Tag Archives: foibles

Selective Daredevil

When we brought home Lily’s new 16 inch wheel princess bike, she was too scared to ride it. She had been riding the 12 inch bike for a couple years and wasn’t used to being “so high up.” Even though the wheels were 4 inches higher than her old bike, her actual seat was MAYBE 1 inch higher on the new bike. The seat of her kitchen chair is probably higher up than this bike seat is.
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It didn’t matter what we told her, she was too scared to ride her new bike, especially over the “bumps” in our neighborhood’s sidewalks. Our neighborhood is on the new side and has almost perfect sidewalks. There are a few deeply settled sidewalk squares that make for a momentary rough ride, but it’s pretty smooth sailing around here compared to what you’d find in an older neighborhood.

We humored her and took her for some bike practice sessions at a tennis court and on a dead end road. Eventually, she got brave enough to ride her bike. With training wheels. She absolutely refuses to try riding without training wheels even though she is almost 6 years old.

We’ll get there.

Anyway, on the same day Lily was too scared to ride her bike, she played in the backyard and jumped off of the slide landing to the ground several times. It’s a good 4 1/2 feet to the ground, but she had no fear jumping off of it even though she was too scared to ride her 16 inch bike because it was “so high up.”

And then this happened.
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I vaguely explained to her one day that you could hang upside down on the trapeze bar. The next day I looked over and she had figured out how to do it herself.

So, she’s too afraid to ride her slightly taller bike with training wheels, but it’s totally ok to jump down from a height that’s far over her head and to hang upside down from a trapeze– both things that could easily hurt her.

I just don’t get it. She’s such a daredevil most of the time. What happens these other times? I guess everyone has to be afraid of something, but some consistency would be nice!

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Juice Evolution

With my first kid, I aimed to do everything perfectly. Juice is allegedly bad for you know because of all the sugar in it, so Lily didn’t have juice for a long time. It was all water and (soy/almond) milk for probably 2 1/2 years. No juice to taint my precious little angel! Even though the soy/almond milk was sweetened, I wasn’t going to tarnish her with the sugar in juice! (No one said my logic had to make sense.)

When I finally let juice boxes slip in, I always made sure they were 100% natural fruit juice, preferably with vegetables slipped in. Lily was probably 3 years old before juice boxes happened places other than other people’s houses.

By my second kid, I wasn’t scared of juice anymore. Sugar, schmugar. Convenience and hydration worries beat out sugar fears. I limited juice boxes for when we were out (and I still do). They were easier to grab when we were heading out the door than sippy cups, which I always had to refill, wash and keep track of. When there were two sippy cups to bring, it was such a pain in the ass to make sure both were available. I was just too lazy to have one more thing to do when I was trying to force two kids out the door. Grabbing a premade drink saved me at least five minutes a trip. Sorry, environment! Sorry, kids’ glucose levels!

Rose had her first juice box when she was about 18 months old as opposed to at least 2 1/2 years old like Lily. I didn’t even know Rose was ready for it, but we were at a hotel and she managed to extract a juice box from a shrink-wrapped pack of them and was trying to put a straw in the correct hole. I realized if she could unwrap a juice box and straw, she could probably drink it.

Now I’m on my third kid. Somehow juice boxes have become 100% crap instead of 100% natural. We go through so many juice boxes in the summer, I don’t feel like paying for the all natural type and filling three or four water bottles before we leave the house sounds painstaking somehow. This was partially influenced by my kids’ obsession with lemonade and Lily’s ability to read. She saw there were lemonade Capri Suns and got really excited. So much for the natural fruit juice. The kids are drinking lemonade Capri Suns whenever they need a drink on the run.

Violet is 13 months old and yesterday she whined for a sugar-filled Carpi Sun. When I gave it to her, she knew exactly what to do thanks to watching two big sisters.
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At 13 months old, my third child now drinks a sugary drink beyond juice that my first child was not “allowed” to drink until she was probably three years old. With my first kid, I would have been horrified to see a 13 month old drinking a juice box BY HERSELF. With my third kid, I’m like “You can drink juice boxes now? YAY! Less work for me when we’re in a hurry!”

As I watched Violet expertly slurp down her Capri Sun, I had to laugh at the mom I was when Lily was Violet’s age. There was a time I actually thought I wouldn’t be buying juice boxes. Ha! What world was I living in? Who was I?

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Building Character, Part 1

How to feel like the worst mom on earth:

Bundle yourself in a sweatshirt to watch your kids swim outdoors in 65 degree weather.

I was faced with somewhat of a parenting crisis last Monday morning when we woke up to chilly overcast windy weather, but my kids were supposed to start their swim classes that day. What to do, what to do? I ended up taking them because the lessons were already paid for and I didn’t want them to miss the first day. They were brave little soldiers, shivering in their little bathing suits before getting into the pool. Our pool is heated, but it’s a sad state of affairs when the pool water is warmer than the air.

The kids survived. They had fun actually, but I still felt so guilty watching from the sidelines in my sweatshirt. I would never go swimming in that weather. If you asked me to, I’d think you were crazy. Yet here I was forcing my kids to do just that just because I’d paid a little money for them to take lessons. Bad. BUT they are learning how to swim, which is potentially life saving for them. So really, I asked them to get in the pool to save their own lives, right?

Nope, still feel guilty.

It stayed that cold for the first two days of swimming. On the second day, it actually rained while they were in the pool. Then I felt really guilty. I didn’t even want to be outside, but I made my kids swim. Hey, they were wet anyway. What’s a little rain on top of that? Terrible, terrible, terrible. All the parents in the chairs were like “Are we BAD parents or GOOD parents for making our kids swim through this?” As far as I know, none of the kids from swimming dropped out during those first two days. All of us parents were bad or good or cheapskates together. We already paid for those lessons! We didn’t want to waste them!

The actual swimming part wasn’t so bad. It was the getting out of the pool part that was traumatic.
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I mean, really. The girl was wearing a ski cap after going swimming outside! That’s just wrong!

All that coldness just builds character, right? Tomorrow, another very guilt-inducing experience that happened last week. We might not have been the best parents last week. Or maybe we WERE the best parents and our kids will have the best character ever because of it?

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Hate House

This is part five of the Hate Fence Saga. For the full story, start here and work your way back.

The half Hate Fence was such an eyesore. It was by far the ugliest thing in our yard. Sure, we have a lot of Little Tikes stuff, but we have it spaced out nicely. Perhaps I’m in denial, but I like to think our backyard just looks like a children’s resort of fun rather than something ugly.

For Lily and Rose’s birthday last year, we decided to combine their “fun” money from their grandfather to get them a giant plastic playhouse.
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It is an adorable sugar-coated delight, but I immediately named it the Hate House because I knew exactly where I wanted to put it.

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Look at that cute house hate on the neighbors! Take that, Hate Fencers! (And yes, I just ran outside at 11 pm to take that picture because I realized no picture of the Hate House in its proper home existed despite my planning to write about this for MONTHS. Oops.)

I like to pretend that the Hate House blocks out the unsightly seam where the Half Hate Fence ends. It makes it less obvious that our split rail is being interrupted. Now that the Hate House is there, I don’t mind the Hate Fence nearly as much.

There’s also the added bonus of my Hate Fence neighbors possibly getting annoyed with the Hate House being so close to their yard. Not only do they have to look at it, but they have to hear my kids playing in it all the time. Maybe this will be the final push that gets us hated enough to get our own Hate Fence!

It’s been about 9 months since we got the playhouse. In that time, we also painted our swingset to match the playhouse, which my Hate Fence neighbors actually love, much to my disappointment. It doesn’t look like we can provoke these people to finish what they started. In fact, I suspect if the Hate Fence ever does get finished, it won’t be because of us. If they finish it, it will probably be because of the new neighbors to our west, who have a rack of boats in their yard, park a ton of cars in the street, rev their motorcycles, leave their dog loose, blast music, set off fireworks at 11 pm NOT on the July 4 and recently had the cops called on them about who knows what. Heck, if it weren’t for the cost, I’d be building a Hate Fence against THOSE guys right now.

Lest you think otherwise, we actually love most of the people in our neighborhood and have a lot of friends here. We just got “lucky” and got two of the most interesting situations in the subdivision directly next door to us. I usually don’t care what people do with their yards until what they do directly affects me. If we have to do extra weeding or plant bushes to hide something ugly in OUR yard because of YOUR fence, I get pretty annoyed. Though I must admit, as annoyed as the Hate Fence makes me, I mostly think the situation is funny. Who the hell builds a fence the way they did? It just doesn’t make any sense!

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Hate Shade

This is Part IV of the Hate Fence Saga. Read the first three parts here, here, and here.

The spring after the most recent addition to the Hate Fence, I got very excited when a construction crew arrived at the Hate Fence neighbor’s house with a load of wood. Were they removing the neighborhood restricted privacy fence of hate and putting the split rail back up? Were they doing a bunch of work that included finishing the Hate Fence on our side?

Nope. They were building an extravagant deck with a built-in bench and a pergola. It stood on top of what had been a very nice patio that was about five years old and had to be in nice condition. The idea that they were doing the privacy fence piece by piece as their budget allowed was totally negated. They clearly had the money to finish the Hate Fence and convert it into a privacy fence if they could afford a deck like that when they already had a patio! Why on earth would you put in a deck of that magnitude BEFORE you finished your fence if you already had a patio? I don’t think the Hate Fence will ever be finished.

I was crushed when I realized we weren’t getting the rest of our Hate Fence. Why can’t they hate us? I know we are likeable and cute and everything, but block us out! We are always in the yard at the same time as them and it’s just awkward because they don’t really talk to us. We’ve tried to be friendly and even invited them to a Korean BBQ, which they didn’t attend despite the wife being Korean like my husband, but not much has happened with our relationship. All of our conversations go something like this “Your kids are so beautiful! They are getting big! They are so cute!” “Thanks! Your garden looks great!” Despite us being in the yard at the same time as them daily, the communication happens about once a month and I don’t believe I’ve ever said a word to the husband.

A couple weeks after the Amazing Deck went up, I came outside to find this.
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Hate shade, anyone?

Granted, the shade is PROBABLY there to block out the sun and not us, but STILL. This sure would be a cheap solution, along with the trees along that side of the yard, to blocking us out.

I rather have a full Hate Fence! I’m so sick of being only HALF hated! Just seeing the line where the fence ends was driving me crazy, but soon I found a solution so I wouldn’t have to look at it. Tune in tomorrow to see what it was! And I know I promised a post for Wednesday and failed you all, but there are no fireworks tomorrow so it WILL happen.

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Extending the Hate

Shortly after the Hate Fence neighbors made the bizarre extension on their fence, they got new neighbors to their east. The new neighbors had two small dogs and two tween boys. I don’t know them. I hardly ever see them at all. They are almost never outside, but apparently they are outside enough to bother the Hate Fence people because guess what happened next?
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This is the picture I posted on my personal facebook the day the new part of the Hate Fence went in. Who the hell erects a fence in the dead of winter?

When the construction truck arrived that morning, I was giddy with excitement. The construction crew had to be there to finish the stupid half a Hate Fence on our side, right?

When they started construction on the other side of the lot, I thought it was weird. Come on, do our side! It’s almost done! It’s almost there! Just put up a few more panels and we can move on from this monstrosity. I couldn’t conceive of a world where the fencers would leave without finishing our side.

The picture and my previous post already give away the conclusion. They did not finish our side. It is now a year later and the fence is still not finished on our side.

Why can’t these people just hate us? I want to be hated! I want my side of the Hate Fence done! But no! Clearly they like us! WHY? We are way more disruptive than their neighbors to the east. Our kids and dog are in and out all day. I yell at them outside sometimes when they misbehave and they whine and cry and scream. We have giant plastic Little Tikes stuff all over the yard. We haven’t done ANY landscaping back there.

And yet we still haven’t gotten our share of the Hate Fence! WHY? What do we need to do to be hated enough for a Hate Fence?

We have a couple theories about why they might like us or at least only HALF hate us. 1) They LOVE our dog Lumpy, not that I can blame them. Lumpy and their German Shepherd like to chase each other along the fence. Maybe they didn’t finish the fence so our dogs could keep playing. If this is the reason, it’s stupid because they constantly freak out that our kids might be too close to the fence and their dog might hurt them. You think your dog is dangerous? FINISH YOUR FENCE! 2) They are a Korean/Caucasian biracial couple just like us so maybe they feel some sort of connection to us. Plus our kids are freaking adorable and who doesn’t want to see them?

Another neighborhood theory is that they built the fence to protect their garden. They are avid gardeners and have created quite a masterpiece out there, but I don’t buy this argument. Much of the landscaping extends beyond the oddly placed Hate Fence.

I don’t care what the real reason is. I just want to be hated. I want this Hate Fence to turn back into a privacy fence! Tune in tomorrow to see what happened when a construction crew arrived a few months after this latest addition. It’s not what you would think.

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Gotta Keep on Hatin’

Six months after the first Hate Fence went up, this monstrosity happened to my backyard courtesy of the Hate Fence neighbors to our east.
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The Hate Fence people put half a Hate Fence along our shared split rail fence. They didn’t say a word before they did it. When the fence construction people left it looking like this, I assumed they were just done for the day and would be back the next day to finish it off.

Nope. This is a forever situation (as far as I know). It has been at least a year and half since that half a Hate Fence went up and gave us this complete eyesore. The privacy fence might look ok from their yard, but in ours it looks ridiculous. If the fence stretched across our entire backyard, fine, the double fence might make sense, but it looks completely ridiculous half done! We can’t remove our split rail fence because of where the Hate Fence ends before the post and there is enough space between the Hate Fence and our split rail that the dogs could probably slip through.

If the ugliness of just split rail on white wasn’t enough, grass and weeds grow between our two fences. It’s impossible to mow or weedwack there unless we were to take off our wire, which is a complicated process we rather not do EVERY time we mow. Or ever, really. I mean, who does that? When the grass gets really long, my husband goes out there to hand weed it.

From what we can figure, this addition to the Hate Fence was to further block out the Pool House neighbors to our north. You could still see the Pool House people’s front yard from the Hate Fence people’s patio. The boys often play catch in the front yard and kids are always coming in and out of the pool gate, also visible from the patio. How dare these children play where the Hate Fence people can see them! How dare there be noise outside! Now they don’t have to look at that perfectly nice family of four.

As my Pool House neighbors say, the Hate Fence people only HALF hate us since they only blocked out half our yard. How did we get so “lucky”?

Shortly after this god-awful yard-changing landscaping went up and completely disrupted the way my backyard looks, I asked the Hate Fence people if they were finished with the fence for good or if they were fencing it little by little. We hardly ever talk to these people. Despite our attempts to be friendly, they almost always ignore us and everyone else in the neighborhood, for that matter. The wife, who is a South Korean immigrant just like my husband’s parents, told me that the fence was finished for good, but her English is not the best. I’m not entirely sure that she understood the question.

So here we stand. Half hated for all of time with an ugly ugly fence. Last year every time I was outside all I could do was glare at it. It was the only thing I could see when we were outside. I’d stop playing with the kids just to glare at it. This year, I’ve grown used to it and can ignore it, but I still constantly hope we are making enough noise and have enough Little Tikes crap that they will finish their fence. We acquired our Little Tikes village to entertain the kids, but every time we get something big and plastic a little part of me hopes it is the final straw and their hate will grow enough to block us out 100%.

Besides, a finished Hate Fence isn’t a Hate Fence at all. If you hate all your neighbors equally enough to put a Hate Fence around your entire yard, it becomes a privacy fence. In fact, THIS would be a privacy fence if they weren’t just blocking out one neighbor. But they are. Or they were.

The bizarre tale of hate continues tomorrow.

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The Hate Fence

What do you do when a family moves next door and starts swimming at appropriate times of the day and at relatively appropriate noise levels?

Well, if you’re my bizarre neighbor to the east, you build a hate fence, or what I’ve come to find out Wikipedia calls a “Spite Fence”: “A spite fence is an overly tall fence, structure in the nature of a fence, or a row of trees, bushes, or hedges, constructed or planted between adjacent lots by a property owner who is annoyed with or wishes to annoy a neighbor.”

One day, without any warning to any of us, our eastern neighbor erected a privacy fence that was only adjacent to our neighbor to the north (we live on a corner lot). The eastern neighbor’s backyard extended east beyond that of the northern neighbor’s, but the fence ended exactly where the northern neighbor’s yard ended and didn’t block out us or the neighbors to their east.

The fence made a very clear “We hate you and only you!” statement. It was abundantly clear that the Hate Fence neighbors, as I’ve come to call them, were trying to block out the northern neighbors. The northern neighbors had just moved in and were getting a lot of use out of the swimming pool that the previous owners had ignored. Maybe the pool house neighbors were making too much noise for the Hate Fence neighbors, but my yard is also adjacent and I barely notice anything unless I’m outside. Even then, my pool house neighbors keep the noise to a respectable level. It sounds like kids are playing outside, which is what you would expect to hear in a neighborhood like ours. Maybe the Hate Fence neighbors didn’t want to see people in bathing suits, but the pool house people had a slatted fence that camouflages them pretty well from my perspective.
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I know, the fencing in our yard looks strange because the pool house neighbors have a different fence than ours and we just linked up to it to save money on fencing and hassle of mowing between two fences. Our neighborhood has land deed restrictions that say we must have split rail fences and nothing else. The original pool house owners got special permission to build their white fence because of their pool. Our deed specifically says that privacy fences or anything that blocks the view of the pond is not allowed.

Do you see a pond out there? No? Well, you used to be able to. It was only a retention pond so I wasn’t in love with it, but still. Thanks a heap, Hate Fencers!

If you think they were just trying to fence their yard piece by piece, they already spent big bucks putting in a split rail fence not a year beforehand. Why didn’t they do the privacy fence then? Why do half a side of privacy fence and leave the rest open?

None of it made any sense, but if you think it was weird at this point, just wait until tomorrow’s post. It gets weirder. And more hateful.

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Cats in a Basket

Lately, one of the kids’ favorite things to do is climb into a laundry basket. Violet is particularly obsessed with this activity. She’s learning how to climb, so she climbs in and out, in and out, in and out. Meanwhile, the big girls pretend like they are cats. They meow and purr and make beds for themselves. Sadly, they do not wash or fold the laundry while they are at it. Laundry for a family of five is no joke.
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All of this seems like an innocent enough activity. The kids usually play in empty baskets or in clean laundry that hasn’t been folded yet. Usually the baskets are fairly stable. You’d think if someone were to get hurt doing this, it would be the baby falling out of the basket while she was climbing in and out.

Nope. Violet hasn’t been hurt, but I was! Me! An innocent by-stander! I wasn’t even playing!

Rose was playing in a full basket near my foot and decided to tip it over. The basket, which was still full of Rose and laundry, landed in its side with it’s sharp narrow edge pressing at least 45 pounds onto my foot.

My foot was pinned and the pain was terrible. I couldn’t reach down to lift it off my foot from the position I was in. I yelled for Rose to get out of the basket NOW NOW NOW NOW!!! OUCH!!!!!

She continued to sit there and stare at me until I somehow managed to reach down and shove her and the basket off my foot. My foot was scraped up. Once the basket was gone, it felt much better, but it was definitely worse for the wear from the experience.

When Rose saw what she’d done to my foot, she burst into tears and ran to her room. I had to hold her crying a long time explaining that I would be ok and I knew it was an accident. I yelled because it hurt and I needed her to get off, but it wasn’t her fault! Whenever she looked at my foot after that, she would get upset even though I really was fine once the basket was off my foot. I lost a layer of skin, but it didn’t even scab over.

It just goes to show that no matter what your kids are doing, someone is going to get hurt. Maybe even you!

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Safety Town

For the last couple years, everyone has been telling me that before Lily goes to kindergarten, she MUST go to Safety Town day camp. I kept asking why. Her preschool and I have taught her a fair amount about safety. What new thing could this day camp possibly be teaching?

A couple months ago as day camp registration was approaching, I asked on facebook how necessary this camp was. It overlapped the swim lessons we wanted to take and I was trying to decide if I could handle two daily commitments outside the house with three kids (No.). All these other Ohio adults told me that they remembered when they went to Safety Town and how it was the best fun they ever had. Nobody told me why.

It wasn’t until we arrived at Safety Town that I finally understood WHY it was a must-have.
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Safety Town is an actual town. It’s a miniature town with stop signs and stop lights so the kids can learn how to cross the street on foot and follow the rules of the road while riding big wheels. A police officer teaches the class and they learn all about just about every area of safety you can think of.

In all my conversations with people about Safety Town, nobody had told me it was an actual town! I’d just thought it was a day camp. Apparently there are little “towns” like this all over northwest Ohio. Almost everyone I know in Ohio is from this area and went to Safety Town when they were kids, so they just assumed I knew what it was!

Nope! As far as I know, there’s nothing like this where I’m from in Indiana. There was definitely nothing like this when I was a kid.

So when they were saying “Safety Town” and meaning an actual town where they taught kids safety, I was picturing a hokey day camp with coloring and games.

Needless to say, I’m happy I signed Lily up for it. If you are a transplant to northwest Ohio like I am, your information is here! Safety Town is a town! An actual town! Why don’t they just SAY that? It wasn’t even in the camp description!

I wonder what other gems I haven’t learned about because people just assume I know.

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