Train Spotting

Wednesday evening, I walked out of a restaurant in Coraopolis. My parents were still inside, waiting to pay the bill (and for the to-go desserts). But Michael was restless, so we went out to the parking lot behind the building.

The restaurant was less than a block from the train tracks that run through Coraopolis. I heard a train coming, and I thought it would fun for Michael to see a train rolling by. We walked toward the street in order to get a good view.

There was a teenager standing on the tracks.

I yelled, and he heard me. He walked to street. He had his phone out.

It looked to me like he was going to do something stupid.

He kept checking to see if I was still in view. I kept standing in view.

When the train started thundering through the intersection, he went inside of the guard rails and stood beside the train. He had his phone up, and I could hear him whooping.

I called 9-1-1.

The train ended before I finished my call, and the kid rode off on his bicycle. I described him to the 9-1-1 dispatcher, and told him that the boy had ridden away.

AND THEN HE CAME BACK, and not only that, he came back with three other children who were younger than he was (two boys and a girl).

I called 9-1-1 again.

Even as I was on the phone, a patrol car rolled up to the children near the tracks. By this time, I was getting everyone in the car, and getting ready to head for home. I turned to my mom and said, “You know, if those kids were black, I would have approached them myself instead of calling 9-1-1.”

And that’s the truth.

Would you have called 9-1-1?

Copyright for featured image: ayo88 / 123RF Stock Photo

Advice Needed, Sartorial and Other

This week and weekend have too much going on for me. And it’s not even the busiest time of the year! (That’s usually Christmas time.) And it’s not even the busiest weekend in my near future (that comes in mid-May — stay tuned!).

I had to put out a Twitter poll about what kind of gift basket to donate to my daughter’s school (wine was the clear winner; I’m pairing a red & a white wine with a basket of gourmet foods).

I also had to ask Twitter what “business chic” was. Turns out the upshot is nothing I have in my wardrobe.

But.

Dan and I have an event tomorrow night at a school where he is on the board of directors. That is one of the weirdest non-kid related sentences I have ever had to type. The dress is business chic, which according to my sources is structured dress pieces paired with a blazer and/or good shoes. Like a pencil skirt with a crew neck shirt and good accessories.

I have good accessories, but I don’t have business chic.

I submit to you the two outfits I am considering.

Outfit 1 is this gray dress. It is knee length. I was going to pair it with black tights and ballet flats. (I should probably check tomorrow’s weather to see if tights will be appropriate, eh?) Before you ask: no, I do not have a blazer.

Outfit 2 is a black and white combo. The pants fall about mid-calf. I can pair them with either the aforementioned ballet flats or the shoes that are shown next.

What say you, readers?

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The next piece of advice I need stems from the fact that Flora is this week’s star student. She gets to take home her classroom’s mascot at the end of the week. We are supposed to take the mascot — a stuffed bear — with us through the weekend and document the stuff we do with it.

The truth of the matter is our weekends are generally lame, filled with chores and errand running. What can we do with this bear that would be fun but not too crazy? Flora suggested the park, but (again with the weather) I’m not sure that will be a good idea. I wanted to go to the farmers market in Sewickley on Saturday, but how interesting is that to a classroom of 1st graders? Additionally, Flora has gymnastics, and we have a family event to attend. Plus, I feel like I should go to the I Made It! Market Jr. on Saturday (don’t forget to enter!), but with it being 1) downtown and 2) being from 1 to 4 p.m. (gymnastics for F & nap time for M), I have no idea if we’d even make it before it was done.

My life, it is crazy.

Any suggestions? Or should I just throw the bear in our car with the kids and take pictures of our typical weekend?

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There was something else, but I completely forget what it is. I have so much happening I can’t even make decisions right now. I’m just going to be grateful that I have a community of people to turn to. How’s that for looking on the bright side?

The Non-Believer

Flora doesn’t believe in the Easter Bunny.

Or leprechauns. Or fairies (except for the Tooth Fairy).

“They aren’t real,” she asserts.

This breaks my heart. First, that she simply doesn’t believe anymore. I know that developmentally, 7 years old is probably a time that doubt starts to creep in anyway. But as an avid new reader of The Magic Treehouse series, I thought she would continue to have faith in the reality of make-believe.

Second, I’m a little worried that someone(s) at school has disabused her of this “nonsense”. She didn’t come to me *asking* if the Easter Bunny was real — she declared outright: “I know the Easter Bunny doesn’t exist.” (We were in Target.)

I have done a couple little tap dances around the subject. Acting surprised, asking, “Are you sure about that?”

But what I am most distressed about is her complete disregard for her sister’s belief.

“The leprechaun messed up the calendar today,” Kate told us yesterday when we picked her up from school. “He left little footprints all over the table, too.”

Flora jumped right in: “Leprechauns aren’t real.” And they proceeded to start to fight about it.

I got them redirected, “Flora, that’s just what *you* think. Look! Daffodils! Those are daddy’s favorite flower.”

But this is something I think I need to address with Flora one way or another.

Part of me wants to continue my current strategy of tap dancing and redirection.

Part of me wants to take Flora aside and explain that while fairies and leprechauns aren’t literally real doesn’t mean that she should spoil the magic for her younger siblings.

Most of me wishes that she still believed the magic herself.

Do your children believe in fairies? What would you do if they suddenly didn’t (or did)?

Vacation: 0, Sleepless Infant: 3

The vacation part of vacation was actually very fun: catching up with aunts, uncles, cousins, and second-cousins; seeing my sister and her fiance; attending/working at my sister’s wedding shower; letting my parents spend time with their grandchildren; staying up playing games and laughing our heads off. Of course, staying up late had consequences because Michael was not having it.

By “it” I mean sleeping through the night in a wholly unfamiliar place. Michael simply refused to do it. He wasn’t inconsolable; he didn’t scream his head off; and during the day he napped (under protest) and was generally very sweet and pleasant.

But he would go “to bed” at 9 or 10 p.m., and he would be up at 2 or 3 a.m., and he would not go back to sleep in his pack ‘n’ play (in a room with his sisters). He would doze off on me while I was reclining on a couch downstairs; he would sleep for a little while in bed with Dan and me. But if he fussed in our bed, I did go downstairs because there was no point in both Dan and me being incredibly sleep deprived. On Sunday morning at 3:30 a.m., Dan took Michael for an hour-and-a-half car ride so he would sleep and I could sleep, and when they got home at 5 a.m., he was right back up and I took over again.

I’m sure Michael’s perspective was something like this: “I don’t know where I am; I don’t know why I am in this room with my sisters. This place doesn’t smell like home; this place doesn’t sound like home. Who are all these people?* What is that thing that keeps licking my face when I’m on the floor?** You cannot honestly expect me to be able to soothe myself back to sleep in this state of anxiety, woman! Get in here and reassure me, stat.”

So, yeah. As per usual, “vacation” with kids isn’t really vacation. But interaction with most of my cousins, who now have tweens and teens (how did THAT happen?), gives me hope that someday I won’t have to schedule my “vacation” time around meals and naps, and I’ll be able to read a book while my kids splash in the pool as opposed to actually being in the pool with them myself. Someday, in other words, I will be able to balance vacation and “vacation”, and so I will probably continue to “vacation” with my extended family because it is totally worth it, especially when my Aunt J talks smack over Catch Phrase.

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Other vacation notes:

My sister got a gift from our late Grandmother, a crocheted blanket. It was something Olympia must have planned nearly five years ago, and opening it and seeing the card (written by my mother in the voice of my grandma) was quite an emotional wallop. In a good way, but I went from zero to tears in under 60 seconds.

Michael perfected his wave good-bye to general praise and hilarity from the extended relatives. He also learned how to play “peek-a-boo” with me. I forgot how hysterical babies find peek-a-boo, and his belly laughs made me forgive his sleeplessness. Because baby belly laughs are the best.

When we got home Sunday, Michael crawled around with an ear-to-ear grin on his face. It could not have been more apparent that he was pleased to be back on familiar ground. Plus, he slept through the night.

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*We shared a place with my parents, my sister and her fiance, and Dr. Sis’ dogs, plus we saw lots and lots of relatives whom Michael has never met. And nearly all of them wanted to hold him. This was a little difficult for him; Michael is just starting the “separation anxiety” phrase. He did his best, but if I was in sight, he wanted to be in my arms.

**That would be Roxy the Boston Terrier.

My Naivete is Probably Showing

Here’s the thing.

I’ve read and watched a lot about this rally Glenn Beck had last Saturday, mostly because I’m curious. People are fascinated by Beck (or repulsed by him, take your pick). As with so many figures in public life today, he seems to be incredibly polarizing.

My FIL loves Beck. He watches him religiously. We talked briefly about the “Restoring Honor” rally that took place over the weekend.

“He’s the real deal,” my FIL said.

“But the real deal of what?” I asked. “He’s really a successful TV and radio commentator. He’s good at his job. Beyond that, I don’t know what his motivations are.” And I didn’t say it to be argumentative. Beck, much like conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, has a fanatical following — which is fine. Each to their own and all.

Beck has said himself that he’s in entertainment, not politics. The tenor of the Restoring Honor rally seems to back that up.

The point of the rally seems to be that Glenn Beck wants to bring religion “back” to this country.

Theoretically, I have no problem with this. In practice though, I don’t know 1) that religion needs to be brought back to this country and 2) what that looks like.

Let’s take, for example, prayer in schools, which one of the attendees mentions in this video from the rally. (Some people seem pretty reasonable here, and some scare the poop out of me, but, again, to each his own.)

Okay, so we all decide we want “prayer back in school.” Well, most of us want that. A vocal minority of parents of children in public schools do not want prayer in public schools because they themselves are atheists or agnostics or — I don’t know — Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons (like Glenn Beck!).

Since I like the idea of prayer in school, I have actually elected to send my girls to a private, Catholic school, so they can learn about our religion alongside of computer, science, English, math, and Spanish. I don’t know how we reconcile prayer in public school. I think kids who want to pray or have a Bible club/class should have that option. (I find it hard to believe that kids raised in religious households don’t say some silent prayers before pop quizzes or lunch periods they share with bullies, public school or no.) It’s true, though, that I don’t think prayer should be imposed on anyone. I have distinct memories of the one or two non-Catholic students in my high school being excused from school masses without any fuss on anyone’s part (as far as I knew).

Also, the idea that we have to “get this country back to the principles on which it was founded”? Good in theory, maybe not so much in practice. Our country was founded by landed white men, many of whom owned slaves and didn’t think women should have rights outside of the home, and they were very particular about separating church from state — primarily because they didn’t want the STATE to suppress the practice of RELIGION. Freedom OF religion is what’s in the Constitution, not freedom FROM religion. That’s been quite taken out of context lately — I don’t really know when that started, taking prayer out of public school or the realm of government in general, but this brings me back to the fact that I have the choice to send my children to a school where they are not only free to practice the religion I am raising them in, but encouraged to do so. And beyond that I can vote for whom I choose and practice whatever religion I choose. Those two things are not in any way contingent upon each other.

Finally, America rebelled against England because they protested the idea of “taxation without representation”. Well, for good or ill, we have representation out the wa-hoo now. Every year brings us some type of election or another, from local school boards to state governorships to our national leaders in Congress and the White House.

I don’t know where I’m going with this, I truly don’t. But it’s been making my  head hurt for the better part of two days now, thinking about it. My FIL doesn’t like the direction in which this country is moving, and I read and see a lot of fear about America becoming a “socialist” country, and of course, there are people who STILL think Obama is a Muslim — and they are not just backwater racist people; guys, there is a higher percentage of independent voters who now believe Obama is a Muslim than when he was running in 2008. (He’s not, by the way. Has everyone forgotten the brou-haha over Rev. Jeremiah White?) And don’t get me started on the Islamic center in Manhattan, which will have a mosque in it. Just don’t.

I voted for Barack Obama, and I am not sorry I did. I think he’s doing the best he can with what he has. He’s inherited a mess, and he’s trying to get this country out of it. It’s true that it’s not going so well so far, and on top of he economic crisis he was handed, he’s had an environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that is siphoning a lot of resources away from his administration. He’s gotten combat troops out of Iraq, and he’s still working on the war in Afghanistan. He knows that al-Queda — not Islam — is the enemy. I still have the highest respect for him because I think he is smart and because I think he wants the best for ALL of America.

People truly believe he and his administration are ruining this country ON PURPOSE. And I don’t get that at all. I don’t understand the Tea Party and Mama Grizzlies, or for that matter, liberals who don’t think Obama’s doing enough. What more do you want him to do? Really? He’s not a super hero; he’s just a really smart guy who’s (again) doing the best with what he’s got.

See? No idea where I’m going. I don’t understand political discourse in this country any more. Or what passes for “discourse”. I don’t know how to fix what’s broken; that is why I vote for the leaders I do. That’s their job. I truly pick the people I think can do the best job. We don’t have a great political system, but we have the best political system in the world. I wish it weren’t two-party because I think that truly limits “we the people” and our voices.

Anyway, I’m going to publish this in all its incoherent glory. If you have something to say, go for it.

What Twitter is Good For V

Restaurant reviews/suggestions.

I need to find a restaurant in Sewickley. It needs to be quick and low-priced (but NOT fast food), fairly child-friendly, with tasty vegetarian options. Eat’n’Park is acceptable. The only restaurants I know in Sewickley are China Palace (very good, but not fast or inexpensive enough for me tonight) and Sharp Edge (right out in these circumstances).

If I could post this to Twitter, I would have an answer (or at least suggestions) FAST.

Dagnabit.

Random Thoughts: Brief and Bad

I don’t really have much good news.

I’m at trouble at work because of how much time I have been home with sick children. And you know what? I think I did the right thing staying home with them. So that’s that.

****
Flora woke up SCREAMING at 11:30 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. with ear pain. Dan’s taking her back to the doctor this afternoon.

Guess those antibiotics aren’t working.

I had ear infections as a child, and I remember how very much they hurt. As hard as it was to be empathetic at 2 a.m., I think Dan and I did okay with Flora. We were a little crankier — all right, a lot — with each other. Really have to work on that.

****

Oh, wait, I do have good news. The plague of insects that has descended on the house in the past few months has been stemmed. Thank goodness for cold weather.

I still see the occasional G-D FRUIT FLY buzzing around the kitchen. I make it my priority to track it through the air and squash the life out of it. We’ve a few Asian lady beetle carcasses laying around, too. It’s amazing that some of those seemingly dead bugs will rediscover their will to live (and their tiny little feet) and crawl out of the pile of crumbs I have swept up.

They aren’t very fast. They get dumped with everything else.

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I have a lot of baking to do in the next 10 to 14 days. This is bad news if you are on the receiving end as I’m not much of a baker. But Flora needs cookies for her class (she’s going to be 5 years old in less than a week) and I am attending the infamous Cookie Swap with Burgh moms on Nov. 14. I have a couple of pretty easy recipes on tap; the trick will be how I deal with the kids while baking.

If I suit them both up in hazmat uniforms, I guess I can let them help.

****

Our new back door won’t go in because of wood rot and other problems. Do we just do something half-assed for now (and not use the back door) or do we spend thousands of dollars to do the job right and make the payments? FUDGE.

****

Updated to add: Flora has infections in both ears, a temp of 102, a new, stronger Rx, and she threw up in the doctor’s office. This day is just going swimmingly!

They’re Baaack!

(Warning: Yelling Ahead. Also, Strong Language Implied and Explicit.)

A distinct disadvantage to bug bombing our house is that now we have a lot of cleaning to do — wiping down surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom, vacuuming, mopping, washing ALL of the dishes and linens. I’m not 100% sure when the de-tox will be done.

But I got started last night. And as I was cleaning the kitchen… out of the corner of my eye… no, it couldn’t be.

It was. A G-D FRUIT FLY. And then, a few minutes later — ANOTHER G-D FRUIT FLY.

Are you kidding me? We had filled our home with poison and stayed at my in-laws for three days, and the eff’ers weren’t destroyed yet? Judging from the corpses I have swept, vacuumed, and wiped up, that stuff had killed spiders, ladybugs, stink bugs, and, yes, many, many G-D FRUIT FLIES. But, apparently, not ALL of them? WTF?

I texted Dan: “I just saw a fruit fly.” I followed up with, “Please bring home bleach and apple cider vinegar.”

I immediately hung a fly strip where I saw the eff’ers. I almost immediately caught two.

Two fruit flies are not going to become 50 or 100. Not this time. Fruit and garbage cans will continue to be banished. Dishes will continue to be immediately washed and dried, and all damp towels will be laundered.

At some point in the near future, the refrigerator will have to be sanitized.

The day we were getting ready to bomb the house originally — last Friday — Dan was setting things up. He trapped a G-D FRUIT FLY under a wine glass in the dining room.

That fucker is still alive, still trapped under the wine glass. The things live on air. MY HOME IS INFESTED WITH DEMON-SPAWN, MUTANT, G-D FRUIT FLIES.

WTF?

Send the men in white coats. I’ll go quietly. I’m actually looking forward to it.

Welcome to the Dark Side

It’s over. The fight I fought is lost.

I joined Facebook. I’m having an anxiety attack just thinking about it.

I had to join for work; when a friend found me, I decided to set up a personal account as well as my professional one. Here’s hoping never the twain shall meet.

The first person to want to friend me on my personal account? An ex BF — of course. (Not The Ex, although he’s on FB too. We’ll see what happens.)

Now I just have to fiddle with my privacy settings, and then figure out if Twitter updates to Facebook (anyone?). I need to keep Facebook time suck to an absolute minimum.

I have kids to raise and laundry to do, yo.