Month: August 2010

A Desperate Plea

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A desperate plea
Lisa Baniewicz
Full House

Dear God,
I know you’re busy, but I wanted to bring some disturbing news to your attention. I recently read about a 2009 study from the Department of Agriculture that states it’s going to cost $222,360 to raise each of my children. To top that off, it doesn’t even include college tuition. The study was for children from birth to age 17. As you can see, this has caused major concern for me.
You have blessed me with five children I wouldn’t trade for the world (on most days). I added that last part because I know I’m supposed to always tell the truth. Needless to say, this means I’m supposed to be a millionaire. Is this an oversight on your part? As you know, I’m not even close.
I’m a stay-at-home mom and part-time writer (emphasis on the “part-time”). According to, if I were paid for the average 10 jobs I do on a daily basis, I’d be making over six figures. (You are familiar with the Internet craze, right? It’s fabulous for research!) Anyway, it also says I work an average of 52 hours of overtime each week. These aren’t glamorous jobs. I’m talking housekeeper, daycare teacher, and van driver … that sort of thing. Not to complain, but, I don’t get sick days, rarely take a personal day, and don’t get holidays off. This is all somewhat depressing.
To add to this worry, I think you’re aware of some recent mishaps in my family. I’ll bring them to your attention just in case you forgot. Yesterday my husband’s car wouldn’t start. That’s not good. This is after he accidentally smashed mine against a pillar in a parking garage. I now have no side mirror and a dent that makes my car door sound like crunching metal every time it’s opened. A few weeks ago, I told him I was going to stop telling him how to drive. Is this a sign to go ahead and start again? This might be the highlight of my week.
Oh, and did you happen to see the hospital bills lately? Combined, my children have had one emergency room visit, one MRI Scan and two x-rays in the last few months. That turned out to be one expensive birthday party ($600) and one expensive baseball season ($400). Don’t even get me started about school registration fees or the cost of class supplies.
After calculating my huge income (the math took about five seconds since I’m only working with double digits here), I’ve sadly come to this conclusion: I need help!
With that said, I have a few ideas. I would like you to surprise me with a considerably wealthy relative who has left me everything in their will (excluding any debt). If winning the lottery would be easier, I’ll take it. I’m not picky. I prefer this much more than moving into a hut, eating grubs and saving every last penny. You know how I feel about camping.
Well, the old saying is true, desperate times call for desperate measures and they’re quickly approaching. Since you always answer my prayers, I just want to thank you in advance for your time and consideration in this important matter. I can be reached any time of day.
P.S. Thank you for the roof over my head and the opportunity to work in this economy. I have not taken these things for granted. Just need a little help, “G.”

Compliments of The Atchison Globe

Back to School

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Back to school
Lisa Baniewicz
Full House

Can I hear an “Amen?” I have once again survived back-to-school preparations, along with large amounts of stress and the inevitable last minute school-supply purchases! This long, three-step process is not to be taken for granted.
The first challenge is the hunt for school supplies. There are always those certain supplies a mom can never find. In the past it’s been red erasable pens, a white board eraser and very specific folder tabs my oldest needed three years ago (I still haven’t found them). What I’ve realized, after having four out of five children in school, is that the world will still go on if my child doesn’t bring the white board eraser. I think the teacher will survive with the other 29 just fine.
What I’ve learned from doing this type of shopping the past 11 years is this: if I don’t bring my children along to pick out their own backpacks, folders, and book covers, I will be returning the ones that don’t get their gold stamp of approval. Yet, if I take all five children shopping with me, someone will have a melt down and cause a scene. It’s just a given. This year it was very close to being me.
This year’s tantrum in the middle of Target happened during a 20-minute decision involving backpacks. Apparently bored out of her mind, my 2-year-old decided to rip a handful of hair out of her sister’s head. I could barely get her to release her “death grip.” Her siblings often refer her to as a bully. She is less than three feet tall and weighs about as much as a golden retriever puppy! Quite frankly I’m just glad she can defend herself.
I’m contemplating paying someone else to take my children shopping for their school supplies. This might mean flying my mother-in-law in to do it. This may be my best idea yet. I’m a genius!
I still consider myself a rookie when it comes to the “tax-free weekend.” In previous years, I’ve mistakenly purchased things that weren’t included in the tax-free incentive and made the huge mistake of going to stores with bumper-to-bumper carts. The traffic in some of those aisles is worse than the Chicago Loop at rush hour. After this year, I’ve come to the conclusion this weekend is overrated. After driving to shopping areas 30 to 50 miles away (at nearly $3 a gallon in gas) it’s a toss up whether I’ve really saved money. I only recommend this weekend to parents with reserve energy after the long summer.
The second challenge to conquer every year is school uniforms for their private school. I smartly purchased uniforms in July to get the 15 percent discount. I’ve learned to buy the uniforms a little larger so they last a few years and pray my children grow at a snail’s pace. I then pass everything down to the next child if it’s in respectable condition. Of course I have a teenager, and being every bit her teenage self, my daughter announced she needed more uniform shirts. This was after I thought I was finished. I think I might charge her the additional 15 percent so she tells me earlier next year. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?
My last hurdle is registration day, which should really be called “Registration Day, Part 2.” I vividly remember writing a large check last year for the 2011 school year. What was that for exactly? At Registration, Part 2, I now know to just bring a fresh batch of blank checks and my favorite pen to avoid hand cramps. Nearly every station requires some form of payment. I love the ones that ask if I want to be billed. I want to tell them to defer all payments until after graduation, just like student loans. That way if my child doesn’t graduate, I don’t owe anything.
Nevertheless, there’s much to celebrate now. My family is back in a routine. My children are filling their minds daily with knowledge instead of commercial jingles and Facebook status’. My husband’s at work and I’m home with my 2-year-old and 4-year-old looking forward to a long nap.
Lisa Baniewicz is an Atchison resident and stay-at-home mom with five children ranging in age from 2-14 years old.

Compliments of The Atchison Globe

Memorable Noah Quote

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That's so funny!

While my teenage daughter and I were discussing cheerleading try-outs, my son interrupted and said, “What’s a herky?  I don’t speak cheerleader.”

Eating Out at Your Own Risk

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Eating out at your own risk
Lisa Baniewicz
Full House

Why do I torture myself by taking my family of seven out to dinner? Something must happen to my brain, because suddenly I think my 2-year-old will sit for an extended period of time (at the mercy of a waiter) when she won’t even do this at home. At home she prefers to crawl under the table, bounce on her chair and throw her food on the ground if she doesn’t particularly like it. This doesn’t go over well in public.
At a recent restaurant outing, before my husband even had a chance to park the car, I was seated with the children and our daughter took off running. She made one lap around the restaurant when I finally headed her off at the tortilla station. I pretended she was headed there all along, all the while feeling mortified that this was my child misbehaving in public. Doesn’t she know the rules? She’s supposed to be angelic in public places.
Unfortunately, my 2-year-old is well beyond the high chair phase. And no high chair equals too much freedom for this child. Therefore, in hopes of being proactive, I always request a booth to trap her in and avoid any temptation to flee. Of course, finding a way to squeeze a family of seven into any booth is another challenge. Even with all this effort, she once darted out under the table waving menus in each hand. I think she was trying to fly. Her siblings rarely want to sit by her, knowing anyone within arms’ length will be smeared with food (this might be why stain removers evolved).
To avoid such behavior (as well as complete embarrassment), we have friends that only go to restaurants with menus you can color. As soon as they’re seated, they immediately ask for crayons and tell the waiter they’re on a time limit. This basically translates to, “Once you see our kids standing on their heads and hear them yelling from a distance, bring the check and make it a to-go order please.”
I can relate to this way of thinking. When eating out with the kids, I prefer loud restaurants with entertainment other than my children. Sometimes this backfires and only provides over stimulation, and any parent knows there’s no turning back when this happens.
With out-of-town friends visiting last week, I talked the other moms into taking our children to a diner that delivers your food on a train. “How fun does that sound?” I said. Luckily, they’re as adventurous as I am. After three moms and 12 kids got into the 15-passenger van, we headed downtown. The van didn’t even fit in the parking garage because it couldn’t clear the low roof. Had all our children been there, we would have needed to take a bus (I’m not even kidding). Luckily, we made it through lunch with little crisis. We took up three booths, only had two bathroom trips, and our orders came quickly. Of course, the adult orders were delivered last and the children had already wolfed theirs down, but we managed. I even complimented my friend on how well her 2-year-old was behaving. She reassured me, her daughter could melt down at any minute. Silently, I felt normal and smiled inside.
Sometimes, a parent should just opt for a drive-through. Our adventure at the Mexican restaurant wasn’t over at destination tortilla. Our future track star escaped again, feeling a second urge to lap the restaurant. This time my husband went after her once I gave him a look that said, “been there, done that.” Anyway, couldn’t he see I was busy wiping honey-mustard off a $5 corn dog that had just fallen on the floor? After quick inspection, I gave it back to our other daughter. This didn’t even faze her. Sterilizing everything that hits the floor is so yesterday. This coming from a clean freak. Wow, have I changed!
A short while later, my husband came back to our table glowing and triumphant after catching our 2-year-old. I’d had enough excitement for one night and was ready to leave. The next time we decide to go out to eat, I think I’ll just load up the family, circle the block, and end up at my favorite restaurant, “A La Home.”

Courtesy of The Atchison Globe

Facing Junior High

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Facing junior high
Lisa Baniewicz
Full House

During the last week of school last year, my son told me he couldn’t see the board in class. Shaking my head in disbelief, I said, “You didn’t think this should have been brought to my attention earlier?”
I’m pretty sure he was trying to avoid the dreaded glasses. But much to his dismay, next month he’ll be starting school with new glasses. And since I got the thumbs up from our dentist, my husband and I decided to just get his braces out of the way, too. He’ll be starting sixth grade in the fall as a typical middle school student. I assured him he wouldn’t be the only soul with glasses and braces.
So far, the few weeks he’s been wearing glasses have been pretty painless. Between the two, I thought he’d take the glasses hardest. It hasn’t even been an issue. Maybe he doesn’t realize he’ll be wearing them for the rest of his life. I think I’ll let my husband tell him this at a much later date. Or my son can just do what I did and have that magical surgery called Lasik when he’s an adult. Even so, that’s quite a ways off.
The only thing he doesn’t care for is sports goggles. I can’t seem to talk him into getting them yet. I tried to tell him they’ve drastically improved the look since I was a kid. This seems to mean nothing to him. He’s pretty adamant they’re not going anywhere near his face. I tried convincing him he’d see the ball much better. “Just think how much better you’ll play!” I said enthusiastically. He insisted he sees the ball. I said, “Yes, but not until it practically hits you in the face.” So far I have not won this battle, but I’m not giving up. It’s all about timing.
As for his mouth of metal, in his eyes the orthodontist is trying to make his life miserable. He doesn’t even have his braces yet, and his younger sister (who needs two sets) barely complained during round one. I’ve tried to assure him that he’ll thank me later.
The only thing he has so far is a palette separator. I have to stick a pointed tool in the contraption every night and crank it. He’s supposed to feel a little pressure. The definition of little is not in my son’s vocabulary. He’s complained more than any human being on earth. “It hurts.” “I can’t talk.” (That one’s actually true. He can no longer enunciate.) “I can’t even eat.” He told me he has to chew his food with his front teeth, thrust it to the back of his mouth with his tongue, and then swallow. Sounds like a lot of work (and more information than I ever wanted to hear). I commended him for his creativity and was happy that eating is currently off of his list of complaints.
In the meantime, I’m pushing for a new law requiring children to never be allowed to ride in the front seat while their parent is driving. I decided this the other day after enduring entirely too much stress, mostly involving my son. He was riding in front, yet again complaining about his braces. I had already tried the sympathetic approach. The “if you have to suffer so will I” approach. “I’ll only eat applesauce if that’s all you can eat.” Finally, I had it. I interrupted his whining mid-sentence and blurted out, “Oh, just stop being a big baby!” Not a word from him. Even his sisters in the back seat were quiet. I too, was somewhat stunned that came flying out of my mouth. I wasn’t sure why he didn’t respond but decided he was shocked into silence.
Ten minutes later (and still driving with my co-pilot, Captain Complainer), I was merging onto a highway. Out of nowhere he yelled out at the top of his lungs, “There’s a cop!” I don’t even know if I was speeding or doing anything illegal, but the sheer volume of his voice gave me a heart attack. He looked at me sideways and gave me a sly smile. There was no cop. He smugly said, “Now we’re even.”
Well, the little stinker is still alive. But let’s just say, every night when I have to crank his palette separator, the sympathy is gone.

Courtesy of The Atchison Globe

Time to kill

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Of all places I could die, I never quite pictured it being in a public restroom at a movie theatre.

On a recent weekend get-a-way, my husband and I arrived at the airport only to find out our flight was canceled. With seven hours to kill before catching the next flight, we decided to leave the airport and save hundreds of dollars by eating anywhere else but there. After lunch, with several hours remaining, we decided to go to a movie.

Before the movie started I headed to the restroom, since I drank four glasses of water and two glasses of iced tea at lunch (I was feeling really dehydrated this particular day).

When exiting the bathroom, I couldn’t open the door to the lobby. I could have sworn it was the same door I entered but decided to try another door. The other one was dead-bolted so I went back to the first option and opened it this time. I thought it was strange that it didn’t open at first but didn’t give it much thought.

When the movie ended I practically ran people over to get to the bathroom again. After having five children, any time you have to go to the bathroom is an emergency. There’s a very limited amount of time a mother can hold it after her body has been stretched like a rubber band. That window of opportunity seems to be shrinking the older I get. I figure by the time my youngest child is out of diapers I’ll be in them.

After washing my hands and noticing the other woman in the restroom decided not to follow standard hygiene rules, I grabbed another paper towel to grasp the handle on the way out. She had beaten me to the door and I didn’t particularly want her germs. No problem – I had a paper towel. Big problem – there was no door handle. It was on the floor. She stood there in front of me, door handle at her feet, looking completely dumfounded. In an almost robotic state-of-shock she pulled something else out of the door where the handle used to be. I was beginning to think the non-hand washer also lacked a brain. I smiled as I watched her. This was so much better than the movie I had just seen.

I decided I needed to do something so I wouldn’t miss my plane. I asked her to hand me the metal object while I cringed at the thought of all the diseases I could contract since she opted not to wash her hands.

I put the bolt back in easily. I tried to reattach the handle – not so easy. I tried to hit the metal handle and jam it in with all my strength. No success. It fell to the floor with a thud. (Why on earth do I bother to lift weights?)

For some reason I found this situation completely hilarious. I couldn’t stop laughing. I kept turning to the other woman in complete hysterics saying, “Isn’t this funny?” She just looked at me like I was crazy. I started to laugh so hard tears were streaming down my cheeks. I think she thought I was nuts.

It was time for Plan B. Knowing my husband must be nearby on the other side of the door I began to pound on the door and call his name. No answer. (Note to self: Schedule appointment to get his hearing checked.)

Moving on to Plan C, I called his cell phone. I got his voice mail. (Are you kidding me?) Why do we have cell phones if not for emergencies? Why does my husband insist on the most expensive cell phone if it doesn’t ring when he’s approximately three feet away from me? Where was my knight in shining armor?

Thoughts quickly flashed through my mind. Is this really where it’s going to end? Yuck!

Finally the other woman stranded with me snapped out of her trance. She asked for the handle and pounded it back in. I should have asked her how much she benches at the gym but congratulated her instead and stumbled out the door still laughing.

After inhaling fresh air, or at least the smell of buttered popcorn, I spotted my husband. I tried to explain between gasps for air and fits of laughter that I almost died in a public restroom and he didn’t save me. (Sometimes I can be a little over the top.) He just looked at me confused and led me out of the theater. On the way out, he looked down at his cell phone and said, “Oh, when did you call?”

Courtesy of The Atchison Globe