Thursday, November 7, 2013


So this guy is turning seven years old this weekend:

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I can hardly believe it.

Of our three, he's always been our most serious and thoughtful kid.  Even as a baby, he looked like this a lot of the time:

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And, things haven't changed much since this is the look I get these days when I pull out the camera:

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He still knows how to be silly:

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And his brother and sister (despite what they may say) adore him to no end:

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And despite all of the obstacles thrown at him over his little lifetime, he is a happy kid whose high energy and mischeviousness can bring a smile to anyone's face.

Seven years old.  Where has the time gone?

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Spock Lives in my House

We finally got around to watching the latest Star Trek movie this past week and really enjoyed it.  The computer graphics and plot were great, but the parts I really enjoyed had Spock in them.  (In case you're not a Star Trek fan, Spock is part Vulcan, a species that uses logic and reasoning to solve problems.  They are pretty much devoid of emotion and do not let feelings get in the way of their problem solving.)

The parts I found most amusing were the ones in which Spock comes across some sort of issue and his reasoning on how to solve said issue makes sense (because it is logical), but the other characters think he's crazy because he doesn't take personal relationships and feelings into account.  A quick example that won't spoil the movie for you would be when Spock says they should let another character die because it will save the rest of the crew from annihilation.

I am most definitely not Spock.  My emotions run pretty near to the surface and I almost always will make a decision based on emotion unless I make myself step back from an issue to think about it for a while.

Liam, however, is a Spock.  He has an emotional side to him, but you can see the little wheels turning in his head when a problem arises.  And I came to the realization that this sense of logic is what's causing some of his problems at school.

For a while, I was fairly certain that he was dyslexic.  At nearly seven, he continues to write some letters and numbers backward and will reverse letters when he's reading.  He also reverses numbers when he writes them.

For example, his math worksheet asked him to solve 5+9.  His wrote the number 41.  And, of course, it got marked incorrect.  When I sat down with him to go over missed problems, he saw that he'd written 41 instead of 14, but when I gave him a similar problem to work (7+8), he wrote 51 instead of 15.

However, when I asked him to write the numbers 46, 83, 75 and 32, he wrote them all correctly.

Do you see the pattern?

He only reverses the numbers if they are in the teens.

And I figured out why.

In his logical way of thinking, the number spoken first should also be written first.  When I say, "Twenty seven", he knows to write the 2 and then the 7 to get 27.  When I say, "Seventy six", he knows to write the 7 and then the 6 to get 76.

When I say "fourteen", his mind tells him to write the 4 and then the 1 to get 41.  Not 14.

My boy's problem is that English is a difficult language!

I'm calling this my Sherlock Holmes moment.

This is also why he's having a hard time reading.  Syd and Evan just accept that certain words sound a certain way; they are more of "whole word" readers rather than phonics readers.

I've been focusing on phonics with Liam and because English is a language not just of a million rules ("i before e") but with a million exceptions as well ("i before e except after c and words like weigh and neighbor"), his little logical mind cannot handle it all.

It's not the rules of English that are confusing him, it's the millions of exceptions.  And the exceptions to the exceptions.

I remember learning Spanish in school and thinking that it was hard, but it was only hard to me because it was new.  Spanish is actually pretty easy to learn because there are so few exceptions to the rules.

No wonder people say English is one of the hardest languages to learn.  My kid's been hearing it his entire life and he still can't keep up with all the rules.

However, I am glad that a little bit of the mystery has been solved.  Of course, if I knew the solution to the problem, I'd be a lot happier.

But, it's the baby steps.  Little by little we'll get there.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ice Cream for Dinner

I'm not usually the kind of person who turns to food for comfort.  But last night, I had a huge ice cream sundae for dinner.  I'm talking a gigantic bowl full of vanilla ice cream.  Chocolate syrup.  Caramel sauce.  Two maraschino cherries.  And I even threw in a couple of Oreos for good measure.

It was that kind of day.

What caused me to turn my nose up at a healthy dinner and turn to ice cream instead?

Was it forking over a small fortune to the allergist for Liam's next round of allergy shots?  Nope.

Was it putting down a huge deposit for the extensive dental work Syd has to have done over Thanksgiving break?  Nope.

Was it finding out that the next Bridget Jones book (that I was so looking forward to) kills off one of the main characters?  Nope.  (Although, I do feel odd mourning for a fictional character.)

Was it the fact that I've come to the realization that I am bored out of my mind now that all three kids are in school full-time?  Nope.

It was coming home from a Girl Scout meeting and finding Ryan in the midst of a partial seizure.  I found him leaning on the computer desk chair as though he was trying to connect the computer to something.  He was covered in sweat, incoherent and very confused about where he was and what he was doing.  His slurred speech and inability to find the words he wanted to use would make someone else think he was either drunk or having a stroke.  But I knew better.

It was only a fraction as bad as the last one and after a couple of hours of sleep, he felt much better, but it was still a seizure.

Just when I thought we'd turned a corner.


So now we're looking at readjusting his meds.  And I'm back to being the driver for the family since the seizure occurred at the time that he's usually driving home from work.  (Thankfully, he'd come home early so that I could take Syd to her meeting.)

The boys, who were playing in their rooms at the time, were oblivious to what was happening.  Both of them have been super sweet since then, too.  They didn't complain when I cut their bedtime reading time short.  They instinctively kept their voices down this morning when eating breakfast and getting ready for school.  And Liam, who is in a wipe-off-mom's-kisses phase, gave me a huge hug as I sat crying in the living room chair last night.

Epilepsy stinks. just plain stinks.

Friday, September 6, 2013

This and That

I signed up for a pretty intensive bible study at church now that all three kids are in school and I have large chunks of quiet time during the day.  There are total of five people in the class and the other four class members are all old enough to personally remember the Truman administration.  It's going to be a long year.

Evan's kindergarten class has themed snacks the first three weeks of school.  They got red jello cups on Red Day, carrot sticks on Orange Day, mint Oreos (how have I not heard of these?!?) on Green Day, etc.  Not having the energy for something all Pinterest-y and cute, I signed up for Circle Day, because what's easier than sending a box of Ritz Crackers to school with your kid, you know?  But wouldn't you know it, the pushy mom behind me in line whined (and I mean whined like a two year old), "Do you have to sign up for that day?  That's my daughter's birthday and I wanted to bring something cute."  Well, first of all, how am I supposed to know that day is her kid's birthday?  And second of all, she could have used a nicer tone because, well, she was definitely older than two.  So I quietly erased my name next to Circle Day and signed up for Square Day because I suppose a box of Wheat Thins is just as easy to send as a box of Ritz.

And then at Meet-the-Teacher last night, I had to listen to her girls whine through the whole presentation.  So I'm guessing the whining is genetic.  I feel sorry for her husband.

Liam's teacher had a baby three days into the school year so now he has a substitute for the next ten weeks.  She told us at Meet-the-Teacher last night that she doesn't like to punish kids by taking away their recess time.  If anything, she thinks those kids probably have too much energy and need to work it off in order to function better in the classroom.  Hallelujah!  A teacher who gets it!  Hopefully when his teacher returns in November, she'll have a similar attitude.

I got my Christmas gift early this year: a fancy camera that takes great pictures.  Well, it's supposed to take great pictures.  So far I've taken several so-so pictures of the dog (my only subject during the day since the kids are at school).  I'm taking a photography class over the next couple of months so maybe by Christmas I'll have figured out what I'm doing.  Maybe.

We may have to look for a new kennel for the dog for when we're out of town.  Our vet doesn't have one so we've been taking him to one a couple of miles away.  He's well taken care of, but this place is a little too fancy (and pricey) for my liking.  Maybe it's because they offer stupid things like Labor Day meal specials (a mini hamburger and slice of watermelon!) or blueberry avocado facial scrubs and bedtime stories.  For dogs!  They want me to pay someone to read to the dog?  We, of course, don't purchase any of those things for Max, but I don't know if I even want to be associated with a place that offers such idiotic services.

After several years of having it pretty easy at school, Syd has finally discovered why some kids say school is so hard.  Fifth grade is a doozy.  She had so much homework the other day that she only had fifteen minutes before bedtime to read a novel.  She lamented that her amount of "me time" has diminished greatly since starting middle school.  Poor girl.  She has no idea that this is just the beginning....

Thursday, August 29, 2013

School Snafus

School started this week for all three kids.

They all handled the first day really well, despite two of them being at new schools.  There were only a few tears.  (And those were all mine.)

The year has gotten off to a good start, but of course, things can't always go perfectly.

For instance, Liam brought home a nasty stomach bug and missed yesterday and will miss today, too.  So there goes his perfect attendance a mere two days into the school year.

And Syd's bus forgot to pick her up this morning.  As I was driving home from dropping Evan off at his school, I saw her bus sitting at an intersection near the exit of our neighborhood with the bus driver shuffling through a stack of papers and looking confused.  I thought she'd already picked up Syd and was on her way out of the neighborhood to continue her route, but as I pulled on to our street, I saw Syd still sitting at the bus stop reading a book.

The operator at the transportation department told me that she thought the driver arrived at Syd's stop too early and she would ensure that the driver wouldn't get there too early next time.

Syd was at the stop a good ten minutes before her scheduled pick up time, so, yeah, I don't think that's the reason.

The bus completely skipped our street.

Thankfully, Ryan had the time to drop her at school before heading into work so that I could stay home with poor Liam who can't be more than ten feet from the bathroom.

Thank goodness we were home, otherwise she'd still be outside getting eaten up by mosquitos.

But it made me wonder: what happens to the kids in a similar situation whose parents aren't home?

And this isn't necessarily school-related but it was still an interruption to what was a fairly good first week of school.  I got a frantic phone call from our sweet neighbor on the left yesterday evening telling me to keep the kids in the house.   I'd heard some yelling coming from the direction of the house on the other side of us, but as they're always making a bunch of noise playing basketball, I didn't really give it much pause.  Apparently, our lovely (please note the sarcasm) neighbors to the right of us got into enough of a dispute with one another that the police were called out.  We had four police cars parked right in front of our house for a good hour last evening as they attempted to quiet the situation and fill out paperwork.


And they wonder why I won't let our kids play with theirs anymore.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Well, That's Just Great

We found out yesterday which teachers the boys will have this coming school year.

I don't know anything about Liam's first grade teacher and I can't find anyone who does.


As for Evan's kindergarten teacher?  It's the same teacher Liam had last year for kindergarten.  I'm guessing she requested Evan after she found out during the kindergarten entrance tests that he could read.


The one advantage to this is that Evan already knows her and is comfortable with her making his transition to "big kid school" a bit easier.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Disturbing Phone Call

Nothing can compare to the horrible phone call I got a year and a half ago.  It's the kind of phone call I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.  Ever since the incident that prompted that phone call, Ryan has worn a medical ID bracelet with my cell phone number in case of another emergency.

Thankfully, he has been seizure-free since then and I haven't received another dreaded call.  However, every time my cell phone rings and it's a number I don't recognize, my stomach clenches up a bit and I answer it because I know that it could be another Good Samaritan looking out for us.

So today, I turned my phone back on after church and noticed that I had a voicemail from a number that I didn't recognize.  I knew it couldn't be someone calling about Ryan as he'd been with me all morning so I didn't get any kind of sinking feeling.  In fact, I was sure it was a sales call of some sort.

And then I heard this:

Man's Voice: "Uh, hello, this is Officer Smith* and I'm calling regarding a homicide that took place last night at a property you own."

My thoughts:  Oh God, our sweet tenant has been murdered in our rental house.  Oh God, Oh God, Oh God. 

Officer Smith:  "The property is located at #### Oak Street* and we need any footage that you may have recorded on your cameras.  Please give me a call back at ###-###-####."

The address he gave was not the address of our rental house.  Thank goodness.

I called him back immediately.  He asked if I represented the company that owned the property.  I informed him that I was a stay-at-home mom and we didn't own that property.  He recited the phone number he'd dialed.  I informed him that he'd misdialed by one digit.  He apologized for the miscommunication and I finally took a breath before hanging up.

Talk about disturbing.

I feel sorry for the person for whom that call was intended.

I wonder if they were as freaked out as I was once he finally reached them.

I guess I'll never know.

*Names have been changed in case a crazy murderer does a google search on his (or her - I don't discriminate when it comes to cases of murder) alleged crime.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Dear Neighbors to our Right,

It would be great if you could stop throwing your trash in our yard.  It would be great if you could stop playing basketball before 10 pm.  It would really be great if you would watch your mouths while playing basketball so that I can let my kids play outside again.  It would be great if you could learn how to work your car alarm so that it wouldn't go off every morning between one and four.  It would be great if you didn't tell your kid that he could play at our house all day (lunch included!) without asking me first.  It would be great if you could make your car payments so that we don't have to watch the repo men come and tow away two of your three vehicles.  But then again, if you're not keeping up with your car payments then you're probably not keeping up with your rent, either, and you will be evicted soon.

Here's Hoping,
A Neighbor Who Has Really Tried to be Nice

Dear Neighbor Two Doors Down to our Left,

I realize that it's difficult to pack up a house and get ready to move with a five year old around.  But dropping her off at my house several days in row is not cool.  Neither is asking us to watch her as we pull into our driveway after getting home from our vacation.  And neither is asking the sweet neighbor who lives between us to text me and ask when I'm getting home so you can drop off your kid.  Not cool, man.

Find Yourself a Babysitter,
A Tired Mom

Dear Netflix,

Would you please add the next two seasons of Sons of Anarchy to your instant streaming programming?  We're almost done with the seasons you offer and we are hooked.  Hooked.

About to Go Buy Some Leather Cuts,
Two Law Abiding Citizens Who've Been Dreaming About Motorcycles

Dear Sweet Daughter,

You wanted to paint your room so we did.  You wanted white, whispy curtains so we got them.  You want a green lamp so I'm looking for one (although it would help if you weren't so picky).  And now that I've done my part, you need to do yours and put all your stuff back in your room.  I'm fairly certain your little brother would like to have his room back when he gets home from his grandma's house.

Get to Work Please,

Dear Summer,

Please stop flying by.

A Mom Who Likes Sleeping Past 6am

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree

Backstory: Our church has a weeklong camp in which the kids get to focus on their favorite hobbies and interests and try out new ones.  There are classes for science, woodworking, fishing, photography, art, etc.  Liam chose Legos for his primary class - no surprise there.  Syd chose Hogwarts Academy for her primary class.  While her Harry Potter obsession may have waned, she still adores the stories and mentions something from the books at least once a week.

So in preparation for her class (which, according to the mom running it, is going to be loads of fun), Syd has been re-reading all of the books this summer.  She's currently on the sixth one and as quickly as she reads now, I have no doubt she'll finish the seventh by next Monday.

Since my little overachiever is determined to be the most knowledgeable student in her class, she asked me to quiz her on Harry Potter details.  While I've read the books and I enjoyed the story, I quickly ran out of quiz questions so we turned to Sporcle for some trivia questions.

One of the quizzes gave us a list of first names for 50 or so characters and we had to type in the last names for those characters.  These quizzes are timed and she can't type very fast, so she stood behind me and shouted out the answers for me to type for her.

It went something like this:

Q: Harry
A: Potter! (because she was excited and shouted the answers at the back of my head)

Q: Ron
A: Weasley!

Q: Albus
A: Dumbledore!

All was well until we got to a certain name and I wound up laughing so hard at her answer we had to pause the game.  What got me so tickled?

Q: Colin
A: Firth!

The answer is Colin Creevey, but my sweet girl has obviously lived with me for so long that a bit of me has rubbed off on her.

I still chuckle when I think about it.

I don't know that Ryan found it all that funny, though.  I don't know if he can handle two Colin Firth obsessed females in the house.  :)


On a related note, I saw the trailer for a new movie called Austenland the other day and about died laughing.  I definitely have to go see this movie.  Too bad it's rated PG-13; otherwise, I'd take Syd with me and make a girls' day of it.

Guess I'll just have to drag poor Ryan to it instead.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Haunted by a Movie

Have you ever seen a movie that haunted you?  I've read books that have stuck with me (I still think about the characters from "The Poisonwood Bible" more than a decade after I read it), but I've rarely had a movie do the same.

While scanning the grown-up movie selection at the library last week (the kids' movies section being completely depleted by this point in the summer), I came across one called "We Need to Talk About Kevin".  I vaguely remembered hearing that it was good and since Ryan and I both like Tilda Swinton, I grabbed it.

Oh my.

It took us a while to figure out what was going on because the scenes jump back and forth in time, but once we got the gist of the plot, we were riveted to our seats.

The plot revolves around a woman (Swinton) who, along with her oblivious husband, raises a sociopathic son.  From the earliest age, the son is devoid of feeling and is quite simply, a monster.  The mother really tries to be affectionate with him when he is younger, but grows increasingly colder toward him and eventually becomes frightened of him.  I won't give away any spoilers, but I will say that the son does something absolutely horrific and the mother spends the next few years dealing with the aftermath of what he did.

By the time it was over, Ryan and I looked at each other in disbelief.  We were left with the question of whether the mother became cold and distant because her son was sociopathic or if he became a sociopath because she was cold and distant.  The filmmakers did a great job of leaving it open-ended.

Honestly, it reminded me of a family we know.  Sydney is involved in an activity with the daughter who is a perfectly lovely girl.  She's quiet, sweet and eager to please.  Both of her brothers, however, are holy terrors.  They are overtly rude, mean-spirited and generally terrifying to be around.

I felt sorry for their parents.  And then I talked with their mother.

Now you never really know what goes on in someone else's home, but if the little snippets of conversation I've had with the mother are any indication, theirs is not a very happy one.   Even when she attempts to say something nice (a very rare occurrence), her tone is insolent and surly.  Ryan, who is a much more easy-going person than I am, can't stand to be around her.  That says a lot.

We've only known this family for a few years so I really wonder if her boys act like they do because of her attitude or if she developed the attitude because of how her boys have acted.  I guess we'll never know.

After watching the movie, however, I am kind of worried about how those boys are going to turn out.  And I really worry about their sweet sister.

I briefly toyed with the idea of anonymously mailing a copy of the movie to their house.  I won't, of course, but I wonder what would happen if the mother saw it.  Is she capable of changing her overall tone and attitude?  Would her sons' behavior change?

I just don't know.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Well, Well, Well......

Because I know I have a couple of male readers, I won't go into the gritty details, but suffice it to say that I've been dealing with an issue the past few years.  A girly issue.  So if you are already uncomfortable with where this is heading, keep on scrolling through your blog reader.

For those who've decided to continue reading, consider this your daily public service announcement.

So this issue has been getting progressively worse over the past several years, enough to where I am miserable and in quite a bit of discomfort on a regular basis.  That's all the detail I'll give you because you are smart women (I'm assuming that the men have stopped reading at this point) and you have probably figured out the general issue.

When I asked my ob/gyn about it a couple of years ago, he did an ultrasound and thankfully ruled out all the scary things.   He recommended I have this procedure.  In fact, he was almost insistent that I have it done; I couldn't believe the amount of time he used trying to convince me to do it.  I read the pamphlet he gave me (provided by the company that manufactures the equipment used in the procedure, of course).  I also did some research on my own and decided against it.  I can't describe it, but I just didn't have a good feeling about it.

Another twelve cycles of misery passed and I went back to my ob/gyn for my annual visit.  We discussed the issue again.  He suggested the procedure again.  I declined.  His only other suggestion was this procedure.  I may be approaching a milestone birthday, but I am way too young to be considering that one.  So I declined it as well.

I went another twelve cycles in complete misery and spent my time researching natural remedies.  Most of them pointed toward homeopathic doctors who performed extensive blood work and hormonal balancing.  This is all well and good for people who have better insurance than I do or don't have three kids to put through college.  That stuff is Expensive with a capital E.

So we discussed the issue again this week at my annual visit.  Wouldn't you know it, he didn't recommend the procedure he'd been so gung ho about a couple of years ago.  He said that there have been some adverse effects from it in younger women like myself.  (I loved that he called me younger - it's been a while since I've heard that word used to describe my age.)

He gave me several alternatives, one of which was a new, super expensive medication.  When I gasped at the monthly price, his nurse informed me that it would be less expensive with the manufacturer coupons they could give me.  I've been around the block enough times to know that this means some cute pharm rep in a short skirt bought lunch for the office and pushed it on them.  Sigh.

I guess my gasp at the cost sufficed as my answer to that alternative and I ultimately went with a solution that is a lot less expensive and much less invasive than the ones he suggested earlier.  I'm still not thrilled with it, but for the sake of my sanity, I had to do something.

So I guess the public service announcement is this: if you're not comfortable with a medical procedure or your gut feeling regarding it is a bad one, don't do it.  Or at least think really long and hard about it.  If I'd gone ahead and had the procedure he'd suggested a couple of years ago, I might be suffering from the adverse side effects he mentioned.  I actually shudder a bit when I think about it.

Hopefully, I will be feeling better in a few months and I won't have to search through a laundry list of possible remedies for this again.

Sometimes it stinks to be girl.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Natural Consequences

We have really tried our best to guide and/or advise our kids while still letting them stumble and fall.  We generally like to let them enjoy the natural consequences of their actions.

When Syd procrastinated on a project for school (albeit a very pointless, stupid project [but we did our best to keep our opinions to ourselves]), she received a not-so-great grade on it.  Actually, she received two not-so-great grades on it bringing her average down.  Natural consequence.

When Liam lost his jacket on the playground, I made him buy a new one with his own money.  Natural consequence.

Evan knows that his not learning how to ride a bike means he can't keep up with his camping buddies while they toodle around the campsite on their monthly trips.  Natural consequence.

But at what point are natural consequences not enough of a punishment for your child?

Syd has always had a sensitive stomach.  She cannot stay up too late or eat too much junk food because her stomach will get upset.  She has known this for a long time.

We've let her suffer the consequences: having to come home early from a sleepover, having to sit through church with a queasy stomach, having everyone at camping call her "the girl who always throws up".  All natural consequences for something she has to learn to regulate herself.

I thought we'd finally turned a corner on this issue when we went to a swim party with a bunch of her friends yesterday evening.  While several of her friends completely pigged out, she only had a couple of pieces of pizza, a small drink and bit of ice cream.  She even sat on the side of the pool for a good 15 minutes after eating while watching her friends play so that her stomach could settle.  I was so proud of her for regulating her food choices and activity level.

And then the pool party ended (at her usual bedtime) and what did she do?  She grabbed another piece of now cold (and greasy) pizza and another sugary drink.  She took her shower and went to bed well after her usual bedtime and I warned her that I didn't want to hear about an upset stomach before church the next morning.

Lo and behold, I go to wake her up this morning and she has a throw-up bowl next to her pillow.  I simply said, "You're lighting the candles this morning.  It's time to get up."  She asked for dry cereal for breakfast and spent forever in the bathroom, but I'll give her credit that she didn't say a word to me about her stomach.  She (sneakily) asked Ryan for some medicine while I gave the dog his morning walk and we headed out the door.

I dropped everyone off at the door of the church due to the rain and as soon as my soaked self sat down in our pew, Ryan told me Syd was sick in the bathroom with my niece keeping watch over her.

I wanted to scream.

When is she going to learn?  At what point are natural consequences not enough?  I don't think I should have to tell my now ten year old what she can and cannot eat.  When is she going to learn this for herself?

I helped her clean herself up, cleaned up the toilet and thankfully they found someone to fill in for her.  And then we left a mere five minutes after getting there and five minutes before the service started.

She's now in her room "resting" and I took away her access to all electronics because if she's "sick" then she needs to rest.

But for how long?  The rest of the day?  Do the rest of us have to have our afternoon plans ruined (and we had something really fun planned) because she can't get a handle on this?

What is the correct term for this situation?  Maddening?  Frustrating?  Bewildering?

Or do I call it what it is - parenting?

Do other parents have to deal with this sort of thing, too?

Friday, May 31, 2013

And Summer Hasn't Even Begun.....

I felt bad about skipping a couple of weeks of blogging, but then I started looking through our recent photos and realized that we've barely been home, much less able to sit in front of a computer for more than a few minutes at a time.

Spring is always super-busy around here with two birthdays and Mother's Day.

What did I do for Mother's Day?  Well, I got to help out the kids' handbell choir at church for their big performance of Coldplay's "Viva la Vida".  Yes, you read that combination correctly - handbell choir and "Viva la Vida".  I know it sounds strange, but it was awesome.  And I'm not just saying that because my kid's in the choir.

Syd played the same song for her piano recital last month so even though it is a great song, I'm fairly tired of it at this point.  I still find myself humming either the bass line or melody at least once day.

The next day was Syd's tenth birthday.  Ten.  Double digits.  An entire decade.  I'm telling you, I don't feel old until I consider how old my kids are getting.  Well, that and the fact that my knees hurt every time it's about to rain.

But I digress.  Ten years old.  And what does a ten year old want for her birthday these days?

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That's right - her very own iPad mini!

(Don't worry - we're not spoiling her because she had to pay for half of it.)

Two days later, Evan had his 5th birthday.  I fretted over the lack of RSVPs from his class, but it turned out fine.  Two classmates, two church friends, a neighbor and two siblings (and a friend for the opposite gender sibling who cried because she was soooooooo lonely) was plenty for his party.  I learned my lesson from last year and just let the kids play the whole time.  I didn't even bake a fancy cake; the kids decorated their own cupcakes instead.

But they weren't bored.  We found this at a garage sale a few months ago:

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(Not the kid - the water slide.  We've had that kid for about six and a half years now.)

Best garage sale find ever.

The kids stayed busy and had a blast:

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And when it got hole in it toward the end of the party, we pulled out the giant bucket full of water balloons.  Ten minutes, a few tears and a couple of wet parents later, it was over.  I'd forgotten how much kids love water balloons.  Parents not so much when they get beaned by a few.

We couldn't pass up LegoFest the next day, either:

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The kids thought it was fun, but I find it ironic that Legos, something that quiet, introverted kids (and parents) love, have such a huge, noisy, chaotic convention.  It was basically an introvert's nightmare.  Anyway, learned our lesson on that one.

And then there was Evan's pre-school graduation, the ill-fated camping trip, an elementary school talent show and the two awards assemblies that I have to drag Evan to next week as Syd and Liam's school finishes out the year.

And then I can sleep.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sunny, High of 91

Sunny, high of 91.

That was supposed to be the forecast for the state park we visited over Memorial weekend.  It was the perfect forecast for floating down the river and splashing around with a hundred of our closest camping buddies.

What was the actual weather like?

Rainy, high of 75.

Not so much fun for floating down the river and splashing around with our friends, especially when the five inches of rain the area got made the river (at least the part we were camped next to) a raging, rapid-y mess and made the campsite look like a small lake.

Did I mention that our tent leaked the second night and got Syd's pillow soaking wet?  Or that my air mattress wouldn't hold air for more than two hours so I pretty much just slept on the ground?  Or that Ryan got a speeding ticket on the way?  Or that our canopy (that doubled as a clothes line) collapsed at two in the morning so Ryan and I had to pull in soaking wet towels and shove the mangled canopy off to the side of our tent while wearing our pajamas?  Or that all that activity in the middle of the night made me realize that I needed to use the bathroom so I had to pull on wet shoes (that had been drying under the now collapsed canopy) and hike a quarter of a mile to the community bathroom that was definitely feeling the strain of the 300 or so people using it during the holiday weekend?  Or that I had to hike back the quarter of a mile to our tent (in the rain, of course) and got lost because all campsites look exactly the same at two in the morning?  Or that Liam woke up with his tell-tale "seal bark cough" that let us know an asthma attack was imminent?  And of course, we didn't pack his breathing treatment apparatus because he hasn't had an asthma attack in months.


But....during the waking hours that it wasn't raining, we had a great time.  Really, we did.

The kids donned their life vests and braved the fairly rough waters of the aptly named Frio river.  They splashed with their friends, sprayed each other with water cannons, caught tadpoles, painted themselves with mud and collected river rocks.

They climbed trees, gawked at the vultures that were scavenging around neighboring campsites, rode their bikes and played with their friends.  At one point, our tent was filled with kids doing Mad Libs.  Of course, every verb suggested was a bodily function and every noun suggested was a bodily fluid, but there was a lot of laughing going on in there.

Ryan hung up my new hammock and I actually got to read a bit of my book, relax and listen to the gross Mad Libs being created.  The cooler temperatures made this possible; had it been the predicted temperature, it would have been way too hot for me to enjoy my hammock.

Behind the giant piles of river-floating tubes used by our camping group, there was a Speak Easy containing a homemade margarita machine (a cooler, some piping and a garbage disposal).  It sure was nice to have a yummy margarita to go with the delicious barbecue the dads made for dinner.

And Liam finally lost his first tooth.  The poor boy was so upset that he had literally lost it somewhere in the campsite.  He was worried all day that the Tooth Fairy wouldn't find him because we weren't at home or that she wouldn't leave him any money because he didn't have the tooth to leave under his pillow.  We sat down and wrote a note to the Tooth Fairy explaining the situation and my weekend was made when he woke up Sunday morning and found a dollar under his pillow.  The look on his face was priceless.  And then he coughed his terrible cough and we knew our camping weekend was over.

We quickly packed up our gear, grabbed breakfast, apologized profusely for leaving a day earlier than we were supposed to and headed out just before another terrible storm hit.  My sister told me later that the spot where our tent was placed was a giant puddle after that storm so I'm glad we left when we did.

Despite the rain and all of the mishaps, we really did have a great time and that's saying a lot coming from a person who does not particularly like camping even in the best of circumstances.

And it certainly was memorable.

But I am kinda glad most of the trips are for dads and kids only.  I can only handle that much excitement once a year.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Long-ish Update and Random Vent

Can I just say thanks for all of the supportive comments and private messages on my last post?  To know that other people (even ones who've never met him) care about my little guy makes me have a little more faith in humanity.

I decided to not confront his teacher about the whole mess.  The school year is almost over and there's nothing she can do at this point that would help him.  Plus, just the thought of having a conference with her over this makes me upset; I cannot even imagine how upset I'd be in her presence while discussing it all.  I've got another kid starting at that school next year and I don't want to be known as the parent who cries uncontrollably.

But, when his teacher sent home a note saying Liam didn't do his work in class because he was playing around too much, I did respond back with a note of my own asking her to move him if it would help him focus more.  She replied that she would if the behavior continued.  I find this situation strange because of the thirty something weekly conduct grades he's received, only three have been "S" (Satisfactory) instead of "E" (Excellent).  Playing around can't explain the pile of unfinished work, can it?  If so, exactly how poorly behaved are the other 17 kids in his class if he's one of only three kids who got to attend the Good Behavior Party last week?

Anyway, enough of that.  Summer will be here soon enough and we can move on with our lives.  Hopefully.

Liam did manage to finally get through all of his sight word cards this week without any help which earned him a new Wii game.  And yes, I know bribes are terrible, but it was seriously the only thing to motivate this poor child.  The best part was listening to Evan prepping him before we went over the words.

Evan (holding up flash card): What's this one?
Liam: Ell.  No.  All.
Evan: And if I put a 'b' in front of it?
Liam: Ball.
Evan: And if I put an 'f' in front of it?
Liam: Fall.

Future teacher, maybe?


Speaking of Evan (how's that for a terrible segue?), his birthday is next week.  We throw a big party for the kids when they turn five so it's his turn for lots of his friends to invade our house and eat cake.  However, of the 16 invitations we handed out, I've received only four replies all of which were "no".  I see most of the parents on a regular basis at school, but I haven't heard a word from any of them.  I even included an e-mail address for RSVPing on the invitation for the more introverted parents who don't like to socialize in the hallway or talk on the phone.

So now I'm in a panic.  Are the other twelve coming or not?  How am I supposed to plan a party when no one RSVPs?  Are we going to have a bunch of leftover cupcakes?  Am I going to have a devastated five year old on my hands if no one shows up?

Talk about frustrating.

The moral of this story?  Please RSVP to parties so Type A mothers like myself don't get in a tizzy.

Friday, May 3, 2013


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I love this kid.  I love him so much it hurts.

But I am heartbroken for him and I honestly don't know what to do.

He's six and half years old and is really struggling to read.  I mean, really, really, struggling with it.

I know that kids learn to read at different ages.  At least in my head I know this.  And it should be fine to let him work at his own pace, but his school seems to think that all kids should be reading geniuses by the end of kindergarten; heaven forbid there be any student who can't independently work on the five million worksheets needed to prepare for a stupid standardized test.

My sweet Liam just cannot do it.  He sat in my lap and cried the other day after struggling with his sight words.  This is a boy who generally cries only when he is seriously physically hurt.  Getting knocked over on the soccer field doesn't phase him.  Not being able to read the word "all" on an index card makes him cry, though.  He looked up at me with tears streaming down his face and asked, "Why is reading so hard for my brain, Mommy?"

It almost killed me.

I don't know what it's like to struggle with the concept of putting letters together to make words.  It's always been easy for me.  It was easy for Sydney who finished the entire Harry Potter series by the end of 2nd grade.  It's easy for Evan, who is 18 months younger than Liam and reading at a level that is probably on par with most first graders.

The look on Liam's face when Evan reads an entire book by himself is the saddest I've ever seen on a small child.  He is humiliated that his little brother reads better than he does.

Heaven knows I have tried with him.  I've looked for books that fit his interests; he still doesn't want to read them.  We look for words everywhere to practice: signs on the side of the road, the church bulletin, restaurant menus.  He just doesn't like it.

He's never enjoyed reading.  While the other two kids would climb into my lap as toddlers and read book after book for hours on end, Liam would sit still for about five minutes and would be done.  Bedtime stories don't interest him; he'd rather play with his legos for an extra ten minutes or draw a picture.  While the other two are content to read a book in the car, he'd rather look out the window.

I know every kid has their strengths and weaknesses.  His strength is his athleticism.  Despite his asthma, he will join in any physical game or sport with anyone.  He'll jump into a basketball game with kids twice his size and age.  He kayaked for the first time over the weekend and was great at it.  He was riding a bike at the age of three and excels at soccer.  How many adults can run at full speed and kick a moving ball at the same time?  Not this one, I can tell you that.

But his teacher doesn't care about that.  She doesn't care that he can take a pile of legos and build anything you tell him to.  She doesn't care that he is constantly drawing pictures.  She doesn't get how amazing it is that he can tell you the entire Star Wars saga from start to finish in one sitting despite the fact that two years ago you couldn't understand a word he was saying due to a speech development issue.

She does care that he can't finish his work.  She sent home a huge pile of it today with a note saying, "I found these in his box.  He either didn't finish them or didn't turn them in."  The pile was a good three inches thick.

Did she tell me how long this pile has been accumulating?  No.  Did she tell me why he can't finish his work?  No.  Did she tell me why she's just now noticed this gigantic pile of unfinished work in is cubby?  Nope.

He's told me more than once that he's had to miss recess to finish his work.  So first of all, his teacher knows this is an issue and he's struggling.  And second of all, as a 25 year veteran kindergarten teacher, she should know that taking away recess from a physically active kid is not going to encourage him to finish his work.  It does the exact opposite.

In all fairness to her, I haven't spoken to her about it yet.  She may have a perfectly logical explanation for the entire situation.  But what am I supposed to do about this when school ends in four weeks?  Just how long has he been sitting at his little desk struggling and getting frustrated?  How long have those unfinished papers been sitting in his cubby?  I know that teachers are overworked and underpaid; I was one for several years.  But I can't  begin to describe how angry I am right now.  Quit sending home cute notes about how the class watched baby chicks hatch or how they made little ice ball snowmen and timed how long it took them to melt or how you all worked together to build a paper dragon for Chinese New Year.  Those are great activities and I'm glad he got to experience them, but I'd rather you notice (and care) when my kid is struggling!!

No wonder he hates school!  I know most kids say that lunch and recess are their favorite subjects, but knowing what I know now, I don't doubt that those are his favorite times during the school day.

I feel like I've failed him.  I feel like his teacher has failed him.  I feel like he is never going to like school because he's had such a rough first year of it.  This is exactly why I requested a certain teacher (not the one he has) for him when I registered him for kindergarten.  He may be physically resilient, but he is emotionally fragile.

All I can do is make sure he has an awesome summer because next year will likely be absolute torture for him.

And it shouldn't have to be.

We're looking at all of our options.  There's a Montessori school across the street from his current school that warrants a visit.  I don't particularly want to home school him, but I will if I think I can match his learning style more than the school.

Learning can be fun.  It should be fun.  It shouldn't make you cry and ask why your brain doesn't work right.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Free Weekend

Ryan took the kids camping over the weekend which left me with a blissfully quiet house for a whole 48 hours.  It was heaven on earth.

Sydney thinks I spent the entire time they were gone watching "Pride & Prejudice" and eating chocolate.  Does my kid know me or what?

Alas, I did not do that.  Well, not the entire time.

I'd promised Ryan that I'd do some yard work and I think he was surprised to find that I actually did it.  Well, most of it anyway.  It started raining halfway through so I didn't get as much done as I'd planned.

I went through our various stashes of medication*, cleaned them out and took all of the vials of expired ones to the nearby recycling center for the drug take-back day.  We still had a vial of painkillers from my c-section with Evan and he turns five next month.  Pretty sad.

I played with the dog, despite my still being ticked at him for eating all of the berries off of my brand new blueberry plants last week.

I made some pumpkin granola bars with chunks of chocolate in them.  I had to keep myself from eating the entire batch in one sitting.

I gathered up items for our church's upcoming garage sale.  I teared up a bit at the thought of giving away the little kitchen that my kids played with for years.  I did not tear up at the thought of giving away the breast pump that tortured me for months on end.

I finally checked out the Indian grocery store/takeout place in our neighborhood and picked up some yummy chicken tikka masala.  There was so much that it served as my lunch and dinner.  And the naan that came with it was scrumptious.

I did some pre-emptive laundry before the campers brought home a couple of bagfuls of dirty, sweaty clothes and sheets.  How exciting, right?

I tried to claim a boatload of boys' dress-up clothes from a mom who posted them for sale on our neighborhood message board, but someone beat me to it.  :(

And I painted these to decorate the kids' newly painted bathroom:

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They're supposed to be bluebonnets and a sunflower to coordinate with the blue paint I used in the bathroom.  I think they look pretty good for someone who doesn't really know how to paint.

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They're also meant to go along with the tissue box I painted last month:

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As it was my last free weekend until the next camping trip in September, I savored every moment of peace and quiet.  I just hope I can channel that calm come this summer when the kids are driving me crazy!

*Yes, I know you're supposed to keep all medications in the same spot and out of reach of children, but I bet even the head of the FDA keeps a bottle of ibuprofen in their kitchen cabinet for easy access.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I Would if I Could

Things I'd like to say to some of my FB friends (but won't for obvious reasons)....

1.  For the life of me, I can not figure out why you're sending me a friend request.  You were a jerk to me in high school and now you want to be my friend?

2. Why do you "like" your own FB status or picture?  You wouldn't have posted it if you didn't like it already.

3. Please don't whine to me about how you don't like the things I "like".  Chances are, if you don't like the things I "like" then I don't like the things you "like", either.  The difference is that I've figured out how to block seeing your "likes".

4. On a related note, there is a difference between "liking" something and reposting it.  I'll admit that I  have strong opinions on a lot of things, but I choose not to use FB the way that you do by reposting every single thing I agree with.

5. Enough with the ambiguous status updates, i.e. "I'm having the worst day ever but I can't talk about it" or "Some people need to mind their own business and stop sticking their noses in things they know nothing about".  (Actually, that last one is usually a run-on with some sort of profanity, texting language and/or terrible grammar in it - "Sum people need to stop being a h8er and mind there own &*%$ing bizness and stop stickin there fat ^&%$ing noses in things they don't know nothin about.")  (It actually pained me to write that.)

6. On a similar note, if you're going to use FB for a rant of some sort and expect people to take you seriously, you should probably check your spelling and grammar before you hit "post".  Prime example?  One of my friends posted, "John Doe* - your so dumb!"  Gah!

7. If you're going to post a link to an article with some sort of snarky comment, please be sure to have read and understood the article before doing so.  Otherwise, you look about as smart as the people in examples #5 and #6.

8. Snopes is your friend.  Use it before posting some kind of inflammatory article/quote/unsubstantiated statistic.  If you tell me you don't trust Snopes because it has some kind of "agenda", please just stay off the internet completely delete me.  Seriously.

9. Posting hateful opinions on the same topic several times a week is not going to change my mind on any issue.  It is going to make me think a whole lot less of you, however.

10. If you think you're going to make me feel bad about deleting me, you won't.  Chances are, if you dislike me that much, I've probably already blocked you or haven't gotten around to deleting you first. 

Whew!  I feel much better now.  :)

*Names have been changed to protect the stupid.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Bluebonnet Picture Overload

We took the kids out for our annual bluebonnet pictures this past weekend.  We had to bribe them with pizza, but you do what you gotta do, right?

Once we uploaded them to the computer, I got to looking at our past bluebonnet photos because I'd have to say that of all the traditions we have in Texas, I think this my absolute favorite one.

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I told Ryan that someday I'm going to make a little photo book with nothing but our annual bluebonnet photos in it.

At that point, I will officially be old.

Friday, April 5, 2013

When I Grow Up

I don't know what I want to do when I grow up Evan goes to Kindergarten next year.

I've been out of the workforce for ten years.  Ten years.  No one wants to hire a mom of three who hasn't been employed for an entire decade, especially when she will still need to be the parent who has to take off when a kid is sick or needs a dental cleaning (why oh why can I never get them an after-school appointment?).  The closest thing I can find that fits my requirements (off in the summer, keeps the same schedule as school, gives me time to get the kids to their activities in the afternoon) are becoming a sub at one of their schools or working at Evan's current pre-school.

I'm a certified teacher and could technically do either of those jobs.  But I don't want to do either one of those jobs.  If we really needed the money, then yes, I'd suck it up and do it, but the thought of holding my tongue spending my day with other people's children and then being nice to my own at the end of the day sounds nearly impossible for me.  I decided when Syd was born that I had just enough patience to be a good teacher or to be a good mother, but that I could not do both.  The women who can do both have my utmost respect, that's for sure.

So, despite my desire to add to the college fund, it's probably just not going to happen.

The way I see it, stay-at-home moms traditionally (and yes, stereotypically) have four options:
1. Drink
2. Shop
3. Volunteer
4. Find a hobby

As for #1 - I'm not much of a drinker.  An occasional glass of wine or cocktail is more than enough for me, especially since alcohol messes with my sleep cycle and after years of sleeplessness due to insomnia or those three little people who wake me up with an earache, vomiting or a fear of thunder, I refuse to intentionally let anything interrupt my sleep.

As for #2 - I'm too cheap/frugal to be a shopper.  The guilt of spending money on myself far outweighs any enjoyment I get out of whatever object or item of clothing I've bought so this is not an option for me.  And after listening to a co-worker gripe about this quality in his wife, I think Ryan is quite thankful I'm not a shopper.

As for #3 - I've tried.  And I will continue to try.  But it is hard to volunteer when you're an introvert, especially when the other volunteers are clique-ish and snooty.  I prefer my volunteer work to be the kind that can be done at home by myself (Girl Scout troop treasurer, Sunday School class secretary).  Sigh.

As for #4 - Not a problem - I have lots of hobbies.  I love to read.  I go to the gym a few times a week.  I go to a Moms' Bible Study at church.  I like researching recipes and trying them out.  I've started making all kinds of foods that I usually used to buy - yogurt, granola, jams, hummus, vanilla (this is so easy and so much cheaper than the store-bought stuff!).  I've been painting a bit, too.  The problem is, as much as I love these hobbies, none of them will help me contribute to the braces/college/vacation funds.  I thought the chocolate business would work, but my state doesn't allow me to sell them because they're candy.

If there's a way for me to turn one of my hobbies into something more, I haven't figured it out yet....

I guess I wish that I had some sort of passion that I could turn into a career.  I am envious of Sarah, who has turned her passion for encouraging women to have the births they want into a career as a doula.  I'm envious of moms who have turned their love of photography into businesses taking pictures of sweet little newborns.  I'm jealous of the moms who have a job that they can freelance or work part-time, like the speech therapists and writers that I know.

Anyway....enough middle-class/first-world whining.  I know I should appreciate being able to be in the position I am and there are women all over the world who would trade places with me in a heartbeat.

In short, I really need to get over it.

But for the life of me, I just can't figure out how.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Spring Break Fun

We had a lot of fun over our Spring Break last week.  I'd searched and searched for somewhere fun for us to go and stay (resort-type places), but was overwhelmed by the prices and underwhelmed by what we'd get for those prices so we stuck around town.

First off, we took the kids to their first Cirque de Soleil show as my early birthday present.  Sydney loved it.  Liam thought it was just OK.  Evan was asleep by the end.  So now we know to only buy three tickets to that sort of thing and find a babysitter for the other two!

The boys spent some time with my parents while Syd and I took in a movie and dog-sat for my sister.  Max was not too thrilled to have company, but I did find it hilarious that my sister's dog, who is easily twice the size of Max, kept giving him "you are such an idiot" looks.

Then the kids went to Ryan's mom's house for a couple of days so that I could paint the bathroom (pictures coming soon).

And the real fun began.  Ryan took off a couple of days and we drove out to the Blue Bell Creamery (along with everyone else from the area).  We'd taken the tour a few years ago, but the boys didn't remember it so we decided to take it again.  We weren't allowed to take pictures inside, but we managed to still have some fun outside while we waited for our turn:

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And there was a "free" sample at the end:

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We went on to play at super cool park in the area and have lunch at the tiny airport's diner.  There's nothing like eating and watching small planes take off and land.

We finished off our week at Kemah, which is definitely a tourist trap, but still lots of fun:

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(Their very first Icee's!)

And my favorite pictures from the whole week:

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We had a great time, but now I'm worried that they're going to expect this kind of fun all summer long!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Semi-Green Thumb

Generally, my house is where plants go when they want to die.  When the allergist said that we shouldn't keep plants in the house to alleviate Liam's mold allergy, I almost laughed out loud.  I can't even keep a plant alive outside, much less inside.

However, this year, we are attempting to plant a garden and I decided to whip our little herb garden into shape.  

I stained two old grass pallets to match our deck:

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Ryan drilled a few holes in the bottoms of a couple of new aluminum buckets for drainage and I painted them a little bit before planting the herbs we use most often:

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Here's hoping I can keep these poor plants alive!

Friday, March 8, 2013


Dear Snooty PTO Mom,

Thank you for reminding me why I don't volunteer up at the kids' school more often.  The next time I see your name on the sign-up sheet for an event, I'll be sure to look for something else to help with.

Hope You Don't Drown the Next Time it Rains,
Not a Stepford Mom

Dear Nice PTO Moms,

Thank you for demonstrating what true volunteerism looks like.  Maybe most of you aren't so bad after all.

The Mom Who Sporadically Volunteers

Dear Old Man in the Crappy Pick-up Truck,

I realize that our morning routines are similar enough that one of us is stuck driving behind the other most days of the week.  I'm going to make sure, however, that it is you stuck behind me from now on.  There is a fine line between having an opinion and looking like a lunatic; you crossed that line about 18 bumper stickers ago.

Tired of the Visual Pollution,
The Minivan Behind You

Dear Uterus,

Thank you for your service.  You've carried three beautiful kids and I appreciate it.  However, your job is done.  Please stop torturing me each month.

An Ibuprofen Lover

Dear Kindergarten Teachers,

You have my respect for dealing with five and six year olds all day.  May I suggest a change, however?  If a little boy has a hard time getting his work done, making him miss recess to finish it is a bad idea.  I promise you, if you'd let him go outside and run off some of his energy, he'd finish his work for you.

Slightly Frustrated,
Liam's Mom

Dear Girl Scout Cookie Buyers,

Thank you so much for making this a great fundraising year!  However, I'd like to point out that the girls have no control over how much the boxes of cookies cost.  They also don't control the ingredients.  If you don't want to eat trans-fats and GMOs, then you probably need to bake your own cookies.

Just Sayin',
A Thin-Mint Lover

Dear Girl Scout Council,

I realize you set the price for cookies.  But at $4.00 a box, it is beyond ridiculous that the troop earns only 60 cents a box.

So Ready for Cookie Season to be Over,
A Tired Mom

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why I Don't Like Nigeria

If your e-mail address is in my contacts list, you probably got an e-mail like this yesterday:

I'm writing this with tears in my eyes, I am sorry that i did not inform you about my trip to Manila, Philippines. I and my family came down here to Manila, Philippines for a short vacation and we were mugged at a gun point last night at the park of the hotel where we lodged, all cash,credit cards and cell phones were stolen from us. We have been to the embassy and the police here but they are not helping issues at all, our flight leaves in less than 24hrs from now and we having problems settling the hotel bills.
The hotel manager won't let us leave until we settle the hotel bills, right now we are freaked out, All i need from you now is just a loan to pay for the hotel bills and to get our flight back to the next 24 Hours. I promise to pay the money back to you as soon as we get back home because the hotel manager won't let us leave until i pay for the hotel bills...
I need your help.

It may have my name on it, but it was not from me.  After some searching, I discovered that someone in Nigeria hacked into my e-mail account and sent that message to everyone in my address book.  All 200 of them.  And my old playgroup.  That's around 500 more people.  And my neighborhood's yahoo group.  That's around 2000 more people.

2700 people got this from me yesterday.  I am so embarrassed.

I spent several hours yesterday changing passwords, asking my e-mail provider to restore my contacts list so that I could send out a warning/apology e-mail and fielding phone calls, texts and FB messages.  At one point, I was talking to someone on my home phone about it when my cell phone rang with someone else.  To top it off, the little boy next door chose that exact moment to ring the doorbell and ask if the kids could play.  That's when I lost it.

Twenty four hours later, I'm pretty much laughing about it because what else am I going to do, but I'm still ticked at the jerk who broke into my account and sent out that trash.

The least he could have done was use proper grammar.  "I and my family"?  Lower case i instead of upper case?  Sheesh.

I did learn a few things from it all, though:

1.  People really do care about us.  One of Ryan's brothers called and left a panicked message on our answering machine because he was worried.  Several more people expressed concern via text and FB messaging, too.  I found this quite heart-warming.

2.  There are people who know me so well that they knew I would not take my kids out of school to go on an international vacation and that even in a panic, I would use the correct grammar when communicating with them (both true, btw).  I found this pretty funny.

3.  I had way too many people in my contacts list.  I spent time this morning deleting and organizing it, so at least something good came out of it all.

So if you see something similar from one of your friends or family members in your in-box, delete it immediately.  And then crack jokes about how they got back from the Philippines so quickly the next time you see them because after all is said and done, they might as well laugh about it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Oh, The Irony

Before we moved to the Land of Fruit and before we knew Evan was coming along, I decided to open a business making chocolates.  I got a tax ID number, a friend of mine created a logo for me and I was well on my way establishing a line of products and a customer base in our quirky little Big City neighborhood.

And then Evan came along and we had to find a bigger house out in the 'burbs.

I made and sold some chocolates to a few people over the next couple of years, but after three business tax returns in a row reflecting an income of zero, I officially closed the business at the end of last year.  Considering that the new homebaker's state law only allows us to sell cakes, cookies and breads out of a home kitchen, I figured it was the best thing to do anyway.

And then a book club friend asked me to make twenty of these for Valentine's Day:

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Then I used the leftover chocolate to make some sweet treats for the kids:

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(It's hard to see, but the last one is Chewbacca.)

Evan liked his so much that he wants me to make a bunch of them as the party favors for his upcoming birthday party.

So six weeks after I close a business that has been all but dead for three years I get a couple of orders.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My Favorite Girl in the Whole World

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This girl surprises me every day.

She's nearly ten and sometimes I catch a glimpse of her in a certain light or with a particular look on her face and I think about how lucky I am and how terrified I am of how fast she's growing up.

She's quirky.  She loves mythology.  She adores Coldpl@y so much that she's chosen one of their songs as her piano recital piece this year.  Her dream is to travel to Europe to see Rome, Athens and London.  She doesn't follow the "in" crowd.  She can't stand Just!n B!eber, doesn't give a hoot about her school outfits or what her hair looks like and doesn't think twice about spending her money at a bookstore rather than on mani/pedis with her friends (yes, girls her age actually do this!).   She's probably the only one in her class who gets excited to watch D0wnton Abb@y with her mother on Friday evenings and I'm certain she's the only one who uses the show as a springboard when coming up with sentences using her vocabulary words: "It was Matthew's destiny to take over the running of the estate".

She starts middle school next year.  Middle school.  I remember middle school.  It was horrible:  changing classes, trying to remember a locker combination for the first time, getting "the talk" in the library with all of the other nervous and giggly girls.  Cliques began to form.  Alliances were made.  Gossip regarding the opposite sex dominated lunch time conversations.  My two best friends moved away the summer before middle school and it became Lord of the Flies in a school setting to those of us who didn't already have a core group of friends.

In our attempts to keep Syd protected from all of the nastiness for just a bit longer, Ryan and I toured and then enrolled her in our school district's GT (gifted and talented) middle school.  She finally passed their dumb test (after being just three points away last year) and earned the opportunity to attend this special school that (supposedly) lets the kids focus more on their interests and less on standardized testing.

It sounds perfect, right?  Well, it would be if any of her friends were going there, but none of them are so she'll be just like me and start middle school without her buddies.  The simple solution would have been to have her attend the GT program at her zoned school, but her friends wouldn't be in her classes there, either.  So it's a new school for my sweet girl.  I'm praying she has a better experience than I did.

I have no idea how to protect her from the inevitable heartbreaks that come with middle school friendships.  How do you explain to a ten year old that some people are just not worth their time when you've spent the previous decade insisting that they treat others like they would want to be treated?  I can remember learning this cruel lesson for myself at that age and for the life of me I cannot figure out how to spare her from the same.  Deep down, I know she  has to learn these things for herself.  It's part of growing up.  It sure does stink, though.

As for some of the other social aspects of middle school, I feel more prepared to help her.  I got this book for her and she has devoured it as if it were an instruction manual.  Sadly, she is Type A like me, so she's going to be in for a shock when she discovers that her experience is not going to be exactly like the one described in the book.  I see myself introducing her to classic Judy Blume books at that point.  And we've already had a couple of versions of "the talk" so she won't be shocked when the counselor pulls the girls together to discuss the change.  I already feel like she's way more prepared than I was, especially when my mother's version of "the talk" was, "Do you know what a pad is?  Good.  Let me know when you need me to buy some."  This is probably more of a talk than she got and it's certainly way more than her mother got at that age.  My grandmother once told me she went six months thinking she was dying from some terrible form of cancer until her older sister clued her in to what was going on.  My kid clearly has no idea how lucky she is.

Of course, middle school could be great for her.  She could make a boatload of friends, find a new bff and have no problems adjusting to the changes she facing.  I really hope she does have a great time and I'll do my best to help her any way that I can.  However, I think I'll stock up on some boxes of tissues just in case; even if she doesn't need them, I have a feeling I will.

Monday, February 4, 2013

On the Positive Side....

So that last post was pretty depressing wasn't it?  In my defense, I was on my third consecutive week of having at least one sick kid at home (strep for one, ear infection for another, respiratory infection for the third) and I'd just had to crawl into the dog crate to clean up vomit before 7:30 in the morning.  No one should have to do that before breakfast.

The dog thing isn't as bad I made it sound.  Yes, he chews on stuff.  And yes, he digs gigantic holes that I'm sure will be the cause of more than one sprained ankle in the future.

But....Max is a dog.

He is not a child.  As much as I like to compare him to a toddler, he is not one.  He will not grow out of most of his dog-like behaviors and I realized that I just have to accept that.  I guess it's like accepting our children for who they are and not who we want them to be.

So I'm trying to adjust my attitude and look on the bright side of things.  Silver linings and all that....

~ The kids don't leave toys all over the house anymore.  They know that Max will chew them up so for the past month, all toys have stayed in bedrooms.  This is marvelous and unprecedented.

~ Because of this, I have not stepped on a single lego brick in weeks.  My feet are thankful.

~They also don't leave backpacks, socks, shoes or jackets on the floor because they know Max will drag them off and chew them up, too.  The entryway is no longer an obstacle course of kid items - hurray!

~ Our carpet gets vacuumed a whole lot more often than it did.  This has got to be better for everyone's allergies, don't you think?

~ The kids really are learning about responsibility.  No matter what kind of mood she's in, Syd is in charge of walking the dog twice a day.  Unless she's sick or it's really rainy, she's out there, poop bag in hand, running down the block with him.  All three kids fight over who's going to get him out of his crate in the morning, fill his water bowl, scoop out his food and do the backyard "poop duty".  Fighting over chores.....I certainly didn't think it would happen in my lifetime.

~ The kids' piggy banks are getting full thanks to the backyard "poop duty".  (We pay them fifty cents per poop.)  Now this may seem like a negative because we're paying them, but they like earning their own money and since Syd is saving up to buy a tablet, she is more than eager to do this while I am off to the side gagging.

~ They really do love that dog.  They pet him, play with him and talk to him all the time.  When Evan had to draw some things that he loves for a Valentine's project, the first thing he drew was Max.

Max is going in for his big snip-snip next week and I'm hoping the drop in testosterone will alleviate some of the really annoying things like the biting.  (Seriously, of all the things he does, I think the biting is the most irritating.)  And if that doesn't help, I'm going to call the woman who posted his picture on the neighborhood message board.  She's a dog trainer and has offered to help us with him since we are brand new dog owners.

So we're in it for the long haul, I guess.  But if you come to my house, don't be surprised to see chewed-up dining room curtains and dog hair on my kitchen floor.  I refuse to replace the curtains just have him chew up another set and I cannot for the life of me sweep up all of the dog hair.  I'm beginning to think it appears out of nowhere; I'll sweep and though the dog is nowhere in sight, a pile of hair magically appears off in the corner or under the sink.  How does that happen?!?

But I'm seeing another silver lining here.....I'm thinking sweeping the kitchen floor can be added to Syd's list of chores since she's so eager to help out with the dog.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Confession Time

Y'all, I can't stand the dog.

I don't like the licking.

I don't like the smell.

I don't like having dog hair absolutely everywhere all the time.

He chews on everything.  My favorite recliner.  The dining room curtains.  The mat by the back door.  My gym bag.  Syd's jacket.  My antique dining room chairs.  I've sprayed them with the bitter apple spray and that works for all of about ten minutes before he's back at it.

The kids get scared of him when he gets in one of his moods: running around frantically and barking.  This could just be his way of "playing", but it's annoying.

He bites when he's excited which is at least twice a day.  He hasn't broken skin yet, but it's just a matter of time.

I can't put him in the back yard because he digs.  And digs.  And digs.  We have have gigantic holes all over the back yard.  I'm half hoping that he'll dig out under the fence and run away.

I know I'm a horrible person.  Who doesn't like dogs?

This month long experience has just proven to me that there really are "dog people" and "cat people."  I am most definitely a cat person.

The kids really want to keep him, but is it fair to keep him here when I absolutely hate him?  Do I break their hearts because he irritates the heck out of me?  Will getting him "fixed" solve some of these issues?

Ryan says we should take him for training (read: I should take him for training), but I don't even know if I want to invest time and money in that.

Go ahead - tell me how horrible I am.  I can't feel any worse about the situation than I already do.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2012 Books

*Edited to add links since ad pictures didn't show up.

At the end of each year, I sit down and take a look at the books I've read so that I can bring some suggestions to my December book club meeting.  I usually have several great novels to suggest, but this year, I came up a bit empty.  And then I realized that I'd spent much of the year reading The Song of Fire and Ice series by George R. R. Martin.

We don't have cable or satellite so I can't speak for the television series based on The Game of Thrones books, but I can say that the books were a lot better than I thought they'd be.  I'm more of a historical fiction kind of girl and I'd describe these as adult-themed fantasy, kind of like Lord of the Rings with a lot of "adult" situations.  I'm guessing this is why the TV series is on a premium cable channel and not a network channel.  Of the five books that are out, my favorite was the third because it was full of plot twists and turns.  If you decide to read the series, I'll give you fair warning that you shouldn't get too attached to any of the characters because the author has no qualms about killing off even the most beloved characters.

My book club read UnWind by Neal Shusterman in November and although I missed the discussion, almost everyone in the book group liked it.  This one falls into the currently popular "dystopian" category and while not as popular as The Hunger Games series (which I read last year but won't review because everyone has already read them), I'd say the plot is just as disturbing.  In this dystopian society (set in the US), abortion has been outlawed, but children are allowed to be "unwound" (full organ/tissue/bone donor) between the ages of 13 and 18 should their parents find them to be too challenging or just unwanted.  This book is categorized in the young adult section of our library and that's probably because the main characters are teenagers, but the topic is definitely an adult one.  I went on to read the sequel, Unholy, and look forward to the third in the series due out next year.

We also read The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.  In this novel, a young man of Indian descent struggles to find a balance between his family's traditions and the enticements of a modern American lifestyle.  The main character is played by Kal Penn in the movie (which I mistakenly saw before reading the book) so I kept picturing his face while reading, but that was only a slight annoyance for me.  I don't dislike Kal Penn, but I like to develop my own ideas of what a character looks like and that's quite difficult when you've already seen someone else's idea of what a character looks like.  In other words, I wish I'd read the book first, but isn't that always the way it is?

One that I read on my own that I recommended for this year was The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian.  I've read several books by this author and all of them are very detail oriented and very different from each other.  This man does his research!  This one made me feel lucky to be a female in the US during modern times (as did books like Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan or A Thousand Splendid Suns by Kahled Hosseini).  This one primarily takes place in Syria during World War I as the Turks systematically slaughtered millions of Armenians while the world watched and did nothing.  The main character is a young American woman who travels to Aleppo with her father to distribute aid to the Armenian refugees.  She befriends a woman and a young girl who have survived atrocities too terrible to mention and falls in love with a young Armenian widower.  If you like this one, you might want to read one of his other books, like Skeletons at the Feast (set in WWII Germany) or Midwives (set in 1980s Vermont).  I really enjoyed those two as well.  Be sure to grab a box of tissues first!

Another one I recommended to my book club was The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman.  This also falls under my "happy to be a modern American woman" category.  This one is set in Israel about 2000 years ago when the Romans were doing their best to eliminate the Hebrews.  It follows three women who lived in a desert fortress (parts of which are still standing today) and the lengths they went to in order to survive their time in the fortress and to survive a Roman attack upon it.  It reminded me of Anita Diamant's The Red Tent but there was less "ick" factor.  (If you've read The Red Tent, you know what I'm talking about.)

Probably the final great book I read last year was Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.  It's what I'd call an epic novel, spanning several decades and generations.  It is set in Ethiopia and the U.S. and revolves around a medical clinic that is staffed by doctors and nurses of Indian descent.  The writing is beautiful and his descriptions of the scenery they encountered and the food they ate made me want to either travel to Ethiopia or find an Ethiopian restaurant.  The love triangles and family deceptions will make you gasp and the love of an adoptive father will make you weep.  Some might call this a great summer read because it is quite lengthy, but if you're cooped up in your house due to crummy winter weather, the combination of this book and a cup of cocoa or hot tea will warm you up.

I read several other books, most of which were "chick lit" freebies for my Kindle.  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series was fabulous (violent, but fabulous), but again, most people have already read that series so there's no point re-hashing it.

I'm hoping to read lots of great books this year.  Anyone have any suggestions for me?