Friday, June 13, 2014

5 Really Important Things I Just Filled Out on a Form for Day Camp

By Terri Lively 

I just spent 40 minutes filling out forms for my kids to go to Day Camp. There are forms at school, at the doctor, at the dentist, at soccer, at gymnastics, and anywhere else you go. I find it hard to believe in today’s day and age that I still have to fill out forms for my children with paper and pen. Each time I am faced with this task a voice inside my head says, “Isn’t there an App for this?”

Nope. And so here we are 40 minutes later...

I am shocked that we haven’t abandoned this silliness by now. For goodness sakes, we are members at this facility, isn’t all this information already in the system? And what really has me spitting nails is that I already did forms like these when my daughter took Yoga class (I know, very California…they handed out banana shakes at the end of class. No, not really.) and my son played basketball there.

So when I got the phone call from the camp director saying she hadn’t received my forms, I was certain when I informed her that I had already done the form thing for those activities, that would be that. But I was wrong, naturally. Apparently there are a whole new slew of forms that they need specifically for Day Camp, to which I responded with a very cheerful, “Fabulous!”

It was in fact this cheerful tone that prompted my husband to hiss at me from across the room to “cool it.” He’s right though; we live in a small town. Chances are I will run into this lady at the gym or at Albertson's and I guess he thought she might not have been fooled by my cheery tone.

So I got to work. Right out of the gates, however, I started getting crabby when they asked for my home, work and mobile numbers. Do there really need to be three different phone number lines? Seriously, if you want to call someone and you don’t start with his or her mobile, I have to wonder if you should be allowed to use a phone anymore.

I fixed it though. I just wrote my mobile over and over again. In my case, however that is accurate since it is my mobile, my work, and my home number. But the phone number lines were just the beginning of the form hoops I jumped through this evening.

Here are five REALLY important things I had to fill out on the forms today:

Whether or not my female child had any abnormal menstrual history: Now I understand this question at the doctor’s office, when my daughter is at least 10! But she’s 6. Besides, this is NOT the doctor’s office. What is going on at Day Camp that my daughter’s menses needs to be on their radar anyway?

Whether or not my child has ever had problems with diarrhea or constipation: At the risk of revealing too much, who hasn’t? This seems like a silly question to me. Of course the wise acre in me really wants to tell them all about it in literary detail. Then, where it says on the form to please explain any “yes” answers, I would write, “Please see attached three page essay called, ‘Mom! I Just Peed out My Butt.’”

Supplemental Medication Packet: This one was one of my favorites because you have to sign the form even if your child doesn’t take medication (which, again, was covered on page 1, right after the three phone number lines). Now if your child has prescriptions they need to take and they have to take them at Day Camp, then by all means, fill out the form. But if they don’t take anything, is it seriously necessary to fill out a form and write, NO MEDS on it? Yup. Apparently it is. This particular form has the reek of lawyer all over it.

Permission for authorizing the use of sunscreen: Okay, in all fairness they said they need this one because of allergies and even though we covered this ad naseum on page 2 of my 12- page packet, I was willing concede that this form was legitimate. That is, until I read the line where it says, “I authorize the XXXX staff to directly apply the sunscreen to my child.” So I ask you, how does one apply sunscreen indirectly? Would that mean if I didn’t initial this spot that they would have to apply it like the perfume trick where you spray it in the air and walk through it? Seriously people.

Release and waiver of liability and indemnity agreement: This is where they try to get you to say that it isn’t their fault if your child gets seriously injured or killed on their watch. Let's just be clear, Day Camp, I'll sign that I'm not gonna sue the pants off of you if you seriously injure or kill my child…but it does not say anywhere that I am not going to go medieval on your a$$. And let's also be clear, I would definitely consider going medieval on your a$$…right before I go ahead and sue the pants off of you anyway, liability and indemnity agreement or not. 

I just glanced at the top sheet and realized that I had better go get the white out. On the first page after I wrote out my husband’s information and it asked “Relationship”, I responded “Great!” I have a feeling that might be the kind of cheerful that he was worried about…

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


This is a guest post from my dad. It is important to note that no crows were harmed in the creation of this postalthough I can't say the same for the rabbits.

When I was a very young boy, I did a lot of “hunting”.  I guess I should admit that I wasn’t really hunting in the true sense of the word but rather I was tramping around looking for something to shoot.  I am sad to admit that the something could be animal, vegetable, or mineral and was nothing more than an excuse to shoot my rifle, a target if you will.

Let me quickly add that my specialty was vegetable and mineral targets because I couldn’t get the hang of hitting a moving target and most of the animal variety targets understood the game and refused to be still while I zeroed in and shot.  That is most but not all animals hauled ass when they saw me coming.

 There were some rabbits who thought they could hide by remaining motionless as I approached.  My trusty dog enjoyed them very much.  I guess it never occurred to him that I may have wanted to feast on my prey or at least share the spoils of the “hunt”.  But then, even though he was just a dog, he knew this was not a true hunt and good conduct rules did not apply.  Besides, rabbit for dinner was a rare occurrence and we would have starved to death if limited to the contents of my game bag. 

There was another critter that refused to leave at the first sight of the “mighty hunter”.  The black crow could be counted on to hold his ground until the last moment before flying off and cawing as though laughing at his would be attackers.  Very strange behavior, and yet it got stranger. The wily old crow never provided a target that could be satisfying so, in time I began to ignore his presence altogether. 

On occasion I would carry a single barrel shotgun instead of my rifle.  On one occasion while carrying the shotgun I looked up and saw a crow watching me from his perch in a nearby tree.  He had allowed me to get very close and had not yet flown.  I could not believe how close the crow and I were.  If I had my rifle the crow would have been shot for sure but I had my shotgun and the crow was just out of range.  I took about two or three steps to get in range and that rascal flew away, cawing as he went.

I didn’t think much about this encounter until several days later while carrying my rifle in the same area when I saw a crow in the same tree.  He was watching me as before.  I don’t know if this was the same crow or one of his relatives but I remember thinking that I would be able to get a shot at the crow this time because I now had my rifle.  I was wrong.  I had assumed that the crow would let me get as close as before but he did not.  Just as I got close enough to take a rifle shot, off he went cawing all the way. 

I refused to let myself draw any conclusions from these two encounters.  Crows just cannot be that smart, can they? 

In the days and months that followed, I had many sightings of crows, sometimes while carrying a rifle and other times a shotgun.  I paid very close attention to the actions of the crows.  The birds never failed to adjust the range to the weapon that I carried. It is as if they knew the difference between a rifle and a shotgun and could identify these different guns at a distance. 

All I can say is that crows have made a believer out of me.  They are very smart and I am told that crows can live 50 to 75 years of age.  My response to that is to say that I never shortened the life span of a crow with a rifle or a shotgun…but it wasn’t for lack of trying.        


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Moving on

By Terri Lively

We were just back from the honeymoon when we spied the stack of wedding gifts piled to the ceiling in our dining room. Knowing every inch of every closet and storage area in our small apartment was already filled to capacity, we decided it was time to take the plunge. Ready to take on the responsibility of a mortgage, we began our search for a starter home.

We chose our neighborhood quickly. On day 3, we saw a little diamond in the rough and knew it could be our new home. On day 5, we put in an offer, certain that we were buying at the top of the market (we weren’t), and uncertain that we could afford this house (we could).

As soon as we saw the house, we saw potential for a market bargain. It had fallen out of escrow and it was vacant. Plus it had been a rental house for many years so it needed a lot of work in a multitude of areas inside and out. We put in a ridiculously low offer and crossed our fingers--too cautious to let ourselves be excited but too young to help it.

Here it is! We were pretty excited!
We got it. We have a proud picture of Brenton and I standing in our new driveway, holding our SOLD sign with huge first-time homebuyer’s grins.

My starter house had a laundry list of deferred maintenance projects. When I look at photos of the before and after, I can’t believe we bought it in that condition. But we had vision, and energy. Lots of energy.

We spent countless weekends at the beginning of our marriage learning how to fix our house, our yard, and our partnership. We put hard work and young love into our house. There wasn’t a room in the house or an inch of the yard that didn’t have our blood, sweat, or tears poured into it.

We loved our neighborhood, too. It had great access to the kinds of activities we enjoy. We walked our newly acquired dog for miles around the pathways and adjoining wilderness parks. We also liked the fact that our then non-existent kids could walk to school without ever crossing a major street. We marveled at how safe we were and that no one felt the need to lock his or her doors.

It wasn’t perfect there, though. We were robbed once, although I think we were definitely asking for it by leaving the garage door up. They got my diaper bag, the rat-bastards! Luckily, we stopped them before they could charge too much on my credit cards. And by too much I mean $1,500 in about 90 minutes…because time flies when you are paying T-Mobile bills with someone else’s credit card.

But because the credit card companies covered all of these charges, I grieved the most for my diaper bag. It was fabulous, designer, and stuffed with essentials that I need in my day-to-day life, including my kids’ immunization cards and my son’s favorite stuffed toy. Plus, I had lost my driver’s license. Just the thought of going to the DMV and having to get it replaced made me angry enough to want to wring the neck of the little thief with my bare hands…preferably after I made him or her wait in the DMV line with me.

But in an odd moment of consideration, the thief dropped my driver’s license in the mail and the post office sent it back to me. I didn’t know how to feel about it. Grateful? Yes…but I was also aggravated about being robbed so I guess the best way to put it is. “um…Thanks?”

My look is about the photo, not the burglary...
The police officer dispatched to handle my case was prompt, detailed, and professional. He was also pretty dismissive about the possibility of getting any justice for the crime. He indicated that the perp was young, inexperienced, working alone, and selling my diaper bag at a swap meet that afternoon.

But in spite of our brush with the seamy underside of Orange County we loved living here still, only now we were much more careful about putting down the garage door at night.

We added on to that house for 13 years. We added a remodeled fireplace. We added new kitchen countertops. We added attic and closet storage. We added a garage organization system. We added a home office. We added a bedroom. We added three children. In essence, we added a family inside those walls.

There were a couple of times when we tried to sell our starter home. The first time, however, we decided that we weren’t ready. The second time though we actually put it on the market. The reality of having your home on the market is that you want people to come look at it, even if it means you have to get it ready for a showing just before you head to the hospital to have your third child--at 5 in the morning. Unfortunately, yes, that is a true story.

If you ever want a lesson in humility, read the comments buyers make about your house that you get from the realtors. It will drive you to drink…if you don’t already from having to keep your house spotless, clutter-free with three young kids, and without any personalization whatsoever for weeks at a time.

While we were wrong about buying our house at the top of the market, we were spot on about the fact that we were selling it at the lowest depth of it. We were competing with short sales and foreclosures. This was a time in real estate best summed up with the Limbo-song lyric: How loooow can you go?  We didn’t sell. So we took it off the market, resigned to make it work a while longer.

But life happens and this past fall we moved. Instead of selling, we put it on the market for rent. Meanwhile, packers came and packed up our lives. Movers moved it out on the truck.

When they were done, I walked through my empty house, seeing the memories of our lives playing out before my eyes like scenes from a movie before they faded into memories. Then quick, like a Band-Aid, I loaded my kids in the car and headed off to our new adventure.

I watched my home as I drove away in my rear view mirror, like I usually did because I was obsessed with making sure the garage door was closed. But this time I wasn’t just running errands or going to the gym. I was leaving my home behind. I watched it until I turned off my street and it disappeared behind me.

Before our renters moved in, I went back to my house. I felt emotional as I passed by the kitchen sink where I had washed my babies until they were probably a little too old for it. I gasped when I saw the curtains from the nursery thrown in the middle of the garage floor. I scowled at the Navaho white on the walls, painted over all the vibrant colors that I had carefully chosen over the years to express the spirit of our home, which were now the color of gravel or tofu. I swallowed hard as I passed the spot outside the new bedroom where I hid outside the door not wanting to disturb them while listening to my two oldest children sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" in their tiny little voices for the first time.

But my breaking point was when I saw that the painters had scraped off all the little glow-in-the-dark stars we had put on the ceilings above where my children slept. I found them all scattered on the floor discarded like trash along with the crumpled up masking tape and bits of plastic. So I picked them all up, put them in a plastic bag, and cried like a baby.

I cried for my starter home that was stripped of all of us, like the ceilings were of the little plastic stars that I clutched in my hand. I cried from the stress of moving so far away. I cried about the uncertainty that we could ever find a home we loved as much as this one. I sobbed about it all there on the Pergo floor with my 2-and-a-half-year old patting my shoulder saying, "Don’t cry…it will be okay, mama.”

It seems a little silly, now, to cry over a house. It is, after all, only bunch of wood, drywall and stucco that made up of walls, doors, windows and everything else all contained under a roof. The people who live there are who makes it home.

While I was sad that we were no longer living in our starter house, I like my new house. My new house feels like home now, mostly because of the family that is here with me in it.

Realtors call them starter homes. But they call them that because they are referring to the fact that it is the first house you can afford that will help you get into the next house down the line. But starter home has a whole other connotation to me. It was the first house that we could afford and it was the place where we started our family. It was in my starter home that I really started my life.

It turns out that my little guy, wise beyond his years, was right. I am okay. When I see photos of our early life in our old house, I no longer feel the need to widen my eyes to hide the tears that are pooling on my lower eyelashes. Well, most of the time, anyway. Our starter home was the scenery for the play that was our lives and like a traveling theatre company it was time we were moving on.