Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Buh-bye to elementary school!

Ian's elementary school career is coming to a close.  This is his last week at Fairview Elementary where he has attended since kindergarten.  That's 7 years!  It's been a wonderful experience and the great, amazing days definitely outnumbered the more challenging, difficult ones. 

I am proud of Ian.  His enthusiasm for school, love of learning, and exuberant personality came shining through the years.  I thought it would be fun do an exit interview and ask him about his time at Fairview.

Favorite year:  3rd grade

Favorite teacher: Mrs. Costa

Favorite special: PE

Favorite subject:  History

Least favorite subject:  Math  (especially surprising given that he is a bit of a math wizard)

Thing you won't miss:  Chinese (it was a mandatory class at Fairview for the last 6 years)

Thing you will miss:  Small amount of homework and recess

Best buds:  James, Mike and Evan

Thing you would do differently:  Not take Band this year

Favorite event to participate in:  Field day

What did you do at Fairview that you will remember the rest of your life:  Getting dragged to school on the 1st day of Kindergarten.   (We have footage of the kindergarten teacher taking Ian by the arm and air-lifting him thru the hallway while he is kicking and screaming to not go).

Something you accomplished you are proud of:  Not getting less than a 3 in academics on any of his report cards.

Favorite part of the day:  Dismissal

Favorite book read:  Freedoms Fury

Area of biggest improvement:  Going to school willingly.

What advice would you give a rising 6th grader:  Use common sense before you say something.

Which person at Fairview had the biggest impact:  Mrs. Costa

Next stop:  Robinson Secondary School


1st Grade

2nd Grade

3rd Grade

4th Grade

5th Grade

6th Grade

Friday, June 16, 2017

Another tale from The Crypt

In case anyone thinks The Crazy Man is only crazy, please know he is also very calculating.

In preparation for a move and the fact he will be throwing out a ton of stuff that is no longer of any value, he has a written a letter to his neighborhood conservancy office telling the executive director what a fabulous job the trash pick-up people do each week.

Mind you, this is the first time in all the years The Crazy Man has felt compelled to write a letter praising their work but he never really needed them like he does now.  He knows he'll be putting to the curb more trash than usual and stuff of various sizes most likely not approved for pick-up.

The Crazy Man feels if he can tell everyone who matters they are doing a great job, they will be most likely to pick up everything he throws out.

Yep, this is how he operates.  He is always thinking of the best way to make things happen in his favor.  And writing a letter is always his first step.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Very, very anxious

I am pretty sure my disdain for the words "General Admission" has been written about before.  I have not gotten any better about keeping my emotions in check.  I am happy to stand in line for as long as it takes to put me at the top of the line and enter in first.  But when I enter a theatre and see the first 4 rows have been secretly reserved by crafty individuals, it doesn't make me want to play by the rules. 

My anxiety is at an all time high. I hate the feeling that comes over me.  Of course, it all works out in the end but it doesn't stop me from being bitter and ruin some of the enjoyment of what I'm about to watch.  

The strange thing is, I know this about myself and yet, it doesn't get better.  In fact, when it comes to something so important to me, my anxiety heightens to all new levels. Ugh. I wish in this case admitting it was a big step in the right direction.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

Front Seat Freak Out!

This is Ian in the front seat.  I am still not used to this view.  It really freaks me out to look over and see Ian chilling in the front as I drive us around.  Now that he is 12 years old and over 100 pounds, Ian can legitimately be in the front. Heck, he isn't that much shorter than I am.  Ian has been waiting for this day for a very long time. And now its finally here.

I have one question as a result of Ian's new priority seating...where do I put my purse?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Tales from the Crypt - the beginning of the end

So it's been a while since I've written about my part time job for The Crazy Man.  And it's not because he is no longer crazy.  Ha!  More so than ever.  The Crazy Man, at the ripe age of 79 ("above ground" as is he is so fond of telling everyone he speaks to) is seriously considering a move to a retirement community.  One that has graduated levels care and can help you until the bitter end. 

It wasn't an easy decision for The Crazy Man to decide to take this step.  He very much values his independence, LOVES his house and hates the idea of being around older people.  He finds them depressing.  Mind you, he doesn't consider himself to be among his peers -- he is far above them in his mind.  Ha!

However, due to a huge number of close friends, doctors and other professional types whose opinions he greatly values, he has been convinced this is for the best.  And believe me, this move should've happened about 2 years ago when he was in better shape physically and mentally.

One of the first steps he needs to do is sell his house.  The Crazy Man does not do anything without a great deal of research.  He has been in contact with no less than 6 Realtors to give him their professional point of view on the following: 

1. How much to list the house as is?
2. How much to list the house if renovations were done?
3. How much in renovations do you recommend and what would they be?

Here's where my life becomes needlessly challenging in working for The Crazy Man.  He doesn't remember anyone's names.  NONE OF THEM!  So I now have a chart (in order of who came to visit) and have labeled them with their real name and phone number and then a column with their nickname The Crazy Man has given them.  The next 4 columns have their answers to the above questions.  It's a great thing I'm organized.

Here are the nicknames The Crazy Man has given these Realtors:
1. The first one -- that's an easy one to figure out.  He was the first to come.
2. The guy who promised the report by Monday at 9:00am - Turns out his name is Johnathan
3. Anna - Ha!!  First of all her name isn't Anna, it's Amy.  AND, she works with #3 (Johnathan).  She has been to The Crazy Man's house 3 times on Johnathan's behalf and The Crazy Man still doesn't get the fact she isn't going solo on this.
4. The girl - her real name is "Jenny"
5.  Paul -- however, his real name is "Pete".  He has also been called "The last one" and "The best one"

Please know, he only refers to them by their nicknames.

Meanwhile, he had a random realtor stop by in the midst of all this craziness and ask if he was interested in selling his house.  She has a very interested buyer (all cash deal!) who desperately wants to buy a house on his street so they are within walking distance of their grandchildren.  This realtor is now known as "The neighbors".  The neighbors gave a very generous offer for buying the house as is.  The Crazy Man is not sure about this and wants to now get an appraiser for an independent opinion.


Don't get me started on what he is doing to compare the two independent living communities he is interested in moving into.   I'm looking forward to all of this being over soon.

Thursday, June 8, 2017


When I went to meet Ian to have lunch with him at school on his birthday, I was able to spend a little time with Sam during her lunch time as they kid's lunch period overlaps by 10 minutes.

As I was approaching Sam at her table, I see she is sitting between two girls I know.  Both of these girls are super sweet and I am pleased Sam is friends with them.

Girl # 1 on Sam's left is in the middle of telling Sam a story.
Sam interrupts her and says, "You need to speed this up."


Then a few minutes later, Girl #2 on Sam's right side goes to give Sam a spontaneous hug.
Sam:  Ouch!  My shoulder!!
Girl #2:  Which one?
Sam:  Both of them!

Girl #2 begins apologizing for 'hurting' Sam.  Ha!  I quickly said, please don't ever apologize for giving someone a hug.

I can't believe Sam has friends.  It is amazing to me these girls put up with behavior like this and comes back for more. WOW.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Radley for the Win!

I love GREAT customer service.  And I get so excited when it happens to me.  

A year ago when I did my England and Portugal trip with friends, we found ourselves shopping one afternoon in London (well, we found ourselves shopping lots of afternoons in London) and discovered a store that sells handbags.  Really nice handbags.  Radley London was the name of the store.  We had a ball in this store. I spent more money than I ever had on a purse before.  Actually, I spent more money on one item of clothing/shoes/purses/etc than I ever had before.  But I loved these bags and decided it was okay to treat myself.  Who knew when I'd have the opportunity to be back here again?  

I purchased two purses (one I'd use in the Spring/Summer and one I'd use in the Fall/Winter) and a wallet that went with both bags.  I was so excited!  I came home and instantly started using the pink one all the way until October. It still looked brand new after 6 months of use.  I switched to the navy blue bag and continued using it through Winter.  Unfortunately this bag started wearing in a way that didn't look good or make sense.  It was losing its color in a spot that didn't even come in contact with anything.  I didn't think anything of it until I realized that Jeff was going to London and would be just down the street from where I got the bag.  I thought maybe if I contacted them they'd say to send it to them for repair.  I could do one better and have Jeff hand deliver it to them!  

The only problem with my plan was Jeff had no intention of helping me out.  He refused to even consider for a moment the idea of finding this women's handbag store.  But now that I had the idea in my head, I decided to call them anyway.

The woman who answered the phone (Sarah) could not have been nicer!  She said to send her a picture of the bag and an image of the receipt via email.  Done!  The next thing I know I've got a reply back the very next morning apologizing for the delay (um, what delay!?!?) and to pick out anything on their website for the value I spent on the bag and they would ship it to me at no charge.  OMG!!  I felt like a kid in a candy store trying to figure out what I'd want to get.

I couldn't decide between two bags and when I added the price, it was just about what my original bag cost.  I replied back to the email and asked if that was ok.  I got an almost immediate response and said they would be shipping BOTH bags out to me as soon as possible. And they apologized again for the problems this has caused.  The very next day I received the tracking/shipping information on my bags.

Needless to say, Radley now has a customer for life.  I love the way they handled this.  I am very impressed.  Way to go!!  

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Flying solo

The helicopter mom in me is always at odds with the free-range mom in me.   This duel has been going on as long as Hamilton vs Burr. 

I want my kids to be well-adjusted and be able to think for themselves.  I want them to be able to problem solve and figure things out.  I'd like them to be able to take care of themselves and show me they have a good head on their shoulders.

But then I think, "Ian's only 11!!! (or whatever age he is when I'm having this tug of war in my head)  Samantha is only --!!"  They aren't ready to be independent.  They still need me.  I want to be needed!  They have their whole life ahead of them when their dad or me won't be around and they will be forced to sink or swim in this game of life.  Let me help them now. Why can't I parent them in a bubble and keep them firmly tucked under my wing?   Because that would be a disservice to them and society.

Most of the time my free-range parenting side prevails.  I am quick to let the kids stay home by themselves.  I am quick to tell them they need to make their own breakfasts and lunches.  I am quick to let Ian be part of a small group of his friends where he crosses a very busy intersection near our house and does lunch on his own.  I'm quick to let Ian walk home from school on his own if I need to take Samantha to an activity or an appt at the same time school lets out.  There have been several instances where the kids had to leave the house on their own and walk to school in the morning when Jeff and I couldn't be there.  I've taken a bold leap in letting the kids exert their independence and start doing things on their own.  This was never more evident then when Ian flew to Orlando for a long weekend by himself.  Yes, without me, without daddy, without anyone he knew.

Getting ready to board the plane, all on his own!

Ian handled it like a champ.  Me, on the other hand, had a few tears after saying good-bye to him and watched him get on the pane.  I can't believe at some point I thought this was a good idea.  What was I thinking?!?!?   They board unaccompanied minors first. Before anyone else gets on the plane, the unaccompanied minor is sent to take their seat and get settled.

I gave Ian 5 minutes and then started texting him on this spare cell phone we let him use for the trip.  This was our conversation as all the other passengers were boarding:

Me:  Hi.  Just checking in.  Everything ok on the plane?
Ian:  Yes I'm fine.
Me:  Ok.  I'm proud of you. You are going to have a great time. I love you.
Ian:  thanks.  I love you too.
Me:  Did someone help you get your suitcase in the overhead bin?
Ian:  Yes.
Me:  Ok, have a great trip. I love you.
Ian:  Bye. I love you too.
Me:  Has anyone checked on you to see if you are ok?
Ian:  Yes.
Me:  Ok, I will stop bugging you.  Make good choices.  I love you very much.
Ian:  Bye.  I love you too.

Ha!  Baby steps on this whole free-range parenting thing, right?  :)

I am happy to report that we both survived Ian's trip.  Ian did great.  I figured this is good training for the summer when the kids are at camp for a whole month.  Another instance where the helicopter mom in me was grounded big-time.  

Friday, June 2, 2017

Ian's rockstar kind of weekend

About a month ago Ian told me how much he misses his relatives in Orlando.  I had an idea that if it was ok with Jeff and Ian was up for it, he could fly down to Florida for the long Memorial Day holiday all on his own. And so that's just what Ian did.  From Saturday, May 27th to Tuesday, May 30th, Ian had 4 days he will never forget.  

Years from now when Ian reflects back on his life, this trip to Florida will inevitably be at the top of his favorite things to remember.  My dad, stepmother, mom, stepfather, both sisters, niece and brother-in-law all went way overboard in showing Ian a good time.  OMG!  In my kind of way of putting things, they could either go BIG or go home and they went BIG!  Really BIG!   So big that I was a bit concerned we wouldn't be able to get Ian on a flight back home.  I am pretty sure part of him would rather stay in Orlando being adored by all these relatives who love him and don't bug the shit out of him like his sister does.

Ian said he would love it if everyone (all 9 relatives) could be with him the whole time he was visiting.  He wanted everyone to show up everywhere he was going.  I told him that wasn't realistic. He should know that everyone was fighting over him and they all wanted him for themselves the whole time he was in Orlando.  Somehow they managed a rotating schedule that made sense and Ian stayed a night at Dad/Rita's house, a night at Lori/Ben/Rachel's house and a night at Mom/Jim's house.

What Ian didn't know was there were many, many surprises in store for him.  And yes, everyone was going to be at almost every place he went.  My family raised the bar ridiculously high!

Saturday:  Dad, Rita and Meghan picked him up at the airport.
Saturday lunch:  Surprise!  Everyone was at Carrabas for lunch.
Saturday afternoon:  Surprise!  Indoor Skydiving with Dad, Rita and Meghan
Sunday evening:  dinner at Sweet Tomatoes with Dad and Rita.  

Sunday morning:  Everyone (except Lori & Ben) went to the make-your-own pancake place.  A favorite restaurant among our family.
Sunday afternoon:  Mom, Jim, Rachel and Ian spent the day at New Smyrna Beach.
Sunday evening:  Ian went for sushi with Lori, Ben and Rachel

Monday:  The Sanford Zoo with Lori, Ben and Rachel. This was a special request from Ian on wanting to go here.
Monday later in the day/dinner:  Surprise!  Dave and Buster's with everyone.  Mom planned a little party for Ian's upcoming birthday and had a cake ready to go.

Tuesday morning/afternoon:  Time spent with Mom and Jim before the airport with Mom-Mom's world famous oatmeal. 

WOWEE!  Ian had a jam packed 3 days going to all these awesome places with his favorite people.

I love that Ian got this time and this amazing experience.  And I love that my family treated Ian like a rockstar and went all out.