Fall woods

Fall woods

Saturday, August 30, 2014

No, I Don't Take Myself Too Seriously

My in-laws' annual Oktoberfest party (yes, it is held in August) was the usual extravaganza: oompah music, extended family, happy children running amok in the yard, and the holy trinity of bratwurst, sauerkraut and spaetzle.  Incidentally, this and St. Patrick's Day are the only two days of the year on which I drink beer.  Nasty stuff (I'm a wine or gin girl) but who am I to spit in the eye of convention?

As we were getting ready to leave for the party, my husband observed that I was the only family member not wearing a Germany soccer jersey or the like and joked that I need a dirndl.


As it happens, but previously unbeknownst to him, I do own one, purchased on a trip to Austria with my parents in 1985 or thereabouts.  I dug it out of the cupboard on the spot just for giggles and was gobsmacked to discover that the damned thing actually still fits me despite the fact that I turned TWELVE in 1985!  Guess I haven't grown much since then, and since I was a chunky kid there was a little extra room for my taller adult self to occupy.  Mine is pink, but the same general sort of outfit as the picture above with the jumper, short white ruffled underblouse and apron.  Of course, I had to wear it to the party just to give everyone a good laugh (I felt like Little Bo Peep!) although you can be sure I brought jeans to change into.  Bavarian milkmaids must be seriously uncomfortable.  Petunia told me I looked beautiful when I came downstairs but Thing One rolled his eyes halfway out of his fool head...ah, the joy of embarrassing my children. ;)


Friday, August 29, 2014

The Druggies Are In Town

The soccer field was abuzz yesterday with stories of the recent robberies in the biggish town up the road.  Little skinny white dude, brazenly walking into houses (some occupied!) in the middle of the day, quickly grabbing valuables and disappearing.  He's been interrupted in the act a couple of times, but the police haven't managed to catch him yet. 

Last night, Thing One couldn't sleep.  He was worried about the burglar coming to our house.  I reminded him that we have an alarm system and a decent-sized dog, that we aren't in town where it's easy to walk away and disappear, and also that most folks out in our area are known to have guns, so we probably aren't high on the target list.  Still, we'll make sure we set the alarm, and I'll pay extra attention to the dog.  Oh, and I also put a baseball bat in our dining room and my heavy wooden nunchuks under my pillow, Princess-and-the-Pea style.  Never was much of a a Girl Scout, but I do believe in being prepared. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

315.39

You can always tell when Thing Two's annual evaluation with the neurodevelopmental pediatrician (NDP) is coming up...my patience (never my strong suit to begin with) becomes almost nonexistent and my stress levels go through the roof.  I hate those visits with a flaming vengeance even though the doctor is as pleasant and professional as she possibly could be and the news she's delivered the past year or two has actually been more positive than negative.  It's mostly an emotional holdover from the earlier visits with her where we sat and watched him tank all the tests and then had to listen to how far behind he was in pretty much everything language-related...tough to take as a parent.

We take him to her once a year because it's good to have that annual 'snapshot.'  Everyone else he works with sees him so often that they have a hard time stepping back and seeing changes, but she can tell us about progress year-to-year, and she also gives her professional input for his school IEP--what accommodations she thinks they should provide, what therapies he needs, that sort of thing.  Luckily, the school and the NDP are very much on the same page and we haven't had any major conflicts, a situation which I am not taking for granted, believe me.  I'm very much aware how fortunate we are in that respect!

He's never actually had a formal diagnosis, interestingly.  In younger children, behaviors resulting from communication disorders, autism spectrum disorders and ADHD can overlap to such a significant extent that it's hard to tell what's going on with any individual child, since appropriate social behavior, language and the ability to focus are all highly interdependent.  He's in the age range for testing now, but the NDP is reluctant to recommend that we go there because he'll still be getting the same therapies regardless of what the tests show, so there's really no point.

Anyway, back in 2013 the powers that be published the latest update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American classification tool for psychiatric issues.  The current version is DSM-5, and in this version there is a new diagnosis called Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder.  The NDP showed us the list of diagnostic criteria for this disorder yesterday, and more so than anything else I've seen, it fits this child.  Again, the diagnosis doesn't matter, except inasmuch as it helps us to get our son the help he needs, but in a way it's a relief to see that our kid isn't the only one out there with this specific constellation of issues.

On the bright side, this year's evaluation was very positive.  The tested area with the LOWEST test results has him functioning at grade level (third) and the highest results were fifth to seventh grade level.  The kid is bright, no doubt.  What concerns me is that, precisely BECAUSE he is so bright, the kid on paper is not at all the same as the kid in front of you: the language and social deficits that the test results might otherwise mask are obvious in person.  My concern is that for the first time since this whole bloody mess became apparent, he's entering a gray area where some might say he doesn't need help just because his scores are so good, despite the fact that anybody who actually talks to the kid for more than fifteen seconds can clearly see that there's still a problem.  At any rate, for the first time in the five years we've been seeing her, she dared to predict that his deficits might not be significantly affecting him by the time he gets to high school, which would be such a blessing that I cannot BEGIN to tell you, especially considering how staggeringly low-functioning he was as a preschooler.

 
He's told me on more than one occasion that he "does not want to need help," itself a reflection of how far his ability to articulate his thoughts has come in the past few years.  He's a proud little guy and hates every.single.minute of all the assistance he gets (speech and OT and social group and all the rest of it) but clearly it's working, and so we will persevere.


  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Don't I Wish

Two of my kids' collective four fall soccer seasons (Thing One has two teams; travel and school) haven't even started yet and I'm already sick of it.  Bad, BAD soccer mom.


At least these made me laugh.






Both boys have had practice every night this week.  Thing Two had practice every night last week as well.  Wonder if Domino's delivers to the soccer fields at the park?



Sunday, August 24, 2014

On Not Judging Books By Their Covers, Part I've-Lost-Count

I met her last year sometime at a school function.  Her son was a new kid in Thing Two's class; she, taller even than me, was quiet and somewhat distant when I introduced myself.  Sadly, I assumed at the time that perhaps Thing Two had annoyed her son somehow: the kids he's been in school with since kindergarten or before are generally used to his eccentricities, but he'd already had a minor run-in with another new boy earlier that year.  Nevertheless, when we were making plans for Thing Two's birthday party and Thing Two wanted to invite her son, I added him to the list and hoped for the best.

When she arrived at the party with him today, an attempt to break the ice with a question about her son's teacher assignment for next year revealed that he's once again with Thing Two, and I did have a brief inward cringe.  But only brief, because the conversation quickly turned to some of her concerns about next year, and I discovered with astonishment that her son has many of the same types of issues as Thing Two and even sees several of the same professionals.  (I also think she is a bit shy by nature.)  Since they are still relatively new, I was able to reassure her about next year's teacher and even make a suggestion or two about things she can ask that the school do for her son to make things easier for him...it ended up being a really good conversation and I walked away feeling like I might have a new friend.  Glad I didn't take that whole first-impression thing as gospel...it now looks like both my son and I would have been missing out!  Live and learn.





Saturday, August 23, 2014

Success

Today's belt test ran just over two and a half hours in length, with not much by way of rest.  Notes to myself for future reference: next time I need to bring a towel for sweat and a much bigger container of water.  Say, one of my kids' half-gallon jugs that they use for soccer camps...had to send a friend's son out to the water fountain to refill my bottle halfway through the test.

BUT.

I now have one of these, and I earned it fair and square.


And more importantly, I walked out of that test feeling good about myself, unlike the last one.  This is not to say that there aren't a bunch of things I still need to work on.  There are, without any doubt.  But this time, I didn't embarrass myself.  All the work with cardio and weights paid off: when the test ended, I still had some gas in the tank, and I didn't crash and burn on any techniques.  I could have kept going at the end if I had to, and that is HUGE.  (It would have been beyond depressing to have trouble with basic fitness again.)  And best of all??  I managed to avoid further injury, which was a big worry going in, especially since my bad knee was bugging me this morning.

I cannot begin to tell you how relieved I am to have that over with.  I likely won't be testing again for a year or so, which is just fine by me (generally, the higher the belt, the longer it takes to earn the next one up.)  It'll be next fall before I'm willing to undergo another round with the wringer, anyway!



  





Friday, August 22, 2014

Ridiculous

So, my long-awaited (or long-dreaded) red belt test is tomorrow.  In our taekwondo school, the red belt is the lowest of what are considered to be the "high" belts, and accordingly the test for this belt is the first of the longer and more difficult ones.  Tests for the lower belts are fairly brief and held on weekday evenings, but the high belt tests take place on Saturdays and can be a 3+ hour proposition depending on how many people are testing for what color/degree of belt.

I wasn't happy at all about how my last belt test went.  I was out of shape and I got my butt kicked in an embarrassing fashion.  The week after that test, knowing that I was looking down the barrel of a cannon at the coming attractions, I started doing some extra cardio, using some weight machines, and watching my diet for empty carbs a little better.  As I've mentioned in a few posts since then, there has definitely been progress: a loss of 20-25 lbs, increased strength and endurance, and a few smaller items of clothing as well.  Very happy to report that my current belt is now way too big--I'll be going down a size with the red one!

That said, my body has been paying the price for the extra activity.  I joke that I'm an "old lady"--at 41, I need to be careful about going too far overboard, because I still have to carpool and shop and do laundry and all that fun stuff even if I get hurt!  I've been wearing a steel-hinged knee brace on my right knee religiously since coming back from the knee surgery two years ago, and that knee's holding up pretty well under the circumstances, but the rest of me is pretty well banged up from the last month or so of ramped-up prep.  Bruised left hand, bruised left foot, wonky right shoulder, jammed right thumb.  I'm a mess...sadly, I also have a SERIOUS case of nerves going on right now.

I've often commented in the past to my husband when he gripes about his marathon training or a race that these activities are things he *chooses* to do...it's not like he's in the Army and there are orders involved.  I am now finding myself in the same boat...putting myself through a physical wringer for a purely voluntary activity--and one I actually PAY to participate in, yet.  Who's the crazy one now??



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Question For The Peanut Gallery

Anyone who has not been buried under a rock in the deepest bowels of the earth for the last couple of weeks has doubtless heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which is intended to raise both awareness and research funds for a truly terrible disease.

Videos of people having buckets of freezing water dumped on their heads have taken over my Facebook feed.  I understand that this viral fundraising effort has been wildly successful, and God knows that the poor souls who suffer from this miserable affliction need all the help they can get.  But am I the only person who cringes a little bit every time I think about this campaign??

I have a good-sized cantankerous and contrary streak.  I know it.  Those who know me definitely know it.  I was sincerely hoping not to be nominated for this challenge, since the thought of having the public force of social media (about which I am ambivalent at the best of times) pressuring me into choosing between

a) donating $100 to a cause I might not otherwise have chosen for my donation dollars (even though it is undoubtedly worthwhile and then some) or
b) having ice water dumped on my head and posting a video of it on the selfsame public social media platform

gives my "don't-tell-me-what-I have-to-do" side hives.  Even for the aforementioned very good cause.

A friend nominated me this morning.  I decided that the response that sat best with me was donating $100 (which I have just done) toward research into another terrible, grossly underfunded disease: pancreatic cancer.  My friend responded that she thinks the challenge is fun and goofy and that basically I am being a big perverse annoying PITA, which is of course entirely possible.

So I ask.  My response to the challenge: appropriate or not?  You won't hurt my feelings either way: just curious.






Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What Is WRONG With These People??

Congratulations, Facebook: you finally got me to click on one of your tremendously annoying sidebar ads.  Not, however, for the reason you might hope.  I was so dumbfounded by the image of the product displayed that I had to get more information!  The site is www.hipslimmer.com, and this is a sample image of their product directly from their website (heaven forbid that photo credits not go where they are due.)


I gather from the website that the founder of the company is a doctor, who was addressing a desperate medical need (ha) when he developed it to help women slim their hips back to pre-pregnancy size after delivery, the idea being that pregnancy hormones serve to relax the hip joints and that even women who subsequently lose all their baby weight are often still left with wider hips postpartum.  Oh, the horrors.  Does it surprise you one iota that this jackass went to medical school in NYC?

For those whose most pressing postpartum (and I mean IMMEDIATELY postpartum) concern is getting back to their exact prepregnancy shape, this device is to be worn for the first EIGHT WEEKS after delivery, 4-6 HOURS A DAY.

Good god and little chickens, people.  This is what you're most worried about right after delivering a baby?  Or what your husband/SO is most worried about?  And to the extent that you are willing to wear this barbaric-looking, medieval-throwback contraption for hours every day WHILE nursing and changing a million tiny diapers and being up all night every night and doing mountains of laundry and not even having time to shower?  (Yeah, maybe I'm just remembering back to when I had newborns around...I would have decked the person who brought one of these anywhere near me.)

#firstworldproblems







 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Just A Teensy Error In Judgment

You know, I thought that half a bushel of peaches sounded (and looked) like a lot when all I wanted to can was twelve 8-oz jars of jam, but I asked the expert and bought what she told me to buy.  Ha.  Joke's on me...next time I double-check!

I canned my 12 (actually 15) jars of jam.  The smaller ones hold eight ounces and the larger one twelve.


Then, since I had a TON of my peach puree (fresh peaches, sliced, cooked and run through the food mill to remove the skins) left over, I said to myself, "Hey, I have some freezer jars and the right kind of pectin, too.  I can make some freezer jam."  Well, I did.  Three batches' worth.  The ones with purple caps hold eight ounces and the green caps, sixteen ounces.


And you better bet that I still had some puree left over!  I froze it as is to use later, if inspiration strikes.  (Any suggestions?)  Wow.  That was an all-day endeavor, albeit unintentionally.  And the dishes involved...ye gods and little chickens.  Every big pot and bowl in the kitchen and half the utensils!


***********
In other news, I had an awesome day with Thing One yesterday.  There are always official geocaching challenges in the month of August, and we both really wanted to complete this year's (last year the challenge was to find at least one cache every day of August and that just wasn't happening.)  This year's challenge is more manageable: without dorking out on you too much, you have to find one each of five different categories of caches and also attend a meetup event during August to collect your six virtual 'badges,' which together earn you the seventh and final badge.  We had the first five going into yesterday and just needed a meetup to complete the challenge, so we headed about 60 miles north to a gorgeous state park in an area we've never visited, found 23 caches, met a bunch of nice people and got our badges.  This is the 7th one (screen grab from my phone.)


We left the house about 11:30AM and rolled back in about 9PM in a state of pretty much total exhaustion!  Thing One was asleep within about five minutes of his butt hitting the seat in the car.  Although any day spent caching would be a good one for me regardless, the best part of it was having that extensive uninterrupted time with my son, which rarely happens.  Kid is 11 now...pretty soon he isn't going to want to spend all day with Mom anymore, so I'll enjoy it while I've got it.

Pic from yesterday.  One of our favorites from last year's meetup event had him posed Titanic-style looking over a valley from a mountain overlook, so we decided that it had to become an annual tradition even though this year's park was sadly lacking in mountains.  :)

   
The kids' school bus info arrived while we were out yesterday (pickup and drop off times, etc.)  Fall's a-comin'...only a couple of weeks of summer left!


  



Friday, August 15, 2014

Catching Up


"Let me explain.
[pause] 
No, there is too much. Let me sum up."

A cookie for anyone who recognizes those lines.

It's been a long week.  A LONG one, full of errands and paperwork and meetings and kids-go-here-kids-go-there and furniture shopping for kitchen and family room and cleaning-out and Freecycling and all sorts of other not very exciting but timesucking things.  I meant to write a post last night touching on some of the craziness and also mentioning my trip to the really awesome orchard across the river, where I told the owner that I wanted to can some peach jam on Sunday and she personally put together a half-bushel box of three varieties for me and told me that all of them would be perfectly ripe by Sunday.  Took her a good ten minutes to do this.

(By the way, this is the river in question.  Picture taken today.

  
And these are the peaches.  They made the whole car smell of fruit and sunshine all the way from the trunk.)


However, that post-writing didn't quite happen.  Took the kids to the gym for their taekwondo classes in the early evening, came home, then let them go swimming.  Sent them upstairs to get their pjs on afterward, and thirty seconds later heard a bloodcurdling scream and ran upstairs to find a scene of carnage: blood gushing from Petunia's head and all over her comforter and her clothes.  There had been some sort of scuffle in which her head accidentally connected with the corner of a bookcase, and the remainder of the evening was spent in the Emergency Department...didn't get home till 11:15.  Lovely.


Three hours, four lidocaine shots, twelve stitches.   Hellfire and damnation.  This kid has four times as many ED visits as her brothers PUT TOGETHER (literally--four to their combined one) and is personally responsible for a lot of my gray hair.  Good thing she's cute, and thankfully she's doing very well today...except for the big bandage you'd never know she'd been hurt.

**********
In brighter news, today happens to be Thing Two's ninth birthday.  If he had a skateboard, I'm sure he would try this, and then we would end up in the ED again, so let's all be glad that he doesn't.


Himself has been reflecting all day about Thing Two's day of birth.  He remembers the details of that day much better than I do, mostly because he was less physically *involved* (ahem) with the actual birth.  In retrospect, it's funny that we found parenting Thing One to be challenging...our parental challenges didn't even really start until Thing Two was born!  And the day he was born, we had no idea that he would have the language issues, either...all we saw then was the "spot" on his head (which turned out to be aplasia cutis congenita) and that scared us badly enough, thank you ill-informed jerkball Peds resident on call and bless you L&D nurse for finding the answers for us in the middle of the night, after your shift ended.

My sweet Thing Two: it's truly been a roller coaster ride since the instant of your birth.  Being your mother is the biggest challenge I've ever faced, because you've had so many hurdles to overcome and you didn't come with a manual--good God, how we needed one, especially early on.  You've thrown us curveball after curveball, and sometimes you and I butt heads like a pair of rhinoceroses (rhinoceri?), but you will always be my precious and beloved baby.  Happy birthday to my little boy, who is rapidly becoming big!

~Mama






    

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Bloody Hell

Guess what I saw yesterday while I was out caching??  One of THESE.  Big one, too.


I was walking along a grassy path and it was lying coiled up to one side of the path, presumably minding its own business.  I thought it was a bit of hose or pipe at first since it wasn't moving, only realizing my error when one foot was about six inches from it.

As you might imagine, I hightailed myself right out of there, and then stopped to text a friend whose daughter (whom I allow to babysit my children anyway) keeps half a dozen pet snakes in her basement.  As far as I'm concerned all snakes are to be avoided no matter what kind they are, but I figured it would be nice to have this one identified for future reference.  And yes, my friend is a brave--some might say foolhardy--soul, but as she's pointed out to me before, she was raised in the Queens, NY of the 1970s and chased muggers for sport...she ain't afraid of no stinkin' snakes.

After giving me grief over the fact that I didn't stop to take a picture for easier identification (I refuse to dignify that one with a comment) she asked a few questions about its appearance and determined that what I saw was a Northern water snake, a blessedly nonpoisonous critter.  Whew.

This, my friends, is why I refuse to cache in the woods alone.  My less-than-spectacular sense of direction notwithstanding (I have two GPS-enabled devices on me at all times plus spare batteries for this reason), there has to be somebody with me who is capable of remaining calm in the presence of serpents!


 

   

Monday, August 11, 2014

Gobsmacked

Didn't see that one coming, that's for sure.


More sad that I can begin to express that your demons won.  Rest in peace, Robin Williams.



Saturday, August 9, 2014

Still My Little Boy

Each summer, my husband spends one weekday doing something fun with each child alone.  Friday was Petunia's day, and Thing Two is still at his grandparents' (to my everlasting guilt, the break from constant arguing has been welcome) so it was just me and Thing One that afternoon.  I had to do a little furniture shopping, so I picked him up after golf camp and we looked at a bunch of sofas, then grabbed some caches and frozen yogurt together as a reward for our diligence.

As luck would have it, there was a Hooters across the parking lot from the frozen yogurt place, and Thing One asked about it.  I try to answer his questions honestly, so I explained that "hooters" is a slang term for breasts and that this is a restaurant where the servers are women who wear tight and revealing clothing.  Without missing a beat, and in dead seriousness, he replied, "What's the point of that??"

Guess I don't have to worry about him and girls for a while yet!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Got A Live One Here

Juggling a little more than usual this week of summer vacation: Thing One has golf camp, Petunia has soccer camp, and Thing Two has the week off (he left this morning for a few days at his grandparents' house, so he's been with me the past two days.)  Petunia's soccer camp is only for girls and is run by the head coach of the girls' soccer team at the high school our kids will attend, who by coincidence happens to be a friend and neighbor of mine although Petunia does not know her well.  At a month shy of 7, Petunia is by far the youngest girl attending this year--there is one other girl who just turned 8 and the others range in age from 10-16.

At any rate, I arrived a bit early for pickup today and watched Petunia trot over to the head coach and have a conversation with her after the camp dismissed.  Shortly afterward, the coach came up to me, laughing, and asked if I put her up to it.  "Put her up to what?" I asked, half-fearing the response.

My little pipsqueak of a six year-old, unprompted, had walked up to the coach, asked if she could speak to her for a moment (exact quote) and then said "You've been watching me play for three days now.  Can you tell me what I need to work on at home to get better?"  (The coach thought either Himself or I had told her to do that, which we hadn't.)  The kicker was the final statement: "I know I'm the littlest one here, so I need the most help.  Can you help me?"

I have to give the kid credit: she has an awful lot of guts and determination for a very small person!  Proud mama here.

  




  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Word


I envy those who can let well enough (or good enough) alone. I am not that woman. Damn, sometimes being Type A sucks rocks!


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Taking Control Of What I Can Control

Last weekend I spent a great deal of time clearing junk out of our office and throwing it away.  The net result didn't look all that different, but at least I felt better afterward.  This weekend I cleared out my closet, drawers and shoes...there are now two bags of trash and three of clothes to donate in my front hall.  Himself walked into our room mid-cleaning frenzy today and asked me if I was nesting!  (For the record, the answer is no.)  I gave him a dirty look.

There's only so much dirt and disorder and confusion I can handle, and by this point in the summer I am right up to my limit.  What I clean is immediately dirtied, what I tidy is immediately strewn with kid detritus and dog hair....AAAGGGHH.  I think that if my husband were to take the kids out of town for any period of time right now, the first thing I would do would be to clean everything so I could then enjoy a clean and tidy house in peace until they came back.  This sort of thing is why mothers do a happy dance at the bus stop on the first day of school!






Saturday, August 2, 2014

All Survived And It Is The End Of An Era

Last night was the party for Thing One's birthday.  Eight eleven year-old boys were here for most of the evening, and five slept over (mercifully, for one reason or another three were picked up by parents before bedtime.)

This will be the last time we do this, really.  I know we say that every year, but this year we MEAN it, dammit.  And it wasn't that they were misbehaving, because they weren't--they are good kids and really have remarkably good manners as a group--but that is just an *awful* lot of preteen boys to have running around one house and yard.  Especially when there are also two younger siblings around, one of whom has to be picked up and dropped off from a friend's party the same evening as well.

After the pizza and cake, the manhunt and basketball and swimming and general mayhem, the boys were bundled off down to the basement with their handheld games of choice, sleeping bags and pillows and asked to please keep the noise to a minimum.  We've given up on hoping that they actually sleep, although some of them do on occasion--our baseline requirement is merely that they let US sleep.  Himself was scheduled to run 17 miles with a friend at 6 this morning and really was not in the mood to be kept up all night--he told the boys that anyone who kept him awake was going to be dragged out of bed and taken running at 5:30!  Amazingly, we went to bed at midnight and didn't hear a single peep before Himself's alarm went off.  :)

One boy had a stomachache first thing this morning.  I called his mom, who came over immediately, but of course the kid was feeling better by the time his mom arrived and ended up staying.  After Wii and pancakes, the kids were collected by their parents, and after they left I found a pillow, two pairs of really grubby, disgusting boy-socks and a bathing suit left behind!  Par for the course.  Thing One has been a zombie for most of the day, but he had fun with his buddies and that was the point of the exercise.

And next year, NEXT YEAR, there will be a party somewhere other than my house that does not involve sleeping over!        


Friday, August 1, 2014

I Haven't Bought Clothes For My Daughter In Years

Beyond underwear, soccer gear and the odd pair of shoes, anyway.  Why?


Each of the white bags you see is a standard 13-gallon kitchen trash bag.   There are six of these, full,  on the bottom of this pile.  Sprawled across the top are four more of these bags, each containing multiple dresses, garment-bag style.  And the clothes in these bags?  All hand-me-downs for Petunia.  Better than Christmas as far as she's concerned.  

One of my best friends has two daughters who are the same ages as my sons.  These girls are dressed like fashion plates all the time, in an age-appropriate, non-skanky sort of way.  The dresses have matching hairbands and shoes; even the play clothes come in sets.  And each time the younger girl grows and the mother cleans out her closet, a pile like this appears in my front hallway!

The scary thing is that this is probably all one size of clothing; I haven't had a chance to look yet (see my earlier post about the boy madness currently going on in my house.)  The sheer size of the pile just boggles my mind.  My boys have a fair amount of clothing, and my younger son more than the elder because he has Thing One's hand-me-downs plus whatever he got new, but what comes out of my friend's younger daughter's closet could comfortably clothe quadruplets, I swear it.  It's certainly more than my one little girl needs, so I sort and share.  And even what I do keep is passed along again in turn when Petunia outgrows it, from me to one friend's daughter and from her to another younger girl.

These clothes get a lot of use and we are but one link in a long chain; that's the only thing keeping me from feeling ridiculous guilt about overconsumption and waste when I look in Petunia's closet.  I don't have to buy any of it...I can't even imagine how much all of that cost new.  But the best part??  I didn't have to be the one trying to find preteen clothes for tall, long-legged girls that don't make them look like streetwalkers!  My friend is happy to give me the things her daughters outgrow, but she has jokingly said on more than one occasion that I should have to experience the frustration she feels while shopping for her daughters as the 'price' of the hand-me-downs.  :)