Thursday, September 30, 2010

Seeing Clearly

The boy has had a hard time lately.  I know it's largely due to anxiety/ADHD issues related to his sister's behavior, but that doesn't make it any more appealing or appropriate.  He's been hitting a lot, claiming that she just makes him "SO ANGRY!" 

It makes me SO ANGRY, too, that he does that.  So I reply, "Well, hitting your sister makes ME angry, but you don't see me turning around and whacking you, do you???"

*pause*

Logic.  Oi vey.

He's lost all his allowance for the month.  He starts the month with $50 and loses dollars for inappropriate behavior.  He can earn some for doing extra chores or particularly nice deeds.  This month, though, every time I give him the chance to earn some, he shot himself in the foot and wound up with nothing or, worse, lost more.

Anyway, he had nothing to lose, I'd reached the end of my rope, and he was still pestering his sister, so I told him that if his hands couldn't behave, I'd give them jobs to do.

Lots of them.

He has received the assignment of cleaning the house from one end to the other.  I'm happy to help or provide guidance if needed, but he's capable of most of the jobs.  I also told him that as soon as the house was spotless, we could get out the Halloween decorations, which he LOVES.

Yesterday, he was gung-ho about being busy and getting stuff done.  He vacuumed the utility room, scrubbed out the dog cage, cleaned up a cat puke mess, helped sort and bag recycling, dusted and vacuumed his room, vacuumed the hall, and dusted and vacuumed my room.  He claims he'll get done with all the chores today, but I don't see it happening. 

He is, however, learning that I am not bone idle around here, and that when I am cleaning the house, cooking meals, or doing other chores, that it really is a pain in the backside when people destroy things, fight, or otherwise distract me.  When we were out in the garage sorting and bagging the recycling yesterday, he looked at me and said, "I had no idea it was this hard of work!  I thought it was all just putting everything in bins!"

Well, yes, son, it can be tough WORK.  Especially in the summer when the garage is roughly 120 degrees with 90% humidity... and that's without exaggeration.  And then to come back in the house and discover you and your sister being miniature BASE jumpers off the furniture isn't going to make me particularly thrilled, is it?

His mouth formed a little 'o' at that thought, and he was quiet.

Yesterday he started sweeping the dining room.  He has a hard time manipulating a broom, so when he got frustrated, I told him to put the broom down and finish today.  He picked it up today and realized that the cats had left more fur and he and his sister had left more crumbs on the floor overnight.  As he finished, he announced to me and the cats, "Anyone who messes up this floor before tomorrow is going to make me MAD!"

I couldn't help but giggle a little.  This from the boy who loves to distribute food to the dogs by brushing it off his placemat straight onto the floor.

"Is keeping the house clean hard work, son?"

"Yes, it is."

"Is it fun?"

"Not really."

"Do you have to concentrate to do it right?"

"Yes," he said grudgingly.

"So let's say that while you were cleaning, I was in your room breaking stuff.  Would you be able to keep working while I did that, or would you have to stop to make me behave?"

*light bulb flickers on*

I don't know that it'll make a permanent dent in his memory yet, but I've told him that every time he hits from now on, he'll have to clean a room to keep his hands busy for a while.  We'll see where it leads us.  It certainly isn't going to do damage!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

And we're off...

Off the Lexapro, that is.

I had posted a few weeks ago that I wasn't sure the Lexapro was going to cut it.  (Read that post here.)  A couple of you advised me to stick it out and see if things stabilized.  I appreciated the thoughts and kept with it, but... well... things didn't get better.

Last Wednesday we had our med recheck.  She'd been completely hyperactive every single day since being on the medication, but since there were fewer fits, I figured I'd go with the lesser of two weevils and stick with the meds.  The doctor said that'd work and that if she was still hyper in a few more weeks and it was affecting her school performance, we could try to add a stimulant and see if her diagnostic combo was anxiety and ADHD.  I still didn't think it was, but again, that'd be better than bipolar, and I'm willing to chase all angles.

We went home from the doctor's office with that plan on paper, and M2 instantly proved that it was the WRONG PLAN.

Here's when you know your 5-year-old has gone off the deep end:  She is mildly irritated at you for telling her to quit bouncing on the furniture for the 500th time that day, and so she informs you - quite calmly - that she has a plan to kill you by burning the house down. 

Hm.

I saw no sense in overreacting, so we simply had a chat about it, and she never did show any remorse.  She didn't want the cats to die, but her brother and father were fair game.  Concerns about being taken care of?  None.  "I'll just get a new mom."  What if she's not as nice as I am?  "Oh, well, I'll kill her, too."



Disturbing much???

But we got past it and she seemed to forget about it.  She did inform her brother a couple days later that she wanted him to die because he was the "worst brother ever."  Thankfully M1 is about as reactive as I am to things like that, so he just figured them was fightin' words and lit into her like he does lately. 

Then yesterday her 'sister' appeared again.  The 'sister' has appeared a few times since we started taking the medication, but yesterday was the first time it occurred to me that she might be something more than simply an imaginary friend.  Last night M2 got out of bed and came into the living room - not an uncommon occurrence - and said, "Mom, why did you yell my name?"

The house had been silent.  The only noise had been my computer fan.  Even the TV was off. 

"I didn't call your name."

"Really?  I heard someone yell my name really loud."

"Really.  It wasn't me."

"Oh... well, it must have been my sister."

Oh, my.

At that point I'd hit my limit.  I e-mailed the pediatric psychiatrist and shared these tidbits with him as well as the fact that I'd talked to her kindergarten teacher who said that M2 had been almost impossible to keep in her chair and "quite distractable." 

I got an e-mail back at 7:34 a.m. with instructions to discontinue the medication and just follow her moods and see how they go.  I'd say we're back to square one, but that's not quite true.  If the sister disappears, we'll know for sure that SSRIs aren't helping!

Back to charting moods.  Wish me luck. :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Conclusions

I have come to the conclusion that...

... I am going to lose my mind in November.  I signed up for NaNoWriMo.  For those of you who aren't familiar with it (and I wasn't until a couple years ago when I saw people talking about it on a forum), it's National Novel Writing Month.  The idea is to put out 50,000 words. Quantity over quality, baby.  Production I can do.

... Chickens do not like dirty nests.  Oz and I discovered this when they kicked all the hay out of all three nest boxes yesterday.  Why?  Because an egg got broken in ONE of them.  We also discovered that when you put new, dusty hay in the boxes and the chickens are in the coop inspecting the work while you do it, they will sneeze.  Chicken sneezes are funny.  Chicken sneezes also make me paranoid because I've read over and over about how susceptible chickens are to respiratory illness.  Thankfully nobody looks ill and nobody was sneezing today, so I'm 99% sure it was the dust causing it.

... I do not like the fact that I am out of friends and relations who have bigger children than mine.  I miss hand-me-downs.  I'm having to buy fall and winter wardrobes for both the boy AND the girl this fall.  Be still, my shrinking budget.  If you know anyone who has a girl size 7/8 or a boy size 10/12, let me know.  I'd love to hit them up.  Oh, and I did find navy slacks at Target today.  I bought six pairs.  Overkill maybe, but I don't want to go back and she has a tendency to rip clothes.

... Work may be slow forever.  And I'm okay with this.  When the work is caught up, nobody gets hounded to work extra.  Less stress is a good thing.

... I may always be close to the weight I am now.  I may always a size 12 when it comes to pants.  I may always have a bit of a gut.  But if I can continue to buy the jeans I bought at Kohl's over the weekend and if I can continue to snack at night and eat things like Braum's sundaes and/or Sonic blasts, I might actually be content with this.  Maybe.

... I have a Depression mentality when it comes to food.  I have a side-by-side fridge/freezer, a deep freeze, and a fairly decent-sized pantry.  All are stuffed, and there's overflow on the counter.  I keep telling myself I need to make a giant list of everything I have and work on cleaning things out a bit, but then I freak out about all of us getting sick simultaneously, or what if the swine flu comes back with a vengeance and we're all quarantined for a week or two?  What I *should* be thinking is what if we have another ice storm and the power is out for a week again???  I would actually puke at throwing all that food out.  That's the sort of motivation I need...

I think I'll go work on that.  Have a great day, everyone!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Change is GOOD

My mom's birthday was Saturday.  A few weeks ago when the family and I had been down there for our weekend trip, my sister and I came to the consensus that it was high time Mom had her hair done.  Professionally.  Because, God love her, the woman has coarse, thick hair and hadn't *really* done anything with it since... well, at least 1986.  I know because that's as early as my memory goes, and while I think she's cut it short once or twice in the last 25 years, it's always the same hair, just a different length.

So I told Mom that for her birthday gift this year, I'd take her to go see my hair girl, Billie, and have her hair done.  Mom was pretty nervous about the whole idea, but she agreed to go.


When she came up yesterday, I told her that of COURSE I had to take before and after photos.  This was 'before.'  Note the mass quantity of hair.  It's not BAD hair.  There's just a lot of it.  And it makes my mom's already thin face look thinner.

M2 wanted to go with us to get a trim, so we three girls piled into the car and headed for the salon.


The first thing Billie did after we decided what color to dye the hair was to take off some of the length.  That helped a lot. 


Then she dyed every single hair on my mom's head.  M2 was fascinated with the entire process.  I think she was most fascinated that the dye itself initially was a sort of light brown color and then turned much, much darker after it sat for a bit.  Mom couldn't see a thing without her glasses, so she had to listen to M2's exclamations about the whole process and pray that Billie was doing a good job.


Which... she did!  She always does.  Here's the official 'after' photo.  I think her hair looks fabulous, and she likes it, too.  In addition to cutting the length, Billie also had thinned out a TON of hair.  I haven't heard my sister's reaction to it yet (she's down in Florida for her sister-in-law's wedding) or my grandmother's reaction (that'll be interesting), but mom likes it, and that's all that matters.

Her one question:  "Am I going to have to come back up here and have Billie do my hair every time it needs done now?"

I told her no, but at the same time, I hope she does it once in a while!  She needs a good pampering, just like the rest of us.

Happy birthday, Mom!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Notes from a Fried Brain

1.  Having a vegetarian in the house is both good and bad.  It is making me take a closer look at my weekly menu to make sure I can tweak each recipe or provide a quick, feasible vegetarian alternative for the boy, which is a good thing.  On the other hand, NOBODY EATS THE LEFTOVERS.  Before, all leftovers disappeared within a day or two.  Now they are sitting in the fridge because the girl is at school, Oz is at work, and I can only eat so much in one day.  It's perplexing, and I haven't yet worked out a solution.

2.  Navy slacks for girls are a $@&#% to find.  I have shopped at Kohl's, Walmart, and Stage.  Nada.  OK, so Walmart had some blue *leggings,* but I somehow suspect that will not pass muster.  After fall break is over in mid-October, the dress code at M2's school changes, and she will only be allowed to wear navy slacks or her jumper.  And I'm not paying for mass quantities of jumpers.  They're pricey and can't be handed down to folks outside the school, so phththththth.  Slacks it will be... if I can find them.  Target, Kmart, and Old Navy are on the list to check next.  Unless I say screw it all and find some online, which is a distinct possibility.  I can only handle so much time shopping before imminent meltdown, and I am dangerously close to that line.  Oh, and I need to find some navy sweatshirts/sweaters, too... maybe Land's End will have a sale....

3.  I have stayed up till 1 a.m. or later every night this week.  And every morning I wake up wondering why on earth I did it again.  It's a vicious cycle that involves a lot of coffee each morning before I'm human again. 

4.  My mother is coming to visit for her birthday tomorrow.  I'm looking forward to the photos.  I'm paying to have her hair done as her birthday gift, and there *will* be 'before' and 'after' pics.

5.  My children are developing diverse tastes in music.  This morning I was in a funk because I'd been up till nearly 2 and the caffeine in my coffee hadn't kicked in yet, so I set Pandora to the Rammstein station and let the kids rock out in the back seat.  Two days ago, I had a discussion about J.S. Bach with M2, and M1 constantly listens to country on his own radio.  Music is life.  I love it.

6.  I need a massage.  OK, I *want* a massage.  No, I've changed my mind again.  The massage is a need, but getting to go to an actual spa/hotel/luxury package for an entire weekend with a girlfriend or two is a want.  Let's phrase it like that.

7.  I hate laundry.

8.  I got an e-mail from my boss this morning saying I had passed my quarterly audit.  First *I'D* heard about any audit, but whatever.  It's not like I go out there and do a crappy job, so it's not too surprising I passed.  I was happy that all five random reports that they pulled were at or above the 98% accuracy required by the account, and I suspected by the tone of the e-mail that there were some who did not reach that  point, and I wondered what happens if you don't.  I'm not going to dwell on that thought.  It makes me nervous.

9.  We're up to half a dozen eggs out of the chickens.  I suspect only a couple are laying, given the fact that three are one shade of brown and three are another shade of brown.  Or I could just be hypothesizing wrong.  It's entirely possible.

10.  Oz's dad and stepmother are in town this week.  I've seen them twice so far.  The first time, Oz had taken the day off of work to hang out with his dad, and then they picked up his stepmom and we all went out to dinner.  Then the kids went to bed (school night) and the rest of us watched TV and chatted.  Then Oz took them back to their hotel.  And then he came home and informed me that his stepmom had missed the step from our sidewalk to the driveway and wiped out entirely.  She's got hurt wrists, a massive leg bruise, and a sprained ankle.  And one crutch.  Oops.  It's a good thing she loves us ;)

Hope you all have a great Friday!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tea for 12 and 12 for Tea

I had one of my teas on Sunday.

I love hosting my teas.  I started doing them a long time ago as an excuse to make a recipe I'm going to share below.  I think one of the first ones I did was to announce my second pregnancy, and I held it on Grandparents' Day.  It was fun.  I held those with my family for a while, but then they sort of fell by the wayside, so I decided to invite members of my mom's group to come and attend a tea.

And attend they did. 

They're a fantastic excuse to break out (bad term, probably, but oh well) the good china and silver and pretend you're all lady-like when in reality the house is bordering on absolute chaos.

Plus... DESSERT!

I always make different foods for the teas, with the exception of one.  There's usually a cake, some sort of cookie or bar, and sometimes a pie.

Yes, it's smiling at you...
This time I made my Pear Pie.

Now, usually when I have these teas, Oz gets annoyed because I stress out.  I've gotten better with time, though I usually just barely have things ready when people arrive and so I've never had time to take photos.  This time, I was way ahead of schedule.

So I took pictures!


This is what the table looked like at 1 p.m.  I schedule the teas from 2-4 on Sundays so everyone can avoid lunch and dinner and just eat *my* food that day. 

OK, not really.  Mostly I just need time to get it all done, and if I held it earlier I'd have to fix sandwiches.  And I prefer just desserts.


This is what the table looked like just before everyone arrived.  I'm still missing two of my dishes, but they were in the fridge and I didn't want to put them out till people started showing up.

What are those things in the middle, you ask?


They're pavlovas.

They are why everyone really comes to my teas.  It's not the tea or the cake or the cookies or even the pear pie; it's the pavlova.  It does the hard sell for me.

Pavlovas are something I'd never heard of till I met Oz.  They are baked meringues topped with whipped topping and fruit.  The strawberry/chocolate one is very popular, so I've started making it every time and then vary the second one.  For my spring tea this year I made a peach/blueberry pavlova.

Nom nom nom.

People are always asking for the recipe, too, so I've decided to post it.  I love to make it more complicated than it really is, but if you have a stand mixer, it's the simplest recipe in the world (provided you can control the humidity in your kitchen and keep it below Oklahoma levels).

Make one for your family and/or friends; they'll love you for it!

-----

Pavlova


3 egg whites
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. vinegar
4 T. boiling water
1 T. cornstarch
3/4 pint whipping cream
1/4 c. sugar

Put all room-temperature ingredients into mixer.  Start at medium speed and drizzle in boiling water.  Turn to high and mix for 15 minutes. Turn off mixer and fold in cornstarch until thoroughly mixed. Pile mixture into a high dome on a flat tray covered with parchment. Make a depression in the center of the meringue for the filling. Bake at 275 degrees until meringue is crisp and has a hard shell, about one hour. Let it cool in the oven!!!! Beat whipping cream and sugar until stiff peaks form; spread over meringue. Decorate with fruit of choice.

Note:  I usually throw the cornstarch into the mixer during the last 1-2 minutes of mixing.  I also sprinkle some cornstarch onto the parchment paper to keep it from sticking.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Great Expectations; or, Please Don't Walk On By

I had the grand idea for this post last night when I was sitting around moping and feeling like I was an awful parent who just needed to phone it in to DHS (our state equivalent of Child Protective Services) and quit.

I do know better, but PMS does nasty things to my mental state, and we've already established that I'm REALLY good at self-degradation.

Well, that and making pies.

That post tomorrow.

Anyway, the thought process was still roiling in my head this morning, so I sat down to type. And then I thought, "Well, what do I want to say? What do I want to accomplish?" I started typing a draft, of all things, to get it out.

Next thing I knew I had typed three pages and had not only flogged the dead horse so thoroughly it was no longer recognizable as a horse, I'd lost myself somewhere in the middle. I really need to follow my own 'This Should Be a Rule for Presidents' guide and make sure that nothing I type is longer than the Gettysburg Address.

Yeah, like that'll happen.

But here I go, putting words down and publishing them without thinking, which is really what I do best anyway. I'm totally a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person.

HA!

Sorry. Those of you who know me best are probably rolling on the floor laughing at that one. I don't think I'd even know what to do if my pants started flying through the air with me in them... other than panic and maybe start planning what I'd do when I started hurtling back toward earth.

I digress. That's also what I do best.

The point I want to make here is that I'm at a place where I no longer want to talk to other parents about parenting. I'm done. I've hit a wall, so to speak, somewhere between discipline and judgment.

I'm not a harsh mom, I don't think. I'm not perfect, and I do lose it sometimes (and apologize later), but I'm not The Wicked Witch of the West, either. Consequences are fair - run in the house too many times and you'll be running a lap around the back yard, put holes in your closet with a drumstick and the drumsticks are confiscated and you help repair the damage, insult my food too many times and you can make your own, etc. Warning is given, and I make sure the kids understand where I'm coming from and that they're able to follow through. When left to their own devices, I have discovered their own punishments are remarkably similar to mine (which probably has a lot to do with nurture vs. nature, but that's another post).

Yet I have discovered that apparently according to 'THOSE' people, I'm draconian.

You know the type of people I mean, especially if your child happens to act up in public:

-- The supposedly well-meaning grandparent who eyes your screaming child and says, in all the charming goodness of his or her heart, "She looks like she needs a good spanking." Yes, because THAT has worked so well, and I'm going to do it in public!

-- The woman who has no children of her own who offers up advice like, "Can't you just talk to her?" Can't you see we're past that? Don't you think I tried??

-- The man who makes the snide remark to "himself" as you walk past, muttering, "Brat children need to be taught a lesson." So do you, sir, thanks.

-- The mom whose kids wouldn't IMAGINE acting out in public (that day) who raises an eyebrow juuuuust enough for you to notice. Makes me want to stick my tongue out in an effort to echo the maturity. I usually bite it instead.

-- The looks from people as they try to figure out why your son is crouching down as he walks down the Halloween aisle because he's petrified something is going to make noise from above him. (OK, yeah, I got nothing for this one because it IS rather unique.)

*sigh*

I know there are people out there whose children just don't do the same things my kids do. I'm happy for them!! I'm rather jealous, to be honest. I'd love to not have to worry about children dashing across the parking lot on impulse because I'm "so mean and I hate you and you've ruined my life and EVERYTHING!"

Yeesh.

My kids' behavior has nothing to do with the fact that they've both been to see a psychiatrist, either, because I *know* there are 'normal' kids out there who do similar things and whose parents dole out similar punishments, and labels have nothing to do with it. I could put a T-shirt on my kid that says, "I have [diagnosis]. What's your excuse?" but it wouldn't change the way I deal with my kids one iota, and I doubt it'd change anyone's method of reacting TO me, either. Some people just love to be all up in your business, if you know what I mean.

But I'm tired of it. I'm tired of the looks and comments like I mentioned above. I'm tired of reading about people who use similar methods of discipline and then seeing folks - sometimes 'experts' - come back and share how those methods are "wrong" and the parents are "just not listening" to their kids and "should try X" the next time. Sure, there are times we could all use a tip or two, but let's not lambast the parent for TRYING. A kind word and gentle advice goes a long way. Plus, parenting is tough enough for anyone without extraneous 'help.' It's a constant battle, a war. There are peaceful days and there are days where you swear nobody's coming out alive, starting with yourself. There are days when you seem to be training the troops and others when the troops turn on you. Tactical maneuvers are met with marshaled forces. Some battles aren't worth fighting and others aren't worth winning, but then there are the ones that can decide the war if you don't dig deep into the trenches and hang on for dear life.

I could go on and on with my metaphorical speech, but I think I've made my point. I've also gone way past my word quota.

All I ask is that the next time you see a mom struggling with her kids in the grocery store, don't walk on by. Ask if you can help. After she gets done crying and telling you her life story, she might appreciate it. And she'll definitely thank you for not judging her.

(OH, and to all you folks who commented last week about M1 and his listening issues, thank you SO much for the laughs and the tips. It was just what I needed. I wish touching and eye contact would work, but Asperger's boy dislikes touching and can't handle eye contact. I'm going to do more lists, though, because those have worked in the past. I needed reminding, and I appreciate it!!)

Book(s) of the Week


"The Saturdays" by Elizabeth Enright

We also have a secondary book this week. I didn't mean to have two, but when I found it on the shelf, I couldn't resist.


Darn skippy. I loved that book.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Death By Ragweed

According to the site where I got this picture (click photo for link),
this bugger is responsible for nearly 90% of pollen-related allergies.
Mother Earth is trying to kill me.

Slowly.

Painfully.

Annually.

And if she keeps it up, they'll be able to just toss me in a hole and bury me under my own Kleenex.  I'll never notice.

See that photo up there?  My eyes are swelling just looking at it.  That's ragweed.  There's a "giant" version of it, too.

Oklahoma is COVERED in ragweed this time of year.  Nasty stuff.  Stepping outside for 15 minutes equates to about two hours of sneezing and nose-blowing.  I'm pretty sure I have whiplash from all the sneezing because my neck and shoulders are killing me.  It's a miracle I haven't had a wreck because when you're driving and sneezing at the same time, you spend a lot of time with your eyes involuntarily closed.  The children have started counting how many times it's possible for Mama to sneeze between the house and the school.

I don't know what the record is because I can't hear them while I'm sneezing.

And this is me on Zyrtec. 

Let's not think about how bad it normally is, OK?  It doesn't bear contemplating.

Normally it starts getting bad in August, but it waited till September this year.  And normally the torture ends in October when we get frost, but since it's still 90+ degrees outside, I don't think that'll happen any time soon.

Mother Nature is MEAN.

What amuses me, though, is the fact that the meteorologists still feel the need to *share* the allergy index with us during their evening broadcasts.

"Why, yes, the allergy index will be high today and might be even higher tomorrow.  I suspect ragweed is still the main culprit."

No $#!*, Sherlock.  *I* could have told you that, and *I* do not have a fancy-schmancy degree that lets me be on TV in front of a green screen wearing a suit and tie every day.

Not that I'm knocking the meteorologists around here.  Come tornado season, I'll happily kiss their feet.  But really, do they have to rub it in that I'm miserable today and will STILL be miserable tomorrow?

I think they're in cahoots with Mother Nature.

And I hope they all run out of Zyrtec.

Monday, September 20, 2010

More Thoughts on Laundry

A couple months ago, you might recall, I made my own liquid laundry detergent.  I made two gallons.  It was working beautifully, but I had someone comment that they had used the recipe and had their clothes start looking dingy after a couple of months.

I'm happy to say two things:
1.  My clothes are no dingier now than when I began this experiment.  I suspect throwing the vinegar into the mix has helped, because we do have hard water.  Or I could just be blind.  Or my clothes could have been fairly grubby in the first place.  There's no telling.
2.  I have just finished up the two gallons.  That means it takes about two (summer) months for me to use two gallons, which isn't a bad deal considering I do about half a dozen loads a week and have a top-loading machine, which means I'm supposed to use 5 oz. per load.  You front-loading types would get it even better.  I do more loads in winter, so it won't last quite as long this time (assuming the temperature ever drops below 90 around here), but that's all right.

I'll be making another batch this evening.  Very, very cheap laundry detergent that works is a very, very good thing!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Me. After today.



Whaddaya mean, this isn't me?

Oh. 

Well. 

I echo the sentiment.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Guess what?

CHICKEN BUTT!

OK, not quite...

CHICKEN BUTT LAID AN EGG TODAY!!!

Our first egg!

We put straw in the nest boxes two nights ago.  M1 happened to look in them this evening after we got back from eating dinner at a restaurant and found an egg!!  It's as long as a storebought egg, just narrower.  The kids were incredibly excited and promptly searched the doghouse and a couple of other favorite chicken sitting spots to make sure no more were hiding around the yard. 

Didn't find any this time, but...

LET THE EGG HUNT BEGIN!!!

When Cats Do Chores

Laundry.  I'm very glad the kids are old enough to fold their own and put it away.  I'm very glad when it's done.  And I'm very glad I have help.  Comedic relief is always welcome.

You make bed??
Hermes particularly loves it when I strip and remake the beds.  Dorian does, too, but since Hermes came along, Dorian has ceded the position of Bed Sitter.

Oh hai!
Hermes will fly down the hall and skid onto the bare mattress and perch there impatiently.  When I toss the fitted sheet over him, he squats down and waits...

BedCat
while I tuck him in.  He loves being a very wiggly, attack-happy cat lump.  He holds very still and sits very quietly while I add the flat sheet, the comforter, pillows, extra blanket, and stuffed animals over him, though if my hands get near him, he'll try to attack them through the layers.  Once I'm done and things get quiet, he'll wriggle out of his hidey-hole, dash down the hall to the next room, and do it again.

LAUNDRY CAT
When he came to the next room on Monday, however, he ran into... Laundry Cat.  Laundry Cat's real name is Vixen, aka Vixyboo if you ask the children, but on Mondays and Fridays, she transforms into Laundry Cat.

It's a superhero thing.

Laundry Cat is highly possessive of her Laundry.  She loves laundry.  I have absolutely no idea where it comes from, but the second she hears the rustle of cotton against cotton, she appears from nowhere, usually blinking sleep from her eyes.

Hey!  This is MY turf!
She usually doesn't like being tucked in like Hermes and Dorian do; rather, she hops down and tries to steal the sheets away from me as I toss them over the bed.  "MY sheet!" she says with her claws. "Mine!  Mine mine mine!"

Once I wrangle the sheets away from her, tuck Hermes into all the beds, and repeat the process a third time, I pile the rest of the laundry on my bed to be sorted, and she tags along.

Empty hamper?  Don't mind if I do!
She hops into the hamper and waits.

Well?!?  Where's it at??
Heaven forbid I take too long sorting.  And if she thinks something is being tossed into the wrong pile (or I just happen to toss something over her head), she'll snag it and run off with it or sit on it, depending on her ever-changing mood.  Girls are hormonal that way.

Her favorite part, though, comes when I get done sorting.

You rang??
FREE RIDE!!!  She sits happily while I tuck the laundry all around her.  I don't often leave her head sticking out, but I was feeling generous.  Usually I just dump it all on top of her.  I'm hormonal, too.  And then she gets a ride to the laundry room.  The kids love to look through the sides of the hamper to see who can find Laundry Cat first.

Yes... she IS asleep.
She's quite content in her little laundry cave, and she doesn't like the laundry to be taken away.  The kids love to put the first few layers of laundry into the washer, but once they start to unearth Laundry Cat, the job comes back to me because there's a great chance of getting clawed in the process.  They giggle hysterically as I take one piece of laundry at a time away from Laundry Cat, only to have half of them swiped out of midair by a kitty paw that then tucks the laundry safely away under the Belly of the Beast until I try again. 

Once I have all the laundry out of the hamper and ensconced safely in the washer, Laundry Cat disappears until it's time to fold and put it all away... and then she does it all again!

I may not necessarily enjoy doing laundry, but between kids and cats, there's an element of fun in it after all. Mary Poppins may have known a thing or two about cats.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Difference Between Listening and Hearing

I should go grocery shopping.  I should go find out what the cat is batting around the dining room (it's dark-colored and flat, so whatever it is probably wasn't designed to be mauled by cats).  I *should* get my lazy butt up and GO is what it boils down to.

I think I've grown roots.  Help me, Coffee.

M1 is in his room.  We're on Day Three of an epic battle.  It involves two people:  Mom Who Means It and Boy Who Doesn't Care.

It boils down to a conversation that goes roughly like this:

"Mom, what kind of oatmeal is this?"

"Brown sugar and cinnamon."

*pause while Mom pours milk into glasses and sets them on the table*

"Mom, I don't like maple.  It has little bits..."

(Mom interrupts) "What kind did I say this was?"

"Uuuummmmmm....."

"Did you hear me?"

"Oh, I heard you... I just wasn't listening again."

Cue inward mental rage on Mom's part as she reminds the Boy Who Doesn't Care yet AGAIN to listen.

LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN.

Doesn't seem like it'd be all that hard, does it?

I attended a few MOPS (Mothers of PreschoolerS) meetings a few years ago, back when M1 was attending kindergarten and M2 was young enough to qualify as an actual preschooler.  They were on Wednesday mornings, which are my grocery mornings, so I didn't make it to many, but the one I remember most has stuck with me for a long time.  The speaker for the day came in and was talking about the difference between hearing and listening, and one of the best quotes she had was from her own daughter who said that "To listen, you have to sit down on the inside."

I loved it, and I try to remember that especially when one of the children is upset, because nothing makes a bad situation worse for a child than feeling like their issues aren't important enough for someone to "sit down on the inside" and really understand.

However.

I do believe that definition goes both ways, and I'm apparently spending my week attempting to impress upon my ADHD child who also has Apathy of Asperger's the importance of sitting down on the inside.  I'm not sure it's a battle I can win, but until he can manage to respond to a single simple command, request, or statement appropriately and without me repeating myself half a dozen times, I'm going to keep plugging away.  I'm not asking for much.  Just that he actually processes what I say and doesn't tune it out completely.  Even Oz knows better.  I don't *usually* talk just to enjoy the sound of my own voice. 

I feel like yelling, "LISTENING IS IMPORTANT, KIDS!!!  One day it'll save your butt at your job!"

I might also add, "EAVESDROPPING DOESN'T COUNT!!!"

*sigh*  He just came out of his room with money to take to spend at the vending machines at the grocery store, despite the fact that I had specifically told him twice this morning that he wasn't allowed to do it.

Oh, and the cat is chewing on a plastic frog.  Time to see if maybe HE will listen to me. 

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book of the Week

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

Our book of the week this week revolves around animals, being different, and music!  Since I'm a big music person, we've been listening to a lot of Louis Armstrong to go along with this.  The kids are really enjoying it, and M1 has been focusing on listening to the trumpet licks.

I heart jazz.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Belated Monday Update

(Please read my previous post first; otherwise, this won't make any sense whatsoever!)

The Good News:  The hole does not go through to M2's room.

The Bad News:  Neither do the other two.

Have a great day!

Monday, a Day Late

I had a different post planned out for today.  It involved cats.  Anything that involves cats, in my book, is tops.  Then again, nobody ever said I was normal.  Which is probably why I have six cats in the first place and why, if you look closely at the photos from yesterday's post about the Wii and Big Brain Academy, you can see bits of fur stuck all over my un-vacuumed carpet (though honestly most of the fur is attributable to the dogs, and I'm not just saying that because I like cats better.  The dogs are WAY worse about shedding.)  Disclaimer:  The floor isn't usually that bad, but I'm on a cleaning strike until this weekend when I am going to deep clean the house so I can have 11 women over on Sunday and serve them food. 

I really don't like seeing fur on the carpet when I'm serving food to other people.  I'm not a germophobe, but there is a line.

Anyway, so the cat post has gotten shoved out of the way for a day or two.  It'll make an appearance, don't you worry, but it's gone by the wayside for now.

Why, you ask?

Because Monday arrived a day late.

Mondays are when all bad discoveries should happen.  Then we can get them all out of the way and move on with the week, and by Friday, it's all blown over and we can enjoy our weekend.

I hate it when life doesn't listen to me.

M1 decided he didn't feel well this morning.  I say "decided" because he wasn't running a fever, and by the time we'd gotten through all the school I felt compelled to put him through unless he threw up, he was fine and being a bouncy boy again.

Nice.

However, for the sake of saving face, I told him that it was tough noogies that he suddenly, instantly, magically felt better the instant "school" was "over," and that he had to go rest in his room anyway, because if he WAS coming down with something, I wanted him to have plenty of rest.

*angelic blinky eyes*

Aren't I wonderful? 

He didn't think so, but he plodded off to his room.  I took a book in to him a few minutes later, a book that I wanted him to browse through just to see if he'd enjoy it or get anything out of it or maybe fall asleep reading it.

I turned around to walk out of his room, and a spot in his closet caught my eye.  It was on the back wall, black, looked to be about an inch across, and was shaped rather like a circle. 

Now, a few weeks ago, I probably wouldn't have noticed it, because before we moved into this house, teenage boys lived here, and they firmly believed in throwing shoes into the closet, so the walls in the closets were streaked with black and gray.  I am completely anal retentive, though, so I bought plain white primer and have been randomly painting closets throughout the house.  I did the kids' closets about a month ago. 

So I *know* there wasn't supposed to be a black spot on that wall.

My arachnophobia kicked in and gave my chest a squeeze and said, "OMG SPIDER!!!" 

Logic kicked back and said, "Then where are the legs, you idiot?!?  Your eyesight isn't THAT bad."

I stepped forward.

M1 took a nosedive under his covers, which is never a good sign.

I stepped even closer, wondering if my eyes were deceiving me.

I blinked.

My eyes focused, and I saw it again.

A hole.

A HOLE.

A HOLE IN THE WALL OF THE CLOSET.

The boy claims to have made it with a drumstick.  I have no doubt that this was made for the purpose of being able to talk to his sister when they are both supposed to be in bed, as his room adjoins to hers through that wall.  I need to check behind her chest of drawers and see if, in fact, he did make it through, but I haven't brought myself to do it yet.  I've been eating 1/3 of a pan of lasagna to console myself that my boy isn't deliberately trying to destroy my house one wall at a time.

M1 will be helping Oz repair that hole and will be repainting that particular part of the closet.  His drumsticks are now fire kindling.  I suspect the rest of the tools in his room will be relegated to the garage permanently.

I'm done now.  Can Monday be over yet?

Monday, September 13, 2010

WII!



M1 really, really likes video games.  I have been told it goes hand in hand with being a boy/being ADHD/being Asperger's, but honestly I think it's just a glorious part of being a kid in this day and age.

Anyway, I'd been experimenting with various incentives for focusing on math.  I'd tried money bonuses ("Mom, do I have $2 yet?  Can you take me to a store clear across town so I can spend my $2 on a whoopie cushion?"), TV show bonuses ("Mom, is there another episode yet?  Mom, how come there aren't any more episodes yet?"), and finally, FINALLY, it occurred to me that not only can I reward him, but I can make him work on his time-management and mental skills at the same time!



I broke out "Big Brain Academy!"


He is loving it.  He's self-motivated enough that he's really pushing himself to do well in math so that he can get more BBA time so he can earn more medals.


He got his first silver medal today. 



He's just a tad proud of himself.  I can't blame him, and I agree with the little peanut-looking instructor that great things are in store!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Projects

M1 has had several projects that he's undertaken over the past month of school.  Some of them, like his "Book of the Months," won't be finished for a while yet.  Some of them have been simple games, coloring pages, etc.  And some of them he puts straight on the fridge because he's so proud of them.


This is one of those.  We were studying the Byzantine Empire, and they touched on mosaics.  An art project suggestion provided in the history workbook was to make your own mosaic.  They suggested religious themes, but I told M1 he was welcome to use a science theme instead - whatever he would want to hang on the wall in HIS room.  So he took sheets of tissue paper and glue and spent over an hour creating this masterpiece.  It is an ant hill.  You can see his Beam of Joy and Pride grin here.  He was even more proud that he had taken the time to contemplate composition and making sure your eye would be drawn to the ant hill in the middle, which was something we had talked about in art a week or two prior.  I love this work of art, and more importantly, so does he.

-----

Science, obviously, is his main focus.  He's been working hard on learning about the planets.  He knows and could have easily told you more about the planets than most second graders before we even started, but he did learn some things and is quite happy to add to his font of knowledge.  (Random FYI, I found this site while writing this blog post and wanted to share because OMG awesomeness in the form of space dweeb-ology:  SolarSystem.NASA.gov)

Anyway, one of the projects that we did involved mapping.  Except that he wasn't allowed to see what he was mapping.  It was the equivalent of mapping the bottom of the ocean or, in our case, peering through gas clouds at the land on a planet.  The procedure was quite simple.  Poke 12 holes in an egg carton, one over each cup.  Have a chopstick on hand.  For the next step, I was supposed to use checkers, but I don't have a normal-sized checker set (just a giant one on a mat), so I substituted Scrabble tiles.  Then I put 0, 2, 4, and 6 in adjacent egg cups.  Then M1 and I created our control stick by putting the stick into each cup and marking the height - 0 being the lowest land point and 3 being the highest.

Control stick!
While the control stick was being brandished wildly by the boy at imaginary miniature enemies, I removed the carton from sight and randomly placed amounts of Scrabble tiles into each egg cup.  These stacks of tiles became hills and mountains.


M1 then measured each height and marked it on a chart.  Once he had all his heights, we created a 'map' of the surface of the interior of our egg carton.  Finally, he got to open up the carton and see how well he did.  He *really* enjoyed this project!

-----

Finally... the vegetarianism.  We did break the news to Oz at the barbecue restaurant.  M1 ordered a chicken tortilla wrap, which is as close as you can get to vegetarian at a place that pays great homage to meat and meat alone in a state built on ranches and farms.

Today, Day One, was a surprising success.  He and M2 woke up before Oz and I and got themselves breakfasts of cereal and milk, and M1 got M2 a glass of juice as well.  Surprisingly, even though it was a new gallon of milk, half of it didn't wind up on the floor!  When I said it was time for lunch and opened the fridge, M1 took one look at the leftover brats and lasagna and headed for his bag of vegetarian lunches that I had bought and set aside for him.  He wound up passing on those but cooked himself a butternut squash ravioli frozen lunch instead. 

Honestly, I thought dinner would be his downfall.  We were having pizza.  There were 12 pizzas available, all sorts and kinds, including cheese.  But when Oz asked him what kind of pizza he wanted, he asked for one slice of cheese and one slice of supreme.  I grinned at Oz.  M1 solemnly took his plate, sat down, and promptly picked all the meat (he could see) off of the slice of supreme.  Then he ate the "veggie" slice.

M2 ate his discarded meat bits with relish.  I don't think I'll ever have to worry about her being a vegetarian.  Then again, I didn't ever think I'd be doing this with M1, either!

Friday, September 10, 2010

You Want to Be a WHAT??

M1 and I went grocery shopping today.  I have discovered I have to do this from time to time or my children whine about the lack of food and I gain weight from all the eating out.  It's bizarre.

I have a specific route I take through the grocery store, and I've mentally threatened bodily harm to the manager several times when he moves things around.  He hasn't done that for a while, though, ever since the remodel has finished, so we're at peace again.  I'm sure he'd be grateful.

M1 and I often spend quite a while in the produce department, partly because I insist we eat healthfully and partly because the kids actually enjoy looking at all the fruits and veggies and picking out what they want.  Today M1 bargained for acorn squash instead of green beans and successfully made a case for his own personal clamshell of alfalfa sprouts.  What's a mom to do?  I put the alfalfa sprouts in the cart, bagged up some squash, grabbed the other veggies that actually were on the list, and moved on. 

We rounded the corner to the processed meat/deli/butcher/dairy aisle, and I picked up some fish, chicken, coffee creamer (damn you, Christy), and eggs. 

Another corner, and we had to swing by some of the frozen foods on our way into the bread aisle.  M1 spied a veggie pot pie on the top shelf of the freezer. 

"MOM!  Can I have the pot pie?"

The boy does love his pot pies, and this particular one happened to be made primarily with organic ingredients. 

"Well... it doesn't have meat in it.  Is that okay?"

"Yes.  I like vegetables.  In fact, I'm going to be a vegetarian."

I almost stroked out on the floor of the grocery store with a vegetable pot pie in my hand.

"You're going to what?"

"That's why I got alfalfa sprouts, and that's why I want this pot pie.  And can I have this eggplant parmesan, too?"

I recovered from my stroke, let him get the eggplant meal, and had to resist the violent urge to giggle.  Then I marshalled my forces and tried to see how easily he'd break.  I started with the big gun.

"You do realize that you won't get to have bacon or sausage if you're a vegetarian, right?"

He and Oz are what the children have termed 'bacon monsters.'  Have bacon, will devour.  They drool over images of bacon-wrapped anything.  We made it halfway down the bread aisle before he was able to respond.

"Well...... *pause*...... breakfast meats are okay."

I smelled triumph in the air.

"No, they're not.  If you're going to be a vegetarian, your main proteins will be beans, cheeses, and maybe the occasional fake meat or tofu... and you know Daddy hates tofu and Mommy isn't good at fixing it."

*Another pause as we finished up in the bread aisle and made a beeline through the snack aisle.  Snack aisles are dangerous.  As it was, we managed to get sour cream & onion Lay's and French onion dip in the cart.  I swear I didn't put them there.*

"That's ok.  I think I really will be a vegetarian."

That answer seriously surprised me, and I realized that even though I had started with the big guns, I really didn't have a lot of ammo.  I fired another round.

"Alllll righty then... that's fine by me, but you *will* eat the dinners I have planned for this week already, especially since you helped pick them last night."

"OK, but then I'll start and be a real vegetarian.  Can we get some stuff so I can at least have vegetarian lunches?"

I only had one shot left in the reserves, and it was a weak one, designed more for breaking down crumbling defenses than doing damage to solid ones.

"All right, but you might have a hard time at restaurants, you know."

"No, I won't.  Most places have grilled cheese or macaroni and cheese, and there's no meat in those, and I like that stuff anyway."

I waved the white flag.  We picked out some soups like tomato and minestrone made with vegetable broth, some Indian dishes, and a few other options for him to have for lunches.  I made sure there would be proteins and mumbled things to myself about calling my friend Sonia, who has been a vegetarian for years and whose 7-year-old daughter is also a vegetarian, for recipes and tips if he sticks with this.  I asked him if he had a reason for wanting to become a vegetarian, and he said no, that he just wanted to be one. 

I'm not sure how well this will work out, especially in the long run and doubly so because he's a boy with two hollow legs.  For lunch he ate a noodle bowl, salad with some of his alfalfa sprouts, a fruit cup of mandarin oranges, and yogurt.  I'm going to fix the kids smoothies (vanilla yogurt, bananas, mango, and strawberries) for snack, and I think we're going to take Veggie Boy to a barbecue joint for dinner.

I think that's an appropriate place to break the news to Oz, don't you?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

HELP!

I need help.  Lots of it.  I'm in the midst of a crisis with M2.  Not that this is anything new, of course, but here I am again.  The great Circle of Crises.  Pass the Mike's and the chocolate - time to dig back into the trenches.

My baby is growing up, which does contribute somewhat to the mental mess that I am this week.  She came home from school yesterday toting this:


I discovered this was loose about a week and a half ago.  I thought it had a month to go before it came out.  With M1, it would have taken that long because he wouldn't dare touch a loose tooth.  Even the dentist, last time we were in, commented on how loose his tooth was and proclaimed that he'd never seen a tooth that loose that didn't fall out on contact with any solid substance.  M2, on the other hand, is a different species.  I knew this, but I still couldn't have predicted the enthusiasm with which she attacked that tooth.  Within a week, I had narrowed it down to "it'll be out in a week or two," and by Tuesday afternoon, I told her violin teacher, "It'll be out by the end of the week."  So I wasn't entirely surprised when she came home Wednesday afternoon and told me she'd been bored during naptime and yanked the tooth and it bled a LOT and she got to go see Miss Gayla to get her necklace.

I suspect this boredom during naptime may be related to the purported vomit session during naptime today.  Nobody saw it, nobody smelled it, and she's as healthy as a horse, but she got out of naptime and got to go to the office again and people made a fuss over her.

I may be the only one who suspects this particular scheme, and I may be way out in left field with it, but she's not above it.

Which brings me to the real, honest-to-jeepers reason I need help.

We went and visited her psychiatrist last week.  After the whole rigamarole with The Scheduling Queen, I don't think they dared to move me again.  So we got in and the doctor gave us several options ranging from doing nothing to doping her up with lithium.  Since the doctor was still fairly well convinced it was anxiety, I decided to give that diagnosis a fair shot and try an SSRI.  I mean, honestly, if the diagnosis really WAS anxiety, that'd be lovely!  Much better than bipolar.  Easier to manage.  Something I have experience with and can work with.

He prescribed her 5 mg of Lexapro to be started last Saturday.  The main side effect we had to worry about was mania because in many children and adults with bipolar, SSRIs can actually cause manic episodes.  We headed out of town on Saturday with the girl trying out the new medication.  I don't know about Oz, but I was holding my breath and hoping against hope that she'd be a new child and settle.  She was overly excited on Saturday at the Science Museum and pool, but it was the first day on the med and she had been manic all week, so this wasn't anything out of the ordinary.  She wasn't bad on Sunday - a little silly, but nothing horrid.  My grandmother thought she was normal.  (Yet another reason I like that woman.)  Monday was a day off, and we did yard work.  Then she dismantled her room and bounced and bounced and bounced.  Tuesday she went back to school, had a violin lesson where she did tolerably well, came home and bounced and bounced and bounced.  But no tantrums.  I thought I was raising Tigger!  Yesterday, she thought about having a tantrum, but it didn't happen.  Still bouncy.

Today... *sigh* and we're back to square one.  Still bouncy, but throw sassy and kicky and shrieky and tantrum-y back into the mix. 

Now, I know the meds - IF they are going to work - wouldn't have had time to really kick in yet.  If there is an anxiety component to all of this - and I won't deny that there is probably some separation anxiety in there somewhere - the Lexapro won't really kick in for at least another week or two.  We do go back on the 22nd, assuming The Scheduling Queen doesn't get a bee in her bonnet again like I strongly suspect she might.

However, the doctor had said the side effects were likely to show up way before the effects of the medications.

The question now is, do I e-mail the doctor and tell him that the manic episodes are worsening?  Do I wait it out another week and see if it gets better?  Do I dare mention the new symptoms that are arising with this new week?  Do I dare continue trying to implement any sort of therapy?

Right now I'm trying to implement a feelings chart where she circles the faces of all the feelings she has to see how *she* interprets her feelings on a daily basis.  I've also got a sheet with a stoplight on it that would be a forerunner to therapy (stop, think about it, talk about it, calm down, then act).  But she used them for all of 45 minutes today.  She circled three different feelings in that time frame, used the stoplight as a manipulating tool to talk about random stuff (disjointed thought processes may be part of her mania), and then completely refused to use them as soon as she was truly good and mad.  I'm going to try to keep at those, I think, but I'm still not sure what else to do.

Any thoughts?


Cute as a button, especially with the gap in her teeth, but yeesh.  I'd love some advice on this one!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Day with Hermine

It's pouring rain today, thanks to the remnants of Tropical Storm Hermine.  It's not a bad thing, though!  It's helped me remember all the best things about homeschooling. 

Like no start time!  M1 came home and insisted that he is going to work the night shift when he grows up, so he was going to start a proper graveyard shift sleep schedule today.  He changed out of his day clothes back into his pajamas and climbed straight into bed.  He stayed there till I got him up for lunch at 11:30.  I'm pretty sure he slept, but he also read a book on Sacagawea.  He now wants to 'be' Lewis & Clark.  I had to inform him that I think the United States is pretty well mapped out these days, but that if he had been alive in 1803, I'm sure Thomas Jefferson would have asked for his help.

Next best thing about homeschooling?  Math in your underwear!  And history in your underwear!  And writing in your underwear!  And Latin lying upside down on the floor... in your underwear!

OK, so *I* was fully clothed, but the boy was determined to be Captain Underpants for as long as possible today.  Between tighty whiteys (which were gray today) and an incredibly stained, two-sizes-too-small white T-shirt, he reminded me of the little boy he used to be.  At least until he stretched himself across the entire doorway of the dining room.  *sigh*

Another great part of homeschooling is reviewing at leisure.  He rediscovered his history narration book today.  It contains his narrations from last year as well as this year, and he felt like reviewing.  Who am I to argue?  And when I suggested that I request some review materials from the library, he was enthusiastic.  I can review in the form of videos and not have to do meaningless worksheets afterward to make sure that he's paying attention.  All bonuses.

He's decided where he's going to college today as well.  He also wants to work there or, barring that, start his own scientific institute of learning.  What college is this, you may ask?  MIT, of course.  Where else?  OK, OK, so maybe CalTech.  I am raising Sheldon, after all.

Finally, getting 'ahead' in the curriculum.  He finished a spelling book last week.  There are nine more lessons in his math book.  He's going through the technical drawing book today with the determination to get to a picture of a bicycle.  He *loves* passing these milestones and being able to keep going.  There are nine more logic problems left in his current book, and the next book arrived today via Amazon.  He knew I'd ordered it, and when I brought the box in off the front porch and shook it in front of him, his eyes lit up.  He pounced on the book and immediately flipped through it.  Who else but a homeschooled student gets excited about more work??

Peaceful days full of coffee, learning, and review.  This is the stuff homeschooling life is supposed to be made of.  Remind me of this next time he refuses to listen!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Big Talk

M1 and I had The Big Talk the other day.

Not *THAT* big talk. 

We had *that* talk in May when he asked me point-blank how babies got into their mommies' tummies and wanted a Final Answer.  I wanted to Phone a Friend, but apparently I'd already used that lifeline at some point.  Asking the Audience only resulted in more questions.  This left me with the 50:50, and I had already eliminated "Stork" and "I'll Tell You When You're Older." 

He grinned like a Cheshire cat when he realized he had me pinned and I had to tell him the honest-to-goodness truth.  There's nothing like going over the birds & the bees (and having your Asperger's son realize they have NOTHING to do with the whole situation) while you're putting dishes away out of the dishwasher.

No, we'd had that discussion.  This big discussion was all about money.  Cash.  Moolah.  Dough.

M1 has decided that he wants a Nintendo DS.  Badly.  I have one, and he's going to get it for Christmas though obviously he doesn't know that.  I haven't broken it out in ages, so it's time to pass it on before it dies or becomes obsolete, whichever comes first.  In the electronics world, that's typically about a tie.

Anyway, he is desperate for electronics, and he wanted to know how come he couldn't have A) a cell phone, B) a Nintendo DS, or C) an iPod/computer/Kindle/anything.  Oz and I told him frankly that he couldn't afford them, they were too expensive, and that he would have to wait until he was old enough to buy them himself, and that they are expensive because you are supposed to wait until you're older to have these things.

His world collapsed.  First, he didn't believe that they were expensive, so Oz showed him the price of a Nintendo DS on Amazon, and M1 realized that it'd take him at least six months to save up for one, assuming he got all $25 of his spending money each month, which will happen about the same time Kim Jong Il prances into the White House waving a white flag of peace. 

So that was devastating. 

Then he wanted to know how come he couldn't have a cell phone, and Oz and I about died with suppressed laughter.  We had to explain to him about monthly charges and fees and that our fancy phones that he won't leave alone were about twice the price of a DS and that was *before* the monthly bill.  We told him we'd get him a starter phone when he was 11 or 12.

Tears were imminent. 

And just as he began to really cry, he wailed, "But it's just a PHONE!!!  WHY is it so expensive?!?!?!?"

My thoughts exactly, Son.  My thoughts exactly.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Trip Part Deux... and My Award


First of all, this is my Award.  I never knew I was stylish, but hey, I'll take it!  Apparently there are rules that go along with the award.  I am to tell five odd things about myself or my blog and then pass the award on.  I think I can work with that.

1.  I hate getting my ears wet.  I've been that way since childhood, and M2 inherited that fear.  She's conquering hers better than I think I've ever conquered mine, because when we were in the pool at the hotel on Saturday, she kept asking me to go underwater, and I wouldn't, and that is why.  She doesn't know that, though, and I'm going to keep it that way.  M1, on the other hand, is a fish like his father.  They both think that water was made for being under.

2.  I have never been good at packing suitcases.  I can fit a ton of stuff in when I leave, but it never lasts and never goes back in the same way.  This time, I packed a special shampoo to get the pool chlorine out of our hair after we had gone swimming, and guess what?  Never mind that it was in a bag.  It still managed to open and dump its contents all over the suitcase, including my pajamas, Oz's pajamas, Oz's jeans, etc.  There is nothing like calling your mother and begging to use her washer and dryer when you're also dragging along two kids who can't sit still.  And the clothes in question aren't theirs.  *sigh* 

3.  While we did have a cassette player when I was young and we were within hearing distance of several radio stations, my primary music sources were my mother playing the piano and this: 


That's right... a record player.  Turntable.  Whatever you want to call it, that was our main source of music.  My sister and I were slightly afraid of it, because we were never ever EVER in a million years allowed to touch it.  I still use two hands to lift the lid because the fear of the Angry Mother Goddess is so deeply ingrained.


The kids discovered the magic of the record player when we visited my mom over the weekend.  M2 picked the record.  It was one of mine as a child - Rainbow Brite Christmas songs.  It totally took me back to sitting on long-fibered brown carpet in homemade pajamas in front of the Christmas tree, sometimes with a fire crackling in the fireplace, and opening gifts.  It was a very special Christmas if the cat got to come into the house and play for a while.  Her name was Patches, and she wasn't fond of children, but my sister and I were fascinated by her.

4.  I am a light sleeper.  I also do not like to be touched while sleeping.  When we got back to the hotel, we all had to go to bed.  It was about 9 p.m. when we all laid down, but after the busy day we had had, the kids were exhausted.  M1 slept with Oz and his CPAP, and M2 slept with me.  I say "slept," because that's a very subjective term.  M2 is a touchy-feely sort, and she had to be touching me somewhere, somehow all night long.  I'd turn over, and she'd adjust herself to match.  I'd try to turn back to the middle of the bed, and I had to move her entire being in order to do that, which meant she'd wake up just enough to realize she wasn't touching me any more, and she'd move again.  My sensor of sensory overload was blaring by 2 a.m., and when I got up to use the bathroom at 5 a.m. and came back to find half a girl on my pillow, I nearly lost it.  Thankfully, we all survived the night.

5.  I have always admired my paternal grandmother and wanted to be like her, but the older I get, the more I realize I'm a bit more like my maternal grandmother and that both grandmothers are more alike than I used to give them credit for.  Neither of them have a high crap tolerance, both of them enjoy creating things (my paternal grandmother - Gran - crochets blankets and my maternal grandmother - Grandma W. - makes food), and both of them have complimented me on how I'm raising my children.

And anyone who can make me feel good about raising my kids ranks high in my book.

Back to the award.  I award it to anyone who will take it, but I would love it if you'd link in your comments to where you have displayed it!  I'd love to see where it goes!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Weekend of Fun and Family

I have an award that I should be displaying instead of blabbing all about my weekend, but priorities rule.  I love awards, but I love showing off pics of my kids even more.  So I'll say a huge shout out and thank you to Megan for the award, and I'll get to it in the next day or so, I promise! 

I surprised the kids with trip this weekend.  Oz and I had decided to go down and visit Science Museum Oklahoma, my mother, my sister and brother-in-law, and my grandmother.  And because M2 had been begging to go swimming, we booked a night at a hotel with a kickin' pool.  Oz spends enough nights at various hotels that it was FREEEEEEE... and I like free!

We headed to McDonald's for a pre-trip breakfast on our way out of town.  In-car breakfasts are a tradition with us on long trips, like bringing DVDs to play in the van's DVD system so I don't have to listen to children bickering all the way down or up whichever turnpike we're taking.  Makes life easier.

And I realized how small of a town we live near.  This car was at a dealership next to the McD's.  Very nice-looking vehicle.  The keys looked pretty spiffy, too.

We hopped on the road, and I turned on "Mr. Bean's Holiday."  The kids had never seen it but thorougly enjoyed it.  The best part, though, was when M1 listened to the following bit of dialogue:

French woman:  [speaking French]
Mr. Bean:  Non.
French woman:  [speaking French]
Mr. Bean:  Oui.
French woman:  You speak French very well.
Mr. Bean:  Gracias.

M1 instantly realized the flaw and humor in this conversation, and he was thrilled with himself for knowing what was 'wrong.'  When he realized that he also knew the word 'oui' a few minutes later, he was even happier. 

We made it down to the museum without incident, and M2 was beside herself with excitement when we got there.  We had to wait in line for a little bit, and she was bouncing and twirling and jumping with happiness about getting to go through a turnstile on the way into the museum.  We arrived about 15 minutes before a science show about explosions was supposed to start, and M1 wanted to see the show.  Oz took him there, and M2 and I set off on our own adventures.


She twirled... repeatedly.


She slid down a slide based on an Archimedes screw... repeatedly (and has the bruises all over her arms to prove it).


She climbed up the ladder into a little house, dashed across and out the other side, and swang on the swings that were hung underneath this building.  The swings were all different shapes, and her favorite was the one shaped like a trapezoid.

We then repeated this whole procedure a couple of times before I insisted we move on to see other things.  Then Vanity Girl discovered...


the mirror maze.

It was all I could do to get her out of here.  She twirled and danced and admired herself ad nauseum.  She did whack her face a couple of times in the process but was completely undeterred.  What finally encouraged her to leave was peeking out the door and realizing there were stairs that led up to...


Gymnastics mats.

We spent a good 45 minutes here.  I'd rearrange the mats a little bit, and she'd go up and down and over and around; she'd rearrange the mats and do it all again.  Once a girl, probably about 7, decided to show off on the balance beam, and M2 hopped right up there with her, determined not to be outdone, and mimicked everything.  Thankfully the other girl was kind and patient and enjoyed her little ape.  When I told M2 that Oz and M1 were out of their show, she agreed to leave the mats behind and instantly got sidetracked by the sound of her own voice.


I'm standing at an identical dish about 20 feet away.  She loved that she could whisper or talk into a small ring in the center and hear me reply while facing the other direction.  I sort of explained the mechanism behind it, though I don't think she cared.  She just wanted to sing.

We met back up with Oz and M1 and swapped kids for a little while.  M1 really enjoys thinking about all the science behind things, and even though he was already getting tired (not sure how the show tired him out, but he's a growing boy), he still found enjoyment in the small things.

One of the only photos I got of him is this one, where he's sitting and trying to stump a 20 Questions computer program.  He didn't stay long here because he wanted to explore other areas, and he wandered over to the play area where M2 had started.  He discovered a trebuchet sort of mechanism and tried it out with some (soft) balls designed for that use.  There's a set-up on the ground for the balls to land, and the kids are supposed to get points for aiming right.  I think it's more luck than anything, but M1 took several shots at it.  Mostly he was getting hungry.  He talked M2 into heading to the hotel, with a couple of detours to fire the Tesla coil and admire the Segway driving area, and we headed out, tired and hungry... temporarily, of course.

The hotel and pool and Granny time were in store for later!