Saturday, August 30, 2008

I hope so!

Sarah: Can I do yoderat after proobery?
Me: What?
Sarah: Can I do yoderat after proobery?
Me: What is proobery?
Sarah: You know, when you get boobs and stuff?
Me: oh, puberty?
Sarah: Yeah
Pat: Do you mean deoderant?
Sarah: Yeah, can I do deoderant when I have pubery?
Me and Pat: laughter...YES!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

first day of school

Well, the highly anticipated first day of school went fairly well for just about all of us!

Sarah was thrilled last week to find out that she had gotten the teacher that she wanted, Mr. Lohmeier. She had such a bad year in 1st grade that she went from loving school to hating it. Now that she has Mr. Lohmeier, the excitement for school has returned. She took him in a gift (coffee mug & Starbucks card). She reported back that he was pleased with the gift and gave her a big hug. I received a thank you email from the teacher later last night. In the email he commented on Sarah's humor and remarked that she needed to remember to raise her hand and not talk to friends. Let's hope she gets that in check soon so that she doesn't get in trouble the first week of school!

Megan (Pat reported) was pleasant and easy getting ready in the morning. All things changed when it was time to actually go in the building. Ever since Emma was born (and probably for a few months before) Megan has been telling us that she hates school. To be honest, I don't blame her a whole lot. She has had a revolving door of teachers and the substitutes have not been very pleasant. I often wonder why these people got into the profession of preschool teacher if they don't like kids? Well, Pat had to literally push her through the doors of the daycare and he left her crying. When I picked her up in the afternoon, she was fine (of course). I also had a chance to meet the new teacher that was hired as as a permanent fixture in the classroom for the 10:30 -6:30 shift. This woman actually has a BA in education and 20 yrs experience in childcare. Lets hope that she can get Megan back on track at school!

Emma did well for Pat on his first "gotta get out of the house on time" day. She fussed a little but was calmed down by sitting in her car seat with Sarah on the front porch. I hope she settles down before the weather turns cold!

The afternoon was a different story. We were all tired and cranky. Sarah was exhausted and Emma was recovering from her latest round of vaccinations. Pat had to work late, and it nearly killed me! My poor parents arrived at our house to drop off Megan's booster seat at 7pm and I still hadn't gotten dinner on the table, Emma was fussing, and the house looked like a disaster area!

I guess it will take us all a while to settle into a good routine. I just hope it doesn't kill me in the process!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008


While everyone in the country has been debating Obama vs McCain, there has been a different political discussion going on in my little slice of suburbia.

I happen to live under the fascist regime of a Homeowners Association (HOA). Actually, I am one of those people who see the merits of having a HOA that actually does something.

Two years ago we moved into our current development and were quickly ushered into the world of HOA's, covenants, architectural committees and the like. Evidently I hadn't read the rules and regulations thoroughly and we received a violation notice that we failed to get prior approval for our fence. We had put up the right style, but had not jumped through all the hoops.

Our neighborhood is small and most residents take great pride in maintaining the appearance of their home. Since the homes are starting to age, the HOA Board decided it was time for a "walk through" to see if all homes are in compliance with the rules and regulations. We didn't think much of it, knowing that we would probably get cited for our lawn (last year's drought and ant infestation wiped out most of the actual grass and left us with a yard full of weeds and bare spots).

Almost all the homeowners received some type of violation, including us. A number of homeowners took great offense with the violation notices that came out. Instead of discussing the violations with the board, or appealing the violation, one person in particular decided that it required taking action to actually re-call the board. She browbeat other neighbors into signing a petition and thus created a great deal of animosity among neighbors.

Being friends with the president of the board has given us a different view of the situation. I anxiously awaited the meeting where the vote would occur. I wanted to go and support the board, but I was also curious to hear the other side's argument. in the days leading up to the meeting, I watched as the leader of the disgruntled homeowners visited neighbors in an effort to sway them to her side. It even appeared as though she went door to door with proxies trying to round up votes in her favor (a clear violation of the bylaws). She even managed to corner Pat. She must have caught him on a good day since he was able to maintain composure and POLITELY tell her that though he was not pleased to receive our violations, he felt that she was going to extremes to kick out the current board. She ought to go through the process to appeal and/or get the rules changed. I guess she didn't like what he had to say since that was the last we saw of her.

The long awaited meeting was last week. The place was packed. More than one person commented that it was a shame that it took this issue to get so many bodies out to a meeting. The air in the room was warm and full of tension. Neighbor hesitating to talk to neighbor unless they were sure of what side the other was on. It was painful. It got ugly. The board managed to keep control, but at the expense of alienating a few (no one likes to have a gavel pounded to let you know your time is up, or that things are getting out of hand).

With the comment section over it was time for the vote. The board decided it would be an open vote where each household would declare their vote out loud, even all proxies would be read. This was akin to polling a jury to get a verdict. This angered the opposition greatly and only added to the tension in the room. the first task was to determine who could actually vote. Since there were about 3 proxies from people who were not in "good standing" (they owed some amount of money), their votes did not count. It was a close vote and it was not until the final count that it was determined that the vote to keep the board was 21 to 19.

Unfortunately it doesn't feel like a victory. It is clear that there is now a rift among the neighbors that is large. There is still talk of each side having played "dirty pool". There have been poor displays of behavior since, and speculation that the fight is not over.

We are supposed to have a neighborhood ice cream social to celebrate the start of school soon. I hope the hatchet can be buried, at least for the kid's sake.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


On Saturday we drove up to Breezewood, PA (the halfway point between home and the In-Law's in Pittsburgh) to pick up the girls. By the end of the week we were definately missing them and looking forward to seeing them.

We arrived at the meetup location (McDonald's, of course) and were greeted with big hugs and happy faces. We spent most of lunch catching up on their adventures. We transferred their stuff from one car to the next, said goodbyes and thank-yous and went on our way home.

The girls were happy to finally get home and see their friends, but were definately exhausted from a busy week with Grandma. Since it was Megan's first trip away from us, I was pleased to hear how much she had enjoyed it. When I asked her if she wanted to do the trip again next summer, she simply answered, "no".

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Vacation from chaos

Last Thursday we drove up to Pittsburgh to visit the in-laws. It was a lovely visit and all three girls behaved pretty well. We were to stay in Pittsburgh until Sunday when Pat, Emma and I would come home. Sarah and Megan were going to say a week at Camp Grandma! This will be Sarah's 3rd stay without us, but Megan's first.

I wasn't sure how Megan would do. She was eager to go and my mother-in-law was sure that it wouldn't be a problem. Both girls were excitedly planning their visit with Grandma. Sunday morning came and things were going well. The car was loaded, the dog was ready for the return trip and we were saying our goodbyes. Megan was quiet and looked sad. I told her she could come home with us, but she said she wanted to stay. She gave me a big "squeezy hug" and we said goodbye. I was a little apprehensive leaving her, but knew that she would be ok. She is my independent one, much less clingy than her big sister.

The ride home was quiet and calm. The dog settled down quickly and Emma fell asleep. It was nice to not have to break up fights and mediate arguments in the back seat. When we got home, it began to really sink into us that it was just us 3. Granted, Emma is a handful, but it has been so nice to actually be able to enjoy an adult conversation without one of the girls butting in for various reasons.