Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I Am The Car Lane Jackhole

School pick up and drop off are never, ever fun for me.  Even if it means getting the kids out of the house after a long winter break where they have been fighting with each other since the moment I picked them up at the start of break, I still don't look forward to taking them back.  It isn't just because I will miss them, which I will, but it's because I hate the actual pick up drop off process immensely  and it causes me great anxiety.
The school, which I am slowly learning to love, is a pretty good about most things, but they are very particular about pickup and drop off.  They want any parent not using the bus to use the car rider lane for pickup and drop off, and they strongly discourage walking your child in or personally picking your child up unless there is a special reason to do so.  We get notes about it all the time.  We are not even allowed down the halls in the morning.  We are to go no where near the class rooms.  They say it is all for safety reasons.
Ok.  I can live with that idea, though I'm not exactly sure how letting the kids go by themselves, without adult supervision, is much safer, but I am trying to get with the program.  I think for the most part, it is just a huge change from CA schools, and I'm not handling the change too well.  In CA, the schools were outdoor schools, more like shopping malls with no interior hall ways, and you just walked right up to the classroom door.  Here, the school is much more traditional with a main entryway, then hallways going left right, or to the back.  Also, the parking lot is honestly terrible.  You park on a lower level and have to walk across the road (the pickup/drop lane really not so much a real road) to get into the school.  So in that regard, it is much safer to just drop them off than walk through all the cars trying to drop off in the mornings.

Regardless, I hate it.

Aside from it being different, the reason that I hate it would be that we suck at the process.  We do.  I know it may sound odd to say that I suck at dropping my kids off at school, but trust me, we do.
I am that parent who always, nearly every single day, holds up the line, doesn't move when the other cars do, etc.  I screw up the whole thing.  Even the crossing guard lady gets confused and irritated with me sometimes.  She has to hold the walkers crossing the lane while the cars move, but I take so long, she starts letting them through, but just as soon as she has given up on me, and starts letting them through, I'm ready to move, and now were all holding up the line of traffic.  Yes.  It's like that nearly every single morning.  The only hope I have of not screwing up traffic is to be in the back of the line, giving me more time before all the other cars go.
I know you must think I'm nuts, I mean, how long can it take to get the kids out.  Currently, all of The Girls are in some sort of car seat or booster.  Even The Biggest One, at 9, has yet to hit the hundred pound limit of her booster.  So, I make her sit in it.  It is safer, until she outgrows it.  Middie is a in an extended use 5-point harness, which she still can't buckle on her own.  Of course, The Littlest One is still rear facing at 21 months, now that the official recommendation from the American Pediatric Board is a two year minimum, in a 5-point harness, which she will keep for a long time yet.
So, how does having kids in seats that make us suck?  We are the only parents who do that, as far as I can tell.  Middie, in all honestly, usually can buckle her self, unless she is wearing a coat (No discussions about coats and car seats now, thanks.  I'll be glad to post about that later.)  The problem here is that she is super, duper, maddeningly slow.  The kid moves at a crawl.  Two years ago, I gave her The Pokey Little Puppy for Christmas because I tell her all the time she is my Pokey Little Puppy.  This year, I got her The Pokey Little Puppy's Christmas.  You may note that means the theme lasted for more than a year, as she has always been, and will probably always be the slowest kid ever.  She just can't do quickly.  She dawdles.  You get it.  So, getting her out of the car, or into it is painful.  Someone has to assist to get the process moving, or she won't move.  Right now, we have a system down.  As we are shifting in to the drop off position, I tell the girls to get ready.  On the word "Go", The Biggest One unbuckles, opens her door, jumps out, runs around the front of the truck to her sister's side.  While she is running around, I unbuckle, turn behind me, and unbuckle Middie.  We get her arms out of the straps, too.  By this time, The Biggest One gets her door open, and grabs Middie's back pack, so it won't be in the way or an issue.  Trust me, if I let Middie get her own backpack, we would be there until lunch time every single day.
This is generally the point that I realize break lights are going off in front of me, and the line is getting ready to move.  I start yelling "Go! Go! Go!"  Middie takes a moment to stand, get her grip on the truck, and finally, jumps out. At this point, The Biggest One starts yelling, "The Door!  Shut the door!" as Middie has yet to do so.  It takes a moment, but she eventually gets it shut.  The Biggest One starts handing over the backpack.  I do not allow Middie to put the backpack on for the sake of time.  She must simply hold it by a strap until she is near in the front doors of the school, if there is time.  If not, she can carry it like that to class.  That saves several minutes.  Once the hand over is made, they clear the the car, and I can see them both on the sidewalk, I can start rolling.
If we are at the very back of the line, I make it just in time sometimes.  If not, I screw everything up.  I'm sure there are parents yelling at me.  Always.
Pick up is a little better.  We are in a double line for that, with a sign that has our child's name on it in the windshield.  Someone comes walking down the middle of the rows, calling out names for each car.  As soon as they call The Big Girls, I unlock the doors, jump out, run around, and wait on Middie.  The Biggest One always gets to the car and gets in quickly. As soon as I see Middie sort of plodding her way toward me, I start yelling "Backpack off!  Backpack off!"  Sometimes she has it slid off so that I can grab it when she gets to me, sometimes she doesn't and I have to slide it off as quickly as I can.  Her door is already open.  I pick her up, put her in, strap her in as fast as possible, and run back around to the driver's door.  I jump in and a immediately put the car in drive so that I can roll while I buckle myself up.  WE don't usually hold up the line as badly this way, unless of course Middies doesn't hear her name, and she has to be called twice, or I am the first or second car in my row.  The bad thing here is that I'm not just holding up a few cars in one line, like in the morning.  They won't get any other kids started until both lanes have finished moving all the loaded kids out, and have empty cars.  So, if we take too long, I'm holding up like 16 cars or a so at a time, plus all the people waiting behind them.  Its awesome.

I have to wonder how many times I have gotten the finger, been called ugly names by people running late for work, etc.  I;m sure it happens.  I don't, though, ever get mad.  On the off chance that one of them has a bad day, and holds up the line, I just go wit the flow and totally get it.

I don't expect this to change for a while, either.  I don't plan on changing the car seat situation in our car anytime soon.  I'm happiest when they are safest, regardless and what other, possibly finger waving, people in in front of or behind may think.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Annual Cookie Plea

So, every year since I think I started blogging, I have blogged about the woes, and sometimes the highs, of the Girl Scout cookie selling process, all the while, really hoping that someone will jump up, feel the strong pull of the spirit of giving, and contact me asking to help out.  I fully expect to share a woe filled post later, as I am again being the cookie mom for my brand new troop, of all most all new kids and parents who are scared to death of selling cookies.  However, I'm not here to cry, yet.  I'm here to get rid of the thin veil usually covering my plea, and just come right out and beg.

If anyone who reads this would like to help out our troop, I have a great, tax deductible  way to do so.  This year, brand new to our Council, is a program called Building A Mountain of Hope.  It is a long and rather confusing name for a program that is really pretty great, and simple.  You can purchase a box of cookies that we will donate to the Tennessee National Guard.  The Guard can then send them to their troops who are deployed over seas or use them for Disaster Relief, etc.  I think it is awesome, and nearly as great as Operation Thin Mint back in San Diego.  Nearly.
Anyway, if anyone would like to support my troop, and Girl Scouts in general, while getting a nifty little tax deduction, please, please (see the begging) contact me.  Along with your tax receipt, I'll send you a very nifty little thank you note hand made by one of The Big Girls!
Thanks for at least reading this, and hopefully thinking about it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

When We Get Our Own House

One of the big upsides to moving, and the whole uprooting our entire lives, is that we hope to soon buy our first house.  I don't want to put the cart before the horse, or jinx ourselves in anyway, but we hope to be in a new home of our own before the next school year starts, if everything goes according to plan.  Big if, but still, that is what I am hoping for.

My husband and I have been married for twelve years, and we have always been renters.  We are renters, though, who have always dreamed of being owners.  We do dream, a lot.  We talk about what we would do to every home.  Now, I dream with The Girls, too.  I would consider myself at least a little crafty, and there are a thousand things we want to do to our own home, together.  The Biggest One and I often make trips to paint departments just to look at color samples and get more ideas for her room.  We see tons of aqua and turquoise things headed her way.  While it is true that we could have done many of these things before we buy, I don't want to put a lot of time, effort, money, and especially love into things that we may not be able to fit into her room once we actually buy.  She has a very large room right now, once the master of this house when it was fist built.  So, if we create for her room, it may mean pairing down when we move to our own house, and i don't want that.  Instead, we build ideas.  Pinterest is getting going to get a ton of pins from me in regards to ideas for each of their room, because for the first time, I actually feel like we may be close to a real dream.  
I will say I am scared, but not of being a home owner.  I realize that comes with a lot of responsibility and work, but I am totally up for that.  I'm scared of having the dream taken away from us, again.
We all want to finally find a house that we have have to make do with as home, but a real home of our own.  

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Oh My Ears

After My Husband and I were married, it took a couple of months for me to move away to be with him.  He was in schools, and in between a real duty station.  So, I was waited.  When the time came, I moved to Norfolk, Virginia to be with him.  While that is closer to northern VA, and not the same as the real south, it is  still in Virginia, and it wasn't so different that I was taken aback by my surroundings.
Our next big move was to Corpus Christi, Texas.  That did bring with is some serious culture shock.  We often called it Northern Mexico.  It was different.  It wasn't bad, though, at all.  It was just an adjustment for this girl who was born and raised in small, fairly homogeneous, town in Tennessee.  That area of Texas is a little strange in the culture.  Its sort of like if the south and Mexico had a baby, they would have that region.  It is a mix of the cultures and traditions, I suppose.  So, in some ways, it still felt familiar while opening me up to a lot.
We lived in TX for a few years, and finished out his tour there.  Then, after a more short stints for school, we moved to San Diego.
Talk about culture shock.  That was it.  I'm not sure that moving to a foreign land would be that much more.  It wasn't something I was prepared for, at all.  Nothing felt familiar, and people automatically pointed out how different I was the moment I opened my mouth and spoke.  I had a southern accent, and it set people off everywhere I went.  I got grilled all the time about where I was from.  Sometimes it was uncomfortable.
The crazy thing is, compared to my home town, and most of the people I know, I have very little accent.
The longer I was away, the softer it got, too.  My friends could tell when I had been around my mom, if she had been visiting, because it would flair up a little.
I began to really work on my diction, and I hoped that it was as clear as possible.  In fact, when we first moved back here, people had a hard time understanding me.  They still do occasionally.  I spoke quickly and with little affectation, making me sound different from them.  During Girl Scout Cookie training for my parents, I had one Dad who could not understand me.  I tried to speak more slowly.  I tried to speak more clearly.  I think that made it worse.  Eventually his daughter started repeating everything for him in the typical slow southern drawl and he got it.
The thing is, the longer I am here, the more I hear myself returning to that.  It is impossible not to.  That is all my ears hear.  My brain will rewire itself again and eventually I will start sounding like that.
I am already using more colloquialisms.  The other day, at the end of a phone conversation with a CA friend, I said "Well, go on then".  When you read it, it could sound hateful, but when said in the Southern way, it is simply a way to say good bye, without any hint of ill feelings.  Its just the way they talk.  I realized when she laughed that she might have thought I was being rude, but in fact, its sort of a common phrase that I have already started to use.
I hear the girls say things all the time that amaze me, and not necessarily in a good way.  In particular, I realize that The Littlest One will have a strong southern accent.  She will probably be the only native San Diegan to speak with a southern drawl.  Already, she says "byyeeee" instead of bye.
I hope to go visit San Diego this summer, if possible.  If we do, I plan on re immersing myself in the culture there.  I want to hang out with my friends, visit Balboa Park, and do a lot of the touristy things we shun when you actually live there, but most of all, I want to just listen for a while, and soak up as much of the sound of speech as possible.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Update to No Social Media For You

I wanted to throw this out there.  When I say young children  I suppose I really mean children in general, unless parents are sure they are responsible, and are prepared to be a part of their online access.

This is exactly why I think kids shouldn't have that much online access:
This fight was posted all over the internet, and now this child won't come home.  How terrible. I don't care who started it, who finished it, etc.  What I care about is the fact that other kids used social media to magnify this girl's pain to the point that she has run away.  

The parent of every child who had a phone, videoed this, put it on Facebook, or was involved without doing something should take a serious stand with their kids.  You don't kick someone when they are down.  

I hope they find this girl, and she is ok.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

They Have Got To Be Kidding

Instead of waiting in the monstrous pickup line to get The Big Girls after school yesterday, The Littlest One and I actually had to get out in the rain and wait outside for them since we have Girl Scouts on Tuesday at school now.  As The Littlest One and I stood outside, snuggling under the portico and trying to stay warm and dry, I started listening to the parents around me have a conversation about the weather, which is crappy, to say the least.  It has been raining for days.  Days and days, and days.  I think we are about to get Biblical here with the rain.
One mom started the typical weather discussion, because that's what you do when you are stuck outside with a bunch of people you barely know; discuss the weather.  She felt like we weren't going to have a cold winter, but that it would be unusually wet.  The other agreed.  Then, they began to discuss how we would have more bugs next year if it weren't cold enough.  The discussion went on.

What I took from all of that would be three very important things.

First, this hasn't been a cold winter.  Are they friggin kidding me??  I have been freezing to death.  The temps are regularly in the 20's when the sun goes down, and I am thrilled to death now when we hit the 50s.  Granted, we did have two days where it was very warm, into the 60s and even hit 70, but that was two days out of an entire season thus far.  I don't think that warrants tipping the scales alone.  So, that means that they generally expect it to be even colder than the days where we are hovering around freezing all the time.
I can't do this.  As a general rule, I don't consider myself a weakling.  I think I have survived a lot in my life so far, but if its going to be in the teens for months here, I need to move.  I can not take that.  I will shrivel up and freeze to death.  You can find me by looking for the big block of ice with all the flowing red hair from it.  Until, of course, my hair freezes and breaks off.  I know, morbid and extreme, but that's how the thought of freezing makes me feel.  Hate it.

Second, this is a lot of rain.  That is actually good to know.  I thought it was going to be like this all the time.  I'm no fan of rain, either.  Having had of those horrible car crashes that make the best stories when i was 18, all as a result of immature driving practices and way too much rain, I don't like to drive in it.  At all.  So, being a grown up with grown up responsibilities that I have to do, like take my children to school and pick them up, even if it is raining is a little unnerving to me.  I'm glad to know that this is an extraordinary amount of rain for the area.  I was beginning to think this was normal, and totally freak out.  I will be upset if this is a wet winter.  I don't like it, but at least I can have a little peace knowing it shouldn't always be like this.  With as many rainy, overcast days as we have had, I was beginning to think I should start looking out for sparkly vampires to live here.

Third, there will be more bugs.  I hate bugs.  I hate them as much as I hate the rain.  I am allergic to bees, and the mosquitoes here are insane.  You can not step outside with out insect repellent or you will be eaten alive by them during the summer.  Many people here have screened in porches just so that you can go outside.  Now, if the winter isn't cold enough to kill the a ton of the bugs, it will be far worse this year than last.  I can not imagine more bugs.  This is horrific.

This was not a pleasant conversation for me to hear, and then think about.  I am already hating the weather, and it looks like i need to prepare for the worst of all things I hate for a while.  IF I can take comfort in anything they said, it was that the don't think it will get much colder this time, and that is great, because I don't think I can handle much colder.

If anyone of my friends who live in California would like to rescue me, I am open to it.  You can find me, at home, trying to stay warm and dry, huddled up in the corner with a can of bug spray.

No Social Media For You

This is going to be another one of those posts that may very well cheese someone off.  In fact, I am sure that what I am about to say may be taken personally be a few people that I happen to care about.  However, sometimes in life, and especially when you have a head full of opinions that must be shared as I do, if you aren't pissing people off occasionally, you aren't doing it right.

The topic of social media has come up quite a bit in our household lately.  The Big Girls and I have taken to playing a game together through my Facebook account.  They love it.  I love playing it with them, and even with out them occasionally.  While all that fun together may be great, what it does that isn't so great is get The Biggest One to be very aware of Facebook.  Some of her friends have their own Facebook already.  I personally find that absurd.  I have told her many times, and I absolutely mean it, she is by no means ready for social media, and she will not be for quite sometimes.
(get ready for the opinion to be heard round the world)
I do not think that young children should have Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, etc accounts.  I think a good old email address is quite enough, and even that is a bit too much sometimes.  In addition, they should not be allowed to text, or even have a phone that is used for anything other than getting in touch with mom or dad and emergencies.
We give our kids to much access to each other.  What ever happened to good old fashioned hanging out?  What happened to real personal communication.  What about calling each other on your home phone, and talking for a while, or asking to go to some one's house, etc.  Thinking that social media and kids don't mix doesn't make me old fashioned.  I love social media.  I have a Facebook account.  I, obviously, blog.  I have a twitter account for this blog, not that I use it that well, or much, but I will admit that social media has enriched my life.  That doesn't mean i think it is appropriate for my child.  It is a little like reading a really good adult themed book.  I am reading, which is good for the mind, but just because a book is a book, that doesn't make it appropriate for every child.  You have to measure what is right for your child at each age and maturity level.  I think parents have forgotten that.  I think that parents tend to forget just how dangerous the internet can be for some reason.  Access to social media in particular I think is probably one of the most dangerous things we can let our kids do online.  Now only do we put them out there for other people to find, but we put them out there for them to embarrass or hurt them selves without realizing what they are doing.  I know I have had a moment where I have said something on Facebook or Twitter that I realized later on could be misinterpreted.  A young person will not only make that same mistake, but their lack of maturity could take that situation so much father.  They don't often understand the boundaries of what is or isn't appropriate.  I see young people, whom I love, post things all the time that they may not realize they can never take back.  Ever.  Once you put it on the net, it is there.  Not only that, but cyber bullying is a serious issue.  Why give your child a greater venue in which to be a part of that, on either side.  It happens.  We like to turn a blind eye tot that, though, and either don't care or aren't aware as parents of what all is going on.  I sincerely believe that many of the bullying deaths we have heard about would have been prevented if all parents pulled their kids back from text or internet bullying.  Can you imagine the feeling of being in your home, where you are supposed to feel safe, and being inundated with bullying via your phone, Facebook, or twitter?  It would have to be devastating to not even feel safe from people who want to hurt you in your own home like that.
So, for that and so many reasons, my kids can forget having access to much of that until they are older.  I don't care who has it and that they will be be the only ones without whatever it is they will be begging for.  They will be better off.  In addition, when they do get access, I will take the same approach that a mom and son who have been on the news lately did with a set of contractual guidelines outlining the use of social media  , smart phones, etc.  I will have access to everything, and beyond that, I will be constantly checking up on things.  I will be reading texts.  I will be checking to see if you are deleting them before I read them.  I will be on your Facebook page every day.  Believe me, I'm going to be all over it.
When the time comes, and I do realize that eventually the time will come, it will be a given as a privilege, not a right, and a privilege that in this household can be taken away at any time.

Friday, January 4, 2013

I Am Not A One Woman Army

If there is one thing I learned from my many years of leading a moms group, it is that building a good organization takes a great team.  One person, no matter how dedicated they are, can not do it all, at least not with out driving themselves into the ground, or taking speed, or both.  (The speed is a reference to an episode of Desperate Housewives, back when I used to watch.) You see, I tried to do everything when I first started up the group, and that just wasn't working for me.  Once I realized that I needed help, and I got great help, the group started to flourish.  It takes both a dedicated leader and people who are willing to pitch in to make something really work.
So, I take all of that with me as I move forward in my volunteer career.   I just started a Girl scout troop for both my girls, as there wasn't one that could take them.  I am fully aware of how much I need help.  I could try to do it all, but there are a few problems with that.  First, Girl Scouts won't let me.  It is against the rules for there to be only one adult present at get together.  We must have at least two non related adults.  That means my husband can't count, even if he is registered as a co-leader since he will be with us a lot (he happens to also be first aid trained and a great resource for many of the outdoor skills I want to teach the older girls).  Still, we need other adults to pitch in.
Second, I have a life to live, and need to do so.  When I first started my moms group, I let it run my life, and that wasn't good for me.  I had to learn that the hard way.  I tried to do everything and please everyone, but that didn't work. I made a lot of mistakes, and it took me a long time to realize just how thin was too thin when it came to stretching myself.
I want help.  I welcome help.  I actually am begging for help, but the parents have to be willing to give it.  Some will freely.  Some will when forced.  Some just don't want to.  That makes me sad.
I don't run a troop for myself.  I do this so that my girls can have a fantastic experience.  I want them to have a full child hood, and to me, this is just a part of it.  I know that it takes work, and I am willing to give that, for them.  I wish all my parents felt the same way.  Like I said, some will, and some...well, I hope I can enrich their daughters' lives as much as humanly possible for this one woman.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

She Just Won't Talk

I always thought that all of my children would be talkers.  If you know me well, you know I like to talk.  My mother will talk your ear off in a minute.  My sister is a chatty Kat, too.  The Big Girls talk a lot and they both spoke pretty early as babies.  The Big One spoke very early and very well.  Midi not as much, but still pretty early.  My brother, sister, and I were all the same.  My nephew (my brother's son) doesn't stop talking.
I have one nonverbal stick in the mud, though, with The Littlest One.  She won't talk.  She just won't.  She doesn't speak much, and won't use actual words in stead of grunts very often.  I was actually concerned enough to bring it up at her last check up.  I realize that she is the youngest of three, and lives in a house where everyone talks for her. She also still uses a pacifier (Don't judge.  We are weaning off the boob and only one can go at a time.)  So, I get that all that means she will talk later, but this is driving me crazy.  At her age, The Big One would already make two or three word sentences.  "Cup, please" and sentences like that were easy for her.  Midi spoke early enough and well enough that I was never concerned.  The Littlest One, though, makes me try very hard not to be worried.  Her pediatrician went over a secondary developmental assessment with me, and she was great.  The only indicator of a developmental issue she pegged on was the question about whether or not they stare off at nothing.  She does.  All the time.  More so than the other two did.  The Dr began to question me about it, and ascertained that she does it while pointing to the nothing she is staring at, and trying to show it to us.  Freaky, but no longer an indicator if she communicated with us in some way during the process of seeing things we don't.

     The thing is, she does communicate.  She knows body parts already and will point to the one you ask.  She can follow commands, like "Get your hand out of my shirt" or "Take that to the trash".  So, her language skills are there as far as understanding words.  She just won't speak.  I will occasionally hear her say a word, a big word even, and then never say it again.  It is as if she is torturing me and being incredibly obstinate with full realization of what she is doing.  Perhaps she is aware that I want her to talk and won't.  That would seem to go right along with her personality so far.  So far, I have her pegged as being the most difficult child in regards to behavior   Not that she is a terror or anything, but because she constantly does things for a reaction   She already knows what she isn't supposed to do, and looks you straight in the eye and does them, while laughing, to get you to come after her.  She is a constant joy, I tell you.
Probably in a year or so, I will come back and tell you this is all cleared up, and she won't ever stop talking, just like her sisters.  Maybe by then she will be driving me insane with the almost three year old constant conversation.  Hopefully.  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I Always Thought Blankets with Arms Were Stupid....

There have been a lot of things I should have chronicled in my move back to the south.  Yes, I do realize that I am from Tennessee, born and raised.  However, I have been gone for about 12 years give or take a bit.  That is a great portion of my adult life, and certainly more than enough time to totally adjust to and absorb a different culture.  Second, I was born and raised in North Eastern Tennessee.  It makes a difference.  The people in North East Tennessee are just different.  They are truly in the smokey mountains.  The land is harder.  They have always been of a different spirit than most of the rest of Tennessee in some ways because of it.
So, readjusting has been interesting.
Learning to understand some of the people here has been a joy.  No.  Really.  I'm not sure if I published the blog (yet) about Midi (my new nick name for The One In The Middle and pronounced "MidE")'s first Kindergarten teacher not being able to say the word jewelry, but in cased I missed it, I will give you the short version.  It took me about 5 minutes to understand in our first meeting that she wasn't talking about a jury of some sort, but telling us the girls were not allowed to wear jewelry, and "jury" is her exact pronunciation.  She is a very nice woman, but I can't say I was entirely unhappy when they moved her to 4th grade.  Though, that meant The Big One has her for science.  That I am much more ok with, since The Big One learned to read, write, and speak more clearly elsewhere.
The is just the tip of the ice burg when it comes to adjustments, and I will try to cover more of the fantastic ones again later.
My biggest adjustment right now, though, is the freaking weather.  It is cold here.  I mean really, really cold.  I was under the misapprehension that because we are about 3 hours south of where I grew up, it would stay at least a couple of degrees warmer than home.  I was wrong.  I failed to take a couple of things into account in that theory.  First, My home town is geographically blessed when it comes to winter.  It is one of the more low laying areas in the middle of the mountains.  You can think of it as sort of a basin, though not really low, surrounded by mountains all around it.  The mountains protect is from lots of different weather patterns, and manage to help it stay a little warmer.  Second, there are a couple of very large businesses who actually contribute to the weather.  The largest plant, the Eastman Chemical Company, probably keeps the town at least a degree or two warmer because of all the steam that it emits by itself, at least if you live close like we did.  I know, that isn't really good in some ways, but when considering the fact that I am freezing to death, in that regard alone, I would take it.
Now, I live int he land of lakes.  I live closer to the water's edge than i have since I had the Gulf of Mexico in my back yard (it really was when we lived on base in Corpus Christi, TX).  There must be 3 or four different large bodies of water here.  I blame the fact that it rains constantly on that, whether there is science to back that up or not.  So, we get wet weather most of the time, mixed with freaking cold temps.  For some reason, though, that doesn't mean snow so far, or not much, just ice.  Lots and lots of ice.  I'm over it already and it is just barely January.  The lows are into the 20's just about every night. The highs sometimes reach 50, but many days it doesn't.  Freakin' cold.  
I don't own a good coat anymore.  I have one that is too big now, but I will use it when I have too.  I don't want to buy another one because I refuse to buy either wool or a puffy jacket, and my options are limited because of that.  When I find one I love, I will snap it. Instead, I wear lots, and lots of layers with a thin jacket.  I have t-shirts from Old Navy made of fleece.  I wear fuzzy socks, even with shoes.
To top it all off, our house is a monster house, and who ever renovated it did some of the worst DIY jobs ever.  There is no insulation in the entire garage addition, something we didn't know when we rented it.  That isn't the only room like that, either.  Any room that was built on seems to be constantly freezing.  It doesn't help that at least three rooms have no heat in them, because lines weren't run from the heating unit.  We try not to run the space heaters until we have to, since they cost and arm and a leg to use.  So, I don't even get to really be warm inside.
That is all why I no longer think those blanket with arms things are totally stupid.  I would use one.  Every day of my life.  I would live in them, as just another layer.  I might even use two, one on the front, and one on the back to cover up the hospital gown opening.  Yes.  I am that cold.  No.  I don't care how stupid it looks.  At least then I might be warm.