Thursday, December 31, 2009

Website

For those of you who have made New Years Resolutions for weight loss or being healthier (or perhaps eating healthy just interests you) I ran across this great website called eatingwell.com. It's loaded with tons of articles and recipes. I have yet to try any of them but I have a whole stack of things that I intend to test on the family (much to Jay's dismay) in January. I've found lots of recipes that state the cooking time is 20-30 min which is doable in my life. Ingredients called for are fresh & whole. Different dietary needs are represented: heart healthy, weight loss, diabetic, vegetarian...
Some of the comments criticized the amount of sugar in some of the deserts. My thought is to reduce it to your taste.
However, I had to laugh at their Healthy Kids Lunch recipes. These are supposed to be things that we can pack in our kids lunch box: buffalo chicken wrap (ingredients, hot sauce, cayenne pepper). I dont know about your kids but WC would not appreciate this. Mini mushroom & sausage quiche- I think that would be thrown away. A peanut tofu wrap that used store bought Thai peanut sauce (again prob a bit spicy for the palate of a 6yr old). Also, most schools dont allow peanut foods w/ the prevalence and danger of peanut allergy. My own CJ can't eat processed peanut butter. Most of that section doesn't appear practical. There is one pizza wrap that I think would be a hit.
I'm excited to give this a whirl and see what happens.
 
Wishing everyone a safe New Year's Eve and a happy, healthy 2010.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Just Like That...

Another Christmas has gone. My absolute favorite moment of the season occurred on Christmas Day. The presents had been opened and the kids played with their new toys. Jay put on the dvd UP, which had been a stocking stuffer for WC. We sat on the couch and both my little boys climbed up-one on each side of me. We snuggled under the blankets. I had an arm around each of them and leaned onto me. For the longest I didn't even pay attention to the movie but just watched their little faces watching the movie. I sat there feeling them curled into my arms. Nothing was better than that moment. The days of mad preparation so I wouldn't have much that I had to do for the Christmas dinner with my parents- so worth it. Just to sit and watch kids movie with my boys.
 
I'm ready to take the tree down- but I'm out voted by the man & boys. Funny, they aren't the ones who will end up taking the stuff down...Imagine that.
 
Over Christmas I didn't just fall off my healthy eating wagon- I lept off and fell down a mountain. From the wine to the cookies (my boys made them how could I not?) and gooey deserts. I stuffed myself silly. And managed to put back on the weight I lost in November. Oh well, I had a good time. Now it's back to the treadmill & workout dvd's and making healthier eating choices. Except for New Year's Eve- I'm having my "champagne." 
 
Two more days and wrap up the year, another decade in history books. Part of me mourns the time that has passed but then there's a whole new year coming. One in which we can start over and make this next year the one we want. I don't make resolutions; historically I've been pessimistic about them. This time, I'm going to make some goals for myself for 2010. I'm putting them out there, perhaps to fail publicly. Or maybe succeed:
 
My obvious goal is become healthier. It isn't about the number on scale or the size of the clothes anymore. It's about being fit and healthy.
 
Another goal (I'm putting it out there- here goes nothing): Finish the rough draft of my novel. I'm on chapter 65 and 86,000 words in. This goal is two parts. To finish the rough draft by the end of Feb (gulp) and to finish my revisions and begin shopping it by the end of 2010.
 
On the motherhood front: My goal is not to yell as much. I'm finding myself yelling at them more and more. I don't like it. I will find another way.
 
There they are...out there... for anyone to see. Bring on 2010...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Traditions

When I was a kid, on Christmas Eve, we'd spend the day cleaning the house. My mother would always tell me that we didn't want Santa to see a dirty house strewn with toys. She would put on Christmas music and we'd clean. Later, I'd come to realize it was simply a clever scheme to get to me help out around the house more. At the time, it was fun. It was a day of anticipation and "getting ready" for Santa. I'll probably use a similar tactic with my restless natives.
Then after a day of cleaning we'd go my maternal grandmother's house for Christmas Eve. The house would be busting at the seams. My mother is # 6 of 8 children. Her oldest sister also has 8 children. My aunt's oldest 4 are the same age as her mother's youngest 4. So my mother grew up w/ nieces and nephews the same age and a little older. My grandmother became a wife at 14 and a mother at 15. Her oldest daughter was teenager as well. When I was a kid most of my family had children very young 16-20 typical age for having your first kid. At one point in time we had 5 generations alive at the same time. Needless to say Christmas gathering yields 50 people and was wild. We'd cram into the house and eat our meal in any little nook or cranny we could find. My cousins and myself, it was usually lining the steep staircase. And we'd peek down into our stockings which hung off the side. We'd giggle and talk about things that I've long since forgotten. After my grandparents went into the nursing home and their home sold, Christmas' were moved to the rec room of the nursing home. After their passing we now hold the gathering in the activity center of a church. It's nice to have the room. But really nothing beats the fun and laughter of being crammed into their old run down home.
On Christmas morning, I'd be wide awake at the crack of dawn. Of course, they'd tell me not to go look before they were up...but who can resist? Once or twice I snuck into the living room at 3 am to peek- but not touch. Then I'd go back to bed and wait on the sun to rise. I'm 9 years older than my sister. These early childhood memories of Christmas when Santa is real, I didn't get to experience with anyone else. By the time my sister was old enough- I'd already figured it out. But just because I knew didn't mean I needed to ruin it for anyone else. Playing Santa made my mom so happy that I went along with the whole gag. It was 2-3 years later before my mom figured out that I didn't believe in Santa. I like seeing them happy, what can I say?
After presents, then we'd dress and head to my paternal grandparents home. In which my grandmother would always have her lunch ready to go by 11am. My dad's family is significantly smaller than mom's. It'd be us, his two brothers and one cousin. And there would always be a fight. My grandfather was a master at making one of his sons mad just for the fun of it. I'd show off a favorite new toy that I'd received. Football would be on tv. Over the years, the one cousin disappeared for a few years. My grandmothers mental health deteriorated. My grandfather began cooking. She said he wanted to learn. Now we know better. They'd hidden her diagnosis with dementia from the rest of the family for a long time. He kept her safe and themselves from being told they couldn't live in their house anymore-independently.
On Christmas Eve we will still go to the church for my moms side. For the past two years, I've picked up the Christmas Day tradition of making a meal like my grandmother did. Although I've made my own modification of moving it to 5 pm instead of 11 am. This year I will have the honor of using her china and silverware set for the meal.
I'm looking forward to paying homage to the old traditions but creating our own and blending with Jay's to make this special for my own two little boys.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Where, where, where did I leave my...

It was bound to happen at some point. Three days a week CJ is at daycare and two days a week he stays with my mom. Two days a week WC goes to karate class. Most days, Cat, retrieves WC from school and shuttles him around to his activity and making sure he's fed and homework started. I pick up CJ and we all converge at home. Jay doesn't get home until seven, so the kids eat first then we make a dinner for the three of us. Cat has picked up a part-time job at a novelty gift shop because her job hunt for dental assisting has dried up like a bit of hot dog forgotten under the couch. And believe it or not tending to my kids provides her with food and shelter but not actual cash (except the occasional help towards her gasoline). Her work days are Thurs-Sunday.
On Tuesday afternoon, she called me at work and said she'd been called in to cover the shift of someone who'd called out I told her it was fine, I could pick up both kids. My brain devised my route, I'd run by the daycare first then over to the school...no problem.
I was sitting at a red light, half way to the daycare when the realization slapped me. I'd left CJ at my mom's house that morning. And I was going in the complete opposite direction- she lives back near where I work. So then I had to call my mom and ask if she'd bring him home- otherwise I'd have to pick up WC then drive back into town for CJ.
"You forgot your child?" she exclaimed.
"No, I didn't forget him. I knew I had to pick him up. I just forgot from where." There is a difference.
Boy, I could use a day off.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Santa for the Digital Age

This past weekend WC became angry at CJ and lashed out by pinching his brothers cheeks. I'm not sure what was going on when it happened. CJ ran up to me crying, red marks on both cheeks and saying 'WC' and 'cheeks.' Didn't take much to figure out something happened.
After the incident, WC, began to sob- uncontrollably at times.  Finally, we managed to get out of him that he was terrified that he'd gotten himself on Santa's infamous naughty list. And while I could have used this nugget to coerce extremely cooperative behavior out of him the next few days, we couldn't stand to see him that upset. Jay devised a plan in which he would text the North Pole and ask what list WC was on. How do you know the number, WC wanted to know. Jay explained he would type in North Pole & see what happened. Instead, he typed in my number. I was up and about putting away laundry, so WC never noticed that I slid my phone into my pocket. I shut off the ringer and retreated to the bedroom when the text came in. I replied, 'oh he's on the nice list. tell him to keep up the good work in school & karate,'
When the alert on Jay's phone went off, WC was giddy with anticipation. He was absolutely amazed at the message. Then there was a discussion as to whether it was really Santa or one of the elves. Surely, Santa was way too busy this time of year to respond to his own text messages. Then a reply text questioning if I were the big guy or an elf.
I said I was Roy and that Santa was busy working on the sleigh getting ready for the big night.  WC was delighted that he was right...It was an elf.
Then WC questioned which list CJ was on. And here we go again.
This time I explained that toddlers were on a different list. (I mean, after all how can someone who throws twelve temper tantrums a day be on Santa's nice list...right?) And by toddler standards CJ was on the nice list. That seemed to set well with WC and Jay declared they needed to leave Roy alone since he was probably getting tons of texts from all over the world.
And there we have it...even Santa has gone digital.  

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Dark List

Over the weekend, WC was playing Santa Claus. He sat in the floor with a piece of paper and a marker to make his list. Later he came up and presented me with a list of all our names but CJ's name was off all by itself. I asked about this. He told me that CJ is on "The Dark List."
"What's that," I ask.
"It's where you get nothin' for Christmas."
"Isn't that the naughty list?"
He shook his head. "On the naughty list you get coal. On the dark list you get nothin'."
 
Come to think of it, he might be right. CJ did get in trouble Friday for throwing his shoes at his teachers.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Advent Meditation

Taken from an email sent out by the pastor of our church:
 
The Friday of the Second Week in Advent


 
Collect (prayer) of the Day

 Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:  Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.



 

Reading:  Matthew 25:31-40

 Jesus said "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'

 

From Fr. T  

A few weeks ago, I took my girls to see Disney's film "A Christmas Carol."  It is a new animated version of the story shown in amazing 3-D.  Perhaps because Disney makes amusement park rides, part of the film felt like being on a roller coaster.  Speeding through the streets of Victorian England was pretty fun.  That wasn't what impressed me about the film, though.  What really stood out is how devoted the script was to Charles Dickens's original novella. 

Because most of the script of the film was taken word for word from Dickens, the point of that original story came loud and clear through this secular film: Christians are supposed to care for the poor.  That is the point Dickens was making, and the film pulled no punches.  While I would argue that a Christmas Carol suffers from a hefty dose of works-based salvation, it certainly made an impression on me and my kids. 

Advent is a season in which the Church looks ahead at the great Day of Judgment.  On that Day, you and I will not be saved or damned because of how we treat the poor.  Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone.  But the Lord will judge our works, including the way we treat the poor.  We will be answerable for our actions.


In this season of Advent, then, it is important to spend some of our time, energy, and money on those who are less fortunate.  Last week I suggested giving to or working at the Family Affair Christmas Store, and I still do.  Another way that I recommend is through World Vision's Christmas Catalog.  This catalog, available via mail an on-line, allows you to select gifts that will be given to the poor in the name of another person.  So, instead of buying a sweater for your sister, you could give a sheep or a goat to a family in Africa.  You could provide a month of education to an orphan, or a fish pond for a village, or clothing for the homeless, or a soccer ball for children in Latin America.  World Vision will then send your recipient a card, or you can print one off and send it yourself.  


You can visit the Christmas Catalog by going to WorldVision.org


Gift giving is part of the tradition of Christmas; I am not suggesting otherwise.  I am suggesting that perhaps some of the gifts we give this year could be a blessing to both the recipient and to a person in need.  I especially think of those people who don't really need anything else, the man or woman "who has it all."  Maybe this would be a good time of the year to feed the hungry and clothe the naked in their name, and in the Name of Christ.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Another Year Older and Dead Phone

Yesterday I turned 33. It's taken some getting used to. I don't really feel any different. I'm in better shape than when I was 23. While I was pregnant with WC, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. The Maternal Fetal Specialist I had to see told me that the diabetes should go away after birth. However, we know that my pancreas will quit working at a certain point. I would be a greater risk for developing Type II diabetes, if I didn't keep my weight in a healthy range. That and the knowledge that my maternal grandmother & her mother both passed away from the heart attacks/strokes that went along with heart disease. My grandmother spent the last ten or so years of her life laying a nursing home bed, eating from a tube- paralyzed on one side, having strangers change and wash her. Her mind completely fine. Trapped in her own body. It would be hell. Before I was pregnant I'd spent the early years of my marriage slowly putting on weight and becoming sedentary. After a trip to a nutritionist and being taught the guidelines for the diabetic diet I went home and followed it to a T. The only time I "cheated" was at my baby shower. Two weeks after WC was born I weighed 10 lbs less than I did the day he was conceived. After that I modified the diet some but basically still followed the pattern. I also added in exercise here and there. I didn't really start full on exercising until he was over a year old. It wasn't practical. I ended up losing 35 lbs off my pre-pregnancy weight with good old fashion eating healthy & exercise. And kept it off through CJ. I was 9 months pregnant w/ CJ before I hit my pre-WC weight. Fast Forward Life and I had put some of it back on. Early in November I stepped on the scale & screamed. It happens slowly and while I hadn't gained it all back. I was on that downhill slope getting ready to tumble.
I've rededicated myself to making healthier food choices & getting back to exercise. I'm down 3 lbs- even with eating whatever I wanted on Thanksgiving. I'm getting out of bed before everyone is awake most mornings and trudging myself across the hall to the treadmill. I've started leaving my work-out clothes on the floor next to the bed. I can get a half an hour in before getting myself ready for work. It isn't easy. But it's necessary. I'm beginning to feel good afterwards, instead of beat, so that's a plus.
Last night my family took me out to eat for my birthday. And anyone looking to eat healthy knows a restaurant isn't good for that. No one asked me if I actually wanted to go out...but I couldn't be a party pooper of my own party, now could I?
I think I did fairly well -food choice wise. A grilled chicken sandwich with salad greens and it did have some sort of sauce on it- but it wasnt dripping off.
And on an unpleasant note- my phone died yesterday. May it R.I.P. The screen just quit working and I couldn't call out. I had a conniption. I can't live without it. It's my only means of communication. CJ & I went over to the Verizon Store before my birthday dinner (it is so cold outside right now, a cold front came through & I hate cold weather). Long story short, I lost all my contacts, calendar, photos...But they did give me a "new" (read: refurbished) phone for free. They didn't have another one just like mine, so they replaced it with another one. The only other one w/ a full qwerty keyboard that they deemed comparable to mine. When it was new, it was definitely a more expensive model than mine, because I looked at this one before choosing mine because it was their cheapest one w/ the full qwerty keyboard. On the downside, I have to start all over again...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Light Update

Last night, one strand blinked while the other strand stayed on. What will tonight bring?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Mystery of the Lights

Our Christmas Tree has been trimmed along with my nerves. CJ had been awake about a half an hour Saturday morning and that was about all I could stand. He has a runny nose, which seems par for the course. Since starting daycare/preschool in August he's had swine flu, an ear infection, various colds and a goo perpetually sliding out of his nostrils. He's also teething in a set molars in the back- I assume. His hands spend most of their time shoved up to the wrists in his mouth with that slimy teething drool coating his chin and absorbing into his shirt. Saturday morning he added a bad mood, whining and clingy onto ooze. Which is not helpful when attempting to clean and haul boxes out of the attic. I'd given him one cold/allergy medicine for a couple days hoping to at least dry the goo out of the nose with no success. So I changed him over to good old fashioned benedryl. And no, it wasn't to make him sleep. Benedryl does not make him drowsy. I take one pill and I'm out. I have fallen asleep sitting upright on the couch in the middle of a conversation with Jay. I don't know if its something different with the liquid but he doesn't act any different on it. Once the boxes with the ornaments and Christmas decor came down from the attic his interest was piqued in something that wasn't me. The cow, dog and pig that sing jingle bells kept him occupied so I could help construct the tree. Jay cringed when he saw it but the kids like it. I tune it out, like I do most everything else.
Every year I always have the lights on the tree set on 'random.' They flash and run and twinkle and do whatever else a string of lights can. This year I opted for a simple- stay on. Just little glowing white lights. I set my dial settings before putting the lights on. I got everything set and they looked nice. The kids who have been conspicuously absent during the putting together phase of the project have now arrived full force at the mention it was time for ornaments. Together they placed all the (non-breakable) ornaments on the tree. WC relegated all the candy canes to the back of the tree. And the ginger bread men ornaments he hid in the tree- afraid that Santa would mistake them for real cookies. I attempted to convince him that Santa was smarter than that. No dice. CJ played with the Nutcracker ornaments like dolls ( I should say action figures since boys don't like when you call them dolls).
CJ didn't eat much of his lunch and I placed him in his bed for a nap. We were supposed to go to his Christmas Program Saturday afternoon. But I remained unconvinced that he'd cooperate and allow me to leave him with his class. I decided to see his mood after nap. He ended up sleeping until time we were supposed to be there. So we didn't go. I was in the office working on our Christmas Card when I heard him talking in his bed. I left him alone for a few minutes before I went in. He called out "mommy" and happily jumped out of bed and wanted to know where WC was. His nose was dry and he didn't sound stuffy. And he was in a good mood. He ran off to play with his brother. Later I discovered them and the cat laying under the tree,on the tree skirt. The boys were looking up at the lights- the cat simply found a new nap place until I fill it up.
Sunday morning WC plugged in the tree lights. A little while later when I came into the living room I saw it. They were flashing. How? I asked WC if he'd gotten up into the tree and changed the settings on the controls. He said he didn't. I honestly don't know how he could manage to change both controls to the exact same thing- there are 7 different options. I once had them set on the same setting and still wouldn't do the same thing. I accused Jay of doing it. He swears he didn't. He didn't even know where to change setting at. I believe him. As of last night, they are still flashing...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Missing Help and Time

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, my sister went to spend the day with her new boyfriend. That afternoon she sent me a text that she had a fever and didn't feel well. I told her to stay put and I could pick up the kids.Then she didn't come home. She was sick through Thanksgiving weekend and when I spoke to our mom Monday morning, found out that she was still sick. I was surprised to receive a text that afternoon from her saying he would pick up WC. I asked if she was still sick and she confirmed that she still had a fever. I politely thanked her for her dedication but I really didn't need sick children. Right now any real illness would put me up "an excrement filled creek in a Native American vessel w/o means of propulsion." (to quote Sheldon from Big Bang Theory) with regards to my time left off work.
She went to the doctor on Tuesday and has an upper respiratory infection, sinus infection and if that wasn't enough- all the coughing as given her bruised ribs and a cracked sternum. The doctor told her it was best that she stay away from my house. WC is asthmatic, we don't the introduction of a respiratory infection.
Over the weekend I realized that the registration for my car expires Nov 30. Which meant I had to be late to work to get that taken care of. Here we have to go through emissions testing first then over to the county clerk office to hack off a leg and throw it up on the counter in order to get a "10" sticker for the license plate. So late on Monday.
On Tuesdays CJ goes to my moms house (he's in preschool/daycare 3 days a week) and I take him to moms. Aunt Cat usually takes WC to school because drop off is about 15 min later than I need to hit the interstate or suffer severe rush hour traffic syndrome. But w/o her home on Tuesday morning, I had to drop off both children and came into work on two tires 15 min late. Wednesday, Jay took CJ to preschool & I dropped WC off as early as possible. But it was raining! So again, 15 min late.
Thursday morning, mom drove out to pick up CJ and I dropped off WC & hit the parking lot again on two wheels and ran to my desk. Clocked in 7:30 on the dot.
I hate my commute. I wouldn't have to be so dependent on my sister to make life work if I didn't have to drive 45 min (on a good day) to work.
Today, in order to get in a 2nd karate class for the week, I have leave out early & hope I can make up my time next week. I miss her. I need her back.
I have no idea where this week has gone...It's Friday...in December.
Tomorrow, we're putting up the tree. I love Christmas but I am sad that it's already here and in less than a month 2009 is gone. My children are going to get another year older, grow taller and larger. WC will lose more baby teeth and those will be replaced by Adult teeth and he will learn to read.  CJ speaks in sentences and no longer resembles a baby in appearance. He's grown into a little boy.  Spring will find him a 3 year old. I've been with them every day in 2009. I've held them, kissed them, loved them, disciplined them.  Yet I've still missed it Somehow, someway time has played a trick on me and shot into hyper drive. Back when WC was born, I didn't get it when older people told me to enjoy it because it goes fast. My thought was that I hadn't slept in 6 weeks. What the hell do you mean it goes by fast? It was like living in the Twilight Zone when I first brought my new baby home. Those hard months are such a drop in the bucket compared to the rest. Now, I know the bucket fills up much quicker than anticipated. I can't stop time from stealing my babies and turning them into children then teens then adults. But I can cherish every moment that I'm given- the good, bad and mundane.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Advent Meditation

I'll get back to posting my family stories here shortly, perhaps later today if time permits. Right now I feel compelled to share this.
The Pastor of the church we attend decided this year to send out email Meditations for Advent. I have found that finding these in my inbox first thing in the morning have provided some calm in the hustle and bustle of the season. Also it is a gentle reminder of what Christmas is really about. Whether or not you're a believer in anything please take a moment to read and contemplate. Thank you.
Collect (prayer) of the Day
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Short Reading
In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3)

From Fr. T
Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of Christ.  On one hand, how is that even possible?  After all, Christ's coming has nothing to do with us.  He came the first time without our permission.  He likely won't wait for us before he comes the second time. 

On the other hand, Jesus teaches us to "stay alert" at all times for his coming. (Mark 13:35)  Yes, this means that his second coming might happen any time.  But it also means that he might show up in our life in new ways at any moment. 

During Advent, we are called to pay particular attention to his command to stay alert.  So, how will you stay alert for Christ today?  I suggest beginning with prayer.  Take a moment to ask the Lord to keep you on the alert for his presence.  Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you today so that you may be prepared for whatever God might do today.  And then watch.  Notice if the Lord points out something today.  Perhaps you hear him in a brief conversation, see him in an event, notice him in an unusual place.  If you don't notice him, that's OK.  Your task is to stay alert, he will do the rest. 
 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Proud Mama

Friday was a big day for WC. If he maintained his behavior he would be allowed to test for his gold belt in karate. And he did. But before that I received a note from school on Wednesday that Friday was awards day and my child would be receiving an award- didn't say which one. I hoped it wasn't award for the most punches thrown in a 6 weeks. Thanks for the plenty of notice. I have very little time left to take off work and had already planned to leave early for the gold belt test- which started at 4pm. Again, thanks from the working parent here.
Since the people at school already think my sister is his mother, I decided to go to his awards ceremony too- which meant taking the whole day off.
There I sat on the bleachers with the other parents. Most of whom had their camera's and a few videographers in the bunch. One gentleman in front of me had a video camera that would have been worthy of filming a news story. There are documentaries that aren't shot on as sophisticated equipment. This is a kindergarten awards ceremony- not the Nobel Prize.
And me, I forgot my camera. How? I'm obsessed with photos. I had to settle for the camera on my phone. The children began to file in the gym. A woman next to me stood up and yelled, "Yoo whoo, princess!" waving her arms up over her head, "I love you!"  Now, I'm all for letting your kids know how much you love them, but dial it down a notch.
WC enters the gym and he scans the audience until he sees me. We lock eyes and nod acknowledgement. And that was it until the end of the ceremony.
He received two awards- one for good grades in the 2nd six weeks and another for perfect attendance.
After the ceremony I made my way over to him on the bleachers where he showed me his awards and we talked a little. He kept leaning over to hug me and I would hug him and kiss the top of his head. A boy next to him asked if I was his mother. And a few minutes later after WC had hugged me several more times, this little boy then leaned in for a hug himself. I have this child, who I don't know, wrapped around me. I gently pat his back and then he lets go, smiling. Guess sometimes, if you need a mom hug any mom giving out hugs will do.
Then after school, I picked him up and we got ready for the gold belt test. We arrived out there a few minutes early. With less traffic to contend with it didn't take as long to get there.
WC was nervous. We ended up talking with the owner of the school, who explained to WC what to expect. I'm very impressed with this man. He owns two karate schools. He's never personally had my son in a class before yet he knows his name.
For the test, parents are allowed to sit on the floor in the class- whereas we are usually outside watching through the glass. Which, didn't work out so well for me with CJ there. Due to work, Jay was unable to attend. My parents and friends ran late- also due to work. Initially I was there alone with CJ. And he kept wanting to go out on the floor with the karate students. Finally, I noticed my parents sitting out in the traditional viewing area. And I took CJ out and deposited him in my moms lap. He was thrilled by that development. I was able to enjoy the rest of it in peace.
WC earned his gold belt. He's very proud of it. Over the weekend he kept wanting to wear it around the house with his everyday clothes.
Afterwards, my friends arrived and they have two boys also, aged 4 and a half and the other just turned 2. We all went out to dinner to celebrate WC's accomplishments. I think he had a terrific time. And I'm very proud of him.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Expletives & Ears

Tuesday evening I receive a call from my sister as she is picking up WC from after school care. "WC got in trouble for using a bad word and I don't know what to do."
I'm all about the context of a situation, so I ask what happened.
In after school care he was working a puzzle and piece wouldn't fit right and he uttered, "damn."
"That's it," I ask. "He didn't yell it at someone or anything?"
"Nope and she even said if she hadn't been standing right there she wouldn't have heard it."
And she goes on to say she doesn't feel she could discipline him because she would feel like a hypocrite. That's probably one reason he's using the word due to Aunt Potty Mouth, but honestly none of us- other than CJ- is innocent of using that word. Usually it is under a frustrated sort of context.
He knew better than to use the word. And was very upset that she was calling me. I honestly fail to the see point of getting my panties up in a bunch over it. If we make a big ole deal about it then that word and others like it just become more attractive. Because let's face it- forbidden makes it more exciting. And it gets the grown ups all nervous to boot. So I just told her to tell him not to say it again and just go home & do his homework.
I'm not at all sensitive to language. It just doesn't bother me. I grew up with an uncle who peppered every other word in a sentence with a colorful word. After a few years I came to the conclusion that it was because he didn't have a broad enough vocabulary to adequately express himself without those words. It was sad.
Cat later told me that she asked him who he heard that word from. He named us all- even Grandma. I really wasn't surprised. It isn't like we use it in normal conversation. But trust me, if  I drop a casserole dish full of raw food on the kitchen floor the word 'darn' isn't what's coming out.
I may should have addressed the issue with him when I arrived home but before I made it there I had to pick up CJ.
When I arrived at mom's to pick up CJ, he was sobbing. She said he woke up from his nap, holding his ear & crying. He'd done nothing but lay on her with his ear up against her. He'd had a cold for the past week, so I was 99.5% sure it was an ear infection. So, I drove 25 miles in rush hour traffic towards home with him crying the whole way. We stopped at the clinic in the drug store to the see the NP. Luckily, there was no one in front of us. Which is a miracle. People in the store probably suspected we were murdering him in there the way he screamed. But he cooperated with her- even though he cried the whole time. She wasn't used to children & I don't feel she did a thorough job. She said she couldn't see the ear drum and didn't know if it had burst. But she declared it was an ear infection and prescribed the familiar pink goop of amoxicillan. 12.5 ml 2x a day! Seriously? That might as well be a gallon jug of medicine. Drug companies need to be forced to actually administer medication to small children- maybe then they'd come up with more concentrated dosing.
The NP said if he isn't better in a couple of days to bring him back. But I think if he's not then I'll take him to his pediatrician- who isn't rattled by a little fit throwing.
Once we were home, I immediately gave him a dose of ibuprofen. Then the antibiotic- which surprisingly enough he took without issue. He went and climbed up on the couch and curled up. I assumed he was out for the night. But about 20 minutes or so later he sat up and said, "Hi WC." Like he'd just gotten home. Then he jumped down and ran off playing with his big brother. By the time Jay arrived home, he would have never known there was anything wrong with CJ if I hadn't called him from the pharmacy.
 
On another note: WC received a certificate from karate, it's time to test for his gold belt. The one thing is that his teacher has to sign off on it. I sent it to school with him on Tuesday and haven't received it back yet. I'm praying since we haven't had any more hitting incidents since Mr. H spoke with him then she will sign off on it. He is doing so well in karate that I pray she will sign off. If she doesn't I don't know how long we'll have to wait until next testing.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Wonder if...

Occasionally, I get random thoughts in my head; they always begin with, "I wonder if I can..."
The weekend before last I ended up with 5lb bag of apples. Why? Well, they were cheaper than the 3lb bag and just seemed like a good idea at the time. After a week of apples there were still lots of apples left. Not being one to waste I had to think of something to do with them. And what better thingto do with nutritious fruit than to cook it in lots of sugar. I decided to make an Apple pie. Then my brain went, "I wonder if I can make my own pie crust-from scratch." Then the other half of my brain went, "Why when Pillsbury has you has done the work for you?" But the 'wonder if' side of my brain is very powerful. It's gotten me into loads of trouble. The first thing I did was pull out my handy-dandy cookbook and take a look at what would be involved. Not many ingredients- 4 total. But there wasn't just a recipe- there was a two page spread on how to get it right and side bar to pinpoint what you did wrong- after the fact. My next level of research was to take it to the Internet. I found many ways to make a pastry crust and double the number of ways to screw it up. But armed with plenty of info and a bit a insanity I went for it.First you build your dough with flour and fat. It's taken some time for me to come to terms with the fact, that I am a messy cook. And sometimes, I'm just a freaking disaster.
After Jay & I first moved in together we struck a deal, I'd cook the dinner & he'd clean it up. Then he realized what the hell he'd gotten himself into. And to this day, he will clear the table and prepare most of the dishes for the dishwasher. He and I differ on the cooking pots sometimes- no it really doesn't require "soaking" for three days. But to this day he refuses to clean the stove top, counters, cabinets, floor, walls or ceiling. I think that he's reneging on his deal- he says the deal wasn't to clean the whole room.
Back to the pie. I followed the instructions for a two-crust pie. It seemed dry but you're not supposed to over-water it. Maybe it's like Gremlins. I didn't end up w/ enough dough for a full top- so I cut it in strips & made a lattice. Well a faux- lattice since I attached two pieces before remembering that I shouldn't attach the dough at the side until after I interlace it. It wasn't exactly pretty. But my boys ate it, even crust-phobic WC. After being so worried about the crust the thing I didn't like doing the most was peeling & chopping all those apples.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Where is it?


From the title of this post you'd think I'm talking about my sanity. But not this time. Yesterday the calender told me it was November. Where has this year gone? I love this time of year and look forward to sharing holidays with my children but it's all going way too fast. I'm scared to blink.

My mother called me and asked when my in-laws were doing Thanksgiving. I have no idea. Usually the two groups overlap and we're left rushing to two different meals being held at the same time. Which is a drop off from when Jay & I first married and had four Thanksgivings to attend. My mother said her family is tentatively having lunch- which means by the time every one gets their act together (several pull themselves out the bottom of a bottle of Jack) and show up lunch will turn into 4pm. Ever since of the cousins discovered they can now put photos on DVD they make montages of hideous childhood photos and dead relatives set to sappy music and now it's not a family gathering until half of them are in tears. Relatives...you gotta lovem', right?

Don't get me wrong, I love photography and preserving memories. But I can seriously do without them dragging this out at every family gathering and sitting through a slide show of grandparents while Alan Jackson's Remember When plays. And people sit around and sob. Every stinking time? Why? I can see this once or even twice a year, but on the 4th of July? And they wonder why I don't come around. Maybe because I don't like being bummed out.

Oh, I'm not ready for Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Debate

On several previous occasions I've referred to my youngest child as "peculiar." And in true CJ fashion, he never ceases to amaze me with what he does next. On the positive he doesn't cry for me while being dropped off at daycare/preschool anymore. At church he moved from the nursery to the 2 year old room in August. They move everyone up according to what year they will be in school. Initially, I didn't have as much of an issue leaving him in the 2 yr old room as the nursery- he didn't cry after me. There was a cool train table and other assorted new toys that struck his interest, so off he'd go not the least bit concerned with me. That is until about a month later. One Sunday morning he began to cry when we pulled into the parking lot. He cried the entire trek into the building and to the room. He clung to me when I signed him in and retrieved a pager. I told the girl that once he became interested in something he should be fine and left. Then about 20-25 minutes later- after two songs, a couple prayers, three bible reading and maybe the Nicene Creed later...just as the preacher is starting his deal the pager goes off. I opened the door to find CJ right there. He had to be nose to the door, blanket in hand. The instant he saw it was me, he yelled, "bye." I spoke to the girl briefly who said he wouldn't do anything but scream, they tried everything to get him interested in different things, they tried leaving him alone and still he just screamed, cried and pitched a fit until she told him they were calling his mom. Then he quit and stood right at door like I found him. I really wanted to hear the sermon, so my only option was to take him into the Sanctuary with me. We don't have one those handy cry rooms like some churches- where you can take your unruly tot and still hear the preacher but the rest of the congregation can't hear their ruckus. So in we went and he sat in my lap and did a decent job of being quiet, just grateful to have what he wanted...me. But this incident has set a dangerous precedent. He doesn't want to go back to the nursery at all. And of course at his age he can't sit quietly for the length of the service. Heck, WC doesn't even do that either. He goes to children's program and they come in right before communion. It's difficult for WC to make it through communion quietly. And yet that still doesn't sink in to Jay who stresses out way too much having me bring CJ in with me. The least little noise CJ makes, he's freaking out. Yes, CJ talks in the service. I do correct him. He isn't throwing fits- which he is capable of at the drop of an animal cracker. So Jay & I are at odds over it. I don't think it's a big deal that he makes a little noise during the service. Jay feels that it isn't fair to me to have to deal with him. It doesn't bother me. It's sort of peaceful for me to have him sitting curled up in my lap during the service. I work outside the home 40 hours a week and if my child doesn't want me to leave him when I don't have to then I don't want to. He says I spoil him and maybe I do.
Wasn't it Jesus who said to bring the little children to Him?
And besides if there are people around me who don't want a child in the service then they can go across town to the church that has a sign posted outside of their Sanctuary that reads: No Children Allowed.
Maybe I am wrong and it would be best to try again to make him stay. At least bide myself a little time before they make me come take him, so he doesn't have to sit through the entire service.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ghost Tales


For years I've always wanted to go on a ghost tour. Preferably in Savannah, New Orleans, Charleston or any of the various old cities known for "haunting." The time I visited Savannah it was only for a day and I haven't managed to make it back or to any of the other prime candidates. Last week in our local paper was an article on several local ghost tours in honor of Halloween.
On Friday night Cat & I decided to head out to one after she got off work at her weekend job at a new age bookstore. She neglected to tell me that for work she'd been dressed for Halloween...
The result was I probably brought the scariest thing to the nights event.
We arrive and I drive down the long, dark one lane road through the property. I roll down my window when I reach a man wearing a reflective vest who simply tells me to, "keep going and stay right." Okay. I make a hairpin turn on the dirt road and come to a field. I ask the person at the gate where to park. "Anywhere not to close to the road."
We manage to find our way helped along by a scarecrow with an outstretched arm. We both stared for a minute making sure this thing wasn't a real person. A group of people passed us in the opposite direction- girls clinging to one an other's arms.
After paying our entrance fee we waited on a platform for the next hayride to begin. A young boy pointed at Cat and yelled, "Vampire" and walked quickly in the other direction. I laughed and she punched me in the arm.
I followed two people loading onto the hayride, however before we started they got up and moved down the back of the trailer then the guide came along and made us all move down- so I was stuck next to the butt of the tractor and could barely the hear the guide at the back of the trailer. Off we go through the wooded trails of the property while she told us a bit of the history of the house and gentleman who lived there had been hung by Union Soldiers in the Civil War for the being a spy. During their Civil War reenactments the actors have reported seeing soldiers whose outfits are just a little different than their own- men they don't recognize whom disappear before their eyes. One tale of men yelling for another man to join the festivities in their camp only to be ignored and one man decided to go invite the gentleman personally only to have him evaporate before his eyes.
All tales are supposedly true stories of occurrences that happened to either employees, volunteers or tourists.
Then we arrived at the main house and were greeted by a lady in Victorian era dress who led us to the porch. I loved the color of her skirt- which I didn't notice until lit up by the flash from my camera.



After her story relating that unexplained noises of thumping coming from the cellar underneath that porch and the main entry. she posted a question if it was possibly ghosts of former slaves that worked on the property. A woman behind us said she was already terrified and wondered if she should turn around. Cat & I glanced at each other and she rolled her eyes.


Once inside the foyer of the home built in 1820 it was set up basically the way it would have been when the family was in mourning during that time. The gentleman in period costume on the front staircase told us stories of the sobbing that can be heard from the formal parlor- however the parlor would be empty and quiet whenever staff would investigate.

The formal parlor was setup as it would have been when a body lie in state. I managed to snap off a photo before being informed flash photography inside was not allowed. Then we shuffled room-to-room to listen to stories of "true" encounters. In which lots of them were of hearing footsteps. You'll have to do better than thinking you hear footsteps in a house this age to convince me. There were stories of voices, doors locking, unlocking and being held shut all by themselves. And the woman in the green dress being seen. And an unknown visitor to the grave photographed above. A man dressed in civil war regalia is seen standing in front of it...then he's gone...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Strawweight???

Ever since he started kindergarten, WC, has begun exhibiting unusual behaviors. I rarely had any trouble out of him in daycare. He never even went through the "terrible two's" The thing that has me most concerned is his new fondness for pushing, shoving, spitting and hitting. I'm not saying he's going to school and picking fights with his classmates. He isn't aggressive but he's decided the way to deal with others who do things that he doesn't care for is to act out physically. For example the latest in the line of skirmishes happened Monday in which the girl whom he'd previously called fat hit him and he retaliated. She immediately runs crying to the teacher who asks him if he hit her. His response was, "Nope, I punched her." And when Jay told him that he shouldn't hit a girl he said, "You should see the size of her belly and arms!" Dude, you seriously have to stop. If I were this little girl, I'd want to squash this little twerp into the ground too.
Once in the Principal's office, WC learned another life lesson- people lie. The Principal asked WC what happened and he put it all out there- she hit him & he punched her. Then she turned to the girl and asked. "Did you hit him?" The girl said no. He was dumbfounded. And hopefully not taking mental notes. Cause on the bright side, at least he's honest about what he's done. The principal did role playing scenarios at the proper responses- such as telling the teacher. WC claims that he "forgets" that is what he is supposed to do. I just think he doesn't want to tell and considers that being a tattle-tale. At this point I've spoken to him, Jay, Cat, his teacher & the principal have all spoken to him. I'm beyond frustrated and really want to turn him over my knee and wear him out. But I don't. Not that I have anything against using spanking as a discipline tool. I believe a parent should discipline their own child in the manner they see fit. And discipline is different from abuse in which I have no tolerance for abusing a child. This isn't a forum for what is right & wrong just a side note to my story. For me spanking seems like it should be a last resort and not done in a moment of total frustration. And doesn't really seem appropriate for this situation- ultimately. We are telling him that he should not hit people when they don't behave in the manner in which he wants. And yet what would I be doing if I were to spank him? So I resist the urge to back hand him.
Over this past summer I decided to enroll WC in karate- for many reasons. And some of those reasons was to help teach him self-control, discipline, respect, confidence, as well as an outlet for energy. Right now it seems the only things learned is the proper way to level someone and confidence to actually do it. Perhaps still lacking the emotional maturity to walk away in the heat of the moment. Last night while he was in class with his favorite instructor, Mr. H. I noticed his other instructor, Ms. C in the office. So I went in for a little chat about WC's recent behavior. She said what they teach in class is to tell the other person to stop and then if they don't then to go tell the nearest adult. Which is the same spiel from the school. But she suggested that she slip a note to Mr. H who would address the issue to the whole class- not single out WC. But just incorporate it into the nights lesson. Perhaps coming from an admired male authority figure- such as Mr. H it would carry a bit of clout and he'd remember. If this doesn't work then they could speak with him one-on-one and ultimately he could lose his belt if he doesn't quit hitting. This is something they take very seriously that the students conduct themselves respectfully and with integrity both in the studio and out in the world.
When the class broke up in groups by rank- WC's group sat on the floor w/ Mr. H and he held about a 15-20 minute discussion with the boys before they ran through their drills. I still don't know what was said. I'll be so grateful if it works. So stay tuned...
 

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Winter for a Day

The two times that we have planned an outdoor birthday party for WC, the weather gods do not like it. They don't like it one bit. And since the extreme heat of two years ago wasn't a lasting deterrent- they chose the opposite approach for this year. At party time it was a record 48 degrees, cloudy, gray and windy. The only thing that would have made it worse was snow- that would have been the icing on the cake of a crappy day. I'd held out hope until the morning of the party that it wouldn't be too bad out. But realization hit that morning that this just wasn't going to work. My brain devised an alternate plan- we'd meet at the park and let the kids play a bit then would come back to our home for cake & presents. That was still when the the weather man was stating it would be 55 at 3pm. It never made it to 55. No one except my in-laws arrived at the park. Two friends all called and said their kids were sick and another had forgotten her mom was coming to town for a day. Everyone else was late and just went straight to our house. Party was supposed to start at 3 and guest didn't start showing up until 3:30. We only stayed at the park 15 min, just in case, but it was simply too cold. On the way home from the park I was terrified that this would just be the worst party ever. But I attempted to keep my bad mood from showing. His girlfriend was the first guest to arrive and he was thrilled. Then his cousins (all female) filed in over the next half our. My parents were over an hour late. He and his little brother were the only two males at the party. But they all ran and played. CJ had some trouble adjusting to not having WC's attention only then to be showered by attention by his female cousin being transferred from lap to lap like a doll. After being overloaded by sugar and opening his presents they all had a tissue paper fight with ammo out of the gift bags. It was giggles galore. So after a rocky start he ended up with a wonderful party surrounded by loved ones. We had good conversation, loads of laughs and a big pot of hot coffee.
 
And on a side note- Saturday was the coldest day. Today, Wednesday a whopping 4 days later it is 75, sunny with a beautiful blue sky.
 
Oh, and I still have half a cake left if anyone wants it...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Things That Go Bump in the Night

My nose hurts. All day yesterday my nose felt like someone punched me square on. Then last night I was complaining to Cat that I couldn't figure out why my nose hurt so badly- and there's a lump on the bridge of my nose. The lump is where my eyeglass nose piece sits and now it's quite tender. She burst into laughter and asked if I seriously didn't remember. At that moment it call came screaming back.
The night before when Jay and I turned in for the night she was still watching TV in the family room. We shut our bedroom door.
Now at this point in my life when a child cries out at night I pretty much respond in a auto pilot sort of sleep walk state. Most of the time I don't even open my eyes until I get to their room- across the hall. And only have a vague recollection of it the next morning. Usually for CJ at this point, it's just covering him back up and returning to bed.
Now, it seems at some point it the wee hours of Thursday morning, CJ cried out and I responded as usual. Only this time I slammed face first into the closed bedroom door. I recall becoming aware that I was standing at the door wondering what the hell just happened. And it took me a minute or so to figure it out. It woke up Jay and it seems Cat as well. And to hear her tell it she went from a sound sleep to standing straight up it scared her so badly. She at first couldn't figure out what the loud thud was either. It seems I went in and explained to her that I'd run into the back of the door- but I don't remember doing this.
CJ settled back down and I never did have to go in and tend to him...or so I think.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away

This morning, I drove to work in the rain, again. Usually by this point in the year it has barely rained for two-three months and everything outside is brown, dead and crunchy. Some of the leaves have fallen without changing colors and rain is considered a luxurious relief for the low streams, ponds & rivers. Our average rain for September falls about 3 inches. This September we had 12 inches. I haven't heard stats for October yet but I'm guessing we're breaking records again. I am so sick of the rain and the gloomy sky and soggy ground. My mood is really bad. And the worst of it is that it's 50 degrees outside and WC has an outdoor birthday party for his 6th birthday this Saturday! Our average temps for Oct is somewhere around a nice 70 degrees. I'm beginning to take it personally. Two years ago when we planned his party at the same park & it became the second hottest day in recorded weather history for that date topping 95 degrees. Right now Saturday is forecasted to be about 54 degrees and 20% chance of rain. But even if it doesn't rain the day of - it will have rained three straight days prior to the party. Mud, the playground will be a pit of mud. The second worst thing of all is no one out of the 19 class members invited have RSVP'd. Luckily, we have lots of family coming, but still. People, no RSVP either way...not one. Why? Do they not understand what that means anymore? Does no one give a rats ass about manners and the poor people attempting to plan? Any consideration whatsoever? This shouldn't surprise me when I had relatives that refused to mail the post paid RSVP postcard back to me for my wedding and simply phoned my mother & said "I'm coming."
At least his "girlfriend" is coming. They used to go to preschool together and the daycare before that and had been joined at the hip for two and a half years before being separated by school zones.
I suppose at some point we all have to learn that everything doesn't go our way and life has disappointments. I'm just hoping and praying his birthday party isn't a disappointment.

Friday, October 9, 2009

One Thing at a Time, Please!

One day after turning 6...WC lost his first tooth! It had been loose for a while. When I picked him up Thursday evening, he ran towards me brandishing an ear to ear smile. Immediately I noticed the empty slot where the bottom tooth had been.
Being...well...typical WC, he didn't want the "Tooth Fairy" anywhere near his room. Money or not he didn't want her coming into his room while he was asleep. So, we struck a compromise and left the tooth on the kitchen table, a much easier location for the Tooth Fairy to locate it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Six Years Ago Today

On October 7, 2003 at 8:04 am, I became a mom. I had my first baby- A boy. A 7lb 8 oz, 19 inch long baby boy. They held him up a second before they took him away and in the face- he looked exactly like Jay. If I had not seen him I still would have been able to pick him out of a newborn line up- yep that's mine right there. A mini-Jay.
The nurse brought him to me some time later (c-section birth) and handed me this baby wrapped up like a burrito under maximum security. And I didn't have a clue what to do with him. I stared at him and thought, 'now what?' My life has never been the same. Funny thing is that I don't remember life before him and yet at the same time it doesn't feel that six years have past. It doesn't seem possible to feel both at the same time.
It took me about a year to grow into Motherhood. We intentionally had WC but at first the reality of being a mom coupled with postpartum depression (I later learned) stole what should have been a better time for me. He was probably about nine months old when the fog began to lift and it wasn't until around his first birthday that I realized how bad I had actually felt. Then I began to truly enjoy him and I haven't looked back.
Yesterday when I picked him up he ran up to me and did a little dance and yelled, "My birthday is tomorrow!"
The parents standing next me laughed. "Boy, birthdays get less and less exciting as time goes on, don't they," I said. And they agreed.
This morning he immediately wanted to open the box that had arrived from Michele & Peter and we had to make him get dressed first. He opens the first package, Transformers sheet set. He holds it up over his head and dances around. Then with eager anticipation he waited on Jay to cut open the box with his knife. He pulls it out of the box and yells, "Transformers....it's a Transformers....What is it?" We explain it's a comforter, it goes on the bed. You can use it instead of your quilt for the winter. His entire bed can be Transformers. "Cool," he responded. I had to make him put it down and eat breakfast.
I have a feeling I'll be running a load of sheets when I get home.
He has his whole evening planned out this afternoon, I've discovered. Yesterday, I gave him the option of attending his usual karate class tonight or going to Friday's class instead. I'm surprised that he chose to wait until Friday because tonight's instructor is Mr. H. his absolute favorite. And we don't know who teaches on Friday. But he wants me to make him tacos for dinner & he knows I don't have time if we go to karate. This afternoon I am supposed to pick him up first and we go to the store for things to make tacos and he can pick out a small cake or other sweet treat (his party isn't until the 17th) before we pick up CJ. I'm going to make every effort to get out of work early today in order to do this. What he doesn't know is that he also has a birthday present from Jay & myself that he will get tonight. A GI Joe, Snake Eyes action figure and because a good guy needs a bad guy to fight a "bad guy" action figure.
I still can't believe it. Today's the 6 year anniversary of the day that changed my life, forever. Right after I looked at him and thought, 'now what?' I said to him, "Hi, I'm mom." And there's nothing else that I'd rather be called.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Urgent Prayers Needed for a 13 month old

This is posted from a Stay at home Dad blogger on ModernMom.com:
Shaken Baby Syndrome Hits Close to Home
Posted by steelydad on October 05, 2009

I have a favor to ask of you. Yes, I'm aware that it's rather presumptuous of me to make any requests in light of my prolonged absence, but a favor I ask of you nonetheless.

You might be saying to yourself, "You schmuck! You abandon us, your faithful and loyal readers, for weeks on end and now you want to ask a favor? You're a stay-at-home dad for cying out loud! You should have time to write a stupid blog at least once a week!" and you're right. All I can say is mea culpa. For whatever reason, the inspiration hasn't been there as of late and I don't want to offend your fertile minds by simply writing drivel that's worse than the usual drivel you've come to expect from Steely Dad. Yea, doing so might help with SEO and page ranks but I think it's safe to say those elements hardly provide me motivation.

The favor I'd like to ask of you is to stop reading this post right now. WAIT! Before you do, because I know just how happy you are to oblige, please follow these very important instructions: GO HUG YOUR KID(S). I mean REALLY hug them.  Tell them how much you love them, how special they are to you. No, don't lie. I want you to hug them and kiss them and hold them tight and let all that love in your heart spill forth. Don't be afraid; you can't spoil a kid with love. For those of us parents with younger kids, we don't appreciate the brevity of these early years. Parents with older children are often cursed with the wisdom that kids just grow up way too quickly. Never again squander another opportunity to let your kids know how much you love and adore them.

I know this would be the message of Sophie and Tyler Crew, dear friends of the Steely Family, if they could speak to you right now.  I know they would love nothing more than to be able to hug their beautiful baby girl, 13-month old Emma, right this very moment. I know they would do anything to be able to hold her, to touch her, to smell her sweet and familiar scent that only they recognize. I know they would do anything to be able to hear Emma's silly giggle and to tickle her to hear it over and over again. Even big sister Ava would love to share her toys with Emma. But they cannot, at least not right now, for their precious little Emma is in a crucial fight for her fragile life after being victimized in what doctors have described as a Shaken Baby Syndrome incident.

Sophie and Tyler are living a parent's worst nightmare.  Sometime after dropping off Emma at daycare, they received a call from the facility that something happened to Emma. At that seminal moment, at that singular second in time, their comfortable world was eternally shattered. And even if all prayers are answered, even if the miracle of all miracles happens, nothing for the Crew Family will ever be the same again, not EVER.

After hearing this tragic story, I wondered how anyone could do something like this to a little baby, an innocent child who is not able to defend itself . How could someone turn into such a monster? It seems unfathomable, unimaginable and demonic. And you know what, it is all of these things but apparently it doesn't take much to turn into such a monster. A brief yet uncontrollable fit of anger coupled with several violent shakes in a few seconds is all it takes to steal the life of a child. According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, an estimated 1,200 to 1,400 children in the United States are injured or killed by being shaken each year.

No gun, no blunt instrument, no poison was used. In fact, the person probably started off with good intentions of trying to comfort a crying child. But when nothing they tried worked, the person transformed from caregiver to monster. Hands and an inability to control impulses and the law of physics that would leave adults unscathed but literally shakes the breath out of those much smaller than us were the only weapons used in this case. We've all been frustrated with our kids, when they don't listen, when they cry incessantly and inconsolably for unending hours, and we've wished it to go away, quickly, so we can get back to sleep, get back to work or get back to whatever it was we were doing. The only thing the Crew Family wants to get back to is a normal life.

Sophie and Tyler sit vigil by Emma's side, where they have remained since this nightmare took on a momentum that far exceeds their tolerance.  Three hundred and sixty hours have passed since the last time they saw their happy, healthy Emma. Think of all the hugs they would've shared had it not been for a person's, a stranger's, rage.

Mom and Dad, sitting on either side of Emma, read her favorite books, sing her favorite songs, looking, waiting, wishing, hoping for anything that resembles life. A sign, a twitch, a movement, a response, a sound, anything. How do you hold on to hope when doctors say to let go of it? How do you manage expectations when doctors tell you not to have any? I don't know how but I do know that Sophie and Tyler and Ava have not given up on Emma, have not lost hope and have not abandoned expectations. Emma knows this too, and she can feel the love and support and she hears our prayers and she has responded by moving one of her arms and one of her legs. She has opened her eyes. These are small but meaningful signs that nuture the seed of hope. Remember, all mighty oaks start out as tiny acorns. Let me tell you, this little girl has more fight in her than any, save her family, knew she had in her heart. She's not giving up and she wants to let us know not to give up on her, that she's going to keep on fighting.

Emma doesn't understand what losing this fight would mean to her parents, to her sister, to her grandparents. She doesn't know the grief that would descend upon an entire community of people who love and adore her. Yet out of nothing more than sheer life instinct, the genetic code that resolves us to take another breath when doing so presents greater challenge than not taking one, this little girl fights on.

It's easy to think something like this will never happen to us and when we don't personally know the people struggling with a tragedy such as this, it's even easier to take comfort in the emotional distance that frees us from any reminder of the grief being experienced by those hit hardest. But don't forget; instead, think of little Emma struggling for the very existence we take for granted.

I'd like to make one last request. I am asking for everyone reading this story to pray for little Emma Crew. Organize prayer services at your church, synagogue or other place of worship. If you're not comfortable with prayer, then please send your positive thoughts Emma's way. If praying is fine and dandy but you feel moved to do something more "tangible" the family would be most grateful for any financial contributions. Obviously, both Sophie and Tyler have taken an indefinite leave of absence from their respective jobs (Sophie is a school teacher and Tyler works in construction) since Emma's hospitalization. I know we'd all like to lessen the burden that was thrust upon this family by minimizing financial stresses in order that they may focus their energies on little baby Emma. Donations, in any amount, can be made at the Crew Family blog by clicking on the "Donate" button. I hope you will contribute out of a desire, rather than an obligation, to help.

If you're a blogger, have a Facebook, Twitter or any other social media account, please feel free to post this wherever compassionate eyes may read it.

Thanking you in advance,
Todd (AKA Steely Dad)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Can I Come to Terms?

My animal companion of 13 years 5 months is dying. I have to decide when to euthanize and it sucks to be faced with that decision. Her diabetes has gotten too bad to be controlled on diet alone. The vet explained to me that she would need insulin shots. She went through all of what that would entail. I had to be totally honest with myself and the doctor- I can't do that. The vet asked me if it was needles that bothered. I shook my head. No. I don't have the time or the money to devote to doing that properly. I'm very familiar with how diabetes works and consistency is the key. Unless I can do it right I'm just putting her through more suffering by sticking her with needles and running her back and forth to the vet for blood work. It's very difficult to home test a cat's blood sugar lever. You have to prick the ear. It's possible, but hard. I explained to the vet my life right now and she understood. I felt that she empathized with me and she agree that tending a diabetic cat is both time consuming and expensive. Our only other humane option is to euthanize her before her condition leaves her constantly suffering. Rhi had lost 2 pounds since her visit 6 months ago. The vet feels that this is the beginning of the end. However, she still has some quality of life- her vitals are good, she' still eating and not vomiting and she still has some interaction with the family. She said that if I told her I was ready to euthanize that day she would be okay with that but she isn't constantly suffering right now. I chose not to euthanize her days before WC's birthday. If the vet had said she's in pain then I would have. But the events of the past few months have left me with sort of a negative relationship with her and I didn't want it to end like that. I wanted to take her home and some good final weeks- however many that may be.
They did a couple things to hopefully help us these next few weeks. They said her anal glands were very full & they expelled them. I have no earthly idea what that means but they said it should stop the butt dragging (yay). And the constant overflow of sugar in her urine is a magnet for bacteria and she has a UTI- of course. They gave me 14 antibiotic pills to cram down her throat. In hopes of stopping the urinating everywhere.So, I don't have to continually clean up after her. I also picked up some puppy training pads, so she doesn't have to make it all the way back to the box if she sleeping in the living room with everyone else. She will still be put in the bathroom while we are away.
The vet explained to me what will happen to her body as the diabetes worsens. I will spare my kind readers the details. And she told me a couple of things that if I see then it's time to bring her back. Otherwise, I will "just know" when it's time. I'm having difficulty believing that I should play God and decide when the end of her life will be. I'm praying for peace and if God concerns himself with domestic animals then grant me the knowledge of being able to get this decision right.
She went on to explain to me how the euthanasia would work and what they would do. I can choose to be in the room and hold her until the end or not. And she told me to be thinking about what I want afterwards- I can have her cremated or if I want to take her for burial or them to dispose. I'm sure she didn't use the word dispose but I think my brain checked out  at some point there.
Back home I cried, guilty because I at least couldn't try the insulin. Jay said to me, there isn't any guarentee even if you do the insulin and get it right that it would make her all better again. And he was right, that morning she'd started bleeding out of her rear end. It didnt happen at the vet and they immediately couldnt determine why but with her condition there wasn't any point of exploring it any further. I love him because in talking about it, he didn't even mention the money aspect of it. It was all about the constant running back and forth to the vet and the needles. And the time that I don't have to devote to being consistent with it.
Over the past few weeks I've mentioned to WC that Rhi is sick and she's old. And he knew she was going to the vet on Saturday. Sunday, after church, I told him that she would not be getting any better. He asked if that meant she'd just be peeing all over the place. I explained that hopefully the medicine would help that but her sickness was something her old body wouldn't recover from.  He nodded and went on. I didn't go into any more detail than that. I just wanted him to be aware and will bring it up again as time passes or discuss it if he brings it up on his own. We have a book that I'd gotten at the suggestion of Michele, called Dragonfly Door, which discusses death. I may bring that out and read it again to him. I don't even know about CJ at this point. He will ask about her- I just dont know how to explain death to a 2 year old.
At this point, the vet can't say how long she has left. My hope is that we at least get through Christmas up to maybe early Jan. But honestly, it all depends on her condition.

Friday, October 2, 2009

My First Parent-Teacher Conference

I never knew I'd be so scared to attend a conference with my child's teacher. Sure, I really wanted to know how he was doing, academically. But we've also had behavioral issues from him adjusting to his new surrounding. At least that's what I'm chalking it up to. However, I'm actually terrified this woman is judging me for his behavior. Like, I somehow have not been raising him appropriately. And ultimately you can do so much in instructing your children in the proper way to act. Whether or not they choose to do what you've attempted to teach is another matter entirely. I am also afraid she's already labeled him as a "bad kid" or "troublemaker." And it concerns me that something like that could follow him around in our town.
Every evening I ask him what he's done in school that day and every evening I generally get squat. I'm told of what he's done in after school care, what was on the lunch menu or what he did on the playground. "Please, tell me what you actually did in the classroom." has been uttered more than once.
So I put aside my fears of being judged as a parent and went in to make sure he wasn't already so far behind that he was considered a human doorstop.
I was more than a little relieved to discover that he's actually in the top of his class right now for the first 6 weeks! On the skills pre-test, he scored an 86%- one of the top scores. And with the kids in this group she gives them extra work of more challenging problems. And he's doing well in those. Not perfect, but well. Which is exactly what we want to do work that is challenging but not ridiculously hard. We looked through his notebook of drawing and writing practice. She was very pleased with him academically.
Behaviorally, he is improving. And most of his issue is when his personal space is invaded. Which is understandable to me. And I dont see the problem, except that he needs to learn not to respond with physical aggression. Okay I will concede that. For example: she told me of an incident that she didn't write him up for but she did speak with him about it. One of the girls in the class is a really touchy-feely-huggy type. And she will bear hug and hold on and squeeze. Well, she got a hold of WC one day and wouldn't let go. He punched her in the stomach. I'm guessing I can mark her off from attending his birthday party in a couple weeks.
And then there's his bluntness. He needs to work on not saying every thought he has the exact moment he has it without any consideration for how it makes someone else feel. Unfortunately he comes from a long history of relatives that think nothing of nothing of embarrassing the holy hell out of someone else. It seems he called an overweight little girl "fat" and this upset her. Mrs. V took WC off to the side to attempt to explain to him that he shouldn't say things like that. His defense was, "Well, she is." I had to cover my face while she told me this.
And she attempted to explain to him that even though something might be true it could hurt someones feelings to have it pointed out. I've been attempting for sometime to teach the whole, "do unto others" type philosophy. Not sure that the concept of empathy is getting across. And there's another no on the birthday party. I'm fairly a call it as I see it type of person. However, I do try and be considerate of other's feelings.
One thing she pointed out to me was, a project they did at the start of the school year was they made life-size cut outs of each child. Then the children colored themselves. WC was the only one to make himself with three yellow hairs sticking up on top of his head. The parent helper who cut them out got quite a kick out of having to cut around each of those "hairs." In the photo he is the one in the green shirt. But you can't really see the hair because they didnt tape each one to the wall so they fell forward.
He comes from a long-line of eccentric folks on both sides of his family, I'm afraid he may not be able to help some of it.
 

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

And the Kitty Saga Continues...

When Monday night ended with me hovering over the business end of my cat- tail in one hand; pair of scissors in the other cutting matted dried up excrement out of fur. My sister kindly restraining her body, three legs and a head in place so I could do this. I wondered where I had gone wrong in life.
Earlier that afternoon we'd arrived home late- at 5:10 and I need to have both boys fed and back out the door to WC's 6pm karate class no later than 5:35. And since WC had gotten in trouble at school for the exact same infraction as Friday and when he told me he'd 'forgotten' about our conversation about it on Fri, I was livid. If he thought I was angry last night- let him do it again.
We have taken to shutting Rhi up in the bathroom with her litter box while we aren't there. I heard her meow but didn't have time to look in on her and I wasn't letter out of the bathroom while we away again. Cat arrives home right before we leave and she wants to tag along to the karate studio to flirt with an assistant instructor.  For a while I had her taking WC to karate which works out for me except when she's gone on the weekends I dont know what to get him to practice. So we all go. She runs into the house for a minute then come back to the car and tells me that I'm going to kill the cat. At this point I dont want to know, I can't do anything about it anyway.
On the drive home after class I received a call from Jay. "You obviously didnt see what the cat did."
"Nope." Not a lie- I did not see what she did. But I did leave out where I was aware something ugly had gone down in the bathroom. I had told him that we didn't have long before we had to leave and that WC had gotten into trouble- yet again.
"She's locked in the laundry room with dried poop on her back left paw and dried poop all over her rear end. There's litter and smeared poop all over the bathroom and all in the bathtub.She peep in the floor next to the box. It looks like she rubbed her rear end from one end of the bathroom to the other and threw litter everywhere. I cleaned up part of it and now I'm getting in the shower."
Heaven forbid he actually clean the whole mess up, not just enough of the floor to allow him to get to the shower.
We end the call and I tell everyone in the car that we're going in the front door when we get home. I'll work on cleaning Rhi after I get CJ in bed. Which is how I got to where this story began.  Initially I tried to wash it out with a wet rag but it wasn't working. So the scissors came out. Now I wished that I'd thought to cut more of the hair out from around the bottom area.
She managed to urinate behind the recliner again twice on Saturday. After my sister spent two days last week cleaning the carpet and blocking it off from access. Saturday Jay moved several things then got upset when she got back there and went. He spent 20 minutes cleaning one spot then left the room and went right behind him and urinated next to the spot he'd just cleaned. I wasn't home but received the text message. I chose not to tell my sister that she'd gone back there again-we'd have a kitty swinging from a noose in the back yard.. Jay cleaned it well enough to get rid of the smell.
I've made a vet appointment for her for this Saturday for another check up. And I'll see what she has to say about all this. Something has to be done. I don't know what. I'm not prepared emotionally to euthanize at this point unless she is too far gone to ever have a good quality of life again. I said from the beginning I wouldn't force her to live in pain just for me. They didn't find anything but the diabetes and UTI last time.
It's becoming far harder at this point than I ever anticipated. In my mind I always thought she'd live until she was about twenty without any health issues then pass on peacefully in her sleep. I'm seriously never that stupidly delusional about anything else. Usually I play out all the worst case scenarios in my head that don't come to fruition.
Now once again forced into reality, I will seek the advice of the vet and see where it goes from there.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It shouldn't be this hard to buy a bra.

Kids say the darnedest things and it's usually funny. Except when the darnedest things are coming from the mouth of your own babe in very public spot. The only place where this could have possibly been worse would have been in the middle of church.
The other day we went shopping. Jay needed a new pair of pants. So while he perused the men's section I decided to wander on over to the lingerie. After all I could use a new bra. Of course the children had to come with me. I'm not allowed out of CJ's site right now-even pushing him in the stroller. I guess WC thought where I was going would be more interesting then pants. Turns out he was right.
We weren't over there two minutes and they were pulling items off the rack. I correct them & go about attempting to find something that I like & in my size.  Two or three minutes later I notice WC wasn't next to me anymore. I call for him and he responds. I go in the direction of his voice and see him facing a mannequin that is modelling a matching bra and panty set, both of his hands up over his head- each hand cupping a plastic breast. "Stop touching the mannequin," I scold him. He smiles and says, "But it's slippery." he rubs the satin bra then looks around behind the mannequin and rubs it's bottom smiling at me. "Stop it and stay with me," I whisper angrily. We move on through through the rows. At one point they begin to giggle. I look down and both of them are each wearing a pair of panties as a hat. I snatch the panties and toss them back onto the table display. Somewhere a saleswoman hates us.
Who knows what goes on in the mind of a two year old. Is it that attempting to figure the world out and with everything bouncing around in there things just pop out at random times. CJ announced very loudly and very clearly, "Mommy has penis." Then without skipping a beat, WC replies just as loudly, "No, mommy doesn't have a penis. She pees out of that weird furry thing." The declaration echos bouncing off all four walls of the store. I imagine sales associates at the register in the front doubled over laughing until they cry. People peering around the racks to see if I would beat this child to within an inch of his life or perhaps just to see the woman with the weird furry thing.
O...M...G...please strike me with lightening and liquefy me into nothing. I want to announce that I am the nanny. But no one would believe me- even if WC didn't bear a striking resemblance. We then leave the lingerie department and return to Jay with one item.
"What's that," he asked.
"A bathrobe."