Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fun with Felines

One of the most fun things about owning a whole herd of cats is that you never know when one of them is suddenly going to insist that it's playtime.  Typically they like to play with one another, but sometimes, just sometimes, they want to play with ME.

Usually Kuro, aka Beast-i-Cat, aka Fatty Boomsticks, is my playtime buddy.  He loves to play with things.



Lamp cords are not immune, and those I can usually ignore.


But when he gets into the art cabinet and drags out the string that you let your daughter use when she makes her beaded jewelry... and he drops it six inches from your feet and gives you the death stare... it's time to bow to the inevitable, hunt down one of the many shoelaces that migrate through the house, and play with the cat.


Him likes to play.


He *REALLY* gets into it.


Such a dignified creature he is.


Look!  Pointy ends!


He'll do this for half an hour or more, but... well, when one cat starts playing, they send out a happy vibe that causes other cats to swarm and wait for their turn.


I'm so beloved.


But only when I'm holding string.  Other than that, I'm just the feeder, litterbox changer, and warm lap.

Moody things, cats.  Demanding even. 

No wonder I love 'em!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

PMS

In the lovely and honorable tradition of Jeff Foxworthy, I think it's time for an installment of, "You might _____ if..."

Today's edition will be called, "You might have PMS if..."

1.  If you suddenly lose all motivation to exercise and instead feel the urge to down a whole pint of Ben & Jerry's Schweddy Balls... and maybe some extra rum for good measure... in one sitting... you might have PMS.

2.  If the word 'target' is both a proper noun referring to the store and a prelude to the word 'acquired,'... you might have PMS.

3.  If you keep wondering when BP or Conoco is going to show up at your door to install rigs on your face because the amount of oil there would sustain a small country for several months... you might have PMS.

4.  If you're convinced your entire reproductive system is trying to force its way out of your abdomen... you might have PMS.

5.  If the scale suddenly jumps 5 lbs. and all you've consumed for the previous 48 hours is water due to the previously-mentioned cramps... you might have PMS.

6.  If you're sure that your symptoms should be classified in the DSM-V as "episodic dissociative identity disorder,"... you might have PMS.

7.  If your throat is sore from yelling and you haven't attended any sports events or concerts in the previous week... you might have PMS.

8.  If a friend or significant other kindly suggests that you should go take a nice, relaxing bath and you take it as a personal insult... you might have PMS.

9.  If you find that naps are mandatory because you're suddenly a raging insomniac whose dreams, when they come, involve crashing airplanes and former high school classmates... you might have PMS.

AND...

10.  THERE IS NO #10, DAMMIT, AND IF YOU THINK THERE SHOULD BE A #10, THEN YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN #10, BECAUSE I'M DONE AND THERE'S NOTHING ELSE YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!!  OK??? OKAY???  IS THAT OKAY WITH YOU???

I might have PMS. :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Carnage

Current score:

Sarah/flypaper:  25
Flies still free (at last count): 9

I SHALL PREVAIL!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

With the Good Comes the Flies

I visited my sister over the weekend.  I don't want to get into everything, so I'll just hit the highlights:

1.  When standing in a Le Creuset outlet store and you see a total unitasker, do not accidentally refer to Alton Brown as Elton John, especially when the unitasker in question is a cherry pit remover.  The man standing next to you will look at you as if you're drunk and slink away.

2.  A pair of really nice men's shoes in the middle of a busy intersection will have everyone guessing for hours.

3.  I need a recipe for Ethiopian flat bread.  My sister and her husband took me and my mother (whose birthday is today... Happy Birthday, Mom!) to an Ethiopian restaurant for dinner last night.  It was delicious, but the bread was the most bizarre thing ever.  It was like a delicious gray sponge, if gray sponges can be delicious when dipped in red lentils or wrapped around braised chicken legs.

4.  When eating Ethiopian food, don't wear white.  There are no utensils, unless you count the aforementioned bread.

5.  Polite dogs and sofa beds are an amusing mix.

-----

About 1/3 of the way home this afternoon, I received a call from my husband.

"You're on your way home, right?"

"Yeeeessss..." (I had texted him when I climbed in the car to let him know this particular fact.)

"Ah. [slight pause] Good."

"Okay?"

"You have my tools in the trunk of the car."

Without further details, I went into an intense panic and wondered what on earth M1 had managed to dismantle and how he had done it withOUT the tools that my husband now needed.  But Oz continued.

"I'm trying to install a new back screen door, and I need my tools to finish the job."

Panic over.  Intense love now set in.  See, we really, really want to move to a new house in the next year or two.  Four people in a three-bedroom, ONE-BATHROOM home is not working for us.  Carpet doesn't work for M1.  There's no fireplace for me to cozy up to in winter.  There's no office for Oz.  There's no homeschool space for M1 and I - in December, we have to put the school desks in the hall to make room for the Christmas tree in our living room.  M2 just wants to move.  In other words, this house doesn't fit us any more.  So the other day I went through and made a three-page list (front only) of all the stuff that needs to be fixed before we can list the house and consider moving.  Replacing the back screen door was item #1, because the glass was cracked.  Oz took the initiative and replaced it.

In the process of doing so, approximately 300 flies came into my home.  This made me feel extremely disgusted with my ability to clean a house, because clearly it reeks of DEATH to attract that many flies in such a short time span. (I may be exaggerating about the number of flies.  There may only be 150.  Or 80.  Or 40.  But still, EW.)  I now have flypaper hung around the house to see what I can do about this problem.  But I have a new back screen door!  Woot woot!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Good News Friday

I think that because today is the first day of fall AND it's Friday, it's time for a post about dogs.

I'm typing this while my Schipperke, Gizmo, is lying upside down on the floor beside my feet.  I learned this week that if you don't let him in the house for 48 hours because it's raining and he looks like a bedraggled, pathetic stray, he gets a massive entitlement complex and howls at the back door for hours.  It's even more fun if he also gets fed outside because he's convinced that eating outside isn't really eating and that there must be another bowl hiding in the house somewhere with his real food. 

Speaking of dogs, I brushed Speed Bump the not-quite-so-oversized Corgi this week.  I found a Shih Tzu hiding in his undercoat.

ALSO speaking of dogs, we've had quite the predicament with the dog across the street.  He's a Rottweiler.  Now, I'm not opposed to Rotties - my MIL has two, and one of them, Toby, is a lover.  Darcy's totally wacked out, but Toby's sweet.  M2 calls him her baby.  But this dog across the street is a problem.  He's getting older, and the older he gets, the more territorial he gets.  And apparently he thinks our yard is part of his territory.  A few months ago, the problem really got started when he came into the yard and had a go at Oz, but the neighbors were good and built a pen.  For a while, they even kept him in it (how gracious of them!).  I could let my kids play in the front yard, and M1 could even go out to the mailbox (which is on our side of the road) to get or send mail.  That's how it should be! 

However, they got lazy or decided that the dog wasn't really a threat; I don't know which.  Either way, Cosmo started wandering again... but only at random times, because sometimes he would be in the house and sometimes they'd still pen him.  So my kids were allowed to play in the front yard as long as they couldn't see him or he was in his pen.  This was most of the time.  It wasn't ideal, but it was suitable.  After all, we do have a good-sized back yard, too.

Two weeks ago, they dismantled the pen.  I have no idea why.  I've never really talked to them (hazard of living in the country... we've been here 9 years and I still can't tell you most of our neighbors' names... our house is still known by the previous owners' name), and with that dog, it's not like I can just wander over and have a chat.  But I suspected that the dismantling of the pen would be their downfall, and I was right.

It's getting cooler here now - highs in the 80s - and there are several preteen and teenage kids who live on the street.  Some of them are friends.  One of them is in some sort of sports and likes to go running.  Some of the kids even try to ride their bikes, though this street really isn't good for that - no sidewalks and crazy drivers.  Sure enough, Cosmo tried to take at least one of them out.  The kid got away safely, but I'm sure he was scared to death.  I try to keep an eye out of my kitchen window for things like that because if someone's getting mauled, they're generally not in a good place to call 911, ya know??  Still, I'm not home all day and can't sit and stare out my window when I am, either.

The last straw came when the natural gas guy came to install one of their remote meters that can be read from his truck.  Cosmo went absolutely nuts.  The guy was throwing everything at him - including the meter he came to install - just to try to save himself.  I guess it was sheer luck that the homeowner was able to get hold of Cosmo, because he doesn't listen at all.

Now, I only know all this because our Horse Lady is going riding this weekend.  We don't have a circle drive, but our neighbor to the west does, so she parks in his driveway and walks her horse over to the trailer so she doesn't have to try to reverse in or out.  Earlier this week, she was getting Cherokee reshod, and Cosmo came across the street into our yard - again!  She had to hop in her truck to get away.  I had no idea about this.  So she hates Cosmo as much as we do.

Thankfully, The Horse Lady has known our neighbor for decades because they knew one another growing up.  She called her up and read her the riot act about the dog and told her in no uncertain terms that if it tried to do anything to her or if she saw it loose again, she'd be calling the sheriff's office. 

You have no idea how happy this made me.

But the best news was that the neighbor has promised that the dog should be gone by Sunday.  Since the meter reader incident, they've figured out the dog is a liability (DUH) and needs to go, so they're having a rescue operation come get him.

I'm ecstatic.  I can't wait until my kids can play in the front yard without me out there to keep an eye on things.  M1 has been quite annoyed that he hasn't been able to go get the mail, and he'll be able to do that again.  Things will go back to the way they should be!

That makes for a great first day of fall, doesn't it?  :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

'Process' is a Dirty Word

M2 and I visited the therapist last Wednesday.  We visited the psychiatrist today.  In both appointments, I got to hear the word 'process.'

I'm coming to really dislike the word... and all that it stands for.

Last week, we had a really productive appointment with the therapist, assuming that by the word 'productive' you understand that she got really sassy and announced point-blank that the only reason she hadn't bitten me during a rage is that she hadn't thought of it.

Alternatively, productive might mean that I now know how to properly put my child in a therapeutic hold instead of just trying to make do... for the record, I had been pretty darn close the way I'd been doing it already. I just needed to be told to stick a pillow against my sternum because apparently I'm not intelligent enough to figure that one out myself.  DUH, Sarah.

I also know what to do in case biting jumps to mind next time.

Oy and effing vey.

Either way, the therapist and I then discussed the whole process scope of what we've accomplished (anxiety seems to be under better control), what we want to accomplish, and what is even POSSIBLE to accomplish with a girl whose mood switches more often than Oklahoma weather... and that's saying a lot.  The long and short of the appointment was that we now have another mood gauge chart (since M2 systematically destroyed the first one during one during one of her moods) and we're trying to see what we can do to motivate the girl to try to help herself.  I'm on the fence as to how much it'll actually help, but the only thing we can do is persevere.

It's a bloody process.

Today we visited the psychiatrist, whom we hadn't seen since school began.  The visit didn't encompass so much in the way of treatment as the diagnostic side of things.  I'm trying to hold off on medication for as long as we can, until we can get as firm a diagnosis as possible.  Plus, the psychiatrist is extremely reluctant to make certain diagnoses - pediatric bipolar disorder being one of them.  I'm okay with that, too, but it means that I get to deal with more and more in the way of going through the diagnostic process.  When we first visited, the doctor was hesitant to diagnose anything other than anxiety (generalized and separation), which means we tried Lexapro, which ended in ULTIMATE FAIL.  Since then, he's watched and listened and tried to work out if there actually are any other diagnostic possibilities that fit her slew of symptoms other than bipolar disorder.  Two sessions ago, he admitted the possibility of a mood disorder, NOS.  Last time, he added depressive disorder to the list of probabilities.  Today, though, he admitted he's pretty darn close to giving up the ghost and said that he really can't figure out anything else other than bipolar disorder, NOS.

Heh.  Heheheheheheheheh.  I have triumphed over the processing process!

I didn't actually want to win that one, though.

Anyway, because M2 isn't consistently up or down for days and days on end (she'll have two or three good days, then two or three bad, then another one or two good and another one or two bad), we're still holding off on formal medication.  We're doubling her melatonin each evening, and M2 is going to keep a sleeping log, writing down the times she wakes up each night.  If she's not consistently sleeping at night, the doctor wants to add some clonidine or trazodone and see if that helps.  After that... well, after that we head to Lamictal, assuming she doesn't get extremely manic since Lamictal is primarily used for patients who tend toward the depressed side of things rather than the manic.  I wouldn't be surprised, though, if the doctor actually begins to recommend medication soon rather than agreeing we should hold off... he tends to agree with the 'kindling' theory that young people who have untreated bipolar tend to become more difficult to treat over time.  However, if she doesn't have bipolar, then maybe we could try another SSRI and see if she reacts as negatively as she did last time.

Mostly, it's all a crap shoot.

A process.

Sometimes even processing it takes too much effort. 

-----

Next time, a funnier post!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Alternative Medicine, Probiotics, and Other Crazy Stuff

I like to think that I'm a fairly green, crunchy earth mama.  I buy organic/local as much as my budget and time constraints allow.  I recycle.  I own my own chickens.  I have a garden (got the last of the dried herbs put up today). 

(Note to self: If you allow herbs to dry outside in September, they will get coated in ragweed spores.  Bad idea when you're massively allergic to ragweed.)

(Note to others: If you see me sneezing uncontrollably in September, chalk it up to ragweed.  I'm not contagious.  Promise.)

Anyway, even though I try to do these things, I'm probably not as earthy as many others.  I'm pretty conventional when it comes to medicine.  I've never gotten very far into the alternative medicine scene.  Vitamins, sure.  I even have some probiotic pills stashed somewhere and push them onto the kids whenever they have to take antibiotics for sinus infections or whatever.  I'm such a drug junkie.  But vitamins do not alternative medicine make.  So when one of my friends brought some water kefir grains to a get-together and started talking about the probiotic benefits, I was curious.  I stared at a jar that the hostess had sitting on her dining room table and wondered if it was really drinkable.  The girl who had brought the grains promised that it tasted like apple juice and that she and her kids enjoyed it.  Finally, I made the decision and brought the grains home.  I popped them in a quart Mason jar with some sugar and molasses (healthy stuff, right?), filled it up with water, gave it a swish with a spoon, and let it sit.  For 48 hours.  On my kitchen counter.  Nobody commented on it.

This morning I picked it up and watched some bubbles float to the surface and figured it had probably set long enough.  I put some ice cubes in a Marvin the Martian glass (because Marvin the Martian rocks!) and drained some of the kefir over them.  I strained the rest into a pitcher and stared at the cup of brownish liquid for a moment before actually feeling brave enough to take a sip.  It was surprisingly good, so I drank a little more and then decided to see what M1 thought of it.  (Bear in mind this is the boy who thinks tonic is delicious.)

He loved it.  I asked him what he thought it was, and he said, "Ginger ale?"  Then he chugged the entire glass and announced that if it was ginger ale, it was the best ginger ale EVER and could he have more?  I told him what it really was and showed him the restarted grains.  He was fascinated.  I'm sure he'll finish off the pitcher later.  (Turns out, by the way, that water kefir grains are, in fact, used for ginger beer.  Who knew?)

Once I'd tried it and liked it, I decided to see what the Mayo Clinic had to say about water kefir... or just kefir in general.  As it turns out, both the Mayo Clinic and the Huffington Post are pretty positive about its effects.  That's good enough for me.

Now to check more into biofeedback to see if it might help M1 with his ADHD...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Post for a Random Wednesday

1.  M1 has mastered the art of writing paragraphs.  We've been working through the book Writing Skills, and he enjoys it... as do I.  It's simply but very clearly written, and its step-by-step approach touches M1's love of all things methodical.  Today he put together all of the concepts we've been talking about - topic sentences, supporting sentences, concluding sentences - and created some masterful paragraphs about given topics.  Here's one:

There are many useful inventions.  Some useful inventions in your home are your refrigerator, oven and dishwasher.  Some useful inventions that you will see outside are cars, roads and power lines.  You can see useful inventions like rockets in museums around the world.  They all help us in different ways.

I'm really proud of him for working hard to understand how to put a simple paragraph together.  I remember when he first came home, at the beginning of first grade, when he hated to hold a pencil, let alone try to write anything.  We've come a long way, baby.

2.  You know you've been watching a little too much BBC America when you realize that the voice inside your head has developed a British accent. 

3.  It's cloudy and gray outside today, which I think is beautiful.  I love that we're having a fairly quiet day at home in which to enjoy it. 

4.  Speaking of rain, tomorrow it's supposed to be rainy and stay in the low 60s.  This is going to seem frigid to those of us who now think 110 is an average summer temperature.  It inspires me to make chili... which begs the question, what do you think proper chili is?  Beans or no beans?  If beans, what kind?  Regular ground beef or coarser meat?  How spicy should it be?  Is green chili really chili at all?  What do you serve with chili?  I will warn you, if you answer Fritos, I may vomit on you.  I cannot stand Frito chili 'pie.'  This may have something to do with the fact that my elementary school served it as part of their regular rotation.  Poorly made chili poured over stale (and then soggy) Fritos topped with cheap cheese did not a good meal make.

5.  My son is wearing a jean jacket.  He stole it from MY CLOSET and it's only marginally too big for him.  This appalls me.  I don't even want to think about the fact that he could also steal my Vans and/or Converse if he wanted.  He's EIGHT, for crying out loud.  The fact that there is a jean jacket and Converse together in this paragraph also frightens me a little.  Can you tell I'm a child of the '80s?  Perhaps I should also buy a crimper.

6.  My arms and shoulders hurt.  I'm okay with that, though, because my mother-in-law got in my car yesterday and instantly said, "You've lost weight."  I haven't so much lost weight as I have lost inches.  Inches are what really matter.  I can now do push-ups (from my knees... my back will never, ever allow me to do regular push-ups) in sets of 15.  My legs haven't looked this good since high school.  I can see the ends of my ribs through my abdomen because my spare tire is deflating.  This is a happy place.

7.  It is Wednesday.  This means there are only two more days until the weekend, and next week's schedule is beautifully quiet.  The rest of this month looks faboo.

8.  Yes, I just typed faboo.

Have a great Hump Day, everyone!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

You Know You're a [Insert Label] When...

You could call yourself a book junkie.  A nerd.  A literary connoisseur.

Or a homeschooler.

But whatever you call yourself, you know you've got a serious book addiction when your friend texts you to let you know the local library system has a brand-new free phone app (you know, the one you e-mailed the library suggesting they implement months ago) and you totally geek out.

Oh, to be able to request books, renew books, download books, and all the other good stuff, all on the fly.

THIS is heaven.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Good Problem

I discovered why M1 was being difficult earlier this week.  He and M2 and I all came down with some sort of throat virus that attempted to take all of us out of commission.  M2 got to stay home from school yesterday, and M1 missed swim.  Everyone was cranky.  We're all feeling a little better today, though M2 and I still have slightly hoarse voices. 

Yay for being on the mend!

---

The real reason I'm posting today, though, has nothing to do with illness.  It's a bit of a brag, actually, but also extremely frustrating... in a good way.

I'd be willing to guess most of you read that I caught M1 cheating on his math.  That was Tuesday.  He's about 3/4 of the way through his current math book, and he's learning how to do multiplication of multiple numbers with carrying.  Once he gets this concept down (and he does have it down when/if he pays attention), we'll do a few lessons on finding factors, talk about very large numbers and expanded notation thereof, play with prime numbers, and voila! he'll be done with that book. 

Since he was getting so close, I had gone ahead and ordered the next book in the series, and it arrived on Wednesday afternoon while he and I were outside enjoying the good weather.  He wanted to see it, so I showed it to him.  We talked about the scope and sequence of the book, and then I let him do some mental math with some of the earlier problems in the book.

He got pumped.  Then he announced to me that he wanted to finish up the entire book this school year.

Yeah, right.  I've heard this before, and I wasn't falling for it.  I told him that if he really wanted to do that, he was going to have to work on extra math pages to get it all accomplished because otherwise, it wasn't going to happen.  He nodded, and I figured that was the end of it... it usually is. 

But today, after he aced a chapter test, he turned to me and said, "Mom, can we watch the DVD for the next lesson?  And can I do another page today?  I need to get started on those extra pages if I'm going to get done with the next book."

It threw our entire day out of whack, and he's still working on schoolwork at 2 p.m. (and still has a couple other things to complete), but I'll be darned if he didn't buckle down and do it.  I'm really proud of my self-motivated little dude.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Robot Video

I promised this movie about a week ago, but then I completely forgot about it!  I'm such a great blogger.

Anyway, M1 is fascinated with the K'Nex Moto-Bots.  He bought the first one with a gift card and then purchased two more on his own.  He's getting the fourth for his birthday, but he doesn't know that, so shhhhhhhh...

One of the perks of these sets is that they offer suggestions for how to combine them and make bigger, better battle bots.  1 took that concept one step further and actually combined all THREE sets to make... well... I'll let him explain it.  Let me just say that it took him three afternoons to complete this build.

I present to you... M1 and his Robot.

video

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

When Things Don't Add Up

I am frustrated today.  Angry.  Hurt.  Upset.  Really dang pissed off at my son.

I'm dealing with something this school year that I honestly never thought I would deal with in a home education setting.  Well, to be perfectly honest, I had hoped I would never deal with it at all.

Cheating.

I know some people are going to sit there and read this and think, "Ah, he's 8, almost 9?  That's developmentally appropriate... probably a tad delayed, really, because cheating can start any time after the age of 6."  And maybe it is 'developmentally appropriate.'  Maybe I should have expected this in some form or other.

But he's homeschooled.

Honest to Pete, I don't understand why on earth he even tries!  I'm with him on a daily basis.  I know his limitations.  I know what he can and can't read, understand, spell, etc.  So when he brings me his very first history test and has the word conquistadores spelled correctly without a single erasure, an alarm goes off.  When he brings me a math worksheet and has half of the work written out and half not, I might ask questions.  I'm reasonably sure any teacher would be able to pick out these falsehoods, one-on-one setting or not!

He knows that cheating is wrong.  We talked about it after the history test incident.  But M1 is one of those kids who thinks that if he can come up with a simpler way to do something and get away with it, then it must be okay.  He stashes clothes until someone finds them or he runs out of clean clothes, played his Nintendo DS till the wee hours of the morning until it got permanently confiscated, gets up and steals food - cheese puffs, candy, peanut butter, etc. - on Saturday mornings rather than putting a Pop-Tart in the toaster, etches tic-tac-toe grids into his wallpaper with a screwdriver... the list could go on and on and on.  The problems all occur when I inevitably find out about his stashing, stealing, destroying, cheating, etc., and bust him for it.

Now, I've been trying to cultivate a sense of responsibility in the kid, and he understands the concept but obviously not the practice.  After we talked about the cheating, I thought I wouldn't see it again.  WRONG-O.  He discovered his electronic dictionary had calculator abilities and felt the need to try it out on his math worksheet.  If he had asked me about this, I probably would have given him some extra problems and let him go.  But of course he hid it... and then tried to pass it off as his own mental math.  Then he had the nerve to get mad at ME because I caught him!

I'm on my last straw.  I've told him point-blank that if he cheats again, he'll be enrolled in public school before that day is out, and I mean it.  Third time's a charm.  If he doesn't want to learn... if he wants to take the easy way out and do only the bare minimum... if he wants to face consequences like he's never seen before... then home is not the place for him.  And I'm happy to put him wherever he wants to be.

After all, it's my job to accommodate his interests, isn't it?

(P.S.  Sorry for the bitter undertone of this post.  I'm just really hurt and upset right now.)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sisters

My sister came up to visit this weekend.  I hope to be able to reciprocate in the next month or so, because she and her husband are pursuing job prospects out of state and I don't want to wait until it's too late to see her on a regular basis.

My sister is the only sibling I have.  When we were little, I was a reasonably horrid older sister.  My mom claims it has a large part to do with jealousy; I have my own thoughts on the subject, but regardless of the psychology, I wasn't nice.  I tormented, bullied, teased, pestered, and otherwise did everything in my power to make my sister's life miserable... and succeeded fairly admirably.  As a teen, I did everything in my power to escape my home life as much and as often as possible, which meant that while I wasn't there to give my sister a hard time any more, I wasn't there to talk with her and provide any sort of support, either... something we both probably could have used.  My memories of her being a teenager are fuzzy at best (though to be fair, my own high school memories aren't exactly clear in places, either.  There's psychology at work there, too).  She said something about having a job at a movie theater, and I had to admit to myself that I'd completely forgotten about that entire phase of her life, which made me feel quite guilty.

When we were young, I wanted nothing in common with her. It drove me crazy that she wanted to eat from the same box of cereal at breakfast (never mind that there were only two, maybe three kinds to choose from). When we got older, my mom told me that my sister strove to get good grades - something that didn't come as naturally to her as to me - because I'd set such a formidable example. Mom tried to put me on a pedestal as a role model, but I staunchly refused to acknowledge that there was any similarity between my sister and myself.  I didn't help her out, I didn't provide advice, I didn't play with her. 

There's no reason whatsoever that my sister should still look up to me.  There's no reason that she should still want to associate with me, but for some reason, she does, and best of all, my sister has forgiven me for my past.  She tells me that I was rather nice as a teen, and now, though we're not necessarily close compared to many sisters, we're certainly closER than we were as kids.

For this, I am grateful.

It's really nice to be able to call someone else up and have a rant about our mother or father.  It's nice to pull out random memories and have someone laugh over them or provide a new perspective.  It's even nice to discuss how we perceived our upbringing (remarkably similar in most cases, though we reacted differently as we grew older). 

My sister is a pretty cool person, now that I look at her with the eyes of a mature adult and not with those of a displaced firstborn child.  She likes to hike.  She's incredibly creative and designed - and sewed -  her own wedding dress.  She loves animals and it breaks her heart that she's allergic to cats... though she came to visit ME, with my half-dozen, and didn't complain once about the runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, etc. that came along with her visit.  (I did try to provide as much medication as possible.)  She's willing to listen to me rant about various topics, even if she has no experience in the field herself.  She's taken aerial silk lessons and has biceps that make me jealous.  She's one of the most loyal people I've ever met.

While she was here, I didn't exactly give her fascinating memories to take home.  We talked.  She made brownies with my son and a candle with my daughter.  We watched a movie and drank wine last night and today we took M2 and crashed our dad's house for a couple hours.  I know she's got plenty of stuff planned for my visit, but I'm just not that cool.

Memorable weekend or not, though, she came.  I got to see her, talk to her, laugh with her, and just be with her.  These moments are precious to me, and I hope she knows it.

I love you, Sister.  Thanks for being you!