Thursday, May 31, 2007

Work and Pee

Sure, at first glance those two things have very little in common. Well, that is, I guess, unless you work in a clinical environment or for one of those fetish websites. I digress...

For me - what do work and pee have in common? Their ability to prevent a restful sleep.

It was a bad day at the office yesterday. Despite my reputation as a heinous bitch, I really don't like the part of my job that requires I deal with behavioral employment issues. Yesterday, there was not one, but two meetings of this nature. They're emotional, they're difficult, and the aftermath usually takes a few days to settle down. I have actually found that terminating an employee is less stressful than keeping one, but having to take other disciplinary action. Surprisingly, most of the time what I hear when I fire someone is "OK". When they get a written warning, with the notification that termination would be inevitable if the behavior occurs again, I get a (usually impressive) list of excuses, tears, denials, etc.

I have a pretty hard (and tasty candy) shell, but I really don't like being the bad guy. I don't like being disliked. I don't like making people feel bad. However, I do believe in honesty. I believe that the point of counseling sessions are to clear the air, recognize why the behavior was unacceptable, and make it clear what my expectations are.

Anyway, yesterday's meetings were tough and did not have the kind of resolution I was hoping for. I wanted it to be done and over, and we'd all move on. The stress of the situation, the metal replay (in super slo-mo, of course), and the concerns of the aftermath all contributed to a restless night.

The other part of the sleeplessness was, as mentioned, pee.

I made it very clear to my daughter at dinner that I wanted her to stay in her own bed all night. She did. My son, however peed his bed, and came to me in tears at 3:00 this morning. Not wanting to lose any sleep that I might have gotten by getting up and doing laundry, this time I had the larger child in the bed. He's a little better bed partner, as he only went horizontal once - the rest of the time, he'd flip and flop from side to side, still waking up the lightest sleeper known to human-kind (me), but at least the bruising is minimal.

So I ask that you wish me a restful and urine free night tonight. I could use a solid night of sleep.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Seriously Stupid

Ok, this one's about me first.

I bought an Ipod on Saturday. Not only was this my first Ipod, (woo-hoo I'm only about a decade behind the times!) it was a splurge item. I don't have a tendency to spend a lot of money on myself. In fact, I kind of have to force myself to do it. Anyway, I bought the smallest one I could get - the Shuffle - less than $80 and it holds 240 songs - I figured that was plenty.

I loaded it up on Saturday, charged it up and Sunday morning it inspired me to go walking. I walked the hills around my house - found some areas I didn't even know existed. I continued to listen to it while I cooked, did housework, etc. Sure, I have a stereo in my living room, but this was cooler!

Monday I had the kids in the morning, as T was sleeping. I brought the Ipod with me as we met a friend for breakfast, took the kids shopping as they'd each had a gift card left over from their birthdays, and ran an errand or two. By the time we got back to the house, T was awake, so I dropped the kids off with him, and decided the Ipod and I were going for another walk. This was mid-afternoon and just too hot to do my usual neighborhood thing, so I headed off to the mall. Although I'm probably the youngest "mall walker" in recent history, it's air conditioned, and one loop is 1/2 a mile - so a few loops (including the stairs) does make for a good walk. After that, I went shopping. I bought a few kitchen tools, some shorts, and splurged on a new perfume. All the while, I was listening to the Ipod.

I got home to find that the kids and T were out somewhere, so I decided it was the perfect time for a nice relaxing bubble bath. While of course, still making dinner (yippee for slow cookers) and doing laundry. I started with a load of whites, and got the bath going with lavender scented bubbles. I realized I was wearing white shorts, so decided to toss those into the washing machine as well. Of course, you're all smarter than I am and know exactly what happened, don't you? It took me a little longer. I got out of the bath and thought to myself "Where's the... OH SHIT!!!" Yep. I washed my first indulgent purchase in ages.

I still have old clothes that my children wore, I have gifts from past "friends" from years ago, I have lip balm that's two years old. However, I ruined the Ipod in less than 48 hours. That's got to be some kind of record. Good thing for me, I bought the replacement plan and was able to get a new Ipod on my lunch break yesterday.

I decided part of this was due to the lack of name for the Ipod. I've now named him Pepe. No matter how dirty Pepe gets, he's just not getting a bath.

Ok, so now, as far as other people being not-so smart? I've got tons of stories for you. I'll save them for another day. The bottom line on most of them is still that I'm pretty stupid. I must be to continue to put up with being surrounded by it, right? Isn't the saying "water seeks its own level?" That tells me I probably have no room to talk - err, write.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


That's "apathy" in Russian. I couldn't think of a catchy title.

Here's my dilemma lately: I'm apathetic. I'm so worn out from fighting that I just don't have it in me anymore. I can't help but wonder what I'm fighting for?

Anyone who knows me, and even if you don't, but you've been reading this Blog, knows that my marriage is not what anyone would call ideal.

Here's the problem - there's nothing REALLY wrong with my marriage. As far as I know, there's no drugs, no drinking, no gambling, no cheating, no physical abuse, no mental abuse, no bad treatment, no major fights.

Here's the other side of the coin. There's nothing REALLY right with it either.

Aside from our children, we have nothing in common. Ok, I don't like to say "nothing" - how about very little in common. I like to read, he hasn't read a book in the 7 1/2 years we've been together. (Seriously, folks, that's not an exaggeration!) I like to cook. His idea of "a good dinner" is Hamburger Helper made with turkey. I like to go new places, try new things. He likes to watch television. I go to bed early, and he stays up late. I wake up early in the morning, and he sleeps late. I like to be creative, he doesn't offer new ideas. I believe in open communication, he'll walk out of a room (while I'm speaking) if it starts to get serious.

If this were a dating scenario, no kids, two free, consenting adults, you'd wonder why we'd be together, right? Well, it's not. We're married. We have two incredible children.

I said I was tired of fighting. We don't actually argue a lot. In order to argue, there has to be passion, a desire to work something out, or at least get your point across. I've tried to say what I'm feeling, seeing, needing too many times to count. He won't say anything is wrong or bothering him, until I've started the conversation, then it's his way (I think) of saying "I'm rubber... you're glue..." By no means do I think I'm easy to live with. By no means do I think this is his fault.

So, the question for the day seeking an answer. Would you stay in a place where a lack of emotion prevails? If it was just me, I know what the answer would be. However, it's not just me. I've got the two most important people in the world to answer to, and that complicates matters. A LOT.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Would somebody please tell me how a 40 pound, just turned 5 year-old can take up an entire California King bed by herself?

Thursday, May 24, 2007


I've been taking classes to improve my skills as a manager and leader. Currently, I'm taking a class called "Managing Change in the Workplace". I've actually always dealt with change well, so this isn't about that.

As part of the class, we watched a movie version of "Who Moved My Cheese" - (a great guidebook on change, by the way). There's a line in the book (and movie) that's stuck with me ever since.

"What would you do if you weren't afraid?"

The first thing I tried to do when I heard this is differentiate between fear and practicality. I have responsibilities - is it fear that keeps me tied to them or is it practicality? Do I need to pay my mortgage to keep my home or am I just afraid of losing a place to call "home"?

My biggest fears are for my children. I know I'm screwing them up - I just don't know how, yet. I'm doing the things that I think are right - but am I? An even worse fear, if I am doing (almost) everything right - what if they still turn out messed up? Am I over teaching them? Am I overprotecting them? Are they going to know wrong from right? Are they always going to be dependent on someone else looking out for them?

Then there's my marriage - do I stay because it's the right thing to do - or do I stay because I'm afraid of being on my own? Am I teaching my children to honor their commitments or am I teaching them to settle?

How about my diet? Do I watch what I eat (sometimes) because I should or am I just afraid that people will call me fat?

So now, how about you? What would you do if you weren't afraid? Would you stay in the same career? Would you stay in the same town? Would you tell someone how you really feel? Would you take that risk you've been afraid to try? Would you take a leap of faith?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Questions, Jr.

I knew all along that someone like me, who asks questions until they turn purple was bound to get repaid by the universe. I'd be forced to answer questions for eternity. What I didn't expect is that these questions would start at McDonalds.

As you know, yesterday was A's birthday. Being the gastronomically advanced child that she is - she chose McDonalds for dinner. We sit down with happy meals in tow - and then it happens. The first (of what I can only presume can be thousands more) question that I don't mind answering, but wish I didn't have an audience of Big Mac Munching Toothless locals.

Question from S: "Mommy how do babies get out of your tummy?"
Me: "Why do you ask?"
S: "I want to know. How do they get out?"
Me: "Most of the time, babies come out through our vaginas."
S: "What's a vagina?"
Me: "You know that already. It's what girls have instead of a penis. You have a penis, your sister has a vagina."
S: "You mean they come out your booty?????"
Me: "No, your booty is in the back, a vagina is in the front."
S: "And that's how a baby comes out?"
Me: "Yes"

A, who was listening, but not quite getting the whole gist of the conversation only wanted to know one thing: "How big is a Big Giant". Now, this may seem like a non-sequitor, but I'm thinking she heard "vagina" as "Big Giant" - lucky for me, S didn't pick up on the subtleties and told her that a big giant was about the size of four people standing on top of each other.

Those kids are going to be in for a rude awakening some day!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Today is the Day

Today, my second miracle baby turns 5 years old. The only thing that eases this path for me, is that she still lets me call her baby, still lets me give her lots of hugs, and only occasionally wipes my kisses from her face.

I wish that all parents felt their children were miracles, but I know that's not the case for everyone. It breaks my heart to see unwanted children, uncared for children, unloved children in the world, when the friends I have would give everything they've got to make theirs happy.

In my case, I believe my children truly are miracles. **Stop reading now if you get the oogies from reading about girly stuff**

In order to understand why my children have reached miracle status, you have to know my history. (Yes, my girly history). I got my first period on the day I graduated from Junior High School. (Oh, and did I mention the frilly white dress I was going to wear for the ceremony?). I was so proud - had to call all the friends I could think of. Yippee! (What THE HELL was I thinking???)

I got my second period two weeks later. And again. And again. And again. Let me just say, that no 13 year old should have to go through a clinical gynecological exam. Especially when they discover that not only does her uterus tilt backwards (making standard manual exams ineffective), but they also say something isn't "quite right". I was put on the pill as a way to hopefully regulate hormones and get things back to normal. Woo hoo - a 13 year old with a license to be promiscuous! (Don't worry, I wasn't).

For the next two years, I was put on higher and higher doses of hormone based pills because things still didn't function the way they were supposed to. It was a lovely existence to be a Freshman in high school who would wake up, throw up, then go to school. At 15 my doctors decided that the hormones either worked or they didn't. (Perfect timing - just when those pills might have come in handy for other reasons!)

All was going along rather swimmingly - or at least it was on the outside. Then my problems started up again.

I was in Maryland when I was struck by searing pain. It turned out I had an ovarian cyst rupture. Let me tell you friends, if I thought previous pelvic exams were bad, having one while a cyst is exploding takes the cake!

A year later, another state, and here we go again. Horrible pain combined with a fever of 104 had me at the emergency room - this time a pelvic infection and inflammatory disease known to cause sterility. No surgery this time, but a level of antibiotics so severe that I was given two choices - through an IV - or inserted directly into my heart.

I get out of the hospital, but still didn't feel quite right - I was still in pain nearly constantly. More tests, more invasive exams (my gynecologist and I were on a first name basis by this point). Now my problem had a name - Chronic Endometriosis. I was so heartened by the literature that was given to me to help me understand my condition. I remember so clearly what it said, "Our hope for treatment is to possibly retain fertility, but most importantly allow the patient to live a life without debilitating pain." You get those subtleties there? POSSIBLY retain fertility? In my mind, even though I was single - I didn't care about the pain, I wanted to have children! I asked my doctor about it, and was told, as kindly as possible, that it was highly unlikely that I'd be able to get pregnant, and if I did, I most likely wouldn't be able to carry a child to term. He suggested a hysterectomy.

For those of you that don't know me - you may not realize how stubborn I am. Not only did I refuse the hysterectomy, but I also refused to accept that I couldn't have children. Nope.

I had two horrible years - pelvic exams every single month, two more surgeries, and never given any false hope that a pregnancy was in my future. I was put into chemically induced menopause. For years, I wasn't allowed to have a period - (ok, so that was the good part).

Life moves along, and I was taken off the medication, as my symptoms had been alleviated. Lo and behold, I meet the man who is to become my husband, and we decide we're going to have a baby. (I did mention the stubborn part, right). Two months later I was pregnant, and 9 months after that I delivered a healthy, 8 pound, 3 ounce baby boy, to the shock and amazement of my previous gynecologist, who has now become a close friend of the family. 15 months after that, I deliver my 8 pounds, 5 ounces daughter, who had already given me plenty to worry about since I got pneumonia when I was 7 months along, and had lost all the weight I had gained up to that point.

When our now friend did me a favor of doing an ultrasound to determine the baby's gender (she wouldn't cooperate the first time!), I reminded him of the conversation we had in which he told me I'd never be able to have children. As a typical man would, he took credit - it was his treatment that saved the day. (My husband prefers to think he had something to do with it).

While both my children are miracles, my daughter does have one additional "wow" factor. She's the first girl-baby born on my husbands side of the family in over 100 years. Needless to say, it concerns T's mom - who finally has her girl, that my miracle baby girl wants a penis.

I would have more babies if I could - but my doctor's were right about one thing - I couldn't sustain any more - I had a hysterectomy a year and a half ago - and I still feel the emptiness. Especially on days like today - when my "baby" is no more, and I've got two big kids at home.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Generic Blog Post

I know I've not given this as much attention in the last week.

Well, this morning isn't going to remedy that quite yet.

As I type this there's one child playing a puzzle, one in bed, and a nonfat caramel machiatto getting cold. In a few moments I'll be gathering my things and heading out.

Today we are celebrating my baby's 5th birthday. She doesn't officially turn 5 until Tuesday, so I'm keeping the emotions at bay for another 48 hours.

In the meantime, the camera's being charged, the birthday girl is now getting cleaned up, then I'm off to pick up the balloons and the cake - and off to Peter Piper Pizza to face a small horde of screaming children and their parents who are probably thrilled to have someone else responsible for entertaining their children for a couple of hours.

I'd better go take some Tylenol now - as a preemptive strike.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Modern Day Fairy Tail

Once upon a time, there was a fair maiden. Our heroine lived a strong and true life. When it became time, she gracefully accepted the role of adulthood and accepted her responsibilities to the King and Queen before her, opening her home and assisting them in the search for a new castle.

Unfortunately, our heroin was plagued by one remaining member of the Queen's court - the royal mongrel. While very cute and worthy of her own tiara (at least in her mind) this canine court jester was severely lacking in courtly manners. This pampered princess would loudly state her displeasure over every other animal subject. One glance, one sound from any other feline, canine, or even the young master or mistress of the castle would set this beast into piercingly loud protest. Not only were her protests vocal in nature, there were also the physical ones. Although this did not occur in our heroine's castle, in previous royal establishments, the unfairest of them all would leave a smelly majestic offering as proof of her displeasure.

As all fairy tales do, ours too, has a happy ending. After three days of furry dissension our heroine's nemesis was relocated to the C Bar C Doggie Dude Ranch for the remainder of the royal visit.

And peace reigned in the land.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mothers, Milestones and Memories

A day late, but happy mother's day to my mom-like readers!

This weekend was a big one with a lot of emotional peaks and valleys. I'll do my best to keep it relatively (pun intended) short and at least mildly interesting.

My parents arrived late Friday. I was in the bathtub - soaking off the heat of the day and preparing myself for what I knew lay ahead. My daughter, otherwise known as the town crier came bursting in to tell me "Meemaw and Grumpa are here! Meemaw and Grumpa are here!" I took that as my cue - I don't think at any age beyond 5 or so, and definitely not at any age beyond childbearing do fathers want to see their children naked.

So, first the good news, they did it - they packed up and drove the 5 hours - making it the farthest they've been from their house in about 8 months. Then the bad news, my mom was stiff and sore from being in the car for so long, and did not look like she was moving at all well. While she was doing better than she had been the last time I'd seen her, and WAY better than the last time T had seen her, she wasn't doing as well as I would have expected for someone who was getting reading to hop a plane and travel 3000 miles.

In fact, Saturday morning, we thought we had reached emergent proportions. When coming out of the bathroom, my mother got lightheaded, and if my dad and I (and then T) hadn't been holding her up she would have hit the floor. That wasn't as scary as the fact that she wouldn't talk to us - she wouldn't respond. Both T and I thought she might have been having a stroke. We made it through the moment, together, however, and I determined that she had some cake the night before, no sleep, and hadn't eaten or had anything to drink yet that day. So our theory, now was that her blood sugar was too low (she used to be diabetic - probably still is, but with all her other worries - that one went to the back of the list).

So after a bad morning, and a few mis-starts, we were able to have a light breakfast and then go out and cruise neighborhoods. Remember, the purpose of this visit was to consider a move here. There were a few that they really liked, some that were "OK" and some that just weren't gonna happen no matter how much they could get for the same dollar.

We even managed a slow stroll through part of the Mountain Artists Art show on the downtown square before heading back to my house to take it easy and spend time with the kids. This is where the second phase of my title kicks in. Milestones. This photo was actually taken by the user of the subject material. S was given a digital camera as a belated birthday gift by his grandparents and for two days, nothing was safe. However, as many heads as were chopped off, however many sneak attacks (my showers are no longer safe) I think he captured the moment perfectly in this shot...

Milestone no. 2. Remember that pink baby blanket handed down from a friend? Well, my daughter left it in my car last week. For four days. I think we're passed the time of the security blanket - and while she's fine with it, I find myself wanting my own to hang on to, in the hopes of slowing down time.

Now, for the memories. If I remember nothing else about this weekend, I want to remember what my daughter said to me yesterday. Her meaning and mine don't exactly match up, I don't believe, but the words are the best thing I've ever heard. On all days, she said this to me on Mother's Day:

"Mommy, you taught me how to make the world."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Approval or Disapproval?

Ok, I'm sick.

I'm on the mend now, but I've done more sleeping in the last two days than I have in the previous week. However, what am I doing when I'm not sleeping? I'm cleaning the house. What the hell is wrong with me?

My parents are coming into town tomorrow. They live in a house that is so icky, I'm scared to walk around barefoot. They just had to tear up all their carpeting and replace it with tile because their dog has ruined the carpet to the point of no repair. So why do I care what my house looks like - especially since said carpet-damaging dog is coming too?

My parents would be the first to lecture me for cleaning instead of resting while I'm sick. So, here's the question of the day - am I looking for approval for the house being clean - or am I actually seeking disapproval for doing housework while I'm sick?

Do we ever stop wanting that kind of attention from our parents? Positive, negative, it never seemed to matter, as long as it was enough for my father to look away from the television, and my mom to recognize me as an individual - separate from my brother and sister. Do we ever outgrow that need to be seen?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Sex Change

Well, I've done it. The last homage to girliness I had is gone. My faux nails. I don't wear make-up (unless I really have to), I don't over think what I wear, I don't pick out cute stuff, I don't spend hours on my hair, I don't read fashion magazines, I don't even wear jewelry on most days. But I had nails. Pretty ones. Sure, they were fake, and usually in need of repair since I didn't *act* like I had nails, but I had them - sometimes they were even pink and sparkly.

However, I'd had enough. Going to "get my nails done" was embarrassing, even for me just to say! Spending the time to do it - bothered me, there were so many other things I could be doing. The other reason for not doing it, it hurt! Ok, so I'm a wimp, but I have small fingers and thin nail beds, and the nail people usually end up cutting me at least once. Oh, and the last reason - cha-ching! That adds up.

Ok, so fine, I've now got unpainted skin, unpainted nails, boring clothes, hell, give me a beer, slap on a penis - I'm a man, now. Oh, wait, I still have to clean the house. Guess I haven't earned that sex change, yet.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Gee, Don't Hurt Yourself!

Ok, folks, I need to whine a little.

Yesterday was Sunday - T worked from 6AM - 6PM. Now, I do understand that 12 hours is a long day of work. However, let's compare notes, shall we?

T - Woke up at 5:15 or thereabouts and left for work by 5:30.
Me - Woke up at 6:00 when I was pounced on by a small child in heart patterned footie pajamas.

T - Worked at a desk for 12 hours - (I'm not diminishing what he does - it's important!)
Me - Baked homemade oatmeal muffins, fed children said muffins, packed up muffins and children (still in footie pajamas), and went to the police department communications center with a thermos of milk to give daddy and his coworkers a morning snack. Took children to Starbucks to get coffee for me and a and friend who was coming over to take pictures of the kids for a mother's day present. While the kids were having their photo session, I made (from scratch, of course) slow-cooked sweet potato and lentil soup, and started cleaning. I cleaned the kitchen from inside out - throwing away tons of expired boxes of cake mix, open and half-eaten boxes of crackers, cookies, two open syrup containers, etc., etc., etc. Being the semi-earth friendly mommy that I am, I opened each of the boxes - tossed the contents into the trash, cut out any "Boxtops for Education" seals, and recycled everything possible. I ran laundry, I swept floors, I fed children, I entertained children, I took the pictures to be developed, I took the children to lunch, I put fuel in my mom-mobile, I picked up the pictures, I made biscuits to go with dinner, I looked up sports scores for my son, I played "princess" with my daughter, I cleaned all of the dishes, muffin pans, cookie sheets, and all other necessary tools of home cooking.

I called T at 4:30 to ask him to stop by and pick up more laundry soap on the way home.

At 6 (ish) - T walks in the door, the kids are hyper-excited and are screaming, running, jumping and playing tag (a sure sign they're tired - they know if they sit still they'll fall asleep). I put the finishing touches on dinner, set the table, call everyone to dinner. The kids need milk, and I thought T was going to do it, but he's disappeared again, so I take care of that.

We finish dinner, I send each of the kids in turn to get ready for bed, get my hugs and kisses, and T tucks them in. He then sits on the couch to watch television. I continue picking things up around the house, check my e-mail, finish a book, and occasionally glance at the TV. At 8:00 he decides he's going to bed. I still have laundry in the washer and dryer, and the house is still a mess. (Countdown to parents arrival - T minus 4 days). I wait for the dryer, fold and put away that laundry, leave the towels to run, and head off to bed - stopping of course on the way to pick up toys, feed the turtle, turn off lights, and plan the next days menu.

That's it - I've decided - I want a wife.

Friday, May 4, 2007

I Love Foreplay

No, not that kind, although that's pretty good, too.

I mean that I love the anticipation almost as much as the actuality. I've known this about myself for a while. I love the minute before the great movie starts. I love the last commercial before my show comes on TV. I love seeing the waiter bring my dinner - from across the room. I love that quiet moment when I've heard my son's bedroom door open, but he hasn't yet made it to mine.

I was reminded by this tonight. There was a package waiting for me when I got home. Since I joined swap-bot, I get non-financially-demanding mail fairly regularly - but an actual box? Hadn't happened yet. But there it was. Waiting for me.

I brought the box inside and looked at it. I set the package aside and went out to greet my family.

I came back in and there it was again - a lovely box just waiting for me. I checked out all sides to see if there were any markings on any of the sides. None. I checked to see who it was from. Nobody I knew. (I'm waiting on a package that I'm not allowed to open until Mother's Day, so I had to check to see if it was "safe") I was in the clear. I set the package aside, and decided tonight would be a good night for pizza. I lovingly looked at the box again, then gathered up my children and husband and headed out.

I knew it was there, I could have torn into it at any time - that's what made it that much sweeter.

After dinner - the children are getting ready for bed, it's time. First, the package is slowly stripped of it's label, outside tape, and a piece of pretty purple paper in the label pouch. Then I wait again. I say goodnight to my children, get my hugs and kisses and exchange my "I love yous".

Then the package is unzipped - using my daughter's craft scissors, I slice up the middle - that last sticky barrier between me and my treasure - whatever it might be.

Ah - a note and lovely tissue paper - hiding the true nature of the gift. I read the note and learn that inside this secretive package are... flip flops! Ah yes, I know to many the allure would end - but not to me - there is still more to discover - what color will they be? Is there anything else in the package? Layer by layer, shedding it's secrets, my goodies are revealed.

While they are absolutely perfect, I am still a little saddened - while what was in it is great, it's now over - the package is bare, the prizes reviewed, all that's left is after-glow.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

I'd Like A Definition Please

I watched "Notes on a Scandal" last night. An interesting movie, very predatory in nature, but there was one line that's been rattling around in my brain ever since.

"In the old days we confiscated cigarettes and whack-mags. Now it's knives and crack cocaine. And they call it progress."

This is what I've been wondering for a long time. What exactly do we, as a society, consider progress? I often find myself saying, "destruction in the name of progress" - tearing up greenlands, displacing nature, building, more, more, more all in the name of progress, right?

This isn't going to be a soap-box ranting on the damage we're doing to the planet. I've got no credibility in that area - I'm talking about other types of "progress".

Take for instance my son. He's recently turned six and is wrapping up his kindergarten year. In the course of this year, he has learned a lot. I wasn't in kindergarten but for a week or two - I was skipped ahead, so I don't remember - but I really don't think there was homework in kindergarten. Yet my son has it - three times a week. Granted, it's not difficult, it's not even challenging to him, but it is - by definition - homework. On Friday nights he brings home his poem book, which we are to read over the weekend (he reads it to me and his sister). On Tuesday nights he brings home his word-ring - a collection of index cards with new words written on it every week. On Thursday nights he brings home a new book to read as well as a worksheet (usually something in the language arts spelling, rhyming, opposites, etc.)

Is this progress? Are we giving our children more education for their benefit or because we're trying to make up for the years of being compared to other countries - and coming up short? Are we making progress or are we denying childhood? How many child prodigies are there? How many child athletes? We celebrate them - we revere them, but are they signs of progress? Who doesn't know that Tiger Woods started playing golf when he was three? What parents out there don't want to brag to their friends about how much better, smarter, more advanced their children are than any others?

My goal, when it comes to progress, is to give my children the things I feel I was denied. Hugs, kisses, rampant "I love yous" family trips, picnics, laughs, games, happy familial memories. Now, I wasn't abused, neglected or even treated poorly as a child. I had what I needed, food, shelter, clothing, good opportunities, and the chance to make something out of my life. However, my family was never the touchy-feely type, I remember a total of three kisses from my father in my life (and two were at my first wedding). I want my children to have a sense of security, of being worthy of love, of always having that behind them. To me, that's progress.

How do you define it?