How do I get rid of an unwanted guest?

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A surprise left in our yard.

He’s not really a guest. In fact, he’s a homeless intruder who thinks he lives at our house. We called the cops on him in October. I wrote about him here.

Today, my husband came home from work and said, “What’s a barbecue doing in our front yard?”

“What?” I asked.

After seeing the barbecue inside our gate, I went straight to the computer to review my security video. Unfortunately, the homeless guy returned while we were enjoying Arizona sunsets over the long weekend.

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Arizona sunset.

I am now waiting for the police to show up, for the third time, to report the intruder. I have him on video over the weekend trespassing, peeking in our bedroom window, and trying to break through the garage door. I don’t know what else to do.

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Here’s the homeless man who thinks he owns our house.

Do you have any suggestions on how to get rid of unwanted guests?

 

Never a dull moment — even while housebound

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The archway leading to our backyard with a wrought iron gate.

An update on my eye surgery: I’m feeling discouraged. It was kind of fun to be housebound for a few days not being able to drive, shop or leave the house except for my morning walk. You can read about my missing glasses here and how what my activities are limited to here.

After two full weeks of it, though, I was excited to start with cataract surgery on my left eye. That was supposed to be Wednesday morning at 6:30 a.m. But after a brief check up with the doctor Tuesday afternoon, he said he’d feel better if we waited another week. I think the doctor was just as disappointed as me. The reason for the delay is my eyes keep changing from week to week.

He wants my eyes stabilized so when he puts in a new lens after removing the cataracts and old lens, he’ll know what to use. It all makes sense. It doesn’t make it any easier though. I’m trying to keep my spirits up, but I’ll confess it’s not as easy as it was three weeks ago.

So, I was feeling down and discouraged when my husband asked me what a leopard print blanket was doing in a planter. Of course, I hadn’t noticed that with my near blindness and all. He showed me and underneath the blanket was a stapler.  How weird was that? I threw away the blanket and stapler and decided to go through our Nest Security videos to find out how and when they appeared.

I was totally freaked out. We had had an intruder on our property every night, Saturday through Tuesday. The guy put down his duffel bag and rattled our gate in the archway that leads to our back yard. In one video he smashed the lock to break it open, but didn’t succeed. I watched as he had walked over to our bedroom windows and tried to peer inside.  I discovered this last night and my husband said, “You know he’s coming back tonight.”

We locked the big outside wooden gate that we rarely use. We were secure in our fortress, but I couldn’t sleep for hours and kept waking when I finally did fall asleep.

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The big wooden gates.

I went for my morning walk today as usual. I almost skipped it because I didn’t want to leave our house with the big wooden gates open (they lock from the inside.) During my walk, I constantly checked the Nest app on my iPhone for activity. When I was a block from home, I looked at the app and the guy was there! He had returned!

I couldn’t stop shaking and when I got home, the gate was closed! I yelled and said I was calling the cops so get out! I checked my app again. The intruder had left three minutes before I arrived home. I called the cops and waited, not stepping foot on our property, but feeling safer in the middle of the street. The policeman came right away and said he’d look for the guy, he was probably close-by. He also suggested we get a lock for the outside of our big wooden gates or hire a security firm. I’m thinking Rottie. We had one before and this never happened.

I think I’d much rather be wallowing in my boredom, being stuck for another week at home. This is a tad bit too much excitement for my taste.

Here’s a still shot from the Nest:

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If you’ve had a home intruder, how did you get over the fear?

 

 

Patience is a virtue when you’re a patient

 

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The Palm Springs pool.

One of the takeaways I’ve gained from injury, surgery and recovery is patience. I’ve had to learn to be patient with myself. I remember the old saying, “Patience is a virtue.” Well, It’s been more than four months since I fell skiing and my patience is being tested. I’m on week five post-surgery and finally, I’m seeing improvements.

I do feel like I’m at a turning point where things are getting better. My Physical Therapist keeps adding to my list of exercises and she had me strap weights to my ankles yesterday. On the days I don’t go to PT, I make my way to the city pool and walk in the handicapped lane and do my PT exercises in the water. This week, I can walk around the house—without my post-op leg brace on.

With all these rapid improvements in my health, I am impatient for more movement and strength. A few weeks ago I was in my brace 24-7 and I couldn’t put weight on my leg, and had to use a walker. Compared to those bleak weeks, I’m doing great. However, I’m ready to get beyond this and I have to remember to be patient a little longer. I get tired easily. My leg gets stiff when I sit at the computer. I have to be patient with how long it takes me to get ready for my day and how long it takes me to walk from one room in the house to the other. Yes, patience is a virtue and I’m trying hard to be virtuous.

My next big move will be to push off the wall and swim, rather than walk in the handicapped lane. I’m also looking forward to getting out of the post-op brace and being able to return to my morning walks around the park. In the meantime, I’ll try to be more patient with the small improvements I’m experiencing each and every day.

 

 

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Soon, I hope to be back to doing this!

In what areas of your life do you need patience?

 

A Free-Range Parent Talks About the Free-Range Utah Law

 

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My son having play-time at the beach.

 

If you read parenting news and blogs like I do, you’ve probably read that a new law in Utah that goes into effect in May, allows parents to stop being helicopters. A Wall Street Journal article called “Parents, You Can Stop Helicoptering” is written by Lenore Skenazy, the woman who let her 9-year-old child ride the subway alone in New York.

Here are some excerpts from her opinion piece:

“If you send your kid out to play in the park for an hour, or buy a carton of milk, or even walk to school, guess what? If you’re in Utah, you won’t get arrested for negligence. Woo hoo!

“You don’t have to worry about a trial, fines, mandatory parenting classes, jail time or even losing custody, all thanks to a new law passed unanimously by the Utah Legislature and signed this month by Gov. Gary Herbert. It goes into effect in May. It’s called the Free-Range Parents Law, named after the movement I started, Free-Range Kids.

“I’m the New York mom who let her 9-year-old ride the subway alone and wrote a column about it for the late, great New York Sun. That was 10 years ago April 1 (and no, it wasn’t a joke). Two days later I found myself on NBC’s “Today” show, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and National Public Radio. The hosts all asked the same question: “But Lenore, how would you have felt if he never came home?”

“Well, I did have a spare son at home. But seriously, that very question was the reason parents were going crazy with worry. Paranoia about abduction by strangers—among the rarest of crimes—was the whole reason kids were being supervised every second. The No. 1 cause of death for children is car accidents. Yet you don’t hear talk-show hosts saying: “Oh my God, you drove your son to the dentist? How would you have felt if you got T-boned by a truck?”

“I started the Free-Range Kids blog the weekend after the media firestorm, to explain that I am all for safety. I love helmets, car seats, seat belts. If you’re having a baby, my shower gift is a fire extinguisher. But I let my son go out into the big wide world without me because that’s what kids, certainly 9-year-olds, have been doing since the beginning of time.”

Her article goes on to describe hair-raising scenarios where 911 was called and Child Protective Services showed up at homes when a parent let their kids be alone for five minutes or less—or play outside the house 150 feet away. In one story, a mom went into a Starbucks and let her girls sit in their van. A police officer greeted her and threatened to take the kids away when she returned three minutes later. The next day, Child Protective Services showed up at their house and demanded a doctor examine the children for signs of abuse.

Here’s what Skenazy wrote about the law in Utah:

“The Utah law redefines neglect to exclude letting kids walk to school, play outside, remain briefly in a vehicle under certain conditions, stay at home as a latchkey kid, or engage in any “similar independent activity.” It adds that children should be of “sufficient age and maturity to avoid harm or unreasonable risk of harm,” which could leave the door open for overzealous officials. But clearly the law leans in the direction of giving Free-Range parents the benefit of the doubt.

“In America, we keep talking about how we need to raise a generation of kids who are smart, resilient problem-solvers ready to take on the chaotic, robotic economy ahead. We can’t do it by standing always by their side, solving all their problems.

“It is not negligent to believe our kids are ready for the childhood independence that made us who we are. It is negligent to deprive them of it.”

Isn’t it a shame that our children aren’t allowed the same freedom we had as kids? I never let my kids walk to the park or wander around the block alone when they were young. When I was young, we were outside if the weather allowed it. We rode our bikes around and went in and out of neighbor’s houses. I remember going to the Schutt’s house (they had teenagers who babysat us–and a horse named Snoopy.) I loved hanging out in the girls’ rooms and seeing their cool clothes, make-up and hairstyles. Their mom always gave us a cookie or popsicle, too.

My kids never had that life. We did have a child kidnapped from his front yard in a nearby town when my kids were little and it scared me to death. His body eventually was found. That one incident had a profound effect on my parenting.

I let my kids play at the park or beach, but we moms would be gathered on a blanket chatting and watching while they played. They also had their space at the pool, where they went six days a week for practice with a great group of kids. The park, beach and the pool allowed a little bit of freedom for them to explore and be with other kids, without us constantly hovering—although we were there on the sidelines ready to helicopter at a moment’s notice.

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Freedom to play at the beach.

 

What are your thoughts about society today not allowing kids any freedom? Do you agree with the new law in Utah?

 

From Play-Dates to Play-Groups, Just Let the Kids Play!

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I saw a blogger on TV talk about “banishing the play-date.”  You can read his post here.

I reminisced about my childhood. I played in and out of neighbors’ backyards, rode bikes from dawn to dusk — with no adults bothering me.

imgres-2When I had kids, I found they didn’t have freedom like we did.

I went to Mommy and Me with my son Robert at the Palm Springs Pavilion. We learned to sing songs together and play “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “I’m a Little Teapot” with a dozen other moms and babies that apparently needed the coaching.  Each week, we took turns bringing snacks of grapes or string cheese. I look back at this as a training ground for the proverbial play-date.images-5

Play-dates developed from the Mommy and Me group. We had a park day, which was actually fun and healthy. Moms sat together on quilts on the grass and talked for hours while our kids played on the now-banned steel playground equipment — a super tall, steep slide, a merry-go-round, and a stagecoach that they could climb into, on top of and jump off of. Sometime during their early childhood years, our city tore out the dated, dangerous equipment and put in rubber ground and safe equipment. My kids never liked to play on the brightly-colored equipment and our park play-dates vanished.images

One day, I got a phone call from a friend. She homeschooled her daughter and hand-picked her friends for a weekly Friday Play-Date. She hired a teacher to run play-group, and each week included a lesson, a theme, craft and snack, followed by 10 minutes of unsupervised play on her backyard swing set.imgres-1

I felt honored to be in the select group. My kids had made their mark. Months later, she took me to lunch at CPK and told me she had some big news. She was uninviting one of the boys. I hardly saw this is earth shattering, but perhaps there was more to this luncheon. Maybe it was a warning!

imgresYears later, when my kids were in high school, they reconnected with friends from play-group. NOTE: This wasn’t just a play-date, it was play-group. They remembered it as if they were fellow Mouseketeers, having survived a bizarre childhood experience.

By 7th grade, I was homeschooling my daughter. Every Wednesday, I picked up her best friend from school, and brought her to my house to play until her mom got off work. This was another sort of play-date. We moms thought it was an ideal way to keep their friendship going. Since my daughter loved arts and crafts — homeschooling allowed her to try ceramics, mosaics, and quilting — I said that the two girls could do an art project each week.

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But that didn’t happen. I was tired from supervising my daughter’s activities to the half hour, and my daughter just wanted to hang out with her friend. So, I retired to my room and left them alone. After a few weeks, the friend didn’t want to come over anymore. She said she was promised an art activity and she was disappointed that they weren’t doing anything.

That makes me think about our kids and their overly structured lives. I love having quiet time. I hope my kids do, too. We need to unplug, unschedule, and let our kids regain their creativity and inner peace. They need us to leave them alone and let them be kids.DSCN0116

It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood…

images-6I was taking care of my dad who had a shoulder replacement when it happened. We weren’t home from the hospital for one hour when I needed help. Somehow, he ended up sliding onto the floor and he couldn’t get up. I sure couldn’t get him up — and we had to keep his shoulder immobilized.

I didn’t think any of my neighbors would be able to help — except for the crazy guy down the street who brings his dog over to do his business on my lawn. But, after he called my daughter, who was 13 years old at the time, the B word and the C word — I try to avoid him.

images-2Besides the crazy guy who I don’t speak to, I realize I don’t know my neighbors. I recognize them and I wave as I drive by. But, I don’t really know them.

images-3It’s not like we’re new to the neighborhood. We moved into our home in 1992. The two neighbors I knew on a first-name basis — Vera and Betty — well, they died at least five years ago.

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I remember how it was different when I was young. We lived in a small house in a town of 5,000 residents. We knew everyone on the block — actually everyone in the whole town. During the summer, we weaved our way through each yard and kitchen in our neighborhood. We were offered an occasional cookie or popsicle. There was one house we avoided — Mr. Funk’s house. He’s the one with the cat trap in his back yard. I wrote about him in My Son Tried to Give Away the Cat on Facebook.

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Why don’t we associate with our neighbors, anymore? My mom and dad leaned over the fences and talked about their tomatoes with the next door and back door neighbors.

imgres-1We played work-up in the middle of the street after dinner until it got too dark to play.

imgres-4I miss those days.

If you’re wondering what happened to my dad, who had slipped to the floor in my living room, I called my husband who was at the beach with my daughter and her friend — a mere two hours away. He gave me a couple of choices. First, call 911. Second, wait two hours for their return. Or, my daughter piped in — call Karl.  Karl is a friend’s husband. I wrote about this friend in Alpha Moms and the Cupcake Wars. They don’t live in my neighborhood, but close by — and we’ve been friends for 12 years — fellow swim team, Catholic school, high school and NCL parents. Karl came over immediately and saved the day. 

images-4I guess we create our own neighborhoods with our interests and connections.

I have a question for you. Do you know your neighbors? Is this a phenomenon that is particular to my neighborhood that we aren’t very neighborly? Or is it a trend of today?

imagesSome of these photos are from my home town Snohomish, WA. Two are from my current neighborhood, the Old Movie Colony.