2

I might have given in, but with good reason!

Turner IpadTurner

I was always “that” mother. The one who swore that her child would never, and I mean ever ever play with a cell phone. I always said that I would never be the absent minded mom who so selfishly handed my kid my phone in public just to keep him quiet. No way. That is lazy. It is basically neglect. I was never going to do that.

I even had a house-wide ban on toy cell phones. My reasoning being that Turner just has baby brains and if I don’t want him playing with my real phone, then I shouldn’t give him a toy phone because he cannot distinguish the difference and it would be confusing for him.

Well, never say never.

By the time Turner was just a couple of months old our phones had become a toy for him. Moreso Andrew’s than mine, because I pay for my phone while Andrew’s is part of his job, so if Turner broke mine, it came out of pocket, and Andrew’s, well he had other options. It isn’t like we handed him our phones one day and told him to go to town. But he begged for it, grabbed it while we weren’t looking, and was just drawn to the screen’s light. He has the perfect finger motion too. Using the pointer finger to perfectly slide icons around. He was a pro before he could walk.

I can’t say that I didn’t try, because really, I did, honest.

Well, I did the unthinkable. You know “that” mom I talked about earlier, well if she knew what I did this weekend, she would have me thrown in jail! I bought Turner, my nearly 20 month old son, his own tablet. I had no other choice.

Before you report me to the authorities, hear me out.

The last few weeks, going out to eat with Turner has been a nightmare. While the easy solution might be, don’t go out to eat, it is really hard to give it up, because it is something Andrew and I really enjoy. Plus, I am no Martha Stewart, so I am never going to pass up a chance for someone to cook for me AND clean it up afterwards.

Turner has boycotted high chairs. I am assuming it is because we have never really used one at home, because when he was 9 months old my mom got him his own table and chair and he has eaten there ever since. Then, when we went out to dinner one night, instead of putting him in the high chair, we put him in the booth with us. It was easy, it worked, and it was way better than wrestling him in the high chair. Well, then he got used to it, and now screams bloody murder at the very sight of a high chair. So he gets free reign in a booth, or even a big boy chair. He does pretty well, except he has tons of access and room to cause trouble, which he did last week.

Before I could even process what was about to happen, Turner grabbed the bread off of the table and tossed it to the table behind us. The bread landed in the lady’s lap, she was less than amused. The couple were obviously on a date. You know, the type of date where they were sitting on the same side of the table (can you say awkward?!). So as she rolled her eyes and picked her jaw up off the table, she removed the bread from her lap and brushed me away with her hand. They were obviously not kid people, which is ok, not everyone is.

So we went through dinner, Turner letting out the average amount of screams, while Andrew and I played keep away with everything in sight. Despite being mortified that Turner decided his dinner would consist of nothing but ketchup, which he so artistically spread on the walls, it got worse.

Andrew and I had removed virtually everything from the table, the waitress has even removed our dishes, and once again, before I could even blink, Turner had jacked a red crayon from the table and tossed it to the same table behind us. Not only did the crayon land directly in the lady’s salad, Turner was so proud of himself, he threw both hands up in the air and yelled, ‘TOUCHDOWN.” Speechless, I just said I was sorry, grabbed Turner up and went to the car to let Andrew handle the check.

That is just the latest example of our restaurant battles. So, I broke down and bought Turner a tablet. One of those that are specifically built for kids, so hopefully, they don’t break easily. We have yet to try it out at dinner because we are still recovering from the most recent catastrophes, but soon we will give it a go. Turner did get to play with it at home the other night. He did well. There are TV clips pre-loaded, and I can add any android apps to it. I think it could be the greatest investment we have ever made.

Don’t worry, I don’t plan to let him have it all the time. Just when we are out and he needs something to keep him occupied. I know, I know, those tech toys will rot a kids brain… well, I guess we will see.

Don’t judge me.

0

Making literacy a priority for the children in my community

After Turner was born, I made it my mission to ensure that all children in my community had the best of everything. From sponsoring kids at Christmas, to working to start a local Safe Kids Chapter, I have made it my goal to make the world Turner lives in better.

My husband Andrew, of course is annoyed by my constant causes and efforts to take on the world, but I feel obligated. Maybe it is the new mom in me and my idea, however naive it may be, that I can make a difference. I may not change the whole world, but I am certainly going to work really hard to change mine.

My family's Christmas card this year.

My family’s Christmas card this year.

One of those efforts, which I was actually a part of long before Turner, is Read2Me. Read2Me is comprised of a group of volunteers in my community who are working to prove that Reading Matters in Macon County. We work to ensure that all children in our county, regardless of income, have access to books. Early literacy is so crucial to a child’s development and from birth, even before birth, it is so important to read to and with your children. We want to make sure that everyone knows that and have the resources to do it.

Where we live is considerably poor. Most families in our community live below the poverty line and not only is access to resources limited, but the general education and knowledge of the importance of early literacy is something that is often loss. Read2Me wants to change that, and since we started 3 years ago, we have.

When we started, 75 percent of children entering Kindergarten were testing below proficient on the reading readiness test. The test includes things like knowing you read a book left to right, and which way a book should be, upside down or right side up. Seemingly simples things, that were being ignored. With Read2Me working to provide books to all children in the county, and holding parent training sessions on how to raise a reader, those test scores have improved dramatically. If I remember correctly, the last figures we got showed that now only about 35 percent of children were testing below proficient. That number is still way too high, proving that we have a lot of work to do.

One of Read2Me’s main focuses is implementing the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. We have worked with another local literacy group to bring the program to children in Macon County. We fully fund the program, so it is free for all children, regardless of income. Through the Dolly program, all children in Macon County, birth to age 5, receive a book in the mail each month. The book is addressed to them and is age appropriate. The program is magical and so many children love it.

Dolly-Partons-Imagination-Library

In the first full year of the program we served a little more than 1,000 kids, with about 820 actively enrolled. That is incredible. It cost us about $32,000 each year to bring the program to Macon County. What that breaks down to is about $30 per child, per year. A small price to pay to support literacy.

This year, we are a couple of thousand dollars shot tot our $32,000 so we are in a fundraising crunch to ensure that the program can continue through 2015 and beyond. We fundraise all year long. We hold bake sales, car shows, yard sales, talk to local groups, and do just about anything and everything we can think of to get they money raised. It matters to us. It is important to us to make sure that reading is a priority in our community.

We have set up a Go Fund Me account in hopes of raising some additional funding for the program. It may be a stretch, but we are hoping that our mission reaches beyond our community and we can solicit support on a grander scale. If you would like to help, please visit our Go Fund Me page: http://www.gofundme.com/iy31m4. If you can’t make a small donation, please share our story. Please join us in proving that Reading Matters in Macon.

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Elf on the Shelf and Santa… to partake or not to partake…

For as long as I can remember, I am talking early teens, I have always vowed that I was going to be the parent who didn’t go with the whole “Santa” thing. When I was younger, I would joke that it was because I wanted my future child to be the kid in kindergarten who tells all the other kids that Santa isn’t real. The thought of that always amused me.

As I got older, I realized what a jerk my younger self was, but despite the change in my reasoning, I still debate about the whole Santa thing. Not to sound righteous or pretentious or anything like that, but I think Santa is an excuse to bribe kids into being good for the last month of the year. I think it complete takes away from the spirit and meaning behind the holidays, and I am just not real cool with that.

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I get this might be the naivety of being a new mom, but I feel like I can instill in Turner the meaning of Christmas, the true meaning and purpose behind the holiday, while still showering him with gifts. I don’t feel like I need a big jolly stranger to help me get the point across. I understand that a lot of parents do the whole Santa thing because they want to experience the excitement and awestruck wander the myth brings around the holidays. That is magical and special, and I love that as well. So I am torn. Of course Andrew has different views, and he tends to be the boss, so any hesitation I have will be defeated by whatever the boss says, but still, I can’t help but think that buying into the whole Santa thing, without a healthy balance and education of Christ’s birth, is doing my child a disservice.

I am sure Santa will be a prominent name in our house as Turner grows up, I just hope that he grows up with the understanding that it is for fun, a game, and doesn’t carry any weight.

I also am confident, that as we introduce Santa, we will introduce the Elf on the Shelf. Turner actually already has one, and I am pretty excited about it. We haven’t opened it yet, Turner is only a year and half and would have no concept of what it means yet. But maybe next year. Regardless, I think it is fun. I want to introduce the little guy, but once again, I want it to be about fun and a family tradition, kind of like baking cookies or watching a Charlie Brown Christmas.

Also, I get that the Elf on the Shelf is a new thing, can we please take a second to think about how much money the creators have made?? But anyway, so the Elf is new, and Facebook is the first thing everyone thinks about… but I am not the biggest fan of parents sharing what their elf is up to every single night. Ain’t nobody got time for that. If you come up with a super cute, creative, activity for your elf… then I get it… please share so other parents can get inspiration, but each morning my newsfeed is filled with pictures of Elves taking Hersey Kiss or peppermint poops.

Maybe I am just a bad person. But I just don’t love that. Even typing this makes me feel like the Grinch.

I think my main concern with Christmas is that I am afraid that I won’t be able to teach Turner the significance of it, when there are so many other things like presents, elves, Santa, reindeer and other nonsense that dilute the real meaning. Sure I can tell him the story of Christ until I am blue in the face… but can that compete with a magically pooping elf who causes cute little trouble and a big jolly guy who magically flies around the world and brings presents to all the good little boys and girls? I really hope so, but unfortunately, I am not convinced.

2

Is your child in the right car seat? Probably not. Fix it now.

I am furious and heartbroken all at the same time this morning. When I logged on the Internet this morning, the first article on Yahoo.com’s main page just ruined my entire day.

This mother tragically lost her child because her child was not properly restrained in his car seat. Something so simple. Something so easy. Something so many people are not aware of could have saved this poor life. It kills me. My heart is breaking for a complete stranger this morning.

By law, at least in North Carolina, a child is required to be in a rear facing car seat until they turn one. Although that is the law in the state in which I live, other states have laws that require children to remain rear-facing for far longer because experts recommend that a child remain rear facing for as long as possible. Age does not determine if your child gets to be forward facing. A child’s weight and height does. Each car seat is different. Each car seat has different regulations on how your child should sit in the seat and if it should be rear facing or forward facing.

ONE IN FOUR CAR SEATS Are INSTALLED INCORRECTLY. Knowing that alarming statistic, that 75 percent of car seats are wrong, how could you not want to ensure yours is right?!

Please don’t assume because your child is one, or because your friend’s child is forward-facing, that your child should be too, because chances are, they shouldn’t. A child in a rear facing seat is 4 times safer than a child in a forward facing seat when it comes to a collision. FOUR TIMES SAFER. I have no idea that parents can know that fact and ignore it. I have no idea why any parent would want to risk their child’s safety.

I completely understand, that in a lot of cases, like the one of the mother in the article posted above, the problem is lack of education on the topic. Since becoming a mother I have become a car seat nazi. I guess you could say that I am kind of obsessed with it. But when I read articles like the one above… who can blame me? Today, a mother is without her son because she didn’t know the facts. It is that simple.

I have heard some parents say that their child is too big to be rear facing because their feet touch the back of the seat. My sister was one example. But that just simply isn’t true. It is perfectly safe and expected for your child’s feet to be rear facing with their feet touching the seat. It is going to happen and is totally ok. It will keep your child safe. Just do it.

Please educate yourself. Please know what is best for your child. Please don’t let an easy fix take your child’s life.  There are tons of resources, a great one is Safe Kids. Not only does their website have a ton of information, but they also have resources to find car seat technicians who will check your car seat for free. They are certified and can tell you what is best for your child and your vehicle. It doesn’t cost you anything to get it checked, but if you don’t, it could cost you your child’s life.

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So if we are Facebook friends, and you post a picture of your child in a car seat and it is incorrect. Chances are I am probably going to step up and say something, because the mother in this article wished someone would have done that for her.

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How old is too old for trick or treating?

Last night we took Tuner to our county’s annual Halloween in the Park. About 40 businesses, organizations, and churches set up tables around the rec park on a trail where kids can get candy. It is a pretty neat event and is a great one-stop-shop for trick or treating.

Turner was a race car driver and we were his pit crew!

Turner was a race car driver and we were his pit crew!

Turner is only 17-months old, so Halloween for us is less about candy and more about making him look adorable in a costume. Our plan for last night was actually to collect a little extra candy to give out to the trick or treaters that we will get at our house tonight. (Side note, this is the first time I have ever lived anywhere that will have trick or treaters and I am so excited. We have literally spend hundreds of dollars on candy and have the house fully decorated.)

Our house has been decorated since the last week in September!

Our house has been decorated since the last week in September!

In a sea of Elsa and superhero costume, comes a teenage boy. His acne covered face and squeaky voice let me know he couldn’t be more than 15. You are never going to believe what he was dressed as… a SPERM! I kid you not. Andrew and the others I was with last night didn’t believe me, but I had seen the costume before… after all, I spent plenty of time in college. A teenage boy, dressed as sperm at a family, county sponsored function, walking around getting free candy from places, several of which were churches.

When I first spotted him, he was alone. He proudly swayed past friends in the line to enter the park, who despite being his peers, were oblivious to his costume and as he walked off all tried to figure out what he was. My first thought was, maybe his parents don’t know what he is, but if they do, they ought to be ashamed of themselves. A couple of minutes later, as the trick or treating line looped around the park, I spotted him again. This time, realizing that not only was his parents aware of his costume, there were trick or treating with him and wait I assume to be his two younger siblings. How were they not horrified? In an event where the average age should be 10, here is a teenage boy, with parental support, rummaging around dressed as a sperm. My mind was completely blown. If you are at an age, to where you dress like a sperm, you are far too old to be trick or treating.

This isn't the teen, but this is the costume he was wearing!

This isn’t the teen, but this is the costume he was wearing!

He wasn’t alone in the “too old to be trick or treating” category. As Andrew and I circled the park with Turner and my 2 1/2 year old niece, we were passed in line by grown adults. Some in costume, some not, all seeking free candy. I don’t get it. I at least don’t mind the candy for adult who dress us, but to be in your late adult years, in everyday clothes, walking around with your adult friends, with a bag, sometimes more than one, asking for candy… what is wrong with these people?

Tonight, as we pass out the very expensive candy we have been collecting for months, if adults, or a teenage boy sporting a sperm costume knock on our door, I will find myself hard pressed to give them candy and not tell them how rediculous they are.  Grow up, Peter Pan.

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What 9/11 means for me now that I have a son of my own

Days like today I am especially thankful for being blessed with Turner. When I dropped him off at daycare, he clung to my neck. When I put him down, he turned around and grabbed my legs and tried to climb back up into my arms. I hate leaving him. It breaks my heart. But I am so extremely grateful because I know that today at 5 p.m., I will be able to go get him and everything will be perfect and sweet.

13 years ago I was sitting in my eight grade classroom. We were watching the daily kids news show that always came on the old, oversized Tvs that were fixed into the walls. The news, that usually covered healthy lunch topics and newest locker trends, cut to a serious report. A real news report. A plan had crashed into the World Trade Center. The United States was under attack. I didn’t even know what that meant.

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While watching the TV, totally confused as to what I was being told, I watched as a second plane crashed into the towers. Was this real? What was happening? My best friend was in tears. Her grandfather worked in those towers in New York. Although we were in North Carolina, that attack hit home quickly. A teacher threw open our classroom door and called out to Shannon. She got up from her desk and left. It wasn’t until later that we found out that her grandfather had retired just days before the attack, and although his family feared he was in the towers retrieving his belongs when the planes struck, he was actually home safe. He was one of the lucky ones. So many others were not.

I wasn’t even a teenager. My small, innocent world didn’t even know what the word terrorist meant. I had no clue was was unraveling around me. It wasn’t long before my mother came to get my sisters and I from school. I didn’t understand that either. I had a volleyball game that night and I was starting, I couldn’t miss it. My mother assured me the  game would be cancelled, even though I didn’t believe her. That seemed crazy. We went straight to church. People were crying. They were praying. They were grasping onto each other as if it was the end of the world. And what I didn’t understand then, but completely realize now, is that it very well could have been.

Our nation was under attack. We were living through something that was unheard of for our generation. American soil was supposed to be safe and secure, how could this happen? It was devastating. It was confusing. It was real.

The days following we were glued to the television hoping for answers. Hoping for a promise of safety and reason not to worry. While our troops were rallying and preparing for a fight that is still continuing today, my family joined families all across America clinging to each other and hoping for solitude.

So on days like today, when I now have a family of my own. When I have a real being birthed from my own breath, I now know more than ever, and believe deeper and feel greater than I ever thought I could 13 years ago. My father and mother’s frantic, even manic reaction makes complete sense. They feared for their children before they feared for anything else. Their only thought was to hold us close. To physically guard us with their own lives.

Looking back, if I were in their shoes, I would have done the same. So today, when I get to go to Turner and pick up him, I will cling tight to him. Not because of a fear that I might lose him, but because I am thankful that for today, I have no reason to worry. He is safe. We are safe. This nation, although troubled, lost, and uncertain, is safe today.

Every day since September 11, 2001, we have grown a little stronger, stood a little taller, and become a little closer. Although tragic, confusing, and forever unjust, that day taught us all something.

Now, as a parent, I continue to learn from that day. It takes on a whole new meaning and gives me an entirely new purpose. A purpose for my life as it relates to Turner.

3

Getting settled into the new house is much harder than expected

We have been in the new house for a little over a week and Turner has yet to sleep through the night. I am barely functioning. His schedule is every way but right, going to bed a different times,  waking up hella early, and let’s not forget his constant middle of the night party sessions. 

Turner's new room

Turner’s new room

It used to be simple. He would wake up in the middle of the night, in a sleeping stupor I would go to his room, get him, bring him to bed and he and I would quickly fall back to sleep. All was right with the world. Well, has decided that that is no longer good enough. I can no longer just go get him and bring him to bed before slipping back off into dream land. It doesn’t work anymore. He tosses and turns and cries. My poor boy just cries all night. 

At first I thought it was teething, after all, he was cutting three teeth at the same time. But they are all grown and where they need to be, so that is out the window. Then I thought it was just the new house, and that it would take some time to get used to. Well it has been one week and two days and last night was one of the most challenging yet. 

Then I thought it could be an ear infection. We took him to the doctor Wednesday and the doc said that his ears looked like there may have been something, but it was better. So cross that one off the table. Then I thought it was itching because he got ate up with bug bites playing in the new backyard with the family on Labor Day, but I lather him up with itch cream and give him the doctor ordered Benadryl before bed… something that is supposed to make him sleepy anyway! But I got nothing. No sleep relief. 

Playing in the new yard

Playing in the new yard

Even when I put him down around 9, which has been about the time he has gone to bed pretty much his hole 15 months and 5 days of life, by 11 he is crying and awake. 

I don’t know if it is the move, growing pains, nightmares, or anything else I can possible guess, but whatever it is, I need it to stop. Andrew starts traveling for work again soon so I go into single parent mode and I am just telling you right now, I don’t know if I can manage. 

If Turner’s nighttime discomfort is related to the new house, I don’t blame him. I have had some frustrations associated with the move too. Like for instance, it never crossed my mind how difficult it would be to just function in a new house. All of our kitchen appliances and washer and dryer are new and different and fancy. The house didn’t come with an instructional manuel. So I don’t even know how to put detergent into my new washer because it is not like I went to washer school. As far as starting the dishwasher… Turner probably has better luck. There are so many buttons and settings and then how do you start it? No one ever mentioned that when going down this road. 

Turner helping get the new house organized

Turner helping get the new house organized

Oh and the worst thing so far, is what happened when we went to cook the other night. Andrew had a big nice deal planned, he was going to cook for me, it was going to be sweet and exciting. He went to turn the stove on to boil the water… and bam, nothing. We have a gas stove, and we knew that when buying the house. But what we never thought to ask, and the sellers never mentioned, is that the gas tank for the house was BONE dry. And the process to get it checked and filled and ready is not a quick and easy one. 

It is hard enough to figure out how the faucets work and which light switches turn on what and how to wiggle the key just right to get the front door open, but al this other stuff… its been tough!