Trip Puts Work in Its Place

For the past 15 years, including the 10 I've been a working mom, every vacation has been in some sense a working vacation. I've always checked e-mails, called the office every day or so, had important stuff faxed or Fed-exed to me. Staying involved seemed the responsible thing to do as an employee.

Well, I'm here to report that I was wrong. The past week I went to Disney World with my husband and three kids, ages 9, 7, and 4, the first time I'd ever been to the Magic Kingdom. I went with a mix of skepticism and fear that I'd hate the cheerful, airbrushed Disney view of life. Instead, I loved every minute of sanitized American patriotism, family focus and pursuit of pure fun, starting with the second our minivan drove beneath the Mickey Mouse sign. Disney helped -- every "cast member" had a ready smile, every swimming pool had a water slide, every theme park beckoned with a nonstop array of exhilarating rides, the two waterparks seemed the perfect solution to the August heat, and in between all the Disney entertainment was my son's basketball tournament at Disney's Wide World of Sports.

I coudn't seem to find a business center in the Disney hotel where we stayed and my cell phone kept running out of juice. Work issues seemed less than pressing and eventually insignificant. Having fun with my husband and kids seemed far more important. Taking my four year old (in her Cinderella dress) to ride every merry-go-round at Disney. Agreeing when my older children begged me to ride the infamous Summit Plummet (65 mph straight down a water slide). Racing to Tower of Terror with my seven year old for one more ride before it closed for the night.

And now I'm home, ready to get back to work, with a real sense of balance. For once.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  August 14, 2006; 9:00 AM ET
Previous: Psycho Temps | Next: Young and Lonely

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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Again - a very LAME blog posting. I'm removing my bookmark for this site.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 9:22 AM

Welcome back, Leslie. Your vacation report is great; I'm happy for you and your family.

Will be looking forward to more fun blogging now that you're back.

Posted by: THS | August 14, 2006 9:29 AM

Soooo glad the sanitized trip to Disney wasn't ruined like your week at the Hamptons moopsie

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 9:29 AM

To Lame: we won't miss you.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 9:37 AM

We don't have the time or wherewithal to take a vacation right now, but I understand what you mean. We have had a very busy couple of months as I have been stressed with a work deadline,a new baby coming, etc. This last weekend was the first in a while where I was able to have special one-on-one time with my daughter. While my daughter did the usual..."you don't go to work... stay home" this morning, when I walked out of the door, she was more at ease than she has been in a while. While I certainly always try to make special time with her, every evening and weekend, in fact, it is clear that sometimes I just have to really set time for just the two of us.

Posted by: gdc | August 14, 2006 9:43 AM

But what is the question for us? All this seems to be is a vacation report. I mean, I'm happy for Leslie, don't get me wrong, but what relevance does this have to any of us?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 9:48 AM

Good thing you did not try to fly.

Those of us who tried to jet out of Dulles Thursday morning were royally screwed by the TSA confiscating baby formula, breast milk, etc. This is before they stopped the practice late in the morning and were hailed as heroes for doing so. Jerks.

It just shows you how unprepared our gov't is for national emergencies, that they hadn't considered that babies fly too, and would need some process for eating in-flight.

So much for a 'relaxing' long weekend for some of us. (There's my vacation rant for you!!)

Posted by: Welcome Back | August 14, 2006 9:53 AM's the question for us. Do you unplug from work on your vacation, or do you keep in touch?

In other words, is your vacation:

1) A week of telecommuting?
2) Not quite telecommunitng--but you've got that laptop with you, and you check email/voicemail every chance you get?
3) You check in a few times a day--but the laptop stayed at home?
4) You check in once a day?
5) You check in once during your vacation?
6) You totally "unplug" and relax--the work will be there when you get back?

So...what's your vacation style? What's the style of your boss? Your co-workers? Your employees?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 9:58 AM

When I go away, I totally UNPLUG!!!!! I usually leave a phone number (which never gets called), and that's it. But...I do give email a "peak" the night before I return to work--I just want to know what's waiting for me. Most of my co-workers do the same.

Posted by: onlymom | August 14, 2006 10:02 AM

There is a time for everything!

Sometimes work needs to be attended to on vacation - it's the responsible thing to do.

Sometimes work needs to be turned off.

Going someplace with no connections is a great strategy for turning work off. The national parks in the West are wonderful. Some of the hotel rooms don't even have phones or TVs!

When my son started inquiring as to whether we were staying someplace with a TV then I knew I it was a vacation that made a difference.

All-in-all I think a vacation is more relaxing and leaves you more enthusastic about returning to work if you leave work at work. But that's not always possible.

Posted by: RoseG | August 14, 2006 10:10 AM

I tend to enjoy vacations more when I'm going to a rural area. Going from one city (DC) to another is a great adventure at times, but I find myself more relaxed if I've been able to unplug.

It's wonderful that my mom lives in the mountains of Virginia and doesn't have a computer. I simply tell my boss the truth: there's no computer connection, and my cell phone doesn't get a signal there. She doesn't even have an answering machine! If there is something really pressing going on while I'll be away, I ask them to leave a message on my office machine and tell them I'll check messages once or twice a day. They've never bothered me. At first my boyfriend wasn't sure he'd be able to handle the lack of "connectivity" and then he realized how good it felt not to have to plug in each day.

No matter where you're going, tell your boss you're going to a cabin in the wilderness with no electricity and no cell phone reception. They'll get over it.

Posted by: Virgo | August 14, 2006 10:32 AM

Hooray for vacation! Now, here's another question for you all: how many of you *really* follow the 24-hour rule when it comes to sick kids and day care? I'm assuming that most day cares have the same rule ours does - you aren't supposed to bring your child in if they've been sick until they've been symptom free for 24 hours.

Our son was sick this weekend and now seems recovered except for a runny nose. We know we can't take him in today, as he was pretty sick yesterday, but if he gets through today with just a runny nose, does that count? And how many of you would bring him in today even though he had a fever yesterday? C'mon, be honest, be anonymous if you must, but I'm really curious as to how people deal with that rule, as I know most people don't have the flexibility we do with taking time off for a sick child and there's always at least one kid with a runny nose in there.

Posted by: Megan | August 14, 2006 10:40 AM

Really, I try to check messages once a day.

If not, I wind up having to work hellishly long days my first two days back at work.

It is much easier (for me) to maintain my balance the week AFTER vacation, if I can stay a little plugged in the week OF vacation.

If you have a job where everything backs up while you're gone, no one expects you to be unreachable the day you get back so you can check your 500 emails....

Posted by: Proud Papa | August 14, 2006 10:45 AM

Too bad that it took you so long to realize that "work" is not the end all. You are not indispensable, and your employer has just about zero loyalty to you. Your family is eternal. Stop drinking the kool aid that says that work is that important and that there will be other times to enjoy your family.

Posted by: Patrick | August 14, 2006 10:54 AM

I'm back in the office today after a week-long unplugged vacation. I'm cleaning up messes and checking 500 e-mails.

It was worth every moment, and I can't wait to do the unplugged vacation again next year. Sometimes it's worth it to leave it all behind once in a while.

Back to the piles of mail and messages...

Posted by: Arlington Dad | August 14, 2006 10:56 AM

I think the relevance is you will find more balance if you leave the laptop and the cell phone at home during your next vacation. Everyone thinks their doing a lot if they continue working during vacations but in the long run, you return to work equally stressed out and harried as when you left. Good advice if you ask me. I never give out my cell phone number. Even when I leave the country on vacation.

Posted by: Lieu | August 14, 2006 11:01 AM

We just drove in last night after ten days of no cell phones, internet or television (did ya miss me?). We only got a newspaper twice, and that was after we heard from a clerk that the airlines had gone nuts. I have to say that it was fabulous. My husband did not call in once. We saw a meteor shower and it was very cool. Our house doesn't even have air conditioning, but it was so cold at night that we had to put on extra blankets!

Posted by: parttimer | August 14, 2006 11:12 AM

Megan it drives me nuts that parents at our daycare ignore the 24-hour rule. That rule is intended as a hedge against the most infectious period of sicknesses.

We have a mom at daycare who is notorious for bringing her little one (lets call him 'joey') to daycare when he's clearly sick. When I see him sniffling, I know that MY kid will be sick exactly 4 weekdays later, my spouse in 2 weeks, and I myself will therefore be sick in 3 weeks. All the parents refer to her kid at "typhoid Joey", and we try to encourage our kids not to play with him.

Plenty of us are professionals. We shouldn't have to have our entire families get sick and have to take time off b/c you'd prefer not to take a sick day.

Posted by: C'mon | August 14, 2006 11:17 AM

I actually follow the 24 hour rule. It seems insane because they are the most contagious before they show any symptoms at all. I generally take my daughter to the doctor when she has had a fever or threw up. If DR. gives OK to go back to day care, I take her back after 24 hour period. My daughter uses an awful lot of my sick time. But she has gotten a much stronger immune system. She is not sick that often anymore. 12-18 months, she was sick almost every month. At 2 1/2, she has had only three days this year of cold/fever/stomach upset. So Megan, just hang in there. They get stronger.

Posted by: Lieu | August 14, 2006 11:22 AM

Leslie, I'm glad you enjoyed your "Michey Mouse" vacation. I found out that one of the best things about being a parent is that I get to be a child all over again.

I would like to think that checking in on your blog while you were on vacation would be something you would want to do. I mean, when I go on vacation, I'll want to check in here for a quick browse. After all, you are running one of the funniest blogs in town and a few good laughs goes well with any vacation.

Another term for a cell phone is "electronic leash". I don't own one so that solves that!

Megan, the 24-hour rule is reasonable for those that have trouble thinking for themselves and have to resort to written guidelines to make their decisions, but my wife and I have always used our instincts or doctors recommendations to determine when we send our kids back to school after being sick.

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 14, 2006 11:41 AM

Remember the flu scare a few years back? My daughter was in a parents' morning out program and I noticed a HUGE change in the parents' willingness to bring their kids in sick during the scare. My toddler hardly got sick for a two-month period because no one was bringing their kids in snotty (and we were sure to keep her home when she was sick). One day there were only 4 children there out of a class of 15. It was illuminating to me how much school would be missed if everyone was super-cautious. Of course, it was nice to have such fewer illnesses compared to normal!

Posted by: Ms L | August 14, 2006 11:46 AM

I have an understanding with my office. If they want me to do a conference call or something that will take more than 30 minutes while I am on vacation, I will document the time spent on it and have it credited to my vacation leave, so 40 hours of leave might become 37.5 hours if I have to do 2 1/2 hours of work while on vacation. It works out well for all!

Also, I try to get back home on a Saturday and spend some time on Sunday reading over the emails that came in. I can then prioritize and be ready on Monday morning.

Posted by: daninannapolis | August 14, 2006 11:46 AM

Hey, I appreciate Leslie's Disney World account. I'm gathering as much info as possible before I get the nerve to take my nearly 3-year-old and nearly 5-year-old there. Concerns: the 3-year-old is too young, and the 5-year-old has ADHD (rather severe) and may be overstimulated very easily. Laugh of last week: I was scheduling a dentist appt. for my kids with a new dentist, and I almost had my son's appt. squared away when I mentioned he had ADHD. The response: "Oh, no, we don't take the ADHD kids after 3 p.m.!" Oh, come on now, take a walk on the wild side, be brave!

Now, don't read the following while eating, unless you have strong stomach:

Anyway, I try to fudge the 24-hour rule every chance I get. Why? Because everyone in my family is fine until my daughter catches something nasty from the daycare. So some other crumb-snatcher was sick at daycare first, but they're going to make sure my daughter has to follow the rules. And the rules can be a bit much and a bit arbitrary at times.

To wit: your child produces a diaper with loose stool. Ring, ring! You pick up the phone. "Come pick her up!" Um, maybe the stool is from food or teething and not a virus, perhaps? Your child has bumps on her foot, and the daycare just happened to see them when changing her socks. Ring ring! "She looks like she has hand, foot and mouth disease. You need to take her to the doctor and not bring her back until tomorrow, with a doctor's note." Your child is bitten by some bug that leaves a series of swollen bumps on her leg that oozes pus. Ring, ring! "Your child's leg looks like she has ringworm. You need to take her to the doctor..."

When I get my child home, the diahrrea disappears. The temperature goes down and stays down. The doctor says my child has no hand, foot and mouth disease, just a rash. The doctor says the bumps are insect bites and not ringworm. I've wasted quite a few co-pays on daycare diagnoses.

To be fair, my daughter's daycare is very good and runs by erring on the side of caution. If I know my daughter's really bad off, I can't in good conscience take her to daycare. It's miserable for her and the caretakers. And indeed, she has been really sick at times. But every time, it's something she caught there and passed on to the rest of the family.

The solution is to have a sick room for the sick kids at daycare, and minimal toy sharing for infants and toddlers who are still putting things in their mouths. Certainly the strep kids, hand foot and mouth kids and chickenpox kids, for instance, should stay home. But sniffles, coughs and sneezes are daycare staples, to be honest.

Posted by: momoftwo | August 14, 2006 11:53 AM

To father of 4: my brother is a doctor and my SIL is a nurse. They will both tell you that a child is the most contagious before showing any symptoms. By the time they actually show symptoms, they have already introduced the germs to every kid at school or day care. The 24 hour rule is more an issue of addressing unpleasant situations because of the cyclical nature of some viruses. ie. you think your over it but little joey still needs to hurl 21 hours after his first episode. It is not really about transmission of the virus anymore. I follow it out of respect to my daughter and the staff. They don't get paid enough to clean up after my kids vomit and I don't want my kid sitting at a day care feeling ill.

Posted by: Lieu | August 14, 2006 11:55 AM

I make a point not to plan to work during vacations, but I do check e-mail occasionally and deal with things that come up if there's a short deadline involved. Luckily, my clients and bosses are very good about not intruding unnecessarily -- the one time so far I had to spend more than a few minutes on something, I was spending a week with my husband's entire family, so I was almost glad for an excuse to curl up in the corner for a few hours! And I find that if I check the blackberry here and there when I'm bored (like, say, sitting in an airport), it seriously cuts down on the time I spend clearing out my mailbox when I get back.

The one time we went on vacation without cellphone/blackberry, the problem wasn't work -- it was the kids! Three months after our son was born, my husband took me away to a B&B for my birthday while my parents watched the kids. 5 miles from the inn, we discovered that neither our cellphones nor our blackberries got reception. We really enjoyed the solitude. Unfortunately, as soon as we got reception the next day, the phones and BBs both started beeping out the wazoo -- apparently, junior had just decided not to sleep the night before, so my poor mom had been calling and e-mailing to try to figure out what to do! Needless to say, they were very glad to see us.

I have to say, I love modern technology in general. Even if it does mean that people expect me to be available on vacation, that is a fairly small tradeoff for the flexibility it gives me in everyday life. It lets me leave work at 4 to get my kids, knowing that if a client has an emergency, they can reach me. It lets me send out a document at 3:55 and leave, knowing that I can pick up any revisions at home if I need to, instead of sitting around in my office for an extra 2-3 hours while waiting for comments. Yes, sometimes it's a pain -- I spend a few evenings working on something that has to go out the next day. But that's part of my job, with or without the cellphone and BB. So I am very thankful that technology allows me to leave at 4, even if it means working at home one night out of ten, since the alternative is staying in the office until 6 or 7 every night.

Posted by: Laura | August 14, 2006 12:09 PM

Laura, the B&B, was that Inn at Little Washington? At the risk of re-kindling last week's class war, it would be nice to know that for all that ca$h you also get some "forced" peace, away from the kids and the office. I've heard it's in the middle of nowhere...

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 12:22 PM

To Lame--this blog is all about Balancing work and home. Vacationing plugged vs unplugged is definitely part of that balance. If you are so critical that you must be entertained and only topics that entertain you are allowed, then it's better for everyone if you find another bookmark for your entertainment.

I have a job that by its nature (computer system administrator for mission critical computers at NASA) requires outside work attention. Although I am only officially on-call one week out of every three (there are three of us in this job), as the most senior technical person, I am essentially on-call 7x24 to handle any problems my two coworkers cannot handle. Fortunately, over the last two years, we've managed to convince our operations center that there are some things that can wait until Monday or tomorrow morning, it is part of the job that for crises, I am available. When I go on vacation, I stay minimally plugged. The balance for me is that work knows that I am on vacation and strives to avoid calling me if at all possible. I've only been called twice in the last four vacations. And the flip side is that I carry my nationwide pager and my cell phone. I turn them off when I'm in something that cannot be disturbed (movies at theme parks, rides, etc) but leave it on when I can. I bring my laptop and usually check once per day at night before I go to bed. I only respond to things that have to have a response before I get back. With respect from the work place, it works as a compromise. I stay hooked...they try not to abuse it. The corresponding perk is that since my job is essentially 7x24, my hours are fairly flexible so that if I need to work from home waiting for a vendor, I can. If I know that I have work to do late at night, then I can leave early and just finish my scheduled work hours in the evening. I did take my laptop on a cruise last year, but the in-room connection was so slow that unless they change the system, we won't do that on our cruise next year. They'll just have to make do with connectivity when I'm somewhere my cell phone gets reception and I check messages.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | August 14, 2006 12:27 PM

All the parents refer to her kid at "typhoid Joey", and we try to encourage our kids not to play with him.

You should act like a grown up and talk to the mother or the center director, it's not the kids fault he gets sick.

Posted by: awful comment | August 14, 2006 12:28 PM

I usually follow the 24 hour rule (but if it's been 22 hours and the kid seems fine...) And the 24 hour rule generally only relates to fever, vomiting and diarrhea (or more serious conditions). Regular colds don't keep them out of daycare. And when my kids have a runny nose, usually there are others who do too, and it often seems they got them simultaneously. Fever and vomiting are one thing but if the kid had to stay home every time they had a runny nose, parents would never be able to work. But sometimes we do keep a kid home when she wouldn't have to stay out of daycare just because she can get a lot more rest in the quiet of home rather than with a bunch of other kids.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | August 14, 2006 12:31 PM

Thanks all for your comments on the 24 hours rule. Like Rockville Mom and others, it seems to me to makes sense with regard to fevers, vomiting etc, but coughs and runny noses can go on long after a child's contagious, so I wondered what other people do in that regard.

I especially appreciate F04's comments about common sense, the long lost friend of parents...

Posted by: Megan | August 14, 2006 12:44 PM

I try and keep to the 24-hour rule; usually if my son's been sick over the weekend, I'll see how he's feeling on Monday. If he's basically chipper, not running a fever, and not sliming the premises, I'll take him into daycare; if not, it's a day full of medicine and working from home.

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | August 14, 2006 12:45 PM

Mommy say I better feel now

Posted by: Typhoid Joey | August 14, 2006 12:45 PM

I'm surprised Leslie's daughter was tricked up in a Cinderella dress. I thought that the "Prince Charming rescuing the female" syndrome had gone the way of the dodo years ago.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 12:54 PM

"I'm surprised Leslie's daughter was tricked up in a Cinderella dress. I thought that the "Prince Charming rescuing the female" syndrome had gone the way of the dodo years ago."

There was a really trippy article a while back in the NYT (you'd probably have to pay to get it now) about girls and their families paying through the nose to have a day as Cinderella at the Disney store in NYC (as I recall). Apparently the princess thing is alive and kicking.

Posted by: Megan | August 14, 2006 12:56 PM

Leslie, sounds like a great vacation. I personally "leave the office" behind when I vacation with my family, it's the only way to maintain sanity. I'm so glad your daughter had her "fairy tale" experience. It's really important to encourage kids to maintain creativity and an imagination. Disney does a great job of that and I think that's why the trip is such a rite of passage for kids (and parents!).

Happy to have you back.

Posted by: Nellie in NW | August 14, 2006 1:07 PM

I'm surprised Leslie's daughter was tricked up in a Cinderella dress. I thought that the "Prince Charming rescuing the female" syndrome had gone the way of the dodo years ago.


From my understanding, it's just that now only some girls have this dream/fantasy instead of all girls. Now, girls have the option to dream of being any number of professionals, public servants thanks to the female Senators, Representatives, Presidents (Geena Davis), Justices, etc. But some boys still dream of being firemen and some girls still dream of being a princess. After watching any number of cartoons or movies like THE PRINCESS DIARIES, why wouldn't some little girl dream of something like that happening to her? Or want a day to be special like that?

Posted by: DadWannaBe | August 14, 2006 1:08 PM

What about vacation for the kids?

Remember back in the day on the last day of school before summer vacation and we went home chanting:
No more pencils, no more books,
no more teachers dirty looks!

gone are those days! Just in, an e-mail from the good ol' Fairfax County School System:

Subject: Fairfax County Public Schools Summer Reading Reminder

Dear [My Wife's First Name]

Every student who will be entering grades six through 12 in the fall must read at least one book over the summer. The follow-up in the fall is determined by each school. The Summer Reading Lists contain suggestions for reading. Students may read any other book that is approved by their parents. To review the Summer Reading Lists, please see:

Some schools and courses, particularly at the high school level, have additional summer assignments. Parents and students should inquire at the time of registration. Most of these assignments are posted at the individual school web sites.

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 14, 2006 1:24 PM

Disney has been making the most of its princesses by grouping them all together in the Princess line. My 2-year-old is fully toilet trained but refuses to wear underpants because the alternative, her pullups, are festooned with Disney Princesses. It's a fantastic marketing technique for them.

Posted by: Ms L | August 14, 2006 1:30 PM

Father of 4 -

If you raise your kids to love reading, the one book summer reading requirement is a snap.

It's kinda weird that a parent is complaining about their kids having to read....

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 1:31 PM

I had summer reading every single summer of elementary and high school, way back in the '60s. It was not onerous, and it shouldn't be now. I was always appalled when my kids' schools didn't have summer reading, and gave them lists of my own. No kid should think not reading is a good idea!

Posted by: DMD | August 14, 2006 1:33 PM

I'd like to live in Leslie's world, where there ARE vacations. Since I lost my job, I've had 2 summers without vacations. My requests for one were met with riducle and laughter. Temps are treated with so much derision, so much contempt. I'm just a commodity to make their life easier and my needs be damned. Employers are still in the driver's seat with the hiring process especially when you're over 50. I wish I could whine about the Hamptons and Disney, how tough it is to be away being at the beach and all. All of you with permanent jobs with benefits - don't take them for granted, you could be the next one downsized, and then you'll be the one that others treat poorly. Leslie, be glad for what you have - so many of us would like even a fraction of your fabulous lifestyle!

Posted by: A temp, not a psycho, a professional | August 14, 2006 1:34 PM

Temp, can you really not just take time off? I'm a temp and basically, when I say I'm going to be off, they just have to deal with it. That's why I do temp/contract work, so I'm NOT stuck with only 2-3 weeks off per year. I don't abuse it, of course, and I usually take time off between jobs, but I've never had an employer make a comment when I asked for a week off, as long as it wasn't at a critical time. It's crazy that you're being treated in that way. Find another temp job where you won't be abused.

Posted by: A happy temp | August 14, 2006 1:36 PM

Also, to Temp. If you are temping through an agency, they should intervene. Two years working with no vacation is ridiculous. Maybe the agency could send someone to cover for you while you get some time off.

Posted by: A Happy Temp | August 14, 2006 1:38 PM

The princess thing is hard to get away from.

I have two boys and we still ended up eatting breakfast with Cinderella. She came to our table and the oldest was just beside himself.

The great thing about DisneyWorld is that it's easy to get to and so engulfing that a person can forget about everything else.

However, I know there are work rooms there. Most of our visits have been in connection with some IT confrence. They lure the employees down there for meetings and the family comes along for the magic.

Posted by: RoseG | August 14, 2006 1:41 PM

My thoughts on 'vacation' time.
My current company does not give me enough days off with pay.
So I take time off. They either pay me or they don't. They can't tell me what to do with my time 24/7 - so if they choose to pay me, that is fine, if they don't - I still need vacation time.
My husband, by the way, gets 4 times the number of vacation days I get - no joke.
When I'm on vacation - I'm on vacation. Don't want to be so important that I'm never on vacation, really.

Posted by: atlmom | August 14, 2006 1:44 PM

We used to keep our son away from close proximity to other children if he was sick. But now we throw him in with the rest of them.

To others, it is just a little cold. To our son, it means two weeks of antibiotics because he gets a chronic upper resperatory infection whenever he gets a cold.

So, keep your children away from my Typhoid Joey. You never know what he's bringing in next.

Oh, yeah ... I forgot ... he's not in day care/preschool.

Posted by: Working Dad | August 14, 2006 1:49 PM

When my son began in preschool, he would bring colds home constantly - and my husband and I were the ones to get sick, never my son, really (it didn't help that I was pregnant, too).
So he rarely if ever gets a cold - he just brings it home for the rest of us.
There was one time when he wasn't feeling well, and I wasn't working, so I kept him home for a few days. It really wouldn't have been fair to him or the other kids, he just wanted to sleep.

Posted by: atlmom | August 14, 2006 1:54 PM

Father of 4, I'm not sure I can agree with you on this either. While I am very opposed to schools giving homework assignments over the summer, I think that to ask a child to read just one book (and any book at that) isn't too much at all. Most kids will probably read at least one book during the summer anyway.

Posted by: RT | August 14, 2006 2:04 PM

To the 12:22 poster, yep, that was the place -- always wanted to go, and it was my 40th b-day (and first night away from the baby), so it was a really special occasion. And yes, the cellphone-free area is an added bonus!

Posted by: Laura | August 14, 2006 2:05 PM

I think the princess fairy tale is perfectly normal for kids who are around Leslie's kids age. Kids DO grow out of that kind of stuff, so why not take them somewhere so they can "live out" the fantasy. Isn't that what we work so hard for is to provide certain luxuries to our children that enrich their lives? It appears too soon (according to Dad of 4) that they will have summer reading assignments and the like, so good for Leslie and her family to take the time while her kids are still young to do FUN things that make memories.

Posted by: Nellie in NW | August 14, 2006 2:06 PM

Why wouldn't a young girl dream of being Cinderella? Beautiful clothes, handsome man, castles, magic etc. Sure beats dreaming of working 50 hr weeks being a corporate drone for selfish people. Long live FANTASY! (and for boys too!)

Posted by: Jane | August 14, 2006 2:09 PM

"My 2-year-old is fully toilet trained but refuses to wear underpants because the alternative, her pullups, are festooned with Disney Princesses. It's a fantastic marketing technique for them."

don't they make princess underwear? Maybe you could add a princess iron-on or patch or lace to plain underwear.

regarding vacations, traveling with a toddler is NEVER a vacation. It's exhausting. but it can be very fun! I would check work email while on vacation, but our security system won't allow it (must use work computer). I leave a phone number, but no one ever calls-- I'm just not that critical. Good to know!

Posted by: Capitol Hill mom | August 14, 2006 2:16 PM

If my daughter couldn't go to school with a runny nose I would have to start homeschooling (or drug her up with Benadryl) and so would most of the parents I know with kids. One of the requirements at the pre-schools I dealt with in the past is every child has to bring in 3 boxes of tissues for the year so the teachers don't run short.

Posted by: Dlyn | August 14, 2006 2:20 PM

We finally took our four year old on a vacation (and her first airplane ride)
to Niagara Falls. We were unplugged
and happy about it. I celebrated my
fourty birthday without gag gifts or jokes
about my advanced age.

Our little girl had a chance to be a little girl without the usual craziness of
our lives working, day care, and demands
of the grandparents. My daughter said
the best parts of her vacation (not necessarily in order) airplane, hotel icemaker and to be with Mommy and Daddy all

Posted by: shdd | August 14, 2006 2:24 PM

I wonder if the whole fax things to me, check email, etc is just another extension of the self importance baby boomers put upon themselves as if the world would cease running without their input. My dad told me once that the graveyard is full of self important, indispensable people.......

Posted by: James | August 14, 2006 2:25 PM

All the parents refer to her kid at "typhoid Joey", and we try to encourage our kids not to play with him.

You should act like a grown up and talk to the mother or the center director, it's not the kids fault he gets sick.

Posted by: awful comment | August 14, 2006 12:28 PM

Easy for you to say. The mom is a SAHM just returning to the workforce who doesn't want to endanger her job. She's nice, actually. She simply has elected to get the rest of the room (and those families) sick whenever she needs to. We sympathize on one hand. And we HAVE talked to the center Director. They have to be there to pick "joey" up 90 minutes after his temperature registers higher than 101.5 degrees. By then, the damage is done.

The fact that he had snot rolling down his face when he woke up that morning should have been the clue for the parents to keep him home.

Posted by: C'mon | August 14, 2006 2:29 PM

re: runny noses.
When my son first started preschool I made a comment to one of the teachers about how there was a child who had a runny nose every day and how my child just rarely got sick. It's really a rite of passage - some kids get sick a lot, and some don't. We are fortunate, actually. My younger kid, already, has had more colds than my older one.
But, it all evens out - if your child goes to preschool/day care before kindergarten, by elementary school, so i hear, they don't get sick as much, since their immune systems have learned how to deal with the germs/viruses. It's the kids (so i hear) who never go near other children, who don't have the ability to develop an immune system, who are sicker.
SO I HEAR. I know some kids never get sick, and they've never been near another child until they are 7 YO. But I mean ON AVERAGE...

Posted by: atlmom | August 14, 2006 2:30 PM

I dislike that my job bascially expects me to keep in touch via email and company cell phone. My family was visiting the area one day and I decided to take them to the National Zoo. I had to cart around multiple phones, notes, etc. all throughout the zoo and basically keep doing my job remotely even though I was only taking one single day off and it was a paid vacation day. I understand why they need me on call like this, with deadlines and projects that need to be finished, but I still wish it didn't have to be that way. Unfortunately, the only means I have of avoiding this would be to find a new job...

Posted by: 215 | August 14, 2006 2:42 PM

[It's kinda weird that a parent is complaining about their kids having to read....]

I have to admit, I've never read a book to any of my kids, but I encourage them to read to me, especially the comics. In fact, my kids read so much, I had to make the rule: No reading at the dinner table. (unless its the comics)

And as a parent that can't possibly think for myself on what's good for my kid, I need the school system to use verbage like "Students must" and "students may" as if they are making demands and granting permissions. I'll post more e-mails on this line of thought and encourage feedback on future threads.

My 14 year old daughter has 4 projects to complete this summer. I do get a little irked when the public school system dictates what needs to be accomplished over summer vacation. the system already ruins many of the weekends I have with my family when school is in session by overburdening them with hours and hours of homework. Now they are encroaching on my vacation time...

And when the kids can't handle the workload, they get the label ADHD or one of the many mental disorders that are coming out as fast as pharmesudical companies can develop medications.

In due time, I'm sure the students will expect the same treatment from their employers. I mean, it's not unreasonable for an employer to demand an employee check in every now and then while they are on vacation, is it?

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 14, 2006 2:46 PM

My best friend's husband insists on checking voicemail and e-mail while on "vacation" and he gives out his cell phone number. They have very stressful lives and rarely get away, so my friend says it has ruined most vacations for her because he will jump for the cell every time it rings and once spent an entire day (of only three days off) e-mailing work back and forth with to his company. She got angry and they fought. He couldn't see that it was supposed to be her vacation, too, and their time together. It's his fault for not delegating work and allowing them to call him all the time, and it's his company's fault for not respecting his time off. She suggested that he tell them he would not be deducting vacation hours for the day he worked, but he has so much extra that he was in a "use or lose" situation anyway. They finally went on one trip to an island for a family wedding and his cell phone didn't work there. He admitted it was much more relaxing to be able to leave the phone in the hotel room.

Posted by: Unplug for everyone's sake | August 14, 2006 2:48 PM

I wonder if the whole fax things to me, check email, etc is just another extension of the self importance baby boomers put upon themselves as if the world would cease running without their input. My dad told me once that the graveyard is full of self important, indispensable people.......


James--unfortunatley, it isn't self-importance in the case of me and my coworkers. When I started with NASA in 1992, we had more people and larger budgets. During the Clinton administration, the NASA budget was slashed twice for huge amounts bringing our annual budget lower than it had been since man went to the moon. As a consequence, people who retire or leave are frequently not replaced. Jobs are merged and less experienced people are "moved up" into roles that they frequently are not qualified to hold and have to be trained to do what they can. Those of a more senior level or with the appropriate background end up with the situations that I have and are basically 7x24 backup for everyone and everything. I've seen it happen in many different departments and from what I've heard, it also happens in other agencies depending on the criticality of the project and/or deadline. I would like to go back to the "less critical" level I was at 10 years ago...but it isn't my choice unless I want to leave the agency and I personally like my job and my career and I do it well. Although only 41, I intend to retire here if possible in 25+ years (not guaranteed since I am a contractor and not a civil servant). In this day and age, many of us no longer have the privileges and benefits that the boomer era had in their jobs.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | August 14, 2006 2:52 PM

Father of 4

Didn't you have summer reading when you were a little feller? It's been common in certain areas of the U.S. for many years.

Have you voiced your concerns about summer assignments to the school? Maybe you can change the system......

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 3:03 PM

Father of four,

I never had summer reading when I was a kid. I enjoyed those summers of helping my mom and going on trips with my father to the pit or to pick out new equipment. While I did and do like to read I agree that the schools shouldn't say a kid must do anything on summer vacation, unless of course we are going to start making kids go all year long. I mean what ever happened to just being a kid, why does everything have to be so structured these days.

Posted by: scarry | August 14, 2006 3:10 PM

Hey Scarry, are you moved!? Welcome back.

And I can't believe your daughter has four projects over the summer, Father of 4. What a drag. I'm astonished at the level of homework and now summer work kids have -no wonder they're all stressed out so early on and so willing to be worker bees later. Although I've always been such a bookworm I can't imagine not reading a pile of books over the summer, it's one of the thigns I miss most from life pre-child, being able to spend a whole day wrapped up in a book.

Posted by: Megan | August 14, 2006 3:19 PM

Certainly, there is much to be said for letting kids be 'kids,' etc, but seriously, there are problems with not having them do anything over the summer. From what I've read, teachers have a tough time coming back when the kids have not done anything all summer except 'be kids' as in, the more they do over the summer, the less the teachers have to redo what the kids learned the year before (i.e., less review). There's nothing wrong with that in my opinion. With almost three months off, certainly that's enough time for kids to 'be kids' AND to do some work over the summer. I don't see anything wrong with 'balancing' the two.

Posted by: atlmom | August 14, 2006 3:22 PM


Why not tell your daughter to do her book report on this book:
I'm sure her teacher will like that.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 3:24 PM


i'm in a hotel right now trying to get my email to work. We move into the house next Friday. I miss my friends in DC, but I am glad to be able to afford a house.

Posted by: scarry | August 14, 2006 3:25 PM

The Lesson: We now know that we're not as important as we think we are.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 3:26 PM

Happy temp, this is not for one client - last year was a company in Bethesda that put out their financials at 6/30. Brought me in at 6/1, so kinda hard to demand vacation, that's why I was there, so THEIR people could take off. Great controller and asst controller, horrible manager. She came over to my cubicle, in earshot of at least 5 other people to tell me the Friday before Labor Day, that they had run out of work and wouldn't need me anymore. Nice. Was without an assignment for almost two months until sent to a large well known quasi governmental agency near Tyson's. They expected 50 hours of work while paying for 40 for SOX work. Illegal, and they were not the least bit apologetic for it. Said I didn't know Excel (I do) and sent me home. Sent to a non profit in December for a lot less money, longer commute and dull work. Ops manager wouldn't let me do anything "until the new controller gets here". So no training on ACH transfers, no printed checks able to be printed by Quickbooks, etc., so I told my agency get me out, so now I've been with a real estate place (a very quality company, great people) since May 1. They're deciding whether or not to hire me - not the best time to demand time off.
For a female who is over 50 and not a size 6, it's important to go along to get along. And it's VERY busy here, today is the first day I've had a breather in 10 days to read these posts. But not as bad as the summer of 2004, when some jerk manager decided he needed to look like the superstar at a company that was closing, and mandated that all of us temps work 9-14 days, Saturdays mandatory. I had to be there Saturday night, since I have plenty of errands and chores to do.
So the timing is bad, although the employer is good, and I now have a chance of getting benefits and health insurance.
Count your blessings, all of you who have permanent jobs with good employers. For many of us, it's just a Disney fantasy. Oh, and please don't call us psycho... you might be there one day.

Posted by: Temp, not a psycho, a professional | August 14, 2006 3:26 PM

To the vacationless temp, I also did temp work at one point. I was able to take leave when I wanted. No, it wasn't paid, but I managed to budget and make it work. You should try to find another agency. It is the job and not the norm.

I think vacations are necessary and am really looking forward to mine in a couple weeks. Just a quiet time at teh beach, but it is perfect. I will bring my Blackberry on this one, but did take one earlier this year where it was left at home. Since both my manager and I are taking the week off (I could only take this one due to Husband's job), I will need to reply on occasion. I won't reply after 5 and will do so from the beach. It is August, it should be quiet. I can't wait!

Posted by: Thought | August 14, 2006 3:28 PM

"Temp not a psycho" just wants to complain.

Poor "temp not a psycho."

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 3:33 PM

When you get your email to work. Maybe you could email Megan directly.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 3:37 PM

F of 4

If American kids can't knock off a couple of interesting books in the summer, we are in real trouble.

Do you recall the original intent of academic summer "vacations"?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 3:43 PM

When you get your email to work. Maybe you could email Megan directly.

Maybe when you get a personality, you won't be so obnoxious. Get a life already or skip our posts.

Posted by: scarry | August 14, 2006 3:44 PM

plow rake hoe and harvest!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 3:48 PM

Reading "Old Yeller" is starting to sound pretty good.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 3:50 PM

plow rake hoe and harvest!

Posted by: | August 14, 2006 03:48 PM


... and bringin' Daddy his beer!

Lame argument. In Summer, kids should be outside playing stickball on the cul de sac with their friends, catching frogs and salamanders in the creek, and improving their collections of hypodermic needles from the local, abandoned lot.

Posted by: Working Dad | August 14, 2006 3:58 PM

You people are so immature. Scarry has hardly said anything on this blog today, yet, someone has to run their mouth. Like she said grow up.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 3:59 PM

As well as I'm trashing the public service that claims to be one of the country's greatest educational systems on the planet, I may as well throw this e-mail out there too. those persons that advocate universal health care should be happy to know that their tax money is already going to the cause.

Dear [My Wife's Name]

As stated in a letter sent to you in June, effective July 1, 2006, a booster dose of Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis) vaccine is required for all students entering the 6th grade, if at least five years have passed since the last dose of tetanus-containing vaccine. Most students have not had this vaccine. The Fairfax County Health Department has scheduled clinics to administer free Tdap vaccine to students who will be entering the sixth grade in fall 2006 and who need the vaccine to comply with new Virginia immunization requirements. Please note that an adult must accompany students, and there is no charge for vaccines required for school. If you take your child to a free clinic site offered by the Health Department, remember to bring your child's immunization records to share with the clinic staff.

Please check your child?s immunization records carefully, and if your child has not had a tetanus toxoid-containing vaccine (DTP, DTaP, DT, or Td) in the last five years, please make arrangements for them to receive it as soon as possible and provide documentation of a booster Tdap to the school office prior to school beginning on September 5, 2006.
Documentation of the immunization, which includes month, day, and year, is required prior to school entry for the 2006-2007 school year.

It is very important that you attend to this matter immediately in order for your child to return to school in the fall. Please contact our school public health nurse, Janice Chapman-Smith at 703-481-4077, for free clinic dates and times or if you have questions.
Thank you for your cooperation.

Joy Hanbury

Father of 4's comments:
I thought that my kids had a right to a public school education. Now it includes the disclosure of medical records. What next?

Note the tone of the message. Pretty authoratative don't you think?

I wundor If I get to sign the release form for that shot if it begins "We hold no liability... in case of severe reaction or death...

Now, after they do mental health screening on kids, as mandated by public schools, will the verbage change to
It is very important that you administer the recommended medication to your child in order for your child to return to school.

Someone's making money, you think? More to come on future threads...

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 14, 2006 4:12 PM

Most of the people who are doing work while on vacation are either not organized or are afraid that if they are not there and the work gets done, they are not needed.

Before you go on vacation, leave a list of where your projects stand with your boss and your assistant. That way if someone asks, they don't have to wait until you come back for an answer.

Check the caller id when your cell phone rings. Don't be afraid to let it go to voice mail! It's your vacation!

I worked with a gentleman who never took vacations (even though he had 6 weeks/year), came in when he was deathly ill, worked most weekends, and chose the job over his family when confronted with the choice. He was a loyal employee for over 30 years.

Then there was a reorganization

He was told that he was no longer needed and was given 20 minutes to clear his desk. I will never forget the look on his face as he was walking down the hall with his box of personal items. It was a look of pure shock. It was the most undignified thing I have ever seen in an office environment.

You never want to be that guy.

The office was there before you, it will be there after you.

Posted by: daninannapolis | August 14, 2006 4:25 PM

I haven't been reading this all day. Sorry if this is repetitive. Good mini-topic on balance though.

Regarding sick kids and daycare---all three of you are right. People are contagous, with many viruses, starting before symptoms BUT also with symptoms typically the first few days and/or while febrile. That is why when they have fever, they should stay at home. Also for the kids comfort and benefit too. But I agree with Megan some things are ridiculous. Like pink eye--caused by a virus, is benign and yet daycare goes nuts over that, but less concerned over nastier stuff. I think discussion with the pediatrician is prudent with regard to when a kid can go back to daycare/school. Some things are age dependent. I might recommend that an 18 month year old with pink eye stay home but a 12 yearo old? It's not like the 12 year old is going to rub his/her eyes and put their finger in another kid's eye. I'm a pediatrician and I send the kids in if they meet the following criteria 1) no fever since day before ("24 hours") 2) look well and feel well and 3) don't think they are really contagous. Have I sent mine in with runny noses? Yep. Otherwise kids would be home all the time. My daughter has allergies which gives her a runny nose. If I kept her at home, she'd be home the entire spring.

And I often tell parents of kids in daycare that although they are sick now with minor illnesses, they are less likely to get these when they get to school. To be honest, this is only true for some viruses. Some you can get 1-2 times a year. I know, I get RSV every year.

Posted by: To Megan, cmon and Lieu | August 14, 2006 4:45 PM

Father of 4:

Before I say this - I'm not an anti-vaccine Nazi - all four of my children are up to date on their vaccinations.

However - what does burn me is stuff like this:

"a booster dose of Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis) vaccine is required for all students entering the 6th grade"

Ummm.....noooooo......what is required is the submission of the immunization form that documents either the vaccine or an exemption (in the case of Virginia, a religious exemption -

Posted by: momof4 | August 14, 2006 4:53 PM

I wundor If I get to sign the release form for that shot if it begins "We hold no liability... in case of severe reaction or death...

Me thinks you have not had enough vacation. Despite popular media and a few crazies out there, dT does not cause "severe reactions or death". Studies have shown CONCLUSIVELY that they do not cause the illnesses they purportedly do (autism, seizures, etc.). These conditions occur during the toddler years when kids are getting most of their shots. Just an association, not causation.

Immunizations have greatly increased the likelihood of children making it out of childhood. And Dpt is an imporatant vaccine. It protects the child from tetanus and protects infants from a child who has a seemingly mild illness, Pertussus (deadly in infants). Both illnesses cause death.

And for those who do not want their child immunized, there is an opt out on immunization forms. If it is for medical reasons, then a physician can sign to that, but parents can also opt out for whatever reason they wish.

And as a physician, I've seen the heartbreak of a family whose child has died of one of these preventable diseases. Pertussus is back with a vengence and mumps is back too. Pertussis kills babies and mumps can render children sterile.

So I hope you were kidding. Wasn't very funny.

Posted by: To Fatherof4 | August 14, 2006 4:53 PM

I feel the need to point out here that I have only been lurking today and it was not me who posted that email recommendation to scarry. She thinks I have some grudge against her. Turns out....'nuff said.

Posted by: Please? | August 14, 2006 4:56 PM

**Most of the people who are doing work while on vacation are either not organized or are afraid that if they are not there and the work gets done, they are not needed.**

Dan, you obviously know what a gross generalization that is. If "work" is defined by just answering the occasional phone call and checking email once per day, you don't need to be a workaholic/insecure/self-important employee to endorse that that approach. My point remains, that I would rather spend 10 minutes per day "working" on vacation than have to work two straight 15 hour days to catch up when we get back from vacation. It seems to me that it is more considerate to the family to take a few minutes on vacation than to essentially miss all parenting time for 48 hours upon our return.

Posted by: Proud Papa | August 14, 2006 5:00 PM

The problem is please that I don't care if you or anyone else has a grudge against me. I just wish that you would quite using my name in everything you post. It is starting to get really nerve racking.

Posted by: scarry | August 14, 2006 5:07 PM

I am astonished to read that so many of you actually feel ANY need to stay in touch with the office while on vacation, much less on vacation with the kids! I'm a lawyer and know lots of other lawyers, in private pracitce, government practice, small firm and large, and the worst I ever saw or heard of among my brethren and sistren was a friend who called his secretary the first day of a week-long trip to make sure something got filed on time. I can understand that if you run your own business and are going to be gone for more than a day or two that you might need to work a bit on vacation-- who else will do it?-- but for the rest of you I say GET A LIFE! How can work possibly be more important than time spent with family? If they (your employer) can't be satisfied with having your butt the time you are actually there, but must also have it while you are on YOUR time, you need a new job. And don't tell me about how you have no choice. Yes, I know we all sometimes get in tough temporary situations, but I suspect that a lot of you folks who have to stay plugged in to the office while you are "vacationing" need a perspective adjustment. Leslie, sounds like you have started just such an adjustment yourself. Good for you (and your family)!!

Posted by: wihntr | August 14, 2006 5:18 PM

Please? you're getting pathetic. You don't like her, we get it, now shut up about it already.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 6:00 PM

I hope the people who work for Leslie won't be expected to check in on vacation either.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 6:06 PM

I am old enough (48) to remember work when there were no faxes, no emails, no PCs and no cell phones. Now everyone is on electronic leash of some sort to the office, and it's ridiculous. If we can't go on vacation and truly not be available for anyone and anything at work, then we are all indispensable and deserve to be making way more money than we do. Huge pet peeve.

Posted by: Suzy | August 14, 2006 6:12 PM

I am old enough (48) to remember work when there were no faxes, no emails, no PCs and no cell phones. Now everyone is on electronic leash of some sort to the office, and it's ridiculous. If we can't go on vacation and truly not be available for anyone and anything at work, then we are all indispensable and deserve to be making way more money than we do. Huge pet peeve.

Posted by: Suzy | August 14, 2006 6:14 PM

I am old enough (48) to remember work when there were no faxes, no emails, no PCs and no cell phones. Now everyone is on electronic leash of some sort to the office, and it's ridiculous. If we can't go on vacation and truly not be available for anyone and anything at work, then we are all indispensable and deserve to be making way more money than we do. Huge pet peeve.

Posted by: Suzy | August 14, 2006 6:14 PM

Amen to the 6:00 pm poster - and to whoever else, I hope Scarry does email me and until then I'm still going to give her a hearty welcome back (no surprise there).

Also, thanks to the pediatrician for your thoughtful comments on both topics. However, vaccines do sometimes cause very severe allergic reactions or side effect, it's just very rare (waaaay more rare than the illnesses they prevent). But the question of who should bear the cost of those rare events is a valid one - is it really just too bad for those families? Should the manufacturers pay given that they make money off the widespread use of the vaccine? Or should we spread the costs over the general public since we all benefit from the vaccine program? So even though Fo4 may have been flip, it's not an outrageous thing to ask.

Also, in most states you cannot opt out just because you want to, a lot of states limit exemptions to religious or health, although some have philosophical exemptions. Some also restrict the ability of parents to opt out of only specific vaccines, requiring an all or nothing approach.

Posted by: Megan | August 14, 2006 6:14 PM

I just returned from a week-long
family visit in the Midwest
and did NOT take my laptop and did not check email at any point.
I'd told my staff that there'd be
no laptop, no email link to me,
but I did leave a phone number. One staffer decided during my time away to ask for 2 days off (today, Monday) and tomorrow, but couldn't decide (!) whether to call me. So she sent me an email I didn't find until late yesterday (Sunday)when I was preparing for Monday morning.
I concur with Suzy about completely throwing off ALL the leashes. If they want me to be available during time I'm officially "off" or away and not on company business, then I think they should at least double my salary!

Posted by: SF Mom | August 14, 2006 7:01 PM

One more comment, re: Suzy --
I'm 49 and I also remember those
not-so-distant but oh-so-quaint
days of no cell phones,
no faxes, and no emails. It's amazing that life went on without
these gadgets and gizmos.
When I set up my email auto-reply, I simply state that I'll be gone, the dates gone, and whom to call/email in my absence. I think this is enough and I need not offer up anymore info or express my regret at not being at my desk. I do have a coworker, however, who signs off every single auto-reply he posts with "My apologies for any inconvenience due to my absence."
I can't imagine apologizing for taking time off or being out of the office or thinking I'm so darned important that I need to go on about the ruckus I think I might be creating in another's life. It's just a job!!

Posted by: SF Mom | August 14, 2006 7:10 PM

"But the question of who should bear the cost of those rare events is a valid one - is it really just too bad for those families? Should the manufacturers pay given that they make money off the widespread use of the vaccine? Or should we spread the costs over the general public since we all benefit from the vaccine program?"

Actually, the most common side effects of some of the vaccines are local reactions (swelling)and fever. Allergic reactions are uncommon (most common is allergy to eggs causing a reaction to the flu vaccine).

With regard to the rare events--there is the vaccine compensation fund. Anyone and their physician who reports an adverse reaction gets a hearing by this entity and if it is found that a child has suffered from an immunization, then they are compensated financially. This was done to protect manufacturers of immunizations so that they do not get sued and then have to go out of business. Companies would stop making the vaccines if they were at risk. Anyway, bad reactions are exceedingly rare and it is a good thing that this fund exists for the sake of everyone. And drug companies don't make much off of vaccines. This is why we've had shortages in recent years. Companies don't make the money off of immunizations like they do off of cholesterol lowering drugs, among other drugs.

And to Fof4---sometimes government mandates things to protect us all. Banning smoking in public places protects those who don't smoke from suffering from the ill effects, vaccines protect all of us by providing herd immunity, motorcycle helmet laws protect stupid people from becoming gorks if they get into an accident and so on. The public has a "right" to mandate these things because it is the public who pays for the end result of the harms (one serious head injury costs millions for example, and who do you think pays for that?). So there is some good for you and the public in ensuring that kids get immunized.

Posted by: To Megan | August 14, 2006 7:19 PM

fo4, my kids read every night, all summer long. when they are tired of running, jumping and playing. instead of turning on the tv. (Ok, the truth is they can recite entire Simpsons episodes by heart, but they do find plenty of time to read for enjoyment.) I made them read when they were little. now they use the library, including the website to reserve the more popular titles.
If you don't want your kids to have summer school work, then they shouldn't sign up for honors classes. wait until you see how AP classes kill spring break!
Thanks for reminding me to make those pediatrician appointments!!

Posted by: experienced mom | August 14, 2006 9:39 PM

'How many friggin times do I have to say that I could not give less of a crap about her personally? When I see a topic I have an opinion on (hers or otherwise), I post. Just like you.

you are hearby nominated King of the Trolls

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 9:50 PM

well, not much of this conversation is nice so that's not very surprising...

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 10:12 PM

"I feel the need to point out here that I have only been lurking today and it was not me who posted that email recommendation to scarry. She thinks I have some grudge against her. Turns out....'nuff said."

I didn't know this was a topic.

Megan, I lost your email, so you will have to email me first.

Posted by: scarry | August 15, 2006 8:38 AM

Amazing. [scratches head quizzically.] Somehow trying to make logical arguments makes me a troll. Rebutting illogical arguments (and yes, sometimes in a frustrated tone) makes me a troll. Pointing out I'm not the person starting whatever 'first shots' get fired against another person (which I have been accused of, so I am defending myself) makes me a troll.

Great. You guys clearly have your "favorites" on this board, and if you really just want to have daily worship of these people rather than really analyze and debate anything then have at it.

Posted by: Please? | August 15, 2006 9:31 AM


I am not a favorite. You weren't debating anything that I wrote. I didn't say you wrote the post about the email and Megan. All I said was that everytime you post, you reference me. If you would just post to the topic or the off topic that we get off on without always referencing me maybe you would enjoy the blog more.

One more thing, why do you feel that any argument I make is illogical and you are logical. You felt the need to say, oh this time it wasn't me who said that about Scarry? That's logical?

Posted by: scarry | August 15, 2006 10:49 AM

You can't win with the sick kid daycare/school issues. If you keep them home with every sniffle, then you use up all your leave and must go to work when YOU are sick. Then co-workers complain about you infecting them.

Most of us would rather be home with a sick kid and don't send them to daycare/school unless we really think it's OK.

Posted by: daylate | August 15, 2006 1:04 PM

Have to chime in on unplugging. Do it and do it with elan.

My job, like many, involves major responsibilities, serious stress, and long & unpredictable work hours. I take vacation once a year, but when I do it's hard core. 3-4 weeks at a modest family cottage on a lake in the middle of nowhere -- no TV, newspapers, phones, internet, blackberries, cellphones or beepers.

I have a talented staff who I (and my boss) trust to handle the work in my absence. The experience is good for their professional development and future promotion chances. It's gives them the opportunity to really shine -- they take on new responsibilities, get more face time with the big boss, and generally test their mettle.

In turn, I encourage my staff to take similarly long vacations. When they do, I and their colleagues cover. That cross-training and backstopping improves office efficiency and team camaraderie. And, of course, we all perform better having had the opportunity to recharge.

Yeah, the first few days back are brutal, but it's totally worth a month of intrusion-free sunning and swimming and fishing and reading and playing with the kids and my hubby. Plus, when you are truly and completely gone for that length of time, people really feel your absence and appreciate all the work that you do.

To my mind, taking a week off is foolish. Others can simply let things sit for you to do when you return. Taking several weeks forces someone else to handle things. If you need a quick getaway take a long weekend. Hoard your real vacation days for some serious time off.

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