I survived Sleepover 2010

Posted by Julie Wallace

My 6-year-old daughter came home from school one day and told me she wanted to have a sleepover.

Sure, I said, you can have one or two of her friends over for a night.

Well, the Monday after that discussion brought about a rude awakening: I went in to read with her classmates, which I do every Monday, and the whole class was asking me about the sleepover. The whole class — all 22 of them.


So that night, Mallory and I had a long talk about how we were going to pull this off.

I suppose I could have just said this wasn’t going to happen, but I’m usually game for a good adventure and this certainly sounded like one. I once babysat for 14 kids when I was younger, although I’ll admit in that case I ended up calling some friends for reinforcements because I simply couldn’t keep track of them all.

Anyhow, since I wasn’t so certain parents would be eager to have boys and girls stay the night together, I devised a plan: While I was on vacation (and very rested, with patience in abundance by comparison to a typical work week), we would have a New Year’s party for the little set. She invited everyone in her class, and we gave parents the option of picking their kids up after that part of the get-together ended or allowing them to stay.

We ended up with eight kids, two of whom were boys who left around 8 p.m. That left six little girls, who had me laughing for darn near the whole night.

My biggest foible — at least according to Lew, who was stationed by the video game to make certain no Wii remotes ended up planted in the big-screen TV — was buying those horns you can blow, you know, the ones that everyone has for New Year’s Eve. I figured they were a must for such a party, but goodness — do you know how loud those things can be when they are blown for hours on end?

Anyhow, we made 2010 party ornaments, we had horns and party hats, we played the Wii (a singing game for the girls, which was pretty cool) and we watched a movie when I tried in vain to get them to sleep before 11 p.m. Did I mention that we also had toasts in plastic champagne glasses — albeit with totally harmless white grape juice?

At least for me, the coolest thing for me was listening to them chatter. It became pretty obvious that my daughter picks good friends — the girls in her class all seemed really nice and really sharp. They are smart little cookies, all of them, and it was neat to get a peek into their world for a couple hours.

All in all, other than some semi-crabby girls in the morning after far too little sleep the night before, I was pretty glad with how it turned out as was Mallory. Now as for volunteering to do it again? That’ll have to wait until my next vacation. I don’t have that much patience!

–Julie Wallace


You want to make what?

Posted by Julie Wallace

My aversion to cooking is well known to anyone who has the slightest bit of knowledge about me.

Oh, I keep thinking I’ll get better at it. I collect recipes and cookbooks like they are going out of style, and every Christmas my significant other fulfills my wishes and buys me the latest in kitchen gadgets.

The problem? I end up being forced to dust them all for lack of use.

I’m just not a natural at it, and I never will be. My failures in the kitchen were amplified when I worked at the Akron Beacon Journal because I sat alongside this wonderful reporter named Lisa Abraham, who covered county government at the time but was an unabashed foodie. (In a fitting sidebar, Lisa has since moved to the food writer’s job there, and just won honors from the national food writers group for the column she writes weekly.)

Lisa is a person who instinctively knew what to throw in any dish to make it just so. Not me. And I lamented that fact to her daily when she’d recount what she had for dinner while I salivated over what was being made that day in the cafeteria — by someone else.

I thought of Lisa as I recently read her annual Thanksgiving Day food page — prepping those of us out there for a day we dread. She used to (kindly) beret me for using boxed stuffing for the holiday — honestly, I didn’t realize there was anything but boxed dressing.

And that led me back to a memorable exchange I had with her two years ago about my daughter, whose a foodie-in-the-works. Must be Daddy’s gene pool, that’s all I have to say.

Anyhow, it was around Halloween, and Lisa found the exchange that I shared with her hysterical. So I figured I’d share my misery on here, too. :)
Here’s what I wrote her:


“Want to know how bad of a mother I’m going to end up being? I have a child with a cooking gene.


A couple weeks ago, we go to get pumpkins. She grabs a couple big ones, then finds a bin of little tiny ones that are oh so cute. Those are pie pumpkins, I say. Not because I know, but because I can read the sign saying so.

But I want this one, my darling 4-year-old answers.

OK….so get it. No biggie, right?

Yeah, until we get home and she says: OK, Mommy, let’s make pumpkin pie.


I change the subject. Then she tells my mom we are going to make pumpkin pie. And she tells Lewis, who conceals his laughter from her because she is so earnest about it.

So what am I going to do? I thought about buying one and telling her I made it while she was at school. But that seemed, oh well, crappy.

So I did what any cooking impaired mother does….I went to the store and bought something that basically said pumpkin pie in a can. All I had to do was add evaporated milk or something (which luckily, I had in the cupboard from a futile cooking attempt earlier this year that prompted me to somehow buy like 15 cans of it) and pull out a frozen pie shell and voila – My daughter and I made pumpkin pie.

And, after all that, what does she say when I ask if she wants a piece?

“No, I don’t like it. I just wanted to make it.”

And so ends the story of pumpkin pies at our house. I won’t even print Lisa’s reply, the laughter of which I swear I could hear the full distance of 52 miles from Akron to Elyria.(And yes, she squeezed in an aside that StoveTop stoving isn’t for Thanksgiving in that exchange … again.)

–Julie Wallace



Two new bloggers join us; others are welcome

Posted by Julie Wallace

Did anyone happen to notice that we’ve had some new and interesting voices on Lorain County Moms?

Welcome to Melissa Linebrink and domesticextraordinaire, two moms who’ll provide some welcome change to our regular lineup.

So keep reading, and if you are game for some interaction with other moms, start writing, too. We’d love to have more moms join us. (There’s a welcome to blogging link on the site, but it has proven a bit difficult. E-mail me at jwallace@chroniclet.com  if you want to blog and run into troubles.)

–Julie Wallace


Today show wants to hear from Elyrians

Posted by Julie Wallace

Hey readers, we need your help. Or rather, the Today show needs your help.

The show is putting together a package about communities across the country that are cutting fireworks to balance budgets.

The story organizer, Barbara Lowe (who I’ve talked to and can vouch that she’s legit) is interested in talking in families who generally attended the Elyria fireworks and now have to go elsewhere or skip them altogether.

Interested in sharing your opinion with Ms. Lowe? Email her at barbaralowe@ameritech.net.

Here’s the catch: You need to write ASAP. She’s putting this story together in the next couple days, and she really wants to hear some Elyria voices. So write her, and her write her quickly!

–Julie Wallace


Time management at 5: It’s important

Posted by Julie Wallace

Maybe it’s because I only have a single child to focus on, but there are so many times that my daughter just cracks me up.

Take last night, for example.

As usual,  I got home pretty late from work. We worked on her words (she’s learning to read) and thankfully, Daddy had taken care of dinner for her. So all we had left was a bath, which I simply didn’t have the energy to give her.

So I suggested a morning bath, which generally works well in our house because it prompts her to jump out of bed and fly into the tub. Don’t know why, I just know it works.

Well, she said, will I still get to watch Little Mermaid? Probably not, I answered. It comes on at 7:30 a.m., and ends at 8 a.m., exactly when she needs to start getting ready for school.

Well, what about if  I wake up early, she asked.

OK, I answered, we can do that. So she dutifully walked into her room and returned carrying two of her alarm clocks — telling me she needed both set for 4 a.m. because she’s a sound sleeper. ( Think she’s heard that from one of us before?)

Wait a minute….did she say 4 a.m.?

“Baby, we are NOT getting up at 4 a.m. No way, no how,” I told her.

So she started bartering…5 a.m., 6 a.m. Finally, she settled on 6:30 a.m. (and NO LATER, she told me in no uncertain terms) because that gave her enough time to play in the tub and still catch Ariel in action.

Of course, that’s all well and good in theory. And it worked, sort of.

This morning, when her little alarm clock went off at precisely 6:30 a.m., she bounced out of bed and into the bath I already had run. The problem? Her bleary eyes convinced me she was going to fall asleep and drown, so I grabbed my newspaper and cup of coffee and settled in with her in the bathroom to make certain she didn’t do that.

Yes, she found a way to carve more time out of her day. But I caught a few yawns from my rear-view window as we headed to school, and I’m wondering if Ariel will have been worth it come 8 p.m.

–Julie Wallace


A tragedy plants fear in a parent

Posted by Julie Wallace

Last night, my daughter and I had a little talk about a topic that just isn’t something I care to discuss with a 5-year-old: guns.

After reading the horrific story of the 10-year-old boy who shot his 8-year-old sister in Elyria on Sunday — the little girl died this morning — I wanted to make it very clear to my little girl what she needs to do if she’s ever around someone with a gun.

I told her, repeatedly, that she’s never to touch guns, and I shared the tragedy of what happen between the brother and the sister. I felt bad having to do that, but I figured I needed to hammer home the point that guns aren’t toys, and if she ever encounters one, she’s not to touch it and she’s to go and get an adult ASAP.

The thing about that story that makes it so frightening is the fact that this gun wasn’t something the boy found in his mother’s home, according to police.

Apparently, the boy got it from a relative’s house, and I’m betting my last dollar he got it on the sly without the relative knowing. (We don’t know that yet — the details have been slow in coming from the police.)

Kids are curious, and I can imagine a 10-year-old boy whose been exposed to video games and TV being a bit more than curious about a gun if he ran across one somewhere.

But so curious as to bring it home? That is what is so terrifying.

Given that guns are so much a part of our society today, that little boy could be any of our children, and that situation could play out in any of our homes regardless of our wealth, our stature, and our parental involvement.

My heart goes out to that family, and I’m pretty sure the mom and her son are going to need a lot of love and prayers in the coming years to see them through.

–Julie Wallace


It’s sad when a friend grows old

Posted by Julie Wallace

Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you I’ve never really been a dog person. I’ve had cats, cats and more cats in my life.

That is, until I met Lew and his dog.

Yep — my significant other is a dog person. So now in our home, we have Montecito the Boxer, Serena the mutt of a cat and a goldfish (Thank you, Elyria Apple Fest) appropriately named Goldie by my 5-year-old daughter.

Now trust me, there are plenty of days when Monte gets on my nerves. He’s a great dog until Lew walks out the door and he assumes the role of protector. He barks at every sound, at every car driving by on the street, at everything, really. And that’s at 6 a.m.

Monte also bum rushes the door anytime anyone knocks — generally trampling or knocking down anything in his route on the way. It makes for some great messes in our house, to be sure.

But Monte is getting old. Really, really old. He’s a purebred of championship blood lines, but that hasn’t mattered now that the aging process is taking a toll on his back legs. They don’t work any more for anything more than balance, so he’s dragging them around our house (which, of course, is filled with steps.)

They don’t seem to be hurting him, but it’s so sad to see him deteriorate. A couple visits to the vet haven’t yielded any fix, and I don’t foresee one coming to combat his old age. As a result, we’ve tried to prepare our little girl as best we can for what looks to be inevitable: Our home without Monte.

We realize that that change isn’t going to be an easy one.

That dog, for all his craziness, adopted our daughter as his own from the moment we brought her home. He’d nestle his head by her feet as she rested on blankets when she was an infant, he let her tug on his ears to pull herself up when she was learning to walk, he’s let her wrap him up with ribbons for Christmas and he will tail after her in our home, settling down to rest wherever she herself plops down.

Once, when my my mom was watching our daughter when she was just an infant, my mother called me in hysterics: She’d gone to get a bottle, and Monte wouldn’t let her back near our daughter. So there was the crying baby with Monte standing guard — growling at my mother (not a stranger by any means to him) and my mother frazzled, unsure of what to do.

Needless to say, we headed back home and found the situation unchanged … until we walked in and Monte very proudly marched away. He’d done his job, I think he thought, to protect that baby.

For now, we are cherishing the time we have left with him. But most certainly, our house will never be the same when he is gone. Quieter, perhaps, but much less entertaining.


A prayer for school uniforms

Posted by Julie Wallace

I hate mornings.

Never a morning person myself, the early hours of the day have grown worse as my daughter has gotten older. As a baby and toddler, I could simply dress her as I saw fit. But she’s a 5-year-old now, and she’s a 5-year-old with a lot of opinions.

And her opinion of clothing — any clothing, mind you — is that nothing is right.

There is not a pair of panties in the world (trust me, I’m pretty darn certain I’ve purchased at least a couple hundred pairs in a dismal effort to find the perfect ones) that fit properly, not a shirt that doesn’t need stretching, pulling or adjusted or a skirt or dress inside of which the seams inside don’t touch her in all the wrong places.

In my daughter’s world, all socks are awful, all shoes but Crocs are too tight and pantytights — her name for leotards — are just God awful. She won’t wear jeans. She fights even soft, cottony stretchy pants. And anything with elastic at the sleeves? Forget about it.

That doesn’t making dressing a 5-year-old little girl for a school easy, trust me. For a while, I relied on Gymboree dresses — the cotton seemed to work for her, it wore well and I could find enough without elastic here and there to dress her appropriately five days a week.

But now, she’s rebelling against even those.

Now, nearly everything I buy her is at least a size too large, not because I want it to last longer, but because that’s the only way she’ll wear it. Nevermind that this morning, as she’s walking into school, she’s tugging at her pretty little skirt, which is drooping precariously and threatening to fall off at any moment.

It may be delusional, but I’ve convinced myself that a school uniform would solve this dressing problem. She just wouldn’t have a choice, right?

So if you see a little blonde, curly-headed girl heading into school with a little too much showing in the rear, don’t think ill of the mother who dressed her. Instead, join me in a prayer for Elyria’s elementary schools to adopt school uniforms.

–Julie Wallace