Gimme, gimme, gimme

This post was inspired by an article I read recently about the new trend of “gender reveal” parties. Apparently,  this is the latest excuse for recognizing, acknowledging, and throwing a party for every single little thing that used to be something that just garnered a “congratulations”.

Everyone in the modern world has noticed the way society has changed it’s attitude in the last ten to fifteen years.  It’s an attitude that screams “I’M ENTITLED; GIVE ME WHAT I WANT N-O-W“.  From new mothers receiving “push gifts” to kindergarteners receiving iPads for Christmas to ten-year-olds receiving iPhone 5’s as an upgrade from their iPhone 4S (which replaced the last 3 iPhones that they lost).    I know that none of this affects the way I raise my kids. But i won’t lie, these ideas drive me insane.  I’m going to break down some of the latest ideas along with my unbiased opinions.  I’ll apologize in advance if anyone is offended.

Gender Reveal Parties: There are entire boards on Pinterest dedicated to this idea.  Evidently, the idea is that when the mother has the ultrasound which would reveal the gender, the technician is instructed to place a piece of paper on which the gender is written into a sealed envelope.   The couple then hands this envelope over to a party planner, friend, or baker and then they can become part of the big surprise, too.  Bakeries are advertising “gender reveal” cakes; when the cake is cut into, the inside is either pink or blue and and then all of the celebrating can commence.  I’m sorry, but is this something really worth throwing a party to share?  Is a phone call or an e-mail not enough anymore?  I mean, it’s a 50/50 shot, right?  I don’t know that this is an excuse for presents (at least that’s what I’m reading) but for me, it’s definitely an excuse for recognition for something that has been coming naturally to women since the beginning of time.  Which brings me to……..

Push Gifts: I became aware of this trend about three years ago.  Honestly, this absolutely blew me away.  The idea here is that the mother receives a very large gift – usually jewelry, from what I have read – to reward and recognize her for the act of giving birth.  Um, hello, but it seems to me that your CHILD is the “push gift”.  I had 2 c-sections – should I have received a “slice gift”?  Or is that a cop-out and I get nothing?  I should have gotten breastfeeding gifts.  Now THAT’S an accomplishment that should be rewarded – instead women who do that get kicked out of restaurants and shopping malls.  So basically, HAVE a baby, get diamonds; try to do your best to CARE for that baby, get thrown out of public places.  Is the monetary value of the push gift based on the weight of the baby or the number of hours the mother is in labor?  What about adoptive mothers?  Are they unworthy of a push gift?  It’s too bad this trend wasn’t around 90 years ago because my great-grandmother had ten children.  She’d have been DRIPPING in baubles.

Babymoon:  This is a vacation that a couple takes before their baby is born.  Now, I’m not talking an overnight trip to a local resort – we’re talking Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Paradise Island here.   Hey, I’m all for relaxing as much as possible before a baby is born, but let’s face it, kids are VERY expensive.  It would never occur to me to plan an exotic vacation while I’m pregnant.  Here’s an idea – I know this is unheard of – make that exotic vacation something which to look FORWARD.  Let’s face it, the people who are planning these “babymoons” aren’t exactly the folks who have been skipping out on trips pre-pregnancy.  My parents took four children to Walt Disney World when my brother was a NEWBORN.  No, I’m not condoning bringing an infant to Beaches Resort in Antigua, but your life does not end when a baby comes along.  You can still go on vacations.  We took our boys to Sanibel Island when Christopher was nine months old and Michael was 2 years old.  It was SUCH an enjoyable vacation.  Yes, that’s right, we took our kids along and STILL had fun.  The closest I had to a babymoon was when I was 6 months along with Christopher and  Mike and I spend about 7 hours alone at Discovery Cove in Orlando while my sister babysat Michael.  No, it wasn’t the Caribbean, but it was a really, really nice day.

Sip and See: Sorry, Rachel, (that’s my sister who recently shared that she’d attended one of these), but I just had to include this one.  This is the equivalent to a baby shower, but it is one thrown AFTER the baby has arrived.  Invitations are sent, food and beverages (including champagne) are served, and guests come to see the new baby.  I’d like to know if this is in ADDITION to the pre-baby shower.  I know that many moms don’t have a shower after the first baby is born (although I’m noticing that even that seems to be passe’) so I’d have to guess that this is a really good excuse to still receive those presents.

Now to go off-topic here, WHAT on earth is going on with these gift registries?  When I had my kids, I refused to register for stupid stuff like wipe-warmers and diaper stackers.   I didn’t even get one of those travel systems (stroller/car seat combos).   I did my homework and registered for a lighter stroller and a separate car seat.  The price for the two separate items ended up being less than the combo.  That type of thinking is evidently not acceptable.  The new thinking is – find the most expensive store with the priciest items, and put those on your registry.  Why ask for a practical stroller for $200 when there are much nicer ones with trendy brand names for $1,000?  I mean, you’ll be using it for about 2 years – that’s a long time!  What’s a thousand dollars in the grand scheme of things?  I mean your baby will spend approximately .01% of his or her life in that stroller.

So to wrap this up, no, this topic had nothing to do with autism or special needs.  I guess in a way, it relates to my life because when one has a child like Michael, all those little mundane things that were mentioned above are just so completely unimportant.  It’s sad that society feels that every little accomplishment deserves recognition – right down to the simple act of giving birth.  It’s sort of like those brides who go nuts about everything being perfect for their weddings.  It’s not the parties and celebrations that are the important – it’s what happens after that.  To borrow a quote from the film Hope Floats – “it’s the middle that counts”.

The Unwritten Christmas Letter

I’ve never written a Christmas/holiday letter.  Honestly, I don’t even receive too many of them, but the one or two that I do receive are quite bemusing to put it nicely.  I decided that this year, I was going to write one – not to send, just to write.  It was a practice in embellishment.  I wrote two versions – Version A -the embellishment – and Version B – the truth.  I don’t know how entertaining this will be for my readers, but I found it fun.  

Image Version A

Dear Cherished Friends and Family,

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy Ramadan!  We have so many friends of so many different cultures, we want to make sure that everyone’s faith and culture is acknowledged.  We hope this holiday letter finds you as joyful and spirit-filled as our family has been!  We’ve had a wonderful 2012 and look forward to more excitement in the New Year!

Mike is still working for Northwestern Mutual and continues to receive accolades for his phenomenal work.  He continued to manage Christopher’s baseball team for the fourth season in a row!  All of the boys he coaches love him and request him every season when they sign up for Little League.  He still enjoys attending major sporting events and always seems to find himself hobnobbing with all sorts of professional athletes!

Jen is still working tirelessly as a fifth grade teacher in the #1 rated private school in the city of Parkland!  She has implemented such creative lesson plans including the addition of the iPad in the classroom!  She is so fortunate to work in such a prestigious school where technology is a top priority!  Although she enjoys teaching, Jen still finds no greater joy than being a mommy and a loving wife.  Can you believe Jen and Mike have been married twelve years?  They celebrated their anniversary by spending some alone time at a 5 star resort!  Jen continues to spend her free time cooking and trying out recipes, writing her blog, and taking tap dance classes!  Yes, Jen has gone back to her dance roots and is participating in an advanced tap class at a local dance studio.  Between all of these hobbies, endless social invitations from friends, teaching, and caring for the home, it’s a wonder this letter got written at all!

The boys are the joy in our lives.  Christopher is in the third grade this year and is preparing to make his first holy communion in the Spring.  He continues to make phenomenal grades and is at the top of his third grade class.  We’re a little concerned that he isn’t being challenged, so we make sure he participates in other academic activities.  This year, he won a gift card for answering a very difficult brainteaser in a local magazine, he completes additional math problems every week outside of school, and creates virtual architecture using the computer and other technology.  We are excited to report that he participated in a special Catholic Math League challenge and finished at the very top of his entire class!  Not surprising since he always receives straight A’s on his report cards.   He continues to play both Winter and Spring baseball and we are inquiring about travel ball because, again, we just don’t feel he’s being challenged to the best of his ability.  He participated in a very prestigious baseball camp this summer and was awarded MVP on his team!  It was a very proud moment for all of us.

Michael is showing amazing progress in school.  He also received TWO awards this year in school!  We are so thrilled!  He is also participating in sports and was accepted to a sports program that only admits exceptional athletes.  He participated in both track and soccer this year and loved them both.  Michael shows such consistency of character and is a joyful child who brings much happiness to our lives.

Unfortunately, we were unable to travel as much as we’d hoped;  we were only able to make in-state trips this year.  We visited Captiva Island where we took a boat trip, went for waverunner rides, and enjoyed amazing restaurants.  The weather was perfect.  We also enjoyed our standard trips to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.  Of course, we had the time of our lives.  Although we didn’t travel as much as we’d liked, the reason is a positive one – we are remodeling our entire home!  We’ve painted and re-floored, renovated both bathrooms and are getting ready to get a brand new kitchen.  Jen is just ecstatic!

Life in the Enlow home just couldn’t be more perfect.  We are truly so blessed and we hope that you feel the same way.

From  our home to yours, a very warm and happy holiday season!

 Version B

Dear Friends and Family,

Happy Holidays.  We hope you had a nice 2012 and that you have a very happy New Year.

Mike is still at the same job; he’s worked there 3 ½ years and really likes it.  He hates the commute since there’s no easy way to get there, but he likes the people he works with and enjoys what he does.  He has coached Christopher’s baseball for the past few years and has managed to keep the same kids together since they are nice boys and the parents like him.  Plus, the kids’ families aren’t ultra-competitive so they make it bearable.  A friend of ours has worked for the local paper as a sportswriter for many years and gave Mike and Christopher some tickets to a few Miami Dolphins games.  They ran into Bob Griese coming out of one of the games and Mike asked if he’d let him take his picture with Christopher.  It was kind of cool.  We also trekked down to the new Marlins stadium this summer to watch the Boston Red Sox play the Miami Marlins.  We thought Christopher would enjoy watching his favorite baseball player, Kevin Youkilis, (who incidentally got traded a week later), but all the boys cared about was eating popcorn and other junk food and after half the game they were complaining they wanted to leave.  Also, it just so happened that the Red Sox lost the game we attended and then proceeded to win the rest of the games in the series on the other two nights they were here.

Jen is still teaching fifth grade at the same Catholic school.  It’s pretty exhausting this year, but teaching isn’t the world’s easiest job, especially when every school in the nation is changing the standards and expecting the teachers to just roll right along.    She enjoys cooking, even though her family isn’t real big on trying new things.  She is taking tap classes and finds it fun, even though it’s not always easy to head out of the house at 8 PM after working all day.  She does like getting together with the girls for drinks and laughs; especially her fellow autism mommies who are some of the most fun people with which to spend time.  Jen and Mike celebrated twelve years of marriage by going to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood for one night.  The boys celebrated by spending the weekend with grandma and papa.

Christopher is in 3rd grade this year and is getting ready to receive his first communion.  Jen really needs to get off her duff and start taking him to church more.  He’s doing very well in school and his grades are excellent.  He really is a great kid, especially with having a brother who is challenging.  He’s really learned to develop kindness and sensitivity and we really are very proud of him.  He’s proven to be a wonderful brother and an all-around great kid.  He is a great baseball player and attended a week-long baseball camp that we won for him at a school fundraiser.  He had a lot of fun and was awarded MVP by his coaches.  He received that award not for skill, but for being a good listener, showing sportsmanship, and working hard.  It was truly a proud moment for us since we really do value those things more than seeing our child headed to the majors.

Michael is making strides every day, every week, and every month.  It’s not easy to raise a child with autism – simple as that.  He takes two different medications, has therapy three afternoons a week, and participates in a sports program for kids with disabilities.  He’s still obsessed with ceiling fans and hangs out in the kitchen eating junk food whenever he gets a chance.

We went to South Seas Resort on Captiva Island for Memorial Day weekend.  It was a huge splurge, but we had a lot of fun and it was worth it.

Just after Halloween, we discovered a leak in our guest bathroom that turned out to be a hot water leak.  The plumbers punched holes in half the walls in our house which the insurance company had to repair, and we ended up getting a lot of work done in the house.  By finagling some numbers, it looks like we may actually have enough money to replace cabinets and countertops in our kitchen which have been driving Jen crazy for the ten years they’ve lived in the house.

Since I’m writing this during my rare free moment, I’ll apologize in advance for the photo that will likely be enclosed.  Most likely, Michael won’t be smiling or looking at the camera, but if we actually have a good shot of him, then Christopher probably looks like a goofball.  Don’t pay too much attention to the stains on Michael’s shirt.  I tried to keep him clean before the photo, but he got into some CheezIts just before I took the shot and at this point, I just give up.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.

Love, The Enlows