Monday, July 30, 2012

Smashed Mailboxes

Mailbox baseball 

 I found this image on Creative Commons when looking for a mailbox for Mailbox Monday (click over to 5 Minutes for Books to see what that's all about). I HAD to use it because it literally could have been my mailbox in Connecticut. Ours was green, ours was a bit dented, and in the summer months ours was surrounded by dense greenery just like this.
 We've been away for over a year and a half now.  I still miss Connecticut -- our friends there, the communities we had established, our wonderfully stocked town library, the four seasons, our proximity to New York City.  I miss it all.  We are very well settled in Houston, and I'm not at all sorry that we moved, especially given the recent turn of events. But I miss it. It will forever be the place where Amanda grew up, though I wonder if it will stay that way in her memory. Kyle will probably barely remember it.

Because I have some New England small town in my soul due to my time there, I can tell you what happened to this mailbox from personal experience. In small New England towns, young men take to the streets late at night and bash mailboxes with bats for fun. I don't know why. But they do.

Another reason could be a well-meaning distracted driver on a beautifully winding road with no shoulder who might get too close to the mailbox. I might even know a certain well-meaning driver (ahem) whose contact with a mailbox cost her the passenger side mirror. I don't know what kind of mailbox it was, but a quick glance back showed that it was still standing tall!

Had I not spent that time there -- initially out of my comfort zone -- this would look like an ugly mailbox surrounded by a jungle of plants. But now? It just looks like home.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My first midnight trip to the ER

Yep--my first. I've never had a personal emergency that had me spending the midnight hour in an emergency room. My children, though active and a bit clumsy, have avoided trips to the ER as well (other than a weekend visit for pinkeye on a Saturday afternoon when Amanda was a preschooler).

But the streak has been broken.

Yesterday morning, the manager at the place where my grandmother stays called to tell me that they noticed a bad rather large bruise on her leg when she was getting dressed. She said she hadn't fallen, but her not remembering a fall doesn't mean a fall hadn't taken place. They told me they were icing it and would keep an eye on it. Just before 7:00 p.m., they called me back and said that since the swelling and pain had increased, they thought she needed to have it looked at.


The nature of emergency care is that you can't plan for it. I'm not an ultra-organized, scheduled person, but I also don't respond well to curveballs. It so happened that Terry and Amanda had plans, and I had not one, but two eight-year-olds in my house. It's the responsibility of being Mimi's primary caregiver that has weighed on me. I wasn't exactly sure why. Sure I visit, and I have to make sure bills are paid, but is that such a big deal? And now I know -- it's the unexpected.

People are always asking me how I'm doing with all the change in my life. I'm really okay with it. I enjoy the time I spend with my grandmother in her new home. After two and a half months, she seems to be honestly settling in. In fact, she mentioned several times while we were hanging out in the midnight hour that she thinks she'd be sorry if she had to leave "that place over there." We also had some pretty humorous conversations about some of her "disagreements" with the staff (She's quite worried about all the chemicals they are using on the floor, that it's poison, and they have it all stocked up in the kitchen storeroom). She also told me about one of the staff members who hates her and who she hates.

BUT she spoke highly of several of them by name, the ones who love her. There are 4 or more who she knows -- and I know -- are not just doing a job there. They are letting themselves love and be loved. It's what has helped her settle in and feel sorry if she'd had to leave.

So, they were concerned about her leg. They knew it needed to be looked after, so at 8:00 p.m., Mimi and I were sitting in the emergency room. The hospital was only 10 minutes away, and she was literally in a room before I even finished giving the receptionist her name. Over the next three hours, they took several vials of blood, they took a chest X-ray, and did an ultrasound to rule out blood clots, which it did. They did a catscan, and it also came back clear. Sometime before midnight, the nurse told me that they'd probably keep her overnight to observe, which I wasn't crazy about. She's in a good place where people keep an eye out for her, and since they had ruled out everything, I didn't really want to sit around in a hospital all night and all day.

After midnight, the doctor came in and said we could go home. By 12:30, I was taking Mimi to her home, and after settling her in and updating the staff, I was home at 1:15 a.m. It was a long evening, but all is still well, and I've crossed a "never" off my list.

Am I as unusual as I think? Have you made frequent trips to the ER?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kids' Picks -- What my kids have read in June

Amanda, who is almost 14, has been in a bit of a holding pattern with her reading. She says that she "only wants to read what I know I'll like," which for her means books that she's already read before.

She did finish book 3 in Kane Chronicles, which I mentioned last month that she had started -- a new book but an old series (Nancy's review will post on Wednesday afternoon).  Then she re-read all of The Clique books she owns (and I fed her interest by buying 3 more off the $1 clearance shelf at Half-Price Books, because spending a day immersed in a book is worth a dollar in my book). 

And then she revisited books 2 and 3 in the The Last Survivors series series (since we don't own #1 Life As We Knew It, and she's read it several times. It's a GREAT series for dystopian loving teens. I love them. They are suitable for 12 and up, I'd say (If your child has read Hunger Games, they could definitely read these). There may be a mild swear word or two and some romance, but nothing specific, as my old brain recalls from a couple of years ago. Amanda read the first one when she was in 6th, I think, and that was okay, but I also think that they may get a bit more intense as the series progresses. The first one also stands alone to an extent.

When I was at Half-Price books with Kyle (a store to which I have quite a devotion/addiction), I saw Kristin Cashore's books Fire and Graceling, which I have heard good things about around the kidlitosphere, so I texted Amanda (because who actually speaks to their teenager?) and asked her to look them up and see if she'd be interested. She was and so I got both of them, and she has started Graceling

My sweet Kyle, 8, (I am calling him that, because I still can't believe that he likes to read. It blows my mind, because unlike Amanda, there was a gap between him being able to read and enjoying reading) is still exploring Hank Zipzer. When our library stash was depleted, there were a couple of weeks when he didn't have any, and I had to work to put books in his hands that he would spend time with.  I picked up 2 or 3 at the library last weekend, so he's back to them.  He reads different passages aloud to me that he really enjoys, and that always warms my heart.

He picked NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society (Book One) by Michael Buckley off our bookshelf (I haven't read it, but I think Amanda might have). He said he liked it -- "Two chapters is enough to know," -- and I don't want to discourage him, but I it's one I wouldn't usually put into his hands for another year or so. But the fact that it's not a small paperback of 160 pages -- it's a 330 page hardcover -- makes me want to do a happy dance since as recently as a couple of months ago, he shunned any "big books."  As a rising 3rd grader who is a very proficient reader, he really is firmly into that "middle grade" book category. He's already talking about Harry Potter, which I will keep holding him off of for another year if I can, and if he starts them, I'll do as I did with Amanda and make him read them slowly so that Harry doesn't mature too much faster than Kyle.

What are your kids reading? Let us know over at 5 Minutes for Books, or check out what others are recommending.