Monday, December 29, 2008

A House Divided

As if it weren't hard enough to lose weight when you have 4 growing kids that want to eat yummy foods in your house... we have a new stumbling block around here. We now have a child that is on a diet to help him GAIN weight. Now, when I first got serious about losing weight I made a decision to take back control of the type of foods that come into my home. I can't lose my willpower and gorge myself on chocolate ice cream if there isn't any in the freezer. Simple strategy. It would have worked too, had my 12 year old not lost 14 lbs. recently thanks to his ADD meds. Losing 14 lbs. is a lot when you were only 90 lbs. to start off with and you're supposed to be doing a little thing called growing. When he stepped on the scale at his check-up today and the doctor shook his head at the number I asked the good doc to prescribe some for me too. He laughed. I was like, "No, seriously..." Apparently, he takes his medical license seriously or something.

So, he gave me a handout with a list of suggested foods: whole milk, ice cream, mac 'n cheese, peanut butter, trail mix, protein shakes, bagels with cream cheese, fruit juices... all the good stuff. I'm supposed to make sure he eats LOTS and LOTS of yummy, high calorie foods whenever he feels like it. It felt like dejavu... why does this seem familiar? Oh yeah! That's what I did to get fat too! Well, at least he's in good hands. I've got this gaining weight thing down like a pro. I'm just a little nervous about how I'm supposed to be good & eat my broccoli and celery sticks while I'm loading my grocery cart with artery busters.

Which brings me to my next concern: I went to the pharmacy to fill his prescription and forgot to skip reading the paperwork that goes along with it. Every time that I do certain words jump out at me and make my heart race like a rabbits. Tell your doctor if you or your child have any heart problems, heart defects, high blood pressure, or a family history of these problems. Well, I DID tell the doctor that I do have high blood pressure and a family history of significant heart problems and he still prescribed it, so I GUESS I'm trusting him...

Tell your doctor if you or your child have tics or Tourette's syndrome, or a family history of Tourette's syndrome or anxiety problems. Yep, told him that too. One of the reasons that we see him is because Lane was diagnosed with Tourette's and has severe anxiety. So, trusting him on that one too...

Especially tell your doctor if you or your child takes: anti-depression medication including MAOI's, seizure medicines, blood thinner medicines, blood pressure medicines, antacids, cold or allergy medicines that contain decongestants Umm... he knows that Lane is on an anti-depressant. He doesn't take cold / allergy meds on a regular basis but it is December and I've been known to give my kid cold meds when the snot strikes, so... okay, I guess.

Use this medicine with caution if you have a family history of emotional problems, or alcohol or substance abuse. Abuse may lead to addiction and severe mental changes. Do not stop taking this medicine suddenly. You may experience withdrawal symptoms. Since every time we go in to the doctor I'm forced to discuss my lengthy family history of drug & alcohol abuse & the fact that the majority of my relatives are self-medicating and/ or either in jail or rehab (why can't they just check the file anyway? Don't they know that i don't love answering those questions?), I'm pretty sure he knows that we do in fact have a genetic predisposition to drug abuse. So, I'm trusting him on that too...

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's so hard as a parent to know what the right thing to do for your child is. This medicine has really helped improve his grades a lot. Which I'm sure will help his self-esteem a lot too. I guess you could call that it's redeeming quality. The risks that took the pharmacy 8 pages worth of paper & ink to describe are a major con and the fact that I'm filling my house with diet temptations in hopes that his biceps will one day stick out more than his elbows is also a pretty big downfall. I'm so thankful that science has brought us so many advancements and that the majority of our health woes can be lessened if not fixed all together nowadays. Oh my goodness some of these new pharmaceutical goodies can open up a whole new world of stress though! And I have no idea how I'm expected to lose weight while fattening Lane up. Too bad it wasn't as easy as just giving my fat to him.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Twas The Day After Christmas

Twas the day after Christmas and all through my house, there was clutter, more clutter, and an off skiing spouse. The children were jamming in Guitar Hero bliss, I was wishing that Santa had seen earplugs on my list... to my mind came an idea "let's go out to eat!" We attempted to groom and threw boots on our feet. I sat there with my kiddos, in a terrific mood, we were out of the house having wonderful food... when what to my wondering eyes did appear? I'll give you a clue... it was not reindeer. On Dasher, On Dancer, On Blitzen, On Comet... my eight year old son was covered in vomit. With apologies flying, I left a GOOD tip and face flaming beet red, we gave that mess the slip...

Moral of the story: even if feeling blue... just stay home with noise & clutter if exposed to the flu...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Truly Madly Deeply

         In case you haven't noticed, I adore my kids. I really do. I've had a series of no good, horrible, very bad days and you know what? My kids make me feel better all the time. Sometimes they make an effort to help in their awkwardly inexperienced ways (like grabbing a yogurt out of the fridge and handing it to me so quickly that it splatters all over because they thought that feeding me yogurt would cure all.) Other times they don't mean to help, but just do. Tonight, I really just wanted them to go to bed on time. I'm tired. I'm actually sick and tired. They decided that they wanted to be all Oktoberfest and go bobbing for apples though. So, they snuck a big bowl and filled it with apples and water. I figured it out when I heard the sh-shlup of water overflowing onto the floor amid hysterical giggling. At first, I wanted to beat them (just a little...) but then their faces looked so fresh and clean from the dunking in H20 and their eyes were so sparkly. I can't explain it, but it was cute... and kinda funny.

           I took them to the pumpkin farm this weekend too. I didn't want to. What I wanted was for their dad to be ready, willing, and able to step up & say, "Don't worry, Hon. I know you haven't been feeling well. You stay home and rest while I take them." (A girl can dream can't she?) He wasn't around though and they wanted to go SO badly. So, I sucked it up and we went.

          Once again, they made me laugh. Their cuteness won me over and I forgot I didn't feel well somewhere along the way. I don't know what I'm gonna do when they're not little anymore. Then what will distract me, make me laugh, cheer me up? It's already happening so fast. My rational mind tells me that I can hopefully still have fun with them and that it could possibly be even more fun to hang out with them as adults than it is now. Grown-up kids that I don't have to nag & worry about (as much) and cute little grand kids sounds wonderful. My mom mind panics and worries that they might decide to move far, far away because they don't like me anymore. What if they like their in-laws more than us? I'll miss them so much.

       I just want to savor every little moment that I have with them. I want to remember not to yell at them when they play pranks (rubber band on the handheld sprayer at the kitchen sink comes to mind) and just soak up the spirit that they bring into our home. I found out today that my heart isn't doing as well as I thought it was. I knew it hurt, but I thought that was just from all of the love that I feel for these guys. I didn't realize that if I'm not careful it could cut my time with them short. I so desperately want to get healthy fast so that I don't miss a moment. The thought of not being there for them and not having the privilege of being there to witness all of their story as it's being made almost paralyzes me with fear. Being a parent is just such an amazing gift and I am so truly, madly, deeply in love with my family. Plus, I even like them.

Just a reminder: go hug your loved ones.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Elders & Adoption

  A couple of years ago our cat had kittens (a whopping 8.) They were the cutest little things. One evening, the missionaries stopped in for a visit and we entertained them with kitten watching. About an hour after they left to go knock on all of our neighbor's doors, they came back with a little black kitten that looked to be the same age as ours. As they handed it to us saying, "We found this escapee down the block" we were pretty confused since it looked like it could be ours but none of our kittens were missing (or able to get that far yet) and the mama cat hadn't even gone outside since she'd had them.

We joined the Elders in walking around the neighborhood (their second time- if you think people are unhappy to have missionaries knocking on their door the first time you should really see the replay...) and asked all of our neighbors if they knew this kitten. Of course, no one did. So, we took the poor baby who couldn't be more than a week old and wouldn't be able to survive for long back to our mama cat hoping that she would accept it (although the missionaries were all excited about the prospect of her freaking out on it- 19 year old boys, you know.) Thankfully, as she lay there on her side with 8 kittens already fighting over a spot to nurse, she seemed to understand and made room for this little guy.

Tonight I was making breakfast for dinner & enlisted the kids to help out. I usually don't love making breakfast for dinner since the multi-tasking of stirring scrambled eggs, and flipping pancakes, and turning sausage, etc. isn't really my thing. I'm more the throw everything in the crock-pot or in a 13x9 baking dish so that I can do other things while it cooks & only have one pan to wash when it's over sort of girl. The kids are all getting old enough to hold their own in the kitchen though, so we threw caution to the wind and scrambled some eggs. As we cooked, someone said, "Remember that little kitten named Elder that Alley Cat adopted?" and the memory came back to me. It made me feel so sentimental thinking of how we named it Elder after the two guys in white shirts & ties that found it.

Then, I started thinking... why can't we humans be so ready & willing to take in kids that are lost / abandoned / orphaned? I've been trying to talk my hubby into foster care for the last few years. I suddenly felt inspired to go guilt trip him with a reminder of the willingness of our cat to serve the less fortunate. If she could love that kitten as her own just because we handed it to her, why couldn't we do the same? Sure, she only had to nurse it for 6 weeks and then we found all the kittens new homes and the mama cat got her freedom back, but...

Beyond My Control

       So, yesterday I did not one but TWO cheerful, Pollyanna style posts. I guess that means that today it's okay to vent a little. You see, while yesterday was in fact a good day with home improvements that didn't cost me anything and a weight being lifted off of my shoulders after a fabulous parent-teacher conference, there was some major stress inducing stuff too. So stress inducing in fact, that I had a really hard time going to sleep and am sporting a killer migraine and an upset stomach.

      In the AM, what had me feeling spastic (besides the diet pills) was that Lane had told me the night before that he was really concerned about one of his friends at school. Lane was upset because his friend has been talking about suicide a lot & had apparently cut himself with a rusty nail at recess on purpose. He asked me if it was okay to be a tattle-tale if you were protecting someone (which from previous conversations he knows is my rule, but I think he needed permission to ease his mind.) I was so proud of my little man, because he was so insightful and mature about the whole situation. I'm not sure I would have been as capable of handling a friend telling me something like this when I was in the 5th grade. He said, "Mom, I don't really believe he's going to do it. I think he just likes to talk about it for the shock factor, but I think I need to tell the teacher just in case." Then, he asked me if I would be okay with emailing or calling the teacher instead so he wasn't officially the nark. So, I did & hopefully this little boy will be able to get the help that he needs. It's so hard to think that my kids are getting old enough to be involved with this type of thing.

      In the PM, my stress was more associated with my parental units & the fall-out from their rather nasty divorce. Without divulging TOO MANY details, I'll say that I've been trying super hard to not get in the middle of it. I'm a grown-up. They're grown-ups. It should technically be fairly simple. It's hard though, because I see & hear things that just make me want to run in & fix everything (as if that were possible.) Not fix their marriage / get them back together because I don't actually think that's for the best, but fix the pain. I want to fix the hurt feelings & stubbornness that have escalated the situation so severally. I want to erase the financial problems, the worry, and the guilt.

     I'm the oldest child in my family & I have siblings that still live at home with my mom. My little sister is about the same age as my second child. Her world & my kid's world are entirely different though. She knows all too well about the adult world of what happens when you don't have enough money and how you can get attached to people and then have them ripped out of your life. So, when I came home from Cub Scouts & my mom was in front of my house and told me that her car is breaking down, and she lost her food stamp money because my dad said he was paying her child support even though she hasn't gotten any, and now she's getting evicted... It broke my heart. Honestly, there's only so much that I can do though. And when I dropped my kids off at school and I saw my little sister's body language as she bossed a classmate around & I knew that she was feeling like everything was out of control and trying to grasp for some sense of power, it made me feel like I had rocks in my stomach. Not to mention, knowing that someone you love is in pain right on the heels of thinking of a little 11 y/o boy who is hurting isn't really the perspective you want to see it in. While I know that the two situations are different there are enough similiarities to be bothersome.

      The reality is, I have always taken on everyone else's problems and feel like I need to slap a band-aid on everything around me. I know that I can only own myself and be responsible for my own actions though. There's really not a lot of point in worrying myself sick about my kid's friends or even my own extended family further than I can do something about it. That's easier said than done, but really- what else is there to do? If I could, I would... I just wish there was a little less heartbreak in the world. Don't we all?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm Lovin' It

Today I love my life. Why? You ask... Simple really. I feel like a rich person who can afford to hire people for home improvement projects but I don't have to pay for it. That's why. It's flipping sweet. For those of you who don't know, we're live-in caretakers at a county park. I debated on whether to actually say that considering the whole creepy people in Internet land thing, but I decided to roll the dice. Anyway... our roof started leaking this week. We had a pretty good down pour and what do you know? It was raining inside too! If we were homeowners this would have kicked our trash. However, we just called the county and they came out to measure for a new roof pronto. Now, they're up there putting it on & I'm sitting here typing away hoping they don't come crashing through my ceiling. This morning, the lawnmower man showed up to mow. So, between the visit from our "landscaper" and the new roof it's looking pretty decent around here. Our stinking counter tops in the kitchen are falling apart (literally, it's ceramic tile and they keep coming off and shattering when they hit the floor.) So, the county said I could choose the new counter tops. I feel spoiled. Sure, we aren't building up any equity here like we would be if say, we owned the place & these upgrades were going towards raising our property value or something... but it makes me feel so blessed to have all these people slamming out the work on my home. If I owned the place, sadly... it would probably not look as nice 'cause I wouldn't have the time or the money. So, yay for the opportunity to scrub public toilets in exchange for rent!

Hope & Relief

  • I had such a nice conference with Lane's teachers the other day. I really like them. It was way better than I had expected, in fact. I think one of the worst parts of having a child who struggles in school is having the feelings as a parent of helplessness and wounded pride and ultimately guilt that goes along with it (at least for me.) Sure, I'm worried about him & his future and all of that. I somehow suspect though, that he's going to be okay. I know that there is so much more to life than a letter grade on paper & that a lot of people who were poor students end up being successful later. In the mean time, I don't like feeling like I'm SUPPOSED to enforce raising his grades and feeling incompetent to do so.

  • Going in to conferences I always kind of wish I had a rock to hide under because I'm sure that the teacher is wondering what type of messed up family life and poor parenting this child has had to get him to this particular level. I feel the need to explain defensively that we have tried SO MANY things to no avail, that while we're imperfect parents we're making an effort, and that we do have other kids who are doing fairly well in school. Yes, I realize that proving that we have 3 out of 4 kids who are getting decent grades isn't really what the teacher needs to know and that pride cometh before the fall... but I've gotta hold on to a morsel of validation that we're not all together failing our children's educational needs.

  • Anyway... the teachers were terrific. The didn't look at me like a white trash parent at all (or at least if they were thinking it they hid it well.) They told me how great of a kid they thought he was and I got the impression that they really meant it. They acknowledged that we had tried all sorts of stuff and that he was just one of those kids that traditional school didn't work for & that it wasn't his fault. They asked about his interests and talents and said that kids like him always find their niche. They understood that he is very artsy and always off in his own little world and that while that's problematic when you need him to be in the present during math that being a dreamer wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I felt like we were actually a team working together to brainstorm ways to help him and that everything was really going to be all right for him this school year. The things that were said that meant the most to me were:

  • "He's so well-behaved. He's nice to absolutely everybody, even the kids that no one else is nice to and the kids that aren't nice to him. If I had to choose between a kid getting good grades but being a jerk and a kid getting poor grades but being a good person, I'd take the kids with poor grades. So, he has some really redeeming qualities."

  • "Have you heard that students of band continue to outperform their non-band peers on the SAT? Plus, being musical can open up a lot of doors for him too. There are a ton of careers that he can pursue in the Arts and make a fortune. Just think, if he does end up writing a science fiction novel or something how much money he could get. There's nothing wrong with being an extremely creative person."

  • "It's these kind of kids that always find their niche. He might be 35 before he finds it, but he'll find something that he can excel in. Our job right now is to quit setting him up for failure & start making it possible for him to experience success. Whether that be assigning less work and helping him with task completion so he isn't always behind or changing his schedule so that he can do better in the classes that he has, our main priority needs to be to accommodate him & raise his self-esteem."

  • So, I walked out of that conference just feeling such hope & relief. When I got home, I told him how awesome his teachers thought he was & that I was so proud of him for standing out as one of the nice kids. Now, I feel like I have permission to get off his back about schoolwork and to just celebrate his achievements instead. I've always known that he was a great kid and felt like we just needed to "get through" this school thing and that he had enough other good qualities and skills to hopefully compensate. I've heard lots of stories of people who suddenly "got it" as an adult and I've hoped that he would be one of those guys that finally understood what his teachers had been trying to teach him once he got out in to the real world and needed those skills. I've just never felt like his teachers saw that & I felt a certain pressure to prove that there was an effort being made and that he had potential. It's so refreshing to know that his teachers are on the same page & that they're willing to put out the effort to help him realize his potential too.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


   I'm feeling very nostalgic this afternoon. I'm not sure why. I decided to make a digital scrapbook of some of my favorite Halloween memories. The kids are SO MUCH bigger now than even just last Halloween. Scary stuff. Brooke has already started making plans for when she moves out of our house. :-(   We were riding in the car the other day and she told me (again) that she won't be living with me when she's a grown up. Her main motivator? "Girls that live with their parents are fat." Where does she get this stuff? I'm kinda concerned that she worries about the whole fat thing too much for a 6 year old.

 Of course, the other day she was self-concious about her teeth too. She told me, "Mom, I really do have horse teeth. They're too thick like horse teeth are, but they're only midget horse teeth 'cause they're shorties. They're  short & chubby baby horse teeth."  Who knew you could use the words "horse teeth" so many times in only 3 sentences?

Oh, and you should have heard her trying to explain why I shouldn't be upset with her for being awake WAY past her bed time. It sounded like this: "I'm the kind of person who's body just does whatever it wants to. I can't control it, so you can't be mad at me. Just be mad at my body, but not my head. My head is mad at my body too, but I'm not the kinda person who can just make myself go to sleep even if I want to. If my body doesn't want to sleep only God can force it to. I can't force myself to sleep, you know, 'cause I'm not that kinda person."  She really does just babble on and on repeating variations of the same phrases all the time. It cracks me up. I swear she didn't even know how to talk like... yesterday. Now she never stops. Where did the last 6 years go and are the next 6 going to fly by as quickly? I hope not!

 Then, the other day my friend Jenny and I were talking about what our kids prefer to sleep in (because her adorable son Niall was here for a sleepover with Russell) and it reminded me of what Tatton used to sleep in. You see, Tatton decided that he wasn't getting a good nights sleep due to always waking up cold after he kicked the blankets off. He decided it would be best to start getting dressed for school the night before and wearing a coat to bed. To him, this was an ingeniusly effecient plan since he was saving time in the AM and staying consistently warm. I let him do his thing and just chuckled at the way his cute little mind worked & never gave it a second thought. That is, until I went to foster parent certification classes and there was a chunk of class devoted to "what to expect when you're expecting foster kids" as in what problem behaviours were common. They made a big deal out of how a lot of foster kids "prefer to sleep in their clothes instead of pajamas". The reasons that they listed off (being homeless, being sexually abused, having become accustomed to unpredictability/ the need to pick up & run at a moments notice all made sense) but I still felt a little defensive about the sleeping in a coat thing. I didn't want people to just assume that there was something "wrong" if they found out that Tatton slept fully clothed including a coat. LOL  Now, he's a sleeping in boxers man and it seems kind of sad that this is just a memory to be pulled out of the archives for a good chuckle.

Anyway... just thinking. Wow, they're growing up fast. Lane keeps talking to me about how concerned he is about the economy and his views on Obama's health plan and of course, whether or not shaving will help his peach fuzz grow in thicker. *sigh*

Monday, October 6, 2008

Super Cool Contest!!! (Because It's Cheaper Than Therapy)

I've had blog block this week. I've never understood how anyone could get writer's block. My problem has always been trying to hold the flood of words in my head from spilling out in excess. This week, I finally experienced the feeling of wanting to write something and drawing a blank. Craziness. It's not that there weren't things that I wanted to talk about. There were LOTS of things I wanted to blab about, in fact. The only way that I could even fathom sharing those things was if I changed the names to protect the "innocent" and I'm pretty sure all of my readers are too smart for that. What's the point of changing names when all of your friends & family are such smart cookies that they'll figure it out anyway? It stinks 'cause I love blogging (it's cheaper than therapy) but unlike real therapy (where you are protected by confidentiality laws) this sort of blabbing involves the WORLD WIDE web.

Now, I personally don't have a whole lot to work with in the boundaries department. Supposedly, it's not very psychologically healthy to be ready, willing, & able to tell your whole life story to perfect strangers in the grocery store line. That's just the way I roll though. So, if the only thing I blogged about was me, myself, and I there would be no blog block. Unfortunately, most of the really juicy, great for retelling sort of stuff in my life involves other people who are slightly more private than I am. I thought about getting them all to sign coyly worded consent forms allowing me the freedom to disclose their life stories, but you know, they're smart cookies too and I don't think they would fall for it. Anyway, I'm pretty sure using the dirt you have on other people for blog fodder is breaking the less than well known 11th commandment.

So... what DO I write about when the only things I've had on my mind would be way too incriminating for certain individuals? I don't want to fall back on to the safe subjects like my daughter's stubbornness or my trying to lose weight or even how badly I want a baby even though I have self-imposed infertility. I CAN'T write about any one's love lives, brushes with the law, or hilariously embarrassing mishaps that we snicker about behind their backs and cross our fingers that karma doesn't come back to bite us in the rear for laughing about it. Furthermore, I don't really care to touch politics or religion. Not because they're taboo so much as the fact that I'm so on the fence about what I think that you would think that I was the politician talking in circles. When I know what I think you'll be the first to know. So, here's the deal... you throw some ideas my way and I'll reward the creative genius who comes up with the best blog subject with a mystery prize. Believe me, if I can get "Hannah Montana" to send a surprise gift to my daughter, I can send a little sumpin sumpin your way! The contest is open until midnight Pacific Mountain time on Friday. On your marks, get set, GO!!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I'm A Big Freaking Liar

This is the post where I publicly out myself as a liar. It seemed perfectly innocent. Just a little white lie. I was at Walmart yesterday and I saw an ADORABLE little shirt that would look cute on Brookie. Then, out of the corner of my eye I spotted an even cuter headband. I could just picture her in them... AND they were on clearance! Problem: as most of you know Brooke is a very selective clothes wearer. I knew these were exactly the type of clothes that I loved and she hated, so accepting defeat, I put them back so that some other mother could come along and snatch them up for her little girl to look darling in.

I went about my business, gathering up the usual boring necessities: shampoo, toilet paper, toothpaste... Then, it occurred to me! "Brilliant!", I thought, amazed at my own creativity. It was so simple. The head band was a Hannah Montana brand and Brooke is a HUGE Hannah Montana fan. I decided then and there that I would buy them and wrap them up in a shipping box. I addressed the box to Brooke and made up a fake address for Miley Cyrus as the sender. I ran out and stuck it in the mail box knowing that Brooke loves to check the mail when she gets off the school bus. I couldn't wait for her to get home & discover it!

All of a sudden, it occurred to me that this plan of mine wasn't quite as flawless as I had originally believed. For starters, I was getting a twinge of guilt for lying to her. That was easy enough to ignore though. I told myself I lie to her about the tooth fairy & Santa in the same spirit of fun & anticipation. The stinker was that I didn't want her to go to school wearing said items and brag that she had gotten them as a gift from Hannah Montana and have everyone call her a liar. My child couldn't get called a liar for her mother's lie, after all! So, I typed up a letter from "Miley" about how she had this new product line and she chose some of her coolest girl fans to send free product trials to. "She" said that she thought Brooke had great taste and was hoping she could wear the shirt & headband to school so that other girls would want to go out and buy some. It was all a great, big marketing gimmick. Somehow, this sounded like a feasible explanation to me. Bonus: every time that I wanted to buy Brooke something & have her actually be excited to wear it instead of fighting me on it I could just send her another "shipment" to "product test". In my lying mind I foresaw all of our wardrobe battles being a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, my daughter is officially smarter than I am. She was skeptical from the minute she checked the mail.
"Uh, Mom... why does she have the same handwriting as you?", she asked.
"Hmmm... that's interesting. It does look a little like mine. That's cool that Miley and I write the same way."
She casually opened the package as if it were a box of canned peas or something equally boring. And you know what she said? "Oh." That's it! "Oh."
So, I played it up. "Wow! That is SOOOO cool! I can't believe that came from MILEY CYRUS!!!"
"I can't wear that to school."
"It's too cute."
"Of course it's cute, it came from Miley Cyrus! She always looks cute!"
"Ya... I'm not wearing that."

So, I guess I'll just return them to the store. My "brilliant" plan was an abysmal failure. The worst part? This morning I tried to convince her to just "be brave & wear it one time for Miley." She said, "Good try, Mom." I guess I may be a liar, but I'm not a very good one.

Monday, September 22, 2008

To Buy Or Not To Buy... That Is The Question

To buy or not to buy... that is the question. I don't even want to know how much money I've actually spent over these 12 years of parenting on educational supplies. I'm a compulsive book buyer. We have flash cards, we have CD-Roms, we have workbooks and board games... not a whole lot of it has proven to raise my kids' grades signifigantly. So, when a telemarketer called me this morning to guilt me into try to sell me a CD-ROM system that supposedly raises your child's IQ by at least 30 points and brings them up 2 letter grades, I was both intrigued and skeptical. I had already spent an insane amount of money on something similiar just this summer. I had been planning on going to Sylvan, but this program was less expensive and we could use it in the comfort of our own home (Sylvan is a 40 minute drive away a few times a week after all.) I figured if it didn't work out we could always resort to Sylvan after we tried this other program. Well, school is now in session and we never did go to Sylvan. That isn't to say that the other program was so amazing that we didn't need to. I just didn't feel like it would work motivated to try yet another thing after so many other things hadn't gotten results.

Each Friday all the kids bring home progress reports and a certain someone continues to decorate his progress reports with a certain letter that starts the words Flaky and Fragile and Fail. I have NO idea what to do about this. I've tried SO hard. I read to him diligently from birth on. He grew up watching Sesame Street and Between The Lions and Magic School Bus. Like I said, we've invested in just about every educational product that we came across, especially the ones that are supposed to "trick" you into learning by making it into something fun (like a computer game.) Even my shower curtain is a giant world map (you never know what you might subconciously learn while in the bathroom after all.) I have FOUR kids and I've parented them all the same. They all have access to the same books & products & discipline. Yet, they all have different strengths and weaknesses. I have one kid pulling in straight A+'s and complaining he's bored and another that has such poor grades that we celebrate when he gets C's. Speaking of celebrating, we've also tried a variety of reward & incentive programs. None of them seemed to be rewarding enough / effective.

So... when the phone rang and this gentleman (who was a fabulous salesman, BTW) worked to convince me that I would be a horrible mother if I didn't give him a debit card number so that my kids could become genius rocket scientists that win the Nobel Prize,I didn't know what to think or feel. What do you think, educated reader? Haven't I spent enough moolah over the years in this department? If the school can't get him to learn and all these other products can't get through to him either... why should this one be any different? Or... maybe, just maybe I SHOULD get it. Maybe I should sell a kidney or something so that I can afford to hire the world's best tutors and buy every educational CD-ROM in the english language and a couple of french & spanish ones for good measure? What would you do?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

So that's What Brooke Thinks Of Me...

I found this idea on Kelly's blog & thought it was cute. Here's what Brooke answered:

1) What is something mom always says to you? I love you

2) What makes mom happy? when I'm nice to her

3) What makes mom sad? when the kids don't do what she says

4) What does you mom do to make you laugh? tell jokes

5) How old is your mom? 29

6) What was your mom like as a child? a good little girl

7) How tall is your mom? I don't know

8) What is your mom's favorite thing to do? go on the computer

9) What does your mom do when your not around? stay at home bored

10) If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? because she's a rockstar

11) What is your mom really good at? cleaning

12) What is your mom not so good at? running

13) What does your mom do for her job? lock up the gates at night

14) What is your mom's favorite food? spicy???

15) What makes you proud of your mom? nothing

16) If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? Dora's Mom

17) What do you and your mom do together? walk up Strawberry Hill

18) How are you and your mom the same? we're both girls

19) How are you and your mom different? I play and she doesn't

20) How do you know your mom loves you? because she says it

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What Goes Up Must Come Down

What goes up must come down. This applies to children's moods as well. You can bet that when my kids have had an exceptionally good day they're going to melt down at bedtime. You would think that having a good day would equal going to bed happy but this is simply not the way it works. In our family we refer to this phenomenon as "having too much fun." Yesterday was a VERY fun day. It started off with a hyped up PTA assembly at school. Then, I brought birthday cupcakes into Russell's 2nd grade class. As soon as Russell got off the bus his dad took him to play golf while we set up for his "surprise" party (that he had basically planned himself.) His friends & family came, wolfed down 9 pizzas, a carrot cake, cheesecake ripple brownies, vanilla ice cream, and root beer. He opened a ton of really cool presents and found out that his dad had actually found a way to get him the quad (actually two) that he hasn't stopped talking about for a month. He and his friends took turns riding the quads for an hour or so and when it was finally too dark to ride anymore we calmed down by watching Speed Racer. Seriously fun day. I think Tatton's face says it best:

Today... well, today was busy and fun as well. There were new birthday toys to play with and a special birthday breakfast to consume before we rushed off to multiple soccer games. Once the soccer games were out of the way there were quads to ride again, of course. Then, Russ decided to pull a klondike and take a swim in the lake even though it's a tad bit chilly out today. Back to back fun times. Until... too much fun. Taking turns on the quads (or the lack thereof) spurred a fist fight. I jumped in and seperated the brutes within moments, but blood was shed regardless. So, everyone was sent to their own corners for a little quiet time. It has been a LONG time since my kids have been young enough to have manditory nap time, but we broke manditory nap time out of retirement. As I sit here typing, all 4 children are in tears in their respective corners (again.) Which brings me to my point: slow & steady is the name of the game. Kids are WAY better off having fun in small doses, which is the best way to fully enjoy it. Fun & candy are very similiar in the sense that a little goes a long way and when you've overdosed you just don't feel so well because what goes up must come down.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ode To Russell

Eight years ago tomorrow we welcomed Russell into the world. I can't believe it's been that long! He has been such an amazing addition to our family and (as with all of our children) I can't imagine our world without him.


Russell enjoys all the stereotypical "guy" stuff. He loves anything with wheels, but especially quads and muscle cars. He loves playing "army guys", fishing, and building things (forts, bike jumps, taking apart things he's not supposed to take apart to try & turn it into something else...) He has an amazing talent for music and can sing really well and plays songs on the keyboard by ear (even though he's way too shy to let anyone see him do that.) His favorite foods are corn dogs and cheese quesadillas. He throws a mean spiral and is pretty good at golf for his age. He's such an interesting kid. He's one of the only kids I know that loves hard work and cleaning. He's very OCD-ish (actually he probably DOES have it since his big bro Lane really does and it is genetic.) He gets really particular about his room being organized & gets nervous about germs (he uses more neosporin and band-aids than anyone else I know.) Russell doesn't love to watch TV or movies and complains when his brothers are "too busy sitting around being lazy butts & couch potatoes" to play with him. He is incredibly protective of his little sister and even though he rolls his eyes and declares her "so spoiled" he is amazingly patient with her. All she has to say is "my legs are tired" and he scoops her up and carries her. (She really IS spoiled!) He's not a big fan of school work, but he likes recess and school lunches. I'm so proud of what an amazing man he's growing into and just want to take today to say how blessed I feel to have Russell for my son.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tag- I'm It!

Ten Natalie Quirks

1. I always have to have a variety of herbal teas in the house. I like to make tea (preferably peppermint, lemon, or chai spice) in a big mason jar. It's my favorite way to get lots of calorie free fluids and feel full all day without eating much.

2. I've been trying to practice letting go of my kids already. I've realized that I have a tendency to baby them and that even though my overprotecting seems like I'm just being a loving parent to me it can come across as me not believing in their ability to handle things on their own to them and that's not good for their self-esteem or their ability to work through things independently and come out stronger for it. So... I'm making a concious effort to back off. Which is kind of a funny thing since it means I'm now simultaneously being accused of being over AND underprotective by well meaning loud mouthed friends & family. Every one has an opinion...

3. I thrive on variety. I'm constantly rearranging my furniture, trying new recipes, changing the radio station... It really cracks me up since Dustin is super predictable. We're polar opposites in the sense that he's the adventurous sort who's gone sky diving and repeling and never drives the speed limit... but he doesn't like to try new foods and gravitates to the same style / color of clothes, etc. I'm not into extreme sports whatsoever and always set my cruise control when I'm driving, but I would go absolutely stir crazy if I wasn't able to change it up in other areas of my life. I can't even do the same exercise dvd two days in a row.

4. I feel kind of like a crazy person because I just KNOW that there is another soul out there that is supposed to be part of our family. It's hard to express the fact that you so strongly believe that your family isn't complete. I wouldn't feel so much like a crazy person if it weren't for the fact that I already have my hands full with 4 kids and I had my tubes tied. People really do look at you wierd when you try to explain that you somehow feel in your gut that there's "someone" missing.

5. I'm paranoid about water. I'm NOT a strong swimmer. I can swim when I'm in a pool and can see the bottom / the depth written on the side. I panic and can't swim when I'm in a lake / river and am nervous about drop-offs & stuff. Living here (sandwiched by water) has been interesting for me. I've been trying not to transfer my phobias to the kids though and want them to be strong swimmers (see quirk #2 above) so I frequently take them swimming in the lake and hold my breath to keep from screeching, "Don't go too deep! Watch out for the drop-off!" in a frazzled, the sky is falling voice.

6. Another thing that really scares me is that I don't think we're living off the land enough. Every time I pop a frozen pizza in the oven I feel a twinge of guilt & a punched in the stomach feeling of anxiety since I HATE leaving my family's nourishment in the hands of big business. Yet, I don't take the initiative to stop cooking those frozen pizzas! We did plant a couple of fruit trees, but I want a monstrous garden and chickens and... you get the point.

7. I LOVE to teach. It's a game to me. I love trying to come up with creative ways to make things stick in people's brains. Last school year I had the most fun volunteering in Brooke's kindergarten class and seeing those kids start to "get it" (especially the hispanic kids who come from non-english speaking homes. How awesome is it that they start off at the beginning of the school year barely able to speak english and they're beginning to read it by the end of the year?) Those kids are amazing! I wish I could learn stuff as quickly now as little kids are able to. Their minds are like sponges! I really would love to do some sort of tutoring / after school program in Grays Harbor. Being the parent of kids with extreme strengths and weaknesses I know that there aren't enough programs in our area for kids who are either struggling in school or gifted and bored. Being involved in something like that sounds like the ultimate hobby to me.

8. Wow- this is really long. I'm running out of quirks. Hmmm... I love music. I love that my kids love music and know the words to so many old or funky songs so that days like yesterday can happen. We were riding in the car (rushing from Cub Scouts to soccer) and Tatton starts a Fleetwood Mac medley of Don't Stop & Twisted Sister's We're Not Gonna Take It. Everyone joined in and the next thing I knew Tatton was laughing uncontrollably because he had taken my cell phone and recorded our singing and set it as my new ringtone. So, now everytime my phone rings I hear my kids rocking out and it makes me laugh.

9. This is the first fall that I haven't wanted to bake. Usually, this time of year rolls around and I start craving apple crisp and pumpkin bread and cinnamon rolls. It's strange that since school started I've only made homemade cookies for after school snack once. I hope that this means my diet is on track and healthiness is ahead in the near future.

10. I don't see how the people on Wife Swap could possibly be for real. I know people are strange, but how is it seriously possible that they're able to find this many extreme cases that are willing to go on television and act the way they do? It's like a car accident. It's so terrible that I can't take my eyes off of it. It's got to be scripted or something.

Well, that's me... pretty boring. If you're still reading I'm impressed.

Thanks Jenny, for the tag. I tag Chelsea, Kelly, and Annie (yes, I know you don't do tags.) Ten quirks about you, Ladies!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Russell is planning his own surprise party. I suppose I should probably attempt to explain to him that it doesn't really work that way, but hey... at least the kid knows what he wants & is willing and able to go after it, I guess. Last night he informed me that his dad would be taking him to play golf and when they came back from playing golf everyone he knows will be there ready to jump out and yell, "Surprise!" After that, I will serve carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and we will present him with his new quad, dirt bike, or go cart (he's giving me three choices since he DOES like surprises.) As a parent, this sort of situation is sticky. I'm torn between the side of me that loves my child so much it hurts and can't stand the thought of disappointing him if and when his very precise ideals can't be met and the side of me that feels pinned against the wall by his expectations and feels a little like squashing his dreams before they get any bigger and therefore more unrealistic. (Boy, it sounds ugly when I say it like that...) Anyway, those of you who know me well know that I'm a people pleasing pushover so be expecting a party invitation.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Tooth Fairies & Unfinished Business

The Tooth Fairy came to our house last night. She came to see Brooke who had lost her first tooth. I'm sure she was confused since Russell has had his top two front teeth loose almost all summer and now his permanent teeth are growing in behind them and he still refuses to just yank those baby teeth out. Brooke, on the other hand, noticed her tooth was SLIGHTLY loose during dinner & surprised us by wiggling it into submission by bedtime. I've told you that girl is determined.

One of the many things that Brooke is determined about is not getting her fingernails clipped. I have seen her nails grow so long that the white part on top is literally 3 times as long as the pink part on bottom. It really bothers me. I let her get away with it for the summer, but told her that she was expected to clip them every Saturday night throughout the school year. She was putting up too good of a fight this Saturday night though, so in desperation I decided to sneak in and clip them while she was sleeping last night.

After I was certain she was sleeping soundly enough, I sneaked in and slipped a dollar bill under her pillow. I was so intent on getting those fingernails clipped that I moved right on to it and didn't take the tooth. I got about 6 nails done and she started to wiggle and talk in her sleep, making me suspect that she would wake up if I kept clipping so I tip-toed out of the room. I guess I should have stayed and finished the job 'cause she woke up anyway. In her light sleeping state, she sensed her shorter nails and started crying hysterically. That's the part I hate about clipping her nails while she's sleeping. She always flips out when she wakes up & finds out. Once, when I did it, she wouldn't fall asleep without a fight for a couple of weeks because she was afraid someone would "mess with my body when I'm sleeping". She couldn't let her guard down. Which made me feel horribly guilty for making my poor little girl so distrusting & paranoid! Anyway... back to the story...

There Brooke was bawling about her clipped nails and I couldn't calm her down & get her back to sleep. I apologized for disturbing her (apologies usually work wonders with Brookie) and told her that I had told her that she had to have them clipped once a week during the school year so it's not like she wasn't warned, etc. I tried to snuggle her and tickle her face while I told her stories, but she just wouldn't settle down. So, I told her good night and went to my own bed figuring that I would just let her cry herself to sleep. Her daddy took pity on her though. He would. He's the one who keeps insisting that I shouldn't worry about her excessively long nails. "She's a girl. Just take her in and have a manicure so they look clean & groomed." is his philosophy. I'm sorry. I'm not paying for a manicure for a six year old and it still grosses me out thinking about those crazy Ripley's Believe It or Not nails of hers.

So, Dustin went in and asked her what was wrong. She wailed, "Mom c-c-clipped my n-n-nails!" (sob) Dustin sympathized, "Oh, I'm sorry. Mean Mommy." Nice, honey... Then, he tried to distract her with, "hey, did the tooth fairy come yet?" She instantly stopped crying and looked under her pillow. "She gave me a dollar." Dustin spying the tooth still sitting there in the baggie said, "Oh! Look! She didn't take the tooth! I bet you she was here when you started throwing a fit and you scared her off. You better go back to sleep in case she's waiting to finish the job. I bet she was going to give you more money." Like magic, Brooke laid down and quickly went back to sleep.

So, I tiptoed in and left her more money and made sure to take the tooth this time. When I woke Brooke up for school this morning, she was STILL mad at me. So, I tried her dad's trick and told her to check under her pillow. "hey! She took the tooth and I have $2.50!" Which made all of her brothers run in saying, "WHAT?! She got $2.50?! No fair! We never got that much! Why did the tooth fairy give her so much?!" So, I had to spin a tale about inflation and how the tooth fairy must have raised her rates of compensation, etc. So, we apparently have a new more expensive standard now. Hopefully Russell will be able to part with those top two teeth soon in light of the new pricing policy.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Where's Russell?

Yep. We all survived the first day back to school. Well, pretty much. Russell's teacher called me at the end of the day and told me that he was probably going to be a little upset when he got off the bus. He was. Very. Apparently, he was at PE and all of the students went to the water fountain to get drinks. Another group of students walked by the water fountains and he got confused and latched himself on to their group (thinking it was his class) and followed them to recess. So, there he was playing at recess with this other group while his teacher & several other staff members frantically tried to find him. It sounds like it took quite a long time. They finally had to call his name over the intercom, which humiliated super shy Russell so he froze & hid.

His teacher was obviously stressed about this and had a talk with him about following directions & listening. Which made him shut down even more since he felt like he was in big trouble when he didn't do anything wrong on purpose. In his mind, he had followed his class to recess (and just didn't realize it wasn't his class since he didn't know anyone anyway) but it seemed to her like he had just chosen to go play instead of being where he was supposed to be and that when he wasn't answering / coming when they called him that he was being stubborn. So, there was basically a big communication issue.

It's all pretty funny when you think about a little almost eight year old getting confused & going to recess with the wrong group while a search party is forming for him, in hindsight. He was mortified at the time though. His biggest complaint "they said my name on the intercom!" makes sense since Russ hates being the center of attention more than just about anything. We went to Cub Scouts after school and he was too exhausted to participate so he went and took a nap instead. Then, I let him choose dinner (Subway works for me!) and he fell asleep again after dinner. I wasn't sure what to expect the next morning and was somewhat prepared for a fight to get him to go back to school, but he was surprisingly the first one of the kids ready. As he trudged off to the school bus I thought my heart was going to explode with pride at his resilience. Here's hoping he doesn't get lost again. That's the sort of thing that could only happen once, right? Right?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

And Exhale...

Just another day in the life of a helicopter mom. Always hovering. Always lots of things spinning & up in the air. I decided to put the kids on the bus for the first day of school. Then, I stalked it. When I got into the school parking lot (feeling like a retard for trying to find that one elusive parking spot when I didn't even have any kids with me) I saw all of the cute, happy little families walking hand in hand to find their classrooms and felt a twinge of guilt for throwing my poor children out into the cruel world of public bussing and finding their classrooms on their own. Hey, at least I followed the bus I thought. It occurred to me that I was perhaps slightly like a spirit mom (watching from afar.) They couldn't see me or hear me but I was there nonetheless ready to jump in and rescue them & give them guidance if they needed it.

I had given Tatton the "special" job of making sure everyone got to their classrooms. (Why is it that I can't even say special without feeling like I'm making fun of someone now? Why did they have to go and ruin that word?) Anyway... At the open house last night I noticed that it worked out well that Tatton's class was the furthest from the bus drop-off zone since he's gone to that school longer than the other kids. So, as they walk from the bus together they drop off each kid as they come to their class door with Tatton's class being last right after Brooke's. I sat in my car anxiously observing to make sure that he was, in fact, the good big brother that I suspected and that he chaperoned his little sister to her class. Once I witnessed that my anxiety ALMOST subsided & I was able to drive home to my QUIET house.

Coming home to a quiet house is a very bittersweet thing. While it's entirely delicious to have 6 straight hours to do what I want / need to do without interruption there is an underlying guilt aspect that adds it's own stress. It's sometimes hard enough to explain being a stay at home mom when you have preschoolers. When all of your kids are in school full time people tend to look at you weird & ask rude questions. I'd like to use this blog to publicly make a statement. I just want to shout out into the universe, "No I do not sit around watching soap operas and eating bon bons all day, okay?!"

It was kind of nice over the summer in the sense that with 4 busy kids around staying home seemed justified. When I had 4 tag-alongs at the grocery store nobody questioned my busy-ness level. In fact, people would comment on how I had my "hands full" and ask if I was going for a basketball team. At the beginning of September though those comments change to "must be nice" (if you heard the tone that it's said in you would understand what's implied) and "what do you do with yourself?"

Okay, I'll be the first to say that it IS nice. Those 4 kids don't magically take all of their needs with them to school. They still generate a ton of laundry. They still need me to grocery shop & cook for them. There are still dentist appointments. I volunteer in their classrooms and chaperon on field trips. The six hours that school is in session fly by in a flurry of chores & errands. I feel bad because I just barely pull it all together and so I have no idea how moms who work full time do it. I'm in awe. I feel like I NEED to be home to give my family the mom & wife that they deserve. It makes me kind of resent the women's rights movement because back when my grandma was raising her kids practically all of the moms stayed home. Now, most women HAVE TO work and they're still doing all of the stuff that they were before too. Dustin prefers for me to stay home, so that works for me. As long as he doesn't make any (totally innocent) comments like he made last night. I was filling out all of the kids' paperwork for school and he was impatiently waiting for me to snuggle up & watch a movie with him. He said, "I just figured you could do that tomorrow on your nice, relaxing day off when the house is quiet." I snapped, "It's not a relaxing day off!" and threatened to get a full time job.

Don't people know that being a helicopter mom is exhausting?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Last Second Touchdown

This week has been insane (I THINK in a good way.) Getting 4 kids ready for back to school feels a little like running a marathon with bags of sand strapped to your ankles. Of course, being the procrastinator that I am hasn't made things easier by any means. I'm sure it would have been lovely to have gotten my kids' school supplies back when they first stocked the shelves with them instead of running around to multiple stores desperately searching for a place that wasn't out of paper and pencils. I am SO stoked that I hit the Labor Day sales at Value Village yesterday and made a haul though. I found some great stuff. My favorite was a little navy blue pleated Tommy Hilfiger jumper for Brooke. It still had the original tag on it from Macy's for $39.99 but I got it for $2.50. How sweet is that?

Today was all about tying up loose ends. Getting the kids' hair cut, picking up Russell's new glasses, making sure all the new clothes & supplies & lunch money are ready to go for tomorrow.. I spent a good deal of the summer running the kids to a menagerie of appointments with the objective of not having to miss any school during the school year. That would have been a splendid plan if we happened to go to any medical practices that had a competent staff. We've apparently had a running theme of having our appointments rescheduled without anyone calling us. That happened again this afternoon for Brooke's post-op check-up with the ENT (which is an hour and a half from our home.) I drove 10-15 miles per hour over the speed limit all the way there anxiously trying to get there on time just so they could tell me that the doctor wasn't in and I needed to reschedule. Dustin said I should have demanded a fuel reimbursement but I'm not gutsy like that. I just got my parking validated & walked out with my tail between my legs. What I WAS upset about was that they wanted to reschedule her for Thursday (her second day of school.) The whole point of having the appointment today was so that we didn't have to worry about it during the school year! So, that's irritating.

As I said, we've had this sort of thing happen A LOT this summer. The worst offender has been Lane's therapist. For starters, their practice is in a big old brick building with multiple entrances. For his evaluation, we went in one side of the building. So, when we went back I went in that same door. The receptionist told me that we were supposed to go to the other side of the building in the West entrance. So, we hurried and found the door with the W on it just to be told that our appointment had been rescheduled to the next day. I expressed that I would try to make that since it was important to me that he was seen but that it was highly inconvenient to have to arrange childcare for the other 3 kids yet again, etc. The next day, we rushed down there and went in the West entrance. The receptionist told me that I needed to go to the building across the street. Bizarre musical doors, but okay... and guess what? Our appointment had been rescheduled. We STILL haven't gotten in even though I've wasted a tank of gasoline & secured childcare repeatedly. I started to wonder if this wasn't part of the therapy? Are they TRYING to make me crazy so that they make more money off us when we finally get seen? I'm sure I'll be full on certifiable by then & I wasn't even the original patient!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

After A While

My friend Lisa is reading a very good book entitled "Perfect Daughters". It is about the adult daughters of alcoholics. She shared this poem on her blog and I thought it was very moving.


After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn
that love doesn't mean leaning
and company doesn't mean security.
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren't contracts
and presents aren't promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child
and you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow's ground is
too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down
in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every good-bye, you learn...

-Veronica A. Shoffstall

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Minute Maid

I've entitled this post Minute Maid because by my estimate I've done about one minute of house work today. I should really be scrubbing my kitchen floor instead of blogging. Alas, you get where my priorities are. It's been a great day. I'm a little worn out between yesterday's school clothes shopping and then going to Olympia with Kyla right after I got home from shopping & not getting back until almost midnight. I decided to take my kids to the festivities in town anyway though. I couldn't pass up free fun. We went to the library and did the Bug Hunt, which was a scavenger hunt to find the words for a crossword puzzle. The kids loved it and loved their prizes even more (coupons to McDonald's for an ice cream cone and a gold dollar coin.) There was also free put-put golf and two bouncy houses (which my boys got kicked out of for jumping too rough.) My eccentric little rockers were digging the live music and especially loved the Johnny Cash songs.

As usual, my kids provided fun commentary throughout the day. Tatton (the spotlight addict) asked me if I was going to blog about some of the things he said, so here's my favorite: We were walking past the police station and Lane said, "Remember when we do the downtown trick or treat and they give away those baggies with candy?" Tatton said, "Yeah, that's cool 'cause we know we can trust them. What kind of police officer would poison Halloween candy? Well... that would be a good way to catch a sweet toothed bad guy." Then, when he asked if I was going to blog that (is it wierd that my kids now expect me to blog the things they do and say?) he tried to convince me to edit it so that he had said, "a sweet toothed serial killer" in case people thought poisoning a plain old bad guy was too extreme. "After all, the poison could be lethal and that might be considered the death penalty and that wouldn't be justified." I just said, "Whatever, Tatton. I'm not going to edit my blog for you. Sorry. First comment stands."

Then, this evening was Cody Helm's baptism. That was neat. I can't believe Cody is already as old as he is. He looked so happy and handsome walking in with his daddy all fresh and clean from the font. It's amazing how there really is a certain maturity & understanding that comes right around this age. I've noticed it recently in Russell too. He's just more conscious than he used to be. Walking through the mall yesterday he was keenly aware of his surroundings and trying to behave. Maybe it was just because his sister was being so terrible that it made him look good, but he seemed like he had recently developed more self-control and responsibility. It's crazy to think that these little guys were so much littler not that long ago. Makes the reality of them becoming grown-ups before too long seem all too real. :-(

Well, I guess I should go start some house work. See if I can go from the minute maid to the 10 minute maid...

Mourning, Folks!

Friends, I am in mourning. I'm mourning the loss of the ability to have any control whatsoever over what my daughter wears. Which, by extension means I'm mourning the loss of her being a little girl.She's morphed into one of those stubborn big girls that have definite opinions and her own taste separate from mine. So sad. I know that you know from previous posts on this blog that she's a very opinionated girl. I kinda like that about her. Sometimes when I look at her (yesterday at the mall) the saying "Well behaved women never make history" pops into my head and I think it's neat that she is so stubborn. However... I'm never taking her shopping again. (Okay, that's not true. Apparently, sometime in the next several years I'm gonna have to break down and take her, but...)

You see, Brooke knows what she likes and doesn't like. She doesn't like anything too girly and she doesn't like anything too "boy-ey". Meaning, she was gravitating to leopard print since to her it made a statement of "I'm not a girly girl that wears just pink but it's not all blue either- although boys like animals so this is kind of a tom boy outfit that's feminine. " (Her line of thought. Not mine.) Comfort is always of utmost importance and she believes practically all pants are going to give her a wedgie so she flips out, "I can't wear THAT! It'll get a wedgie!!!" whenever I offer her a pair of jeans. So, I offered her skirts and baby doll dresses with soft leggings. "Too cute! I can't go to school looking that cute!", she spazzed out.

One of my favorite reasons to go to the Children's Place is that you can coordinate things. I've been cyber stalking their new fall looks since they first came out in June. So, I had certain things already picked out in my head when we arrived at the store. I made the mistake of acting like I liked them though. Never say, "Oh! Look at how cute it is that these socks and hair pretties match this sweater!" to my daughter! She went all exorcist on me. "I hate too much matching!!!"

The one thing I wasn't worried about buying was shoes. In general, she has a shoe fetish (never take her in the shoe aisle if you don't want to see her get a raging case of the gimmes.) Plus, there are usually plenty of shoes that fit her description of comfy and not too girly or too boy-ey. Maryjane's and tennis shoes and crocs for instance. Did my darling little girl stick to those though? Of course not. She latched on to a pair of glittery red slippers just like Dorothy's from The Wizard of Oz. I mean, they WERE cute. They just didn't really go with anything else she had and more importantly, they weren't practical. I tried to use the, "Can you wear those to PE and recess?" excuse. I kid you not, she said, "Well, I'm not SUPPOSED to, but I can just pretend like I forgot it was PE day or you could send a note." What a girl. Am I the only one who thinks that a leopard print sweat suit and glittery red dress shoes isn't a great look?

In the past, I've had success with buying the stuff I want anyway and forcing her to wear it one way or another. For a long time, she was fairly easy to bribe. If she didn't want to wear something I would simply say, "Hey, maybe we should stop and get a treat. If you hurry and get dressed in this we can get to the store faster and choose our treat." or something along those lines. She's gotten WAY too smart for that though, so I didn't bother buying anything she didn't like. Worse, I caved and bought a couple of items that I thought were hideous because I knew she loved them and that she would at least get ready without a fight in the morning.

The only part that REALLY killed me was that I wasn't able to get her hair cut. I had full intentions to get her a cute little back to school cut. We've always compromised on a bob. She wants her hair in a shorter pixie / boy cut. She LOVES chunky layers too. So, I get her an inverted bob and we're both happy. Not this time. She's really good at holding still during the hair cut. So, when she was shaking her head around excessively I knew that she was playing hard ball. I tried to be strict and make her behave and she snarled, "I want you to cut my hair really short so my mom can't put any hair pretties in it or I'm not holding still and getting any hair cut!" to the lady. So, I marched her little butt out of there without any back to school hair cut.

Then, she bawled. Like a two year old. I strained to get her writhing body across the crowded mall and through the busy parking lot and shoved her kicking and screaming into the back seat of my car and made sure the doors were set on child lock so she couldn't escape. Then, we sat there. For a really long time. Waiting for her to calm down. Finally, I told Russell how impressed I was with how well behaved he had been all day long and that since he was buckled and quiet I was going to get him an ice cream sundae at McDonald's. Brooke sat up straighter, "I (gasp for breath) wa-wa-wa-want an I-I (gasp for breath) ice cream s-s-sundae. (sigh)
"Well, you have to be good."
"I'll be good."
"Okay, if you promise you're ready to be nice."

We drove the maybe two minute drive over to McDonald's and just as I start to pull through the drive-thru she starts screaming again. All I can say is that poor lady taking our order. I can only imagine what Brooke's banshee cries sound like through a microphone. So, Russell ate his yummy ice cream sundae with Brooke watching him while screaming, "It's not fair! Turn around! I'll be nice! Why does Russell get one? I'll be nice!" The whole 30 minute drive home.

Now... it's my turn to say "No Fair!!!" I had three boys first and when I finally got a girl I can't even have fun dressing her! I sure hope this stubborn side serves her well and she does something good with it when she grows up. Like makes history.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Five Is The Loneliest Number

My adorable little sister is spending some time with us. I love having her here, there is only one small problem: all of the kids fight over her. Brooke comes up to me complaining that she's getting left out. Then, Russell mysteriously complains that Kelsey & Brooke are leaving him out. I'm not sure how it's possible for them both to be left out at the same time, but we've apparently mastered the art. Tatton & Kelsey are basically the same age, so they play together a lot. Brooke & Kelsey are the only girls so they play together a lot too. Lane doesn't always fit into that equation, so he throws a fit about how nobody plays with him. Russell is typically happy playing with the "leftover" kid who is also left out. That is, until Kelsey asks that kid to play with her and Russell gets dropped like a hot potato and he gets his feelings hurt and decides to hurt whoever's feelings HE can. See what I'm saying? There's so much social drama in this house that if I didn't know better I would assume I was in a junior high.

I can only conclude that I knew what I was doing when I had my tubes tied. Many, many times since then I have regretted doing it, but not when we have a 5th kid here. I'm not big on uneven numbers. For some bizarre reason people always pair off and someone gets left out. I remember when I was growing up there were 3 of us girls that were the same age in my neighborhood. You would think that it would be the more the merrier, but we were incapable of all getting along at the same time. I would frequently run home crying to my mom that Emily and Alicia were playing together & wouldn't let me play with them. Before you feel sorry for me, I have to admit, probably more frequently I was the little brat saying, "No we're the best friends and you can't play!" It seemed perfectly natural to be so cruel when I was a kid. Now, I can't imagine acting that way. I'm hoping that means that my kids will grow out of this too. I don't know how much longer I can take, "Get out! This is our fort!" and "Mommmm- Kelsey and I were watching this movie first and we don't want them to watch it with us!" I mean, seriously? Fighting over sitting in the same room staring at the TV in unison? You've got to be kidding me.

This is, of course, largely due to the fact that Kelsey is a novelty. She's a visitor that is here often enough for everyone to have bonded with her but not often enough for the newness of her being around to wear off. The times that she's been here for more extended periods of time the tug-of-war seems to subside and we kind of find our natural rhythm. My kids also do this when we babysit a baby or toddler too. Every one wants to hold the baby and heaven forbid anyone shake the rattle or talk baby talk better than anyone else. So, I suppose it's not that having 5 kids is awful. I guess if we had another we would acclimate just like the times before. Right now though, it seems like 5 is the loneliest number that there ever was.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This Is My Town

Every once in a while...there's a rare occasion... once in a blue moon... when I feel great love & appreciation for my hometown. Today is one of those days. You see, earlier I was talking on the phone to a friend of mine about school clothes shopping. I told her that I was going to hit some Labor Day sales this weekend. Value Village is having a particularly good one. She asked me if my kids would just die if I bought their clothes there. The answer is honestly- no. My kids could care less about which store we shop at/ what brand name they wear/ or even current trends for that matter. I realized, I think a lot of the reason for that is that we live in good 'ole small town Elma. I'm sure if we lived even 30 minutes away in Olympia there would be a lot more emphasis on clothes. Last school year, the only clothing item my sons asked for was romeos (an item that fits into the description of buying your clothes and your car batteries at the same place.) I shop at Ross, Walmart, and Target which is pretty much where all of the other kids in their class's families shop. It's one of the many things that I take for granted living here. Life is just simpler as compared to some other places.

I also like the lack of traffic. Sure, being a one stop light town is great for jokes, but seriously- one stop light. How nice is that? There is only one intersection in the entire downtown area that you have to wait at a red light. The worst traffic jam I've ever seen is simply when people have to actually slow down to the speed limit through the school zones. I've been known to complain that we only have one grocery store and I wish it stocked more items (you do have to make a 30 minute trip to get certain items- apparently there isn't a huge demand for tofu noodles and organic stuff here) but I know that store like the back of my hand - which makes for a speedy shopping trip as long as I don't run into someone and start talking. Which is nearly impossible since even going through the checkout line means visiting with the employees (most of whom I either grew up with / grew up with their kids.)

Sometimes knowing everyone is problematic. Occasionally, I think it would be nice to move to a land far, far away where no one knows anything about me and my extended family. Having your kids have the same teachers that you did has it's pros & cons, of course. To our family, I think the pros of living here outweigh the cons though. Last night, Brooke & I power walked up Strawberry Hill while Russell was at soccer. Growing up that was my stomping grounds. It was so fun to be able to answer Brooke's questions: "What color was that house when you were a kid?" , "Do the same people still live on this street?", "Did you used to pick apples from that tree when you were a kid like me?"

As August has neared its end and the grey skies and rain have engulfed us, thoughts of moving somewhere sunny and warm or at least somewhere that has 4 seasons have crossed my mind. I think when it comes down to it though, this is where I want to be. In my safe & familiar small town where my kids care more about climbing trees than fashion and the most I ever need for directions is a street name.

There's a for sale sign on a big old' rusty tractor
You can't miss it, Its the first thing that you see
Just up the road, a pale blue water tower
With "I Love Jennie" painted in bright green
Hey That's my Uncle Bill there by the courthouse
He'll be lowering the flag when the sun goes down
And this is My town

(Nana na na na)
Yeah this is my town
(Nana na na na)

HEY! Where I was born
Where I was raised
Where I keep all my yesterdays
Where I ran off cause I got mad
And it came to blows with my old man
Well I came back and settled down
It's where they'll put me in the ground
Yeah this is My town

(Nana na na na)
Yeah this is My town
(Nana na na na)
My town

- Montgomery Gentry

BTW, I tried to include a photo of downtown Elma but whenever I googled it I kept getting a link for Seriously. LOL

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Love Boys

I'm taking the kids to the eye doctor this afternoon and I figured while we were down there we could pick up some school clothes. So, I asked my boys what they thought they needed. Russell scoffed, "I already have clothes. I don't need more." Lane said that he did need clothes but only a couple pairs of jeans and a new pair of shoes. Tatton also insisted that his clothes from last school year still fit him and were in decent enough shape. Brooke on the other hand.... Brooke's list is rather lengthy. I think she's convinced I should spend all the money I've potentially saved by having 3 sons first all on her. Here she is barely 6, going into the first grade, and she thinks she needs a pair of shoes for each outfit. Can we say diva? Now, I'll admit: this IS my fault. Since I saw that ultrasound and knew I was finally having a girl I've swooned over hair pretties and tights. I've made too big a deal out of my excitement to see some pink stuff in our home. But- Oh. My. Gosh. What a stark contrast to my boys' "I don't need much, Mom." Wish me luck taking this primadonna shopping this afternoon!

Monday, August 18, 2008

It's Crunch Time

We had a back to school drill this morning. I set the alarm and we got up and commenced to pretend to try to not miss the bus. We rushed through breakfast, brushed our teeth and hair, and got dressed down to socks and shoes. Brooke even remembered to grab her backpack. Then, after feeling satisfied that we had in fact all gotten ready by 7:30 and had not missed our imaginary bus we had nothing more planned all day. Only one problem with this scenario: being bored by 7:30 AM does not make for a short day whatsoever. So, we did pretend school work for an hour. Hmmm... 8:30. Now what? We went through the motions during a few chores. 9:15... Luckily for me, the kids got creative and were fairly occupied & well behaved the rest of the day. Here's what they did first:

These pictures aren't fabulous. I had to take them with my camera phone since my good camera's battery was dead. I think they're pretty cute though. This shark was left in our storage shed by the people who lived here before us. The kids dug it out and took turns being eating alive. The "blood" on Russ is taco sauce. Then, they got out a tub of homemade play dough and came up with some fairly imaginative creations. We started to refinish a dresser for Brooke's room. Word to the wise, never attempt painting furniture with 4 children if you want decent results. I'm trying to look at the crazy streaked and clumpy paint job as a personal touch that makes the dresser "special".

In other news.... my daughter has become my biggest inspiration for losing weight. I believe she may have a future in being a personal trainer or perhaps an image consultant. It started last week when I took the kids swimming. I, of course, was sitting on the shore observing while wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Brooke walks up and says, "Why don't you swim with us? Is it because you're too fat to wear a bathing suit?" Nice. I tell her I'd rather just watch them and make sure they're safe. Brooke says, "Are you mad you're so fat? I would be really mad if I was as fat as you." Mindful of wanting to model self-acceptance and a confident body image I lie to her and say, "No. I love my body." She, of course, goes on to try to explain all of the reasons why I shouldn't love my body. Among them: "You're not pretty like you used to be when you were a teenager." Well, duh.

I thought we had moved on but she brought it up again the next day. I was sitting at the computer (shocking) and she came up and asked me why I sit around too much. "You need to work out more." I agreed. She kept staring at me (looking a little bit too much like the little girl from The Ring.) "What?", I ask. "You need to work out." "I know." "Now." I could have pulled Mom rank and told her to knock it off, but the girl did have a point. So, I logged off the computer and hopped on the elliptical. For the first ten minutes Brooke jumped up and down clapping her hands like my little cheerleader. "Faster! Don't be lazy! Exercise more!" Then, she offered me a water break and told me that I have to start drinking more water.

Later, (hungry from my workout ;-) I was snacking on chips & salsa. She looked at me and shook her head putting her hands on her hips, "Mom! What are you doing eating that?" "What? Salsa is made from fruits & vegetables", I say sheepishly. "The chips are junk food.", she chastised me. "I'll only eat a couple." "they're deep fried and salty!", she said. By this point I was starting to feel a little impressed by her knowledge. "Where did you learn so much about health & fitness?", I ask her. "From that nutrition lady at school.", she said casually. Tax dollars at work, people.

So... I've been making an effort. I've been getting in a couple of hours of exercise a day and only eating foods with a low glycemic index. Not that I haven't tried all of this before, but I have a sneaking suspicion I might do better at it now that I have a pair of prying blue eyes following me around and holding me accountable. Now, if I could just get her to quit nagging me to wax my eyebrows and dye my hair! LOL What a girl.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Isn't It Just Glorious?

I went for a drive this afternoon. I used to love to go for drives, but thanks to the current astronomical price of fuel I try to drive as little as possible now. I was taking Lane to an activity though and impulsively decided to take the long way home on the back roads. Let me just say... WOW! I need to get out and enjoy the scenery more often. Sitting here in my house doing the same thing day after day I forget how amazingly beautiful this area is. Driving along and just soaking in the sights was rather enjoyable. Now mind you, I had to try really hard to tune my kids out (the sound of children's screeching voices screaming at each other can really ruin an otherwise striking view.) Anyway... I felt inspired to put together a slide show of some of my favorite Pacific Northwest nature picture. Here it is:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Love Words & Hate Numbers

In case you haven't noticed, I LOVE words. The written word- books, poetry, song lyrics, quotes. The spoken word- have you ever tried to END a conversation with me? I could chat the ear off a deaf person. Walking through Target I see a wall plaque that simply says "Love Is Spoken Here" and I HAVE to have it. Dustin thinks my obsession with wanting to decorate the house with 14" x 6" pieces of wood with a few words on them is silly. Why would you pay money to look at words vs. hanging a painting or something? He argues. Words are just so beautiful to me though. One of my favorite parts of parenting is watching my kids' vocabularies emerge and then fostering a love of reading in them. I had more fun than they did when they were young enough to enjoy cutting words out of playdough with letter cookie cutters and I so miss practicing writing their names in a baking dish filled with salt... My fridge is covered with a couple hundred magnetic poetry magnets. I strategically stash books and magazines into visual places in each room of the house so that no matter where the kids go there is something for them to read, hoping that they will grow up so immersed in literacy that they will "magically" grow up to love words as much as I do.

Numbers, on the other hand, are cruel & ugly things. Case in point, we have a new scale in the bathroom. Have I dared step on it yet? Absolutely not! It's tempted me, silently calling my name from its place in the corner, "Aren't you curious? Don't you want to know?" I just know in the pit of my pudgy stomach that I'm not going to like that number though. I'm sure it's right up there with those other despised numbers: gas prices, Iraqi death toll, my stroke threatening blood pressure. See? Numbers are terrible things. Lane would disagree with me. When he was in first grade and Tatton was a very phonetic preschooler, Tatton was sounding out an easy reader book. Lane walked up and gave him some big brotherly advice, "Don't bother. The English language is so confusing. Just learn math. Math is about facts." Now, I see Lane's point. I do. All this I before E except after C stuff can be a little bewildering if you think about it. All you have to do is sit and watch an elementary school spelling bee to be reminded of how deceptive some words can be. I don't know... I just love them though, warts and all. Give me a journalism class over an accounting class any day. And all you number lovers out there- we're just going to have to agree to disagree.


I have insomnia tonight. Is it a full moon, I wonder? I looked out the window & couldn't tell through the fog. I notice I tend to get insomnia when there's a full moon. Maybe it's just that I have anxiety. Although I don't know if anxiety is really the right word for it. I don't feel upset really. I just sense an excitement in the air. The reality of school being only 3 weeks away has struck and I'm making mental lists of what we need to do beforehand.

I can tell that the local teenagers are sensing the end of summer creeping up too. We've had a lot more craziness going on at the park. I've had to call the sheriff's department twice this week because their drag racing and loud base music at all hours of the night was getting out of hand. We've had a few minor vandelism type things too and I REALLY don't want to give anyone the opportunity to leave me a nasty mess to clean up if I can help it. I typically hold off on calling the sheriff's department if I can. I don't want to be the annoying lady who constantly calls & drives them crazy when they're already busy & I know that kids will be kids. More often than not all we have to do is just drive a vehicle towards them and they start driving off. Park caretakers coming makes teenagers flock out the exit gate like a herd of cattle. Kind of makes me wonder sometimes what exactly they were doing that was so terrible that they act so sheepish and feel the need to run. Obviously, I have some idea, but sheesh! If you know that what you are doing is bad enough that you don't want to get caught, maybe you should think twice about whether or not you REALLY want to do it?

It's still slightly disturbing to me to see so many people coming here to the park and acting the ways that they do though. I worry that the kids that are racing on the road will get in a wreck and that they're drinking & driving. I wish I could knock on the fogged up car windows and tell them to be careful - warn them that teenage pregnancy is hard for all involved. Even the middle aged people having affairs... What are they thinking? Why on earth would you not only risk hurting your loved ones and breaking up your family, but at a park? By a children's playground? Come on, people! You couldn't come up with a better location than that?

Anyway... just thinking (since I'm not sleeping.) I'm honestly not as frumpy and judgemental as I sound. I was a teenager myself just a decade ago, but it's been a LONG decade. Having 4 kids of my own makes me feel parental towards these teenagers running around town at 2 AM. It makes me fear for my kids (Lane's already turning 12 in 11 weeks for crying out loud!) There's not a lot to do in Elma. The other night when the sheriff's cars were pulling up outside I was shamelessly promoting "being on the good guy's side" to my kids who were all excitedly watching out the window. I kept telling them I feel bad having to call the police, but I just care too much about those kids out there and don't want them to get hurt making bad choices. I must have repeated 10 times, "Isn't it a good feeling to be on the good guy's side and to help protect those kids? Those officers are going to make sure they're safe." I don't know that my kids really got the message or not. For all I know they were probably thinking that I'm a big party pooper always ruining people's fun, but I'm HOPING that they get some idea from watching me call the police on strangers that these things are important and that I have no quelms about doing whatever it takes to protect them also.