Saturday, May 26, 2012

Open letter to the people at our neighborhood pool

Dear neighbors,

In order to prevent me from bitch-slapping you and getting banned from the pool this summer, here are some things to remember:

  1. Watch your kids – There is no lifeguard at our pool. That means you are actually responsible for the safety of your kids. Sitting with your back to the pool so as to catch the maximum number of rays is stupid and unsafe.
  2. Don’t put your kid in a floatie – You may think they are safe since they have some sort of flotation device on them. But they aren’t. If you’ll look closely, the pink, Dora water wings are not USCG certified flotation devices. They are NOT the same thing as life jackets. Putting your kids in water wings or floaties is dangerous. It gives both you and your kid a false sense of security. He thinks he’ll be fine in the pool no matter what, and you think you don’t have to watch him. When I was four, I sank to the bottom of a pool because my floatie popped off. Fortunately, my parents were sitting right there and Runnerdude fished me out.
  3. No cigarettes or glass bottles -  Seriously, go outside the fence to smoke. No one wants to sit outside at the pool and smell that. And no glass should go without saying. You drop that beer bottle, glass goes everywhere, and some barefoot little kid ends up needing stitches. If you insist on drinking a beer at the pool, drink out of a can or a plastic cup.
  4. Expect to be splashed – If you are sitting on the edge of a pool full of kids with your feet in the water, you cannot get mad if you get splashed by kids. If you don’t want to have your hair and make-up ruined, get out of the splash zone.
  5. First come, first served  – No fair dragging all the chairs and lounges and tables and draping them with towels to reserve them for friends who may or may not show up at some point during the day. Also, it’s rude to put a pop-up cabana right next to the pool for your private party; you’re blocking traffic.
  6. Turn down the music – It’s great that you like Christian death metal music, but I don’t. The pool is noisy enough without having to listen to competing boom boxes. Use headphones.
  7. Watch out for little kids – If you turn your 14 year old and his four buddies loose with super soakers and they knock down my little kid in the baby pool, there’s going to be a problem. And if your kid pushes mine in the pool, I’m going to say something to him. I don’t care that you don’t believe in saying “No.”
  8. Put your boobs away – We’re all thrilled that you have such expensive ones, but that itty-bitty bikini wouldn’t even be appropriate on the beach in Brazil. Plus, you’ve got to be pushing 50. I’m not saying you don’t have a great body or that you have to wear a sensible skirtini. Just cover up a little please.
  9. It’s been 25 years – You are not still a studly high school football player. Please stop crashing into other swimmers while you play catch with your buddies, dude.

Seriously, it amazes me how poorly people behave at the neighborhood pool. It’s like their manners and common sense dissolve in chlorine. I came home from the pool this morning so worked up that B suggested, very gently, that maybe I not go back when there were crowds. I think he’s afraid he’s going to have to bail me out.

What gets me the most, are the dangerous conditions that parents put their kids in. They turn little kids who can’t swim loose in the pool and then walk away. The water may only be 18 inches deep, but kids can still drown.

I spent my high school years as a life guard and swim instructor. In college I became Water Safety Certified, which meant I could teach other people to be life guards. I ran a summer swim program for hundreds of kids. I take pool safety seriously.

Twice I have been involved in pool emergencies. The first was when I was coaching at UF. I walked out of my office to hear the life guards shouting. I called 911 and then got in line to take turns with rescue breathing. One of the rec swimmers had been practicing holding his breath on the bottom of the pool. He was an experienced swimmer and SCUBA diver, but he still died. In a pool. Surrounded by life guards and swimmers. EMS was on the scene in three minutes. He didn’t splash and shout and flail around. He very quietly just sank to the bottom.

The second was during swim lessons. I was supervising several groups of instructors and kids, when a little girl, who was playing around out of her instructor’s line of sight, bounced herself off the step and into deep water. By the time I fished her out, her lips were blue. Fortunately, she immediately coughed vomit and water all over me and started screaming for her mother. But another 30 seconds, and it would have been a different story. As with the other guy, she slipped under the surface without any splashing or flailing around.

Please be safe out there.

And don’t be assholes.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

It’s always something

To quote the late, great Roseanne Roseannadanna, “It’s always something. If it ain’t one thing, it’s another.” She was right, and, quite frankly, I’m tired of it.

Just as I thought we were making real progress with the stuff that’s going on with Ella, just when I thought we were going to make it to the end of the school year relatively intact, just when I let my guard down – Whammo!

The school nurse called Tuesday morning to tell me that Ella had taken a bad step during PE and was in the office complaining that her knee hurt. I asked how bad she thought it was, and the  nurse said she thought it would be fine after a little ice and elevation. I told her to call me if it seemed like Ella was still in pain. And then I didn’t think about it again.

Until Ella hobbled off the bus, her face white with pain. She had spent the whole rest of the day, gimping around and trying not to cry. My heart just broke, and I said a few unkind things in my head about the nurse.

I called the doctor’s office yesterday, and they wanted to see Ella. So I warned my editor that I might be late to join in a conference call, packed my computer and the kids into the car, and headed into town.

Fortunately, our doctor’s office is small, and there’s rarely a long wait. The doctor saw us right away and recommended x-rays. I had to load everyone back in the car to drive across the street, because Ella could only hop along, not walk. She was quite pitiful.

I managed to keep the littles entertained in the waiting area while Ella had x-rays done, and then, miracle of miracles, the pharmacy in the building had Ella-sized crutches in stock.

The x-ray didn’t show any fractures, but there’s definite signs of soft tissue damage in Ella’s knee. It could be an ACL or meniscus tear. Or it could just be swelling. The only way to tell for sure is an MRI.

I solicited recommendations for orthopods from friends and started making phone calls. Unfortunately, the soonest I can get her in with someone who takes our insurance is next Wednesday.

By bedtime last night, Ella was in real pain, even moving her knee hurt her. She resorted to scooting up and down the stairs on her rear instead of using her crutches. The poor thing couldn’t find a comfortable position to sleep in.

She’s at home this morning, and the swelling and pain have gone down. My hope is that there’s nothing wrong that a few days of rest can’t fix, and she’ll be up and around again. But I’m not holding my breath.

It’s always something.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The day was seized

Knittergran was in town for the weekend, and we kept her very busy. Saturday was one for the books.

We started the day by heading in to Lily’s spring ballet recital. Because I wasn’t sure about traffic and parking, we left the house pretty early, so early that we had 45 minutes to spare. To keep Elizabeth and Campbell from destroying Ballet Austin, we wandered over to the farmers’ market for coffee, lemonade and breakfast tacos for all.


Look at me! Wearing an actual dress. Elizabeth’s attire got plenty of laughs and comments.

The ballet recital went off without a hitch. Lily had her serious ballet face on through the whole thing. Afterwards, we gave her flowers and presents, and she was just thrilled to be the center of attention.


From ballet we headed to South Congress for lunch at Guero’s. I don’t know what I was thinking braving South Congress on a nice Saturday. There were hipsters and tourists and hippies everywhere. We got the last available table at Guero’s, which was packed and noisy. Fortunately, they know how to turn tables there, and lunch was delicious and fairly fast.

Because we were within smelling distance of a yarn store, Knittergran insisted on a walk down to Hill Country Weavers. It was quite a challenge keeping four reluctant, tired kids together in the crowds, but we managed. I didn’t even try to go yarn shopping. Campbell and I sat on the swing on the front porch of the store and watched the crowds go by.

Hill Country Weavers is right next to the Hey Cupcake trailer, so of course we had to get cupcakes. Their new John Lemmon is to die for, by the way.


Knittergran wanted to stop in one more store, but the littles were DONE. I took them back to the car while Ella and Lily went shopping with Knittergran. And then we headed for home.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the day’s adventure. Knittergran, ages ago, had promised to buy Ella a sewing machine, and Ella decided that Saturday was the day. We did research online and found the machine we wanted at Walmart. According to their site, they had one available in a store about 30 minutes from the house. So off we went, Elizabeth in tow.

It turned out that the machine they had in stock was the floor model, which they weren’t allowed to sell us. So we went to Target, and we ended up empty handed there, too. But we did get a rug, curtains and a lamp for Ella’s room, a lamp for Elizabeth’s room, and curtains for Lily’s room. And some cute shoes for me.

I don’t remember the last time we had such a busy day. Knittergran is going to collapse from exhaustion when she gets on the plane today. Campbell and Elizabeth will miss their constant audience.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I am terrible at buying presents for my husband. He ends up returning, giving away or not wearing whatever I manage to buy him. In my defense, he is incredibly picky about clothes given that he lives in shorts and polo shirts. I marvel at my friends who can buy clothing for their husbands. The only way I can do that is if I text him a picture of the item from the store for pre-approval. And even then, there’s a strong chance whatever it is will just get tossed into the back of the closet.

There have been a few successes, like the final season of the Sopranos on DVD, a sling player, and a book here and there. But the misses have been epic – “Why did you think I’d like a sprinkler that looks like a tractor for my birthday?”

This year, though, I scored big time. B loves popcorn, as in would eat it every day loves popcorn (as long as it’s not microwave popcorn). We have a cupboard in the new kitchen just for popcorn supplies. B’s beloved air popper died about a month ago, and he put a new one on my shopping list. It turns out that air poppers are hard to find in stores – Target, Walmart and HEB don’t carry them.

But then . . . I decided to look for an industrial size popcorn popper, like they have at carnivals and fairs. We’ve rented them a few times for parties, and B has always loved having one in the house.

After some searching and calling rental places about used ones, I found a brand new one for a steal online. I did double check with B before I hit “buy,” but we kept it as a surprise for the kids.

Ella correctly guessed that I had gotten a new popcorn machine, but she figured it was just another air popper. So when she and Lily came home from school and found this on the dining room table, there was great joy and celebration.


We now eat popcorn every single day, and our house constantly smells like a cheap movie-theater. But I finally managed to give B a birthday gift he likes.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Climbing Video

Ella had a climbing comp in the happening town of Harker Heights on Saturday. She finished all four of her routes, and tied for first with another girl on our team. Because this competition decided who moves on to the next round, the girls had to climb in a Super Final.

The other girl was able to touch one hold higher than Ella did, which meant Ella placed second overall. She was third in speed climbing. Next up is Divisionals in Grapevine, TX. Divisionals has been held in Boulder the past two years, and I’m disappointed I’m not getting to spend a week in June in the mountains. The Dallas-Ft. Worth plex just isn’t the same. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

At least it got me out of the house

I’m still in my recluse mode, trips to Uchiko, BookPeople and the neighborhood pool, notwithstanding. Given a choice, I’ll stay home, thankyouverymuch. The thought of loading the kids into the car and driving the 20 minutes in to Austin just exhausts me.

So I had a very quiet morning planned for today. I was going to do some work while I let the littles vegetate with cartoons. Then we were going to ride bikes and scooters and walk the dog. When the big girls got home, if we were feeling wacky, we’d go to the pool.


At 8:00 this morning Elizabeth yelled, “I have something stuck in my nose!” from upstairs. I figured she just had extra boogers and told her to get a tissue, but she cried even harder. Turns out she’d crammed a bead into her nostril “by accident” and couldn’t get it out. I tried to retrieve it, without luck, so I called our pediatrician’s office as soon as they opened. We’ve gone to the same doctor forever, and the receptionist knows me a little too well. Here’s our conversation.

Me: Hey Kim. It’s Heather Gardner.

Kim: What’s going on?

Me: Elizabeth crammed a bead up her nose.

Kim: How about 9:45?

Me: Perfect. See you then.

I love that she didn’t even ask for details.

So I got Campbell and Elizabeth, who was still sniffling, dressed and loaded into the car. When we walked into the pediatrician’s office, all the staff just started laughing. Because of course my child had crammed a bead in her nose.

The nurse took us right back to an exam room to wait, and while we were in there, Campbell and Elizabeth amused themselves by hopping from blue square to blue square on the floor. After a few minutes, Elizabeth climbed into my lap and sneezed.


The bead popped right out. On the one hand, I was relieved that there really WAS a bead in her nose, because driving all the way in to the doctor’s office for a simple stuffy nose would have been embarrassing. On the other hand, we drove all the way in to the doctor’s office and then left without even seeing him. It wasn’t even worth buckling the kids into the car seats.

I’m also truly surprised that I’ve made it this long without one of the kids cramming something in his or her nose. And I would have bet good money that Campbell would be the one to do it.


On another note, my dear friend O’Pine is one of the funny folks behind this great video for Mommy Juice wines. Take a look and maybe have a drink. Dog knows I could use one about now.

Monday, May 07, 2012

I don’t even want to know

Ella: Hey mom! Please don’t touch the pink bowl of ketchup and dish soap in the freezer with a tooth brush in it.
Me: Don’t worry. I won’t.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Video of FeeBee

I'm just going to call this post what it is, video of FeeBee playing with her rubber chicken with Campbell cackling in the background. Just a little something silly to brighten your day.

We call it Dog Bowling. And, you're welcome.