Afternoon Madness

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Even before becoming homebound because of kitchen renovations, I have noticed that lately I start to feel like I am going crazy in the afternoons. The only way I can think to describe it is that I feel like I am going to crawl out of my own skin. I have tried to determine the cause. Am I tired of the kids? Well, sometimes, but generally I enjoy being with them. Is it anxiety over the tasks I have not yet accomplished this late in the day? That is a distinct possibility. Is it a lack of routine in a new place during the summer? That could be. Who knows?

After much consideration, I have decided that some of my afternoon madness could be caused by a lack of adult interaction. I think the lack of contact with other adults is one of the hardest parts of staying home with the kids. I try to meet up with friends at the park or have friends over, but there are some days (especially when we first move) that it just isn’t possible. There are times I am so ready for my husband to be home that I can hardly stand it. (There are other times when I am in a complete panic that he is on his way home, but that’s generally because the house is a complete wreck, as are the children and I.) My eagerness for him to come home is not so I can hand off the children to him, although he does his fair share of taking care of the kids when he’s home. I crave having a face-to-face conversation with another person who has mastered the English language. Even if our conversations are centered on the children or his day at work, I don’t have to guess at what he’s saying. There is no, “I don’t quite understand what you are saying. Can you show Mommy what you are talking about?” or “Why are you crying? Take a deep breath. I can’t understand between the sobs.” Talking on the phone to other adults helps, but it’s just not quite the same.

I have tried to ascertain the best way to combat this madness. I have come up with two possible solutions. I can either take up running in the late afternoon, OR I can start drinking. Running would be healthier, but drinking would be a whole lot easier. It’s still a toss-up at this point.


Playground Stalking

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In addition to giving your children something to do, visits to local playgrounds are another opportunity to meet new people. This is probably common sense to you if you have moved enough times. However, if you haven’t tried it yet, I recommend you give it a try. If you haven’t seen any playgrounds as you’ve driven around your new area, Google is your friend. (Keep in mind that Google is always your friend when you move to a new area.) Look up the website for your new city and go to the Parks and Recreation section. The website should have a complete listing of all parks and playgrounds in the area. This is assuming that your new city has a website, and you aren’t living out in the sticks. Once you find a suitable park and get there, let your kids start playing while you stalk…I mean, scope out other moms to talk to. If you start talking to a mom and feel like you hit it off, exchange email or phone numbers. I try to keep business cards with my basic info (name, phone number, and email…but not address) in my purse and stroller. I recently met a really cool mom with kids around the same age as mine at the park down the street from us this way.

P.S. Please note, finding a “suitable park” is important. The park closest to our last home (but not too close) was a favorite evening recreation site for drug users. While it was fine during daylight hours, it was hard to find a way to explain to the kids, “We can’t use this slide today; there are too many needles in the landing zone.” If there aren’t a bunch of kids already playing when you get there, you may want to do a cursory check of the equipment before you let the kiddos loose.



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What is going on? Wait…I remember what this experience is…I’m awake and having coherent, uninterrupted thoughts. I AM ALONE…and loving every minute of it. (Well, alone except for the electrician in my kitchen, but he’s not talking to me or at me or asking for anything.) I cannot remember the last time I was alone for longer than it takes me to take a quick shower before I go to bed. If you have small children, you know that even trips to the bathroom are usually accompanied. My youngest still wakes up in the middle of the night sometimes, so even my sleeping hours are up for grabs. Writing a blog entry without having to stop to feed someone, find something, or take someone potty is a new experience for me. You may be wondering how I managed to acquire this moment of peace.

It all started when we moved to a new city in a new state and decided to buy a house. We knew when we bought our house that we were going to have the counters and flooring in the kitchen replaced. Then we decided that, realistically, moving and buying a home were not stressful enough…let’s renovate the whole kitchen! Okay, so the decision process didn’t go quite that way. We, or mostly me, felt that it would look kind of cheap to replace the counters and the floor, but not the circa 1969, original-to-the-house, poorly arranged cabinets. It pretty much snowballed from there. Currently, we are without a kitchen. (I do have my toaster oven plugged in the laundry room, though, so we can eat a few meals I prepared ahead of time at home…if only I had a microwave and a hot plate, I’d be set.) We did not think that things would move along quite so quickly, otherwise we would have planned better and not had out-of-town guests during the renovations.  So the reason I’m alone for the moment is that I “sacrificially” volunteered to stay home with the electrician while everyone else went out to eat lunch. “No, no. You guys go on ahead. I’ll be fine. I’ll find something…but maybe you could bring me back some cake?” I am such the martyr.


Moving List

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Because we move so frequently, my husband decided to compile a list of things we have to get done in preparation for moving. I have always been a list-maker, so this sounded like a great idea to me. (If you don’t believe me when I say “always,” ask my mom about the list I made when I was a kid entitled “Pets I’ve Had That Have Died”…I wish I were kidding. Sadly, it was a pretty long list.) Because my husband is anal…I mean, a great planner, the list is pretty comprehensive. Feel free to use our list and add your own items. We have ours saved on the computer so we can pull it up when we move, which lately seems to be about every year or so. (I also like to leave our house cleaner than it was when we moved in, so I have a cleaning list too…you know, just in case you’re interested. Truthfully, my husband isn’t the only anal one in our house.)

Moving To Do List

  • Notify landlord of date vacating house
  • Stop utilities
    • Water
    • Sewer
    • Electricity
    • Heating oil (This is a holdover from our stint in New England.)
    • Trash
    • Phone
    • Internet
    • TV/Cable
  • Start utilities at new home
    • Water
    • Sewer
    • Electricity
    • Heating oil)
    • Trash
    • Phone
    • Internet
    • TV/Cable
  • Change Address
    • Magazines
      • (list magazines here)
    • Credit Cards
      • (list all credit cards)
    • Miscellaneous Services
      • Netflix
      • Amazon
      • Paypal
    • Banking & Investment Accounts
      • (list accounts)
    •  Insurance Accounts
      • Car
      • Life
      • Renter’s/Home Owner’s
    • Cell Phone
    • Pets’ Microchips
  • Forward Mail with Post Office
  • New tag for Pets
  • Medicine for Pets (ensure a few months worth of flea & heartworm meds)


Things to Bring with Us…

  • Pack ‘n’ Play with sheets
  • Sleeping bags with air mattresses
  • Toys for kids
  • Books for kids
  • Litter box with scoop
  • Pet food
  • Food & water bowls (for the pets, not the kids)
  • Clothes hanging bar
  • Bike carrier with holding brackets
  • Cameras
  • Fire safe
  • Checkbooks
  • External hard drive
  • Chargers/docks/etc.
  • Special items we don’t want damaged, lost, or stolen
  • Clothing
  • Computers
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Ice chest
  • Towels
  • Children
  • Pets

Finding a Preschool

9 Comments » |  Posted by |  Category:Education

One of the first things I do when we move is make dentist appointments because it usually takes an eternity to get an appointment. I don’t have any good advice on picking a dentist, though. This year I selected the dentist whose office is in walking distance of my house. Whether or not he’s a good dentist remains to be seen, but my criteria for choosing resources in my current residence revolve around the ability to get there on foot. So since I can’t help much with the whole dentist thing, I’m choosing to focus on preschool selection instead. This is one of the other “first tasks” I do when we move. (This ranks up there with hanging shower curtains, buying toilet paper, and changing the address on the dog’s microchip so when he escapes we can get him back.)

Before I go into the details of how I find prospective preschools, I will lecture you a bit on Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP). Okay, I’ll try not to lecture, but instead use my extensive education to dazzle you. Basically, DAP is the practice of teaching young children in the way they learn best. That is a very broad definition, but it sums it up nicely. For starters, preschool-age children learn through play. So if you have ever observed a preschool program and thought, “all they do is play the whole time.” That is a good thing. A DAP preschool program usually involves a classroom environment that is set up for exploration through the use of learning centers. Generally a good portion of school time is devoted to the children being able to choose freely which centers they want to play in. Some other portions of the schedule include circle time and outdoor play among other things. While you may be thinking, “but I want my kid to know her alphabet and be able to count to 100,” I’m here to tell you that the best way to achieve that goal is NOT through making him or her sit at a table doing worksheets for long periods of time. If you enroll your child in a good DAP program you will be amazed at the things he or she will come home talking about. (For example, after a few weeks of school, my preschooler came home telling us, “The sun is a star!” At a visit to an aquarium she delighted in pointing out the various rays swimming around in the big tank.) Okay. Enough of the philosophical lecturing. On to the good stuff.

There are two websites I visit when looking for a new preschool. One is the website for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This is THE organization for early childhood education. They are at the forefront of research, advocacy, and policy-making for and about young children. They have an extensive accreditation program. To find accredited programs in your area, visit their site http://www.naeyc.org/accreditation/search.

The second website I always visit is the site for the United Methodist Church. One thing I have learned is that Methodist preschool programs are always developmentally appropriate even if they aren’t accredited. I start by using the website’s church finder http://archives.umc.org/Directory/ChurchDirectory.asp?ptid=1&mid=222 . Once I find churches in my area, I look to see which ones have preschool programs. This method of finding a great preschool has worked for me two moves in a row, so I highly recommend it. Also, in case you are wondering, it doesn’t matter if you aren’t a member of the Methodist denomination. (We aren’t either.) They aren’t exclusive…they even let us in.

I hope some of this advice has been helpful. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any more specific questions. I’ll try to answer them, or at least I’ll try to sound intelligent while making something up. Also, if you would like to read more about DAP, I suggest the book Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs edited by Sue Bredekamp and Carol Copple. It is not the most riveting book you will ever read and there may be others that are more user-friendly, but this one is extensive and is basically the handbook for DAP.


A Postscript about Dogs

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I was thinking through my previous blog on the benefits of dog ownership, and I thought it might seem unfair to imply that you have to have a dog in order to meet people in your neighborhood. Certainly you can take walks in your neighborhood without the benefit of a dog. You will probably even meet some neighbors this way (although, most likely those out walking their dogs). However, I would like to point out a couple of things. First, dogs provide the benefit of instant conversation starters. Without one, you will probably only get a passing “hello.” Second, and probably most important, dogs help remove suspicion. Let me explain. Consider this scenario: You decide to take an evening stroll at dusk. You pause in front of your neighbors’ house (and may or may not look into their brightly-lit windows).  In this scenario, pause with dog = responsible pet owner; pause without dog = creepy new neighbor. Just a little something for you to think about.



3 Comments » |  Posted by |  Category:General, Moving Tips
a.k.a. Neighbor Bait

My Dog, a.k.a. Neighbor Bait

In addition to being great companions and useful for mealtime clean-up when you have small children, dogs are an excellent way to meet your neighbors. We’ve had a fenced in yard in only one of the five houses in which we’ve lived. This has necessitated walking our dog a few times a day. I have met more people while walking my dog than through any other means. First, when you are outside of your home for longer periods of time you increase your chances of actually seeing your neighbors. Second, dogs are great conversation starters. Even people who don’t like dogs will stop to talk, although, usually they are just asking if your dog bites.

 An additional benefit of walking the dog is the chance to scope out the neighborhood. I have found some pretty cool places near my house that I might not have found were it not for walking the dog. We had the remnants of a Revolutionary War fort just around the corner from us at our last house. Two houses prior to that, we had an ice cream shop a couple of blocks away. Okay, so I would have found the ice cream shop either way, but it was a good excuse to go get ice cream on a regular basis. Daily walks have also given me plenty of entertainment and mealtime gossip fodder with my husband. “Did you see that the people on the corner put some flamingos in their yard to keep the fake deer company?” “Thankfully, it looks like our neighbors are getting ready to move.” “Avoid the lady in the pink house. She’s a little kooky.” You get the picture.

 While having a dog has certainly added some work to my daily task load, the benefits far outweigh the inconveniences. For someone who moves an average of once every 1.6 years at this point, I would say dog ownership is definitely worth the effort.


Hello world!

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I recently completed my fifth move in the past eight years. By move I don’t just mean relocate to a different residence in the same general geographic area. I am referring to packing all of my earthly possessions into boxes, loading them onto a truck, and driving hundreds (or sometimes thousands) of miles to a new home in a new state.  Okay. I have to confess. I don’t actually have to do this packing and loading myself. My husband is in the military, so everything is packed and loaded (and sometimes broken and lost) for me. I have to say, though, that this does not make the whole process of moving any less stressful.

In preparation for this most recent move, I thought, “wouldn’t it be nice to have a personal concierge for this new location?” It would be great to have someone to show me where to find the nearest Target, or get my hair done, or meet other people. Every time I move, I have to find the resources offered in my new location. Making these discoveries along the way can be fun, but sometimes the process can be frustrating. (Note the reference to finding a hair salon…after a few bad hair incidents, I have to say that is possibly the trickiest part of moving.)That being said, at this point, I have figured out a few means of coping along the way. My plan is to write about some of these strategies in hopes that others might find them helpful, or at least mildly entertaining.