead to a tentative agreement. There will be no school tomorrow, September 3, 2008.

Need I say more?

Monday, September 1, 2008

What my kids will be doing on the first day of school

Historically, schools in our district start the day after Labor Day. Being that today is Labor Day, tomorrow is the first day of school. To answer the question of "what will my kids be doing on the first day of school" below.

"The Bellevue teachers’ union has announced a strike against the Bellevue School District starting Tuesday, September 2. Because of the strike, all District schools are closed until further notice." (This was from the Bellevue school district website).

In other words, my children will be here with me. Again.

I'd write more, but I think I need to have a drink. Enough said!