Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pink Eye. Awesome.

We almost made it, people. Almost. We almost made it to the end of the school year (June 3) with no one else coming down with some sort of contagion. And then I got a phone call last week that Declan's friend, who sits next to him in class, has pink eye.

I waited.

Declan never got it.

But Finn did.

From the kid who sits next to him.

Fortunately, I was ready with drops AND a homeopathic remedy. I was taking no chances.

Finn: Will I be going to school tomorrow?

Me: Yes.

Declan: Aren't you supposed to stay home when you get pink eye?

Me: Yes.

Finn: But I'm going to school?

Me: Yes.

Because seriously, it's the last few days of school. Clearly everyone else has had it and given it to my kids, yet again. And I am annoyed. In fact, when I went over to school to give Finn the drops this morning (you've got to hit them 6 times in the first 24 hours), the kid who sits next to Finn said, "Hey, I've got a pink eye, too!"

Yes, I know, I heard.

And then I lectured him about handwashing.

Because I'm fun like that.

About the hair: I WILL post pictures, after Nick does his thing to it on June 7. I won't subject you to how I look on a daily basis--it's the "I just worked out and haven't had time to shower" look. No one needs to see that. Except the other parents picking up their kids after school.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hair Update

When are you going to cut your hair? It's the number one question people who knew me with short hair ask. No one out here ever asks me that because they've only ever known me with long hair. But the people from my short hair past want to know.

While the original intent was to grow my hair for Locks of Love--and I do still want to donate it--the long hair has actually become a necessity. When I wear my hair short, like I have for my entire life, my hair grows really quickly. I used to get my hair cut every 5 - 6 weeks. And I was dismayed to discover that hair cuts out here are nearly twice what they were in Ohio. So I refer to my long hair as my Recession 'Do.

Last October I was certain I was to the Locks of Love cutting point (10 inches). I went in to see Nick, my hair guru, and he talked me out of cutting it. Which I was OK with. Long hair is really easy during ski season--you just throw it in a ponytail, let it flop out the back of your helmet, and you're good to go.

So when I got to the salon last October, Nick said, "You spent all this time growing it, why don't you enjoy it for awhile? Come in when you're really sick of it and then we'll cut it." He did cut a few inches off and shaped it up. It looked really cute--when he styled it. I was never able to replicate The Look. Of course.

All winter I had this thought that I'd cut it in May. And I was slowly getting sick of my hair. We had plans to be in Ohio and Virginia during the summer and all I could think about was all of this hot hair clinging to my neck in the humid summer weather in the east (I wasn't so worried about it in our six week summer out here!). It just sounded gross and I decided I didn't want to spend another summer with long hair.

I made an appointment this past Tuesday to consult with Nick about what my new look would be. What would he suggest? A short bob? Something layered? Nick has curly hair himself and he's the best stylist of curly hair I've ever been to, so I was excited to see what his vision was. I was ready for a short, fun style.

I washed and really spent time on my hair that morning because when I go in, Nick likes to see how the customer styles it so he can get a feel for how it looks. Plus, since it was just a consultation, he wouldn't be washing it. And of course, as anyone's hair does on the day you're going to the salon, it looked awesome. Not the annoying hair I'd been wanting to chop off for weeks. It was super curly with some good wispy pieces around my face. What the heck? My hair is betraying me.

So I get to the salon and Nick remarks that he has never seen my hair look better. What? He still doesn't want to cut it. He tells me it looks organic, which I think might be code for messy and crazy and he's just afraid to say it to my face. And apparently organic is in. For once in my life I might have in hair. I totally don't get it. We are talking hundreds of dollars out of his pocket because he thinks I should wear my hair long.

This explains why my hair is, after three years, still long. Nick is going to lop off a few inches and give it some style next week, but I'm still sporting a mane. Just in case you were wondering when I was going to cut it. My new answer is: when the economy improves and when Nick lets me. He's pretty much in charge.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh no. The Talent Show

I dread it every year. "It" = the Talent Show at the boys' elementary school. It's not just that I have to sit through watching my children perform a routine that I have already been forced to watch 7.2 million times, it's having to watch (and listen to) other people's children. For two and a half hours. (And as a sidenote here, I did stay and I made my kids stay throughout the entire thing even though they were early on in the night. Other people left after their kids performed. Lame.)

I'm not a theater person. You know this.

Except when I wanted to go see Jersey Boys in Chicago. I was a theater person that day.

It's not just having to go over to school on a Friday night when I'd rather be home with my bowl of popcorn. There was all of the practice--or lack thereof--prior to the Talent Show. You see, I've discovered my children want to be on stage, but they don't want to do any of the rehearsing prior to the event. Apparently they feel they are naturally talented and don't need to practice.

So practice sessions become nagging sessions with the moms hovering around and trying to get them to run through the routine at least once so they actually knew the moves and words to the song before show time. Is it too much too ask? Apparently.

In fact, this year's routine, was to feature Declan, Finn, Declan's friend Jack, and Jack's little brother, Reid (he's in kindergarten!) as a group called Ice Cubed and hip hopping to "Ice Ice Baby." (Don't worry, we cut it off before the last verse when Vanilla Ice throws out a few swear words. We learned our lesson after accidentally choosing a song with explicit lyrics last year and having the song banned by the school--which they later played at a school dance. Hmmm.)

Anyway, during the first rehearsal, it dawned on Finn that he was actually going to have to practice many times before the performance. Like over and over and over again. He dropped out of the group. Next year he says he's doing a solo routine.

But with all of my grumbling about the difficulty of making the kids practice, having to leave the nest on a Friday night, and sitting and watching out of sync dancers and listening to out of tune singers for what seemed like an eternity, I'll do it again next year because all of the kids--mine and everyone else's--did a really great job. They had the nerve to get up there and do their act, whether they were in tune or out, in front of a crowd of people, which is far more than I could say about myself at that age (or even now).

However, you might just have to remind me not to grumble when Talent Show time comes around next year.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More Immigration Chatter

I know--it's so lame when I tease you with DRAMA and then don't come back to finish what I started. But Eamonn informed me that sometimes I have to work at something that actually pays money.


So if you followed along on the Rocky Mountain Moms post I wrote about immigration, you'll know that I'm annoyed by illegal immigration by people of any nationality.

There was an interesting Facebook debate raging last week right before I wrote the immigration post and it started because someone put the following as their status update on their Facebook page:

– IF you cross the NORTH KOREAN border illegally you get 12 years of hard labor.
– IF you cross the IRANIAN border illegally you are detained indefinitely.
– IF you cross the AFGHAN border illegally you will get shot.
– IF you cross the SAUDI ARABIAN border illegally you will be jailed.
– IF you cross the CHINESE border illegally you may never be heard from again.
– IF you cross the VENEZUELAN border illegally you will be branded a spy and your fate will be sealed.
– IF you cross the CUBAN border illegally you will be thrown into a political prison to rot.
– IF you cross the U.S. border illegally you will get:
1 – A JOB,

Only in America!

As you can imagine, people went a little crazy. And I confess, that I forwarded the above as an e-mail to my family and sort of stirred the pot a little.

I don't know how true all of it is--because how can you legally get a driver's license if you're here illegally? Maybe the point is they get fake documents and then can get other social services? I don't know.

Now, to talk about some of our illegal immigration experiences. . .

We have a very high number of foreigners where we live. I think it mostly has to do with the fact that it's a resort area so it attracts an international "audience." We have friends from Canada, Mexico, Australia, England, Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden--it's just a very international population. The highest percentage of people are obviously American, but our second highest population is Mexican.

I don't know who's legal and who isn't. It's not something I ask when I meet someone. Our kids go to school together, play sports together. I just assume they're here legally.

So,that's just some background.

Our first "illegal" immigrant interaction happened in 2003, before we even lived here. We came to stay with my sisters for the month of August and Eamonn was riding several big mountain bike races. One of the races was in Leadville, Colorado--known for the Leadville Trail 100: Race Across the Sky. It's the highest mountain bike race in the world--or something like that. I might be spouting erroneous facts again.

Anyway, it's a big deal and the town is packed during race weekend. In 2003, Eamonn and I left the boys at Tara's and went to Leadville for the race. The evening before the race, we, along with with probably a hundred other people, were in the hotel parking lot, loading supplies into vehicles, working on bikes, hanging out--whatever. There was a very nice, new pickup truck parked nose to nose with our car. I was sitting in our car, probably listening to NPR (nerd). Eamonn was behind his friend's truck which parked next to us.

The owner of the pickup truck came out of the hotel with his girlfriend, got into the truck, and for some bizarre reason--perhaps he needed driving lessons--drove forward into our car instead of backing up. So he hit us. I hopped out of the car and started to walk towards the truck, motioning to him to stop because he was driving away. He stopped. I called out to Eamonn and then I stood in front of the truck (stupid move, I know).

Eamonn went to the driver's side of the truck and they began talking. Eamonn was asking to see the guy's driver's license. I continued to stand in front of the truck and Eamonn's friend came and stood next to me.

And then, pandemonium broke out. The next thing I knew, Eamonn was reaching into the truck when the truck started to drive away. He was shouting to me to get out of the way, people were yelling and shouting. The truck drove forward and pushed against me. I'm not sure if I jumped out of the way or someone pulled me, but suddenly gravel flew and the truck was driving away. As the dust around me cleared, I couldn't see Eamonn and I shouted to Eamonn's friend, "Where is Eamonn?" He pointed. The truck was roaring across a vacant lot with Eamonn clinging to the door. More screaming (from me), people running and yelling, coming to the windows of the hotel. Drama.

Eventually Eamonn jumped down while the truck was still driving and it roared away.

We called the police who came and put out an APB for the guy who, it turned out, was an illegal from Mexico and already had a warrant out for his arrest for sexual assault. The case was scheduled to go to court, but the whole thing was eventually dropped because they couldn't find him. I'm sure he left the country until things cooled off because he just vanished into thin air. The cops actually knew of him and had been looking for him.

So what the heck? You're here illegally, but you can drive a vehicle nicer than mine? You can commit crimes, but not have any accountabilty for them?

When Eamonn and I compared stories after the fact, he said had been asking the guy for his license, and of course, the guy wouldn't give it, because he probably didn't have one. So when Eamonn said he would call the police and let them straighten it out the guy clearly wanted to get the heck out of there--being a wanted illegal and all. Eamonn reached in to try and turn off the truck and that's when the guy started driving forward into me. As the guy drove away across the vacant lot, Eamonn was hanging onto the door with one arm and punching the guy in the head with his other arm. It's my only satisfaction out of this story.

That illegal story makes my blood boil. My other illegal story makes me sad.

Three years ago, Declan played his first season of soccer. Two teams practiced at the same time and you know how it is--moms are there entertaining/chasing after younger siblings and you start talking. I struck up a friendship with a woman who was from Ecuador. While her oldest son practiced, Finn played with her daughter and twin sons, both of whom were about two years old at the time. Eventually I learned that she had spent the first year of the twins' life in prison. She had come to the U.S. illegally, married, and then she and her husband hired an unethical immigration attorney who basically stole $50,000 from them, did nothing to help their case, and she ended up going to jail for the first year of the twins' lives.

It made me sad to think she spent the first year of her children's lives in prison, but it was a circumstance that began with her own choice to enter the country illegally. She is a lovely person who I still see frequently and enjoy talking to, but I do feel the outcome was appropriate. And to her credit, while she blames the corrupt attorney for what happened, she served her time, she is now here legally, and she works hard and contributes to the community.

So two different stories to demonstrate a little more about where I'm coming from on the topic of illegal immigration.

I think something further that is really bugging me lately is the amount of our tax dollars spent on translating documents for people who can't read English. Why are we doing this? Again, if I went to live in France, I certainly wouldn't expect anything to be translated for me. I'm just annoyed by this. If you want to live here, shouldn't you know the language? Why should our schools be burdened with children who cannot speak the language? Truly, I'm just baffled.

And I was also thinking back on the whole Facebook status update hullabaloo from above and how several people (they were in the minority, believe me), that really, all of us are descended from illegal immigrants. What? They made comparisons to how Europeans came and pushed out the Native Americans or how early Ellis Island immigrants got here. How can you even compare the immigration then to the immigration now? And then someone printed the whole "give us your tired, your poor, you huddled masses" blah blah blah. So we should just open our borders and let anyone in? How would our economy even support that?

And another thing I just thought of. Did you hear the story about the students in California who were sent home for wearing shirts with American flags on them on Cinco de Mayo? Wow. Where is the AMERICAN Civil Liberties Union on that one? So annoying.

Have you ever noticed a lot of things annoy me?

It's so annoying, I know.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

My Politically Incorrect Immigration Post. . .

. . .is currently up at Rocky Mountain Moms. Check it out and weigh in with your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree. I think dialogue on this issue is important.

My next post here will be an addendum to that post and will be about a few more of our experiences with the INS and more thoughts on illegal immigrants. Drama!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

One More Night of Woman TV

So Eamonn and Declan are away on the fourth grade camping trip (and I use the word "camping" loosely here--they're sleeping in heated cabins) until tomorrow.

Cereal for dinner anyone?

We have multiple TVs in this house, so it's not like I wouldn't be able to watch whatever I want whenever I want anyway, but there is something so sweet about being the only grown up in the house, putting the only kid in the house to bed at an early hour, and settling down to watch some Woman TV. Without any commentary because it might be classless Woman TV. In my holey t-shirt and pajama pants. OK, so I dress like that even if Eamonn is here, but it's just fun to be slovenly in solitude and without judgment.

Originally, Eamonn was supposed to be out of town for a week several weeks ago. I planned very carefully, because remember, I am now the proud owner of a DVR and three free months of HBO and Showtime (sometimes--for some reasons Showtime doesn't alway show up as free. Weird.). And for those of you wondering how I like my DVR after having one at long last? Two Words: DVR Ho. Yes, I am a DVR Ho. And I've got no problem with that. Those 150 hours on the DVR that I was aghast about? Who would need all that space? Is nearly full.

Anyway. Where was I? Right. The careful planning. The careful planning involved several things. First, food. Because in an ideal, non-calorie counting world, my "Husband is out of town" eating would involve cereal for breakfast, some sort of ethinic frozen entree for lunch, and popcorn and a rootbeer for dinner, which isn't eaten at a normal dinner hour, but in front of the TV after the kids are in bed.

I'm a simple person.

So I bought some frozen ethnic entrees and stocked up on cereal. This was before my dairy-free, gluten-free vegan experiment so I'm sort of overstocked on cereal now.

And then I started perusing the TV guide on the satellite, my thumb poised over the DVR button on the remote. There was so much crap to watch and too little time. Bride Wars. Check. Shakespeare in Love (not crap in my book). Check. Twilight. Check. New Moon. Check. I know. It keeps getting worse, doesn't it?

Bye Bye Birdie. That PBS special about Bing Crosby. All sorts of old Disney movies like That Darn Cat and Summer Magic (I can probably pull off getting the kids to watch those). Snow Falling on Cedars. Duplicity. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. All sorts of stuff we didn't pay to see in the theaters because Eamonn never would have gone anyway, never rented, never found at the library. I'm recording it all willy nilly! Because I can!

And that doesn't even count all of the stuff I can stream instantly from my Netflix queue.

I have so much Woman TV stored up that Eamonn really needs to go circumnavigate the globe for me to make a dent in it.

And then his trip was cancelled. And I am left with a DVR full of Woman TV that I'm trying to watch over the course of a two night camping trip. So far I've made it through New Moon and its special features and 30 minutes of Bride Wars.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tech Addicts

Hello. My name is Natalie and my children are technology addicts. And it's driving me crazy.

TV. Computer. Wii. Nintendo DSi XL. Am I forgetting anything?

For the longest time, we didn't have a Wii. We didn't have any sort of handheld computer game except Leapsters that the boys really only used when we traveled. And then we got a Wii and the whole slippery slope started.

So last school year, I got so annoyed by the kids running out of school to meet me and instead of saying, "Hi, Mommy! I had a wonderful day at school! Can we go home and do our homework and read the Hardy Boys?" I heard, "Can I watch TV? Can I play Wii?" Over. And Over. And Over Again.

I think my head finally spun all the way around and pea soup flew out of my mouth.

And we decided that Monday through Thursday there would be no electronics or TV. That tended to make the weekend a bit of a free for all, and I do sometimes have to lift the Weekday Ban when I have to have a phone meeting and I confess I let them watch TV/play Wii/whatever to keep them out of my hair while interviewing people. It doesn't happen very often. At least not often enough to satisfy the boys.

Anyway, I've been somewhat lax lately in enforcing the Weekday Ban and I can tell because we're back to the "Can I play Wii. . ." or fill in the blank with the electronic of the moment here and you get the picture. I blame myself for being inconsistent and getting back into this. And I do confess that with summer coming I see the vast expanse of hours before me and the endless chorus of Wii/DSi demands. My head is throbbing a little just thinking about it.

But then again it might be the sinus headache I have from all of the snow that has continued to fall for the last four days. But I'm just guessing.

So I'm curious. What do the rest of you do about computer/TV time during the school year and/or summer? Do you kids have to earn the time? Do you have a set number of minutes they can have screen time?

Because my own video game experience is pretty limited to Atari in the 1970s. And of course when I steal Declan's DSi and play Sudoku after he goes to bed. Not that he needs to know about that.